Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chinatown bus rules

I took the chinatown bus to Philly from D.C. the other day. Notable moments included a more-crazy-than-usual driver tailgating some Honda for several miles on I-95. Dude was a maniac and I loved it. Less loved: The middle-aged couple in front of me feeding each other cheese puffs while whispering sweet nothings to each other in some Slavic language. Shit was depraved at best.

I would have simply shut my eyes and dozed off to avoid that nastiness, but the aforementioned nutball driver had a swerving, lurching style. So I was forced to find different modes of distraction. First I went to my normal time-killer in public: Reciting non-milkshake lines from the bowling alley scene in There Will Be Blood, but eventually that got old, despite the timelessness of "They should have put you in a glass jar on a mantlepiece."

So I thought about what are the best modes of travel. Here it is: Definitive and without commentary.

10. City Bus
9. Taxi
8. Car
7. Someone else's car
6. Jet
5. Subway/Elevated train
4. Some other way I can't think of right now
3. On foot
2. Chinatown bus
1. Bicycle

Don't believe me? Just watch this commercial, which is a likely peek into my future some 30 years from now.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An important conversation

We were having this conversation yesterday, and I thought it might be goat-relevant, paraphrased:

D: So I was waiting for the Broad Street Line this morning and there was this fat woman spreading cream cheese on a bagel with her thumb. It was the grossest thing I've seen in some time. I kind of wanted to throw up, or punch her.
E: That's not that bad.
T: Was she just fat, or morbidly obese? This is an important detail.
D: Morbidly obese, why not?
T: Yeah that's awful. A disgusting human being in body and spirit.
E: Give me a break! It's not gross, it's her thumb!
T: Have you been in a Philly subway station? Eating anything in there is a terrible idea. So many homeless men pee in there that the air is permeated with urine molecules. Touching subway tokens and then eating? Horrible.
E: But it was her thumb! Are you saying that eating a bagel without the cream cheese would also be gross?
T: Well, it depends on what kind of bagel. The viscosity of the cream cheese certainly adds a level of disgust.
E: The cream cheese makes the bagel! And it was her thumb!
D: It was a plain bagel.
T: OK, the cream cheese is necessary because it was a plain bagel.
E: She just wanted a tasty breakfast, and didn't have a knife.
T: Wait, she had a tub of cream cheese? and was scooping it out and smearing it with her thumb? I now have a full mental picture, and it is awful.
E: Give me a break. Who cares? If she wants to take a chance at contracting some Philly subway germs, it's her risk. Who are you to judge?
T: If someone makes the decision that they need to spread cream cheese on a bagel with their thumb in one of the most disgusting places in America, I will judge them, and declare them gross. Unilaterally.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dumbed down

This morning I'm posting a perfectly innocent story to the web about some kid with cancer who is able to maintain his schooling via a live classroom webcam. A perfectly fine, uplifting story for the holiday season, which takes all of my self control not to change the headline to something in bad taste.

"Technology: 1, Cancer: 0" or "The future is now" or "Cancer boy telecommutes." That last one may be a bit to far. Here is an actual sentence from the story: "After some thought, administrators decided technology could help Darius continue his studies." Now I know we're not re-inventing the cliche here, at a local newspaper (circulation: 23,000 and dropping), but that is some blandly awful writing right there.

There is no excuse for using the term "technology" three times in a story, four if you count the actual headline. Perhaps there is a less descriptive, more generic word you could use? Because "technology" describes every fucking thing invented by man, fucking ever. It's a good thing I only read copy at this place at my whim, because I always regret it.

Coma-inducing copy is part of why its important to get as much PG-rated absurdity as possible into print when provided the chance. Like a song about Allen Iverson set to the Welcome Back Kotter theme. And that is my two-cups-of-coffee-in-20-minutes rant for today.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What kind of name is Landry Fields anyway

It's snowing like a bitch, I just cracked a beer, and college hoops is on, so let's give typing stuff and then putting it on the Internet a shot. Not going to publish updates too often (or at all) because no one is looking at this. We'll see if it can hold my attention with such distractions as "other stuff on television" and "looking out the window" tempting me.

This is what I know about 2009 Northwestern Men's Basketball prior to today: Their record, and that the best player from last year is hurt. But my knowledge is increasing with every informative graphic displayed. In a couple hours I will be able to spell at least 2 players names.

I kind of hope NU can win this, because I went double or nothing on this season ending in a NCAA tournament berth. Meaning that instead of going to see the football team in the Outback bowl on New Years Day, I will go to a the basketball team's first ever tourney game. This is a gamble, that can blow up in my face in many ways. They play first round games in weird places. Which makes it all the more exciting!

John Shurna's jump shot is "flatter than the interstate between Des Moines and Omaha," According to this big ten network clown. Oh he's a clown all right. Shurna is a player, they don't let just anyone onto the USA men's under-19 national team.

Just checked out the gamecast on ESPN. Is there some poor underling in Bristol entering the stats in for this game as it goes on? Probably an unpaid intern. Or an intern that paid for the right for valuable work experience in the form of menial labor. That is an observation I'm sure no one has made before.

Oh right, the game. It's 25-23 with 5 minutes or so left in the first half. A barn burner.

What ever happened to Muhamed Hachad? Internet says: Playing in France. If you had "Playing in France" please come claim your prize. Which is ... looks around room ... a harmonica that I don't know how to play. There may be a book of harmonica lessons around here somewhere, if I find it there will be a different prize.

Juice Thompson?

Halftime: Score tied at 33.
I spent the break printing out, reading, then burning this long interview with David Simon about writing the wire and other things. Good quote:

It’s one thing to recognize capitalism for the powerful economic tool it is and to acknowledge that, for better or for worse, we’re stuck with it and, hey, thank God we have it. There’s not a lot else that can produce mass wealth with the dexterity that capitalism can. But to mistake it for a social framework is an incredible intellectual corruption and it’s one that the West has accepted as a given since 1980—since Reagan. Human beings—in this country in particular—are worth less and less. When capitalism triumphs unequivocally, labor is diminished. It’s a zero-sum game. People paid a much higher tax rate when Eisenhower was president, a much higher tax rate for the benefit of society, and all of us had more of a sense that we were included. But this is not what you really want to talk about, I know.

Yeah, fuck Reaganites. If you are going to push policy with a side of morals, it helps to not be morally bankrupt.

I am going to watch the second half in earnest, which means posting this and not dividing my attention for a bit. Otherwise there is too much chance I'll get distracted by stuff like best photos of the year.

More coming ...?????

Friday, December 18, 2009

Stay tuned ...

There are no less than 5 unfinished, malformed posts clogging up the backend of this blog, including one about how evil chairs are. Answer: Very. All of the incomplete posts are better than that one that I "finished" this morning. Although I supposed that depends on your personal definition of the word "better." Scare quotes are great.

The point is that I will be forced indoors all weekend because of shitty weather, providing ample blog time. Maybe there will be a live account of the Stanford-Northwestern basketball game tomorrow afternoon, drunk on cheap blended scotch and PBR. Who knows? Don't get your hopes up though, because there is also a chance that I'll waste the time playing antique video games. In which case I am confident that picture of a meerkat will keep you entertained. Constantly refresh this page, just to be safe.

Top 5 drugs of decade

It's nearly 2010, which means it's time to reflect back on the past 10 years. That's what media people do, because its easier than trying to come up with something new, and everything's half-staffed around the holidays. Arbitrary lists of subjective things are all the rage. But honestly, who fucking cares if Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was better than City of God, or if In Bruges was better than The Royal Tenenbaums. Argue their respective merits all you want, it's still pointless. Pop-culture lists fill me with loathing, mostly because I can't stop reading them. I blame baby Jesus and job stress.

That said, I'm all for taking this frivolous pass-time and turning it back on itself. For example, the top stories of the past 4.5 billion years, or the 50 states in order. Pennsylvania number one! And I've been thinking, what would be an original and subversive thing I could do with a decade-ending list, here on this blog? And this is what I came up with, the top 5 drugs of the past 10 years, in chronological order (I don't know what that means). So unscientific and based on personal experience, yet possibly accurate?

You really haven't lived until you've flown on a commercial flight with a gram of this sticky treat folded up in a scrap of paper and stuffed in your wallet.

This would be higher, if it wasn't so prone to abuse. Using drugs is one thing, abusing them is another. Somebody famous said that, I don't remember who, possibly Marilyn Manson. I'm not sure if that makes the statement more or less credible. There are a number of other strikes against this one: Expense, terrible hangovers, etc. But on the other hand, it can be really fucking fun in the right setting. Like at a bar talking to a bunch of Mexican workers who just got off their shift at a nearby Cuban restaurant.

The fact that this is legal alone merits its inclusion. It's prolific. Getting older does destroy a bit of booze's mystique, I think, but doesn't take away from it's abilities to help one celebrate or wallow, according to mood. And of course the whole lowering inhibitions thing is pretty awesome.

Spawned the classic "You're in the painting" sequence, which I don't feel like explaining at this time. If you know, then you know. The only problem with the shrooms is too much can result in temporary the breaking of one's mind by hacky-sackers, thinking you are holding the entire universe in your hand when in fact you are holding a pebble, etc. But the benefits, i.e. Chicago looking like an alien spaceport, far outweigh the disadvantages, given proper preparation. Heh, preparing for drugs.

An obvious number one. It's both a hallucinogen and a depressant! A two for one, if you will. Plus its increasingly decriminalized, and a plant. No better way to take the edge off. I tend to regard anyone who has never even tried weed this with suspicion, at least upon first meeting them. Stupid stigmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ha ha, famous misogyny

When you think about it "Tiger Woods" could very well be an all-to-appropriate stage name, or alternatively, a sex act involving golf clubs.

TRIVIAL SIDENOTE: You may remember that guy playing Woods as drunk baby, and also from Community. Celebrity?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tarantino deserves an Oscar

Not for this commercial though, despite the presence of a talking dog. What's the Japanese advertising equivalent of the Academy Awards? I want to say The Emmys, but that's probably wrong.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Or some shit

Quick links from a week ago, with affectations:

Oh Taibbi, you had me when you compared Goldman Sachs to a vampire squid, and now this Obama Selling Out piece. I like that this actual journalism sort of backs up gut-reactions I made nearly a year ago: "So this means that we will avoid a new great depression by miring ourselves in endless class warfare."

Also might I suggest reading that article while listening to this girl who does piano covers of metal songs, i.e. Toxicity. Impressive that she does all the arrangements herself.

Back to politics and economics: Here is an International Workers of the World interview with Noam Chomsky (or as I like to call him "The Chomster") that includes all the commie-style back-slapping you would expect and enjoy. But there is an interesting point at the end about how the left should not be ridiculing the idiot right (last answer).

And finally, here's a thought-provoking piece on Iverson and public image, with passages like this:

It is sad example of how our perceptions are shaped not only by what we see, but also by conceptual frameworks that we draw upon as short hand to “make sense” of the world, as described by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in their classic book Metaphors We Live By. The problem is that to the extent that we draw upon pre-existing metaphors to make sense of people, we strip them of the agency to represent themselves as human; while these metaphors frame expectations for behavior, they also irrationally justify us assuming that our perceptions are universal common sense and those who don’t fit can be demeaned, dismissed, mocked, or vilified.

Indeed, the classic "Metaphors We Live By." Who could forget that one?

Thursday, December 10, 2009


So I'm thinking big wave surfing videos are the oceanic equivalent of Warren Miller movies. Which are all generic and the similar in their badassery, but differing in that one will have skiers being pulled by snowmobiles, and another will have a skiers flying down the mountain half-skiing half-para-gliding. In my opinion either skiing or surfing vids are much more watchable than the skateboard variety. This is due to the giant mountains and waves, rather than some guy on a sidewalk doing kickflips.

Also I suppose its important to acknowledge the song in the video above, by some band called Freedom Hawk. Which is a dumb name for a band, I think, but still appropriate for their style. Sworn enemies of rival-band Fascist Falcon! Clearly Democracy Owl wasn't rawk enough. Liberty Buzzard? Independence Vulture? Together all these form the super-team I would call the Bill of Rights Birds of Prey. Ok I'm done. That song kicks ass.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


They said you shouldn't blog angry, or maybe it was drunk? I don't remember because I am so bitter and scotch-ridden. Those people that say that, whatever that is, are FUCKING ASSHOLES. Also they may not exist. Oftentimes seething, unexplainable rage at things beyond one's control can be a powerful motivator, at least for me, to punch random people in the face and groin. But for now we'll have to settle for writing about things on the internet. These things, rantly:

Drivers of Cadillac SUVs, and the Cadillacs themselves. Enemies to all road users small in stature. A trip to the inside of a "brain" of someone who thinks that driving a enormous luxury-SUV-pick-up-truck Frankenstein creation would be fun maybe, if it wouldn't surely drive me insane. More so that is. Runners up as the worst fucking vehicles ever: Audis and school buses. They all think they own the goddamn road what with their dropping off of the children and the attached swinging stop signs and the European engineering and the four interlocking circles. What is this the shitty Olympics? Well you just lost, asshole.

What the hell is this supposed to be? Terrible use of Photoshop.

Kings of Leon. I swear to God if I ever hear that "Sex on Fire" song ever again I will immediately turn down the volume or cover my ears and start screaming "LALALALALALA, I CAN'T HEAR YOU ANY MORE YOU AWFUL TENNESSEANS." To think I once thought buying that CD would be a good investment, for its resale value. "Only by the night" will someone please shoot them in the face and murder them by stabbing. Because they would be surprised by the non-fatal face-bullet, enabling numerous easy knife wounds.

Sarah Palin and the Washington Post and Climate Change. Mother of squealing Jesus this shit again. I know the Post is an empty husk of an institution, much like all American newspapers, and its Op-Ed page is a goddamn joke that I avoid at all costs. Richard Cohen for example. So maybe it fits that a national symbol of intellectual bankruptcy, willful ignorance and disgrace would get a place in its pages in a bid for "buzz" or pageviews. But on the other hand, as Cheese Wagstaff might say, "Shit is unseemly, Unc." That is what he would say if he knew how to read and was not a fictional character played by Method Man.

The other side of the climate debate isn't much better. To wit this horrifying ad:

"The bottom line is money. Nobody gives a fuck."
-System of a Down

And just as I thought my rage would be assuaged by the soothing sounds of avant-garde post-metal mixed with protesters ... cuntstick! It's raining again. Goddamn clouds pissing all over my shit. Walking to work horribly wet sometimes makes me wish I had a car, or at least water-proof pants. Rain really fucking blows. I'd prefer snow even. Did I mention that I am soaking wet right now? Probably the main reason for my current state of displeasure. Root cause found! I'm signing off and publishing this nonsense. Tune in next time, when I paraphrase idiotic comments from news websites.

apoplectic edit: And now I go back on to work and the first thing I see on the wire is a story about a newly opening Marshmallow Peeps store. Yeah, that's worthy of 500 words. I need a joint.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Reading list 2009

I met the first man as I was going home from a dance at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall. I was being taken out of the dance by my two good friends. I had forgotten my friends had come with me, but there they were. Once again I hated the two of them. The three of us had formed a group based on something erroneous, some basic misunderstanding that hadn't come to light, and so we kept on in one another's company, going to bars and having conversations. Generally one of these false coalitions died after a day or a day and a half, but this one had lasted more than a year. Later on one of them got hurt when we were burglarizing a pharmacy , and the other two of us dropped him bleeding at the back entrance of the hospital and he was arrested and all the bonds were dissolved. We bailed him out later, and still later all the charges against him were dropped, but we'd torn open our chests and shown him our cowardly hearts, and you can never stay friends after something like that.
-Denis Johnson, Jesus' Son

My favorite thing about reading a book is getting a glimpse of unexpected truth. That is to say a piece of information or knowledge never occurred to me before, but then some passage provides a flash of insight. Maybe this can happen in other media as well, but I get it most reading post-modern fiction, a genre I have been into as of late. Specifically DeLillo. I recently tried to remember all the books I'd read in the past year, and list them.

The Macrophenomenal Pro-Basketball Almanac
Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
Anathem by Neal Stephenson
Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Ingenuity Gap by Thomas Homer-Dixon
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Cosmopolis by Don Delillo
White Noise by Don Delillo
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Breakfast of Champions by Vonnegut

Yeah, so that's a pretty self-indulgent post, and not as many books as I thought. Oh well.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The future of news

In the future, news will only be broadcast in foreign languages, forcing English speakers to interpret what is happening via computer-generated animation. I am going to start learning how to do 3-D graphics right now, they are the logical next step beyond where we are now in news-gathering/distribution, which is I dunno, Twitter? I'm not kidding, except about the learning part. This is because I assume there are thousands of Chinese and Thai people willing to make these animations of women swinging golf clubs for slave-level wages. Wages that could never support my American lifestyle.

Til the break of dawn

I love me some Ritz Theaters in Philadelphia, even if the trip takes average 2 hours on public transit one way. It's worth it to see a good film on the big screen with a mature audience. Last year after a serious thrilling, movie-guy voice trailer, everybody laughed when it went to black while a guy was wielding an outboard motor in a threatening way and the title card "Donkey Punch" went on screen. The multiplex is OK, but art house cinemas are a better way to kill winter.

So ... The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is the first movie I've seen at the Ritz in a while. I like to think of the cumbersome name (TBLPOCNO is a handy acronym) as a smirk toward the cookie-cutter police procedurals following the "Title:Subtitle" structure you see on television. So as a counter to those, this movie is batshit insane. Nic Cage's bad lieutenant is a huge part of it, with his non sequitur yelling, evil shaving, maniacal laughing, and old-lady menacing. His performance combined with the fearless Werner Herzog direction (i.e. hand Iguana Cam) makes for something you just have to sit back and marvel at. They are going for it, good or ill.

It's certainly not for everyone. The film is a hot mess, and if you can't laugh at the absurd, that can be a problem. But on the other hand: Souls breakdancing. It's matter of filmmakers trusting the audience/not giving a fuck while making a pitch-black comedy about the nature of man in a ravaged city where inhumanity is the norm, rather than the exception. It could be nihilistic if not for the animals that cast a mocking eye at the unconscionable acts. The animals laugh at the folly of man. Specifically the dog, and even the baby alligator whose mother was just run over by a car.