Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Balloon Fighting Spirit

So Easy Franzese and I hightailed it to the best thing within an hour of my house: the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It's too good to be true, really: an interesting, relaxing and relatively inexpensive place to look at widgy, squidy sealife without getting eaten by it. Also, money to the aquarium helps promote welfare of marine creatures all-around, so it's even and act of good will just to buy a ticket. The only time I ever go, sadly, is when we have visiting Kiwis or Swissies, in which case take them since, as I mentioned, it's the best thing within an hour of my house.

I'd forgotten, however, than the nature of an aquarium makes photography difficult, what with the low lights, quick moving subjects and massive glass reflection. So here are my best efforts.

Sea otters are just as adorable as they ever were, yet this is the only photo that comes close to capturing that adorableness and cropping it into a neat little jpeg.

Fortunately, we were blessed with a multitude of skulky, lazy fish who have nothing better to do than stare at passers-by with unimpressed expressions. Did I say the aquarium was cheap? Well, you get what you pay for. I guess you have to go to Sea World if you want them to make with the floor show.

Here we have an eel in a bottle. Behind him are other fish frolicking in garbage in what Dave guessed was the aquarium's trash-on-the-ocean floor exhibit.

This is the sardine tank, where they case each other in an endless circle. Yes, what would appear to be wavy silver lines are the fish. Personally, I feel bad for them. They're like kids at community college — always going forward but never getting anywhere they want to be.

In fact, the only place a took a good many pictures was the jellyfish exhibit. Jellyfish, knowing they are the weirdest and therefore best of all undersea life, have no qualms about simply bobbing about and allowing everyone to observe their their translucent coolness.

Meet Shirley. Shirley the Jellyfish. She either looks like something my grandma would own or the remains of a pink candle that burnt irregularly. In other words, cool.

And then there's the evil jellyfish horde. Still cool, just less pretty and more imposing. Not anything like Shirley. She's quite a lady, that Shirley.

And here's the same jellyfish horde attacking the silhouetted head of Mr. Franzese himself. (He survived, thanks mostly to the protective silhouette.)

Features like the swirling sardines and the psychedelic jellyfish have long made the Monterey Bay Aquarium a nice spot for local teens to get high and then stare at things. But the new exhibit, a gallery of art based on jellyfish, seems to make this draw official. They even play trippy 60s lounge music and showcase lava lamps. Personally, I think it's a great idea. If you're going to encourage people to do drugs, you should always do so in a place where they are separated from the vicious sea predators by a breakable glass wall. As a precaution.

One of the decidedly less psychedelic pieces of art, this diagram depicts what people thought jellyfish and the like looked like back in the Victorian age. Apparently, they looked like fancy Christmas ornaments and large bacteria. Or possibly stylized genitalia.

Of all the pictures, this is my favorite. Me, two Mr. Franzeses and some jellyfish, all gathered in the room I think they intend you to do shrooms in. And then walk into mirrors.

So when's the last time you visited my Flickr account? There's not sense putting off until tomorrow what you can do today.

When the Dancefloor Is Nothing More Than the Dancefloor

While I was home last week, my mom took me out to the San Benito Country historical park. This sentence, I realize, inspires about as much enthusiasm as the phrase "scoliosis exam," but I swear this road leads the intersection of worthwhile and interesting.

Some people with a notion of hometown history have been transporting various buildings out into a little community out at the edge of Hollister. One by one, buildings with a history are popping up in this makeshift little neighborhood — everything important within walking distance of each other, artificially transplanted but so close in proximity that the artifice is negligible. It's like an Epcot Center for Hollister. (I know, I know — scoliosis exam, but stick with me.)

The principlele draw out to the historical park is the former office building for my family's business — a structure that was once a saloon called "Cottage Corners." It now rests comfortably with new coat of sea green paint.

I have to be respectful to my family's heritage, but another feature of the historical part easily stole my interest that afternoon.

See the fluorescent caution tape wrapped around the posts of the saloon porch? It's there because the saloon's immediate neighbor, the former dancehall, had been destroyed in a wind storm just two days before. The structural flaw with a dancehall, you see, is that it's generally not compartmentalized into smaller rooms like most buildings would be. Instead, one room, as big as possible, sits under the roof so you can fit the maximum number of dancers. Despite preservationists' best efforts, this aspect ultimately ended up destroying the dancehall when the wind blew through the building and generated enough momentum inside to simply pick the roof up in the air and then drop it in the walls, which buckled and fell to the wayside.

When I saw it, the site has been cleared of roof particles, but the walls remained, broken and lying on the ground. The contents of the dancehall — antiques appropriate to the time period and setting — had mostly been moved to the side, though many of them had also been crushed.

As it stood, the dancehall was now no more than the dancefloor, still smooth and wooden and entirely danceable, but now conspicuously sitting in the middle of the field. For reasons I still don't understand, no one had yet moved the two pianos in, where they might have escape the rain and subsequent further ruin. I ducked under the caution tape and started taking pictures, though I feel I failed to capture the odd familiarity I felt as I stood on this ruined dancefloor and watched a piano older than I am sit and soak in the sun. A little surreal, a little sad.

But so much more than just a broken old piano.

I don't know what will happen to what's left of the dancehall and I probably won't go back for a while. I do know, however, that seeing thing — weird, funny and pitiful, all at the same time — makes me feel more memorably connected to my hometown than anything else has in the past twenty-three years.

Oh yes. I nearly forgot to mention that I later saw some deer, too. It's kind of an epilogue, really.

Set on an Open Course for the Virgin Sea

I like Lara Flynn Boyle.

Regardless of what anybody says about her and her pointy, skeleton-like appearance, I think she has a certain appeal on screen. She's pretty, in a defined way, and she has this icy-sexy vibe that verges almost on creepy, but in a good way. Like if Morticia Adams dressed sensibly and went on a diet and had high-paying jobs. No, that's a terrible example. Nonetheless, I've enjoyed her work as troubled teenager Donna Hayward on "Twin Peaks" and as tough-as-nails prosecutor Helen Gamble on "The Practice" and as Wayne's obsessive ex-girlfriend in "Wayne's World." She's versatile — and she used to fuck Jack Nicholson, too.

So when "Las Vegas" came on at Todd and April's and I saw that Lara was a guest star, I was interested. I have never seen an episode of the show before, and though I don't recognize a single one of the regulars, I thought it might be worth a shot. The episode itself was nicely done. A comic book convention has taken over the central hotel — the Montecito hotel and casino, a fictional resort with a slant-rhymed name I can't stop repeating — and so the entire episode is framed in a comic book motif, with paneled, word-bubbled pen and ink drawings leading to and from the live-action shots every time the show went to or returned from a commercial. A nice touch.

The episode also had a underlying theme of things slipping away. Subtle, and far better done than I would have expected, it started with a drag queen singing STYX's "Sailing Away" at a funeral — one of the episodes many subplots. Yes, I realize a drag queen covering a STYX song at a funeral is not subtle, but following that, there's these nice little touches here and there that recall that idea. And that was nice, too.

I can't say I was as impressed with Lara. First off, something horrible happened to her lips. They're bigger, no doubt the result of some cosmetic science experiment. Lara may think they look good. I think they press together in the semblance of a duck bill. We're just going to have to disagree for now, but eventually I think she'll realize that she looks like she's had an allergic reaction to her plummeting body mass index. More importantly, Lara's role sucked. She's a domineering sexpot boss — and a boring one at that. When a role like that is poorly written, it just makes the character a villain and gives people a subconscious reason to hate women that make something of themselves. (A theory of mine.)

Lara's character appeared in the very first shot of the episode, and April immediately recognized the show as a rerun. I was stunned. Sure, I can identify any episode from the first twelve seasons of "The Simpsons" within ten seconds, give or take, but I didn't expect April would have honed so squarely on "Las Vegas." I'd be surprised if anyone has, really.

But then there was the episode's final scene. In it, Lara's character calls one of the regulars up to her office on the hotel's top floor for a tongue-lashing. (The bad kind.) She's standing up there on the windy balcony, yelling and berating and wearing this oddly multicolored nightgown that has a cape. Before you can turn to the person next to you and ask why the fuck she's wearing a cape, the wind whips her and her billowy clothes off the balcony and into the distance, like Spider-Man but without any of the superpower prerequisites that prevent him from falling into the pavement at terminal velocity.

Bam! Blend into comic book-style art. "To be continued..."

Clearly, the character is dead, in a wonderful mingling of the episodes two motifs. This, of course, explains why April could immediatelyt identify the episode as a rerun. Frankly, I'm impressed. It's one of the most out-of-nowhere deaths of a major character since Rosalind Shays stepped into an open elevator shaft in a episode of "L.A. Law" and fell out of the show forever. The death may be a jab at Lara's lack-of-weight problem, but I say that's exactly the kind of wild surprise television needs in its hour-long nighttime soaps.

I can't say that I'll watch the show again, especially since my principle draw is pavement goo, but for what it's worth, "Las Vegas" gave me one more reason to like Lara Flynn Boyle.

Monday, January 30, 2006

They Put Their Legs in the Air

I stopped by my brother's place tonight. He told me that he and his girlfriend are looking at places for a wedding reception, which everyone should find funny since the two are still not yet engaged. Curious to this whole wedding process, I asked him who will front the money for this event: him, our parents or April's. Traditionally, it should be the bride's parents, they explained. (And I think back to that Steve Martin movie, my prime reference for this sort of thing, and that seems right.) So I joked that if Todd and April are going to have a traditional wedding, then her parents should also pay us a dowry. Once we settled on livestock as the appropriate currency for this transaction, April suggested that her family's fainting goats would work best.

"Fainting goats?"

It sounds ridiculous, but apparently these animals actually exist. Also known as "Nervous goats," "Stiff-leg goats, "Wooden leg goats" and "Tennessee Scare goats," this particular breed are genetically predisposed to react to predators by becoming rigid and falling over. (Oh, how wonderful my childhood could have been.) The condition is called "myotonia."

Here is a photo of a myotonic goat.

I know it looks like a sleeping cat, but I have to believe that the International Fainting Goat Association would post a picture of a cat in place of a goat.

No wait. Here is a better picture. I'd delete the first one, but I find it too amusing it its cat-like qualities.

According to April, the function of the fainting goat is to use them as sacrificial bait for predators. If you stick a fainting goat in with a flock of sheep, for example, it will keel over when the wolves show up, allowing the sheep time to escape while the wolves strip his stiff, little body of goat-meat. I suppose you could say that you'd be using your fainting goat as a bit of scapegoat, though the etymology for the latter term doesn't support the theory, I'm shocked to find.

For more information on fainting goats and the people who raise them, visit the official club website for the International Fainting Goat Association. (And please, note the logo.)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Concentrate Without Trying

My parents have gone to bed.

I slipped out the sliding glass door on the side deck to have a cigarette. My first of the day. Since I've been at the computer for a few hours now, I was wearing my glasses.

Outside on the driveway, something made me look up, and I realized for the first time how beautiful stars can look. Somehow, I've never before worn my glasses and looked up at the stars on a night without a moon or a cloud or a streetlight to obstruct the view.

I hate my glasses. That's probably why.

As I smoked my cigarette, I stared upwards and appreciated, literally for the first time in my life, this multitude of tiny, perfect points of light. There was nothing else to see. Standing there like a turkey in the rain, I had only the stars, set to the inobtrusive music of a cow lowing, a dog bark echoing in the valley, a cat crying — no doubt from being locked out of a house on the next hill over — and my own dog, scuttling across the pavement and setting his tags to a familiar, rhythmic tinkling.

It's too cold for the crickets to be out.

I came back inside and couldn't remember what I was working on.

One of my dog's tags is shaped like a little bone.

Variously, a Crone, a Soldier, a Waif Chorus, a Husband and a Wife, a Sea Captain, a Widow and a Daughter

alkiehorn0307: also the idea of "sleeping soft babies on piles of yarn" is nice to me
kidicarus222: not to me
kidicarus222: i'm scared a cat will get at them
kidicarus222: like, seriously
kidicarus222: that's the first thing that comes to mind
alkiehorn0307: well it's in a pretty quiet room
alkiehorn0307: like, no cats
kidicarus222: i'm sure, i'm sure. it's just... you know. at the back of my head? cat scratching.
alkiehorn0307: you can't think of that
alkiehorn0307: your hands are full of lullabies, orchids, and wine
kidicarus222: oh
kidicarus222: NO!
kidicarus222: then how will i stop the cats?
alkiehorn0307: your....feet?
kidicarus222: i can't pluck the babies to safety with my feet!
kidicarus222: i can't punt the babies, for god's sake
kidicarus222: what the hell are you talking about?
alkiehorn0307: bear in mind this is the same 20-minute song which includes the lyric "she's a salty little pisser / with your cock in her kisser"
kidicarus222: there shouldn't be cocks or pissers anywhere near these babies either
kidicarus222: i worry for these children, spencer
alkiehorn0307: there's also a soldier
alkiehorn0307: and a "chorus of waifs"
kidicarus222: for the love of god, what are you talking about?

The Little Man Living in Your Pocket

On the drive home last Wednesday, my iPod spontaneously died. I tried poking it, shaking it and spinning the wheel, all to no effect. In the end, I had to listen to a relic of my years riding in my parents' cars — KGO, all talk news radio, AM 810 San Francisco.

Despite nearly putting me to sleep on the King City backroads, the folks at KGO did tell me about this website, WheresGeorge.com. A simple idea: You check your dollar bills for serial numbers, type them in and then say where you are and where you picked up the bills. If someone else checks out the website and registers their bills — and apparently people often do — you can find out where your money ended up. Small bills, I learned, tend to stay in the community they're originally spent. Large ones, however, tend to travel quite far.

The news angle of this little story is that the National Institute of Health, otherwise known as former roommate Meghan's employer, has asked the site's creator to see his data. Purportedly, studying how money travels can give scientists a notion of how people travel on a weekly basis, and, thus, how disease might travel.

So there you go. Log in. Register your money. Save the world.

Guess Who Has to Be Mayim Bialik?


The only thing funnier than looking at your own memories is looking at somebody else's. Katie posted this on Monique's MySpace page a few months back, and I'm just now appreciating the hilarity.

As Nate points out, it's like the flashback scenes in "Beaches." You know, before Barbara Hershey dies of cardiomyopathy. (Sorry, Katie.)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Rank Filth Disguised by the Funky Pop Melody That Is Tom Jones' "Sex Bomb"

Whenever I have work to do, I end up piddling away time on this blog. You'd better believe I have work to do right now.

I recently noticed that Tom Jones' "Sex Bomb" has climbed up my iTunes most-played list to enter the top ten. Despite the fact that I can't remember listening to this song more than a dozen times, I've have begun to form a subconscious list of the sexual innuendo therein. It amuses me.

First, the lyrics:
Spy on me, baby — use satellite
Infrared to see me move through the night
I'm gonna fire, shoot me right
I'm gonna like the way you fight

Now you've found the secret code I use
To wash away my lonely blues
So I can't deny or lie
'Cause you're the only one to make me fly


Sex bomb, sex bomb, you're a sex bomb
You can give it to me when I need to come along
Sex bomb, sex bomb, you're my sex bomb
And baby, you can turn me on

Now don't get me wrong, ain't gonna do you no harm
This bomb's for lovin' and you can shoot it far
I'm your main target, come and help me ignite
Lovestruck, holding you tight

Make me explode although you know
The route to go is to sex me slow
And yet I must react to claims of those
Who say you are not all that

{chorus, twice}

You can give me more and more, counting up the score
You can turn me upside down and inside out
You can make me feel the real deal
I can give it to you anytime because you're mine

Sure, they read like a grammatical nightmare, but it's a catchy song. It's also a damn filthy song, what with the penis-vagina talk. It's like the theme song to a James Bond porno. In fact, that very well may have been the intention. But I'd like to look at just how sexual this song is.
  1. "Spy on me baby — use satellite" = Voyeurism, made all the worse because the object of the voyeurism is fat, hairy Tom Jones.
  2. "Infrared to see me" = Sounds exactly like "infrared semen" when he sings it.
  3. "I'm gonna fire, shoot me right" = It really speaks for itself, doesn't it?
  4. "the secret code I use / To wash away my lonely blues" = The code would be sex, I'm guessing.
  5. "'Cause you're the only one to make me fly" = Well, if you take "me" to mean "gobs of semen."
  6. "Sex bomb" = I don't know what a sex bomb is, but I have to imagine that it would make the walls wet when it explodes. Or it's a girl. A girl who makes the walls wet when she explodes.
  7. "You can give it to me when I need to come along" = Yes. Yes, you can.
  8. "This bomb's for lovin' and you can shoot it far" = Well, maybe the bomb isn't the girl. I don't think she should be airborne during sex.
  9. "And yet, I must react to claims of those / Who say you are not all that" = Wait, what?
  10. "Make me explode although you know" = Now Tom's the bomb, I guess.
  11. "The route to go is to sex me slow" = Way more information about Tom Jones' sexual tastes than anybody needs.
  12. "You can turn me upside down and inside out" = Ditto.
  13. "make me feel the real deal" = None of that fake vagina, please.
  14. "I can give it to you anytime because you're mine" = Wow, great way to close, rapey.
So there you go: a filthy, horrible song that I can't stop listening to. All in all, I'm glad it wasn't my generation that originally made this a hit. But I can still do my part.

Encyclopedia Drew and the Mystery of the Mixed-Up Currency

As my grandmother cleans out the house she's been living in for the past fifty years, she comes across things that she'd like to pass down to younger generations of the family. As a result, it's now not uncommon to receive Christmas presents from her that verge on heirloom status. Some family members complain, but I like the practice.

This last Christmas — a day that, as of this writing, is more than a month past — my grandmother gave my brother and me each half a collection of Japanese pesos. The only background information she could supply was that her cousin Dave had picked these up during his stint in southeast Asia in World War II. She didn't know how or why the Japanese government got to printing pesos, much less disseminating them through out the Pacific.

Having never been to southeast Asia, I can't identify the tall tower depicted on these bills. I can, however, clearly read the word "peso" — not "yen" or "dollar" or "giant stone coin of the Yap islander." What's especially odd to me about these bills is that the text reads "one peso" and "the Japanese government" in plain English text.

I eventually got around to researching these weird bills online and found that they are the result of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II. It seems obvious, in retrospect. The Philippines still use the peso as its currency today, and English is one of its official languages. It seems that when the Japanese took over the Philippines, they tried to force this currency on the Filipino people. Essentially IOUs from the Japanese, the bills were met with resistance from the Filipinos, who dubbed them "Mickey Mouse dollars" and correctly figured that they'd never be worth anything. Instead, the people persisted in using crude, homemade currencies.

I wish there was more info about the Japanese peso online. So far, all I've gotten that still works is the talk section for the Wikipedia page on the Filipino peso — good ol' Wikipedia, once again — and this eBay page detailing one guy's attempt to sell his pesos for, I'm guessing, actual money. I suppose there's this page to now, so good luck to you future researchers of the Japanese peso.

I like these bills, and not only for their status as a trivial footnote in recent world history. Just looking at them, I feel like they represent some crazy intersection of too many cultues sweeping through one area in too short a time. The Japanese government, English text, a Filipino monument, a currency that initially began in Spain and a graphic design that to me looks like it was inspired by that of the American dollar. In a way, these short-lived bills are nicely emblematic of the Philippines in general. This little nation has been unfortunately bitched around by bigger nations for such a long time that its currency looks like some kind of multicultural singles mixer.

That, plus the fact that when I read "THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT" all in caps like that, I hear it in this ridiculously official megaphone voice. And that's funny.

[ "m" minus some serious hardcore. do you get it yet? ]

Friday, January 27, 2006

Even Mountain Dew Has Its Mellow Yellow

All my life, I've had to have an enemy — one person, who more than anybody else, represents the injustice of this world. This person has changed over time from the bitchy, fat friend of the girl I'm dating to the loud girl on my hall to a certain boss to a particularly bad roommate. But they've always been there, in one form or another, making me puff and fume and grit my teeth and shout out in exasperation "What the fuck is wrong with you, you stupid, miserable shit-covered waste of flesh?"


I've been better, recently. I've learned that this practice isn't exactly healthy. After all, if one person truly is responsible for everything I think is wrong in the world, it's probably me. (Well, me or Marcy.) However, in light of my previous post, in which I extolled the joys of the Wikipedia, I feel obligated to discuss a certain individual who, to me, represents everything that can be wrong with a person.

See, in joining the Wikipedia, a person gets the option to make a user page that explains who he is and what he's done for the site. Mine is here. (It's also been in the sidebar for a few months now.) Simple, yes, but it states my case well.

Now there's this guy whose interests overlap with mine just a hair — enough, say, for me to notice him and promptly elect him to the office of "worst person ever." This little fucker edits a few pages I watch, but he does so nonsensically — to the pages' detriment, one might even say. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's people who cannot communicate through writing yet persist in attempting to do so. What irks me even more is that his user name is his email address, as if he doesn't know the difference between the two. I sigh. I really do. His name, I believe, is Zach.

The poor edits became a trend and people began yelling at him. He didn't respond. Eventually, his sister posted an apology on her brother's user page explaining that he is retarded and home-schooled — always a winning combination — and that she hadn't realized he knew how to contribute to the Wikipedia. Little Zach got censured and blocked and all that, but it didn't stop him. More poorly thought-out, barely comprehensible edits showed up . Finally, he made his own user page. As if to reveal his lack of understanding to the world, the bio he wrote for himself is terrible — and unintentionally hilarious.

Here, for example, are this kid's musings on his future career. (And please, realize that to grasp the maximum hilarity of this person's writing style, read the italicized parts out loud.)
To my career, what I would do is draw pictures of characters from video games and movies, but they copyright my work and other people should NOT take any of my work without my permission, which is, if people drew their own pictures, you should ask permission and they will decide yes or no. There are over a billion pictures on the Internet that copyright their work.
Here's a selection from his profile section "Movies I've Seen Recently," in which the kid summarizes the plot of "King Kong." (Yes, he actually included that as a section, and yes, I've added nothing to make him appear dumber.)
This movie is about a Gorilla named King Kong (the superstar of the film) and Ann Darrow (the star after King Kong). This version of King Kong is a remake of the 1933 film and the 1976 film. In this movie, Ann Darrow is held captive by King Kong and she becomes stuck with him, for a long time, and is forced to believe in what he wants. When the visitors leave, Ann decided to stay with King Kong, but the people that were going to leave wanted her back with them. Until then, King Kong was captured and sent to Ann's hometown for the drama, Save Me From The Beast!!, where Ann is captured, and must be released, while King Kong is in the chains too, being tied up very tight, and not as loose as Ann. The drama was supposed to last for 2 hours, but it was on for 10 minutes and it totally failed, and the place was getting completely destroyed, and the crowd ended up leaving. And then, King Kong took Ann to go on the ice with him. They were dancing around on the ice, and then the ice ended up cracking into pieces, and the people were banding together to defeat King Kong, but King Kong evaded carrying Ann, and then climbing up to the top of the building, more than 400 floors high. King Kong went to the very top of the building, and when Ann went up to get him, the people in biplanes were shooting King Kong to slaughter him. But then 8 minutes later, it was too late, King Kong died and then Jack Driscoll went to rescue Ann from being stuck with King Kong, and until the very end, Ann overcame King Kong.
The fuck?! It's things like this that piss me off. Large blocks of words that run together in a confusing manner until you finish and realize that you haven't gleaned even a bit of information from what you've just read. Oh, and also: "...Until the very end, Ann overcame King Kong." The fuck?! Did I miss the part where Ann Darrow triumphs over King Kong?

Kid, I know you're powerfully disabled — in fact, I'm hoping you are at this point — and it's, like, a miracle that you've done all this for yourself, however shitty it is. But fuck you. You suck more than you will ever know. (Not saying much, considering you have a limited perception of the world.) You're either too dumb to understand the plot of "King Kong" or translate what you saw into an accurate re-telling. Fuck.

And yes, "slaughter" is the only word the author felt the need to Wiki-link in the entire synopsis.

And what might this child think of his sister, who proclaimed his redtardity to the word?
My sister Mallory is quite mean, and often easily angered, plus she's pretty mean-looking which she looked nicer when she was younger. She is often crabby. She goes out with her friends every day which is a good thing, but I would be more interested in computer and video games.
Oh, Mallory. I feel for you. I'm betting there's a good chance that Mallory is "easily angered" and "mean-looking" and "often crabby" because her brother is fucking retarded and doesn't make any sense. I'm also betting that she goes out with her friends because she's, you know, not retarded.

Zach also writes about the Berenstain Bears books, a childhood memory that both he and I apparently treasure. He remembers the books a little differently, I think.
This series was founded in 1971. The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers is about a book where they read a newspaper about a bear girl who was kidnapped by a stranger, and could have been killed after the cause of being kidnapped. The Berenstain Bears and The Truth is about Brother Bear and Sister Bear playing soccer in the house, while their parents are gone, and then the soccer ball hits the lamp and it fell to the floor with a crash.
How I wish I could say that Zach has a flair for comic parallelism and contrast. This is not the case, I'm fairly sure. Also:, I don't remember any children-cub-types in the Berenstain Bears universe nearly getting their throats slit by strangers.

Zach on Princess Toadstool:
In Super Mario 64, when the 32-bit and 64-bit eras were founded, North America and Europe called her "Princess Peach" for that time and her name will always be that name since Super Mario 64. "Princess Toadstool" in Portuguese is "Princesa Congumelo", although there are over a million Portuguese websites... I've seen that in the Super Mario All-Stars manual, she was listed as just "The Princess". UGH!! Just calling her, "The Princess" is officially erroneous.
Zach on the plot of "Finding Nemo":
During Nemo's captivity, Darla, a mean teenage girl, goes to the aquarium to take Nemo as she is being told as she is one of the ocean-fish killers. Nemo was afraid of her, and as she could not keep him at all, during the fight, the plastic bag flew from her hands and landed in the sink and popped and water spilled all out and when Darla got to the sink, she was about to cry and the water shot into her face, and then Nemo returned into the ocean to escape from Sydney.
Zach lists his dislikes:
School (always receive all the hard work), homework, smoking, tobacco, being teased, being insulted, being yelled at, having privileges taken away.
Privileges like Wikipedia? Being taken away by the Wikipedia? And this is all the more angering because the Wikipedia user page is supposed to be limited to Wikipedia-related stuff. It's not RetardBlog.com, though little Zach is apparently trying to make it so.

But like all my previous adversaries, my hatred of this kid has almost grown into a game. I guess it's probably obvious that I take some small delight in this child's skewed, jumbled and altogether retarded view on a world full of princesses and mean big sisters and people who get you blocked from writing about Birdo all the time FOR TOTALLY NO GOOD REASON! Feel free to watch his user page yourself, once you've started your own Wikipedia account. Then you too can track his continuing work and degrading mental state.

Trivia on the Superhuman Scale

Being back in Crawllister forces me to care about the little things. For instance: this article in the Hollister Free Lance noting how my sad, lonely little hometown was mentioned in an article of a spin-off X-Men miniseries.

In the comic, a mutant named Erg explains how his uncle was one of the Hell's Angels who rioted in Hollister in the 1940s. The incident, which was overblown by the media and which eventually inspired the Marlon Brando film "The Wild One," involved only a few actual berserkers. By and large, most of the motorcyclists in Hollister at the time were as much bystanders to carnage as the town's residents were. Those who later studied the event figured that approximately one percent of the motorcyclists present had engaged in the wild criminal behavior that news media had so widely publicized. As a result of that estimation, many Hell's Angels — the fictional Erg's fictional uncle included — wore a pin bearing the phrase "one percent."

Anyway, the printed article had a scan from the actual comic. It's very strange to see accurate historical information about my town being printed in word bubbles with that thick all-capped font you see in comic books. But I suppose you'll just have to imagine what it's like.

Well, go ahead.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My Problems, Solved

On November 9 of last year, I posted on this blog an entry called "My Problems, Listed." This last Tuesday, I realized that these problems had been solved, for the most part. Here is a reprint of my problems, with appropriate solutions filled in.
  • My present lease ends around Christmas and I don’t know where I’m living after that.
  • The solution: After Stephanie moved back, I decide to split my time between Santa Barbara couch-surfing and Hollister.
  • Though I would want to move into Kristen’s house, her exiting roommate won’t be fully moved out until late January.
  • The solution: I waited. I still am, actually, since Amber has the room until the end of the month.
  • No matter where I live, I may only be living there for a short time, both because I am tired of living in Santa Barbara and because I want to travel to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji this winter.
  • The solution: Revised plan. I'm still heading to Australia and New Zealand, but I'm heading back to Santa Barbara afterward.
  • I have not set a departure date.
  • The solution: First week of March.
  • I have not set a return date.
  • The solution: Probably about a week into April.
  • I don’t know how long I will be traveling, if I go.
  • The solution: Simple math leads me to calculate about five weeks.
  • Currently, I have no one to travel with in these locations.
  • The solution: Dina's in. Adam expressed interest. Monique's already going on her own. And Kristen has to wait to see if the leprechaun living in her uterus is malignant or not.
  • Excluding Hollister, I will have nowhere to move back to when I return to the United States.
  • The solution: Heading back to Santa Barbara won't be so bad.
  • I’d like to move to a different city on my own, but the thought of that is very intimidating.
  • The solution: Don't move until I get accepted at some grad school.
  • If I move back to Santa Barbara, I will be wishing I had moved anywhere else. However, this scenario solves one problem — easily the biggest: no matter how and when I leave Santa Barbara, I will be ending the best relationship I’ve ever been in.
  • The solution: Santa Barbara won't be so bad. I still know people, and I know where stuff is and living in Goleta has made me stoked on moving back downtown.

What I Did to E

  • When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking. But studies show that when one vowel allows another to walk her home after a party, her chances of becoming victim to the foul, silent crime called "date rape" increase by over 50 percent.
  • When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking until, too focused on conversation, he trips and falls.
  • When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking. But when two vowels go running, the really should stretch first, lest they suffer a strained muscle.
  • When two vowels go walking, they fall in love. Later, they marry and become a diphthong. As time passes, however, one vowel starts spending too much time with that slut-back consonant down the street — my guess is "L," often called the "sauciest letter" by linguists — and the other vowel comes home and sees them in bed together, forming their own illicit syllable. This second vowel flies into a rage and executes them both with a shotgun.
  • When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking. But vowels apparently don't get much exercise in Czechoslovakia — alone or in pairs.
  • When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking. It doesn't matter, though. Because no matter who comes first, neither has too much to talk about. They're just vowels, after all.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Punctuation Round-Up, Part Two

Last March, when I should have been preparing for my History 4A exam, I wrote a blog entry detailing the etymologies behind the long-lost letter “thorn,” the omnipresent-but-mysterious ampersand and the obscure interrobang. This is the follow-up to that entry, “Etymology Round-Up.”

[ “S” Goes to Jail ]

Like many people, I have used the dollar sign ($) without ever understanding precisely why an “S” with lines going through it represents the basic unit of American currency. I had heard initially that the sign comes from the expression “pieces of eight,” which is piratespeak for money. In that sense, the dollar sign was literally that — the “S” was actually the remaining chunks of the number 8, after having been divided by vertically cutting lines. But oh, if only it were that simple.

There are quite a few other origin stories that don’t pan out either. One, proffered by the United States Mint, claims that the modern-day dollar sign evolved from a logo that combined the “U” and “S” in the institution’s name, though apparently not the “M.” Ayn Rand apparently endorses this explanation of the sign in Atlas Shrugged. According to the website of researcher Roy Davies, the tenth chapter of Rand's book is titled "The Sign of the Dollar," and in it Rand claims that "the dollar sign was the symbol not only of the currency, but also the nation, a free economy, and a free mind." Though this one would appear to make the most sense, most researchers have seemingly abandoned it as a possible explanation because the dollar sign predates the founding of the United States. (Suck on that, Ayn.) The U.S. Mint website doesn't even list it — or any — explanation in their FAQ section.

Another different history, offered by the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving, claims that the symbol was born as a result of a union of the letters “P” and “S” — as in “peso” or “piastre” or “pieces of silver” or, again, “pieces of eight.” The "S" was apparently written in superscript next to the "P" in "old manuscripts," though these ancient documents aren't cited and God knows where they could be. (This website for the bureau mentions this origin on its FAQ page — scroll down to the bottom third of the page.) This explanation accounts for the fact that the dollar sign was in use to denote other forms of currency long before the United States officially adopted it in 1785, and as a result seems to be the most favored possibility. However, the one vertical bar of the "P" doesn't account for the two vertical bars of the sign itself. (Though I should note that the iMac keyboard I'm typing on now only shows the sign with one vertical bar.)

The Wikipedia site for the dollar sign has a neat little graphic depicting how either the P-S or U-S explanations might have come to be.

Other, less popular theories abound. One purports that the dollar sign derives from an abbreviation for "shilling" — a form a British currency popular around the same time the Britons were drawing slashes through things to indicate that an abbreviation was being used. The still-used symbol for the British pound — £ — also has a slash, albeit a horizontal one.

Another unpopular explanation links the sign to slavery — and the Spanish words esclavo and clavo, meaning "slave" and "nail," respectively. Davies writes that "the shackles worn by slaves could be locked by a nail which was passed through the rings or loops at the ends of the shackle and bent while it was still hot and malleable." In short, the bent loops of the shackle looked like an "S." Once locked, they looked like an "S" with a line through it.

"S" + clavo ("nail") = S-clavo, or esclavo, meaning "slave"

To me, this seems at best another folk etymology, though one that works nicely when you consider what a large part of worldwide economy slaves once composed.

There's even a proposed connection to the Portuguese cifrão, a remarkably similar-looking character that Brazilians use to mark the transition from dollars to cents, much as we use a decimal point. (Well, not dollars and cents, but escudos and centavos. But you get the idea.)

What the Wikipedia entry concludes with, however, is an even stranger origin story for this little guy — and in my opinion, the one that most smacks of the truth. Some theorists link the dollar sign to the Pillars of Hercules, the twinned outcroppings that mark the Strait of Gibraltar — the nautical gateway to the new world. The logo of the two pillars superimposed over images of earth's two hemispheres — Eurasia and this new America thing — appeared on popular Spanish coins after Columbus' expedition and remained there until well after the United States declared its independence from Britain. The two circles representing the then-known world devolved into an "S" and the pillars became twin vertical strikes.

This explanation accounts for the double strike as well as the signs worldwide popularity. After all, the United States isn't the only nation to employ the dollar sign. Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile and Cuba also use it. Finally, it makes for sense than the shilling theory, because it seems unlikely that the United States would employ an out-dated currency symbol once held by the then-hated Britain.

Somewhere in these, there's the truth, but I feel like someone with more time than I have will be the one to sort it out.
[ all for you, lauren deny custard ]

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

This Suit Burns Better

Currently, I'm back in Hollister. The couch-to-couch lifestyle isn't as fun and carefree as I would have hoped, so everybody — me, my friends, my doctor and the nice man that got the snake out of our basement — agreed that I'd be better off heading home again. Life may move slowly here, but at leas I have a roof and a dog.

So while homelessness is bad for my nightly sleeping allotment, it's been doing wonders for dreams. Maybe futon fibers are more conducive to a vivid subconscious. Maybe my brain is just trying to keep me from thinking about how very homeless I look, smell and feel. I don't know. I'm no Sigfried Ford. Nonetheless, here are three recent winners, presented in narrative form for your enjoyment.

Number One: "Miyazaki meets the Die Unendliche Geschichte"
I'm driving through the hills to my house in Hollister, only I'm not headed there like I'm coming from Santa Barbara. I live there. I realize I've taken a wrong turn when I come to a dead-end. It looks unfamiliar. I get out of the car to investigate, and as soon as I avert my attention, the car and the road vanish. Soon, I'm just standing in grass and hills under chilly blue sky.

Soon, I realize that one hill in front of me is rising up from the rest — not suddenly, but just enough that I notice it. In an instant, I can see that this hill has eyes and big, broad grin, not unlike one you'd expect from a Muppet with an especially wide-set face. It sounds goofy to explain it now, I know, but it was scary at the time. For a lack of any better response to this hill monster, I ask it if it knows where I am.

"This is home, isn't it?"

It says that it's not. In fact, it's far from anywhere anybody has ever considered home. I should note that I don't remember the thing speaking or even moving its mouth, though I do remember this dialogue being important to the dream.

"Then I should leave?"

The hill explains that I'll be walking for a long time — and that I should take a shovel. It then promptly turns its head and begins moving away. I realize that the thing isn't fixed to the ground like a normal hill. It kind of swims around just beneath the surface of the ground, like a mouse moving beneath a piece of cloth or something. As I stand there and watch, the beneath-the-surface monster ripples across the ground, away from me.
Your guess is as good as mine.

Number Two: "Based on Actual Events"
I'm walking through campus, like I'm on my way to class again — late again, I feel like. I turn a corner and I pass these girls I saw at the bookstore a few days earlier. One of them shoots me a strange look as the other pulls her away.
Less of a plot than the last one I know, but this is probably more accurate to what I actually dreamed. It's a snapshot, really, or maybe a series of three taken over a few seconds. For whatever reason, I remember it the way it was — without me having filled in the holes once I've awakened. Like the previous story, for example — I'd guess that I invented most of it immediately after the dream ended, as a means of making sense of otherwise meaningless images.

I really did see these girls a few days ago at the bookstore. They had boyish faces and the severely angled hairlines one associates either with lesbianism or the women artsy-cool enough to publicly flirt with it. When I had asked them if they need help, the shorter of the two told me no, yet the other girl kept making eye contact with me as we shadowed each other around the store. Eventually, they left, with the shorter one pulling the other by the arm.

Just before they hit the exit, the quiet girl looked back, right at me, and gave me a look I interpreted at direct, intentional and panicked. The image apparently lingered in my mind.

Number Three: "My Heavy Foot"
Some unknown accident has torn the skin on top of my right foot. When I examine the wound I realize that it hasn't bled. Beyond that, what's exposed inside is flat, metal and shiny. My foot would appear to be metal. I go to my friends — nameless, faceless youths instead of cameo appearances from long-forgotten one-time regulars — and they agree that I should indeed be concerned. I may, after all, be some kind of robot.

Worried, I stumble away. Walking has become difficult with my new metal appendage, you see. Outside, I see that I'm apparently at the pool at some kind of mountain resort. My old roommate Cory is there, though he's younger than he was the day I met him.

"There's another pool underneath the cement," he tells me.

I lean over the edge of the pool to realize that the walls do not, in fact, meet at the lip of the pool edge. The water drains into this little space and goes into what clearly is a second, completely subterranean pool.

"I don't think I could fit in there," I say, referring to the narrow space.
And it's probably better I didn't try swimming with a metal foot, either.

I'm not looking for anyone to pick my dreams apart and use the pieces to build some character analysis. I just know that I had these dreams and my brain is holding on to them. Why should one thing linger when I can scarcely remember to take my vitamins in the morning? I suppose I'm not looking for an answer to that question either.

Here's a bonus: In my junior year of high school, I had a snapshot dream about a building made of wind. And not any natural-looking wind, either. The yellow, swirling kind of visible wind that you could imagine seeing in an old "He-Man" cartoon, with evenly shaped cyclones for towers. I can see it clearly now as I did six years ago.

Friday, January 13, 2006

One Eye, No Lie

A few days ago I got wind of the one-eyed kitten, "Cy," who was born a few days back. It's a cute but pitiful thing, what with its one giant eye and a total lack of a nose.

See? Now make that "aww" noise, qualified with an "ew" and an "oh" when you find out that it died one day after being born. But then Spencer sends me to a little online tribute to the poor thing. It's art. And it looks familiar.

Doesn't it look a lot like Baby Leela from that one episode of "Futurama" that had Leela as a baby? You know — the Baby Leela episode?

Change the pose and put a purple wig on that cat and there you go. Of course, cyclopses is cyclopses, my dad always says.

Death Letter

This MySpace chain letter intrigued me more than others. To play: Google your name followed by "was killed by" to see how you will die in some fictional universe. My results, in the order:
  • Drew was killed by fragments from Gnome's sniper grenade.
  • Drew was killed by a maindeck Electrostatic bolt.
  • Drew was killed by that doctor!
  • Drew was killed by a monster and Taylor won.
  • Drew was killed by lightning in the month of May on the Sabbath day.
  • Drew was killed by a drunk driver.
  • Drew was killed by a rubber band shot in the stomach at approximately 6:25 p.m.
  • Drew was killed by Barbara, played by Sonia Satra.
In case future Drews attempt this same morbid game, I'm adding my own to the mix: "Drew was killed by a rabid goat in heat."
[ link ]

Do I Burn This Place Down or What?

T-shirt wizard and lapsed blogger Dave sent me a link that I enjoy. Meet the Retrievr. It's a sketch program linked up with Flickr. Pick your writing implement and make a doodle, then watch as Retrievr finds photos posted on Flickr that resemble your doodle. It works, to a certain degree. I suspect my failed results stem more from my artistic limitations than the program's. Try to be as specific with your colors as possible.

And while you're at it, tell Dave to get his ass in gear.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Not Quite the Black Hole of Calcutta

Be forewarned: The following post contains too many parentheses.

One of this blog's more vigilant readers has pointed out that the content as of late has squelched any information about my personal life. It's true. I've been linking here and there lately, but I haven't been linking you, my dear readers, to my heart. So here's the big news: I'm homeless and loving it.

Sunday afternoon, I moved out of my apartment of the last six months because the girl I was subleasing from returned. (The nerve!) I packed up my things and, for the last time, left the place I will heretofore refer to as Twyla's house. Goodbye, Evergreen Terrace condominium. (And how stoked was I to live in a complex that shares its name with that of the Simpsons' address in Springfield? Very. And now I can mention it without drawing more stalkers than necessary.

I had work through Tuesday evening, though, and had initially intended to spend the these days sleeping on couches, with my car filled to the brim with my remaining belongings. When my parents got word of this plan, however, they balked, figuring I'd be cracked over the head and robbed of the contents of the car. (At this point in the moving process, this would include my dirty clothes, a plastic flamingo, the cowboy hat I bought at Coachella and a few boxes of cords and plugs. Yes, my parents worry too much.) In the end, they offered the cash necessary to rent a room at one of the area's finer, cheaper motels.

Sunday night, I pulled into the parking lot of the Hope Ranch Inn, a small roadside stay that dates back to before my parents were even born. It's so close to the road, in fact, that if a semi coming down Highway 154 had its brakes fail, said semi would careen through the State Street intersection and plow into my room. In retrospect, that's probably how the Hope Ranch Inn draws most of its clients.

The room itself was, in a word, small. (I stayed in hostels in Europe that were bigger.) It also had this sickly sweet antiseptic smell to it, like a cross between an upset stomach and Lysol. (Which is probably exactly what it was.) But not bad, by any means, though, I suppose far worse than anything I stayed in when I was traveling with my parents and not just on their dollar. It was completely within my price range — that being "whatever is cheap" — and I hadn't planned on hosting any cocktail parties there.

With the 101 running just a crack pipe's throw from my front door and the train tracks going directly behind, the whole experience reminded me of this old Goofy cartoon I have the vaguest memories of watching as a kid. In it, Goofy drives all night looking for a room to stay in, but has no luck. This is demonstrated in the cartoon by neon signs reading "No Vacancy" floating across a black background. Eventually, Goofy finds a room, but wakes up to the noise of a train engine barreling down on him. The room, you see, was built directly on the train tracks. This plot snippet is all I remember from the episode, and I have no idea if and how Goofy survived. (Assistance will be appreciated, of course.) Even associations like these, however, didn't stop me from enjoying the fact that I, for the first time in my life, had my own room — in my name and all to myself for whatever I wanted to do in it. And that is fun.

Within fifteen minutes of checking in, I had locked myself out and had to tear the bored housewife-looking concierge away from the back room — where I'm sure she was doing something totally important and life-affirming — so I could meekly ask for an extra key. Honestly, this woman looked like she started hating life around her second trimester in utero. She completely didn't understand the glee innate in a 23-year-old acting like an full-on grown-up for the first time. And I mostly felt grown-up because I took Jean-Pascal with me. (Poor little guy — he and his bowl have moved almost as much as I have in the past year and a half. He's such a trooper.)

So I spent three nights at the Hope Ranch Inn, loving every minute of the seedy, "Mulholland Drive"-esque atmosphere when I didn't have to be at stupid work at the stupid bookstore finding literature written by idiots for the slack-jawed and altogether unwashed residents of Goleta.

I left for home Wednesday morning. The drive was exactly what I hoped such a trip and such a time of year would be: brisk-bordering-on-gloomy, cast in that wintery greenish blue and with plentiful smoke plumes from fireplaces and leaf bonfires all the way up the 101. I won't lie. I love driving on the highway when there's ominous-looking clouds overhead. It always reminds me of the final scene in the first "Terminator" movie, where Linda Hamilton's driving through Mexico and stops at the gas station where that little kid takes her picture and then points up. "Look, lady, a storm eez coming." And then she says, "It sure is, kid," or something. Then this killer 80s soundtrack wells up and she drives away into what is clearly a painting of thunderclouds superimposed over a road. Only I'm Linda Hamilton.

Now all my stuff is in my old bedroom in Hollister, which now looks like the violent confrontation of my life before college with my life after. The TV and dresser and nighstand are with Kristen, my future roommate, while Spencer graciously accepted my books, paintings and Jean-Pascal. (Such troopers, really, all of them.)

I'm returning early Sunday morning — again, for stupid work at Stupidland for dorks — whereupon I will embark on a sure-to-be-exciting couch surfing adventure. In fact, many of you may well be aware that I am currently homeless, because I haven't been able to stop talking about it for the past month. Just as a heads-up, know that if you politely offered up your couch as a possible bunking location — even if you just offered because the rules of conversational etiquette mandated that you do so — I heard you, I made a mental note of it and I may very well call you in the next few days, seeking refuge.

Yes, it will be a pain. Yes, I will tire of not having my own space. Yes, I will hate the drive between Santa Barbara and Hollister long before I can move into my new place on the first of February. But I haven't got a choice in the matter — at least not this late in the game — so I've decided to have as much fun with it as possible.

Keep reading for more of Drew's month of self-imposed homelessness.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Especially Dominic Monaghan

Nothing against the show. I love it. But could people stop referring to the characters on "Lost" as "the castaways" and instead just call them "the losers"?

Tonight's episode was especially good. A bonus: they finally washed Cynthia Watros' character and it turns out she's actually pretty under all that dirt.

The Truth About Piano Keys

I decided this warrants a post of its own.

You may remember the post "Bread or Medical Emergency?" in which I pondered the meaning of the Japanese text on the back of my cracker packages. Some kind soul named Joanna has commented on the post and clarified just what these guys are and what they're saying. (They're not iron bars, it turns out.)

Joanna had the following to say...
Hi... I'm commenting on your entry about the Kaki no Tane because my friend Drew read it and he really wanted me to clarify what it says there. Hahaha. Here goes.

Well, first of all Kaki no Tane is literally translated to mean "seed of persimmon." It's usually a tasty spicy snack that you eat while you drink beer. They're totally yummy. :)

On the back of the packaging is always these stories about the little things in life that are sort of sad. For example, the two purple bars are supposed to be the two keys that are all the way on the corner of a piano. They're sad because they're always there but nobody plays them. :( They're little stories that try to make people notice these little things in life. Haha.
So there you go. I'm not clear which of the many Drews this Joanna is affiliated with. When I click her name in the comments to see her profile, I get this page. Boo.

Shame on Ewe

Rumors of the 2006 Coachella line-up have begun to circulate online, apparently after having been leaked in an email from some careless higher-up. If this quickly spreading internet rumor is true — and when have they not been in the past, may I ask? — then the following bands will be appearing at Coachella in a few months.

April 29:
  • Depeche Mode
  • The Strokes
  • Portishead
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Fatboy Slim
  • Massive Attack
  • Infected Mushroom
  • Royksopp
  • Kings of Leon
  • Doves
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • Broken Social Scene
  • Atmosphere
  • Blackalicious
  • Super Furry Animals
  • The Buzzcocks
  • Primal Scream
  • Supergrass
  • Ladytron
  • DJ Peretz
  • The Shins
  • Dieselboy
  • Tortoise
  • Sleater Kinney
  • Richard Hawley
  • Grooverider
  • Death From Above 1979
  • Yesterday’s New Quintet
  • The Walkmen
  • Son Volt
  • Will Oldham
  • The Clientele
  • Lightning Bolt
  • Cage
  • The Crimea
  • OK Go
  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  • John Kelly
April 30:
  • The White Stripes
  • Roxy Music (featuring Brian Eno)
  • The Arcade Fire
  • Sigur Ros
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Boards of Canada
  • Underworld
  • Ween
  • Death Cab for Cutie
  • Armin Van Buuren
  • Built to Spill
  • De La Soul
  • Big Star
  • Iron & Wine
  • Uberzone
  • Happy Mondays
  • Dinosaur Jr.
  • TV on the Radio
  • Elbow
  • Eagles of Death Metal
  • The Tears
  • Esthero
  • T. Rauschmiere
  • Cat Power
  • The New Pornographers
  • Carl Cox
  • Grandaddy
  • Calexico
  • Explosions in the Sky
  • The Wedding Present
  • Andy C
  • Fatlip
  • DJ Icey
  • The Notwist and Themselves performing as 13 & God
  • Devendra Banhart
  • The Coral
  • Stateless
  • 65 Days of Static
All in all, this purported line-up seems realistic. (Though, seriously, who the fuck listens to Esthero?) But I'm hesitant to get my hopes up after the fake line-up ended up online last year. Also, the inclusion of the Arcade Fire would seem to violate the rule of bands not being invited to Coachella two years in a row. (Though, again, I'm not sure that's so much an actual rule as an urban legend.) The official Coachella website currently says nothing about the 2006 line-up. If I remember correctly, last year's official list didn't get posted until Valentine's Day or so. The list I posed above is currently at a message board at StarPolish.com, a blog called Thighs Wide Shut and a British music news site called This Is Fake DIY. The only part of the whole hype that seems to be reliable as of yet is that Depeche Mode will headline, as evidenced by an article at MTV.com. And that makes sense, since Depeche Mode is big and good and their new album went over especially well. But if it turns out that this line-up is even partially correct: Sunscreen, anyone?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

What a Tacky Sunset, What a Vulgar Moon

Going back through the mnemonic device I was taught to remember the names of the planets in our solar system — yes, the one about the very eccentric mother — I was suddenly struck with the comparative crappiness of the name of the planet I'm writing this on. Earth — as in, a synonym for "dirt." Literally, our planet shares its name with some of the smallest particles that make up its outer layers. Our nearest neighbors, as pop culture self-help books remind us, share names with this great figures from Roman mythology — Mars, the uber-manly symbol of wrathful warfare, and Venus, the embodiment of all things sexy to the point that her name gives us the itchy, scratchy term "venereal." But here we sit in the middle, with no clear mythological figure to look up to. Even the two celestial bodies most important to Earth — the moon and the sun — get the shaft, as far as names go. Rather than calling them by their Roman names, we stick them with the generic terms for such things. Just a plain old sun, and a boring moon. We could have easily called the sun "Sol," I suppose, and the moon "Luna." Or something like that. But no. Other planet's moons — bodies which, I understand, have fairly little impact upon the daily lives of Earthlings — get fantastic names, like Europa and Ganymede and the like. We, however, insist upon referring the ones important to us as if they were the most humdrum, run-of-the-mill sun and moon we could possibly come across.

What I propose: If we're to rename the Sun, Moon and Earth, I vote that we either call them by their Roman names so as to fall in line with the rest of the solar system and call the three Sol, Luna and Terra, respectively. But if we really go through with this, I say we shoot the moon, so to speak. My suggestions for the new names for the Sun, Moon and Earth are — again, respectively — Superman, Moonie the Best Moon Ever, and the Wonderful Planet of Funk.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Watch Out, Laszlo Panaflex

Because she was asking for it. That's why.

This is my old roommate Jill. As you can see, Jill is wet and besmeared with shaving cream and other foaming substances. Her eyes are red. Though it might appear that Jill is crying, I assure you she is laughing.

In preparation for getting a new computer, you see, I've been going through my computer and finding old images that I thought were long gone. This image was taken three years ago by another roommate — Meghan or Nate, I can't remember which now — at the climax of a quickly escalating prank war between Jill and me. I can't say what brought the fight on, and I can't say what she did that brought the fight to these levels. All I know is that Jill was fleeing from me through the house and — rather stupidly — decided to hide in the shower, where she immediately drenched and foamed until she admitted that she had lost.

College — those are some memories.

Photos and "Photos"

Dear National Geographic Society,
Hi! How are you? I know we haven't spoken much since I used to work for you a year ago, but I sometimes you do things I don't understand. And not like that issue a while back that enticingly asked "Was Darwin Wrong?" on the cover and then proceeded to answer "no" over the twelve pages inside. That's something else entirely. No, what I'm curious about is how you came to compile your top ten news photos of 2005 — particularly number three and number five.

Maybe I'm not a member of "The Society," as you like to call yourself, but aren't we being a little liberal with what is signified by the word "photo"?


Bread or Medical Emergency?

Food tastes better when it's smiling at you. It doesn't sound probable, I know, but pleasing packaging makes the contents so much more appealing. Case in point: Sun Milk. It's regular skim milk fortified with sunflower oil, which makes it taste heartier than regular skin milk. Whether that's true is ultimately irrelevant to me, as is the notion that this substance is the unholy semenic union of bovine and vegetable. The carton is just so goddamn pleasing.

(Sun Milk front)

(Sun Milk back)

(A close-up of the Sun Milk logo. What a happy fucking flower!)

(It's like the Brady Bunch grew a field of sunflowers!)

("I love Sun Milk as much as I love the sun itself!" — a contented cow)

(Malicious but still adorable trans fat!)

The nearest I can approximate the cuteness of the Sun Milk carton is that of the strange Japanese rice crackers that Subleaser Sarah left here. The English text identifies them as "Kameda Super Fresh Kaki no Tane Rice Crackers." They're super fresh crunchy, for sure, but my throat burns after I eat them.

(The packaging is good, but the Japanese text worries me.)

(What does it mean? Of what do these goblins speak? And why must a swim flipper and a toothbrushinterferee with my snacking?)

(Why have Tetris pieces escapes and come to deliver news via food?)

An attempted translation: "We are Hasashi and Okino, animate iron bars brought to life to enjoy Kameda Super Fresh Kaki no Tane Rice Crackers. Hasashi is angry because the Witch of Twelve Judgments has cursed him with the Black Tassel of doubt. But by eating Kameda Super Fresh Kaki no Tane Rice Crackers we hope to overcome this considerable handicap and become domestic partners. Praise Kameda Super Fresh Kaki no Tane Rice Crackers!"

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Math of the Surreally Yellow

I must admit I’m a little pissed. I received the seventh-season DVD box set of “The Simpsons” for Christmas — the one that includes the episode “Twenty-Two Short Films About Springfield,” which I’ve considered one of the best in the series. It plays exactly as the name indicates it should: a bunch of loosely interconnected vignettes about the various residents of Springfield, somewhat in the style of “Pulp Fiction” or this art house flick called “Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould.”

My major issue with the episode, however, is that it doesn’t contain twenty-two clear-cut segments. Those in the episode go as follows:
  1. Bart and Milhouse spit at cars from an overpass
  2. Apu in “The Jolly Bengali” segment, complete with title card and theme song
  3. Lisa gets gum in her hair
  4. Smithers gets stung by a bee
  5. Dr. Nick has his medical license reviewed, then prevents Grandpa Simpson from dying of “skin failure”
  6. Moe’s Tavern gets robbed
  7. The “Skinner and the Superintendent” segment, complete with title card and theme song
  8. Homer gets Maggie stuck in a newspaper vending machine
  9. Chief Wiggum and his deputies discuss McDonald’s
  10. Bumblebee Man’s house implodes
  11. Chief Wiggum runs down Snake
  12. Rev. Lovejoy’s dog shits on Flanders’ lawn
  13. “Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel” segment, complete with title card and theme song
  14. Milhouse and his Dad free Wiggum and Snake from the antique store
  15. Nelson Mocks an extremely tall man
  16. “The Tomfoolery of Professor John Frink” segment, complete with title card and theme song
The Lisa segment gets two sequels, so to speak, one involving the entire town trying to help her de-gum her hair and another involving a barber giving her a haircut — “I finally look like a real person! Thanks!” — and Bart gets another segment involving spitting that kind of bookends the entire show. At best, however, this makes nineteen.

Back when the episode first aired and I was just beginning to use the internet as an extra fix for my TV addiction, I looked the episode up and found that it was initially going to include two other segments: “Ralphplane,” involving the younger Wiggum and Krusty, and “Marge the Hostage.” (In retrospect, Ralph, Krusty and Marge seem like glaring omissions from the line-up of characters listed above. Well, them and Patty and Selma and Dr. Hibbert.) In fact, I can remember seeing a shot of Ralph and Krusty seated next to each other in an airplane in the original advertisements in the week before “Twenty-Two Short Films” first aired. Since the footage actually existed at some point — It had to! I saw it! — I eagerly awaited catching these two missing segments in the deleted scenes that the DVD box sets are so careful to include.

But no.

The only deleted scene provided for “Twenty-Two Short Films About Springfield” is an extended version of the “Jolly Bengali” title card and nothing more. As a last resort, I actually listened through the commentary to the episode to see if the people who made it might have any insight. They do indeed mention these two segments — noting that “Marge the Hostage” is some sort of fantasy sequence that ended in Marge being in a foul mood, hence her indifference to whether Lisa recycles later in the episode — and they claim that the segments should be included in the deleted scenes. (The writers also explain that the episode’s title is a reference to the Glenn Gould film and that they made the episode without bothering to count the vignettes.) They lie, however, as the missing segements just aren't there.

“Ralphplane and “Marge the Hostage,” I suppose, will be gone forever, which sucks for so many reasons, the least of them I can best explain in the following manner: “Come on! It’s Ralph. And Krusty. Together. On a plane! How could that not be the best thing ever?!”

So damn — has my imagination deluded me once again or have I just purchased a defective version of this particular DVD?

Monday, January 02, 2006

And a Purple Bulldozer Is Calling Her on the Phone, Too

In the back of the December issue of the British GQ is a page proclaiming Jessica Simpson as the “girl of the month.” The layout has various photos of Jessica and a neat little graph comparing her stupidity with that of Homer Simpson. But what really caught my attention were these various factoids and quotes about Jessica. Here’s a few examples.
  • “Jessica was once a dwarf. When she was younger, her mum would hang off her legs so they grew in proportion to the rest of her body.”
  • A quote from Jessica herself: “I’ve always been quite motherly. When I was sixteen, I wanted to adopt a baby boy that I found in a dumpster back in Texas. I almost took him home with me.”
  • “Jessica has, according to her mother, Tina, an IQ of 160 — up there with Einstein. But Jessica disputes this, saying it’s more like 150.”
  • Another quote from Jessica: “A dolphin might as well be a shark to me. But I put on my wetsuit and said, ‘I’m going to face this fear.’”
  • “The secret to Jessica’s perfect rear in her role as Daisy Duke? Squat thrusts and coffee: ground and rubbed into the skin, naturally.”
What?! What the fuck?! I don’t know that much about either Jessica Simpson or the British GQ, so I don’t know who’s on crack in this case. But seriously — Jessica Simpson was a fucking dwarf? Was this before or after she found the garbage baby?

Whatever the case, I think I being a fact checker at his publication would be the best job ever.

Funnier Than Hamster Cancer

Like always, I was talking about the “Baby Doll” episode of the animated “Batman” show I watched when I was a kid. Spencer pointed out that her deliberate baby babble speech was appropriate to the setting of the show, since this version of Gotham City evokes 1920s art deco like it’s going out of style — which it did. Anyway, Spencer said that speaking that way was a trend among the flapper set and that perhaps actress Clara Bow had popularized it. So I hopped online and looked up Clara Bow, about whom I knew very little.

Here’s a snippet from one of her biographies that I found so relentlessly tragic that I started laughing.
Bow was born in a tenement in Brooklyn, New York, the only surviving child of a dysfunctional family afflicted with mental illness, Dickensian poverty and physical and emotional abuse. She was the third daughter born to her parents. The first two children were stillborn. Clara’s mother had hope that Clara would also die at birth and didn’t bother with a birth certificate. Her mother, Sarah Gordon, a sometime prostitute who was mentally ill as well as an epileptic, was noted for her public and frequent affairs with local firemen. Her father, Robert Bow, was rarely present and may have been mentally retarded; he reportedly raped Clara when she was a young girl. When Clara expressed a interest in being an actress, her mother came to her in the middle of the night and stood over her bed with a knife and threatened to kill Clara. Clara then hid in her closet until her father returned home.
I fancy my addition to be something like, “As a child, Clara’s cobbled her clothes together out of spiderwebs until she developed an allergy to human skin and became too weak to do so. A family of voles then lived in her anus for six years. Eventually her parents found out, beat Clara and ate the voles while Clara sat in the corner.”

This reminds me quite a bit of a poem I read back in my Victorian literature class — I think — in which the narrator meets a girl who sells wilted watercress on the street corner and is too poor and abused to understand the concepts of a public park or leisure. That made me laugh too. I wish I knew the name so I could read it again and laugh.

Eating Poison or Peeling Off Your Own Eyelids

Not daring to stray from the usual co-worker chatter topics of (a) rude customers, (b) mutually hated managers and (c) the awful in-store music, a fellow book peddler asked me today if I’d rather be first season “American Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson or fourth season “American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood. I thought about it and decided that I would rather be Clarkson, even though I once described her as someone who would lack stage presence even if she set herself on fire.

I imagine Underwood’s Oklahoma upbringing would have rendered her scrappy enough to kick Clarkson’s ass in a fight, but Clarkson at least doesn’t sing songs about how she hates being famous. There’s this one track of Underwood’s album called “I Ain’t in Checotah Anymore.” In it, she mentions that she’s staying in a hotel that houses more people than her hometown and that the money she spent on dinner could be a down payment on a house. Yes, Carrie, it doesn’t cost much to buy Checotah real estate when the houses there are made of twigs and burlap tarps. What really gets me is that the girl who’s shocked to be famous wrote the song after winning a contest that promises to make you famous. It’s called “American Idol,” you silly bint, not “American Eating a Can of Shit in a Dirt House in Oklahoma.”

I think I defended my choice rather well.