Saturday, December 24, 2005

Nuggets of Distinction

  • I just saw James Spader. Huh.
  • Why SF is better than Stockton: playing liar's dice with Mark, the best bartender in San Francisco, in Chinatown at 2am, with zero customers other than me & DS.
  • Nice tune (someday I may get around to posting mp3s): Broadcast's "Unchanging Window."
  • Last post for a while; the Special Lady is flying out & we'll be ca-roozin' up or down the coast for a week. Oh, maybe I'll get a few more in before then. Peace on Mars; good will to monkeys.

The Road to 4-12, Week 16

Bye bye, love
Bye bye, happiness
Bye bye, Reggie Bush
I think I'm going to cry

Friday, December 23, 2005

East Coast, West Coast: we're all in the same gang

The great San Francisco v. New York debates have disappeared, mainly because they were boring, but also because most of my friends have shed their regional pride and lived in other cities for several years now. You can only generate so much wind with burritos & coffee & weather vs. nightlife & public transportation & pastrami.

All that said, tromping around the Mission last night & today provoked some thoughts, and now you're going to have to hear them. First of all, San Franciscans get just as apoplectic in traffic as New Yorkers. Just as rude, just as violent. But for different reasons. New Yorkers cut people off, and then the victim goes apeshit [footnote 1]. Here, two people aggressively motion for the other to go first, meanwhile mumbling to themselves, "Just go, motherfucker. Go. Idiot. Go." And then they scream, and motion, and eventually fistfight. Also: bicyclists do the old slam-on-the-hood thing much more here; there's more self-righteousness.

Hipsters: Williamsburg/Fort Greene/etc. hipsters are the peacocks, the poppinjays of hipsters, and therefore the most annoying and false. You just know they'd be wearing Banana Republic in Tampa. SF hipsters are more like cormorants. I'm not sure what that means, but it seemed to make sense to me last night.

Crazy people: wow. I'd forgotten just how many truly batshit crazy people there are in SF, the Mission in particular. I remember there was a guy here who painted his entire body red a few years ago, wandering around just being crazy. But just in the past coupla days I've interacted with some foax who are truly barking mad. Sure, NY is full of crazypantses. But as AH points out, crazy people from all over the world come to SF like moths to a flame; smartasses from all over the world converge in NY.

[1] You can go apeshit, you can be batshit insane, you can be happy as a pig in shit, you can talk horseshit or bullshit, you can be a chickenshit, etc. Cowshit curiously not applicable. Alert Safire.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

They tend to wiggle when they swim

I'm trying to start a National Conversation About Fish in this country; it's uphill hoeing. To spark some cracklin' dialogue about this elephant in the room, here are some possibly controversial propositions:

  • Fish are magical creatures that shimmer beneath the membrane of reality.
  • My staple dish, farfalle in a tuna/garlic/onion/tomato sauce, might cause pregnant women to have retarded babies, but there's no harm & no foul when I eat it, unless mercury is associated with increased risk of myocardial infarction.
  • One should catch & release using barbless hooks.
  • The Japanese art of Gyotaku, or fish prints, rocks the house.
  • The most exciting fish to catch is the striped bass, unless you're Ernest goddamned Hemingway and wrassle with tropical beaked fish in little chartered vessels operated by colored people while you swill Red Stripe and daydream of Joe DiMaggio.
  • One must gather up all the first graders and write "Trout Fishing In America" in chalk upon their backs.
  • If, as in Iceland, you must bury something before you eat it, better to just order Chinese takeout.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The amen corner

Really good post at Fitted Sweats. "Never mind that the shit Lovie is responsible for on a day to day basis already would blow my mind and make me crap my pants repeatedly, I'm gonna give him a paper route and a clipboard and a sack full of nickels. Lovie, you are in charge of these hams. Make sure they get to Toledo by Christmas morning and I will see that your wife can have that surgery she so desperately needs. Don't sass me."

This football season is testing my fandom. I don't think I've watched a game this year in which the team I'm rooting for has won. Brian Billick is winning tonight; 'nuff said. The Niners have to run the table to finish at 4-12. If they do, they can wave goodbye to Reggie Bush, but that's probably a good thing. Recreating some San Diego high school's QB-RB combo might be a nice idea, but it's not worth half the salary cap. God, watching Alex Smith yesterday was like trying to evaluate some supporting actor's performance in Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man; when you're surrounded by shit, you'll smell too.

Grey ponytail update

Just a bit of closure regarding Saturday's horrible hippie cafe/bookstore experience: I was feeling kind of guilty for sipping a cup of coffee and squatting there all day. So I approached the owner of the place, who had a red bandana that partially hid the male pattern baldness on the obverse side of his grey ponytail. I asked him if he would mind my spending several hours there working. Of course, that was a stupid move: it was just a blatant attempt for me to ameliorate what was entirely unneccessary guilt.

He fixed me with a piercing gaze and said "Yeeeeahhh.... that's a really tough one. I don't want to put any guilt on you. That's not what I want this to be about. But you should really consider buying something more than your breakfast." Prick.

I needed to work there, since I was without transportation or alternative internet access, and I am by nature non-confrontational (read: pussy), so I looked over the crappy fiction section, sandwiched among rain sticks, worry dolls, self-help books, nonfiction about the ancient wisdom of brown people as interpreted by white people, and Putumayo CD sets. The most attractive of the meager lot was Kerouac's Dharma Bums, so there we go. But I may have to irradiate it to get rid of the taint.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

24 hours ago I was in New York City, sliding on my ass down the sleety sidewalks and awaiting the transit strike. Now, well... I kinda miss it.

To my left is a set of world music CDs in colorful display cases. To my right is a gentleman about to plunge murderously into his tempeh burger. Behind me are a series of nauseating self-help books with titles like "The Power Of Now" and "Start Where You Are" and "Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting." Grey ponytails abound, as do Trustafarians. The only fiction in the bookstore/cafe involves the names "Kingsolver" or "Lamott" or "Coelho." Earlier, I jest not, the weird bald guy sitting next to me was checking out some internet dating site on his laptop and simultaneously making some noises that implied (a) he was engaged in breathing exercises, or (b) he was having some diurnal emissions. The woman two tables in front of me has a coupla books she's preparing to take to checkout: "Cadillac Desert," the good enviro book, and "The Multi-Orgasmic Couple."

I'm at this particular place 'cause of the free interweb & all this work I gotta do. When I grew up here, I kind of blocked all of this stuff out. Little culture shock this morning. When I return in a few weeks, this site may undergo some changes. Is Hemp Chips & Pie taken yet?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell

It's interesting, no? The way people with poor social skills often gravitate toward teaching or child care? Here I must append an important caveat: by no means do I mean to imply that everyone, or even most... hold on, yes, I mean you, but especially your mother.

But of course the reasons for this are obvious. Unconditional adoration, at least when we're dealing with the real young'uns. I wanna be adored. And even if you don't get any adoration, there's a nice stupid little rush from standing up in front of a group pretending to be a font of wisdom.

It helps to blind oneself from reality, a technique that I can occasionally employ with surprisingly positive results. Like tonight. Reality: 50 bored & irritated grad students trying to pry a kernel of lucidity from the giant wad of incoherence spouting from their TA's jabbering maw. 50 angry and frustrated grad students stalking off to contact the university ombudsman to complain about the sinking level of pedagogy. Illusion: 50 adoring grad students marvelling at the wit, analytical rigor, and sartorial flair of their shockingly handsome TA.

Meanwhile: Milton Bradley to the A's. I like. I've always liked the guy, especially after he ripped off his Dodgers jersey in anger that one time.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Son of a Nugget

  • Several people forwarded me Gothamist's map of the pan-Manhattan maple syrup smell. Being new to the blogo-world, I only realized recently that all right-thinking people despise Gothamist, but whatever. Nice maple syrup map.
  • One day I bitch about Steve Kline, the next day the Giants pick up Matt Morris. The uncritical fan in me likes this development. However, the always-perceptive McCovey Chronicles sez: "Wagering on Matt Morris to be worth $9M in 2008 is like betting on Howie Long to win a Tony that same year for starring in a Broadway adaptation of Firestorm."
  • Today's one of those everything-is-bleak days in the news: thousands of drunken whiteys clobbering Arabs in Australia, the state killing people in the US, secret laws (secret laws??) being invoked, and the 49ers deviating from their CC&P-ordained 4-12 trajectory. They're sinking fast, foax, and UC Davis is no longer a valid reference point. No, it's even worse: think Raiders.
  • Meanwhile, it's been ages since we've seen a show, and at least a week until we're likely to do so. Best city for the rock & roll on the planet, but lately, it's been nothing but statements of porpoise, a million deadlines, final exams, and procrastination with Google Earth. Seriously, that's the coolest thing ever invented.
  • The Year In My Lame Ideas, volume one: it's about time for the "vibration paradigm" to be supplanted for silent cell phone rings. I considered odor release, but finally settled on a little packet between cheek & gum that releases a flavor of your choosing when someone calls. Just set your phone to "flavor." You could have different flavors associated with different callers: anise for Sally, pork loin for Bob, whiskey for Mom. Insert increasingly crude series of jokes here.

Fever dreams

For a variety of reasons, I've flown quite a bit over the past few years. One maddeningly ubiquitous airline opiate is "Everybody Loves Raymond." I never spring for the headphones, more out of laziness than principle, but I end up staring at Ray Romano and his buddies anyway. I've never watched an episode of the sitcom (I promise I'm not feigning ignorance of popular culture to bolster my psuedo-intellectual cred-- "Who is this 'Harry Potter' of whom you speak? Was he a contemporary of Derrida?"), so I can't really infer any witty dialogue from the silent interactions of lovable familiars. No. I just stare at Raymond and his wife and his friends. And it's neither funny nor interesting. My memories of flight are conflated into a single, endless, three-camera inferno; it's like the kind of waking nightmare you experience when sick in bed for the day.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Maple Syrup Alert: Code Red

It's back. Washington Heights, at least, smells like maple syrup today. The Corn Chips & Pie Department of Neighborhood Security has moved the color-coded Maple Syrup Alert Level to red.

SS and I interviewed several people on the street today, who confirmed this. In fact, most people seem excited to share their thoughts and feelings on the matter. Some pointed fingers at Mike's Bagels. Others blamed the Washington Mutual home loan branch. Later, I spoke with a young woman who suspects treachery of some sort.

Everything Is Irritated

Everything these days seems like an obligation that I've failed to discharge. I feel them opportunity costs accumulatin' with every passsing moment. What have I failed to accomplish today? Even my Netflix queue is a source of insistent, chafing guilt. But today, today I dispensed with one red envelope staring at me obstinately from my desk. And I'm glad I did, Shaun Of The Dead. Hey, The Fog Of War, wait your goddamned turn. Wait for an empty evening when I feel like wallowing in moral outrage and geopolitical melancholy. And stop staring at me like that. It's been weeks and weeks.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tepid Stove

Free agents flying around like confetti. GMs legitimately dreaming of big arms, big bats, big moustaches. And the San Francisco Giants land.... Steve Kline. Basically, we're looking at the same lineup as last year, with Moises & Barry & Edgardo one year older, plus.... Steve Kline in the pen. Sabes, you're a genius.

Hey, did I mention the Warriors are 12-6?

Also, you know what's really good? Chevre. I could stuff my fat face with chevre all day long, and I wouldn't get tired. I fucking love chevre. Seriously, don't get me started on chevre, 'cause I'll talk your ear off. It's ok by me, chevre is. My hat is off to the Basque shepherds whose squinty gazes and sternly wielded staffs keep their goats in line, so that I may cram pounds of creamy chevre into my drooling gob. Let's all raise a toast to those part-time farmers who set up overpriced chevre tables at yuppie farmers' markets in the big city. Did I say overpriced? You can't put a price on chevre, asshole. I'm gonna buy fifty kilos of chevre and roll around in the stuff, coating my hair and body with deliciously pungent curd. I'm gonna cram fistfuls of chevre into every cranny & pigeonhole in the city, spreading goaty goodness from Staten Island to the Bronx.

This is what happens when you force yourself to post despite no ideas. I mean, chevre is ok, I guess. Whatever.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Remembering A Statesman

Some fantastic quotes from the WaPo story on Duke Cunningham, fallen member of Congress (more fallen members to come). So many possible jokes; I'm paralyzed. I feel like an ass caught between equidistant bales of hay.

"In one now-famous incident, Cunningham and Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) got in a shoving match over sending troops to Bosnia. Moran confronted Cunningham, triggering a partisan melee among other members -- and Cunningham fled. Moran found him crying in the cloakroom. "I thought he had been bullying too many people for too long, and I told him so," Moran recalled. "He said he didn't mean to be so accusatory. . . . After that, he would bring me candy from California.""

"In 1992, Cunningham suggested that the Democratic House leadership should be "lined up and shot." A few years later, a House debate over water pollution turned ugly when Cunningham said lawmakers backing a particular amendment were the same people who support "homos in the military." During remarks in his district in 1998 to a gathering of prostate cancer patients, Cunningham commiserated by describing a rectal procedure he had undergone as "just not natural, unless maybe you're Barney Frank.""

"On his first trip back to Vietnam, Cunningham sat down with Vietnamese officials for a formal dinner, and his first words of the evening were: "You gooks shot me down.""

The Road to 4-12, Week 12: What The World Is Waiting For

Parity is a funny thing. It doesn't mean, as I'd hoped, that the 49ers have a chance to win on any given Sunday. In practice, this is what it means: the teams that defeat the 49ers every Sunday are of similar skill levels, despite their records.

This is why the Niners played the Seahawks tight two weeks ago but resurrected Steve McNair's season last week. This is why it's becoming impossible to guess the margin of defeat: 2 points or 41? One has to wonder how badly USC or Texas would beat the Niners. For that matter, UC Davis matches up pretty well in some key positions. It'd be a dogfight.

Now that we're out in front of the Reggie Bush Derby, I should be content with merely sniffing the hind quarters of the bell curve. And I will be, once the season is over. But this week is my Super Bowl Sunday. This week is payback for the Thrilla In Distrito Federal. Arizona Cardinals versus the San Francisco 49ers: are you getting chills?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A world with no consequences

When push comes to shove, when it's time to get down to brass tacks, when it's crunch-time, go-time, showtime, when one must kick the tires and light the fires, when my offense is in the red zone, when it's time to step up, etcetera, I adopt a pleasingly familiar psychological avoidance technique. Namely: I waste time by imagining all the amusingly inappropriate ways I could behave. And so, instead of properly preparing myself for something important and impending, I giggle to myself, my wee head filled with juvenile nonsense.

Mind you, none of this is particularly funny. But it makes me giggle, so I offer it in the spirit of universal brotherhood. Job interview: I wear nothing but roast beef, squat in the corner, and take a crap. Then I rise and offer my hand, speaking in a crisp British accent. "Good afternoon. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance." Speech in front of large audience: I carry a large box, and halfway through my speech, I open the box and release an swarm of angry bees. "Run! Bees!" I shriek. First date with woman: over dinner, I moan at the threshold of human hearing with my mouth closed. Etcetera.

This is on my mind because of these goddamned mutherfuking statements of porpoise I have to write for PhD program applications. There is nothing more odious, more pathetic, more hateful than a statement of purpose. And so instead of slogging through the process and regarding it as a necessary evil, engaging in the ritual self-aggrandizement and requisite false clarity, I instead imagine funny funny things I could write. Send help.