Saturday, May 31, 2003

Bits of Toad in My Teeth

The beginning of experience.
I've gotta get a new balm
I've gotta get a tight tension on
I've got to slip it up before the rush gets gone
I've got to feel it with the hot mind on

Hey Norman was it thrown with a broken arm?
Bottle it up, yeah, to keep it warm

I know you got it but you got to go
I'm gonna get into the batter so the mix might glow
I hate to do it, but I did it though
I'm gonna bite into the body like the risk is no
I got the souped up car and -- what you call -- tripping on the boom bap
etymological
I ride the fader and I ride it low
I'm gonna slip into the field like Han Solo
Funny, but I always thought the line was more like this:
I gotta get a new bomb
I gotta get a tight tension on it
I gotta slip it up before the rust gets gone
I gotta feel her with a hard mind on ya

Hey Norma was a girl with a broken arm
Bottle it up, yeah, to keep it warm.

I know you got it but you gotta go
I'm gonna get into the batta so the moon might glow
I had to do it but I did it -- toe.
I'm gonna bite into the body like risk is no
I got a souped up car and -- what you call -- tripping on the boom bam
peda-ma-logical
I ride the feeler and I ride it low
I'm gonna slip into the feel like Han Solo
Credits, either way, to the insurpassable Mike Doughty.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Cliffs Notes, Heroin, Porn and the English Major

Not a bad column for my first week as assistant opinion editor, if I say so myself. And I do.
Cliffs Notes, Heroin, Porn and the English Major

In moments of pre-10th week desperation, scruples fall by the wayside.

I knew when I entered the Barnes & Noble downtown that I would leave a smaller man - that I would have to hang my head lower than usual. Cliffs Notes, those wonderfully compact and effortlessly readable summaries of history's greatest works of literature, may be lifesavers — and gradesavers — for some, but for those who commit their college careers to the written word, they're badges of shame. I might as well wear a Cliff Notes-yellow S on my chest for "shit for brains."

Entering Barnes & Noble, as an alternative to the overstuffed, three-tiered den of media pushers that is Borders, I knew exactly what I had come in for. That didn't stop me from perusing the actual, non-synopsized literature, maintaining the guise of a better-disciplined reader. Soon enough, I found myself standing before the altar of cheat - a nice display featuring a wide array of "guides" to books. They weren't even the yellow standard of literature shortcuts, Cliffs Notes, but some second-rate clones called SparkNotes.

I swallowed my pride and grabbed the SparkNotes for Joyce's
Ulysses, an ingenious book that for me encapsulated the essence of artfully arranged literature. It inspires me, it intrigues me and - godammit - it confuses the hell out of me. Ulysses is great, but I simply am not smart enough to mire through it alone.

As I stood in line, I wondered if I could have somehow alleviated the embarrassment of cheating by sandwiching the SparkNotes between other books - big, thick brainy books with big ol' Russian names on them, like Tolstoy or Dostoevsky. But no. I meekly handed the librarian-like cashier my purchase. A forced smile stretched so tightly across her face I could see a maternal "I'm very disappointed in you" face peeking out from the inside.

"Is this gonna be it?" my faux Barnes & Noble mother asked.

It? It? What are you trying to say, lady? You think I don't read real books too?

"Yep. That's it," I responded politely.

"I remember when I read
Ulysses," the woman said. "It was a huge part of high school for me."

Oh, you snarky bitch. You totally can tell I'm way older than high school age and you just want to make me feel dumb. Well hah! I don't believe Joyce had written Ulysses back in the Bronze Age when you were in high school.

"Neat," I responded.

I rushed out, carrying the SparkNotes in my Barnes & Noble tote bag like a closet drug addict racing from his dealer with a baggie of heroin.

I probably would have felt as shameful if I had asked her to ring up a copy of
Smutmonger Weekly or Coco Jugs or Foxhole Buddies. It's that bad being an English major who not only skips the reading but actually ventures out to buy a dumbed-down version of the required reading.

So I have my
Ulysses Lite now - plot summaries, character profiles and historical context, now free of stream of consciousness! Its makers tried very hard to mask the utter criminality of slicing up great literature and mashing the remains into pocket-sized booklets. The back proclaims SparkNotes are "just what you need to succeed in school" - you know, except for brains. The back also promises insightful literature analysis "by Harvard students for students everywhere." I'd guess this means the world-famous Harvard University, but since this is never specifically stated, my guide could have been written by students of the Harvard School of Cosmetology. There's even a whopping 10-question test you can give yourself at the end to gauge how much of this watered-down classic you actually absorbed.

I've thought up some nifty defenses to any accusations of my academic slacking.

"It's almost the end of the last quarter of the year."

"It's just a study guide - it says so on the front!"

"Everyone buys these things, anyway."

But nonetheless, Cliffs Notes, SparkNotes and any other kind of Slackernotes blow, roundly and soundly. I flipped into the regular, non-mangled
Ulysses to review a point lightly touched upon in a synopsis of the final chapter. "... I often felt I wanted to kiss him all over also his lovely young cock," narrates Molly, the protagonist's sex maniac wife in the novel's appropriately raunchy conclusion.

I smile and laugh. Damn, this book's way dirtier than the SparkNotes for it.

Daily Nexus assistant opinion editor Drew \has lifetime subscriptions to Coco Jugs and Foxhole Buddies.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Maru Mari

End of the year sidenote: I'm especially proud of having using the powers of editing to get "Metroid" into the bank of words searchable on the Daily Nexus website.

[ the proof ]

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Consumptive, But Okay With It

My stint as county editor of the Daily Nexus has ended. I am glad. I didn’t embarrass myself in the position. I didn’t shame my predecessors. And I didn’t fuck up the desk so badly that my successors will shout my name angrily and wave their fist at the sky, like I do when Meghan pisses me off. I’m happy it’s over. Maybe in real life I could hold down such a job without losing my sanity, but trying to balance that while still caring about my schoolwork? Nah. Not possible. There’s a certain element of suck that goes with being Cory’s assistant — to start out with, anyway. I mean, I can’t imagine it would take me that long to learn what I need to learn, but it’s only fair that until I can do as much work as Cory, I shout serve as the opinion desk bitch. Also, I’m sure the management’s apparent distaste for how I do everything has played into this arrangement. And also my stress-related freak out a few weeks ago. But whatever.

School is finishing up shortly, and segueing nicely into London, for which I have apparently gotten all the necessary paperwork in. Now all I’ve got to worry about it suffering through Mrs. Dalloway again and finding people to bum around the mainland with once the school part is done.

I ashamedly bought the Cliff’s Notes for Ulysses. It was awful, like buying a Third Eye Blind album at a hipster record store or something. But I guess there’s no shame in acknowledging that although Ulysses is a great piece of literature, I am simply not smart enough yet to comprehend everything that’s going on. Or anything, for that matter.

Nonetheless, I have a new job, a new pair of flip-flops, and a can-do attitude. I have the whole world ahead of me. I just have to tell it to get out of my way.

Staked

"Buffy" has ended. Too often, “thank God” follows that statement, but I will miss that show, even though I’ve consistently been missing it since this year o’ pain began. I just wished naysayers would have had a chance to realize what a smartly written show it really was. Most cult shows don’t last two years — even critical darlings like "Twin Peaks" had a short shelf life. Nonetheless, Buffy staked her way through seven seasons and a jump from a struggling fledgling network to an even more struggling one. But yeah. Buffy meant something to me. She went to college before I did, a little did I know that her battle with Kathy, the roommate from Hell — literally, she was from a Hell dimension — would foreshadow oh so many battles with my little enemies. It was a way of approaching the shittiness of teenage life no one had done before. I got limitless satisfaction out of seeing the asswad of a principal get eaten by a three story-tall demon-snake-mayor.

Plus, I totally had a thing for Anya.

At least I got to write a newspaper article about it. It was my little — very little — way to send of something I enjoyed. Plus, I forced upon Buhler the indignity of running a news article with the word “Buffy” headline.
[ link: "Buffy" Fans to Unite for Final Show ]

Jinkies!

And, as time fixes all wrongs, most of what I didn't like about my life is fixed, pretty much. Funny how that works. Like how time is curing my hangover. Well, time, and a seemingly endless programming block of "Scooby Doo" on Cartoon Network.

That Daphne Blake is a lovely lass.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

She Calls Him "Juice-Juice"

Two late nights in a row, and I couldn't be happier — and both of them without chemical supplements, either. Last night was a drunken festival of midnight backyard campfire whiffleball with Nate, Jill, and Hilly. It concluded around 5:30 a.m. with multiple cuts and bruises and a viewing of episode seven of “Twin Peaks.” I hit the sack at 4:30 last night, after a night of late night sobriety. Turns out I can be social after all, even if that socializing is exclusively with one person. And for every person I really like, there’s one I don’t. Last night's walking disaster: Little Baby Needs a Lot — also known as Clingarella. She’s a friend of the roommates from out of town and also now an entry on the list of villains and scoundrels.

Her crimes:
  • She looks like Ladan.
  • However, she does not look like a good version of Ladan and I honestly miss Ladan, so being confronted with this poor man’s Ladan just made the disparity between her and Ladan all the more noticeable. It’s like this boogly girl crawled into an ill-fitting Ladan suit or something. This is also where she gets her third nickname, Not the Ladan.
  • She clings more tightly than the face-huggers from “Alien.”
  • She’s Jill’s friend. As much as I hate to admit it, by God’s law all of Jill’s friends must suck beyond the telling of it.
  • She’s way not a cool drunk and the time I’ve spent with her has been pretty well alcohol-soaked.
  • She latched onto Justin like the aforementioned face-huggers. This is somewhat understandable. Justin’s the kind of guy girls want to be friends with. In fact, Justin hit it off with all the girls at the party. If that was his thing, he’d have pussy coming out his ears. But this chick decided she would nickname Justin “Juice Juice.” This is unforgivable.
And I’ll bet she has SARS, too.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Where Ladybugs Go to Die

A natural abnormality. I saw the first one on top of a rock, so conspicuous he must have wanted us to see him. Bigger than normal, too, as if just seeing him at the beach wouldn’t have stood out enough.

Why would thousands of ladybugs go to the ocean?

It was so strange. Anything would have been more expected, really. But no. Ladybugs, which usually live in the garden. And there, you see one or two. Not as many as we saw. Literally, thousands. On the rocks. On the sand. Clustering on coils of seaweed. Even in shallow puddles, one-by-one being devoured by nearly transparent water predators. And believe me, ladybugs can’t swim worth shit. Most were where the water had washed up curvy strips of ocean trash as a marker of how high the tide had gotten, dead and alive. I’m only left with three possible solutions.

One: I know ladybugs are carnivores. They eat aphids. And there’s always a ton of little bugs like sandfleas at the beach. Maybe the ladybugs eat them now. But why haven’t I seen ladybugs the bajillion other times I’ve been to the beach?

Two: Someone just dumped several bags of those store-bought ladybug packages at the beach.

Three: Like some kind of entomological Del Boca Vista, Gaviota Beach is where ladybugs go to die.

But I guess I don’t really need any explanation. It happened. And after all, nature does occasionally fuck up and make weird stuff happen, right?

My Own Personal Foam Party

I stood watching the washing machine today. Unlike most washing machines, ours has the peculiar feature of continuing the wash cycle even when the top’s open. You get to watch your clothes spin around in frothy washwater around the center rotator thingamajig. It actually feels kind of wrong, though. The way the water slops around and splashes out onto the floor leaving white, filmy residue is like watching the bodily functions of some alien life form — an alien life form that cleans my clothes.

I like aliens like that.

More Than Just Olives!

Well, the earlier entry notwithstanding, it’s not all glower and gloom.

Jill and I took a daytrip Friday to the universal center of lame, a sprawling craft fair of a town called Solvang. The Solvangites, who pride themselves on being the keepers of a history-spanning tradition of lame, made me wish the Danish had been the long persecuted people of history instead of the Jews. You know you’re in trouble when you can’t remember which quilting store you parked next to. Betty’s Quits. Quilts of Denmark. Country Quilts. Quiltorama. Quilt ‘till You Puke. Okay, one of those was fake. Betty actually owns the crockery shop. I was reminded of those shitty toys older people give you when you were little. You know, the wooden ones that are too nice to actually play with so you put them back in the box and thank them even though you wanted Metroid. You know what I mean? These shops are all over Solvang, purporting to sell toys but actually selling future antique collectibles. Bleh.

And then this one time, me and Jill go into this shop that sells porcelain figurines. We thought we might find, like, Meghan’s birthday present or something. And we did. It was a double-figurine set: a porcelain Hell’s Angel-looking tattooist inking a flaming skull on the back of a naked porcelain biker chick.

Another mistake of the Solvangites is their insistence upon architecturally designed all their buildings in the Danish tradition. No one told them that Danish architecture fucking sucks. No qualification for that: just wanted to shoot it out there. Nail boards to the exterior of your whitewashed home and it looks like you didn't finish building it. Even the garbage cans are painted in the lame ass Danish style. I contemplated stealing one to replace my stolen garbage can, but I decided against it, not through some philanthropic respect of the city council that so thoughtfully painted the bins, but merely because I didn’t want to get caught and have the theft of Danish garbage can on my record.

I can’t wait to get the photos from the trip developed. It’s pretty much the two of us making disgusted faces around some of the more revolting local sites. Thank god we decided not to spend the night.

EDIT 7.1.2006: I finally got around to getting the pictures from this trip online. They're in the post "The Lost Afternoon."

Brain Damage

Asks Nate: “Why do I cough when I put the Q-tip in my ear?” I think he’s actually poking the part of his brain that triggers the coughing reflex. Stop pushing the Q-tip in when you feel resistance, Roommate Nate.

Friday, May 09, 2003

What Does a Cat Sound Like?

I'm a Joycian cat! Mkgnao!

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Blame

Lousy academic performance. Generally dazed mental state. Zero social life. Sputtering libido. Sapped creativity. Poor diet. Disdain for the current state of the world, nation, and county. Diminished musculature. Insomnia. Migraines. Heartburn. Anxiety attacks. Hatred of the written word.

Thanks a lot, Daily Nexus.

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Mutants

Drew did something cool. Then Drew wrote about it for the Nexus and got paid. This makes Drew happy.
Stars and Mutants Mix and Mingle

In the grand tradition of Artsweek insinuating itself into the lives of the famous, this reviewer glimpsed a brief collision between two worlds at Monday’s premiere of the superb “X-Men 2” at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

As the actors strolled down a blue carpet before a crowd of X-nuts, Anna Paquin, whose charm justifies the stark reinterpretation of her character Rogue for the films, met the fat, black judge from “American Idol.” They shook hands. They introduced themselves. Anna feigned a smile. Artsweek witnessed this oddly intimate but ultimately inconsequential moment.

Stars juxtaposed themselves repeatedly in this fashion. An incoherent David Hasselhoff followed the crowd-pleasing Hugh Jackman. Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, whose statuesque physicality awed, followed Fez from “That 70s Show,” whose celebrity status plunked down to C-level just by comparison.

Famke Janssen and Alan Cumming both wore skirts. Alice Cooper and Marvel god Stan Lee both wore wrinkles, but proved true cool transcends old age.

Joyously, this stellar parade paled next to the film. “X-Men 2,” which this reporter prefers to the actual title of “X2,” rocks on every conceivable level. The film recaptures the moments of the original “X-Men,” in which the characters transitioned beautifully from comic book page to movie screen.

Furthermore, the first film’s flaws have thankfully vanished. Halle Berry, absent from the premiere, ditched the white fright wig, the one-liners, and the lame somewhere-from-Africa accent, transforming Storm into a good character. When Storm is concerned for her teammates, Berry evokes a genuinely sincere emotion. When Storm is pissed, Berry thunders like a true weather goddess.

Janssen’s Jean Grey also emerges as a powerful figure. No longer as slight as the Invisible Girl, Jean’s eyes flicker with just a bit of the fiery splendor the third movie will no doubt explore. Completing the troika of wowing superwomen is Mystique, who actually gets to talk. The scaly blue vixen gets enough screen time to further bump Romijn-Stamos to legitimate stardom.

Plotwise, “X-Men 2” succeeds where other superhero sequels fail. The multitude of screenwriters balance the cast of the first movie well, developing characters who took a back seat before. For example, Cyclops (James Marsden), the optic blast Boy Scout, plays a minor role in the action, while Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) inches toward becoming a full-fledged X-Man.

The introduction of the many new X-Men escapes overkill. Prepare to meet a spot-on Nightcrawler (Cumming) and a steely Deathstrike (Kelly Hu), as well as Pyro, Kitty Pryde, Jubilee, Colossus, Siren and a hairless Beast.

This X-adventure sends the superpowered minority to fight the genocidal Stryker (Brian Cox), who’s as scary as an ordinary human can be among mutants. Woven into this tale is an exploration of Wolverine’s (Jackman) mysterious origins, in which the short, furry one - cool as ever - reminds the audience why he’s everybody’s favorite. All the while, the rivalry between Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) boils hotter than liquid adamantium.

Director Bryan Singer has every reason to be proud. Plus, he won’t have to constantly be looking over his shoulder like Joel Schumacher, constantly waiting for that one diehard fan to reap revenge.

It’s a new standard for superheroes.

Friday, May 02, 2003

The Phone Anti-Bill

I do not understand the world in which I live. In lieu of a final phone bill, Verizon sent me a check for $4.82. Hurray?