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Sunday, January 30, 2005

Me: (Reading a copy of Plato's Republic)
Him: What are you reading?
Me: Um, Plato.
Him: What the hell are you reading that for?
Me: The same reason everyone reads the Greeks--the pussy. Get your head out of your ass.


Reet Petite


Updated the "Lists" section with two new lists--you might as well check it out now!

Also, I feel like the phrase "digital urban wasteland" could be used to accurately describe the pages that come up when you click on the "Next Blog >>" button that can be found in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
Speaking of hairy snatches--if you're ever dating a woman and you haven't slept with her yet because you're afraid she has a hairy snatch, a good way to find out whether her snatch is in fact hairy is to stick your hand down her pants while she's distracted1 and yell out, "Hairy or no?"2

In this way, you'll be able to avoid the awkward situation of asking such a personal question before you've been intimate with each other. An added benefit of this method is that technically, you're asking permission, so it's not rude. Also, if she's distracted enough3, she won't notice, and you won't have to bother her in order to find out the answer to this most important question of questions.

1For example, while she's ordering from the menu.

2The correct answer is, of course, a closely cropped no.

3By, for example, the fact that the restaurant serves duck l'orange.
I think that if you were ever in a situation in which you were dating a woman with a hairy snatch, and that same woman had a fetish for smothering you with her crotch, and you were unaware of that fetish until one night she just started smothering you, it could accurately be described as "having the wool pulled over your eyes."

Saturday, January 29, 2005

American Woman: Do you have a toilet?
Me: Yes, it's just through that door.
American Woman: Thanks.

American Woman walks through the door towards the toilet1. After about four seconds she emerges, and quickly walks out the door without looking at me.

1The toilet and the hall leading to the toilet are absolutely filthy and filled with random computer parts, dishes, clothing, and furniture.


Keep On Truckin'

From The New York Times:

At just over nine feet high, the 7300 CXT, which went on sale in September, weighs about seven tons unloaded, more than twice the weight of the Hummer H2 and equivalent to about five MINI Coopers. The CXT can tow a 20-ton boat and carry another six tons of cargo in the truck bed. Because it rides at the height of an 18-wheeler, drivers will spend most of their time looking at the tops of cars.

The price starts at about $90,000, but fully equipped - with, as Maxim magazine recently put it, "more leather than Mick Jagger's closet"- it can cost as much as $120,000. Options include an automatically tiltable truck bed, DVD and satellite-radio players and walnut trim.

It's about time. I mean, honestly, I felt ashamed that the biggest car that famous people could drive wasn't any bigger than say, Jon Brower Minnoch. Finally they're getting a truck that suits their celebrity-sized needs.

I can't tell you how many times I was frustrated with the miniscule stature of my Hummer H2. I mean, if you try to drive the thing over anything bigger than a small house, it just won't do it. The stupid thing doesn't even have machine guns.

I'll tell you the best part about my new car (I'm getting one ASAP)1:

Fuel mileage of the CXT? From 7 to 10 miles to the gallon, despite its diesel engine, which uses less fuel than a regular gas engine. International is not required to report a specific mileage figure because under the United States' fuel economy regulations, the heaviest sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks are exempt from mileage requirements, although they are still subject to emissions rules.

I love corn nuts. In the past, it's really been troublesome because I'd have to make extra trips to the gas station to pick some up, even when I didn't need gas (thanks to my damn fuel-efficient H2). When I get my CXT, I'll have an excuse to make more trips to the gas station, which means more corn nuts for me, and that's great--because I just discovered they come in ranch flavor.

1From the same NY Times article.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Suddenly Seymour

My boss at the internet cafe has a blog called The Little Internet Shop Of Horrors. It's hilariously bitter and sardonic. Here's an example that's pretty indicative of what you can find there:

Me "Thats $2.00 thanks"
Him "Swee hu 15 blah pave some teen minutes?"
Me "Pardon?"
Him "Did I just scrape over 15 minutes?"
Me "No, its $2.00 for 15 minutes."


Updated the site with the new "Links and Recommendations" section. Also, kicked off the new relationships/sex blog, Welcome To Do Land, with my conservative cohort Ben.

It's a good indication that a band isn't very good when you give a supportive "Whooo!" and people say, "You're mean."

Stop Making Sense

In a story that is both unimportant (to me) and only relevant because it's slightly funny, Canada's Minister of Immigration, Judy Sgro, was booted out of her job after allegations of accepting favors in return for "Stay-In-Canada-Free Cards."

From The Economist:

Ms Sgro had been under fire since November, when it was revealed that she had issued a permit to a Romanian woman who had worked on her election campaign. To the prurient delight of the opposition, the woman was a stripper who had come to Canada in 2003 (along with 552 other Romanian women) under a special programme to fill a shortage of labour in the “exotic-dancing” business.


[A restuarant owner] claimed that Ms Sgro had promised him a permit if he provided free pizzas and volunteer staff to her office during the election campaign.

Imagine the ensuing phone call:

"Hello, Romania? Judy Sgro here. How's it going. Great! Listen, you got any more of those fantastic strippers you guys are bragging about? We'll need about twelve hundred of them--we've just got a major shortage here. You do? Great, send them right over, I'll pick them up in my mini-van. What's that? What'll they eat? Well, I know this guy who owns a pizza parlor..."

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Total Eclipse Of The Heart

As some of you may know, Conor Oberst's Bright Eyes released two new albums this week. I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning is a straight-forward singer/songwriter/folk album, which is said to be more sparse than his previous releases. The other is Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, an electronic indie album similar to the likes of The Postal Service's Give Up (DNTEL/The Postal Service's Jimmy Tamborello produces a few tracks on the album). The reviews for these two albums have been nearly unanimous in declaring them as modern music gems. This from's review of the albums:

This record was made to be loved, to be obsessed over by some but remembered by everybody, to get scratched and worn out through constant rotation in a sorority living room or your first studio apartment or your mom's old radio, to capture Conor Oberst for the first time with more polish than spit, but still getting him deeply under your skin.

Here's the thing: I hate Bright Eyes, and I hate Conor Oberst1. I hate it when Rolling Stone compares him to Bob Dylan, I hate it when people declare him a genius, and I hated his show at the Austin City Limits Festival in 2003.2 I also hated seeing him at The Shins show later that evening at Antone's, where he was wrapped up in his hoodie and thrift-store polo, appearing not unlike an eleven-year-old boy who had been threatened with a good beating by the school bully.

That being said, my utter elation to Stephen Thomas Erlewine's review shouldn't be a surprise.

Stripped of the careening, dramatic, meandering arrangements of Lifted, Oberst's music seems not simpler, but simplistic, the plodding music acting as a bed for monochromatic melodies that merely serve as a delivery mechanism for all those words he's poured out on the page. Far from being the second coming of Dylan, Oberst is as precious as Paul Simon, but without any sense of rhyme or meter or gift for imagery, puking out lines filled with cheap metaphors and clumsy words that don't scan. Supporters excuse this as soul-searching, but the heavy-handed pretension in the words and the affectedness in his delivery -- not to mention the quavering bleat that's halfway between Feargal Sharkey and the Dead Milkmen's Rodney Anonymous -- give the whole enterprise a sense of phoniness that's only enhanced by its unadorned production. When Oberst was swallowed in the deliberate grandeur of Lifted, his drama queen theatrics fit the music, but here, they expose him for the shallow poseur he is.

Erlewine, I should mention, is a critic with judgement that is as close to flawless as you can get. He's written thousands of reviews and biographies for Allmusic since its inception in 1993, and issues a fair and reasonable account of each band or album critiqued. I've never seen him pick favorites, I've never seen him exhibit prejudices, and he's shown himself to be a veritable walking encyclopedia of musical knowledge.

But on this review...

Erlewine sits down at his desk at Allmusic headquarters. He picks up Rolling Stone's new issue, and after finishing the cover article, grunts disapprovingly. After getting up for a cup of coffee and making smalltalk with Heather Phares, he then sits down at his computer and opens his bookmarked pages under the folder "Other Review Sites." He reads Pitchfork's review of the new dual-release. He skims over Neumu's . He scoffs and rolls his eyes. What is wrong with these people? In order to get away from the madness of his colleagues, he takes a stroll to a cafe for lunch. He sits down in the booth closest to the door and orders a turkey sandwich with no mayonnaise. There is a young couple sitting in the booth next to him. He overhears their conversation:

"I can't wait until the new Bright Eyes albums come out. Conor Oberst is truly a Dylan-esque genius on whose landscape the future of pop music will surely be forged," says the nose ring-clad co-ed with the Smiths t-shirt on.

"I really agree with you on this one, Sandy," says her faux-hawked companion. He pauses to straighten his ironically worn-necktie which he pairs with tight jeans and Converse All-Stars. "Oberst's honest emotion and bittersweet melodies surely put him into the same category as Springsteen and REM. Frankly, I think he is poised to outshine both of them with his forthcoming new releases."

Erlewine begins to sweat. His breath quickens. His nostrils flare. He wants to punch something, but who? and where to punch them? He leaps out of the booth, ready to display the kind of rage that only a man driven insane by the absurd rhetoric of know-nothing schleps can posess. But suddenly, something in him changes. Using the same impeccable judgment he uses in his music criticism, he thinks better of the decision, runs his hands through his hair, and he calms, his head hanging. After a brief pause, Tom (as his friends call him) looks up and gazes off at the horizon. He takes a deep breath, and rolls up his sleeves.

"It's time to take out the trash."

And that's how one of the best damn album reviews I've ever read was written.

God bless this man. God bless him for saying everything that Newsweek and Rolling Stone wouldn't say, for saying everything that Pitchfork Media was too cool to admit, and saying it clearly and with enough evidence that even the biggest Oberst fans (if they have an ounce of musical sense in their heads) have to think past their defensiveness and say defeatedly, "Yeah, that part is true." While I'm at it, God bless America.

1 I have not heard either one of these albums. I have, however, heard much of Oberst's other work, including Desaparacidos albums and most of the other Bright Eyes material. These experiences, his live performance, and STE's review are what I'm using as basis for declaring these two new albums to be dog doo as well. Just so you know.

2 During this show, Oberst was drunk, forgot words to his songs, and generally didn't seem to have a good understanding about his surroundings. After it was over, my sister asked me what I thought of the show.

"I hate Colin Oberst," I said.

"It's Conor," she said. "And some people would be really upset with you for not remembering his name."

"Who the fuck cares? He sucks!"

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Boys Don't Cry

Only a few songs have had the power to make me cry or at least tear up. These are not songs that I was listening to after I had been broken up with, or songs that I was listening to after my favorite goldfish died, or even songs I was listening to when I hit my thumb with a hammer. These are songs that I listened to and was reduced to tears by simply because they are so powerful.

Bruce Springsteen, "Born To Run" (from Born To Run)

I only cried once to this song, but I've always found it to be unbelievably good. The idea of going out on the open road, being young and wanting to know what life is about--just good, good stuff.

Neil Young, "Ambulance Blues" (from On The Beach)

I must admit that I was feeling a little lonely when I was originally affected by this one. If the line "An ambulance can only go so fast," doesn't make you wince, then you aren't listening.

The Beach Boys, "God Only Knows" (from Pet Sounds)

In 2001, I finally got wise and purchased Pet Sounds, as I had heard all the hubbub and wanted to see how good it really was. Turns out, it's a fucking masterpiece. This song is so full, so lush, the harmonies so delicious, that I couldn't help but shed a tear. Brian Wilson has the spirit of a heartbroken teenage boy, but is trapped in the body of a drug-addled fat man.

Beach Boys Trivia: This is the first pop song to ever use the word "God" in its lyrics.

The Beatles, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (from The Beatles)

This is one of my favorite Beatles songs ever. Somehow a love song to a guitar hits me harder than most love songs do.

Bob Dylan, "Tell Me Momma" (from The Bootleg Series, Volume 4, Live 1966, The Royal Albert Hall Concert)

I couldn't have been in a less opportune place to get choked up when this song got to me. I was running around downtown Nelson (NZ), listening to my iPod, when Dylan's wailing and the sounds from his commanding Band forced shortness of breath, dizziness, and extreme aural pleasure. I swallowed, took some deep breaths, and continued running, but people still looked at me. Fuck those people.

SOUNDteam, "Back In Town"

Most of SOUNDteam's music is an absurdly joyous experience, and induces freak-out dance sessions and intense jubilance among their listeners. "Back In Town" is a very, very good song, but not necessarily head-and-shoulders above the rest of their recent work. Which leads to the question, "Then why did you cry about it, you pussy?" Well, I'll tell you, but don't call me a pussy. If listening to them is like having Christmas morning in music form, watching them perform is like having Santa Claus as your dad. Being surrounded by writhing, sweaty people who are filled with mirth, and accompanied by Austin's best band (and yes, that includes ...Trail of the Dead and Spoon) is more than enough to be overwhelmed by emotions. Go to a SOUNDteam show, and leave a better person.

Broken Social Scene, "KC Accidental" (from You Forgot It In People)

This was another chink in the armor of my otherwise very manly exterior that occured at a live performance. Broken Social scene is made up of ten different people, but they play as one amazing band. Their live performances are particularly wonderful; they elicit good vibes, amazing instrumental sounds, and an infectious charisma that wants you to know that you, yes you are the coolest person they've met all week. "KC Accidental" is a particularly positive piece of pop pleasure.

Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, "Girl From The North County" (from Nashville Skyline)

Nashville Skyline is the only album I've ever heard Dylan attempt to harmonize on, and that includes his work with The Traveling Wilburys. His voice on this song is so wistful, so lonely, that I've had to go forward to the next track on more than one occasion because I had company around. Of course, Johnny Cash asking us to remember him to his former true love doesn't help me from needing a tissue, either.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Only The Lonely

Once, I took _____ swimming at LH's pool. I wanted to do laps and she wanted to tan. It was hot, and so at one point, she went up to LH's apartment to get a glass of water. While she was gone, a girl I went to high school with, MM (who lives in the apartment complex), happened to notice me while she was tanning on a nearby sunchair. I didn't expect to see her, but I'd seen her around town before, so it wasn't a huge surprise. She came over, and we started making smalltalk about what we had been doing. When _____ got back, she saw me talking to MM, and walked past us back to her chair without saying anything. LH eventually came down, and he joined in talking with MM and I. After she left, I swam a bit more, and _____ and I left. _____ was clearly upset with me, and showed it, as angry females do, by giving me the silent treatment. Initially, I couldn't understand why, but after a second it hit me that she was upset that I was talking to MM. I thought she was being silly, because after all, it was just some boyfriended girl I knew from high school who I wasn't even attracted to. I tried to explain that to her, but she wouldn't hear it.

I let her pout in the car on the way home, and when we were about halfway there, I put in For The Lonely: 18 Greatest Hits, a Roy Orbison compilation. I put on the eighteenth track, the popular "Oh Pretty Woman." I began serenading her with my best Orbison impression, and after a minute, elicited a smile from her. We got home before the song was over, but I kept singing it to her through the parking lot. By the time we were stopped, she tore off her seatbelt and began passionately kissing me. It was almost as if my singing that song to her was like some kind of forgiving aphrodesiac; she couldn't keep her hands off me. We groped and kissed in the car for awhile, but I had to go to work, so I dropped her off. If she was angry, jealous, and upset when she sat down in the passenger's seat, her mood upon exiting the car was the polar opposite. She gave me a flirty good-bye, and was smiling as she drove away.

Later, I brought up the subject of why she was so mad at me. I figured out that I hadn't mentioned to her that I knew MM previously, and realized that _____ thought I was just picking up on some random girl that was at the pool. After I cleared that up, I was completely forgiven.

How powerful is music? I initially felt pretty proud of myself for getting out of the doghouse (even if it was a misunderstanding) as easily as I did. The more I thought about it, the more humbled I was--I didn't do anything, it was really all thanks to Roy Orbison.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Back On The Chain Gang

Added a review for Grace Jones' Nightclubbing to the "Music" section of the site.

Today I went looking for a phone cord so I can connect to the internet in my room from the living room, which is about fifteen meters away. I wasn't successful, but I was successful in buying the following albums:

The Pretenders, Learning to Crawl

Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac

Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin'

Learning to Crawl was the purchase I was most dubious about going through with. I was familiar with many of the songs on the album, but was unsure whether or not it was an actual album, a compilation, or some kind of bastardized European-press with versions of songs that were discarded from various recording sessions. I listened to it before I bought it, and was happy with the sound quality and the songs, but was still unsure if there was another Pretenders album that I should get first. However, this album was only $9.99 NZ (about $7.50 US), so I figured if it was a loss I'd just charge it to the game and move on. As it is, it's great, and I'm glad I got it.

I'm reading Jonathan Franzen's collection of essays, How to be Alone, and finding it good, but something that is probably unhealthy to read all at once. Franzen is the archetypal liberal intellectual, and although I find his analysis to be generally pretty sound, after awhile, it just sounds like whining1.

At one point, he talks about how he's thrown out his TV because "time spent watching it is time that I wasn't reading." He goes on to talk about how he wrote his first two books on a typewriter, how there was something gratifying about writing on "half-broken machinery," not owning a CD player, and still using a rotary phone. To me, this sounds like someone who just wants to make things difficult for themselves.

However, I think he's a really good writer, and he clearly cares a great deal about integrity, meaning, and the maintenance of the social novel.

1To Franzen's credit, he seems to know this, and makes fun of overly-analytical, bleeding heart ways in The Corrections.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Why Bother?

"The Maori aren't really even a real race of people," the old man said. "They all came from a couple of canoes that were blown off course from Polynesia, and then bred with Spanish and Portugese explorers. They're also all inbreds. There were only two sheilas on the boat, and genetically--this has been researched and proven by scientists in England--all Maori people come from one of two women. What kind of sick people do that anyway?"

Such is the absurd rhetoric of a racist who attempts to rationalize his fear with pseudo-science.1

When the man first came in to the bar, I wasn't serving him, and so I didn't speak to him. A few minutes after he'd been there, and I overheard some of his conversation with my sister, she came to me and said, "That guy's interested in politics, do you want to talk to him?" "No, thank you," I said. As it happens with life-long drunks, they tend to strike up conversations with bar staff on their own, about whatever inane thing that they can come up with. In this situation it began with asking me what differences I found between Texas and New Zealand. I told him there were more mountains here. Somehow from there, he got into geography, and then to the Maori land entitlements, and moved directly to conjecturing about how the Maori don't really deserve anything, especially because they aren't even a real race of people to begin with.

As the conversation moved from the uncomfortable to the absurd, I began to realize the kind of person I was speaking with, and decided that I'd have a little fun. Intermittently during his monologue, he would pause and say, "I'm boring you, aren't I?" "No," I said, egging him on. "I'm very interested in learning about the whole situation." When he did pause and give me a chance to speak later, I said, "They're really all animals, aren't they? Eating each other and whatnot. It's sick." Much to my delight, he agreed, but continued down the "scientific" argument that he heard discussed on AM talk radio.

"I don't understand why everyone wants to blame the white man for everything," he said. "The white man didn't do anything.2 That's why I like George Bush3--he's not going to sit there and apologize for things the white man didn't do, and he's not going to give money to people with a permanent suntan4 just because they feel like something's been done to them that hasn't."

Once it was all over with, I re-told the conversation to RA and my sister. RA was clearly disturbed, mainly by my taste for irony in an otherwise disgusting situation. I told him I couldn't help myself.

"What am I supposed to do, argue with the guy? He's so far gone that there wouldn't be any point. I suppose I could've just walked away, but it was much funner this way--plus, now I have something to write about."

In RA's view, he wasn't able to make a joke5 out of it, because this man was indicative of a larger problem; he symbolizes thousands of other people who are just as racist, but aren't stupid enough to go talking about it publicly with people he doesn't know.

There was probably a time between the ages of eighteen and twenty where I would have been quite upset with this man. I might have gotten into an argument with him, he might have left angrily, and I might have felt self-righteous about saying what I believed to be true, and setting him on the right course towards racial harmony. I simply can't do that nowadays. It was too ridiculous to take seriously, and therefore became nothing but a huge joke to me. Maybe it's insensitive of me to take hatred and turn it into a joke, but somehow I felt like if I took it seriously it would validate the utter garbage that was coming out of his mouth, and he just didn't deserve it.6

1 In order to fulfill my "comparing every social situation to Hitler" quota, I later told RA after the conversation that "I love it when people use science to rationalize their racism--it's like Hitler using science to declare that Jews were a genetically inferior race."

2 Holy shit.

3 Incidentally, I should mention that every person in New Zealand that I've met that has supported George Bush has been insane, or very nearly insane. These people include: The hillbilly farmer in Springs Junction whose wife came on to me, the crazy googly-eyed old man in Palmerston North who offered my sister and I some herbs to go with our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and the rich but otherwise personally dissatisfied lawyer who was traveling by helicopter to go shooting wild pigs in the woods and made a subconscious frown at the thought of his wife. Of course, this doesn't mean that George Bush himself is insane. To clarify, it doesn't mean that Dick Cheney is insane either.

4 Can you believe he said that?

5 After seeing RA's discomfort, I told him that I thought that there was nothing too serious to make a joke about. He seemed to disagree, but being a polite Englishman, he conveyed that in the most understated way possible. "Of course," I said, "there are obviously situations in which you should probably not tell the joke. For example, you probably shouldn't tell the joke about the tsunami that destroyed Asia7 to any of your Thai friends for another few weeks.

6 It's like trying to rationalize with a drunk person, or trying to explain to someone from Alabama that we don't live in a geocentric universe, or telling the remaining 35% of Americans who still believe that Iraq caused 9/11 that no, that isn't actually true.

7 Question: Did you hear about the big tsunami that destroyed parts of Asia? Response: How big was it? Punchline: So big that it killed over 150,000 people and caused billions of dollars worth of damage.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Inbetween Days

From an op/ed at National Review Online:

I think they stole Ohio," contended Darrell Anderson. "I think Kerry should have won," the Marylander added. "I think he did win. I think he absolutely won. I think he got enough electoral votes to win, counting Ohio." Anderson believes that the Republican party rigged voting machines in the Buckeye state. "I think the exit polls were correct. They were outside the margin of error. I don't care what they say, it falls outside the mathematical possibility that there would have been a six-point swing — Kerry being six points ahead to a three-point win for Bush, it's outside mathematical possibility."

Leftists have invested so much in discrediting George W. Bush that their fervor has inhibited their abilities to think rationally. Pre-election taunts of "accidental president" and "re-defeat Bush" allowed the Bush haters to benefit from the illusion that they represented majority opinion. November 2, one might think, would have shattered that illusion. It didn’t.

I don't really know what to say about this except that only an opposing point of view could find something this ridiculous and make it seem like the mouthpiece for an ideology.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Truth Behind the Story

I'm a coin collector. I collect coins. My most rare coin, besides my collection of confederate money, is a buffalo nickel that has a picture of Calvin Coolidge taking a leak on a Communist sickle and hammer that the Department of Treasury stamped in 1927. My wife has always thought that my collection was silly. The other day, as a joke, I thought it would be funny to give her a couple of toy million dollar bills, a way of admitting that my obsession is a little silly--the kind of self-deprecating humor that Rodney Dangerfield used in his stand-up routine ("I get no respect," he used to say).

Alice has always been a little gullible. Once while attending a dinner party, she embarassed the both of us by taking a bite out of one of the plastic bananas in the bowl on the dinner table, citing hunger as her motivation. Another time, on our vacation to New York City, she got us kicked out of Madame Tussaud's for embracing the wax dummy of Brad Pitt and asking for his autograph. I probably shouldn't even mention the hospital bills we had to pay off when she ran, Wile E. Coyote-like, into a mural of a landscape painted on a brick wall.

Knowing all these things, I feel like I should take some responsibility for what happened to Alice next. True, I was away on a vacation and had no way of knowing that she would do what she did, but there are some things you just don't do. You don't give a baby sharp objects, you don't take a dump while talking on the phone, and you most certainly don't give my wife play money.

When I got home from the coin-collectors convention in Boise, I found, much to my surprise, that Alice had been arrested for attempting to pay with one of the bills.

Apparently, Alice thought I was giving her a per diem while I was away, and tried to pay for some goods at our local Wal-Mart using one of the bills. In her defense, she did try to use one of her Wal-Mart gift cards that were given to her by her mother first, but she just didn't have enough to cover the $1,671.55 bill that she chalked up on her spending spree (there was $1.82 left on one card, and $.50 on the other). Alice, chagrined to find she couldn't complete the transaction with the cumulative $2.32 on the cards, remembered another way to pay.

"Of course!" I can picture her thinking, slapping her forehead. "A million dollars is way more than the $1,671.55 needed to pay for these goods!" So, she pulled out a bill and handed it to the cashier, apologizing "All I've got is this," knowing what a bother it must be to produce $998,328.45 in change.

I'll tell you what: they do some serious training at the Wal-Mart in Covington, Georgia. The clerk took one look at that bill and handed it back to her, asking if she had another way to pay. Alice, looked down at the returned bill, did the math in her head, and thought to herself "No, I was right. That is enough." She smiled patiently at the cashier, and handed the bill right back to her.

Alice is quite headstrong, and I have no doubt that had the clerk not taken further measures, the passing back-and-forth of the bill would have lasted for at least twenty to thirty mintues. Sam Walton does have a busines to run, for gosh sakes. The clerk called the police officer that stood nearby, and he asessed the situation. I can understand how it would look to someone who doesn't know her: a woman attempting to pay with toy money, and refusing to back down? My first thought would be counterfitting and forgery, which is exactly what the courts are calling it: forgery in the first degree.

Of course, if I had been there, I would have been able to explain, and tell the police the story about how Alice fought a blow-up alligator to the point of exhaustion last summer at our neighbor's pool in order to protect me, or the time she turned herself in to the police when my boss' son played dead subsequent to a finger-gun game of Cowboys and Indians.

Unfortunately, I wasn't there, and the police took her to jail. If and when this case makes it to court, I fully intend to defend my wife. With the way the Treasury Department works nowadays, who really knows who prints what bills? It's true, I knew that the million-dollar bills were fake, but how could the average person know? We aren't all coin collectors.

"I wasn't trying to pass off the bill," she said. "That's ridiculous." I agree with you sweetheart, and I'm in your corner.

Alice, still pleasant after tolerating
wild accusations about her intentions with the
million-dollar bill.

I Am A Lonesome Hobo

A couple of days ago, RA said that "(I am) way too motivated for this country."

New Zealand is, botanically, lush, beautiful, and unlike any other place in the world. Culturally, however, it is a barren wasteland. Looking in the library in the philosophy section, I found little to nothing that I was interested in reading. There was the following:

- The Stupid Useless Beginner's Guide to Philosophy (1998)

- A Book of Cartoons That Features Descartes' Name But Little to No Actual Information Relating to His Works (1983)

- A Complete Lack of Anything Pertaining to Greek Philosophy (First Ed., 1968)


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Saturn - The Bringer of Old Age

Paul Auster says that

Becoming a writer is not a "career decision" like becoming a doctor or a policeman. You don't choose it so much as get chosen, and once you accept the fact that you're not fit for anything else, you have to be prepared to walk a long, hard road for the rest of your days. Unless you turn out to be a favorite of the gods (and woe to the man who banks on that), your work will never bring in enough to support you, and if you mean to have a roof over your head and not starve to death, you must resign yourself to doing other work to pay the bills... Most writers lead double lives. They earn good money at legitimate professions and carve out time for their writing as best they can: early in the morning, late at night, weekends, vacations.

At first, I was alarmed by this, since I'm very interested in writing professionally. However, after reading his Hand to Mouth, A Chronicle of Early Failure, it seems that Auster is a glutton for punishment, which relieved me, because I am not. He basically admits as much:

My problem was that I had no interest in leading a double life. It's not that I wasn't willing to work, but the idea of punching a clock at some nine-to-five job left me cold, utterly devoid of enthusiasm... As far as finances went, I just wanted to get by.

Personally, I have no problem living a double life, especially when the non-writing half has something to do with another interest of mine whether it's writing, music, teaching, or journalism. Auster seems to be disgusted at working, even as a teacher or journalist, and was only content to do free-lance work to pay the bills. We also diverge in desires for standard of living. Auster says he "just want(s) to get by," but there's no way that's going to be good enough for me. I want to buy albums to my heart's content, I want to go out to eat, I want to spend money on the things that I want.

Seeing the system of punishment that Auster put himself through to become a professional writer made me feel somewhat relieved--mainly because I don't have a problem with writing music, book, or film reviews, copy editing, or teaching snot-nosed brats the difference between Y-O-U-R and Y-O-U-'-R-E in order to write for at least part of my living.

I also disagree with the statement that "You don't choose it so much as get chosen." As difficult as it may be to break into professional writing, I'll never believe that there's nothing you can do to make your chances better. Auster, as good a writer as he is, seems to be of the strong, proud, no-compromises type, which I feel is ridiculous, and only makes things more difficult for yourself if you're trying to make a living out of doing something you love. I suppose it's possible to do as he does, and work only as a freelancer, while staying "true to yourself" and "not sacrificing your work", but that's a long and winding road of poverty that I'm not willing to walk down, even if it was produced by Phil Spector.
A minute ago, when I was urinating, I noticed a mosquito flying near the level of my crotch. I was mildly alarmed at an insect flying so near the privatest of parts, so I edged away from it. It seemed to have a dog-like ability to sense my fear, and flew closer still to my penis. I moved away even further, concentrating so that my urine stream stayed directed into the bowl.

Then, suddenly, I had an idea. The mosquito still flying nearby, I stepped on my tiptoes, then gave a small hop, shooting him down with a cascade of clear liquid (I drink a lot of water). After I zipped up, I looked down and noticed that the mosquito lay motionless in the water.

"Little bastard," I said.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog

Added second half of "Romance and Realism" in the "Essays" section. Also added review of The Clash's London Calling, 25th Anniversary Legacy Edition in the "Music" section.

Started an essay on Epicurean standards of happiness with regards to my friend JMT, who is a pretty happy guy.

Bought the following albums:

Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan
John Wesley Harding - Bob Dylan
Tupelo Honey - Van Morrison
Bill Haley and His Comets - The Universal Masters Collection - Bill Haley and His Comets
Selections from Porgy and Bess - Composed by Gershwin, performed by the New York Philharmonic

Baby, Let Me Follow You Down

My female roommate came into the kitchen where I was working and accusingly asked me:

"Do you know how much the American appliance industry has smothered the New Zealand market?"

"What unit of measurement do you use for smothering?" I asked.

Ignoring me, she said, "There's a washing machine that has three buttons on it that was designed by Americans, but is made in Dunedin (a town on the south-east coast of NZ). If you press the three buttons at once, the washing machine plays the American National Anthem."

"God bless America," I said.

"Isn't that fucking ridiculous?" she asked.

"It's a good song," I countered.

"What's it about?"

My male roommate (her boyfriend) said, "It's a song about growing up on the rough side of town, in the ghetto," which made me like him more. I laughed.

"Do you even know what your national anthem is about? Do you know the words or what it's called?"

"Yes, I know the words," I said.

Then she was distracted by a piece of cheese toast.

(Straight To Your Heart) Like A Cannonball

My sister has a book in her room that was sent to her by our mother for Christmas. The book is called If Women Ruled the World. I admit that I have not read this book. In fact, I have not gotten nearer to it than the doorway to my sister's room, which is where I saw it sitting on the bed. I know nothing about the book, its author (or presumably, authoress), or its message. However, without knowing any of these things, and excepting a few possibilities, I feel confident in saying that there are a few things in it that I disagree with.

Now if the book is, in fact, full of information that is not deserving of its title, and is actually about the wild beasts of Africa, or a vegetarian cookbook, or a novel about a woman who is trying to get in on a man's world when world actually means coal-mining business and woman actually means Tanzanian midget, then all the statements I'm about to make about the book will likely be false. However, if the information in the book is indicative of its title, and it is truly a book that imagines what it would be like if women ruled the world, then I fully expect all my judgments will be absolutely correct.

There are three main discrepancies I have with this book:

1. It uses false premises to make its points.

- Likely Premise: Men rule the world, not women. It's definitely true that there are more men in positions of power than women, but I don't see how that's necessarily bad. I'm also not sure that the phrase "rule the world" accurately describes either sexes role in the world. Each sex (and each person) has the opportunity to create a change in the world, even if they think they don't rule the world.

- Likely Premise: Men are the reason there are so many troubles in the world. False: Men are not the reason there are so many troubles in the world, unless your trouble is that the world has too many men in it. Greed, jealousy, hatred, and basic human imperfection are reasons why there are so many troubles in the world, not either of the sexes.

- Likely Premise: Women have no control over the goings on in the world. False: Although it's probably true that there are more men in positions of power all over the world, it's also true that women are CEOs, Professors, Prime Ministers, Wives, Secretaries of State, Principals, Mothers, and Doctors, among other things. Women make important decisions every day; are those decisions not important enough to contribute to ruling the world?

- Likely Premise: If women ruled the world, then the world would be a much more loving, peaceful place that doesn't have the problems and difficulties of the icky male-dominated one. False: If women ruled the world, there would be plenty of problems--most likely the same major problems we have now (although it's possible a few issues would change), and a few additional ones added to the pile.

2. It is unrealistic.

- Women wouldn't rule the world. Admittedly, women have a higher emotional intelligence quotient than men, but men have a stronger knack for informational intelligence, and a strong desire for power. If women were in such a position to take power from the men, they wouldn't be called women anymore, they would be called men. Women are the way they are and in the place they are in, and men in their respective place because our genders are wired to be the way they are. Obviously, there are some women who are quite hungry for power, just as there are some men who are quite happy to work as homemakers (those are the opposites of the general stereotypes, are they not?).

- Let's pretend that the premises used by the creator of this book aren't completely false, and that the male-dominated world is a dirty rotten place where there are wars, pollution, traffic, cold sores, abuse, pedophilia, and rape. Now it's true that men are usually the propogators (although not always, not by a long shot) of these terrible things. Obviously that's because there are more men in positions of power than women, and men posess the characteristics for desiring such positions. This is indicative of my previous point: men are more power-hungry than women, and that being the case, how would women take power to begin with? If men were magically transformed into not being power-hungry anymore you'd have that list of traumas cut into a fraction of what it is now, and if that's the case, why don't we just wish for people to not be power-hungry?

- Let's do away with men all together and pretend that there are only women in the world, and they reproduce asexually. If that were the case, what would you have besides a lot of women getting into catfights over the last bon-bon or sale-priced blouse? You would have a world in which the more dominant women ruled, and most likely, a world with a lot of the same social problems, prejudices, abuses, and dramas. Men and women produce an interesting and effective check-and-balances system with each other, and if the roles were reversed, we would find many of the same situations.

- In order for women to "rule the world" that means that men would not be the same creatures they are now. There is one exception to this. Women could take over the world with men utilizing the same behavioral patterns that they have been for the last 50,000 years, but women would have to somehow evolve separately from the men in such a way that their behavior was conducive from wresting the power to rule from their hands. That seems unlikely, to say the least.

3. It is misguided in its aspirations.

What is this book trying to accomplish? My guess that this is a feel-good book about why the patriarchal society we live in has made such bad choices, and fondly imagines what a female-dominated one would be like. My guess for the authoress' prediction? The female oriented world is better! If this is in fact the point, then I have to ask: As long as we're fantasizing, why wouldn't you just fantasize about a better world, and not simply a world where women were making the decisions? Is the goal to create a better world? Or simply a place, regardless of outcome, where women are the rulers, because some women don't consider themselves to be at the moment? And while I'm at it, if the objective is a better world, then why write a book that highlights the differences and makes the assumption that the current demographic makeup isn't capable of more?

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Hey Little Apple Blossom

Just a very brief update to say that the "Music" section has been updated with a review of David Bowie's Let's Dance, and another review of the 25th Anniversary Legacy Edition of The Clash's London Calling will follow it in the next day or so. I've also been working on editing and formatting the second half of the "Romance and Realism" essay, which has been pretty fun.

A brief comment on New Zealand food: They have no pizza under the definition of pizza that we have in the states, and there are virtually no Mexican food restaurants to be seen anywhere. That being said, the pizza I just made myself is delicious.

Oh, and I updated the "Lists" section with one list that I thought of the other day, which some of you may already have been made aware of.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Girlfriend is Better

True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.

This is a brief passage from Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being. (It is, incidentally a passage that is characteristic of the sentiment of the book, but not of its story.) The story has little to do with the quote; the book tells the story of Tomas, a pleasure-seeking doctor who falls in love and marries a young woman named Tereza. Despite Tomas' intense love for Tereza, he continues to struggle with his desire to sleep with new and different women and staying faithful to his wife.

There are a few points that come to mind when considering this quote.

I considered the general idea of "true human goodness" being measured by the actions of people (not animals, which I believe aren't as important anyway) towards those who are at their mercy in the context of the tsunami victims, or prisoners, or hostages, or any other group of people in the charge of another. The Stanford Prison Experiment is a perfect example of this, as is the recent abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

To make it particularly relevant, the South-East Asian tsunamis* provide another opportunity to display with prominence the possibility of man's indifference to suffering. This from the The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog:

"In the first arrest in a nationwide crackdown on tsunami relief scams, the FBI took a Carrick man into custody yesterday morning on charges of flooding the Internet with spam solicitations for a bogus relief fund so he could pay to fix his car.

Matthew Z. Schmieder, 24, who lives in a rented brick duplex on Crailo Street, admitted to the FBI that he sent out 800,000 e-mails purporting to be from the Mercy Corps, an international group of humanitarian agencies, according to an affidavit."

Another point I found interesting was a quote I read in a New Zealand newspaper on the amount of aid NZ was offering, and why. The quote, coming from a member of parliament said that they were upping the amount of aid they offered because of the high number of "missing and confirmed dead Kiwi travelers in the area." It seemed strange that aid to countries where thousands were killed would have to be justified on the basis that a few Kiwi citizens were amongst them.

Taking in the consideration the basic truth of Kundera's statement, these examples paint a pretty grim picture of human nature. I'd love to think that people tend to be fair and just about things, but that only tends to be if they know someone is looking (hence the continuing aid to SE Asia from countries saying that they want to "match public donations"). (That idea in general should be reason enough to employ transparency in government, business, and personal morality--it keeps us honest.) What does it say about us if we can't help people simply because they need it? Conversely, what does it say about us when it hurts us to see that some people defraud others with the guise of assisting those in need? Why do we find it repugnant when our leaders have to defend us as "not stingy"? Mankind seems to be as full of confusion and indecision as Tomas.

*Incidentally, some very effective before-and-after photos of areas hit by the tsunami can be seen here.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Spiral Starecase

I've updated the "Essays" section with part one of an essay I wrote earlier this year on relationships called "Romance and Realism." Part one tells the story of me and my girlfriend from eighth grade, but part two later leads to less personal exploration on love and romanticism.

In a discussion over the war in Iraq, I told a friend of mine that the mission "just seems like it's a huge waste of resources when we could've been being more productive (catching terrorists, instead of breeding them)." He frowned at that idea, and said that I should be "smarter than that."

Regarding my statement, I read an article ("When deadly force bumps into hearts and minds") in last week's Economist about America's presence in Iraq. Very discouraging. Most discouraging of all is this:

"The town's [Baij] English-speaking former mayor, Abdullah Fahad, was frank about the town's allegiances. "There are terrorists here, not from Syria, not from Mosul, but from Baij. Some are Baathists and some are Islamists and before they hated each other but now they work together, and they tell people that if they don't work with them they will kill them."" (32)

The article is much more descriptive than I will be here, but it gives some evidence to the very kind of thing that prompted me to make my original comment.

It seems to me that in the confusion and disaster that US troops are trying to control, they (the individual troops) are reaching the end of their collective ropes and end up creating the kinds of situations that they want to avoid.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

All the Young Dudes

Just a brief note:

I've updated the site with an essay in the "Politics" section on The Bush Administration's ridiculous choices over the last four years, and how even though it's usually not a good idea to pay attention to other people when making your own decisions, it is a good idea to employ the use of logic and reason.

I think I'm going to have to lay off the karaoke for awhile; last night it was really dead, and I ended up singing "Super Freak" by Rick James to an audience of about nine people.

Karaoke seems to be a great divider when it comes to people who like to go out and have a good time. Some people view it as totally ridiculous and nerdy, and some people recognize it as potential for a funky good time with friends. It only sucks is when people do it with only half of their ass. People frequently site "embarassment" or "not drunk enough" as the reasons for not going up on stage, but only thing that a person should be embarassed about doing when performing is standing there with their hand in their pocket, singing Chris DeBurgh's "Lady in Red" (which they dedicated to their girlfriend, who is in the corner sipping a rum and coke and wearing a red blouse) to the floor, trying their best to make everyone not look at them, which they are usually successful at doing (with the exception of the girlfriend who looks pained but in love).

It's a Man's Man's Man's World

This is a pretty good quote from a post from Winds of Change:

"Scheiber describes some of the institutional factors, including Democrats' persistent hard money disadvantage, that lead to reliance on a few, centrally-managed pollsters. But he ignores the key characteristic of the modern Democratic Party that leads most directly to misuse of pollsters: the fact that Democrats are, by and large, a post-ideological party, a party driven more by polls and interest groups than by conviction or principle.

In short, although many Republican ideas are bad, at least they have them. Until the same can be said about Democrats, they will continue to lose -- especially in the current environment, where the existence of big, scary problems makes the electorate more receptive to ideological solutions."

I'm not sure if this is the only thing that Democrats are suffering from (party division, lack of a firm stance on most major issues, uncharismatic politicians who are capable of reaching past the base, etc.), but it's a pretty good start if you ask me. The biggest truth in the above quote is that it alludes to the absolute conviction and principle that Republicans seem to have at the moment. Where the hell did it come from? All of a sudden it's not just the far-right-wingers and the religious nuts that have these strong ideas about foreign and domestic policy, it seems that people who had no opinion or didn't care before have latched on to it as well.

This leads me to wonder: is the case truly that people have become more "conservative" or is it that the left has become so unattractive that it has stranded people with no other option? I tend to think it's the latter, mainly because the things that the Bush administration is getting away with are absolutely criminal, and even true right-wingers (as well as some party loyalists) know it.

I don't know how much more of this I can take from the Democrats. You can only be outraged for so long until you're exhausted, and people just stop listening to you. I hope it gets figured out before they end up too much more worse off.

On the other hand, maybe they're just going to have to learn from Tyler Durden: "It's only until you've lost everything that you're free to achieve anything." I hope it doesn't take that, but they're getting pretty near rock-bottom as it is. (Jesus, Tom Daschle, how sick of you must people have been to boot you out in favor of a newcomer with all the media coverage and free publicity you had?)

Democrats need to re-group, boot out some of the old blood, and re-invent themselves as a more moderate party that isn't afraid to take a firm stance with foreign policy, fund social security for the future (NOT privatization), find a workable and non-ridiculous stance on some of the domestic issues, and revitalize the economy. If this can be sold with energy and style, then we'll definitely be at a starting point. My only guess at this point with how this can be done will come from Mr. Bush: the atrocious things that the neocons are getting away with have got to be frightening some people, and hopefully are being noted for fueling a candidate in 2008 (and hopefully for congress in 2006).

Killing Floor

I find that when I do things because I care about them, or because I believe in them, or make a decision that is truly mine, I succeed. However, I'm not as righteous as I should be all the time, and I've always been something of a diplomat, so I have, in the past, found myself doing things or saying things that I don't necessarily believe in (but don't have a real problem with, like certain sections of the site, for example) because I think some jagoff will like it. This is obviously a problem, and I've realized it time and time again: Trust only myself, but consider other opinions. Don't do things for anyone but myself, because I've always been a better judge of character/taste/whatever than anyone else I know, especially if it's regarding something that I have to work for or associate myself with.

Maybe a bit of clarification is needed. I don't mean to say that I sacrifice my beliefs for others, or that I lay down in front of a challenge or something. I do mean to say that if it's no big deal, and I think someone else would enjoy a bad joke or comic strip or whatever, I'll do it because I think I know my audience, which I usually believe to be people who are none too bright. The most common place this has manifested itself is with projects that will be shown in public: the radio show; the comic strip; the web site. I suspect that the brief bit of songwriting I have done suffered from that as well. Strangely, the comics and shows, sections of the site, and to a lesser extent, songs, that I did only for me, because I thought they were funny, were the only ones that held up to any scrutiny after further review.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

four plus seven means eleven

Here's a few questions (and their possibilities) that seem worth asking:

1. Why was it so much easier to find girls I liked in my youth?

2. Why are guys who wear moustaches non-ironically so frequently assholes?

3. What percentage of women have music taste that is such that it would actually make them more attractive rather than make them acceptable or less appealing?

Possible Answers:

1. When you're younger there are far fewer criteria. For example, in high school, the questions I asked myself when deciding whether or not a girl was worth spending time on were:

- Is this girl good-looking?
- Is this girl willing to let me put my hand up her skirt when we go to the movies to watch Will Smith star in Enemy of the State?
- That is all.

However, as we grow older, we add a much longer list of questions including concerns regarding religion, family, marriage, cultural tastes, pasttime preferences, financial situation, professional demands, and whether or not she will let me put my hand up her skirt at my house in the dark after we go watch Bill Murray star in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and have dinner. At this point I've just stopped bothering with girls who don't fit in the very most important of my preferences. Therefore, less girls are allowed to enter the picture. Solution? Start accepting applications from every female I come in contact with, including that wandering shoeless woman who mutters to herself OR learn a popular skill I've heard about called "patience."

2. There's this girl at my job who is pretty attractive, who for privacy's sake, I'll call "Joanna." Now Joanna has a nice (but not fantastic) ass, and sometimes her thong comes out of the back of her pants when she leans over, which is always a nice bonus when you're standing around polishing glasses. Tonight, a couple who looked to be in their early fifties came in for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake later in the evening. After I made the coffee and prepared the cake, I asked Joanna bring it over to the couple, which she did. I watched her bring the cake over, and then as she walked away, I watched as the male in the couple (equipped with moustache) fully stared at Joanna's ass the entire way back to the counter where she was walking to get the coffee. He also made a few Rodney Dangerfield-like gestures as if he were getting a little hot under the collar from the mere sight of her ass, all while his wife sat there next to him. I began getting a little embarassed when I saw that after Joanna brought the coffee over, his eyes followed both of her butt-cheeks as she walked all the way across the bar, and behind the counter where I was standing. The wife, in the meantime, was naively enjoying her coffee and cake, and probably chatting about how she was planning on cutting her hair in an even more masculine style (why do old ladies always cut their hair in the least flattering way possible?), and then giving it a good perm.

This guy definitely looked like he was wearing his moustache in earnest, and after his display, I got to wondering why guys who wear moustaches in earnest are so often assholes who do that sort of thing with their wives sitting right next to them.

I won't go so far as to say that all guys who have moustaches in earnest are assholes, because there are some really cool guys with moustaches. For example:

As you can see, very few guys can pull off the moustache without looking like a jerk. Perhaps the lapse of judgment that causes men to wear a moustache is somehow evolutionarily linked to the desire to watch NASCAR, stare at young girls' buttocks for inappropriate measures of time, and call people "chief."

3. This one can only be solved with the use of our old friend arithmetic. Since I'm an American, and that's my primary concern and basis for music taste (not just American bands, but music played in America; there may be girls from Indochina with good taste, but they'll like Indochinese stuff, which I haven't caught on to yet). There are 20 million girls in 20-29 age group (the only girls I care about for this project)according to 2000 census. I figure I've met about 1000 girls in my life. Of that thousand, about seven of them have had music taste that made them more attractive. Seven out of a thousand times the nearly twenty million girls I haven't met yet equals around 140,000 girls that are likely to have taste in music that makes them more attractive to me. Obviously there are variables involved, like "what if she's really really ugly?" or "what if it turns out if she has good music except for the fact that her favorite guilty pleasure is Metallica's Black Album?" I suppose we'll just cross that road when we come to it.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea

I've re-done my homepage. Admittedly, I know virtually nothing about HTML. My first attempt truly shows as much, but I'm hesitant to put up the revised version until I put some time between my creating it and publishing it. However, the lucky reader(s) of this portion of the site can view both examples here, and make their decision on which is better by commenting at the portion at the bottom of this post!

1. The old one
2. The new one

Women who are to some extent resistant, whom one cannot possess at once, whom one does not even know at first whether one will ever possess, are the only interesting ones.

Marcel Proust said this, and he's right. Looking back, I can see that the only girls I actually gave a damn about were the ones who made me work for it. It would be a lie to say that I haven't cared at all about certain girls who I've been involved with who didn't make me work for it, but they are however in a very different category than the two that I put at the top of the "was actually upset when things were over between us" list.

On a separate but similar note, I'm willing to bet that mankind would be so much further along in our innovation and design if we were able to turn sexual desire and lust on and off at will. How much time is wasted through acts of or relating to sex? The flirting, the worrying, the daydreaming, the fantasizing, the self-pleasure, the act of sex itself not for procreation but for fun, all seem like activities that all lead to absolutely but nothing but the beginning of the same cycle.

Sometimes I think I should resolve not to have sex outside of a relationship. That, of course, is the wiser, more mature, me. Alternatively, the me that actually exists from day to day wants to bang every girl that leans over when wearing a thong and low-rise jeans.

I'm a strong believer in the idea that people are in complete control over their lives. I don't believe in fate or destiny. I am aware, for example, that I'm not getting laid currently because I'm putting so much energy into working on content for the website, design for the website, writing a biography, and researching the history of rock music. It's unfortunate that I can't eat my cake and have it too, that I can't have some girl who is willing to come around to have sex with me whenever I want to and go home directly afterwards, especially since I can't be bothered to take the time to do the stuff that comes with being in a relationship at the moment. It's also unfortunate (and probably slightly more likely a scenario) that the Me That Exists From Day To Day doesn't involve a little more of Wise Me in his thoughts and decisions.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Revolution Rock

I beginning to feel like 1980 signified the death of rock and roll. If you think about it, there weren't any real large-scale rock and roll contributions in the 80s (yes, I know the Pixies were around in the 80s, hence the qualifier "large-scale"), although there were contributions from hip-hop, new wave, and various other subgenres of pop music. The 90s brought about new life from rock: The "Seattle Sound" of Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and Alice in Chains were definitely significant. However, it's fair to wonder whether or not hip-hop played a much larger role in pop music during that time period, and especially in the short long-run that we can see today.

Was rock's rebirth in the early nineties or in 2000 with what has been called the "new rock revival" with The Strokes, The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand, and to a lesser extent, The Vines, The Walkmen, and The Hives? Indie rock is experiencing unheard of levels of popularity, and people are beginning to search out good music anywhere they can find it when subjected to today's American Idol 15-minute-wonders and overplayed party-rap anthems on the radio.

Rock is certainly receiving more airplay than it was in the second half of the 90s, which seemed to be inhabited with the vanilla sounds of new-adult contemporary than anything really rock and roll. On the other hand though, you couldn't switch on a radio in 1993 without hearing from a band that would make its way to Lollapalooza at some point or another. How significant is what is happening now in rock and roll vs. the 90s rock resurgence? With the exception of a few of those bands from the 90s, I much prefer the rock that's coming out now, although maybe that's just because it's new. Lord knows I played Siamese Dream and Nevermind into the ground when I was thirteen. I suppose that only time will tell, but I feel like there's still more information out there on this that I haven't seen yet.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Songs beginning with the word "All" on my iPod: 48

Today I added the Brandon Iron interview (with semi-lewd pictures!) to the site, and am beginning work on a new section called "Lists" which was inspired by McSweeney's Internet Tendency. My sister had some pretty good ideas for lists, and so did I, so hopefully you'll see those on the site soon.

I'm scheduled to work at the bar six days next week, which prompted me to think: "Well, there's six days on which I won't be able to spend writing or working on the website." I find myself thinking that a lot lately. I'm wondering if were I able to successfully convince a girl to break through the forcefield that has surrounded my genitals as of late, I would think the same. At this point I think that I probably would.

My sister, at the moment, is hanging out with her mullet-headed boy-toy, who seems nice despite his mullet-head status. It's not like it's a joke that people make because his hair is a little longer in the back than it is in the front; his entire head is shaved with the exception of the rear, which goes halfway down his back. She mentioned to me a few days ago that she met a guy who was attractive "except for his haircut." She mentioned the next day in conversation that she "didn't even notice it" at first, which sounds phonier than Nixon stating that he is "not a crook." At any rate, he seems like a nice guy, and if things don't work out between the two of them, he'll always have a future playing with Lynyrd Skynyrd.

There are at least a few good things about being in New Zealand, besides the obvious, and including things that are specific only to me: I don't have a bunch of distractions, responsibilities, and people I know who want to hang out (because I'm the coolest kid in school back home!) to keep me away from sitting on my ass and working on the website and writing this biography, which currently occupies my every thought.

Go back, Jack. Do it again.

When I was eleven, I was known as the funniest kid in class. I wasn't the class clown, although it seems that those fourth through sixth grade years were the beginning of my troublemaking. When I was eight, I started what would be my legacy by winning the 1989 Dodson Elementary Funny Hat contest. My hat smoked every other entry in the contest, most of which were mesh baseball hats with the company logos of a father's company, or Kangols. The closest thing to mine was a really nice top hat, which was classy, but not funny. The winning hat was a rubber number that had been formed into the shape of a molehill of green peas with a pat of butter on top. It's unbelievable to me that this hat even exists, but what is even more unbelievable is that my dad had it in his posession, and was able to produce it at the mere mention of a funny hat contest.

My prize was a meager York Peppermint Pattie which I gingerly ate later that day, but it was then that the kids in my class began to look to me for as the kid who would crack them up over our government-sponsored lunches.

I drank the glass of milk that had breadcrusts, carrots, and mashed potatoes in it, which established me as a spectacular gross-out artist (but not the best--that title was taken by Alex Yanez, who picked up a dead bird by its wing and flapped it around, pretending that it could still fly). I drew charicatures of our overweight and stern teacher Ms. Cook, that featured her even fatter than she really was, and attacking a city in a Godzilla-like fashion (this scene drawn after a sleepover in which we fashioned the chorus to Frank Sinatra's "New York New York" into "Ms. Cook ate New York," and did the can-can, our hands behind the neck of the fellow next to us). My crowning achievement in humor however, was when Jennifer Salinas, the girl we all had the hots for, came into the math room, where Sergio, Michael, and myself were doing our Scholastic Reading Assignments (SRAs). All of us were totally hot for Jennifer, but she never seemed to pay us any mind, preferring instead the attention of the bigger, blacker, sixth grade boys who were consistently getting us out in kickball with a swift peg to the head. Jennifer walked into the math room, and I called her over, drawing her over ostensibly to ask about Fun Friday, a series of activities that was rewarded to those who finished all their assignments for the week (I never got Fun Friday even once. I decided that I would rather draw pictures of the sitcom re-runs I watched when I got home from school, which included Happy Days (The Fonz), Charles in Charge(Charles), and Small Wonder(That little diamond thing that represented the robot girl's dad).), but in actuality just to talk to her, and show my friends that I could do it.

She came over, and we started talking about our assignments. Michael asked her if she had completed the SRA assignment that we were working on. She said she had, and there was a question that was tricky that involved the placement of a comma in the sentence "Tina went to the market and then visited Jennifer's sewing store." The question had already piqued our interest because it had Jennifer's name in it. Then, for no reason at all besides the fact that it struck me, I read the question as "Tina went to the market, and then visited Jennifer's Purple Heart Store." (The Purple Heart being a thrift store that only the poorest of the poor in our area shopped at.) Sergio and Michael lost it. After a few seconds, so did I. We were laughing so hard that tears streamed down our cheeks and we couldn't speak. Jennifer didn't laugh at all, and began walking towards the door, sobering me up a little. I called out to her, asking her to wait, to tell her that I was just kidding and didn't mean anything by it, but she didn't even slow down. Just as the door slammed behind her, and the appropriate pause passed, I said:

"Yep, she wants me."

That brought out every remaining laugh we could keep in our eleven-year-old bodies. It was one of those laughs shared by the three of us that consumed our whole body, that briefly made us forget about getting a "U" (for "unsatisfactory") in conduct for the week, that made us completely change priorities from impressing Jennifer into getting as much into that laugh as was humanly possible. I believe, but can't be sure, that I ended up falling out of my chair and onto the floor, which was a bit of an overkill, but was still worth it at the time. From then on, I was championed by my two friends as the king of comedy in Ms. Cook, Ms. Fuller, and Ms. Yeager's classes.

My throne was soon threatened though, by another Chris. His name was Christopher Wheeler, and he could run faster, draw cooler pictures, and got into more trouble than I did. I later found out that he was much better than me at Super Mario Kart, and I nearly committed suicide. In the end though, the new Chris and I became friends, and we shared the kingdom, although he tended to get more appreciation for his running speed and clever drawings than I did for falling down in a funny way after getting my brains knocked out with a dodgeball by LeDarius while running to second base.

Despite my subsequent downfall, I never held a grudge, and I never asked for more than I deserved. For one shining moment though, I was the king of the one-liners at Dodson Elementary, and more than a few people knew it. Besides, nobody else ever wore a hat as funny as mine, not even Chris Wheeler.

Music is my radar

There's a few things that I can't stand at the moment:

1. IM/text messaging slang - "wut r u up 2?" "OMG i cnt blv it!" "hey ppl im gng out 2mrw" Abbreviations exist for a reason, but when you must use "2" in place of "to" when spelling the word "tomorrow", it's simply a case of laziness. It's difficult to read and it sounds ignorant. What's even more bothersome about this trend is that people have began using it in their everyday writing: in their blogs, their e-mails, and even in handwritten notes and letters. I'm looking forward to the day that kids who use this use the language on the cover letter of their resume: "lkng 4 job n fshn dsgn. wnt 2 skool 4 4 yrs. WTF hire me".
2. People who mistake cynicism for wisdom - A lot of kids I went to school with suffered from this debilitating illness. It's easy to be cynical and sarcastic about the events of the world, about the current status of pop music, about politics, about the president, about the opposite sex, about your place in the world, about anything. However, just because you're fed up with the radio doesn't mean everything on it is bad. I'm no advocate for ClearChannel, but it simply isn't true that it's all bad, just as it isn't true that all guys are assholes, that nothing good every happens in politics, or that nobody will ever recognize your genius, and therefore you should just give up. Just because you're sick and tired of things doesn't mean you're experienced. It doesn't mean you know what you're talking about, and it doesn't mean you can tell the difference between good and bad.
3. Those damn kids who won't get out of my lane at the pool I swim laps at - It's summertime in New Zealand, and the kids are out of school. I understand that they need a place to go, and I further understand that the pool offers certain hours for lap swimming. However, they generally offer at least one lane that should be munchkin-free specifically for lap swimming. They're constantly chasing each other all around the pool and entering my path, which forces me to stop and pretend like I'm not annoyed until they move because the lifeguard is watching me and doesn't like it when I drown the kids.
4. George Harrison's lame cover on the 2000 re-release of All Things Must Pass - The album itself sounds just as good (with the exception of the re-mix of the lush and beautiful "My Sweet Lord"), but he went and changed the cover just enough to be polemic and corny. The cover now features George in the grass with some gnome statues, but there's a huge smokey power plant in the background, instead of the usual empty sky. In the liner notes, he said something about wanting to have a bit of fun with the graphics, and mentioned disappointment that "the earth is being concreted over at an alarming rate." He also uses the phrase "old friend" way too many times when mentioning Ringo and Eric Clapton, who were session artists for the album. Is it absolutely necessary that people, no matter how good they were at one point, get lamer as they age?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

a grand don't come for free

What a productive day (in terms of projects involving a computer). I woke up this morning to find that I'd gotten back this week's questions to my dad, so I worked with putting them into an organized fashion with the rest of my notes for the biography.

Then I ate some cereal and began doing research for the "Best American Bands" section of the site (which you can see here. I've honestly been thinking about and researching the question for about a week now, mainly because I wanted to be sure I didn't forget to consider a worthy band. After working on that into the afternoon, I got up off my ass and walked down to the library and dropped off a few books, as well as picking up the following:

- a grand don't come for free - The Streets (audio recording)
- All Things Must Pass - George Harrison (audio recording)
- The Best of - Blur (audio recording)
- Showbiz Kids: The Steely Dan Story 1972 - 1980 - Steely Dan (audio recording)
- The Consolations of Philosophy - Alain de Botton (book)
- The Mammoth Book of Journalism - Jon E. Lewis (Editor) (book)

I listened to Belle and Sebastian's Lazy Line Painter Jane EP, which was good for walking music on a sunny day.

Then I went to the grocery store, then to the bank to pay my rent approximately six days late. Getting back home, I changed clothes, went to the gym, and worked out for an hour, stopping only to make small talk to the cute fitness instructor with whom I always make small talk with.

During the workout, I listened to The Strokes' Is This It? and Room On Fire. The Strokes are definitely a good work out/running band.

I came back home, and decided on the three bands that had made the list, and their position on said list. I did more research on each one, and then started writing, stopping only to cook some pasta with hamburger and tomato sauce (which they call pasta sauce here, because tomato sauce means ketchup).

Then I got all the images I needed, edited them, and continued working on the essay while uploading my new music onto my iPod.

When I had nearly finished, I found that Brandon Iron, the pornstar, e-mailed me back with the interview questions I sent him. I worked on editing that, and decided to finish it tomorrow. I finished the American Bands essay, and uploaded the new content onto the site.

This is probably the most factual and least interesting update that you'll see here.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Can I get some help from the maestro please?

After Ben's reccomendation, I'm going to start using for the "blog" section of I sent e-mails proposing interviews to a few of my favorite adult performers, and actually heard back from a couple of them today, which is definitely exciting.

Speaking of the site, I got quite a few things done on it today, adding "The Incredibles" review, as well as an updated review of "Garden State", and fixing the Meta tags, which I had done incorrectly originally.

A few thoughts on what I'm doing here, halfway across the world from home: I have no idea at the moment. I definitely don't regret doing what I'm doing, and I'm trying my best to take advantage of the experience, but it's true that all I want to do is work on the projects that I've started for myself. It's almost as if my brain won't let my body do what I thought it was supposed to be doing (which, I suppose is traveling, meeting people, and wasting time not being productive) while I'm on this trip. I just don't have any interest in going out with a bunch of slobs I don't know or care for and drinking. I'd rather run home and write, read, take notes, and research. How strange is it that I've started two huge projects while I'm traveling around the world and at my most inconvenient for doing either one of them?

At any rate, there's nothing new going on other than that. I'd like to get to learn more about reviewing music, and read some more analysis on the subject, and examples of what's good and bad.