Thursday, December 25, 2008

A question of style for the masses

Should we put Truck Nuts on our Prius?

And, there this out-of-context blip:

A hunter could still throw a freshly killed and uncovered deer in the back of his pickup, though, because the deer's body parts would be real, Myers said.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/22/AR2007022201426.html

Monday, December 22, 2008

This is going to be a hell of a mess

(Link goes to a NYT article giving, I fear, a too-rosy yet pssimistic prognostication of what the end-user experience will be like on Feb 18)

While not likely to cause as much economic upheaval as the sub-prime lending meltdown, say, or World War II, the switchover on February 18, 2009 to a digital-only television broadcast (making traditional over-the-air reception of television signals obsolete) is likely to be the first case of the general population having a piece of technology that they have had "forever" simply being taken away on a single day, never to come back. Even the next most sophisticated piece of electronics to be found in nearly 100% of homes over the last half decade (the telephone) has changed almost 0% in how users relate to the service.

"Forever", of course, in the sense that you would have to be older than 65 years old to have a clear memory of what it was like not to have it; ironically it is this group who is most likely to be affected by this forced transition since they are the ones who usually need to have any new technology rammed down their throats. And rammed it will be.

It is not hard at all to imagine Black Friday-like crowds rushing electronics stores on February 18-19 filled, not with the mindless cheerfulness of the Christmas shopping season, but with the mindless rage and frustration the only having something that they never paid for to begin with being taken away can engender.

From the article:

Those who have their converter boxes have discovered the “cliff effect.” If the over-the-air signal is not strong, the viewer does not receive a fuzzy picture as he might get with a weak analog signal; the viewer gets no picture at all because digital reception is all or nothing. In addition, depending on area, the rabbit ears intended to receive only VHF broadcast channels may need to be replaced with new digital units.
[...]
And on the day of the conversion, consumers will also need to direct their converter box to scan for channels. (If they want an up-to-date electronic program guide, they will need to have the box rescan the channels regularly.)
[...]
“We’re asking the elderly to go out in the snow to buy a converter box?” Mr. Kelsey said. “All we need on Feb. 18 is to have someone slip off their roof and get injured as they try to set up a new digital antenna.”


The fact that they could have avoided being without service had they redeemed a government issued coupon for a converter box can only be considered a sizable cherry on top. Nothing fires up the average American's joie de vivre like combining the simple everyday act of watching television with the bureucratic equivalent entanglements of filing one's taxes.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Squish

I went out this morning to buy a new flapper for my toilet and on the drive back I got stuck behind some cars that were taking an awfully long time to make a simple right-hand turn. It was only after I went a few feet past the intersection that I realized the reason they were moving so slowly is that there was kitten -- a tiny tiny kitten, barely visible against the gray roadtop -- just sort of sitting in the middle of the street, seemingly not sure itself how it got there.

I jumped out of the car so fast that I neglected to first make sure it wasn't moving. Somehow I managed to jump back in, apply the brake, and run back out in time to scoop up the kitten, which now had impatient motorists (who will forever burn in hell jabbed by trident-wielding cats) whizzing past her on both sides. Two or three more seconds and I would have needed a spatula to pick her up.

So, during the rest of the drive home I debated what to call it. "Toilet" was an immediate choice. "Lexington", after the name of the avenue where I found her, was a close second, although I have a problem with pet names of more than two syllables. Eventually I decided on "Squish", which is the last sound she would have made if things had turned out differently.



The Safest Place on Planet Earth

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Voice of God



As predicted by Paddy Chayefsy in Network (1976): (video)

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson confirmed [...] that coverage of foreign-based banks is "a distinction without a difference to the American people."

[...]"That's a distinction without a difference to the American people. The key here is protecting the system. ... We have a global financial system, and we are talking very aggressively with other countries around the world and encouraging them to do similar things, and I believe a number of them will. But, remember, this is about protecting the American people and protecting the taxpayers. and the American people don't care who owns the financial institution. If the financial institution in this country has problems, it'll have the same impact whether it's the U.S. or foreign."




Link goes to full interview article; image links to movie transcript.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Something Else That's Wrong With Baltimore

From a self-instructional book of piano lessons I'm amusing myself with these days
(sharper image after the link, if needed):


Sunday, August 17, 2008

No Ties




I think it's a good development for presidential candidates to not wear ties. Kennedy didn't need a hat, and I hate ties. Yep. Ties are stupid and bad. Especially in hot weather. No ties. Jesus didn't wear a tie. Did I mention that I don't like ties? Fuck ties. Oh, and by the way, fuck ties.

No ties.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Olympics: A Modest Proposal

I'm a sucker for the Olympics. I always have been, for some reason. I remember the jet-pack guy from Los Angeles '84 -- where else does that shit happen? Perhaps it was that I was exposed to the pageantric immediacy of the opening ceremonies to the 1978 Pan-American Games hosted in my country when I was but a very young man (I could see the fireworks both through our front door and ON TV AT THE SAME TIME -- Puerto Rico is very small) that impressed into me a sense of caring, even though I absolutely don't give a shit for sports, organized or otherwise (other than biking, if it's me doing it).

Because of this, I was tempted to write something laudatory about the opening ceremonies in Beijing last week, which was literally the greatest show on Earth, EVER. I knew it was going to be, almost 20 years ago, when I first heard that China was vying for the Games (I mean, if there is one thing the Chinese have down is how to organize 20,000 people into a hell of a spectacle). It met and exceeded expectations.

However, instead, here I am, writing about how the Hungarian weightlifter fucked up his arms. I don't actually have the details of what happened, or just how "horrific" (I love it when that word is used in a straight-news headline) the injury was, because I absolutely fucking refuse to be exposed to pictures, video or any sort of detailed description of what it's like to have your elbow(s) "bent the wrong way". I'm just sorry I glanced at the headline off whatever news web site it was. I not only have a low threshold for pain, I have a low threshold for READING about pain.

My first instinct is to suggest that perhaps young, healthy people shouldn't be encouraged to put their bodies at grave risk of permanent injury while the whole world is watching; young people are already susceptible to peer pressure without the notion of "Well, the last guy lifted 300kg over his head and lived; what are you going to do for me today? And by the way, all possible boy / girlfriends you will ever meet for the rest of your life are watching".

Of course, where do you draw the line? We can't just exclude outright any event from the Olympics which may result in injury to the competitor. On one end of the scale we have (ironically) something like Archery which, while it involves actual weapons, they are not pointed at any person at any time, and thus are 100% safe. On the other end of the scale we have something like Gymnastics, and specifically events where you are expected to do things like a double somersault 8m twirl in the air and land on one foot on a beam 10cm wide (which has in the past sometimes resulted in the twirler landing head-first on the judges' tables, to much commotion and only sometimes in their walking away from it).

I believe the answer lies, to borrow a strategy from demographic marketing, not in segregation but in segmentation. Currently there is the Olympics, and then there is the Paralympics, the Olympics for people with disabilities. I would like to propose that there should be formed an Events Body called the Proto-Paralympics, which, of course, will be a showcase of sports events that are likely to be the source of athletes who can then compete in the Paralympics.

"Petty and spiteful", says my husband, upon being read aloud that last paragraph. "Towards whom?" I ask. Quite far from being a censor, nor a chider, I would really just like to have some assurance that I don't have to see someone self-braining as they "dismount" from anything (what a lovely euphemism for flinging oneself head-first towards the floor).

Oh, and as a rider to my proposal, bring back the speedos, for fuck's sake.

[Pretzel Vitruvian Man courtesy of PretzelFont.com]

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dear New Yorker


Dear New Yorker,

I have enjoyed every issue of your magazine since I began my subscription about 16 months ago. Your measured prose and distinctive intellectual style have always found a place in my schedule and on my nightstand. It is because of my fondness for your publication that I find it so disheartening that you have chosen a theme for your cover this week that gives me great pause and apprehension, particularly in these sensitive times.

I realize it's a cartoon, and that your intentions were to satirize and make light of what in any other context would be an absurd, over-the-top situation, but my concern is that there are certain people out there who will not appreciate the subtle, high-minded Absicht that your artist intended, and will instead take the content in a more literal, sub-rosa capacity.






While I enjoy humor in all its wonderful forms, one has to ask, point blankly, what were you thinking? I mean, red wine with lobster?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Gentleman in the Water

From NYT:

A 32-year-old man competing in the New York City Triathlon died Sunday after being pulled unconscious from the Hudson River on a day when competitors battled heat, humidity and stinging jellyfish along the course.
[...]
“Other swimmers noticed the gentleman in the water, and they were actually waving and signaling for the nearby jet boats to come assist them,” Burke said.

I enjoy a good swim myself... and I enjoy a good drink at a bar.. This story made both of those activities intersect in my mind in the sense that every now and then while in the game the arbitrating authority (bartender / referee) is asked to take a player out due to inability.... but rarely due to death.

Monday, July 14, 2008

vive la difference (zakaria / obama style)

ZAKARIA: Tell me, what is your first memory of a foreign policy event that shaped you, shaped your life?

OBAMA: A first memory. Well, you know, it wasn't so much an event.

I mean, my first memory was my mother coming to me and saying, "I've remarried this man from Indonesia, and we're moving to Jakarta on the other side of the world."

I think it's awesome that the names pertinent to this interview are ZAKARIA and OBAMA.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

What should I spend my federal stimulus money on?


(check links to federal deficit chart over the last 28 years)

The other day I received my $600 stimulus check from the government. Apparently they've invented a time machine that allows them to make withdrawals from the Treasury from decades into the future, when this fiscal boondoggle will have to be paid off. I just hope I never hear the phrase "tax-and-spend liberal" ever again. Not that truth, logic or justice has anything to do with this.

In order to set my mind right about it, I have decided to spend the money in the following way:

$100 to the Obama '08 campaign
$100 to the Al Franken senatorial campaign
$400 distributed proportionately to how people vote in the following survey:

On what should I spent my federal stimulus check?

(click above to vote)










I will report the results of the survey (along with proof of my disbursements) in due time.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

"The View", for assholes

A funny thing is happening (as they said in a certain movie, although probably for reverse qualities) at Fox News when they start broadcasting their (live) B-roll on the internet (link goes to feed, as of 9pm 6/3/08), complete with pizza-eating burps, "excuse-me I'm going to the bathroom"'s, "we gotta do some TV now so let's be quiet and let the grownups speak" (as a means of introducing Chris Wallace and Karl Rove, for the TV feed).

It's Big Brother (the show) meeting Big Brother (the real fucking thing).


Karl Rove (in rear) reports on the blogosphere and online whatnots,
for the benefit of the internet news crack addicts.

We Said “No”

A year and a half ago I was sitting at my desk at work when I stumbled across an article on Slate.com which gave me serious pause. In it William Saletan thoroughly described why, at a time when the nomination of Hillary Clinton, one of my state’s senators, was universally appreciated as “inevitable”, she was sure to lose, complete with segmented bullet points. He also repeated a quote from a then-recent New York Times article in which Hillary Clinton said "If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote [for the war] or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from."

That article, and my agreeing response, has now become materialized in history. In that arrogant dismissal she invited millions of citizens to ask “Why not somebody other than her?” By that simple comment she mobilized millions of people to do things they had never done before (and which were often quite against their everyday nature) and bring forth a most unusual turn of events:


So, Hillary, in February of 2007 (and as an ongoing process, witness to your campaign tactics) a large number of tuned-in people decided that, yes, we will take you up on it. We will choose from the rest. You don’t get to be President. Step aside.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Eating a Reuben

I've always been a fan of artificially promoting forms of expression. You know, like, catchphrases, euphemisms, and just plain trendy misuse of language. In the early 90s I tried to bring back "gear" as an adjective, as in: " The Beatles are gear!", which was seen on a bedsheet sign held up to be read by the Fab Four as they deplaned from their arrival at JFK in 1964, kicking off the British Invasion into overdrive. I could not find a sample of that photograph, even though it has always been iconic in my mind. Still there is this -->

In that vein, I think from now on I will use the phrase "eating a reuben" to refer to someone who is clearly insane and can only express it through political whining (and, while some may be tempted to accuse me of being the pot that called the kettle black, I am specifically referring to the scary video at the end of the article linked here, and I myself have never been caught on tape).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

NY Governor Patterson Sets An Interesting Precedent

The governor of my state has declared that all state government agencies must recognize ALL marriages from other states, including Canada, and that means the gay ones as well. This is curious as New York does not allow the marriage of same-sex people presently.

This could set an interesting precedent where, if other states follow suit, gay couples must marry outside their state in order to be married in their state.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Political Ouroboros pt 3: Sharpton to H.Clinton: "Watch What You Say"

Sharpton said he spoke to Hillary Clinton Saturday morning about her recent reference to the assassination of Robert Kennedy - "and she understands my feelings firmly."
[...]
"I don't believe either candidate meant it when they said it, but I do believe if you strike a match in a flammable environment, you run the danger of something catching fire," Sharpton said. "I'm asking them to be careful how they handle their matchbook."

Yes, well, thank god The Good Reverend is there to hand out advice that he is the most appropriate person to give. Far be it for me to defend Ms. Clinton (can you tell I'm not impartial?) but I just can't resist linking back to that story I wrote last year of what he said in my presence.

Something You Oughta Know

I turn on my TV and see this...




Apparently the President /General Manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway is named "Humpy Wheeler". If some serious novelist made that up they would burn his books.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Say What?

"It's almost like she's the Al Sharpton of white people."
-- Chris Matthews on Hillary Clinton

Friday, May 02, 2008

nail biting

I have bitten my nails all of my life. Call it an oral fixation (and those whose names are on my shit list for taking away my pacifier will tell you that it is), is has been a bane before, during, and after my hard-core tobacco addiction which is thankfully now past.

Today I received THIS in the mail... (at my request -- sorry, do I sound tense?)





... which was supposed to make my fingers taste so bad I wouldn't want to put them in my mouth.

I will give this product the worst possible review I ever gave a porn movie:

"In spite of its best efforts my intentions went unchecked."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

murakami mon ami

Recently I went to see the Takashi Murakami exhibition at the Brooklyn Art Museum.



I had been looking forward to it even before I knew it was coming.. about a year ago I was leafing through my copy of the New Yorker when I happened to see this, as an advert to the US premiere (in LA at the time) retrospective exhibit of his work..

The image “http://www.nothingtodoinla.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/murakami-3.bmp” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


... I was probably the motionlest rider on that subway car for a good 5-6 stops. It struck me in particular because of the strong anthropomorphic echoes it had in my mind to a (admittedly crude) watercolor I had made a few years ago...

He calls his style "super-flat", which is often belied by by the fact that he excels in the area of sculpture:






So a couple of weeks ago ago I went to see his work (and specifically that one piece, the one I saw in the New Yorker, which is actually about 15 feet wide) live at the Brooklyn Art Museum.

It is some art that makes you move




.. and some art that makes you stand very ,very still




domo arigato


Monday, April 28, 2008

That's My Roger

The image “http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20080428/capt.63f04e8a5f3d4c2a9b7cbe92f993e775.music_coachella_cacp115.jpg?x=400&y=263&sig=q.6GbUPaJYxwF0bnupqu7A--” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

[...]The pig, which was led above the crowd from lines held on the ground, displayed the words "Don't be led to the slaughter" and a cartoon of Uncle Sam wielding two bloody cleavers. The other side read "Fear builds walls."

The underside of the pig simply read "Obama" with a checked ballot box alongside.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Snow Job

tonyThe image “http://www.triton.vg/images/F28-G-shill.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.snow

So, this asshole who was a speech writer for Bush I and then went on to work as a "commentator" for Fox News (and a sub for Rush Limbaugh) and then (back again) was later Bush II's third press secretary is now hired by CNN
to keep puking out shit for corporate America. Lucky us.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I've Been Ratzed!

Yesterday I was doing some gardening upstairs on my deck when I heard a rather loud helicopter nearby. Now, this being Brooklyn, one often hears a police / news / weather helicopter buzzing about and not a second thought is spent on it. However, this was really LOUD and CLOSE (a few hundred feet). I looked up and was rather surprised to see Marine One (what the giant helicopter the president uses to shuttle from the White House lawn to wherever Air Force One takes off from, Andrews AFB I guess) buzzing my neighborhood, just about 500 feet above my head.

That surprise was only beaten by the sight of a SECOND Marine One right behind it.... then a third, a fourth, and a FIFTH (I didn't know there were that many). Five full-sized Marine One's doing a tour circle fly-by of residential Brooklyn (they actually did a loop around Clinton Hill, Park Slope, and then headed off somewhere southeast).

I think my grandmother would be somewhat disappointed to learn that after a lifetime of her fetishistic catholic idol worship, I managed to get closer to the Pope than she has while engaging in no greater effort than potting dahlias.

(the photos are not great as I only had my cell phone's camera with me; you can't see all five choppers at once in any of these shots and because of the fish-eye quality of the lens they look a lot further than they actually were)

UPDATE: I'm told the Pope doesn't actually get to NYC until today, so the helicopters I saw were 100% Pope-free. Oh well.. it was still a sight. Perhaps they were rehearsing a route on which to take him for a tour of the city and I'll have another chance later today.





I Bet You Are

My favorite part of the final (we can only hope) debate between Clinton & Obama which I watched at a bar in midtown...




[...]In a debate that moved swiftly between politics and policy, Clinton issued a first-ever public apology for having claimed erroneously that she landed in Bosnia under sniper fire in 1996 as first lady.

"I may be a lot of things but I am not dumb," she said, adding that she had written in her book that there had been no gunfire during the episode. She said she was embarrassed by her error. "I'm sorry I said it," she added.[...]

(So, let's analyze this for a second... She's basically saying (in that imperious "what the hell is wrong with you" tone she likes to use) "What I stated is a clear contradiction of what I have previously put down in writing, thus what I said was not true, and you know that, so stop bugging me".)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

How I Piss People Off

I don't even try... It just happens.

I was out walking my dog this morning when I noticed an Astrovan or equivalent (do they still make Astrovans in this brave new world of ours?) parked about five feet off the curb in front of a hydrant, something quite commonly seen here in New York, and particularly in Brooklyn. The idea, which comes naturally to us programmers and generally left-brained people, is that since it is illegal to park in front of a hydrant, in the interest of not getting a ticket I will instead park in the middle of the fucking street blocking traffic, as I would if I were, say, double-parked in front of a store while I ran in to get nail polish or condoms or something.

So, I stopped for a moment in front of this van, and I said "Excuse me, could I ask you a question?" and the young woman with the large frizzy blonde hair opens the driver's door and turns to me smiling. "I'm just curious.... do you think you're legally parked right now?" Her response (which reminded me of those long-ago commercials where, to use the vernacular of advertising graybacks, a C in a K would exclaim gleefully at the camera while shopping: "I'm cleaning my oven!") was "I'm double-parked in front of my house for a minute!"

My mind paused for a moment, as it always does while gauging the level of stupidity or insanity in another person.

"But there is no car there" I said, while looking wanly at the empty pavement between her car and the curbside hydrant. I then turned back at her to see that she was no longer smiling. I decided I needed to remedy this faux pas.

"I mean, I'm not trying to piss you off or anything, but I see a lot of people doing this and I'm just trying to figure out what the logic of it is."

"Well, I'm just here for a minute", she responds.

"Yes, but you're blocking the road."

At this she just decides that we're no longer just having a conversation, as was my assumption, and instead closes the door and begins to maneuver her van into the empty space next to the curb. I walked away, with the satisfaction of having made a new friend.

So, whether you live in Brooklyn or not, the next time you see an empty space in front of a hydrant near where you would like to see a LEGAL parking spot, but are too lazy to just go and actually find a legal spot, don't just park in the middle of the road in front of the hydrant. Two wrongs don't make a right, even if you're fucking stupid.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Today's Koan: What's Wrong, and What's Right

Some things are both very very right, and very very wrong at the same time. It is the virtue of complexity and uniqueness. For today's lesson we will use Daniel Radcliffe.

For example, this is very very right:



There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, thus it is very very right.

On the other hand,



... this is very very wrong, even though it is the same thing as the first thing.

This concludes the koan.

(on the other hand, the second thing is very very right as well; so there we are).

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In the Tank

I designed a bumper sticker last week (in reference to this SNL sketch and the resulting media attention), then had it printed up. I'm hoping it becomes this election's "Don't Mess with Texas" in terms of stupid, out-of-context catchphrases that somehow help the guy get elected.

If you would like to have one please send a SASE (must be at least 10.5" wide; a regular #10 letter one won't do, unless you want me to fold the sticker in half) along with $5 (profits will go to campaign) to:

334 grand ave #1
brooklyn, ny 11238




Friday, April 04, 2008


Gee, that's funny...

... I don't seem to be getting as many want ads / phone calls for "fixed-income (*) experience" tech jobs as I was a year ago.

Strange, ya know?



(*) mortgage-backed securities

(not that I miss them, and not that I returned any of those calls / emails; when you're deluged with 3-5 phone calls per day for jobs all requiring the same industry experience you don't have you know it's either the next hot shit or, as this stunk from square one, somebody's fishing on a dead pool, and I've already done the former in years past from both ends. I'd much rather have this as a client.)


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Bias? What bias?

I started a coding gig out in Long Island (ok, eastern Queens, but still well beyond the reach of the NY subway system) so I've had to familiarize myself with the Long Island Rail Road commuter service. Thankfully this is a reverse commute (I live in Brooklyn, safely snuggled against the judgmental, non-eye-contact-making busom of Manhattan) so I get to sprawl contentedly across any number of seats while listening to my bluetooth wireless iPod, reading my New Yorker, saying things like "oh c'mON people...." to no-one in particular etc, etc.

Anyway, on the ride Monday I noticed this wall poster ad inside the train. Unlike the city subway trains, which have their ads locked behind plexiglass and key, the ones on the LIRR trains are just pasted (lightly gummed, more like it) on the train bulkhead in a way so that once their ad-buy time has expired they can be pulled off just as easily as those "WARNING: YOU MUST HAVE YOU EYES OPEN WHILE DRIVING" stickers on new car steering wheels.

The in question ad is for the Amazon Kindle.. oh, sorry the Sony Reader.. I got confused because in an incredible feat of publicity tour-de-force, as a result of the quality of their product, nobody has already/will ever hear of the Sony Reader (it's like, welcome to 1994, dude). But what is interesting about this ad is not the product itself, but rather that it made me think of L. Brent Bozell having an apoplectic fit the likes of which would amuse me for years. It portrays a photograph of a pile of hardcover books, some of which are the sort of tomes enveloped in SEP (Somebody Else's Problem) fields like Dickens, Melville, Twain, pulp bull etc.... and then among them are...

The Audacity Of Hope (Obama, Barack)
The New American Story (Bradley, Bill (*))

... the only political / non-fiction shout-outs in the ad. This is the sort of bias that makes my day.


The offending ad (...to L. Brent Bozell, I can only
imagine while yawning and scratching my balls),
shot against the lovely backdrop of my home office floor



(*) it is further interesting to note that Bill Bradley's Wikipedia article bio section begins with the words "
Bradley is an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America." Some Wikipedia contributors are a bit... self-absorbed.


Monday, March 31, 2008

...From Broyhill!

(sorry, i've been watching a lot of The Price is Right lately -- it's in high def now you know)

So I was strolling the other day (ok, today) through Guitar World or whatever it's called and I saw this used keyboard...

http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/rehobothmusic_1990_20627265

...for $160 (image links to description -- "slim and stylish... from Casio!" whispers Rod Ruddy).

If there is one thing I know about keyboards (and by god there really is only one thing I know about keyboards), regardless of any dearth of features, is that you can't get anything with a full 88 keys, decent or otherwise, for less than $300. So I figured this was my chance to implement my plan to buy a piano and finally, after decades of succeeding to not even try, to learn to play more than the two 30-second twinkly-tink songs I got out of two+ years of Suzuki lessons as a child.

The "plan", in this case, has a built-in escape hatch where if I fail to teach myself (I really don't think this is going to involve other people; just a hunch) then I'm only out $160... a far cry from the $800 I considered for a different model just a couple of months ago at another location.

I've had excellent luck buying marked down, slightly used goods (apparently this model goes for about $500) so I didn't think twice about it. The question now is (which is why I'm bothering to put this out here, there, and everywhere).... what autodidactic method to use? Do you know (first or Nth hand), of an adult who, from scratch, taught itself to play piano? What path(s) did they follow?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

There Will Be Reviews

I have seen the last great epic, and it is There Will be Blood. In this, it seems, Ebert and I disagree, and so be it. After all, this is a guy who gave four stars to a teen fantasy movie (which in some ironic sense was actually based on reality) called Almost Famous. Whatever. I guess I never realized what fucking seminal piece of work THAT was.

There Will Be Blood is that rarest of pieces (be they books, plays or films) which bares all, in terms of visuals, plot, and character makeup, yet does not tell you what to think of any of it and you come out not knowing what to think of it, just knowing that you are better off by the experience. It will be a film I will again enjoy watching in 50 years and many times in between.

Ultimately what There Will be Blood is about is about a man, and what we know about this man is terminally truncated... What family does he come from? There is no answer to that, and similar to that other self-made, and un-made, despot, Charles Foster Kane, the answer is specific in its absence (and "what family does he leave?" is equally done and un-done in a self-terminal way as we see in this movie's last scenes). But, unlike Kane (the man and the movie) who is visibly imposing as an African Elephant from the start of his telling, Daniel Plainview is a greaceful and deadly Blue Whale, sliding into view out of the water partially, just long enough to swat us flat with his tail, not out of spite, but simply for being close enough for him to mind. And like the scorpion of that river-crossing fable, we know that that is his nature, and that is all we are allowed to know.

The economics of cinema production will not bear out (with unusually unobtrusive, extremely minimal use of CGI, as this production has achieved) any large, set-piece oriented, location-based plot productions going forward; not without obtrusive corporate or governmental sponsorship. Just as the economics of movie promotion in the early sixties, competing against television, positively demanded that Omar Sharif's introductory shot in Lawrence of Arabia take minutes, not seconds, to ride into plain camera view from a dot in an otherwise blue-on-top-with-sand-beige-on-bottom infinity in order to impress on the movie-goers' experience that "this is something you cannot get from your puny living room screen", director P.T. Anderson, like another P.T. who came before him, is a right lean crowd wrangler, but the times have moved on from this sort of presentation for better and worse.

Going forward, afore and otherwise the screen, the challenge and the promise is to continue to present and appreciate, as Orson Welles and Paul Thomas Anderson have done, equally complex and self-contradictory characters -- identity presentations which challenge the audience in their own self-conceptions, in whatever setting, context and presentation medium; the trick is to do it all budget levels. This endeavor has both succeeded and failed in all settings, contexts and presentation mediums, and at all budget levels, but I look forward to future attempts. Art as dialectic, for lack of a better term (and to paraphrase Gordon Gecko), is good.

My thanks to Paul and Daniel for their work.

Monday, March 24, 2008

In Honor of Holy Sunday, or, as I like to call it, "Sunday"

Some House Tetris


Jesus, don't cry
You can rely on me honey
You can combine anything you want
I'll be around
You were right about the stars
Each one is a setting sun

Tall building shake
Voices escape singing sad sad songs
Tuned to chords strung down your cheeks
Bitter melodies turning your orbit around

Don't cry
You can rely on me honey
You can come by any time you want
I'll be around
You were right about the stars
Each one is a setting sun

Tall buildings shake
Voices escape singing sad sad songs
Tuned to chords strung down your cheeks
Bitter melodies turning your orbit around

Voices whine
Skyscrapers are scraping together
Your voice is smoking
Last cigarettes are all you can get
Turning your orbit around

Our love
Our love
Our love is all we have
Our love
Our love is all of God's money
Everyone is a burning sun

Tall buildings shake
Voices escape singing sad sad songs
Tuned to chords strung down your cheeks
Bitter melodies turning your orbit around

Voices whine
Skyscrapers are scraping together
Your voice is smoking
Last cigarettes are all you can get
Turning your orbit around

Last cigarettes are all you can get
Turning your orbit around

Last cigarettes are all you can get
Turning your orbit around


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

1917 - 2008


The opposite of a suicide

1992 - 2008


"If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything"

Sunday, March 09, 2008

How much did your neighbors give? (And to whom?)

The Huffington Post has put together a hella-nifty map-based interface that allows you to access the entire political donations database. You can look up people by name, occupation, employer, or just navigate the map to see who your neighbors are REALLY supporting, and perhaps help explain why your front yard signs keep disappearing.




Monday, February 25, 2008

Let's just put this one under "May I please be in the room the next time Maureen Dowd does an across-the-room spit take?"

Asked about an accusation on the Drudge Report that Clinton staffers had circulated a photo of Barack Obama wearing Somali tribal dress, Singer let 'er rip.

"I find it interesting that in a room of such esteemed journalists that Mr. Drudge has become your respected assignment editor," he lectured. "I find it to be a reflection of one of the problems that's gone on with the overall coverage of this campaign." He went on to chide the journalists for their "woefully inadequate" coverage of Obama, "a point that has been certainly backed up by the 'Saturday Night Live' skit that opened the show this past Saturday evening, which I would refer you all to."
-- Phil Singer, Clinton campaign PowerPointer, somehow managing to give a presentation to elite Washington opinion makers with his head entirely ensconced in his Klein-bottle-shaped GI tract.

Andy Rooney's Prescription

During yesterday's 60 Minutes broadcast, Andy Rooney was making a point about not knowing what a bond auction is, and being "pretty sure that [he] didn't have any because if he did he would have it in this drawer right here."

While rifling through papers in said drawer, making like he was looking for any stray bond auctions, he accidentally revealed a standard New York State prescription sheet.. which shows Andy's true secret to his madness: Percocet.

It also revealed the physician's name and DEA, which I've blurred because *I* don't want to get sued by Andy Rooney's doctor.


(click on link above for video)

Something I may or may not recommend depending on which ad is shown: