Friday, July 31, 2009

I've neglected this long enough

That picture is from this thing I saw on the Internet. A blog, about bikes, even. It's written by some guy who calls himself the bike snob. Cynicism and bikes, which is right up my alley. Of course if you don't participate in "bike culture" that might not be as funny. But it does have lots of pictures of absurd hipster bikes.

Speaking of culture, we have this video of some guy beating a pedestrian about the face and neck with a U-Lock. It's made the rounds, and actually its not so much a reflection of "bike culture" so much as a culture of violence and overreaction. There is a big difference between imagining retribution and acting it out.

Anyway, that's about it for now, maybe more later if I get bored/find something interesting. Signing off from Canada. Apparently I'm no Dave Barry, which is a relief.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is there any nihilism worse than french nihilism?

"It's like Transformers 2 for people who like fucked up movies."

That statement is strangely accurate. Irreversible is the kind of movie that will haunt your gut. Fermenting worry about the nature of humanity. I had gotten it from Netflix a month or so ago, and only just gathered the courage to watch it. Even though I recently saw Oldboy and Mulholland Drive -- two films that have their fair share of weird misanthropy in its Korean and Lynchean forms, respectively -- I resisted. And rightly so. Spoilers and abhorrence ho!

It was all I could do not to turn this off after the first 10 minutes. It starts with an act of horrifically violent vengeance, with a loopy spinning camera and sounds meant to cause nausea. As if the guy getting his head bashed in with a fire extinguisher in the felching club wasn't enough. The narrative progresses backwards -- ie each seen precedes the one before it, in the timeline. Fortunately the loopy camera stops, for the most part. But just when you think that first scene was the pinnacle of depravity possible thing ever filmed, there's 9 minutes of Monica Belluci getting raped, all in a single take. Be glad I didn't post the poster of that up top.

After that everything seems tame, even the assault of a tranny hooker. Yet, I can't say this movie was not worth watching. It has something to say about the nature of violence and vengeance -- pointless. Like the old naked dude says at the beginning, "Time destroys all." Depressing, yes. But untrue? It's no stretch to say this has more in common with Funny Games than Clockwork Orange.

The filmmaker manipulates the audience to feel the worst of all things. View it at the risk of your mental health and faith in humanity. The only way I can imagine the experience being worse is if you watched it while recovering from a cocaine hangover. I'm going to try and put it out of my mind as quickly as possible through repeated viewings of Ratatouille and, uh, Speed Racer.


Well, well, well. Wellity, wellity, wellity. I trust all went well in my absence? No major crimes of violence during the week of electronic solitude? When the only media I consumed were box scores, 400 pages of Anathem, and half an episode of Planet Earth on DVD? What's that? Some dude got beaten to death in the parking lot of the Phillies stadium? Jesus Christ. It's good to be back?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Audi 5000

Yo kids - you won't have me to kick around next week. I'm taking a much-anticipated vacation from all things electronic, in Maine. But if someone could feed my fish that would be great.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Today in penguin news

1) Snipers are protecting them in Australia.

2) Gay couple at NY zoo broken up apparently, thanks to some slut named Scrappy.

That's it, no jokes to be had, carry on.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I blame Seymour Hersh

So, if "news reports" are to be believed Cheney's secret assassination squads were scuttled by the chief of the CIA. Even in this age of global terrorism, clandestine paramilitary operations without the knowledge or permission of pretty much any other arm of government is frowned upon. Military officials would rather bomb the shit out of suspected cave-dwelling muslims with high-tech flying robots, collateral damage be damned. It's a shame really, because if there is one thing we can learn from watching fictional movies, its that groups of mercenary assassins are damn near the most effective evil-doer thwarting mechanism available to the Western world, outside of pair of mis-matched cop-like people, one or both of whom were recently suspended from the force.

Here are examples, because how better for the goats to shit all over this important news, all the while adding little to no new ideas and little context. Blog-style! Yu might say my whole life has been leading up to this point. In fact, you could literally say that and be accurate, because of the nature of time.

Its unclear now and likely forever how these "surgical" operatives were assembled, if they were at all. But the most important thing would be to make sure they have a leader who would never flinch or hesitate, and be willing to spend years away from his wife and newborn child. Especially as the group slowly confronts the moral dilemma of being the agent of a somewhat shadowy government cabal bent on revenge against Arabs.

Of course, come conspiracy theorists might think that revenge on the Arabs is unnecessary, because they say initial attack was in fact an "inside job" perpetrated by these elite government agents in the first place. Fortunately, even if this is the case, these people are cut from the same cloth as anarchists and other dregs, so their opinions don't hold much sway, crudely produced documentaries notwithstanding.

But obviously the training of these elite squads is paramount. Super soldiers don't just reanimate themselves in a secret government bases on their own. It's not exactly clear what kind of training would be necessary -- Interrogation and interrogation resistance, explosives and weapons training, whatever. That shit is boring, and best confined to a montage.

It all pays off when to take out a Central American jungle base, just cook up a story and drop your elite squad of potential governors armed with absurd guns into the meat grinder. They'll take out the base so fast they won't have time to bleed, one-liners pending. Of course, if there is some sort of alien "predator" also in the jungle hunting humans, the team's survival is not guaranteed, or even likely.

But death is not the worst option because there is always a chance that a well-funded killing machine/person will "flip" and hijack a warship with the intention of stealing the nuclear weapons found therein. It would probably be embarassing to have to sit down and explain how this nut-case (let's call him "Stranex") could take over a battleship, and how you lost control of him. Chances are you will not be able to rely on a former Navy Seal turned chef to bail you out. Maybe they would try to wipe his memory or something, but I doubt that would work. Seems outlandish.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

On the other hand

This video: Superior in every conceivable way to that jokey Oakland one I posted yesterday. There is no argument.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Needs more Ice Cube references

As far as comedy videos go, this one rates a strong "meh" for references no one on the east coast will get, and which are probably lame anyway.

On the other hand, according to anecdotal evidence in the form of a text message I got one time, Carl Weathers frequents diners in Oakland.

Friday, July 10, 2009


This was one of the more of productive weeks that you will find here, I suppose. Something to build on, as I attempt to start writing a book. That's right, a book. That will likely never be published. But shit, if this can get published, I think it means the standards are officially low. What's this book about you say? That's a good question, one which I trust will answer itself in time, in theory. Throwing glass bottles against the wall will be involved either in the creative process or as a narrative element.

Rambling. My dead bike has been revived somehow and converted to a single-speed. Which is extremely fun to ride. Perhaps turning it into a fixed-gear is next on the agenda. Either that or new brake pads. If only my digital camera could also come back to life, I would upload pics of the sweet frame weld job. It can be nice having a retired handyman for a father.

That's it, my boss just handed me a VIP pass to the local bike race tomorrow, so I have to go weigh my prank options: Either a smoke bomb left over from 4th of July, or dressing in the gorilla suit and riding my bike around the course a few times. Or both.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Book club: A bit of Neal Stephenson

I just started reading Anathem by Neal Stephenson, which will probably take me most of the summer. He's been one of my favorite authors for a few years, since I started reading Quicksilver, the first book in his historical fiction series The Baroque Cycle. That probably wasn't the best place to start, being that it is somewhere around 1000 pages long.

I think either of his earlier works Snow Crash or Zodiac would be a better place to dive in, because they have his trademark clever ideas and humor in a much more straight-forward narrative. All his books have technical elements, and these are no exception. For example, Zodiac has a lot of bioengineering, which makes sense in its context of the main character trying to clean up/prevent illegal dumping in the Boston harbor. And Snow Crash has a ton of stuff on linguistics, information flow and ancient Sumerian texts.

Although at the local bookstore the other day I noticed that each volume The Baroque Cycle had been broken down into its separate parts (each novel has 3 parts, as I recall). So conceivably one could start with what got me hooked on Stephenson in the first place, that is the second part "King of the Vagabonds." It details one Jack Shaftoe, a kind of accidental hero of the underclass, as he rescues an astute prostitute from a Turkish harem during the fall of Constantinople and then travels back across Europe, all the while slowing going mad from syphilis. I don't want to spoil it, but his uninvited appearance at a royal ball in Paris is one of the funniest scenes I've ever read.

It's hard to classify Stephenson's books, being as that they are made up of so many disparate elements, and they have gotten progressively bigger and more ambitious. I think the number one thing that links them is the amazingly inventive ideas that they all contain. With that in mind, here's just some of the myraid from a few of his books that I have read. That I can remember off the top of my head.

Zodiac: The main character gets around primarily by the motorized inflatable boat that also constitutes the books title. He bikes around Boston at night wearing all black with a philosophy that all cars are trying to hit him. Also he is a big proponent of nitrous oxide, because it is a simple molecule and thus cannot do much damage.

Snow Crash: Set in a future where the US government has completely disintegrated as private industry has taken over and even living space has been franchised. Hyper-inflation has completely destroyed the value of the dollar so much so that the quadrillion-dollar-note (The Gipper) is the the standard small bill. Also the pizza delivery system is one of the most efficient organizations in the world, as it is run by the mafia.

Cryptonomicon: This is the first time Stephenson started writing historical figures into his narrative. For example, in an early chapter one of the main characters goes on a bike ride with a young Albert Einstein and Alan Turing through the pine barrens in New Jersey, and they see the Hindenburg explode. Later there is some hilarity involving a morphine-addicted Marine slapping "I shall return" bumper stickers on Japanese trucks at the behest of Douglass MacArthur.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

dear lord, make it stop

I don't know what is going on here, and I'm not sure I want to know. Severed limbs jumping around and possibly dancing? Two dimensional cats spitting blood? Seems like a good way to pass a Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Learn you good

Now that summer is in full swing, I find myself in minor confrontations with cars on a regular basis. Such is the nature of bicycling everywhere, especially when not baselessly yielding to cars' superior horsepower. Last summer I dealt with these inevitable fleeting skirmishes by yelling "Josh!" It was an absurd and confusing thing to scream at drivers who were already kind of flustered by a fellow traveler flouting automotive conventions.

But alas "Josh!" has somehow lost its appeal, and I need to develop a new pavlovian response to on-road confrontations. Ideally it would be be quick and to the point, but not agitating the driver's apoplexy. The ideal would provide me with satisfaction while instilling a kind of bewilderment followed by regret in the driver. So cursing and flipping the bird are probably out. Here's a few ideas I've come up with, if you have any thoughts or suggestions please hit up the comments.

Flash a Thumbs Up
I've been doing this in lieu of anything better. I like it because it is open to interpretation. Am I being sarcastic, or no? Was it an indication of tacit approval, or condescensing gesticulation? Who knows, and now the car is a quarter-mile away. With any luck the driver will ruin their day thinking about the nature of intent in a fast-paced society.

"Learn to read!"
This one was inspired by some guy who yelled "Learn to bike!" at me while I was riding down the double-yellow, waiting for a break in opposing traffic so I could turn left. It's got the necessary absurdity, and it also implies stupidity in the driver. Also, a large portion of our society is losing its ability to read for comprehension, so maybe the suggestion will inspire them to improve their skills and better their life.

"Sorry, for your life!"
Here's a bait-and-switch. The "Sorry" shows deference, agreeing that obviously because my vehicle is small and human-powered, I was in the wrong. But then the "for your life" takes it all back, with vindictiveness. It's probably to much to assume, but I would hope this conveys a message of "Hurry up and get to that job you hate!" to old Larry Leadfoot.

That's all I've come up with -- although "Eat shit, Fuckhole!" does have a certain appeal, if it wasn't too inflammatory. But if things did escalate to the point where the car stops moving to argue, picking up my bike running at them while swinging it like a club, or throwing it at the driver-side window are options that would probably cause some alarm, and property damage. Worth considering.

Monday, July 06, 2009

dude, intense

Our fans are braver than I to let that song penetrate them, or maybe they don't realise what they're listening to. They don't realise that Street Spirit is about staring the fucking devil right in the eyes, and knowing, no matter what the hell you do, he'll get the last laugh. And it's real, and true. The devil really will get the last laugh in all cases without exception, and if I let myself think about that too long, I'd crack.

I can't believe we have fans that can deal emotionally with that song. That's why I'm convinced that they don't know what it's about. It's why we play it towards the end of our sets. It drains me, and it shakes me, and hurts like hell every time I play it, looking out at thousands of people cheering and smiling, oblivious to the tragedy of its meaning, like when you're going to have your dog put down and it's wagging its tail on the way there. That's what they all look like, and it breaks my heart. I wish that song hadn't picked us as its catalysts, and so I don't claim it. It asks too much. I didn't write that song.
-Thom Yorke on "Street Spirit(Fade Out)"

Lessons learned

Thanks to a sterling start on Sunday from Joe "Fat Joe" Blanton, the Phillies are coming off a much-needed sweep of the hated, depleted Mets. Of course there were two other games won, one of which was attended by yours truly. No better way celebrating the Fourth of July with the American pastime. Except maybe by sitting alone on your front porch with a single sparkler.

But that is neither here nor there. While at the game on Saturday I conducted what in restrospect I'll call a "social experiment" in heckling. This is to say I learned the player you can't criticize at a Phillies game without facing the collective shunning of everyone within earshot. This is not unlike learning that Michael Jackson is one person whose death would force MTV to play music videos again. A sacrifice that proves worthy.

"You suck, Chase!"

Those were the uncouth words that drew the piercing glares of some 75 fans in the vicinity of section 142. The situation was that he missed a ground ball. It was not an error, sure, but Jimmy Rollins drew mordant shouts just innings earlier on a similar play. Granted, Chase is having a vastly superior season to Jimmy, statistics-wise. Also I suppose it was easier to see Jimmy's play unfold from our left-field vantage point. I'm going to avoid any racial connotations.

The reaction was akin to shouting "Hail Satan" at a genuine colored lady wearing her best church crown at a Baptist Church on a Sunday morning. And I suppose that Religion fervor can make for a good comparison to die-hard sports fandom, especially considering the crowd on Fourth of July. These fans ditched a presumable cornucopia of holiday and family options to support their team (not me of course, I had nothing else to occupy my holiday besides that lone sparkler).

So what, if any, conclusions can be drawn from this little episode? That Chase "Fucking" Utley is well on his way to becoming the most celebrated athlete in Philadelphia sports history. And one insults him at your own peril, especially when surrounded by thousands of the most orthodox baseball fans in the Delaware Valley.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Consider the possibilities

This is a short work week, thanks to Canada Day, Everybody is losing their jobs day, the 4th of July. And I ain't got shit else to do, so here's a bunch of Internet crap.

If this sounds like a ridiculous use of everyone's time, that's only because it is.

I spent a bunch of time checking out the various quirky baseball infographics at Flip Flop Flyball. They kind of remind me a bit of the macrophenomenal basketball almanac. One highlight is a fantasy baseball game between Wu Tang Clan and The E Street band, but there is a ton of other goodies. Obviously Clarence Clemons is a power hitter.

Ever at a loss at what to say during sex? Here's a guide that could come in handy. Although its unclear what kind of reaction "I just pooped ... a lot ... on your dog" would get. Probably good right?

Transformers 2 is out in theaters. As difficult as it is to resist the ostensible lure of giant robots (with balls!), explosions, and Megan Fox running in slow motion, the lack of coherent plot may just keep me away. Plus the fake Michael Bay twitter is probably more entertaining. And this is coming from someone who owns Snakes on a Plane on DVD.

That's about all I can muster for now. I'll leave you with a music video via this list of 100 from Pitchfork in 2006. Because why not?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Gotta pick up my game

Seriously, this is what I would produce if I had access to the video production technology. Oh wait, I do? Hmmm, perhaps its time to start working on my fake animal cutouts. Although I did make a video one time about winter weather that prominently featured a coworker sliding down the hill outside our building on a snow shovel.