31 December 2008

NYC Subway Bomb Searches

This morning, as I entered the Myrtle/Broadway JMZ station, I had the delightful opportunity to have my bag searched by "New York's finest". Not the first time, I might add. Today marks the third (3rd!) time since April that the NYPD has so graciously chosen me at "random" as people came into the station (2 have been at Myrtle, 1 was at the Flushing JM). I exhibited my displeasure to the officers in the best passive-aggressive manner I could muster, but there's really no way around it, they don't let you on if you don't consent to the search (so much for "voluntary", eh?).

Clearly they did not find anything, as I'm, a) not a bomber/terrorist and, b) because a terrorist is not so stupid as to actually bring a bomb onto the subway in this manner. I maintain that the only reason we're forced to submit to these is to maintain a base level of fear among the populace and maybe, just maybe, catch someone with drugs in their bags who may not know any better and put up a fuss (the latter being a total stretch).

I'm curious to know if the police have ever found any suspicious materials in a commuter's bag. My money (if I had any) would be on an emphatic "NO". If the police ever foiled some terror threat on the subway you damn well know it'd be all over the news and everyone would hear about it and the whole scheme would be lauded as a success in the face of all detractors and critics.

So if anyone knows if any statistics are kept (if they're kept at all) please let me know where I could begin an inquiry. Or, if anyone has already done such an inquiry, I'd love to see what the results are. Unfortunately, I've got too much on my plate at the moment to start digging around in what I fear would be an ultimately fruitless pursuit.

29 December 2008

Comments on the Society of the "Best Of..." (Kind of)

Late December is the time of year when people who write about things make up lists about the best things (or worst) things they had to write about for the previous 360 days. I'm not really going to do that because that's not something I enjoy doing. However, I am going to write about a few things I missed over the course of the year.

This mostly refers to music, as I try to keep up, but even people who make that their full-time addiction do it with great difficulty.
For a great compendium of this year in metal, go check out Brandon Stosuy's "Show No Mercy" column at Pitchfork. I don't generally follow that site, but SNM is worth keeping tabs on (in this "Best of '08" he got some lists from players themselves). What follows are some of the things that either completely passed right by my broken radar or things I didn't get to say enough about earlier in the year.

Krallice. Local Brooklyn supergroup makes epic "transcendental" black metal. It has been noted elsewhere that American black metal bands tend to be much more experimental with their compositions. There's a good dose of truth to this, as they're not bogged down with the need to be "trve" or "cvlt" in a manner that hinders European outfits. I was fortunate enough to see these guys at Silent Barn in April and it was, literally, jaw-dropping. The album, which I only recently got my hands on, has rightfully made a bunch of "Best of '09" lists and is phenomenally beyond words. Here's video of them from September, when they played an empty lot in Bushwick right around the corner from my apartment (while I was at work, of course).

Nachtmystium. Speaking of American black metal, I never got around to doing a proper review when Assassins came out earlier this year. I began one and apparently forgot to finish, because I just found the unfinished and unpublished post while looking for my own link. Mea maxima culpa. When I heard Instinct:Decay I thought that was progressive for the genre, but for sheer out-of-the-box thinking their latest album surpasses that effort by quite a margin. Assassins makes no bones about being a Pink Floyd-inspired work where, i
n a few tracks those psychedelic overtones lead toward Kylesa territory: sludgy yet vaguely anthemic. In the final reckoning the Chicagoans produced one of the most intruiging albums I've (and others) heard in quite a while.

Enslaved. While my head was focused on books (where it's spent a great deal of the latter part of this year), Norwegian viking-prog-metal geniuses Enslaved put out Vertebrae. Very little of what these guys do nowadays could be even remotely considered "black metal" other than some vocal passages. But as far as being a progressive metal powerhouse is concerned, few outfits can match their combination of awe-inspiring harmonic beauty and intricate rhythmic changes with sheer head-banging rockness. Generally when people say a band "is maturing as songwriters" said band is just getting old and lame. Instead, Enslaved are perfecting the methods mastered by Unwound, though hopefully they continue to make amazing albums into the forseeable future. Vertebrae hasn't made the same immediate impact on me that Ruun did, but it's still a new listen and my affection is growing by the listen.

Torche. I don't think I need to say much more than what I already said here. Now you can use the time you would have spent reading to watch this live video of them that happened to be shot on my birthday. And then watch more.

Mouth of the Architect. I didn't realize it until this past week, but MOTA's album Quietly was released this year. When I got my hands on it a couple months ago I thought, for whatever reason, that it had come out last year. Not realizing how recent and relevant it was I failed to write up a proper review. These Ohioans have taken the path I wish Isis would have taken after Oceanic and may have just claimed the heavy-ambient-metal genre all for themselves (Pelican is crap and can suck it). This band is criminally underknown and deserve far more attention than I've seen them receive.

Melvins. In the grand scheme of things, as awesome as Nude With Boots is, it may not stack up as one of the best albums of the year. Then again, just because it failed to make most lists doesn't mean it wasn't awesome. I've realized lately that a good number of noteworthy albums were released this year, more than I had initially remembered. Then again, I had noted in my review Buzz's lament that this album would be overlooked as just another great Melvins record. I fear his take was all too prescient. Regardless, the ferocious 1-2 of Melvins/Big Business live continued to demolish all comers, so there's that at least.

So that's my shortlist of awesome things that happened in 2008. Here are a few other notables worth remembering:

Dinosaur Jr live. I finally got to see my favorite band.
At The Gates reunion tour. Incredible.
Metallica released a pretty good album and it only took 20 years.
Made Out Of Babies released The Ruiner which was a damn fine album.

Now I have a mission to go get a bunch of new releases that I've yet to hear and have a listening party with myself. These bands also released new stuff in 2008: Jesu, Boris, Earth, Harvey Milk, Mogwai, Electric Wizard, and Meshuggah (which most everyone says is awesome).

Here's to everyone that put out great music in 2008 and hoping for an even better crop in 2009 (Mastodon, I'm looking at you).

Happy New Year, everyone!

22 December 2008

Something Actually Important For A Change

Hey everyone, anyone,
I just got a really encouraging phone call from my friend Tyler. A mutual friend of ours, that we've known basically our whole lives, had a bone marrow transplant a couple weeks ago and as of right now the recovery prognosis is looking good.

Most of this site is comprised of inanities. I put things I love on pedestals or take a hammer to the multitudinous, ossified towers of bullshit that I observe near daily. Rarely do I post about something liable to make me, never mind any readers, face the tremendous wrath of their bottled emotions. But now, during the high religious festival season, seems an appropriate enough time for a spiritless, religionless, anti-everything jerk like myself to celebrate something extraordinary.

I've known Jonathan Goss since I was about five years old. We played youth sports together, attended the same schools until high school graduation, even made a couple short films together. When I abandoned my hometown for greener pastures I pretty much abandoned most of the people I grew up with as well. Now, in the age of Facebook, a lot of things have come flooding back that I would have rather left in the past. Thankfully, however, I didn't learn about Jonathan from any status update. At our college reunion, Tyler (sidebar: I went to college with Tyler though met him through Jon when we were very young. Their mothers are great friends.) informed me that Jon was diagnosed with leukemia. I got sporadic updates on Jon's condition whenever Tyler knew something, for which I am truly grateful.

At some point during his ordeal this year, Jonathan started a blog based on his ongoing experience facing leukemia and his eventual need for a bone marrow transplant. Jon lives in LA now where he is building a career as a screenwriter. I still really don't have any contact with him other than reading his blog updates, which he stopped the day before his transplant. Hopefully, as he regains his strength, he'll begin writing there again, about coming through the other side of the void. He has faced the great radiation and he has done it with his trademark grin. I haven't seen the kid in almost ten years, but that grin is exactly the same.

In the time since I first heard about all this I began to feel guilty for severing so many of the ties I had to the place I grew up. I didn't so much burn bridges as I left them to decay, much like the government does with its infrastructure. Not everyone I grew up with was so provincial-minded, though most of the really great minds (and, honestly, I include myself here), left the confines and limited opportunity of small-city New England. I've found out there are a few old friends here in NYC that I've been trying to catch up with and quite a few are out in LA as well.

Tomorrow I head "home" for the holidays and, as usual, I won't be there long enough to visit with anyone who may be around. Really, I'm fine with that. I still need my distance. But more than anything, I'll be thinking about something more important than my own fucked up feelings. I'll be thinking about Jonathan, in a hospital room in Los Angeles. Too many of us blog-addicts become locked in our self-absorbed worlds, dwelling on the tree that blocks our view and failing to see the forest. Just in time for a new year I've seen the forest again and there is a Chesire grin floating amongst the branches.

So as the winter solstice passes and 2009 arrives, I invite any and all followers here to go read Jonathan's writings over at BlastCount. Besides the directed musings of a talented, growing writer, you'll see an amazing army of friends and family. They have commented on his posts and sent him wishes, blessings, many of whom probably have only the faintest connection to him, but realize that his battle makes any of ours pale. I'm sure most of you know someone who is facing a bigger battle and is in need of your thoughts, especially at this time of year.

Happy Holidays, everyone. Jonathan, we're with you, buddy.

19 December 2008

We Have A New Challenger

Until a couple days ago Allison Cekala was the reigning (and undisputed) champion of amazing-postcard-sending. Now a challenger has stepped forward with a brilliant opening salvo. One of my roommates, Perin Hailey McNelis, left us (me and Ben) postcards before she left for Guatemala and I must say, I'm impressed. Alli, after your last lacklustre performance with that satellite photo of Maine's coast (which isn't bad, but it pales in comparison to most of your previous efforts), you really need to step it up...

15 December 2008

Best Napkin Art Ever.

Last night my band played its first show in a year and a half. It's essentially a new band and we're still working out a name, though I'll have more news on that soon (along with a few demo tracks, hopefully). Anyway, there were a few hiccups last night (Violent Bullshit apparently never committed and Said Fury may just break up), but they may have just been blessings in disguise because the three of us that played ripped. A ton of people showed up, which was a bit shocking as they seemed to arrive while I played our first song with my eyes closed.

Not to toot my (our) own horn, but folks really enjoyed our set, so that's encouraging, because, frankly, we had no idea what was going to happen. MAW and ANIMAL put in stellar sets as well, so we all had a big metal-ly love fest afterwards. That was also nice because none of us seem to be able to handle compliments and things kinda get awkward, even though it's nice to hear.
However, I'm proud to post here the finest compliment of the night, courtesy of Noga and Liam:

I think we have a winning t-shirt design on hour hands.

14 December 2008

I'm Going To Another Wedding, Kill Me

Ugh. Long Island. Wedding. Actually, as far as we're aware it's a shotgun wedding. So that's kinda humorous I guess. But this will make three weddings in less than a year for myself and my college friends. We're a bit tired of it, to be honest. To add some levity to the situation, I decided to take some liberties with the invite. Maybe my friends will be the only ones that find this amusing. Also, not sure who is actually taking account of these RSVPs, but good luck to them...

I'm rather proud of myself.

12 December 2008

Art Spiegelman - Breakdowns

I don't have a review for this, just a quick message that I just met Art Spiegelman. He just came in to sign all of our copies of his newest collection, Breakdowns.

So if anybody is looking for a great holidy gift, or is a Spiegelman fan, come down to Shakespeare & Co. (716 Broadway, Manhattan) and get a SIGNED copy. Also, they're 20% right now!

Awesome Show Update

Exciting development(s) have precluded me from spending time posting in the manner which I would prefer, but I know you're a forgiving lot. Here's what I've been up to:

1) Got a new little gig writing blurbs for Tilzy.tv. Go check out the site, it's a growing database of web-based tv programs. They've got a pretty wide range, everything from comedy to politics and news to animation, etc. Here's one I did last week on an up-and-coming LA sketch trio, Chad, Matt & Rob. More to come on that front...

2) My band is finally playing a show. Finally! It's been a year & a half since the last time we played out. Now we have a bassist (instead of 2 guitars) and a new name. What's that name? Well, I'll have to get back to you on that. "Why," you ask? Because after taking six months to settle on one (Forfeit) our attempt at due dilligence failed miserably: there are about 15 other bands with the same name. We've got a few ideas, though. Anyway, here's the info for any loyal readers who will be in Brooklyn this Sunday:

The Charleston is on Bedford Ave in Williamsburg (btw N7 & N8, right off the L train)
And for those unaware, The Charleston is one of those heavenly establishments that provide a free personal pizza with your beer purchase. Yum.

3) And if writing and practicing weren't taking up enough time, I now have a girlfriend. Yes, somebody finds me interesting and attractive (and for good reasons, too! go figure) So thanks, Andrea, for taking up all my precious blogging time! On the upside I get to have sex (hi mom, dad) and have somebody laugh at my jokes. Also, I'm relearning French. You can help me pat myself on the back later.

update: I was supposed to give a completely unnecessary shout-out to Noga, but I got distracted by Art Spiegelman. So, Nogs, here's your shout-out. Now I have to go sticker, like, 50 books.

03 December 2008

Prepare To Shatter Your Brain

If any readers out there doubt the veracity of the claims that Japanese aquifers have been spiked with hallucinogens, please watch the following video. I'd like for anybody to come up with a plausible explanation for this:

I still can't believe what I just watched. That drummer is so good, too. What? Why? Huh?

27 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

On the day that we celebrate the beginnings of the systematic elimination of the indigenous peoples of North America for the sake of the white man, I offer these quasi-relevant tidbits:

1) Wayne & Co. over at Hooks So Big recently posted a new Slayer track. It's one of the best things I've heard from them in a while. This track is so hot you can just put all your food next to your speakers and it'll be cooked in about 2:31.

2) My parents are on their way to my place now to start cooking. Is it hilarious that I'm almost 28 and yet too poor to get a bunch of food to truly "host"? I don't know the answer to this.

3) The other day my new special lady friend sent me a link to this article from The Onion and then asked me, "what do you love about thanksgiving if you can't eat turkey? i mean, do you get some tofurkey? or are you really into cranberry sauce and green beans?"

Well, here's my answer to that:

I like thanksgiving because there's gluttony involved and that's one of my favorite cardinal sins. Lust is a pretty good one, too, but you probably figured that out already. And sloth, i like that one sometimes.

Favorite thanksgiving foods (in no particular order):

1) Tofurkey. Some veggies HATE this stuff. I am not one of them, though I do make better gravy.
2) Pie. apple, pumpkin, blueberry. Others are acceptable, but those three are tops.
3) Mashed potatoes. god, i love mashed potatoes
4) My gramma's (miss you, Gram!) mushrooms & onions. This is basically onions and mushrooms cooked in butter and salt for a long time. I never liked it as a kid, but goddamn now i love it
5) I'm probably missing something else like stuffing or squash. (ed.-Wow, now I'm starving. This is gonna be awesome.)

Oddly enough i hate cranberry sauce. Yes, I hail from the world's second-largest producer of these little, bitter fruits (Wisconsin, I have a feeling your whole family's going down), however, cranberry juice (lightly diluted with water, trust me) gives me a pants tent. It's weird, i know.

Oh, and regarding that onion article...that's why i don't spend much (any) time in my hometown anymore. Some folks are all, "lemme know when you'll be home for thanksgiving or christmas!" and I always say, "yeah, i'll be home for a few days." And then I'm at home for 2 days, eat a ton of food, drink all my dad's beer and then come back to the city well-rested. Much better that way.

Happy Thanksgiving and to all the Massachusett, Pequot, Narragansett and whoever else my Euro forebears killed off, my sincerest apologies. You were right all along...

News From Mumbai

Just catching up on the news of the attacks in Mumbai, and given the serious nature of such events, I know it's inappropriate to make immature jokes, but c'mon NYTimes...really?

Hari Kumar contributed reporting from New Delhi.

I was not aware that White Castle was an international chain.

(I apologize sincerely that this is my first post in over a week. Regardless, enjoy your Thanksgivings, fellow Americans. I think under the circumstances a lot of us are going to be more reflective this year than in previous years.)

16 November 2008

John D. Barrow—New Theories of Everything

Back in early June, I had made note of some thoughts I had (yeah, it happens) about the search for a "Theory of Everything". I try to keep abreast of current work in cosmology and high-energy physics, particularly if new work appears that's crafted for the education of the layman, "because that's who I am, and that's who I care about." Anyhow, I made the notes regarding the nature of what a theory of everything actually is. Fundamentally, it's a religious pursuit undertaken by ostensibly secular physicists and mathematicians. Why do I call it a religious pursuit? Mainly because in order to reduce the workings of the universe to a comprehensible, elegant mathematical function one must know far more than I think we're capable of understanding (i.e.; initial conditions for the grand event that birthed our universe).

Now there are reasons why I don't think we can know these, and that's where Cambridge mathematician/cosmologist John D. Barrow comes in. New Theories of Everything is an update of a book he wrote in 1991 and provides incredibly clear explanations for a vast array of mathematical and cosmological concepts. (As in frightening, geniusesque clarity.) It's exactly the high-end pop-science book I've needed to read for a while, because while Barrow's grasp of physical phenomena is tight, his deep knowledge allows him to be critical of certain directions many of his peers are taking.

The main premise of the book revolves around the idea that there is no reason to think that the physical properties of our universe can be distilled into one mathematical function. While our universe may have a mathematical skeleton, there are many aspects of its existence that are chaotic and non-linear and other aspects (think closer to home à la the arts) that don't seem to have mathematical explanations at all. Without knowledge of the exact states of initial conditions of these chaotic phenomena we have no way of predicting how future states will turn out (thus negating the ability to confirm the accuracy of an equation or experiment). Symmetry breaking also gives theorists headaches for similar reasons, but I just mangled that last explanation so I'll leave this one for the expert (read the book) to flesh out.

Lastly, I must mention—and I'm cutting this review off because I'm obviously not a physicist and I've also been enjoying some scotch—this book left me a bit baffled. Not by the content per se, as it was expertly explained and I highly recommend reading it, but by the author himself. You see John D. Barrow is a religious man, of a specific christian denomination. Now it may be obnoxious of me to go down this path, but after reading such an obviously brilliant explanation of some of the most conceptually difficult material for humans to comprehend, I cannot help but wonder how its author holds such traditional christian beliefs (i.e.; that jesus our savior, the viability of the trinity, etc.) and is able to reconcile them with all he knows of our universe—not to mention the possibility of an infinite multiverse of which our universe is only one small bubble. I find this realization more troubling and difficult to comprehend than the ideas of infinity or nothingness. But maybe I'm the weird guy.

Anyway, regardless of my ever-dyspeptic responses to the continuing presence of nonsensical religious beliefs in today's world, read this book if you have any interest whatsoever in quantum phenomena, chaotic systems, universal origins, multiverse theory, string theory and any aspects of mathematics. The latter almost always forms a stumbling block for laypersons and Barrow's ability to explain various mathematical concepts made me want to strangle all the terrible math teachers I had growing up who never explained a single fucking thing.


12 November 2008

Wednesday Rando Time

Before I head to the store to buy Drano and peanuts, I'm putting the 'pod on shuffle to see what happens. Let's hope something embarrassing pops up!

Triac, "Pearl Lake"—This is a fairly short yet pummeling bit from the Baltimore outfit's album Dead House Dreaming that came out a couple years back. I've yet to see them since Blake left to join Pig Destroyer and the lovely Noel Danger (of Dactyl notoriety) took over on vocals. They stayed at my old house once when they were up here on tour. It was fun.

Milemarker, "Lost the Thoughts But Kept the Skin" — Milemarker always brings me back to that time in college when I snapped out of that phase you go through when everyone shows up freshman year and you experiment with all their music and get totally lost on some terrible tangent. Then somebody introduces you to High On Fire and you realize you've been listening to a lot of shit for too long and need to get back to your roots. It was around this time that somebody played Milemarker for me. Bad story and run-on sentence? You betcha.

Blind Melon, "Drive"— I'm so so so so glad this came up. The other day I put on their album Soup at work (though this song is on the debut s/t) and people were digging it, like, "Who is this? This is really good." And then I would say, "GOTCHA! It's BLIND FUCKING MELON." Minds were blown. Laugh all you want. Actually, don't laugh. Bling Melon is the best band ever that everyone wrote off as a joke after the "No Rain" video and some subsequent Shannon Hoon antics. Well, the full story is rather poignant and Shannon Hoon is one of those irreplaceable figures. The band has actually reunited and is touring (They may be playing NYC this weekend I think). Anyway, nearly all the Blind Melon fans I know happen to also be serious metalheads. So read into that what you will. I love this band.

His Hero Is Gone, "Paranoia Secured" & Dropdead, "Herd"— The fact that the universe just followed Blind Melon with His Hero... and Dropdead makes me hard in the pants. Last night I was trying to explain chaos theory, cosmology and high-energy physics to one of my roommates when I realized that all the bourbon I had been dumping in my tea had finally made me drunk. To me that's a perfectly analogous situation to this, but some people insist that I'm "different".

Born Against is up next, but I gotta head to the store before I get too lazy. Speaking of which, I know I'm failing massively in the lack of subsequent "Best Beards In Sports" posts, but maybe I'll get around to it later today. Heaven forbid I finish my personal statement for my graduate school applications, so that just might happen. Also, I've had a tab in my browser open to the Unabomber Manifesto for, what, two months now? At some point I'll finish reading that paeon to social anxiety, but for the time being priorities is as priorities does.

Oh, and if anyone is looking to procrastinate I highly recommend running searches on Google Trends. You can find out fun things like Philadelphians run the most searches for "blow job" and folks in Richardson, TX love "chubby porn". Here's a fun one I just ran; Australia, I always knew you were a strange, backwards land and Philly? Well, you never cease to amaze.

09 November 2008

The White Tiger—Aravind Adiga

This year's Man Booker Prize-winner is Indian-born debutant novelist Aravind Adiga. The simplest summary of The White Tiger will tell you that it's the story of entrepreneur (and murderer!) Balram Halwai; a tale that reveals the conflicts underlying contemporary Indian society as it strives towards 21st Century technological and economic superiority. But of course that's the nutshell version.

Adiga has produced a panorama of modern India in the foreground of which narrator and protagonist Halwai "rises" from a lower caste to become a successful businessman. I qualify the term "rises" because it is a conflicted and controversial notion in a multifaceted nation still mostly understood in the West according to aged stereotypes. This isn't the crunchy India of spiritual enlightenment and millenia-old cultural tradition. Those attributes are present, of course, but any discussion of India today is incomplete without recognition of South Asian political realities and the tension between social classes; the entrenched and rigid markers of status that have been slowly breaking down over the past half-century. Adiga brilliantly displays the conflict—particularly salient among the lower classes—between adhering to family and tradition (the social world found here in "The Darkness") and attempting to create a life as a successful individual in a technologically advanced democratic society.

The India that the narrator inhabits is disgustingly corrupt, bigoted and backward-looking; characteristics highlighted ever more by the growing influence of American-style malls, pristine Bollywood shlock and the remnants of English colonialism. For Indians like Balram Halwai who attempt to supercede their anonymous (his parents actually don't bother to name him, simply calling him "boy") upbringings in "middle" India, there is almost no trickle-down of wealth from the upper strata of society. Halwai really only achieves success because he is an adept observer and learns how to undermine his bosses and understand the proper etiquette of corruption.

What makes the tale of the White Tiger ever more salient to a Western reader is not so much how Adiga portrays the many facets of Indian society for the uninitiated, but how he is able, as a child of both East and West (he spent some youthful years in Australia and attended university in England and the US), to critique modern democratic technological society as a whole. Adiga has not focused his criticism solely upon his native, growing India; the more abstract targets are supposedly "democratic" societies that tout their cultural breadth, scientific prowess and economic advancement as proof of their superiority. The past eight years of the American experience have demonstrated the fallacy of such beliefs. Adiga has situated his novel in a "new" India, but the themes he presents are as salient in modern America (and probably the UK, France, etc. as well) with our extensive poverty, crumbling infrastructure and corrupt—however hidden—politics.

After the electoral events of this past week, this novel only becomes more curiously topical. While detailed explanation of what I mean would be far too long for me to present here, the short of it revolves around the idea that the future is "browner", "darker" than most would have believed before November 4, 2008. Obama's Presidency-elect is a marker of future directions that Mr. Halwai hints at in his letters to the Chinese Premier that frame the novel's narrative. The era of
White/Christian/Western (read as conservative, traditional Aryan Hindu in the novel) hegemony is coming to a close, though its effects will continue to be felt for some time and the actual changes that will occur in the world are impossible to predict. Halwai's "liberation" in the novel is one manner of portraying how these changes may occur, but as the author has stated, it is still fiction. Social upheavals have their newsworthy markers, though the tangible effects are more often arise through slow, painful, ambiguously moralized rendings. I'm not positive if this is what Mr. Adiga intended with this brilliant work, but it's the sea in which Balram Halwai's eventual prosperity left me floating.

addendum: In light of what I wrote above, this article in today's NYTimes Week In Review presents an interesting snapshot of Mumbai. While The White Tiger takes place in Delhi, Bangalore and several small villages, the details here give a good bit of context for Adiga's story.

07 November 2008

I Know This Isn't A Diary, But...

...Since Tuesday's election results I've felt rather strange. The first reason for this is something I can pinpoint, mainly my lament at not having been out celebrating in the streets with people after Obama's victory was announced. Nothing against my roommates, but forever in the future when anybody asks me where I was the night of November 4, 2008 I'll have to say, "watching the election on tv in my apartment." Not out at some election party or at a bar celebrating with the world, but at home in front of the tv. Kind of a sucky answer.

To be fair however, I tried to connect with friends, but given my at-that-point intoxicated state, biking half-way across Brooklyn wasn't the best idea. Why was I already kinda wasted? Well, after getting up early to vote, I think I drank six or seven cups of coffee in the span of two hours. My manager at work brought in coffee and chocolate for everyone and I just went to town. That pretty much gave me anxious jitters the rest of the day until I got home, made dinner and started sipping bourbon to calm my nerves. Despite all evidence pointing to an Obama victory, I (alongside the majority of the US African-American population) still was expecting electoral shenanigans. Then, when the results from Massachusetts Prop.2 started coming in...well, you know where that leads.

Knowing that we were all in the midst of a world-historical event, I thought it appropriate to keep a running diary of what was going on. Unfortunately as soon as the race was called I took a gigantic swig of Evan Williams and had to sit down. Anyway the results of my diary experiment are as follows (and I'm not editing any of this):

Obama just won the election, car alarms are sirening, folks on the block are yelling out windows, we can hear distant yells and firecrackers.
on tv the pundits are speaking all sorts of nonsense while Obama supporters celebrate.
this is the first election that I've voted in on the winning side. and it's Obama. everyone is going crazy.
Brothers are drinking in the street! this is so fucking great. this is so little, but means so much it's the perfect step into a midnight we'll wake up in the morning smiling.
he's about to speak. more cheers outside. it's been an hour since the race was called. i've drank bourbon for America. I smoked for the voters of MA who overwhelmingly decriminalized weed.
Hello, Chicago. flag. tv fuzz skip. so many people voted! it's the Answer. How terrible is it that I just want him to wink and say "Where all the white women at?" I'd pee myself. McCain's speech was dignified and gracious and too long. Joe Biden gaffe in 3...2...1....The unyielding zookeeper. Michelle! New puppy! Oprah! Grandma!
Oh he's just a "campaign organizer" [pretty sure I meant "community" there—ed.] Really? That makes sense, because he's pretty much organized your ass's trek back to Alaska! HA!
Spellman College girls are loving it. Planet in Peril. I'm sitting with Perin [one of my roommates]. She's like my new sister it kicks ass in the gayest way possible. Steep climb! We're gonna ride this Donkey to the top!
Flag! False start on #08 Obama. More soccer, less NFL. I have calloused fingers and dirty hands. mmm bourbon. a new spirit indeed. Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old! she can vote as a black woman. obamerica. yes we can. Oprah again. This is our time. This is our time down here. These are peoples' wishes, this is my with and it didn't come true, so I'm taking it back. I'm takin' 'em all back. Yeah we took it back! Eat shit Bush. Lick my ass and suck on my balls. I can't comprehend what is happening right now [oh, you don't say?]. Hug, man love OBAMIDEN O'BIDEN Jesse Jackson is crying!
We got Florida Back and Ohio and more

So there you have it, a succession of moments of brilliance spurred on by the images and words coming at me from the picture box. If anyone has a transcript of that live feed they might be able to make out whatever I was referencing in there because clearly those three pages of writing start to lose coherence rather swiftly.

Oh, and the whole point of this post was why I have been feeling "off" since then. Well, other than the historical celebration that I missed out on, we have this whole "reality" thing going on. I still wake up struggling to make ends meet just like millions of others across the country. People are still racist and bigoted and homophobic (even California, shame on you!). There is a lot of actual work that has to be done to fulfill even the most meagre promises of Obama's campaign. After all he is human, not some saint or messiah or redeemer. Let's chalk all my negativity up to an extended campaign/election/celebration hangover because, strangely enough I feel more positive about existence than I have in quite a while.

04 November 2008

Hooray For Massachusetts

While we wait for the numbers to keep on a-comin', I'd like to pass on the wonderful news that my home state of Massachusetts has voted to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use. This is awesome as I fully support smoking weed and engaging in consensual acts of sodomy (California, get yr 'NO's on Prop. 8 and yous can be twins!).
So yeah, we might be assholes (zing!) but we sure are chill about it. I'll toke to that.

Also, GObama!!!!!!!!!

Election Day!

Hopefully any Americans reading this today have gone and voted (or will vote before their locals polls close). Previously I voted absentee in Massachusetts, making today my first time voting in an actual booth. A bit groggy from just waking up, I went over to the basement of PS 18 down the block, wandered around confusedly between lines and then the Voter Aides led me to the right line. I didn't know what to expect of line length, but that whole process took me 10 minutes and that includes the walk. The voting machine was weird, too. When I was a kid and "went voting" with my parents I remember going to Leominster City Hall, waiting in line for my ma or pa to get their name crossed off a giant table-sized list before wading through the labia of democracy: the boothflaps.
This New York machine was weird. It looked like an old cigarette vending machine with a giant lever on the bottom. You're supposed to put the lever in position, turn little knobs for the candidate(s) of your choosing, then pull the lever back to cast the vote(s). Such a contraption is quite different than the old Massachusetts machines from my youth. Those things were little boxes with punch cards that had to be lined up properly before casting a vote by punching the lever in the correct position. Then you bring the ballot to another desk and put it in a box. Today? No actual ballot and no box, either. Hm.
Overall, an easy process of which every eligible person should be partaking. My main gripe with American voting (besides the massive fraud of the past two Presidential elections) is that Election Day is not a national holiday. Give every person the day off (or at the very least a half-day) so that they can go cast their vote at their leisure. That people have to get up early or leave work early or skip their lunch break to go vote is stupid. Then again if everyone could vote at their leisure poor, working people would be able to vote. And you know what happens when poor people vote? Baby Jesus cries and the terrorists win again.

On that note (sorry, it's too early for me yet) get out and vote for Obama because if you vote for the old angry guy and the clearly unqualified woman you're an asshole.

23 October 2008

If I Had An Oscar Vote...

The winner, hands down.

(Incidentally, this video can also be used to further demonstrate the idiocy of creationism.)

17 October 2008

Typical Thursday

1) Great comedy set at The Wrong Hole (get a website or something, eh?), hosted by Meigs & Meg.
2) Best joke I've heard in a while:

"What's the difference between Sarah Palin's mouth and her vagina?

Not everything that comes out of her vagina is retarded."

3) Red Sox win in stunning comeback fashion. Well done lads.

4) Bedtime.

11 October 2008

Torche - Meanderthal

I know this has been out for a few months already and the dudes have been touring in support of it, but I just got my hands on it. Let me say it is super crush smashed face floor writhing awesome. Get it if you don't have it. Could you call it "stoner pop post-metal"? I don't know, I think I just did. There are vocal harmonies, catchy dirge riffs, slow parts, fast parts. Hell, it's almost like it made me forget how to write out complete thoughts.

Dude, this record will Palin-ize your brain! Yowzers!

07 October 2008

All Of These People Just Watched That Debate

These are easily some of the gnarliest medical "cases" I've ever seen; posted over at the Neurophilosophy scienceblog. As they say, "An x-ray is worth a thousand units of indecipherable medical jargon."

Watch yr melon, buddy!

Cellphone Popcorn

Update: I posted this video without conducting due dilligence. Apparently what follows was busted on Mythbusters at some point and does not work. Now I want to know how they staged these videos...

* * * * *
My dad just sent me this and it's awesome. Know how much radiation your phone gives off when it rings? Well, enough so that...aw just watch the video...

Luckily I keep my cellphone away from corn and in my pocket next to my...oh...

03 October 2008

Election Prediction via Intrade

Yesterday I caught my annual autumn cold so instead of heading out to friends' comedy and music shows, I stayed in and watched the VP debate. What a travesty Sarah Palin is. I'm not going to go into it, she disgusts me and is an insult to women (among other things). However, in between naps today I found myself at Intrade, the market predictor of important things. As of today there is a 70% chance that Obama/Biden win the election and these type of markets have been consistently accurate in predicting recent election winners. Getting wind of this perked me up a bit and it's worth keeping tabs on over the next 5 weeks (also, make sure you're registered to vote, you have until next Friday 10/10 to do this).

01 October 2008

Tuesday's "I Don't Have to Work Tomorrow" Free-For-All

Last night while my bike was chained to the gate in front of my friends' building, as it is on so many nights, somebody came by—presumably on their bike—and took my bike seat. I add that they were "presumably on their bike" because as a little gift they left me their bike seat. Or just some bike seat they had. Turns out the bike seat they left for me is more comfortable than the one that was stolen. So...

Thanks? I guess thanks is in order. Really, I hate the idea that people steal bike seats, but if you're just gonna go around the 'hood trading out crappy bike seats for slightly less crappy ones that are a tad cushier, then go for it. You're the new Williamsburg Bike Seat Fairy. It's a title that has all sorts of wacky connotations, but fuck it, live it up with your off-kilter antics. They're certainly jarring for a moment, but that happy ending makes a sucker like me feel all cozy inside.

And speaking of cozy, Evan Williams bourbon is delicious even when you're not drinking "Sportsman" after "Sportsman" at the Levée. I highly recommend drinking it while spending the night at home writing. Also goes well with Nirvana, Vaz and High On Fire. From the EW bio:

Evan Williams, born a Welshman, settled in Virginia and moved to what would become Kentucky (but was then Fincastle County of Virginia) in about 1780. Like most frontiersmen, he grew crops, but getting them to market over narrow trails and steep mountains was a daunting task. Williams soon learned that converting his corn and other grains to whiskey made them easily transportable, prevented the excess grain from simply rotting, and gave them a little welcome diversion from the rough life of the frontier.
If you don't enjoy cheap bourbon with over two and a quarter centuries of history then I think you should really take some time out from your busy schedule and reassess what's really meaningful in your life. Priorities. Bourbon. Evan Williams.

29 September 2008

Dinosaur Jr / Built to Spill - Terminal 5 9/26/08

After a couple days of letting Friday night's big event simmer in my brain (read: procrastinate), I will now attempt to do justice to the awesomeness that Dinosaur Jr and Built to Spill. To begin, let's discuss the venue, Terminal 5. This is not a fun place to get to given its location in the middle of nowhere in Manhattan's far West 50s. Inside it's not necessarily a bad place, though I recommend heading up into the balconies for better sound. You can see alright from the floor, but your ears will not enjoy it. I'm not sure what this place was before it became Terminal 5, but I get the impression it was a run-of-the-mill club kinda place. Those places aren't so much designed for the acoustics as they are for listening to shit sounds on coke. Anyway, I digress...

Arriving late for the 7:30 kickoff, we missed probably 85% of Meatpuppets set, which kinda sucks 'cos for the last 3 songs they were bounding around the stage like the three old crazy people that they are. Then...

Falling into a twilight zone in which my 27yr old universe is suddenly transposed onto my 14yr old universe, J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Emmett Patrick Murphy appeared on stage, fiddled with their gear and turned the time machine's knob to 1987. "The Lung" was first up and for no particular reason thought it an interesting choice. They followed that by warping to the future with two tracks off Beyond and then zooming back for more early stuff. We really had no idea what their setlist rationale was going to be heading in; all early stuff from the first three records?..mostly new material from Beyond?..a smattering here and there of everything?

Well, it turns out it was the latter, as they played at least one track from every album except Hand It Over, and that was basically a J solo album anyhow so no real loss. I can't claim to remember everything they played, but they got in "Out There", "Feel the Pain", "Freak Scene", "Repulsion" (one of my personal favorites), "No Bones", "The Wagon" and one or two more (maybe "In A Jar"?). I'll admit I screwed my memory up by a) getting stoned before the show, and b) listening to the original three albums in a row on Saturday. Do I keep a notebook on me at all times? Yes. Did I write down what they were playing while they were playing it? Of course I did not. The important thing is that I finally got to see my favorite band (and guitar hero) live and kicking ass with a cheshire grin slapped on my mug. Oh, I should also mentioned they closed with two covers, "Just Like Heaven" and an early hardcore song that nobody could place at all. If anybody knows what they played, do let me know so that I can feel stupid when I read it and say to myself, "Why didn't I recognize that?"

While we tried to stretch our aging legs and keep too much blood from pooling in our feet, Built to Spill hit the stage in a six-man triangle formation: their usual quartet augmented by a cellist/keyboarder and a third tour guitarist. They played 1997's Perfect From Now On from start to finish; a spectacular, if subdued, performance marred only by Doug fiddling with a broken guitar strap during, ironically, "Stop the Show". Their decision to perform this particular one is curious given that though it's an amazingly lush, considerate piece in it's entirety, it doesn't really "rock" as hard as Keep It Like A Secret. I'll also admit that until fairly recently I wasn't as familiar with Perfect... as I was with Keep It... since the latter had come out just before I went to college. They did perform an "encore" of sorts with three tracks off that album, though, which got the crowd pumped up.

The grand finale occurred as BTS jammed out their set and J Mascis wandered on stage, jazzmaster in hand. Everyone was expecting him to start playing along, but then out of nowhere Kurt Kirkwood usurps the drum throne setting in motion a chain of events that included Chris Kirkwood impromptu "storytelling" then wrestling guitar-Brett from BTS and culminated in an awful jam session that pretty much everyone wanted to end, but none of the dudes on stage could really figure out how. An utterly glorious catastrophe to behold, though a proper encore would have been much preferable.

Overall a fantastic show simply because of what it was. Of course I would have maybe prefered to have been a teenager again with that sort of energy during Dinosaur's set, but hell, when I was a teenager the original lineup had long since disbanded. So I don't mind taking what I can get now and wallowng in its reinvigorated awesomeness.

I Was Hungover Today So Just Hold Your Horses

Tomorrow when I'm at work I'll write up a little thing about Friday's show, but for now you can just content yourself with this video I stumbled upon. Ever wonder what J and Uma Thurman talked about when they dated in high school? I do, though I'm sure Uma did most of the talking.

27 September 2008

Dinosaur Jr

Is the greatest. Actual show review to come later. I'm going to sleep.

26 September 2008

Katie Couric v. Sarah Palin

I don't watch the evening news on television, nor did I ever watch the Today show when Ms. Couric was on that, so my ability to compare interview styles and/or toughness are lacking here. But let's face it, no matter how Couric stands up, the real focus here is on Sarah Palin.

She's had a couple weeks since that Charles Gibson interview to hunker down and cram on policy issues, though clearly whatever she studied for wasn't on this "test". Frankly, this is just embarrassing and she's gonna get her ass handed to her when she finally debates "Screamin' Joe" Biden. Four years of McCain/Palin is stacking up to be even worse than what we have going on now. Hear that? WORSE!

This interview is cringeworthy and anyone who seriously believes this woman is qualified to run anything needs their head examined. To paraphrase my man Dennis Kucinich: WAKE THE FUCK UP AMERICA!

24 September 2008

XXX @ Work? You Betcha!

Thanks to Tyler for sending this my way. I like eating corn, too.

Update: "Unforgiven III"

The intro to this song is one of the lamest things I've ever heard. I was going to say one of the "gayest" songs ever. But that's not fair at all and I don't want to start a firestorm over my use of incendiary and incredibly offensive language (see what I did there?).

Also, the rest of the song sucks.

Now, "All Nightmare Long" is a good song. Listen to that one again before your ears revolt.

Metallica - Death Magnetic

This work was a long time coming. People everywhere (that care) have been all up-in-arms saying, "Metallica is BACK!" and then making minor qualifying statements about certain elements of the album. I have to agree to an extent, this is far closer to pre-Black Album Metallica than anything they've released in the 20 years since ...And Justice For All. The guitars are thrashy, punchy, crunchily distorted with none of whatever garbage that Bob Rock threw into all of the mixes when they joined forces with him. Hetfield's "bark" is back, or as back as it could be since his long locks are long gone. The lyrics are adolescent, but that was predictable since they've never been that interesting to begin with. Kirk lays down some serious riffage and has brought back the "late '80s thrash solo" which merely means, "I'm solely going to play a ton 32nd and 64th notes right here so deal with it." And while there will never be another Cliff, Robert Trujillo is more than capable of making himself heard and seems to have been allowed a far greater role in writing than Jason Newsted ever was.

As far as any of the above go, it's really what most people have already written. Amazing, really, because the reviews have been so consistent to point out the exact same things while each review exclaims, "Yeah, Metallica is Back!" Well, here's the problem; as much as I agree with all of them that this is a little bit exciting and that this is way better than anything since '88...Lars is still the drummer. Let's face it Lars sucks. He's the shittiest drummer in any notable metal band and has been since Metallica charged out. He got away with his weaknesses for a while but by the time ...And Justice... dropped it was clear that he had no chops. It's unfortunate that at the same time that they lost Cliff they also had to try and cover up for the fact that their drummer had run out of ideas and had been holding them back. We'll never know what Metallica could really have become because of these two factors, but it's clear on this album that there was a ceiling and they hit it by '88. Some of Lars' drum parts are so juvenile and simplistic that anybody familiar with a drumkit has to acknowledge that he's just not a good drummer; there are some beats in here that are not there for any effect other than, "Shit, I can't actually do anything awesome here, so I'll just play this."

But whatever, in the final observation all that anybody cares about is that this is the first Metallica album in 20 years that's worth cranking. Somebody should have stoned Bob Rock to death long ago, but I guess none of us understood that he was the major issue in their album construction because of the several other glaring issues present. Rick Rubin has brought out the good old Metallica, so proper gratitude must be floated his way. Death Magnetic doesn't get super high marks, but it's definitely worth picking up...er, downloading. Definitely download it. Do it for Lars.

17 September 2008

Best Beards In Sports, Part II

Man, the more research I do on this, the more sites I'm finding dedicated to keeping track of all the awesome facial hair in sports. To stay relevant I'm going to find the overlooked treasures lurking in corners, the poetic statements on the irrelevancy of the razor, the glorification of shagginess in a world of metrosexuality (ed note: I don't just hate the Yankees because I'm a Masshole, I hate them because of their regressive facial hair policy). However, I think it's only fair to link up to those who have come before and made lists of their own, because there's no accounting for taste (clearly).

There are more basketball beards than I first realized and the NBA has even put together their own best beards in NBA history list. Their list was inspired by Baron Davis, who is leading the charge to bring back the glory days of the '70s. There are some magnificent face nests going on here, but personally, I think Bill Walton tops everyone. Le Basketbawl has a few quality photos and a bunch of links as well, go check those out.

However, let's not start with basketball. Instead, let's take a look at a sport that lately has been overrun with metrosexualism: football (soccer). Like basketball, football had a grand tradition of facial hair that's mostly fallen by the wayside. Irish legend George Best is probably the most notable proponent of beardism, followed by 1982 Brazilian World Cup star Socrates. Former captain of my beloved Newcastle Brian Kilcline was signed by King Kev his first time around (back when they were good) and Spurs have had a couple beardos in Steve Archibald and Ricky Villa. Germany not only dominates in the World Beard & Moustache Championships, but they also seem to consistently produce footballers like Paul Breitner & Manfred Kaltz who display an intimidating face. These days very few footballers are countering the Cristiano Ronaldo-ization of the game, but here are a few notables:

I was disappointed when Olof Mellberg left Villa for Juve, because there is a dearth of great beards in the EPL, but he was inconsistent anyway. Keep the viking look, Olof!

With Mellberg gone it's been perennial oddball Djibril Cissé holding down the beard fort. He returned to the EPL from Marseille to join Roy Keane's Mackems and the bleached what-have-you came along for the ride.

West Ham defender Matthew Upson is also holding down, but with a rather weak beard that I could probably grow in 2 days. No joke. At least he's got something, I guess.

Germany & Real Madrid defender Christoph Metzelder takes a lot of flak for not being that good, but at least he's got a sweet beard, something severely lacking in the Primera Liga.

I'll finish off with one last, and fairly spectacular, facial feature: that of former American defender Alexei Lalas. Before he tried to salvage a horrendous LA Galaxy side by signing David Beckham, Lalas was well known for his awesome scraggle. I'm certain any positive mojo he had disappeared when he finally shaved. Oh, he also signed that frequent offender of terrible facial hair: Abel Xavier.

Best Beards In Sports

Being a bearded man, I'm always appreciative of those upstanding gentlemen who invest quality time in making their faces look like a grizzly's ass. Too many sports stars these days are so concerned with dating some model that they forget they're supposed to look badass and intimidating. I should have thought of doing this long ago, but I didn't and GreatestHockeyLegends.com beat me to the punch. But they only covered best hockey moustaches. Then I started my own search and found a site with the best baseball beards, but not much of anything else. So I'm going to be putting together my own list of best beards in other sports like soccer and basketball. In the meantime, go check out those beards; I'll be back shortly...

09 September 2008

Good Morning Viet...Iran!

Hey, what's up recent Iranian visitor! I'm glad my worthless site has managed to make it past your theocratic regime's internet censors. Hey, I've got a deal for you: you send your warmongering, nuclear-posturing, religious nutbag government packing and we'll do the same here in the Ol' Great Satan. Sound like a plan to you, too? Excellent, go in peace, friend.

Worcester, Pull Your Head Out Of Your Ass

Thanks to my severe poverty and marginal laziness, I don't spend too much time outside Brooklyn (other than for work in Manhattan). Generally, this is fine as I've really come to love living here and I consider it my home. Occasionally I travel back to my birth home in Massachusetts to visit my family for a weekend. Hometowns being hometowns, I spend the whole time within the confines of the 1/4 acre yard I grew up in, thus avoiding any sort of social interaction with people I may accidentally run into if I left said yard.

This weekend was different and confirmed for me nearly every reason why I moved to New York to begin with. Sometimes expats need such reminders of why they've chosen to settle in places that don't have beautiful fall foliage or funny names for everyday items (see: "bubbler, the" and "elastics") or that do happen to be full of Yankees fans. Yes, this weekend more college friends got married so that their degenerate single friends had a legitimate reason to duel with their livers. I won't get into the particulars of the wedding itself, but there was an open bar, so...that covers the important topics there.

Why, then, did I return to NYC with a renewed sense of appreciation? Here's a few reasons:

1) Things stay open. Worcester had one open diner Sunday morning (morning=12:30pm) and it had 4 booths that were all full. There were 4 closed diners that we found. 4. Four. If you choose to close your diner on a Sunday fucking morning, I hope it's because you love losing money that drunks want to spend on eggs. Die. Oh yeah, and to "blue laws" in general? Get rid of them, Puritanism should remain a part of history, we don't have to keep it around to annoy visitors and there's nothing "quaint" about holding on to pointless traditions that should have been scrapped ages ago. People don't go to church anymore, open your damn store.

2) Pizza. Massachusetts is probably third behind New York and New Jersey for a high population of Italians (I should know, I'm part one), so why did they never learn how to make pizza properly? An equally acceptable answer here is "Bagels".

3) Attractive women. I always cringe at jokes about the desert of beauty that is the Greater Boston Area, but in my heart I know it's terribly true. Any of the actually attractive females migrate to places like, oh, say, New York City. Which brings me to my next point...

4) Style. Here's where I really start to get depressed. I hate fashion. It's possibly the least important of any high art form. I'd rather see the dentist than go clothes shopping. That's not a stretch at all. But then I go to a city like Worcester, home to several colleges and roughly 160,000 people and nobody seems to know how to dress themselves. Guys, your white hats and weaved belts have made you the butt of jokes nationwide, maybe even worldwide. Give it up already. Oh, and put your collar back down. As for you, ladies, I can tell you're not a natural blond and a Brazilian transsexual would be embarrassed to don such horrid pancake makeup. Is the "HC" on your sweatshirt supposed to make me think you go to Holy Cross or for "Holy Crap, I've been drinking for 8 hours now and you still look like a Moldavian gangster's girlfriend". Get the hell out of the mall for pete's sake!

Why is that realization depressing? Because it forces me to acknowledge that I actually know something about style and self-presentation despite any of my multiple and constant utterances to the contrary. I may as well host Project Runway.

5) Is it worth a number 5, do I need to write more? Probably, but it's 2:30am and there are other reasons I can't sleep. I can't go on, I'll go on. That I even had to write this in the first place is worth a place on this list, so that's #5. Worcester (and by extension all of Metro-Boston and generally suburban New England—except Vermont because you're so quaint and adorable), I implore you to get your act together. Consider this your occasionally sentimental expats asking politely.

04 September 2008

Look At All The Crazy White People!

Um, I'm sitting here watching the John McCain speech and wondering where the fuck all these rednecks got suits. Did all the billionaire splurge for formal attire and razors? I haven't been privvy to such jingoism since the Nuremburg rallies. For pete's sake, quit it with the "USA, USA, USA" chants you ignorant apes! And yes, you are apes, you are descended from a common ancestor along with chimps and bonobos.

To be fair, I didn't watch the DNC, and I'm sure it was chalk full of hope and more hope, but at least it wasn't this horseshit parade.

I'm still considering voting for a joint ticket of Jimmy Carter and Dennis Kucinich. You know, as soon as I remember to register to vote.

Update: This morning when I got to work I was discussing last night's speech with my manager. He informed me that even the Dems burst into impromptu "USA!" chants, which made him wretch. So fuck them as well. Cut the shit with the "USA!" bullshit, people. We're not that great and this isn't Nazi Germany. Wait, what's that you say?...

01 September 2008

Let's Prevent A White House Shotgun Wedding

In case anybody hasn't heard, McCain VP Sarah Palin's daughter is pregnant. Bristol, a 17 year old, was knocked up by her boyfriend (no word on his age and possible statutory-rape status) who she now plans to marry. Good for them and hooray for government-funded abstinence-only sex-ed. Her mother supports that, by the way, and is also anti-abortion.

And in case you were wondering, yes, the McCain campaign said they knew about the pregnancy (which is now in its fifth month. "Fif, I plead the Fif...F-I-F...FIF!"). Palin has 5 children, the youngest of which, Trig, is only a few months old (and has Down's Syndrome). Apparently the talk of the town this weekend was that Trig was actually Bristol's kid, as she had disappeared with Mono for months and Mom Palin never looked pregnant. Whatever, we don't need more rednecks hanging around the White House.

Oh, also, on the whole family names thing...Bristol and Trig are joined by eldest brother, Track (on his way to Iraq) and sisters Willow and Piper. So...yeah, they all have stupid names.

You're Not Reading This Because You're At The Beach

And I'm stuck here at work. I hadn't much considered that I would be working Labor Day since I almost always end up working holidays for the 1.5x pay. So when folks were all, "Hey, we're going to the beach wanna come?" or "Let's get blotto Sunday night cos nobody's gotta work tomorrow!" My response was, "Nah, gotta work as usual, but I should be getting time and a half."


To my chagrin I learned upon arriving at work that I would not be getting time and a half pay today. Why is that, you ask? Federal guidelines make no provision regarding private sector employees and according to NY Labor Law it is up to individual employers to decide if employees shall receive holiday pay (Although I'm not clear if the following is for unworked holidays or not). My employers, being cheap bastards, only pay overtime for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here's the law regarding holidays:

Q: Must an employer pay employees for holidays, sick time and/or vacations?

A: Under the New York State Labor Law, payment for holidays, sick time or vacation -- i.e. payment for time not actually worked - is not required unless the employer has established a policy to grant such pay. When an employer does decide to create a benefit policy, that employer is free to impose any conditions they choose.

Bunch of horseshit as far as I'm concerned. So enjoy your beautiful day out at the beach, or bbq or white-clothes-wearing parties and think of me as I fester indoors, beyond the reach of our sun's glorious, life-affirming radiation.

30 August 2008

Sen. Joe Biden & The War On Drugs

Just the other day, after Sen. Obama named Sen. Biden as his running mate, I saw a few posts floating around taking Biden to task on some of his past drug war positions. Not being too familiar with Biden's domestic endeavors, I was unaware that he had been an original architect of our current failed drug war policies in the '80s. Whether this was due to his Delaware constituency and the prevalence of pharmaceutical companies is not clear (at least, I haven't checked up on it), but it true that his positions vis-a-vis drug policy were not exactly progressive.

Yesterday, however, I was heartened to receive a letter from the Drug Policy Alliance Network that gave some updated news on their stance on Biden as prospective VP. While Biden was among the responsible parties that gave us the ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy), the RAVE Act, and prison-flooding mandatory minimum sentencing, he has more recently advocated eliminating the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity (a bill he introduced that both Obama and Clinton co-sponsored) and has been a notable supporter of treatment for addicts.

As DPAN Exec. Dir. Ethan Nadelman points out in his press release (which I recommend you read for yourself), the fact that Obama has selected Biden as his running mate may mean that the latter's positions may be shifting. Obama has not hidden his views that drug war policy in the US has failed and needs to be changed so bringing Biden on board probably doesn't have the negative connotations that some have put forth, regardless of his stances on certain issues.

Zhuangzi, Chapter 13

29 August 2008

Build Your Own Landspeeder

I don't need to say anything about this do I? Dude built himself a Landspeeder. Now he doesn't have to worry so much about his daughter being kidnapped by that new family of sand people that moved in down the street (I hope that's not construed as a veiled racist joke. It's not veiled. It's racist against sand people.) Go check out more photos and info over at Geekologie.

The good folks over at Geekologie also posted some great new underwear news. Ladies, I don't know if these are comfortable or not, but my pants suddenly got shorter when I saw the photos. These are probably NSFW, but since it's Friday and Labor Day Weekend (Damn You, Reagan!), I'm sure you want to see some sexy photos of underwear that defies gravity. Have a lovely weekend if you're doing anything special, because I'm not.

27 August 2008

Sunday, Monday, Habib Beye!

I just noticed that I've had a visitor from the lovely nation of Senegal, producer of such fine exports as footballers and...fish, chemicals, cotton, fabrics, groundnuts and calcium phosphate. The major destination of those non-football related exports apparently is India, while the footballers generally head to France from which they migrate further if they have talent. (Here's a list of Senegalese players)

Anyone missing the reference in this post's title should head over to Beyewatch and get their updates on everything Habib Beye.


Contemporary Jabberwocky

I haven't posted much lately here, mostly because I've been completely focused on the start of the Prem and getting my fantasy team in proper order. Nobody cares about my doings in that realm, so I keep it segregated (though if anybody wants to read a footie-related post, I'm happy to oblige, and may start doing so anyway).

Such blindness on my part resulted in my not finding anything else interesting on the interwebs to post about and that's always a bit depressing. However, my spirits were embiggened today when I caught an article via BoingBoing discussing the English usage as an adaptable technology. As a nerd-word-smith I was rather enthused, since poetry is all about finding new expressions in language and the play of word meanings. Crazy make-em-ups—as Lewis Carroll could attest—are not only valuable monetarily these days, but they help keep a language vibrant and relevant. English is notable among world languages for such adaptability and structural freedom. We don't have a language society that makes concrete rules for word usage, we have dictionaries that keep on top of newly coined words and multiple usages.

Does anyone out there know if there is an Urban Dictionary in any other language? I know that French has its own subversive slang, Verlan, but that's a different case, as French, though a beautiful language that I speak poorly, has lots of rules about word development and additions to the lexicon. Use of Verlan is clearly a political act against oppressive elements of French society, in much the same way as corner slang is a method of keeping communications secret. However, in English corner slang is only one source of new verbal adoptions as Erin McKean's Boston Globe piece clearly illustrates. Our language is flexible enough that we can toy with the grammar we learned when young to expand our vernacular in more expressive (or yes, sometimes just plain lazier) ways. Kids do it on the street, academics do it in their papers, and bloggers do it in their moms' basements. Nature abhors a vacuum, so when there is a vacuum in the vocabulary, it makes evolutionary sense that something develops to fit that niche. (Maybe that last bit is a stretch, but it makes sense to me.)

I'd love to hear about this capability in other languages or if this type of adaptability is really an aspect of English that truly sets it apart from other world languages.

21 August 2008

I Spent Thursday In Summons Court

That's right loyal readers (all 7 of you), I was lucky enough to spend today, 21 August 2008, in NYC Summons Court. Why did I have to take time out of my afternoon at work to do this, you ask? Because on 18 June at approximately 12:35 am, a roving band of badged asshounds selected me for their early morning amusement. Since my day in court has come and gone (and they can't hold any of this self-incrimination against me now), I don't mind sharing parts of the story.
It started off innocuously enough when the Boston Celtics won their 17th NBA Championship trophy. Cigars were procured to celebrate with Red, so we moved to the stoop. Unbeknown to us the stoop is considered "open container" territory and when a van of NY's "finest" came around the corner, they just had to spoil the fun. They wanted to know what we were smoking and why we had beers outside, then they decided to charge me (and only me) with an open container violation. I said I would just go back inside, but they had other ideas. In my state of combined revelry and annoyance, I challenged one of the cops to the effect of: "If you're going to give me an open container summons, you may as well give me one for littering." And promptly threw the cigar in the gutter.
To make a long story short, three cops made sure I remained rooted to my square of concrete and two summonses were produced; one for littering and one for—no, not open container—disorderly conduct. Let's just say I was fucking shocked and so was everybody else. Then the next night on that same corner two different cops wrote me up for riding my bike on the sidewalk. Yes, five feet off the sidewalk. I won't even go into this.
Anyway, the judge today had the good sense to dismiss the bike offense and the disorderly conduct (though I've gotta pay $50 for the littering, which is ample punishment for being an ass, I figure). Below are my recorded thoughts as I made my first trip to NYC Summons Court, hopefully to never return:
1:15pm: Leave work and head to 346 B'way. Court is actually at 108 Leonard. Proper start for bureaucratic adventure.

1:20pm: Get checked in after moving through security and waiting in line for a courtroom ticket. Now I have to wait until 2:15.

1:30pm: Snag a spot on the hallway floor. There are no benches and a fat/pregnant? mom is in the only chair. More families than I expected and right now I'm the only white guy. There was a professional, prep-school looking white guy in line earlier, but I overheard him trying to change his court date as he was going to be out of town on business. Typical.

1:40pm: Obviously I'm curious as to how all these forced loiterers ended up here. Were they drunk and disorderly? Was their bike on the sidewalk? This wait is going to suck.

1:45pm: I don't know if it was silly of me to bother wearing my nice shirt, but most of these folks just have t-shirts on. I was wrong, there is a thuggy white guy in here with a beater and blue bandana on. He and his two black cohorts keep talking about how their shit is just gonna be dismissed (ed. note: they weren't) I hope my shit just gets dismissed. I wanna go watch The Wire now. Half hour to go.

1:55pm: Whitey's talking loud about his time in the hole for slashing someone or other. Claims these are "new times" and jail's a young man's game. He's balding with a van dyke. Bics his head. Semi-retarded Mets fan traverses the hallway. I get a kick out of the clear delineations between the upper and lower levels of Mets fandom. Yankees fans aren't so clear cut.

2:00pm: Two white girls show up, well dressed but look like undercover troublemakers. I'm intrigued, though on second look they aren't really that attractive.

2:10pm: Court Room 3 opens up and everyone sits on benches. Hats and cellphones off says the McNulty.

2:20pm: To speed things up some of us are sent across the hall to courtroom 2. It smells like stale sweat in this room. This whole building reeks of "institution smell" and is remarkably plain, even for a government building. If I worked in here I'd splatter paint the walls with my own blood just to not look at off-white under fluorescent lights every goddamn minute.

2:30pm: My name is called and the judge and public defender do their thing which consists of the judge looking at the tickets, mumbling to himself and dismissing two out of the three. I'm relieved and rather than spend any more time in this hole, I agree to pay the $50 and leave.

2:45pm: Walk out the door of 108 Leonard and head back to work for another hour or so...