Friday, October 26, 2007

Briefly noted

Also on the Wes Anderson front:
The attorney for Travis Henry, the Broncos running back who faces suspension over smoking some weed, is named Steve Zissou.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dignan learns to laminate

"So he's like, 'Hey, Darjeeling, that's a kind of tea, right? Or, like, a place in India?' And, I'm, like, 'Uh, yeah, dumbass, it's both.'" -- a guy wearing a Sonic Youth baseball cap, standing in line at the Charles Theater in Baltimore, MD, smug as all git-out

So. Wes Anderson, then.

[This is a good article. It articulates a pervasive unease I feel re: Wes Anderson & race. Nothing riles you up more than race, I know, except perhaps liquor stores that won't accept payroll checks after midnight.]

[Here's what may be the prelude to a thoughtful stance. Come on, "cinetrix," you inconstantly third-person narrator, you. Flesh it out, if only for the children.]

We all expected more from Wes Anderson, mainly because of his adroitness at tapping veins of retarded emotion bulging near the surface. We mistook this for depth. It's amazing what a slow Rolling Stones song & borrowed nostalgia can do to the ol' Longing organs. Throw in some Jarmuschish humor & stage it as an elaborate diorama by Dieter Roth or Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and you've got a dedicated following. But that's ok; that's really ok.

A common defense of simple pleasures: they don't pretend to be anything else. But really, why should intent matter at all here? Who gives a fuck if the guy who made my burrito was hoping for a Michelin star? It's a goddamn decent burrito, and it's delicious.

So. I go to Wes Anderson movies for aesthetic rapture. For mild, offbeat laffs. For cheap heartstring-tugging and shallow symbolism. For material fetishization. For Owen Wilson. Not for "ideas," nor for character exploration, nor for the untangling of moral Gordian knots, and least of all for an admirable treatment of race relations. WA is the first half of WASP, and I've learned to live with that reasonably happily.

6.5/10. CC&P says check it out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cheap QALY-saver

Here's to topes. ¡Topes!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Concrete mile

I wanted to just briefly serenade a particular kind of bitterness: it's the long walk on a hot day through blinding daylight along some pedestrian-unfriendly stretch of urban desert. You've been there: along the back end of a convention center parking lot on an off day; underneath the Bangkok elevated train; past the unfinished development site in Delhi with weeds growing through the boxy modern concrete houses; plodding from one car dealership to the next, 1/4 mile down the marginal commercial road with plenty of streetlights but no sidewalks.

You feel vaguely ill, inexplicably weary, despite little physical exertion today. You wonder how you could have ever jogged, sprinted, played a game. It is really far to the next thing. It is really hot. There are no other pedestrians around and the air smells like exhaust.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fantasy Football Wrapup

I caught a few minutes of the Patriots-Cowboys game at a local Baltimore bar. The bar is half-gay, half-straight, 100% depressing. The hilarious yet (for Baltimore) unremarkable 15-minute circus that ensued fits poorly into a blog nugget; nonetheless, I feel compelled to note a few highlights:

  • The bar was nearly empty. I requested that they change the TV from a rodeo broadcast to the game.
  • 2 beefy straight 40ish guys were too drunk to notice that they'd lost control of their 20ish trashy-hot girlfriends.
  • One trashy-hot drunk girl insisted on being taught how to sign "S-E-X-Y" in ASL by the gay identical twins sitting in the corner playing erotic touchscreen. "Oh my God you're deaf and that's so sad, but it's also awesome, really!!!!"
  • Her attention was diverted by a Baltimore Dude (30 but looks 50, no teeth, wiry strong, tattoos, white, shaved head) sobbing into his hands on the counter.
  • The trashy-hot girl then proceeded to ostentatiously comfort the Baltimore Dude, buying him shot after shot. "It's ok, sweetie, everything's going to be ok, you know that, right? Get drunk with me."
  • The Baltimore Dude attempted to touch the labia of the trashy-hot girl during one of the 116 hugs they engaged in. She slurred "That's not appropriate," then bought everyone another shot.
  • One of the 40ish beefy dudes pulled her away after he'd been rejected whilst hitting on a 45ish botoxed horror.
  • The Baltimore Dude then sobbed for 5 straight minutes. I tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he was ok, which of course he wasn't. He said "yeah," then collapsed backward off his barstool and lay on the floor amid spilled beer, overturned barstools, and wretched shame.
  • I've been to this bar twice in the past 6 months or so, and it's the second time I've helped someone up the stairs. The first time, it was a man who looked 150 years old, a ruined Statler/Waldorf, his mouth hanging open so wide it looked like he was cruising for plankton. With his son.
  • New England beat Dallas but may have lost Sammy Morris, making Kevin Faulk an acceptable desperation #2 back for week 7.

Mid-October nuggets

  • You hung over? Feelin' like you need to reboot the works? Wanna purge the toxins? Read this article about Gawker. It's nauseating.
  • A quote from the Washington Monthly about the article: "The vast emptiness at the core of what these people do is almost unfathomable, and their self-loathing ranks right up there with crack addicts..."
  • Concert Review: 10/14/07, Of Montreal. Good music, wanted to punch Kevin Barnes in the throat. Biggest divergence between singer/song impressions since Telly Savalas' "Telly" (1974). I don't have anything against preening pretension, honestly, but I was in a bad mood; Freddie Mercury was in retrograde or something.
  • I was all set to launch a spirited discussion of Gary Taubes' piece on epidemiology (as made manifest in diet/chronic disease etiologic research: weak associations, unmeasured confounding, shaky conclusions), but then I got bored. And you would have too. So instead, I thought we could-- together, you and me-- launch a jihad against the phrase "junk science." Consider this an amateur fatwa (the hottest kind).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Instructions for making a nuclear bomb

Here is a surefire recipe for constructing a nuclear weapon:

  1. I have always been curious to see who searches for this kind of thing. Radioactive Boy Scouts, for instance.
  2. Presumably, there's all kinds of crappy or scarily useful information posted online by lunatics.
  3. Therefore, this post probably won't make it into Google's top 100 search results.
  4. I might need some specific ordered combination of terms, like "bomb recipe" or "step by step nuclear bomb" or "nuclear bomb instructions."
  5. Nonetheless, it would be awfully interesting if I got hits on this site from people searching for such a thing. I will report back to you.
  6. I'm sure the NSA and the FBI and the BBC and BB King have posted all kinds of lures and traps online, and play the "track IP address" game.
  7. By simply posting about this topic, I may find myself face-to-face with scary waterboarders in dark suits tomorrow.
  8. Tell my mother I love her.
  9. Mix 3 cups of flour, 1 tsp of baking powder, and 1 tsp of salt in a bowl.
  10. Add 2 oz bourbon, a dash of bitters, and 1/2 a teaspoon of Triple Sec.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Colbert didn't quite nail it

Although I wish he didn't look quite so smug in his photo, I think Frank Rich writes good columns. Here's one you should read. I'm looking at you, you complacent ass, stuffing your face with grilled chicken panini. You!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Don't roll your eyes at my motto, bro

Apparently I was out of the loop. I thought "Don't tase me, bro" was a sufficiently obscure reference to serve as this blog's motto. Apparently not. Apparently I need to read blogs produced and owned by Wired magazine.

A quote from the story: "For those of you who've been on vacation on a Greek Island, or are just logging onto your computer from a remote location in China..."

This kind of embarrassed disclaimer preceding an explanation chafes my nerves almost as much as the phrase "Party foul!" does. Yes, for those of you who aren't pale men aged 15-40 who spend all day checking out the "most viewed" videos on YouTube...

Ok, fine. I'm just mad that I didn't hang out backstage with "Don't tase me, bro" before it was signed to a major label. Before the Nigel Godrich production and the string section. Anyway, I've replaced the slogan with a new one, a non-jokey one, taken from a nice essay by John Updike. I like this phrase. It is just the right flavor of bloggy narcissism.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Hyperbole never tasted so sweet:

"Yes, in the wake of the greatest upset in college football's entire history--a history that stretches back to 1869, four years after the Civil War came to an end--one can fairly say that somewhere in a land of peace and joy, Bill Walsh is smiling broadly as he looks down on pupil Jim Harbaugh, and a bunch of Stanford men who have just attained a considerable measure of gridiron immortality."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Arabbers, dirtbikes, wheelchairs

The streets of Baltimore prominently feature three means of conveyance that are at best rare in other cities. Bullet points!

  • Arabbers. They deserve their own post, if not Presidential Medals of Freedom. They are a dying breed (by a recent count, only 6 remain) of street vendors who hawk fruit and sundries from pony-drawn carts. They maintain an African-American tradition dating back nearly 200 years. I once noticed horseshit in my alley, and wondered: what the fuck? Then I saw some Arabbers passing through the neighborhood, shouting and vending, and I understood.
  • Dirtbikes. This is unreal. Groups of dirtbike riders careen through Baltimore like showboating swallows at dusk. Wheelies at 60 mph. Flying through parks, cutting through yards. Dodging traffic, even flying the wrong way up Highway 83. You hear the buzz of the motors after the kids are already past you, all pulling wheelies and exhibiting daring beyond anything you've ever displayed. Cops can't stop them. Every black kid in East Baltimore wants a dirtbike. The 8-year-old kid I mentor covets one like you'd covet a Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock. When we draw, he asks me to draw dirtbikes. I've thought about pedantically drawing him pictures of massive head injuries, but my artistic skills are limited. So I draw him dirtbikes. Dirtbikes!
  • Motorized wheelchairs. There are neighborhoods where they clog the streets. Distressingly piloted by young men, who exhibit an "I got nothing to lose" indifference to automobiles.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Lonely at the top

I won both my fantasy baseball leagues. Yes, that's right. Shout it from the mountaintops. I won. And you know what victory looks like?

Victory looked like this: a slouched posture in front of the computer. An empty beer bottle in my right hand. Outside, ruined Baltimore briefly flattered by the dying sun. An empty apartment. The mild annoyance of friends. The utter indifference of loved ones. Countless hours of life wasted. And for what? For what?

All the National Bohemians I can drink. I don't think King Pyrrhus ever got that reward. Time to pay up. You know who you are.