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.

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

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?
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


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 (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 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,


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.
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


Pick up this week's issue of U Weekly.

Open it to pg. 37.

Look at the round picture.

That's my butt crack.


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.