Monday, December 31, 2007

I AM LEGEND

Saw "I AM LEGEND" at the Dupont Theater this weekend, complete with the usual drunken mumbling homeless sociopath in the theater. It was pretty good, you should see it (the movie, not the bum). It's kinda like Castaway meets 28 Days Later, but with less gore. Basically, mankind screwed up again with its godless science and pretty much everyone is either dead or has become scary predatory monsters. The movie takes places three years after the mass carnage subsides and we meet who may very well be the last person on Earth, Robert Neville, who is living in New York City. A series of flashbacks help to explain the intriguing backstory of what happened. Even though a post-apocalyptic city isn't exactly a groundbreaking idea for a film (the book was written in 1954, however), the movie does a good job of immersing you in the weirdness and isolation of the setting, and minor details really magnify the eeriness.

There's still a few big questions I have, but that's probably what happens when you adapt a book and don't have the luxury of making a 3.5-hour movie. This movie's runtime is 101 minutes.
As for acting, Will Smith, in general, is pretty easy to hate just because he's so damn lovable, but he's still he's pretty convincing in the movie. He does a good job of portraying the psychosis and paranoia that someone who might actually live through those events might display without resorting to the usual cockiness of a Converse commercial turned into a movie.
All in all, it's a pretty solid post-apocalyptic suspense/thriller movie despite its PG-13 rating. See it, and tell em Brice Lord sent ya. (Don't actually do that because you'll look like an asshole.)


Every time you come around my hood

Bling Bling.

A little update on my so-called investments in the stock market. E*Trade hasn't fared so well, and has lost about 35% of its value since my purchase. Awesome. So, it's gone from a quick turnaround lottery stock to a longer hold and wait-for-the-recession-that-won't-come-to-pass stock. Oh well.

Ironically, the best investment I made over the last year seems to have been the involuntary one. I've still got about 50 units worth of Euros and Swiss Francs in my wallet, which have both appreciated.

I'm particularly annoyed that the two other stocks I had seriously considered buying, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd: VSL and Tata Motors Ltd: TTM, have appreciated by 45% and 7%, respectively. Oh well, what're you gonna do?

Friday, December 28, 2007

NewCDs

I got some new CD's for Xmas. Here's what they are:

1) Black Moth Super Rainbow: Dandelion Gum
2) The Advantage: The Advantage
3) Say Hi To Your Mom: Numbers and Mumbles
4) Okkervil River: The Black Sheep Boy Appendix
5) Emperor X: Central Hug/Friend Army/Fractal Dunes

Is this sufficiently indie or should I try better next time?

indisputable

Ever think of something in the shower that seems so clever and illuminating that you think everyone should hear? Me too.

Bill Parcells. Spencer Pratt. The latter is 35 years the younger of the former. Get that?



New Year(')s

Does that have an official apostrophe? Does anyone know? Anyway, I have no plans for New Year's, and I hereby officially announce my hatred of the holiday. Here's what I hate about it:

1) requirement to go out, and
2) requirement to do something extraordinary, and
3) requirement to pretend like it's fun.

Additionally, here's what's not's fun's about's New's Year's:

1) paying $80 for a bar that would otherwise cost you $0.00
2) waiting an hour to get a single drink
3) being caught in a smash

Fuck this "holla-day". I'll ring in the new year the usual way instead: gutting a fetal goat. Wait, what?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

<>L<>A<>

reggolB


Brice Lord kindly thanks N8K from Slain By An Elf for the sweater. Brice Lord is available for your bearded debt collection needs, 24-hour convenience store stick-ups, and Darkon-staged invasions of the Velkyn Velve realm.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

STOP

Oh my god, stop fucking coughing. Everyone please just stop coughing for one fucking minute. What, is consumption making a comeback in downtown Washington? It's like I'm in the tense 40 minutes of lead-up in a zombie movie where everyone around the main character is getting noticeably sicker and it's only a matter of time before all hell breaks loose. I better keep a blunt object nearby and a backback with a stockpile of vitamin water and Clif bars in case I need to make a run for it. I hate everybody.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Thanks H&M

Thank you H&M for making this holiday super unexpectedly fagtastic!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Into the fray...


After several years of neglect, I finally got motivated to get my finances in order. I've had money sitting in a few different retirement accounts and I never really bothered to check and see what they've been up to. It turns out they were automatically dumped into money markets for some reason, which are good for, say, loose cash you don't need, but bad for long-term growth. So I rearranged everything and now I'll be a multi-billionaire when I retire in 10 years.

Relatedly, I've also gotten interested in stocks. After only two weeks or so of research, I've come to the realization that playing the stock market isn't too much different from playing roulette. I don't gamble at casinos except for roulette, and when you play you get an energizing sense of anticipation as you watch the ball go around and around until it lands on "00" and you lose $50 in 45 seconds. Stock investments seem to be kinda like that, though it's much different because you at least have an opportunity to make an informed decision about your investments rather than blindly choosing "red" and "black".

Does anyone know what these people actually do?

Yesterday I plunked some change into E*Trade, having been watching it oscillate between $3.50 and $6.00/share over the last two weeks, and having read about potential buyouts by other firms. I couldn't help but check the ticker every 30 minutes, expecting it to shoot up. Of course it didn't, but I did know that going into it.

Sure, a financial firm with a big mortgage debt doesn't seem like a great pick right now, but that's why I think it is. The chance of it going under is slim, and before it does it'll very likely be bought out. It's been crippled with debt and has seen its stock tumble from $26.00/share in June to where it is now. If it's bought out, I win, and if it recovers over the next few years, I win. I think the same strategy will work for Citigroup, though it's probably more of a long-term investment than E*Trade. Of course, I'm a blind novice, so I'll probably lose my shirt, but hey, it's a good way to learn, and the more I try, hopefully the more successful I'll be.

I have some other stocks I'm eyeing, and I'll probably be updating the ole' blog as I buy in.

For those interested, I bought 100 shares of E*Trade on 11/28/07 at $5.30/share.

Here's the latest ticker.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Hero

Man arrested for shooting traffic camera

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Police have lost red-light cameras to traffic accidents but never to gun play. "This is the first one that's been shot," Capt. Gordon Catlett said of the wounded camera at the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Interstate 640 — one of 15 camera-equipped
intersections in the city.

Clifford E. Clark, 47, was charged with felony vandalism and reckless endangerment for allegedly firing at least three rounds from a .30-06 hunting rifle at the camera, knocking it out of action.


He was arrested after patrol officers heard shots around 2 a.m. Sunday, spotted a minivan leaving the parking lot of a closed business and pulled it over. Inside they found Clark and the high-powered rifle.

Clark, now facing a $50 fine if convicted and loss of his rifle, refused to say anything about the incident to police, leaving the motive unclear.

Catlett, who oversees the red-light camera program, said 6,798 drivers have been photographed running the red light at Broadway and I-640 and ticketed since the camera was installed in 2006. Clark was not one of them, he said.


I've always dreamed of shooting a stop light camera out of raw enmity, but I've never had the guts, nor the $50, to go through with it. What I find most humorous is that felony vandalism and reckless endangerment with a firearm only add up to a $50 fine in Tennessee. Shit, I wonder what you'd have to do to get slapped with a $500 fine? Shoot speed, strangle a puppy and throw babies off a roof?

This reminds me of my trip to Tennessee in senior year of cool-ege when a few buddies and I visited an old friend in Nashville. Posted on the walls of every bar bathroom you can find were advertisements for DUI Mike, who was an attorney that did exactly what you think he would do: get you out of DUIs. I made fun of DUI Mike while in the bathroom and some well-meaning countryboy was sure to get the facts straight by saying that, "Hey, don't make fun of DUI Mike. DUI Mike got my buddy out of a DUI." Touche.

When DUI Mike died unexpectedly a few years ago, there were rumors swirling that, ironically, he died when a drunk driver hit him. This isn't too dissimilar from the hilarious rumor that local fitness "celebrity" John Basedow died in the Thai tsunami in 2005. Here's the originating seed of that rumor. It even inspired some amateur photoshopping (below). Upon hearing this, Basedow himself quickly took action, and wrote on his MySpace page, "John Basedow is not only still alive but has never even been to Thailand." John Basedow smart.


Note the cherubic glow surrounding Dr. Basedow. Also note the hot pants and amazing abs.

Anyway, though DUI Mike does maintain an eerie posthumous web presence, he just died of a heart attack. Tennessee is a straaaaaange place.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Brice Lord predicts snow days this year

Okay, so maybe the title is a little misleading, because

Brice Lord's prediction for snow days this Winter = 0.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAA!!!!

I've lived in this goddamn city for 4.5 years now and I have not had a single fucking snow day. I'm sick of it. I'm tired of it. I'm sick and tired of it. I want a snow day. We've had plenty of bullshit like getting off work 2 hours early, or getting in 2 hours late, but that's for suckers, and I'm no sucker. We did have that one day off when that pussy "hurricane" Isabel hit DC in 2003, but by "we" I mean "everyone but me" because I was scolded for getting into work the next morning---hungover as hell mind you after going to two different hurricane parties the night before---an hour late.

So here's how this Winter's snow day forecast will go. Sometime in mid-to-late-December there will be a dire 20% threat of 1-2" of snow 3 days from Monday, and that's all anyone will talk about in the office until we end up getting cold rain that Thursday morning. Regardless of this, some woman (this is specific to my office, so no offense to my female readers) with a high-pitched whiney voice will start waxing idiotic about how "they're saying" the rain will change to freezing rain this afternoon and "I heard we're going to get let out at 3." Apparently Whiney has a spy in the Office of Personnel Management and everyone else in this city doesn't. She also seems to have a poorly-tuned sixth-sense for weather prediction, because I end up working until 6pm and NOT going home to smoke weed and do snow angels in the middle of Connecticut Ave. [ETCW! does not condone the consumption nor possession of illicit and hilarious narcotics.]

Anyway, this will repeat roughly every 3 to 6 weeks throughout the winter until we break 70 for the first time in March. At that point it'll become evident that, once again, we haven't had a single snow day all Winter, and once again I'll want to push Whiney out of the 9th floor window. Oh right, she's too fat! God I'm heartless.

I blame the big three for this snowless imprecation: global warming, god, and Gyromite. I also blame the trend of decapitalizing "Winter", but I'm finding it hard to identify evidence for this in the literature. I guarantee that Old Man Winter and Jack Frost are none too pleased, though.

All in all, if it's going to be cold, it may as well snow, because that's all it's good for. Otherwise we're all just walking around in fancy zippered blankets and not having profligate Springtime bunny sex for nothing.

Snow = AWESOME!

Q.E.D.

Perhaps a rain dance next time?


I'm sure the atheist "blogosphere" is proudly abuzz with Georgia Governor George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue III praying for rain, but I'm guessing the old coot thought it worked since Georgia was hit with a violent thunderstorm a day later. Never mind that the same storm blew the roof off of a Baptist Church in Tennessee and injured three school children with flying glass, and that it delivered an inconsequential amount of precipitation. No matter. If I were him, I'd probably plan to pray for rain next Wednesday and again next Friday. Just a hunch.

Anyone ever read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, by the way?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Oh, email.

I left for Orange County on Friday for a business trip and returned last night. As of Sunday afternoon I had about 9 new emails. When I checked my email this morning I had 54 new messages. Oh, the horror.

More notes from the road...sort of

I was in the process of putting together a follow-up to my wildly successful "Notes from the road" whilst in Geneva, Switzerland when a microbial interloper interloped. My guess it was the bouillabaisse I had at the cafeteria that did it, and having ignored my own cardinal rule of no sea-based foods in cafeterias, come Thursday night (two Thursdays ago) things started to go south. By that Friday morning, it became pretty evident that I had eaten something that didn't like me very much, and it was tearing me up. My flight was set for the next day, Saturday, and as the day wore on it became pretty evident that wasn't going to happen, so I had to change it to Sunday, which cost me about $200. Of course, what guarantee did I have that I'd be ready for a 15-hour day of air travel with no control over what I could eat? So, for another $200 or so, I had a Swiss doctor call on my hotel room and check me over for about a half hour. She told me I probably had bacterial food poisoning and it had set up camp in my intestines. Pretty sweet stuff. She gave me a prescription for 3 different meds, one of which was a strong antibiotic which ended up killing the bugs off. Of course, getting to the pharmacy, which isn't 24-hours like CVS by the way, was a bit of an ordeal itself, considering my state. She also told me what I could only eat bread, plain rice, and plain pasta for the next few days. If I could find a brothy soup, that would be okay too, but good luck finding a non-cream-based soup in a city that borders France. Anyway, I was able to find a Vietnamese place that had a chicken noodle soup, and get my meds, without too much issue. My ritual of getting Wingos the minute I get back home from a trip had to be put off a week, and I lived on soup and crackers for about 2 more days after getting back. It's amazing how much you miss solid food and things that taste like things after only a few days.

Anyway, there's a few more little tales I wanted to share while in Geneva that were either pretty funny or interesting.

Auf gut Glück!

So the first night I'm at the hotel I call down before I get to sleep to ask for a wake-up call at 7:00am. The standard practice of performing the wake-up call is to call said hotel occupant at the requested time in order to wake him/her up. Around 5:05am I woke up in the middle of a dream about Erika Christensen (just kidding) to a repetitive knock on the door. It was still pitch black outside, and I thought the cleaning crew was going around a bit too early. It's Europe, so you never really know what's going to happen in hotels. After throwing on my jeans to cover up my huge dong I go and open the door and there's this hotel employee who says, "Bonjour! Bonjour! Wake up call! Wake up call!"
Naturally, I'm perplexed, I look at my watch, and sure enough it's 7:00am. But seriously, what the fuck? How confusing is that for someone who just woke up? Couldn't they just have called me, as the name "wake up call" implies? Silly Swiss. Of course I couldn't have that weird scene happening every day, so I had to rely on just waking up on my own and therefore ended up being about an hour late every day.

A big 450-foot jet of water coming out of Lake Geneva known as "Jet d'Eau," or "Jet of Water."

Another little observation of mine was that no matter where I went, I was known and referred to as "the American." At a restaurant, one waiter told another that "blah blah blah the American blah blah blah blah." At the hotel, "the receptionist told the other that "blah blah blah the American blah blah blah blah." When the doctor came to my hotel room, she called someone and asked a question because "the American blah blah blah blah blah blah blah." Obviously I don't speak any French whatsoever, Spanish is my game, but no matter the language the word "American" is still pretty much the same. Take note, my Swedish friends!

This is not Epcot Center, actually, this tram is part of Geneva's excellent public transit system. The woman in white ended up getting hit by the tram, by the way.

At the conference I went to I met people from all over the world. The most memorable interactions were with representatives of Lesotho, one of two countries enclaved within South Africa (just because of novelty), Iran, Syria, Palestine, and North Korea. I was particularly amazed to see anyone from the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" at all. You hear and read so much about these places, so that when you actually meet someone on a personal basis a lot of your preconceptions are challenged. Of course, the people I met aren't responsible for the massive human rights abuses in most of the countries I listed, so it wasn't too difficult to have a conversation with them. In general, I did notice that most of the Arab countries' reps never said "thank you" for the complementary materials they took, they just kinda walked away. Having sat in on one of the general sessions, which looked exactly like a UN meeting with translators in overhead booths and earpieces so you can understand what everyone is saying, I was able to pick up that "shokala" or similar meant "thank you" in Arabic. So even a simple "shokala" would have done.

A big, fancy, important building somewhere near Lake Geneva.

Monday, October 22, 2007

notes from the road


A couple funny things have happened during my trip tonight, and when you're traveling alone on business in a foreign country it doesn't take much for something to be funny, by the way.


Eurocar and Eurodude.

So I went to this Indian restaurant on Rue des Pasquis tonight on a whim; don't ask me why I wanted Indian whilst in a country composed of an odd French-German culture fusion. It was delicious, so eat me. So I got the check, and asked if I could pay with credit card, which for some reason is not as commonplace as it is in the States. The guy shook his head no, I looked in my wallet: no cash. I shrugged and he looked at me and yelled in French, probably saying something like "you goddamn Americans!" As he turned away from me I dashed for the door but the bartender saw me going for it and locked it electronically. As the waiter turned around to grab me I drew and put one between his eyes; his suddenly lifeless body cut his legs out from under him. Patrons began screaming. I fired another few shots toward the bartender before he unlocked the door to let me leave without hurting, or killing, anyone else. I wasn't planning on killing anybody this year, but I got carried away and walked up to the bar and plugged him in the back a few times. A few children got in the way and are on the news now. The American flag that came out of my pocket as I initially drew my firearm hit the ground just as I exited the restaurant, the smell of lead thickening the air as I bowed my head and walked into the sunset, the fatally-wounded still falling to the floor. God Bless U.S.A. So I had to check out of my hotel and am now in a hostel in Cartigny, just over the border in France. I'm writing this because I need someone to Western Union about CHF 1,640 to bribe the customs people in Marseilles and then in Tunis. It's an odd amount to request because we all know that Western Union screws you royally on money transfers and I need about CHF 1,500. After that I'm out of your hair. Please send your donations to endthecolawars at gmail dot com. I'm standing by. And please don't report these slayings, I really didn't mean to increase Switzerland's annual homicide rate threefold in one evening. You would've done the same thing if some brasserie didn't take VISA.


The getaway car. Sam drove. I didn't get his last name.

THE REAL STORY
...which is nowhere near as entertaining. So I put my credit card down for the meal, and the Ukranian waiter who spoke great English says, "oooohhh, uhhh, hmm, is that American Express?" First thing that crossed my mind was, "Shit, you have to be kidding me; those commercials can't be true." I say, "No. It's VISA." Him: "Oh okay, good, that's fine." And he ran off with the bill. Goes to show you what a bullshit slogan like "Don't leave home without it" gets you in real life. Fuck AmEx. Then I started shooting.

You can just hear a crow cawing, can't you? You'd better pick up that whip extension or you'll never make it past the gargoyle at the entrance.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Mom?

Somebody in Arlington was somewhat displeased with my parking job on Sunday. That person is also a Bank of America customer, apparently.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Geneva

So I'm going to Geneva next week for about 6 days or so for work. If anyone has any suggestions about what to do, where to eat, what to see, etc, I'd appreciate your advice. That is, unless your advice sucks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Drukgz

I was planning on putting together a polemic "hip-hopera" on our great nation's War on Drugs and the impotence and hypocrisy therein, but I came across something much simpler in the Economist that I could plagiarize and still get the general point across, thus saving me about 4 hours during which I can instead work sedulously and exacerbate my slightly sore throat and stuffy nose... RUN-ON!!!!



"NEARLY 1.9m people were arrested in America for drug offences in 2006—over three times the number detained in 1980. Around one in eight arrests is now drug related. But what they achieve in the "war on drugs" is unclear, according to a report by The Sentencing Project, an advocacy group. Fewer people take drugs: 14% of people reported using them monthly in 1979, but only 8% in 2005. But arrests are increasingly for more trivial crimes: in 2006 only 17.5% of arrests were made for the sale or manufacture of drugs, whereas some 39% were for the possession of marijuana. "

- Economist, October 09, 2007


So, over 700,000 people were arrested for having some weed in 2006, while 1.4 million were arrested for drunk driving (2004). Weed killed nobody, but drunk driving killed over 17,000 people. Hmm.

Friday, October 05, 2007

New Study Proves Liberal-minded People are Easily Fooled

A new study linking liberalism and gullibility is bound to find favor with conservatives but rouse the liberal base.

The research, conducted by Dr. Brice Lord, M.D., Esq., Ph.D., LLM, M.S.E.E. of the Cola War Memorial Institute for Social, Political, and Flavor Studies (CWMISPFS), finds a strong correlation between liberal-minded individuals and the degree to which they succumb to deception and guile. He explained that further study will not be needed since the results are perfectly definitive.

Dr. Lord began by polling what Dr. Lord calls "a blind, representative superset" of readers on his personal blog. This began with a seemingly insignificant question requesting his readers' political tilt. After gathering responses from over 8 individuals, he next posted a poll whose goal was to trick readers into admitting their ease of manipulation. Out of more than 13 people who took the second poll, over 71.42% of people honestly registered their submission to Dr. Lord's artful deception. After analyzing and comparing data from the two supersets, Lord was able to produce the results he was looking for.


Dr. Lord explains the results to two victims of his research.

What he discovered Dr. Lord describes as "a shocking presupposition solidly confirmed with uncorrupted scientificy." He adds that "the data is so unbelievably statistically significant I guarantee you've never seen anything like it." Lord found that, by water weight, the majority of liberals fell for his linguistic chicanery whereas the sole conservative poll-taker "mostly pretty likely" didn't fall for it. He added that the write-in populist/anarchist seemed particularly susceptible to "manipulation by the liberal machine."

Lord isn't jumping to any conclusions, however. "I isn't jumping to any conclusions", Lord states, but he does believe the study should be worrisome to the left. "If I was proved beyond a doubt to be ridiculously gullible and unattractive I'd probably be pretty careful from here on out." Lord recommends that concerned liberals may want to consider "watching fair and balanced news programs like Fox News and maybe change shampoos," but stresses that this goes beyond the statistical relevance of his research.

A CWMISPFS scientist researches the transparency of glass objects and liberal bias.

While the Freemen, Montana-based CWMISPFS continues "research-as-usual"---a phrase emboldened on the stock of the 20-foot solid bronze statue of a Winchester rifle outside the research compound---a public backlash has begun to stir back in Washington.

Critics have complained that Lord's methods have not been properly vetted in other studies, and that results need to be refabricated in order to verify his conclusions. MoveOn.org complained that shampoos such as Garnier Fructis are too expensive for the average worker, and that a government program should be created to help the lower classes "Take Care" of their hair. MoveOn and Barbara Boxer, D-CA, are co-sponsoring the Clean The Hair Act in hopes to advance the legislation.

Others have even questioned Dr. Lord's motives, claiming that he's merely a conservative shill and a gun-toting fanboy. In a recent press conference, Lord rebuffed this criticism directly, stating that he's "gun-wielding" rather than gun-toting, a difference his critics seem not to fully appreciate.

In fact, Lord has been positively linked to the right-wing MoveAlong.org, which casts some doubt on his research. During a recent interview, Lord was asked whether his research may have been funded by politically-motivated private interests, to which he responded tacitly, "Maybe ... I'm a fucking scientist, not an accountant... Yes, I do have gum, in fact, but it's Big Red; is that okay, do you like cinnamon?"

Dr. Brice Lord can bench press 500 pounds.

Dr. Lord showing off at Muscle Beach, California.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Damn Richers

So I took my little jaunt to Southern California this weekend for work; I got back yesterday evening. The being in SoCal part was good and fine. I took an afternoon drive on Sunday down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) to Laguna Beach and then turned around and went up nearly to Long Beach. It's a good place to drive, though it can be pretty trafficky, which detracts from the Hollywood image of freely cruising up and down the idyllic Pacific coast in a convertible. Oh, and portions of it are flanked by oil derricks on the right and offshore oil platforms on the right. Pretty scenic stuff.


Speaking of cars, I saw possibly every major brand and model of luxury car while in and around the 5-star Newport Beach hotel in which I stayed. Upon pulling into the hotel the first night, there was a yellow Lamborghini just sitting there. Next to it was Bentley and a MB SLR McLaren. The next evening there was a Ferrari parked on the curb outside of the restaurant we went to, which is really intelligent since that's the place it's most likely to get hit. But hey, what's a couple hundred thousand dollars? The next day I saw one or two more Bentley's, a Rolls Royce, a Maserati, and another Ferrari. Aside from the superstar sightings, there were, of course, an innumerable quantity of Mercedes SLs, BMW 7-series, Land Rovers and Porche Cayennes. I'm not counting the Orange County Lamborghini dealership (next to a yacht dealership) that I passed, either. I'm not so impressed by the cars themselves but by the amount of money it takes to acquire said cars. Where the hell did these people get so much money, and why are they all in exactly the same place? Should I have answered that Nigerian guy's email afterall? I thought it was a scam!

The people who were driving these cars were a REAL interesting breed of rich douchebag scum, by the way. It looked like were really trying to pull off the West Coast vibe and the Long Island daddy's boy look at the same time. For all their real estate profits I guess they still couldn't afford a decent image consultant. You might have seen some of them featured on Hot Chicks With Douchebags.

So as I pull up into the big fancy hotel lined with big fancy cars in my rental Nissan Sentra whose stated color was "Sparkles", you can imagine what the valets are thinking. On the contrary, however, I gave them $2 instead of $1, except I only tipped them when they went to get it, not when I dropped it off.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Travel

Fall's always a busy business travel time for me, but this year is looking to be unusually busy. As it stands right now, I'll be traveling a total of 26 days between now and the end of the year. Eep.

My travel schedule is roughly:
Late-Sept: Southern California
Late-Oct: Geneva, Switzerland (you can hate me for this)
Early-Nov: Southern California
Mid-Nov: Detroit, MI (you can pity me for this)
Mid-Dec: Southern California

I usually enjoy traveling for work, but it is tiring and can get boring and lonely. If I have any free time and have a car at my disposal, I like to drive around a place for a few hours to get a feel for what everything looks like and how the people are, and take a few pictures if anything strikes my fancy. I've been fortunate that my job has taken me to a lot of places I doubt I would see otherwise.

This year I've been particularly fortunate to go abroad to Spain and Switzerland for work. I've never been to Europe before this year, but counting my honeymoon next June (Greece), I'll have gone to Europe three times within the span of 11 months. That ain't so bad.

So if I had to give you the top 5 destinations I want to see before I die, as of right now they'd be (not in priority order):

1. Japan
2. Southeast Asia (Laos, Thailand, Vietnam)
3. Antarctica
4. South Africa
5. Saharan Africa

Maybe five isn't enough, because I really want to see China, New Zealand, Peru, Scandinavia, and India as well. Hmm...I'd better start saving.

Anyway, enough daydreaming. I actually have an entire label on the blog devoted to travel; my expeditions are loosely documented here. This includes New Mexico, Colorado, Spain, and a hodgepodge of others. Looking back at this I obviously haven't posted a lot of my photos from various other trips like Seattle, Chicago, LA, Minneapolis, and Santa Barbara. Maybe I'll do that later, if only for my own edification.

My visited U.S. States (35/50). Airports exluded.

create your own visited states map
or
check out these Google Hacks.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Movie Review!!!!1!!!1!1!

I went through quite a long period of movie-less activity recently, which was abruptbptbltpylbluly ended ...god "abruptly" is awkward to type... by watching three movies over the past week or two. They were of varying "goodity", which is a value derived from "goodness" using the "sexy", "guns", and "originality" coefficients. The movies I saw, and my ratings of them, are:

1. Hot Fuzz: &++
2. And the Band Played On: C-
3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: H
4. Bubba Ho-tep: R-

Did I say 3 movies? I meant 4. That's how good Bubba Ho-tep wasn't.

Now you might have noticed something peculiar about my grading scheme. Unlike the overgenerous school system, I operate on an extended grading scale that doesn't stop at "F" for "fucking failure" nor "A" for "altogether awesome." I just don't think there's enough gradation in there to properly encompass any movie you might see, from crappy Kazakh hardcore porn to mind-blowing action movies sent back in time to us from the future. My rating scale may or may not bottom out at "Z-----", which is five minuses below a "Z" rating. I'm also not sure where the top of the scale is. In fact, there is no top since it's my scale, but so far Hot Fuzz is close to topping it with an "Ampersand ++." In the future I may need to extend to exponentials and factorials of alphanumerics to properly rate movies, but we'll cross that turtle when we come to it. Movies are also awarded "Awesome Points" for being awesome, and the amount awarded is entirely at my unpredictable discretion.

Now that you fully understand my rating system, here comes the part where I tell you why I rated these movies as such, also known as the "content" of the blog post.

Here we go:


1. Hot Fuzz. RATING: &++ with 180 Awesome Points


Written and directed, and acted, by the same genius British minds behind Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz tells the story of a overachieving London police officer (not policeman), Nicholas Angel (played by Simon Pegg) who is transferred to a small, quiet village in the English countryside which it turns out is vying for the "Village of the Year" award, an honor that is perennially just barely out of its grasp. This is of little consequence as several suspiciously violent accidents start to befall the residents of Sandford and the supermarket manager, Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), is the focus of the potentially-criminal investigations. Let me pause here, because casting Timothy Dalton is a brilliant call. Not only does he perform outstanding in this character, but casting one of the worst James Bonds adds a measure of je ne se qua to the film's feel. So, Sgt. Angel's convinced these accidents are perpetrated by Skinner but can't get the homeboy police force to believe him. Angel is, however, joined in his quest for justice by one thick-headed officer, Danny Butterman (Nick Frost). What makes the movie truly stand out is the combination of subtle British humor, wacky British humor, wry British humor, dry British humor, ...wait, I think I can just say "British humor and capture all of this. The movie also makes purposefully obvious tributes to American action movies, particularly Bad Boys 2 and Point Break, which are done so as not to be hokey nor unnecessary. As with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's previous accomplishment, Shaun of the Dead, the movie is chock full of both subtle and obvious foreshadowing, as well as using self-referential techniques within the film, which make the movie worth watching over and over. All in all, this movie easily earns it's "&++" rating.


2. And the Band Played On. RATING: C- with 5 Awesome Points

Meh, this movie was a bit of a shame. From what my taught Moroccan fiancee, Michael, tells me, the book upon which this made-for-HBO movie is based is fantastic. However, the film obviously doesn't get the adaptation right. In short, the movie portrays the onset of the AIDS blight that struck in the early 1980's and how the U.S. government, including the NIH, CDC, and White House, deftly kept it under wraps, since it was a "gay cancer." Only after about 25,000 Americans had died did President Reagan first utter the word "AIDS." Sadly, all of this is blindingly true, and it's scary because this tragedy could easily repeat itself. For such an important subject matter and one of considerable political tenderness, the movie does a disappointing job of explaining anything in any detail, and ultimately leaves you stuck trying to figure out if you're really watching an Oxygen Channel 2-hour feature or a Dateline NBC special investigation reenactment rather than being perplexed by what went wrong with the AIDS epidemic. The film boasts an "all-star" cast (Ian McKellen hit .315 in the majors) featuring Anjelica Houston, Richard Gere, Ian McKellen, Phil Collins (seriously), Steve Martin, Alan Alda, and a bunch of other people for which you'll find yourself saying "hey, I know that guy from something..." Problems immediately begin when you realize several scenes have been cut for brevity's sake but that leave you wondering what the hell is going on and who the characters are before they ultimately die of AIDS. For instance, Richard Gere portrays a nameless character credited as "The Choreographer," but it's not clear how he knows one of the main characters, who he is, why he's important, or why he's in the movie at all. The only saving grace for this movie, and the only reason I don't give it a "H.5 +", is that the subject matter is worth knowing more about. Although these days it's not particularly unimaginable to think the government is keeping important information from us, but it's valuable to understand there's plenty of awful precedent.


3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. RATING: H with 35 Awesome Points

As supersexyrawcool as the film noir genre can seem, actually pulling it off is another thing entirely. This is what, in my opinion, doomed Sin City to pointlessness. Similarly, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang misses the mark by 9 letters, getting an "H". I originally rated it "J", but then remember Val Kilmer, surprisingly, did a tremendous job playing a sociopathic gay private investigator. It also gets bonus points for positive "sexy" and "guns" coefficients. However, its negative "Robert Downey Jr. taking neurosis too far again" coefficient drags this back down a bit. Basically, as with every noir, we get a guy, a girl, some faceless bad guys, a big city, and a couple of murders. There's some funny lines in the movie, and some interesting plot twists that, admittedly, I am never able to follow in movies, and a good bit of unrealistic gore and violence. I think that, and the picture [caption: Robert Downey Jr.'s gotten himself into yet another mess] pretty much sums up the entire movie, so I'm done.


4. Bubba Ho-tep. RATING: R- 1 Awesome Point

.......... ............ .......... I'm sorry, I blacked out trying to figure out how many other movies I could have watched instead of this one. You'd think that any movie with Bruce Campbell would have some measure of subculture appeal one way or another, but this movie succeeds thoroughly in this absence. Bubba Ho-tep starts off with some fat old guy (Campbell) who thinks he's Elvis Presley waking up from a coma or something in an East Texas nursing home. Then an Egyptian mummy with a cowboy hat and torn jeans starts walking around late at night sucking the residents' souls out and killing them. Seriously. So Elvis and a black guy who thinks he's JFK devise a plan to torch the mummy using some sort of makeshift flamethrower, but something goes wrong and JFK eats it, but then Elvis ultimately bakes the mummy, but who then comes back to "life" somehow, but then Elvis wins again somehow and destroys it for good. It's all really fucking stupid. There was one funny line though: "Now the two key words for tonight- "caution" and "flammable."" That soft chuckle was certainly not worth 2 hours of my time, nor the 4 awards and 6 nominations it has gotten from such venerable institutions as the Fant-Asia Film Festival. Fuck it, this movie gets an "R-".

Friday, September 14, 2007

Pillowfight '07: Michigan vs. Notre Dame

As a devoted Michigan fan, I've naturally been de-testacled this season after successive losses to unranked opponents, one of which shall remain nameless for the rest of my life, to open the season 0-2. This is the first time Michigan opened its season with two straight losses at home since 1959. That's almost 50 years. It's truly a season of historic ignominy for my favorite teams. Michigan sucks as bad as it has for a half-century, the Orioles lost a game by 27 runs, the first time in 110 years, and the Ravens can't seem to beat the perennial cross-town underachievers (Redskins) nor the perennial convicted criminals (Bengals).


Some idiot UM fan made this tshirt before the season started (obviously). Now we all know where to point those fingers.


This weekend Michigan faces one of its archrivals, Notre Dame. Thankfully, Notre Dame is equally awful, having lost their first two games this season as well. Of course, it'll be the first time in history that's ever happened. Lucky me. Watching this game should be like watching blind, retarded sumo wrestlers play checkers in space.

There's a lot of talk this time around about which team is worse rather than the usual "which team is better" madness. For some reason Notre Dame fans think their quarterback's extra 6 quarters of gametime experience over Michigan's freshman QB (our senior got hurt last week) will make the difference somehow. Oh, and thanks to the Big 10 for filling our bye week with an out-of-conference game; that should really give the injured players the respite they need midseason. But, for some reason Michigan fans think that this is a fluke and we'll turn it around all the sudden against the hated Irish. I'd love to believe that, but as far as I can tell this fluke is less the gastrointestinal variety and more the Dune Sandworms variety.

This is not a fluke.

No matter what happens on Saturday, what I am absolutely 100% sure of is that everyone can look forward to watching a 4.5-hour football game, compliments of the ABC network, Doritos, Carmax, and Cialis.

And that's why it's called Pillowfight 2007*. But hey, Go Blue.

* I didn't come up with this.

Friday, September 07, 2007

busy week = mind melt

As the title implies, I've been pretty busy at work. My work isn't interesting to read about---or anyone's work for that matter, unless you're Batman---so i'll spare you...for now. Random thought, but what in the hell ever happened to Pacey from Dawson's Creek? I'm not sure what his name was (past tense is indeed appropriate here), but the last movie I remember him being in was The Skulls, which I think came out in 2001. I wonder what's worse, being a jobless Dawson graduate (Pacey) or being a jobless Dawson graduate AND having your career driven into a ravine and being impregnated by a inculcating madman (Holmes). I guess I answered my own question. If you can't tell from the sharp rise in multisyllabic words I've been using lately, I've been studying for the GRE and putting a lot of time (read: 2 hours per week) in what I call WordBlasting. WordBlasting is where you take a list of several hundred words, intravenously-introduced Peruvian blue cocaine, 7 minutes, and a cool, damp cloth. It works wonders, believe me. I'm planning on asking for my $565 back from the USDA Grad School where I took test prep classes recently. The only problem is that I tend to pass out for about 6 hours after WordBlasting, but when I wake up, boy do I know my vocabulary. Sure, I'm usually bleeding from one ear and have a mysterious amount of change in my pockets when I come around, but it's imperative that I improve my GRE English score. I mean, it's not just because I need to do well on the GRE, who doesn't need to know words like "prolix" and "interregnum?" I can't tell you how many times Tony Cornheiser has described The USC Trojans' uniforms as "incarnadine," and Anderson Cooper has referred to Iran's nuclear program as "sub rosa." MathBlasting is a little different because it tends to involve things like the quadratic formula and the rhombus. These godless machinations require artful square root signs and articulated spatial relations skills, so I have to make sure my head's a little clearer. Nothing's worse than dropping blotter acid while MathBlasting and winding up with two parallel lines shooting straight out of my chest. Want to know the 12th power of 2? It's 4,096. What about the hypotenuse of a triangle whose legs are 9 and 40? It's 41. Do you know how I know that? Because I have to for the GRE, and because I get emails all the time from ETCW! fans demanding that I make simple calculations in my head for them. I don't get it either, but that's how useful all of this is in real life. No matter how much drugs I do, nothing can prepare me for the two essay questions, one of which fools me every time with deceptively cogent logic like, "Garyville is a small town with a big factory. Because it has a big factory, it absolutely must have a man who owns a saddle. Unicorns don't allow men with saddles to ride them, so it is unquestionable that no unicorns own more than 1 acre of property in Chuckton, the town 10 miles down the road from Garyville." Honestly, for the life of me, I just am unable to identify the logical flaws in that argument. By the way, have you ever wondered what would happen if you secretly walked up behind someone at their computer in your office and blew an airhorn? Or threw a brick at their head? That would make for some good, incarcerative YouTube. I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that someone keeps stealing my staple remover? I'd staple it down to my desk, but then how would I get it off? I bet Confucius wondered the same thing at some point. Actually, I bet he didn't, not because there was no such thing as a staple remover back then, but because I'm way smarter than he will ever be. "Man with hand in pocket not always playing with coin." What the fuck Confucius? You fucking pervert. I'd better lock up my daughters around you. Wait, maybe this has something to do with why I always end up with coins in my pocket when WordBlasting... uh-oh.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Mr. Beckham Goes to Washington

I suppose it's been about 3 weeks, but I figured it's about time I post the two crappy pictures I took with my phone during David Beckham's debut MLS game against the DC United on August 9 in Washington. Our seats were officially in the nosebleeds, literally one row back from the top, but us Barra Bravas snuck down to the lower level after the usual halftime mosh pit in the concourse concluded.



DC United fans give Mr. Beckham a very warm welcome during his August 9 MLS debut.

Yeah, Beckham's hurt yet again, and that sucks for the MLS for a variety of reasons, none of which I feel like going on about, but mostly because despite how polarizing his arrival was, soccer's actually made SportsCenter pretty much every single night since he got here. Any publicity's good publicity, right? Well, not if he can't play. Soccer-haters like nothing more than something else underwhelming to complain about.

The recent injury also may threaten the possibility of other post-peak foreign soccer stars from following his lead, like CrazyHead Zidane, which would otherwise help buttress the league's skill level and overall attractability both for players and fans. Naturally, a foreign athlete's first loyalties lie with his home country and, after seeing Beckham disappear from the England team's beleaguered march toward the UEFA Euro Tournament, may not want to risk injury, not to mention enmity, by playing extra matches here in the States.

So does Beckham playing in the MLS really matter for soccer? Naysayers like to think that if Pelé's participation in the North American Soccer League (NASL) in the 1970's couldn't promote soccer beyond nichedom, an injured Beckham sure can't either. That may be true, but it's not the whole case. K-12 participation in formal soccer leagues has grown substantially since then, which carries with it the obvious assumption that interest in the sport has grown commensurately. How many of us had fathers who played soccer when they were a kid? Very few. In fact, the US Youth Soccer League, begun in 1974: the same year Pelé started playing in the NASL, has grown from 100,000 to 3,000,000 registered players; and this doesn't count the 800,000 coaches and volunteers or any bullshit like that. That's a 2,900% rise concomitant with the 41% rise in overall population.

Popularization of soccer in the U.S. has also benefited from the massive influx of Latin Americans, who, like most of the rest of the world, hold soccer as their #1 sport. At one-seventh of the total U.S. population, and a demographic that prefers to settle in urban areas, this should not be trivialized. In fact, DC United's most boisterous ultra firm, La Barra Brava, was founded by South American immigrants.

He's in there somewhere on the left half of the field. Just look for the sexy and you'll find him.



After all is said and done, whether or not Beckham's U.S. tour makes any difference to U.S. soccer will ultimately rely on him actually playing. And if he ends up heading back to England soon rather than later, and thus cutting short his term with the LA Galaxy and the MLS, it will probably prove more detrimental to the league than had he never come at all.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Baltimore Orioles make history again!

110 years is a long time.

In the past 110 years, the Ottoman Empire and its Muslim Caliphate were dissolved, two World Wars involving over 100 nations in toto were fought and decided, 20 U.S. Presidents have passed through the White House, six of whom were shot and two of whom were killed (the West Wing was not built until ~1909), the first production automobiles were sold (590 million now exist globally), powered flight and the escalator were invented, man harnessed the atom, narcotics were stigmatized internationally, world population increased four-fold, and humankind stepped foot on an astronomical body 240,000 miles away---the Moon---six times.

Nope, it's not a typo.

Perhaps it's somewhat less consequential, but do you know what else happened 110 years ago? A Major League Baseball team, for the first time in history, scored more than 30 runs in a single game. This rapacious feat was performed by the Chicago Colts against the hapless Louisville Colonels in 1897, with a final score of 36-7. Notice how you've never heard of either of these teams. So, how many teams since have scored 30 or more runs in a single game? Well, as of Wednesday, August 22, 2007, one.

That team would be the Texas Rangers, a team 15 games below .500 and with the 4th worst win percentage in the entire League, when they came back from a three-run deficit to beat my hometown team, the Baltimore Orioles, with a final score of 30-3 in Camden Yards, the O's home field. Loooong sigh. If I had known in advance, by divination or by Biff's anachronistic sports almanac, that an unknown baseball team would lose a game that night by 27 runs, I most certainly would have put my money on that team being my fucking Orioles. For a team that's spent nearly half a billion dollars on player salaries (actual > $400M) in the past decade, this shit will not pass.


It's only natural that the enfeebled, incapable Orioles were on the losing end of such a record. We always manage to outdo our own mediocrity somehow. Like it's not enough to have an entire decade of consecutive losing seasons. Like it's not enough to have an autocratic tyrant for an owner. Like it's not enough for the team to not have even reached the World Series in 24 years. Like it's not enough for the Orioles to hold the record for the most consecutive losses at the beginning of a season (1988). Like it's not enough for the Orioles to have had 6 different managers in the last decade. Sure, if it was opposite year the Orioles would be in great fucking shape. But we don't live in opposite town, and opposite year was 1989 ("Why Not?!"). How could all these comedies of error not be the end of Lord Mephistopheles' (pictured below) artful machinations? How could schadenfreude knows such infinite depths? After this game, I am utterly convinced that the Orioles are damned to persist indefinitely in underachievement or, perhaps by some grace, will finally achieve obsolescence and demise. Truly, for Orioles fans, the end is extremely fucking nigh.


One of Mephistopheles' fiendish doppelganger minions. And he hates steamed crabs.


In case I haven't yet been able to fully evoke the magnitude, rarity, and historic relevance of this defeat, allow me to try to put it in context:

  • The Orioles could have scored 27 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning, only to tie the game and go into extra innings.

  • The last time a baseball team scored this many runs, the Civil War was a more recent event than the Vietnam War is now.

  • The first American League no-hitter was pitched in 1902, 5 years later, by the Chicago White Stockings. 234 no-hitters have been pitched in all, and 17 of those were perfect games.

  • In 1897, the Cy Young Award would not be awarded for another 59 years.

  • 22 years after the Chicago Colts' victory, Jackie Robinson is born in Cairo, Georgia.

  • At the time of the 36-run game, the Louisville Colonels had a budding young shortstop on the roster named Hognus Wagner.

  • The knuckleball would not debut in the MLB for another 11 years.

  • And lastly... the first subatomic particle, the electron, was discovered that same year. It would be 35 years before the neutron was discovered and high school students would need to start worrying about p's, e's, and n's outside of the alphabet.
Sadly, this unfortunately-historic game was the first in a double-header on Wednesday night. If the 30-3 loss wasn't enough---and "loss" doesn't quite convey the true absurdity of the event---the Orioles also lost the second game that night 9-7, meaning that the Rangers put up 39 runs to the Orioles' 10 in a single night. When put in that perspective, the Rangers may as well have beaten the record for all I care.


Kevin Millar has never seen a ball hit that far that many times in so short a time. No one else alive today has either.

So how does this stack up against other baseball records? Well, it's quite difficult to compare these, right? How do you compare batting average with ERA records, or career no-hitters with career RBIs? Well, it seems there is one easy way to do so, and that is rarity. The less likely something is, the more of a feat it becomes. Sure, specific circumstances determine some records, like unassisted triple plays. But not this one. This game represents not only the unmitigated implosion of one team, but also the sudden impulse and collective synergy of the opposing team in response. Indeed, that is a rare thing. And 110 years is a long time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Super Mario Bros. 2: A Cover-up...REVEALED!


In case you didn't notice when you were 7 years old, Super Mario Bros. 2 kinda sucks. The game deviated entirely from the original's formula of enemies, attacks, movement, health, and even level design. Instead of Koopa Troopas, we get Shy Guys, which look like psychotic Ewoks wearing Jason masks (fortunately these nightmarish chimeras can be injured by a thrown turnip or sundry other veggies). Instead of your Seattle hippie-style mushroom-based health regeneration scheme have to collect cherries seemingly nailed to thin air. And instead of Bowzer, the inimical lizard-tyrant at the end of the first SMB, you get Wart, a bloated, effete, burping frog that's deathly allergic to thrown vegetables as the final boss. And oh yeah, the whole game is a fucking dream. Snooze.















(LEFT) Super Mario Bros. 2. (RIGHT) Doki Doki Panic. Fuck you, Nintendo.

As it turns out, there's a reason for this: SMB2 isn't actually a Mario game. Wait what? Indeed, the U.S. Super Mario Bros. 2 game we were all playing was, in fact, a very slightly doctored version of a Japanese game called Dream Factory: Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic. The levels are identical, the enemies are identical, and the playable characters are identical, except for the graphical sprites themselves. So while the Japanese were all enjoying their actual SMB sequel (now titled Super Mario Bros. All-Stars in the U.S.), we were gullibly swallowing some cheap Japanese knock-off. Seriously, did they think we'd never figure this out? Well, it took 20 years, I suppose.

The thing on the right is the effeminate final boss to SMB2, Wart. I guess that's an Asian crab on the left.

Truth be told, I didn't figure this out. Some guy in search of YouTube glory put together a whole exposé which I'm just summarizing here. Oh, you want to watch it---and I strongly suggest you do---well then here's the video. Credit goes to NJB '08 for this find.



Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mindless Entertainment

Yet another piece of evidence that Tokyo may be overpopulated. Apparently this is a wave pool, but there's a lot of Japanese people in the way so you can't see the water. It actually looks kinda cool once the waves get going. Yeah, I know, "whatever."


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Spanish Exposition


However belated, I put together some final thoughts, observations and impressions developed during my recent trip to Spain. This was the first time I'd ever been to Europe, and the first time I'd really ever been to a truly foreign country (not counting Mexico and the Caribbean), so whatever I write may seem pretty obvious or self-evident to those of you who've had the benefit of traveling abroad, but this is my goddamn blog and I'll say what I want, alright?

The Royal Palace in Madrid

1. Pickpocketing is rife, especially on heavily-trafficked streets and plazas. Maybe I was a little paranoid, but anytime I walked through large crowds I'd casually put my hands in my pockets. But hey, I didn't get my wallet taxed, did I? I actually stopped on the side of Las Ramblas a few times to watch the people watching the pea game to see if I might spy a pickpocket on the job. The best thing you can do to protect yourself from these people is to know all their tricks and keep very aware of people around you. This isn't always easy, because...


2. The sense of personal space is VERY different than the U.S. I found myself saying "pardón" a lot when I'd rub against someone or nearly knock into them when I first got to Spain, but then I realized that they never said it back. People constantly bump into one another, cut each other off, and dodge in and out of pedestrian traffic. Aside from the obvious language barrier, this was probably the hardest thing to get used to.

LEFT: The Barri Gotic, or Gothic Quarter, in Barcelona.

3. Some people in Barcelona know English well enough to communicate, but many in Madrid definitely don't. I found myself needing to use my Spanish far more often there than in Barcelona, though I always tried to speak Spanish regardless.

4. Servers at restaurants are definitely not very friendly at all, possibly because they're not really working for tips and thus have many more tables than they do here. It was actually kind of annoying dealing with unfriendly waiters constantly, I definitely enjoyed coming back to the States and having friendly service, even if it may be put-on a bit.

5. Madrid quite literally shuts down at 3:00pm for siesta, though Barcelona pretty much stays open throughout the day. This is probably because Barcelona is about 10-15 degrees cooler than Madrid.


The Toledo cityscape.

6. Traffic laws are more like suggestions, particularly in Barcelona. Rush hour in Barc. was an amazing site. In one cab ride home I saw two people riding a large ATV in the middle of the city, cutting back and forth across lanes, cleverly dodging the countless dirtbikes, motorcycles, and scooters. The whole scene looked like some sort of varied vehicle race.

7. I'd like to know why the DC Metro can't work the way it does in Spain. In both cities, trains came every ~2.5 minutes. I really never waited longer than that, and there's no such thing as off-peak. The trains just keep going and going and going.

8. Prostitution seems to be A.O.K. in Madrid, where you can find hookers lining the streets and sketchball Spaniards sidling up to them once the sun starts to go down.

9. The beaches are topless, which in my opinion is most triumphant. It's actually kind of interesting, too. Since Spain is such a vehemently Catholic society, you'd expect them to be more conservative, but of course my definition of "conservative" as an American clearly differs from theirs. Kudos to nudity.

10. I saw a lot of Yao, LeBron, and Iverson jerseys while over there, which was surprising.

11. As beautiful and awe-inspiring as the palaces and cathedrals are---particularly in Madrid and Toledo, respectively---I can't help but think the Monarchy and Church completely fleeced the people to build these things, forcing everyone but the elites to live in abject poverty.


The Cathedral in Toledo. Yes, that's all gold.


I guess that's about it. Now leave me alone.

When weathermen do cocaine...

... this happens:



About a minute into the 1:30 clip he finally gets to the "Washington DC Forecast" we were kinda hoping to hear about. This video is probably for a limited time only, so act fast. And it's entirely work safe.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Movies to Look Forward To

While browsing Apple's movie trailer page (I'm not sure why they have one) I found a couple of movies that look like they have potential. And here they are:

Ghosts of Cite Soleil
THINKfilm

This film follows the story of two brothers who lead opposing factions in a gang war for control of Haiti's abject slum of Cite Soleil leading up to the overthrow of Aristide's regime in 2004. If that and the movie's poster (left image) doesn't sound menacing enough, the gangs' foot solders are called "chimeras," or ghosts, thus the title. Sounds dangerous, huh? Amazingly, this is a documentary. I have a strange fascination with places of complete moral neglect and base depravity, but I lack the adrenaline lust to go see it for myself, so I'm glad that this camera crew risked their lives for my $8. I hereby nominate them for a "Balls of Steel" Oscar Award.



1.18.08
Paramount/Bad Robot

At least there's no risk of anachronisms for this title. The trailer begins by putting the audience in the middle of the story as a character videotaping the surprise birthday party that's unfolding. Everyone's having a good old time, there's some hot chicks and slick i-bankers sharking them, and then shit starts to go south unexpectedly. Interestingly, there's no summary text for the movie, just the trailer alone, which adds to the mystery. Some even speculate it's a Voltron movie. It's obviously some sort of monster or alien invasion flick, but it's got potential for several reasons. First, it's written by Drew Goddard and directed by J.J. Abrams, the masterminds behind Lost, Angel, Alias, and Buffy. Sure, most of these you might consider cultish WB series, but they have a surprisingly large, rabid, and maniacally defensive following. Second, filming in the first-person seems to be more engaging to the audience (see the end to Dawn of the Dead (2004)--spoiler). And lastly, I have a big soft spot for Godzilla-type movies, having watched the same ones ad nauseum as a tyke. Anyway, this movie's got potential, though it has to toe a very thin line in order to pan out.



I Am Legend
Warner Bros/Village Roadshow

Another apocalyptic movie, right? Well, yeah, but if these "end of days" type movies were done right the first time we wouldn't be left wanting for more. Sure, this is your typical Will Smith movie that starts out with something like, "My name is John Armstead. I am the last man on Earth," but damnit it's cool. N8K over at Slain By An Elf joked that it looks like The Day After Independence Day, and it does, but The Day After Tomorrow was terrible, and Independence Day made me wonder why the aliens didn't try more than once, so why wouldn't this cinematic gold? Oh wait. My prediction: entertainment.



Sunshine
Fox Searchlight

The plot goes something like... the Sun is dying in the not-too-distant future and the Earth sends a cadre of attractive astronauts to plant a device inside that will reinitiate the nuclear fusion process to keep us all alive. The mission starts to turn for the worst when they discover the Sun is pretty hot and the ship isn't working right. Sounds pretty droll, but toward the end of the trailer we discover that there's some weird shit going down on the ship and, in fact, there's an unidentified additional "crew member" that might have something to do with their difficulties. It looks like a hybrid of Event Horizon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Sphere (the book, not the awful awful movie). Probably the film's most encouraging feature is Cillian Murphy, who's one of my favorite actors (28 Days Later, Batman Begins, The Wind That Shakes the Barley). It could be a wash, but I'm guessing otherwise.