Sunday, December 31, 2006

Poker Sucks

I've said it before and I'll say it again, nothing fills me with angry boredom more quickly and more thoroughly than seeing poker on TV, listening to people talk about poker, and seeing people actually play poker (which happens about 1/10,000th as much as they talk about it). Why do I hate poker? Because it's boring as shit, that's why. I'll be as happy when the poker fad fades away as I will be when the moustache fades back out of style a decade from now after its unyielding return in a few years.

(Above) Virtual poker being played by actual losers. Notice two of them have chosen the Jamiroquai outfit, two others the gay Frenchman getup, and the remaining two have tried to fool their opponents with seemingly innocuous avatars: old woman and Mets fan with hat backwards. Riveting.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My dinner last night

My dinner last night was a 2.5-hour long grazing session that included:

1. Half a BBQ pork sandwich and french fries
2. Tortillas and salsa
3. Saltine crackers and peanut butter
4. Half a bag of red hot potato chips
5. 2 cookies and a glass of milk

I don't know why, but I just couldn't stop eating until I felt sick, and I sure as hell felt sick when I finally stopped eating. But it was delicious.

Then I threw up and yelled at myself in the mirror for 30 minutes about how fat I was.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I spent the majority of my Saturday making single dollar bets on decade-old episodes of Double Dare 2000 and Guts on Nickelodean for Graduates; it's the channel above the HD History Channel and the one below Sunrise Earth. It was amusing betting on kids in every physical challenge or Mt. Crag event (though it wasn't amusing watching my dollar go to the guy who bet on the girl every time), but it really brought me back to a time when physical competition in completely unrealistic events was the norm in Hollywood (or Burbank?)---and American Gladiators was the pinnacle of that.
Here's why American Gladiators is the best TV show that will ever exist.

Hospital drama: boring and redundant
Family sitcom: lack of creative space between an "Urkel" and a "Screech."
Quirky character-driven apartment sitcom: Friends sucks
Nature documentary: who watches these besides me and my grandfather?
Cartoon comedy: played.
Live athletic, high-contact competition pitting juiced beach-mutants against wormy accountants and failed runningbacks and strangely reminiscent of Running Man:
Sounds fantastic.

Let's take a look at some of our "favorite" TV characters.

  • "Ross" from Friends> a big pussy. Bumbling meant nothing until Ross stepped onto the scene. How could fuck up both pretending to be British AND let that prettyboy Joey take Jennifer Aniston away from you?

  • "Kramer" from Seinfeld> self-described racist and bigot. I heard they cut the Seinfeld episode where Kramer refers to a black man running down the street as a "spook with the heat on him."

  • "Agent Scully" from X-Files> hot, but never got naked.

  • "Dr. Doug Ross" from ER> easily the sexiest man alive for at least 2 nonconsecutive years, but his smugness could stop a monkey-driven rocketsled in its tracks.
Now let's look at the cast of American Gladiators.


Jesus Christ. I had to take a breath halfway through. There's just so much goddamn energy in there. It's Perfect. And that Turbo guy, what a name! I'm so pumped just thinking about how awesome Turbo is, I think he could easily win the next Presidency. And not only is the cast 4 times larger than any other TV show, but every single person is a model of physical fitness and Muscle Beach fashion sense in the late 80's. I mean, it's obvious that the production staff of American Gladiators just asked the nut-brained gladiators to think of names that reminded them of transformers, X-Men, hookers, and airports they've been to lately. But hey, in Hollywood, it works.

While American Gladiators could have chosen to have scripted sequences that flip between playful, witty banter and instructive, meaningfully-emotional moments, like Friends, they instead chose to fire tennis balls at scrambling competitors at over 100 miles-per-hour using compressed air. Instead of resolving disputes with quirky neighbors by hilariously unorthodox subterfuge, like Seinfeld, American Gladiators put everyone in huge metal spheres and forced them to uncontrollably roll around an arena for 5 minutes. X-Files liked to pique the viewer's bewilderment by mysterious twists and endless conspiracy theories, but American Gladiators seemed content having the gladiators try to pull people off of a 60-foot climbing wall.

Check out Billy Wirth's (Axl Rose) victory against gladiator Malibu (Dave Mustaine) in the Assault in Season 1.

It's pretty obvious to me at least that Malibu is a younger, healthier Dave Mustaine. He must have gotten embittered to the internal politiking within the American Gladiators cast set.

If it's not enough to have a cast of characters to rival a Dickens novel and a series of bone-crunching, ponytail-tangling competitive events, they "went there" and created THE ELIMINATOR. I capitalized the entire word out of respect and awe. I can just imagine the show's muscle-bound creators cackling in a dimly lit room buried in the heart of a mountain somewhere in the Urals.

Running up a 45-degree incline on a reverse treadmill is a tough way to start The Eliminator, but then you have to run across a 40-foot rotating cylinder while gladiators toss heavy boxing bags at you to knock you off. If you fall, the pit below is filled with venomous Cobras genetically bred with cat legs. Many unfortunate souls fell victim to these mutants' fangs (and claws). Then comes the 50-foot cargo net that I, personally, mastered in 5th grade yet, so I never understood the people who managed to nearly hang themselves in it. The zip line was put in for good measure, it didn't really take any athleticism. In fact, it would've been quicker for the contestants to simply leap off the platform into the bean bags but zip lines were all the rage in the early 90's, thanks to the Rambo franchise. Somewhere in there was a hand bike event, which while probably the most physically demanding (even moreso than the zip line!) section, it was only interesting when someone had trouble with it.

The kicker in The Eliminator was the endgame, where the contestants had to choose one of four paper doors to run through to the finish line. Immediately behind two of the four doors was a gladiator with a shield and a trident who would impale the unwise contestant who chose poorly. It really made for great television when contestant Wesley "Two Scoops" Berry thought he had easily beaten his rival in the race, threw his arms up in victory just before running through the paper door and having a medieval weapon pushed into his neck. It was sometimes difficult to gauge victory on the occasions where both contestants ended up dead, though. Later seasons saw the production staff convince the gladiators to replace their medieval weaponry with cushions, probably at the behest of the families of the deceased. Instead, and somewhat ironically, to give the competitors more motivation, the show would suspend their loved ones from the ceiling and slowly lower them into a vat of acid.

Here's the thrilling conclusion to Season 5 featuring Mark Ortega and Tim Goldrick. Mr. Goldrick's family didn't make it out of the studio with their lives that afternoon.

After reading this, it's pretty difficult to deny that American Gladiators was not only the most novel, entertaining television show ever created, but also accurately circumscribed the complex moral and political atmosphere that shaped the early 1990's. If you're like me, then you should feel a visceral duty to sign this petition to bring back American Gladiators.

I Want to Own an Aviary

- by Count Langenhoffen

An Aviary (capitalized because I would own it, and everything I own instantly accords pronoun status) is a large enclosure filled with trees and such for the purpose of enclosing birds. You've seen aviaries in such blockbuster classics as Jurassic Park 3 (dazzlingly directed by Joe Johnston, between October Sky and Hidalgo) and The Haunting (which features a pre-celebrity Owen Wilson decapitated by a haunted fireplace[seriously]).

So, essentially, the birds think they can fly through the webbed steel forming the aviary, but it turns out that steel reacts to birds the same way it does to everything else; they hit it, fall, and usually die. BUT, as Darwin taught us, the next generation of birds will know how the system works, and shall obey it unflaggingly, and so they become the living attraction of said Aviary.

Now, my Aviary will be fucking enormous; not because the birds need room to fly, but because I'm a big guy. In fact, my Aviary will be devoid of those dirty ornithological rats. If birds find a way into my Aviary, it's probably entirely coincidental. As soon as you walk into my Aviary you'll be confronted by some kind of spike or boulder trap; notice I use "you," since I would never fall for my own traps. If you make it past the trap(s?), you'll notice the air is pungent with a tenebrous pall, due in large part to the still black pond to your right and the cobwebbed man-sized iron cages squeaking longingly towards the floor which are numerous and hanging from the roof.

Spiders are rampant, though not so many so as to draw your attention too much from an omniaural moan permeating the wispy white fog. There's some wilting shrubbery that's not been clipped for years, but its plainly obvious they were shorn to resemble souls writhing in the fires of Hell. Twisted trunks of half-dead trees litter the place haphazardly; there's a pretty cherry blossom, too (for contrast by juxtaposition). This is obviously just to create the mood for my Aviary, so that the next door neighbor's kids feel compelled to breach my Aviary.

Then, once inside, they'd be forced to serve me (not sexually) until their premature death or embark as a group on a dangerous quest for a pirate ship full of gold hidden in a secret cave within the sewers of the town. If none of the kid's are Asian, then they won't have the quest option, since no one can convincingly yell, "Booby traps!"

Now, being a business-minded person, considering the logistics of maintaining a model aviary requires some serious rumination.

First, manpower. Simple. Pay some poor Polish countrymen to immigrate over and upkeep my aviary (I wouldn't use "Aviary" in the newspaper ad so as not to stir suspicion). Their rudimentary belief in the spirits of the Old Country would surely remain alight as they torment in my hellish Aviary. And while they toil and cry out at spirits nonexistent, they'd come to me begging to allow their indenture to end. I, of course, would grow to twice my size and cackle ghoulishly at their simple beliefs and hilarious terror. I might allow them put a bird in my Aviary if they agree to stop being fed, but the odds that they learn conversationl English are slim to none.

Another important logistic is always making sure the troops are officious in their duties, so once in awhile I'd release a pack of hounds or swarm of locusts into the Aviary. I might also release one of those badass string-tripped swinging log traps that did in the Predator, and I think also may have taken care of Benicio's character in the cinematic feast that is The Hunted.

If the INS or similar got too hot on my Aviary, I'd just cover it with a tarp whenever they came by looking for missing Poles. If they ask what's under the tarp I'd probably just make the whole damn thing send itself into another dimension, and then return when everyone's not looking.

What's most important for an Aviary is, of course, having a secret room where you crossbreed various hapless animals via torture. There'd be strungup bunny rabbits, kittens, otters, dolphins, parrots (since they can talk), chicken (in the form of buffalo wings in the freezer), and then a couple of random beating cows' hearts connected to more electrodes than seems necessary for good measure. I'd also pay Edgar Allen Poe's great grandson to sit in a tall black chair and read aloud The Telltale Heart and The Raven at odd temporal intervals. When the creatures I manifest are ready to unleash doom upon the world, I'd make sure they go straight for the places of worship, just to fuck with everyone's psyche.

One last item, let's throw in some gargantuan pterodactyls with lasers attached to their shoulders like those Dinobots.

I feel that building from this simple Aviary template, I'll have countless hours of entertainment to tide me over until my battleship is complete.

Leave Your Footprint

If you read something on this blog, and you like it, hate it, agree with it, disagree with it, find it revolting, find it empowering, or it makes you able to travel through time, put in a comment. It's the only way I'm going to make the millions I need so that I can retire early to spend more time with my possessions. And yes, you'll be invited to join me.

- The Mgmt.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Some More Travel Photos---New Mexico

I've never been to the "Great American Southwest," but I've been hoping to get to go there for work sometime soon. My deepest wish came true and I visited the Very Large Array in Socorro, NM in mid-October. You may know the VLA from such movies as Contact, Armageddon, and generally any movie where they show a bunch of big telescopes all turning simultaneously.

Here's some photos from that trip. I had a day off on the tail end of the trip, so I decided to drive around the state for 8 hours. I chose to go toward White Sands National Park / Missle Testing Range. I took a bunch of photos along the way.

Seeing New Mexico left me with the impression that there will be no shortage of available land for humans to populate within the next few centuries. There is so much open land it is nearly incomprehensible. It's also very neat, topologically; tall ranges of mountains are bounded by vast, flat plains and steep rolling hills. It actually looked a lot like Rohan from Lord of the Rings.

Anyway, here's your goddamn pictures.

The Very Large Array itself, pointing to the heavens.
Another angle of the Very Large Array.
A view skyward, from inside one of the dishes in the previous shots. Yes, I stood in the dish. The lack of a natural horizon made it feel like the clouds were stationary and I was whizzing through them.
En route to White Sands, the Town of Truth or Consequences has an interesting history. It was originally named "Hot Springs," but changed its name on a dare made by a 1950's radio show host. The name change has survived several public referendums.
The actual town of Truth or Consequences, viewed from a hill.
Still en route to White Sands; I took this shot white driving. Notice the road bends left. I did not notice that at the time. Driving and shooting is dangerous.
STILL on the way to White Sands. This is one of many endless, flat stretches of road that disappears into a point in the distance. I'd never seen that before. A really cool shot would've been through the power lines on the side, but the weather was uncooperative and I had to pee at this point pretty bad. This is the stretch of road between Las Cruces and Alamogordo.
The sky opened up for a combined total of probably 3 minutes during my entire time at White Sands. It was disappointing, because the whiteness of the sand didn't present itself as eery as it otherwise would, but when the sun did come out, it offered really a neat contrast between the sands and the blue sky peekign through above.

Half of the park was flooded, so I had to walk for two miles through a flooded desert roadway. When the sun popped out, it gave me a few chances to catch some cool reflections. This one looks like an alien planet, or some Buddhist vision of serenity.
Speaking of serenity, White Sands was the quietest place I've ever been in my life. Since the park was flooded, no one (except me) was willing to walk the two miles further up the road. The only noise I heard was the light breeze, and when that died down, and I stopped walking, the only thing I could hear at all was my own breathing. It was an outdoor sensory deprivation chamber. No wonder the aboriginal inhabitants found this land so spiritual.
A F117-A stealth fighter patrolling the area. National parks are known for their surface-to-air capabilities I guess.
I changed filters and out came some shots that looked straight out of an inspirational poster or the game Myst.
Same pic, camera rotated.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

#1 Ohio State - 42 vs. #2 Michigan - 39

We're proud of our Michigan boys. They played hard, they played well, and they were barely beaten. Arguments will be had about penalties, play-calling, etc., but it's been clearly shown that the rankings are exactly accurate. OSU is the best in the nation, and Michigan is, by 3 points, the second best. GO BLUE.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

How to Cut Global Paper Consumption in Half, Instantly.

The World Wildlife Fund, Sustainable Harvest International, Greenpeace, The Rainforest Alliance, Rainforest Action Network, Environmental Defense. Just several of probably hundreds of "conservationist," or pro-environmental protection lobby firms here in DC.

All of these organizations hope to deliver trees, one way or another from the axes of paper manufacturers. A noble ambition indeed. True, because on one hand, it's nice to have trees because they're pretty, and on the other, because there aren't enough trees to keep up with mankind's use of them. Also, deforestation contributes to carbon dioxide pollution, which might be bad.

Of course, none of these organizations' websites provide any useful information on how they would like to accomplish this noble ambition, and that's probably because in reality they use a combination of muckraking, sensational advertising campaigns, missionary-style recruitment schemes, and good old-fashioned lobbying.

Surely there must be an easier way to cut down on the world's demand for paper products? We're not going to all of the sudden switch from paperbacks to that Minority Report-esque e-paper, right?

Then our hopes be dashed. Or are they?

Meet the Hewlett-Packard 2420d Laser Printer. The "d" stands for "dargain," which is close to "bargain." Actually, the "d" stands for "duplex," and "duplex" means double-sided.
BAM! Double-sided printing. That's it. It's just that simple. I just saved like a hundred thousand square kilometers of rainforest.

But they must be restrictively expensive; nobody uses them. Not quite.

The HP 2420d Laser Printer is................$479.00
The HP 2420 Laser Printer is................. $459.00

A difference of $20. Twenty fucking dollars. I spent more at the bar on Monday night. MONDAY.
In fact, you can retrofit those old-fangled single-sided printers with an easy-to-install kit for around $150.

Well, maybe it's slow...

The HP2420d prints at 1,200dpi, 30ppm, with 48MB.
The HP2420 pritns at 1,200 dpi, 30ppm, with 32MB.

So unless I'm reading this wrong, the double-sided printer prints twice as fast, and the additional $20 goes to a bigger memory chip.

And there you have it. My analysis is admittedly cursory and half-baked, but you get the idea. DOulbe-sided printers. The wave of the future. Ride it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Political affiliation isn't 1-dimensional

For more years than I'd care to count, I've been trying to figure out where my political affections lie on the continuum between "Democrat" and "Republican." I've spent an equal amount of time figuring out where the dashes denoting the degree (or severity) of party alignment go along that spectrum. As of maybe a year ago, I had figured out that I had slowly moved from middle-right to smack in the middle.

Well, what fucking good does that do me? Who the fuck do I vote for, Mickey Mouse? No one? Why is a seemingly straight-forward thinking individual finding it so hard to classify himself into one of the two ruling parties?

The problem with the political continuum model is that it assumes two things:
1. Party platforms do not shift, and
2. There are only two parties.

The biggest problem is #2, where there is a giant grey cloud which encompasses a huge amount of people left wondering why they don't feel they are properly represented by either of the two ruling parties' ideologies.

Well, that's because political ideology isn't projected onto a 1-dimensional line between "Democrat" and "Republican."
To the chagrin of many pundits, public figures, op/ed columnists, and radio/television personalities, in reality there is a vast "second dimension," or "second axis" of political thinkery on which one's political ideology may traverse, both in the positive and negative directions. I know it's hard to comprehend, but wayward minds may, actually, naturally tend to roam off the stable Democrat-Republican bilateral axis and into this danger zone of heterogeneity.
My theory is that the less publicly understood, and therefore heretical, political affiliations lie somewhere in the solution space provided by my new dimension. There may even be a mysterious dimension number "3" to add to this mess, but I'd hate to trouble your mind with such complex algorithms.
After all is said and done, why is it we have been stuck with the same two parties for over 80 years that have oscillated between positions of leadership and humiliation and scandal? Why is the country so entrenched in the two-party system? Is it because we are somehow coerced into projecting every possible viewpoint for every possible issue onto a 1-dimensional continuum, thereby losing differentiation and committing ourselves to a cycle of incapability and misrepresentation? Or is it because the structure of government or laws provide the path of least resistance necessary for the extended dominance of a two-party structure? You tell me.


I'm helplessly exposed to an unhealthy amount of pop culture and celebutantery in my daily life. I hate it. I hate it I hate it Ifucking hate it. And nothing pisses me off more than the pop culture socialites. The shit I took this morning had more interesting things to say than Paris Hilton.

Yeah, you bet that's Pauly Shore.

When I first heard of a "Paris Hilton" I was utterly confused. I asked, what's going on with the Hilton in Paris? Was it bombed by Al-Qaeda or something? I was mistaken. Somebody did actually name their child after a hotel. Then I asked, "oh, what does she do? What [movies, TV shows, syndicated daytime talk shows] is she in?" To my surprise, the answer I got was a flat "nothing." She doesn't do anything. She does nothing. Nothing at all. She doesn't have a job, she doesn't work, she doesn't write amusing blogs like this one, she doesn't do anything productive whatsoever. Yet, she's famous and fabulously wealthy. Is my hatred out of jealousy? Would I like to be in her position of unlikely riches and irresponsibility? Maybe, but then I'd have to be a vapid, uninteresting party favor whose utiliy won't outlast my mid-20's. So I guess I'm alright where I am.

New Music

After a looooooooooooooong hiatus, and admittedly, a lack of interest, in seeking out and purchasing new music, its been rekindled, and here's what I bought--in chronological order of purchasing.

1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor -- f# a# (infinity)
One of the progenitors of the "post-" genre, the three-song album clocks in at about 63 minutes, and the track East Hastings is featured in the "realization" scene in the film 28 Days Later.
Not for everyone, but a dark, moving piece of musical orchestration.

2. Comets on Fire -- Blue Cathedral
A brilliant car wreck of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, this album moves seamlessly from start to finish, never letting you out of the strange creepy rock orb it puts you in.

3. Ulysses -- 010
A quality, straight-rocking, down-to-Earth, lo-fi album from a band from Kentucky. There are some standouts on this album, and the band doesn't make songs any longer than they need to be, which is hard to find.

4. Death Cab For Cutie -- Plans
Oops, yeah really. I never really dug them because they were too mainstream and I lumped them in with Modest Mouse, etc. This is a good mellow-out album that reminds me of The Shins wrapped in a blanket of a quiet Eels album.

5. Arctic Monkeys -- Whatever People Say, That's What I'm Not
Another solid London-based Brit-rock band with blues roots hits gold with this one. With the collapse of The Libertines and their spin-off, Babyshambles, frontman landing in prison, let's all hope the Arctic Monkeys can keep their shit together.

6. Muse -- Origin of Symmetry
This is their third newest album upon their recent release of the new one. I actually like it better than their last, Absolution. Moody, deep space rock with a lot of falsetto. Obvious comparisons are Radiohead, etc.

7. The Thermals -- The Body, The Blood, The Machine
The Thermals are still pissed about Bush being in office, and about losing their drummer, too, I guess. I was hoping for more out of this album, especially after two amazing and under-the-radar albums with Fuckin-A and ...More Parts Per Million. Still, there's more than enough standout tracks to justify the purchase. The lead singer's voice changed, though, it's kinda weird.

8. Jesu -- Silver
I'm actually just giving this EP it's first go. For a brood rock "band" (is one man a group? no.) the album isn't as defeating as I'd expect. It's heavy, and still horrendously introspective, so I gotta say I enjoy it thouroughly already. Now all Justin Broderick has to do is fucking tour outside of the goddamn U.K. for once.

Monday, October 09, 2006

E TV assuages world fears of nuclear war with indisputable comparison

"North Korea may be about to test a nuclear weapon, but the whole world can sleep easy now that superpowers Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie have resolved their differences."

- Sal Masekela, The Daily 10 on E TV



Sure. Makes sense to me.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


R.I.P. Steve Irwin

A hero for so many, an inspiration for millions.
He'll be missed as an advocate of mutual understanding and satisfied indifference to everything we think vital.

It's a real tragedy. They don't come as he so often as others.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


It's Shark Week on Discovery Channel, and as usual, I was at the beach watching "10 Deadliest Sharks in the World" - a very Bill O'Reily look at the creatures Steven Spielberg taught us to fear. Watching this show, you can't help but want to be a fucking shark. There's nothing sharks do that isn't just so fucking cool.


Here's some fun fucking facts about being a shark:

1. You don't sleep, EVER (unless you're some pussy non-murderous shark). Imagine what you could do if you didn't have to sleep. You could sneak up on a sea turtle in the middle of the night and maul the shit out of it and then wear its shell for the next week and run around holding the A and B buttons together pretending to be Mario. You could rob banks and jump back into the sea with all the loot AND store it in your belly, which leads me to my next cool fucking shark fact...

2. You eat EVERYTHING. FUCKING EVERYTHING. Nothing exists, has existed, or will ever exist that hasn't been found inside a shark's stomach. They're swimming garbage disposals with a terrible attitude, like that kid who never showered in 3rd grade and showed up with dark, clothes hanger-shaped marks on his arms and legs. Sharks have eaten whales, sea captains, an 80-foot portrait of David Schwimmer being shipped from Burbank to an eccentric collector in Okaido, 40,000 metric tons of Skittles, and in one case a substantial fraction of the gravitational field of Venus. The coolest thing is that they don't even digest it, they just eat it and keep it. Sharks hate sharing.

3. Nothing will fuck with you. Hey look, a punk-ass, rainbow-colored fish... gobble. Oh, some silly squid is walking by... chomp. Cool, there's a militant Real World cast member... gulp. Fuck you, I'm a shark. What do you see when you look at me? Nothing, because you're eyes are already in my esophagus.
Some stupid fucking squid.

4. You don't think, you just react with your teeth. Somebody asks you how to get to the bus station, you fucking rip their face off. The farewatcher alerts you that airfare from Minneapolis to Buffalo goes down by $25, feeding frenzy at the preschool. TIVO cuts off Scrubs with a minute left, you jump 80 feet out of the water and grab an unassuming seafaring Estonian off the bow of a passing container ship. Just do it. It doesn't matter if the response doesn't necessarily address the issue at hand, you just do something cool and violent. It's like Nike but awesomer to the 26th power.

5. You eat cute animals all the time. Baby seals? Check. Baby turtles? Check. Baby monkeys? CHECK! If it's young, defenseless, and cute as a fucking button, it deserves a sudden and violent end within your jaws. And better still, don't bother eating it! Just let the lifeless creature float to the bottom of the sea to be eaten by soulless bottom-feeders and busboys.

6. You just CREEP around alllllll day scaring the shit out of everything that comes near. You also get the benefit of an accompanying John Williams orchestra for dramatic effect. Then, when everybody's guard it down, you eat the orchestra.

"Oh FUCK! He's just CREEPING."

If it isn't obvious by now that being a shark isn't cool as fucking shit, here's some things I'd do were I a shark for a day:

  • I'd go to Whole Foods, by a cold yellow Vitamin Water, and walk out without making a remark that I just ran 20 miles and need proper rehydration.
  • I'd hire a band of Tibetan porters to help me climb Mt. Everest, and then pay them in the number of days out of the year that I won't try and kill them.
  • I'd eat everyone in every Verizon store I could find, then do the same for Comcast. Then I'd write a letter of complaint to both companies claiming that their employees were too lazy to even try and save their own lives, much less reimburse me for the days I was without internet while they "processed (my) work order."
  • I'd scare the smartest person in the world into building a time machine, then travel back in time to when I scared him into building the machine and eat myself.
  • I'd force a classroom of kindergarteners to figure out once and for all how many fucking licks it takes to get to the center of a Blowpop. Once they figured it out I'd eat them all so that I would become the only person who will ever know the answer to that question, and then sue the Blowpop company for false advertising.

In conclusion, sharks win everything forever.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


The house I grew up in had miles and miles of forest behind it, and I spent many a weekend day mastering it; perhaps that is why I like to explore.

Until recently, I didn't travel that much. I had a few jaunts here and there, but had never been to any states west of the Mississippi (except part of California). A new job provided me with this opportunity. Here's a map of the states I have been to now (not counting airports).

In a few months I'll have knocked off Nevada, New Mexico, and Minnesota as well.
I've enjoyed traveling and getting to know the "world" outside of the Mid-Atlantic corrider. Being exposed to different people, settings, and lifestyles is important to understanding ourselves, it expands our frame of reference and helps to build empathetic connections.

I also like to travel because I enjoy taking photos of the places I've been to; partly because it reminds me what they looked like, and partly to help remind me how I felt when I was there. For that reason I don't Photoshop my pictures, I guess.

Here's a few pictures I've taken over the past ~1 year since getting my digital camera. The location of each picture is also given.

Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

lava tube, black sand beach, Hana Hwy, Maui, Hawaii

Francis Scott Key Bridge, Georgetown, Washington, DC

The Breakers Mansion, Newport, Rhode Island

Rt. 36, Boulder, Colorado

Friday, June 16, 2006

VERDICT: Scientology is dumb.

Some may have heard recently that a South Park episode was pulled from Comedy Central and the dude who does Chef's voice quit because the creators of the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, parodied Scientology in a recent episode.

The Chef's voice actor (Isaac Hayes) quit because he's a Scientologist and refused
to be a part of something that poked fun at his own religion, despite a show with 150-odd episodes that has harshly lampooned every conceivable subset of global culture. This is a guy who's first album was entitled "Black Moses" and who was featured on at least one Wu-Tang CD.

Comedy Central pulled the episode from rotation because Tom Cruise, a "renowned" Scientologist and royal fuckass, threatened to not publicize his upcoming third take on Mission Impossible. Maybe this time they'll get it right. Funny that Comedy Central is owned by Viacom, which also owns Paramount, who is producing Mission Impossible 3. It's also ironic that Hollywood demonizes the cronyism in politics that it inexorably emulates. How hollow the ivory pillars of Hollywood are...

All of this might be understandable if Scientology were itself reputable as a religion or belief. In fact, were it just a belief it would be pathetic enough, but that it's considered a "religion" is simply incomprehensible.

But who am I to derogate another's beliefs without at least understanding them? So let's take a look.

As I am consulting Wikipedia, I have to mention that this is the third time now that I've needed to remind myself of the basic tenants of this religion; the reason for which you may understand by the end of this post.

Scientology was founded about 50 years ago, i.e. after World War II, by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard liked to write about spaceships, aliens, and the spirits of living things. Throughout his life, Hubbard stood in the shadows of good science-fiction writers like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and H. G. Wells (who conceived modern space rocketry). Unlike Wells, he thought he knew what was best for everyone, so he decided to gather all the weak-minded people he could find to believe in his creation story.

[Everything in quotations below refers to Hubbard's own words]

75 million years ago, the Galactic Emperor Xenu (though Hubbard also referred to him as "Xemu" and as "Zenu," perhaps it was a typo), feeling that his Galactic Empire was vastly overpopulated (~76 planets with 178 billion people each) shuttled billions of humans to Earth on intergalactic spacecraft that were exact copies of the modern day Douglas DC-8 aircraft, "except the DC-8 had fans, propellers on it and the space plane didn't." Note that DC-8's have turbine engines, not propellers.

The pretense under which the billions of people were brought to Earth by Xen(m)u was that all of these billions were called for "income tax inspections." Upon arrival for these inspections at their local city hall, Xen(m)u had psychiatrists paralyze every single person with a combination of alcohol and glycol (antifreeze). The populace was then loaded onto the somehow-retrofitted DC-8's and transported to Earth to be stacked around volcanoes and ultimately destroyed by detonating hydrogen bombs within the volcanoes - they were all detonated simultaneously, for dramatic effect, I suppose.

I'm not sure why Xen(m)u chose a plan with such logistical headaches when he could have just send everyone into a black hole, or a star, or space itself, but I guess Hubbard was just a fucking moron.

Xenu or Xemu

Upon the calamitous explosions on Earth, the souls of the people (now called thetans) were collected by Xen(m)u using a cosmic vacuum cleaner and then place into a movie theater to watch, for 36 days, a "three-D, super colossal motion picture." Huh. Apparently this movie was pretty bad, because it implanted "various misleading data" into the memories of the thetans, "which has to do with God, the Devil, space opera, etcetera." Hubbard also states that the interior design of all movie theaters to be due to this brain-washing (though souls don't have brains). This is particularly interesting, since movie theaters have changed drastically in the 90 years popular cinema has been around. In fact, movies didn't have sound until 1927. Sigh.

Xen(m)u's cosmic vacuum was clearly stolen by Mel Brooks in Spaceballs

What happened between this pointless holocaust 75 million years ago and today is flat-out uninterpretable, due in large part to ridiculous and inconsistent naming, anachronisms, and the total lack of an understanding of how to structure and convey a story in the English language.

I should add that all of this was preceded by the creation of the Universe 4 quadrillion years ago, or 300,000 times older than the current scientific consensus. In this creation myth Hubbard describes what essentially is a generic Dark Ages painting; lots of light, a chariot, and a cherub with a trumpet.

Fuck, this is wearing me out, it's just so godamn stupid.

Strangely, the Church of Scientology denies knowing about the whole Xen(m)u thing, and refrains from speaking about it at all costs. It's either because only the top level acolytes of Scientology (called "OTVII") are ready to learn about Xen(m)u, or that this inane, nonsensical, unorganized science fiction story would embarass the Church and undermine the efforts of recruiting more idiots.

So what do Scientologists actually believe? They believe:

  • Mind-altering substances of any kind are prohibited, this includes alcohol and cigarettes. Note that Hubbard assisted his research (I can't imagine what he was actually doing that he called "research") by gorging on rum, uppers, and downers. Hubbard's assistant at the time wrote that he "was existing almost totally on a diet of drugs."
  • Psychiatric and psychological treament is forbidden, and psychiatrists and psychologists are evil. I guess this is because Xen(m)u used psychiatrists to paralyze all the humans. What the fuck...
  • The souls of humans are immortal. This is brilliant, I wonder if Hubbard had heard of other organized religions?
  • People have lived many past lives and will live many future lives. Same point as above.
  • A newcomer's mental readiness must be evaluated by a trained Scientologist and an E-Meter, which is the same device as I used in Intro to Electromagnetism in Sophomore year to measure the resistance across two battery nodes. This actually begins the brain-washing of the newcomers.
  • Birth must be silent! That's right, no one can speak, because any words spoken at birth may be retained by the newborn baby (who by the way doesn't know any languages yet) and associated to his/her detriment later in life. Hmm....sounds like psychology to me Hubbard. Or maybe he just meant that trained psychologists are evil.
  • Newborn babies must not be washed, but rather wrapped up tightly and left alone for an entire day. Read that again.
  • Breastfeeding is prohibited! In supplement, Hubbard recommends a mixture of barley water, homogenized milk, and corn syrup or honey. Honey can cause infant botulism - nerve-blocking and respiratory and musculoskeletal paralysis. Of the mixture, Hubbard said he "picked it up in Roman days." Corn syrup, made from maize, was not present outside of the Americas until after colonization by Europeans began.
  • Scientology is fully compatible with all religions. This is despite what we learned from the Xen(m)u incident I guess.
  • "Fair Game." This idea was introduced by Hubbard, and incites Scientologists to use criminal behavior, deception and exploitation of the legal system to resist "Suppresive Persons", i.e. people or groups that "actively seeks to suppress or damage Scientology or a Scientologist by Suppressive Acts". He defined "Fair Game" as:
    "ENEMY — SP Order. Fair game. May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed."

Sadly, the last bullet is consistent with the Church's practice, being characterized by fighting numerous extremely long and costly legal battles, and even being implicated in the death of at least one Church member.

An evil psychiatrist and her helpless, misguided patient

I'm not even halfway through the material, but I think I've made my point:

If, by now, you are not convinced that Scientology's underlying principles may qualify not as a legitimate belief structure, but only as an honorable mention 5th grade science fiction contest entry, then I suggest you contact the Church and schedule an E-meter reading.

The Walkmen Perform at 9:30 Club

I could have sworn I stood in the middle of a circle of people having a screaming contest with megaphones last night, but apparently I went to The Walkmen show at 9:30 Club in D.C.

There are two things that are initially striking about seeing this band live:
1. The lead singer is not the dark-haired moody that you picture from the albums but is a tall, blonde, Lacoste-wearing frat boy. He may as well be an SAE at Florida State.
2. They are LOUD.

The first item isn't too hard to get over, especially in comparison to discovering that the Caesars' bassist is about 60 years old. But the problem with The Walkmen live (and I've seen them twice) is that their sound is very disorganized. I like my music loud, but it seems like they fired their sound tech and turned every knob to 11.

What's great about their album tracks is that each song is carefully crafted, often very slowly building up emotional steam and growing louder and becoming unraveled as the song reaches climax. And the instruments are very well laid down, one doesn't drown out another, and it adds to the potential energy.

But this is entirely lost in the live show. There is no control of volume, nor control of vocals, and it really confuses the ear terribly. I don't think a live song should mimic the album, but this band's greatest strength is drowned in a poorly conceived stage show.

They must have played about 6 new songs, and since the album came out only 2 days earlier, few people would have a chance to hear it. We all heard them at the show, but I couldn't tell you which ones are winners because the sound was so cacaphonous.

To their credit, they delivered "The Rat," "Bows & Arrows," "Wake Up," and "Thinking of a Dream I Had" excellently, and it really got the crowd moving, including the requisite inhibitionless fist-pumping white guy with the crazy afro.

All in all, I give this show 3.0 stars out of 5.0, with Andrew W.K. being 5.0 and The Cardigans being 1.0.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A bad day for Caesar

March 15, the "Ides of March." A bad day to be an emperor, at least it was in 44 BC Rome.

In general, Julius Caesar was a masterful military and political leader, renowned for his conquest of Gaul (modern-day France, Belgium, Switzerland) . The trouble began when he was proclaimed "Dictator Perpetuus," or Dictator for Life. This sat particularly poorly with the Roman tradition of The Republic, which split political power among numerous Senators and, to a lesser extent, influential wealthy land owners called equites. So, rather predictably, they murdered him on the floor of the Senate. He was stabbed between 26 and 35 times, depending on which account you read. One of the conspirators was Marcus Brutus, Caesar's distant cousin and a testamentary heir. Shakespeare delighted to dramatize this historic event in his play, Julius Caesar, and breathed the famous words, "Et tu Brute?" into the emperor to make them his last. Shakespeare also gave new vernacular meaning to the ides of March (ides = middle), having Caesar visit a soothsayer before his imminent death who warned him, "Beware the Ides of March!" Obviously Caesar didn't follow his advice, whether it really happened or not.

When Caesar was assassinated on March 15 in 44 BC, Gaius Octavius was studying in Apollonia, in what is now Albania. When Caesar's will was read it revealed that, having no legitimate children, he had adopted his great-nephew as his son and main heir. By virtue of his adoption Octavius assumed the name Gaius Julius Caesar, and after a series of events too melodramatic even for daytime soaps, he defeated all of his rivals by 32 BC. He established a grand empire extending from Brittania to the Persian Gulf, and successfully began an age of relative peace, known as "Pax Romana," in an otherwise bellicose empire typified by warfare both civil and imperialistic.

But following the trend of everything else in the Universe since time began, the burgeoning Roman Empire eventually buckled under its own weight and collapsed back into chaos and unending civil wars.

Politics sure was more interesting in those days.

The lesson learned? "Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate." - Thomas Young

Ask Andrew W.K. ...

I've been a fan of Andrew W.K. for a few years now, and one thing that's inspired me about him is his ability to boil life down to a few guitar solos, keyboard arpeggios, and party lyrics. So, I thought I'd put his divine insight to the test to answer some common, and not-so-common, questions that have plagued mankind since the dawn of human history.

Q: "Why is the sky blue?"
Awk: "Cos we're gonna have a FUN NIGHT! FUN NIGHT! FUN NIGHT! FUN NIGHT! Gonna get off! Gonna get off! Gonna get off! Gonna get off!"[From "Fun Night" off of I Get Wet]

Q: "Where is the Adriatic Sea?"
Awk: "I can't explain it anymore / I'm not too young to know for sure. You get me, I get you, we get us."
[From "Really in Love" off of The Wolf]

Q: "Can you actually recharge non-rechargeable batteries or what?"Awk: "You're not my mom and dad / And even they watch their backs; Cause they know what I hate; Any rules that I can't break."[From "Your Rules" off of The Wolf]

Q: "How can I get from 19th & Q to the Target?"
Awk: "You won't know and we won't fucking go / We just keep on living. We always get what we want; We still get what we want 'cos we're never gonna stop (no we won't stop)."[From "Fun Night" off of I Get Wet]Q: "My sister Tesla is dating a guy who is 15 years older than him. Is this weird or should I stop being so protective?"Awk: "The girl's too young / She don't need any better. It's all coming back / I can feel it. She is beautiful / She is beautiful / She is beautiful / She is beautiful. The girl is beautiful."[From "She is Beautiful" off of I Get Wet]

Q: "Is pepperoni or sausage better on pizza?"Awk: "This is why we are alive / We all live like we are going to die. We are here, We are high / And this is why we love to live our lives"[From "Victory Strikes Again" off of The Wolf]

Q: "Would the benefits of narcotics legalization outweigh the detriment?"Awk: "I Get Wet when the party is dying. I Get Wet without even trying. I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet / I Get Wet whenever you trying / I Get Wet when I know that you're dying / I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet I Get Wet."[From "I Get Wet" off of I Get Wet]

Q: "What's your problem, jackass?"
Awk: "We do what we like and we like what we do. So let's get a party going (let's get a party going) / Now it's time to party and we'll party hard (party hard) / Let's get a party going (let's get a party going) / When it's time to party we will always party hard / Party hard (party hard, party hard, party hard party hard, party hard, party hard party hard, party hard, party hard...) ."[From "Party Hard" off of I Get Wet]
A Litigious Proposal

So I've been sick the past two days, and being sick, like any red-blooded American, I've been taking advantage of this rare opportunity to take over-the-counter pick-me-ups and slooow-me-downs to "relieve my symptoms." Sudafed LiquiCaps (non-drowsy), NyQuil, Robitussin lozenges, Halls Vapor Relief, Zinc lozenges, Tylenol, Advil, Trademark after motherfucking TM ... I am juiced. Needless to say my trip to Safeway a block away earlier today nearly ended in content resignation.

Anyway, this strangely altered state of mind has afforded me a comfortable glimpse into my meandering psyche, or "train of thought" or "stream of consciousness" depending on whether you are a rivertboat driver or train conductor, I guess.My mind's usually pretty random anyway, often imagining something like the effects of a terrorist Jello bomb (cherry-flavored) in downtown DC during an August evening rush hour, or likewise.

Well this evening in communique via cellular handset with a friend I used to work with who became an intellectual property attorney (read: patent lawyer), "we" were coming up with ways to make money quickly and without any effort; you know, the welfare lottery approach. I used
"we" in quotes because as a patent lawyer he need not worry about the usual trappings of modern capitalism and economics.

Speedily forgetting our conversation, I began to think of fun ways to annoy people, lots of people. Eventually I landed on concocting thousands of court-issued subpoenas to individuals I'd never met, being good for a laugh, because folk tend to react badly to unexpected litigious intervention.

Then it hit me. Chain letters. Rather than spending hours of my precious time typing up thousands of fake subpoenas, I would mail just 10 originals stating that "if you serve this court-ordered subpoena on 7 of your friends, the charges against you will be dropped." And to help things along, in each envelope I'll enclose handy postage-paid envelopes with letterhead saying "YOU GOT SERVED!"

Problem solved, AND I've now created a self-perpetuating process of limitless proportions! Not only have I pointlessly brought back the rightfully dead tradition of chain letters, but I've also fiendishly woven a sick modern satire into it! And the true beauty, from my personal perspective, is that I'm untraceable! Genius.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Crash Course in Indie Music

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth
If you haven’t heard about these guys, you had better put on your fleet feet and sprint to catch up to the fucking wagon. If you were a big fan of The Talking Heads, well, you’d better do the same. This band is going to fucking explode, probably the biggest underground buzz I’ve seen since Interpol, and they’re MUCH peppier; I even threw away all my razor blades. If this song doesn’t get your head nodding and your foot tapping, you’re probably just plain deaf. A dead-on driving drum beat, simple and clean rhythm guitar work, and insidious whining vocals bring this song together into a fantastic orgy of positivity. If you needed any further proof, the NBC show “The Office” featured a party scene in which this song was in the background.


Dreamend - "Slide Song" and “The Old House & Its Occupants
This misty, grave-faced band from Chicago blew me away when I first heard "Slide Song" and “the Old House & Its Occupants.” I felt like I had just walked into a ghost jazz club and when the songs ended all the ghosts would hold me down and suck out my soul. Fortunately, this treat doesn’t stop with these songs. The above tracks only serves as a vocal break between tremendous movements of violently contrasting drum work that slaps and hammers your wandering imagination to follow the plunky lead guitar as it spirals its way down into the deep echoing guitarwork. The album, “…as if by ghosts,” easily wins one of my Best of 2005 awards for being a terribly intense concept album. You might be tempted to classify it in the “post-[rock]” category, but I think the band members would hang me and offer my soul to Satan if I did that. Dark Side of the Moon is nuts and gum compared to this.


Emperor X - “Garbage Shaft Floor-by-floor
Smart-rock combined with punk; there’s nothing like it that you’ve ever heard. The gritty garage sound of this track combined with the incredible (yet odd) lyrical flow and off-beat drumming create one of the most rocking underground songs I’ve heard in my life. If you need to win a broomball championship game at 2am, or a kickball flipcup competition, this is the song you listen to beforehand.


[you can find the song on the band's website]

Giant Drag - “This Isn’t It
Did someone say Barracuda? No, this isn’t Joan Jett, but this chick rocks just as hard and just beat up Ms. Jett in the parking lot. Don’t be fooled by the simple guitar work or harmonious lyrics (she is a woman after all), these lyrics sink deep and tell a bitter tale of love gone horribly wrong. She is not gonna take any shit, and she wrote a cool song to tell the world about it, so listen to it or else you’re next.


Irving - “I Can’t Fall In Love
Irving. Who? Never heard of ‘em. Damn right. Here’s a one-hit wonder waiting to happen, but regardless, this song is catchy as all hell. It truly reminds me of a mid-90’s I can’t put my finger on, but somehow sounds like a tribute to that song which I can’t think of. You won’t be disappointed.


Jesu - “We All Faulter
So much cheer thus far, let’s make room for some brood metal. What’s brood metal? It’s long-winded, self-indulgent, muted guitarwork dripping with distortion and doomsday vocals. From the mind behind “Godflesh,” Jesu (I suppose Jesus is redundant since Jesu already has an “s”) tears into your soul and eats it instantaneously. Then it vomits a new one for you and makes you eat it. You’re meek, you’re small, you’re hopeless, you should’ve died when you were born. Welcome to Jesu and the horrific introspection that he inspires. Make sure you cue a ramp-up song after this one, or grab the razor blades you threw away after ditching your Interpol albums a few days ago.


Books on Tape - “Grey Matters
It’s often subliminally understood within indie rock pretentia that electronic and sample rock/dance went out about 5 years ago when Moby hit it big, and again when Fatboy Slim paid Christopher Walken to dance to a track off of “Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars.” Well, this “band” (actually a single person) is about to show you that there’s plenty of dark energy left in the flagging electronic scene. Throughout Books On Tape’s individual tracks, you’ll be passed from sinister synth rhythms to hollow beats until you finally reach the precipice from where you’re dropped headfirst onto rock-hard bass. It’s as if the Beastie Boys teamed up with the Crystal Method to beat the shit out of Fatboy Slim, and everyone took a shitload of whipits and red bull in the fray. Enjoy.


British Sea Power - “Carrion
If you can’t make it past BSP’s seemingly homoerotic opener “Men Together Today,” you’re going to miss several gems, including the standout track “Carrion.” I mean holy shit does this band know how to cut through the muck surrounding catchy indie rock. The New Pornographers could take a lyrical (not to mention a wardrobe) lesson from this crew of Londoners. Not nearly as forced as a Decemberists whaler’s chanty, BSP manages to create a simple, catchy melody backed by throaty and peculiar vocals that really gives you the sensation of being shipwrecked on a beach in the 17th century…with a rock band. “Carrion” only makes you want to listen to the rest of the oddly naval album. Check out tracks “Favours in the Beetroot Fields” and the Gregory Maguire’s Oz-inspired “Something Wicked” as a follow up.


The Magnetic Fields - “I Wish I Had An Evil Twin
Somewhere between a Weird Al song and the Crash Test Dummies, The MagFields fantasize about everything their conscience wouldn’t allow in “I Wish I had An Evil Twin.” One of the most “curious” bands around, and who performs entirely drum-free shows (which are rudely interrupted by high-fives sometimes…), decided to toe the folk rock line with their album “i.” On “i,” every song begins with an…”i.” Wee! Either way, this song is pretty cool, and it’ll get a few smiles in social situations that could eventually lead to gay sex. This brings me to another point. Folk is coming back, no matter how you classify it. Decemberists, MagFields,…. All folk. You’ll see. Like MTV News, you heard it here. First.


Mixel Pixel - “At The Arcade
Ever wish you grew up in Bikini Valley, CA? Well, now you can revisit that bizarre fantasy I just had. Mixel Pixel writes a whiny, irreverent homage to teenage life in the Valley with “At the Arcade,” and one to just how random and superficial it is, but viewed from within a 15-year old arcade fan’s mind, tinting the whole sordid affair so that it’s not only forgivable, but humorous, and more intelligible than this run-on sentence.


Okkervil River - “Black
Counting Crows meet The Wallflowers. This Jersey (seriously) band hits the bullseye with this track, not to mention the album. There hasn’t been an acoustically patient band this talented and focused since, well, ever? This track in particular unfurls a blood-boiling tale of abuse and jealously which will easily resonate with any male. If you don’t check out this free tune, you’ve done yourself a serious disservice.


Rogue Wave - "Endless Shovel"
You are a fool if you can’t dig this song. Psych-pop rock genius Zack Rogue (who legally changed his last name to “Rogue”) lays down unbelievably tuney (a new word!) rhythms and harmonies in this lyrically indecipherable track. The entire album culminates to this eventual release of psychokinetic refrain, and it still somehow leaves you wanting to hear it over and over again. No amount of description can do it justice. Another crystal example of a passionate song becoming unwound and ending as if you swore you wrote it in the first place.


Say Hi To Your Mom - “22nd Century
See ya Weezer. This solo New York musician who lives with his mom (still) enjoys writing fuzzy guitar rhythms while singing warm vocals about robots, spaceships, and teenage romance promises over them. There’s nothing you won’t miss about everything else on your ipod while you’re listening to SHTYM. The ignorant youthful expectations and promises just make you want to build your own time machine and travel back to 5th grade (to invest in Google…sigh). Fuck yeah, it’s about time.

[you can find the song on the band's website, too]