31 March 2005

Reader Mail (3/31)

Dear ADC,

What movie(s) should I see this weekend?


Since you asked, here are some Brief Reviews of Movies I haven’t Seen.

Sin City: This is a movie based on the ‘graphic novel’ of the same name (‘graphic novel’ is a euphemism for ‘lengthy comic book’). The movie supposedly looks like ‘a comic book brought to life’. How many times have I said to myself, “If only someone would make a movie that looked like a comic book brought to life”? Right, zero times. If you are reading ADC on the Interweb (as most of my readers do) there is a good chance you will go see this movie no matter what anyone tells you, because (I hate to be the one to break this to you, but someone must) you’re a bit of a nerd. Which is fine, but after you see it please don’t try to tell me that the movie is some sort of artistic breakthrough.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: I don’t know, who? Ashton Kutcher? And Bernie Mac? In the same movie? No, seriously, who’s coming to dinner? You are serious? This is the most popular movie in the country? Really? Why do I have a sudden craving for rat poison?

Fever Pitch: In this movie unfunny comedian Jimmy Fallon plays an obsessed baseball fan, the weird looking Drew Barrymore plays his girlfriend, a workaholic business consultant. Their love is strained by Fallon’s characters obsession with the Red Sox. Theoretically romantic comedy ensues. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner suddenly isn’t looking so bad.

This is a remake of a UK film, where the protagonist was a fan of soccer instead of baseball. So it could have been worse, they could have kept it about soccer. For those charting the decline of Western civilization, a mere 48 years ago Cary Grant starred with Deborah Kerr in the romantic comedy An Affair to Remember.

The cast includes Ione Skye, who I’m told is a lesbian now. Nice work King Ad-Rock.

Kung-Fu Hustle: I’m all Kung-Fu’ed out.

Beauty Shop: In this movie sassy fat black woman Queen Latifah plays Gina Norris, a fat black woman who is also sassy. Gina Norris runs a beauty shop. Many of the customers and co-workers at the beauty shop are also black, and also a bit sassy. The cast includes Mena Suvari , who plays a white girl with a giant forehead. I imagine at some point in the movie someone tells someone else to “talk to the hand, girlfriend”.

The Pacifier: If Hollywood (by Hollywood I mean the homosexualist movie executives who Mr. Diesel earned his career from the hard way) is going to insist on putting Vin Diesel in movies, could they at least provide subtitles when he speaks?

Coach Carter: This isn’t about me, as I don’t coach.

Paper Clips: This documentary chronicles a group of middle school students in rural Tennessee who, as part of their school’s ‘Holocaust Education’, collect six million paper clips. I’m not sure why the poor children of rural Tennessee must spend their school day being made to feel guilty about the Holocaust instead of learning math or English, as I am fairly certain there were never any Nazi death camps in rural Tennessee.

There’s no escape anywhere, is there?

Dear ADC,

I’m interested in taking up smoking. Do you know anywhere I can go to learn what brand I should choose?


It’s never to late to start smoking. You should visit Luxurious Misery, which has all kinds of (poorly written) opinions about all kinds of cigarettes. Some samples:

"American Spirit (Yellow): These feature all natural tobacco, which has made them popular with the alternative crowd as well as with the neo-hippies. They have a strong nicotine kick, but the flavor is harsh and has a blunt, charred taste. Also they have a poor draw. Vastly overrated."

"Sweet Afton’s (non-filter): I believe these are from Ireland though the name comes from a Robert Burns poem. Made of quality Virginia tobacco, this great tasting cigarette far less harsh than the typical non-filter cigarette. Outstanding. My only complaint is that the box they come in is flimsy."

"Lucky Strikes (unfiltered): Did you know when Lucky Strike’s were introduced they were a girl cigarette?"

Good luck with the smoking, and with the 5th grade.

30 March 2005

Behind it all you find Uranus

Uranus is is unusually close!

John Ruskin

Study of Velvet Crab
Ruskin, John (draughtsman),

drawing: Watercolour and bodycolour over graphite on blue-grey paper: 245 x 315 mm

Oxford: Ashmolean Museum

Provenance: Presented by John Ruskin to the Ruskin Drawing School (University of Oxford), 1875; transferred from the Ruskin Drawing School to the Ashmolean Museum, c.1949.


"Ruskin's upbringing, so beautifully remembered in his fragmentary autobiography, Praeterita (Shakespeare's "things past," Proust's temps retrouve), was a careful and loving education in piety, character, and intellectual curiosity. His parents hoped he would be a clergyman; Ruskin was all for being a geologist. He was a brilliant child. He was taken around England in comfortable coaches, and on European tours to see paintings and cathedrals. He fell in love with crystals, glaciers, alpine valleys, landscape painting, poetry, Greek and Latin, Gothic architecture, a daughter of the Domecq family (the wine business's French connection) and played with her in the Hampton Court topiary maze (Ruskin's first real labyrinth, though he'd seen the mazes on the floors of French churches, at Amiens and Chartres, and the Italian one at Lucca). He learned everything except the facts of life." - Guy Davenport (review of John Ruskin: The Later Years, by Tim Hilton).

"It is in Venice, therefore, and in Venice only that effectual blows can be struck at this pestilent art of the Renaissance. Destroy its claims to admiration there, and it can assert them nowhere else." - John Ruskin, Stones of Venice

"The wonderful MSS. in St. Mark’s Library, at Venice, from which this drawing is copied, contains the earliest botanical drawings I know of approximate accuracy. They are, however, like all previous work, merely suggestive of the general character of the plant, and are very imaginative in details. But I should like you to copy this one, because it will show you the delicacy and care of Venetian school-work; and farther impress on you the Venetian respect for law. Every plant, whatever its own complexity of growth, is reduced in [Page 57]this book to some balanced and ornamental symmetry of arrangement.

There is a beautiful piece of fancy in the page representing the common blue chicory. Its current Latin name in the fifteenth century, from its rayed form, was Sponsa Solis. But its blue colour caused it to be thought of as the favourite, not of the sun only, but of the sky. And the sun is drawn above it with a face, very beautiful, in the orb, surrounded by vermilion and golden rays, which descend to the flower through undulating lines of blue, representing the air. I have never seen the united power of Apollo and Athena more prettily symbolized.

I think, then, you cannot be introduced to the practice of colour under better augury than by this good old Venetian herbalist, with his due reverence for aerial and stellar influences; nor by any worthier plant than this wild one of the lowlands and of the hills; which indeed once grew freely with us ‘in divers places, as in the towne pastures by Andover, and also upon the banke of a mote that encloseth a house in Bushey, fowerteene miles from London:’ and which I doubt not grows now, at least the Alpine variety of it, as it did then, ‘on Bernard’s Hill in Switzerland.’ And with its fair little folded mantle of leaf, and Arabian alchemy, strong to heal wounds and to prolong youth, it may take happy place, with the white mountain Dryas, among the thornless roses.

And now in beginning colour:—remember once for all (and it is the main meaning of what I said long ago—‘you are always safe if you hold the hand of a [Page 58]colourist’), that you cannot colour unless you are either happy as a child is happy, or true as a man is true—sternly, and in harmony through his life. You cannot paint without one or the other virtue—peace of heart, or strength of it. Somehow, the very colour fails, itself, under the hand which lays it coldly or hesitatingly. If you do not enjoy it, or are not resolved it shall be faithful, waste no time with it." - John Ruskin, The Elements of Drawing, Catalogue of Examples (1870)

(The Elements of Drawing is "a searchable and browsable online version of the teaching collection and catalogues assembled by John Ruskin for his Oxford drawing schools". Note the quality of Ruskin's own work, of which the collection contains 417 examples.)

North American Review, CCLXXIV (September, 1879)

"When he has operated upon you, you would not for worlds have foregone it. You have been ennobled by that familiarity with sorrow. You have been, as it were, sent through the fire and purged of so much of your dross. For a time, at least, you have been free from the mundane touch of that beef and ale with which novelists of a meaner school will certainly bring you in contact. No one will feel himself ennobled at once by having read one of my novels. But Hawthorne, when you have studied him, will be very precious to you. He will have plunged you into melancholy, he will have overshadowed you with black forebodings, he will almost have crushed you with imaginary sorrows; but he will have enabled you to feel yourself an inch taller during the process. Something of the sublimity of the transcendent, something of the mystery of the unfathomable, something of the brightness of the celestial, will have attached itself to you, and you will all but think that you too might live to be sublime, and revel in mingled light and mystery." - from "The Genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne" by Anthony Trollope.

28 March 2005

Ancient Chinese 'wisdom' leads to funny modern headline

"Let's face it: People once laughed at acupuncture, and they weren't quite sure what to make of feng shui, either.

Still, while Chinese face reading lags far behind its ancient Chinese cousins in terms of earning Western mainstream acceptance, at least 18 women considered it worth examining in Jean Haner-Dowsett's Lake Forest Park living room yesterday.

It was her former mother-in-law who introduced her to face reading and feng shui (which teaches that location of one's home and placement of furnishings inside can promote success in the home) when she married into a Chinese family 25 years ago, and now Haner-Dowsett leads international workshops.

Chinese face reading, she says, allows someone to detect personal qualities and foibles from another's facial features. Last fall, for instance, it was presidential candidate Wesley Clark's strong jaw that told her he was the only Democrat who could have won the election.

Filmmaker Michael Moore's hooked nose, she says, breathes of an ability to handle money."
- In face reading, a way to stop judging others, By Marc Ramirez, Seattle Times staff reporter.

21 March 2005

An Unrest Cure for Kyrgyzstan

Unrest in Kyrgyzstan:
Opposition supporters in Kyrgyzstan today seized the airport building in Osh, the second largest city in the former Soviet republic, as thousands of protesters continued rioting against the recent parliamentary election results...The protesters yesterday seized parts of the nearby town of Jalal-Abad in southern Kyrgyztan, dominated by ethnic-Uzbeks. About 10,000 people besieged and then set on fire the police station in the town and blocked the airport’s runway to prevent the government rushing in reinforcements.
Meanwhile, all is tranquil in Kyrgyzstan's northern neighbor, Kazakhstan. It seems that the giant glass pyramid of Astana is already causing peace, even though it hasn't been built yet.

20 March 2005

November 4, 1867. Chatham, England

"On the afternoon of Monday the 4th, between the hours of three and four, I witnessed a very extraordinary sight in the heavens. I have not heard of any one hereabout having seen it. The facts are as follow: -- At the time above mentioned I was passing by the Mill by the Water-works Reservoir. On the gallery I noticed the miller uttering exclamations of surprise, and looking earnestly towards the west. On inquiring what took his attention so much, he said, "Look, sir, I never saw such a sight in my life!" On turning in the direction towards which he was looking, the west, I also was astounded -- numberless black discs in groups and scattered were passing rapidly through the air. He said his attention was directed to them by his little girl, who called to him in the Mill, saying, "Look, father, here are a lot of balloons coming!" They continued for more than twenty minutes, the time I stayed. In passing in front of the sun they appeared like large cannon shot. Several groups passed over my head, disappearing suddenly, and leaving puffs of greyish brown vapour very much like smoke" - James E. Beveridge, "An Extraordinary Phenomenon," Symons's Monthly Meteorological Magazine, 2:130, 1867. [via Science Frontiers Online]

Memoirs 2

Inspired by the success of Koren Zailckas's Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood (am I being overly suspicious, or were the comments to this post on Miss Zailckas’s blog written by Miss Zailckas herself?), here are some excerpts from my forthcoming memoir (movie rights still available) Blotto: Tales of a Tipsy Tot.

From Ch.1:

I’m not sure how it started. Maybe it was something my parents did – or didn’t do. Maybe it was all the doom and gloom and chaos in the air during the early 70’s. Maybe it was the pressure of being four when everyone else in kindergarten was five. Maybe it was my genes. Whatever the case, I was a tipsy tot.

From Ch. 3:

We were supposed to be making animals out of Play-Doh, something I was usually good at. I tried to mold an elephant. My hands were shaking, and I kept messing up. I was sweating. How much did I have last night? 8, 9 drinks? Some of the kids were staring at me. I put the Play-Doh down and rubbed my eyes. I felt like I was dying. When was nap time going to get here?

From Ch. 7:

I strolled around the corner, saw no one was looking and pulled the fake moustache from my pocket. The class had put on a little Christmas pageant (you could still do those back then) and I had been one of the three wise man (the one with the myrrh I think), and I figured the beard and moustache from my costume might come in handy. I put them on and strolled into Vito’s Lounge. I ordered a French 75 and lit up a smoke. The bartender stared, but he bought the disguise. The bar was about half full. I turned to the couple sitting next to me and said, “A duck walks into a bar, orders a scotch and soda. The bartender says ‘That’ll be two dollars’ and the duck says ‘put it on my bill’. Get it? You see it’s funny because the protagonist of the joke is a duck.”

They laughed. I was having a good time. I finished my drink and ordered another. I told more jokes. People started buying me drinks. And more drinks. Then there’s a gap. It’s like waking up, only you weren’t sleeping, and are in fact in the middle of something. In this case I seemed to be in the middle of an argument, as the lady half of the couple had left, and the guy who was with her was red faced and jabbing his finger at me while saying something about Nixon. I was a big Nixonite at the time, not because of Nixon’s policies, but because I hated his enemies, so I had probably started the argument. I noticed I still had an almost full drink on the bar, I decided to down it and get out. Bad idea. I could feel myself sliding off the barstool, but I couldn’t do anything to stop it. As the scene faded to black I could hear a voice saying “Something’s wrong with that midget”. I woke up in a hospital.

From Ch. 12:

I leaned against the chain link fence, dejected. The kindergartners had never upset the 1st graders in kickball before, and I had blown the perfect chance. Marvin came over.

“What happened out there, man? I’ve never seen you play so bad.”

I tried to cover. “Did you see how their pitcher rolled the ball? I’d asked for baby bounces – those weren’t baby bounces man.”

“I know what’s going down man. “ Marvin stared at me. “I know why you’re so protective of your Planet of the Apes lunchbox.”

“It’s a good lunchbox,” I said, trying to play it cool.

“It’s what’s in the lunchbox – or to be precise, what’s in the thermos in your lunchbox,” Marvin said, and walked off.

I walked off too. What I needed was a drink and some quiet. Luckily I had a thermos full of bourbon and ginger ale. I never liked kickball anyway.

From Ch. 25:

I woke up, still tired, and still slightly buzzed. I was late for school, so I decided to pedal instead of walk. Then it hit me: last night when I came home from the bar, where had I parked my Big Wheel? I couldn’t remember.

17 March 2005

Memoirs

Memoirs were once written late in life, by people who had led remarkable lives or witnessed remarkable events. I am not the first to point out that this isn’t true anymore, but I feel compelled to point it out again after seeing Koren Zailckas, the 24 year old authoress of the book Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood being interviewed on one of the cable news channels. What is it that the young Miss Zailckas has done, you ask, that is worthy of a memoir? Is she a significant historical figure? Did she spend World War II hiding from the Nazis? Did she help conquer New Spain? No, her book is, as this article describes, “a compilation of her memoirs chronicling her experience as a young binge drinker”. Because, after all, what is more fascinating than the fuzzy accounts of a young girl’s drunkenness? The article describes Miss Zailckas's motivation:

“She also said the book is intended to be a cautionary tale for high school girls who might not drink as heavily as she did.”

What sort of cautionary tale ends with a lucrative book contract?

Some of her previously unknown insights into drinking include:

“it's hard to admit that you're a woman who has had problems with alcohol”

Not hard enough, apparently.

“In college, excessive drinking is more widely accepted and actually becomes expected in social situations, unlike in high school, she said. The environment fosters and encourages drinking.”

Shocking!

“Alcohol comes with a separate set of dangers for women”

The ‘separate set of dangers’ can often be observed wearing a baseball cap and yelling ‘Dude!’.

“To me, drinking...was a way to go from ugly duckling to swan and to make myself the person that I wanted to be."

She seems to have the bizarre idea that it’s the alcohol she ingests, not the alcohol they ingest, that gives men beer goggles.

Worst of all, she does not even to appear to have been that big of a drunk:

“She had her first drink at the age of 14. Then came the trip to the hospital at 16, a sexual experience that happened while she was blacked out at 19 and a confused morning in a strange New York City apartment after her college graduation… The defining moment for Zailckas followed a drunken senior year of college. Soon after graduation, she woke up, after a long night of partying with a friend, in a strange New York City apartment.

"We could have been on the moon," she said. "I had no idea who we were with, couldn't remember their names, had no idea where we were - and that really scared me.”


That’s it? She does each of those things once on separate occasions and it’s enough to scare her sober and enough material for her to write an entire memoir? Having blackout sex and waking up in a strange apartment with no memory of how I got there are things I do most weekends – on purpose.

Since the drunk (I hesitate to even call her that, she hasn't earned it) Miss Zailckas is having so much success with her tedious book I have decided to write my own memoir about underage drinking: Blotto: Tales of a Tipsy Tot. I will be excerpting passages from it in the coming days.

14 March 2005

Elsewhere

There are many reasons why anti-poverty measures are less than successful in Africa. In a recent column, the Ugandan commentator Charles Onyango-Obbo provides one you've never heard before:
...sometimes plans to end poverty fail because of, well, poverty. Take a recent case from western Kenya...A lot of money was pumped into a programme to save poor rural women from walking many kilometres to fetch water. The women, however, didn't collect water from the new modern "wells".

Were the women ignorant? Not at all. With just one harvest a year, the women had a lot of time on their hands. Without electricity, TV, and other distractions at home, they would be bored to death. They preferred to continue walking many kilometres away to collect water, because it helped them kill time.
Beryl Bainbridge on smoking (note her observation on the decline in language ability upon quitting, it's something I can attest to, and something that those who oppose tobacco never mention):
I gave up smoking, without the aid of pills, hypnotism or patches, 17 days ago, having been told that if I didn’t I mightn’t have a leg to stand on. Well-meaning friends hastened to assure me that within 48 hours I would see an improvement in my complexion, my eyes, my hair. Needless to say, I’m still looking. What I have noticed, and deplore, is a return of my sense of smell. I had no idea that the odour of leftover food could pervade a house. Nor had I realised that I would regrow hairs in my nose, causing prolonged fits of sneezing.
I have no urge to take up the habit again, but I now talk to myself — mostly about Winston Churchill — sing hymns out loud while in the queue at the bank, and find it extremely difficult to construct a worthwhile sentence.
Speaking of smoking, Cigarettes in review: Part 2: Imported is now up on the cleverly named but poorly executed Luxurious Misery, a journal of conspicuous consumption and despair.

Do you sometimes find the history of the 20th century confusing? This essay provides the hidden context that allows everything to finally make sense. Which is nice.

13 March 2005

Strange things happen all the time

Saturday, March 13.

At 7:37 p.m. "A minor earthquake with a magnitude of 3.3 was reported". The quake was centered 15 miles north of Olympia, Washington.

At 7:45 p.m. "A fireball streaked through the night sky across the western half of the Pacific Northwest on Saturday, startling people all the way from southern Oregon to the Seattle area...Scientists said the fireball was probably a meteor". One witness said "It was like a big ball of fire...behind it was a trail of blue".

Then at 7:50 p.m. some parts of the city of Seattle experienced a power outage. Among the areas affected was the neighborhood of Magnolia.

And I would like to think this was only a matter of chance...

11 March 2005

Astana: Champagne dreams and pyramid schemes

When I announced I was going to Kazakhstan in an attempt to persuade the Kazakhs not to build a giant glass pyramid, in a city with less than 500,000 inhabitants in the middle of nowhere, where temperatures range from -40 F in winter to 104 F in summer, at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds, people I knew were dumbfounded. It seems that many can’t believe that such a project is real. But it is.

The architect for the project is Norman Foster, the man responsible for this silly building. Foster claims his design for the pyramid was influenced by the work of Etienne-Louis Boullée and Claude-Nicholas Ledoux, a pair of 18th century Frenchman. Their building designs were even sillier than Lord Fosters, but no one in the 18th century was foolish enough to actually construct any of them (for a devastating critique of Boullée and Ledoux see Hans Sedlmayr’s Art in Crisis). Am I the only one who finds it depressing that nowhere can hideous modern architecture be escaped, not even in a remote, sparsely inhabited Central Asian wasteland?

I’ve been attempting to enjoy the party scene in Kazakhstan, but the people here are terribly vague and evasive. For example, there are no true nightclubs, but, as Kazakhstan’s megalomaniac leader N. Nazarbayev(tel (7-3172) 15-20-27) cheerfully notes:
There functions in the Republic a wide spread network of club-like establishments. They are represented by palaces and houses of culture, clubs by various industrial and agricultural enterprises along with state-owned city and district palaces palaces and houses of culture, rural houses of culture and clubs and car clubs (i.e. mobile cultural entities).
This confusion can lead to embarrassing situations. I stumbled into what I initially thought to be a Kazakh discothèque; it turned out to be a funeral. Or a rug shop. I'm not sure. Needless to say I didn’t get laid. I may also have been in one of the ‘mobile cultural entities’, or it may have been a van ride with some drunken coal miners. I'm not sure.

The Kazakhstan government also wants everyone to know "Of late quite widespread is establishing of optimum types of cultural entities in rural localities - a club-like library or library-type club".

I asked a Kazakh I knew if we could visit one of these, he recommended the library-type club if I wanted a combination of reading and nightlife, but if I wanted nightlife and reading, the best way to go was the club-like library.

09 March 2005

The Renaissance Myth

"The main elements of the Renaissance myth are familiar enough: the sudden dawning of a new outlook on the world after a thousand years of darkness, the rediscovery of ancient learning, the spread of new ideas of intellectual inquiry and freedom, investigation of the real world replacing the sterile disputes of the scholastics, the widening of the world through the discovery of America and the advance of science, the reform of religion. Apart from a few quibbles about the supposed suddenness of the change, and that more on the grounds of a general belief in the gradualness of historical change than because of any evidence, this paradigm seems to be as firmly in place now as it ever was. In fact there is no truth in any of this. On the contrary, as we will see, the "Renaissance" was a period when thought declined significantly, bringing to an end a period of advance in the late Middle Ages." - from "The Renaissance Myth", James Franklin ( Quadrant 26 (11) (Nov. 1982), 51-60)

04 March 2005

Arrival: Astana, Kazakhstan

Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan – all admittedly have their peculiar charms, but for me of all the countries in the world with names ending in ‘stan’ none compare to Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan! A vast and rugged country (1,049,150 sq miles) populated by descendents of Mongol and Turkic tribesman, it can be found on your map in the unfortunate position between Russia and China.

In Kazakhstan one can watch some of the most exciting and unusual spectator sports in the world. Kyz Kuu, where a girl on horseback is chased by a young man on horseback, and when he gets close she whips him (which is sort of like my current relationship, except for the horses). Audaryspak, in which two men wrestle on horseback. Kumis Alu, a game where a silver ingot must be snatched from the ground by a man on horseback. Kazakhstanian’s claim that when Alexander the Great visited the region he watched an exhibition of Kumis Alu (most scholars think games like Kumis Alu date to the Mongols in the 13th century). The most esteemed Kazakh sport of all is probably Kokpar, where two large groups of men fight over a stinky goat carcass - while on horseback. A few years ago the Kazakhstanian’s tried to take up Ice Hockey, but were unable to teach the horses to skate.

But I am not in Kazakhstan for tourism or spectator sports. I am here to stop a disastrous project being embarked on by the Kazakhstan government, The Pyramid of Astana:
It aspires to be one of the modern wonders of the world: a great pyramid, set in a new capital city on the Central Asian steppe. It is intended to be a global centre for religious understanding, a symbol of world peace. Nelson’s Column could fit inside it...The pyramid, made of a diamond-pattern lattice of steel clad in pale silver-grey stone, will be topped by a coloured apex of abstract modern stained glass to be designed by the British artist Brian Clarke – a long-time friend and collaborator with Foster. Bathed in the golden and pale blue glow of the glass (colours taken from the Kazakhstan’s flag), 200 delegates from the world’s main religions will meet every three years in a circular chamber – based on the UN security council meeting room in New York.
The chamber is perched high beneath the point of the pyramid on four huge props intended, said Foster, to “symbolize the hands of peace”.
This expensive (“The building’s cost is a state secret, but if it were built in Britain it would cost hundreds of millions of pounds” (note: GDP per capita is about 4,000 pounds) and enormous (“203ft high and a square base 203ft wide, sitting on a 59ft high artificial mound”) glass monstrosity is being built, I regret to say, in part because of me. As mentioned, the pyramid is intended to be a symbol of peace. What does a giant glass pyramid have to do with peace? Some time in the early 1990's at a cocktail party hosted by one of New York's leading pseudo-intellectuals (she is recently deceased) I was heard to say "No two countries that both had giant glass pyramids had fought a war against each other since each got its giant glass pyramid." My offhand remark was apparently taken to heart by the President of Kazakhstan N. Nazarbayev as well as by New York Times mustachioed pundit Thomas Friedman, both of whom were in attendance. I am therefore the unacknowledged inspiration for the Great Pyramid of Kazakhstan as well as Friedman’s idiotic and derivative observation that "No two countries that both had McDonald's had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald's." While I can do nothing to prevent Friedman from inflicting his nonsense on the world, perhaps I can convince the Kazakhstanians to stop this project now, before they inflict this aesthetic and financial nightmare upon themselves.

03 March 2005

Have a nice day

"The worst part is wondering how you'll find the strength tomorrow to go on doing what you did today and have been doing for much too long, where you'll find the strength for all that stupid running around, those projects that come to nothing, those attempts to escape from crushing necessity, which always founder and serve only to convince you one more time that destiny is implacable, that every night will find you down and out, crushed by the dread of more and more sordid and insecure tomorrows." - Louis-Ferdinand Céline

02 March 2005

It's an opportunity that I don't want to miss

Despite all my efforts I have failed to capture or even sight the Medina Caiman. I did, however, discover this bit of possibly good news:

Experts Urge Redefinition Of The Kilogram

It’s time to replace the 115-year-old kilogram artifact as the world's official standard for mass, even though experiments generally thought necessary to achieve this goal have not yet reached their targeted level of precision. That the conclusion of an upcoming Metrologia journal article authored by five eminent scientists from the United States, United Kingdom and France that was discussed at a scientific meeting of the Royal Society of London on Feb. 14-15.

I'm no expert on kilograms (or even grams), but might I suggest 'the experts' use this rare opportunity to redefine the kilogram to make it equivalent to a pound? It would simplify things for everyone, in particular school children, Olympic weightlifters, and drug traffickers.

01 March 2005

Seeking the Medina Caiman

I awake in the pretentious city of Seattle (future home of the homosexualist ‘manorail’), and discover my good friend Professor Glen Morangie (recently returned from his Tsunami relief mission) has been trying to contact me all morning to alert me to this story:

Reports of reptile on loose unnerve Medina residents

Beware a caiman or some other large reptile spotted around Cozy Cove and Fairweather Bay, the Medina Police Department warned residents in a Friday e-mail. The department reported sightings, including one person who saw it lingering in the reeds at the back of the bay...

If the sighting proves correct, it could be a caiman, which can grow to 7 feet long and usually makes its home much farther south, in the marshes and rivers of Latin American, said Dana Payne, a curator and reptile specialist at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo.

Or it might be an American alligator, which can frequently reach 9 to 10 feet in length and hails from the Southeast, said Payne, who fielded a call from the Medina Police Department last week.


Given Medina’s proximity to Seattle, I decide to drive to the areas where the giant lizard was last seen in hopes of spotting him. At the same time I figure I will be able to watch and report on the Michael Jackson trial coverage, since I have ‘pimped my ride’ by installing a television set in my car’s steering wheel. It seems a good plan, but as the saying goes "A plan is just a list of things that never happen.”

My plan starts to go awry when I get stuck in traffic. Then instead of watching the Michael Jackson trial on my steering wheel TV, I watch an old episode of Match Game instead.

As a boy Match Game was my favorite show. While all the other children in my school wanted to grow up and become tax attorneys, I wanted to grow up to be a panelist on the Match Game. I would imagine a nattily dressed, older version of myself trading witty bon mots with the lovely Brett Summers and the incomparable Charles Nelson Reilly (among others). Watching it now I notice how drunk the panelists and host Gene Rayburn sometimes are. They would smoke as well. Such behavior is unacceptable on TV now (but rap videos are OK).

I drive around all day, but there is no sign of the giant lizard.