Tuesday, December 30, 2008

it's a crazy life

2 things I've seen while watching the Illinois-Purdue men's basketball game:

a) Quite possibly the ugliest young man ever, with the stretched, pointy face of a witch. He was in the student section wearing the away Purdue jersey.

b) Also in the student section, one especially angry student gives the ref the big, fat finger! Right on ESPN at 7:10 pm! SUCH Decency! America's family values are crumbling, shaken by violent video games, movies and talkies.

Soon we move to Wordpress. Our Reader Ship will most certainly
(deep breath!)
EXSCHPLOOOOOOOOOOADE
(deeep breath!)
FAAAAHHHHHCK
(deeeheeeep breath!)
21..13..8..5..3..2 1 ONE THOUSAND 1 ONE THOUSAND

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Buzzing


In what will certainly be noted as a completely useless expenditure of grant money, scientists in Australia recently proved . . . absolutely nothing.

Well, the did prove that bees on coke act just like people on coke. They dance more absurdly and they like to talk a lot. They also get really excited about doing their work, and insist that everyone else pay attention to them. Luckily, the scientists were watching.

One researcher remarked, "The poor little buggers had to drink cocaine for a week. Then we just stopped it dead and we gave them a learning test." We're pretty sure his implication was that the "little buggers" were "poor" because he gave them a test right after they had been partying. Major soil.

I originally found this item in the same newspaper section that ran stories about lenience for poverty-stricken drug dealers and new government sponsored detox programs. I'm still trying to figure out how getting bees high helps get people clean.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What in the hell were the 50's even made out of?



....Scotch apparently, and lots of it.

I'm not quite sure that "The Best of Everything" (1959) entirely lives up to its title. Or perhaps it does in an unintentionally (?) cynical way. The pedestrian storyline, speckled with events such as marriages, miscarriages, affairs, and nervous breakdowns is just a glimpse into one woman's very very small world. The best of her everything is supposedly the best of every city girl's everything, and what is that even? Not much more than a 20$ a month salary increase, and a slap on the ass. Oh, and love too. Don't forget love. However even that department is riddled with realistic failures. The educated ambitious women are portrayed as cold hearted and lonely in the permanent positions of weekend mistresses to married men, while their more wide-eyed naive counterparts get bamboozled by no good playboys who use the word "love" like a handkerchief.

But one thing is for sure, have a sip of scotch for everytime they drink in this movie and you'll be completely hammered by the abortion scene (that we all totally saw coming).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Madison, WI

http://www.madison.com/tct/mad/latest/324601

"Madison has been named the No. 1 place in America for men, according to Men's Health magazine. The magazine also rated Madison seventh in the country for best quality of life for men. Madison was also named the No. 8 place in America for women, according to Women's Health magazine. The city was also ranked ninth for women living the longest life."




Haha who CARES?

Mr. Smith goes to contemplate suicide like a dumb quitter


YO. This piece about "It's a Wonderful Life" by Wendell Jamieson appeared in the NYtimes yesterday.

Lots of people love this movie of course. But I’m convinced it’s for the wrong reasons. Because to me “It’s a Wonderful Life” is anything but a cheery holiday tale. Sitting in that dark public high school classroom, I shuddered as the projector whirred and George Bailey’s life unspooled.

Was this what adulthood promised?

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife.
The beautiful tragedy of the human condition is that we remain hopeful.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Opening the Can

From Madison's (liberal rag) The Capital Times:

"In April, Kevin Diaz, 20, earned himself a trip back to jail after he and two friends pulled up alongside a man who was taking a bike ride on Madison's east side. Diaz leaned out of a back window of the sport utility vehicle and began hitting the man on the bicycle with a 32-inch ice scraper, authorities say.When the man on the bicycle asked him why, Diaz said,'I just got out of jail. I'm trying to have fun and whoop some ass.' Diaz is back in jail on a probation hold."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Help!

Okay, here's a new use for a blog:

I need some help from a New Yorker with a camera, and I know that there are a few of you who write for or read this blog.

If you happen to find yourself on 5th Ave this week, in the area of high-end 5th Ave shopping and holding a camera, could you take a few pictures and send them to me at the highest resolution possible. Seriously, I only need like 3 or 4 shots.

You will find yourself published in China and definitely with a photo credit. And I promise to buy you like 10 drinks when I see you in New York (100 drinks if I see you in Beijing).

Please help if you can!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (!)

Variety Amateur Hour

Like I was tellin' Ricky Saturday,
Salons: people with bad haircuts giving people bad haircuts.
Also, has any guy ever gotten a good haircut? I don't think that has ever happened.

How much would you have to pay an NFL official to celebrate along with that team that just scored the touchdown?

Beyonce is the hottest woman ever and the Single Ladies video is conclusive evidence.

I think I tried sometime last year to get people all worked up about Fishers. Consider this the Fisher revival.
Facts about Fishers

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Martes
Species: Martes pennanti
Makes noises like: the squeal of a baby placed naked on its back on a cold rock with a pipin' hot BBQ skewer shoved in its foot.
Its teeth are so sharp that: it can enter your house by chewing through your foundation.

Milwaukee is a segregated city. The anecdotes and statistics in this article are difficult to stomach, but I suppose it would be naiive of me to be surprised. Neighborhoods there are homogeneous. I experienced an instance of this when I went to an art show on the South side in a Latino area. We saw some interactive video installations done by UW-Milwaukee art students, and there were some inspired projects. The art department has some nice display areas. This one was the lobby of an apartment building with white plaster and pale limestone walls. Anyway, we left the show and wandered the neighborhood in search of a tavern. We stopped to spend a few minutes basking in stony-white, twice reflected light - once off of the moon, which was full, and then off an old limestone church. Unadulterated light. Don't-make-them-like-that-anymore churches abound in Milwaukee. A tavern's red neon lights were barely visible two blocks down a sidestreet. It looked like a brothel. And we expected to be the only three white dudes there. Turns out we were the only three white dudes there, but there wasn't a hostile crowd giving us the eye: there wasn't a crowd. There were three 45-50 year old women and an older male bartender, who was Colombian. He nursed from an enormous mug aggressively. On two non-plasma roundscreen TVs, numerous scantily clad Latina vixens gyrated. There was a small wood floor for dancing, and two of the women would dance drunkenly while the other sat at the bar and smoked. After a few minutes, the sitter would tap in and a dancer would take a break. There was a disco ball and several sets of primary colored lights adorned the corners of the ceiling. We talked with the bartender, who was hard of hearing (initially we thought he didn't speak English). Apparently he just opened the bar two weeks ago and only keeps it open on Fridays from like 5-11 pm. Hell yeah, just give 'em what they need: them's the glory hours of any week! The bottom line is, this bar is fucking tight and I wish I lived in Milwaukee so I could go there every single Friday. A Miller Lite bottle was $3 though. Kind of weak.

This has been a heartbreaking season for the Green Bay Packers.

I really like this video. I saw it on Sasha Frere-Jones' website. I think this band reminds me of a hybrid Kings of Leon (when they were good) and The Libertines.


EDIT: Whoa I didn't realize this band was a little bit older than I thought. Formed in 1999, albums in '03, '05, '06, '07.
2ND EDIT: I still stand by A.R.E. Weapons - "Fuck What You Like," but either I don't get the irony or their song about Times Square is terrible.

Also, French Horn Rebellion are tight! You gotta watch their videos - the songs themselves don't do the guys justice. They're from Milwaukee but apparently they live in Brooklyn a.k.a. the center of the entire fucking Universe.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

WHERE DOES EGGNOG COME FROM?

Little miss Thu Tran is my new favorite person. Ever. Creator of the blog Food Party, cuisine imagineer, and prop designer for Girl Talk's last tour, here is her Holiday Special Episode. Excuse me while I go make myself some gingerbread **bling**.



(STILL HUNGRY!? learn how to make "snow balls" with jack frost [who pisses me off and that's why i don't feel like including him] and learn Thu's secret holiday ingredient in part 2 of this webisode)

whats better than one ninja? two ninjas. whats better than two ninjas? three ninjas. whats better than three ninjas? NOTHING


list of things noted while watching 3 ninjas tonight (its on youtube in full glory!)

- one of the basic traits of a master ninja is the ability to disappear in mid-conversation when the person you're speaking with turns his head or loses focus for just one fwiggin moment just one tiny fwiggin moment. they turn back and you are gone

-
also, learn to use your environment, i.e. find funny stuff around you to bash your opponents with or about. examples: flower pots, a grand piano, a telephone.

- knives, blades, shurikens, nunchuks, etc. are all ok, but if you even pick up a gun you are so banned from being a ninja. gunkata doesnt count. that being said, evil ninjas carrying ak-47s looks cool as all hells

- this movie has managed to combine backwards caps, vinyl scratching sounds, and ninjas. if only it had dinosaurs


- colt (the moody middle brother) spray paints his mask white to hide in one scene. wtf kid? your grandfather painted that thing as part of your naming ceremony and you just turn it into a crappy mime mask? no wonder no one remembers you

- it seems as all traces of the asian genes have been lost in two generations. besides ninja skills, obv. maybe they wont ever hit puberty?

- i am now spending much time photoshopping something awesome that will be posted above re: backwards hat, vinyl, ninjas, etc. of course this doesn't make sense now because you've already seen it so i assume it came out awesome (also, i managed to get anime porn searching for 'cartoon mountain' on the 3rd page)

- jon turteltaub, the director of 3 ninjas, also directed cool runnings. game over.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dark Knight

I am curled up in a fuzzy blanket on the couch. I face my HDTV mounted on the wall above my recessed fireplace with the last large log only glowing. I realize that this movie is a ratcheted up version of children's movies that adults can enjoy in parallel. The action is primal; the plot twists are signified. Then one may peel subtleties as one's fingers operate on a block of mica. The sound arrangement leverages silence tremendously. The Joker's games are merciless, intricate. A study of inmates and civilians bidden to choose self-mercy at the expense of the other provokes contemplation. What mercy could be granted? The result is faith. This action movie provoked thought.* Forgive me, I may be too excited, for I'll meditate on anything these days.

The frosting on top was my familiarity with the Loop: downtown Chicago, where the movie was filmed. Spoiler alert: I caught a few minutes of the filming of the scene in which Police Commissioner James Gordon is shot. Rows upon rows of Gotham policemen and policewomen. Actual GPD squad cars. I used the ATM inside the glass US Bank doors that flashed briefly.

Brag, brag. Hopefully I don't get coal in my stocking. Wait, hopefully I don't get OIL. I would rather bet that the guy with the marker from UPS ads wins People's "Sexiest Man Alive" than bet on OIL. LOIL!

*For inflection, see baby from E-TRADE ad say, "You just saw me buy stock."

The New Puppy Cam

When I was 4, I got a box of Trix cereal for Christmas. It was basically the best present ever - a perfect technicolor consumable accessory to the 90's holiday television specials on my family's busted television. After too many tiny little fist fulls of the sugar enriched crud, rainbow crumbs speckled my face and the empty box lay on the floor. It was then that I knew pure joy.

I can never go back to that. Never.

The closest I can get is perhaps betamaxmas.com ... and a box of honey nut cheerios.
Channels of snowy-screen holiday reruns to flip through (they have commercials too!), and adjustable rabbit ears make me feel a little less dead inside this time of year.

A Morning Story


So today I was rocking out on my headphones (bundled and bustling towards the Broadway 4/5/6 as I opted for a longer walk versus a longer train ride) when a car stopped on the corner of the street I was crossing. A dude jumped out, and I noticed that a big coffee was left sitting on the top of the car. As I've been the douche who's left shit on top of vehicles many a time, I urgently pulled out an ear bud and scampered over to the car in an attempt to save this guy public humiliation, a few bucks (the coffee was a grande starbucks, that's what like $10 right?), and a trip to the car wash. But when I grabbed the cup, I realized that it was actually attached to the car. The driver handed me a $5 starbucks gift card, wished me Happy Holidays, and the guy who had previously jumped out, got back in (to what I then noticed was a zipcar...oh i just noticed i got $75 to zip car too. jeepers).

Basically it was a really warm-hearted marketing ploy that has made it even clearer to myself and the word around me that I might never be a 'real' New Yorker. Psh THX ALOT ZIPCAR.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Turn that mother out

http://www.manbabies.com/

Thanks to The Big Rig for the tip. You out there dude?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

December 6, 2008: Best SNL Ever

I added Kristen Wiig to my interests on thefacebook.com.  Will we ever see Ricky on SNL?  WRITER?

I'm trying hard as hell to learn Needle in the Hay by Elliott Smith.  It's too bad that song has such suicidal connotations because it's really beautiful.  I really love that song.  I am curious whether anyone recorded the Look, Orion! cover of it.  Look, Orion!  Look,OrionLook,OrionLook,Orion.  Look, Orion!

Christmas is coming up.  Who's delivering my McDonald's Dollar Menu (the entire thing) by 8 a.m.?  Ketchup packets and salt shaker, please.  Coke for the soda.  Coke is the best soda in the world, and anyone who argues otherwise clearly has poor taste.  Are you crazy?  Pepsi?  Its taste is thin and dishonest.  Coca-Cola is a company I can believe in because it has invented the best flavor since BBQ which was naturally occurring.  Neanderthals had BBQ, and it was better than today's BBQ.  Any hipsterthal could tell you that.  But seriously, folk stars, your genre is going the way of ska.  Mix it up a little bit.

Did they only have Keenan and Kel dude play Plaxico Buress because he's the only black dude on the cast?  Is the guy who plays Barack Obama black?  It's difficult to tell.

Seth Meyers fucking sucks.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Coming up next, it's... HOUSE

All the blood pouring out of my mouth and onto the shower floor was enough to turn the water a disconsertingly dark rusty color. I hadn't noticed a problem until I turned to spit, as I do constantly while I shower, and the spit was a bright undiluted red, but bloodier. I spat again. Same result.

Now my mouth was filling with that metallic tang, and I don't know why I hadn't tasted it sooner, except that maybe shampoo flavor is stronger than blood flavor. I searched my mouth with my tongue, fearing to find a tooth missing. I got panicky when I didn't find such an easy explanation, and tried to remember what happened to patients on House who start spitting up blood from their innards. The rate of flow stayed strong, and I considered whether I was more likely to die from bloodloss, or from whatever horrible thing was causing the hemmorage.
About 10 secs after I first noticed the problem, I finally put my hands to my face and discovered the source of blood was just my goddamn nose. Which had been my first thought, but my nose felt so untroubled in that shower. The warm water was pouring down my face and causing the blood to drop from my mouth and chin instead of from my nose. I had been completely taken in by a normal winter nosebleed, momentarily fearing for my life, because it had happened under slightly different environmental conditions than I was used to. Namely, school desks.

Friday, December 5, 2008

BEST THING EVER


Apparently Mister John "Uncle Jesse" Stamos is planning on bringing Full House back. Not like "the new 90210" bullshit with a new cast etc, but the original cast of Full House, providing a desperate and depressed overtone to this feel goody 80/90's show. This. Is. Awesome.
The cast of 90s U.S. sitcom Full House is planning to return to the small screen in an up-to-date version of the show that launched the careers of the Olsen Twins. Cameron Bure tells Ok! magazine, "John has been working on a semi-remake of Full House...I know it would involve me and Jodie Sweetin. We would revive our characters, but today as young women."
I wonder if Stephanie Tanner will go on a meth bender, or if mary kate will come on the show as a long lost twin of Michelle (played by Ashley obvi) that everyone had previously thought to be dead!? There are so so so many possibilities.

Bonus Round: guess which olsen twin that is in the picture above

Thursday, December 4, 2008

High (Ancient) Times

Bringing you more news from China (by way of MSNBC): Turns out people have been smoking pot for a really long time. Based on this picture, though, you would think that this scientist picked up his sample from the dealer down the street.
[Caption: When rolling 2700-year-old joints, you have to be very careful.]

The article does not go so far as to say whether the stash is "dank" or "sticky," but does note that much of it is still "green." However, one researcher does insist that it is no longer potent (technicians, we have to imagine, were lining up to run that experiment).

For the complete story, click here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

i bring you the previously unpublished and thought to be lost $$_A*HOWE_$$ poems


Looking through old draft posts on this blog, I came across these two unpublished posts by $$_A*HOWE_$$. Sitting in the depths of Blogger's catacombs, I read them with interest. To read a poem is one thing, but to a read a poem in this context is another - it brings up questions that can't be readily answered. Why didn't he finish these posts? Why did he leave the drafts up? Laziness? Forgetfulness? Or to be discovered? Or to be hidden for future use?

I realized when I was re-typing them here to be posted, that these two entries differ in fundamental ways. The first, "Untitled" (and Unfinished), was clearly meant to be in poetic or prose form. Lines were parsed, stanzas clearly delineated, and thoughts ramble on like a Kerouac paragraph. Halfway through typing up the second, "potpurri", it dawned upon me that it was perhaps not meant to be a poem. See, when viewing old drafts of others on the Blogger dashboard, the text is crunched into narrow columns, making even the most paragraphical posts come off as Shakespearean sonnets. However, I thought it worked well as a poem, and let the way it was chopped up stand. Read it as you will.

1. "Untitled"


driving me and gma to vote
up hill (suburb on a hill)
radio: literally the november rain guitar
solo; my huge desire for that to matter
[shrill candidate wife campaigining literally in
parking lot for husband...
...vote, no wait]
klosterman metaphysics, call it
wait, real metaphysics
desire to drape doilies of meaning onto the
crumbs and pebbles of our dioramas---all the
time
but voting
a hundred million people and change say I
Want This
and not a referendum on ice cream flavors
as awesome as that would be
but I Want This for my life
to be... represented by x or y
representation >> empathy in the broadest
sense >> mimesis, and self/circumstances-
as-universal
we do it in poems/to poets all the time
hell, think of any given sports championship
even neanderthal sportswriters have no
choice but to try on narratives like wedding
dresses
[newsweek about "never lost his ironic
detachment," thats exactly what i was
imagining a president of our generation
behaving as: 'i will fix this country. hah, no i
wont. but i really want to try! seriously!']

AND

okay, great, economic crisis
that being fine: watchment quote about
"cards on the table"
but also, reflection:
there is so much land
and food is so fundamentally affordable
that travis's longstanding thesis is true as
ever: everyone is fine, will be fine
even souplines had soup at the end of them
in fact
the only thing holding everyone from th

2. "potpurri"

fratboys the bugbear of middlebrow criticism
(limbo-bar usa today can thus praise the
"frat pack" and call them that without any
hand wringing)---and of course there are
kind 'n worldly members of fraternity in this
country, but there are also Jewish bank
moguls and african americans who can
never, will never, get their fill of
watermelon, and only alfred p. No One is
helped by focussing on these
subdemographix

realizing being home that openness to
strange experiences is fucking central to me
in terms of who i can like (need to
distinguish, phrasing and otherwise, from
the bullshit widespread "open to new
experiences!" like the purple sex pillow in
burn after reading)

and anyone can be! although probably true
that certain groups are worse about it---the
blacks, for example. no im kidding.
fraternity types, perhaps.

mt adams vs clifton <> manhattan vs
brooklyn

the bandana as not-douche signifier despite
the rest of what im wearing. mix and match,
right? mixing high and low is still in, right?

increasing my live-with-me stock living at
home: cleaning, etc.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Meta-Training

Recently I found myself in two classes that made me giggle. Yesterday I was in a presentation about how to present to large groups, and all I wanted to do was point out how much pressure there was on the presenter to "Open Strongly, Engage Her Audience, etc." Everyone else was just half asleep, half listening. The presenter even made a joke about her curious situation, but no one really reacted. Then this morning I was in a class teaching us how two separate roles within the company ought to communicate, the nature of their relationship, etc. I thought it would be solely in lecture format, but, Surprise! we broke into small groups to discuss the common problems that arise while working in small groups. I made a few wise cracks in the beginning like, "I sure have noticed that not being prepared for a group meeting is a big mistake that makes communicating in small groups difficult," but nobody seemed to care. None of this is overwhelmingly funny.

It also reminded me of trying to find meaning in life through the act of living. Never overwhelmingly conclusive.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

pure evil



" ... the giant isopod has one of the most repulsive forms in the animal kingdom to humans. This is thought by psychologists to be due to its many legs, exaggerated exoskeleton, large compound eyes, and foul odor that it obtains through a life underwater. Because of this, giant isopods are rarely found in the human media, and are even less often used as pets."

Monday, November 24, 2008

worst person ever


who's the worst person ever?

no it's not george bush. it's not even hitler! it's thomas midgley, jr. who dat?


he was a chemical engineer, born in 1889, who worked for GM. his boss was charles kettering, who told him to find stuff that would help out with their cars. so thomas went up and invented "ethyl", which was really gasoline with tetra-ethyl lead added to it - leaded gasoline. this led to lead in the air everywhere, poisoning babies and puppies and kittens worldwide, and killing off the environment. way to go, jerkface.


GM loved him so much they asked him to find a chemical to use as refrigerant for their household appliances. lo and behold, he found a compound that did just that - dichlorodifluoromethane, a chlorinated fluorocarbon, aka CFC. thomas called it "freon". GM put it in everything, and now thomas's nefarious plan to destroy the earth forever was underway.


karma's a bitch, though, and that IDIOT thomas contracted polio. because the disease disabled him, thomas invented a system of ropes and pulleys to help people lift him in and out of bed. turning out to be a true thomas midgley, jr. invention, he found himself entangled in the ropes and pulleys one day, and he strangled himself.


the dude who put lead in gasoline and CFCs in the air was killed by his own final invention


how fitting

(bonus environmental tragedy by clicking the picture!)

My head is full of facts

Since lists are all the rage right now, here's some things I've learned while watching one of my favorite TV shows during its 6th season, QI (Quite Interesting):


A vampire bat is most likely to bite your big toe




A park ranger called Roy Sullivan was struck by lightning 7 times in his life, then died by committing suicide with a shotgun




Corn flakes were originally used to discourage masturbation. John Harvey Kellogg was deeply against the practice.




The Paris sewers (which line up exactly with the streets above) are cleaned by massive balls, which are pushed by jets of water.




Fainting goats help protect flocks of sheep by allowing the rest of the flock to escape from predators like wolves, whilst it is eaten. (click the picture, its so worth it to see these goats in action)


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Things I Googled for while watching Sixteen Candles alone


1. What happens when guys take birth control pills
2. How come I don't know anyone that looks like Molly Ringwald is it an 80s thing or what
3. Isn't it bizarre that the Asian guy in Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle really likes Sixteen Candles despite the incredibly offensive and unfunny Asian character featured in it as comic relief
4. High school was never like Sixteen Candles
5. Sixteen Candles sucks
6. Number of single women in New York City
7. Big boobies

Chinese Democracy

For 15 years the best thing about Axl Rose's pet project was the name. The ambivalence created by titling a mysterious album Chinese Democracy was priceless. If someone asked, "What do you think of Chinese Democracy?" You could answer in a number of ways that would be equally applicable to the political system and the hard rock enigma. For example:

Asker: What do you think of Chinese Democracy?
Answerer: Oh, I don't think it will ever happen.

Asker: What do you think of Chinese Democracy?
Answerer: I think it would be a mistake.

Asker: What do you think of Chinese Democracy?
Answerer: I'm not sure if the people are ready for it.

Asker: What do you think of Chinese Democracy?
Answerer: In a country with a population of 1.3 billion people a democratic political system built on a Western model of checks and balances could create chaos and actually negatively impact social and economic growth.

That said, we all knew that Axl chose the name for aesthetics and irony more than for the sake of political convictions. After all, he's a rock star whose claim to fame is 1980s excess and obsessive tendencies. If the man has any strong feelings about foreign policy, they are probably more focused on trade arrangements with Colombia than on human rights violations and freedom of speech in China. In a past interview, Axl himself admitted, "It could also just be like an ironic statement. I don't know, I just like the sound of it."

Regardless of the motive behind the name, and the motive behind the album, it's finally here. I've been listening to the title track for the last couple days, and I just finished listening to the entire album. First of all, I have to say that this is an impressively coherent effort for something that has taken seventeen years and at least five guitarists to produce. You can't just listen to the single, you MUST listen to the album.

That said, there are a couple of standout tracks. The first track, "Chinese Democracy" is like an announcement: Rock is back, deal with it. The guitar stabs into an incomprehensible sea of babbling Chinese as if Axl is telling everyone to shut up and listen to what he has to say. I agree with other critics in saying that it's not exactly clear what the message of the lyrics is: it's something between a personal meta-narrative about the process of making the album and typical rock and roll drivel about love lost and found. He does make a few references to China, but it's unclear what the point is.

Clocking in at 6:41, "There Was a Time" is the first track that made me think, "Damn, now there's a rock song." There are a lot of people out there who are saying that without Slash it isn't a GNR album. I say they're wrong. This is as much Guns N Roses as "Sweet Child Of Mine" and "Welcome to the Jungle." And it's a hell of a lot better than any of the trash that Slash released with Velvet Revolver.

"Catcher in the Rye" is a track that's going to get a lot of attention. Most of the attention will come from the title and analysis of how Axl relates to Holden Caulfield. Personally, I have always found the superficial reading of Catcher in the Rye as a tale of adolescent angst to be the most convincing. Given the frustration that must have either come from or gone into the 17 year production of this album, I think the connection here is pretty obvious. It's a good song, but not the strongest on the record.

There are also a number of piano propelled tracks that conjur up allusions to "November Rain." If you listen to this album from start to finish and still think that the lack of Slash diminishes the GNR characteristics of this album, then you are either not listening or you are in denial. If nothing else, tell yourself that Axl set out to prove he could make a GNR album without the iconic guitarist in the top hat.

I prefer a different analysis though. I think that the album is stronger without Slash. While Slash is a great guitar player, he has a very distinctive style of amped up meandering blues-rock. I love to listen to it. As Regina Spektor says of "November Rain," "that solo's awfully long, but it's a great refrain." He played great sing-along solos, but you always had something of an idea of what they would sound like. On this album, Axl uses riffs and solos from at least five different guitarists recorded over the course of almost two decades. It's amazing that he put together such a tight album from such a mess, and one of the best things it has to offer is diversity in guitar playing.

On the whole, I am very impressed by Chinese Democracy. While I will admit up front that I was predisposed to think positively of it because I found the hype highly enjoyable, I will also say that I was originally in the "it's not GNR without Slash" camp. Color me converted. This album rocks, and definitely counts as Guns N Roses. In the spirit of the title, I say grab this album however you can - legally or otherwise. No matter what, definitely go out and listen to it.

Then send copies to your friends in China, where it's officially banned. Maybe they'll get the right idea (the right idea: Rock and Roll is fing sweet, and censorship is bullshit).

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm an Adult!

... and I just ate ice cream for both breakfast* and lunch. Guess what I'm having for dinner!





*The breakfast ice cream was actually whiskey flavored, so I guess that makes me feel a little more grown up.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good Idea!

Here's a customink mock-up of my new product line! Patent pending!!!
GUESS WHAT YOU'RE ALL GETTING FOR XMAS?!?!?!


taking a "sick day"

...and by that I mean a shaun the sheep day.


Congratulations, Europe!

(Most information is from this nytimes.com article, but I've incorporated some knowledge from my high school biotechnology class.)

Following several weeks of preparation at the universities of Barcelona, Spain, Bristol, England and Padua and Milan in Italy physicians have completed the first successful transplant of a human windpipe, using the patient's own stem cells to reduce greatly the chance of rejection.

Preparation included extracting a three inch segment of trachea from an organ donor, "stripping" the trachea of cells from its previous host, removing stem cells from the recipient's bone marrow, growing an ample amount of these stem cells, and incorporating the stem cells into the trachea segment. This graft was used to replace the recipient's damaged windpipe.

This transplant is special for two reasons. There is minimal risk of rejection because the recipient's stem cells replaced the donor's. And, the stem cells were not embryonic stem cells. Many of those opposed to stem cell research object specifically to the use of embryos in the stem cell incubation process.

I am so impressed. Victory!

things i have seen outside my office window

nothing. i work in a cubicle.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things I have seen outside my office window

1. Dawn and sunset
2. Actual blimp landing
3. White-out winter conditions
4. Orange feral cat
5. Treehouse
6. 11 turkeys at once (twice)

Monday, November 17, 2008

this is post 101


i frequently suffer from bouts of extreme depression - usually when i'm walking from one place to another, listening to my ipod, and feeling oh so alone. sometimes it's the song, or the weather, or every pretty girl i pass by. this time it was all three, as an 8-minute remix of "golden cage" by the whitest boy alive came on, a gust of wind buffetted my face, and a gorgeous blonde walked by with purple boots, a purple scarf, and a copy of surely you're joking, mr. feynman! under her arm. i will never get to kiss that girl!

what surprises me about dance songs is the way they can affect me. you mention house, techno or electro to someone, and their mind jumps to some coked out, ecstasy-laden club where everyone's drinking red bull vodkas and finding new ways to air hump to sound waves. yet i've been listening to dance music almost exclusively for the last year, and i still come across songs that make me feel a whole array of emotions. it's a way a song uses the beat to drive home a beautiful melody, or to slowly seep a fuzzy synth through your head. repetition kills you, repetition drugs you, repetition allows your heart to mindlessly soak up a feeling. for me, it's also because i've always been one to focus on the music part of a song, rather than the lyrics. honestly, i could care less for words. it's all french to me.

the whitest boy alive - golden cage (fred falke remix)

sebastien tellier - roche (breakbot remix)

on a happier note - i'm learning to cook fried rice! this is my second time, and hopefully it turns out better. i wish someone else was here to try it with me.

Accidental Mid-Occidental Festival

So Madison is in the midst of an accidental music festival. Two nights ago I saw Best Friends Forever (Minneapolis!), Best Fwends and Matt & Kim. Did any of you guys see Best Fwends open for Japanther at school about 2 years ago? They were really amusing then. This time around they were stellar. In the end, though, Best Friends Forever stole the show!

Last night I saw Disappears, Times New Viking and Deerhunter. Disappears were a tidal wave of distortion and intensity (everything else lost within), Times New Viking were great (but not much better than their album, which, like I said, is great).

But Deerhunter! Wow I have a new favorite band! Bradford Cox always annoyed the shit out of me. Maybe I was feeling tolerant last night, maybe he's not that bad. (Really, he's just a nice guy puttin' on a rock show!)

That band though rocked SO hard and writes SUCH good songs. Long, acutely-constructed, hard-rocking SONGS, MAN! I've been listening to a ton of Sonic Youth lately, and this show was right up that alley. So. Good. I cried...

And tonight I'm seeing No Age and Titus Andronicus.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

this blog is about me (directly)


my name is leon leon leon, and i am nearing the last minutes of the work day, so everything seems to slowwwwwwww down. i'm loving my new fashion style because it involves snappy business wear paired with sweet ass racing shoes (i think theyre racing shoes because they have a checkered stripe on the back). i'm trying out boxer-briefs because i think they make my butt look good, also, i like a tight package. i'm listening to house music.


house usually sucks, because it's what you normally hear while shopping at armani exchange. and usually if you're shopping at armani exchange,
you're a douchebag. so it works, in a way.

but some of the best house comes from the top producer/dj/musicians ever - namely, the guys in
daft punk. of course, daft punk is considered "french house" to some, but they've put out stuff on other names that's much more house-oriented and less pop-accessible. think less "harder better faster stronger" and more "one more time".

daft punk is
thomas bangalter and guy-manuel de homem-christo.

thomas bangalter was part of the short-lived group
stardust, that put out the immensely popular song "music sounds better with you", along with alan braxe and vocalist benjamin diamond. he was also part of another duo called together with dj falcon, another top-notch dj.

alan braxe is in his own rights a sick french house producer, and works all the time with a dude called
fred falke. any track with either of their names on it is going to be fucking banging - with both of them, it's going to be off the hook.

guy-manuel de homem-christo has his own duo with eric chedeville called
le knight club. do yourself a favor and download any track by, or remixed by le knight club. how these guys continue to bring such a fresh funky groove to dance music year after year is insane.

o yea, he also produced an album for a little someone called
sebastien tellier!!! sexuality dropped in 2008, clashed electro and r&b, and spawned a slew of bloghouse remixes.

thus ends our brief segment of
the more you know: daft punk edition!



i'll upload some tracks onto here when i get home. though i dont know if anyone even downloads what i post - do you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Is that a paintbrush in your pocket or...


My latest artist infatuation is with the painter Kehinde Wiley. I've been following his work for some time now, and have always found it appealing, but his recent gallery exhibition with Deitch Projects is absolutely astounding. He finds his models on the streets of Brooklyn, and paints them in juxtaposition with classic imagery to create visually and intellectually arresting pieces. Never has a painter set my heart so aflutter with anything that even hints at realism...But everyone has an experimental phase right?

So you got a pretty big canvas there, want some help stretching it?

this is what i do


I realize that the purpose of this blog is not to talk about ourselves (directly), but Leon did just post about his dj-ing gig, and I just had a conversation with Zamdrovsky about "isn't-it-amazing-that-we-all-have-jobs-now-even-though-we-were-so-worried-before (except for Alex who is still in college)."

Anyway, I'm spending this week going to classy restaurants and taking pictures of food that looks "christmassy." That's my job. The best part is that we get to eat everything afterwards. It's entirely possible that the magazine I work for believes that because I get perks like occasional free food from restaurants they (the mag) are not obligated to pay me living wages. Nevertheless, it's a pretty funny gig. AND I get to take pictures of tomatoes.

I want to hear what everyone else is doing too. It would be pretty cool if we all could do a short post about what our "real" lives are like these days.

(By the way, don't tell anyone that I posted this photo here, I think that I'm technically violating my contract that I never signed)

um HELLO


so wtf is the deal just
when i start posting again yall slows down. sucka butt! yesterday, while watching cool hand luke (paul newman is so classically beautiful, i want to stare into his eyes all day. i've never seen a paul newman movie before. my boss started a dvd club here at work) we saw the puppies of mysterious puppycam (why? where? who? can i have one?) burrow under their bedding, being all unbearably cute. i spend a not insignificant portion of my day watching those lil tykes romp about

i was also catching up on episodes of my favorite game show, never mind the buzzcocks. if you've never seen it, you should (episodes are on youtube) - it's a british celeb-pop quiz show that is more the view than jeopardy. hosted by simon amstell, a terrificly sarcastic basard (you might remember him from popworld, where he made britney spears cry during an interview), the show frequently has top musicians and actors on who basically spend the entire show making fun of themselves, each other, and amy winehouse. oh yeah, she was also on the show too, being fantastically drunk.

one part of the show, called 'identity parade', has each team try to spot a musical artist out of a line-up of five people. it's embarassingly rude (and hilarious), because it's sorta like 'haha, you once were a famous musician now no one even remembers you'. the worst is when you actually do remember the artist. this last season had the singer from bbmak on. wow. i remember bbmak (back here babyyyy ...), and i just felt terrible. this guy was once on TRL, now he's in a line-up of losers, while current, successful musicians and actors are laughing and pointing at him.

i hope i'm never like that guy. id rather be dead than a has-been.

Monday, November 10, 2008

albatross albatross albatross


ok so yea i havent posted on thousands in about forever. whats changed since then? well, we now have a real president, its almost turkey day, and i got a day job. duck, duck, GOOSE THAT IS NOT IN ANY WAY COOL OR AWESOME.

i also made my dj debut this weekend at a place called the mug lounge, on the lower east side of manhattan (13th and ave a). we randomly scoped this place out a few weeks back before seeing mstrkrft, and the bartender there happened to mention they just fired their friday night dj. wasting no time to hop on board, i laid down a fresh set of tunes for them, and they liked what they heard (to be fair, they asked me to play house, trance, european house, european trance, reggae, and old school hip-hop. or something like that. they have no idea what they want). i also met renee, who is 33 years old and a 32B bra size. she tried to request songs, but ended up just pointing at her breasts the entire night.

ive been trying to mix more disco and house, and have come to the conclusion that "doom house disco" is my new favorite genre. it doesnt exist. but it will.

heres some tunes of what comes close. first we have some doom, from a little-known dj in canada called hemingway. its gritty, its dark, and makes me think of blade runner, if it was directed by david lynch. then we skip the house and go straight to some disco, with a remix of sneaky sound system by breakbot. last, i bring you some house. HOUSE OF JEALOUS LOVERS that is, with a funked up high energy party pleaser that will have people to their feet in no time. tenderlions does the remix, and brings their upbeat sound to a classic.

hemingway - machine

sneaky sound system - when we were young (breakbot remix)


the rapture - house of jealous lovers (tenderlions remix)


now i have to go to a "meeting" about "market research" on the "7th floor". killself.

Albums of the Year (Heartfelt and Sincere Opinions)

This list was compiled in like 10 minutes.

Either there will be disagreement (no loss, probable gain), or someone will chime in with something better (super gain). I'm especially interested in the 1990-2003 years, because those will have solidified and proven some enduring value.

Guaranteed net positive gain!

2008 - The Dodos "Visiter"
2008 - Fleet Foxes "Fleet Foxes"
2007 - Animal Collective "Strawberry Jam"
2007 - Andrew Bird "Armchair Apocrypha"
2006 - Sonic Youth "Rather Ripped"
2006 - Sunset Rubdown "Shut Up I Am Dreaming"
2005 - Wolf Parade "Apologies to the Queen Mary"
2005 - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah"
2004 - Arcade Fire "Funeral"
2003 - Motion City Soundtrack "I Am The Movie"
2002 - Wilco "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot"
2000 - Modest Mouse "The Moon & Antarctica"
1998 - Neutral Milk Hotel "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea"

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield

Many of us are familiar with Garfield Minus Garfield. For those who aren't familiar, you're in for lasagna!

Here's an interview with the author posted on The New Yorker's website.

Does an internet-based comic creation program exist? Can anyone advise on the best way to create comics intended to be displayed online? I miss making comics. Man I'm sure you all miss me making comics. They were so GOOD. I tried to get the newspaper to take them off their website, but they said something like, "No, sorry, just because you now think your work sucked and don't want it to be linked to your name, doesn't mean we will take it down for you." I swear some future would-be employer will reject me for mental health reasons after googling my name and stumbling on those gems.

HayK, do you have a comic blog yet?
Congrats to Leon Leon Leon for locking up a weekly DJ gig!

Friday, November 7, 2008

improve your life by 100000000%




Live puppy cam, you make me want to be a better person. I have no idea who you belong to...which is odd, but as far as I'm concerned, all these puppies live inside my computer for the sole purpose of keeping me entertained. Romp! Romp about! *stiffled giggles* oh this feels wrong.

Spit Pee Soup

Normal human body stuff rarely jostles me. I am more likely to help a bleeding person than to turn away; grossness doesn't override what a situation may even lightly require. For example, when I use the loo and the dude posted up in the urinal next to me very clearly ate some asparagus beforehand, and another dude's rapidly re-puckering anus is spewing pebbles like a warrior Flintstone's [insert-generic-dinosaur] gatling gun might have done, I'm more likely to to stifle a laugh than to wrinkle my nose.

However! Just a few minutes ago I leaned over to spit while I was peeing. It wasn't a trajectory spit; it was more like an extended drip. Just as the bottom-most part of the drip entered my pee stream, and their vectors combined to redirect the saliva glob away from my body, the middle of the saliva glob did that silly-putty thing* and my just-pursed lips received a small "splat" of spit. I couldn't help but feel that I had kissed pee.

*The weight of the lower "bulb" of the saliva glob pulled downward and stretched out the glob until the center became too thin to support the "bulb" and broke, after which the lower half of the glob shot downward along the combined vector of the orignial extended drip (via gravity) and the pee stream (I guess about 20 or 30 degrees below horizontal), and the upper half responded elastically, vertically.

We all have heros.


Way to go Madonna. Only your terrifying quads could have the insane ability to make Britney Spears seem relatively normal, sane, and maybe even in possession of a little thing called class in comparison. Excuse me while I clean up the vomit on my keyboard. Looking at the quintessential pop bad girl from way back when, and the grossly infamous good girl mouseketeer gone rotten (I'm not even bringing Lindsey Lohan into this), I fear for the likes of Hillary Duff and Miley Cyrus in the ongoing attempts to "mature" their image. In fact Duff is already well along that path going at her B-side celeb rate, but her new video still really weirded me out...I don't like Lizzie Mcguire telling me to touch her. I really really don't.



I'm sorry. I really am. You...you had to know how bad it was. Please don't hate me.

hell hath no nothing.

I just made a huge, huge, un-overstatably huge realization about posting on this bull-hog: I really have no reason to worry about timeliness; in fact I have, more or less, six times less reason to worry about it than anyone else. (except Dan. Fuck you, Dan.) Seriously: I could think something in one moment, and then not do anything for the next six hours' worth of moments, and it would all be the same to our dear readers (us) in North america. (God damn it Dan, Fuck off.)That's the thing - there is no fury in a blog scorned; only in the ego of the blogger.

You see, I live in France. GMT+1 while all you folks (again, Fuck you Dan) are plodding along in GMT-5. Ew.

My purported raison d'etre on this old family farm was "an american in Paris". But the thing is: I don't really even live in Paris. I live just outside Paris in a charming slice of the banlieue known as Noisy-le-Sec. The translation has something to do with nut trees and dryness - I'll get back to you. So I feel a bit guilty/dishonest about leaning too heavily on that role. But lacking any other discernible expertise, or at least any that outshines the estimable skills of my/our/your co-bloggers, I'll take whatever pigeonhole I can get for the moment.

So without straying too far afield, my opening anecdote is this (seriously, Fuck-you-Dan):

If it weren't for my incorrigible instincts towards thrift and self-importance, I would have no "international reaction" to share with the world. (I was asleep at 5:00am when my mom called me to tell me Ohio had flipped - the closest I got to your whooping and street dancing was an unexpectedly smooth cnn.com feed of the speech from Grant Park.) Luckily, in the weeks preceding the election, I happened to be badgering the press relations manager of a certain French music magazine for press passes to their ridiculo-stacked festival this coming week, and on November fifth, her eventual (positive!) reply went something like this:
"Bonjour John,
First off, congratulations! It is a true joy and comfort in the world today! We escaped Sarah Palin! The only problem is that in France, we've still got Sarkozy..."
Lacking an Obama shirt or button or even a flag pin, I was hoping people would just kindof recognize I was American and rush up to shake my hand and thank me the next morning...but no dice. I absentee-voted for Obama, and all I got was these crummy press passes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

um. Dear Joaquin Phoenix, we did that first.

The Hipsters Are Getting Restless

So Indiana just got called for Obama... which will more than likely be followed by North Carolina and Missouri!? DOES TEH WINNINGS EVER STOP!? NO I DO NOT TINK SO... 4 YEARS OF WIN.

Like many other parts of the world, people convened on the streets of Brooklyn last night to celebrate the obamavictory. Shedding the practiced veils of apathetic-cool, the hip-ass kids took to the streets. Tight jeans, sunglasses at night, and cans of PBR spilled onto Bedford Ave in Williamsburg in a druken, freedom-loving orgy of previously burried patriotism.

Today in the blogosphere revelers whined about getting pushed, shoved, and in some cases even kicked by police who were called to relieve street congestion and kill fun. The NYPD issued a response in the New York Times claiming back injuries and beer-bottle-to-noggin-contact by fault of the kids (who built this election on rock 'n roll and viral videos).

As I wasn't there, but rather a few blocks away curled up in a blanket, I can't definitively say which side is the mcwhiney pants who had to take a ride in the waaahmbulance. But I am excited at the prospect that in this political arc we're riding, there is a distinct possibility that there will be a resurgence of dancing in the street.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

International Reaction

I'm glad that the election is over and done with, and personally, I'm pleased with the result. I'm especially happy looking at the map and seeing that there were a bunch of "red states" that voted for Obama. For the record, I voted in New Hampshire, which pretty much saw a Democrat sweep and ousted Sununu. Unfortunately, I did not get enough write in votes to become the new Sheriff in my county, but there's always the next election.

I'm still a bit weirded out by the fact that CNN got to declare the winner before all the votes were counted, but that's besides the point.

The point is that I will act as a very lazy foreign correspondent, and report on the reaction in my immediate surroundings: the editorial office of a luxury goods magazine. The general mood is ignorance.

Says one co-worker, "Yay! The one you liked won. Did he win by a lot?"
Me: "Yeah, it looks like it."
Her: "Good." She then goes back to work.

Then, a conversation between two people who seem to have forgotten that they work with a real live American:
"Oh, it looks like Obama won the election."
"I don't like Black people."
"Then who did you want to win?"
"I just don't like black people."
"Well you know that Obama's only half black, and he's much better than his opponent [paraphrase]."
"Ungh."

So there you have it. China's opinion on America's politics is a mix of apathy, ignorance, racism, and crazy liberals with valid opinions. Sounds a lot like home.

Election Day Article

"A Date With Scarcity" by David Brooks

I really liked this article. I heard David Broder speak in Madison a month or so ago at a lecture series titled "Getting to Purple" hosted by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters*. In his lecture, Broder echoed a few of his (i.e. Brooks') points, primarily his characterization of the Baby Boomers:

"The baby boomers, who entered adulthood promising a lifetime of activism, have been a politically undistinguished generation. They produced two presidents, neither of whom lived up to his potential. They remained consumed by the culture war that divided their generation."

The points in the article that stood out to me:

1) "...today is not only a pivot, but a confluence of pivots." (Referencing the end of an economic era, a generational era, and likely a political era)

2) "We’re probably entering a period, in other words, in which smart young liberals meet a stone-cold scarcity that they do not seem to recognize or have a plan for."

Happy Voting!


*some of you may have met its Executive Director this summer, tehe

Monday, October 27, 2008

Open letter to Obama

Dear Obama,

Remember Harry Potter III: The Prisoner of Azkaban? Well, back in the eighties, the Potter family was protected from Voldemort by the fidelius charm. The location of their house was hidden in the soul of their friend Peter Pettigrew. It was physically impossible for Voldemort to find the Potter home, until Peter Pettigrew flip-flopped over to the dark side and told Voldemort the secret. Then Voldemort triumphed!!

Okay, Obama, stay with me on this BOMBSHELL: Osama bin Laden is using a fidelius charm. That's why America can't find his cave-palace! But all you have to do is find his personal Peter Pettigrew, and torture the living shit out of him. Start with Osama's childhood friends, paying special attention to those who can shape-shift into animals of dubious moral character, (such as rats, weasels, sharks, crows, bugs, etc....)

You only have a week, Obama, but you must successfully complete this quest if you'd like my vote in the coming election.

Thrill, baby, thrill,

Ricky

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Funny Political Joke


Q: Why hasn't Kurt Vonnegut endorsed Obama for president?




A: Because Kurt's lost touch with reality.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bring Your Short Game

Okay, so the coolness of Dubai is old news, but this photo is pretty wild: Andre Agassi and Roger Federer playing a match on top of the helipad of the Burj al Arab (the hotel that looks like a giant sail).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Stale Stand-up Material, Year 2010

* note: I ripped the formatting from this bit in the New Yorker

How're you all doin' tonight!! [raise microphone]
(cheers)

I know you've got troubles... GOD DAMN BANK TROUBLES
(boos)

Yeah, we know we're supposed to budget our income, right?
Not wasting it all on SHOES and CIGARETTES and PANTS
( cheers )

So we put it "INTO SAVINGS"! [air quoting]
What does that mean? WHAT. DOES. THAT. MEAN?!

Friends, the term "savings" comes from the english word
safe
....
but shouldn't safe money RELIABLY EXIST.
( laughter )

Haha, but my bank's all "What money? Now?"
Like, he's rustling around behind the counter, looking sad
Saying excuses like "My other friend's still using it."
Haha, WHAT?
( laughter )

Let me see your vault... EMPTY!
EMPTY like my tummy. Twigs for dinner. Shit.
( laughter )

When that vault's empty... people flip out, can you believe it?
They freak! Running to the bank like animals, sobbing
Just like in that movie "It's a Wonderful Life"
..... and it's sequel "the Great Depression".
( polite laughter )

Alright, who here loves politicians & financial institutions?
( boos )

Ha, I'm just joking. It's what I do.

But I do love my country,
and that's why I buy US Treasury bonds [perform Taps on harmonica]
( courageous patriotism )

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bush played too many board games

I played a Risk marathon last night: three games in a row. It occurred to me that Risk is actually a remarkably good model for international politics. Sure, it leaves finance out of the equation, but a game based purely on population relationships does a pretty good job of consistently and accurately simulating world affairs. Here’s my breakdown of socio-history based on my observations of the game:

Native Americans Sure it seems like a good idea to settle North America early on. Unfortunately, in order to get those five extra armies each turn you have to spread yourself thin. Even with heavy fortification at your entry points, once the invaders have a foothold, they will quickly take the continent.

Genghis Khan Starting with your troops in Central Asia, you quickly spread to the rest of the continent while your enemies are concerned with other problems. As soon as the rest of the world realizes that you’re about to develop a huge population, they turn their cannons at you, forcing you to retreat to China, where you are surrounded.

Napoleon You easily take all of Europe in one turn, but encounter a series of bad rolls on the Eastern frontier. You are also short. And you think everyone is picking on you.*

USA Unable to stay in Europe, you wait until someone else attacks the Americas, and then you swoop in and hit them while they’re weak. Once you get your stronghold in North America, it takes all of your efforts to maintain it. So, even though your mission card tells you that you need to be involved in Africa and another continent, you choose to primarily defend your own borders. Occasionally you get involved in a foreign conflict in order to win a card. You also are compelled to maintain a large presence near panama.

The Middle East
The crossroads of the world, you are always a hotly contested territory. You are the key to Asia’s seven extra men per turn and you are also a gateway into Africa. Europe, Asia, and Africa all want a piece of you. North America probably wants a piece too because their mission is to conquer Africa.

Communism One player will inevitably draw the “kill red” mission card. Need I say more?

Australia Chills out at the bottom of the world. Remote, you can only be accessed via Siam. Most people assume all you do is surf and build crazy opera houses, but with 2 extra men each turn, you just have to wait for your chance to easily take Asia and the world.

China (Asia)
With such a potentially huge population, the rest of the world always has to look out for hidden dragons.

The UN An alliance forms between most of the players, but everyone lies about their desire to be involved in the Middle East. Asia is also lying about their plans to invade either Europe or North America. It sometimes seems that all this conflict could easily be solved by getting together for a beer, but in the heat of the moment it's just not as much fun.**

*They are.
**And anyway, what's stopping us from drinking beers together while our armies fight one another?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ahead of their time...


Aww! The new building at the California Academy of Sciences (below) looks JUST like the Teletubby den (above)!

Story about greeeeeen architecture here. Time for tubby bye-bye!

The MEANS:

I want to LEARN magic. Somebody should INVENT magic.

Dear Dr. Evil,


I have no conception of what a billion dollars is. To me it's just as amorphous as a bazillion elephants or a munchzillion quarter pounders (the official number of burgers stolen by the Hamburgler just last year).
So I've quantified this magic $700,000,000,000 into figures that I can understand.


I understand: 1 dollar billz
700billion one dollar bills lined up end to end could GO AROUND THE EARTH 26.62 times


I understand: ponies
I picked out this pony named Beryl. I could buy her, and 2,799,000 ponies just like her with 700billion dollar$.


I understand (and hate): Damien Hirst
Seriously F*ck Damien Hirst.
With 700billion clams I could buy his piece "For the love of God" and the rest of his goddamn collection and burn it all...and he would still have the last laugh.


I understand: Magic
700billion dollars > David Blaine's life




This all makes so much more sense now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Taking it (back) to the Streets

Hey, Kids - I know I've been scarce on this here blog. It may have to do with getting myself halfway around the world. Here's a post-Olympics update from the BJ:

I came to Beijing without much of a plan, but I did have one thought fully formulated: “Street food.”

I’m not talking about kosher hot dogs served to you from the gloved hands of an Egyptian pushing a refrigerated five-star restaurant. I’m not talking about a cheese-steak fresh from the back of the truck on the corner of 38th and Walnut. Hell, I’m not talking about anything that would pass health code.

I’m talking about meat that has been sitting in a Styrofoam cooler for the last ten hours and pancakes grilled on coal-fired stoves propped precariously on pedestrian-pulled wheelbarrows. The closest thing here to a foot-long is a strip of chicken on a stick, reddened with spicy pepper and too hot to eat without the help of a big bottle of beer.


The problem, which I only learned about as I hit the streets in search of breakfast, is that street-vendors had been sent packing during the Olympics. I learned of this disappointing situation when I sought out a breakfast of jian bing after spending a jetlagged and drunken night craving any food at all.

Jian bing consist of a delectable compilation of eggs, pancakes, chives, cilantro, and mystery sauce. If you find the right stand, then they also might feature black sesame seeds. I have never laid taste buds to a more satisfying street food. Once upon a time in China jian bing vendors were more ubiquitous than Starbucks, but times are changing.

During my hunt for breakfast, I may have burned more calories than one pancake could replace. In a five-block radius, I did not find a single food cart. When I finally did get my snack (it could hardly be called breakfast anymore), it came from a storefront window. My hunger sated, I turned only to thoughts of disappointment at the turn modernization had taken.

Fortunately, it seems that the "improvement" to the streets of Beijing was only temporary. Already, things are going back to normal. Tonight I saw the rebirth of open-air restaurants that consist of a card table and a grill full of meat sticks. Tomorrow I anticipate the return of the jian bing. The one constant truth about Beijing is that when it changes, it changes fast.

As for my plan here in Beijing: one of my friends has a barbeque. I think I’ll start selling burgers and hotdogs outside of the Llama Temple. The going rate for a burger in this town is close to twenty dollars, so I'm sure I’ll do just fine.