Saturday, December 13, 2008

Six Years, eh? That's a long time...

What have you learned?

-The ergonomically ideal rise-run ratio for a staircase is 1:1.5.
And no one cares.

-Alliteration almost always annoys everyone.
And I don't care.

-There are goals and there are distractions.
And the distractions are so damn delicious.

-There are some people who are completely comfortable with being naked in public.
And some smaller set of people who are comfortable with being simultaneously naked and sober in public.

-There are at least fifteen ways to obscure the meaning of a sentence.
But only one ever looks right.

-"Byzantine" means complex and intricate.
Oddly enough, some of the words you learn in college describe college better than they describe whatever context you learn them in. (Art in this case)

-"Synecdoche" means a part can be used to refer to the whole it comprises and vice versa.
And is also part of the pretense for a movie by Charlie Kaufman

-There are goals and there are distractions.
And the distractions are so damn delicious.

-Whether a president is a jack-ass or a bad ass is roughly dependent on geography.
As are many other things.

-I like the word "manifold." I like it so much that I had to edit the above tabulation several times because I kept typing [something else that used the word "manifold" but to type it here would be cheating.]
I think I like... that word... because I watched a lot of Star Trek.

-Mistakes were made but, if I had the chance, I'd make them again.
Ideally, with notes.

-The best ideas come at the worst times.
Like when I am trying to go to sleep, in the shower, or driving my big sexy truck. (I still don't have a tape recorder. (You know, it is the gift-giving season.))

-If you keep throwing emotionally charged-arguments at a wall, some of them are bound to stick.
And then the wall is transmogrified into a parrot.

-Everything is such that it stands in the "like" relationship to someone, but nothing is such that it stands in the "like" relationship to everyone.
And no character map is such that you won't find yourself missing your Mac.

-Death is the absence of presence, but absence is the presence of distance.
Faith and Quantum Physics (dare I say "or Faith in Quantum Physics?") have tidy solutions for this apparent contradiction.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Blurhggle Gurggle durggle mrgle.





Woo hoo sequential-art-pictures! Daily Gems from Wondermark, Bunnycomics.com, Penny Arcade, and xkcd. Enjoy.
Also re: the penny arcade comic, it turns out some people that are not necessarily his press secretary care about this. Further proof that Americans, or a sub set of Americans that are persistent enough to be named a constituency of the news media, have completely lost their shit. The president is supposed to represent you in an exclusively legislative capacity. It is not a big deal if he smokes, plays Playstation instead of Wii, (or vice versa) or uses a digital media device that one giant software company made to compete with another giant software company's extant digital media device. Stop reporting on this trivial stuff. Barack Obama is going to turn radioactive waste into lime jell-o and I don't want future historians to figure out that he was just a man.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Brief Post in Which Elliot Weighs in on Something Tangentially Related to (American) Football

I like funny shirts.
I have an aesthetic to my funny (tee) shirts and it is simply this:
There is limited space on a tee shirt to use before clutter, entropy if you prefer, occurs.
As such, line drawings are better than photo realistic pictures and silhouettes are better than line drawings.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but words still tell the joke.
The picture presents the conflict.

So I am waiting for a new shirt, most likely in red, white, blue. It will have, from left to right, a graphic of track pants, a inequation sign, and a graphic of a holster. I don't know what text if any is necessary to clarify.
Maybe both of these graphic will be shown in relation to a man with a gun, but I think the essence of the joke lies in track pants, gun holster non-identity.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I had a dream, Joe & A Moment like This

"Speaking of ice cream trucks," 24 Fan says, "We downloaded ice cream truck music one day and piped it through the giant speakers on top of our humvee and drove up a mountain."
"That's pretty funny," another advocate for the program 24, who has been able to separate himself from 24 Fan by two feet of space and through expressing an intense curiosity into the various methods one person could employ in killing another person,(popsicle sticks take a special type of commitment)says, "what happened?"
"We got chased by a lot of fat Afghanis," 24 Fan says.
"Why do you have a humvee with giant speakers?" I ask.
"Oh, I'm in Psychological Operations for the Army," 24 Fan tells me, "We disperse pamphlets and what not, but most of what we do is news by truck or radio."
"So propaganda?"
"I put down on my resumé that I have experience in public relations."
"Isn't that the same thing?" I kind-of ask, "Either way, you're selling these guys something."
24 Fan turns away. Popsicle Stick glares at me. Any second he will turn to 24 Fan and resume their conversation about Keifer Sutherland and Chuck Norris. They will stipulate that the outcome of Sutherland vs. Norris will doubtlessly be determined by popular vote. Before that can happen though, Popsicle wants me to realize that everyone is staring at me the way he is, except they have plastic forks.
-------
My parents want me to lose weight. They tell me this as I clean a chicken skeleton of its deep-fried flesh. Tina Fey thinks I've lost weight since the last time she's seen me. She asks me what I'm doing. I suggest that the key is portion control. Instead of making my own mac n' cheese, I just make Kraft's.
"Oh, I love Kraft Mac n' Cheese," Tina tells me, "I'm always doctoring it up though."
"Mmm, me too," I shout, "Parmesean Cheese, the shredded kind not the grated. I don't even recognize grated as a product. It is persona nonfuckinggrata in my fridge. And Red Hot. Adds spice, not just heat."
"I like mine with a can of tuna," Tina says, "I don't know why there's even a market for tuna helper. Cheesy Mac and tuna fish is the shizzle."
My parents are eager to get back to the subject at hand. They point out the evils of processed food. We should all feel the shame. Our future malignant tumors will be orange and sharp cheddar flavored.
"Speaking of imminent death," my mother says, "we're worried about your heart, Elliot. You have too much weight on your chest."
"Yeah," Tina says, "So what do you do for fun?"
"I read. I read pretty much everywhere," I say, "I bathe and I read. I poop and I read. I spend a lot of time in the bathroom reading. Sometimes I try to cook and read and I've had moderate success, but it's not as easy as eating and reading. I like eating and reading."
"He does spend a lot of time in the bathroom," my mother says.
"Right. Have you ever tried reading on a treadmill?" Tina asks/suggests.
"I don't think I'd be very successful with that," I say. A rational person would suggest that as I gave cooking and reading a shot, maybe I should try jogging and reading.
Instead, Tina ran through a list of possible aerobic activities I could attempt while reading. None of them looked or sounded particularly promising.
-------
We are standing in a rainy alley, beating back evil with it's own tools. It's not going well. My comrades are being indiscriminately roasted by a pair of dragons. I am suddenly very alone and powerless. I have a really big sword, but it is clearly made of plastic. I know in my rational mind that my gigantic sword was perfectly functional mere minutes ago, but these ghouls defy my causal understanding of the world I am living in.
Cordelia Chase is there. She is shiny and real like the American Dream is shiny and real to Andrew Carnegie. She is not Cordelia Chase and subsequently Charisma Carpenter of Lifetime Original Movies and Playboy pictorials. This is the Cordelia Chase who would be Charisma Carpenter if "Phil Henderson," "God," and "the Architect of Homo Sapien Evolution" were all identical. She takes my plastic sword from me and I sit on the wet asphalt. Her extensive limbs entirely encase my thorax. I am alone and I tell her so. She asks what happened to my wife by saying "I thought you were married."
"She's gone now," I say, "It's over."
She tells me it's okay.
It's okay.
-------
1















I would totally support a wealth-redistributing situation just like this is if I didn't suspect that the U.S. Government, via the Library of Congress, has infinitely deeper metaphorical pockets than I or anyone will ever have.
-------

1Image is, once again, courtesy of xkcd.com.

Monday, November 17, 2008

an old question.

Spike: It's bollocks, Angel. It's your brand of bollocks from first to last.
Angel: No. You can't ever see the big picture. You can't see any picture.
S: I am talking about something primal, right. Savagery! Brutal, animal instinct!
A: That wins out every time with you. You know the human race has evolved, Spike!
S: Into a bunch of namby-pamby, self-analyzing wankers who could never hope to overcome aggressors...
A: We're bigger. We're smarter. Plus there's a thing called teamwork. Not to mention the superstitious terror of your pure aggressors. [Angel gestures "air quotes."]
S: You just want it to be the way you want it to be.
A: It's not about what I want!
Wesley: Sorry. Is this something we should all be discussing?
A:No.
W: It just sounded a little serious.
A: It was mostly... Theoretical. We...
S: We were just working out a... Look, if cavemen and astronauts got into a fight, who would win?
W: Huh. [pause] You've been yelling at each other for forty minutes about this. [long pause] Do the astronauts have weapons?
A&S: No.

This may be an old question, but I think it's an important one. Fred brings up an interesting caveat: "cavemen live in their 'caves.' they at least have fire."
That unfolds into a lot of "haves" for the cavemen. Cavemen split a rock and have a knife.
I understand it's a lot more complicated than that and Ordovician tool-making is a thousand-years worth of knowledge, but let's assume that cavemen have knives and because they do either astronauts have stone knives or astronauts do not.
I guess that's a question of how you feel about science, not just about scientists, but about the scientific method and how intimately scientists are entangled with technology.
And of all possible modern humans, why astronauts? Is the astronaut the paradigm of human evolution? Are they, instead, the anti-caveman? Cavemen live in caves. Astronauts live far away from caves, in space. Cavemen make their own tools. Astronauts have their tools made for them.
The question, simply put, is:
If Astronauts, as larger predators, and Cavemen, as more enthusiastic predators with sharper teeth, were to identify each other as in-competition for mutually desired resources, who would win?

I think Cavemen would win, but Astronauts would be able to articulate their loss using several theories, but would probably focus on conflict theory.

What about you?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Success

Or You Took My Love and I'd Like You to Return It, Please. (If You Can Read This then I'm Giving You Yours Back, too)

Chris Isaak is a successful musician.
Chris Isaak has a single top ten album. (Wicked Game was the first "Best of Chris Isaak" album, released by Warner Bros, like, right after Heart-Shaped World.) He has a number of songs that made it into top ten charts, like "Wicked Game" and "Somebody's Crying," which crawled into my head at some point between reading Kara's blog and seeing my old roommate yesterday.

People love Chris Isaak. Of all the people that were palling around on the radio in the eighties>nineties jump, Chris Isaak was (obviously) different. Sure, he did this "rockabilly" thing, which guaranteed him a niche market and I hate the people who do that when I assess "the Artist as a Product-Producer" and subsequently "Chris Isaak the Product." That said:

Assuming "Chris Isaak chose rockabilly because 'shit, there'll always be some people that love suits and shirts with huge, unbuttoned collars, pompadours, and brown guitars with white fretboards" is a reflective assumption.
Yes. That approach would dehumanize Chris Isaak, or any other musician, into a product. It also tacitly assumes that Chris Isaak thought,1 and that I think, all people who buy things are consumers without any sort of critical capacity.

What about Chris Isaak makes him different from all the other Rockabilliers?(probably not even remotely a word) I'm going to assume there are minuscule differences that only matter to people who really care about rockabilly. (A subset of "people" which I do not belong to) I am, instead, going to tell you a story.

A woman I'll call Sonja and I lived together for two years. Over the course of our cohabitation, we bought a rug and got a pair of dogs together. I have come to the conclusion, through ownership of this rug, that dogs are like children in that they destroy things without really understanding what words like "value" and "destroy" mean. Getting angry at a dog, or a child, is about as pointless as getting angry at God. God, the infinite Architect of Events or the mere Prime Mover, has no idea that you suffer because It has no idea what your suffering feels like. Why should I be angry at the Dog for eating my jacket? Dog has no concept of "expensive leather." If anything, Dog thinks "chewwwy."

Ultimately, it was easier to be angry at Sonja, as the architect of the dog-ownership idea, rather than to be angry at the dogs, or to resolve my own powerlessness regarding dog-intellect. In the meantime, Sonja developed a symmetrical complex focused at me, which I can only assume reduced me to "mean, obsessive in [my] petty battles, and over-privileged." I'm only certain about the "mean" criticism. Sonja told me that I was 'mean, so mean" in the same conversation that she told me that I was arrogant and that I never loved her. ("You don't even know what love is.")
Everything else is just projected anxiety.

But what the fuck does Sonja know? Love's one of those intangibles, like art, American exceptionalism, and gravity. Is the measure of love the quotient of the weight of the heart divided by the weight of the brain? Is it something, like art and (tangentially) pornography, that you'll only recognize when you see it? Or is it like gravity, American exceptionalism, and the rest of the set of scientific theories? We know whether or not love is real because we experience its effects and we can make reference to its root causes in history? Art/Porn theory and Theory theory both sound good to me. It's possible that we're able to recognize love because we're good at looking for causal connections. It's possible that love is merely a theory designed to combat casual connections. I like knowing that there are people like Chris Isaak, getting money while they work their suspicions about the metaphysical nature of love into their art.2

David Lynch loves Chris Isaak. If you needed some other proof of success, then there you have it. David Lynch has some strange fetish for the 1950's/1990's fame disconnect and Chris Isaak fits into that somehow. I realize that the 1950's are a little bygone era when people made plans instead of using cell phones and power dynamics were clearly delineated both in public and private spheres. Everything that society hated could be covered up rather than addressed. Make-up sales were huge and undeclared income was a given. I still have no idea what David Lynch thinks (a) about Chris Isaak (b) about the nineteen-fifties and (c) in general.

But aside from record sales, length of career, metaphysical ponderings, and acceptance in the larger artistic community, I still maintain, and will continue to maintain in the face of anyone who might counter-maintain, that Chris Isaak is succesful, and assert that he is successful because he has accomplished what he set out to do: Redefine Imitations of Elvis.
For the majority of the time I had "Somebody's Crying" stuck in my head, I really only had the chorus rattling around. In replaying those lyrics, I apparently knocked loose the first verse of "Suspicious Minds" and set about melding these songs into a now-inseparable ballad. I began to write a detective story about this Suspicious Minds/Somebody's Crying hybrid, and only stopped when I googled "return the love you took from me" and found myself reading Chris Isaak's name a lot. I was certain at least one of these sites would tell me that Chris Isaak loved amphetamines and was born along with a dead twin and that the twin didn't really die until he took Chris' place on a toilet in Graceland.

I'm not going to build a shrine to Chris Isaak. (Or Elvis.) I may imagine, or even pray, that someday there will be an Elvis-like figure who can pull my heart's strings like Chris Isaak can. I may hope for a Chris-Isaak-like figure who appears completely unphased by his aging and widening body and inspires my own sense of culinary exploration with snacks like "corned beef hash tots" or "fried ham and baloney poppers."
What do I want in my music then? When I look through the musicians on my computer I can't really see a pattern.3 There may be a disproportionate number of suit-wearing performers. There's a 1:3.5 ratio of female:male lead singers, which is noteworthy because I usually tell people "male vocalists" when they ask what kind of music I listen to. Maybe I simply want my music to cause some sort of emotional or intellectual shift. Aside from Radiohead, there's not much I listen to because I think it sounds cool. (And yet! "I keep falling over, I keep passing out, when I see a face like you" is a brick truck hit.) I wouldn't be so bold as to suggest that music made without the intent of creating this response is pornography because there's artistic merit in any use of a tool. I would instead suggest that I am not listening to music as an artist but as a sentimentalist.
Fictional Scientists tell me that time travel to the past is impossible, or at least time travel to the past of "before the mechanism used to travel through time existed." Music, then, seems to be a time ark for me. I will always have a couple of Sublime CDs solely for use in August, because that music carries with it a lot of associations related to the mystique of knowing Spanish, high school anxiety, and thinking about what being drunk must feel like. I will always have a copy of "Forever Blue" because I don't want to forget that love is an idea and there's no cost in exchanging it.
I don't care what you have to say about the scope of the record industry. I will always have access to my memories because of its pervasiveness.
---------------
1Here, the use of "Chris Isaak" is divisive. Chris Isaak was an active "independent musician" prior to his record deal with W.B. That said, I'm willing to admit that there's no way to tell whether any person is acting as they would like to act or as they believe they should act (or, in the case of a person with an agent, how they are explicitly told they should act) for "the greater good" (in hopes that the greater portion of people who may or may not be interested in them will reflect on them favorably.) I still consider the possibility of ambiguity moot, as some person's choice to act in favor of adjusting humanity-at-large's perception of them doesn't negate that they're still acting as they wish. I am, however, open to claims of misinterpretation re: "the false face" and "the genuine face."
2It occurs to me that this blog could just as likely have been inspired by Haddaway's "What is Love?" (Or at least these paragraphs of this blog.) Also, how awesome was Beyonce on SNL last night? I'm not so into the music of Beyonce, but it's recently occurred to me that I may just not like overly produced music. The first song was nice. Simple. The other one ("Single Ladies") I'm going to put forward succinctly as "over-the-top."
3 Amy Winehouse, Black Sabbath, Bob Marley, Cat Power, (just "the covers record") Chris Isaak, The Clash, Cowboy Junkies, (just "trinity sessions") Elvis Costello, Hole, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Lauryn Hill, (just "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill") Led Zepplin, Leonard Cohen, Liz Phair, (just "Whip-Smart") The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Ministry, (just "Cover Up") Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Pixies, Pavement, PJ Harvey, Prince, Radiohead, The Smiths, Tom Waits, Toots & the Maytals, the Weepies, (just "Say I am You") and Weezer. (just "Pinkerton")

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Understatement of the Week.














courtesy of xkcd.com. (where "courtesy of" means "copied and pasted from.")

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What I'm Listening To Now

Word of Warning: A cursory glance of the videos featured here suggests a repressed sexuality that escapes in the form of serial killings. I am not aware of this being the case.

I would very much like to write a story that depends solely on "The Queen is Dead" for pop culture reference. It is rich. And it gets that "The king died... the queen died..." nod for all the CreatWritrs.
"The Queen is Dead" is not easy to come by. It was recently reissued on CD, which is just groovy, but "Rank" has a most excellent live copy that I, and maybe you'll, prefer.


Do you hear tympani in this song? I see no tympani in the video and yet it's like listening to thunder. Thunder and Agony. "Jack the Ripper" was a B-Sides and Rarities find for me. Someday I'll find a copy of "Henry's Dream," because the electric version is way better.


Totally thought "Get Your Rocks Off" was a new but good Rolling Stones song when I heard it. Thought the time-space continuum had split and maybe I'd have some closure on my "Beast of Burden" hang-ups. I love how shiny this video is. Makes everything look wet, or "sweaty" if you prefer.


I can't believe that I didn't notice "Police on My Back" was in "Knocked Up" until the third "screening." I guess these things happen. Lethal Bizzle has sampled it in a new song by the same name. It is "Okay". These things happen.


The really great video that goes along with the sweater song can't be embedded from youtube.com. I am cunning enough in my use of html to provide the picture you see below, but to watch it you'll have to use what I'm assuming is the Swedish version of internet tv. (The second one.)
Remember when Weezer was good and didn't just rap about drugs over ridiculous bass guitar? Remember when you could listen to a CD and have this strange experience that resembled vicarious emotional telepathy? I went to Kroeger yesterday. "Undone" was on the radio. I ended up smiling for a while.




My friend Brian thinks telepathy is the next step in human evolution.
"I mean, she wishes I shared my feelings right?" he said, "My honesty would be tacit, inevitable, and complete."
I could have said a lot of things. Since we've had this conversation, I've ruminated over what the "cost" of telepathy would be. It's occurred to me that certain animals, perhaps all of them, may have "beaten us to it" and the only proof we have that this is not the case is science. 2 It occurred to me that the evolution of vocalization parts may have been necessitated by some chimp/human co-ancestor not being able to share its feelings. It also occurred to me that language, as a part of tool culture, is pretty screwed in the telepathic human species. We imagine talking into the brains of others. I reckon we'd send feelings (warm waves of joy coming at you) and the occasional image (pineapple, my belly, sensation of hunger... you get the idea) but how do you communicate the complexities of spear-building via image-flashing? I'm sure there are a couple of people who would get really good at teaching others how to make spears. Maybe they'd even remember the whole experience of figuring out how to make a spear for the purpose of teaching others to do the same. So maybe language is a necessary invention independent of communication, but I can also see how it was easy for non-telepaths to kill telepaths with their superior weaponry and inability to feel brain-death.
I asked Brian how he felt about his girlfriend having an all-access pass to his brain. He suggested that telepathy would be a universal "deal-breaker."
"It's not like we're dishonest with eachother, but there's got to be stuff in here she doesn't like," he said, pointing to his temple, "Whats a non-issue and whats a lie of omission, I dunno, but there's definitely a reflexive property to consider. I'm still trying to resolve the fact that her poop smells like something other that jasmine and butterflies. We'd have the 'other-shoe' fight and either we pluck eachother's eyes out or we say 'well I guess that's everything."
I can't imagine that happening, right away, with every person of the opposite sex I meet. I can't hypothetically shame myself into no longer imagining what everyone looks like naked. I will probably inaugurate the dawn of humanity's collective oneness with a personally administered lobotomy. People might ask what tortured me so much about communion with the overmind, so I will have to leave a note:

this looked like it would be a lot of work.
hearts and stars,

-E


My only hope is that, sometime before telepathy is forced upon us, the floating house is an option. (It occurs to me that I (a) watch too much science fiction or (b) have always had a secret desire to own a house boat.) A space station would be nice, but I expect some degree of societal collapse. I'm an optimist.
Seriously:
I hope people like telepathy so much they can't think of anything else but people-watching and buttsex. I expect the rate of idea-development to increase. It'll be like computers x 10. I just hope people don't like it too much. It'd be a drag if people stopped keeping track of stuff. (like they said would happen with computers/the internet.1) I'm willing to assume that if one telepath knows something then the next fifty telepaths, say within five blocks, know that same thing. I suppose memory, then is dependent on associations. And as excited as I am about the repercussions that has on identity and infectious thought, all I really want to know is "can anyone really forget anything if everyone around them knows it?"
I think plane rides would be exciting.
I just don't know what else we'll do re: work. I often tell people that if x gets us closer to a culture of artists and philosophers it is inherently good, even if we're putting our brains into needle-filled jars.
And if that's what happens when humans grow that organ, brain wrinkle, or gland, I promise I will be glad. If it means that we have to reorganize the mechanics of communication, then I'll probably be happier with my lobotomy.

--------
1Incidentally, this is how a portion of computers were sold, and probably still are sold. To people who have kept track of their sales/taxes/random business concerns with rooms full of green paper notebooks, computers were the exciting accountant-in-a-box. And yet, my dad often complains about how much more paper he has now. Mostly because he has an accountant-in-a-box and feels encouraged to use it.
2 Which is just words anyway.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Premature.

Pick up this week's issue of U Weekly.

Open it to pg. 37.

Look at the round picture.

That's my butt crack.

Neat.

Surely this doesn't make me famous. I've often stated that if I had to become famous, I would ask that fame wait until I were dead or dying.

And yet! There I am. The article is called Joe the Plumber, a Super Mario of Politics. There is also a Drew Barrymore/Winona Ryder effect when you carry the pixelated portion of photo which is my boxers and butt crack.
Joe the Plumber is famous.
People in tabloids are famous.
---------
By the transitive property, I, too, am obviously famous. And if you don't believe me, well, you can bite my ass, because I don't have to explain my fame to you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

Pretty cool, huh?

Michigan's passed a law approving some stem cell research and disapproving of some punishments for the possession of marijuana. (under one ounce and they'll just ask why you have this much Oregano while doing an impression of Bobby's Mom from Bobby's World)

For the first time in the history of the United States, someone who is not entirely white has the largest of all possible conchs. Woo!

The people of Colorado decided against describing a person as "a fertilized egg." Smart. At the very least, from a "sum of parts" arguement, I probably couldn't get myself sterilized or lobby for legislation requiring that [certain persons] be sterilized as that is clearly half a person.
As an Aside, who writes a measure against abortion by changing the legal definition of a human life to "something which begins at conception." I mean, you're the government right? Well, we're the government, but we're choosing you to represent us and propose measures for us, so propose measures that are actually measures, not effective legal fictions. Maybe if the measure was "Abortions are illegal and you can't have them anymore, because you said so" people could get behind that.

And way to go San Fransisco. You've taken one step closer to cementing my belief that you are the land of make-believe. Sex trade be damned, prostitution is decriminalized. SFPD cannot arrest, investigate, or prosecute any of those bitches, and they are fucked in an entirely new way. Crudely said as that said is, I suppose sex-slavery is an INTERPOL/FBI issue.

Also, Proposition 8 passed. Further proof that Californians have completely lost their shit. Apparently, the litmus test for legal uncoolness is whenever it's legal in New England. Hetero-exclusive marraige is retro, a unique type of cool. Like leg warmers, acid wash, and skinny ties.

Monday, October 27, 2008

An Otherwise Harmless Story About Can Openers and Consumerism

You may or may not know this, but I really love can openers. In the history of tool invention, the can opener in its modern form (with bottle opener and nut cracker) is the third best invention after the printing press and television on the internet. Right now, my favorite show is Life and their best episode is "Not for Nothing," where a murder takes place during a simulated prison experiment. The binary established is simple. Prisoners and guards, Us and Them.

Unless you're doing that ridiculous raw foods thing, you probably need a can opener. More importantly, I need a can opener. I've pined for a can opener when I was on the road. I've summered in the desert, and my can-opener-forgetfulness made it that much clearer why deserts are often used to symbolized the desperate hearts of the abandoned. (or something.) In a fit of my own internalized desperation, I bought the first complex machine called "can opener" I could find and immediately realized I should have been more specific.

1. Assumption: All can openers can open cans. (C)
2. Assumption: My can opener cannot open cans.(~C)
______
C&~C (1,2 &I)

So I went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond last week, determined to find a functioning can opener. To be honest, I wanted to find a high-functioning can opener, one of those jobbies that didn't cut through the top but around the side because, well, they actually had one of those at Kroger but I didn't buy it because I hate them and maybe that's how I was stuck with the Can Opener Sham from Everyday Living,1 and balance out my karmic debt for dissing the weird can openers. Then I saw something from my past. Among a thousand peelers, can openers and assorted other tools was a Swing-A-Way Can Opener.

The Swing-A-Way Can Opener is something I want to protect. My parents, and grandparents, have had these for at least twenty years. Not bought, but had. As in "not needed to replace." On top of that, it was half the price of the "good grip can opener.2"
But I'm very excited these things are still extant, so I don't have to steal my parents or go through the frustration of buying another shoddy can opener. To celebrate my ownership of the Swing-A-Way Can Opener, I've made a pot roast and marinara sauce. Great Ideas.
------
On a completely unrelated note, I watched a short movie on the way Asian women are presented on film. I would say it was presented in an inventive way. Asian women were reenacting certain landmark roles performed by other Asian women. (specifically Anna May Wong in The Thief of Bagdad, Nancy Kwon in The World of Suzie Wong, and Lucy Liu in Charlie's Angels) The film, which I will heretofore refer to as a documentary, isn't narrated. The impersonators talk about the impersonated, reenact the impersonateds' roles, and then invert the roles either by playing them with less happiness or aggressiveness, and then talk about the role they played. There is also a scene where each of the impersonators simply walk down the street imitating they're impersonateds' characters.
Honestly, I have little problem with the documentary. It's unobtrusive in what it shows me and by having the actresses discussing their roles, it seems to emphasize this unobtrusive track.
But there's this picture. Each of the impersonators hold it up and talk about it and it shows all three of them dressed up as their impersonated, in chronological order from 1920 (Anna May Wong) to 2000. (Lucy Liu) And the role, as far as what the viewer sees is Nancy Kwon in the middle, in a dress like the one she wore in "The World of Suzie Wong," implying an openness but it's an openness exclusive to sexuality. To Nancy Kwon's left is Anna May Wong with her arms crossed over her stomach in a guarded position. To Kwon's right is Lucy Liu, body square against the camera, dressed like a dominatrix with a riding crop over her shoulder.
So I inferred a teleology in the sexualization of Asian women, from submissive to aggressive, which can probably be said about all women, even Diane Keaton, (i.e. Godfather pt. 1 > Baby Boom) and minorities. And maybe I'm making an inference which is way from left field but I don't think I'm ignoring anything. I'm merely asserting that I'd prefer some sort of sign post.
There was also a conversation about a film maker who has been focusing on post-9/11 Arab-Americans and no one looked at me. There was no experience of "oh, you mean Arab like me."
---------
From here I was going to go on about how frequently I am perceived as Italian, Mexican, Black, or Russian. (just once. I was swimming.) Then I was going to venture into a larger point about perception and seeing what we want to see. I was going to illustrate this point with a story about a shirt I'd seen about with the words (and numbers) "50% White 44% Arab 6% Black 100% Red" superimposed over Barack Obama's face and how this shirt, despite its overflowing assholeness, walks a weird line between ignorant and informed. North Africans, for instance, are often described as African-Arabs because of a lot of different things that happened a thousand years ago and maybe you don't care about them. There was a rumination over what it meant to be an Arab. Sub-Saharan Africans, (Kenyans included) are a different matter re: Arabicness. My sister actually described this (the description and the segue) in degrees of inarticulation and I started to think that dialectics were so much like action figures, but she was actually pretty good at articulating marginality. What makes me (her) inherently interesting, but also inherently anomolous? What makes whites so... plain? Why do we need so many adjectives?
But I got bored trying to weigh my experience as the Other (strangely increased the last few years) against the inevitable amorality of perception. I decided the end of the world was more interesting.

Fallout 3 is now on my computer. I don't know how it happened. It seemed like one minute I was watching the advertisement and the next I'd downloaded the Steam client and the installer. I'm keeping my head. "Remember, you can save anywhere." It is a practical mantra.


My M.O. for the written word remains functional. "Question everything." Video games almost always have a twist. Fallout has never been an exception. The mysterious Enclave turns out to be the U.S. gov't in Fallout 2, President Richardson at the helm. Now I'm tracking my dad across the Washington D.C. wasteland. Apparently dad has some pet project involving water purification (Project Purity) but I know and he knows that water can be purified with a Water Chip. Water Chips are running gags from the first and second Fallout. Your under-the-gun quest in Falout is to get a Water Chip. You find 100 Water Chips in Vault City in Fallout 2. Now, in Fallout 3, there is a flyer urging me to perform regular maintenance on my Water Chip, courtesy Vault-Tec. Half the holo-tapes I get from pops are possibly from before I was born and one is definitely from ten seconds to ten minutes before I was conceived, so despite chronological signposts, I'm really just along for the ride.
A pretty good subtext for election day, I think. Sometime before January, we'll know who is going to be inaugurated. About half the people in the country will be upset. About half the people in the country will think Canada has never looked so cozy. That half will have to rationalize that its okay. A lot can happen in four years.


Four years ago, Charlton Heston was still alive. "New Orleans" was synonymous with "Las Vegas," not "Colossal Government Rotten Egg." People ask me "who did you vote for?" (The NERVE!) I tell them "I wrote 'mom and dad' in." I'm waiting for that one person who screeches "Yeah! Me too!" Ideally, that one person represents 300 million people, because I really think it would be cool if every mom and dad in america suddenly occupied the executive branch. Screw vetting. The only qualification for the presidency is raising a child or that simple perception. Momma Leone's is a restaurant in NYC right? Everyone there is now president. Managed to intermingle gamete cells with a member of the opposite sex? Good job. $250,000 a year for the both of you. Adopted a child? Congratulations, you are now the most qualified person within the executive branch.
Yes, this would probably make the office collapse.
At least the electoral college.
Or maybe someone who had legally changed their name to mom would be shocked to find themselves in the White House, working with dad, trying to work out the strange power dynamic of the reimagined branch.


Fallout 3 starts with a video in a blown out bus. The Ink Spots' "I don't want to set the World on Fire" is playing on a tube radio. The 1950's get to live for another hundred years in Fallout history through a couple different means beyond the atomic bomb ending the world. Shortly after World War II, the timelines split. America lumps the states into a few Commonwealths. China invades Alaska. America annexes Canada. And because "war, war never changes," actions which are meant to represent a refusal to be intimidated necessitate an escalation of nuclear proportions. The end of the world doesn't just wipe the bulk of humanity out, it crystallizes culture.


So what's with the end of the world? The world is kind of beautiful and yet there are enough science fiction novels, comics, and movies that deal with surviving its figurative or literal demise that some itinerant formalist could carve out a sub-genre of science fiction post-apocalyptia. In Brian K. Vaughn's Y: The Last Man all the men but Yorrick suddenly die and shockingly nothing changes, except women figure out cloning really, really fast. Fail-Safe, Dr. Stangelove, & Red Alert all tell more or less the same story, and juxtaposed against Seven Days in May the viewer can't help but decide that the 60's wanted them to know that nuclear holocaust was inevitable because everyone with ICBMs thought everyone else with ICBMs was shady. 28 Days Later lets you wake up with Jim and explore a London that's been filled with the worst zombies from the set of all possible zombies.3 Fast and they make you into a zombie in seconds. Bad news and good news, yes. Maybe they're not zombie zombies, but they're not you or anyone like you. And when you do find people like you they've all gone insane. Despite fucking with the cornerstone of zombie films, 28 Days Later finds home away from terror, in isolation, and inside people who are otherwise, as previously established, insane. The map changes, the people stay the same. The scene adds stress and they're forced into desperation. Anxiety is communicated into the future and dispersed.
So I'm not worried. It's winter. I'm growing a beard regardless of what happens.
___________
1Vengeance is MINE!
2That only baffled me a little. I suppose there's a marginal portion of consumers that open, like, fifty cans a day. And maybe a smaller portion of this marginal portion are interested in steel or rubber options. Actually, "good" is an inherently good thing to have in your can opener, or any other product for that matter. I wish I'd thought of it.
3also, 28 Days Later has three seconds of the desexualized, guilt-free penis you've always wanted to see in film.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Just Remember: Half the Shit You Worry about doesn't Happen Anyway." John Kelly, High School Teacher, Vietnam Veteran, & African American

Haircut
If I were a woman, I would just change my status on Facebook to "Elise Beter1 says, 'Bitch, we could all see your hair. You didn't have to tell us about it." and that's all that would be said about the transformative "do" my professor got Wednesday or Tuesday.
If I were a man, I'd be less anxious about emasculation caused by ruminating over hairstyles and doing so in a semi-public forum. 2
But I am what I am, so I merely wonder if it's better to let the visual "speak" for itself or say something quasi-self-depreciating like "I got this haircut and this real job and neither of them are parted on the right side. If I fidget a bit then you can ignore the hand motions." Hypothetically, "For the next two minutes, comments regarding the awesomeness of my haircut are no longer taboo" was also an option, but it wasn't the route I would have taken. I prefer to work through understatements and the occasional explicit declaration for contrast but, with exceptional aesthetic decisions, rules seem to defy themselves.

The Plastic Brain
I don't understand the purpose of regret. Or at least how regret has come to exist from an evolutionary perspective. Perhaps the existence of regret is proof of intelligent design. My initial impulse is to say that regret is sadness deferred. Pain is a sensible evolutionary response to bad decisions. Pain remembered is nostalgia. Nostalgia seems reasonable. I can wrap my head around nostalgia as an intellectual response to pain, that knowledge of pain creates nostalgia and if not for nostalgia then pain is meaningless/just an alarm system. Without our memories, we would just be specialized goldfish flopping about in a new environment. It would appear obvious that sadness and regret are merely pain and nostalgia for the emotional set, but I'm not happy with that.
Humans are pleasure-seeking things. Or beings if you don't want to be a thing. And you can call pleasure food, shelter, companionship, and warmth if you want. We're willing to suffer pain to get these things and, I don't care what Hobbes says, if we could get enough of all of them we'd never leave our shelters except to kidnap plumbers from their infinitely stocked shelters because spoilage, I hate to admit it, Mr. Hobbes, applies to everything.
But why is happiness so complex? Or why has it been made so complex. It's occurred to me this is not an evolutionary response but a, I dare say, psychological response. The mind creates these concepts of Happiness, Sadness, and Regret, most likely in that order. My inevitable conclusion is that we should all have lobotomies. Or perhaps we should focus less on why we were sad when we could have been happy and how that happened. So your earth-moving, I-read-this-and-here's-my-revelation moment is:
Regret is a stupid invention.
I'm glad I wrote it out.
You should be glad you read it.

College is for the Fauna
I dropped out of college.3 Fable 3 came out Wednesday. I want to buy it and play it at least three times, which I suspect will take a week of my life or one month were I still enrolled in classes. Also, I'm anticipating the release of FALLOUT 3 which is, to be perfectly honest, the only post-apocalyptic video game franchise that matters. Compounding the excitement I'm feeling about Fallout and it's release is the fact that it's being developed by Bethesda Studios, which also developed the Elder Scrolls series of RPGs.. (Fallout is a series of post-apocalyptic RPGs) To be brief, this game will either be really good or heartbreakingly bad and several other someones will be very angry about it. 4
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1It is my suspicion that Elise is the female equivalent to Elliot. However, my mom decided I should be named Elliot while watching E.T.(Yes, I am really Elliot, like from E.T.) My mother, knowing I was an in utero girl, could have been compelled to name me Gertie Beter or Mary. Or lacking any serious compulsion to give me a new name, I could have been named Gladys after my father's grandmother. (Little known fact: It is only due to the maternity ward determination of my mother that my name is not Thomas N. Beter III) I'm sure there's a list of other names they had in mind...
2Best in Communication Redux: Bathroom Stall Graffiti (First floor McPhereson)- "Whatever! I'll grunt when I shit if I want to. You've decided to use a semi-public shitter and you're going to listen to every "plop" and "guh" I can muster, or you can get a taxi and GO HOME!" I often assert ridiculous things. For instance: Modern males live in a constant state of emasculation. But, you know, I feel entitled to statements like that with when we live in an anonymous world. Maybe Internet 2.0 changed that, but it still reflects a world of cars that cut you off, faceless corporate employment made possible by faceless government, and alienating anonymous images. And maybe it's a cycle. Maybe the environment of anonymity produces alienation and statements like the one reproduced above are inevitable, but it's my intuition that there's more. That there's something holding men back. (No not economically or socially, just, like, devolepmentally) I mean, media directed at men is great for reinforcing masculine gender roles. (Speaking of such, we should admit now that I have a bias. Action movies, comic books, and video games [at least the action-y ones] are for men. Monster wasn't, but look at how that ended. Wasn't an action movie either. Grindhouse?) So imagine men, with these articulated examples of masculinity like James Bond, Superman, and John McClane, (Casual Sex, Monogamy, and Serial Monogamy, if you prefer) experiencing these transient moments of manliness only to return to work or the world at large.
3Not really.
4 Okay, so here's the thing. Morrowind and Oblivion are these great games developed by Bethesda where the player gets to customize (seriously, from a lot of options) a character and make their character run all of this damn digital world. You can kill demons and talk to people and steal from those same people you can be a hero or a heel or whatever. There's a lot of shit to do. And if that sounds fun, you probably knew what I was talking about when I described the game as an RPG, but here's another thing: talking to characters in Morrowind and Oblivion is really, really repetitive because (a) there's a lot of characters to talk to(b) there are not a lot of voice actors and (c) there are not a lot of people writing dialogue. And aside from the hyper-violence and 1950's aesthetic of Fallout, what I really liked about the series was the humor. It was vulgar and morbid and obliquely socially critical. You could shovel shit and make $100. It was the easiest quest in the game. If you did it three times in a row you got a title "shit shoveler." No benefits. You weren't stronger or a better bullshitter, but people didn't run from you either.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I would go, but I'm giving a presentation on why margaret cho, and humor in general, works.

Writing Memoir
A Workshop led by Nicole Hollander, creator of the comic strip Sylvia, whose most recent book is Tales of Aging Gracefully from the Planet Denial.

2-4 p.m. October 21, 2008
Wexner Center Cartoon Research Library
Enrollment is limited to 10 students

Workshop participants will be asked to

  • introduce themselves and describe a line from a film or book that resonates strongly with them.
  • bring and read one paragraph from a favorite memoir.
  • write a one-page memoir before class about an item of clothing, shoes, or a haircut that changed a day or seems to express a pattern. Bring the essay to the workshop and be prepared to share it. [Optional: bring the item or a photograph of it with you to the workshop.]
  • as others read their memoirs, write a thought from each memoir that is striking OR make a sketch or doodle in response to the words. This is not a critique but a reaction to the feelings the memoir evokes.
  • write about a place, building, or room that carries a vivid memory of the past.
Enrollment in the workshop will be on a first-come, first-served basis. The workshop is free.
Co-sponsored by Project Narrative and the Cartoon Research Library. To register, e-mail Jim Phelan phelan.1@osu.edu.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sometime you really do just have to say "what the fuck."

So whenever this extended adage about a plumber turns into a contriage1 that really leaves me waiting for a joke about the new cost, both moral and practical, of laying pipe...

Or whenever some girl in knee socks and short shorts sits outside my apartment and cries so I'll feel morally obligated to say "hey, is everything alright?" only to run further down the alley and into the adjacent apartment building...

Or whenever I suffer through the Astro-Stat class that already doesn't make any sense, only now it's cold AND confusing because apparently someone or some computer program is worried about a heatwave in October...

Or reading Shakespeare...

Or complimenting some dude on his shiny shirt, apparently for the sole purpose of prompting him to laugh at me...

Or when I suddenly feel inclined to explain things to friends and family with truth tables and sentence atoms...

Or figuring out, through trial and error, that Brown really does want my writing sample mailed to them and not submitted electronically, because their website will only accept one file per portion of application...

I think of you, Tom Cruise. I think of how you broke my heart and I cry.
______
1I am 99.9% sure I just made this word up.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I will say this Once.

There may be more than one way to skin a cat, but there is a single way to comb one out: The Exchange of Pain.

The Best in Communication:
Answering Machine Message: Hey baby, you want some sausage? Well that's too bad. The sausage is out and you're gonna hafta settle for the beep.

Out-of-context Text Message: So I'm screening my calls and if you want to talk to me or hang out you need to e-mail me before.

General Catch-All Question: (2 years running) What the Fuck?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Make'em-Laff-Make'em-Laff-Make'em Laauugh!


Bunny Comics has explained the threat of Russia in a way even Gothic Horror fans will understand.











XKCD is good for stuff like this. And jokes about the LHC.







And from Jeffrey Rowland, existentialism, and misogyny: Overcompensating.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Into the Black Hole: Homework until Eternity

I went to Octoberfest at Penn Brewery, which means German bands, dancing, yelling stories, and the coolest hang-over I've had since I turned twenty-one. I watched the tale end of the debate, not drinking water, and fell asleep on a sweet couch.
In the morning, there was puking.
Then the puking of water.
And now my clavicle hurts.

So I didn't get much done this weekend, which is fine.
Lots of coordinating and sorting things out. A couple Ideas of import.
I just have to read "The Woman Warrior" and a couple essays for Tuesday.
But my collected syllabi are totally not cool and we aren't talking anymore.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Whatever Man

I was not accepted into Teach for America.
No, we would not like your free teaching skills.
I am not that worried. I am not less optimistic about grad school. I do not wish I knew why my application sucked so well. I am not faxing my resume to every credit card, bank, and insurance agency that advertises on the internet. I am not learning how to trap, gut, and deflesh the small mammals of various ecosystems. I am not learning to make fire from stone and leaf.
I do not care.


I am over it. Right now, I'm wondering why I think the Governor of California is a killer robot from the future and not a barbarian with bad hygiene whose name keeps getting honor and fear heaped on it by people who are, in a word, ridiculous.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Suspicions

A List of Various Thoughts I have had Today while Experiencing the Sensation of Sinking
1. The only thing that will get me through Astro-Stat-Man's class is his pacing. The only thing that will keep me showing up is his Slavic (Polish) accent.
2.I should have bought my books before school started.
3. It's probably not safe for all these people to be here at once.
4. Those Bonded Money/Your Taxes at Work/Thanks, Suckers signs are some passive aggressive attempt to get people to stop voting for these road bills or whatever they are.
5. I'm assuming some major karmic debt for taking the last original oreo package.
6. This embargo on crossing the road in front of cell-phone using drivers unless I've received eye contact and some form of hand signal from them is probably indicative of an underlying trust issue, but I really only think about it after I've finished talking to my sister's friend in Homeland Security about whether or not ███████ is connected to ███████ in ██. It takes up nearly all my time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Accidental Impression of The Duke

I was reading "Killing Yourself to Live,1" which has been easy for the first one-hundred fifty pages but the part at Lenore's apartment (while emotionally taxing) is just boring. Sad joke at the end of the chapter is great though.
Immediately afterwords, Chuck Klosterman begins a rant on Rod Stewart which includes the revelation that the Rod Stewart box set Storytellers is 4 CDs in the essential 600 disc CK road trip collection.2 The rant ends with the conclusion "Rod Stewart may be a blond clown, but everything he says is true." Which I just had to say out loud, and I did, but I was laughing so I ended up impersonating John Wayne as good or better than Kurt Russell does in Deathproof.3
_______
1Which means that this blog entry is (a) of no consequence, (b) a joke, or (c) (a) or (b) but adheres to a standard of at least 85% veracity.
2yes, 600 essential CDs. So far there's Kid A, OK Computer, Hunky Dory, Drive-by Trucker's Southern Rock Opera, The soundtrack to Girl, Interupted, Highway to Hell, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, and possibly Thriller, Shania Twain's Come On Over, Boston's Boston, and The Eagles greatest hits from 1971-1975 but that may have been a joke.
3Didn't you just crack up seeing Kurt Russell do the Duke? I nearly split a gut. My mom doesn't like Deathproof, or many other movies I like, but that's neither here nor there. She was upset that Kurt Russell is the bad guy. (I'm sorry.) Does this make John Wayne the bad guy? Is he just the bad guy to non-white, non-males?
I mean Kurt Russell is unemployed. My grandpa would not like him. (Stuntman Mike, not Kurt Russell, sorry.) Where is the connection? Is it the scar? Did KR say "OMG! I do the coolest Duke impression. You guys gotta see this!" and then Quentin Tarantino said, "zOMG! We should totally film this shit?"
I think it's a possibility.
Seriously though, was the Duke laughing while people were filming him?
Is there something to the fact that an honest impression of the Duke can only be created while laughing?
Who is the clown here?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

the power. the POWER!

I have power again. Electricity. Eeeee-leck-tricity. Watt
have I learned?
-S'mores pop-tarts are better when toasted, but everything is better now. Yes, even raw flesh.
-Kielbasa has a ridiculous shelf life. In a perfect world I will not issue a retraction that goes "actually, kielbasa is a sneaky fucker and I've have moved in to the bathroom. The lights are on. I'm not complaining."
-Going to the bathroom by candlelight sucks.
-Blackout beards are cool, but I have no upper lip.

Friday, September 19, 2008

An 85% True Story

Still w/o power/powerless to regain power. This makes a week. I feel profligate and subsequently blonde. (I read meditations in an emergency.) I wish I had a camp and a bonfire. AEP has told me, kindly at first, that the black out takes priority for some reason. I don't understand. My problem existed before and is easily fixed, but they do not have a person to spare. I would love a steak. I read an article in an old Esquire that extolled the virtues of olive oil when sautéing vegetables and the evils of it when applied to the searing of flesh.
Yes, I would still like steak by any name. It is still savory and delicious when paired with potatoes and dark beer.
Yes, I read Esquire. Intermitently. I have selection criteria.
-"This way Out" tells a funny joke. Last time I bought one the joke was "How the top 1% lives." (Genius sex is like regular sex, but with footnotes.)
-WTF is on the cover. Last time it was Robert Downey Jr. (Appaerently he smokes cigarettes now. Camel "straights," which is hardass for Camel Non-Filter [he is in AA. It is okay.])
-WTF does Chuck Klosterman think? Last time he was puzzling out a question of international opinion. (There was also a... [small encapsulated thing that has nothing to do with the article but kind of does and also kind of looks like a chart] showing four covers to "Killing yourself to Live." The American cover was what you'd expect. The Italian cover was the same but had an introduction by someone else. In French, the essay is still called Killing Yourself to Live but the cover is like flash tattoo art with KISS skulls and a steaming car. The German cover is austere (black with bright text) and the title is "An 85% True Story." Awesome.)
-Will I be able to use this for reference in the future? Last issue contained the above mentioned searing and sautéing instructions, as well as some decent recipes. Also a rubric for evaluating the size of my (metaphorical) testicles.
My criterion are rarely fulfilled, but 3 out of 4 is good enough when the wallet is thick. (with paper or digital paper-proxies.)
So I bought an issue of Esquire yesterday because what else is there to do. This issue is the 75th Anniversary of Esquire.
√ This Way Out contains 75 years of retractions and corrections including a startling revelation that Frank Sinatra did not have a cold for [some interview he did with Esquire] but Chlamydia.
√ The cover is "75 years of Esquire" but offers 75 influential people of the 21st Century. (It's a very forward-thinking issue.) They also continue to promote an electronic ink edition of the cover. The "American Diaspora" article even interviews the fellow who helped invent it. (Esquire is apparently manned by turds.)
√ Chuck Klosterman writes a timeline for the next 75 years of history. (Robot vs. Animal war. Moon colonization by necessity. Simulated experiences of phone sex, death, and whole lives. McCain, Obama, a blogger named Digger True, and Tom Brady become president. Jamie Lynn Spears becomes Prime Minister of the West Coast. "It turns out that smoking is kind of good for you.")
-No good reference material. Several Fashion people write blurbs on the future of fashion beneath their piled up hand bags, trench coats, over coats, and button-downs.

Creative dinner experiences: I'm tired of eating out. I've cleaned my home out of Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch, milk, (only threw out half of it) butter,(wasted) a pound of corned beef,(total loss) yogurt, sugar cookies, and pickles. I have 8 packages of S'Mores pop tarts and some Fiber One bars, as well as a package of kielbasa, beer, liquor, and maraschino cherries. Last night I bought a small package of lox, triscuits and cream cheese, which fuctioned as dinner and lunch, yesterday and today, respectively. I do not care for Salmolux lox. Tonight I will find a raccoon or other small mammal and grill it outside of AEP's office using fell branches and gasoline. It will be awesome and not rabid.
I have managed to finish my applicaton to TfA and a short story. Further proof that blackouts are awesome.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sometimes I like to Pretend I am a Cartoon Character

I haven't been staying at home much lately. It would even be accurate to say I am getting out more. So while I don't know if I am the best judge, I would say that it appears people, not necessarily "people like me" are getting out more. I have come to this bold conclusion because the places I go to seem busy. I suspect no one can cook other than the service industry.
And soon there will be a rush at the supermarkets, I suspect, even though I haven't been at one of those places in a week, because people will be able to keep things cool the way they do.
So I have an innovative solution to the financial crisis you may or may not have heard of:
Shut the power off in a random residential zone for three days every month. Call it the "Get the Fuck Off your Computers and Out of your Houses" plan.
You'll thank me later.

In other news, it's true that I sometimes like to pretend I'm a cartoon character instead of a real-life character. These photos were produced using a hypocritical photographer, a computer with an over-screen camera, and a bottle of Neutrogena Clear Skin cream. (Left on for longer than five minutes with no (noticeable) ill effects.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lucky You :: The Balls

As a testament to growing up or perhaps to a single moment of restraint, I have not bought any Norman Mailer or Irvine Welsh. I did buy "the world is flat."
Oh come on, it's a first edition with a cover they weren't really allowed to use!
No one understands.
------

Got up this morning and took the GRE, proving once again, I am perfectly mundane. Average. My infiltration into American culture is complete. I have a credit score and a GRE composite score that is twice that. Yes, that bad. er. Average.
The test is "an experience."
You are offered a choice of "the chair over there" or "the comfy chairs along the wall," while you reproduce a statement in your own handwriting. There are comfy chairs and even a loveseat in the white-painted mason brick basement.

You confirm your identity to a man who takes a very bad picture of you. Your social security number is all zeroes until you give it to him, if you want to. You put all your possessions but your ID into a locker.

There may or may not be a poster of a cat with it's claws out, captioned "Hang in there," or a dog laying on her back with her impossibly large ears splayed out to frame the word "Relax." Those may be imagined.

There may or may not have have been a string quartet with a violinist who snapped his fingers in between sets just to say "No hay banda! It is... an illusion." (Finally!)
But there was a brass and green glass lamp on each desk. That was kind of cool. And they give you a ton of scrap paper. So that's nice.


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I received my first bill from AEP today. I still do not have power. I think this is very poor form, especially considering it doesn't even take into account that I paid them already. It was sent automatically, unlike my power restoration, which must be done by hand. Neat.
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Rolling Stone has a comedy issue out. While the feature is smaller than I like, considering that it TAKES UP THE WHOLE COVER, like front and back, I chuckled a little. I haven't even finished it and I've been laughing. I laughed at Robin Williams favorite joke and it's take on mother-father identification.1 I laughed at the Obama fluffing. Because "with us" and "against us" is certainly choice rhetoric to steal from... who? I will, at some point, watch Drunken History and read "Garfield without Garfield."


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I do not care for Volcano Tacos from Taco Bell. That said, they are a fine eighty-nine cent investment...
-
I think a man is trying to convince a woman to come with him when he leaves for Rome and his new, exciting, first job out of school in two days.2 What "courage or nerve!"

1 A man, named Teddy for conventional purposes, is having sex with a woman. Despite their various stages of secular detachment, they can't help but notice when the door opens and the brief slice of slight from the hall is obscured by their son. Teddy pauses in mid-stroke when he sees the look of abject horror on his son's face. When his son flees, the man resolves to talk to the boy. The couple finishes up and he dresses. "I should sit down with him," Terry says, "this is a good a time as any for him to learn the way of the world."
He does not find his son in his room. Terry walks into the family room expecting to see his son watching TV while his mother protests about the state of youth-these-days. Instead he finds the boy fucking his grandmother screaming "how do you like it when it happens to you old man?"
2They were dressed like they were older. Maybe they were Master's recipients and grad school students. Maybe I just have a strange conception of how thirty-somethings dress.

Friday, September 12, 2008

If I had my way, I'd burn this whole building down.

Stop me if you've heard this one before: (nothing has changed. I do not write by navigating song/poetry lyrics.)
My cell phone had been sketchy on the battery since wheeling so I'd been keeping it off, mostly to avoid the beeping but also so I'd be able to call my parents. I called them as always and tried to charge it but without the expected result. Usually, there is a screen that says "charging" and a picture of a rhino. (a lie)
Anyhow, I'm back in Columbus. Rejoice.

Awesome things I've done since getting back:
Made an old-fashioned. (finally)
Made a Caesar salad in the dark and with chicken. (pre-cut-and-cooked, thank-God)
Threw away two and 1/8 sticks of unfrozen butter, 1/4 jar mayonnaise, two trays not-ice, 3 slices American cheese, and a tub of freezer defrostings.
Mopped.
Put away milk, eggs, 1 pound chipped corned beef, 5 cups fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, 2 tomatoes, more butter, kielbasa and a new pitcher of warm but filtered water.
Drank an old-fashioned on the porch.
Ate the cherries.
Showered.
Unpacked. Just unpacked. I even unpacked some of the stuff that was already put away in my apartment.


Totally excellent things I'm looking forward to doing after I finish blogging:
Calling the electric company and yelling a lot at someone unconnected to me or the recent difficulties I'm experiencing.
Buying candles.
Not thinking about hot wax and it's manifold applications. (Just two really.)
Writing several commentaries on the overrated nature of air conditioning, television, and nuclear power.
Building a dynamo.
Being afraid to fall asleep.
Reading by candlelight.
Sweating.
Missing gas-powered fire devices.
Eating as much yogurt and peanut butter cap'n crunch as possible.


Assumptions:
Food eaten is inherently better than food wasted.
The power isn't out in my apartment/block.
My landlord didn't turn off the power in my apartment to prevent a fire or some other bullshit.1
I will never get tired of pooping in the dark.
I have no use for a cooler other than the fact that my refrigerator is not working and it could hold more ice than my fridge, serving as a possible and consistent supply line for old-fashioneds.

Unknown Assumptions (previously understood as givens):
[Giant Eagle has] many inexpensive candles that will replace the pot brownie-ish smell in my apartment.
Yogurt takes a while to become cottage cheese.
Ice is inexpensive.

1 Re: Bullshit- I called my landlord and asked him to fix the lock on my mailbox because it wouldn't close. Every mailbox but mine is now fixed. And there are springs and clips and a box for a riveter outside my door. (also by the mailbox) Yeah. Am I being told to fix this myself? I think there's something in my lease about altering my apartment and this isn't even in my apartment.

Title, by the way, is from Samson and Delilah, which lends it's title and lyrics to a Sarah Conner Chronicles ep. I watched. It was ok. Lots of things that are and aren't. The male lead's (John Conner) relationship with the female leads are that of son-mother (his mother is Sarah Conner, played by Lena Headey from 300) and ward-guardian. (he has a robot protector played by Summer Glau from Serenity/Firefly and my dreams) These are desexualized roles at least with regards to the male lead. Neither his mother or his robot protector are going to foster a romance with John Conner,1 so the writers are free to develop those characters around non-romantic expectations. Which would be awesome and is what I've always wanted in science-fiction, but there are sci-fi expectation, a big one being time travel in the terminator series. For instance, if they're killing the people who invent skynet, then they're uninventing one of their characters, and the means through which they travel back in time.
Also, as far as resources are concerned: Time travel must be really easy. I mean, sure, there are a lot of terminators in the past, and a lot of humans from the future apparently. And to an extent this makes sense. If time travel machines run on solar power or something like a dog on a treadmill, then send as many robots or soldiers as you can spare. It especially makes sense for skynet to invade the past as it is apparently impossible to find John Conner in the future where the rest of the humans are dead and there are a lot of robots.
But sure, psychologically it's great. It's nice seeing FBI guy look crazy. It's nice seeing people live off the grid through a main stream venue.
It's bullshit they have cell phones.
1 /me in my quest to interpret everything as first-person prescriptive. Or at least everything with Everyman heroes in common settings aspiring to uncommon goals while simultaneously rejecting the fate that beautiful women have told them they're bound to

Thursday, September 4, 2008

furthermore!



fucking weird or couture? Well, that's probably not mutually exclusive. One or both, you decide.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Canada and Professional Bookwear.

I saw Niagara Falls today. It is big. It is wet. It would be better with a jumbotron.
Also, here's a service I'm offering: Professional (a misrepresentation) Bookwear Service.

For fifty dollars per hundred pages, plus the price of the book if it is not already owned, the Professional Bookwear Service will brutalize spines into shapeless paper-like submission, the first of many indicators that a book has been read not just once but two, three, four times at least. Hardback books will have they're corners rounded down. The cardboard will show through the clothette. When lending books, your borrowers will know that you carry your books around often, on their own, possibly along with other books, so many books you can hardly keep a handle on them.
All books will have one in one hundred pages torn, ever so subtly at the corner. For an extra five dollars, the tear will come at particularly well-paced paragraphs, capturing your keenness to the illusion the author has endevoured to create.
Pages will also come dog-earred, underlined, and filled with near-legible notes, your reactions to the text.
An additional twenty-five dollar offer is available entirely according to preference. As is, the dog-ears, notes, and underlinings are random and it will be up to you to make sense of them should someone ask your reasoning behind your various annotations. There's some appeal to that, I feel, but Elliot's Annotations can be applied to any book, along with a primer which will serve as a summary of the book. Deconstructionist, Orientalist, and historical criticism reads available on demand, free of charge. Sliding scale for other readings.
All books will be mailed anywhere in the United States free of charge. I will inform you of international prices as I figure them out.

Also, I went on the Maid of the Mist. I got wet. Otherwise an entirely positive experience.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Interstate Commerce

This short short was composed on I-470,1 the stretch of West Virginia that exists for recovering addicts and the impatient to connect Washington, PA to St. Clairsville, OH. It bypasses the more interesting parts of Wheeling. There are no signs for the casino. The old bridge with the newer parts is hard to see. You don't go through the tunnel. No artifacts:2

A Weirdo fell out of the sky. He started speaking in expletives that the less discerning on-lookers would no doubt imitate, but the general impression was that he was upset. He should be paste. He hit hard enough from high enough that his flesh-padded bones impressed concrete. He should be dead. Bald, the kind of beard that says I haven't worried about working or buying food for years, 5'10", one-hundred fifty maybe one-hundred seventy pounds. I can find him in the Registry.

The woman asks him if he's okay. What happened? Where was he going? Is there anything she can do for him? What kind of car should she buy? Is it all going to be alright? I love you. Won't you take me away from all this, you exotic and yet mundane thing? I follow them because it's what I do. Sky-Weirdo seems to have a picked up a flock of cholesterol-sluggish sheep outside of McDonald's. It's good cover.

My sister was a Weirdo too. The day I found out I was driving fast for Mexico.
"I think I'm going to ask Inara to marry me," I said. My sister and I had agreed that speakerphones and unlimited roaming are important inventions for the Spirit of Independence.
"Thus the trip to Mexico, Mal?" my sister asked.
"Thus the trip to Mexico, Zoe," I said, "The diamond capital of the world. Nay, the universe. More diamonds go in and out of Mexico than fluids out of isotonic cells."
And there was Kaylee, talking to me about animals cells bursting and shriveling.
"You know," Zoe said, "I don't think this is such a good idea." The breach of security is one thing, but not knowing is different, more filthy thing.


I've been tracking this TransAtlantic Virgin Captain during his stay in the hospital. He has visitors. Lord Saks, Pradator, Joan Deere, even Zoe once, though she's going by Many-Eyed Cerebral Investigator now. Standing by his side, crying incessantly, is Kaylee. It's really too much. The fanfare. Now one of them can't do one of his tricks and it's high drama. Bah, pageantry.


----
There are three maybe four occasions when I use the word "kid." Most frequently it is modified by a possessive pronoun. Someone I know has acquired a strange, habit-forming, snot-dripping child and whenever I want to ask them about it, or talk about them and their resource-gobbling ways behind their backs, I talk about you/him/her/them and "your/his/her/their kid." Sometimes I say nice things. Sometimes I talk about goats and their offspring. Sometimes I use that as a clever metaphor for people. I like goats. And sometimes I meet people who remind me of things I did when younger and less experienced and quickly dub these people "kid" before they can do anything to defy my characterization of them.
----
I drove home today. The three hour trip took four because this kid rear-ended me. It was raining. I don't blame him/hate him/feel slightly overjoyed that I have his contact information and a truck with which to run over his now destroyed car. I do, however, fault him for calling the police. In first-person present land, here's what happened:
There are three lanes. They are all full. And we are stopping. Why are we stopping? Why should anyone stop on the interstate? This is a farce. What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck was that? Pull over, get off the road. Ok, everything is still sticking to the truck.
Where's the other car? Why wouldn't he pull up behind me? That would make sense? Follow the car you hit Mr. John Jerkface. Oh, there's a car over there. On the other side of the road. I wonder how long it takes me to drive across this stretch of road while I'm going seventy miles an hour. His car is a total loss, in my professional opinion. How fast he was going?

How long can one person talk on their cell phone?

"Brewskies."
"Hey Skinny Guy who has a name I will probably never learn because I don't expect you to stick around despite evidence to contrary," I more or less say,"are my parents there?"
"Yes they are, you fat over-entitled leech," he says, though I may have imagined the leech part, "which one would like to speak with?"
"Whoever's least busy."
"No prob," he says, "take 'er easy"
"hey, you too."
I tell my dad about the accident and the more or less pristine state of my car.3 I point out that his car is completely fucked. My dad points out that that is completely someone else's, possibly the person across the street, talking on their cell phone, concern. All I need is license and insurance. My dad has not played frogger apparently, or would have made a joke about splatting.

Finally the kid finishes talking to whoever of the seven people he's had to call. I yell at him and try and sign out my phone number.
He doesn't get it.

Get back in the truck. Drive across three lanes of traffic, just to stop, get out and walk, walk, walk back to the kid, ask him if he's alright, try not to think about branding,4 how fast he was going, was he high, and etc. Then it turns out that I have to wait for the cops.

Which is great.

Because I got to sit in the back of a squad car. And see a sign that says "we are recording your actions and conversations" the same way a sign in a taxi says "Please tip" or "Driver has no money." OH, and today I was asked if I had a bomb, knife, or gun. They ask everyone. I'm not offended by procedure. But guh.

I could have been home so much sooner.

I could have still gotten hit and still gotten outta there.
----
McDonald's is modernizing. In case you didn't know, McDonald's is the source for anything you'd probably like to eat or drink. It's important to stay up to date. I bought a southern-style chicken sandwhich and a mocha coffee.( and a large french fry to keep it all in context) The drive-through lady has a very wide smile. The kind you can talk through, so you do.
"THANKS FOR STOPPING!" she says as she hands me my coffee, and then the door shuts with a "WUNCH." Swings it back open with the same sound and says with the same smile, "Thanks have a nice day come back soon."

Hypothetically, if I had the opportunity to critique her poorly concealed insincerity, what would I have said?
-Cheer up, at least your working right?
-Do you think the Mocha is better than the Cappuccino?
-What's the matter? Was your boss not getting "sincere but deadpan" greetings and farewells?
----
This just in: There is such a thing as pineapple upside-down pie. It is everything you want in pie plus pineapples.

1 This is half true.
2 A semi- did try to merge into my truck. Artifact is not always great.
3 My bumper has a new dimple and maybe a piece of his car. It could be a piece of my car that's gone through the rubber.
4He was wearing Nike sandals, Starter shorts, a Sublime Tee, and an Ohio State beanie. Fairly unobtrusive clothing articles. Are they subsequently vehicles for the brand? What would leather boots or purses look like if they were branded? Oh wait, I know.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In California. A Log Cabin. With Red Shutters on the Windows.

My mother was a mill worker and my father waited tables in a hotel lounge, mostly for the tips. Neither of 'em spoke a lick of Spanish, but they managed to bring home enough lobster to feed our two dogs and me every night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Just think about it. Deeply. Then forget about it. And an idea will jump up in your face." - Don Draper

What I'm Doing when I'm not Writing
(or On Bad Television and Its Manifold Charms)


I haven't been writing. For shame, I know. This admission is fiction. I've put together a terrible essay on Nick Hornby's use of fragmentation in his writing and the theme of death or the fear of it. It has "potential." There will be "revising." One day. Some day. Days. The worst of the potential future days.


I hate revising.

I have been watching a lot of stolen television. I've made some terrific progress through the fascinating life of dr. temperance brennan and her friend and partner seeley booth. (played by angel, an old friend from btvs and an eponymous show of his own) Soon I'll be through the third season and I'll be able to move on. It's worth noting that I think Bones is total crap. They do this thing where the plot of the episode will track alongside some story which is eerily resonant with something you remember from the news, like the blair witch project, or the hurricane katrina fallout and the sorting of bodies, or the pressures from the prolonged iraq war on national guardspeople, or the pregnant corpse that washed ashore and the investigation into her late husband, (et cetera). The first writing workshop I was in, someone did this with what's her name... Terri Schiavo. In first person. (No, I don't think it was biased. Why do you ask?) And sometime they ask questions, apparently rhetorical, like "is she crying because he's dead or because she lost a mansion?" And really I'd like to just be entertained by my stolen TeeVee. And the characters are kinda boring. Everyone has quick solutions for problems with their super-genius intellects and 1 to 2 ratio of multi-millionaire characters to characters making enough money to wear new three piece ensembles hourly.


Oddly enough, I'm comfortable with the 2-d leads. It increases the contrast when the inevitable character arc episodes come along. It's nice. I can do other things.

SO why am I watching this thing I hate?
1) I just like David Boreanaz.
2) Anthropology is part of the background for a short story i'm writing, and I can JSTOR or google anything that sounds weird/interesting.*
3) Rampant love stories. It's like watching the x-files if Mulder and Scully were in a soap opera, and there were less UFOs.**
4) Billy Gibbons cameos.
5) I'm not really sure.

I haven't minded watching Mad Men.
Does anyone have thoughts on the flying car?
Or things that end up being collected unintentionally?

*Re: police procedurals, BONES still has it's go-to gadgets for solving crimes. The maggots, the uv light, the swabby juice for blood, but they have an anthro vocabulary too. I appreciate that.
**There have been two stories that referenced UFOs. One involved a man falling from space (also involved a jealous astronaut) and another involving a pair of kids buried alive in a keg that looked like gray aliens.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,'—that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

In class exercise: 30 words or less. Define the word "Skeptic." Just your working, go-to, this-is-how-I-use-this-word definition of "skeptic." 5 minutes.
1
2
3
4

5.


Okay. Fingers away from keyboards. No one googled a definition? What'd you come up with?







I have "someone who is critical of a/some subject/subjects. A detective. A scientist."


Don't worry, my definition is wrong.


OED has four definitions. They're really long-winded but:
1. someone who, like pyrrho, doubts the possibility of real knowledge, and subsequent claims to such
2. A critic, either in a specific field or in general.
3. someone who doubts the possibility of knowledge in the supernatural, specifically Christian supernaturalism.
4.someone who has yet to reach a conclusion, but remains a seeker of, and believer in, truth.

Is it possible then, that skeptic means nothing? I mean, it seems like 4. is opposed to 1. Maybe it just means whatever we think it means.
And yet, Logic was made by 4's to prevent 1's from wasting away worrying about what would happen if they were found out for 3's. And yet, 4's depend on "skeptic" meaning 1. and not 2,3, or 4.

And that smells.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Other Observations

If I have any rudimentary beliefs about right and wrong/things that are right and wrong, then I believe that waste (the act of wasting, allowing food to spoil, allowing things to outlive their usefulness, etc.) is wrong. I suspect this belief comes from my parents, mostly because I'm still in that stage where not blaming them for a shabby work ethic, (which is ridiculous) an unhealthy body image, and all the quirks and neuroses I've channeled into a fairly comedic episode of social awkwardness would seem unfair, mainly to me, but to them too. My own social and biological failings may be tragic to me, but it could be a real epic project to them if they'd just think about it right. I'm not sad,* deep, or jaded, I'm unique. They've done good work.
But this spoilage thing, is that from them? It could be. Clear your plate, starving children in [most recently newsworthy south american or african country], et cetera. It could also be the work of J.S. Mills (maybe Hobbes, whoever social contract guy is, english-social-philosophy man?) Maybe I believe I'm ruining money by wasting food. Though I think the argument is that food should be free as long as you can take enough as it doesn't spoil, but money never spoils, and ruins the whole agrarian utopia. hmph.
Regardless, I have food. A lot. and I'm eating it really fast because I don't want it to rot.

As a tangent: While I was in pittsburgh, I opened my parents fridge. A cursory glance would reveal:
Glazed Strawberry Pie
Linguini with Clams and Artichokes (total yum, though slightly pointless in the leftovers arena)
5-layer lasagna (my mom makes "fair" lasagna, and while this may be treasonous, Mrs. Reifschneider's eggplant lasagna is far superior/will always hold a place in my heart as "how lasagna should be")
A whole rotisserie chicken
Seven wads of Kibbee (my brother was saving these for his trip to Ocean City. It actually was treason to eat them)

In my anthro class today,** we talked about two things. Adaptation and Antagonistic Coevolution. Think cheetahs/gazelles don't evolve to be faster because they want to be fast. They evolve that way because the slow ones don't eat/are eaten by the fast ones. A great segue way into disease, which ended up being a cultural anthro lesson on the various arrangements humans have lived in. As nomads there was still disease, but there weren't endemic, definitely not pandemic, outbreaks. Whole tribes just got sick and died on their isolated lonesome. After the invention of agriculture, which Jared Diamond calls "The worst mistake in the history of the human race," we hung out with poop, animals, and standing water pools more often. And then there was industry and we started using the science to raise the carrying capacity of cities. Sorry I'm glossing.

* I'm actually not sad, however, there is the constant question of what, precisely, is "on my mind."
** Incidentally, our final is from 7.30 to 9.18. That sucks so bad.