30 January 2007

But what's puzzling you is the nature of my game

I found out today that someone who works in my department believes Barack Obama is the anti-Christ. I don't mean in the right-wing "that guy's slick and charismatic and could take the Presidency back for the damn lib'rals" way. I mean in the "Kirk Cameron's our only hope, the rapture is coming! the rapture is coming!" way.


Now to me, this is similar to saying Barack Obama keeps a baby dragon locked in his basement and drinks a potion of ground unicorn horn and fairy dust at each new moon. Ie: if someone says it, I think he needs medication and restraints. Unfortunately, while belief in fairies and unicorns is considered "crazy", belief that Lucifer will rise from the fiery depths of Hell to walk the Earth before the rapture is considered "christian". At least, a lot of evangelicals think so.

I know that not all xtians believe in Revelations as anything other than metaphor. I know that some even read John's rantings as contemporary (Rome, 1st century, not America, 21st) political commentary disguised as apocalyptic prophesy. Still, there are too many who think "Left Behind" is the Zagat's for the endtimes. What makes people think this way?

I really had hoped millennial fever's grip on the nation would be weakened after yet another millennium came and went without horsemen and blaring horns in the sky and shit. I guess there's always another sign and portent around the corner, though. Ooh, maybe it's the upcoming end of the 13th baktun!!!

I'm a dick, I know. I've got no respect for people and their primitive belief systems, whether inscribed 2K years ago or cobbled together during an acid flashback in '69.

28 January 2007

Writing more, writing less

I started blogging as a means of forcing myself to write something at least a few times a week. It's been pretty helpful for that, if nothing else. I've found myself lately actually putting in the hours on the longer pieces on which I'd been procrastinating for months (years, really) so I've had a little less time and inclination to post here. If I'm doing one or two productive hours a day on what I really need to write, I don't always make myself update here. Partly because I've achieved my short-term goal of daily writing, and partly because I start to feel guilty about taking time away from something more "substantial".

Well, I'm pretty immune to all forms of guilt (having a Jewish mother can work in two ways, the latter of which applies to me: it can habituate you to guilt, making you anxious your whole life; or it can inoculate you;) however, I'm still subject to pangs of self-guilt.* I was having a very productive evening writing what I need to get done until I hit a small stumbling block. I stared at the screen for about 15 minutes but couldn't figure out which of two obvious ways to solve my problem. I finally gave up. I hope tomorrow, a magical third way will present itself so I can leave in the joke I want without screwing up the structure I need. We'll see.

Anyway, I'm still feeling write-y (like chatty, but t'ain't no one respondin'. I should be going to bed so I can get up at a decent hour and walk Parker. Not to mention prepping some food for the week and getting back to writing...instead, I let my self-guilt about ignoring this doofy journal get the better of me. So I'm rambling. And about that endpoint, that the footnote indicates I might asymptotically approach? I have no idea where I should stop this entr

*That sentence is a bit sketchy with the nested appositives and subclauses, but while it may be painful to scan, I believe it can be parsed. That doesn't make it any less nasty, but I'm about 80% confident it wouldn't get a prescriptive grammarian's panties all bunchy. Why did I feel a need to write it that way? And why do I feel compelled to defend/discuss it? Uh, you've read the crap I write before, right? That's just the kind of weenie I am. Sometimes, and tonight is one of those times, I start writing and can't really find a good stopping point. See main text above where I elaborate on that point. Hmm...my footnote's back-referencing the main text? Now that's just frickin' weird. Even for me.

26 January 2007

Hey, this isn't the cockpit!

23 January 2007

Battlestar Simpsons

Damn, that Dualla's a bitch.

No big deal, really. Billy's gonna make it huge without her holding him back. I'm still convinced that NBC is going to pick up Nobody's Watching

For more of these awesome BSG Simpsons, follow the linky-dink.

You Spin Me Right Round

I'm a little in...awe. By that I mean my mouth is agape and my eyes are blinking with the slow regularity of the drip, drip, drip in the sink at the Motel 6 off the Interstate. Catatonic. That's the word I'm looking for. Catatonic.

I just read a defense of The Path to 9/11 written by its scribe. Six times, in various forms, the word "spin" appears. Here are a few samples, from the third paragraph:

But, somehow, politicians injected themselves into this-in a big way. The spin-machine was out in full force against The Path to 9/11, long before it aired, and the media and others bought the spin. Just like book-burners have always done. The spinners mounted a witch hunt against me that knew no bounds.

My head's spinning.

Now, I didn't watch the movie and I didn't vet the script and I didn't weigh in last fall on the controversy. I can say that based on who defended the movie, Cyrus Nowrasteh has some nasty fellow travelers. That, and Disney is always happy to provide succor to the most rabid mouth-breathers of the right.

Maybe he's right. Maybe this movie was factually accurate. Maybe it was even thematically and tonally accurate (that's a bit tougher to determine.) Like I said, I didn't watch it, and I don't intend to watch it. I'd rather just read the 9/11 commission report, or perhaps this adaptation of it.

22 January 2007

"You best be drinking what the Romans drink when you're drinking down in Rome"

That is quite inexcusable. Vodka? In Kentucky? Vodka's only good for thinning paint in Kentucky. She should have poured whiskey into a Coke bottle instead.

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP) -- A judge ordered a new trial in a case in which a juror sipped vodka throughout the trial.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Geoffrey Morris said in his order that new trials may be granted only in the most extreme circumstances.

But he said "the inexcusable, disruptive behavior of this juror was so extraordinary as to render this relief appropriate."

19 January 2007

Open Up and Say Tra Laaah

Last night was the long-awaited (by metros like me) musical episode of Scrubs. And just like Dawn Summers, I wish I lived in a world where people routinely and spontaneously broke into song. I guess it would take a massive aneurysm or a demon to make that dream come true, though.

Guest star Stephanie D'Abruzzo from Avenue Q suffered from the aforementioned aneurysm in her temporal lobe which caused her to hear singing (and see dancing) when people spoke. Ironically, the songs she heard and sang herself were penned by the Avenue Q guys. What are the odds of that?

Each of the songs was a winking tribute to a classic (though I'll have to re-watch a few times to get all the references,) and I'd guess that even the anti-musical crowd will have gotten one or two of them. Clever lyrics, particularly in "Everything Comes Down to Poo", smoothed over some of the rougher spots - Zach Braff's voice being the 40-grit sandpaper of the night.* In contrast, Johnny C's voice isn't anything to write home about, but he's still a trained and accomplished stage actor who sings well enough. Nonetheless, most of his singing was isolated to a G&S-style number while Zach howled away. This is, I imagine, how Matthew Broderick sounded before the months and months and months of voice lessons he took daily in order to play J. Pierrepont Finch in the mid-90s revival of How To Succeed...

Speaking of that revival, I'd have liked to have seen some different stunt-casting. D'Abruzzo's voice is fine, and she's got the Avenue Q association, so I understand why she was present. Still, it'd have been a nice time to see Megan Mullally return to Thursday night on NBC. Her voice is significantly better than "fine".

The numbers served character and plot, as they should in all good musicals, with some developments having (presumably) long-lasting impact being introduced in song. That the writers were able to pull it off without a single fantasy sequence was impressive. After a rough start to this season, the show's found its groove again. For creator Bill Lawrence's thoughts on this ep, the show's groove, and its future, check out this great interview with TV Squad.

The biggest disappointments for me were from two of the superior voices in the cast. Donald Faison held back a lot in his man-love tribute duet (as well as "Poo") so as not to overpower Zach and Sam Lloyd's Ted didn't get a showcase for his beautiful tenor. His few lines in the Judy Reyes+company number just didn't satisfy. Otherwise, I had a smile on my face and a tap in my toe throughout the episode.

*I don't watch American Idol. I gather there are worse performances available there.

17 January 2007

Commitment to her craft

Eva Mendes: a real Method actor.

The original Roxanne was blonde and blue-eyed, but also had huge bajoongas. If I gain weight it goes to my boobs and my butt. I figured since I can't be blonde and blue-eyed, I'll at least have her bra size. So the bajoongas got big. They were out of control!

That Johnny Blaze sure has a keeper!

16 January 2007

Because shooting is Risky, that's why

It must be an Econo-sized day, today. The good folks at Free Darko weigh in on the The Wages of Wins debate with some original analysis.

John Lott v Freakonomics (Cont'd)

Mary Rosh is creaming in her pants today. Oh, wait. Is that libelous? Implying that a woman who doesn't exist is excited...is that like saying that John R. Lott, Jr. shot a load into his shorts?

Judge Ruben Castillo of the U.S. District Court in Chicago handed down a decision last week allowing crazy-man's* defamation lawsuit against Steven D. Levitt to go forward. If it makes it to trial, is John-John going to dress in drag and appear as a character witness?

*Uh-oh. Now I'm in for it. I called him crazy. He's going to cry to his mommy and then sue me. 'Cause technically, he's not crazy. "Mary Rosh" is just a sock puppet he uses to stroke his own ego. And sometimes his teenage son uses it too. I'm not sure what a psychiatrist would make of that; technically it's neither a manifestation of an Electra nor Oedipal complex.

14 January 2007

The Children of Men All Talk Alike

With the release of Alfonso Cuarón's interpretation of Children of Men, I figured this was as good a time as any to read P.D. James' dystopian novel. And, like so many of its little SF* sub-genre, it is veddy British.

I'd never read any James before, as I'm not big on her usual - the mystery/procedural genre - so I didn't know what to expect...though I should have. The book is presented in two narrative voices that sound almost identical. There are diary entries from Theo Faron, our protagonist, and 3rd-person narrative from a partly omniscient observer who stays close to Faron. For a professor of Victorian History at Oxford, his speech comes off as very hard-boiled. Fitting, and in retrospect quite obvious, from an author of mysteries.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

There are a few places where James lets her language loose, but they're frighteningly purple. For those who've read any of my poetry, you know I know purple. These scattered attempts at setting mood felt false to me. I accepted the narrative voice (as out of place as it initially seemed) and wanted the book to be consistent in its tone. It's one thing when she had Theo describe a death scene vividly, wholly another to describe an idyllic forest setting.

One last note on language...one of the central characters is described (from Theo's biased point of view) as a bit rough and crude. He's an engineer by trade. Now, I know the Brits are all word-y and shite, but seriously, does this dialog fit in this character's mouth? "I've been exploring. This isn't a proper wood, more a copse."

It sounds like it would fit in P.D. James' mouth perfectly. Not so much this character.

The story, language issues aside, is interesting. Told from such a narrow point of view, the tale of the infertility of the human race - and the first pregnancy in a quarter century - takes on a great intimacy. It's unknown whether this is a fluke occurrence, a harbinger of the return to fecundity, or if the child born is to be a new Adam. England is an island, and Theo's fellows are an island within its borders: a man and his pregnant wife; an Anglican priest; a black midwife; and Theo, that fictionally common combination of musty old academic and man of action.

A decent read, but far more intriguing for the questions it raises and thought experiments it engenders than for its style or content.

* Yes. Science fiction. That's right. When you read 1984 or Brave New World or even Utopia you are reading genre fiction. Painful to accept, I know. There are ways around it, though. For example, if you're the Nobel committee and you want to award the literature prize to an SF writer, you can always create a fake name for its style (see: Gabriel García Márques and Magic Realism)

11 January 2007

The Chin Sells Out

10 January 2007

All aiolis are defective?

Here's an interesting summary of some recent research from Harold McGee's food blog

...citrus aromatics break apart the molecules of the olive oil, and release free oleic acid. Free oleic acid is a defect in olive oils. It can have an irritating effect in the mouth, and it destabilizes emulsions like mayonnaise. So an oil flavored with lemon may have a lovely aroma, but it can be less pleasant in the mouth or in a sauce.

Now I'm inspired to try out a semi-blind taste test of citrus emulsions. I've never noticed an odd mouth-feel from lemon aiolis, but maybe that's just because I'm so used to it. So this weekend I'll put together a standard aioli, one with canola oil subbing for the olive, and a hollandaise.

The hollandaise is cheating, obviously, but any excuse to make it is a good one!

09 January 2007

Morrissey to the Rescue

I was unaware that Europe held a Battle of the Bands. Are the finals held in a high school gym in The Hague?

08 January 2007

50KV, and so stylish, too

Curious what to get your budding Veronica Mars for her birthday? Fret no more! Here's the perfect gift!

05 January 2007


What the hell kind of 14-year-old boy would complain about this present?

Christmas became XXX-mas for a 14-year-old Layton boy who discovered hard-core pornography on a video game he received as a gift.

Kolton Mahoney was shocked when he put the Madden NFL 07 game in his new Xbox 360 console Christmas day and an explicit image popped up on his television screen.

Shut your piehole and don't ruin it for everyone else!

Should we be surprised that "EA has sold more than 5 million copies of Madden NFL 07"? Not if they've found a way to cleverly package dvd-quality porn so parents buy it for their kids. Man, when I was a kid, all we had was the small stack of Oui under dad's side of the bed. Ooh, and that one time we found a Hustler thrown out in the woods. That was awesome!

04 January 2007

Madvillain: All Caps

The song's so-so hip-hop, but the video! Your Thursday morning special.

01 January 2007

Prometheus Uncorked

From: john_polidori@diodata.ch
To: victor_frankenstein@diodata.ch
Subject: BoG Project


First off, I'd like to thank you on the great work you did on the Bank
of Geneva project. We wouldn't have come in on time and under budget
without your heroic efforts, and you can expect to see some nice
bonuses for you and your team. I'd also like you to take a few days of
comp time to get some much needed R&R. You've certainly earned it.

Since the project's complete, I was wondering if you could let me know
what you were doing in the lab last night. When I came in this
morning, there was a peculiar smell and something sticky on the
operating slab. I've already asked Percy about it, but he assures me
that he and Mary left the lab clean when they were done yesterday.
Security tells me you were the only one working last night.

Of course, as I've said, we're all thrilled with the work you've been
doing and don't want you to think this little affair with the lab
equipment is anything we're worried about.

Thanks in advance,

* * *

From: victor_frankenstein@diodata.ch
To: john_polidori@diodata.ch
Subj: Re: BoG Project


Thank you for your kind words and your offer of comp time. I hope I
can use it soon, but I've been making some great strides in my work
and would hate to lose momentum at this time. Soon, all my hard work
will come to fruition!

As to the smell and sticky remains on the operating slab, my assistant
should have cleaned that up before the morning shift began. I'll see
to it that he is suitably chastised. It will not happen again.

Warmest regards,

* * *

From: john_polidori@diodata.ch
To: victor_frankenstein@diodata.ch
Subj: Re: BoG Project


To be honest, I'm less concerned with the cleanup of the mess than the
cause of the mess. I was hoping you might let me know what you were
doing in the lab last night. Since BoG has been put to bed, I'm not
sure what work your were referring to in your last email.


* * *

From: victor_frankenstein@diodata.ch
To: john_polidori@diodata.ch
Subj: Re: BoG Project


Yes, now I see your issue. Well, as we were working quite late, my
assistant and I grew quite hungry and he prepared our grilled cheese
sandwiches using the electro-dynamos in the laboratory. That American
cheese certainly makes an awful, bubbling mess when super-heated!
Also, there was tomato soup.


* * *

From: john_polidori@diodata.ch
To: victor_frankenstein@diodata.ch
Subj: Re: BoG Project

Dr. Frankenstein,

I've reread my earlier messages and realize I was not as precise as I
should have been. Let me rephrase my question: what were you doing at
work last night at all? The BoG project is complete and you should
have very little to do right now other than the occasional bug-fix. I
don't begrudge you and Igor your meal - though I definitely do not
approve of using the power of the electro-dynamos to heat your food -
but don't understand why you were here at all.

I hope we can resolve this issue quickly.


* * *

From: victor_frankenstein@diodata.ch
To: john_polidori@diodata.ch
Subj: Re: BoG Project


You see, my work is at a critical juncture right now. Even as I write
this, Igor is procuring me the necessary components so we may complete
our project this very night. I am confident we will be successful!

V. Frankenstein

* * *

From: john_polidori@diodata.ch
To: victor_frankenstein@diodata.ch
Subj: Re: Unauthorized use of company equipment (Was: BoG Project)

Dr. Frankenstein,

I'd refer you to your employee manual, specifically the section about
use of company resources to perform outside work. Because you've been
such a great asset to the team, I've been willing to overlook the time
you spend on outside projects - also in contravention of your employee
agreement - as long as it doesn't affect your work. However, I can't
allow you to use DioData equipment and facilities to do...whatever it
is you're doing.

If you don't cease your use of the lab for your experiments, I'll have
to bring in HR.

John Polidori, PhD
Director Special Projects

* * *

From: hr@diodata.ch
To: john_polidori@diodata.ch
Subj: Termination of V. Frankenstein


I wish you'd brought the matter of Dr. Frankenstein's outside work to
my attention earlier, but I understand that you were giving him a
little freedom because he was producing. However, I hope you now see
why we have the policies we do. Our custodial staff has been working
non-stop since this morning, trying to clean up the mess your precious
scientist left in the east wing labs, and two security guards had to
be hospitalized because of Frankenstein's rampage last night. And I
swear as I was pulling into the lot this morning I saw villagers with
pitchforks. We're going to have to pay security overtime too, it looks

I left Frankenstein a message on both his home and mobile phones, but
haven't heard back yet. If you hear from him, please let him know
he'll need to bring his keys, security passes, and Blackberry with him
in order to pick up his personal effects and final paycheck. Security
has already boxed up his desk.

Harriet Shelley
Director HR