Wednesday, December 10, 2008

BWAHAHAHAHAHA

Blago got arrested. Motherfucker tried to extort Children's Memorial (something of a sore spot for me), and sell a senate seat. I will leave you with this from HuffPo:
CHICAGO--Even those most cynical about politics here, who buy into the facile notion that nothing is legit, are moved to demurely ask, "Do you fu**ing believe this?"

Friday, October 3, 2008

Nerd Alert!

Soundbites from the 1908 election, via /.

http://www.sciencenews.org/pictures/bryantaft/bryan_taft.html

Test

This is to test whether my keyboard is fucking up or whether MSOffice/Google Docs just hates me. As it appears that it doesn't, could anyone with a scintilla of computer advise please explain why MSOffice would make my computer freeze after typing a few words.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Shifty and Defensive



Also, mostly incomprehensible. It struck me during this clip that its like she has Wernicke's Aphasia.


(h/t to Sadly, No! for the Palin video and my Ling 225 professor for the aphasia one)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Oh, look.

David Brooks has discovered hipsters. Well done, that man.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dear Sen. Obama.

Retro things are cool. The past repeats itself. You should update this ad.

Shotgun Blogging


This is why I love America.

(via Jezebel)

The Gruniad is aware of memes.

This was in the Guardian, a left-leaning British daily. On their website, at least. Can you imagine the Trib or WaPo putting lolbushes on their website?

The Politics of Superheroes

So, I just discovered the Tor blog, and came across this piece on the politics of superheroes, inspired by a Newsday article that's too dumb to link. The article takes a bunch of well-known superfolk and attempts to divine their political leanings. I've got some issues with their choices.

First, with the exception of Green Arrow, we never see superheroes commenting on political economy. So, that means that any guess based on economic policy is guesswork at best, with the maybe-exception of Tony Stark (multibillionaire arms merchant) as a Republican.

Second, I dare you, I double dare you to fix Superman's politics in any one direction. There's no possible way. I always thought of him as apolitical and limited only by his conscience. Batman's got a similar problem, although I'd peg Bruce Wayne as a limousine liberal in his political views.

Third, anyone who pegs the Hal Jordan-type Green Lantern as a Republican is an ass. He's a New Frontier Dem. My first priority when I get to write GL is finding a way to put the Kennedy quote about "pay any price, bear any burden... in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty" in Hal's mouth.*

I've read, in the weeks since the latest Batman movie came out, left-liberals saying that Batman is the embodiment of the statist, right-wing impulse, and that the Joker stands for human freedom in its more absolute form. I disagree. The terrible choices, and the responses to those choices, feel real. Gordon's desire to protect his family, both physically and emotionally, Dent's desire for revenge, Batman's willingness to take power into his own hands and Fox's revulsion at the idea are all issues that we grapple with today.

In the end, discussing the politics of any given superhero is pointless. Comics give us another way to discuss and debate what's happening in our world. I'd glad they exist.



*Incidentally, if you haven't read Kennedy's Inaugural Address, or his acceptance speech before the NY Liberal Party, please do.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

In Memoriam

Wha be tha blake prevy lawe
That bene wantoun too alle tha feres?
SHAFT!
Ya damne righte!

Wha be tha carl tha riske is hals wolt
Fro is allye leve?
SHAFT!
Konne ye?

Wha be tha carl wha ne wolden flee
Whan peril bene all aboughte?
SHAFT!
Verray!

Alle clepe tha carl ane badde mooder-
SOFTE!
Speken of Shaft bene I.
THAN KONNE ALLES WE!

He be a man konne unnethes
Namo save is mayde konnes im.
JOHN SHAFT!
Good night, Sweet Prince.

(Poem from A Poet's Tale)

Character Actors I Like


Paul Schulze. He was the priest in the Sopranos, the creepy FBI agent in Journeyman, and the Hobo in Mad Men. Always a pleasure to watch.

Hell in a Handbasket

I swear to all the good gods, this was actually a headline I saw today "Rock Star Cats: Do you like cats? So do your favorite pop stars. Click here for pics of the cutest felines."

Swear to gods. Really. There are pictures of cats and arch, stupid quotes about how "When Ted Nugget isn't shooting effigies of dirty liberals on stage, he relaxes with Rosemary and Milo while sipping on vintage Cava and watching the Lifetime Network." Every damn caption is designed to make the reader go "hardy-har-har."

Saturday, August 9, 2008

From the indefatigable wikipedia.

In 2008, MTV announced that they will launch a new series called Exiled. A number of parents of participants on My Super Sweet 16 will banish their teens to a remote dangerous countries in order to see if their offspring will survive the primitive conditions [1]. The big twist occurs when the parents show their apathetic attitudes about their child's wellbeing.

Yes, please.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

All I wanted was to sing the saddest song #3

I've never acknowledged the AV Club's list of sad songs as the inspiration for this. I really should have. I don't agree with all of the choices, but I spent the night I read it listening to my selections and choking up. In the spirit of that, this is an unthemed list.

  1. Billy Bragg - Between the Wars. There's a core of hope in this song, but its deep there. Mostly, its a resigned hymn, with flashes of defiance. Even the anthem-y part at the end "Call out a craftsman/ bring me a draftsman/build me a path..." ends in the wary plea of "sweet moderation/heart of this nation/ desert us not/ we are between the wars." The spare guitar and Bragg's nasal Essex voice add to the melancholy.
  2. Tom Smith - A Boy and His Frog. I think it was Randy Milholland from Something Positive who said that if you don't tear up when you hear this, you don't have a soul. It's so sad, that the video on youtube is flagged as "inappropriate to minors.
  3. Elliot Smith - Miss Misery. Saying that Elliot Smith writes the occasional sad song is like saying that you'd prefer not to be punched in the sack. Regardless, Miss Misery is the song that comes unbidden into one's head when one can't get out of bed in the morning, or can't put the vodka back in the freezer at night.
  4. Ben Folds Five - Cigarette. That sandpaper feeling behind his eyes. That's what I always think of when I hear this song. Fred Jones is so tired, and so sad, and so worried. It's a perfect vignette.
  5. Wilco - I am trying to break your heart. This is another song tied to a specific memory - in this case, lying on the bottom bunk, staring at the white particle board above, thinking about how awesome the line "I want to hold you in the bible-black pre-dawn" is, trying not to think about what was keeping me awake. The song slowly unravels as it nears its end, it's quite good.

Liveblogging MTV at night.

So, I'm on hour 600 of Next, and this time, it's gay next. They've got a burly, ex-navy Filipino on, and his second date was a mildly gender-queer dater, dressed up as a sailor, with an origami belt, long hair, and an obsession with Paris Hilton. He walks out, and the sailor just goes, "Why the hell not?"

It was pretty fun. Kinda sad he got nexted.

I wish they did more interesting Next. This is the first time I've seen anyone but fey, kinny boys on gay Next. On straight next, all the girls look like Realdolls - vacant and overly plastic - and the guys look like all the douchebags you hope get arrested for DUI. I'd like them to mix it up. Match up "hobbies." A foot fetishist and a bus full of girls with pretty feet, a chubby chaser and a bus full of bears, some furries, I don't know - but something more interesting than a bus full of subbie assholes.

And now, random liveblog thoughts.
  • There is no need for student living with a 32 seat movie theater.
  • LL Cool J is accepting of the fact that he's growing old.
  • Someone smarter than me needs to do some cultural analysis on Next and gender roles.
  • Next writers are being punished for sins to terrible to contemplAmate. I'm guessing something from the 7th or 8th Circle.
  • Fuckers just made a frat joke.
  • A distressing number of peoples' facts on the show are about poop.
  • It's impossible to look like a real grown-up when eating a cupcake, which is why the proliferation of cupcake bakeries make me sad.
  • "What are you gonna do if you get instantly nexted?" "Probably go get a boob job."
  • To whom is MTV advertising?
  • I wish I could make noises like Charlie Brooker.
  • I wish I was Charlie Brooker.
  • America Ferrera is really pretty.
  • "For never seeing another ringtone commercial, text OH GOD OH GOD MAKE IT STOP to 22879"
  • The basic concept of Next is "Do what I want, bend to my will, be perfect." Probably not healthy.
  • I think it was Bill Clinton who said "there is nothing wrong in America that can't be fixed by what's right in America." While the Big Dog was a bit centrist for me, and both he and the country would have been well served if he'd soldered his zipper shut (or showed an ounce of self-control), I appreciate the sentiment. Watching MTV, I'm not sure he's right.
  • I want to be on Next - Boring people edition. I will accomplish this by being on "Made: I want to be on Next." I will make MTV my plaything!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Take off your hat.

Dear Don Draper, I'm allergic to alcohol. How can I get through the day? Also, how'd you like to shake things up with a redhead?

Two packs of Luckys and the occasional nap. On second thought, you might be best served by a bullet.

Also, I’ve shaken things up with a redhead. I learned my lesson.

Amazing.
(Via Jezebel, of all places)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Still a good saturday



This man...this man is my hero.

A good saturday

I am lounging around in my bathrobe, eating cold pizza, and watching Kristen Schaal's bit on cougars from the Daily Show being an angry erotic sheep in the woods* I am pretty content.


*I felt like I still owed a video, since the daily show on didn't work.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sunday, July 6, 2008

True story. Really.

me: I had a dream about neil gaiman the other night
kitty: yeah?
me: he and my theis advisor were running an "america's next top model-cum-bootcamp" for science fiction writers
me: the final challenge was writing a short story about a domestic cow and a buffalo on glass with wax pencils, under a time limit
Kitty: dang
me: yeah
me: it was bizarre
me: then I got up and dealt with a gas leak at church
me: I came out to tell the service assistant that everything was ok, we just needed to not make any sparks, and she was shaking out a match.

You asked me why historians look down on cultural studies folk

Here's why. I cannot think of enough bad things to say about this motherfucker. He's got that brilliant self-righteousness only found among dedicated potheads - the kind who are truly, blazingly (hah, sorry) committed to the belief that marijuana is a gift from some god - and those in poorly-defined, utterly amorphous areas of study with no real methodology. He's also got that goddamn cultural studies mindset where everything they do is plated with the finest gold, and real world concerns and pursuits are beneath them. Vide:
A lot has been written over the past decade about the corporatization of the university and the subordination of a liberal education to business efficiency. The drug usage of scholars in the humanities may be an indication of that shift. I fear that we'll have finally, irrevocably, lost the culture wars when the humanists are doing the same drugs as the M.B.A. students.
Oh, gods above forbid that humanities people do the same drugs as the M.B.A. students! Oh, man, we have to keep our culture pure, and not party or enjoy ourselves in the same way, for verily, that leads to soulless corporatization! The personal is political, man. That's why my drug use is ok, because I support NORML.

What a fucking shower, to use a fun little anglicism. This concludes my substantive remarks on his article.

I'd like to take a second here to point out that this douchebag's pseudonym is "Thomas Quincey." Thomas de Quincey was, of course, the author of that great 19th century version of Go Ask Alice - Confessions of an English Opium Eater. The pseudonym seems a bit hard to take; after all, Mr. Quincey (the pseudonymous, 21ist-century version) seems aghast at the use of hard drugs in academia, and not at all struggling with his own favored chemical. Perhaps something more appropriate would have been a pseudonym that spelled out "THC," rather than trying to cloak himself in history.

This all just confirms my prejudices about cultural studies people. They're faintly silly. They're like Burrough's description of "tea-heads"- "naturally silly."

  • The tl:dr from all of this - smoke all the damn pot you want - please, feel free - but for the love of god, don't become a cultural studies person.
(Via New Kid on the Hallway, which came to me via Notorious PhD)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Found it!

I have spent weeks looking for this guy! Very weird, and very cool.
http://www.keiththompsonart.com/gallery.html

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A-hem. A "suggestion" or two.

I have already explained the rule for using them term "thought police."* I would like to expand on this.

"Suggestion" #1: Stop quoting Voltaire. You can read an appreciate him, and really you have to to appreciate the Enlightenment, but please, please, stop quoting him. Especially on the internet, or in opinion columns. "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities" has not be original since the 18th century. I am looking with special irritation at internet atheist sites. There are so many other ways of saying what that quote says. As George Orwell once said, "Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print." Which, rather conveniently (not to say glibly), brings me to my second point.

"Suggestion" #2: Read and appreciate Orwell, enjoy him as one of the masters of English prose style of the past few hundred years, but for gods' sake, stop using him out of context. Not everything is an Orwellian nightmare, and there's enough out there that is truly Orwellian to flex those quoting muscles. The recent boingboing kerfluffle is an example of poor use of Orwellian language. What the BB editors did was basically within their rights, and while I'd like to know why it happened, it's not going to change. I also think they could have handled it better. It was not a Room 101 situation, Violet Blue has not been disappeared from the internets, and I have - what with my naturally sunny nature and all - a hunch that the BB team will learn from this. And I'd hope that other internet voices learn to stop cheapening Orwell and start rereading him.

*If you are not referring to a life or death situation, its use makes you a jerk.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Comment dit-on "bandwagon?"

My French textbook ("new for 2008") has blogs in it. So, chapters 1-4 we get "le blog de Léa," and 5-8 "le blog de Hassan" and so on, giving us an inside view into the exciting lives of young French people.

This is, of course, bullshit. For one thing, the blogs don't contain nearly enough spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. For another, they're even more inane than most real blogs. One was about how Léa needs a new dress, and another was about how she needs to move out of her parents' apartment and find a place of her own.

I realize that the contrived nature of these is due to their being a pedagogical tool, and that reading an actual French blog would tear my brain up and melt my face at this point, but the blatantly faddish nature of les blogs et les blogeurs* irritates me every time I have to read them.

*they even have a fake Mac interface, so that they're more trendy. Ack, pbbbt.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'll see what I can do

Avid readers of this blog know about my strange fixation on Pulp's "Common People." and my love of science fiction. Well, friends...enjoy.


(via io9)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Recursive Memes, pt. 2



So, after I found the original through stumbleupon, and then made a response poster, I revisited the site and found this justification from the author. Money quotes have been bolded by me.
I don't need to hear another word about the North Korea picture being inaccurate. I know the picture is from Vietnam, and I know it won a Pulitzer Prize, and I know it's one of the most famous pictures in the world. That's why it instantly popped into my head when I wanted a picture of North Korea acting like a bully . . . I couldn't very well settle for a picture of Kim Jong-il just standing around looking angry . . . it had to be one-on-one bullying, and the famous pic snapped by Eddie Adams was the first that came to mind. So please, enough with the North Korea image.
I am not a racist. I got a lot of those comments, which surprised me, because not one of the posters is about race. [...]As for the Vietnamese picture working for North Korea, well, it's close enough, isn't it? I needed a picture that at least looked like it was from East Asia. Vietnam was close enough.
So, yeah, it's a stupid demotivator humor site, but still. "Close enough?" A split-screen of a starving kid and Kim Jong Il in those stupid glasses wouldn't have worked? You had to use one of the best known photos of the Vietnam war, and then complain about getting caught? That's a wee bit dickish.

Commercials are Bunk #4

So, I'm up late watching Law & Order and fixing a review of a local play, and this commercial comes on talking about "tender chicken marinated in the Tuscan style, served on a bed of long-grain rice with fresh greens." I think "great, another goddamn pretentious Healthy Choice commercial," and then the voice over continues "that's what's in restaurant-inspired Fancy Feast."

Fancy Feast. Fucking cat food.

Let that sink in for a second. Cat food. There are bare shelves on food banks around the country, the price of food is rising terribly, package sizes are shrinking at the same time, and there are people just off our coast in Haiti eating mud to have something in their stomachs.

Cat food. There are cats in this country - these are animals with brains the size of walnuts and an outsized sense of entitlement - eating better than, at a guess, 80-90% of the world's population. The really sad thing about this is that cats were originally domesticated to prevent food shortages.

Now, most food commercials annoy me. It rankles me a bit when frozen convenience food tries to go all foodie on me. The idea that I can steam pasta fresh in my microwave sounds, well, like dumb.

But fucking cat food with "chicken marinated in the Tuscan style?" That's pure, unmitigated bullshit.

Monday, June 2, 2008

There was an earthquake

Coco Wang did comics based on stories she heard and saw about them. They're worth reading.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Damn the network gods!

So, Hulu has all the episodes from what I will optimistically refer to the first season of Journeyman. I say optimistically, because it looks pretty well canceled, which is a damn-ass shame. It had excitement, time travel, Kevin McKidd playing Dan Vasser, a great family drama*, and all these loose ends that need tying up. They canceled it. Not because of the writers' strike - hell, the only reason the second half of the season ran was to replace shows that ran out of episodes. It got canceled because whoever runs NBC is an idiot.

Please go watch it.

*he convinces his wife that he's going back in time, but then she learns that his ex who disappeared is also jumping back in time, and sometimes their paths cross - and his brother thinks he's crazy, but then learns that he isn't, and then Dan travels back in time an accidentally erases that particular memory

Monday, May 5, 2008

Commercials are Bunk, #3


Oh, hi. We're from American Apparel. We'd like to sell you some buttsex.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Recursive mems


(original image found on 1984web, modified by me.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Another zoo keeper moment

I haven't heard this band in forever. Viva Youtube!







This is why Youtube was created.

If I ran the Zoo

And by zoo, I mean radio station, I would play shit like this.


Via Boingboing, where the incomparable Mark Frauenfelder posted this.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pure Pop Fun



I've been into Guided By Voices recently, which is odd. Enjoy.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Latin Funtimez Megapost

So, friends, I love me some Latin. And hate it. Which goes with the "odi et amo" theme we're encountering in class with Catullus. Enjoy these magical bits of Romanish fun I've found or been sent.

From Latinology on youtube, via my LAT 104 class.

I defy you not to have this stuck in your head all day.

Also from youtube,

More Star Wars/Latin fun

Carl Orff's setting of Miser Catulle. Don't say I never did anything educational for you.



From a Latin Humor page I found:
A Howl of Protest
Latin is a dead, dead language
As dead as dead can be.
It killed off all the Romans
And now it's killing me.

Dead are all who wrote it;
Dead are all who spoke it;
Dead are all who learned it;
Blessed death! They earned

RSfelibus!

Friday, April 11, 2008

I want to live in the future

Especially if the future is so elegant. I love things that make me think I could one day own a space station.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fuck me running, that was epic.

Oceans/Cursive at Canopy Club today.

Oceans, as always, was epic. They played a new song, which was epic as well as knew. Seriously. We're talking like the Illiad of Instrumental Rock here. They play the "building up until you don't think they can do it any more, and then building more" game as well as anyone. It looks like all hell is breaking loose on stage, and then you notice that everything is, in fact, fitting together perfectly. In addition to being a band that gets better every time I see them, they're all also sweet dudes. A+.

Cursive, was also pretty good. It was a way early show, and then spent a good chunk of it trying out stuff from the new album (Verdict: probably going to better than Happy Hollow, although milder [not necessarily in a bad way] than earlier albums). The stuff from Happy Hollow aged better than I expected, which sounds like damning with faint praise, but isn't. The new drummer also rocked pretty hard, and they played "Sink to the Beat." All in all, a good way to spend a Monday night.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Westerns that Rule

One of the few things my dad and I bond over is the superiority of the western genre. There's nothing not to love about them; we watch them weekly. Unlike other lists, this is in approximate rank order. I'd like to share my favorites.
  1. High Noon. I've talked about this movie before. It's one of the best movies produced in America in the past hundred years, which is a little ironic, as it was produced by an Austrian Jew. It's got that great them that Americans love to think it theirs and their's alone - a Man alone, against the world. It's got just the right pacing to tell its story.
  2. Open Range. One of my favorite recent Westerns. The story of Kevin Costner's character's transformation from a heartless Confederate raider to a brave defender of a small cattle town is amazing, but what makes this movie worth it is that last gunfight, which takes up the last fifth of the movie. It's totally worth it.
  3. The Magnificent Seven. Yes, it was a remake of the Seven Samurai. Yes. The original was better. But fuck all that that - it was a sweet movie in its own right. The classic (and underrated) Pixar movie A Bug's Life was based on it. It is one of the archetypal movies of them American screen.
  4. True Grit. The classic John Wayne western. Yes. the Searchers was good, but this movie defines badass. You don't fuck with this.
  5. Serenity. Yes, it's by the dude who did Buffy. Yes. there are spaceships. It's still A western, and it's still badass. It's the bridge betweem sci-fi and western.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cough.

I did this.

Things I love to hate.

This is, of course, by no means an exhaustive list:
  1. My Super Sweet 16
  2. Mallard Fillmore*
  3. the DI comments threads
  4. The GD: Primaries forum of Democratic Underground
  5. VH1. Everything about it.
  6. Libertarians.



*My favorite example of this is when Jon Stewart had the parody cartoon about how unfunny the strip is, Bruce Tinsley spent a week making unfunny cartoons about this slight featuring a charmingly anti-semitic caricature of Jon Steward. If they gave a Pulitzer for Excellence in Missing the Point, he'd wear the certificate as a hat.

Oh, DI comments threads

So, the comments thread on Paul Cruse's piece on affirmative action turned into the predictable cesspit. I'm not going to quote much here, it's about what you'd expect - although I did like the guy who showed a great amount of class, tact, and good breeding in changing "Paul Cruse III" to "Paul Cruse XXX," apparently implying that he's either too hot for TV, or three times as radical as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

So, just as I was despairing about my school, I came across this shining gem. I will post it in its entirety.

Harvard Student

posted 1/18/08 @ 8:59 PM CST

Let's be honest here, the University of Illinois is not a very prestigious university. Very prestigious universities don't have community college transfer students and they don't have students who come to the university to party and drink all day. The only thing prestigious about the University of Illinois is the engineering school.

Dis. And the reply?

Gerrit

posted 1/21/08 @ 10:19 AM CST

Harvard is totally queer.

That's what I'm talking about! Don't let them talk down to you! Prove them right!

I'm mean, granted, I love to sling calumny on a privileged, East Coast bastard as much as anyone, but really? You couldn't point out the elitist stick up Harvard Student's ass, his blatant classism, or complete lack of knowledge about the achievements of the school outside of engineering? The fact that while Harvard was producing the chinless wonders running the country today, U of I was producing agronomists to feed the developing world, economists to make the money flow, journalists to write about it, and just to top it all off, invented the web browser.

But please, go with the gay joke. I mean, if too many people know how awesome we really are, they'll all want to come here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

OMG DID YOU HAER ABOUT?

I have just discovered the joy that is juicycampus tonight, and so have not gotten anything done. Truly, it is the best thing about U of I. It's like the DI's comments threads, but shorn of any particle of intelligence, and with more posts about frats and furries.

God Bless America.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I think I might have mentioned that before.

My Super Sweet 16 is everything that's wrong with America in a 23 minute package. Now, they make it wronger with My Super Sweet 16-Remix. This Remix (even setting aside for the moment the gross overuse of the term) is a terrible thing. It's clips they didn't use in the first episode with whatever spoiled brat, generally to the tune of "let's look at me shopping for diamonds."

It just goes to show, you know, never ask if things can get worse.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Top 5 Favorite Books

This list, friends, is constantly changing, but as of right now, it stands as (no order, just 5 books):
  1. The Fortress of Solitude, Jonathan Lethem. Really, it's three great books, each totally justifying its place on this list - the first for its writing, the second for its imagined world and economy, and the third for its pseudomemoir.
  2. From the Dust Returned, Ray Bradbury. I read this in 8th grade, after tackling Illustrated Man, and it stuck with me more, with its family of, I think, vampires.
  3. Nine Stories, J.D. Salinger - Special mention for the stories "For Esme, with Love and Squalor," "A Beautiful Day for Bananafish," and "De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period." Alternately, you could count all the Glass Family stories as one book and put it here instead, and shunt "For Esme" and "De Daumier-Smith" to a list of favorite short stories.
  4. Yes, We Have No: Adventures in the Other England, Nik Cohn. Sadly, criminally out of print. This is the book, read 3 times over a summer trip to St. Louis, that made me want to be a writer, in that bone-stupid, arrogant 15-year-old way. Given that Cohn admitted to having fabricated massive sections of "Saturday Night Fever," I'm a bit leery of putting this on the list, or trusting any of the people mentioned in the book to actually exist, but despite these doubts, it's one of the finest pieces of writing I've ever put in my brain. I can quote chunks of it from memory, and check at every used bookshop I go to for a copy. If it's non-fiction, it's one of the best pieces of nonfiction put out in the last century. If it's fiction, it needs to be put on the list of best fictional universes ever. The more I get drunk and walk around downtown Urbana and talk to the people at the bus stop, the more I incline towards the former.
  5. The Baroque Cycle, Neal Stephenson. I'm cheating a bit here, and counting the three volume, three-odd-thousand page monster as one book. I'm doing this for two reasons: I spend a good chunk of my waking hours researching the time period this book covers, and partially because of that (and more partially, because of Stephenson's skill), the character Daniel Waterhouse is as real to me as most actual human beings I know.

I love Marvin Gaye, I love covers.



Enjoy. I did.

Hot on the Heels

Reading the article from the last post reminded me how much I like Amy Winehouse, so I went on youtube and found this.


Yes, the sound quality isn't the best (it's a promotion for some other site), but it's still a neat video. Sometimes she looks like she's struggling to get through it, and sometimes she looks like she's having a blast.

Perez Hilton and Tyler Durden as great Tragedians.

Last week's Toronto Star had a great feature on celebrity-news-as-opera-or-tragedy. Now. I'm a pop culture junky, a cultural studies nerd, and a classical music fan, so my biases in posting this article are clear. The article itself, though, is pretty brilliant, and more than a little sad. Take this paragraph on Amy Winehouse:
Control is the key word in both opera and the "bad girls" celebrity narrative. The contemporary nunnery is rehab, the house of penitent women, where lost girls reclaim their virtue and self-control. Winehouse won't go there. Or she will. That's the plot of Act I. Let's hope it's not a one-act opera.

So, please, check out this article. It'd a decent read.

A science fictional day

Arthur C. Clarke CBE, SF author, futurist, and all-around paragon of 20th century excellence, died yesterday. Most widely known for his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey, he also proposed telecommunications satellites before they became reality. Spacecraft were named after his works, and he promulgated Clarke's Three Laws, which have generally stood the test of time.

So, I think it to be an appropriate, if sad, occasion to post some SF, a story that I found on Boingboing that combines time travel and wikipedia - which are, of course, two of my favorite pastimes.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

All I wanted was to sing the saddest song #2 - The Music of St. Blake

Blake Schwarzenbach holds a special place in the history of sad songs. Jawbreaker put out some damn sad music, as did Jets to Brazil, especially on their first album. It's a testament to Schwarzenbach's skill as a writer that these songs work.

Jawbreaker:
Sea Foam Green - The real kick in the teeth for this song is the bridge: "Tried to drink you off my mind, I just got wasted. It only made the pain that much more acute - cute isn't strong enough a word, unintentionally gorgeous." Those two sentences capture, better than anything I've read, how it feels to want to give up on someone, but finding that the harder you try, the harder it is. That last bit where acute pain goes to unintentionally gorgeous, is brilliant; at the bottom of the bottle that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach and your desire get all mixed up, and you're no longer sure if you feel good or bad.

Accident Prone - Where "Sea Foam Green" suggest a specific moment - for me at least, there's a definite memory that I can see when I close my eyes - "Accident Prone" is a different, longer kind of sad. "It hasn't been my day for a couple years, what's a couple more?" Everything about this song - that plodding bassline, that deliberately slow guitar in the verses, - sounds beat up, and then it builds and builds, and just when it gets unbearable, it explodes into the final chorus: "a near miss or a close call, I keep a room at the hospital, I scratch my accidents to the wall...I got to you there was nothing left, I got to you, there was nothing left." It's heartbreaking. It's also the only song I've ever seen make my father tear up - his first words to me after hearing it were "powerful stuff." I agree.

Jets To Brazil:
Conrad - What happens when you borrow some melodic material from the one Beatles song capable of causing actual melancholy, and then add that to terribly sad words about suicide? You get a song that's amazingly tragic. The story of a girl who checks into a motel to kill herself, told in a flurry of images - "a week up front, asks not to be bothered," "readies herself, apologizing to the motel maids," "warming her wrists, in promising water," "double edged and super-blue, vertically letting the life from you" - pulls back, with the tune of "Nowhere Man" to paralyzed, watching angels, hovering near the shower-head maybe, knowing "only that they can't quite tear themselves from the view." It's that pull-back, watching the song with the angels, that makes it so devastating.

I Typed For Miles - Pure desperation. The strained vocals, for one, get that message across. It's a slow descent into insanity, from the comparisons about the narrator's craft - writing is "like figure skating, like asphyxiating" - to the denial of "leave me here to my devices, the call could come at any time," to "tied my ankles to the table legs with wire, he can't write so much as type" and the final, cathartic outburst of "they're playing love songs on your radio tonight, I don't get those songs on mine - you keep fucking up my life." It's not related to anything I remember, but it's a moving portrait.

Friday, March 14, 2008

All I wanted was to sing the saddest song #1.

There are sad songs. There have always been sad songs. Sad songs are good songs, we like listening to them because either we're sad ourselves, or we have been. Listen to a sad song when you're happy, and you feel a pang of sympathy (sometimes followed with a grudging sense of the singer ruining your fun). Listen to a sad song when you're sad, and you don't feel so alone. If I were more classically inclined or more of a douche-bag, I'd have a big section here on tragedy and catharsis and Nietzsche and everything, but I'm not. I'm just a big enough douche-bag to tell you that there's an entire book of the Bible dedicated to sad songs, the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and that settings of the O Vos Omnes (Oh, all you who pass by, stop and listen, see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow) were especially popular in the Renaissance.

I like sad songs. When I'm happy, sad songs elicit a pang of sympathy. When I'm sad, sad songs are sort of comforting. Everyone, secretly, has one sad song that they love.

I have many.

You may have seen this before.

Via the incredible BoingBoing comes this fantastic juvenile art/South Yorkshire angst mashup,


Yes, friends, that's Archie as possessed by Jarvis Cocker. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Things vaguely funny.

Luddite isn't recognized by Microsoft Word's spellchecker.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The fun keeps a-coming

Ok, this is a second bite at the apple as my lawyer friends (the people I watch on Law and Order) say, since I already commented on the article, but the DI (my favorite internet publication) printed a letter to the editor from one Travis Eliason, who I assume is a 19th century patrician. Now, he raises a fairly interesting point that comes up from time to time viz, "Isn't Unofficial a misrepresentation of Irish culture," and then completely douchebags it up by using the term "thought police." For those interested, the rule for using that term is "Don't, unless you are referring to a life or death situation." Political Correctness at a University (in this case, our school's almost endearingly incompetent attempts to address the massive racist-flavored ignorance displayed by multiple incidents over a fairly short period of time), is not a life or death situation.

Travis did raise a good points - what's acceptable, what's not, why UIUC got rid of the Chief, but Notre Dame got to keep the Fighting Irish - and then wasted them (not that I think he was really interested in them) by snarking about the PC strawman. He also decided to use the term "paddy wagon," which is, arguably, a racist term based on the fact that the paddies were either driving them or riding in them. Funny, isn't it?

For my mathy friends.

The DI's Unofficial By the Numbers. I'd like to point out that Wheaton College, Illinois' own madrasah, appears on the list of schools represented in the drinking citations. I wonder if that'll have repercussions back home.

Unofficial wrap-up

I, for one, continued my tradition of being deathly ill (via pathogens, not chemicals) for the third Unofficial in a row, so I missed out on what may be the last hurrah of a dying festival. Others were not so lucky.

C.O. Daniel's got closed down for being stupid. Whatever bag of fuckery was in charge there (who, since his livelihood depends on staying within Illinois Liquor Laws, should have known better) violated Illinois law by selling "all you can drink" wrist bands, which are medium-illegal in this great state. So, he gets no sympathy. Scott Cochrane, the owner of CO's and driving force behind Unofficial, gets points for not crying "persecution" to the DI yet.

Kam's, the bar next door to CO's, also got closed, but the DI didn't give me a reason to make fun of them.

From the same article, Champaign's deputy mayor makes a funny:
La Due added that the closings "struck a sober chord" with other liquor-licensed businesses, but were blown out of proportion by media.

"It was a sobering incident," he said. "No pun intended, but it sure works for one."

Well done, that man.

Like I said, I was in amazing pain for most of this holiday, so I have no fun drunk stories to share, or spleen to vent. I also have no expectation that I'll be healthy enough to celebrate next year, but one lives in hope.

Friday, February 29, 2008

For those of you living under a rock

Or going to other schools (which is the same thing - hey-oooo!), this Friday is Unofficial St. Patrick's day at U of I. Unofficial is the day in which Illini get drunk at 7 in the morning, go to class waaaaasted, and then bar-hop all night. For those of you at Knox, imagine Flunk Day with a few weeks to prepare and several bars offering specials; for those of you at other schools, transfer (hey-ooooo!).

In all honesty, though, Unofficial as I've described is basically celebrated by Douchy Mac Douche and his brothers of the Alpha Phi Douche brotherhood. The administration spends a good deal of energy trying to suppress the "holiday," generally with little success. This year, they've not only publicized that anyone caught disrupting class drunk will be expelled, but also that no visitors will be allowed in the dorms this week, and have reminded us that a drinking or disorderly conduct citation will cost 300$.

Now, I'm planning on going to work in the morning like a responsible adult, but I may enjoy the carnivalesque atmosphere of Unofficial in the evening. If you're planning on enjoying Unofficial, be safe and smart.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

God Bless the American Political System

Or, With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?

The Smoking Gun reports that a man stabbed his brother-in-law during a political argument. Bonus: They were both Dems. Jose Antonio Ortiz stabbed his brother-in-law Sean Shurelds because Shurelds, an Obama supporter, said that Hillary Clinton (who Ortiz was supporting) was getting trashed in the primaries. The two yelled at each other, tussled, and at some point a knife came out.

I can't wait until the primary is over.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Craigslist is weird.

My friend Sarah got me reading the missed connections on Craigslist. They're all over the place - some of them are sad, some of them are sweet, some of them are just bizarre. And apparently "family" doesn't refer to the mob.

There's this long, sad one, to "Squishy," that's just a bit heartbreaking.
"Why can't you just call me?...You hurt me along the way. Blowing me off on my birthday, not giving me a hug when I really needed it. But that's okay. I can live with those things. I was good to you. I was there for you...I would drop my world for you in a heartbeat, because I'm your friend.
I miss you.
It's heartbreaking. You can smell the sadness there, the confusion, and the desperation.

There's also a preponderance of ones from the 13N. By a preponderance, I mean two, one of which could refer to almost anybody.
" You were the asian girl listening to a pink MP3 player with sunglasses this morning on the Silver MTD bus. You are cute!"
There's a bit of a tiff, too, about whether that one Asian guy with the tattoos is really as hot as it would seem, since:
"Dude, there is no way in hell so many 21 year old women are posting about the SAME ASIAN DUDE with the tattoo at CRCE. We know it is you posting about yourself. Just stop already. You're not hot, nor are you special enough to get a real missed connection. "
Actually, giving it a second thought, most of them are kind of sad, like the one called "Why not me?"
"Why is no one ever looking for me? I see plenty of people every day. I smile and make eye contact at the guys I like, yet still nothing. I have enough self confidence to think that I'm somewhat cute enough to get someone looking for me. All I want is to be wanted..."
Someone, either kind or cruel, responded to this with:
"Actually, I've really wanted to post about you for a long time, but I'm very shy. Let's talk about it the next time we see each other in person."

I think that proves the last sentence of this post:
(everyone deserves an MC)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Freudian Slip?

So, the ISU chapter of PRIDE is hosting a charity drag show, and the first line of their Facebook event's info reads "support GLBT students and have fund doing it!" I'm not sure if that's brutal honesty or a Freudian slip or a joke that went over my head.

Awww

This video is adorable. It's a 3 year old girl explaining Star Wars. I like when she talks about Luke's Jedi training, and how he has to fight a poke ball.



(via Neatorama)

Unintentional Ironies

If you get a chance, please do see the fantastic 1980 Australian film Breaker Morant. It's war movie and a trial movie, and what more do you really want? It also has that thing that sometimes happens, where lines intended with one meaning have another when you watch them. My example here, is when a junior officer yells at his superior about shooting a missionary, and gets back the yelled rejoinder "It's a new war, George! A new war for a new century!" Which brings us to our 21st century warfare, where we debate about wiretap and torture. In Breaker Morant, we're expected to sympathize with the railroaded Australian soldiers, who committed war crimes, who killed Boers in cold blood because "it's the first war in which our enemies didn't wear uniforms, where they're women and children."

It's a much more uncomfortable movie than when I watched it the first time.

Even with all that, with all the modern contaminants and moral quandaries of our age, the story of 2 officers railroaded for following their C.O's orders is a sad and powerful one. Please rent it if you have a spare night to watch it in.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cash Advances...

I love covers. I always think it's neat to hear what one band or performer has to say about another's work.

I mention this as a way of mentioning that I went to see the City on Film (Bob Nanna) tonight. He played three covers, among a big bunch of neat Bob Nanna-ness.

He opened with Amy Winehouse's "Tears dry on their own," played Lifter Puller's "Secret Santa Cruz" somewhere in the middle, and played "Come on Eileen" near the end.

I love Mr. Nanna's cover of "Secret Santa Cruz" because his voice is so totally different than Craig Finn's. When Finn sings it, he's yelling about this fucked up story about this girl he knows, how she did it in a disco! With some guy from San Francisco! When Bob Nanna sings it, he's telling out this very sad story, about how Candy's back on campus, and she can't believe that it's September, and even though he knows the story, he asks her how she spent her summer, and sings it like is this still fucked up, but terribly sad story.

It's really an amazing thing to hear.

The other neat thing about this show is that the audience way, at absolute most, 15 people, all just standing around the stage, occasionally singing along, sometimes talking to Bob Nanna, or suggesting songs to play, or giving him beer.

It was quite a time.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Face, meet palm, I think you'll be friends.

My Knox College correspondent hooked me up with another lovely little piece of human failing this afternoon, only this one's about racism (or, at the very least, pig-ignorance of a racial flavor) instead of grammar and formatting problems.

The Knox Student - their version of the DI, but with apparently worse quality control - published a real beaut of an article yesterday, titled "Racism? Nah, just some truth." Now, thankfully, it's about sports and not, say, test scores or personal habits, but it's still pretty lovely. I'll let the fact that the old "I'm not bein' racist, I'm just bein' straight with you" is the oldest trick in the book slide, and get right to what makes this article jaw-droppingly awesome.

It begins reasonably well:
"Several of my suitemates have been embroiled in a discussion this past week in their psychology class, after one of their classmates brought up the fact that African-Americans are more predisposed to being successful in sports, and in general, being more athletic. Now, this seems like a straight off racist statement to some, but I have to say, it seems like there is more truth to this statement than a lot of people are willing to admit."

Well, yeah, and it's possible that there are all sorts of explanations for this. Cultural ones, economic ones, questions of incentives - things like that. There's probably a good book or two on the subject either out there or waiting to be written. This, however, isn't it.

After several paragraphs of nearly interminable basketball drivel - "
all they [white guys] can do is set shots and the like"* - we get to the money quotes. First some talk about genetics and Kenyans, and then this:
Now, the fact that these athletic juggernauts are in America is no secret. During that dark time in world history when the African was thought of as subhuman, one of many groups throughout history seen as that by the Europeans, they were packed onto cramped prison ships and sent across the ocean. Those who died on the trip were inferior, genetically, and those who were stronger survived the trip.

Once they got here, their owners would breed those who worked hardest, had the strongest back, that sort of thing to get the best work out of them. After a time, the genetically inferior ones were weaned out, and only the strong survived. These people are the ancestors of those who play in sports today, the ones who dominate on the court, and just make the whole arena their own. Basketball isn’t the only sport, either; baseball, football, heck, even soccer has its greatest players being descended from those who were once slaves.

One might wonder if the article is trying to say is "Dear Black America, You're welcome for the athletic stardom. Love, White People." One is also forced to conclude "probably not," but still, there's really nothing to recommend this column. It's got that bright, sparkling, negligent racism that also leads to things like, say, The Bell Curve. The Bell Curve, for those of you not up on your classic sociological flamewars, was a book that used the classic "I'm not bein' racist, I'm just bein' straight with you" defense, gussied up with graphs and charts, to explain the differences between test scores and IQ in black and white Americans. It really didn't do any good for anyone.

And neither does this column. No, I don't think it was malicious, but it was negligent. Yes, the Knox Student did already issue an apology, but you can't unring a bell. I'm not going to wag my finger at either author or the editor and tell them that they are bad people, but I really do wish they'd have sat down and read through the article before putting it in print.

*Fun fact about sports and race: in the early 20th century, it was Jews who were good at basketball. It's also interesting that they weren't considered "White," they were "of the Hebrew Race." Matthew Frye Jacobson's book Whiteness of A Different Color explains how this happened.

A Modest Proposal.

Today was "Wear Chief Day" and the 1 year anniversary of the Chief's last dance. Sadly, the campus is still a bit divided over this, as the comments thread on the DI article about the Chief shows.

I had a satirical column planned, wherein I suggested bringing back the Chief, but as a member of the Village People, listing all sorts of completely sincere reasons why this would be a good idea, but I just don't have it in me. The earliest versions of that post date back to last year, when my buddy Marcus and I started kicking around ideas after an Unofficial party, but after a year of sniping and whining and bitterness and both sides getting, if anything, more entrenched, it wasn't funny anymore.

You have, supposedly, the future leaders of our country and graduates of one of the finest public universities in the country arguing and casting all kinds of pig-ignorant, misleading slander at each other over...

I'm not sure what.

On the one had, yeah, it's an 80-odd year old tradition. Many U of I alumni do have very fond memories of their time here, and remember the feeling of pride they had here.

On the other, and possibly more persuasive hand, it's a white guy dressing in a costume. A costume that's not even of the tribe that the Chief is named after. That's like having Micky O'Irish as a mascot, dressing him up in a tartan kilt and a bowler hat, and making him do some square dancing. It doesn't make any sense to try and claim that that's honoring Micky's native culture.

So, why all the fighting? My working theory is that its because the Board of Trustees, nervous over NCAA sanctions, did away with the Chief pretty quickly, and a bit shadily. The pro-Chief people are mad because they feel stabbed in the back, the anti-Chief people are mad because they didn't win correctly - didn't win by changing attitudes, but by fiat.

Meanwhile, while we're bitching at each other about whether a fictitious Indian being played by a white college student is ok, there are still massive issues facing our campus. Paul Schmitt, who's been downplaying the Chief issue in his campaign for student trustee, has pointed out that our priorities are all messed up. I personally like to point to the shiny new alumni center on Lincoln Ave, which is of absolutely no use to students.

The continued squabbling over a complete non-issue is also keeping us from talking about actual racism on campus. I've talked about this before. There was the Tacos and Tequila party last year, the continued underrepresentation of most minorities on this campus, and, most recently, a Compton-themed party. There are two real money quotes from this article, one from the president of the frat hosting the party and one from the school functionary responsible for the tolerance program. I'll present them in that order.
Muccigrosso was quick to point out that despite the props used by some of the partygoers, no ethnic groups were specifically targeted through the use of makeup. The decision to model the floor after Compton came about as the result of many residents' affinity for hip-hop culture, he said.
and
"Many members of the community felt like this was a mockery of that city's culture," Abdullah-Span said. "For students who don't come from that type of situation, to portray themselves in such a way is stereotyping."
If you'll please note from the article, the frat has one black member, out of 33, and is an engineering frat. Surprisingly, there are no comments on the article yet, but I am just waiting for the first one to blame the Chief and thus start the flamewar. Which, you know, is a damn shame, since it'll just piss people off and do nothing to solve the problem.

So, to sum up my points, the Chief is gone, his departure was managed shittily, and somehow, racism still persists on campus. I-L-L...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Having Weasel Pox gives you a lot of time to think.

I was going to do a post about how much I hate student elections, and how all the fliers the candidates are putting up are useless or worse, and then I found a candidate I can support.

He's a columnist at the DI, he writes entertaining, generally to the point columns, and he's not Paul Schmitt.

I am officially endorsing Scott Green for Student Trustee. Scott is the only candidate to take his message directly to the voters. Unlike Mr. Schmitt, who has hidden behind a flurry of fliers and a deceptive website that only takes visitors to a facebook group, Scott Green has done the right thing and declared his candidacy for Student Trustee right out in the open, and elaborated on his platform.

Granted, his platform seems to be that he thinks this is bullshit, but he brought that platform to the voters, and it's one I can damn well get behind.

So, fellow Illini, when you vote for your (generally useless) student government this term, vote for the man who recognizes the futility of the situation. Scott Green. You'll have to write him in, because he's too bad for the ballot.

So, you want to host a literacy event: or, Like a Monkey Fucking a Football

From our Knox College correspondent, we get this gem of an email:

Come to Kappa-copia!!
And Support Literacy!!!!
3-5pm in CFA Lobby this Saturday
Get the
Spinach Bisque form Landmark,
The cinnamon rolls from Packinghouse, and much much more!!!
Food, Games, and PRIZES

$3 at tabling or $5 at the door

Sponsered by Kappa Kappa Kappa Gamma


Now, I'll draw your attention to a few little things about this posting. First, it's to support literacy. Literacy, defined by our old friends at the American Heritage Dictionary as "the condition or quality of being literate, especially the ability to read and write." Now, even setting aside the fact that they got the name of their sorority wrong*, we're still left with some dire questions.

There's also the matter of who's hosting this event. If we leave off a Kappa, we're left with the fact that its sponsered by the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. Yes, those fine young women of KKG are the sponsers of this Kappa-Copia to support (one supposes they might have wanted to write it "suppert") literacy. We remain unsure who the sponsors are.

Moving along, there are still a few more howlers in this email. First, I'm not sure what "Spinach Bisque form Landmark" is. Is it spinach bisque that's been shaped into a model of the Landmark? Is it a particular school of spinach bisque preparation? Or is it simply a typo? My money goes on the latter.

And even beyond typos, there's their illegitimate gerundizing of "table." What exactly do they mean? Is tabling a real word for the act of sitting at tables on the quad selling tickets? Or do you get $2 off if you get past the door and only get caught while being seated at the table?

I would hope my readers know the old rule about exclamation points, but I'll repeat it in the event that any of the fine ladies of KKG are reading: "One or None." The colors are your choice, but a bit garish.

Finally, I would ask if anyone gets the feeling that they're raising money for a literacy program for themselves?

*there's no such thing as the sisters of Kappa Kappa Kappa Gamma. That's one Kappa too many, as I'd hope they know.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

So, I'm not Tsutpen

But, I know a treasure trove of pictures when I see them. The previous link takes you to a big archive of photos from the 60's-80's (I think) of daily life of the USSR. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A query:

If we're basically heading back to the 80's (Knight Rider, American Gladiator, revived reaganomics, poor fashion choices), do we get some halfway decent music again?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shooting at NIU

According to the RRStar and the NIU website, there's been a shooting at Northern Illinois University. The threat has passed, and the gunman has killed himself, but please: if you have friends at Northern, please give them a call as soon as you can.

Double-post future party!

Nanotechnology is sweet. I mean, in theory at least. The ability to manufacture teeny-tine things out of carbon tubes could bring us space elevators, manufacture on demand, better solar power, and all kinds of amazing things.

Also, it features in The Diamond Age, one of my favorite SF books.

The future, though, is getting closer, courtesy of my home institution, UIUC. Scientists north of Green St. have made a miniture radio out of carbon nanotubes. This is just really neat and makes me smile a bit.

My inner twelve year old just made his christmas list.

io9 had a piece today on the magic of marketing. What you see behind the link are real, honest to God pitches made to Lucasfilm around the time Episode I came out. The sad thing is, I've thought about how sweet a Jabba the Hutt beanbag would be.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Commercials are Bunk #2

Does anyone really want a cell phone for Valentine's day?

First, who would pay for the contract? If it's the person giving the phone, would you have to pay the early termination fee if you broke up with them?

Second, a cell phone is the kind of thing one uses every day. That's kind of personal. That's the kind of thing I'd want to shop for myself.

But the worst part about this? The fraking commercials. There are a few particularly repugnant ones that stand out in my mind. The first has this irritating couple baby-talking about how much they love each other, yes they do, and should they get new phones, those new phones are buy one get one, yes they should get them, yes they should.

It's frankly insulting to my intelligence, and also to my dignity as a human being. As is the second one, where a white guy (try not to faint here, please) tries to rap! Now, this is always daring and funny, to be sure, but this time I just feel bad for him. Not only is this actor making an ass of himself on national TV, but he's doing it to sell phones. Truly, there are some fates worse than death.

Such as, say, being the ad agency hack who came up with the blindingly horrible "heaven must be missing a squirrel" spot. Finger puppets, who are on the screen of the cell phone you should buy for your love. You see, it makes perfect sense, finger puppets are one of the great things your beloved can watch on the internet capable phone you just bought them - because you are in love with a 4 year old. You might want to look to that.

Ack, pbbbt. Again.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Things get stranger everyday.

According to the NYTimes, a manga adaptation of the Bible written by an Englishman of Nigerian descent has sold 30,000 copies in the UK.
"Abraham rides a horse out of an explosion to save Lot. Og, king of Bashan, looms like an early Darth Vader. The Sermon on the Mount did not make the book, though, because there was not enough action to it."
I don't even know where to start or where to begin, man.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Commercials are Bunk #1

If you watch TV, which in this day and age is an entirely reasonable assumption, you have probably seen those ads that go "He went to Jared!" in a breathless tone.

These ads, my friends, are bunk.

I take particular issue with the one, which unfortunately has not been put on Youtube, where three giggling hags are sitting around, gathered around a cell phone for text messages from their friend, who is out for dinner with her man-candy. Through the magic of the televisor, I join them.

The first text message arrives, complete with annoying dinging sound. "Roses," it reads. Our little Greek chorus coos "he got her roses." Yes, ladies, he had the presence of mind to stop by Schnucks on his way to pick her up. Quite the gentleman, that. He managed to get her roses, grown by some farmer in Colombia who is more likely get shot by the FARC or his own government than to take his wife out for a meal anywhere. Way to go, dude.

While we're absorbing that, my three future bridesmaids and I, another ding hits us. He's taken her to Chez Francois. Now, if my middle school French is correct, that means either "Frank's House," or "the French House." Oh, this man sounds like a winner. Maybe on their next date, they could go to that new place, Casa Mexicana! Truly a man of taste and refinement.

A new ding stops our tittering. We huddle in the dim glow of Lydia's cell phone, when the most magical words appear on the screen - "He went to Jared!" Oh! An attack of the vapors! He went to a chain jewelry store, and bought a diamond which was possibly soaked in the blood and tears of small children. Truly, he is the epitome of all that we desire in a man!

We put our heads together for a response worthy of the situation. Being that it's the week before St. Valentine's day, and being that, since we are all single women in a jewelry commercial, there is only one right answer.

"Does he have brothers? We've given up, you see, being jealous of your success bagging a man of so many manifest qualities. And, as everyone knows, life without a man is just terribly meaningless, so please, since this fella has both class and taste, and those are clearly genetic, set us up any potential blood-kin of his!"

Ack, pbbt.

If I'd had this much success in the 90's, I'd have moved to Australia too.



I've had interesting things to say this week, but usually on the bus, and by the time I get to a computer, I've forgotten them all. My apologies.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Meta-Made

I have blaaged before about my love of MTV reality shows. So, imagine my joy when I came home today and found a Made mini-marathon on TV. Which got me to thinking, naturally.

I want to be a made coach.

I don't care in what. It could me "Made: I want to be an insightful blogger" or "Made: I want to be a salty bitch." I don't care. I want to be a made coach. More than anything else in the world. I want to do it to develop my confidence and help other people out.

I want to be made.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bein' sick makes me all crotchety

So, imagine my enjoyment when I found this:

The Failblog. The blog dedicated to failure in all its many forms. Brightened my day considerably.

(Via BoingBoing.)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday Morning Coming Down



Please enjoy a surprisingly sprightly rendition of this classic Kris Kristofferson song.
(not, however, the classic Kris Kristofferson song mentioned in the title of the post)

Existential Horror

"The church at Westboro which he leads has 71 confirmed members, 60 of whom are related to Phelps through blood or marriage or both." (from Wikipedia's article on Fred Phelps)

You know what the scariest fucking thing about that is? Eleven other human beings, unrelated and therefore without obligation to this nutjob, have joined that church.

Misplaced Priorities

I should probably be writing about the wicked sweet ska show I went to tonight, but instead I'm drinking a 40 and wishing to appraise anyone with Comcast Cable of the fact that 1.) you have MTV on demand and 2.) MTV on demand has "My Super Sweet 16."

For those of you previously unaware, "My Super Sweet 16" is a 23 minute recap of everything that's wrong with America. In this, it is the direct opposite of "Made" which features everything that's right with America.

On edit: there is nothing about my show that does not fill me with either spite or rage.

That's not strictly true. Immediately after the birthday girl told two of her friends that they couldn't come to her party because they didn't want to audition to be in her "entrance," she bit it breakdancing. That filled me with schadenfreude.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Generously Angry



I've been reading a bunch of George Orwell recently, and seeing this, one of my favorite songs, reminded me of his essay about Charles Dickens. It's a very long essay, but it really comes down to the fact that Dickens' mantra was basically "It would be a better world if people were less beastly to eachother." Orwell points out that this is not as simplistic as it appears.

Which loops me back around to Billy Bragg. "Between the Wars" is one of my favorite songs because, at heart, it's about human decency. "For theirs is a land with a wall around it and mine is a faith in my fellow man," was written 20-odd years ago, but given what we're doing on our southern border, still works. The lines about raising a family in times of austerity are also still moving. "Not for the iron fist but for the helping hand" is as good of a rallying cry as I've heard in a while, and at least, I think, as good of a basis for a political philosophy as Dickens' mantra.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Great things to do on a friday

Parkland College, the C-U area's community college, produces a high school quiz show, in which teams compete for bragging rights, called the Parkland Challenge.

It's truly great, you have two teams of kids answering some questions, and if you watch enough you get to see the same teams and get a sense of their personalities, figure out who to root for, and who to make fun of. It's also fun to play along.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Schadenfreude



Dear America,
What the fuck? Remember the fun we used to have, with baseball and musicals, and satirical novels? You didn't used to have to sink to this. You used to be able to have fun without inflicting lacerations on my soul. Why can't we be like we used to?

love and squalor,
TLAD@UofI

(via warrenellis.com)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

As things would have it

I've been reading some J.D. Salinger recently, and was thinking about it (and more specifically how I need to get my copy of Nine Stories back) when, amazingly, what comes on the tube but an advertisement for an correspondence art school. It doesn't mean much, but I thought it was neat.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Soulja boy is an elaborate practical joke.

I am convinced, for the sake of my own sanity and faith in humanity if nothing else, that Soulja Boy Tell 'Em is an elaborate, long-running, practical joke. I imagine the conversation went something like this:
Soulja Boy: "Hey, I bet you a dollar I can make 'superman that ho' an acceptable thing to say."
Arab: "Bullshit. I mean, come on, that's completely ridiculous. That dollar is mine!"
And then they went to the recording studio. Soulja Boy won that dollar.

Apparently Arab didn't learn his lesson, because there's a new one out. The conversation probably happened this way:
Soulja Boy: "Hey, I bet you two dollars I can make people think that "yahhh, trick, yahhh' is totally ok to use in everyday conversation."
Arab: "There's no way people are that stupid. I'll take that bet."
Arab just doesn't learn. Or, maybe, he's the mastermind of the joke, and is quietly encouraging his colleague to greater and greater heights, until the joke is finally discovered. That's my theory , anyway.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Do not forsake me

One of my all-time, favorite movies is High Noon. Unless you've seen it, there's no real way to describe how it works. It's in black and white, told mostly in real time, and is a great western. But somehow, that doesn't do it justice. It's one of the greatest movies - in the sense of best put together, most moving, well-acted - that America has produced. It should be required viewing in high school, I think, just to say "hey, look, we did this, and really, what else do you need to know about America that you can't get from this film?"

Friday, January 11, 2008

The past is a foreign country

One of the big advances from the past few centuries, I shouldn't even have to say, is photography. I don't really notice it anymore, which means that it's worked, like print. It's become such a part of our lives, that we notice when it's gone, for the most part. It sounds stupidly obvious to say it, but it lets us capture moments in time, either for now (e.g. Facebook pictures) or for posterity (e.g. Mathew Brady) So, when a collection like Tom Sutpen's blog crops up, it's always cool. Fashion pictures from long ago, mid-century advertising, old pin-ups, series like "Trick Dick" and "Before and After," and "Weekly Weegee" all make it a great way to lose a few hours.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Delayed.

Early each year, I watch boingboing for news of the Best of Bootie compilation. Bootie is a mash-up club night, and generally produces some entertaining stuff. My theme song, for instance, is "Badd to Me," from the 2005 comp, which combines the Cure with the Ying-Yang Twins. This year's has some stand-out tracks, which I will enumerate.
  1. Detox (Amy Winehouse vs. Britney Spears) - King of Pants. Two things I love about Mash-ups. The mashers have awesome nomes de mash, and some of the best mash-ups are not just fun to dance to, or neat sounding, but make some broader* point. "Detox" combines two songs I like already and pokes fun at the whole celebrity rehab thing. It's a little sadder and creepier when you realize that "Toxic" was released before Britney's life went to crazy shit.
  2. Tequila Lip Gloss (Lil Mama vs. the Champs) - DJ Paul V. Sometimes, all a mash-up does is make a song better. Adding the Tequila song to that damn Lip Gloss song does this.
  3. Illiterate city (Jackson 5 vs. Guns 'n' Roses) - Divide & Kreate. This one's fun. It takes the "A-B-C, easy as 1-2-3" song and puts the guitars from "Paradise City" behind it. It doesn't entirely live up to it's promise (I'd love to hear L'il Michael Jackson rocking the fuck out), but it's a bunch of fun. A plus D's "Don't Stop Believin' in Planet Rock (Journey vs. Afrika Bambaataa)" does something similar.
  4. Fade to Pretty Vacant (Visage vs. Sex Pistols vs. the Charlatans, vs. Fun Lovin' Criminals vs. Nouvelle Vague) - Copycat. Pretty much unrecognizable, which is part of the fun of mash-ups. I can just about pick out the riff from "Pretty Vacant" in here, but that's about all.
There's more, certainly. There's another Britney song, an an Unk/Avril mash-up, and a fantastic John Williams/Chemical Bros collaboration. I'd highly recommend checking this out. And the two previous ones.


*meta, I think is the hip term for this.