A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Sunday, April 30, 2006

The three pound universe

Sometimes, in moments of quiet contemplation, I find my thoughts taking a strange and metaphyscial bent. I blame my brain for taking me on a ride to understand infinity, and such self-referential impossibilities like thinking about thinking and the Carly Simon tune You're So Vain.

Whenever this happens, I have to remind my brain who is boss.

Me: You're doing it again. You're thinking about how you're thinking about thinking. That isn't doing anyone any good. Wouldn't you rather use that 10 percent of yourself to, oh I don't know, learn French or something?

Brain: I don't think so.

Me: Very funny. You know, you've got some nerve. What are you, anyway? You're just a needy glob of gelatinous meat. And not attractive, I might add. Have you looked in the mirror? Seriously.

Brain: That hurts.

Me: You can't feel any pain. You've got no nerve endings. I could stab you with a sharp probe and you would be none the wiser.

Brain: You don't have the guts.

Me: Alright, that's it. We're not going on the fall foliage tour.

Brain: Fine. And you can take care of your breathing, heartbeat and eye blinking yourself.

Me: I can blink my eyes whenever I want. See? I'll do it again.

And.......scene! You get the idea.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Mouths of Babes

From a final exam I'm currently grading:

"In World Politics, there are a bunch of theories--some would argue too many--that explain how and why states do what they do."

This is the same kid who finished his midterm quiz by drawing a huge picture of the face of the Pringles mascot. He did it again on the final.

Weyoun: That's just it--nobody knows. Like I said, very mysterious.

One More, Since it's Draft Day

Fact or Fiction: Mario Williams is the new Sam Bowie.

Fact, fact, a thousand times FACT! What fucking qualifications do you have to have in order to be a pro GM? Everyone--everyone--who's ever been within 20 feet of a USC game the past two years has agreed that Reggie Bush is one of the best college players of all time. He's like Barry Sanders and Sweetness' (God rest his soul) love child. If Real Life had a "Sort by Overall Rating" button like in Madden, he'd be the top selection.

Maybe Dominack Davis has pictures of somebody?

Jeff-- if you've become a Texans fan at all since moving to Galveston, I'd be curious to hear what you think.

Edit: Chuck Klosterman, predictably, puts it better than I did--

I think I know why the Texans have consciously overlooked a reality that seemed to be universally understood: the NFL draft has grown into such a self-obsessed, metacommunicative monoculture that it actively perpetuates counter-intuitive logic. Pro football teams (and the media entities which cover it, including this one) have invested so much time and effort into analysis that smart people can no longer see what's abundantly obvious. The culture of the NFL draft insists that nothing is ever easy; it suggests that what you see with your eyes is always meaningless. It is no longer acceptable to pick a player because he's the best guy available -- general managers need to justify their picks through theoretical means that are akin to corporate-speak. The Texans talked themselves into picking an inferior player; they created reasonable, intellectual reasons to make a terrible move. And I realize Houston needs help on defense, but remember -- they had the first overall pick because they were the worst team in the league. They need everything.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Boys of Summer

Mark Prior struck out Diminishing Skills Thomas 3 times in the Game 5 victory for the Cubbies; Derrek Lee took home Series MVP honors after belting 7 hrs and 28 rbi in 14 games.

Ohhhh yeah, baseball.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I've Played 3 Games of MVP Baseball 2004 Today

Can I get a "hell yeah!" for being done with both research projects for the term?

Behold Thy Graphics!!

For anyone who loved the endless dungeons, 5.25" diskettes, and playing RPGs without a mouse, click here.

At the movies

People are funny. Have you ever noticed that no one ever, ever takes a straw that is sitting in the straw dispenser arms? Everyone always dispenses a new straw rather than take the one I laced with anthrax.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Some people

Some people don't like it when I feed the birds. But if it's a crime to throw some Fritos to a pair of hungry Chilean flamingos (who look far from endangered to me I might add), well, I guess I'm guilty.


Some people think that the haunted house ride at the fair is scary. Not me. I love the dark tunnels turning this way and that, spooky sounds, and the strange, eerie winds that blow throughout. The last time I went on this ride, I held my date's hand ever so tightly as a corpse leapt from a grave at us, red-eyed spiders descended from the ceiling, and the screams- oh, the screams! Both from the victims of the grotesque tableaus that we were forced to witness, and from my own mouth. I was embarassed at my squeamishness and the screams mixed with howls of delight- I at once felt in great danger but also that I was somehow invinceable in the face of this terror. We must have ridden that ride 10 times that night. And I laughed and screamed every time.

Later I found out that it wasn't in a haunted house ride at all- I had somehow gotten trapped inside one of those circular blue jeans displays at JCPenney's - so you might want to ignore what I've just said.

RBI baseball re-enactment of 1986 game six

Whoever created this is definitely my hero.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Ever wonder if MLB has lost some fans?

Sunday, April 23, 2006: Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals

Stadium: Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Attendance: 12,194 (29.9% full)
Game Time: 2:38
Temperature: 70 degrees, partly cloudy
Wind: 9 mph
Umpires: Home - Joe West, First Base - Tom Hallion, Second Base - Tony Randazzo, Third Base - Jim Wolf

Just imagine a TB Devil Rays home game on a Thursday afternoon in late August.

Selections from Ask Roger Federer

Q: Hi Roger. I was wondering what kind of studies you would have followed if you had not been a profesionnal tennis player ?

A: My dream always was to become an athlete. I certainly liked learning languages but I never had the desire or vision of being a pilot, for example.

Q: If you weren't Roger Federer who would you like to be?

A: I’m OK with who I am!

Q: What are you planning to do after retiring? Coaching, travelling, becoming a business man?

A: I have not really thought that far yet. I certainly hope that the cosmetic line will still be an issue then.

Q: If YOU could ask a famous person a question, who would you choose and what would your question be?

A: It would be Nelson Mandela and I’d ask him many questions about his life in general.

Q: Hi Roger, fans are always asking you questions, what is one question you would like to ask the fans?

A: Why do you support me and why are you my fan?

Roger Federer is awesome.



What do you do when one of the most expensive purchases you've ever made is inexplicably unwearable for the person you gave it to?

If you answered bang your fucking head against a wall and howl in pure frustration, you made the right call.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A penny for your thoughts

At 1.4 cents each.

Oh and I came across this yesterday. Check out the meals on Aeroflot.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Take it, to the limit, one more time.

Wanted to try to share a few files with those folks who may visit this. Never done it before so I figured, eh, what the hell.

Andrew Bird - "Nervous Tic Motion"

I don't really know what more to say about this guy than, in my best Joey Lawrence impersonation, "Whoa." Something about this whole thing is just so, well, neat-o. It's got about 3 seperate movements within the track itself, all adding up to a cool-as-hell song. I like the interplay of the violins, the electric guitar, the electro-drum beats, and that winsome whistle. And somehow Mr. Bird's voice just really meshes perfectly with the whole thing to make a nicely constructed song.

Destroyer - "Students Carve"

This track is off of This Night, which should be coming to me soon. I hear it is one of Destroyer's worse albums, but oh wells. For $1.49 I can't be too pissed off at any new albums I receive, in my estimation. So this one I like for it's light, airiness. I'm finally getting used to Bejar's voice so it makes all subsequent listening easier and easier. See what you think.

The Kinks - "Powerman (demo)"

I just received The Kinks Lola vs. Powerman and the Money-go-round. I had several of their other releases (Village Green Preservation Society, Arthur, and Something Else) but this one really is somthing new. I love the big guitars, the huge "rock-band" sound. It just feels like they are going over the top, and we're certainly the better for it. Very impressive indeed.

Band of Horses - "Weed Party"

I just have heard a few of these guys songs. There are obvious parallels between the dude's vocals and The Shins, but I like this song a bit anyways. Alright...I'm out.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Q: Who's a black sheep; what's a black sheep?

In the spirit of glad tidings and the upcoming Beach Party weekend here in Galveston, I'd like to take a moment to revisit some of my favorite rappzarios of yesteryear.


Members: 2; Skoob & Krazy Drazyz

Hair stylings: Natty Dread

Lyrical prowess: Tongue-twistin' goodness.

Hood status: Straight from the sewer

Sample Lyric: (from "Loosey's")
I kicked slang to her, all my niggas knew her
I wanted to gas ahead and take her back to the sewer
to do her, screw her
I knew I had to hush
when I felt my belly drop and the spot turned to mush
Um, shush shush, I need me a push
I felt loosey bubblin, trouble in my tush
Then the gush came gushin, rushin, splat!
The juice hooked my Davy D's quick like that

Members: 3; Chip Fu, Moc Fu, Poc Fu

Hair Stylings: Hi-Fade

Lyrical prowess: Catchy verses, sing-along choruses

Hood status: rolling deep with Shaq-fu

Sample Lyric: (from "La Schmoove")
Back in the groove, it's no way you can handle this
Shit so fly, that you can call it scandalous
Cause I mani-fest in, words that I'm preachin
Unleashin, you now seek the sounds that I'm teachin
I hear NOT see NOT, knots to makes butts ROCK
I rides rhythm to the beginnin, then won't stop
The Chinese Son of Sam, the Skipper's Peter Pan
The rootinest tootinest cowboy in the East
Releasin, a new type of lyrical lingo
Single, +The Alarm+, the girls cooties I will tingle
No expiration date, so you know I won't EXPIRE
No skippin a weekly check, so I don't have to RETIRE

Members: 2; Dres & Mista Lawnge

Hair stylings: Mohawk via cubism

Lyrical prowess: Tight, 100% fly shit.

Hood status: Keepin' it real

Sample Lyric: (from "The Choice is Yours")
The styling is creative, Black Sheep of the Native
Can't be violated, or even decepticated
I got brothers in the Jungle, cousins on the Quest
Deaf retarded uncles, in parties were they rest
Guess, which way, what, when, how
Mista Lawnge, Dres, Black Sheep slam NOW
Know you've heard the others, phonies to the lovers
Then of course, the choice is yours

Members: 1; Del That Funkee Homosapien (and, apparently, Ice Cube's cousin)

Hair Stylings: Nothing fancy

Lyrical prowess: Deep baritone with witticisms interspliced.

Hood status: N/A

Sample Lyric: (From "Mistadobalina")
Mistadobalina, Mistabobdobalina, Mistabobdobalina,
won't you quit
you really make me sick with ya fraudulent behavior
you're gonna make me flip and then an army couldnt save ya
why don't you behave ya little rugrat
take a little tip from the tabloid
because I know I'm not paranoid
when I say I saw ya tryin' to mock me
now you and your crew are on a mission tryin' to hawk me


Members: 3; Butterfly, Ladybug Mecca, and Doodlebug

Hair stylings: Nappy head

Lyrical prowess: Introspective, free-flow, contemplative

Hood status: Smokey Jazz Club denizen

Sample Lyric: We like the breeze flow straight out of our lids
Them they got moved by these hard rock Brooklyn kids
Us flow a rush when the DJ's boomin classics
You dig the crew on the fattest hip hop records
He touch the kinks and sinks into the sounds
She frequents the fatter joints called undergrounds
Our funk zooms like you hit the Mary Jane
They flock to booms man boogie had to change
Who freaks the clips with mad amount percussion
Where kinky hair goes to unthought of dimensions
Why's it so fly cause hip hop kept some drama
When Butterfly rocked his light blue-suede Pumas
What by the cut we push it off the corner
How was the buzz entire hip hop era?
Was fresh and fat since they started sayin audi
Cause funks made fat from right beneath my hoodie
The puba of the styles like Miles and shit
Like sixties funky worms with waves and perms
Just sendin chunky rhythms right down ya block
We be to rap what key be to lock
I'm cool like dat

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I dislike you, Joe Morgan

An open letter to Joe Morgan:


Let me begin by telling you how happy I am to have ESPN resuming baseball coverage with the onset of the 2006 season. I like that a) some dude from the Tigers has like 12 HRs through 10 games; b) Barry Bonds is currently hitting .093 with 0 Honron; c) Corey Patterson still sucks ass, no matter where he plays; d) Sammy Sosa sucks; and e) Greg "crazy psycho ass" Maddux is 40 and is throwing as if he were 32.

I do not, however, like your announcing skills Joe Morgan.

No matter how you try to cover it up, either through the bombastic stylings of Chris Berman or the lulling sense of security provided by Jon Miller, you sir, suck ass. And I've known plenty of announcers who have also sucked ass, e.g., Chip Carey, The Hawk ("he gone!"). Steve Stone, incidently, has gotten much better now that he's on ESPN and living it up with Rick Sutcliffe.

However, Joe Morgan, nothing can compare to your inane ramblings about ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING. Time and time again, you make long, circuitous arguments that lack any point. Or, worse, you state the PURELY OBVIOUS concerning the situation on the field. ("You know Jon, if Randy Johnson gets his fastball up to 100 mph and hits the corners, he's going to strike some guys out." NO SHIT SHERLOCK.)

Nonetheless, I learned that somehow you earned your fourth Peabody award for excellence in broadcasting last year. WTF?!? Whenever I turn on the game and you are announcing, I feel like I've been taken back to a time when both excitement and proper grammar were in dearth. A FUCKING DEARTHLIKE TIME, I TELL YOU. And don't get me started on the whole "I was talking to Tony [LaRussa] last night and he told me..." qualifiers that you always stick in there. These guys would rather have their teeth deep-cleaned than be subjected to your banality.

Hey, I wish I could say that I once played on a team that was Christened the Big Red Machine, don't get me wrong. But just as you once, long ago, hung up your proverbial spikes, it is also time for you to switch off your golden microphone.

And put Ron Santo on instead.



So I'm standing at the bus stop, waiting for the bus. I feel a sneeze coming on. I roll with it, because that's what you do when you're in a position to sneeze without feeling self concious (i.e. outside, waiting for a bus). As I let out the sneeze, let's say like... a 4/10 on the sneeze magnitude scale, I feel a twinge in my back. What's that? Yeah, that's right, since then, I've had an excrutiating pain in the small of my back where I fucked up a muscle due to a weak ass sneeze.

God damn it. I guess this is where you realize that after 18 technically you're dying or something. On the other hand, now I have something more I share with Sammy Sosa. Besides my 60+ homerun seasons in MLB.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Alright, Hear me Out

If you could somehow get everyone in the world, right now, into an enforcable contract to A) drop all other human productivity and begin research on a time machine, and B) travel back to the moment after the agreement was signed as soon as the time machine was completed, wouldn't that look the same as basically wishing something into existence? Is the failure of a time machine to visit us proof that it can't be done, or is it reflective of a Temporal Prime Directive that the inventor of the time machine adopted after developing his terrible, terrible creation?

My office doesn't have windows.

Air Canada

How come nobody informed me that both BJ Armstrong and Will Perdue were now "NBA analysts" for ESPN.com? And how long until they're joined by Bobby Hansen, Stacey King and Scott Williams Bison Dele Bison Dele's waterlogged corpse?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Pics for perusal

I'll post more later but here's some cool artwork.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts

Superhero attends area physics lecture; film at 11. Or film now, if you click the link in time.

Go Blue.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Juuuuuuuuust a bit outside

After giving up four goals in the first half of last night's game (2 naked breakways, one 2-on-1 and one 3-on-1; defense was a little porous), I moved out to striker for the second half. 3 would-be assists got knocked into the netting above the rink somehow, and then I biffed a penalty at the end of the game, missing the lower right corner by about a foot.

Such is the high drama of Division III co-ed soccer in the Ace-Deuce.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Brushes with greatness

I almost forgot: at Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, TX, April 8, 2006, I saw this man:I was polishing off a medium Coke and an Extreme Double Sausage Breakfast Sandwich from Jack In The Box. He looked pretty tired. I think he was going to perform after the Vegas fight Sat. night. Hey, at least one day I can tell the younguns that I met the Diabolical Biz.

Montagues and Capulets

As I implied earlier in my Ted Leo review, I've always been a whore for the power-punk pop rock thing. I don't know if that's cool--for what it's worth, I'm also become more of a sad-bastard afficionado--but what it means is that I really like the new Arctic Monkeys album, the Arctic Monkeys being the latest in a long series of bands that've been anointed to save rock and roll in the last five years. Sonically, they're like the Libertines except with a lot less heroin-induced noodling.

So... B+? That sounds reasonable.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Vegas musings

Well I just returned from a quick 3 day trip from Las Vegas. It was my first time. I have tried to compile a list of dos and don'ts for any future travelers:

1) Don't bring a lot of money. Comps are the way to go. We were quickly informed by the casino host that if we spent 7 hours and over $682.31 at the slot machines, a buffet, replete with crab legs, would be ours. 100% free!!! It doesn't get much better than that, my friends.

2) Don't bring a girlfriend: there are, apparently, plenty of scantily clad woman, who advertise themselves via concise personals (I wish my cellphone was an 800 area code) on everything ranging from small leaflets, large fliers, graffiti, to mobile billboards, and they all would like to be your girlfriend.

3) Do bring your cigarettes. It's Vegas baby! You can smoke in casino bathrooms for God's sake!

4) Don't consider where your hotel is in relation to the other major casinos. Taxis go everywhere. And at $15 to go from the North end of the strip to the South, it's like they're paying you to cab it!

5) Don't worry about your English skills. Honestly, I spoke more Arabic and Swahili in my brief stint in Vegas than I had in the previous 9 months. Although, perhaps living in Texas has something to do with this fact...

No though, disregard this toungue-in-cheek list because I had a good time in Vegas. It was a little different than I thought it would be. I guess there is a seedy side to Vegas but we mostly spent our time in the more elegant places. Mandalay Bay is an especially beautiful resort/casino. And the wedding, the reason for my travel, was in an immaculate setting: Bali Hai. Really a serene setting for a wedding, and it was nice to have it outdoors. The weather overall was really nice: about 70 for highs everyday. I forgot what it's like to be in a desert environment though. Bring your lip balm! Chappiness ensues the moment you step off the plane.

Of course, having about $1,000 or more to spend on the tables would probably have dramatically changed my time in Vegas. That is, I would now be $1,000 poorer, but with so many stories to tell. All those ones that got away.

I did play a little poker, albeit for only about 30 or 45 minutes. $2 and $4 limit really gives people incentive to chase. So make sure you play accordingly, and not like me, which was very tight.

In other news, I have been rocking some new music of late, thanks to my new favorite website, la la. Well, the first is one I bought during my last trip to Best Buy: Ghostface Killah's fishscale. I have been pretty down on rap music lately. I have tried to buy stuff, and kind of liked it but just not really been addicted to it and ready to listen to it repeatedly. Somehow, Ghostface just pulled off the album that, at least for me, resurrected rap from it's goddamn grave. Intense, verbose, and immediate, fishscale really does live up to all the hype that surrounds it.

I also received a nice album by a band I had also heard hyped but whose album I hadn't yet purchased: The Mountain Goats. I was sent Tallahassee, an album released in 2002. I am really impressed with this band and their songwriting. Sort of folky, but without the subjects you might think of when you think of "folk." They have like 20 CDs out there and I hope to be sent another one of theirs soon. Delicate and introspective, yet really nicely crafted pop.

Another band I have really been liking lately is Low. I guess they have been around forever but I had just never listened to them. Then their latest album, The Great Destroyer, was on a lot of 2005 best-of lists and so I purchased it. It is good, and the album before it, Things We Lost in the Fire, is as good if not better (listen to "Sunflower" sometime). I guess some people describe Low's music as "slowcore," but it's really just beautiful songs sung with two phenomenally complementary voices. Anyway, I just was sent Low's first album, I Could Live in Hope, which is probably about as stripped down as anything I have heard. I've only listened once to the album, but I especially enjoyed the first few songs. It may be a little to stripped for me, but I guess repeated listens will be the judge.

Let's see...the only other thing that I finally got to listening to was Destroyer, Destroyer's Rubies. I listened to this one on the plane ride home. It's also a dense album, one the requires concentration to get out of it what was put in. Sitting in row 10, seat E, squished between two people on Continental #496, my mind was ready to escape to another place. Dan Bejar's literary landscapes were quite a treat. Songs sprawl, obscenities surprise, and the prose hypnotizes. Impressive indeed. Now if only I can listen to it enough to get to the point where it requires less than rapt attention...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Holy Cow.

"If it's a deal I feel is fair for me, I would sign it. It's still a business. I always look at it as if there is a deal that makes me happy now, why not sign it? I don't think $2-3 million a year more is going to change my life," he said.

--Reigning NL batting champion and Gold Glover, Derrek Lee, on his new contract extension

Reader's Digest, "Humor in Dreams"

I was in a tobacco shop trying to buy a pack of Starbucks cigaretttes from the shopkeeper.

He didn't know what I was talking about, and from behind the counter he pulled down several packs of different cigarettes.

Finally, I spotted the ones I wanted and pointed to them. They were Marlboros in a green pack, not Starbucks as I insisted.

Realizing my mistake, I quipped, "Well, at least they haven't cornered the cigarette market, too."

My comic timing and on-spot social analysis had the shopkeeper in hysterics.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The best YouTube ever? You decide.

Chuck Norris?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Getting back at telemarketers.

I, like most people, get quite annoyed with the telemarketers who call at all hours of the day. Even though I signed up for that national “Do Not Call List” (after canceling my erroneous registration on the national “Call, and Call Often List”, people (often with strange accents) call me to offer credit cards, timeshares, and low, low mortgage rates. Well, sir, I’m mad as heck and I’m not going to take this anymore.

While it may not stop the calls from coming, you can at least have fun with the calls you get with these methods of sweet, sweet revenge:

1. Tell the caller in a calm, clear voice that you wish to decline their kind offer. If they persist, continue to gently refuse. These people read from a script, and they have an answer to anything you can say. After they have worn you down, agree to sign up for whatever they’re selling and then cancel it within a few days. Take THAT, telemarketer!

2. When that resort up in Sedona calls, discuss with your spouse about a good weekend to go and make the appointment with the representative. On that morning, wake up around 10 a.m., and remark, “I guess we’re not going to Sedona today.” Zing!

3. Credit card offers: Sign up for that credit card, just to get the person off the phone and you can get back to your video game. When the card arrives, make a conscious effort NOT to use the card, but then end up using it 3 months later when you find yourself low on gas and money. In your face, corporate America!

Speaking of news stories...

New rings found around Uranus

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two outer rings, one red, the other blue, have been observed around Uranus. The discovery has led to countless musings around offices and blogs around the world and provided endless fodder to late night comedy shows.

When reached for comment, Uranus said that it's time for the people of Earth to "grow up" and stop with the "bathroom humor."

"Just for your information, Earth, I am named after the Greek god of the sky, not the Greek god of your filthy little minds."

Uranus vowed to make a press conference again on the subject in 84 years, when it returns from its orbit around the Sun.

enlightening news stories...

I just spent the last hour reading these enlightening news stories. Please read them and join me in feeling completely deflated and scared for our future:

The Architects of the War-Where are the people that are responsible for the mess in Iraq now.

Fake News See how corporations are infiltrating the news.

But before you cry yourself to sleep, read here to see why this man speaking his mind may give us some hope.

To George W. Bush: "You never stop talking about freedom, and I appreciate that. But while I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean air and drinking clean water and eating safe food. I would hope, from time to time, that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself."

Magic Blue Pass

Inevitably, every time I get on my soapbox and start to argue that, maybe, the United States is not the greatest nation on earth, or that maybe it would behoove us as a nation to look in our collective mirror and examine our flaws, someone will stand up and say, “I don’t see you complaining about that US passport when it is whizzing you around the globe, or “Which other Embassy would you like to take refugee in when the shit hits the fan.” Rather than argue with them that the very embassy they are talking about will most likely be the focal point of whatever “shit” is about to hit the fan, I agree, because after all, they are right. It is nice to wave that US passport and not need a visa to enter the majority of countries. As a comparison, I would hate to see how far my Iranian passport would get me. Having a US passport is like having a global VIP pass. Pass Go and collect your $200. Not so fast!

But before I share my latest story about my dealings with a US embassy, let me say that yes, I am grateful to have this marvel pass. Now onto our story; first, let me clear up a common misconception-the US Embassy is designed to help US citizens living overseas. I first realized what a sham this idea was when I received better treatment from the Thai government as I fled the Tsunami in nothing but my swimming trunks a few years ago. That is a whole other story, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. So what is the role of the Embassy? I am not certain, but I think it has something to do with establishing and maintaining corporate interests and ascertaining US dominance in foreign markets, but that may just be the leftist conspirator in me speaking. Why, may you ask, do I have such a cynical view of the lovely men and women working in the State Department? Let me share:

I needed a legal document to be notarized in front of an American consul, so I could release some funds from…well I needed a notary. I made my way down to the Embassy around 10 a.m. to find that they are only open between the opportune hours of 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. What do they do the rest of the time? Your guess is as good as mine. I was lucky enough to be on vacation, so I could make it during these convenient afternoon hours, but I guess other ex-pats don’t work. A small line of non-citizens had already begun to form, waiting for a chance to beg their way to the promised land. I left and wasted the next few hours milling around the nearest mall. After a few hours, I made my way back to the compound to have my document notarized. The line was now at least fifteen people long, but I waved my magic blue pass (US passport) and entered in front of the others. Inside, after making it past two separate security points, I took a number and began to wait. Surprisingly, I was called almost immediately. Wow! This is going to be great I thought. In and out. In and out. Yes, I was that naïve.

The woman behind the bulletproof glass took my documents and asked me to sit. Oh, “There will be a small fee.” Sure, I thought, that makes sense. $25. Twenty-Five dollars to stamp a piece of paper that says I am who I say I am. Since both my wife and I needed a stamp, it ended up costing us $50. How is that a small fee? For what reason could they possibly be charging $50 to stamp a piece of paper? $50. Fifty fuckin’ dollars! Sorry, it has been several hours and I am still upset. We paid the fee, which I call extortion, and we sat down. How long would you say this should take? Keep in mind there were about six people lurking around behind the glass. Twenty minutes. Add another twenty for bureaucratic malfeasance. It took one hour and ten minutes till we were called up to pick up our stamp.

At the window I was told that the state of my passport was unacceptable (some water had leaked onto the front page, making it difficult to read the writing.). I was strongly encouraged- told- to get a new one. Okay, no problem, I said. “There will be a small fine: $97.” (I was about to bust out the Chicken Dance. see previous post for explanation) How do they come up with these numbers? Fifty dollars for a stamp. $100 for a new passport. Apparently, it would have been cheaper if I had lost my passport, but since I had damaged it, I had to pay more. What do they say to justify these fees? We must pay for: the staff, the materials, the War in Iraq, Tax-cuts for millionaires. Why am I paying nearly $100 for a passport that is damaged because of shoddy workmanship? “Sorry but these new fancy passports are no good because even if a tiny amount of water gets near them, they warp.” These were the words from the man behind the glass. For $100 you would think that they could make a waterproof passport.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that bureaucracy is synonymous with hell, and yes, I understand that this hell knows no single nation. I also understand that errands like this are never as simple as walking in, giving the guy five bucks, and walking out ten minutes later. The part that bothers me is that many Americans feel that we are immune to these types of impracticalities. We are raised in a culture, myself included, that thinks that if something, let’s say an embassy, is American, then it is perfect, and I am just here to say that it is far from true.

Next time you are arguing American foreign policy and someone tells you to be grateful for the privilege of an American passport, just tell them, “Damn right. I am paying for the privilege, paying through the nose!”.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

These United State's

Undergrads-- know that I love you and want you to succeed, but your writing hurts me.

A Mortal Lock

Cloud <3 Sephiroth

Apocryphal "Gospel of Judas" recovered in Egypt

After reading the translation linked to in the Times article, I was left with one question: Isn't this essentially Western civilization's first recorded fan fiction? If the authors had travelled through time and lived through the 60s, would this gospel have never been written because they'd be too busy speculating about the wild, untamed lust simmering just under the surface between Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock? Yeah baby, yaaaoi!

It's Guy Tarkington's world; I'm just writing in it

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My all-time top ten lists

A lot of people it seems have lists of songs they’d like to have in specific situations: On a desert isle, during a make-out session, after a break-up, or the songs they’d listen to on their iPod if they worked as a landscaper for the city of Peoria, Illinois. (My number one on that list is “Material Girl”)

Here’s my list of songs I want to be played at my funeral:

That home recording I made of myself singing Chuck Berry’s “My Ding a-ling”
The Cantina Song from Star Wars
Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You Can Do) – Christopher Cross
Wait (The Whisper Song) – Ying Yang Twins
Parents Just Don’t Understand – DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
Peter Brady singing “Time to Change”
40 minutes of chatter from the air traffic control tower at Chanute Air Force Base, Rantoul, Illinois.

As guests are filing out after the service:

The credits music from The Price is Right


Just as an experiment, I went onto Google recently and typed in "Google" and clicked on the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button. If you ever try this, better hold onto something, because brother, you're going on a ride.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Holy Guacamole

Ever wonder if problems were there before the 40,000 pills were ingested?

I want to write pretentiously

Oh wait I already got to do that in Grad School. No actually I tried to do that but one of my professors told me something along the lines of, "your prose is eclipsing your message." So then I just made sure to cite a lot of sources and use the sources' pretentiousness as a foil to my folly.

But I digress: my current efforts to write pretentiously will be by applying to a new reality show (!!!) put through a giant amalgamation of Rolling Stone and VH1. The winner of the show (hopefully I will have to go get Diddy some bonbons at 3am from the South Bronx or some shit) gets an internship at Rolling Stone for a year. It works out great because R.S./VH1 are my only two sources of media and current events. That probably explains why I am currently listening to Black Eyed Peas's "my humps" on repeat while thinking about my daily forays into Fashionistismesqueness.

But I am actually doing this. They have a ridiculously long application with lines that are really really small and a whole slew of ridiculous fucking questions, e.g., "What is the worst day of your life thus far," "How would someone who really knows you describe your worst traits?" (my answer for the latter: fickle, a smart-ass, head-in-the-clouds.) I really tried to rationalize why they might desire an almost 30-something dude to be on this reality show. Then I remembered my fashionista tendencies and saw the glow of opportunity. Unfortunately the glow was obscured by a sign that read: "BACK IN FIVE MINUTES."

Actually I am excited about this. I think my writing is fair to middlin', maybe even good on occasion, but you just never know who they are gunning for to be on these sorts of shows. It could be Puck, it could be Jose Canseco, or it could be the entire cast from Real World: Las Vegas. Sadly, the Puck search would probably be my best bet.

Monday, April 03, 2006

14,000 Things to be Happy About

Our long national nightmare is over-- the crazy bum who's been living in our garage has been taken away in the back of an A2 squad car, having been reported by the owner of the house next door.

The only wrinkle is that one of my roommates ran into the bum two nights ago, when he was looking for the owner of the house next door's cat... I guess it's better not to think about the likely conclusion of that subplot.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Brass Fixtures on the Titanic

It's always been the case that after you graduate from high school, you start losing track of some people. It's the nature of passing through the stages of life; your emotio-relational durability with different people is, well... different. So it's to be expected that you can't keep up with everyone you hung with in 9th grade. Such is, or was, the nature of things.

If the Internet Phenomenon has changed anything, it's blown that time-honored tradition out of the water. You get to hear updates about all sorts of people you haven't thought about in six, seven, eight years if you happen to be in the right place at the right time.

This is not progress.

Ignorance is, as is too often the case, bliss. Exhibit A? Myspace. Absent Myspace, I could imagine that all sorts of people from my high school went on to do all sorts of clever, interesting productive things. Unfortunately.... no. These people are growing beards, smoking pot, working at video stores, "focusing on their music," weaving their auras and getting really, really into anime. And they're inlining mp3s on their profiles.

God help us and pass the ammo-- don't worry, I'll only need one.

sorry, got some extra bitterness today

Saturday, April 01, 2006

You know what?

Fuck April Fools. Yeah, I said it. Unfortunately now I have to endure 1,000s of internet posts and news threads that are false and *also* aren't funny. I don't think that this was such a big deal to me before the internet, but since everybody on the internet thinks they're HILARIOUS the irritation is increased 100,000x. Technology at work.