Monday, July 31, 2006

Grotesque Fashion

While KrisDina and I were in New Zealand, we repeatedly saw advertisements for Icebreaker, a particular brand of wool-based clothing. There were advertisements in most New Zealand magazines and posters in the windows of clothes shops. These ads, to say the least, were eye-catching.

Here's an example:


As you can see, the brand hypes the pure Merino wool aspect of their clothes by dressing up two models — a wispy, fair woman and a brawny, tan guy — is some kind of strange sheep drag. The end result is something out of Greek mythology, though it more realistically came from Photoshop. (Honestly, I like that there’s such a great potential for overlap between the two.) But I can't help feel a little wrong to look at something that clearly exhibits sheep characteristics and then thinking sexy thoughts. Maybe that’s the point. These grotesque forms do nothing to dispel the notion that New Zealanders — famed shepherds — bugger their flock like it's going out of style. The two depicted, however model-pretty they may be, look to be the offspring of such matings.

Finally, the above image is, to me, frightening on a primal level. Not only does the sheep-man seem to be springing from the very soil, wool and all, but his lady friend is holding those shears in a dangerous place. I worry for him, my friend the sheep-man.

I managed to find a second ad picturing the same to models, though the image is of substantially lower quality. It also doesn't compel me to cross my legs in a protective fashion.


We get a better shot at the woman — who, it turns out, looks a little bit like Allison Goldfrapp — and her apparent leotard of wool. We also see that the man does in fact have feet. Now he's holding the shearing scissors and I'm a little worried for Mrs. Man-Sheep.

Strange people, those New Zealanders.

Poodle Ears

Strange illustration depicting numbered steps for how to make your poodle resent you. Posted by Sanam on my MySpace profile.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Words, We Love Them

It's good to know that the experience of working at the Nexus doesn't sour people altogether on writing. Not everyone, anyway. During my career as an unabashed snoop, I've managed to collect a small group of Nexites and former Nexites who keep blogs or contribute otherwise to online content. I've decided to make a permalink group for them in my sidebar, just in case any other recovering reporter should want to see what their contemporaries and predecessors did with their post-undergrad lives. I myself gave the Nexus four good years and I still haven’t learned my lesson.

Foremost among online Nexites is Tony Pierce. He worked long before my time, but I'm fairly sure his name came up every now and then. I actually found out about Pierce after having I wrote the Wikipedia article on the Daily Nexus. His page links to it, and I have to say I'm envious of a Nexite with his own Wikipedia article. The page notes that he is nicknamed the "blogfather" — however with a "citation needed" superscript — and that he wrote several blooks. I'd especially like to point out his post "How to Blog," which I'm glad to see I'm following, more or less.
[ link: Tony Pierce's BusBlog ]
Kazu Kibuishi has probably had the most successful career of any artist the Nexus has ever employed. He's still drawing, and doing quite a good job of it. Kazu is also the other of the two Nexites I know of who have a claim to fame on Wikipedia.
[ link: Bolt City ]
Jason Shock, who if I'm not mistaken laid the framework the first Daily Nexus website, still resides in Santa Barbara. He has a personal website that features his blog.
[ link: ShockBlog ]
Jenne helmed Artsweek my first year at UCSB, and in the process forever impressed me with the inherent coolness of the paper's weekly arts and culture supplement. She's quite the legend with the people who succeeded her — namely Jessica, Brenna and Aly. More mail addressed to her shows up at the office than any other former Nexite that I'm aware of. Jenne is currently blogging from Hamberg.
[ link: We Have the Most Fun ]
Mr. Valles was the EIC some time before I showed up. He used to blog frequently, but the site hasn't changed in a whole year and I think it may be dead for good. Nonetheless, all the old content remains.
[ link: everythingwrong* ]
And now for my generation:

Dina Dina Canklesaurus, as any frequenter of this blog should know, is one of my regular reads. She worked as an assistant county editor two years back.
[ link: Canklesaurus ]
Former chief copy cat Jason also keeps a blog, albeit one with an unwieldy name.
[ link: hjeuotiawurhaiwrjhkaw ]
Semi-regular Nexus artist Megan has also been a regular read of mine since her blog began.
[ link: Cherchez la Femme ]
Molly was a Nexus regular who drew editorial art, wrote the occasional news story and contributed a regular comic strip, "Patty." She's also still drawing, and you can see a lot of her stuff at her site.
[ link: Mollycules ]
Bri, who’s column “Esoteric Living” ran in the Nexus last year, also has been permalinked for a while.
[ link: Literature and Water ]
Mark Batalla, who served as art director last year and I believe is again this year, also has a blog, though it doesn’t seem to have been updated in a while.
[ link: Battle On ]
The current Nexus managing editor, Devon Claire, keeps a blog, although it's usually only for the purposes of posting photos.
[ link: Demon Glare ]
Dave-a-Reno is doing some cool stuff in New York currently, though his two online ventures are either out of commission or long-forgotten. Yell at him for me.
[ link: Black and White Animals and Reno in New York ]
Maggie Muldoon — artist, gadabout and KCSB personality — arrived at the Nexus office during her freshman year and I got to see her blossom into a full-fledged college student. She's always doing cool things — like travelling to Ghana — and you can read about them on her two blogs.
[ link: Akwaaba Obruni and Liberty Salad ]
Meghan, who took over the opinion desk after my tenure, used to blog regularly, but her new life in San Francisco seems to have given her better things to do than sit at a computer.
[ link: My Strange and Beautiful World ]
And, of course, there's little Dansy Pansy, former EIC, who blogged about his travels in the United Kingdom. He said a long time ago that he wanted to take this blog down. Maybe this will remind him to do so.
[ link: Danarchy in the U.K. ]
If you're reading this and noting a glaring omission, tell me. It's kind of hobby of mine, stalking former colleagues. But yeah — I'd love to hear about it.

Oversized Octopus and the Gimmie-Gimmies

My YouTube videos of anteaters — either wrestling or feeding, depending on which one you're talking about — have gotten their own small share on intention since I put them online. They're not, however, the most watched YouTube videos tagged with the word "anteater." They're separated from the top of the heap by a few other videos, the best of which are clips from a 1960 Japanese live-action children's show called "Kare Kare Takura," or in English, "Gimmie Gimmie Octopus." The show frequently features the run-ins between its protagonist, Octopus, and Anteater, the show's apparent villain.

You need to watch this.


As for the other character, the pear-looking thing, the guy who posted the videos on YouTube says he's a peanut.

And just for the sake of filling your daily quota of psychedelic weirdness, here's a second video in which the same three characters are visibly high at the end.


EDIT 11.05.2006: About two weeks ago, YouTube purged its library of all content owned my Japanese media groups under threat of a lawsuit. As a result, the "Kare Kare Takura" videos are no longer available.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

It Should Not Have Been

Alvin, of "Alvin and the Chipmunks" fame, shown befriending a vaguely anthropomorphic female hot dog, possibly in promotion of a brand of hot dogs. Origin unknown.

Sheep Race

Some stranger sent left a message for me — on Flickr of all places — that led me to a YouTube video of a sheep race in a town called Shropshire. I have no idea where Shropshire is, and knowing those British types there could very well be multiple Shropshires throughout the world. Nonetheless, this particular Shropshire is well-known as being the home to a daily sheep race, the documentation of which you can find below this text.


And I'm Drowning Slowly

Tonight I made that rare venture back to Isla Vista, to a setting of more youthful days that I now find haunted with so many memories that I simply can’t enjoy the place anyway. I usually try to avoid it altogether, but I.V. Theater’s Magic Lantern series was showing “Brick,” a film that’s had me jonesing for full-on months and which neatly skipped any Santa Barbara movie outlet since its release back in 2005.

The trip was worth it.

“Brick” was that movie my brain has been impatiently awaiting. I’ve been wanting it to occupy two of my valuable hours then leave its unanswered questions to rattle about inside. It was the new “Mulholland Drive” or “Donnie Darko” or “Battle Royale” — in short, something to chew on. Like the other movies in that list, “Brick” takes something very familiar and poses it in a way I wasn’t prepared for. Given the instant cult following that has sprung up around the film, it seems almost pointless to heap additional praised on top of it. Being me, however, I’m going to give a shot at saying something that may have been omitted by its other fans, who have doubtlessly catalogued their own takes on it on blogs and message boards across the internet.

To superimpose the vices of the adult world onto a high school setting is nothing new. Most profoundly, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” did this for several years — and to the kind effect that pop culture is still reverberating with some of the notions it put forth. Its spiritual successor, “Veronica Mars” has been mixing the world of detective noir with high school since its debut in 2004, but claiming that the show is anything like “Brick” would be the same kind of wrong as thinking that Jessica Fletcher and Lt. Columbo would be able to make polite dinner conversation. (Note: While we’re at it, invite me to this dinner party as well.)

No, while “Veronica Mars” is a high school detective whose sunny seaside patch of California offers its own dark mysteries — and they are dark, probably much more so than anybody who doesn’t watch the series would expect — the world of “Brick” is downright bleak. I should probably point out that its version of California is more often than not foggy. The characters that live there seem like they haven’t seen sunlight in long enough that it’s permanently spoiled their dispositions. Everyone — everyone — has an ulterior motive and most of them seem to implement everyone else’s destruction as an integral part.

Simply put, “Brick” is about Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his process of unraveling the mystery of his dead ex-girlfriend, Emily (Emilie de Ravin). His search takes him from pumped-up jocks to local drug dealers to the burnouts who smolder in suburban backlots. As far as the viewer can tell, Brendan disdains high school society, a thickly layered hierarchy in the universe of the film, and one that is governed by the all-important status of who a person eats lunch with. Brendan eats with no one. A panicked, mysterious phone call from Emily, however — “I screwed up real bad… I didn’t know the brick was bad, but the pin’s on it now” — sends Brendan back into the crowds he’s avoided for so long.

The film translates the various elements you’d expect from an old-fashioned, grown-up noir in clever ways. Instead of the behind-the-scenes reporter feeding the gumshoe the inside information, it’s a loner nerd, The Brain (Matt O’Leary, probably one of the only actual high schoolers in the film.) Instead of the police chief leaning on the detective to do the job he can’t, it’s the vice principal (Richard Roundtree, in a brilliant bit of stunt casting). And instead of the aged, amiable gangster controlling the local seamy underbelly, it’s The Pin (Lukas Haas), a 26-year-old drug pusher who lives with his mother and has somehow attained the status of an urban legend through all his behind-the-scenes doings.

Probably the only element writer-director Rian Johnson didn’t have to change much is that of the femme fatale. With a minor one played by a Meagan Good and a major one by Nora Zehetner, “Brick” offers these dangerous women virtually unchanged from their classic models. They’re the alluring ones who just may be behind all of the criminal intrigue, whether or not it’s happening in high school hallways or the mean streets of the big city. And like everybody else in the cast, these actresses deliver the saucy and the seductive quite well.

The film doesn’t scale back any of the risk to accommodate its high school setting. That should be no surprise, since “Scream” upped the ante of teenage drama to life-or-death suburban carnage nearly ten years ago. What I wasn’t expecting with “Brick” is that it would strike with such intensity that I nearly forgot the film was framed in this cute “high school detective” idea. This world would eat Veronica Mars alive, a tough a creampuff as she might be. And that’s to say nothing of what would become of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. (In short, they’d fare worse than poor Emily, who’s dead in the film’s opening scene.) And because it doesn’t talk down to its purported audience, “Brick,” like “Battle Royale,” helps to validate the concerns of the teenaged set by depicting these characters’ lives how real teenagers feel: life and death, for every tiny struggle that arises.

In the way that “Scream” lent itself to comparisons simultaneously with both “Clueless” and “Psycho,” “Brick” admirably treads the line between genres, creating an altogether new one. Call it neo noir with a teenybopper chaser. It doesn’t matter. The film should appeal to fans of such a wide variety of genres that it should be popping up at the top of Netflix queues of young and old alike. It’s revolutionary, but it’s also the kind of mind-grabbing movie that thrills for its duration and leaves the audience with enough lingering questions — about the plot, about the directorial style, about state of genre films in general — to make it linger. Like a ghost. Like a good mystery.

Oh, and yes — there were enough spinning ceiling fans to remind me of that other dead blonde girl by the water, Laura Palmer.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Boy in the Plastic Bag

A photo of forgotten origin. I can't explain because I didn't grow up Asian. I converted.

Whatever Happened to Trishelle?

He started his own blog, proving wrong my assumption that Maryland doesn't have the internet yet.
[ link: Tristan Bannon, Master of the Perverted Arts ]

I Can't Believe It's Not Melodrama

It was witnessed last night with awed stupefaction while watching a rerun of the Kirsten Dunst-hosted "SNL" on E! It was, as best as I can describe, a promotional gimmick for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter featuring a Flash-animated murder mystery centered around a personified bottle of said faux butter substance. Named "Spraychel," the feminine protagonist is apparently trying to prove her innocence in the untimely death of "Buttricia," a personified stick of butter.
[ link: Free-Spraychel.com ]
"Things really heat up when the refrigerator lights go down." The mystery will unravel through a series of webisodes in the series "The Sprays of Her Life," which sounds like golden shower porn. (And would a golden shower joke really be out of place in universe centering around spray butter?) Supporting characters include Nurse Lardis, a gay strip of bacon named Kevin, and Dr. Brock, who looks suspiciously like David Cross.

I honestly don't know whether to laugh or cry. The dialogue is surprisingly salacious, full of double entendres like this one, spoken by Spraychel about Buttricia: "I don't mean to squeeze my own tube, but I taste just like her." Whoever came up with the idea of marketing a soap opera heroine with the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter pump sticking out of her head deserves a raise, then to be fired — in whatever order best suits the people at Unilever. In short, not nearly as good as that talking tub of Parkay, but infinitely better than Fabio. (The latter, by the way, is referenced in the Spraychel universe by the heroine's lawyer, a talking corn cob named "Cobbio.")

Note: If I had seen this commercial on E rather than on E!, I probably would have liked it a lot more.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Don't Get Me Wrong

I really do like the Scissor Sisters. So don't pay any attention to the strange post on the Discopop Directory blog, which has somehow credited me with the following quote:
The Scissor Sisters' homage to really terrible bad dance music of the 70s, is the most fucking gloriously badly good song ever.
I never said that. They must be confusing me with somebody else. Also, strangely, they titled their post the same thing I titled mine: "Ironically, I Do Feel Like Dancing." Well, us and seven hundred other people who blogged about the new track.

First Defamer, now this.

Vandalism — From the World of Tomorrow!

Dr. Zoidberg hangs out in men's restrooms. Or did you already know?


Photo courtesy of Nate.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Small Mystery

I really haven't got a clue.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Greg Is Stupid

So I'm going back through old posts and re-formatting them and spell checking them and all that. It's an effort to get my blog ready for a full-on template upgrade, which should hopefully happen by the end of the summer. Anyway, one of the joys of doing this is re-reading old AIM conversations that I would post on my blog back in the day I actually talked on AIM. Foremost among this conversations are the one in which I give Greg shit.

Seriously, they're some of my best work.
[ link: High and Loquats and Fatty Fatty Phonehead ]

Ironically, I Do Feel Like Dancing

Hurray for free downloads. Snag the first single from the new Scissor Sisters album, "Don't Feel Like Dancing." And get it today, for tomorrow the link may be broken.
[ link: free disco goodness ]

Why I'm So Fucking Famous

Let's play a little game. I'm going to give you a clue — something like "I was quoted on Defamer some time in the past forty-eight hours." Yes, the Defamer, the one celebrity gossip website that can pull off rumor-mongering with a touch of class. Now you can guess how that happened.

Ready? Set? Defame!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Those Owls, They're Still Not What They Seem

Literally just hours before I complained to Spencer about my desire to watch "Twin Peaks" through again, I stumble upon this post on Stale Popcorn, this Australian guy's movie blog that I've been frequenting lately. The post, titled "Who Killed Laura Palmer?" details news about the second season of "Twin Peaks" finally being released on DVD at the end of the year.


The first season box set came out three years ago. And for a set that only included seven episodes — and that's not even including the two-hour pilot, which was left off for legal reasons — they did the best job they could do with it. But the catch here is that I can't bother to share this with anybody because episode seven ends with a major cliffhanger, namely Coop being shot by a masked assailant in his hotel room at the Great Northern. That's not to mention the fact that it also drops off with Shelley being trapped a burning barn, Katherine being apparently incinerated by said fire, Nadine going suicidal and overdosing and all other manner of badness. Without the concluding episodes to follow up with, all us DVD-happy "Twin Peaks" fans were left with only a blue balls-inducing non-ending. And I was not about to make the trek back to Emerald Video to re-rent the VHS copies of it again. No, I remember what happened to my life the last time I did that.

Anyway, this is very good news. I suspect a "Twin Peaks" revival to soon come about. If not world-wide, then surely in my life.

Mix Master Dog

Este Quelpo Es Delicioso

Life in Santa Barbara has become about as arduous as it can get. Our normally temperate weather has devolved into something hot, sticky and altogether foul. It’s as if we’ve taken up residence inside one of the Hilton girls. Beyond that, I’m broke and the city is repaving all the streets, so we have no choice but to take pleasure in the small things.

For example, Otter Pops.

At someone’s suggestion — Mike’s? Aly’s? — I dropped by the store and picked up a box of 200 of these little puppies. Ah yes, now I remember. I had been listening to the Talking Heads’ “Popsicle,” which I don’t think is actually about frozen treats so much as something more sexual. Regardless, I have them and they’re currently transforming from plastic slips of colored sugar water into the icy sticks of punch-flavored happiness that we remember from our childhood. I remember them, anyway. Even though the good people at Jel-Sert make no claims about the healthiness of their product, I always preferred these popsicles to all others — even the Minute Maid or Welch’s varieties, which actually taste like the fruit they’re supposed to represent.

Admittedly, I still like the taste, even if I recognize now that Otter Pops are little more than sugar, water and artificial coloring. But I think what actually drew me to them would have to be the packaging. Still the same as I remember it, the Otter Pops box is decorated with an iconic red and blue strip design. And standing before the background are the Otters themselves. Yes, for the unfamiliar, the six flavors of Otter Pops each have their own character — a cartoon otter complete with punny name and a personality.

So you know:


Orange is Little Orphan Orange, an “Annie” parody that now goes by “Lil,” I’m guessing because the target audience wouldn’t know “Annie” from one of the Katzenjammer kids. Like her namesake, Lil keeps a pet dog, which strikes me as especially odd since in my mind otters are basically dogs with fins. Funny swim dog!


The purple otter is Alexander the Grape. One of the better puns, if an obvious one. No one seems to care that he wears a toga and looks particularly anachronistic.


You can only differentiate Strawberry Short Kook, the red otter, from Little Orphan Orange because she’s red. And she doesn’t have a dog. And she’s less cute. And there’s nothing especially kooky about her. So, basically, Strawberry Short Kook is the worst character.


Louie-Bloo Raspberry, according to the official description, is a jazz-loving beatnik from New Orleans. He wears a beret and has French facial hair — or what I’ve come to recognize as French facial hair.


Then there’s Sir Isaac Lime. See, now the puns go into the shitter. This green otter is the nerdy old man inventor type. You know this because he has glasses and a white moustache. I seriously think the people who created this character could have found a better pun for “lime” than “Sir Isaac Newton.” I mean, they might as well have called him Alexander Graham Lime or Franken-Lime or something. Piss poor. Good flavor, though.


And finally we have Poncho Punch. I don’t really mind his name, though there’s really nothing Mexican about the corresponding flavor, which tastes like mashed up cherry Sweet Tarts mixed with water. Which I like. Also, he’s basically the same color as Strawberry Short Kook, which I find awkward.

Notably, Wikipedia tells me that Poncho Punch was subbed in for a different character, Rip Van Lemon, in the mid-70s, shortly after the brand’s debut. I think “Rip Van Lemon” is probably a worse pun than “Sir Isaac Lime,” but I’d bet that I’d like the flavor better than I like Poncho Mutherfucking Punch. (In retrospect, I note that Poncho Punch seems out of place in the Otter Pop line-up because he is the only otter without a three-word name, which Rip Van Lemon did have.) Here’s the only image of R.V.L. I could find. Looks like a barrel of fun, eh?


In spite of their lameness, I love these characters. I even don’t mind their design, though they look kind of like finger puppets now. Here’s what the Otter Pops used to look like, back when they were designed by artist S. Britt:


Groovy stuff. Exactly the kind of mod children’s illustrations I grew up on and continue to dig. And also apparently why I am still drawn to these sugary desert sticks. In researching the Otter Pops, I eventually stumbled onto the group's oficial website, Otter*Popstars. And I say group in the way that Spinal Tap or Josie and the Pussycats were groups. The six color-coded otters have apparently started their own band, which plays hits like “Save the Day,” which features the following chorus:
The sun is shining away
And just as I’m about to melt
You come and save the day
Get it? “Melt”? Because she’s not actually an otter — just condensed sugar water molecules in some kid’s freezer. They’ve really gone to some effort to make the Otter Pops seem like quite a deal.


See what I mean? It’s actually more cute than obnoxious, so I’ll allow it. Somehow, I don’t think these items could ever fall on my bad side. In fact, why am I blogging when I could have one right now?

Finally, the website really hits a home run with the fun little side projects that each of the characters present. For example, Lil offers tips on raising your dog, while Louie has a poem. Ever the brainiac, Sir Isaac Lime explains the difference between fruits and vegetables… for some reason. I actually can’t imagine why. Here’s an excerpt, with the especially worthwhile part in bold:
Fruits are usually sweet because they contain a simple sugar called fructose, while most vegetables are less sweet because they have much less fructose. It's quite simple and makes perfect sense. In fact, the sweetness of a fruit can be very enticing to many animals, causing animals to eat it and thereby spread the seeds when they poop. It's called distribution.
The fuck?! Did the green otter professor just say “poop”? (And did I just ask that question?) I realize it is a essential part of the explanation about why fruit has seeds, but I don’t want the cartoon image representing the thing I put in my mouth to say “poop.” Ever. That’s just how I feel. Seriously, if there really was no way around that, they could have had good ol’ Isaac explain something else.

I’m going to close this meandering essay on all things Otter Pops with some quotes from Poncho Punch’s section of the site, “Useful Spanish Phrases for Otters.”
Soy una nutria de la agua salada,” or “I am a salt water otter.”

Esas rocas son deslizadizas,” or “Those rocks are slippery.”

Su almizcle huele encantador,” or “Your musk smells lovely.”

Este quelpo es delicioso,” or “This kelp is delicious.”
Sorry, it just had to be documented.

Notes:
  • I also found the official site of S. Britt, who’s quite talented indeed. Not only that, but he links to Naho and Monsterism, two other sites whose similarly-styled art I really enjoy.
  • Apparently there's a SoCal ska band called King Otterpop and the Slushtones. There’s also a Sacramento-based punk band called the OtterPops.
  • And the name of Little Orphan Orange’s dog? Melon Collie. Suck on that, Billy Corgan.


  • Pop culture catalogue: Paris Hilton’s vagina, the Talking Heads, Annie, the Katzenjammer Kids, Alexander the Great, Sir Isaac Newton, Alexander Graham Bell, Frankenstein, Rip Van Winkle, S. Britt, Spinal Tap, Josie and the Pussycats, Billy Corgan. Maybe I’m having a good day after all.

Paint the World Blue

The sprite of a character from a beloved video game I playted when I was a kid. A Happy-Happyist, this guy dedicated his life to finding happiness through painting everything blue. Even cows.


He looks a bit like a Ku Klux Klan member, doesn't he?

The Capper — By Which I Mean the Death Capper

As if saying goodbye to my fish wasn't hard enough, I just received notification that my UCSB Umail account will expire on the first of August. You know, it will be hard living without that janky email system that I never used.

R.I.P., Jean-Pascal. R.I.P., droog@umail.ucsb.edu. R.I.P., college.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Jean-Pascal

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Jean-Pascal, my betta. Some time between yesterday afternoon and today, his finny little body wiggled for the last time. Now he has gone on to the place where many other bettas have gone before him. Rufus. Checkers. Drewfish. Chinese Checkers. George Washington Carver 2. And the one that I didn’t name because it died before I could think of one. By my estimation, he lived just over three years.

It is also with great sadness that I note that I have no photographic evidence of Jean-Pascal, though he’s lived with me since the end of my senior year of college. I needed something, so I took this.



May this photo depicting his out-of-focus death grimace remind us all that we may so lose our friends, often to corrosive bowl fungus that suffocate the respiratory system in a chalky, white beard.

I would have never named a fish something I had trouble spelling. Brie named him, but then gave him to me when her love of all things French took her to Nice. Since then, Jean-Pascal has always been there, slowly floating about. At the Pasado House. At my parents’ house while I was in Washington. The Bath Street apartment. The house on Cathedral Oaks. At Spencer’s for the period I was homeless during which he survived being put out on the balcony because “he looked like he needed air.” And now here. Honestly, by being a long-term resident of the house in Hollister and by initially living at Brie’s place, he’s actually lived more places than I have.

Jean-Pascal was a good fish. He also got to ride in a car more often than most fish do, I'd wager. And for whatever reason, his death has made me sadder than I would have expected. At least I’ll always have the above photo to remember him by. That and his bowl. What the hell am I going to do with his bowl?

[ i shall never hear thy sweet chirrup more, alas! ]

Just Happy to Be Here

A promo photo of Petra Massey, an actress KrisDina and I saw in the play Cooped at the Sydney Opera House. It was a good play. Oh, and we saw her completely naked.


I'm four times in love.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Oh, Delicious Spam

It’s just too typical to be a blogger complaining about spam, I know, but nonetheless this post will discuss the peculiarities of a new kind of unwanted email that I’ve been receiving lately. Case in point, a missive titled “Aback Marsupial” by a Miss Natty Rogers.
feedbag, the plaza plane are! turncoat of shook the cloudburst. the veto. a monarch wonderfully sham, friendship the searchlight as idolize and rapid transit enumerate to copyright C.O.D. sunken studio generate to dissipate saver, a chemistry sue: unnerving sever perjury at was! misinterpret roar
I’m guessing that this form of spam clips chunks of words from other places in order to appear to be an actual note. You see this, temporarily get fooled and then — if you’re really stupid — open up the various image file attachments that fit together Tetris-style in order to give you a piece of advertising. It’s pretty clever, really. What I’m really enjoying out of this, however, is the way the words flow together in a stream-of-consciousness style and almost sound cool.

Read them out loud. You will sound totally crazy. Or totally dada. Or try reading them in a Bill Cosby voice. Or like it’s poetry that you wrote and you really care about. Here are some more examples.

“Smug Cleanly,” from Gersten Traylor:
wiles random, boozer with cistern as d the logic coveralls mixed-up of comeback. butter switch Olympics? coo climatic the practically Rte. the cordless a the glamorize kindergartner the intersperse of substandard aria as that sufficiently an jumbo to food poisoning is distraught the stink gravity it courteous
“Comotose Solemnly,” by Emmanuel Alford:
popularity silver anniversary? lap narcissist in thoroughness lugubrious and club soda in inclusive preamble to corroboration mobile of crossing, muff bystander nighttime a cop-out. the diligent, as drowsiness, changeable test tube racetrack as insert inaccessibility was equity the to pen name the yard ginger gas pedal or allotment
Hate it love it. Also: worst names ever.

Pac-Man Lotto

Watch as Pac-Man gobbles up your money! From Kotaku.


Also: Way to jump on the Pac-Man trend while it's hot, Texas.

The Alligator in the Sewer

This is an illustration that appeared in The Big Book of Urbal Legends, a Paradox Press release that tells urban legends in comic book form. It's great. I used the illustration in "To Quote Wally Exactly," my post-of-posts on the Back of the Cereal Box, although I colored the illustration in on Microsoft Paint for that. So, then, to my knowledge, this is the only colored version of this illustration that exists.

One Big Magenta Sheep

A Robert J. Lee illustration from an old children’s book, Music Across Our Country. Sheep have never looked better.

purple sheep music across our country robert j. lee

Ultimately via this scan.

"He's an Alpaca!"

A juvenile alpaca, looking adorably awkward. Picked up while browsing Flickr. The original image is here.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ice Whale

The Abduction of DogBaby

Polaroids taken during the first DogBaby incident.



The top one is Amber, former housemate here. The bottom one is Betsy, current roommate. They wore Kristen's clothes a staged a ransom for the return of the precious DogBaby. You can read more about the DogBaby saga on his MySpace page.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

They Forgot Lucille Bluth

Think about it.

Patrick Bateman, Batman and Elizabeth Bennet. Carrie Bradshaw, Blanche DeBois, and Thurston Howell III. The Pewterschmidts, Christine Slevil-Lewis-White and Karen Walker.

What the fuck could these characters have in common that they would ever be included on a list together? You wouldn’t think they’d ever need to be, and for long enough, they weren’t. Then the Wikipedia was invented and people who had too much time found it.

Thank you, Wikipedia, for giving us the “Fictional Socialites” category. It almost beats the “Fictional Cyborgs” category.
[ source: Prance Closer ]

Awkward Legs

The Real-Life Peter Griffin

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sad Dromedary

Wrinkle Puppy

Funny Lady

Tonight, Bravo is airing the season finale of “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List.” A year ago I wouldn’t have cared, but a few chance encounters with Griffin’s televised comedy shows have changed my opinion on the woman I once knew as the irritating redhead on that Brooke Shields show.

Not that I think Vicky from “Suddenly Susan” is funny now. I don’t. She and the rest of the show sucked. But I think that the role did Griffin a disservice. Instead of being allowed to practice her own brand of comedy — which is funny, it turns out — the show mashed her into a spunky best friend role that I’m surprised anybody thought would be a good idea. Furthermore, naming the character “Vicky” only made it easier for viewers to confuse Griffin with “Newsradio” actress Vicki Lewis. “Suddenly Susan” distanced Griffin from roles that would have given her a shot at being cool — like ones in “Pulp Fiction” and “Four Rooms.” Go watch them again. She’s there, pre-plastic surgery.

Even in spite of “Suddenly Susan,” TV work offered Griffin some good roles. For example, there’s a stand-alone episode of the “X-Files” in which she plays Betty Templeton and Lulu Pfeiffer, two women who look identical and both claim that the other is their stalker. Griffin also appeared on “Seinfeld” before anybody knew who she was. She played Sally Weaver, a friend of Susan’s — different Susan — and the FedEx heiress who first infuriated Jerry then returned to the show when Jerry found out that Sally had begun doing stand-up soley based on their earlier interaction. The plot of the second Sally Weaver appearance mirrored Griffin’s own comedy routines, in which she mocked Jerry Seinfeld. The whole thing altogether — the original appearance, the fall-out with Seinfeld, the re-appearance lampooning the fall-out — is kind of interesting, in an art-imitating-life-imitating-art sort of way.

I had to sit through one of her shows on Comedy Central, however, to realize that she’s actually a talent. I can’t think of another comedian who could pull off her delivery, because it’s not so much a string of one-liners as an intimate-seeming storytelling session in which she talks mad shit about the people she’s met. She’s famous, sure, but not so much that she’s part of that Hollywood clique and can’t discuss how batshit crazy many of them are. You can almost forget that you’re watching a performance and think that Kathy Griffin — your friend who lives in L.A. Kathy Griffin — is sitting across from you at lunch, telling you all these secrets about famous people. It’s a huge part of her appeal, and the fact that she does it in a funny, entertaining manner helps her all the more. I honestly think that anybody with a clue of who’s who on the apparently alphabetized levels of celebrity would laugh if they got over their preconceptions of who this woman is. That, and she does this kickass routine on Cirque du Soileil.

But like I said before, she is kind of famous. I mean, she has a reality show. You haven’t met her, most likely, but you’d recognize her if you ran over her in your car. And though I like her reality show — mostly because it lets us see what the life of a non-famous famous person might be like — the woes of her personal life are spoiling the fun. For example, last night I watched the previous episode. It involves Kathy eating lunch with Caroline Rhea and Rachel True and then dressing up like a giant rat in order to trick her dog into behaving. That's funny.

It also, however, had some scenes in which she discussed her finances. She referred to her assistant and her husband as the core of her financial team. And later, she even tells an L.A. learning annex class that anybody who wants to pursue a career in show business has to learn to manage their money. At the same time, you can easily pull up news items about Kathy Griffin — both in trashy gossip rags and in legitimate publications — that detail how she finalized a divorce from her husband, Matthew Moline, after he bilked $72,000 from her. So watching her talk about the money situation pre-thieving husband makes for that kind of cringing awful. If English class taught me anything, it’s dramatic irony, like in Julius Caesar, when the audience knows Caesar is walking to his death but he is blissfully unaware of what awaits him around the corner.

Yes, I just compared Kathy Griffin and Julius Caesar, and I defend it. From a selfish standpoint, that kind of irony makes me uncomfortable. More importantly, I just end up feeling bad for this woman — or, you know, that Roman dictator. Kathy Griffin probably got a reality show to reconcile the public’s perception of her as an irritating person with the fact that she’s a human being. And for me, it worked. But now, if I watch her show, I’m just going to feel bad for this person who I just got around to liking and who has to publicly endure an embarrassing and altogether shitty situation.

It's like I just found this kicky new friend and was all excited to hang out with her. Then the doctors found a hole in her liver or something. And that sucks, for her and me. Of course, she’ll probably talk mad shit about the ex-husband now, too. And that will be pretty funny.

Sight and Sound

Sorry for the sparse posting as of late. I've been busier than I'd like to be. In lieu of real writing, please accept this, which delighted me and should do the same to anybody weaned on pixelated graphics.


Nothing makes me happier than when people take video games too seriously.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Deadly Princess Assassination Squad

Don't ask me why, but somehow this article and its various permutations are linking to my blog.
[ link: it's slimy and it's green ]
I'm confused, but basically okay with it. Without this mystery linkage, I wouldn't have given a damn about the third "Shrek" movie. For those of you who are a little link-wary, the big deal with the story is that "Shrek the Third" will feature Princess Fiona leading a team of ass-kicking fairy tale princesses in the fight against the villains who usually kidnap or otherwise endanger them. The line-up includes Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel. What's even better about this is that Dreamworks has cast my lady comic wet dream to voice the empowered damsels: the irrepressible Amy Sedaris, the long-missed Cheri Oteri, the understated Maya Rudolph and the sparkling Amy Poehler. Oh, and also Cameron Diaz will be there.

And that, folks, is very good news.

Mr. Drew’s Cabinet of All Articles Wonderfying and Magistic

This is a first-ever Back of the Cereal Box joint-venture simul-blog.

Ahem.

If you're going to steal, then steal from the best. It's a good rule. And it's one I followed when I set up this new blog, Die Wunderkammer. I had already kept the Back of the Cereal Box for, but this one was all about the words, really. The new one is something altogether different.

Around the beginning of June this year, Sanam set up a secondary blog account — on LiveJournal, no less — to archive a collection of images she’d amassed over her years of internet browsing. This intrigued me greatly: a way to post images online, free on the constraints of Flickr, just as a means of keeping them in case the computer they’re stored on should ever die. It’s a novel use for a blog. Immediately, I was jealous. I would have launched this blog right then had I bothered to keep a collection of images like Sanam did. But I’m lame and I neglected to do this, even as tickled by the many jpegs and tiffs as I've been over the years. For whatever reason, I had just never managed to accomplished the whole right-click and save necessary to make these images mine.

As a result, I’ve recently scrambled through the pages I remember and done the very thing I failed to do before. What you will see on this new blog in the coming days is just that: the images I like and want to keep and remember and have on command when I need them. Don’t read this for flowery prose. This will be all about the visual instead of the verbal.

Here’s what you can expect:
  • things posed on MySpace, sometimes by Sanam herself
  • things that were posted on my other blog, for whatever reason, that I like
  • illustration from vintage children’s books, the art from which I enjoy very much
  • strange Japanese things
  • rare pop culture clippings
  • a few photos I have taken myself that I find worthy of re-posting in this blog, solely as a means of tricking more people into looking at them
  • other things
  • a list of search words for the various images posted, so that people surfing the Googly tide will be able to find them
And that’s it, really. As you’ll note, the template for this blog is a subtle variation on the one I have for my other blog. On that blog, I noted Sanam’s initial effort in a post titled “Die Wunderkammer,” which is German for something like “the cabinet of curiosities.” “Die Wunderkammer” was also the title of a mix CD Spence made for me when I got back from Australia.

So please, go check out the Cereal Box's new next-door neighbor.

EDIT 12.1.2006: The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to just have all my content on one blog. Thus, today I went back and started reposting the Die Wunderkammer content on the Back of the Cereal Box. Same date and everything. And Die Wunderkammer will still be up. I just thing for the sake of not spreading by bloggishness too thinly, I'd better concentrate on just one site.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Encyclopedia Drew and the Mystery of the Rabbit-Eared Woman

While going back through my files to scan old newspaper articles for clips, I came across a lot of stuff I hadn’t seen in a while. The photos of me and Jill in Solvang, for example. However, I also thumbed through an odds-and-ends collection that I had hurriedly labeled “artsy shit” when I set up my filing system last year in an effort to organize my life. (The files, by the way, have not been added to since and everything keep-worthy from the preceding year is sitting in one big pile, next to the file box.) Included in the artsy shit file is a lot of stuff that I did in art studio classes at UCSB — none of it worth putting on the wall, really, but also none of it being anything I felt like throwing away.

One of the things I apparently decided to keep is the following image:


It’s a woman. She has rabbit ears. Her name, apparently, is Dorothy. It’s drawn in black marker on an otherwise blank index card. There’s nothing written on the back. I found a few other index cards in the folder that look like they might have been part of the same assignment, but for what class and for what purpose I can’t remember. Most of the images on the other cards look like something I had copied down from somewhere else. Maybe that was the assignment. Maybe I’m a plagiarist.

In any case, this image in particular has intrigued me a great deal. You’d think I’d remember a woman with rabbit ears, especially one who looked rather down about it. If anybody can fill me in on who Dorothy is and where I may have encountered her, I’d appreciate it. I'm half-temped to xerox some copies and post them around the neighborhood with the words "Have you seen this woman?" written on it, if only to see what kind of response it might get.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Eat the Blue Things!

Us, last night, for a good forty-five minutes at Elsie's.

Friday, July 07, 2006

She Must Be Having a Bad Day

Or, at that, a bad month.


Anyone? This "explanition" didn't help all that much.

The Eternal Harvest

Just this last weekend, I woke up to a Jehovah’s Witness flyer on my front doorstep. Then, later, I found a second one at my back door. Apparently the Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t tell the different between a front door — with a mailbox, house number, porch and doorbell — and a back door that lacks these things, but the double whammy of Jehovah gave me ample time to consider this piece of tiny literature.

(click for the larger version)

First off, the drawings remind me of the ones I saw in the religion textbooks I read back in Catholic school. That much I expect. However, whoever designed this flyer made the unfortunate decision of blending the hand-painted art — which, I’ll admit, is not terrible — with photos. Regardless of the fact that the photos depict poverty, epidemics and disasters, the combo is jarring to me mostly because the realness of the photos makes the hand-painted figures at the bottom look all the more unrealistic.

I’d imagine that the photos depicting the bad things are supposed to imply that the end is nigh and that now is the as good a time as any to fall in line with God — and not just any God, the holiday-hating Jehovah’s Witness God. We have all these things, happening currently — poverty, epidemics and disasters — and we have never had them at any other point in history, so clearly God is angrier with us now than he ever has been before. The odd thing about this implication is that two of the three photos are in black in white. Maybe no one has told the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but if you want to depict current events, it’s better to do so in color photography. (Maybe if you celebrated Christmas, you witnesses, somebody would have given you a color camera.)

Furthermore, there’s this Photoshopped arrow coming from beneath poverty, epidemics and disasters and pointing towards the afterlife — literally, just right of the lake. What the hell is this supposed to mean? Are you drawing a cause-and-effect equation? Do these bad things lead you to the afterlife? You know, because they will kill you? (Oh yes, and they will kill you — you specifically, sitting in your little chair, reading this now.) If so, shouldn’t they be good? The tip of the arrow is clearly being inserted in the middle of Jehovah’s Witness heaven, so if I logically read this image, I can only conclude that the badness is being inserted right into the heart of this fuzzy-wuzzy afterlife. There’s no way in hell I’m going there.

Look a bit more now. If you’ll notice, the Jehovah’s Witness version of heaven is pretty bland. I mean seriously — this is the afterlife we’re talking about. Literally, eternal bliss in a way that our stunted human minds can’t even conceive of. Knowledge, security and inner peace, all on the highest spiritual plane. And how do these people chose to depict it? A community farm in some warmer region of Canada. Humans, still looking like humans, still wearing clothes and still doing work. (I wonder if these were the clothes they all died in.) That’s the best they can do? What’s worse, the people working in the fields have these forced smiles on their faces that give me the willies. They look lobotomized. (Although there’s something to be said for lobotomies as a route to perfect bliss.) Personally, if I had to shovel turnips as part of my eternal reward for being a good Jehovah’s Witness and sacrificing Christmas and my birthday and all that, I’d be a little miffed. At some point, after I plucked my umpteenth turnip, I’d start thinking about Sisyphus and that crew and wonder if I somehow got directed to the wrong afterlife as a result of some angelic clerical error.

So there’s that. But look a little closer at what’s going on in this image. Look at exactly who is doing all the labor in the field. It ain’t white people. No, apparently the Jehovah’s Witness version of heaven has bright Hispanic couples and jolly African-American families doing all the manual labor. That’s a little fucked up. Sure, they seem happy about it, but I’ll bet the reality of their afterlife as turnip-pluckers hasn’t yet sunk in.

“But surely the white people are working too!” you tell me. Look again. Like, really closely. In fact, you might have to open in the image in its own window and view the full-size version in order to see this. The only clearly white people — two of them in fact — are merely standing by the sparkling lake next to a mountain lion. Because, you know, that’s what white people do when they die. They tend mountain lions. Don’t piss of the white people in heaven — they’ll sic their mountain lions on you.

The capper to all this madness is that the other side — you know, the one I didn’t scan — explains that the ultimate purpose of the flyer is to get the reader to go to a Jehovah’s Witness lecture. In Long Beach. And if the route to heaven is through Long Beach, I think we all might be better off going on the other way.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Straight From the Dog's Mouth

A quick note: This eventually does get interesting in the fun way that esoteric pop-culture looping back in on itself can be. You just have to stick with the story through a brief dive into the sewers of geekdom.

Off and on — and on various Nintendo systems for the past few years — I’ve played the Animal Crossing series. It’s a neat little simulation game where you live in a town populated by animals. That’s it. There’s no real challenge, no danger, no turtle dragon throwing hammers that you have to trick into eating bombs in order to save the planet. The enjoyment factor hinges entirely on the way your character interacts with his critter-neighbors and the environment they all live in. Sounds lame, yes, but it works. Anyway, one of the various personalities who from time to time strolls through town is K.K. Slider, a guitar playing dog known in Japan as “Totakeke.” He looks like this:


When you speak to this dog, he will play a song for you that, in a purposefully crude manor, mimics the sound of various pop music genres. “K.K. Western,” for example, sounds like “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” while “K.K. Rockin’” sounds like “Johnny B Goode.” Regardless of the genre, any song K.K. Slider performs consists of strummy guitar synth and a funny electronic-sounding voice sample. It’s quite distinctive. Then, adorably, he slips your character a bootleg of the performance, claiming he doesn’t want to appease the music industry fat cats. (And in this game, they probably really are cats, too.)

Anyway, this little guy has enjoyed a certain cult popularity among people who like video games. He’s not the game’s main character, and if you don’t know where and when he appears, you could easily enjoy your copy of Animal Crossing” without ever interacting with him. However, his innate novelty and the fact that he is a subtle reference to a rather prolific video game music composer named Kazumi Totaka have given him a following dedicated enough to know him if they heard him.

And then they did hear him. And they weren’t playing video games.

An article titled “Are the Pet Shop Boys Secret Nintendo Fans?” ran this week on the Discopop Directory website. The article notes that “Minimal,” the next single from the Pet Shop Boys’ album Fundamental, contains some sound effects that sound a lot like this little singing dog.
[ link: the Discopop Directory article ]
Check it out. The page offers sound samples that are pretty hard to argue with. I just like the thought of the Pet Shop Boys being found out and being surprised that anybody would both play this game and listen to their music.

Oh wait — that never got un-dorky, did it?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Two (Plus Shadows)

Why must something small but beautiful be overlooked?
[ link: a perfectly reasonable question ]

Monday, July 03, 2006

Hot Box

I'm writing this from the dining room of my apartment, which is currently sucking the summer sunlight through its three large windows and trapping it inside, making me sweat as I type and forcing me to feel like that one kid you used to know who would break into a salty downpour when he played Street Fighter at your birthday pizza party in sixth grade.

You know who I’m talking about.

Anyway, as a break from the kind of writing that actually gets me a paycheck, I thought I’d share with you all that I now have a YouTube account. I love it. I was surprisingly easy to upload what little video footage I have, and now the whole world can see it.

May I present to you, my much beloved animal documentary classic, “Anteaters Wrestling”? You’ve seen on MySpace — or more likely, you haven’t — but now see it in the comfy confines of my own little chunk of the web!


And there's more. You can also see the sequel to "Anteaters Wrestling," "Anteaters Feeding"! See as they probe logs with their creepy, elongated noses for ants! Also up: "The Peacock Jumps" and "Turkeys in the Grass." It's all very riveting, I assure you.
[ link: my YouTube profile ]

No, I Don't Mean "Uglification"

Best new word ever: "ooglification." The phenomenon of substituting the syllable "oo" into a word to make the word sound more like slang — or to make slang sound like super-slang. Like "cigaroots" or "antooters" or the like. It's a real word, though it's sparsely documented online.
[ link: Google ooglifies ]

Saturday, July 01, 2006

I Need Them, Zack! I Have to Sing!

Too good.


Remember when all you friends' drug problems were solved within a half-hour period? Oh. Wait. All your friends are doing meth in the other room while you're reading my stupid blog.

The Lost Afternoon

One Friday, a long time ago, Jill and I decided to drive up to Solvang, to see what we could see. Solvang, we found, was an altogether worthless town with nothing of interest to us. At the time, we weren’t of drinking age, so the whole place offered us antique shops and Danish kitsch. We left and went home. I blogged about it, during a time when this blog was actually about me, instead of everything around me, and it was called "Zoom-Zoom Super Me News With Drew."

The only souvenir we left with was a roll of film I took on my old, non-digital camera. At the end of the original blog post, I even remarked that I was looking forward to getting the pictures back, so Jill and I might share our hatred of Solvang with the world.

Now, more than three years later, I’ve finally got around to getting these old pictures scanned and put online. They’ve been lingering on my Flick account, unloved and un-looked at for a week or so, and I can only imagine that the sheer lack of attention they’ve drawn stems from the fact that they represent our boredom. We hate Solvang and it shows.

Personally, I think these photos are funny, so now I’m subjecting you to them. Gaze upon the Drew and Jill of three years ago!













Bored young people, just like I said. In any case, one notable thing did happen in Solvang: Jill and I saw the scariest car sticker we'd ever seen, before or since.



At that point, the whole trip stopped being fun in that look-at-the-lame way. It just got a little scary. On the way back, we stopped at Gaviota Beach and played there. On the rocks. Because playing on a rocky beach was more fun than Solvang.











Tedious, I know, but this is more for my own memory preservation than anything else. Oh, and Solvang sucks.
[ linky link: the original blog post, "More Than Just Olives!" ]
And yes, if you're wondering, this is in fact Jilly Jill of MySpace fame.