Tuesday, January 30, 2007

An Amazing Development You Haven't Heard Of!

This post has no actual content. I'm only putting this up so I can tag this post with what Technorati claims are the current most popular tags in the registered blogosphere. I'm just trying to see how much traffic this actually would steer my way. This is only an experiment.

Also, am I completely stupid for not knowing why people are blogging so much about Stacy Schiff?

EDIT: 2.4.2007: The results of this experiment have been blogged in a later post, "Grandma, You're Being Careless."

Wise Up / Build Your Thighs Up

Because the immediately previous post is a long bastard, I figured I'd post something that I could actually get to the bottom of. A website called "A Collection of Word Oddities and Trivia" recently engulfed me. Emerging from it all sticky and dazed, I present two bits I thought were cool.

First off, English has a pair of homonyms that share no etymological connection but refer to surprisingly similar objects: "psi" and "sai." The former, the twenty-third letter of the Greek alphabet, is probably most familiar as a variable representing wavefunction in quantum mechanics. It looks like this:


A little pitchfork-shaped object. Or a small trident. Or something.

The latter is a Japanese word that refers to the weapon Raphael had in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It looks basically like the thing above, only with sharper edges. I find this fascinating.


The second thing I think bears repeating is a small examination on the notion that no word rhymes with "orange." The author here thinks that the accuracy of that statement depends entirely on how you pronounce the word. According to him, all of the following could potentially rhyme with "orange," most of them providing that you put more emphasis on the last syllable than Americans probably would.
  • Blorenge (a hill in Wales)
  • sporange (only if mispronounced, he notes)
  • range, Stonehenge and derange (if pronounced by a native of Singapore)
  • citrange (which, it turns out, is a lot like an orange)
  • Solange (as in the given name, as in Beyonce's little sister)
And now I'm tired.

Le Cigare Volant

(A DISCLAIMER: I realize there's a certain degree of silliness in placing a disclaimer in front of a chunk of text that is already preceded by a disclaimer, yet I feel I need to explain myself a bit. While finishing up work at home tonight, I went to save a file in My Documents and found that a Microsoft Word file there bore the title “Le Cigare Volant.” Not knowing what this was — or, for that matter, what “Le Cigare Volant” meant, off the top of my head — I opened the file to find an essay, the thesis of which seems to be “That show ‘Frasier’ is really gay.” I have little recollection of writing this, though the save date places it sometime last summer. It sounds like me, I guess, but looking at the article I can’t even figure out if it’s completed or not. Uncertain what point I was trying to make, I can’t hazard a guess how to finish it. Thus, I’m posting it here, exactly as I found it. My best bet as to why these words exist on my computer is that I had an idea and was overcome with the compulsion to write it out, then possibly was distracted by a phone call or a particularly animated bird outside the window or something. I don’t know. In any case, here it is, twinned disclaimers and all.)
(A DISCLAIMER: I’m not responsible for the thoughts my brain produces. In fact, I cannot take credit for the words I’m typing now. What comes out of me — my verbal leakage — is no more my doing than any other kind of leakage. It just happens, mostly as a by-product of the environment I put my body in at whatever time. I’m saying this only because where I’m about to go is most likely the result of me having drank an entire bottle of wine last night, then chasing it with whiskey. Now, I don’t know why. I just did. The following, apparently, is what happens to my brain after you do that.)

As far as sitcoms go, “Frasier” is thought-provoking — and not just because its title character is a psychologist. At the most superficial level, “Frasier” stands out among sitcoms because unlike a lot of the shows that aired during its day, “Frasier” didn’t shoot for the lowest common denominator. I’m not just saying that because I think the show was consistently funny. It wasn’t. I didn’t even watch the last few seasons. What I mean in that statement is that “Frasier” often tried for chuckles instead of the guffaws other sitcoms try to illicit. A lot of the episodes involved content that probably didn’t interest the average American, who likely would have rather been watching “Home Improvement” when “Frasier” first started airing and “Everybody Loves Raymond” towards the end. In that sense, it’s actually appropriate that the show was set in Seattle — a fairly important American city, I suppose, but one renown for its quirks, what with the rain and the coffee and the former music scene and being stuck way up in the corner of the nation and all that. It was something like highbrow — not out-and-out highbrow, but maybe some sitcom writer’s idea of what highbrow should be like if it were crammed into the mold of a ratings-topper.

Then there’s also the fact that “Frasier” did what few other TV shows manage to do: It spun off of a successful series and eventually grew into a success in its own right. When “Cheers” introduced Kelsey Grammer’s character as a love interest for Shelley Long’s Diane, I don’t think viewers immediately foresaw that Frasier would be hanging around for twenty more years. For the same reasons that “Frasier” didn’t match up with a lot of other popular 90s sitcoms, the Frasier character stood out in that Boston bar as haughty and distinctively upper-class in room full of the middle-class. Nonetheless, Frasier endured, surviving even Shelley Long’s alleged attempts to write the character off “Cheers” when Diane began sharing too much of her screen-time him. The character began to grow into something of a wit and, once Diane left Frasier at the altar, a sad sack who had finally earned a spot next to Norm and Cliff at the bar.

When Frasier finally moved to Seattle, however, he lived in a world that revolved around him. Frasier in his home, with his father. Frasier at work on his radio show with his producer. Frasier at his favorite restaurant with his brother. But in creating this little world for the character, the show runners also managed to make some curious decisions in how the character was portrayed. Specifically, when it comes to “Frasier” and Frasier, there’s a lot of odd gay subtext that, for the most part, was never addressed in the show itself.

This subtext is present, in a way, during the character’s time on “Cheers” too. If you think about his introduction to the show, the writers clearly modeled him to be a response to Ted Danson’s character, Sam Malone, the suave, macho former baseball player who has scored with the majority of Boston’s female population. Frasier Crane is the opposite: he’s eloquent, smartly dressed, socialized for academia and wine-and-cheese parties and an intellectual champion rather than an athletic one. In short, Frasier seemed a little gay. He has to be, if he’s the answer to a womanizer like Danson’s character. I think Diane’s attraction to him was, in a way, a joke on how Diane is a romantically misguided dingbat. “She can’t be in love with this guy,” says the viewing public. “This Frasier guy is obviously a fruit.”

During his Seattle years, however, this vibe becomes stronger. I can remember watching a news show some years ago in which various pundits were discussing social issues and television shows. The conversation had turned to the sudden popularity of gay characters on shows — and, yes, this statement helps to date when this show would have aired, as gay characters have since proved more of a gamble than networks are willing to take. (Seriously, it’s surprising when you actually look at lists of it.) Anyway, the fact was stated that “Ellen” was the first show to have a gay lead character. Then in response, one of the more conservative pundits joked, “What about ‘Frasier’?” And everybody laughed, because when you think about it, there’s a lot about the show that would speak to gay experience.

Foremost, unlike most shows ever, there’s no sexual tension between Frasier and either of the two women in the main cast. Frasier’s brother Niles quickly decides that he likes Daphne the maid and chases awkwardly after her, but seeing as how Frasier never spoke a word about his attraction to Daphne until halfway through the show’s run, it seems plausible that Frasier could have made the first move, especially since Daphne lives at Frasier’s apartment. (Meanwhile, the actor who plays Niles, David Hyde Pierce, is allegedly gay, though apparently not openly. But my friend took photos and some gay-interest fundraiser at his house a while back. I’m told he is gay and has a boyfriend. At least that's what I heard, anyway.)

Then there’s Roz, Frasier’s producer at the radio station. Like Frasier, she’s single and approaching middle-aged status. They spend hours working in a fairly confined space together. She’s smart. She’s pretty. And yet somehow the show never bothered to develop any romance between the two characters. Very odd, when you think about it.

And then there’s the matter of Frasier’s relationship with his father. In the “Frasier” pilot, viewers quickly learn that Frasier takes after his late mother, Hester, and not his father, Martin, a grizzled ex-cop who prefers football and beer to opera and wine. In truth, the living situation would have probably worked a lot better if Martin had cohabitated with Sam Malone instead of Frasier. Even though Fraiser and Martin live together throughout the series run, they clearly reside in two different worlds. It seems difficult for Martin to understand what compels Frasier to partake in his interests. To him, Frasier’s life is full of decadence and unnecessary fanciness and intellectual smarminess. To him, his son literally leads an alternative lifestyle, whether or not sexuality has anything to do with the great divide between them.

Maybe the oddest part about gay subtext on “Frasier” is the character of Gil Chesterton, the effete food critic at the radio station Frasier and Roz work at. Compared to Sam Malone, Frasier might seem as gay as springtime. But compared to Gil, Frasier seems like a Roman gladiator, who drives a lifted truck, often while fathering babies by several women. It stands to reason that Frasier’s relative masculinity compared to Gil would be the very reason Gil’s character was ever written onto the show: in order to make Frasier seem like more of the central male leading man character that a show starring a man usually revolves around. Even “Will & Grace” — a show in which the two male leads both play gay men — centers on the less flamboyant title character.

That I know of, the subject of Gil’s sexuality only comes up once in the series. Casual conversation brings his co-workers to discuss the notion of who Gil goes home to at night and everyone hesitantly tosses around some gender neutral pronouns until Gil, offended, blurts out that he’s been married to years to a lovely woman who is also a skilled auto mechanic. Gil stomps out and another character remarks that his declaration of heterosexuality was the only time they had ever seen anybody “in” themselves. It’s a throwaway joke and the subject isn’t brought up again for the rest of the episode, but I think it’s interesting that Gil’s co-workers remark on the same kind of implication that a real person employing the same kind of stereotype might make having sat down at watched the show without having seen it before. What especially gets me about the way Frasier’s workplace character interact is that Gil himself is counterbalanced by the presence of Bob “Bulldog” Briscoe, the macho, loudmouthed sportscaster character whose radio show often follows Frasier’s. Dan Butler, the actor who played Bulldog, is gay.

Not that any of this adds up to anything, really, except maybe that there’s at least a lot of gay-seeming stuff on “Frasier,” if very little explicitly stated gay stuff. It all strikes me as very odd, not just because it brings up some interesting ideas about how Americans view gay people — the show was, after all, pretty popular for a long time and conceivably watched by people of different walks of life — but also how people who write TV go about creating a character and then changing it and contrasting it against other characters to make sure that people watching the show respond in the way the creators want them to.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Thieving Betty

One of the perks about my job at the Indy is spending a lot of time keeping up on news. As a result, I spend a lot of time scouring Google News in search of noteworthy Santa Barbara-area happenings. Every time I do, I see news items from KEYT, Santa Barbara's local ABC affiliate. Something buggy in their syndication feed, however, always pulls mug shot images that aren't related to the story. Case in point:


Damn that dirty, thieving Ugly Betty and her desire to steal newspapers.

The other funny part about this is that the actual newspaper thief — a Carpinteria resident who's being charged with forgery and conspiracy among other things — had allegedly stolen the papers so her neighbors didn't hear about her arrest. Take that, attempt to preserve dignity.

Funny, no?

More proof: the Google News page I found this on and the actual KEYT news article, the latter of which does not, sadly, implicate Ugly Betty.

"Jam," Not "Cram"

The mystery of the best insult ever has been solved. Last night, Spencer and I were watching "Futurama" — specifically the one in which the unfrozen guy from the 80s stages a hostile takeover of Planet Express — and the occasional villain character Mom showed up. Mom is a fairly hostile person who verbally abuses everyone, particularly her three sons, to whom in this episode she barks the command "Jam a bastard in it, you crap." The insult is apparently famous enough that it even shows up in the Wikipedia entry for her. I quote:
She sometimes appears to throw curse words in at random, such as "Jam a bastard in it, you crap!" and refers to her fatsuit as "that bastard."
Thus, whoever wrote the insult clearly has a better working knowledge of "Futurama" than I do, though still not apparently thorough enough to get the line exactly right. (For the record, I think "you stupid crap" works a lot better than just "you crap.") While watching the episode last night, I was about to laugh at a throwaway line in which Mom refers to the Planet Express crew as "turtle squirts" when she immediately followed with what has quickly become my favorite line ever.

Later that night, Nate posted a comment to solve the mystery before I got around to it.
Lets be honest. I'm not that funny to make a up a line like that. But whoever anonymous was wasn't all that funny either. Its a line from Futurama. The episode with the 80's guy. Mom says it to one of her boys.
Now we know.

In Another Dimension / With Voyeuristic Intention

The email Kristen sent me this morning:
have you seen this before?

The email Sanam sent me, just moments later:

the list this link came from: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unusual_articles
How I responded to both:
Both of you, Sanam and Kristen, emailed me about the Wikipedia articles articles page within moments of each other. Are you two in cahoots?
What Kristen said:
nay on cahoots. i'm guessing we both frequent reddit.com. and both know you like quirky minutiae. and like being cited on your blog.
How I responded to Kristen:
Yes, I have. In fact, an article I began and, for the most part, wrote is on it. How wonderful!
And then Kristen said:
is it the bra fence one?
But then I wrote back with:
Nope. Everyone guessed that, though, when I posed this very topic on my blog some time back. Someone, it seems, was reading reddit instead.... Boo.
And then she was all:
hi guilt trip!

i had a feeling i had seen that list before. it smacked too much of you. i hope you hit sanam just as hard with the guilt, since i see that she actually commented on your blog post about the wiki article she later sent you.
And what did Sanam say?
Also: the original post about the Wikipedia unusual articles list.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

With a Mouth Like a Sour Trumpet

With the exodus of my music from old computer to new computer, I lost all the iTunes play count information. In a way, I suppose starting over is new, as I was always keenly aware of what songs I was listening to and how many times and why exactly was "You're So Vain" so high on the list anyway and all that.

As the iTunes on the old computer stands now, here are my top-twenty most played songs:
  1. The Features - "The Idea of Growing Old"
  2. Nada Surf - "Indochine"
  3. Stephen Malkmus - "Kindling for the Master"
  4. Teenage Fanclub - "Cells"
  5. The Clash - "Lost in the Supermarket"
  6. The Apples in Stereo - "Magic"
  7. Gorillaz - "Dare"
  8. The Gossip - "Listen Up!"
  9. Father Bingo - "Ginger Prince Is Not Shirley Temple"
  10. Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra - "Some Velvet Morning"
  11. Scissor Sisters - "Laura"
  12. Ween - "Voodoo Lady"
  13. Aimee Mann - "Pavlov's Bell"
  14. Need New Body - "Show My Your Heart"
  15. Cathy Dennis - "Waterloo Sunset"
  16. The Church - "Under the Milky Way"
  17. Fool's Garden - "Lemon Tree (I Say You're a Scream)"
  18. Kitty Lester - "Love Letters"
  19. The Talking Heads - "Popsicle"
  20. Donovan - "Sunshine Superman"
Of the most-played songs playlist, however, these are the ones I'd been listening to recently.
  1. OutKast - "Behold a Lady"
  2. Oingo Boingo - "Not My Slave"
  3. The New Pornographers - "The Jessica Numbers"
  4. New Order - "Blue Monday"
  5. Mike Doughty - "I Hear the Bells"
  6. Dogs Die in Hot Cars - "Godhopping"
  7. The Apples in Stereo - "Out of Zone"
  8. The Magnetic Fields - "When My Boy Walks Down the Street"
  9. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - "Me and Mia"
  10. The Apples in Stereo - "Magic"

A Light Burning in the Fireplace

So a half-assed effort to obtain a Wii has ended in me being still Wii-less. In consolation, I bought myself an external hard drive for my massive MP3 collection. With that, I was able to port all my music from my old PC to my laptop. Thus, my Last.FM account is once again operational.

The proof:

Friday, January 26, 2007

Protagonist Does Not Actually Work in a Factory

The twenty-second Santa Barbara International Film Festival was kicked off last night with the local premiere of “Factory Girl,” the Sienna Miller-starring biopic of Edie Sedgwick — a one-time Andy Warhol muse who began and ended her life in Santa Barbara. By and large, the attendees seemed to love the film. That’s not to say their reaction was incorrect, as the film was far from bad and much better than biopics usually are. (You see, I believe that any film that accurately depicts the events one person’s life is fundamentally hampered by the fact that many lives, however interesting they may be, don’t always unfold in an interesting manner. Case in point: “Alexander,” just to name one.) I just couldn’t help feeling that “Factory Girl” may not have been the best movie to kick-off a Santa Barbara event, as high-profile a picture as it may be.

This objection has nothing to do with the aspects that imagine the average Santa Barbara filmgoer might have had: namely, a syringe in the buttocks and the fact that Sienna’s boobs are swinging easy-free for a good dozen scenes. (Though I’m sure those parts gave Helen and Bernie something to gripe about on the drive home to Montecito.)

No, despite the fact that Edie Sedgwick is a legitimately noteworthy person and a local girl, the way the film delves into the inner workings of the Sedgwick family made me uncomfortable. In the movie, the audience learns that Edie’s father, Duke Sedgwick alledgedy abused his children. Late in the film, an addiction-stricken Edie even professes that Duke had raped her repeatedly since she was a little girl. (Whether we’re supposed to take this as fact or not, I don’t know — how seriously do you take the things people tell you when their mid-heroin spiral?) Essentially, while Mr. Sedgwick — who, incidentally, is also responsible for creating the bronze statue of Earl Warren that stands before the entrance to the Earl Warren Showgrounds — was apparently not a big fan of kids but was a proponent of incest and pedophilia. This tendency, we’re supposed to understand is what drove Edie away from Santa Barbara and to New York, where she found fame, and, naturally, the ensuing demise that fame brings the young and pretty.

At least some of the surviving Sedgwicks have endorsed “Factory Girl” and were in attendance at the premiere, which leads me to believe that they thought the story represented some semblance of truth. However, if Duke Sedgwick was truly the incestomaniac the movie makes him out to be, knowing that more of his potential victims could have been watching the movie — the same time as me, in the same Arlington Theater, mere feet from me — made me squirm in my seat. What’s more: the notion that people who actually knew and interacted with Mr. and Mrs. Sedgwick, back when the couple lived in Hope Ranch, could have been present in the theater made me feel even worse. Hearing the truth about their former neighbors from the pouty lips of Sienna Miller — however charming Miller may be — doesn’t sit well with me.

It’s a selfish concern, I’ll admit, but this intersection movies and real life took me out of the story of the film. A slightly smaller complaint against “Factory Girl” being screened in Santa Barbara would be the audience’s reaction to any point the film mentioned Santa Barbara. People hooted and cheered a bit when on-screen text identifies the initial setting as Cottage Hospital. (“Oh my god, Sandy — that’s where I went when I got the alcohol poisoning on Arbor Day.”)

Other than that weirdness, I liked “Factory Girl,” I suppose. Guy Pearce, who I like in generally everything I’ve ever seen him it, does a good Andy Warhol — at least as good as David Bowie’s in the thematically similar “Basquiat.” Plus I saw him in person. That’s an intersection of movie and real life that actually improved the experience for me.

If I had seen the movie in any other forum except the premiere of the SBIFF, I would have only had two chief complaints against it. Now, I thought Sienna Miller did a fairly good job. She’s never struck me as a great actress and truthfully I think she’s better suited for comedy than drama, but I feel because the notion of a pretty young thing attempting art and then suddenly stumbling into the celebrity spotlight is one Miller could probably relate to quite well. Furthermore, Miller and Sedgwick are both knock-outs. However, Edie’s appearance threw me for the vast majority of the film.

You see, Edie may have been a fashion icon in her day, but the overall effect of her hairstyle and clothes created an unfortunate association in my little brain.

sienna_miller_factory_girl jerri_blank

I think the resemblance is more than passing, especially in when Edie is high, disheveled and walking barefoot around Manhattan in the way the mentally unwell often do.

My second big complaint lies in one scene in which Edie and Andy are strolling around a park and have one of those conversations that seems to have been written specifically for the film’s trailer and then doesn’t get excised from the final print. Let me recreate the dialogue here, more or less:
Edie: Do you think we’ll be remembered, Andy?

Andy: Oh, I don’t know.

Edie: I hope they remember me! I wonder what they will say about me after I die!

Andy: Edie, I think people will have something to say about you.

Edie: Oh yes. I hope everyone hears my story one day and understands how nothing that happened to me was really my fault. And I hope it screens in Santa Barbara, the greatest city in the world. And I hope they cast Mary-Kate Olsen as our friend Molly Spence and it’s her first major role without her sister. And then I hope her part gets cut to all but one background scene, thus reducing her presence to mute extra. Oh Andy — do ya think?
What I’ve just written may have veered away from any dialogue the movie actually featured, but you get the idea. I would have groaned had the writer, director and Leah Remini not been in the room.

The Break-Up

Spencer recently pointed out to me the latest post on Sarah Bunting's blog, Tomato Nation. It's an excellent essay on her decision to quit smoking. Easily some of the best words on smoking I've ever read.

The Dark Side of Etymology

Speaking of strange permutations of words for the color black, WordHumper has an interesting post discussing the etymological connections betwene "black" and "bleach."

Redundancy in the Governor's Office

During news meeting this week, I noticed a co-worker's unusual pronunciation of our governor's last name. Whereas I would pronounce "Schwarzenegger" with the emphasis on the first syllable, she tended to divide the name into two units: "schwarze" and "negger," with two minor emphases. It occurred to me that, oddly, schwarz and its variants in Germanic languages is translated into English as "black." Thus, if you took the second word part to be a variant of nigr, an old Latin word part that also means black, then you could postulate that Arnold's last name could be translated as "black black," which I found amusing.

My attempt at an etymological investigation did not lead me to the correct conclusion, however. Apparently other people have also wondered if the actor-turned-governor's name could really be "Arnold Black Black."

This website, however, explains that the name should more correctly be broken down into schwarzen and egger. While the first part does indeed mean "black," the second part is a verbal relative of our word "acre." Thus, "Schwarzenegger" — which, it turns out, is a reasonable antonym to the fairly common Anglo surname "Whitaker," as in Forest Whitaker — translates to "black plot of land," which some interpret as the an area that has dark, rich soil, like you'd find next to a river.

You're an Astronaut (And You're Blowing up the Moon)

The first noun that came to mind to match the adjectival form of a nation, as based on absorbed pop culture and various stereotypes:
  • American Pie
  • Canadian bacon
  • English Breakfast
  • French fries
  • Chinese food
  • Japanese animation
  • Polish sausage
  • Egyptian pyramids
  • Jamaican bobsled team
  • Iraqi war
  • Mexican border
  • Greek mythology
  • Italian Renaissance
  • Brazilian wax
  • Austrian nobleman
  • Swedish meatball
  • Cuban cigar
  • New Zealand wool
  • Thai massage parlor (with "Thai iced tea" popping into my head a moment later)
  • Belgian waffles
  • Russian mail order bride
  • Australian aborigine
  • Korean dictator
  • Kenyan wildlife preserve
  • Vietnamese coffee
  • Swiss army knife
  • Colombian drug lord
  • Argentinian national football league
  • Tahitian Moon
  • Turkish bath
  • Irish Republican Army
  • Spanish Fly
  • Mongolian horde
  • Armenian genocide
  • Danish butter cookies
  • Fijian mermaid
  • Haitian refugee
  • Lebanese Blonde (the Thievery Corporation song, not the variety of hashish)
And beyond these, I couldn't think of single nation in the world with which I had an immediate association. Does that say more about me or the nations?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

They Pull Me Back In

For better of for worse, here's my feature on the current state of the Daily Nexus, which ran in this morning's Independent.

Best Insult Ever

"Cram a bastard in it, you stupid crap."

This is the insult some anonymous commenter wrote on the post about spices and flavors. I read it last night and could not stop laughing. It's the single most nonsensical yet utterly effective insult I've heard in years. It seems like whoever said it just plugged in mildly offensive word nouns into a sentence someone else wrote, Mad Libs-style. The result, in my opinion, works well. I can honestly say I don't think I've ever been called "a stupid crap" before.

Compliments aside, I'm a little confused as to exactly who that comment was referring to. I assume me. It's my blog, and most people who write things like that generally direct them at me. (Or, a few times, at Jill, but only because they believed tings I made up about her.) In the chain of comments on this post, however, Mr. Cram-a-Bastard could just as easily been referring to Nate, Stevi, Sanam or Bri, who written comments beforehand. I'm feeling that the likely target for the insult was atcually Bri, since her comments regard the return of "Veronica Mars" to TV and not food or spice and this talking out of turn irked another reader to the point where he or she demanded that she find a bastard baby and lodge into something — at best, her mouth — and that she was a stupid crap. But maybe that's just my ego, and I'm the stupid crap.

Oh, let's be honest — it was Nate.

Again, that was "Cram a bastard in it, you stupid crap."

EDIT 1.29.2007: Nate solved the mystery.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Adventures of Fido and Mewmew

PunkyBrister69: I have very random talents, and I consider pet-naming one of them.
kidicarus222: name my dog
PunkyBrister69: I'd have to meet him. They usually tell me their names.
PunkyBrister69: But not in an "I hear voices! Crazy-crazy-crazy... TEA TIME!" kind of way.

Sea Salt and Smoked Tea

Santa Barbara-based food blog Cookies in Heaven is reporting that McCormick has surveyed top chefs and has collected a list of the top spices and flavors that will be influencing food in 2007.
  • Clove and Green Apple
  • Thyme and Tangerine
  • Tellicherry Black Pepper and Berry
  • Sea Salt and Smoked Tea
  • Lavender and Honey
  • Crystallized Ginger and Salted Pistachio
  • Cumin and Apricot
  • Toasted Mustard and Fennel Seeds
  • Wasabi and Maple
  • Caramelized Garlic and Riesling Vinegar
According to the Wikipedia, tellicherry is a region in India. I suppose that might give some indication as to what the flavor might be, but can anybody elaborate?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Like Extra Flowers

Triple exclamation points are entirely appropriate right now, as !!! is just one of the amazing bands playing at Coachella this year. Acquaint yourself with everybody else.

Who's in?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Duck King

Strange ways people have been finding my blog lately.

Chewy, Chewy Cocoa Beans

Jill just sent me this photo in an email with the subject line "the most random picture ever."


It appears to be me, red from either sunburn or drunkenness, and with a newly shaved head, examining a tampon I apparently found while at Menehune's, the now defunct Isla Vista bar. My favorite part of this photo is that despite my fascination with this strange bar tampon, Brie has found something more interesting to look at outside.

I have no recollection of this picture being taken or what exactly it may have been supposed to commemorate.

The Meaning in the Words Above

I'm hate to think I was being purposefully obscure, so start at the front and move backwards.
  1. "Battle Royale" graffiti.
  2. Street Fighter II, during it's pre-production days.
  3. Nothing, really.
  4. "Rocky Horror Picture Show" lyics.
  5. Nothing. Maybe "Will & Grace," though it wasn't intentional.
  6. Me, I guess.
  7. Me.
  8. WarioWare.
  9. Butch Yelton and Upbound.
  10. "Rocky Horror," again.
  11. The Gerry Rafferty song
  12. The theme song of the show.
  13. Me and my fake wife.
  14. "The Simpsons."
  15. Most obviously "Top Chef."
  16. "Rocky Horror," again.
  17. "Rocky Horror."
  18. A Ralphism from "The Simpsons."
  19. "Mulholland Drive."
  20. "Rocky Horror."
  21. A bad monster movie.
  22. Me, I guess.
  23. "Arrested Development."
  24. "The Simpsons."
  25. The scene in the movie with Cher, which I haven't actually seen but I liked the sound of anyway.
  26. "30 Rock."
  27. The original name for the play "Melvin Goes to Dinner" was based on.
  28. Me, but has a play on a band I've never heard.
  29. "Home Movies."
  30. The Wikipedia.
  31. A cheese the name of which I found appealing.
  32. "Arrested Development."
  33. "30 Rock."
  34. Me.
  35. "Arrested Development."
  36. "Rocky Horror."
  37. Street Fighter II.
  38. Geraldine & Ricky.
  39. "30 Rock."
  40. A literal translation of "aardvark."
  41. And, once again, "Rocky Horror."
This one, however, shouldn't be so esoteric.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ugly Shrimpy Nit Noriko

Tonight, after dinner at Brophy Brothers, a nice man offered me the chance to eat a sea urchin he had retrieved from the back of his flatbed truck. That, right there, is where I'm going to leave this story.

Vodka Gobalsky

With or without the quotes, a Google search for "world's largest suppository" does not return the educational results I had hoped for.


Dear sir or madam.

You do not know me but I am formerly of Yemen. I have been researching on the Internet the woman who was formerly my daughter for a period spanning two decades and I found your website in which you discuss a woman named Sanam in some depth. I have seen the portraits and I believe this woman to look much like my dear Sanam, though mine would be older and possibly a bit heavier as she has been living in the States long since I have not seen her. Is the Sanam you correspond with from Yemen? Is she speaking in Arabic, Persian and French? Sanam would 34 years.

Thank you for your reply.



Some Kind of Audio-Vibratory Physio-Molecular Transport Device

What would appear to be the hotel that cameos in my now-dated Flash animation ditty, "The Freaky Tiki," is apparently going to be torn down.

New York City's Pennsylvania Hotel looks like it could very well be the hotel that I Photoshopped out from an old postcard for inclusion in the project. Built in 1919, the hotel was immortalized by Glen Miller apparently, whose song "Pennsylvania 6-5000" is a reference to the hotel's old phone number, 736-5000. Here's an old postcard of the Pennsylvania Hotel, looking basically benign but for some reason framed in the background by menacing-looking lightning bolts.

In "The Freaky Tiki," the hotel is home to a demonic little thing with glowing eyes who seems to be causing all the strange, bad things in the world. Or something. I forget what I was going for with that. For those who have a few minutes on their hands, watch the video, which the lovely Dr. Sorapure has permanently posted on her site.

EDIT 1.21.2007: On second thought, I don't think it's the same hotel. Oh well.

Just Don

Meet Don.

Don is one of the few living survivors of the Halifax Explosion.

The Halifax Explosion, which I just learned about today, is the largest non-atomic manmade explosion in recorded history.

It happened in 1917.

Don was born in 1913.

Thus, Don is 94 years old.

This makes Don one of the oldest bloggers in the world, if not the oldest.

I think that's just neat.

Friday, January 19, 2007

My Every Expectation Met

The following YouTube video is the subject of the top post on the blog GayGamer.

Yeah, that seems about right. A plus: cameo from Larry Koopa.

My One Complaint Against Santa Barbara

In more than fourteen ways, Santa Barbara represents a California ideal — the picture-perfect spot on the coast with all the social and professional opportunities of a larger city but with few of the problems. A mere walk to the post office could easily lead one to believe that he or she had stumbled onto the set of the kind of primetime network TV soap opera that sends the well-dressed, well-coifed and well-bred traipsing about the background as what ever drama presented in the foreground is formed and then solved within the confines of the one-hour format. However, Santa Barbara’s deadly secret has raised its head one too many times during my time here. And my status as an earnest and hard-working journalist means that I can no longer type away about stories of water board meetings and special interest student group fund allocation ceremony pre-shows.

I’m talking about Santa Barbara’s rampant octopus problem.

No less that five times since I moved to Santa Barbara a few months ago has my life been threatened by the sucker-armed menace that these monsters present to the average Santa Barbara resident and their store-bought clothes. I can hear my readers’ admonishments already: “If you’re so frightened of these creatures’ collective ability to remove your head from your torso with one quick snap of the tentacle, then should you not just stay away from the beach? Also, why do you have all those bruises on your arm? Are they from octopus attacks?” To this, I boldly answer that the bruises are from an unrelated drug problem that has no bearing on the matters of octopi. Furthermore, I’ll have both you and your loudmouth wife know that the most recent of these ambushed happened while I has hiking in the Santa Barbara foothills, miles from the cold and salty waters of the Pacific where these beasts no doubt plot our demise every waking second.

I have read literature from the SBSOOP (The Santa Barbara Society Opposing Octopus Predators) that has explained how best to cope with octopus attack, octopus murdering-of-you and, worst of all, octopus personal area violation. I must say that the recommended evasive measures — placing the attacking animal in a choke hold — is not especially helpful. Have you ever looked at an octopus? Can you, sitting at your computer right now, figure out where to place your arms around in octopus to best choke it? Do you think you could do so while under duress, and with tentacles everywhere — everywhere! — with their suckery grip? The answer you would be providing had your mouth not been full of cake would surely be a resounding “no.”

I love my town and the various amenities it provides the socially conscientious adult. Where else can you find the ostrich petting zoo, the famed Trampoline District or world’s largest bottle of Mountain Dew? Indeed, Santa Barbara has its virtues and it’s no wonder that high-profile celebs like author Kernise Jackson-Gallindo, one-time tobacco enthusiast Javier “Doody” de Alba or exotic dancing troupe The Giddy Girls would chose to reside here. But until I know that I can leave my home without the threat of another octopus attack, I will continue to protest, to write, to inform and to wear my shirts as pants, as I believe doing so may repel octopi, or at least those with a sense of fashion about them.


In this position,
You channel all the dignity
Of a clown in a thunderstorm.

Swing That Gospel Axe

Ah, screw it. Here are all my post labels — all 1,064 of them. It's like unrestricted access and stuff.