Thursday, November 30, 2006

On the Record

I can't remember the last time I posted something here solely to express how great I think I am, so without further ado, you should go read my big article in this week's Independent. It's about Bob Dylan. And it's not about Bob Dylan. And I think it's one of the best pieces of journalism my stubby, crooked fingers have ever banged out of a computer keyboard.

Please, go. Read.

Well Secluded, I See All

New template.

No, I haven't gotten the Blogger Beta upgrade yet. I was just sick of seeing that generic polka dot template every time I checked my blog, which I do roughly six dozen times a day. I threw this together in the span of a half-hour or so, so if there's something terribly wrong with it, please tell me. Long-time readers may recognize this new temporary template as a throwback to my original blog's design, at least chromatically.

She's a Viking Now

So this is apropos of nothing, really, but what on my blog ever is?

I bought Final Fantasy 3 for the Nintendo DS. Disregard all preconceptions you may have about a game series with the words “final” and “fantasy” in the title. When I was younger, the few Final Fantasy games Nintendo actually translated for American audiences were a major part of my recreational hours. This game, however, is one you may have seen advertised on TV recently. It’s not the new one for the Playstation 2, which I won’t play and which looks like it was cast with a bunch of actors from the CW. No, this is the one being advertised at the one Final Fantasy never before available in the United States. I’ve had some awareness of this game for more than a decade, and being fashioned in the old school kind of greatness that early 90s video games often are, playing it is a nice way to be back in touch with something I forgot I loved. The game, of course, received a graphical facelift and looks like it could have been invented today. But at its heart are good, solid play mechanics that aren’t weighed down by the apparent desire of the developers to re-invent the wheel that so often make new games pretty to look at but dull to play.

The developer, the venerable Square Enix, also decided to improve the game’s story by making the four playable characters into actual people, with a name, a face and a personality. In the original incarnation, the four playable characters were these silent, identical ciphers that only swing swords and opened treasure chests. In this go-around, there’s a main character and three others — his fellow orphan friend, a rebellious girl and an older military-type guy — whom he meets shortly into his journey. They talk about things, argue among themselves and, in a way, seem a little beset to take on the kind of stereotypical epic quest that ends in saving the world. (Really, wouldn’t you be?) Like in the version 1.0, however, these four still share the same physical attributes, and over the course of the game the player can change their class to all manner of strangely-costumed jobs in order to complete the game in whatever fashion the player wishes.

Now, this is where my weird ideas kick in.

In a world of knights and wizards and thieves and ninjas and all that, I’m assuming the natural tendency would be to make the main character and the military-type guy the physical powerhouses, and leave the healing magic and wizardry to the other two, solely on account of the fact that one is a girl — and we all know girls can’t fight — and the other, who looks strikingly feminine, is introduced as being timid. Personalities aside, the characters are still identical, however. So I take a strange sort of pleasure in making the latter two characters change into various buff classes — currently, she’s an axe-toting Viking and he’s knight — while the other two are the classes typically viewed as physical weaker, what with the responsibility for healing and helping the axe- and sword-swingers and all. I’d imagine most players — especially male players — would stick the sole girl character as a healer or, if they could, a new class where she attacks with frying pans and vacuums and Lee Press-On Nails. And it’s strange, because by virtue of being a one-player game, no one else will ever interact with my little take on the characters. Nonetheless, on some level, I feel like I’m subverting the rules of gender politics.

I mean seriously — the girl is a Viking. That’s got to count for something.

And even if nobody else knows what the hell I'm talking about, Meg H. at least will appreciate this.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Video Games and Rainbow Colors

This is Shigeru Miyamoto, the brain behind a lot of what made my childhood fun. This image appeared in Time magazine's "Asian heroes" list.

And this bit of vintage arcade cabinet advertising just amuses me.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Among Other Unusual Things I Did Before Nine-Thirty This Morning

So, yeah. I talked to John Stamos. And I didn't do that yesterday. And when I talked to him, I was wearing a bathrobe and disgusting slippers.

That's all I'm saying about that.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Keister Egg

Although I was initially disappointed that KTLA had pre-empted last Tuesday’s “Veronica Mars” in lieu of some sports garbage, Super Bri wisely pointed out to me that the episode would instead be airing on Saturday. I turned in just in time to see the opening credits. The best part of the episode, by far, was its guest star: Patty Hearst, who played an heir to a retail fortune and the granddaughter of the robber baron founder of Hearst College, the fictional school Veronica now attends. Thus, Patty Hearst is playing a thinly veiled version of herself.

In the show’s long-standing tradition of naming its characters with good reason, Hearst’s character is called Selma Hearst Rose. The “Rose” comes from her husband, Bud Rose. As in “rosebud,” as in “Citizen Kane.” It’s the first name that really gets me, however. I wondered why the writers would have picked such an uncommon name for the character, when I realized that the only association I have with “Selma” is the more mannish of Marge’s two twin sisters on “The Simpsons.” Then I made the mental leap. Patty Hearst. Selma Hearst.

Oh, and the episode also involved sodomy-for-humiliation, a suicidal tanorexic named "Patrice,two uppity personal assistants and the best implementation of “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” I have ever heard. All this from a show that has already given us an Asian frat boy named Charleston Chew. We truly have so many reasons to be happy.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Divine Hand

And, as an unrelated epilogue to the previous post: I’m currently home on a Saturday night, watching “Samurai Champloo” for the first time in at least a year. It’s a hip hop spaghetti western about samurais in the Japan’s Edo period. (Yes, just as you thought.) Unless what was promised by the flash-forward goes unfulfilled, this episode will feature Paul Gauguin as a character. Sometimes, life really does suit me too well.

Stepping Around in the Desert of Joy

Three short stories about shopping on the day after Black Friday. (As a sidenote, you should know that I’ve dubbed the day “Puce Saturday.” Mark your calendars, retroactively.
[ one ]
I’m in dire need of a new pair of jeans. Too many washings — particularly in sulphurous New Zealand washing units — had faded the indigo dye in my one good pair, thus rendering them unremarkable. I’d like a pair of gray jeans, but I found the collective assortment of men’s jeans in the entire Valley Fair mall to be unsatisfactory. Apparently, pants-wearers in San Jose have a different interpretation of the phrase “slim fit” than those in Santa Barbara. Or they just can’t let go of the baggy pants style. Or they’re fat. I don’t know. At one point, I specifically asked a salesgirl if she could recommend anything that wouldn’t hang around my legs a pair of potato sacks. I tried them. When my parents asked what I thought, I responded that “I might as well just puke all over my legs and call that a pair of jeans.

The salesgirl was standing right behind me.

“Oh, yeah. These aren’t working for me.” Somehow, even at that point, feigning politeness would be my best bet.

I didn’t find any jeans.
[ two ]
During the second period in which I was lost in the shopping mall, I wandered past a Talbots. This store is known to me as a mom store. My mom shops there. Therefore, Talbots equals mom store. Anyway, the Talbots at Valley Fair has a second Talbots unit across the hallway, which is itself divided into two smaller unites — Talbots-lets, if you will. On one side, the Talbots-let is labeled “Talbots Petite.” On the other, “Talbots Woman.” This distinction, of course, confused me, as Talbots is strictly a women’s store. I asked my mother about it later, when I was no longer lost, and she told me that “woman” in a store name designates plus-sized fashion. Really, the label is silly, though if the store is implying that the larger customers are “more woman,” in a sense — a literal sense.

In any case, I think the situation is made all the more distressing by the fact that the two sides of the Talbots-let have two different doors, as if the larger customers aren’t even allowed to entire through the door marked “petite.”
[ three ]
I was granted the opportunity to confuse a customer. For this, I am thankful. I went to look at some sweaters on a rack where an older woman was also browsing. Without looking up, she tells me “I’m only looking.” I process this and respond that I think that’s neat, then continue to browse over her shoulder. She finally looks up and repeats what she said earlier. Then me, a little annoyed: “Lady, I don’t care what you do.” She shoots me a look like I shanked her. Even after looking at me, the guy who wasn’t wearing a headset or name tag or orange vest or anything, she apparently was convinced I worked at Nordstrom. I walked away.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Naïve / Native

A nostalgic song.
Home is where I want to be.

Pick me up and turn me round. I feel numb — born with a weak heart. I guess I must be having fun. The less we say about it the better. Make it up as we go along. Feet on the ground, head in the sky. It's okay — I know nothing's wrong.


I got plenty of time. You got light in your eyes, and you're standing here beside me. I love the passing of time. Never for money, always for love. Cover up and say goodnight.

(Say goodnight.)

Home. It's where I want to be, but I guess I'm already there. I come home. She lifted up her wings. Guess that this must be the place. I can't tell one from another Did I find you, or you find me? There was a time before we were born If someone asks, this is where I'll be.

(Where I'll be.)

We drift in and out. Sing into my mouth Out of all those kinds of people, you got a face with a view. I'm just an animal looking for a home. Share the same space for a minute or two, and you love me till my heart stops — love me till I'm dead. Eyes that light up, eyes look through you. Cover up the blank spots. Hit me on the head.
Make of it whatever you will. I know I've been thinking about it for years.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Adolpha Zantziger

Yet even more strange ways people have been finding my blog.

Judi Dench, Plus One Standard Year

The previous post, I just realized, marks the 1,365th published on this blog. When I think about it, I published my 1000th post back on February 27, 2006, meaning that I've since published a year's worth of posts in only nine months. This, of course, only works if you figure that'd I white a post per day, which I do, usually. Now it looks like I'm batting slightly above that.

It's good to know where I stand, at least.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Boy Who Holds the World in a Paper Cup

You regulars may have noticed more linky gobblygook at the bottom of some of my posts. In addition to the Technorati tags that have been showing up, I'm now including links under the heading "Read more." Indeed, I do think you should read more — specifically stuff that I wrote.

For a long time, I've felt that older content on Back of the Cereal Box — stuff that went up back when most of you weren't reading on a regular basis — just sits there, neglected and unread, save for the people using Google to find some connection between Maya Angelou and Froot Loops. (It exists.) Thus, early this last summer, I spent my downtime sorting through old posts, reformatting them to look pretty and categorizing them.

The process proved to be time-consuming. In fact, it also nearly got me nailed by the Blogger police as a spammer. I actually had to argue that the category system I rigged wasn't a violation of Blogger policy. Believe me, it was fun, thinking that all my work could zapped into internet realms unknown on account of some technicality.

Eventually, however, I was approved and sent the following letter.

Your blog has been reviewed, verified, and cleared for regular use so
thatit will no longer appear as potential spam. If you sign out of Blogger
andsign back in again, you should be able to post as normal. Thanks for
yourpatience, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

The Blogger Team

I finally finished the polishing and sorting around the end of October, right around the time Blogger released Blogger Beta, the nifty upgrade to the service I had used to compose my blog for the last four years. The major advantage with Blogger Beta — for which the "beta" implies not a test version, it seems, but more of a sequel — is the label system. "Label," you see, is Googlespeak for "tag," and Blogger's missing tag feature what this whole janky faux post categories thing I've constructed was made to be a substitute for. In short, all the work I did — save the formatting clean-up of the old content — was for naught. Or at least it would be, if only Blogger would extend the upgrade to the new version for me. They have for everybody else — both Spencer and Dina, for example — but not me, as I opted for some basic FTP features on this blog back in 2003. That, it seems, is what has so far prevented me from switching over.

As a result of all this mess, I present to you my blog, with its generic-but-temporary template and its lame post categorization system. Feel free to read my blog grouped into rather broad categories now. I know you've always wanted to!

Broad, ultimately useless categories for your face:

I suppose I should also note that, other than myself, four people earned their own categories, for sheer volume of contributions to this blog's content: Sanam, Dina, Spencer and David Lynch. Now there's a bridge group.

Yes, on the whole, these categories suck and will have to wait to be expanded and bettered upon the advent of Back of the Cereal Box 2.0. Until then, this is all I have to offer you. Stick it out with me, friends and strangers, and one day we'll all appreciate a bigger, better Cereal Box. In the meantime, know I've done something that you can play with over Thanksgiving break

Come on and drink it up.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Reviews of My Most Recent Netflix Conquests, Expressed in Haiku Again

I can't believe it's been a year since the last time I detailed what I've watched through Netflix. Granted, with the whole NZ/OZ thing, it's been a slow year — by which I mean a busy year — but I've scored some fairly good cinematic experiences in my brief bits of down time. Like last time, the films worth viewing are linked.
Fear No Evil
Schlock, for the most part.
The worst: a kid get killed by
A lethal dodgeball.

Troop Beverly Hills
How can somebody
Be so heart-breakingly pert?
Choo! Choo! Shelley Long.

Eyes of Laura Mars
Even chased by a
Killer, Faye Dunaway still
Acts like a huge bitch.

Steel Magnolias
It’s embarrassing
That I cared so much about
Someone named “Truvy.”

Daria: Is It College Yet?
After all these years,
It’s good to see Daria
Escaping high school.

Beyond the Valley of the DollsI bordered on bored
Until heads started rolling
Off of their bodies.


So much white guilt, Lars.
But Bryce Dallas Howard sure
Ain’t Nicole Kidman.

Reefer Madness: The Musical
Why did a singing,
Dancing Kristen Bell somehow
Come off as charmless?

Valley of the Dolls
Nowhere near as great
As reputed. Sharon Tate
Sure looked goon on screen.

American Graffiti
Funny how young Ron
Howard made me nostalgic
For Modesto. Fonz?

JunebugOh, Amy Adams —
So proud you pulled an Oscar
Nom. Be my best friend?

Good, I suppose. I
Just thought this one was the one
With Charo in it.

Kiki’s Delivery Service
I will never outgrow
Miyazaki, even if
I watch him alone.

The Wicker Man
Atmospheric, slow
But probably better than
the remake, I’ll bet.

The Gumball Rally
Honestly, I just
wanted to see Joanne Nail
Of “Switchblade Sisters”

PersonaEven having seen
“Mulholland Drive” twelve times, I
Was utterly lost.

A History of ViolenceA decent thriller,
With nice subtext that
Justified the violence.

The Devil’s RejectsWho would have thought that
Rob Zombie’s follow-up would
Have been so damn good?

Happy Birthday to Me
IMDb was
Right — the ending doesn't make
Any sense at all.

Death Race 2000
Bam bam — I ran them
Down. David Carradine looked
Creepy even then.

Isla, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheeks
Sure, Isla’s head was
Blown off in the first one. Why
Not make a sequel?

Arlington Road
Joan Cusack can be
So evil when she wants to
Be. Spoiled twist ending.

Finally having
Seen this film, I still can’t stand
“Blinded by the Light.”

DogvilleBest line in the film:
“I owe her that much.” Dogville
Is America?

Funny Games
Yikes. Now I feel I
was held hostage in a home
Invasion nightmare.

The Five ObstructionsLars Von Trier, you’re such
A dick, so why can’t I stop
Watching your movies?

What’s the Matter With Helen?I’d say that Helen’s
Problem was being played by
Miss Shelley Winters.

Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?Shelley Winters again.
Guess she liked movie scripts whose
Titles posed questions.

12 Monkeys
Turns out that “La Jetee,”
Which was boring, was better
Than this mess. Brad Pitt!

Martin & Orloff
For some reason, a film
Based on my favorite sketch
comedy group sucked.

PalindromesGood all-around, but
The best part was finding out
Dawn Wiener offed herself.

Murder on the Orient ExpressSo good! A spoiler:
The killer is who you think
And not who you think.

Die Mommie DieA twist ending, but
I called it twenty minutes
Before. Campy fun.

The Dreamers
Fun city. Sweet house.
I want to run around France,
Watching old movies.

Edge of Seventeen
Dear Netflix, you sent
Me this by mistake. Now I
Want my two hours back.

Y Tu Mama Tambien
Mad sexy. It would
Have been better if I saw
It in theaters.

Play Misty for Me

Jessica Walter —
The mom from “Arrested” — is
So fucking scary.

Pretty, French and so strange.
I still don’t know why Brigitte
Bardot had to die.

Moments Before They Made Out

A blog I read recently put up a post titled "World Implodes." I had to see. Indeed, the content matched the promise of the title.

I think this, if anything, testifies to Dench's gifts as an actress. Every notion of manners and poise and presentation she hays in her gray little head must be keeping her from slapping that bitch to the ground.

Irrelevant Fact of the Day

Al Roker and Lenny Kravitz are cousins.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Aunt Linda

If Stuart's mother and Evie Harris could somehow merge into the body of your disapproving aunt, it would this woman. May I please present the many moods of Aunt Linda.







Wednesday, November 15, 2006

King Midas in Reverse

More strange ways people have been finding this blog.

Metal From the Waist Down

Not being in a state to comprehend words last Saturday night didn’t prevent me from seeing last week’s “SNL.” Minus one sketch and the musical numbers, the entire episode is available in iTunes. In short, it’s one of those episodes that reminds you why the show is so great, as it features Alec Baldwin as the host, Chrstina Aguilera as the musical guest and guest appearances from Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett. This makes for an extremely good episode and a surprisingly rewarding closing credits with so many famous and talented people crowded onto the monologue stage, hugging and waving.

And I love watching famous people hug each other and wave.

Having a few spare moments today, however, I checked in on the SNL Transcripts archive to see what had been eliminated from the online, ready-for-syndication version of the episode. Apparently I missed out on seeing Aguilera and Bennett do a duet version of “Steppin’ Out With My Baby.” I also didn’t get to see a quasi-sequel to the cider sketch from the Jaime Pressley episode a few weeks back.

It begins with Alec Baldwin and Kristen Wiig in a car together.
Kristen Wiig: Y’know, in some places, the prices are still almost three dollars a gallon. It’s crazy.
Alec Baldwin: Well, carpooling was definitely a good idea. At least now I don’t feel like I’m losing money going to work.

[ they chuckle ]

Wiig: I know — plus having someone else in the car makes the drive go faster.
Baldwin: Yeah. This is a nice car.
Wiig: Thank you.

[ awkward pause ]

Wiig: Oh, so it looked like you were having some words with your neighbor back there.
Baldwin: I’m sorry?
Wiig: Oh, when I drove up, he was ranting and raving. That must be fun, living next to a crazy old man.
Baldwin: That’s my dad. He actually lives with us.
Wiig: Oh. I’m sorry.
Baldwin: He’s not quite right anymore. He had wandered into the neighbor’s yard, I was trying to get him back to the house to, uh... put some clothes on him.
Wiig: I’m sorry, that must be really hard.
Baldwin: It is. Especially on the kids.
[ a pause ]

Baldwin: So where do you guys live?

Wiig: Oh, no, no. It’s just me, I’m by myself, I have an apartment.
Baldwin: Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were married.
Wiig: I am. He ran away.
Baldwin: Oh.
Wiig: It’s okay, um, he left a note. Um... it was nice... But, uh, he can’t live with me anymore. But it’s okay.

[ a pause ]

Baldwin: So what happened to those bonuses we were supposed to get this summer?

Wiig: Oh, yeah, those bonuses. Honestly, I don’t even think they exist, y’know? It’s like, it’s a big myth. It’s like Bigfoot.

[ a pause ]

Baldwin: I believe in Bigfoot. I’ve seen him twice, so he’s real.
Wiig: I didn’t mean to offend you.
Baldwin: It’s all right, you weren’t there.

[ a pause ]

Wiig: Do you want to listen to some music or something?
Baldwin: Sure, that’d be great.

[ She turns on the stereo. “Where Does My Heart Beat Now?” by Celine Dion starts playing. ]

Baldwin: Ugh, Celine Dion. Anything but that, I cannot stand her. You mind if we change the station?
Wiig: It’s a CD.
Baldwin: Sorry. Do you mind if we put in a different CD?
Wiig: They’re all Celine.
Baldwin: Big fan, huh?

[ She turns off the music. ]

Wiig: When I was 17, I was kidnapped and taken to Peru. After four months, I managed to escape, but couldn’t get back to the U.S. I begged for money to buy a piece of paper and a pencil so I could write a letter. I wrote that letter to Celine Dion to come and rescue me, and she did. She’s an amazing person. She’s an amazing person.
Baldwin: I’m sorry, I should have known.
Wiig: It’s okay, I’m, I’m just sensitive about it, y’know, she’s always been there for me, y’know? She’s—she’s my rock.
Baldwin: Your rock?
Wiig: Yeah... what?
Baldwin: It’s just that last summer my dentist and I were rock climbing, and he fell into a crevasse where he got his foot stuck. The coyotes were circling, so I did what I had to do, and I chewed his foot off with my teeth.

[ a pause ]

Baldwin: So you should be a little more careful with the words you throw around.
Wiig: With "words" I "throw around"?
Baldwin: Yeah.
[ a pause ]
Wiig: Someone threw a box full of dictionaries out of a fourth-story window, crushing everything below my waist. No one came to help me for so long, I started reading one of the dictionaries and got halfway through “C,”so I think I know a little something about people throwing words around.
Baldwin: I’m sorry, that must’ve been awful for you.
Wiig: I’m metal from the waist down.

[ Baldwin glances over to her and then looks down at her legs. ]

Baldwin: I’m sorry.
Wiig: Y’know, it’s fine. You know what they say: “Don’t worry, be happy.”
Baldwin: Bobby McFerrin raped my grandmother.

[ He presses his fist to his mouth in anguish for a long moment as they drive. ]

Wiig: Let’s just, uh, let’s just listen to the radio.

[ She switches the stereo back on, only to hear “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” coming from the speakers. Baldwin covers his eyes with his hand while the song continues for a few seconds. ]

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bad Barfly

Though I can't remember what apparently rude behavior led me to sign the below receipt the way I did, here it is nonetheless. Be amused by my lameness.


And while you're here, please note the following three points of shame: (1) Not only did I refuse to tip the bartendress who so apparently so raised my ire, but I also (2) decided to write below the signature field that the rest of the bar staff should know that "The dark-haired girl is a snatch. Don't tip her" in drunken belief that the people who work at the bar are somehow responsible for doling out tips, and then (3) apparently pocketed the receipt I signed — thus allowing me to reproduce it here — instead of leaving it at the bar so the dark-haired girl would know that she is, in fact, a snatch.

Classic. Fucking classic.

Meronica Vars

Being both not satisfied with and too cheap to buy either edition of the "Veronica Mars" soundtracks, I hopped on iTunes and found various iMixes that include all the incidental music from the show. I produced the following CD of sonic goodness, which contains tracks from various "Veronica Mars" episodes aired so far.
  1. Dandy Warhols - "We Used to Be Friends"
  2. Spoon - "Don't Let It Get You Down"
  3. Longwave - "Here It Comes"
  4. Old 97s - "The New Kid"
  5. Neko Case - "Hold On, Hold On"
  6. Stereophonics - "Dakota"
  7. Daylight Titans - "Dangle"
  8. 46bliss - "The Way You Are"
  9. Air - "Run"
  10. Ivy - "Ocean City Girl"
  11. Tegan and Sara - "So Jealous"
  12. Spoon - "I Turn My Camera On"
  13. Mike Doughty - "I Hear the Bells"
  14. Delays - "Long Time Coming"
  15. Faders - "No Sleep Tonight"
  16. Regina Spektor - "Fidelity"
  17. Tegan and Sara - "I Know I Know I Know"
  18. Spoon - "I Summon You"
On the whole, I'm pleased. I know I dote on this show too much. I wish I could say something like "Yeah, the show is great but the soundtrack just blows." But it's not true. The soundtrack is as perfectly wonderful as everything else about the show.

Commence downloading.

This Is a Low

Two realizations, with the second being dependent upon the first: (a) I am two dumb to live. I know this because (b) the attempt to pick up two "little nails" from a pencil tray with a "cylindrical magnet" repeatedly failed, as the "little nails" turned out to be non-metallic pins and the "cylindrical magnet" ended up being a chunk of graphite.

Mercy-kill me, please.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mr. Poochyfud

For whatever reason, a name I recalled seeing on election signs during my last drive up to Hollister popped into my head this morning. “Chuck Poochigian.” What a name. It’s attached to a Fresno Republican who ran against Jerry Brown for the position of state attorney general. He lost, but it’s too bad that he won’t be in the news anymore. I laugh to myself whenever I hear his name, as it reminds me of some Armenian cartoon dog. From Michigan. With chiggers.

Ha ha. Poochigian.

Little Shirley Beans

Recent photographical conquests.

restaurant reflection 1

cafe dining car 4

cafe dining car 3

nojoqui falls 3

green bug on the wall 3

cactus fruit

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Blue Mage

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Papaya Dance

You say it's going to happen now / But what exactly do you mean? / See I've already waited too long / And all my hope is gone.

I'm badly needing the upgrade to the new-and-improved Blogger Beta, and I've heard that customized templates can affect who gets picked to make the transition. Though the old template was only slightly customized, for all I know it was enough to prevent me from getting to new system, which, once in place, will allow me to dispense with manual Technorati tags and this hokey wannabe label system I've been grouping on and use real post labels. This feature, more than anything else, will help this blog by allowing old content to me more accessible.

Thus, you'll have to put up with this standard-issue Blogger template until the Beta transition happens.

Jewel Thief Sandra's Plight

More odd ways people have been finding this blog.

Cat With Paws

Should I find this as creepy as I do?

I can't help but think that the undreadable text is explaining something bad and that some cruel fate awaits this strange cat on the other side of the door.

More is Less, Apparently

And then, I suddenly realized that people only use the expression "more than you bargained for" to indicate some unexpectedly bad result of their efforts, even though the phrase would seem to imply a good deal. Literally, if you got more than you bargrained for, that should be good — like buying a wicker basket and finding out a passed-out acrobat monkey inside and then the monkey does tricks and you clap. However, in the spirit of how the expression is actually used, the monkey should rightfully bite you and give you rabies.

I'll never understand English.

Our Lady of the Toast

Some see Mary. I see Sanam.

The confusion is understandable.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Your Best Friend's Wife

I just realized that Homer Simpson, Hank Hill and Peter Griffin — the main characters of "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill" and "Family Guy," which happen to be the three big FOX animated Sunday night sitcoms — each have a best friend who has a crush on their wife. Moe is always trying to sweep in with Marge whenever he thinks Homer is dead, Bill Dauterive makes awkward passes at Peggy, and Quagmire thinks Lois is the most attractive woman in the neighborhood. Funny, that.

Cup of Hedgehog

From Sanam.

Who else?

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman With Lots of Hats

Just when you think Jenny Lewis has risen to the flawless levels of rock goddess stardom, this piece of pop culture wonderful surfaces. "Teen Set," a video magazine that attempts to show what kids in 1991 should think is cool.

As much as I like Jenny Lewis, I can't help but snicker at the idea of this interview coming back to haunt her, making her face about as red as her hair. The highlights:
  • "What was it like to work with Fred Savage?"
  • The montage of Jenny trying on different hats.
  • "Frankly Scarlett, I don't give a damn," spoken in her regular Jenny Lewis voice instead of the various accents that mark the rest of her hat personalities.
  • In answer to Jenny's claim that she enjoyed her mother getting a part in "Troop Beverly Hills," the interviewer asks who her mom was in the film. "Shelley Long," Lewis explains. "My mom was Shelley Long."
  • The circus music that plays during the trampoline sequence.
And, oh yes — it features a cameo from the original Rabbit Fur Coat woman herself: Jenny's mom, shown wearing a carbon-dated t-shirt and not the coat we all wanted her to be wearing.

And just so you all don't think I'm trying to make Jenny Lewis look like an ass, here's a finishing touch that makes her look considerably, properly, accurately cooler — the video for "Rise Up With Fists."

[ source: Prance Closer ]

Young Folks

A good thing, even if it appeared on "Grey's Anatomy," which I've never seen but I resent for further sucking the "indie" out of "indie rock."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Snake Wig

Since I first discovered Greek mythology as a kid, I’ve been entranced by it. As a product of Catholic school, I spent a lot of my childhood hearing Biblical stories. In their own right, they’re good, I suppose. Occasionally, they feature the type of extreme violence that grabbed my attention. Greek mythology, however, offered everything: blood, guts, all manner of weird sex, and such freaky monsters that they’re still showing up in random bits of popular culture today.

Easily first among the toothy, mismatched creatures Greek mythology offers us is Medusa. She’s a longtime love of mine. I’ve even written about her before on this blog — “Fiorenze Henderson” and “Pentimento” and “Medusa Meets Monty Python” — but most notably in a post in which I theorized that she could be a symbol for the vilified female artist. Gaze and statues and all that. It makes sense. Look into it. She’s strange and supremely lethal and quite confusing given her dual origin stories.

A sketch of Miss M., done during a boring history lecture

Recently, a fellow blogger wrote a retrospective of the many appearances of ol’ Snakeylocks in video games. She’s a regular, whether she’s depicted as a vixen with an awkward hairdo or an out-and-out monster. Whatever the design, she’s popular in video games because she’s from Greek mythology — thus her presence doesn’t offend Christians — and she’s a powerful female figure.

Reading the article sent me looking into Medusa. I was surprised to find that her name means “queen” — or, literally, “female ruler” or “female guardian” — in some old form of Greek. How odd. Some postulate that the Medusa character may have arisen from a particularly disliked female ruler whom folklore had transformed into a literal monster by the time the Greeks began telling stories. I, however, would wager that something else may have caused the name “Medusa” to ultimately be associated with the ugliest, the most dangerous and the most genuinely awful woman in the canon of literature. (Yes Jezebel and Lady MacBeth were bad, but people could at least look at them without dying.)

Before I ended up completing the English degree I started college pursuing, I bounced around in a few different departments. I took four linguistics classes with Arthur Schwartz, a great professor who helped me get more out of the language I grew up speaking than anybody else who’s ever taught me. One of the things that has long stood out in my head is the phenomenon of words for “left” becoming pejorative over time. For example, look at the following words for “right” from various Indo-European languages.
  • Latin: dexter
  • Italian: destra
  • German: recht
  • French: droite
  • Spanish: derecho
  • Persian: rast
If you’ll notice, a sound pattern is shared by these words. They either start with “d” or “r,” and most of them have both the “d” and “r” syllables in them. Clearly, these words share an etymological connection. And this would make sense, especially since they refer to a basic human concept and the various listed languages all originate in the same basic area.

Now note the same languages’ words for “left.”
  • Latin: sinister
  • Italian: mancino
  • German: link
  • French: gauche
  • Spanish: izquierda
  • Persian: chap
The relationship among these words vanishes. It might initially seem curious that the words for “left” wouldn’t share a connection with their respective opposites do. However, as Prof. Schwartz explained, another basic human concept is the profanity of the left hand. That side of the body — and especially that hand — is considered so dirty, in fact, that the centuries and centuries of using it eventually makes it impolite to use, similar in the way that “sinister” today means “evil” in English. Thus, before people began writing words down, they’d cycle through words for this idea fairly quickly. Even now that language is more formalized, we’re still doing it. The American expression “left-handed compliment” helps prove this.

This post, however, concerns Medusa. Using the logic of the eventual debasement of words for “left,” I’d wager something similar happened with Medusa. Just as the longstanding view of western culture regards the left hand as the inferior of the right, women, unfortunately, have long been regarded as the inferiors to men. I think that because of this prejudice, words referring to women also suffer the same fate.

I can think of a few examples in contemporary English-speaking culture. Another bit I learned in one of Schwartz’s classes is that a little-known word exists that is a perfect homonym for “queen.” It’s “quean,” which is sometimes spelled “kwean” or “kween,” depending on who’s doing the translating. Now obsolete, “quean” refers to women of little status — nobodies, serfs and the like. The Scots still use it this way. Outside of Scotland, however, the word can also refer to a prostitute or even a male homosexual, the latter of which is made all the more confusing by the fact that we use the more familiarly spelled “queen” today to also mean a male homosexual. The whole essence of what I’m going for here is that queens and queans could easily be considered social opposites. And I find it very interesting that a language would allow for two words with identical pronunciation to mean opposites.

Though it’s probably the best example, we have a few terms we use commonly that work in a similar way. The word “madam,” for example, should be a term of respect, but I know I can’t hear it without hearing the meaning that refers to women in charge of brothels. Likewise, “lady” should be the respectful way one refers to a woman of standing, but to call a woman that — as in, “Listen, lady” — is often considered impolite. A “princess” is more commonly understood as a spoiled girl than the Diana or Cinderella types. “Mary,” long the most common girls' name in the United States, is now a commonly understood term for a male homosexual, which doesn't carry as much perjorative weight today, sure, but did when the term first originated. And then there's “spinster,” “mistress,” “witch,” “bitch,” and “actress” as opposed to “actor.” Even the title “Miss” is now considered improper.

It happens. Words take on new meaning over time, and unless they refer to what their speakers consider good, those meanings often turn out to be bad. I can only imagine that “Medusa” — being an old, old word — has slowly transformed into from a female ruler to the single worst female entity you’d ever want to encounter.

I just enjoy that this monster has roots in something far different. In Sexual Personae, Camille Paglia writes that Medusa is an inherently sexual character. “She is Medusa, in whom Freud sees the castrating and castrated female pubes. But Medusa's snaky hair is also the writhing vegetable growth of nature. Her hideous grimace is men's fear of the laughter of women.” I think she makes a point. And I also think that whether people process the notion of Medusa’s origins or not, they’re aware of her dual nature on some level.

To go back to the Medusa-in-video games post, why else might this loathsome woman come to be represented as beautiful?

Nothing is more interesting than when it’s something and that things opposite at the same time. Does that even make sense?


Doesn't the bun look like a croissant?

Sanam would think so.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Bri Is S-M-R-T

Bri won the contest of guessing what I wrote that was unusual. Specificially on the Wikipedia, that is. Examine the comments section of this post for her deductive process. Also: the Wikipedia article in question.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Rory Finch

A funny thing happened on the way to the “Veronica Mars” tonight. Seriously — did anybody else notice that the episode re-used about five minutes’ worth of scenes from the end of last week’s episode to start off? Like, not even in the “Last time on ‘Veronica Mars’” way, because the episode had that, too. But roughly half the footage aired after the opening credits already aired last week.

I wonder if this happened because the CW figured most regulars wouldn’t have caught last week’s episode by virtue of it having aired on Halloween night. Odd indeed. A wholly good episode, though, déjà vu notwithstanding.

EDIT: Okay, so you know what it was? I made friends with the Veronica Mars MySpace profile. It's an official deal that the studio put up to promote the show. "Veronica" — who is probably some intern who drives a BMW — posts video clips of next week's episode. I confused the two, apparently. Whoops. Sorry, Ronnie.

What Do You Mean "I Only Talk About Milk"?

EDIT 11.7.2006: Since only Nate guessed the answer to the question posed in this post, I'm bumping it to the front of the pack. I'm honestly interested to hear what Wikipedia content people would suspect I'm responsible for.

In case you have some time to fill or some work to put off, I'd like to suggest the Wikipedia time-waster of Wikipedia time-wasters.
[ link: Wikipedia's page of Unusual Articles ]
It's the cross-section of Minutia Street and Calle de Esoterica. In other words, it's the place to be. A major plus: an article I started — and in which a large portion of my original text remains — is listed. Whoever guesses it first receives an abstract prize!

Territorial Oak

David Sifry, founder of Technorati, has a really interesting "state of the blogosphere" post up. Any one with an interest in the medium should check it out, if only to examine this world of words condensed down to numbers. Via Boing Boing.

Additional bloggery happenings: after peaking into the ranks around 80,000 or so, this blog's Technorati profile plummeted back down to 143,877, where it currently sits. Boo.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Revenge of the Blob

And on a far less-groundshaking note, I came across a second noteworthy sea creature today. This particular species is not new to the world of science, but I feel most people don’t know about it.

And they should.

Being the lame-ass that I am, I spent a work break perusing Wikipedia articles on the EarthBound series of video games. This is a Nintendo franchise that has seen little release in the United States despite its greatness. One of the recurring characters in the game is a strange little fellow named Mr. Saturn.

Here is Mr. Saturn as he appears in his original, two-dimensional form. The limits of the Super Nintendo mean you can't really go for a lot of detail, of course.

And here is Mr. Saturn, realized in three dimensions for his appearance in Smash Bros. The various playable characters can chuck him at enemies.

As you can see from this images, Mr. Saturn is little more than a walking nose with a funny haircut. In EarthBound, these little fellows — who are all named “Mr. Saturn” — speak a strange broken English and, despite their outlandish appearance, are happy to help the game’s heroes. (They also irritatingly intersperse their speech with the interjection “BOING!” for no apparent reason.) Next to nobody has ever played these games, but Mr. Saturn showed up as an item in Super Smash Bros. Melee — a Nintendo mascot free-for-all, for the uninitiated. Even with the Nintendo Gamecube’s high resolution, a lot of people who suddenly found their character grasping a Mr. Saturn mid-battle probably wondered what the hell he was.

In any case, the Wikipedia article on Mr. Saturn — or Mr. Saturns, depending on how you interpret this characteristically Japanese take on the group and the individual — notes that he somewhat resembles “a blobfish.” The term seems made-up. Given the article’s context, I wondered if it was a Pokémon or something, so I decided to click the link to the Wikipedia entry for “blobfish.”

This little-seen species — Psychrolutes marcidus — apparently lives in the deepest waters off the coast of Australia. The blobfish is composed mostly of jelly and lacks muscles. It floats about with a gas-filled bladder and eats merely by waiting for something edible to swim into it. Fascinating, no? Tragically, its Wikipedia page lacks a photo of the beast, so I had to turn to Google image search for a result.

It’s shocking, I suppose, but I don’t know why I expected anything different. There's a passing resemblance, I suppose. Maybe if Mr. Saturn melted.

Those of you who followed my other blog project, Die Wunderkammer, should know that I have a soft spot for the weird-goofy aesthetic of the EarthBound games, as the game's characters figured into several posts:

The Dolphin Who Dreamed of Being a Man

Via the Drudge Report comes a story about a dolphin picked up in a fishing net off the coast of Japan last week. Upon close inspection, the fishermen were shocked to see that Flipper was flippier than most of his brethren — in short, he had a pair of rear fins near his tail. About the size of a human hand, according to various news articles, the fins apparently helped the dolphin swim. More importantly, however, the dolphin’s extra appendages may be proof that the species evolved from a land-walking mammal that existed eons ago.

One article notes that the animal was “dog-like” before it eventually made its home in the water, lost the fur and slowly adapted to aquatic acrobatics. “The creatures, which belonged to a group called Pakicetids, looked like a cross between a wolf and a tapir and had large heads, long powerful tails, spindly legs and ankle bones well adapted for running,” London’s Daily Mail states. So not only does this give zoologists insight into the history of the dolphin itself, but it may help support claims that animals evolved into the states we’re familiar with today. Others, however, are not so quick to judge and state that this particular dolphin is merely the result of seaborne mutagens, not unlike the way exposure to DNA-altering chemicals sometimes gives people flippers.

Debate aside, Japanese scientists hail the discovery as “unprecedented,” though the article also notes that animal researches have known for years that fetal dolphins develop tiny “leg buds” before attaining their familiar dolphin shapes when they’re ready to be born.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


The Grammar of Capital Punishment

Before I fell asleep last night, I checked the Drudge Report in order to poison my dreams with a biased view of the news. I hadn’t checked news all day, to be honest, so I was unaware that the Saddam Hussein trial had reached a verdict. This was what I saw last night:

It’s still up today. In my half-awake state, I didn’t understand what the story was trying to express. “Faces Hanging After Baghdad Verdict,” to me implied that people were upset with the verdict, and that their “faces hanging” was some idiom Matt Drudge was using to express that people were downcast. It wasn’t until I checked this morning that I understood what the headline actually meant: Saddam Hussein is going to be killed by hanging. The odd thing is that when I explained the situation to Spencer in terms of the Drudge Report headline, he also interpreted it as people being upset, not Hussein hanging from a rope.

This all reminds me a bit of the garden path sentences I learned about when I was going through that “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” phase. Like “The horse raced past the barn fell” and the like.

Hopefully news of his imminent death was clearer for Saddam himself.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Speaking of Maya Rudolph

I never saw this. For some reason, I don't think it actually aired as part of "Saturday Night Live." Pretty great, though.

Quick. Before they take it down.

Case Pendin'

Before axolotls, before cassowaries and before anteaters, there was Maya Rudolph.

She was a small obsession for me when she first began on “SNL” seven years ago. When I realized this biracial package of musical comedy and funny facial expressions was the daughter of the late Minnie Ripperton — and, thus, the meaning behind the part of “Loving You” in which Ripperton repeated says “Maya” — it struck an emotional chord with me. Then I realized that I had already been acquainted with Rudolph through her work with the Rentals. And that’s not even accounting for her actual work on the show. I know not everybody digs her, but for me Rudolph ranks up there with Cheri Oteri. And the first Glenda Goodwin sketch — the one in which her law firm defends clients in cases involving werewolves, witches, paintings with moving eyeballs, Sleestaks, and Tyrannosaurus Rexes — makes me laugh every time I think about it. (And I can only think about it, since I’ve never been able to find a video of it online.) But now something has finally happened to make Rudolph even dearer to my heart: She has bedbugs.

As stated in various news stories, Rudolph and her boyfriend Paul Thomas Anderson — the Paul Thomas Anderson, as in the guy who directed “Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights” — are suing their landlord for allowing their $13,500-a-month Manhattan apartment to become infested with bedbugs. First off, I’d hate to be the landlord who pissed off such a hipster power couple. Second, Maya, I understand your pain. I went to Australia. I got bedbugs. It sucked. Granted, I was staying in a bargain hostel at the time and not stylish urban digs that cost more per month than I current make in a year. But still — as I see it, this makes us just like family.

The best part of the Rudolph-Anderson insectoid blood feast, however, has to be how E! Online chose to write about it. Ever the cheeky fuckers, the E! writers ran the story with the headline “Maya Rudolph Bugged Out.” It also described Rudolph as being “bugged out” and “suing mad,” neither of which are terms I’m used to hearing. The again, I’m apparently not qualified to work at the E! network. I have to hand it to the writer, however, for finding the humor in Anderson’s next film project. “Anderson is in post-production on the suddenly ironically named drama 'There Will Be Blood,' starring Daniel Day-Lewis,” the article notes.
[ source: T-face ]

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Mystery of the Thing What Happened

The Australian fellow whose movie blog I read has tagged me. The rules of the International Meme Act of 2005 state that if I do not act in accordance with the meme-tag, I can be subject to stern punishments like blog revocation, a stupid haircut and the amputation of one or both hands.

Thus, I shall reply with nine weird facts about me. However, I think I'm going to narrow the scope of this list down to nine weird facts about me that I can state today that I could not have stated a few days ago.
  1. I dressed as a stereotypical tourist for Halloween, though I don't think most of the the drunk people who saw me got it, even with the plastic camera hanging around my neck.
  2. I have a magazine ad featuring a Bedlington Terrier tacked to my wall now. It stares at me as I type.
  3. I quit my PA job on the grounds that I couldn't muster the energy to be in charge of someone else's life when my own needs as much attention as it does. (Also, the whole money thing didn't help.)
  4. I will be interviewing John Stamos sometime in the next week weeks.
  5. I get more done with I don't leave the house, I've realized.
  6. Even if no one is in the room, I still feel a bit uncomfortable about playing Mario Kart with excessively pink characters.
  7. Jackson Publick of "Venture Bros." fame isn't returning my calls, but I hope he does because I think I could knock that interview out of the park.
  8. I think I should wake up early on Thursdays, if only because I get horribly depressed when the new Independent comes out with none of my articles in it. I think I'd be better off if I delayed that reaction for as long as possible.
  9. I'm Tina Fey's friend on MySpace now.
And yes, I technically did this a few weeks ago in tenfold, but there's nothing wrong with sharing. There's not!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

An Open Letter Written Upon the Death of Mr. Eko

Dear people who make "Lost,"

Exactly what was the point of introducing the "tailaway" characters — Mr. Eko, Ana-Lucia, Bernard, Cindy and sweet, sweet Libby — only to kill off the three major ones and have Cindy disappeared? I mean, Bernard is great and all, but we haven’t even seen him yet this season. And having the smoke monster thrash Mr. Eko to death did remind us that this unexplained phenomenon is a legitimate threat to our dear unwashed crash survivors… But still. If either Nikki or Paulo die within the next season, you're getting a more strongly worded open letter, you can be sure.

On top of all of that, it's extra creepy that you'd kill of yet another "Lost" cast member who incurred the wrath of the police after breaking some traffic rule or another. Even if Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was cleared a few months after he was caught driving without a license, this is still too much of a coincidence to escape mention.

You worry me. All I know is that if Yunjim Kim gets caught double-parking her Daewoo, I'm going to be very frightened for her.


I Was a Feather With an Alligator Mouth

I’ll admit that “SNL” didn’t start so well this year. Not so much a result of the loss in cast members — Parnell, Sanz, Fey, Dratch and Mitchell — but more from the kind of beginning-of-the-season jitters that so often seem to plague the show. It doesn’t make sense. You’d think with four months off, they’d be able to deliver a quality product. However, so many seasons have started out badly. Putting Dane Cook as the host didn’t help this season’s kick-off, either. Luckily, there's this little superstition that surrounds the show, stating that a season that behind poorly ends well. Sort of like how a great dress rehearsal means a flawed live performance, I guess.

Because I’m lame, I’ve been able to catch the last three new episodes. To anyone who’s given up on the show — and who wouldn’t, having sat through the Dane Cook episode? — I should tell you that the show’s been quite good subsequently. Broadway-trained John C. Reilly did a good job and Hugh Laurie did an even better one this last week. Spencer was mulling over the SNL Transcripts website and found the concluding sketch from the Jaime Pressley-hosted episode from early October. It’s pretty good. It loses something when reduced down to words on a screen, but I think it’s worth reproducing here.

Picture Pressley and Kristen Wiig being suburban housewives sitting on a porch.
Kristen Wiig: Oh. It's such a beautiful night tonight.
Jaime Pressley: Mmm. I love fall, a nice cup of hot cider, and a good friend.
Wiig: I can't wait to get a pumpkin!

[ they sip their cider ]

Pressley: Mmm. You know, I ran into Sally today.
Wiig: Really?
Pressley: She's put on a ton of weight.
Wiig: Oh, that's too bad. That's too bad.
Pressley: I just hope she's all right.

[ they sip their cider ]

Wiig: Mmm! Cider is so good!
Pressley: I used a cinnamon stick as a stirrer.
Wiig: Oh.

[ they sip their cider ]

Wiig: Mmm. Oh - well, I ran into Herb today.
Pressley: Oh, really?
Wiig: Yes. He said he was sober, but he didn't smell like it.
Pressley: You know, I saw him peeing on his front lawn. He was so drunk he threw up all over his own ding-dong.
Wiig: [ smiles ] Oh, that's Herb for you!

[ they sip their cider ]

Pressley: Oh, I love the smell of fall.
Wiig: I kind of like the smell of my own farts.

[ they sip their cider ]

Pressley: Oh! I know what I wanted to tell you! Janice found a bloody sweater in her husband's trunk.
Wiig: Again?
Pressley: I guess our husbands aren't so bad!

[ they laugh at the joke ]

Pressley: I cut myself on purpose this morning.

[ they sip their cider ]

Wiig: Mmm! I forgot about cider!
Pressley: Me, too!

[ they smile, then sip more cider ]

Wiig: I'm thinking about having a party for all the dogs in the neighborhood.
Pressley: I had a dream where I was a feather with an alligator mouth.
Wiig: My real name is Ronald.
Pressley: I peed in the cider.
Simple, strange and free of recurring characters. I really liked this sketch and I hate to think people got bored and turned the TV off before it aired.
[ link: ]

Eyes Go Square

Whether this represents somebody's idea of retro-dorky-cool or this was actually cool at the time it was made, I love it.