A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Monday, February 26, 2007

The new stylez

Pan's Labyrinth, though perhaps inappropriately translated (more accurate could be The Faun's Labyrinth, as Pan is pretty specific), is certainly one of the finest movies I have seen in the past year. Ever aspect of this flick is so finely and expertly crafted, that one simply is left awestruck by Guillermo del Toro creation. It is really inspiring to see such a lovingly created movie, though the movie is anything but cutesy. Much more cautionary fable than simple fantasy, the beauty of Pan's Labyrinth is the parallel structure of its storytelling. And unlike so many Pulp Fiction wannabes, this film never forces the intertwining of the drama. The characters, cinematography, special effects, punctuating violence, and drama is really something to behold. Highly recommended.

On other fronts, I have been enjoying a boon of late in the music department. I'd like to share some of my favorite recent finds.

Exhibit A: Deerhoof. I don't think I had ever heard this band before, say, a month ago. But it's suddenly become a "need to get everything they have ever made" situation. I recently eMusicized their newest LP, Friend Opportunity. It's great. Very poppy, and somewhat more accessible than some of their other stuff, at least this is what I gather. To wit:
deerhoof - +81
deerhoof - cast off crown

Exhibit B: The Blow. I missed the boat on this one too. I'm not entirely convinced that the whole thing is a work of genius, but when they get it right, they make some catchy ass music.
the blow - parentheses
the blow - true affection

Exhibit C: Elf Power. Another one of the Elephant 6 collective (Neutral Milk Hotel et al.). Again, I'm way late to this show, but better late than never. The sound is unique, and it took some getting used to, but I really think they are doing some amazing stuff.
elf power - olde tyme waves
elf power - jane

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

A world full of stars

I must admit that even as I get older and more mature, I still get starstruck. I love celebrities, and seeing them makes me giddy.

Once, during a trip to Aspen, I met Tom Cruise at an outdoor cafe.

At first, I was nervous to be sitting next to him, but then I realized: Hey, he's just a man, same as me. He has worries, and fears, just like I do. We talked, and talked, and laughed, and shared, just person to person. He wasn't Tom Cruise, the celebrity, he was just Tom, and he told me to call him Tom, and he called me Guy, and at times, G.T. I thought: Here is a man that fame has not affected. We shared stories about how we hate cleaning the pool and dusting- we really made a connection. Later, Katie Holmes showed up with little Suri and she ate a cheese quesadilla and it was kind of like we were all family.

After I returned home from that vacation, I realized I hadn't met Tom Cruise at an outdoor cafe in Aspen. It was just a shrub. A shrub that looked a lot like Tom Cruise.

No, don't say that.

Probably the worst way to find out that you have a large and unattractive ass is on your doctor's blog.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Arsenal of Democracy

I won a free Big Mac for being at the Bulls game last night--they waxed Atlanta 106-81, triggering one of the coupons they were handing out; I also have a free pastry coming to me since my man Donut won the Dunkin' Donuts race during a 3rd quarter TV timeout.

It was pretty good.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Thermals

Now THIS is how you start an album.

I went to Sound Exchange in Houston over the weekend. It's the first real record shop I have been to in a while since coming to Texas. I've gone to some in Austin, but that was long ago. Anyway, they had a pretty good selection, ok prices, but the real bounty for me was in the bargain bins in the back of the store. A lot of promos, which I don't really have a problem with, for around $0.99 each. Picked up about 7 CDs for $10. The Thermals was definitely a nice find.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I also forgot to post this, which made my wife and I laugh like you wouldn't believe. Extras is definitely one of the funniest things on TV right now...

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The Guy Tarkington Show

If I had my own daytime television talk show, every once in a while I would put surprises under the audience members’ chairs. One day, I would tell each audience member to look under their chair for a surprise, and there would be an angry hornet’s nest. On yet another day, a coupon for denture adhesive, and around Christmas time, a can of Bumble Bee tuna.

When they looked back up in a fury of disbelief, shock and confusion, the camera would pan over and do an extreme close-up on my face as I delivered the show’s catch phrase:

Stop bein’ so greedy, bitches!

This just in


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It's hard not to surrender

I was in the Men’s department of a high-end clothing store casually shopping when my eyes witnessed the most horrific sight.

Behind a tie rack lay a dead baby. At first, I was in disbelief. I stared at it, believing my eyes deceived me. But no, it was true. It was a newborn baby, no bigger than a burrito, dead.

From my mouth came a terrible wailing that I could not recognize and I sank to my knees in despair, clasping my hands together so hard it hurt, and I catterwalled:

“Oh, dear God, it’s a dead baby! Oh Jesus, dear Jesus, Christ, it’s a baby! Poor baby, oh Lord, sweet Jesus, save his soul, this sweet, sweet soul, this baaabeeee

And I squealed like an animal, rocking back and forth on my knees, wailing, and crying to passersby,

“How can you people just stand there, staring, it’s a DEAD BABY! Oh my dear God, he’s dead, Christ, Jesus, save him, save him!!”

Soon, a policeman arrived. I pointed to the body behind the tie rack, just paces from my knees, and I continued to pray, my body now flailing about, knocking into hangers holding fine suit jackets.

“Sweet Jesus, steady this man’s resolve, Christ almighty, Lord Jesus”

I could not force to look into the policeman’s hands as he lifted the tiny baby from behind the tie rack. I held fists to my eyes, to block this horror of all mankind.

“Sir.” The policeman said. “There’s nothing behind there except these socks.” He said.

I opened my wet eyes and saw the policeman holding a rolled-up pair of white athletic white tube socks, no bigger than a burrito.

Well, needless to say, I was arrested for violating the trespassing order the store manager had filed against me, since I had done the same thing three times last week.

Oh well.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pi contest

I entered a contest for reciting pi from memory.

When it was my turn, I walked slowly onto the stage, stood upon the podium, placed my mouth to the microphone, and began speaking with a clear, calm voice:

I couldn't remember any of it. After one full minute of silence, I was disqualified.

On the way out, I ripped down a contest banner and yelled, "Memorize THAT!"

Later I found out the winner was a guy from China, who recited pi to the 60,000th decimal point.

My grandma says I should see how many cigarettes I can fit in my mouth at one time. Turns out, a lot.

Radio Free Baseball

Another gem from FJM:

I covered the team for four years and never saw Bernie or Derek Jeter fail to run out a ground ball, each racing through the bag on easy groundouts, and I'll always believe that their consistent effort and respect for the game -- along with the effort of players like Joe Girardi -- was the backbone of the Yankees' dynasty of 1996-2001.

Really. Well. I didn't cover them for four years, but I did watch a lot of their games when I lived in New York, and contrary to this revisionist history, I saw Bernie jog to first on pop-ups, I'd say, exactly as many times as I saw other guys jog to first on pop-ups. I know this because around 1996 people started talking all the time about how Bernie Williams never jogged to first on pop-ups, and I would always note when he did, just for my own satisfaction.

Also, I specifically remember one game where he hit a little nubber down the first base line that was spinning like crazy just over the line in foul territory, and he didn't run at all, and it spun back fair and the first baseman picked it up and tagged him out about four feet in front of the on-deck circle. The reaction shot of Joe Torre was fantastic.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

I think it's always been vogue in our age bracket to declare how impervious we are to advertising. Priming by the nefarious puppetmasters on Madison Ave is something for the lower classes, the mouthbreathers who genuinely believe that cracking open a High Life Light is going to get them a girl who's stacked like a brick poophouse.

That's oversimplistic, to say the least, and something I've always tried to buying into. Even if I don't own any piece of Reebok sports equipment, I can still cite chapter and verse of the Terry Tate commercials, so something must be sticking to my noodle, right?

I only mention this because it's occurred to me that media does drive my consumer decisions, but in roundabout ways. For instance, I've started every morning with a cup of tea at the office for the past two weeks. It's bitterly cold in Chicago, and by the time I get in I'm damn near frozen through and need something to thaw me out (and keep me awake). So I drink Earl Grey. Why? Because that's what Captain Picard drinks.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"...the litigation, the notoriety, his subsequent deportation to Canada and that country's refusal to accept him... #6, Ogie Oglethorpe."

I just bought a couple of $15 nosebleed tickets to a Blackhawks game for myself and the Econ Lady. Mind you, I haven't watched more than five minutes of professional hockey since before the lockout, and Chicago's roster only has nine players I've ever heard of before: and two of those are Brian Boucher and Marty Lapointe.

If you've seen those local tv spots trying to harness the star power of Nikolai Khabibulin though, you'll understand the draw.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Guerillas in the Mist

Entering a corporate career at this... aherm, advanced life stage has a very odd feel to it. It's life, and it's work, and I've been alive and working, in some professional sense, for the last 4 years. It's different though, like a long-lost and extant branch of some common ancestry, reminiscent but alien. I imagine it's a lot like observing apes in the wild--you can see a functioning and capable social structure there in the brush, and a lot of gestures are the same, but it's the output of a vastly different evolutionary process and fitness function.

In other words, if you speak Spanish and you're marooned in Italy, you've actually gotten pretty lucky because you already know all of the grammar--you could have washed up in Libya. But you wouldn't say life was easy, because you still don't know any of the vocabulary or diction.

And the idioms. God help you, the idioms!

Time = Distance / Rate

Amtrak: When you absolutely, positively cannot get there more than six hours late.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Believing As Art

The normally staid folks at the Art Institute have gotten into the act as well.

"... but the hurricane's name is Hurricane *Ditka*"

I'd like to write something about the Super Bowl, but I can't. I'm mainly just nervous, and somewhat suspicious that the Bears aren't actually in the Super Bowl, but rather have been transported to some elaborate sound stage and led to believe that they're there, like a cross between The Truman Show and the Apollo landings.

So, in the interest of team spirit: