Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Snoot Full of Snow

Stop what you're doing. Drew is making a musical recommendation. If you have access to iTunes, I heartily encourage you to download the only album a group called Allen and Grier ever released, It's Better to Be Rich Than Ethnic. I guess you'd say this song is a comedy CD. The songs truly are funny, but that humor doesn't overshadow that the music is well-written and beautilfuly performed.

This husband and wife act — he's not actually named Allen and she's not actually named Grier — work like the songs from "A Mighty Wind," if those songs were actually funny. It's surprising to think an album this funny was released in 1963, because it ably spoofs gays, teenage mothers and drug addicts in ways you didn't think were legal before the sexual revolution.

Here's a sample from my favorite, "Snoot Full of Snow," a peppy love song to narcotics.
Your my spoon of sugar
And you're my poppy seed
Let's connect together
Inhaling local weed
In a close run for second is "Celebrities Cake Walk," the lyrics of which I may post if I ever get time to listen to the song closely enough to write them down.

DO IT NOW!

EDIT 10.11.2006: Months later, I finally got around to getting the lyrics to "Celebrities Cake Walk" up. They're in the post "Like a Lollabrigida Over Ethel Waters."

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Lady Peaceful

A suggestion to all: check out my new and improved Flickr account, with twice as many photos as before — and new wonderful photo sets for your viewing convenience. Enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2005

To Borrow From the Japanese, "Wan-Wan!"

Question: How do you make Earl Warren Showgrounds reek of dog shit? Easy — the Santa Barbara Dog Show. Seriously, I kept checking my shoes everywhere I went until I realized that the whole place smelled that way. I went to look at weirdos and their weird dogs, but the crowd there was tamer than I would have expected. No kooks, really. But I did get some pictures, of varying degrees of quality.

I could call this series "Dogs Not Looking at Me." Also, please note the prominence of Afghans and the Afghan-like. Thank Snuppy.



so. many. dogs. in. one. picture.





dogs have no use for the internet.



so pretty. so ornery.









dangerous things should be kept in cages.





little doggy look-a-way. shithead.



is your dog getting enough duck?







set me free.



heat + dog





And in true dog show fashion, I will present the top three pictures.



[ third place ]

I like the juxtaposition here. the larger lady in the snazzy pants has her little dog on a leash. The smaller, Asian woman is clutching her considerably larger dog in her arms. In my imagination, both dogs desperately want to escape.




[ second place ]

Because the dog is sitting in the stands, among the human dog owners, watching a dog show. And that's just great.



[ best in show ]

Nor Do the Wind, the Sun or the Rain

The hot weather gave way to a more hospitable climate. Today I drove around Santa Barbara like a happy, productive, errand-running member of society. And that’s a welcome change from hiding in my room, stuck in front of a computer monitor and feeling my pants collect with what I’d rather assume is ball sweat.



But wow — when the weather is perfect, this area seems too nice to be real. I’ve used the expression before, but I feel like Santa Barbara is the high school-slasher movie-town before the slashing begins. Back in the day — before movies and moviegoers alike became too self-aware — every slasher movie was set in a perfect little town, I’m guessing in an effort to make the ensuing violence seem all the more horrible. Haddonfield. Springwood. Crystal Lake. Even later-day settings like Woodsboro had that feeling to them, though I’d suppose anything made at the moment would try to go for something edgier, more urban. But that idea — that unspoiled corner of America where everything is too perfect and the streets are cleared of litter and people look happy just to be outside. It’s hyperbole, but it’s a staple of the genre that the soon-to-be terrorized town exists in a state of nearly tongue-in-cheek, puts-John Hughes-to-shame perfection.



Yesterday evening was especially nice. I decided to drive around until I saw something worth taking pictures of and somehow ended up at Santa Barbara High School.



It’s perfect, in my honest opinion.

Based on the way it looks, I’d say it’s the perfect median of beautiful and approachable — a nice building that’s not so fancy that it would intimidate. So I wandered around a while and took a few pictures. Nothing too spectacular, but I at least tried to capture what about this place drew my eye.



Eventually, I left, even though I’d imagine there are still nice areas on the campus. The thought of wandering around a high school just started to seem too weird. I don’t even go on my own campus anymore. This place never belonged to me, so I felt like too much of a stranger. Or maybe it’s just that the place felt too perfect, too ideal, and I didn’t want to be wander off alone.

Because you never know, you know?


Friday, August 26, 2005

Cornball

God, I can't believe I didn't realize this sooner.

Okay, so on "Arrested Development," Michael (Jason Bateman) is the third born child of the Bluth family. (They mention in one episode that his twin sister Lindsay came out first.) Michael hates the family business and constantly wants out, but family politics keep pulling him back into the mess he was born into. Despite not being the oldest, his father ends up passing the business onto Michael anyway. A big reason for this is that GOB is a playboy and Buster is a little slow. In turn, his brothers and sister scramble for favors.

Coincidentally, "The Godfather" centers around Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), who is also the third born. He also hates the family business, but ends up assuming the position of patriarch anyway. His siblings also scramble for favors from him. Michael also has a brother, Fredo, who's a little slow, as well as one sister. (It should be noted, however, that a big reason for Santino not being the heir to the family business is that he is assassinated, not an idiot. Like GOB. GOB is an idiot.)

Swamp Lily

Can anybody tell me why Flickr thinks these photos are the most interesting?
[ link: mysterious popularity ]

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Dipsomaniac

So I figure hedging my employment is never a bad idea, so I'm presently applying to Borders online. Neat process. They make you take a 37-page personality profile that asks cute questions like "Do you have trouble moderating your emotions?" or "Do you follow directions well?" or "When you argue, do you often use profanity?" All standard stuff. And then I get to page 33.

"Is it maddening when the court lets guilty criminals go free?"

Oh, totally. WHAT?!

The End of Everything

Jeez.

This week has been landmark. A year ago, it might not have seemed so big. But this summer has been, plateaued at a level I’d like to call “contented monotony.” I’ll try to detail the things that happened in this post, but the real reason I’m writing this — or most things, really — is that I don’t even know how I feel about them yet.

A television show I like ended.

I think I saw someone dying yesterday.

Somehow, this all ties together.

Discussed herein: the dark humor of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, frozen dinosaurs, Jessica Walter, simultaneous kidney failures, Alan Ball, “Everybody’s Waiting,” Claire Fisher, the sudden end of a nice car, Sanam and the three times that I said “goodbye forever,” Heath Huxtable, Aemon’s blank canvas, the end of everything

Now, I can distinctly remember reading the Entertainment Weekly fall preview during the summer before I started high school. There's an article on "Seinfeld," which was in full swing at the time. In it, Julia Louis-Dreyfus dreamed about the show's last episode — which, at the time, was two years away.
Here's how Julia Louis-Dreyfus would like to see NBC's No. 1 sitcom end: Jerry and Elaine fall deeply, madly in love. George wins the lottery. Kramer finds his calling as a minister. In other words, after years of being TV's most pathetic losers, the four New Yorkers find that things are finally working out. So they pile into a car for a celebratory ride into the sunset--and smash headfirst into a propane truck. Kaboom! Roll credits.
Julia thought up this dark ending for her TV persona, I believe, in response to the criticism the show got for the last episode of the previous season, "The Invitations." In this episode, Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer react rather blithely to the death of George's fiancĂ©e, Susan, who expires after licking tainted envelopes in preparation for her wedding. The show’s writers chose a different route to conclude “Seinfeld,” instead sending the four to jail for criminal negligence, but I think there’s something valid to what Julia proposed.

The best way for a TV show to say goodbye — to really end with a bang — would be to kill off its entire cast.

Now, this isn’t completely unheard of. Anyone who cares enough to listen has likely heard my praise for the series finale of “Dinosaurs.” Yes, that show. “Not the mama!” and all that. “Dinosaurs” was never a great show, I’ll admit, but its last episode hit with unexpected poignancy.

A summary:
The main family, the Sinclairs, go out for picnic to watch the annual migration of a certain colorful species of beetle. The bugs don’t appear. After a little exploring, the son finds the last remaining member of this beetle species, who explains that the no-show has resulted from the construction of a wax fruit factory in the beetles’ breeding grounds. Without these leaf-eating beetles, the planet’s plant population explodes, making life impossible for the Sinclairs and their brethren. So the government decides to douse the planet in herbicide. Unfortunately, all the plants die. Strapped for ideas, the dinosaurs reason that plants grow after it rains and that it rains when the volcanoes erupt. So they naturally conclude that setting each of the world’s volcanoes off at once will restore the plants.

But it doesn’t.

Instead, the volcanoes throw so much soot into the air that a nuclear winter results. The Ice Age. In effect, the death of the dinosaurs comes about at their own hands — or in this case, their rubbery Jim Henson paws.

I can remember the concluding scene. The Sinclairs are huddled around their television set watching the last-ever news broadcast by their trusted anchorman, Howard Handupme. He explains that this is the end — the end of everything — and they’ve done it to themselves. “Goodnight,” he says. “And goodbye.” And then the TV goes to static.

“Are we extinct yet?” asks the baby.

“No, not yet. I’ll tell you when we’re extinct,” replied the mother, in a voice that some might recognize as that of Jessica Walter, who’s now decidedly less maternal as the family matriarch on “Arrested Development.”

Then we see a shot of the Sinclairs suburban cave-home as the snow falls. Eventually, the snow covers the mailbox and finally the roof of the house.
And that’s how it ends. That’s how they decided to end a show that starred a catchphrase-spouting dinosaur puppet — a show that deliberately appealed to little kids, even if the underlying messages were meant for adults. Of course, by this point, ABC had shuffled the show off its TGIF line-up to god-knows-where. But I saw it. And I remember. It’s genius in that it answers the longest-lived question concerning the thunder lizards: What killed them, anyway? Faced with ending the series, the writers really had no other option. But what really strikes me about it is how decisively final it is.

That’s it. This is the end. They’re all dead. Say goodbye.

Since that episode, I’ve always thought death would be the proper send-off for any show. “The Golden Girls,” for example. Rather than spinning off into the lame CBS show “Golden Palace,” the last episode should have piled Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia into a car and sent them to a gator farm, where a tragically unlocked gate would render the four into amphibian chow. Or hell, launched the four on an ill-fated zeppelin race around the world. Or a gas leak. Or four simultaneous kidney failures. Something, some kaboom, whatever. I just never thought any show would have the balls to do it.

But God bless you, Alan Ball.

I always liked “Six Feet Under.” It’s a great show. Sad, funny, generally well-acted and courageous enough to tackle subjects that most TV shows don’t touch — especially the aspects of death we usually try not to think about, like amger and resentment and frustration and confusion and, hell, the humor of it all. Since the show revolved around a family operating a funeral parlor, it couldn’t help edging on morbid, but “Six Feet Under” always dealt with this with an understated sense of humor — and more importantly, a underlying sense of hope.

I watched this show from its first few episodes, when the characters were first forming. And I saw these people get dragged through hell. Break-ups and failed relationships. Mental illness of all kinds. The painful awkwardness that can only come from trying to be a real person in spite of one’s family. And, of course, Nate’s disastrous marriage to Lisa. And it was consistently entertaining.

But when HBO announced that this last season of the show — its fifth — they billed it with the odd tagline of “Everything ends.” Of course everything ends. Everyone dies. Even people who didn’t watch the show know this, and those who did couldn’t help be reminded of it every time they tuned in.

Another summary:
Faced with concluding his show, Alan Ball took the only route he could. He killed everybody off. Notably, the last episode, “Everybody’s Waiting,” is unique in the series in that it does not begin with a death. Instead of quickly introducing the viewer to the Fisher family’s latest client, the story begins in the hospital with Brenda giving birth to her baby — the child of the recently departed Nate, who collapsed of the aneurysm the show had been hinting at for years now. Sure, the episode ties up all the lose ends it needed to, with David and Keith resolving to make a home for their adopted sons and with Claire turning her photographic pursuits into a job that could take to New York, out of the tight grip her family has on her. But in the last ten minutes, the show does something brave and remarkable. Intercut with shots of Claire driving east on the California highway, the show flashes forward to future points in time. Weddings. A family reunion. Birthdays. And, most importantly, the death of every single character. From Keith being shot in the chest to Federico keeling over on a cruise ship to finally Claire dying at 102 years old, surrounded by the photographs of her loved ones — the characters this show made me care about for the past five years.
It’s sad, of course, but not needlessly tear-jerking like it could have been. It’s honest. It’s true to the tone of a show called “Six Feet Under.” And it’s the kind of thing that will linger with me.

To be honest, I can’t yet pin my approval of the series finale solely on its own merit. Though most TV critics have unabashed praise for the episode, there’s a chance that this sequence just happened to nail my current emotional state so squarely that I’ve fallen victim to a raging case of sympathy.

It’s an ending of a story arc I had in which I had invested quite some time and interest. It’s a story about someone moving away, leaving everything behind to embark on a new life as an adult. It’s a reminder of temporality — of friendships and situations and circumstances and life itself. And this is a theme that has never seemed more appropriate.

For example, Sanam called me yesterday to come over for one last goodbye. By my count, this would mark the third occasion I’ve given this girl the “goodbye forever” and thought I meant it.

So I hop in my car and go but stop about a block from my place. For some reason, a car is parked perpendicular to my lane. As I get closer, I see that this car has somehow t-boned some older car, knocking it onto the sidewalk. And when I say “t-boned,” I mean “t-boned the shit out of.” This older car, which looks like something its owner spent a lot of time fixing up and painting, looks like smashed tin can. There’s glass everywhere. And there’s two people lying on the ground: one face-down beneath the front part of the car, as if he had slid on his belly to nuzzle against the two front wheels, and the other two the side in the fetal position. No blood that I could see, but I only looked for a few seconds. Despite its bloodlessness, this scene looked bad.

I can’t figure out how this could have happened. This accident didn’t seem to happen near enough an intersection that it would make any sense. I don’t know how the people on the ground go to the positions I saw them. And I can’t imagine how one car ever got going crosswise into the oncoming lane. Or how it could have knocked the antique-mobile so far onto the sidewalk. But it did. And on some level, the car being this fancy little oddity makes it more tragic in my mind.

I can’t explain why.

People were already pulling over to the side of the road and talking to the victims — or, at the very least, leaning down and looking at them — and I saw a few cell phones out, so I pulled around the perpendicular car and kept driving. After all, what could I do? “Stand back, everyone. I have an English major.” As I drove by the man in the fetal position, though, he made eye contact with me. I realize in retrospect that this means I was driving forward with my head turned a full ninety degrees to the right.

I felt bad. I still do.

I turned the radio off. That seemed like the thing to do in that situation. Not to listen to music.

Had this been “Six Feet Under,” this terrible sequence would have ended with a flash to white, followed by the full name of the man on the ground and the years of his birth and death.

I got to Sanam’s and hung out much longer than I had intended. I wanted to make sure the accident would be cleared before I got home. I didn’t want to spend the emotion on seeing it again, as selfish as that sounds.

As an English major, I feel I may be prone to trying to make things fit together more thematically than they actually might. I read life like I read a book. As a pop culture junkie, I look for resonance of real life in imitations of it. I watch life like a watch TV. And I know that the movie-of-my-life or reality-as-television show concepts are just so fucking cliche, but I feel like when I watched that final episode of “Six Feet Under,” I was seeing a representation of my own experience.

Claire driving away: That’s my friends. That’s Sanam or Aemon or Greg or the handful of others who are leaving Santa Barbara to do something else. That’s also me, resolving to push myself onward onto the next stage of my life, which I’ll be doing without the comfort of a lot of the people I care about. I have a job now, in a sense. My first article for the Independent is due tomorrow morning, and loyal readers can look for all 250 words of it in next week’s issue.

Life moving on without Claire: It happens. My parents are already thinking of where they’re going to move when they’re too old to live in the house in which they raised me. My brother already works at the family business. My friends will meet new people in new locales. And regardless of what I do, the life I leave behind isn’t simply going to stop.

And, of course, there’s the motherfucking end of everything.

I know everybody dies and all things are impermanent. But I haven’t actually thought about that in a long time. I’m not sure I even understand it. For example, I know that one trillion is a number, but can’t comprehend just how many that is. One trillion pennies. One trillion microscopic organisms. One trillion people. I might as well say “infinite” or “kajillion” because I can’t actually comprehend that silly word “trillion.”

Nonetheless, I see it happening, this evil impermanence. People die, thought thankfully not that often do people I know do so. People move away, I’m reminded recently. Santa Barbara is temporary. (Take that in any sense you’d like. The Santa Barbara of my college heyday is already gone. I will eventually leave Santa Barbara. And eons in the future, the city will crumble like sand and fall into the ocean.) Even that awful accident I saw yesterday only lasted a single moment. The aftermath was cleared in a matter of hours. All that remains now, hauntingly, is a few shards of broken glass remaining on the roadside. If I didn’t know how they got there, they’d almost look beautiful, sparkling in the sun.

So maybe that’s why I want all my favorite television characters to ultimately die. Maybe that’s why “Six Feet Under” worked so well for me. Maybe if Brendon Small and Agent Cooper and Jerri Blank and Jan Brady and Cliff Huxtable and Mary Hartman had all died in the last episodes of their respective series, I’d have that closure that I crave. Instead, I watch these people cycle through syndication or I resurrect them with the spinning of a DVD. So I never really have to let go.

I hate goodbyes and I hate letting go. Yet unlike TV characters that live forever, everyone one I know will die. And everyone reading this now — if anyone’s gotten his far — will die. And one day, even I won’t be here to type anymore. And this blog will creepily remain online, a monument to what I did with my life and to my subsequent non-existence.

The television set is off right now and I don’t intend to turn it on today. Aemon left a blank canvas in Sanam’s backyard for me. (And if you read this, Aemo, thank you very much.) I think maybe I’ll put something on it. It very well might be however this jumble of thoughts and words translates into an image. Who knows? Maybe I’ll paint a monument to my own non-existence. Maybe I’ll paint a tribute to my favorite dead TV characters.

In any case, I feel oddly hopeful. I have something to work for and I know I don’t have forever to work for it. It doesn’t make any sense, but that’s the happiest sentence I’ve written all day.

Are You Naming Strippers or Trying to Express Entirety?

Something ungodly is happening in the lemon trees outside my apartment. I don't know if they even qualify as lemons anymore, really.





As you can see, these two specimen have taken on a human-like appearance. I can only imagine that they are attempting to replicate and then replace us with a thicker-skinned, citrus-based superspecies.



It's tough to say what's happening here, but I'd guess that I caught one lemon in the process of eating another, possibly a lemon traitor.



And perhaps most horrifyingly, this lemon has developed what would appear to be an anus. Do you see what happens when we teach evolution in schools?

The Gospel According to Miggy

Miggy sent me a rather simple letter a few days ago. It consisted of a link to the Wikipedia entry for the Flying Spaghetti Monster and this sentence: “This isn’t stupid.” She’s right. It’s not stupid. And it seems to be a trend that’s gaining more momentum than you’d initially expect. So please, do as Miggy suggests and read all about this pastarific wonder.

Coincidentally, my beloved Boing Boing also recently posted an item about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Like any religious icon, he’s now available in Jesus Fish-style bumper sticker form. And then, today I found this, which I think solidly cements this monstrosity as the most interesting pop culture phenomenon I’ve come across as a while.


It also profoundly disturbs me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Secondary Imagination

Also a Boing Boing goodie, here's a Flickr account dedicated to the face-not face. By the way, the tendency to "read" familiarity into unfamiliar objects is called "pareidolia." Apparently looking for faces in manufactured objects is a common form of pareidolia. There's even a book on the subject.

Anyhow, enjoy.

Festering With Sex

Hi all. Just a quick note.

Anybody trying to make comment may have noticed that you're now required to type in a word verification code. Recently, I've been getting quite a few automated spamobots posting comments that serve to as advertisements for other people's sucky blogs. A good example would be the response I got to my Myspace rant. I'd rather only refer readers to the sucky blogs of people I like.

Please excuse the inconvenience. I just need to know that you're human. Or at least the kind of robot that looks human and acts human and does more with its life than post automated spam comments.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"Weak Palabra"

A real-life letter I sent to my friend Dina, who is currently living in a land where the rain falls mainly on a plain, I've heard.
Dear Canklesaurus,

I went home this weekend and found that my graduation pictures have arrived. You'll be happy to know that precisely three-fourths of your face is visible over my right shoulder in the picture where I am simultaneously shaking Chancellor Yang's hand and receiving my diploma. I am deep in thought, of course, but you look quite happy, smiling that Dina-kind of smile. Picture your face as a reverse Phantom of the Opera mask and you'll get the idea.

I thought you'd want to know this kind of thing.

Humps,
Drew
I honestly thought she'd want to know this kind of thing.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Honey in the Tummy

kidicarus222: hey, have you seen "the aristocrats"?
rentalcarbashing: no
kidicarus222: you might like it
kidicarus222: it's a documentary about the most vulgar joke ever
rentalcarbashing: i need to see that and the bear movie
kidicarus222: bear movie?
rentalcarbashing: its about a wilderness nut who went to go live with the bears and got eaten
rentalcarbashing: grizzly man, the trailers on apple. check it out
rentalcarbashing: sonic youth did an improv soundtrack
kidicarus222: ha
kidicarus222: guess he had to grin and bear it
rentalcarbashing: unBEARable
kidicarus222: you might say his death was grizzly
rentalcarbashing: maybe he went into kodiak arrest?
kidicarus222: you might say that the bears tore open his chest and now his body parts are putrid ursine feces
rentalcarbashing: you win, g

And Mr. Bashing is right — the trailer, which is everything I hoped it would be — is right here.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Mr. Whackier Damage

More of the same, I'm afraid. So in one column, we've got the following:
  • I am wrecked.
  • wreck media
  • Me wear dick
  • We cream, kid.
  • wrecked Ami
  • Ewe dick ram
  • Mr. Weak, iced
  • We rim a deck.
  • Wee dick ram.
And in other group altogether:
  • Magic wreaked harm.
  • A grim, charmed wake.
  • Mr. Whackier Damage
  • I'm a charmed gawker.
  • "Ah! Merge a warm dick!"
  • Had warm meek cigar.
  • I'm a marked crew hag.
  • Ham, warm dick agree.
Have you got it yet?

[ source: Prance Closer ]

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Your Penile Eyes

Arts or farts? You decide.

Vanilla Maybes

Things I learned in the past ten minutes from the new quiz at VitaminQ:
  • There is a word "isabelline" that refers to a grayish-yellow color. It's rare and most often appears affixed to the name of an animal of that color — for example, the isabelline wheatear or the isabelline shrike. The word supposedly comes from Isabella, Archduchess of Austria and the daughter of King Phillip II of Spain. She allegedly pledged not to change her underwear until her father had successfully toppled the city of Ostend in 1601. Unfortunately, the siege took three years. Other versions of the story place the dirty panties on Queen Isabella, wife of Spain's King Ferdinand. Regardless, the color the color name denotes the appearance of soiled underwear.
  • Sir Lanka was formerly known as Serendipity Isle.
  • "Cockney" — a word we now use to refer to the location, the language and the people — comes from an old English word meaning "an egg laid by a rooster."
  • "Poppycock" comes to us from Dutch. It means "soft baby feces."
And for anyone for whom this is remotely interesting, I suggest you check out World Wide Words, catering to the etymology nerd in you.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Turn to Stone

Ever heard of last.fm? Sanam turned me on to this nifty website this morning, and I frankly can't see how everyone of you wouldn't jump at the chance to join.

Essentially, this website tracks the music you play. You have to download a little monitoring software that gloms onto your iTunes or Winamp or whatever and makes a note of every song you listen to. It then reproduces this information on your profile. The interesting part, aside from letting any of your friends see just how much Electric Light Orchestra you play, is that the service apparently recommends further artists, albums and songs that you might like, based on what you play. (It also apparently tries to match you up with other online souls, but this could still be cool, as long as the cyber-friendship doesn't move beyond song recommendations.) So far, I'm impressed. Think of it as one more way to stalk me.

Check out the playlist from hell at my profile. And please, if we see each other online, don't shy away from me and the ELO.

[ Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. ]

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Dansy Pansy, Puddin' and Pie

I swear, Freestats.com was the best investment I've made in a while.

So yesterday I check in to see how many people read this site yesterday — about 45, by the way — and how they got there. It's a usual mix of weirdness, with people Googling things like this and that and this for some reason and that for God knows why. But the most interesting one was this: a search on the British version of Google for the name "Daniel" specifically on my site. And knowing how little Dansy is off in Brighton at the moment, I found it funny that he's spending his valuable abroad hours Googling his own name.

So I shoot Dansy an email.
dear daniel,

were you by chance searching by site for mentions of yourself? because
i can't imagine how many other daniels using the U.K. google would do
that.

i know all and see all.

drew
Today's Freestats.com findings:
Let's put the puzzle together, people.

Hidari Maki

I normally hate chain email, but my mom sent me one a few days back that was actually worth reading. The letter claims that the human brain is unable to process physically opposite tasks with the same side of its brain. It then asks the reader to prove this.
  1. In the chair you're sitting in now, rotate your right ankle in a clockwise motion.
  2. While doing that, make a counter-clockwise motion with your right hand.
  3. Unless you're Superman or Jesus, your ankle will automatically reverse its motion.
Funny but logical. I have no idea if everyone else has heard this, but I thought it was cool.

Flavor Grenade

Today I stumbled upon a list of varieties of the pluot — the plum-apricot hybrid crossbred by scientists in the last few decades. Varieties of any common produce often have these beautiful, evocative or otherwise quirky names that try to get at the heart of their fruity goodness, and this relatively new Frankenfruit is no exception. So in the tradition of Vitamin Q, an immensely enjoyable blog that compiles lists of such things, I thought I'd list today's findings. The better names of pluot varieties include the following:

  • Blue Gusto
  • Candy Stripe
  • Dapple Dandy
  • Flavorella
  • Flavorglo
  • Flavor Grenade
  • Flavor Heart
  • Flavor King
  • Flavoros
  • Flavor Prince
  • Flav-o-Rich
  • Flavor Queen
  • Frugi
  • Last Chance
  • Red Ray
Honestly, I'd have named the fruit the "plumicot" instead of the "pluot," but even I can't turn up my nose at the likes of "Flavor Grenade."

Friday, August 12, 2005

Nirdlinger's Swing

I may not have much going on in my life, but I still have a few things I can look forward to.

The next ten movies on my Netflix queue:
And this is the first and only time these ten movies will ever be placed on the same list together.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Stagnant Waters

I have rage.

I Didn't Mean To

Systemic hypoplasia. Don't get it.

I'd wager most of the people reading this post right now already now whether they have it, though. Those with the disease do not physically age like normal people and therefore look younger than they really are. The disease varies from victim to victim — one person could be forever trapped as a prepubescent sixteen-year-old, while another could look like he or she was a twelve. In rare cases, victims of systemic hypoplasia look like children all their lives.

I'm reminded of this strange affliction because I brought it up with Drew last night. (Technically, I had forgotten this conversation took place until I was reading an article on Andy Milonakis in the new Rolling Stone.) I'm not sure why, but at some point I got on the subject of Baby Doll, a character on the Batman animated cartoon show that I used to watch as a kid. She has the disease. She's also a former child actress, Mary Dahl, who played an adorable toddler moppet on a popular sitcom. Baby even had her own catchphrase: "I didn't mean to," spoken in a creepy cutesy child voice that makes you want to barf and shiver at the same time. The episode details that Mary Dahl quit her show to make it as a real actress — after all, she is twentysomething during her "child" stardom. But she fails. And she can't deal. Reverting back to the sitcom character and toting a doll that houses a semiautomatic, Baby Doll kidnaps her old TV family and forces them to relive the show or die.

The episode is one of the darkest I'd ever seen. In fact, I'm fairly certain they never aired it during the original "Batman" timeslots — weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Instead, I first saw Baby Doll's premiere on Sunday night, before the "Simpsons," when FOX ran some of the edgier "Batman" offerings. (Notably, "Batman" is the only television show to ever be created as a weekly afternoon children's show that eventually edged onto the regular prime time schedule.) In the episode's final moments, Batman frees Baby Doll's hostages only to have the pint-sized villain escape to an amusement park. They eventually — and predictably — stalk each other into a fun house hall of mirrors, where Baby Doll shatters one mirror after another in an effort to off Batman.

When there's only one mirror left, she turns to it. It's one of the kind that distort your body. In this last mirror, she's stretched out to adult proportions. Just like any actress would, she monologues. "Look! That's me in there. The real me." She touches the mirror. "There I am." Then she drops her Baby Doll voice and speaks like a middle-aged woman. "But it's not really real, is it? Just made up an pretend like my family and my life and everything else." Then she turns to Batman, smoldering rag doll in cocked. "Why couldn't you just let me make believe?"

But instead she shoots the mirror. Then repeatedly clicks her doll-gun, now out of bullets, at the spot where the adult-sized her used to be.

"I didn't mean to."

I can actually remember my mom being in the room for this and asking "This is a kid's show?" I guess it still was, even if the people who made it weren't necessarily considering a ten-year-old audience at the time. I believe they created Baby Doll specifically for the show, and this theory is bolstered by the character's appearance.


As you can see, she looks like a cross between Rhoda from "The Bad Seed" and Elmyra from "Tiny Toons," the latter of which the "Batman" team had worked on previously.

The part that really gets me is that the writers actually referenced a fairly obscure disease on a popular TV show. Even today, in the tenth year of the internet, I can't actually find that much information on systemic hypoplasia. It's real — I think — but you'd think it would be the fodder of made-for-TV movies and tabloid sob stories. Apparently no. (Maybe it's actually not real.)

The episode is creepy, for sure, but something about the disease is especially unnerving. Being stuck as a child all your life. Not a midget, a child. But a child that thinks and talks and feels like an adult. And no one would ever regard you as an adult. And eventually your skin would age and sag and you'd be this child body wearing a suit of aged skin. Yikes. If I had this idea, I think I'd be pissed too. And then I think about some hospital ward in some city somewhere where there's a special ward for systemic hypoplasia victims. And the room is littered with a combination of toddler shoes and cigarette boxes and stuff — see, because they live here, the kids-not kids — and one day they just get sick of everything and revolt. And they come marching down the hallway, this army of children with deep voices and thirty years of adult-sized angst.

And they're carrying bats.

Yikes.

Baby Doll should have gone on to direct instead.

NOTE (6.19.2010): For those interested, I've put up a new post on Baby Doll and where her creator may have drawn inspiration from.

Childhood Nightmare Remix

Something about the elephants being pink makes them all the more scary. I don't know why.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Celebration on the Planet Mars

I can barely reach back into the recesses of my brain and remember something I saw a long time ago — something I saw in between bites of Kix in milk spiked with powdered sugar.

The year: 1990. The day: Saturday. The time of that day: morning. I think. It's "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue," a unified effort by the stars of children's television to convince America's youth not to do drugs.


So there's this teenager. He is crafting a healthy drug habit when, summoned by the hopes and fears of his kid sister, a cavalcade of cartoon characters pop into this his reality to put his life back on track. And we're not talking about Scrappy Doo or Alexandra Cabot. We're talking about the major leagues of 1990s cartoons.
  • Pooh.
  • Tigger.
  • Bugs Bunny.
  • Alvin, Simon and Theodore.
  • Miss Piggy, Kermit and Gonzo.
  • Garfield.
  • Michaelangelo (though, oddly, not Raph, Don or Leo).
  • Huey, Dewey and Louie.
  • Papa Smurf, Brainy Smurf and Smurfette.
  • Slimer.
  • And, of course, Gordon Shumway himself: ALF. In cartoon form.
Oh, also George and Barbara Bush are also there.

Naturally, the cartoon characters successfully convert Johnny Everyteen back into an upstanding member of society. It's remarkable, since one would guess that hearing ALF talking to you about drugs would convince you that drugs RULE, since you'd obviously be hallucinating. Furthermore, the show's creators are lucky the special didn't motivate children to try drugs, just in an effort to meet the Muppet Babies.

But yeah, in true half-hour format tradition, everything is fixed by the closing credits. That's expected, especially from what amounts to the most star-studded service announcement ever. No, the big deal here isn't even that ABC, NBC and CBS would each agree to whore out their characters to defame narcotics. What amazes me most is that those three networks simulcast the show. "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue" aired at the exact same time on the three major channels, thus increasing the odds that you reading this now have some inkling what the hell I'm talking about.

I like the notion of broadcasts. I like the idea of everybody seeing the same thing and the same time: a group experience, even if it's an experience for something that sucks, like, say "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue." At least then everybody has the same thing to bitch about. If everybody goes home and puts in their own VHS or Beta or Laserdisc or whatever, then they lose a bit of common ground, even if they're happier that they all got to do what they wanted.

The kicker here is that Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, raised a fuss because he claimed the show's creators didn't properly secure the rights to his flabby feline monster. No one actually got sued, but in the end the creators agreed to never air the special in the United States again. So that's it. If you didn't see it the first time it aired, you wouldn't ever see it again unless you bought it on tape. And, really, who would be so lame as to buy this special on tape?

So there you have it. Yay simulcasts and cartoon super-crossovers. Boo Jim Davis and his shit-cat.

In case you'd like a complete synopsis written by somebody far funnier than I am, there's plenty about it online. Here's the best I've found.
[ link: X-Entertainment on "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue" ]

Monday, August 08, 2005

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Old Factory

A forewarning: This posts consists solely of mathematical ponderings.

I was flipping through channels and watched about five minutes of a "Teen Titans" in which the good guys had to fight a villain who could make copies of himself. It's five on one, but in an instant five on five — and then five on twenty.

The bad guy — I don't know his name — had a division sign on his chest. You know, a line with a dot above it and another below — kind of like a bisected colon. I'd never actually noticed that a division sign is basically an ideogram, and we don't have many of those in English-speaking countries. The line divides the pair of dots, which makes a neat little metaphor for the act of mathematical division itself.

This symbol also struck me as odd in the context of the cartoon, because the bad guy could have easily had a multiplication sign on his chest. That's what he was doing: multiplying. But at the same time, he was dividing. In this instance, either word was applicable, even if they usually mean opposite things. And I got lost in a mental loop of the mathematical existentialism. Essentially, multiplying was the same as dividing.

Odd.

I realized I hadn't seen that sign in years. I don't do much mathematical division, anymore, and when I do it's usually in my head. And I thought more about math terms I don't use anymore, like "quotient." That's the result of dividing, as opposed to "product," which is the result of multiplying. I don't know why I even remembered these words.

And then I got stuck. I know that we use "sum" to mean the what we get when we add stuff together, but I couldn't remember if we actually have a word for the number we get when we subtract. It would make sense that we didn't if "sum" just means the result of combining numbers. Subtracting is really the same as adding — you're just combing a negative number. But seriously, is there a word for that or not?

Jesus. This is why I don't think about math. And ew — "bisected colon."

Friday, August 05, 2005

Puppy Goo Goo, Fetch Me a Dream!

So they've cloned a dog.


As you can see, it's a flopsy little Afghan ball of hair. His name is Snuppy, which his South Korean daddies derived by crashing "Seoul National University" into "puppy." Cute. (Even cuter, I've learned is that the first cloned cat's name was "CC," as in the duplicating email function. Love it.) So this momentous event had taught me two things: (1) that Afghan puppies are adorable; and (2) that when a news even involving dogs happens, newspapers go nuts with puns.

As proof, here are some headlines of various newspaper articles detailing Snuppy's birth:
And here's one that's borderline misleading:
And then others are just downright shitty:
And the champion of doggy-style pun headlines:
And if I had written the lede: You can't teach an old dog new tricks, but you can grow a crime against God from one of his ear cells.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Fujiyama Mama

sparklejetstream: i'm confused. the link in your blog about brandon smalls or whoever: that links to MY space. is it only doing that because i am signed into myspace, because i don't understand how anyone could have linked to your blog from my blogspace...
sparklejetstream: am i making sense here?
kidicarus222: you are making sense in that i can tell you are confused
sparklejetstream: and furthermore?
kidicarus222: if i could, may i explain in a fable?
sparklejetstream: please do
kidicarus222: okay
kidicarus222: if you want to wear a hat
kidicarus222: you have to find one that looks better than that
kidicarus222: or on second thought the hat upon your head
kidicarus222: would look better with a feather instead
sparklejetstream: oh dear
kidicarus222: but you need to ask the bird
kidicarus222: which is more difficult than you have heard
kidicarus222: for the bird, he will not cooperate
kidicarus222: unless you guarantee the going rate
kidicarus222: got it?
sparklejetstream: god no

Eggs and Lufia

And now, an examination of how I feel about my place in the world today that verges on the wistful and melancholy — plus (!) an apparently unrelated anecdote about high school.
[ the examination ]
Spence had an optometry appointment today so I drove him there and got breakfast at Cajun Kitchen while they put drops in his eyes and all that. I sat on the patio. By myself. This is notable because I rarely sit at restaurants by myself. To use the dramaturgical metaphor, I get stage fright if I'm up there alone, before a audience that I just know is mean and judgmental.

What I ate: hash browns, turkey sausage and two eggs, over easy. Bland breakfast. Typical breakfast. I tried to drown it in Cajun spicy sauce, but the effect was ultimately not as enlivening as the bottle's label led me to believe. Furthermore, I was easily the youngest person sitting outside. And the only person wearing a t-shirt and flip-flops. In fact, I was surrounded by two clusters of indoor desk types, all with cell phones clipped to their Dockers. Yikes. But I realized this whole situation, however unpleasant, was entirely indicative for this stage of my life. Me and the adults. The adults and me, conspicuously non-adultish in my appearance.

Whether I want to be or not, I live in a grown-up world. I'm not in college anymore. I need to get a job and some sense of stability. I'm finally finishing my Flash project today and will turn my provisional A into a real one. I'll have no other responsibilities from my college life holding me back, no excuses, no other alternatives to figuring out what I'm supposed to do with myself for the time being.

I live in a grown-up world now. I just need to find my place in it.
[ the unrelated anecdote ]
In my art class senior year, the teacher had the class sit at tables. Every few weeks, she'd shuffle the seating arrangement so that by June you'd arted next to just about everybody in the class. Partway through the year, I sat next to a girl named Lufia. She was tiny and Hispanic and I think a freshman who had been bumped up from beginning art because she had actual talent. She wore caked-on make-up — chola raccoon — but was outgoing and chatty and nice.

One day, my curiosity got the better of me. "So that's an unusual name," I told her.

"Yeah," she said. "I've never met any other Lufias before."

"How did you get it?"

"Well, my dad's name is Luis and my mom's name of Ofelia. So they decided to take the first part of my dad's name and stick it on the end part of my mom's."

I processed this for a second.

"Well, then shouldn't your name be 'Lufelia,' then?

Lufia was quiet for a second. "Oh," she said finally. "I'd never thought of that before." She was quiet for the rest of the day, quite possibly because I had pointed out that her name amounted to a lifelong typographical error.
[ super surprise bonus third section ]
When I took Prof. Corum's short story class, he told us that whenever authors write a collection of short stories, there's a reason why he or she groups together those given works of literature. He said the author might not even be conscious of the theme, but it's always there. I don't know if I agree with Corum. Frequently, I didn't, in fact. But when I decided to write this post, this grouping seemed like the most obvious one in the world. Now I don't know why I've yoked these two together.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Orange Brain Matter

The name of one of my favorite movies is "Requiem for a Dream." The director of this movie is Darren Arronofsky. His next movie is "The Fountain." Patience, it seems, is rewarded in grooviness.
[ link: trippy colors on the official site ]

Pizza Club

Today, Brendon Small, man among men, accepted my offer of MySpace friendship. Or at least someone claiming to be him or kind enough to put up his profile. And I see that several people got to my blog today — this blog, not my MySpace blog — by clicking on this post. In short, this means there's a small chance the enviable Brendon Small saw my blog today.

Shit. I wish I could have been funnier.

[ not my A-game ]

Ink of Sympathy

I don't know why, but I've suddenly remembered a tidbit Prof. Waid taught us in class last quarter. The French term for invisible ink — specifically the kind you write with lemon juice and hold up to light to read — is "ink of sympathy." See, because you need to coax out the message with a little effort, rather than just having it be there like normal writing, which I'd imagine needs little consolation.

Umbrella of Blood, Heart of Strewn Flowers

The latest Netflix rental is "Lady Snowblood,"which I'd seen before but could watch again and still be entertained. Think "Kill Bill" reconfigured with O-ren Ishii as the heroine and you'd have some idea. Anyway, I watched it yesterday with Nate and Ben. It never struck me in the original viewing, but Nate consistently made fun of the movie's tendency to refer to the title character as a "child of the netherworld." Nate associated it with "child of the nether regions." To myself, I read the line as "child of the Netherlands." Other good lines: "I have the weight of the Milky Way on my shoulders" and "Crying Bamboo Dolls of the Netherworld" and "Umbrella of Blood, Heart of Strewn Flowers," the last two being the names of the film's chapters. Yes, chapters. Yes, like in "Kill Bill."

Monday, August 01, 2005

Ugly Cousin Eva and Her Incomplete Face

In the interest of making my Netflix experience as interesting as possible, I suggest any frequent Cereal Box readers who use this service and are not currently on my Netflix buddy list to give me a heads up. This is your opportunity. Speak now. I dare you.

"One Toot on This Whistle..."

Someone got to this blog today by searching the phrase "planting a skittles tree." Turns out this is the only site within the wide-sweeping gaze of Google to include such a phrase. I'm honored, frankly. I'd honestly forgotten the post it links to. It's a column I wrote back in February of last year.

And I love it.

Today's non-required reading: "Gastropod Orthodox," from Februrary 3, 2004.