April 24, 2003

Crazy Train

I fell in love with last night's Caltrain conductor when he said, "We're now arriving in downtown SF ... or at least as close as we get to it."

The other passengers came around when he added, "Please remember to gather all your personal belonings before leaving. Any items left behind will be seized and ground into a fine powder. The powder will then be turned into a launchpad which Caltrain will use to go to the moon."

April 23, 2003

You just won't believe me

Last night, someone asked Ev if he was related to a clan of Williamses from Out East. Oh, the pain of over-common last names. It made me recall the time I was offered condolences for the relative of mine that OJ killed.

Happily, I also remembered my out-east friend John Williams who isn't the famous composer but once convinced someone to the contrary.

You're John Williams ... the composer?!


But you're so young! You must have been a little kid when Jaws came out.

Well, yeah, but my early work wasn't really that complex. I mean, how hard is 'DUH-nuh ... DUH-nuh.'

April 22, 2003

Mo law

There's really not much difference between the state of Missouri and the State of Nature.

I mean, we've got some laws there, like the Boats on Moats amendment allowing 'riverboat' casinos to be classed as boats as long as they sit in a manmade pool of water. Someone once said "You can put a pig in a dress, but it's still a pig" and the Show Me state replied "What if she were wearing pumps?"

But what Mo is missing are the sensible laws. While we did get that cock fighting and bear baiting initiative passed, a bill to prevent cars from parking in bike lanes has hit a snag. It never pays to underestimate the Parking Freedom lobby.

April 21, 2003


"I am trying to break your heart" is a documentary about the making Wilco's album, "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot." And it's excellent. But Sutter's got me wondering at this point if there are any bad documentaries about music.

Right after September 11th, PBS aired its Rock & Roll documentary on repeat and I'm forever grateful. I'm even dying to see the second part of Decline of Western Civilization despite not liking metal.

Oh yeah, Sam Jones, the director of the Wilco film, has a 'making of the making of' blog.

April 17, 2003

America: Open for Business

After successfully activating my new ATM card, the CompuVoice told me: "Remember, this is your new ATM card - you should begin using it immediately."

April 16, 2003

Upon these eyes of thine I'll set my foot.

Out, vile jelly!

Where is thy lustre now?

April 15, 2003

So why don't you piss off

In the 6th grade, Andrew Askuvich picked up this kid and pile drived him into the rail road ties lining the playground sandbox. I was one of only 2 eye witnesses to this event which would quickly become a fight of epic proportions in the history of Craig Elementary.

This week Andrew and his fiancee visited San Francisco and we took in a Giants game together on Sunday night (the Giants won on a 12th inning RBI double from Marvin Bernard). As the pictures reveal, I was somewhat obsessed with close-ups of Andrew's mellon. For one thing, he's got grey hair and that's a little weird to see on someone with whom you spent the majority of your childhood.

The other thing is that we had a running gag as kids about the size of Andrew's nose and how, you know, it would one day destroy the world. I must admit it doesn't look too menacing in the photographic record.


April 14, 2003


I've been conducting an experiment wherein I'll fill my head with thoughts of dogs right before going to sleep in order to encourage canine dreams.

It's not working.

The other night, I invented a new kind of soy milk that was pre-packaged with cereal. The dream kinda fell apart when I couldn't figure out why the cereal was still crunchy.

Still, that was more coherent than the one where I got invited to a taping of the Clint Eastwood Show. It was more dinner theatre than anything else and Clint wasn't even there. Instead, I sat next to Matthew McConaughey and tried to convince him that I thought Reign of Fire was a legitimately great movie. "No, really ... when you jumped at the dragon with the axe! Man, that was heroic."

And then everyone got up and started line dancing ... I felt pretty excluded.

April 13, 2003



Do you see what happens when you walk Barry in the bottom of the 9th?

April 11, 2003


Since destroying a statue and thereby winning the war, some journalists have been touched by the poet ... Shelley in particular, and his poem Ozymandias in specific.

The use of the poem is not really surprising as it seems readymade for the occassion. Even the part about "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone" recalls the broken pipes that remained attached to the pedestal after Saddam's body had been pulled away.

Ozymandias came about as the result of a sonnet writing competition (ESPN2) between Shelley and Horace Smith. Smith's version concludes with:

We wonder, -- and some Hunter may express

Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness

Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,

He meets some fragments huge, and stops to guess

What powerful but unrecorded race

Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

The theme in both is the impermance of all things, not just the reign of a dictator or pharaoh.

In this case, the pharaoh is Ramses II (Ozymandias is his greek name) who built lots of temples, defeated all his enemies and was generally well loved by his people ... well, except for those who Moses asked to be let go. Still, the 'works' referred to in the poem truly were great and emblematic of the last great period of the Egyptians.

So, rather than self-congratulatory triumphalism, the real message in toppled statues is that 1) the Jews are probably involved somehow and 2) all empires end up buried under lone and level sands.

April 10, 2003


"It's finished. It's finished!" the renegade commando screamed on this week's episode of 24. He'd been shot and the doctorfolk at the MiniMed couldn't save him. He knew he was dying and cried out to reveal the location of the secret evidence. Altho' he died one sylable too soon, Kiefer quickly figured out that the microchip was implanted in his side.

Here's the relevant part. Kiefer whips out a scapel and starts rooting around in the dead man's body cavity ... using his fingers to probe the side wound.

And that's how we know that Kiefer's going to eat it at the end of the season.

The 'it is finished' dialogue combined with the wound probing is clearly meant as an allusion to Jesus and Doubting Thomas (with Kiefer as Thomas). And, as everyone knows, Thomas got speared to death in India. Ergo, Kief's a dead man.

(Okay, he's not gonna die next week. But it's him or Kim, I guarantee. And, they could kill him and still do another season ... just set in the past.)

April 09, 2003

Reach out and touch someone

I had to call QuickBooks the other day and was chatting with support as we were waiting for my request to process.

"Are you down here in Mountain View," I asked.

After a long pause, the support guy replied in a conspiratorial tone, "Did they tell you that?"

"They? Uh, no. It's just I'm at Google which is right across the street from the Intuit HQ ... if you were down here, maybe I could see your office."

"No," he said. "You can't do that ... I mean, we're in Reno."

It's hard to make friends sometimes.

April 08, 2003


Elizabeth Stanley-Mitchell points out that regime change doesn't work too well unless you have something else to change into ... and, coincidentally, that's precisely what's lacking in Iraq.

Fortunately, we've got the benefit of experience on our side. Twenty years before this photo-op took place, the US engineered the last regime change in Iraq when, in 1963, the CIA helped oust Gen. Abdel Karim Kassem by aiding the anti-communist Baath Party. And the Baath Party brought peace and freedom to Iraq, turning the country into a model of liberal democracy.

You know, all of this is making the Bay of Pigs look really sensible.

And hear the lamentations of your women

The RIAA is going after a Princeton student for contributory copyright infringement. Not for building a peer-to-peer community or for creating a file downloading tool, but simply for indexing an already existing file-sharing network.

Indexing: enabling more effective search means enabling more effective terrorism.

April 07, 2003

Ecstatic Vision


I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication.

And upon her forehead was a name written: Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth.

Revelations 17: 3-5

April 06, 2003

Dog: the anti-cat

mabel.jpgThere comes a time in a young man's life when he must open up his heart and home to a lady. Even if only for one night.

Mabel's owner, Elizabeth, is out of town and I took over dogsitting responsibilities from her roommate, Meredith. Actually, that's not fair. Mabel could have stayed at home for one night ... it was more like she watched 8 Mile with me and then stood guard against the weird noises in the night.

Pretty good deal considering all Mabel wanted out of it was to be pet and taken around to see the smells of the Mission. I mean, I know I had a good time ... I think she did, too.

I promised to call later this week.


April 05, 2003

Cincinatti sucks in the winter

"They got lifestyle figured out in Spain" I said. "It's like CaliforniaPlus"

"Where are you from," I was asked.

"The midwest."

"Figures. No one actually from California would say something like that."

(Once, I was in Paris for all of 18 hours. I flew around the city, tracking down all the sites I'd studied in 4 years of high school french class - I didn't go up the Eiffel Tower ... that's for tourists.

I was wearing a brown leather jacket that was 10 years out of style and I think that's why I got asked for directions a couple times. Still, my missourian french gave me away as just another American and all the Parisians I met would quickly switch to english rather than hear me butcher their native tongue.)

I laughed and said, "You know, I've found with some native Californians that they don't realize how good they have it. And then, one day, they figure that what they really need to do is move to Boston or something."

"Then," Sutter rejoined, "they get run over by a car."