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:

Greek_letter_psi

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.

sai-almost-done

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:

ugly_betty

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?

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unusual_articles
The email Sanam sent me, just moments later:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_problems_solved_by_MacGyver

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?
Nothing.
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

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

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

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

Chewy, Chewy Cocoa Beans

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

drew_tampon

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.

Sa-Yemen

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.

Sincerely,

M. XXXXXX

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.

Umbrella

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

Michael Rennie Was Ill

Because I had so much fun taking the people in my life and ranking them by the number of blog-related posts they merited — and, thus, explained their importance in the universe — I've decided to do a lists for famous and fictional people, respectively. (For the "famous people" list, I'm including bands as a single entity.)

People I Don't Know
  1. David Lynch (19)
  2. Scissor Sisters (12)
  3. Maya Rudolph (8); Michael Jackson (8)
  4. Beck (7); Tina Fey (7)
  5. Goldfrapp (6)
  6. Amy Sedaris (5); The Magnetic Fields (5)
  7. Amy Poehler (4); The Apples in Stereo (4); Cynthia Watros (4); James Joyce (4); Jenny Lewis (4); Jesus Christ (4); Naomi Watts (4); Sarah Michelle Gellar (4); Sarah Silverman (4); Spoon (The band, not the implement — 4); Tegan and Sara (4); The Pixies (4); Yaz (4)
  8. Anne Perry (3); Billy Idol (3); Brendon Small (3); Bret Easton Ellis (3); Busy Philipps (3); David Bowie (3); The English Beat (3); Father Bingo (3); William Faulkner (3); Her Space Holiday (3); Julia Louis-Dreyfus (3); Meryl Streep (3); Neko Case (3); Peter Gabriel (3); Pier Paolo Pasolini (3); Scarlett Johansson (3); Stephen Malkmus (3); The Cure (3); The Decemberists (3); The Violent Femmes (3); The White Stripes (3)
Peopel I Can't Know
  1. Princess Peach (14)
  2. Veronica Mars (10)
  3. Pac-Man (6)
  4. Batman (5); Birdo (5); Medusa (5)
  5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (4); Donkey Kong (4); The X-Men (Which should count as a group if bands count as groups — 4)
  6. Mega Man (3)

Lonesome Polecat

More blog template update wang-dingo: I've added a feeds of the Netflix titles I currently have at home and the ones I will soon have at home. For more information, glance over to the right, to where the sidebar is. Then scroll down. Almost down to the bottom. If you scroll past where there's a sidebar anymore, scroll up.

Hers and Hers and His

Although I'm sure I should no longer be taken off-guard when I find a Wikipedia article that is surprisingly in-depth given the subject matter, I'm nonetheless impressed at the detail given for the page on Cindy Snow — the cousin of Christmas "Chrissy" Snow, the Suzanne Somers character on "Three's Company" who necessitated the inclusion of a replacement blonde roommate when Somers left the show after the fourth season.

[ long sentence, no? ]

Monday, January 15, 2007

Apricot One

Sidebar link shuffle today. A lot of blogs who have been inactive for months on end got the boot. Say goodbye to the following:
It's been fun. No hard feelings or anything, but out with the old and all that. In their place is a whole new host of blogs and other websites I've been keeping up with in the past few months. Enjoy.

What the Fuck Is Wrong With Gail Simmons?

I realize that I’ve developed a reputation with my regular readers for titling my blog posts with chunks of words that don’t readily seem to have anything to do with the content of the posts themselves. Know this: The title to this post has everything to do with what I’m writing. No room for being allusive or name-checking some obscure bit of pop culture here, because I’m writing with purpose today.

So I’ve taken to following this season of “Top Chef,” the Bravo reality show in which cooks of various levels of training compete in culinary challenges in hopes escaping elimination and, ultimately, making a name for themselves in the restaurant world. The show includes a preliminary task, the Quickfire Challenge, and then the main event, the Elimination Challenge, after which the results are eaten and then judged by a panel of foodies. While one spot on the panel is filled by a guest chef, the other three include the following:
  • Padma Lakshmi, a model who looks like she couldn’t possibly enjoy food but purportedly does and can evidence this feat with the fact she won the Best Book by a First-Time Author at the 1999 World Cookbook Awards. She also is the wife of author Salman Rushdie, so perhaps the dread of being shot to death helps her keep the weight off. There’s a title for her next book: Thin-Wa: How to Beat Fat With a Fatwa.
  • Tom Colicchio, the founder of former head chef at Gramercy Tavern in New York. He’s the kind of guy who means business more than his jovial appearances lets on. He’s also an accomplished cook who, in the food world, gets to act like he’s important. And he does. And I’m okay with that. Colicchio also has started a side project to his small successful restaurant chain Craft — a sandwich only place he dubbed ‘Wichcraft. And I have to admit that’s a clever enough name.
  • And then there’s Gail. An editor at Food & Wine magazine, Gail fulfills the position of critic in a way that some would say has reduced her to the Simon Cowell role. Looking like the evil twin of Kristin Veitch, Simmons projects expressions of boredom, disgust and occasional delight from behind the judge’s table and makes the harshest comments about the contestants’ food. Often, she does a bang-up job of making me angry.
top_chef

Here’s the best picture I could find illustrating the three regular judges: Padma looking genuinely amazed by something, Tom looking slightly perturbed and Gail making a face I call "Jan Brady seeing Marcia win an award for being extra super."

You’d think if I were to gripe about any of the “Top Chef” judges, it would be Lakshmi, a newcomer to this season who replaced the rather wooden Katie Lee Joel, who hosted the show’s first run. One could easily make the argument that Lakshmi is window dressing and doesn’t deserve a chance to weigh in at the judges’ table, but I think she does a good job of being the show’s face — both to the contestants and to viewers — and still having a working knowledge of food. She does, after all, have that cookbook. (Yes, her relationship to Rushie complicates that matter somewhat, him being a major literary player and all. I have not read her book and therefore cannot say with any certainty whether her husband helped her or not.)

That’s not to say that Gail can’t talk food with the same level of competence than anyone else can. She just can’t seem to do it without coming off like she’s settling a score — with the person who killed her dog and was also mean to her in grade school.

When Gail dislikes a dish, she reacts as if it were a personal affront to her. (“I’m Gail Simmons. I’m respected in very specific circles. My name is in a magazine.”) For example, she seemed genuinely insulted in the end of last week’s episode, “Unhappy Customers,” in which she told contestant Sam what she thought of his dessert. “It made me nauseous,” she said. Granted, the dish in question was a watermelon gnocchi in a creamy cheese sauce, but still, when everybody else is hedging their criticism in polite terms, Gail's comments came off as spiteful. Did she necessarily overstep the limits of what a critic should do? Probably not. But did the method she chose to do it make her seem harsher than her colleagues? Yes. Tom, for example, makes the same complaint against the Sam’s sin against God by simply saying, “The dish didn’t taste very good to most.” No venom, no icy death stare.

As if to further her point, Gail proceeds to read a comment card from one of the volunteer diners who ate the dinner. The card Gail chooses to read: “Was the chef on crack?” She follows that up with “All of us were amazed by these comments because they were the exact same comments we had as well.” This is especially mean-spirited — and confusing, given that not one of the judges mentions the possibility of crack in the discussion as viewers saw it.

On Gail’s blog, she actually seems to respond to some criticism she’s received for her role on the show.
First off, I have been asked why they have a food expert as a judge on the show instead of having another pro chef. Well, having more than one chef on a show like this does not give viewers a very diverse perspective. (You know the saying: too many cooks spoil the broth). My place on “Top Chef” is as the critic, a diner who does not see what goes on in the kitchen, but who understands America’s palate and brings that knowledge to the table. I would not claim to do much better at some of these challenges than our contestants, but that is not what I am there to do.

Just as a film critic reports on actors and directors, without being one himself, I report on the contestants’ food, attempting to give viewers as clear a picture as I can of what it tastes like, if it is well-prepared, and if I want to eat more of it. Some of the food is not very good. Some of it is tremendous. But all criticism is by nature somewhat subjective, and therein lies its greatest flaw. Nevertheless, I try to give you the most honest and insightful commentary I can.
For what it’s worth, Gail does this. Unfortunately, she doesn’t address here what I’m certain she’s also heard from “Top Chef” devotees: Her attitude sucks, or at least appears to. The judges had in the past chastised contestant Michael — who, incidentally, was eliminated at the end of the last show in spite of not being responsible for the vomit-inducing watermelon dish — for seeming like he didn’t care, wasn’t trying and could give a damn about whether he stayed on the show. In the same vein, Gail seems strangely bored on the show, at least from what footage that airs.

A reader of Gail’s blog makes an interesting point. Addressing Gail directly, he writes,
I feel that Padma’s presence has actually marginalized you as “the other woman.” Something about Padma's presence seems just stuck on like an awkward appendage. She makes less sense than Heidi Klum on “Project Runway,” whose presence actually makes sense there but who also does have the demeanor of a host. They also let Tom act like a host; they interview him more often than you. I just find the setup awkward and slightly demeaning.
This raises the notion that, in comparison to the perkier Padma, Gail seems like a wet blanket. I have to wonder if Gail is perhaps the victim of calculated editing of the hours of footage that any installment of “Top Chef” might be comprised of.

On her blog, she touches on this issue:
What viewers see is but a tiny fraction of what actually transpires. Trust me, you would be bored to death if you watched it all! As result, our comments can at times come across as harsh or negative. The brilliant producers and editors on our show work with hundreds of hours of footage as if they were putting together a delicate quilt. They sew and stitch the intricate pieces just so; forming what they believe is the most interesting story. That is what entertainment is all about!
Compliments to the show’s editors aside, what I take away from this that the final product may not be completely representative of what actually happened. (You know, like with every reality show.) Either the producers are judiciously editing out the really mean stuff Gail says — “Your food made me vomit uncontrollably, in every direction, and all over Padma’s pretty, pretty hair.” — or they’ve purposefully made her out to be the show’s bitch. Every reality show has one, and maybe the “Top Chef” directors decided to contrast Padma’s cheeriness by molding an already assertive and acerbic critic into a woman who seems just generally critical of everything — in short, she may have been edited into the bitch that every reality show seems to need.

I think there’s some truth to this. Just looking at Bravo’s “Top Chef” site, you can see a clear difference in how the network is presenting these two women. Look at the mug shots Bravo uses for Padma’s blog and bio pages.

padma_laksmhi_blog

padma_laksmhi_bio

Now compare then to Gail’s.

gail_simmons_blog

gail_simmons_bio

It goes without saying that Padma is a model and Gail a journalist and critic who has, perhaps, less experience in front of a camera. But I find it hard to believe that the above two images represent the best photos they could take. (Also, notably, Padma gets two pretty outfits, while Gail only gets one.) I think there's a good argument here that Padma and Gail are being packaged in a way that's influencing how people perceive them. If this is true, then Bravo is guilty of perpetuating those awful pretty-girl-is-nice, smart-girl-is-a-not stereotypes.

Whether her own doing or not, Gail’s presence on the show frustrates me, hence the above post title. For a show like “Big Brother” or something else in which the contestants don’t need actual talent, I’m fine with people criticizing them as harshly as they feel necessary. For “Top Chef,” however, the cast has had to work pretty hard just to be there. And I couldn’t imagine dealing with the pressures the show’s cooking challenges would create. Thus, I feel Gail oversteps a boundary when rebukes them for whatever culinary sin she thinks they’ve committed. On the other hand, if she’s the victim of the that typical reality show distortion, then the answer to the question posed in the title of this post is “lousy editing.” It sucks to be cast as the bitch, especially when Gail’s expertise and work experience would have snagged her the judge position in the first place. She needs to have words with whoever is patching together bits of footage because they’re making her look like the villain on a show that should be too smart to employ those tactics.

“Top Chef,” after all, is one of the few truly respectable reality shows on TV. Best yet: The episode airing January 17, “Seduction in Santa Barbara,” features Epiphany, the very restaurant I had a night cap at last night. From what I remember, it was good, and I’m interested to see how the remaining chefs regard the Santa Barbara food scene.

Wound Up Like an E or a First String

Ahem.

Norman20Rockwelldcopy

If this strikes you as even remotely funny, then by all means precede to Pointless Drivel's gallery of Married to the Sea-style mutations of Norman Rockwell paintings.

When Tarantula Took to the Hills

In the comment field of this post — of all posts, I note — a fellow who's recently become a regular commenter replied to a question I usually ask new readers: How did you find my blog, anyway? She answered, and I was a bit surprised. What reader rock.ur.socks said:
I found out about your blog, and if I'm remembering correctly, it was in Jane Magazine. They had something about it being something cool to check out, and then I was on a website and saw a link to it, and realized I had always wanted to see if it was any good...so I did and it is. True story.
Needless to say, I was surprised. Really? Jane? Anybody else heard something about this?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Floor Soup

The cast of "The Simpsons," re-imagined in the syle of an imported Saturday morning cartoon about robots.

simpsonzu

[ source: 4 color rebellion ]

The Robe, the Ashtray and the Coffee Cup

I’ve been reading Catching the Big Fish, this new book by David Lynch that consists of a few dozen short passages — not unlike what you might read on a blog — that discuss his thoughts on filmmaking, art and transcendental meditation. Believe me, the way he explains it, the three are entirely related. I love it, as it gives me insight into a guy who I regard as one of the most talented and creative people alive today. Lynch also rarely discusses his work in any depth. In fact, his reluctance to include director commentaries on the DVD releases of any of his films is one of the many subject that merits its own passage.

The passage titled “Mulholland Drive” involves pre-production of the film of the sane name. The passage concludes with “I went into meditation, and somewhere about ten minutes in, ssssst! There it was. Like a string of pearls, the ideas came. And they affected the beginning, the middle, and the end. I felt very blessed. But that’s the only time it’s happened during meditation.

Even more tantalizingly, the immediately following chapter, “The Box and The Key,” would also seem to relate to the events in “Mulholland Drive.” The weird blue box and the correspondingly weird blue key make for one of the central mysteries in the film and in the discussions that should rightly follow any screening of the film.

Of them, David Lynch writes the following: “I don’t have a clue what those are.”

That’s it. That’s the entire passage. God, I love David Lynch.

Spaced Out on Sensation

Too great. Blogger Zompist takes a close look at some unusually disturbing and English-strewn packaging for toddler's toy. Very funny.

An example:

rail-install

Night of the Lepus

News blog To Be Asian is reporting that a German man has agreed to sell his specialty-bred giant rabbits to North Korea in order to help fight that country's food shortage. The rabbits are the size of dogs.

Deutsche Riesen für Nordkorea

Deutsche Rammler für Nordkorea

giant_rabbit3

Freaky, no? Even more reason for alarm: It's the real deal. Snopes says so.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Kind of Like "Les Nubians"

Not that I think it reveals any deep-seated prejudice I harbor somewhere in my brain, but I recalled a realization I had some time back, when I wrote the first fainting goat-related post. I had it again, just now, as I was glancing over my recent posts. For whatever reason, when I quickly scan a document that contains the phrase “fainting goats,” I tend to accidentally read it as “faggots.” In the case of this blog, it causes me to momentarily wonder what kind of mood might have prompted me to write a post that makes ample use of this particular homophobic slur.

I think it happens because the start and end letters of both words in “fainting goats” match up to the consonants in “faggots.” Yeah, I think I’ll go with that. And maybe not write about fainting goats anymore.

A Thoroughly Polite Dust-Up

The object of interest in this post is not contained in the text, exactly.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Little Pahusacheta

It turns out Marcy isn't my only Persian friend with a knack for duplicating herself in an unusual form of media.

sanam_nokia3

sanam_nokia1

sanam_nokia2

She's the new spokesmodel for the Nokia N76 Blammola Shotgun-Phone. It's the only telecommunication device that requires a mandatory three-day waiting period.

To see for yourself, as Sanam explains it: "To see my shit in action, click on the red phone on the left, then hit the "Take a Look" button. Then definitely write to Nokia and tell them about how you dropped $400 on a phone because of that mysteriously alluring creature conducting a video conference call on their website."

So does Nokia pay me now or what?

EDIT 1.13.2006: As Sanam further explains in a response to my comment on her blog, "I've only worn lipstick once, ever, and that was when I played Isabella Big Buttons in the 4th grade play. So, no. I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to pretend like I was conducting a business-related video conference call. So I'm talking nonsense about W-2 forms and paradigm shifts and maintenance renewal contracts. " Oh, yeah — my initial question was about whether she was wearing lipstick and, therefore, being a real girl.

Silkwood Shower

So, I got an email from Kristen today that asked me to make — oh, let's call them "changes" — to a little something I did. Then a follow-up email that she forwarded me that bore the subject line "Dictionary.com Word of the Day":
wow, how appropriate!

Word of the Day for Thursday, January 11, 2007

bowdlerize \BODE-luh-rise; BOWD-\, transitive verb:
  1. To remove or modify the parts (of a book, for example) considered offensive.
  2. To modify, as by shortening, simplifying, or distorting in style or content.
The girl has a sense of humor, I'll give her that much. In all honesty, however, the changes were made without prejudice.

The Rural Juror

What can I say? Mr. Franzese knows my style.


And do read the previously blogged material regarding the magical fainting goats.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Phyro-Giants

Hi.

If you've been reading closely, you've surely noticed the labels that appear at the bottom of each post. One of the better new features of Blogger Beta, the post labels work like an automatic index, allowing people to see what I've previously written about the subjects discussed in a given post. Say I write about colors, for example. With a mere click a Back of the Cereal Box newbie can instantly find everything else I've written about the subject. If not colors, then anteaters. Or brand names. Or Pac-Man. Or misogyny. Or the all-too-common problem of celebrity confusion.

Anyway, going back and labelling the old posts has helped bring to light recurrent topics that I wasn't even aware I had been writing about. For example: death. I had no idea I wrote about death as often as I do until the post label total for it appeared toward the top of the stack. Very strange.

In any case, I imagine that you all would like to know where you fit into all this. Thus, here is a list of the post labels for the various people I have discussed on this blog. Celebrities are omitted. Of course, I won.
  1. Me (200 — This, I'd hope, would disprove the notion that I don't discuss myself on this blog. I do talk about myself, but only when I'm the most interesting thing to talk about.)
  2. Sanam (36)
  3. Jill (31)
  4. Spencer (29)
  5. Dina (26)
  6. Kristen (24)
  7. Nate (21)
  8. Moe (18)
  9. Hilly (14)
  10. Franzese (13); Jessica (13)
  11. Meghan (12 — not Nexus Meghan but Judy Studious Meghan)
  12. Cory (11); Dansy Pansy (11); Tristan (11)
  13. Meg H. (10)
  14. Adam (9); Bri (9 — Not Brie); Marcy (9)
  15. Daniel (7); Josh (7); Meg Ryan (7 — not that Meg Ryan); Taryn (7); Todd (7)
  16. Billy (6); Brie (6 — not Bri); Canada Sue (6) ;Edith (6); Kami (6); Lulwa (6); Prof. Waid (6); Batalla (6)
  17. Greg (5); Hayley (5); Mom (5)
  18. Erin (4); London Meg (4)
  19. Aly (3); Dad (3); Monica/Renee (3); Other Drew (3); Tharpe-Tharpe (3)
And then I got bored and stopped. Still, there it is. It's interesting for me to look at, especially since my original janktastic post label system only allowed for the grouping of Spencer-, Dina- and Sanam-related posts. For the record, not every post that mentioned somebody's name warranted a post label, and some posts that got a post label don't ever specifically mention the person. It's a judgment call.

Anyhow, click away if the mood strikes you. Some insight into the major players these past few years might give you a better understanding of why I'm where I'm at now.

Mar-Mar Superstar

Meet Marcy.

marcy

Marcy and I know each other from living in the dorms freshman year. Today I learned that for Marcy's birthday, she received the best present ever.

A puppet in her likeness.

Meet the Marcy-as-puppet, the "marcuppit."

marcuppit

It's apparently pronounced "mar-sup-it," and not "mark-up-it." As you can see from the photo, it looks like Marcy had a baby with Franklin from "Arrested Development."

Here is another photo, this depicting the marcuppit being unleashed, full-strength, upon some hapless playground children.

marcuppit_2

If anybody can tell me where I might obtain the contact information for a person or persons who can make additional puppets in the likeness of people I know, I'd like to hear about it.

He's Always Eating Pies

Too-cool video footage demonstrating an octopus' camoglage capabilities.


[ source: Boing Boing ]

Out-of-the-Ordinary Toast

As Spencer is accustomed to making a dish we call the “egg-in-a-nest” for breakfast, it was only a matter of time before one of us looked the dish up on the Wikipedia in order to see whether ten thousand uninformed opinions on it could somehow coalesce into an entry that meets the rigorous at-least-68-percent correct Wikipedia standard. The Egg-in-a-nest, for those for either haven’t had the pleasure or call the dish something different, consists of a slice of bread with a circle cut out and with an egg then fried in the middle.

They look like this:


First off, we found that egg-in-a-nest figures into Alan Moore’s opinions regarding the filmic adaptation of “V for Vendetta.” Moore was, it seems, it infuriated at the American scripts’ presumption that British people would call the dish “eggy in a basket” in an effort to sound folksy and therefore British. More surprisingly, the dish goes by 105 other names — the majority of which sound entirely unappetizing, some of which confound me and a good handful of which sound fake.

The list, as Wikipedia puts it:
  • angry Gippo
  • an-eye-for-an-egg
  • armored egg
  • baby in the well
  • bad egg
  • bird (or birdie) in the nest
  • bird in the hole
  • bird’s eye
  • bird’s nest
  • black-eyed Susan
  • bloated bastard
  • bread uterus
  • bull’s eye
  • bullet hole toast
  • camel’s eye
  • chicken in a window
  • cluck-in-a-hole
  • cluckin’ bread
  • commie in a cage
  • cowboy eggs
  • cyclops sandwich
  • dead bird in toast
  • dippy toast
  • egg hole
  • egg in a hat
  • egg in a hole
  • egg in a well
  • egg in bread
  • egg in the center
  • egg in the face
  • egg in the hole
  • egg in the middle
  • egg in the window
  • egg in toast
  • egg jigsaw
  • egg on the real
  • egg toast
  • eggie in a basket
  • eggs in a blanket
  • eggs in a frame
  • eggs in a nest
  • eggs on toast
  • eggy toast
  • Egyptian eyes
  • Egyptian fish eye
  • Eric’s eggs
  • Eye eggs
  • eye openers
  • flat eggs
  • fox in the hole
  • frog in the basket
  • gas house eggs
  • gasthaus eggs
  • Gasthauseier
  • ghetto omelette
  • goatse bread (By far, my favorite — think about it if you don’t get it.)
  • hiding mexican
  • hole in one
  • hole in the bread
  • Humpty in the wall
  • Hollywood egg
  • holy eggs
  • horse in the stable
  • Japan eggs
  • loaded bread
  • man on a raft
  • melted yellow and white crayons
  • moon over miami
  • naked bird in naked bread
  • National Rifle Egg
  • North Atlantic Treaty Egg
  • oeufs de bordelle
  • one-eye
  • one-eyed bastard
  • one-eyed Egyptian
  • one-eyed gypsy
  • one-eyed jacks
  • one-eyed monster
  • one-eyed sailor sandwich
  • Opeth in toast
  • out-of-the-ordinary toast
  • Panama hat
  • peekaboo toast
  • pigeon poop
  • pig in the poke
  • piggy in the muddy
  • popeye eggs
  • pothole eggs
  • pregnant toast
  • rocky mountain eggs
  • Scottish pizza
  • sunshine toast
  • surprise eggs
  • suspension eggs
  • toad in the hole
  • toast around egg
  • toast benedict
  • Toasty Eggerton
  • tunnel toast
  • wes-egg
  • world war II
  • yellow asshole
  • yellow in the snow
  • yellow moon
  • yolk doughnut

Mimolette

One for Die Wunderkammer, for sure, if I still kept it up.


[ source: Break on Through ]

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hot Ham Water

Late, but nonetheless noteworthy: The inventor of ramen has passed on to that big styrofoam cup in the sky. Pour a salty mess of low-grade noodles on the floor for Mr. Momofuku Ando. In fact, pour it out anyway. That shit will kill you.

As a side note, I'm delighted by the fact that this man's first name sounds like something Samuel L. Jackson would yell at a bad guy in a movie. Seriously, the word "mofo" is embedded in the middle.

[ source: Cherchez La Femme ]

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Ublobog

You'd think it would have something to do with the Bob Loblaw reference in the previous post, especially considering that there's a joke on "Arrested" about Bob Loblaw's Law Blog, but no — by what I'm guessing is an extraordinary coincidence, the button that sends people to a random Blogger-brand blog has been sending a lot of people from this blog to me.

Yes, that would be the Blog of Logs. Written by LogBlogMan, the blog's content concerns the cylindrical pieces of wood we burn in fireplaces. Not the other kind, so much.

Kind of Like "Bob Loblaw"

Continuing the name etymology kick that seems to be dominating my mental processes in this new year, I thought I’d give a few sentences discussing the oddness of the town I live in being called “Santa Barbara.” Named for Saint Barbara — the patroness of artillery gunners, mathematicians, stonecutters and anybody whose job puts them in danger of suffering a sudden or violent death — the town’s name literally translates to “holy foreigner.” Though common now as a woman’s name, “Barbara” is just the feminine form of the Latin adjective barbarus, which means “foreign.” It shares roots with the same Greek root that also gives us the word “barbarian,” if that helps to put the etymology in some context.

In Greece, however, the root barbaros meant more specifically “non-Greek” or “not speaking Greek as a first language.” It seems to share an older connection with the Hindi word Barbara, meaning “stammering.” Thus, it’s often imagined that this ancient word part, barbar, could be onomatopoeia imitating the language of foreigners, much in the way English speakers today use “blah blah blah” to express the noise of unintelligible, droning conversation.

So, technically, I live in Holy Blah-Blah-Blah.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Caught in a Celluloid Jam

Rejecting an opportunity to see “Volver,” “The Queen,” “Dreamgirls,” “Babel,” “The Good Shepherd” or any other esteemed movie out now, I caught a screening of “Black Christmas” on Sunday afternoon. You know — to send off 2006 on the right note.

In all, the movie was fine, as far as darkly comic splatter films go. I’m a little disturbed at the likes of Lacey Chabert and Michelle Trachtenberg following in the footsteps of their TV series big sisters and starring in their own horror films, but this take on "Black Christmas" rightly went for over-the-top instead of re-creating the genuinely spooky and atmospheric feel of the original.

One scene stood out, however, especially in the canon of Sarah Michelle Gellar-related projects.

So Little Michelle Trachtenberg plays one of the sorority sisters whose Christmas break is effectively cut short by the arrival of a psychopath with a penchant for all thing yuletide. I can’t remember exactly what Trachtenberg’s character’s schtick was supposed to be. She may have well been the sardonic one. In any case, despite a speech from a sorority sister who extolled the virtues of sticking together and fending off the killer as a group, the former “Harriet the Spy” actress skips on upstairs on her own and quickly finds herself pursued by someone who wants to eat her eyeballs. (Seriously.)

She fights back — certainly better than most of the victims do and in a style reminiscent of how Buffy herself might have. Eventually, she tries in vain to lift an old, sticky window in order to allow her friends outside to hear that she has, in fact, made the worst decision of her life. The window doesn’t open, the friends don’t hear, and the killer ends up bashing the character’s head in with the pointy end of an ice skate blade.

Splat. No more Michelle Trachtenberg.

What strikes me about this scene is that in the last few moments before she dies, Trachtenberg’s character recalls other relevant work. For example, her last starring vehicle before “Black Christmas” was the teen romance-on-ice film, “Ice Princess,” in which Trachtenberg played a figure skater.

More so, one of the geekier personality traits of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character on “Buffy” was a secret affinity for ice skating.

It’s even more of a stretch, but I remember specifically noting a scene in “I Know What You Did Last Summer” in which the camera slides into the bedroom of Gellar’s doomed character. (You think it’s the killer, but the scene plays in broad daylight, so you can call the false jump scene a mile away. The actual death of Gellar's character happens near the film's end.) Even though "I Know What You Did Last Summer" is set in one of the Carolinas, a pair of ice skates plainly hangs on the wall — an odd touch by the set decorator. I only remember this because I recall asking myself what a girl living in a beach town in the South is doing with ice skates.

Finally, Gellar also starred in “Scream 2,” however briefly. In it, she plays a sorority girl who gets pursued in the Omega Beta Zeta Whatever sorority house by the killer, fights back with noticeably more vigor than most of the other girls in the series, then tries to get help by escaping through a window. Granted, this particular sorority girl gets stabbed, thrown through glass and tossed onto the pavement below, but the scenes nonetheless bear a few similarities.

I know I’ve probably invested way more thought into this one scene that anyone else will — possibly even more than the people who made it did. But I can’t help thinking that a filmmaker like Glen Morgan — who, after all, has enough knowledge of the slasher film canon to remake a mostly obscure title like “Black Christmas — did it intentionally.

The Not-Quite World Warrior

Geek break.

For those who are unfamiliar with video games and never had attended a pizza parlor birthday party in their formative years, the name "Street Fighter II" may sound unfamiliar. This game, a staple of every video arcade ever, was huge in the 90s, so much so that it continued in popularity — that is, various manifestations of the original game, and not prequels or sequels or spin-offs — until 1996 or so. That's a lot of quarters to be fed.

street_fighter_II_logo

In short, Street Fighter II is generally credited with popularizing the once-ubiquitous fighting game genre. That's the one where two people — usually with both with silly hair and both representing a nation, lifestyle or subculture — kick the living shit out of each other until one keels over the other travels to a new locale to start the process over again. This idea was copied again and again, by countless other series, but it was Street Fighter II that did it right first. (Also, I can't help chuckle at the inherent admission that by virtue of Street Fighter II reinventing the wheel, Street Fighter I must have sucked balls. In truth, I've never even met anyone who has played it.)

That's basically the plot of Street Fighter II, really, though the eight characters who were initially selectable had their own reasons for joining the globe-spanning competition. It's the four boss characters that this post concerns, however. The fact that three of them swapped names between the release of the game in Japan and its translation into English is fairly well known among the now-adults who loved the game as kids, but I realized yesterday that I had never read an explanation of why the name-swamp was necessary or a discussion of the fact that the names worked better having been switched. In any case, that's what this post will be about: the small bit of cultural difference that I'd imagine most people don't notice.

So if you're playing Street Fighter II and your selected character sufficiently pummels the other seven, he or she advances to the four bosses. The first is a boxer, Balrog, whose Las Vegas stage marks the third American setting the game offers. (And while I'm there, is it strange at all that a Japanese -produced game about an international group of martial artists should include three American characters and only two Japanese ones?) Balrog likes to hit things.

And he looks a like an angry Tracy Morgan. Since Balrog is a well-muscled guy whose only apparent mode of social interaction is clobbering people, his name makes sense. The word "Balrog" originated in Lord of the Rings as the name of the behemoth monster that didn't kill the Hobbits when I hoped it would. In the original, Japanese version of Street Fighter II, however, "Balrog" was the name of a different boss. In Japan, this boxer is known as "M. Bison" and is meant to parody that other African-American whirlwind of fists and teeth, Mike Tyson.

The common story for this name switch is that those translating the game worried that Tyson would take offense to the joke — and really, who can blame them? — though I'd imagine that another factor came into play here. Namely, Mike Tyson had become the star of the Nintendo boxing game franchise, Punch-Out!!, a 1987 installment of which was titled Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! So for all I know, Nintendo may have actually owned the copyrights to the use of Mike Tyson or any Mike Tyson-like character in a video game.

To complicate the matters further, "Balrog" is a tricky name to pronounce for someone who speaks Japanese. The whole confusion with "r" and "l" means that the middle of Balrog's name can easily get slurred into one non-consonant. In fact, the name proved so problematic that later upgrades to the original Street Fighter II engine actually included voice samples from an in-game announcer that pronounced it "Barlog."

Got it?

The second boss, Vega, requires a bit of explanation even when one isn't discussing his name problems. He's from Spain. That only explains a small part why he's a mess.

vega_street_fighter_II

First off, this character's stage gave my childhood brain the notion that Spanish people have cage fights a lot. Secondly, I actually had to look this character up to remember why he looks like an escaped mental patient. According to his entry on the Wikipedia, Vega is a matador whose narcissism prompts him to fight with a mask. (One would also imagine that a person so concerned about his appearance wouldn't take up fighting with the fiercest martial artists in the world, however.) And the stupid claw? That just seems unfair.

In the original Japanese version, however, Vega's name is "Balrog." This strikes me as odd, given the associations Lord of the Rings readers and other assorted dorks would have with the word. The Wikipedia article supposes that the original name is intentionally ironic. Like in the case of the previous boss, the American name seems to make more sense, since vega is actually a Spanish word — and a fairly common surname in Spanish-speaking countries.

Next we have Sagat.

sagat_street_fighter_II

He's from Thailand. He fights in front of what I believe is a real landmark. Other than the fact that his name is doubly funny, he's not too important to this discussion, as his name remained the same in all versions of the game.

That leaves us with the Big Bad.

bison_street_fighter_II

That's right — four men. Street Fighter II came out before the days of equal-opportunity street fighting, when the game featured only one female character, who had to be pretty, skinny, proficient at kicking, generally good, and notably feminine.

A cheerful and laid-back fellow, M. Bison is the villain seen depicted above as he kicks a vomiting sumo wrestler. Since he's wearing what looks like a military uniform, I always assumed the "M" initial stood for "Major" or something, even though I must have known how that title is correctly abbreviated. In the Japanese version of the game, however, this character has the name "Vega," for no reason I can understand. Apparently by virtue of giving the boxer the clobberific name and the matador the Spanish name, the grimacing man in the hat became "M. Bison" in America.

In the process of writing this, it occurred to me that Capcom, the company that developed Street Fighter II, could have easily avoided the problem of having three characters trade names in the two different markets they'd be pushing the game by having renamed the boxer character something else — "Leonard" or "Priscillla" or "Captain Fists" or whatever. Why would they bother to move the names around how they did and, in doing so, saddle the game's main villain with a name that references a slow and decidedly un-fearsome American grazing animal?

Then it occurred to me: In the same way the game's announcer voice had marred the pronunciation of "Balrog" in a way that Japanese ears wouldn't detect but American ears did, the person who provided that voice was probably unavailable to re-record any samples for names that would better fit audiences outside Japan. The digits bits that said "Vega wins" and "M. Bison wins" already existed, and Capcom of America had to make do with what they had.

So there — this needlessly confusing difference between the Japanese and American versions of Street Fighter II arose, I'd wager, solely from the technical limitations of the medium. Well, that and the threat of a beating from a man whose fists are registered lethal weapons. This difference ub how two different cultures approach the same bit of popular culture amuses me — not only because the two sides could easily not realize that they've been given a slightly different than the other got, but also because the change happens for a reason.

Thus ends my geek break. And you thought that this was purely a video game-related geek break.