Sunday, July 31, 2005

Binary Disposition

A cool Flash site about relative color perception. More interesting than it sounds.
[ link: gets your reds and greens ]

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Girlfriend in the Refrigerator

I stumbled upon a Wikipedia entry for this and was interested.

Apparently, comic book readers refer to the countless horrors suffered by female associates of superheroes as the Girlfriend-in-the-Refrigerator Syndrome. The term comes from a relatively recent Green Lantern plotline in which Kyle Rayner's girlfriend, Alex DeWitt, is murdered by a villain, hacked to pieces and put in Rayner's refrigerator to be found when he comes home from his Green Latneran duties. Since then, comic nerds have retroactively used the term to describe previous acts of misogyny — any time a female character exists as a helpless victim who dies in order to make the hero sad.

Like Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker's first girlfriend, whose neck is snapped when the Green Goblin tosses her form Queensboro Bridge and Spider-Man snags her with his webbing too sharply.

Like Karen Page, secretary to Daredevil's alterego, Matt Murdoch. She becomes Murdoch's sweetheart, then a heroin addict, then a porn star, then a prostitute. Eventually Karen sells out Daredevil's true identity, but he forgives her and she cleans up her life. Whoops. No. Then she gets assassinated.

Or even Barbara Gordon. She's Batgirl until the Joker learns her true identity, puts a bullet in her spine, then rapes her, all to get at Batman.

This kind of horrible thing happens a lot, though recent sentiment is pressuring writers to avoid it. From a literary standpoint, it's interesting as all fuck-out — not only that it exists, but also that they have a name for it.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Falling Lady, Floating Spheres

I don't know about you guys, but I think she looks like Anne Heche. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I feel slightly aroused watching her plummet head-first onto a mysteriously floating orb. For the slow-witted, you can control Plummeting Pauline with your mouse. But you don't have to.
[ link: kerplunk! ]
It would be twice as good if she said "ow" every time she hit one of those floating spheres.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Fall of the Roman Empire

Coincidentally, I finished The Secret History the same day as my brother sent me a link to a newspaper article detailing the dissolution of the Latin program at the high school I graduated from.

The Secret History
, you see, is about a classics program at an isolated liberal arts school in Vermont. The professor who leads the program demands that students devote their full class schedules to Greek, and this insularity eventually drives the six students involved to commit murder. The book ends with, among other things, the classics program ending forever.

I took Latin at both high schools I went two. The first was a Catholic school, so the presence of Latin isn't that noteworthy — though, perhaps, it's more so than one might think, as Vatican II has reduced the need for an education in dead languages. But when I transferred, I got to continue with Latin because San Benito High School has the rare virtue of being a public school with a Latin program. (Rare for it being a public school but also rare for it being San Benito High School, which most graduated regard as being lacking in virtues.) During my day, it also had Japanese and American Sign Language, and today I wonder if those have gone by the wayside as well.

Latin worked in my favor, for the purposes of being a reader and a writer and a taker of the SATs. ("Word attack! Break apart the root from the suffix! Use the Latin! The Latin!") Most of all, the Latin rocked because it ingratiated me to Mrs. Gaylord, the woman who taught both Latin and English AP. She liked me a lot, unless I'm mistaken. She even wrote me a letter at the end of senior year in which she compared me to Athena, who skipped past childhood and sprouted fully formed out of Zeus' skull.

This Latin program gave me a lot — for example, the ability to read and quasi-comprehend Spanish, French and Italian without ever having been able to speak them. I also had the awesome experience of sitting through the advanced Latin course senior year. Mrs. Gaylord had to cram both the intro and advanced coursed into one classroom. The newbies were all freshman — think hyperactive puppies with their tongues hanging out and drool coming out all over — and therefore the advanced kids had this cool little autonomous sliver in the corner where we did our own thing. I think of it like Monaco — a tiny and off the to side of France and seemingly less powerful in terms of sheer size but so much fucking cooler. We did a lot of Latin, but kind of hit a brick wall when it came to the subjunctive in the spring and then resorted to making fun of each other all day. And that was fun.

But they're shutting Mrs. Gaylord down, as the article states. Please disregard that the piece is headlined "Staying alive" for reasons I'll never understand. Also please disregard that this news story actually begins with the lines "OK, so..." in the way you'd begin a recollection of some memorable drunken night to your friends. ("OK, so I was taking shots out of this girl's navel and I get my tongue stud caught on her belly button piercing.") Just take this and the general lousiness of the news writing as in indicator of the town I come from. I nearly feel like Hollister doesn't deserve Latin. Or words. Or oxygen.

Okay, so I'm like way sad about that and junk, but the small nugget of good that I'm able to mine from this cavern of sorrow — ahem — is that reading the interview with Mrs. Gaylord is like speaking with her again. This woman has a special presence and I realize now that I've missed it for the past few years. Just reading her quotes, with her "lamb" this and "classics" that, is nearly enough to make me forget how pissed I am that they're taking something valuable away from future generations of students.

The least the school could offer them is one chance and a drunken, drug-induced Bacchanal where they can get loaded and tear apart some hapless wandering farmhand. The kids in The Secret History got at least that and they turned out okay.

Hello Motoko

Umm, huh? "Japanese develop 'female' android."

Sure, she looks good, but how extensive is her repertoire of ninja moves? Can she turn invisible yet? Will they program her to fall hopelessly in love with a human?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Teen Horniness Is Not a Crime

A week or so ago, I mentioned "Southland Tales," the sophomore effort by Richard Kelly, who wrote and directed "Donnie Darko." I've been poking around online and found two interesting sites related to the film. Then I found that Ain't It Cool News already had them.


Well here they are anyway: a promotional website for a company called Treer Products and the personal website of Krysta Now, one of the characters in the movie. Krysta's website looks like it's still under construction, but she does have lyrics up for a song she wrote. It's called "Teen Horniness Is Not a Crime." I have a lot of faith in Richard Kelly. He's a smart guy and his first ever cinematic effort is one of my favorites. But I haven't got a fucking clue what this "Southland Tales" is supposed to be about.

Some weird intersection of science fiction, popular music and California.
[ the southland tales official website ]

So Give Your Distance Now

And because I think it's an interesting glimpse into my personal life, and because I think these kind of updates are healthy and necessary, here are the ten post played songs, according to my iTunes:
  1. "Hot Pursuit" - Bravery
  2. "Shake Some Action" - Flaming Groovies
  3. "The Two Sides on Monsieur Valentine" - Spoon
  4. "Rage!" - Chromeo
  5. "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend" - Magnetic Fields
  6. "Be My Baby" - Ronettes
  7. "Get It Get It" - Scissor Sisters
  8. "Voodoo Lady" - Ween
  9. "Hello Again" - Cars
  10. "I Came as a Rat" - Modest Mouse
I was surprised as anyone, though I heartily recommend any of these for your ears. Perhaps more indicative of the present, here are the ten newest songs in my music collection:
  1. "Dream Police" - Cheap Trick
  2. "Soundtrack to Mary" - Soul Coughing
  3. "Japanese Gum" - Her Space Holiday
  4. "This Magic Moment" - Lou Reed
  5. "A New Morning, Changing Weather" - International Noise Conspiracy
  6. "Feel" - Big Star
  7. "Flowers on the Wall" - Statler Brothers
  8. "Witch Mountain Bridge" - Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
  9. "Celebration on the Planet Mars" - Raymond Scott
  10. "Don't Sleep on the Subway" - Petula Clark
Totally more me than the top ten, though that seems like it should be the other way around, I know. Anyone with an opinion about any of these — or this or those, for that matter — is encouraged to share it.

[ If my hands are shaking, I feel my body reeling. ]

Hell, Brought to You By Macromedia Flash

Dr. Sorapure sent me a link to a cool Flash site, the Conclave Obscurum. It's interesting and macabre. If you can figure out how the opening game works, please tell me about it.
[ link: scary stuff ]
I also found the artist's blog. I thought it might help. It didn't help.
[ link: not in English ]
Wonder what kind of nightmares I'll have tonight.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Inseparable Insufferables

I can think of a few reasons why I like Morgan Spurlock.

For example, the man can take an obvious nutritional assumption — that eating McDonald's is bad for you — and then prove it in an entertaining way. (He can also force McDonald's to revamp their menu, go healthier and start a weird urban marketing campaign in which every TV commercial has black people and skyscrapers in every shot. But that's beside the point.)

I also like Morgan Spurlock because he's one of the few people trying to classy up the reality show as a genre. His new FX series, "30 Days," is totally worth the time it takes to watch. And I guess you could argue that his show leans to far left to be widely appealing — Christian guy makes friends with Muslims, homophobe makes friends with gay people, city mice make friends with tree huggers — but I'm interested to see what the show's next season will do.

But the reason I have the most respect for Morgan Spurlock at the moment is the "30 Days" season finale. Much like "Supersize Me," the episode dealt with a mom who becomes a binge drinker in order to demonstrate to her dumbtwat alkie daughter that her drinking could have more of a negative impact on her than she realizes. As filler footage, Spurlock used shots of drunken college students ambling about in Isla Vista. He talked to them about how much they drink and why the drink whether they think the binge drinking affects them negatively. Importantly, though, Spurlock never says that he's in I.V. or that the kids he's talking to are UCSB students.

Anyone who's spent even a little time in the area would recognize it as being I.V. right away. The backgrounds are very obviously Del Playa and Pardall. Furthermore, the students most likely were UCSB students. But Spurlock had the forethought not to further associate UCSB and drunken debauchery. He didn't have to, so he didn't. That seems logical, but it's a connection that escapes the types who run shows like "Dateline" and 20/20," which use any excuse to drag UCSB's name through the mud. And for that omission, I approve of this affable documentarian.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Wisdom of Robots

In an uncharacteristic moment of periodical lust, I bought the newest copy of Wired, most likely because Downs now works for it. It's a decent publication, but I found myself especially intrigued by a short article on Jorn Barger.

He invented the blog.

I suppose Jorn Barger is the latest in a series of "cool people worth knowing about" posts that I've been posting more and more frequently lately. But this guy is most definitely worth the time it would take to read this words. Barger first rose to quasi-popularity during the early days of the internet. According to the article, he was a Usenet junkie and frequented sites where people discussed anything and everything. "He was the unstoppable Unsenet poster who could carry on simultaneous debates about Ibsen, Chomsky, artificial intelligence and Kate Bush." In other words, this guy was using the internet for its noblest purposes. He even was the keeper of the web's first James Joyce FAQ. I can't find it, except in clunky Usenet fragments, but I did find a sort of walkthrough Barger wrote for Finnegan's Wake, which literary types often peg as Joyce's most difficult work.

The article continues that Barger eventually snagged a piece of web real estate that he dubbed the "Robot Wisdom Weblog." This was the first instance of anybody using the term "weblog," the word that we later drunkenly slurred into "blog." For Barger, "weblog" made sense, since he was literally compiling a log of interesting places he had been to on the web.

After a financially spawned hiatus, Barger is posting at Robot Wisdom again. It's terse. Paul Boutin calls Barger's blogging style almost haiku-like in its simplicity. But what wows me more than anything about this story is that Barger is now running his blog despite the considerable handicap of being homeless. He's broke. The man invented a cultural phenomenon and he didn't get a penny from it. Boutin learned that Barger presently lives on less than a dollar a day — probably what he can scrounge from his homemade sign that reads "Coined term 'weblog,' never made a dime."

I'm surprised I'd never heard of Barger before. I'm glad I did, because I owe him a debt, as do millions of other people who now have a means of publicly prattling about any subject they choose.

Temple One and Temple Two

I thought some of the regulars might find it momentarily interesting to see what the my new background image looked like before I Photoshopped it into the spooky blue ghost house you see before you now. Find out here.

bedroom reflection

It's my old bedroom in the Pasado House. I took a picture of evening outside from within a lit room and the picture ended up capturing the on-the-glass reflection of the posters on the opposite wall. I always liked this happy accident. Too bad it can't show up as a webpage backdrop without obscuring the text. But this is what you get. So there.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Prance Closer

Humorous anagrams of my full name, from Spencer:
  • "harm amid wreckage"
  • "I'm warm, aged hacker"
  • "a warm, rich, mad geek"
  • "Ha! warm, meager dick"

Monday, July 18, 2005

The World Below a Landscape Vase

More, more, more: See new, strange pictures that Drew uploaded to his Flickr account — now a upgraded account, thanks to Drew at Two Instincts.

Five Bathing-Capped Ladies Sketching a Sea Serpent

Yet another template adjustment. If you look closely, you can see Uma Thurman's face.

[ not an actual post ]

Friday, July 15, 2005

Bells on a Platter

Thanks to Agatha, I'll never look at bells quite the same way again.

God knows why, but I remember Dina mentioning on the ride back from Las Vegas that this certain Catholic saint is often depicting carrying what would appear to be two bells on a plate. Dina said that a lot of people didn't realize that the two objects she held were actually her severed breasts, her martyrdom having results from horrific body mutilation.

This thought rings in my head today out of nowhere and I finally decided to Google "bells on platter breasts saint" to see if anything remotely resembling what Dina said exists in the vast compendium of knowledge that floats online. And Dina's right.

Saint Agatha died sometime in the third century, during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Decius. Agatha ended up in a brothel but so valued her virginity that she refused her customers, even under pain of beatings and torture. Eventually, Agatha's breasts were crushed and cut off from her body. Today, she is apparently one of the more highly revered virgin martyrs — better than that slovely Saint Agnes.

But Agatha also came to be the patroness of bellmakers, an odd association that only makes sense when you learn that artistic renderings of Agatha in paintings and stained glass showed her holding the symbols of her Christian dedication — her severed femininity — on a plate. Show and tell for martyrs, if you will. Let's be glad they didn't cut something else off. Often, however, these depictions were not realistic enough that people could spot the objects as breasts. They became bells or even bakes goods, and eventually the misinterpretation became so entrenched that some artists eventually drew her with bells and baked goods that looked nothing like breasts.

I did a quick search for images of Saint Agatha and found a few good ones. Here you can see here with the plate, but I don't see how anyone save the very prudish or naive could mistake the objects she's presenting as anything besides breasts. They're slightly more abstracted here, in this smaller painting.

Agatha's devotees celebrate her feast day on February 5. In her native Catania, some bake marzipan treats, which are eaten in her honor. The treats are called minne de vergine. I'm not sure what that translates to exactly, but I could take a guess. "Oh mom, I love your sugared virgin breasts! Another? I couldn't!"

Oh, Catholicism.

It's just too appropriate that news of the bell-breast-saint-virgin-martyr would come from Dina, of all people.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Did Talent Alone Help Camilla?

I need a job. And a hug.

But job first, please.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Don't Tell Bombay Hilton

So last Thanksgiving easily ranks as the best Thanksgiving I've ever had. But I never wrote about it here. Thanksgiving 2004 escaped the sweeping gaze of the Cereal Box because writing about it wouldn't have been very good without visual aids to help demonstrate why this one Thanksgiving — notably, a Thanksgiving spent in the dorms in Washington D.C. instead of in the comforts of home — rocked.

I finally have the visual aids. Monique finally got off her ass and mailed out the photos we took on her camera immediately after the celebration. I think a little context might help first, though.

So after I had normal turkey dinner at Tristan's house in Bethesda, I went back to the dorm, which were nearly deserted but where Monique, Deanna and Daniel were watching a movie together. As movie snacks, the girls has prepared a tray of french fries — the kind that live in the freezer in a plastic bag — and three bowls of dipping substance: ketchup, mustard and barbecue sauce. The girls had also made a big pot of chocolate pudding.

Now, when I got to the girls' room, they had already lost interest in the movie and were mildly drunk. I started drinking and, at some point, somebody suggested that we listen to music instead. At this point, the hanging out gave way to some kind of weird, competitive dance party. I can't remember why.

Then it happened.

I'm not sure exactly when or why. The precise moment exists during a foggy, gray spot in my memory. But in a matter of seconds, the dance contest turned into a food fight, involving wild slinging of four of the gooiest, stainiest substances known to the kitchen: chocolate pudding, barbecue sauce, mustard and ketchup. It was a full-on food fight, with the red, brown, yellow and purple flying into people's eyes, mouths and nostrils. I myself had someone cup a handful of barbecue sauce into my nose. The sensation felt like a runny nose, so I kept instinctively sniffling, which made me gag because my entire head was invaded with barbecue.

And then there's all the stuff that didn't make it onto anyone's body. This got all over the dorm carpet, kitchen cabinets, furniture, appliances and ceiling. I estimate the fight lasted a good ten minutes, at which point we had depleted our ammunition, caught our breaths and had the realization. "What the fuck did we just do?" After changing and soaking our soiled clothes, we returned to the scene of the crime, turned the music back on and had a cleaning-dance party until about four in the morning.

So with that said, here are the pictures. (The blurry, light-leaky quality of these pictures might come from the fact that I had previously filled Moe's purse with salt, thus scratching her camera. I can't have any fun without destroying other people's material goods, I guess.)

And here we all are. But I think I could just as easily give this photo a caption like "Family of the Red Sun: fall slaughter group pic!" and it would be passable.

As you can see, the combination of the various glops resulted in a color and texture that one usually associates with ritual murders. Or car accidents. Regardless, Daniel and Moe look pretty happy about it.

Blood sisters.

Again, I look like I'm not taking it so well. But I really did enjoy the whole thing. Note the glob of purple in my ear. Though I washed it out as well as I could in the shower, there was a single, perfect, purple circle on my pillow the next morning, where my ear had drained out the last of the barbecue sauce. So much worse than a hangover.

De looks like a corpse! What a nut, that De!

Now she reminds me of Lyndie England. Just a little. That De!

And here is Daniel, actually wielding the ketchup bottle.

So all of this happened without word ever getting to Nidhi, the girls' tiny roommate. Good thing, too — I have no idea how much of the security deposit went to stain removal. Every now and then, we'd be in the dorm and spot a strip of wood paneling where'd we'd neglected to clean the splattered condiments. And then we'd have to distract Nidhi while we cleaned it. Or Moe cleaned it. I just hope Nidhi's not reading this now.

Rug burns and sore limbs and barbecue sauce-swimmer's ear aside, I hope this post-Thanksgiving food fight becomes an annual tradition or a yearly custom.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Movies You Watch When You're Sick

There are movies that win awards, and movies you enjoy for sheer entertainment value. And then there are movies like "Troll."

After rebounding off "Friday the 13th," "Child's Play" and "Philadelphia, I ended up not caring which channel the TV ended up on. I ended up watching "Troll." Here's the first minute of this 1986 classic: nice, Caucasian family moves into a New York apartment building. Thirty seconds later, their daughter becomes possessed by the evil troll king who lives there.

As the film progresses, no one notices and troll-daughter rampages through the complex and kills the residents in order to turn the building into, and I quote, a "troll kingdom." She also acts like a vicious bitch. Since her possession happens so quickly into the movie that I wasn't clear on the girl's disposition before. Most of the time the daughter looks like a blonde moppet with big eyes — Dakota Fanning styled for 1986. But when she turns on any of her neighbors, she looks like a leather Muppet covered in mucus. Bam — killed you, Sonny Bono and turned you into plant go. Bam — killed you, Julia Louis Dreyfus-with-even-curlier-hair, and turned you into a tree nymph. Only June Lockhart can resist her, becuase she's actually a witch. Or a princess. Or an alien. I forget which. It's really not important.

Eventually, troll-girl's brother — a skinny weiner named Harry Potter, years before that name meant anything — goes into fantasy land, fights the troll and saves his sister.

I'm unclear who this film was meant to appeal to. I watched it because it beamed into the living room at the precise moment I stopped caring about life. I suppose the audience that caught "Troll" in the theaters would have been children whose parents would allow them to watch a movie with mildly scary moments and some truly horrific Muppets. Or adults who either like horror-fantasy adventures or movies that eat shit.

I think I'm ready to leave.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Turnips and Japanese Onions

a letter i just sent to nate:
you heard me. "champloo."

the new show on adult swim is called "samurai champloo." it's by the same people that do "cowboy bebop." did, anyway. it's good. if "cowboy bebop" = jazz + space, then "samurai champloo" = hip hop + samurais. and that, my friend, is a winning equation.

the episode i'm watching now involves a character called "the glasses-hunting samurai."

problem: the show airs on saturday night, anime night. you know, when only losers and the sick are home. (i am currently sick.) however, there's a bonus repeat airing on thursday, just like in the old days.

look into it.
as should you.

An Ode to a Cassowary

Today I realized that I don't like my family all together. Note that that's different from not liking them altogether. No, I can deal with any of them fine on a one-on-one basis. But I'm so unlike from the rest of my family that having all four of us in the same room — me times three, numerically — only accentuates the difference. They have this weird, shared base of knowledge that sounds like googleglork to me. The closest I can even approximate it is that they've all been watching some long-running show that I've never heard of, and I always meet with them right after the season finale.

It sucks, but it's true.

I'm ready to go home, but I'm terrified that the doctor will tell me tomorrow that I have to stay longer. I'm better, but not better. If anything, my illness just migrated to new parts of my body. I cough now. My chest hurts when I breath. Besides, living in Hollister sinks me into a state I call "incidentally suicidal." I wouldn't kill myself, but I get so bored here that those kind of thoughts start creeping in as a means of breaking up the monotony. Like, "I could drown myself in paint bucket and that would take up a good twenty-five minutes," depending on how I went about it.

I just pulled an ant off my shoulder.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Some Penicillin of Porridge

I still feel like death. In lieu of a real post, I'm going to re-present the previous post, translated from English to Spanish to French and then back to English again by online translator robots, the meaning of it nearly obliterated in the process.

Therefore how do you condense four days in a handful of the indicated, awaken hours? You go to san francisco. That is that I did, in any case. Since I returned myself city, I was the dead person, more or less. I tired myself. I am cold and hot, alternate. I am bad. And I suffer from fear that I will turn the superior bust also abruptly and I will cheat my number of thorn far of my coccyx.

Oh, and my knot of the good lymph does this impressive imitation of a golf bullet. You must see it. Really.

I would have criticism to smoke it in san francisco? Fresh fog that I, for every acounts, I must have foreseen but did not do? They delivered the stained cups of the lettuce of the butter with a mouse by Morgan? (Morgan!)

I was finally today medical al and it diagnosed my affliction as "some type of the infection" and penicilina prescribed then, that so funny because it could have done a similar diagnosis — with my English degree. I tired myself from doctors not never calling my diseases, as when I obtained the Darling Mystery last year. Instead of the medical learned opinion, I obtain more according to "I do not know than you have but allow some penicillin of porridge in him and see this than arrives." I verified that my temperature is — 101.6 degrees — but was techniquement the pleasant lady that the doctor saw me before that have did that.

In every cases, the my state of the disease it is this that prevents me to return itself to Holy Barbara. I honestly was too much tide to check, the can to letters and the factor that crushed along the way in the office doctor are the test of this.

I got the idea after I'd found that someone using Spanish Google has searching for info on Dina. You know, Canklesaurus? Anyway, Spanish Google offers a translation of my English blog into Spanish.
[ link: Traduzca esta pagina! ]

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The POW Box

So how do you condense four days into a handful of brief, waking hours? You go to San Francisco. That's what I did, anyway. Since I got back from the city, I've been dead, more or less. I'm tired. I'm cold and hot, alternately. I'm dizzy. And I'm suffering from the unreasonable fear that I'll turn my upper torso too sharply and snap my spine off from my tailbone.

Oh, and my right lymph node is doing this awesome impersonation of a golf ball. You should see it. Really.

Should I blame the smoking in San Francisco? The chilly fog that I, by all acounts, should have expected but did not? Tainted butter lettuce cups delivered with a smile by Morgan? (Morgan!)

I finally went to the doctor today and he diagnosed my affliction as "some type of infection" and then prescribed penicillin, which if funny because I could have made a similar diagnosis — with my English degree. I'm tired of doctors not ever naming my diseases, like when I got Mystery Mono last year. Instead of learned medical opinion, I'm getting more along the lines of "I don't know what you have but lets slop some penicillin on it and see what happens." I did find out what my temperature is — 101.6 degrees — but technically it was the nice lady who saw me before the doctor that did that.

In any case, the my state of sickness is what's preventing me from returning to Santa Barbara. I've honestly been too dizzy to drive, the mailbox and mailman I flattened on the way to the doctor's office being proof of this.

Pray for me.