Thursday, December 26, 2002

One Down, One To Go

Beatification accomplished, Mother Theresa only needs to perform one more posthumous miracle to qualify for sainthood.

It's a C-Dog Xmas

I'll start by letting you know that my Xmas Eve and Xmas Day were the best I ever had ... great time with the fam and my girl, lots of presents, etc. All good. The adventure begins on the drive back to Providence ...

Route 6 is one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the country based on the number of accidents per year. Too many trucks travelling too fast on a too narrow two lane road that winds and twists up and down the woods and hills of eastern Connecticut. It was windy, snowy, and sleeting all day and all night. The roads weren't the worst ever, but they were none too good. We left my mom's at about 5pm and began the 35mph crawl back home. Thought I heard something bang/snap/crack under the car as we left, but figured it was just an icy, slushy block getting jarred out of the wheel well. My car was jam packed with presents, blankets, pillows, cookies, xmas dinner leftover, fruit tort, beer, wine, you name it. I'm wearing my new shoes, sweater, and jeans from my girlfriend. By the time we get to Bolton, she's napping in the passenger seat. I hear the sound again and the steering wheel shimmies a bit. The road is making a long, broad turn and the shimmy stops when we start to straighten out and turn the other way. Seems fine on the freeway bit of Route 6. We get into Brooklyn and the shimmy starts to get wicked bad. I pull over when we finally get to safe spot. Lots of long stretches of nothing but woods in that area. I look for another snow chunk in the wheel wells and don't see anything. Get back in and keep going. The steering wheel is shaking like crazy. Finally, we get to a gas station where I can pull up to a pump and check it out again. Still nothing. I jack up the car to see if the tire's loose. It's on tight. Look under the hood for things that might be obviously snapped in two, dumping fluid, or spewing smoke or sparks. Everything looks fine to me. You could replace my engine with wheelbarrow full of discarded tractor parts and I'm not sure I'd be able to tell the difference, but still, looks fine. Get back in the car, freezing and wet, and go to put it in gear. No movement, but it sounds like somebody trying to run that barrowload of parts through a trash compactor. Not good. Push the car up near the gas station and call AAA. Happy Christmas, standing around the Xtra Mart 8pm Xmas night with a sullen clerk (who, by the way, doesn't seem to appreciate your trying to describe to AAA where you are by saying, 'middle of freakin' nowhere ... seriously, I asked at the counter and they don't have a street number') trying to remember your warranty terms, waiting for the tow truck, and feeling like a dipshit for making Mega leave his house on Xmas to come and pick up you and the Xmas boodle to drive you back home.

Waiting now for the garage and the Toyota dealer to figure out how they can best screw me. "Your warranty covers the drive and power trains to 60,000 miles, unlesss something happens to your CV boot."

Friday, December 20, 2002

Trouser Monkey

Airport security: "Do you have anything to declare?"

Tourist returning from Thailand: "I've got monkeys in my pants." (Thanks to Will F. for the link.)

In related news: if the girl at the counter goes "na-na-na-na-na-na" when she gives you your burger, don't take it. It's a BatBurger. (Jack C. gets credit for this one.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

The Liberal Media At It Again

Thanks, Bonedaddy, for pointing out that I should be reading Paul Krugman. Molly Ivins has been the only columnist I make a concerted effort to keep up with, but now I've got a second read. Krugman's piece on the Trent Lott quip and the difference between how the mass media was determined to ignore that quip, but lambaste the speakers at Wellstone's services is spot on.

All my dreams about power boats and cars without mufflers are starting to make sense.

Apparently, I snore something fierce. I've always found it hard to believe because it seemed impossible that a sound as loud and obnoxious as what people have described is something I could sleep through. My roommate assures me my snoring is thunderous. His room is downstairs and down the hall from mine. My girlfriend says it's like having someone start a chainsaw next to her head in the middle of the night. Then there's this 'alien noise' I make as, I'm told, I jerk awake for a moment to start breathing again. (I find it hard to believe I wouldn't remember waking up from suffocating, but my girl assures me she's not teasing.) Though I was sceptical about the snoring being that disruptive, I agreed to try Breathe Right strips. The name brand seems to work about half the time. Generic CVS brand doesn't work at all. MSNBC reports there's an 'easy solution'. This is the 'easy solution'. A machine that forces pressurized air into my head through a mask. Yeah, that should aid my sleeping. Not to mention, how big is this machine? What kind of noise does it make? Who can wear a mask while they sleep? Do they just give these things away? I'm not rich, y'know. Sleep apneacs of the world, please help! I got spammed with an ad for a sling once that's supposed to keep your mouth shut and force you to breathe through your nose ... would that work? Any suggestions?

Friday, November 29, 2002

Still Searching for Bobby Fischer

A&L Daily (so glad it's back, one of the best sites on the web) linked a story the other day about Bobby Fischer's recent broadcasts on a Phillipine radio station. The story ("Bobby Fischer's Pathetic Endgame") was a concise and interesting overview of his career, spotlighting the incidents that make his total descent into hatemongering unsurprising.

 Bobby Fischer is one of those guys I bet you had on your college campus (I'm thinking of two from UConn back in the day: 'Lurch' and 'Physics Phil'), a genius -- maybe in the Engineering school -- with astonishing intellectual capacity in a particular field, but otherwise considered a lunatic for things like sleeping in a winter coat on a bare mattress, showering in his clothes, subsisting mainly on raw potatoes, and the like.

 I was never a chess buff, but I remember watching PBS back in the mid-70's, when they covered the World Championships with a big pegboard to show the moves, and being occasionally interested in Fischer's antics. I'm a big fan of the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer which, having nothing to do with Fischer himself, at least brings the name to mind each time I walk past my DVD rack. Anyways, Fischer is a character, if only in the 'just because you are one doesn't mean you have any' sense); a tie from my lifetime to the coldest days of the Cold War, a broken genius in an irrelevant field, basically a spectacle -- the car wreck from which it's difficult to look away.

 Turns out Fischer and his family have a thick FBI dossier and he may have been recruited to spy for the Soviets. One can only imagine what kind of information the KGB might have prized that they suspected Fischer would be able to supply? The guy was always one step away from wearing Kleenex boxes for shoes.

Related: The Radio Interviews (Reads as if it may be Bobby's own page, certainly written by an ardent admirer.) / "I Was Tortured in a Pasadena Jailhouse!" / The Worldwide Church of God / bobbyfischer.net


Saturday, November 23, 2002

The Music and The Vines at Lupo's

Back from seeing The Music and The Vines at Lupo's. Gotta get up early to help Stevie with the move, so no long, drunk ramble, but I'll tell ya it was good show. Same bill is playing somewhere in Hartford tomorrow, worth checking out for those in the area.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Atkins

In the life-imitating art category [cf. Woody Allen's Sleeper (1973)], High-Fat Diet Shows Promise in Study.
"After years of dismissing the high-fat, low-carbohydrate Atkins diet, the medical establishment is at last putting it to a careful test and finding it might not be the nutritional folly they long assumed."

Saturday, November 2, 2002

Day In The Life (Of A Deadbeat)

Look, I'm sorry about that whole Antibacterial-Samhain investigative journalism fiasco. That kind of blogging isn't my modus operandi. Not really. I'm more about the slice of life vignette. The poignant sudden story that gives you an "in" ... a short, sharp shock of c-dog sympatico. That's what it's all about, dear reader. Me and you: connecting. I'm not going to google news, or anywhere else, for this morning's post. I'm staying right here at home. This is all about sitting 'round at home on a Saturday a.m. with yours truly.

7:00 a.m.-ish: Whoa. Way too early to be up on Saturday. Tif's still sleeping. Go back to sleep.

8:00 a.m.-ish: What?! Awake again? No. This won't do.

10:00 a.m.-ish: Tif's awake. Why? There's no hurry. Oh yeah, she's going to Boston today with her friend Sonia to get some lunch at P.F. Chang's. Girls' day out. I'm awake now, but I think I'll take a little nap before getting out of bed.

10:23 a.m.: OK, now I'm ready to start my day. What to do? It's Saturday morning and I've got nowhere to be ... let's watch some cartoons. All the cartoons on tv suck. Got those eps of Home Movies I burned, let's watch some of those. Back upstairs and into bed to watch cartoons on the computer.

10:25 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.: 3 ep Home Movies marathon. That's good stuff. Coach McGuirk, man, that guy kills me. "I can't get involved with a co-worker. Look, how old are you?" "18." "OK, potentially, I could get involved with a co-worker."

11:48 a.m.: Breakfast. Should I shower first? It can wait. Not feeling up to taking on the Oral B brush, so a quick little old school toothbrushing and I'm ready for a bowl of Crunch Berries. Still hungry. Put some water on for oatmeal and brew a pot of coffee. Getting better.

12:00 p.m. Breakfast accomplished. What now? Doot-de-doot-do-doo... [rocks on balls of feet for a moment] Phone's ringing. Do telemarketers call on Saturday? Don't want to chance it. Phone stops, then starts again. It's code; Tif knows I won't pick up unless somebody rings once or twice, then calls right back. If telemarketers ever catch on, I'm going to have to get the phone disconnected. Tif's a sweetheart. She misses me. Wants to let me know I don't have to do whatever it was she asked me to do this morning, she had time to take care of it. Asked me to do something? Hmmm. I vaguely remember something ... about something ... now that she mentions it, but I play along like I was just about to do it so I'm glad she called.

That pretty much takes us up to now. Got a few more downloads to clear off the hard drive, so I guess I should get started on that. Maybe play a little Puresim ... phones ringing again. No quick ring back. I'm not falling for that. Hey, the Badgers are playing Iowa ESPN. That's something. Catch y'all later. I'll update as events warrant. Oh, there's a new Boneyard in my inbox. I'm going to get that loaded up sometime today, so keep an eye out!

Thursday, October 31, 2002

"It ryhmes with Shane MacGowan, not Puddin' Tane."

For as long as I can remember, I've seen the word "samhain" in print, either in regard to Halloween or Danzig's post-Misfits band, and supposed it was pronounced like it's spelled. Nope. I learned today that it's "sow-en". I feel kinda like I did after I found out Heinlein is pronounced "hine-line," not "HINE-lin" like I'd always imagined. Fortunately, I haven't had much cause to go around saying "samhain," (never found myself saying, "Dude, the new Samhain album kicks ass!") in fact, I don't think I've ever spoken the word aloud. Now that I know how it's pronounced, look out. Any wannabe goths come around "sam-haining" and I'm gonna smugly correct their ignorant asses.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Capital Punishment

Sniper suspect's son and ex-wife think death penalty appropriate. The ex-wife looks sternly resolute in the photo that accompanies the article, perhaps ready to administer the injection herself.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

The Adventures of C-Dog

Went down to see the Reputation at the Met Cafe tonight. No such luck. They were leaving the stage just as we strolled in. The Secret Handshake, a local band playing their last show turned out to be the highlight of the evening. Joel, from the Reputation, seemed genuinely sorry that we'd come all the way down only to miss them. He seemed to think daylight savings time had messed everything up.

In other news, I took a jar of change to the grocery store, as I sometimes do, to use the Coinstar machine. I usually treat the proceeds of my coin jar as free money and buy a luxury item I wouldn't normally splurge on -- macadamia nuts, for example. This time it was one of those battery operated spinning tooth brushes. I love it. The thing is though, there are some things you need to know if you are using one for the first time. (1) Don't take the thing out of your mouth while it's still spinning. (2) It will make you drool like gangbusters. So, what you'll not want to do is, upon observing that you're are drooling like mad all down your hand, take the spinning brush out of your mouth to figure out what to do about the excessive drooling. What'll happen is this: toothpaste will be rocketed into your eyes and in the shock and confusion of the toothpaste assault, the spinning brush will slip out of your drool-soaked hand and continue spraying your mirror and the rest of your bathroom.

Friday, October 25, 2002

RIP Paul Wellstone

Sen. Paul Wellstone (D) Minnesota has perished, along with 7 others, in a plane crash. (more...) CNBC, as I sit here, is reporting on how this might lead to a more favorable business climate if Republicans gain control of the Senate. (Wellstone was in a tightly contested race.)

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Monday, October 21, 2002

Cooperstown

It's about a five hour drive from Providence, RI to Cooperstown, NY. This time of year, when the leaves are starting to turn, it's not an unpleasant trip across across the Pioneer Valley, through the Berkshires, past Albany into central NY, then down the western shore of Lake Ostego to baseball's holiest shrine: the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It's one of those things I've wanted to do since I was about 10 years old, but just never made time for. A few months back my girlfriend (how cool is this?!) my girlfriend says, "have you ever been the Hall of Fame? No?!? Well, let's go!!" She's not really into baseball, so I don't think I would've ever thought of asking her, but when she grokked how much I love baseball she took it on herself to make sure I went.

I didn't really know what to expect of the place. I knew the museum had exhibits and a hall of plaques and that Cooperstown would be small, but that was pretty much it. For some reason, I half expected to see Hall of Famers, and guys hoping to get in, walking the streets. You know, Jim Rice getting a chili dog at the Doubleday Diner, Pete Rose working the counter at his memorabilia shop, maybe a red-eyed Ozzie Smith on the tale end of a celebratory bender threatening to do his patented back flip next to the bobbleheads in the Hall of Fame gift shop. No such luck. What is there is, for a baseball fan, pretty awe-inspiring. Recent items, like the bats Mike Cameron and Shawn Green swung when they hit four homers each in games this past year. The jersey Nomar wore during his 30 game hit streak in 1997. Gear, bats, and balls from McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds. There's a room devoted to the 500 club full of bats and gear worn by Aaron, Williams, McGwire, Foxx, Ott, et al. There was a ball signed by the 1918 World Champion Red Sox. There was a baseball card display. Man, was that tough to swallow. Cards I used to own on display in the Hall of Fame. (Sadly, most of those photos didn't turn out.)

You can read all about what's at the Hall, if it's your bag, at the website. You can even see the plaques, but it's nothing like being in that room, wandering from alcove to alcove, finding the ones you wanted to see, and touch, like Teddy's, Yaz's, Pudge's, and stumbling across others, like Nolan Ryan's, of guys that didn't play for the Red Sox, but were still pretty good players anyways, and watching other guys look for, and find the Yaz plaque you were just at, have their picture taken with it, then tell their son about how they used to idolize him as a kid. I can't wait until my nephew gets into the little league years so I can take him out there.

If I haven't bored you to tears yet, you can check out some of the photos we took here.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Does anybody think Andy Rooney knows more about football that Monday Night Football's Melissa Stark? Hell, does anybody think Andy Rooney knows more about anything than Melissa Stark?



"Let's go down to the sidelines for a report. Melissa?"

"You know what bugs me? Paper clips..."

Friday, September 20, 2002

"Oh darn."

Firefly: a couple laugh out loud moments and potential for interesting character interactions as things develop. Not as much as I'd hoped for, not a bust either. The biggest disappointment was the action sequences, particularly the fights. There was no energy to them. I don't need Matrix-y special effects or Jet Li-style fighting (Yuen Woo Ping's way isn't the only way) ... but the bar's been raised and those fights look like they were choreographed and filmed by the crew from Everybody Loves Raymond. I'll keep watching it with the expectation that it'll be lucky to last a full season. I'm guessing a bunch of folks were underwhelmed the by the opening bar brawl and didn't stick around for the whole thing. Just a hunch.

Joe Dirt, Jr.: "He flicked us off ... he got what he deserved."

Shirtless thugs attack 54 year old Royals' first base coach during game. There should be zero tolerance for fans running on the field, even if it's just what looks like a solo drunk clown trying to get some attention. If you run on the field, you should be fair game. Gamboa's lucky he didn't get stabbed.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Fenway Rocks

You know sometimes things just go your way and you have an awesome day? Today was like that. Went up to Fenway with Tif and another couple and watched the Red Sox win as Manny homered twice and Lowe pitched well. We had good seats just a few rows back from the right field fence beyond the foul pole. Jackie Chan (!) threw out the first pitch ... I had no idea he was going to be there ... and I got a Jackie Face On A Stick. Drank tons of beer, ate sausages, and peanuts, and ice cream, then had more beer. It was gorgeous weather for the game and I got some good snapshots on Mega's digicam. Tif reminds me I should also be bragging about how my girl bought me a new hat, one of the caps with Ted Williams's number 9 on the front. It's sweet.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

What the What?

"Gay Wedding" on Smackdown?

I'm curious enough to read the first paragraph or two of the article, but not curious enough to watch or find out what it's all about. Can I assume it's homophobic under whatever gloss of inclusion it presents? Like 80's hair metal, wrestling has always seemed to me to be a puzzling display of cartoonish machismo meant to reassure conflicted homosexuals that they are in fact straight and 'normal' and all super-macho het-men just happen to like guys who tease their perms, wear makeup, and cross dress or preen themselves into a state of over-muscled, tights-wearing glistendom in order to grapple with one another. I guess I'm just surprised the wrestling establishment would flirt with revealing that their product is openly gay. (As I write this, I shudder to think what the referral log is going to look like for the next couple of days.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Marathon Man

Caught the last 5 hours of fX's 24 marathon Monday night (needed to veg for a bit after an exhausting, but fun!, vacation weekend) and now get what the buzz was about. Good show. (I got pulled into Alias last year the same way. A few years back, it was CourtTV that got me into Homicide with the marathon, though the show was already done. The marathon works for me. It's much easier for me to get engaged in a show when I don't have to wait a week between installments.) Now I've got another show I've got to figure out how to slot in. Or, now that series are coming out on DVD left and right, maybe I can just stop watching and wait until I can watch a whole run at a time. New shows I'm officially looking forward to seeing this fall: Firefly, Birds of Prey, and the corny show I'll give a shot because I like the premise ... That Was Then. I have a feeling that after the first week, Firefly is the only one in which I'll still be interested. 24, Alias, Angel, Bernie Mac, Buffy (I'm giving it a shot but if I'm still burned out 2 or 3 shows in, it's off the A list.), Smallville (gulp!), and The West Wing are the only returning shows I'll make an effort to catch.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Don "Traficant" Cornelius?

Soul Train's response to a teen's web petition indicates someone over there has lost his or her mind.
In a response Zamora says was sent to him on August 9 from the Soultrain.com's Webmaster email address, the entertainment site alternately suggested that Zamora's Internet campaign be called, "I'm a f*cking loser, I'm not talented or successful, I don't know sh*t about the music industry and I need to get a motherf*cking life!!"

A call to Don Cornelius Productions, the parent of Soul Train and Soultrain.com, was not returned.

"I think they're just mad," says the still even-tempered Zamora of Soultrain.com.

In addition to being emailed personally to Zamora, the blistering response, which also called out the "white-owned" BET.com for publicizing the teen's effort, was posted for several hours on August 9 on Soultrain.com. (No such page currently can be found on the site. Zamora includes what he says are screenshots of those pages on his own Website, The Untold Truth [unable to locate via google search -- c-dog].)

In a message about the petition that currently can be found at Soultrain.com, the Website seems to concede it blew a gasket. "We are no longer angry over what has been a turmoil of insults," the unsigned statement reads.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

On Justice

Thought provoking article on liberalism and rationality: John Rawls and the Liberal Faith. (via Arts & Letters Daily)
"By cloaking its political conclusions in the mantle of disinterested and universal reason, A Theory of Justice insinuates that many opinions heard in public debate--on welfare reform, on abortion, on affirmative action--don't deserve a place at the table. They are, in this view, unreasonable. Such a view can all too easily feed the illiberal conviction that left-wing progressives are separated from centrists and right-wing conservatives not just by opinions (over which reasonable people can disagree) but by a gulf akin to the one that separates civilized people from philistines and barbarians [emphasis mine]."
My knowledge of Rawls is totally secondhand, from articles like this one, and his influence on the writing of Ronald Dworkin. I'm energized now though to pick up and start delving into his work as it appears he is perceived to be arguing the same thing I've felt intuitively all along -- that anyone to the right of me on the political spectrum might as well put on the clown shoes because they're effing insane. (Kidding. Sort of.) What intrigues me is the description of Rawls's "original position" (discussed in the article) from which the concept a just society is derived. I'm curious to learn more about how Rawls, first, argues his derivation, and secondly, and perhaps more relevantly, what means he advocates for working towards the just society he envisions. It seems like a good part of the debate in the comments here and at Cheek over matters of social justice is rooted in fundamentally different positions in regard to what the individual's response to social injustice ought to look like, whether indeed injustice ought even to be identified and addressed. Are we to live as paragons within our familial sphere and leave the rest of the world to its own devices? Or, do we seek to apply the moral principles that we live our personal lives by to larger social systems, if only by means like angry debate and public condemnation of the individuals and institutions that seek to deprive ourselves and others of personal liberty?

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Nothing Gets Out Vampire Stains Like Tide

It's not just the music industry that's up in arms about digital recording ... TiVo and ReplayTV have barely penetrated the market and are already causing folks like Turner Broadcasting's chief to imply that if you skip the commercials, you're stealing tv shows. My prediction: it won't be long before we see a return to tv shows incorporating sponsorship into the programming. Remember how Carson used to pimp dog food before the commericials? Expect to see more of that. As the consumer becomes more able to filter out commercials automatically using PVRs, the producers will just start grinding them further into the shows themselves. Buffy's got a stain on her sweater from staking a vamp? Soon she'll have a box of Tide in hand extolling its virtues as a lead-in to the commercial break.

Thursday, August 8, 2002

Wild Kingdom

"We hope you enjoyed your behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium. Next on the agenda is a tour of the zoo where we'll get a great view of a grizzly bear mother and her new cub as we cross the bear habitat on a rickety rope bridge ..."

[Somewhat related follow-up: this too cool photo of a leaping shark seen over at Chapel Perilous.]

Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Thursday, August 1, 2002

Shaken Not Stirred: Rollercoaster Guy

Thanks to Q-Bot technology, I was able to endure the oppressive heat and ride the Superman 4x yesterday, in addition to 5 other rides, all in a 7 hour span while eating only half a hot dog and a few fries ($10.29) for sustenance. Last night and this morning I had one of the worst headaches of my life. Still, ditching work to go to the theme park: good stuff.

Saturday, July 13, 2002

Vote Bird!

Fox Sports is running one of those hottest babe tournament brackets, which is not particularly exciting except that Sue Bird is in the Final Four and should win ... but she is going to need to come from behind in order for justice to be served.

Friday, July 5, 2002

The Splendid Splinter

Ted Williams passed away today at 83. 

He was the last .400 hitter, probably the greatest hitter ever to play the game (Bob Feller is on the air now attesting to the fact) -- he definitely had the sweetest swing. He was, by all accounts, a great fighter pilot who saw extensive combat in WWII and in Korea. He was active in supporting the Jimmy Fund.

Baseball and the Red Sox are a part of the New England identity; Ted Williams, moreso than any other Boston sports legend (Bird, Orr, Yaz...) was the living embodiment of that identity. Prickly, brash, reclusive, gifted, generous ... in some regards he's not an easy guy to warm up to the idea of, but the way he dreamed as a kid of being the greatest hitter ever, then applied himself wholeheartedly to that goal -- learning the science and mechanics of hitting, applying his mind and that wiry body of his to the task with single-minded devotion -- those qualities made him, in my imagination, the most fascinating figure in sports.

Thursday, July 4, 2002

Reco'nize!

Another thing I forgot to do before the golf tour of Zion ... thanks to The People's Republic of Seabrook for making us the Blog of the Day back on June 28th.

Utah Vacation

This Is Where I Was Earlier Today

My first words upon stepping outside of the terminal at Logan: "What is this f*cking humidity about? I hate it here. I want to go back." Utah is goregous. The weather while we were there was amazing. Nate was a brilliant host and tour guide. That was the best vacation I think I've ever had. My buddy Nhan and I arrived in Salt Lake City about 2pm or so and Nate had us on the golf course by 2:30. We played nine holes at Wingepointe watching planes fly in with the Wasatch mountains towering over SLC as a backdrop. From there we went into the city and toured the Temple Square, drove up into the mountains to get the lay of the land, then went out for dinner. Sunday we played a round at Oakridge Country Club, though it was hard to focus on anything other than the view of the mountains. I blooped my drive off the first tee over a line of trees into the driving range area and put my driver away for the rest of the trip. We crashed for a few hours that afternoon, then did some more sightseeing and went out to Nate's dad's place out in the country. Monday morning I was up at 6am, so I went out and sat in the front yard to read until the other guys woke up. The view of the mountains to the west was simply incredible. As the sun came up, I watched it light up the mountains from the top down. That half hour or so alone would've made the trip worthwhile. From 9am to about 5pm we were out on Nate's brother's boat learning how to wakeboard. I'm still sore today, but it was a freaking blast. Tuesday we changed venues and went out to Park City where we did the alpine slide and hung out on Main St. for a while before hitting the Mountain Course at Wasatch State Park. The other courses we played had great views of the mountains, this one was on a mountain. I was blown away by the scenery on the other courses and this took it to another level entirely. ( And, it only cost $34 with the cart! I played 45 holes of golf while I was out there and spent less than $60. That's one round at a decent course around here.) Today, we drove out the resort areas at Alta and took the tram up to the top of Snowbird (elevation 11,000 feet, with snow on the ground). I really hope the pictures come out. I'm too tired to really give a good idea of what the trip was like beyond "there were lots of mountains, we golfed a lot, and it was really cool," for which I'm sorry because it doesn't give credit to Nate and his family for being such gracious hosts and hostesses. I never would've been able to take a trip like that and do all that we did if they hadn't been kind enough to let us stay in their homes and plunder their cabinets for cereal and bagels, if Scott hadn't taken time off from work to drag us around behind his boat, if Chuck hadn't gotten us onto Oakridge on his tab, if John and Angie hadn't fed us like kings ... it goes on and on and I'm extremely grateful to all those guys for being so kind and gracious.

Friday, June 28, 2002

The Real World

The Past as Undetermined as the Future?
I can't get past the idea that cats are irredeemably stupid and useless, so imagining Pavlov and Schrodinger switched test subjects and we've got a dog instead of a cat in the box with the uranium, the detector, the hammer, and the vial -- why is the experiment not considered observed until the scientist does the observing? Surely we can say the dog observes whether the hammer breaks the vial and he is poisoned, right? Why isn't the result of the experiment considered determined then? Or, take it further: in the article, Wheeler says it's not a consciousness that needs to do the observing, that inanimate objects serve as well (the mica that interacts with particles emitted by radium from the earth's core). He is arguing that once a particle like a photon interacts with the real world, then it's path (or, past) is determined. We don't need Schrodinger's dog, we can say that once the detector is activated by the particle, the result is determined. Maybe I'm getting bogged down in trying to define what he means by 'the real world', as if particles somehow exist in an unreal world that co-exists and somehow interacts with a real world. I can't help but wonder if all of quantum theory arises from limitation in our understanding, our ability to measure, that isn't a product of reality being absolutely incomprehensible or unmeasurable, only incomprehensible and unmeasurable by us right now and perhaps forever. There's also something that bothers me about the particle vs. wave light-through-slit experiment. That it plays out the way it does makes me think we influence the result (not by observing, but by interfering) or that we simply have two wrong or incomplete theories of light. [link via GITM]

Thursday, June 27, 2002

The Pledge

Republicans, To Arms!

Here we go again, political discussion begins descent into pointless name-calling over another ludicrous issue: the Plege of Allegiance. Could anything matter less? Don't the people who think this is important remember being in school, rolling their eyes and chanting along without paying the slightest attention to what was being said, and when finally taking notice, feeling resentful that they were thought so little of by adults who felt the need to practice crude brainwashing techniques on them?

Bait is for the weak.

Anyone wanna go noodlin'? We can send our photos to these guys when we get back. (This is actually something I would've gone out and tried as a kid. Older and wiser, I don't think it's worth the risk of losing a finger to gar attack.) [more at Salon and The Tennessean and BullyMag ...]

Monday, June 24, 2002

Cianci

Buddy thinks 26 out of 27 ain't bad.

He's not stepping down. He's about to announce his candidacy for re-election. Free Buddy t-shirts line Thayer St. shop windows.

Saturday, June 15, 2002

You May Not Want to Know

How close is your house or apt. to a rail line used for hauling nuclear waste? Find out. (via adampsyche)

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Those Amazing Hubleys

Another indie film on the festival circuit, also soon to be on PBS (I think, no times scheduled), worth noting (for Yo La Tengo fans, at least) -- Independent Spirits: The Faith and John Hubley Story.

Thursday, June 6, 2002

I Don't Feel Safer

Bush proposes Dept. of Homeland Security. Yesterday, the bureaucracy was bad. Today it's good and we need more. Which is it? Does this mean the FBI and CIA will be reorganized and downsized?

Wednesday, June 5, 2002

C-Dog Uber Alles

Holy raving egomania ... I'm the #1 search result for 'c-dog' on Google. (In Germany.) C-Dog Uber Alles!

Monday, June 3, 2002

Shell Game

Molly Ivins reminds populists to keep an eye on the shell with the pea under it. [Follow up: Molly, in an article at commondreams.org recommended this interview with Bill Black from the Texas Observer as a way to place the Enron/Arthur Andersen scandal in context with the fraud perpetrated during the S&L scandal. Black was an investigator during the S&L mess and is now a criminologist. He discusses how CEOs and financial industry players find themselves in a situation ripe for fraud and how they justify it. Intriguing reading in support of regulated capitalism.]

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Nolan's Insomnia

Just back from seeing the new Insomnia. Though I never saw the 1997 original and had no expectations based on an admiration of the source material, I was a big on Nolan's Memento and had high hopes for this one. While hardly a sophmore slump of Stone Rosesian proportions (straining to make the link here, I'm glossing over the fact that this is actually Nolan's third film), I left feeling like Nolan hadn't gotten any more out of Pacino than Mann had in Heat. Not that Pacino was bad in Heat; I just expected more. As a point of comparison, the scene in Heat where Pacino (the cop) sits in a coffee shop and has talk with DeNiro (the baddie) has a bit of an echo in Pacino's chat with Williams's murderer aboard the ferry in this flick. I don't mean to say the situation is the same or serves a similar function, just that we've got the 'good guy' and the 'bad guy' talking things over without a chase or shots being fired. Pacino's cop in Insomnia, the dilemma he faces ... the ingredients were there for the scene to be at least as effective or memorable -- it just doesn't quite happen. Not bad. Just not remarkable. Nolan does a great job restraining Pacino from engaging in his usual bug-eyed scenery chewing and even managed to get Williams harness his inner Mork. The two canned hams give solid performances. Nolan handles the filming of the insomiac's affliction well. (I flashed back to my experience on one the more brutal stretches of I-90 through PA as I did the nonstop CT to WI trek during one scene to the point where I jerked alert just like I did behind the wheel after being hypnotized by the back and forth of the wiper blades.) I can't fault the script, the cinematography, the actors, the direction ... I just didn't get engaged the way I'd hoped. Soderberg was listed as one of the executive producers; I almost wonder if this material wouldn't have been more suited to his style? I'm glad I saw it and I appreciate the skill with which it was crafted, but I can't rave about it. I hope this doesn't mean I'm so conditioned to the standard over-the-topness of the usual dreck that a movie with realistic, human characters in a plausible story told at an unhurried narrative pace leaves me craving bullet-time f/x and cartoonish Willem Dafoe style villainry?

Saturday, May 25, 2002

Blog Map

Spiral Weblog map. A cool idea, but it doesn't seem to acknowledge TC's outgoing links.

Friday, May 24, 2002

Fast Foodie

This is sort of apropos of nothing, except maybe the exploding chicken sandwich below, but Wendy's now has really good salads. At least one anyways. I had the Mandarin Chicken salad (with mandarin oranges slices and almonds) the other night and I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. I ordered it expecting it not to be enough to keep me from feeling starved at work that night, so I got a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger and a Frosty with it, and couldn't eat them. I couldn't even finish the salad. It bordered on being monstrously huge. I wish they'd cut the size (and price) about in half and I'd eat there nearly every day.

Buffy Rumors

Britney on Buffy?! Mega, get your mind out of the gutter. I haven't seen this season's finale yet, but everything I've read about it makes me think I'm going to be glad when I do. [link via xkot.net]

Don't Think of the Cartoon Circles

Most people who've tried juggling, but say they can't do it, just don't get the concept. It's not that hard, physically; even the uncoordinated can do it. It's just a matter of getting the idea of it down. I'd be willing to bet that if you can figure out how to play this game, you can teach yourself to juggle in real life within a few minutes. [link via The World According to Rick]

Freestylin'

The #1 download at PeterJun.com is a pretty hilarious freestyle rap battle remniscent of Abdul-Jabaar v. Bruce Lee in Game of Death. [link via Big Blue Blog]

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Bedtime Rituals

New get your war on. Now I can go to bed. Where, by 'go to bed,' I mean do a couple of quick shots and sit here playing Max Payne for another couple hours so as I can stumble to work tomorrow like a brain-eating zombie.

Triumph

Conan O'Brien sends a puppet dog to interview Attack of the Clones fans. Hilarious.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Hipsters

It is one of my most earnest desires that every black frame glasses-wearing hipster dunce record store clerk read, and meditate on, my man Mark's spot-on essay Wrecktheplacefantastic over at Popmatters. It's important that everyone read it. It is especially important that record store clerks and grad students do so.

Monday, May 20, 2002

Spin has a lot of nerve.

Pavement one of the Top 50 bands of all time, yet no mention of the Fall? Pearl Jam better than Husker Du? I don't even know why I bothered looking at the list. I knew it would just irritate me. At least Fugazi got a mention.

Thursday, May 9, 2002

What Is Wrong With People?

Group (of idiots) opposes Peter Jackson's use of The Two Towers as the name of his movie based on The Two Towers. Hmmm, I wonder who in this whole scenario is really trying to milk something out the World Trade Center tragedy?

Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Pez Prescriptions

Placebos outpace anti-depressants in "curing" depression in some trials. [msnbc]

Saturday, May 4, 2002

Spider-Man

Pout no more, Bonedaddy, there's a superhero movie out you can enjoy ... spins a web / any size / catches thieves / just like flies ... That's right, the Spider-Man movie ain't half bad. In fact, between liking it a bit and Ebert giving me more fodder, I even decided to pick up the long neglected metareviewing pen to mark the occasion. Spidersense tingling ... here 'tis: the Spider-Man metareview.

Follow up: the trailer for Ang Lee's The Hulk is up at the official website. It doesn't show much, but you can see Bruce Banner and a hint of the transformation process.

Frontier House: Reality Done Right

Frontier House is really a different breed of 'reality' show. Where Big Brother, Survivor, Temptation Island, Road Rules, etc... are about whoring for the cam and wallowing in the lives of the self-absorbed, the decadent, jerk-offs and sluts, Frontier House actually managed to be entertaining by being educational and challenging. And, hey, if you want decadent jerk-offs, there's always the Clunes.

Thursday, May 2, 2002

IDYM

UConn student TV show making some waves. (It's called I Did Your Mother.)
Kingsley, who came up with show's title, strongly denies he does not respect women especially mothers.

''I respect my mother more than anyone on this earth, I just happened to have something called a sense of humor that these protesters do not,'' Kingsley said.

His own mother, he admits ''is not a big fan'' of the show.

''She is eagerly awaiting my graduation,'' he said.
Thanks to Kevin F. for the heads up on the link.

Monday, April 29, 2002

Astronaut Dreams

If you've got an IMAX near you playing Spacestation 3-D, I can definitley recommend checking it out. I went this afternoon and, despite Tom Cruise's earnestly braindead narration, I can honestly say I was floored. When Cruise would shut his piehole and they just played some music over scenes of the astronauts and cosmonauts working both inside and outside the station, I could perfectly understand why rich bastards would pay millions of dollars to hitch a ride up and hang out. If I were a filthy rich bastard, I'd consider it myself.

Friday, April 26, 2002

Tom Tomorrow, Blogger

Tom Tomorrow seems to have recognized the void left by the disappearance (?) of the underutilized Yo! That Shit Is Whack! site. Notice how he closes his post on The Bachelor.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

We Are Not Barbarians, Are We?

Federal judge about to declare death penalty unconstitutional?

Cutting through all the arguments about whether it serves as a deterrent, costs society more or less than incarceration for life, whether certain heinous crimes cry out for it, how the death penalty is racist and applied disproportionately to the poor ... I keep coming back to the underlying hypocrisy of the ultimate punishment. Look: if it's wrong to kill, then it's wrong to kill. How can you sanctimoniously decree that murder is so vile and despicable that the only suitable punishment is murder? If your position on the death penalty is based on eye for an eye logic, I don't see how you can argue the position consistently. What then is the appropriate punishment for someone who robs a house? Does the state then get to go in and rob their house? Who's going to rape the rapist? On it's face the argument appears rational; but, as soon as you try to apply it, you find it's really not. Plus, there's that whole problem with sending people to death row who didn't even do the crime. That's a problem; we probably shouldn't be executing people for no reason.

Saturday, April 20, 2002

Mash-Ups

Speaking of alternate histories and 'what if?' scenarios ... what if Christina Aguilera were lead singer of the Strokes? Or, Missy Elliott had been born to Mr. & Mrs. Cobain? Check out the 11th and 12th bullets here. (found indirectly via The Shifted Librarian / more stuff here at boom selection)

Friday, April 19, 2002

The Years of Rice and Salt is Brilliant

Reminder to self: there's more than just sports radio on the dial. I barely listen to NPR anymore and missed this interview with Kim Stanley Robinson, which I also can't get to play on my pc here at work. Grrrrrr.

I just finished reading Robinson's newest, The Years of Rice and Salt and hope to have a review here shortly. I'll probably reread it first, but I can tell you not to wait for my review ... just get it and read it. The reviews and descriptions of it I've seen so far really don't do it justice by making it sound like a tedious 'What if?' novel about the Black Plague wiping out European civilization. (Salon's Laura Ellis does a fair job here / David Dalgleish's review at January Magazine is actually quite good.) Robinson's after a something more like a Grand Unified Theory of History; his ability to weave that into a story about two souls reincarnating through history without degenerating into New Age twaffle is pretty remarkable.

I'm pretty sure I've got the germ of an essay stewing about the role sports (lacrosse in TYoRaS, softball and ping-pong in The Gold Coast...) play in Robinson's novels that I can plug into Sports Takes or possibly submit for m.a.d.'s consideration over at PopMatters. That's just me thinking aloud, as it were. We'll see if it actually happens.

Last joke for the night

I can't remember where I heard or read this one, so it's from memory (ie., probably not told right) but here goes:
This guy needs to get these penguins to the zoo for the grand opening of Penguin 2K2. It's like this big new exhibit of penguins, or all the old penguins died, but anyways this guy's got a truckload of penguins and the zoo opens in an hour and he's got to get them there quick cos the mayor's going to be there and it's being filmed for Animal Planet. About 20 miles from the zoo, his truck breaks down on the interstate. Or he gets a flat and doesn't have a spare. In any event, he's screwed. He's contractually obliged to get the penguins to the zoo *on time* and if he doesn't he'll never get work transporting animals again. For zoos. He calls a garage from one of those emergency roadside phones. The mechanic tells him he must stay with the truck and that they can be there in 1 to 5 hours. "Holy Effin Shite!" the guys yells. Ok, he thinks, how am I going to get these penguins to the zoo? Just then, a guy pulls up in a huge SUV. "You need any help?" SUV guy asks. "Sure do! I have to stay here for the mechanic, but can you take these penguins to the zoo for me -- I'll give you $100?" The SUV guy takes the $100, says he will, and starts piling the penguins into his SUV. Then, in a cloud of dust, they're off and the guy is left with his truck.

That night, the guy is still waiting by his broken down rig for the shifty (non-union) mechanic who keeps putting him off with excuses about how the guy he sent 'didn't see him' and how the directions he gave must've been bad, etc... when he knows for a fact the lazy bastard never even came looking for him. Anyways, he's out on the side of the road having a smoke and doing tai chi to pass the time when he sees the SUV from that morning stop on the other side of the highway with all the penguins hanging out in back drinking sodas and chasing each other around havin' a grand old time. "What in blazes is going on?! I thought you were going to take those penguins to the zoo!" he shouts across the traffic. "I did," SUV guy says, "we had such a good time and some money left over so I thought I'd take them to see a movie next."
Wow. I feel like I'm getting better at this joke thing already...

Bologna Joke

I hereby resolve...

When I hear a good joke, I'm going to tell it here ASAP. I suck at jokes. Can never remember them or tell them right. I always reveal the punchline too soon. This is going to be like Joke 101 for me. So here goes:
An Irishman, a Mexican and a blonde guy were doing construction work on scaffolding on the 20th floor of a building. They were eating lunch, and the Irishman said, "Corned beef and cabbage! If I get corned beef and cabbage one more time for lunch I'm going to jump off this building."

The Mexican opened his lunch box and exclaimed, "Burritos again! If I get burritos one more time I'm going to jump off, too."

The blonde opened his lunch and said, "Bologna again. If I get a bologna sandwich one more time, I'm jumping too."

The next day the Irishman opened his lunch box, saw corned beef and cabbage and jumped to his death. The Mexican opened his lunch, saw a burrito and jumped too. The blonde guy opened his lunch, saw the bologna and jumped to his death as well.

At the funeral the Irishman's wife was weeping. She said, "If I'd known how really tired he was of corned beef and cabbage, I never would have given it to him again!"

The Mexican's wife also wept and said, "I could have given him a taco or enchiladas! I didn't realize he hated burritos so much."

Everyone turned and stared at the blonde's wife.

“Don't look at me, he makes his own lunch."

Quit y'r groaning. Blame this guy.

I got another good one ... with penguins. Coming soon.

Under-rated Gem: Home Movies

Adult Swim: Home Movies One of the best cartoons ever. Stevie, back me up on this ...

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

It's Better to Regret Something You Have Done

Whoa. I didn't realize Kelly Hu plays the scantily clad sorceress in The Scorpion King. I still won't see it ... but now I'll always have that sliver of regret.

Hypocrites

Bush has taken heat (as recently as today in the WSJ's editorial page) for being a hypocrite when it comes to conservative ideology. It's usually for not being committed enough to free trade -- the tariff on steel imports has drawn the most conservative ire. A better area to investigate might be his commitment, or lack thereof, to that cornerstone of conservative ideology: a less meddlesome federal government. Connecticut is wrangling with whether to put an energy transmission line under the Sound to Long Island. This is a classic example of what conservatives, I thought, would argue states should be doing: deciding for themselves what's best for their citizens and businesses. Bush, however, believes the federal government, presumably through FERC*, should determine where to put the lines. Great. Instead of having local politicians who are accountable to their electorate make this type of decision, let's turn this process over to a federal bureaucracy with no accountability. We'll have power lines running through elementary school classrooms into protected park land before you know it, if they get their way.



*The deregulation issue is pretty thorny. California is an example of what can happen when a state decides to go the All Hail Capitalism, Competition Will Set You Free route. Clearly, states can bungle things. Where the federal government fits into the equation, I don't feel competent to render judgement. In the specific case of the line under the Sound, I know I'd rather CT's legislature and Governor work that out than a federal agency.

Monday, April 15, 2002

Nethack

I had all kinds of plans for today ... at least I took care of the important stuff before I innocently decided to check out NetHack. Where has the time gone?

Friday, April 12, 2002

The New World

Reconsidering the human impact on the environment in the New World prior to 1492.
Erickson and Balée belong to a cohort of scholars that has radically challenged conventional notions of what the Western Hemisphere was like before Columbus. When I went to high school, in the 1970s, I was taught that Indians came to the Americas across the Bering Strait about 12,000 years ago, that they lived for the most part in small, isolated groups, and that they had so little impact on their environment that even after millennia of habitation it remained mostly wilderness. My son picked up the same ideas at his schools. One way to summarize the views of people like Erickson and Balée would be to say that in their opinion this picture of Indian life is wrong in almost every aspect. Indians were here far longer than previously thought, these researchers believe, and in much greater numbers. And they were so successful at imposing their will on the landscape that in 1492 Columbus set foot in a hemisphere thoroughly dominated by humankind.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

A Mystery (Radio Waves)

When I drive home from work a little after 11 p.m., I like to listen to our local sports radio station here in Providence, 790AM, because they carry the Bob Valvano show and I get Sportscenter updates. What's mysterious is that every night, a country station overpowers the signal for a second every couple of seconds as I drive along. This never happens during the day. It only happens at night and only as I'm driving on RT 7. The signal briefly gets really strong near the church, then starts to disappear and is gone before I get home. I get totally different stations at 780AM and 800AM. No country or sports at all. The thing is, there is no 790AM that plays country anywhere around here. There is a station out of Edmonton, AB and one out of Columbus, OH. Neither of which I think I should be getting. I had a similar experience once driving on the Mass Pike back from Boston at about 2 a.m. where I picked both a Pennsylvania and an NYC station clear as day. It just doesn't seem possible that I would be picking up an Ohio station in Rhode Island. Even less likely that I'd get a Canadian station. I never hear call letters or ads or anything but music cycling in, so I can't get any clues as to where the station is coming from.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Slap Monkeys

I'm all for rampaging monkeys, believe me, but ... please ... spare the library! And what's with the slapping? Slapping? Have these monkeys been watching Dynasty reruns? Somebody needs to sit them down to watch Every Which Way But Loose so they can learn from "Right Turn" Clyde.

Damned Vandals

Restoring the Buddhas destroyed by the Taliban.

Monday, April 8, 2002

Consonant

Clint Conley's (formerly of the-recently-and-briefly-reunited-can't-believe-I-didn't-even-know-they-recently-played-a-show-in-Boston Mission of Burma) new band, Consonant, has a CD coming out tomorrow. [Fenway Recordings website]

Friday, April 5, 2002

Baseball Haiku

One of my fave new reads: The Illuminated Donkey. Some darn good baseball haiku among other quality posts.

Thursday, April 4, 2002

Mark Twain Slept Here

For what really amounts to no good reason at all, I decided tonight that instead of watching Dr. Greene's head explode on the TV in the breakroom, I would learn as much as I possibly could in 15-20 minutes about a country I'd never heard of, picked pretty much at random from The CIA World Factbook: Mauritius. An African island nation in the Indian Ocean discovered by the Portugese, Mauritius was orginally settled by the Dutch (with some African slaves), then was overtaken by the French and British in succession, finally gaining independence in 1968. It was frustratingly difficult to find any info aside from the Factbook page, but I did locate a tabloidish news page for the Mauritian population of London where I learned that they have a new President, Karl Offman, who replaced former Presiden Cassam Uteem upon his resignation over the passing of the Prevention of Terrorism Legislation. One presumes this was not due to Uteem's support of terrorism; hard to say for sure without being able to find the text of the law though. The officicial government website is curiously silent about the issue. A Google search revealed a somewhat barebones tourism site which would lead you to believe the best part of visiting Mauritius would be to ride in a boat full of rotting fish. (Actually, it looks like a gorgeous island with plenty of mountains and some nice beaches.) Somewhere along the way I saw that a professor from UCONN had recently delivered a lecture at the U of M and had discussed Mark Twain's visit to the island nation; I can't find that link again though and wasn't able to track down the text of his lecture. Bummer. The list of public holidays at the Bank of Mauritius site is interesting in that it hints at a culture that may be an interesing mix of Hindu, Christian, and Chinese influences. Stay tuned for another brief overview of an obscure nation coming soon ...

Tuesday, April 2, 2002

Opening Day

The game was a wild ride that ended on a bad note but it was still a great day at Fenway. Allie and I rode up to Ruggles with the promise of a shuttle being there to take us to the park. It never materialised so we walked ... turned out it wasn't far anyways so things worked out perfect. For a minute there I was fearing one of my get-lost-in-the-immediate-vicinity-of-where-I-need-to-be episodes. We were among the first fans in the park. It was a little cool, but the sun came out right before game time and got the first standing O of the day. The opening ceremonies were fun. The Patriots through out the first pitch, there was an F-16 flyover, and Steven Tyler cheesed up the anthem. When Pedro got rocked early, I assured Allie there was nothing to worry about ... our bats would get those runs back, and they did, and then some, but Grady foolishly decided not to stick with the awesome talent and cat-like agility of El Guapo off the mound. Urbina gave it up in the ninth. It was my first home opener at Fenway and, despite the loss, it was everything I'd hoped for. A fight broke out in the bleachers a row behind us in the adjacent section. Saw one guy taken out in a stretcher and another tripped right next to me and cracked his dome on chair in front of me, leaving blood on the steps. A pretty girl fell on me (during the fight melee) causing me to fall on Allie. Gotta love the bleachers.

Friday, March 29, 2002

Voltron

Hey cool, new Get Your Voltr On was posted yesterday! Sneak peak: "I'm still knee deep in Voltron up here!" As if there were no more quirkly islands of fun, indeed.

Thursday, March 28, 2002

Blogiversary

Today, believe it or not, is the second anniversary of the birth of TC. (That archive link almost never works.)

Friday, March 22, 2002

Greatest Characters List

100 Greatest Characters in Literature Since 1900 [via NPR.org via Book magazine]

An intriguing idea for a list. Let's face it though, some things just don't list well. First glaring ommission that leaps to mind: Jim McPherson, The Gold Coast, Kim Stanley Robinson. Worst cheat: someone's getting slighted by listing Nick and Nora Charles together as one character, not that I argue with their inclusion. Clunkiest entry: Big Brother, 1984, George Orwell. (C'mon, I would've taken at least three from Animal Farm first -- Napoleon, Snowball, or Boxer!) Wrong Action Hero: James Bond. I love the Bond books and movies, Simon Templar (Leslie Charteris's "The Saint") was "greater" though. (And along those lines, I still get choked up thinking about Norman Kent in The Last Hero taking one for the team. He ought to at least get an honorable mention.) There's plenty of crime fiction and melodrama (Scarlett O'Hara?!) on the list, so why no sci-fi? Maybe Jim McPherson is too obscure but how not at least one of Valentine Michael Smith, Johnnie Rico, or Lazarus Long from the Heinlein canon? Want more highbrow sci-fi? How about Latro from Gene Wolfe's outstanding Soldier of the Mist. I'm only giving this a few minutes thought so I'm sure I'm going to kick myself for forgetting some more obvious choices. (Keith Talent!) Do we really need all those Philip Roth characters? I can't believe I'm the only person he doesn't impress.

Identity

The New York Review of Books: The Blood Lust of Identity
"We should feel part of our countries, and of 'Europe,' or even the world. Religion must be personal and 'kept apart from what has to do with identity.' I'm not sure all this is possible. One can feel British or French and 'European,' but not quite in the same way, since Europe is not a sovereign entity; neither, of course, is the world. And religion is hard to detach from identity, since identification with a community of believers is part of the religious appeal. I also wonder whether the symbols of Coca-Colonization matter as much as some people think. For the places with the greatest troubles—Afghanistan, Chechnya, Algeria—are the least affected by American commerce. The Thais in Bangkok or the Chinese in Hong Kong are not up in arms against the West. Poor Pakistanis are, but they may never have gone near a Big Mac."
I'm not convinced by all of Buruma's arguments. I think, for instance, there's more to American commerce than Coca-Cola and McDonald's, there's the developed world's reliance on oil and all that entails for starters; still, the argument (and I'm rephrasing it to my understanding) that religion, nationalism, tribalism, or what have you are are such effective tools for angrying up the blood of the masses when wielded by those with power and influence (who are motivated by greed) to accomplish all the violence and hatred they need for their purposes (acquistion of territory, resources, and wealth) because of how badly people need to have an identity. The second part of his review is a hilarious tear down of one guy's manufacturing of an Irish identity for himself and his son.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Compare and Contrast


Sudan says that the slavery problem is not nearly as bad as Western activists make it out. It insists slavery has been wiped out in government-controlled areas, and now only exists in rebel-controlled territory. Talisman, which owns a share of the pipeline along with the national oil companies of China and Malaysia (see related story), points out the many good works it has done in Sudan and says things could be worse if it leaves. Those works include developing water wells, building roads and hospitals and providing an example of ethical Western corporate leadership in the war-torn south, it says. Sudan’s civil war has left more than 2 million dead. “If you eradicate poverty, you also eradicate one of the root causes of violence and human rights violations,” said Stuart McDowall, Talisman’s director general of Sudan public relations. “What we’re doing is addressing some of those basic needs.” [ABC News]

Hey, how about that ... here's an example of the good done by corporations. Sounds reasonable, right? Well, corporate fanboys, you can probably tell I'm setting you up for a fall because we all know what scum sucking liars directors general of public relations are ... here's the sound of the other shoe dropping: Canadian Oil Company Ordered Ethnic Cleansing in Sudan.
The memo, issued on May 7, 1999, reported that "… fulfilling the request of the Canadian Company (Talisman)… the armed forces will conduct cleaning up operations in all villages from Heglig to Pariang." ... Two days later, a major offensive was launched and villages from Heglig to Pariang were destroyed. A Canadian Foreign Ministry report described how civilians were killed, homes and whole villages destroyed, foodstocks looted or burned, humanitarian aid forced into flight. It is estimated the attacks reduced the overal population in the county by 50% -- all so that oil could be more easily extracted ... The complicity of oil development in the ongoing destruction by the radical Islamist regime in Khartoum of Christian, moderate Muslim and animist Civilian populations in Southern Sudan has been chronicled by Amnesty International, the UN, the Canadian foreign ministry, Human Rights Watch, and Christian Aid (UK).
Ironic that we're having such a hard time fighting the War on Terror, the bad guys being so hard to find and all ... when it seems they're actually quite easily found listed on the NYSE [TLM].

When allegations against Talisman first began to surface, large institutional investors ignored the outcry falling back on the tried and true mantra of "capitalism ... value for shareholders ... investments based solely on financial merits" and many refused to even consider divesting. Turn a blind eye as long as the money flows, that's the capitalist way. Anyone who sees things differently is a tree-hugging hippie commie dirtbag. The blatant fucking hypocrisy of those same people getting all misty-eyed and patriotic over the War on Terror makes me so fucking sick. I'm all too familiar with stories of workers being fired for things they've written on their weblogs, so I'm going to practice some self-censorship ... but I can't help but notice that some big name mutual fund companies still list Talisman among their top 10 holdings in large cap funds focusing on Canada or the energy industry. I'm trying to imagine how I would react if I saw the manager of one of those funds driving around with an American flag plastered to the left rear window of his SUV. I'd like to point out to him how his fund is profiting off genocide and slave trading, then curb that motherfucker like in American History X. (Caveat: I'd never actually curb anybody, no matter how much they deserved it. Just venting a little repressed rage there.)

Drunk Blogging

What kind of Tuesday night would it be if ol' C-Dog didn't share his drunken tales of inebriation? We won $50 playing trivia at the bar last Tues. but only 3 of us could make it tonight to spend the boodle. Me and Bill and Kenny put down 6 1/2 pitchers and 40 3 Mile Island Hot Wings in a 3 hour span and managed to get virutally no trivia questions right. I think we pissed off our waitress by changing tables 3x. Once 'cos someone felt "crowded", once 'cos we were near a heater and I was sweating my balls off, and finally for reasons I can't recall. I won a Heineken T-Shirt, but forgot it at the bar, which is fine because I wouldn't wear that shirt anyways. Our waitress chased us out to the parking lot because she only saw the top gift cert. and thought we'd stiffed her, when if fact she was generously tipped. After clarifying the tab/tip situation, we tried to talk her into joining us for a round at a bar down the street where, we assured her, there were far fewer scumbags and degenerates than the shithole she toiled in ... she wasn't convinced though. Somehow we lost Kenny trying locate either Shannon's or Sha-Na-Na's, our 3rd bar of the night. I'm sure he'll turn up.

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Salvia

Don't get caught, like me, wondering what the hell this salvia fuss is all about. "Dude, it's like shrooms, only better." And still legal.

Sorry Nhan-O

UConn beats NC State 77-74, advances to Sweet Sixteen. My game diary here.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Pride of the Yankees

Yank who swiped Jeter's stuff doesn't understand all the fuss: 'I haven't killed anybody'

Can this be? Yanks in disarray and turmoil as players steal from each other and former players getting booted out of rehab, possibly in danger of falling afoul of Selig's new enforcement of the debt/asset value rule? All the while the Bosox having the least tumultuous spring in recent memory? Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs ....

Fightin' Words

I originally tried to make this a comment to this post over at Temple Tantrum but it was too long, so I'm going to post it here instead:

You've been back in touch with Glenn Parent, Bobby Boggs, and Frank Boudreau?! Holy shit! How are those guys? ;)

Some of what you say kinda hits home; some of it makes me bristle ('never to amount to anything'); some of it I don't know what to make of at all. As far as "dismantling the good things religous groups and corporations do", I don't think that's what I'm after (and I can only speak for myself, other Crypters may have other agendas) ... it's dismantling the shit they do I'd like to see done. For the record, I'm totally pro-religion and faith, only in a completely non-organized, non-Christian way. I can hardly ignore the fact that I get a paycheck every week because I work for a giant fucking family fiefdom dressed up as a corporation. Myself and lots of folks like me can afford to eat and stay warm because of corporations. I just happen to think that if society were organized differently more people could live comfortably (fewer in poverty and fewer in craptacular posh splendour -- ideally nobody in either category) and that people need to talk about their vision for society in order to get more people to see the possibility for a more just and equitable way of living in a society. Part of that is tearing into conceptions people hold that are in a direct opposition to what they profess are their own morals. Wrong is wrong. If it's wrong to lie, cheat, steal, and kill ... then it's fucking wrong all the time for everybody regardless of what benefits we enjoy as a result -- fuck omelets, eggs of the world unite, I say. Still we (or, more to the point, our culture as expressed through the mainstream press) celebrate liars, chiselers, and murderers. Where your comments hit home is in that I'm hard pressed to think of a single thing I've made better on a scale outside of myself and perhaps my immediate circle of friends and family. I guess I just feel like if everyone was outspoken in critiqueing blatant fucking hypocrisy, we'd all be better off. But when CEOs mouth bullshit about doing what's necessary to increase profits for shareholders as if that was the only objective of workers in a capitalist society, while not being accountable to shareholders themselves -- through practices like getting their stock options repriced so that as their bloated salaries restrict the growth of their companies and force cutbacks amongst the rank and file they can continue to make godawful amounts of money --- and people still think CEOs are fucking heroes! It makes me wanna puke! Seriously, we need a goddamn wave of monkey controlled giant robots to start tearing this mother down.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

I Await Our Monkey Overlords

Monkey Moves Cursor by Thinking (washingtonpost.com)

Much as I dislike borrowing links from the Drudge Report, had to point out that my dream of a world ruled by giant robots controlled by capricious monkeys has moved one step closer to reality.

Troll Bait

Republican of the Year Candidate Unable to Attend Ceremony

This is actually stale news ... but I feel like engaging in a little Republican baiting.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

How Dare You, Sir

I called a few weeks ago for seaon opener tickets to Fenway. I told the ticket broker I wanted lower bleachers. He said, disdainfully, "We don't deal with upper bleachers." As if I'd implied he ran some kind of jamook operation. I'm pretty sure I heard him adjust his monocle. My tickets came yesterday. They're section 39. You tell me, are they upper or lower bleachers? Yeah, that's what I thought. Upper. C-Dog gets punked again.

Thursday, March 7, 2002

Do Prisoners Have A Right To TV?

New York Times: "A Sentence of No TV? Unusual, Yes, but Cruel?"

Cruel? No. Like you get any important news on TV anyways. What a crock. Listen to the radio, read a newspaper, go online and check out alternet if you're starved for news. They actually argued denying this felon the 'right' to watch TV violated his 1st Amendment rights?! Come again?

Wednesday, March 6, 2002

Crypto Quiz

We've all seen them, we've all taken them. Let's face it, they're crap. The "Which This or That Are You Quiz?" phenomenon is what I'm on about. One was clever(ish). Two was overkill. The rest are a bane. What've you learned from 'em? Nothing. Now, I present you with a quiz that is either the most useful ... or useless. The apogee of the quiz arc ... or its nadir. In any event, after what you learn by taking this quiz, you'll never have to take another. They're effin' done, folks. Done. So go find out "Which Cryptonaut/Cryptocommenter Are You?" As if you cared.

Dubious Theory

Finally saw Ghost World this morning. What struck me most about it was that it's almost the same movie as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Seriously. Obviously, they're entirely different with regard to setting and style; still though, Enid and Seymour are Jen and Dark Cloud in different clothes and circumstances. For just one example, look at the endings: Jen's leap from the bridge is the same frustratingly difficult 'resolution' as Enid's hop on the bus. I'm trying to think of another example from literature or film of two movies, produced entirely independently of each other, drawing (presumably) from markedly different cultures and perceptions, making use of different conventions and idioms, and the one (again, presumably) not having a direct influence on the other, yet telling virtually the same story. They're like twins separated at birth. Now I've got to update my 90 Great Movies list to make room for GW.

Sunday, March 3, 2002

Kevin Smith Short

[Kevin Smith's new short film: "The Flying Car"] Stars Dante and Randall and is utterly predictable, but Kevin Smith fans will enjoy. QuickTime required. (via Ultimate Insult / also check out Fatmouse when you're there)

Monday, February 25, 2002

Slow-Footed

One-handed typing is boring and labor intensive. I'm learning this from experience and out of necessity due to my attempt to block a shot on a breakaway by a guy a lot faster than me. Wound up in front of him when I thought I could slide across his path to the basket and block him from the other side. Put the left arm down to break the fall and broke it up near the elbow. Not wanting to look like a whiner, I tried to keep playing. The next ball passed to me felt like it was going to take my arm off and I promptly turned it over. Ugly. Damn thing hurts worse today than yesterday.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

This Is Our Year

HD linked an article a while back about how to survive incarceration in which the author exhorts the reader to avoid watching TV in prison as it creates the desire to be constantly entertained, which leads to laziness. The Zen TV Experiment expands on the argument. In thinking about the Nader article linked below, I commented how it seems to me most Americans tend to think of themselves with regard to politics and society in roles like Democrat and Patriot vs. the more rational and relevant roles of Worker, Taxpayer, etc. We're all familiar with the "TV is the opiate of the masses" refrain, but I suspect we tend to underestimate what a malevolent force TV is in the hands of a shrinking number of corporate owners [see the 2/20/02 post at Cheek]. I'm thinking out loud here to remind myself to blog more and watch less TV.

On a completely unrelated note, it was nearly 60 degrees outside today and as always happens the first really warm day of pre-Spring, my thoughts turn to baseball. I'm excited to report that I've got tickets to opening day at Fenway; this'll be my first Fenway home opener and is surely the first of many portents that this is indeed going to be the year the Sox finally win the World Series.

Fearless Prediction

UCONN 106 - Providence 41.

Maybe it's because it was Senior Night. Maybe it's due to my forbidden love of Sue Bird. Maybe it's because I'm slightly loaded. Maybe it's the way Bonedaddy made an inspired pick of the Patriots weeks before their Superbowl win. Whatever it is, I'm predicting now that UCONN will go 39-0 and win the National Championship in San Antonio this year. Bird, Jones, Cash, Williams are the greatest UCONN senior class ever, men's or women's. Hands down.

Tuesday, February 5, 2002

Armchair Detective

Missing San Diego girl's parents aren't suspects? I can't be the only person who finds these reported events suspicious: (1) the dog didn't bark or anything when sometime between 10:30pm and 1:30am someone strolled into the house and abducted the little girl from her bedroom, (2) the father woke up at 1:30am to let the dog out and found the sliding glass door open and burglar alarm going off and didn't check on his kids, (3) the dog needed to be let out when there was an open door. Maybe all the details aren't being reported, maybe the dog was shut in the basement or something, but how can anyone hear the story the way it's being presented and not be immediately suspicious of one or both of the parents?

Monday, January 28, 2002

American Voices: Dashiell Hammett and Mark Twain

Margaret Atwood on Dashiell Hammett at NYRB.

I feel the same way calling Hammett my favorite crime fiction writer as I do calling Kim Stanley Robinson my favorite sci-fi writer; it just doesn't sit right filing them in those categories, however much they may apply, because filing them under genre tags feels more than a little like marginalizing them. I'm linking this article because of my perpetual interest in perceived connections to Mark Twain. Atwood writes:
This approach brings to mind that other American Samuel, Sam Clemens (Mark Twain), who so famously took the stuffing out of Fenimore Cooper's standards of accuracy. Indeed, the two Samuels have a lot in common: the combination of steely-eyed observation of the dirty underbelly of America and the idealistic wish that it would live up to its founding principles, the deadpan humor, and above all the dedication to language. This last, in both, took the form of an attempt to capture the tone and cadence of the American vernacular in literature, of which Huckleberry Finn is surely the first fully triumphant example.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

"Does everyone remember the Foghat rule?"

I laughed my arse off at this Yo La Tengo video for Sugarcube in which rec execs send the band to Academy of Rock.

Sunday, January 20, 2002

Tuck Rule

The Call. CBS and ESPN commentators can't seem to agree on whether the refs got it right. The first reaction was they didn't. Then it came out that by rule they did, it's just that the rule (as it turns out) doesn't make much sense. Then they say that the replay reveals Brady took possession of the ball by touching it with his other hand, ending the forward motion and tuck; therefore, it should have been ruled a fumble after all. It's like the Zapruder film all over again. In any event, the Pats are moving on.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

The Cost of Nostalgia

My guess is the prospect of doing that 80s nostalgia tour is what pushed Stuart ("Adam Ant") Goddard over the edge, landing him in a mental hospital. How would you take being stuffed on a bus with the likes of Flock of Seagulls and A-Ha? Could this also explain what happened not that long ago another Stuart (Adamson, of Big Country)?

(link via the web today)

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

RI surgeon operates on wrong side of man's head.

After the surgeon drilled two holes in the left side of the patient's skull and found no bleeding, the procedure was repeated on the right side, and the blood drained. Except for the incisions, the patient has so far suffered no ill effects from the error, according to hospital spokeswoman Jane Bruno.
Except for a couple extra holes in the ol' dome, no ill effects. (link via Bob C.)

Blogging Sparky

Tom Tomorrow ("This Modern World") is starting a new blog. Nothing much there yet.

Wednesday, January 2, 2002

C-Dog's Five Fave TV Shows 2001

5. Smallville It's the Superman story with an X-Files twist. Monster of the week episodes have limited appeal. It's the relationships between Clark and his friends, his parents, and a well-written Lex Luthor character that satisfy.

4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer The new season has been a disappointment with the notable exception of the musical episode.

3. Pardon the Interruption By far the most entertaining sports talk show. The Last Word is crippled by Rome's posing and The Best Damn Sports Show Period ain't.

2. Alias I knew it was a spy show with some debt to La Femme Nikita, but I didn't realize it was going to start treading in Raiders of the Lost Ark territory with its storyline about tracking down lost 15th c. technology that may have the power to alter time and extend life. What can I say? I'm hooked. The girl's a hottie too, which helps.

1. Angel Has utterly eclipsed Buffy and is now the best-written show with the most engaging characters.

Tuesday, January 1, 2002

2002

2002. The first palindromic year since 1991, which in turn was the first palindromic since 1881. From 110 years in between to only 11. This new millenium is pretty cool. At this rate of increase, our next palindromic year will be 2003 with palindromic years occuring every month thereafter. It's crazy stuff but the numbers never lie! I wonder if our resident palindrome, neilalien, has any theories as to what significance palindromic years might have?

It is perhaps interesting to note that 1881 was a US Presidential assasination year: James A. Garfield (who, in 1876, discovered a proof of the Pythagorean Theorem, not that there weren't plenty of them lying about already, but still...) took a bullet in the back and was succeeded by Chester A. Arthur. Sigh. The brave new world that might have been.

1991 is kind of a blur, it was a college year for me ...but its legacy seems to be the Gulf War and Clarence Thomas. Perhaps palindromic years are notable only for being ignominious.
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