A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Misunderestimating My Strategery

Chess, in many respects, is the original Sport of Kings. It pits mind against mind in gladatorial combat. Indeed, it is an explicit representation of war, and succeeding at the highest levels demands the attitude of a field general, willing to make tactical sacrifices in order to reach the strategic goal. And yet, mathematical complexity is not enough to succeed; generations of scientists attempting to design a machine capable of these elegant gambits have only recently met with any success.

That's an interesting point, because during a lull in my job as a lab sitter, I popped over to Yahoo for my first game in at least 5 years. I got whipped in 10 turns. Does anyone have a website I can read, or something?

Musical question


Is it possible to listen to Billy Joel's "My Life" without thinking about the Tom Hanks sitcom, Bosom Buddies?

What the humour?!?!

I may have long missed the boat on this one, but I found the most delightfully funny series of columns on The Onion recently from the publication's longtime editor, T. Herman Zweibel.

Zweibel is 132 years old and a combination of Charles Foster Kane, Howard Hughes and C. Montgomery Burns in his elderly, sickly, archaic, eccentric and billionaire ways.

Read on, my man: http://www.theonion.com/content/columnists/view/zweibel/

The MP3 goldmine

I have extra time on my hands on a regular basis. While I could use this to write, read, study, or any other productive thing you can think of, I tend to instead spend it arduously hittin' up 'da web.' In these myriad sessions, I have come across a few MP3s on various sites that I think are especially special (onomatopeia?). I'd like to share a few with you now.

The first is a track from the Animal Collective: "Purple Bottle (Stevie Wonder version)." I think I first got their album Feels in like November or December. Since this is Texas, and winter doesn't really exist, it basically was like Autumn here at that time. I played the shit out of that album, though it was definitely weird and sort of avant-garde to me at first. But it really does rock, in a way that not many other albums can these days. I recently found the above track, which sort of made me fall in love with the Animal Collective all over again. I think the tinny quality results from somebody recording a vinyl record of the song. But the way the chorus of "I just called to say I like you" meshes seamlessly with the original beat is pure joy.

Now, I know that John Darnielle's voice grates many a nerve. My wife hates it, in fact. And I can totally understand this sentiment. But I just can't ignore the songwriting: consistent, concise, and emotional. At first I wasn't sure what all the hype was about the Mountain Goats': "Going to Georgia." Although, I did find it sort of strange that the venerable allmusic.com, normally fairly objective, deemed it perhaps "one of the best songs ever written." But then I listened to it the other night, the A/C humming while I was trying to fall asleep, and I finally felt the raw emotion of the line "And you smile as you ease the gun from my hand/And I'm frozen with joy right where I stand/ The world throws its light underneath your hair/ Forty miles from Atlanta, this is nowhere." Guess it just took a few listens to kick in.

This one is a Chris Bell song: "I am the Cosmos." I know it's sort of cliche, but I guess I always liked the Big Star sound--#1 Record/Radio City is just a classic. Those fat chords, perfect hooks, bittersweet melodies, and dirty 70s sound. It just rubs me the right way for some reason. Anyway, I found the above track somewhere and it reminded me of all the good times spent listening to those records back in college, wishing I had gone to the same high school as the fictionalized one from Dazed and Confused.

Then there's the Concretes: "Grey Days." I really enjoyed their first album, but I have never had the chance or cheddar to pick up their second. But everytime I hear this track, I realize I'm doing myself a disservice by ignoring it. I just really like their sound.

This final one is from Jose Gonzalez. I honestly don't know much about the guy except that he is based out of Sweden but is originally from Argentina or something. Anyway, I found his rendition of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" to be especially strong. There's plenty of Joy Division covers out there to tide us all over for a few lifetimes, but he does this one pretty damn well.

Ah, what the hell. Here's a bonus track from Low. Sorry: it's a .wma extension, which may cause you trouble. It's called "The Last Snowstorm of the Year." Off of Trust.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Frontline-World Zimbabwe 6/27

I don't know how many of you caught the Frontline-world last night on PBS. I watched the first half, which basically had a reporter sneak into Zim with a camera and videotape what she saw. I'll admit: it was pretty brutal. From someone who'd been there, only 4 or so years ago, it was devastating to see how far things had fallen. The grocery stores without food, hundreds queued at the bank for scarce bills, lines of mini-buses waiting for petrol, and the overall beatdown of the Zimbabwean populace. So, kudos for getting into the country and risking arrest to film the place.
My gripe is the reporter herself. She really didn't seem to know too much about Zimbabwe or Zimbabweans, but nonetheless made value judgments based on her interactions with them. One was pretty early one, when she and her camera(man?) got on a donkey-pulled cart to speak with a farmer. She asked him why the country was going down, who was responsible, etc. The guy said, basically, that it was the people in charge. Then he said "Even you know who is responsible for this situation." The reporter interpreted this to mean that the guy was scared to say "Mugabe," further evidencing the dictator's iron rule. Well, it's probably true that he didn't really want to say Mugabe's name, but it's also true that speaking directly about people and things like that is not necessarily the accepted form of communication. Indirect accusation and parables are just as damning as direct namings, at least from my experience there. I also wondered if all the Zimbabweans shown in the videotape were explicitly told that their faces would be prominently displayed on TV, dissenting against the regime. It just seemed a little, dangerous, but I assume they knew what they were getting into.
But it was a good show. Just seemed like they could have gotten someone with a little more Southern Africa "experience" to report on it. (Watch: she's probably a well-known reporter from Johannesburg.) But also, the situation in Zim has been going on for YEARS...again amazing that only now are (a select few) people starting to take notice. The most vile parts were probably the state-sponsored propaganda pieces: one showed a car being smashed to hell in an "accident," with the warning to "VOTE ZANU-PF IF YOU WANT TO LIVE!" The other was an interview with Mugabe for his 82nd birthday on state TV, with a chirpy interviewer delicately asking Mugabe "What do you say to your detractors?" Mugabe, ever the realist, said that "My Western detractors do not speak for my people. If you ask my people, they will tell you the truth!"


Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Last one, I swear: if you want to *watch* a World Cup feed rather than just listen, check out this thread daily


The animated version of a classic Loveline segment:

The Final Frontier

I discovered this morning that Sam's Club (the gf has a membership) is selling seasons 4 and 5 of DS9 for $45 a piece. God help my bank account if they ever sell 6 and 7 at that price.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Where does he get those wonderful toys?

Talking to my Australian roommate the other day, I learned that the founder of Melbourne was named John Batman; Wikipedia claims that he ultimately died of syphilis.

Top ten haircuts

10 Long, stringy, and bleached
09 The glossy matte
08 1/4 bowl cut with side of juniper
07 The "I fucked up and shaved my sideburns too high so I just had to shave my whole damn head" cut
06 The Yeti
05 XJ-2.99i
04 The "Koizumi"
03 El Matador
02 "That one dude who had spiral-y hair in the World Cup" cut
01 Bad-ass mullet

Sunday, June 25, 2006

England Ecuador

This first half has been extremely ugly. The ref is just not getting it right here. Too many calls for the English, a lot of missed hand balls and fouls called for 50-50 contact. Rooney doesn't look too good to me either. Either he's lazing about or complaining about some call he didn't get. A. Cole certainly saved the day so far though. Hopefully the second half will be better.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


First of all, if you haven't seen the game, hopefully you aren't reading this. Neill.

Now, on to the game. What an atrocious POS game. I mean, it was brutal. Maybe the worst match of the tournament, though I can think of a just a couple others I'd rather watch less. There was no style on display, even from the victorious Ghanains. In my opinion, the two mistake goals cancel each other out in terms of "luck," though Reyna may have been fouled, it's still a horrible mistake on his part and I'm not going to sit here crying about the foul on Reyna.

Then the Onyewu play. In my estimation, that is atrocious refing right there--a clear dive. I wouldn't have given a yellow for the diving performance but I can't see that play being a foul, even if we aren't talking about the box but instead the center of the midfield. That was a shocking play. I really do not understand the penalization of guys in the back like Onyewu who happen to be 200+ and really tall. And that tendency has not just been to Onyewu but any big guy back there for any team. Bad refing all around--like the idiotic yellow card to Essien (Good luck against Brazil without Essien Ghana!). Nevertheless, I'm still not one of these people who is convinced the ref "stole" the game. Because realistically, are we going to score after the half? Yeah, maybe we have a slim chance, but with the way the guys were playing except for a brief spurt in the second half there was no offense to be had. None. Not even a prayer. With only two goals in the tournament, one an own goal and the other a horrible defensive mistake, it's time to think about the US team and not the reffing. I think the ref did take away any chance to win the game but that chance wasn't as large as a lot of people are saying. I think that odds are that the game ends 1-1 without the foul in the box, with us flailing away with long balls all second half, like we did anyway.

Beyond that though there was a failure on two counts in the US--coaching and creativity. The coaching up first. Arena needs to go after this World Cup. We need to send a message that not playing to win isn't ok. I like Bruce Arena, and he brought our team from god awful to very respectable. But his lineup choices were puzzling at best, given the team. Eddie Johnson needed to start--he certainly needed to come on after their goal in the 25th minute or so. Johnson clearly has something that no one else on the team has: a willingness to create, be selfish and even (gasp) shoot from distance. But more on that in a minute. Coachingwise I think we very well could have won the Italy game (which we had the momentum in) with better subs and more attacking play. I don't think it ends with the subs or starting team though--it has something to do with the tactics. We weren't just playing a 4-5-1 with off form players (fucking Beasley), we were also playing a predictable and boring 4-5-1 that the other teams seemed to be able to anticipate and see through easily. I think now that Arena has laid the groundwork we may need a dutch coach or some other international coach who expects the team to work in the midfield, stringing passes together and play a creative game of football, not just scrape by ugly style and pray for a tie or win like some of the Oceania and Asia teams. I think the fact that Arena and the other players haven't commented on some strategic and tactical problems, but instead are standing behind a "we almost had them except for that foul!" attitude says quite a bit about the mindset in place right now. We got fucking smoked this tourney except for the good game against Italy--but much of that was with less than 11 men and at that point throw those carefully planned tactics out the window.

Second, creativity. We don't have creative players at the international level. We desperately want Donovan or Beasley to be that guy and they just aren't right now and may never be. I can think of the number of times on one hand that we had guys confident with the ball come in and challenge a defender this world cup. To be fair though, I think that a lot of European teams are missing this creativity as well. Which is why on all the big Euro club teams you seem to see it supplied by South American or African imports. I'm not sure what to do about this but just keep encouraging creative passing and combination play with the feet of our players and try to get better players. Get some new South American American citizens? Having such a flexible citizenship requirement may be an advantage here!

I think the most telling problem in relation to our players and creativity is shooting. Simply put, we have no one who can shoot, really. That extends to shitty free kicks supplied by Donovan and others this whole cup but even more than that no one who will challenge the keeper from outside the box. And if you watched the games this world cup you saw over and over the good (and bad!) teams challenging the keeper with long shots and quite often scoring on those shots. We have *no one* who can do that. I don't think I saw a shot from outside the box area all week from the USA. We need it badly. Because all the other teams know we won't shoot outside that box they can just pack it in, triple mark our front runners and prevent any dangerous headers off crosses. And stop any cutting through balls we want to put out. Once again, I don't know how to solve this but it was so obvious that there was no respect that we would do anything dangerous or creative as long as we were outside that box.

I'm sort of spent, but I'm actually not angry right now--I'd be angry if I felt we were robbed. I'm mainly just really disappointed with the shitty way our team played and was coached. I think we can do a lot better. South Africa here we come, I guess.

Live world cup audio


(In case you're somewhere without a TV and can't wait to watch the recording tonight.)

Frontline this week

Did anybody catch this one? I thought it was fantastic. I mean, I knew that Washington had a lot of inbreeding and whatnot, but I never knew the extent of it all. And the Pentagon setting up a separate intelligence gathering unit to 'get the info that the CIA wasn't getting?' Holy shit. I also just loved the variety of interviewees they had on there. The thicker the neck, the more loyal the viewpoint. It truly is the best news show on TV right now, hands down. Thanks for the recommendation Steve.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

There Is No Spoon

Saudi Arabia is offering scholarships to study abroad. Study what? Aviation. Study where? The USA.

What do you have to do to qualify? Get a B- GPA in undergrad, score at least a D in your area of speciality and a B on a general science test.

Is that it? No, that's not it. You also have to get at least an A- in memorizing the Koran.

I think I'm done with Earth. Sign me up for the Dr. Strangelove vacation plan.

Here's my McSweeney's submission

8. A husband and wife are meeting in a restaurant to finalize the terms of their impending divorce. Write the scene from the point of view of a busboy snorting cocaine in the restroom.

It was a dreary Saturday night. A smattering of patrons shuffled out of the icy New England rain and into the dimly lit Italian restaurant. Apparently the customers thought that a hushed hue equated to elegance; Seth knew that it was just Mario’s way of trying to skimp and save, like usual. Fucking wops. They’d come out of the back room screaming their heads off if some tablecloth had a lone breadcrumb on it. They didn’t know how hard it was to carry these plastic tubs full of marinara and half-eaten cutlets through the cramped quarters. The boss kept getting on his back: “Cleanliness is next to godliness, and that’s only followed by the customer always being right.” Fucking Mario and his cunt-ass whore girlfriend. Like they knew shit about working 6 days a week, trying to scrape by on six bucks an hour while these pretentious pricks shoveled the ricotta-and-spinach special down their throats.

Tonight, probably because of the rain, Seth figured that it’d be quieter than usual. Not good for the old morale, especially since he had pulled a shift at The Diner earlier today. He got off at 3:00 and had to be at Mario’s at 4:00. Fuck me indeed. Well, at least he that fat fuck Lugo was working today in the back. He had scored a $20 bag of powder just as his shift began. It was already three hours in and Seth knew he needed a quick bump if he was going to get through this fucking night. Luckily, the bathroom was right next to the kitchen and there weren’t too many dining tonight, though one couple was at the table nearest the restroom. They were dressed nicely: bet they rode the train everyday from here to the City. They were probably fucking lawyers or something.

He dropped off his dirty dishes and stole into the restroom. His fingers tingled, numb with what was to come. As he tapped out the white dust onto the porcelain sink’s counter, he faintly heard the lawyers talking. Their voices were flat, business-like.

“So what do you want to do about the kids then?” Seth heard the man ask.

He took out a Discover Platinum and whittled down the snowy granules.

“Well, they need you in their life, John. But we both know that it’s better if they live with me.”

Seth continued tapping, still tingling in his fingers, his hands shaking now.

“Fine. I guess I’ll get the weekends then. And the holidays? How will we work that?”

The grains were tiny, virtually a perfect white blanket on the sink.

“Well, I better fucking have them for Passover. You know how my Mother is about it. You can have them for Christmas. Fair is fair right?”

“How are we going to work out their presents? And what are we going to tell them? What should they know?” The man seemed like he was giving up.

Seth lined up 4 fat lines of blow. He concentrated on evenness. He didn’t want one particle more to get up one nostril or the other.

“For fuck’s sake, John. What don’t you want them to know? Do you not want them to know about that slut you slept with in Jersey? About how you stopped picking them up from soccer practices because you were too busy fucking her on the copier? Jesus.”

Seth rifled through his pocket. Fuck. He forgot to get a straw from the kitchen. Well, guess ol’ Honest Abe would have to do. He imagined Abe on coke during the Emancipation Proclamation. That would have been one feisty motherfucker.

“OK Cathy. Fine. It’s too late for this. The kids are going to find out one way or another. Just let’s not start up a whole ‘he said-she said’ debate with them. It’s over. That’s the bottom line.”

He rolled Abe up into a nice tight cylinder.

“And the dogs, John. What about the dogs?”

He inhaled sharply four consecutive times, his head tilting forward each time, then back and over to the left for the next line. “Call me the fucking typewriter,” he thought.

“Keep ‘em. The kids can’t live without ‘em.”

Seth took his finger and ran it across the counter. He stuck his finger between his lips and gum and ran it around.

“You never even liked the dogs did you. When did all of this stop mattering to you?”

His lips and nose were numb. He felt the tingling of a drip at the back of his throat.

“About the time when you stopped giving a fuck about me, Cath. Don’t pretend you’re the victim here. Everybody’s guilty here.”

Seth was zooming now. His mind was in motion, he was ready to go. That had hit the motherfucking spot, alright! He pictured thousands of synapses shooting fireworks in his brain. The drip was bitter on his throat. Goddamn he felt good!

He inhaled sharply, unlocked and pushed open the bathroom door. He strutted past Cathy and John. She looked out towards the rain, her eyes and cheeks wet. John looked the other way. He motioned the waiter for the check.

Seth fetched his tub from the kitchen.

Written words

It's tough. I haven't really written anything new since I've gotten to Texas, which means almost a year now. And it's certainly not for lack of time: I often find myself at work surfing the same internet sites that I have browsed 1,000 times before, just hoping for a smidgen of an update. And before I began working I had plenty of free time, even though much was spent worrying about the mounting bills that my aproductivity was causing.

I mentioned this to a close friend and they commented that it was all part of an inherent "fear of success" (and the accompanying "fear of failure") that almost all people, deep down inside, suffer from. I guess that is certainly true to an extent: I have never written a true piece of fiction and seeing the deluge of shit that is constantly put out there, I worry that whatever I write might be just another log on the fire. I suppose that writing fiction is also ridden with failure possibilities; you never know what your audience wants to digest, or how they want to digest it.

But perhaps another possibility for my lack of output is a dearth of inspiration. Most of my day is spent either in my office, and though several fun figures now adorn my desk (The Cookie Cop; a Longhorn steer), maybe the OfficeJet G85xi or the History of Anesthesia tome that stare me in the face just aren't stimulating the creative juices. I also don't find doctors to be incredibly inspiring people. I mean, their money may make me envious, but their pomp and curtness do not. I guess I am also thinking that, as beautiful of a place that this island is, maybe its arts scene is just not strong enough. I mean, given: I hate going to open poetry reading nights as much as the next guy, but if (as I tend to believe) all of our motivation comes from our interactions with others, then I'm in trouble.

It's hard to say. Part of me says I'm still adjusting to a new place and a new life, so to speak. Another says I'm just too damn lazy and it wouldn't matter where I was. I just sometimes wonder: if there were breathtaking mountains or a chaotic urban pastiche surrounding me, would it make a difference?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Support Intrepid Flame blog

Just wanted to let the readership know that although bz is a Lemur no more, he will be continuing to post on his personal blog, Intrepid Flame. Reprezent! And check it out y'all (interesting Chomsky post today).


This game has got to be one of the worst I've seen all tournament. Why Ecuador has decided there is no incentive to win is beyond me--yes I understand pulling their guy with injuries and yellow cards, but the fact that the *rest* of the players who are playing don't even want to win is bizarre.

World Cup Fever

My World Cup fever comes in bouts. It was at its peak a few days ago as Iran faced Portugal in a must win game, it cooled considerably after they lost, but now with the prospect of Ghana knocking out the US team, I am burning up again. Finally, an opportunity to be anti-American and not have to justify myself by saying, “ but I love the American people I just hate the government.”

Besides, living in Asia the game is everywhere. It is shown on giant screens in parking lots, at every bar and outdoor restaurant, and keep in mind that the earliest game starts at 9pm here, the latest game at 3am. Watching Iran play Portugal with about 150 people outdoors, screaming, eating and drinking could make anyone love the game.

That is the beauty of the World Cup, it allows us to look past global nuances and hide behind flags and cheer for our side. I realize that most Americans are constant patriots who pin little flags to their anchormen and women, but for those of us who live in a world that doesn’t really on jingoism as foreign policy, it is nice to be able to dumb down for a few weeks. I am normally an anti-nationalist, but the World Cup is a good excuse as any to draw up borders, hide behind a flag, and pretend that nations, flags and borders actually mean something.

Side note: I heard some guy on the daily say a few days ago that the world uses the World Cup as a metaphor for battling out age old rivalries, where as the US doesn’t need a metaphor, because they just fight real wars. I thought that sounded apt.

I don’t know much about football, so please don’t respond about how the American team is so much better than the Ghana team. I am a step away from women who pick teams based on the color of a uniform.

My allegiances fall like this:

Iran (Now that they are out, I am cheering for)
Any African team (Go Ghana and Angola!)
Any formerly colonized nation
Any third world nation
Everyone else

So as Ghana, a tiny West African nation, gets ready to knock out the biggest, most powerful nation on earth, albeit symbolically, I will be there cheering them on.

Can I get a:


Thanks for coming now goodbye U-S-A

Sunday, June 18, 2006

24 Hours Later

I'm still not ready to really talk about the US game. It might have been the most emotionally intense 2 hours of my life.

Friday, June 16, 2006

That was a totally fucking RIDICULOUS yellow against Drogba. Ridiculous. Unconscionable. Worst refereeing decision I've seen so far in this tournament.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I'm watching the second half of Moustache Bowl '06 (Tunisia vs. Saudi Arabia in Group H action), dvr'ed from earlier. I have to say that it's not unentertaining. In particular, the Saudis are making all sorts of imaginative diagonal and curling runs; I'm impressed. I'm also not sure how the US would stack up against them.

Of course, apparently the first half was horrible, so maybe this is an unrepresentative sample.

Monday, June 12, 2006


World Cup weekend 1

Just a quick recap and impressions of the first weekend of play from Germany.

ABC has absolutely outdone themselves in their attempts to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Shouldn't the thinking be: "Ok, the world cup will probably be watched by people who know a little about soccer" rather than the apparent "Let's show NASCAR Joe in Little Rock just what a good time this is! And forget any analysis or fact-checking."
I kid you not: during the shitty England-Paraguay match, the announcer referred to, arguably the most famous soccer player in the world, David Beckham, as Michael Beckham and Beckett. Where in God's name do they get these people? Also, after the own goal by Paraguay, the ABC announcer quickly quips "stunning strike from David Beckham!" Are these guys even watching the same fucking game? They seem to lack any intuition for the sport. Thank God I also get Univision. To wit: after the Mexican win, they showed the Mexican team streaming tears, they had an Iranian fan and a Mexican fan exchange uniforms after the match outside, a Mariachi band played in the studio, and really really hot chicks flanked the locutors. Way way sweeter. Oh, and they called David Beckham "El Spice Boy!" The only consolation was that, at least yesterday, ESPN 2 had Adrian Healey and Tommy Smyth, who are much much better than those ABC fools.

Honestly, the ABC announcers area little insulting to the old intelligence.

OK now to the matches.
1. England v. Paraguay: If England continues this type of play, they are in deep trouble. They looked very flat, uncreative, and just plain winded for much of the match. The fact that the won on an own-goal says something to their play. I don't think Paraguay is that highly ranked either so... Also, I thought Crouch and Owen were just not impressive at all. I barely remember Owen getting any touches on the ball at all!

2. Trinidad & Tobago v. Sweden: This was quite a fun match to watch, especially considering the preceeding debacle. Both sides were constantly attacking, many chances were had, and Trinidad & Tobago certainly deserve a round of applause for their initial showing. Hats off. Sweden didn't really play bad, they just failed to convert a few chances.

3. Argentina v. Ivory Coast: Also a fun match to watch. I considered, from all I'd read, Argentina to be a sort of dark horse in the Cup this year. They certainly played well; while for the Elephants, Drogba was also steady pimpin' all match long. A good end to the Saturday hullabuloo.

4. Netherlands v. Serbia-Montenegro: All I can really say about this match is that Robben is a fucking stud. And, even if he's not the player he once was, where was Davids?

5. Mexico v. Iran: This was much closer than it seemed for most of the match. The mistake by first the Iranian goalkeeper, but then the absolutely heinous play by the central defender, opened the floodgates for Mexico. The third Mexican goal was pretty, looking like a prototypical score from Winning Eleven 7.

6. Portugal v. Angola: Portugal looked alright here, but I thought there were many chances for C. Ronaldo to score--instead he walked away incredulously. All things considered, a respectable showing for the Angolanos.

Oh and the French Open--very surprising showing from Federer. The number of unforced errors were totally uncharacteristic. The final set was a doozy though. And big-ups to the Dallas Mavericks, and the Heat? Damn. Y'all got to put some work in, ya heard?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Leaving the Shadow of the Valley of Darkness

Today is the first day of the next chapter of my life. A man showed up to install digital cable with a DVR.

The next two months figure to be Comcastic.

A couple of notes-- yes, I should have DirecTV and TiVo, but my bastard of a management company (PMSI, Ann Arbor, MI) nixed us getting a dish installed. Yes, it's possible I can't actually afford this (I got my roommate on board, though, and justified things the rest of the way by saying I'd save money that'd otherwise buy booze at bars).

More importantly, it's also true that the World Cup only happens once every four years.

9 hours in, I have to say that my appreciation for television is pretty strong. When you lose a limb, or a sense, you gradually learn to make do. Blind people generate hyper-sensitive hearing; double-arm amputees learn how to pick up food with their feet. In my case, I learned how to pirate gigabyte upon gigabyte upon gigabyte of tv shows. Now I can still watch them at all hours--thanks to DVR--but can also do it on a 29 inch tv without involving my laptop, an S-video cable, wireless internet and Microsoft Windows File & Printer Sharing. That's pretty neat.

You know what's not neat? If you try to set up the equivalent of TiVo's Season Pass, and you want to search by title, you don't get an overlay of a QWERTY keyboard. Oh no. Presumably that would constitute IP theft on Comcast/Motorola's part. Instead, you get 5 spaces, and on each you have to cycle up or down, like a slot machine. Through the entire alphabet. And 10 digits. That's insane.

More details to follow.

Primate typists

They say that an infinite number of monkeys randomly hitting keys at an infinite number of typewriters will eventually produce the entire works of Shakespeare.

I got to thinking: Where would one get an infinite number of monkeys? Even if you rounded up every captive monkey from pet shops, zoos, and monkey suppliers, I bet you'd only end up with, like, a thousand. And let me tell you, those thousand monkeys wouldn't type shit.

I'm sure the best they could come up with would be a lighthearted article suitable for Reader's Digest, you know, something like the funny things your grandkids say or something like that. But Shakespeare? Forget it.

I say this because I tried this experiment with a pair of macaques and it did not work. I spent $8,000 on them suns a' bitches and all they did was swing in a hammock, chase one another, and scream every time the phone rang.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I'm Bleeding on Your Walls

Well hey, since at least one person's interested, might as well get to it...

Who: The Walkmen
Where: St. Andrew's Hall, Detroit (Deeee-troit!)

Last Wednesday, the Econ Lady and I set out for the burned-out, desolate moonscape of downtown Detroit (Deeee-troit!) to see a show. The Walkmen--one-time would-be rock saviors from New York featuring warbly vocals and low-fi guitars (my musical taste is become a self-characture, I think) were playing a show, and I was there to provide you with the Tale of the Tape.

Transportation: C+
A big "fuck you!" to the Michigan Department of Transportation, which closes 1/4th of the interchange to I-94 that's closest to the girlfriend's apartment at random. We lost valuable, valuable time. I will say that the dinner in the next town over was excellent; if anyone from Ann Arbor is stalking this, know that Red Sea >> Blue Nile.

Venue: B-
I was at St. Andrew's last fall to see Spoon; it was pretty tight. One big concert hall that fits about 900-1000 people all told, with one large bar and pretty good sound. Unexpectedly (to me anyway), the Walkmen were housed in "The Shelter," which is essentially the basement of the larger St. Andrew's complex. A neighborhood homeless drifter, Papa Smurf, was nice enough to direct us the right way (and said that we looked great together! Before asking for money.). Acoustics were rougher, and the milieu much dingier all around.

Crowd: C+
The most obvious reason for the show being in the basement was that it wasn't particularly well-attended. Even the smaller venue was no better than 2/3rds full. It drew less, for comparison, than Ted Leo did for his Ann Arbor show in March (see earlier post). I'm not really sure why that is; they're not U2, but I'd think that the Walkmen are "buzzworthy" enough to get a little more play than that. I was reminded of This is Spinal Tap, when the manager tells the band that "No, the gig's been cancelled. Don't worry, Boston's not a big college town." Lots of Chuck Taylors (the shoe, not the bloodthirsty ex-dictator) in attendence, though.

Beer Selection: A
I went with Boddington's to a giant Newcastle to... I don't remember, something else English. Can't argue there.

The Actual Show: B-
You know, I'm not even sure what to write at this point. The opener was pretty good, although I don't remember their name. The main set was rough because while it was entertaining, it was also only 50, 55 minutes long at best. That's pretty weak sauce. Spoon played for like 2 hours in my aforementioned first trip to St. Andrew's; they (the Walkmen--my backseat editor thinks that pronoun was ambiguous) also didn't make much of an effort to connect with the (admittedly thin) audience. Was I entertained? Well, yeah, and I don't feel ripped off per se for the 15 + 5.30 I spent for my ticket. That said, I expected a lot more going in, and left feeling a bit disappointed.

I also need to start wearing earplugs to these things, because I'm officially old. But that's a whole separate can of worms.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Chomsky Does It Again

Still wondering why they hate us? Or maybe you know, but would like a nice comprehensive account of all the reasons again, in a tight, virulent, well-written and easy to read book. Then please read the latest Noam Chomsky book: Failed States. It will not disappoint. Whether you are new to politics and curious as to why the whole world seems to know more about the US empire than you, or you have read repeatedly about the atrocities your government is and has been committing since its inception, this book is for you.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A Winning Combination

I have a social whathaveyou to stop by in a bit, and since it's being held at an absolutely apalling club, I thought I'd have a quick pick-me-up before heading over. Unfortunately, munitions have been running low at the house as of late, and being that I don't spend a heck of a lot of time there these days, I haven't had opportunity or motive to change that. So, in a pinch, a rum and coke will do, right?

Let's go to the videotape.

The rum: white.
The Coke: Pepsi. Diet. Diet Pepsi.

(A quick aside: yes, I stock diet pop these days. I got paranoid about my teeth rotting and falling out (another aside, this one a bit longer) a couple of months ago and decided to cut out the obvious source of sugar. Although my dentist has since assured me that I don't have anything to worry about, I've sort of stuck with it. At least at home. I'm a social raw-sugar consumer. The transition was actually a lot easier than I'd thought, and definitely way easier than it was last summer when I tried to switch as part of a *cough*bodybuilding thing*endcough*.)

It's not that bad. It's not good, but it's not bad. For some reason, I'm reminded of the end (director's cut) of Blade Runner:

It's too bad she won't live. But then again, who does?

Stay tuned for a concert review for The Walkmen...