December 27, 2003

Farm Life

So, I've got an obsession involving a chicken. And a sheep. And a pregnant cow.

Every day, I am compelled to gather the eggs, pet my sheep and feed my knocked-up cow.

My name is Jason and I am a Harvest Moon addict. Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town for the Game Boy Advance, to be specific.

One of the key aspects that makes this farming sim so consuming is that each day you only have a certain amount of time and strength to make things happen for your pixelated livestock. You've got to make your animal friends happy (so that they'll produce higher quality eggs, wool and milk) while simultaneously working on your 5 Year Plan for Agrarian Life Fulfillment.

Sitting atop the Harvest Moon pyramid of needs, above even Win the Sumo Chicken Contest or Teach Your Dog to Catch a Frisbee, lies Getting Hitched. And there are many fine ladies from which to choose.

Initially I was courting Popuri, the chicken farmer's daughter, because, not to be crass, she seemed kinda easy. All she ever wanted was flowers and those were easy to come by.

But then she showed up at my house looking for treats on Halloween and I was all "First off, this is a holiday for kids and I'm not looking for no child bride. And second, we are so not in the point in our relationship where you can just show up at my house, when I'm trying to tend to my crop of eggplants, and demand that I provide you with snacks."

So now I've got my eye on the tomboy-ish barmaid. I hear she likes eggs.


Artist Statement:

"My artwork bears witness to the journey of the puzzle to the journey."

with helpful decoder ring.

December 22, 2003

Tetris Angst

Boingboing linked to this site featuring a CD of Christmas songs, played entirely with samples from 8-bit video games.

But I think the real magnum opus here is Nullsleep's Depeche Mode Megamix.

Enjoy the Silence never sounded so good as when played in the style of the Rygar theme music.

Best DVD feature ever

Finding Nemo does all things I've come to expect from a great Pixar flick: funny characters with entertaining celebrity voices, lots of meta-pop culture jokes, a bunch of anthropomorphic/"Sharks don't really have 12 step programs" gags. Nemo is the most impressive of their stable because it also looks pretty as all get out. The design philosophy is all about density of information - packing in a crazy number of plants and animals into every under-seascape. There's so much stuff going on that the background is frequently more compelling, from a dramatic standpoint, than the narrative.

Which is why it's super-hot that they built in a DVD feature that allows you to soak in the digital coolness. Most DVDs boast a "interactive animated menu" feature - which is basically one step beyond simply saying "contains movie" - but Finding Nemo repurposes the idea. Each menu of the DVD contains an animated background and a button that allows you to drop out the titles and main soundtrack. So you're left with just the infinite loop of, say, sea anemones gently swaying.

Kick ass!

The End is Nigh

First, the power goes out for a big chunk of San Francisco. And now we've got earthquakes, what with the ground moving and the shaking and such.

This is my second quake ... it was like being on a boat, gently rocking. Afterwards I felt landsick; appreciably dizzy and sort of sick to my stomach.

Not to be excessively naive, but this is what makes earthquakes really interesting and sort of personally terrifying. I have this expectation from the ground that it's not going move and 99.99% of my life that's been a fair assumption. And then it's not true. In a very significant way.

It's as if gravity were to be dimmed down a bit for a few seconds - just a little bit of lightness, like going over the hump on a rollercoaster, but in a way that you could tell was affecting people for miles around, not just you in your rickety car.

It's the inescapable bigness of the thing that's amazing rather than just the thing itself.

December 21, 2003


Jonathan Dee's NYT story on video games with whole pages of entertaining quotes from Atari CEO, Bruno Bonnell ... from which Costik tees off:

Bonnell wants to call games "interactive entertainment": this is a common rhetorical strategy, but it always gets up my nose ... You can see this strategy everywhere: It's gaming, not gambling. It's erotica, not porn. It's speculative fiction, not sci fi. To which the only honest response is: Bullshit.

December 15, 2003


Sutter likes to remind folks that I used to carry around a yo-yo in pocket. Pretty dorky.

But now I've upgraded to Astrojax - the Swiss yo-yo of the future. And it's only a matter of time until the ladies go crazy for my advanced three body technique.

There's some hot stuff on the Astrojax website. Physics equations to explain how the whole thing works. And ridiculous video of Swiss kids with dreadlocks working the astro magic.

December 12, 2003


The Believer is based loosely on the true story of a Jewish neo-Nazi. In the film, Danny Balint is an incredibly articulate skinhead whose arguments in favor of anti-semitism and murdering Jews are based in his childhood yeshiva studies. And also, he gets to bone Summer Phoenix.

There's a pivotal scene where he and his bald droogs vandalize a synagogue - spray painting swastikas, tearing up prayer books, peein' on stuff ... the usual. But Danny can't go through with descrecating a torah. Unsurprisingly, the gentile neo-nazis aren't exactly won over by being told about the special sacredness of the torah and Danny ends up taking home the torn up torah in order to repair it. Which, you know, is like a symbol for his return to judaism.

This is a great movie, what with the self-struggle and the contradtions and the unsympathetic hero. Good.

So, of course, it's gonna be a rabbi at the Simon Wiesenthal Center who stops it from seeing wide distribution.

The scene I described is the one that gave him pause because it's "a primer for anti-semitism." Or, you know, a scene about challenging anti-semitism ... depending on which movie you saw.

Also, it's interesting to note that the director (who was a non-practicing Jew that became re-enjewed because of making this movie) went to all sorts of lengths to mitigate his guilt around showing the torah being torn. For example, they found a section of the torah that didn't include the name of God and offset that to make a whole scroll's worth.

December 05, 2003


My brother informs me that the lady who got trampled at Wal-Mart not only has long history of personal injury claims, but, in fact, has 16 such claims against Wal-Mart alone.

It's nice to see that, in America, you pick yourself up by your bootstraps and go from being the victim of greed to the perpetrator thereof.

Next: We find out that there's security video footage of her gettin' busy with a stock boy in the Wal-Mart bathroom ... only to discover a week later that she leaked the video to the media to get a better deal for her Movie of the Week rights.

November 30, 2003

Many fine deals

In Florida, Wal-Mart had a 'blitz' sale where they sold DVD players for $30 on the day after Thanksgiving. When the doors opened at 6am, a woman was trampled by the crowd and is still hospitalized.

On Friday, I was in downtown San Francisco, about a block away from Union Street, in a crush of a thousand people swarming up and down Powell Street. It was a Castro at Halloween type crowd - intoxicated and frenzied. Families of four or five people were struggling to stay together and would call out the names of their favorite stores they pushed past.

November 27, 2003


Mathworld has this kick-ass page on special numbers and number theory.

Maybe that wasn't the greatest sell.

But how great is it that we've got folks who can spend time finding and naming special numbers like the Vampire Number. A vampire number is one with an even number of digits that is the product of a combination of its digits. So, 1260 is a vampire number because 21 x 60 = 1260.

Here's the great part. If a number is a vampire number, the pair of numbers multiplied together to form it are called its fangs. Fangs! Mathematicians are wacky.

They've also got some fascinating info about the Beast Number, 666.

I'd never before heard the theory that the reason it's 666 is because in roman numerals it contains one of each symbol (sans M): DCLXVI.

I'm a believer!

November 25, 2003

Revenge of the Lank

Steve Yuhan is blogging again! I'm hoping he's finally broken through that barrier at law school where you actually have free time before graduating and starting the 80 hour weeks.

Steve's gonna be working at PaulWeiss next year so maybe he can get to the bottom of the infamous sushi memo when he gets there.

November 20, 2003


In the PS2 game, Ico, you're a behorned kid that must escort a princess through a giant castle.

It's the best game ever made.

Recently, I played Prince of Persia: Sands of Time which reminded me a lot of Ico as you're a very athletic kid who occasionally escorts a princess through a giant castle, engaging in acrobatic ass whoopin' along the way. The acrobatics are particularly nice - lots of swinging, wall running, Ninja Gaiden-style wall-hopping.

But, the whooping of ass is a little formulaic. The baddies are slow and telegraph their moves in a "Grr! I'm swinging this hammer around my head cause soon I'm gonna try and hit you" sort of way. The first time you run up a sand troll's belly to slo-mo flip over his head and slice him up on the way down, it's impressive. When you realize that that's all you need to do to beat 80% of the bad guys, it's a bit tedious.

Prince of Persia's level design is expansive and beautiful - doing flips while balancing atop the Ultimate Tower of Doom at sunset is breathtaking in both a pretty and a "that's gonna hurt" way. And they do the little stuff well, like leaving trails of dust behind you after you wall scramble and doing clever things to avoid the feeling of load times.

Finally, you can unlock a fully-playable version of the first Prince of Persia game. Which certainly is cool, but man did I quickly grow frustrated. I don't know what we were all doing before analog controls. I ended up humping the wall repeatedly because I'd overrun the place where I needed to jump - something I remember being endlessly amusing when I first played the game on my Mac SE. Less fun now.

November 19, 2003

Farewell to an old, decrepit friend

Today I sold the '89 Camry that I had shipped out to California back in May. A car with 150K miles on it wasn't up to the daily grind of a 70 mile round-trip commute. It's brakes needed to be replaced, the muffler was shot, it needed a new radiator and the driver's side door lock had been turned into a gaping hole by folks looking to steal the fat load of nothing I kept in my car.

So, farewell.

I'm happy that I was able to unload it without any hassle and that its new owner is a grizzled hippie mechanic who will make the necessary repairs and turn the car over to a young cousin just learning to drive.


MGM announced that they're planning a 2004 spoof of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter called Henry Bates and the Sorcerer's Balls.

Heard about this from Josh Cagan who managed to get more jokes out of the announcement than there will be in the entire movie. Good work.

November 17, 2003


My former debate partner, Anna, is blogging her little heart out. It's quite the treat when friends you don't get to see very often start posting bits of themselves to the interweb. I feel there's a future in this business.

Regarding her question about whether there's any food that's better prepared on the East Coast, the answer is pizza. Hasn't been a good pizza in California since I flew back from visting Jonny B in Chicago with a chunk of a thick-crust stuck in my teeth.

November 12, 2003


Biz has made it across the country, all the way to Mountain View. I didn't realize that along the way he left an audblog post from Iowa in which he bagged on 2 Mid-Western institutions.

First off, Steak n' Shake is incredible. I mean sure, not a safe haven for vegans given the foodstuffs it's named after. But trying to impale the maraschino cherry at the bottom of an orange freeze is one of my fonder childhood challenges.

Second, the convenience store named Kum n' Go. Okay ... this really isn't a Mid-West institution. I only ran across one once when visiting Matt in Kirksville. But its name and the fact that the locals refered to it as the Ejaculate n' Evacuate captures both the irony-free superficiality of the Mid-West and its underlying sad wit soul.

Ah, home.

Update: My mom tells me that in her day they refered to Steak n' Shake as Stoke n' Choke. I'm trying not to think about what this phrase meant to the youth with whom my mom parked back in said day.

November 11, 2003

Moons over my hammy

According to the IHT, the director of Brazilian staging of Tristan und Isolde mooned the audience when he was booed on opening night.

His opera seems fairly ridiculous ... a woman masturbates during the overture, there's a chorus of Hasidic Jews - it sounds like Springtime for Hitler, but for real. So, you know, maybe booing was appropriate.

What's wacky is that he'd now being tried on indecent exposure charges ... in Brazil! Where, I've been told, the whole country's indecently exposed.

What's next? Folks getting charged for public drunkeness in Scotland? Excessive cheese-eating in France? Crude national stereotyping in America?!

November 05, 2003

Good enough

Jason Sutter gave me the Goonies DVD for my birthday and I'd been trying to hold off watching the commentary, but finally succumbed to temptation this past weekend when I found myself uncharacteristically bereft of fresh Netflix.

The DVD does not disappoint.

The commentary features all of the original kids ... even Short Round from Temple of Doom. What's more, they videotaped the commentary session so the movie will occassionally go into picture-in-picture mode so you can bathe in all of Sean Astin's plumpness and Corey Feldman's assholic irrelevance.

Sean Astin's the big highlight here. Apparently, he's not well liked. At all.

Repeatedly he will start to tell a story - usually one that starts off very promisingly such as "Cyndi Lauper, there's something I've always wanted to tell you" - only to be cut-off and trounced by someone else in the cast. People just talk over him and if he persists they'll throw in some kinda Rudy or Samwise Gamgee jibe to really shut him up. Even Jeff "Chunk" Cohen gets in on the action. This is a guy who never appeared in movies again, went on to win student body president on a "Vote for Chunk" campaign and is now a lawyer of some kind. He gets to beat up on the Son of Gomez.

I think it has something to do with Sean Astin being the only commercially successful actor left from the cast. There's a lot of "in this scene, you can almost hear Sean thinking about what this movie means for his career." Which really makes not a ton of sense as before he landed the role of Frodo's manfriend, he most recently portrayed Hercules in the video game Kingdom Hearts.

Eventually all the abuse proves too much for the omega hobbit and he bails on the commentary session well before his dramatic speech at the bottom of the Wishing Well. The man quits the commentary!

This does not lessen the abuse.

Also on the DVD is the epic, two-part music video for Cyndi Lauper's theme song, Good Enough. It picks up where Girls Just Wanna Have fun left off ... that is with Captain Lou Albano. The whole thing last twelve minutes and ends with Andre the Giant scaring off the Iron Sheik and Rowdy Roddy Piper who play both pirates and evil foreign investors. It's all very confusing.

October 29, 2003

Speaking of the Simpsons

Matt Groening says that Fox News threatened to sue over an episode featuring a fake news crawl. Apparently, the crawl featured such stories as:

Democrats cause cancer? Find out at ... Rupert Murdoch: Terrific dancer ... Dow down 5000 points ... Study: 92 per cent of Democrats are gay ... JFK posthumously joins Republican Party ... Oil slicks found to keep seals young, supple.

Some of which are almost as funny as "Network sues self."


Camille Paglia's a nut. She's compelling because she intermixes pop culture and social critique. And, you know, my generation's greatest contribution to the world is obsessive Simpsons-quoting, so I'm all about stuff like:

What a bunch of crap this Clark boom is. Clark reminds me of Keir Dullea in "2001: A Space Odyssey" -- a blank, vacant expression, detached and affectless. There's something sexually neutered about Dullea in that film -- a physical passivity necessitated by cramped space travel -- that I also find in Clark.

Sci-fi + sexual identity + politics ... I'm with ya'.

But then she's gotta go poop all over blogs:

Blog reading for me is like going down to the cellar amid shelves and shelves of musty books that you're condemned to turn the pages of. Bad prose, endless reams of bad prose!

While, in the next breath claiming she invented them (fair warning here, Camille ... this is a crowded field):

Now and then one sees the claim that Kausfiles was the first blog. I beg to differ: I happen to feel that my Salon column was the first true blog.

Really her issue is that there's no blog super-celebrity. That someone needs to do for blogs what Rush Limbaugh did for AM radio - make it "buzzing and vibrant" with voices that have "energy and vision."

To which I say, first, we already have these folks. And, second, my debate team kicked your butt!

October 28, 2003


Netflix will mail you your complete rental history upon request (a partial list is available online). In 134 days of being a subscriber, I've rented 79 movies. So, 0.6 movies a day seems a bit ridiculous ... I mean I do leave my house and, like, bathe.

It would be nice to have that list, maybe sorted by ranking, in an XML feed. I'm not a huge "must document everything about me in a sidebar" person, but I could get behind including that list on my blog. Or at least a link to the movie most recently seen.

October 26, 2003

October 20, 2003


The worst type of DVD commentary is when the director decides to narrate the film.

"He's walking down the hall to get to the bedroom. When he gets there he will sit on the bed ... our set designer is a genius, by the way, completely captured the feeling of the bed."

Of course, the exception to this rule is a movie where you find yourself saying "What the hell were they thinking here - who thought this was going to work?" In other words, the Logan's Run commentary track.

The costume designer pops up once in a while with such gems as "Well, this is a future society based on free-love and free-expression. So we didn't really see the need for anyone to wear underwear."

But the majority of the justifications come from director Michael Anderson. For example, the ice cave scene. Logan 5 and Jessica 69 have just escaped from Hamster City and find themselves moistened and alone in the layer of the evil robot, Box. This gives rise to one of the great lines in any movie, "It's freezing ... let's take our clothes off."

Director Anderson explains, "Well, they were freezing ... and thought their clothes might freeze ... so they decide to get undressed. And then they wrap themselves in some furs that are lying about ... which god knows how those things got there."

Sadly, no deleted scenes on the DVD and according to the commentary there are many. The Sex Shop scene got cut way down because of censors. (Anderson on this: "It's a shame because we spent hours applying flesh covered tape") And, in a scene cut from the above-mentioned Box lair, the dastardly crapbot tricks our heroes into getting naked (again!) so that he can sculpt them in ice.

Hopefully, there'll be a Platinum Edition one day.

October 17, 2003


Today's my brother's birthday. When we were kids, and I was waiting for him to die in Super Mario Bros., I would use the other controller to 'control' the bad guys.

"I'm that Koopa that got you. Fear my turtle wrath!"

This may explain why I'm a Yankees fan today. Yeah, we're the Big Bad of MLB ... ruining the game by buying up everyone and winning so much. The Evil Empire.

Evil because the Yankees have more money to spend than anyone, an owner willing to spend it, and a lack of any rules to prevent that from happening. It's really great. When I was sitting around with some Yankees cohorts watching the ALDS a couple weekends back, there was a lot of "Hey - that guy's pretty good. Maybe we can buy him before the next round."

There are some drawbacks. You get called names. You gotta worry about getting jumped in a Boston sports bar if you cheer too demonstrably. But still, when your team comes back on Pedro to win Game Seven with a walk-off homer in extra innings, it doesn't feel evil at all. In fact, it feels real good.

It's understandable why Red Sox fans would want to experience this for themselves one day. But the truth is, there's solace to be had in the Curse. I mean, for one, it's all the BoSox have. It's not like there's moral superiority in having only the second highest payroll in baseball ... selling out the Green Monster in order to grab a few more dollars (Hint: get your own TV network ... very lucrative).

And, second, I don't think they've thought about what would happen if they won. It's not like it actually erases all those other botched opportunities. Now, you're just the team who's won once in a hundred years rather than this super-mysterious tortured team of doom that's haunted throughout the ages by a fat man in pinstripes. That's the thing that suprised me about all the Cubs v. Red Sox hype - how does that work out well for anyone. All you end up with is a team who's Curse wasn't as big and hairy as the other guys. No one wins ... someone just loses more.

So, embrace the Curse, Boston. It's what makes you special.

There's also a lot to be said for certainty. Now, I've got to worry about the team of freaks from Florida and the fact that Mariano Rivera's arm may fall off and that we've got no starters on full rest. The Yankees win a lot, but they still haven't figured out how to win all the time.

Maybe if we can buy Pedro.

October 16, 2003

Scared down to his hooves

satan.jpgMy friend, Eugene, he paints. A while ago, we decided that he should paint me ... with horns and a black cape.

This past weekend at Open Studios, Eugene sold this smaller version of my gourd to, Bob Gerbracht, a pastel artist and Eugene's teacher's teacher.

Live well in Pinole, painting called "Satan."

October 14, 2003

Piss on a spark plug

Something I never realized about WarGames until I listened to the writer/director commentary ... Joshua's voice is a processed and cut-up version of John Wood (Falken) reading the dialogue backwards.

Which is funny because Falken was supposed to be a ornithological-proxy for Stephen Hawking ... wheelchair and all. The idea got dropped when Hawking was asked how he felt about it. He said that he would be interested in talking if, in fact, the filmmakers were interested in him because of his work as opposed to his affliction.

Yeah, not so much.

There's some discussion about the kinds of things WarGames accurately predicted. In particular, they take credit for inventing the war dailer. But they couldn't understand why having computers talk hasn't caught on more.

October 10, 2003

Why dorks love Belle & Sebastian

From the liner notes to Dear Catastrophe Waitress:

There are four towers to choose from though. Orthanc, Morgul, Tirith and Barar-Dur.

I'm surprised Tolkien didn't give the Hobbits a tower as well.

Well they had a sort of mound.

They (sic) are twelve ways you can pick two towers from four, right?

In related news, in listening to the Themselves remix album, I noticed there's this slowed down sample in Home Work that goes, "He's gone back on his old job - hauling sand. No! He's working at the office, that's right."

It's a quote from Florence Rasmussen, the Sweet Ol' Grandma from Hell, who shows up in the middle of Errol Morris' first film, Gates of Heaven.

Soon I will have all the facts I need.

October 09, 2003

Sonic Blue Death

Thought I would work from home today - just a chance to get away from the bustle of the office.

Instead of quiet, I got Blue Angels practicing aerial manuvers over my house. Turns out F/A-18's are real fucking loud.


Sometimes times are rough.

Rough like you vote for a terrible politician in order to avoid electing a morally rephrensible one. And then the reprehensible one wins anyway.

Rough like your team loses the first game of the ALCS after getting baffled by the ol' knuckler. And your shortstop gets attacked by a bald eagle to boot.

But then you find out that your local record store, one of the great record stores anywhere, actually does have Themselves' remix album, The No Music of Aiffs. And it's not only great, but has a sweet little video clip as well.

Things are looking up.

October 08, 2003

Been down so long

Europe vs. Bush:

Europeans are waiting for the Americans to give up on Iraq and come back to their senses, so U.S.-European relations can get back to the intimacy of Cold War days.


Both the Bush administration, which has been overly dismissive of other nations, and its guerrilla critics need to remember Rule One of crisis behavior: When you are in a hole, stop digging.

October 07, 2003

Designed to break your heart

Baysball: a world of heartache:

"The Bay Area's baseball dreams are in a skid row pawnshop today, in a grimy glass display case between a banjo and someone's mother's wedding ring."

October 06, 2003


When I came home this evening, I had messages on my machine from a DNC official, Bill Clinton, Barbara Boxer, Bill Clinton a second time and Joe Lieberman.

You know, today was Yom Kippur and while I ate lunch like normal, I'm guessing that Holy Joe didn't - I'm surprised I couldn't find a press release on this, actually. My point is that 38 years ago to the day, Sandy Koufax refused to pitch in the first game of the World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur. Meanwhile, I've got auto-Joe on my machine.


Jinxes are an interesting thing. I had predicted that this weekend the Red Sox would see their hopes dashed and was proved, infuriatingly, wrong. I blame myself. Still I had the good luck to be able to watch the game with a bunch of old college friends - cursing the TV and Joe Morgan.

The game was cursed because of the A's penchant for squandering every opportunity to put away the BoSox. Joe Morgan was cursed because ... well, largely just out of tradition. In post-seasons past, we got into a bad habit of throwing soda cans during Morgan- & Miller-commentated games.

The A's have lost 8 straight games in which they've had the opportunity to clinch a post-season series. Here's hoping their luck will change tonight.

October 04, 2003

I want you to hit me as hard as you can

I'm experiencing insomnia for the first time this weekend in Boston. It's just like being awake all the time. I feel I could be a much more productive, yet insane, person if this were to keep up for a few more days.

Despite that, I had an excellent time at Day One of BloggerCon. Great panel on education filled with passionate folks and new ideas about how to make blogs work in schools. And not to be too aw-shuckish, but it's been a real treat meeting folks who say "I use Blogger - thanks so much" and then getting to hear their ideas on what we should do next. Tomorrow morning's user get-together should be a good time assuming I get any sleep between now and then. Where's some valerian root when you need it.

October 02, 2003


Headed out to Boston this weekend for BloggerCon.

Of course, I'll also be on hand for what is likely to be another sad ending to a BoSox post-season. So, I'll be looking to capture Boston's collective woe in tiny picture format.

October 01, 2003

Roosian phrase book

Saw a documentary on Peter Sellers which completely skipped over Lolita, but had great info on Dr. Strangelove. In addition to learning that Sellers considered Strangelove his favorite character, I also learned that he was meant to play a fourth role in the movie - Major Kong.

As you can read elsewhere, Sellers 'conveniently' broke his leg and Kubrick had to cast Slim Pickens instead.

September 30, 2003

Phone's ringin', dude

My car got broken into for a second time last night. Someone applied a screwdriver to my already-violated driver's side door lock.

Fortunately, there was nothing worth taking.

September 29, 2003


Well, it only took 2 1/2 months, but the outcry has finally started to build over the Case of the Outed CIA Agent.

I like the Administration's denial strategy. "No way was it Karl Rove! That's ridiculous." Ok, not Karl, got it. Who, then. Is it time to start guessing initials?

September 27, 2003


Letterboxing is a particular type of scavenger hunt in which the goal is to decipher a clue leading to a box. The box contains a logbook and a rubber stamp. When you find the box, you stamp the box's book and use its stamp to stamp your own.

So: clue -> box -> stamp & stamp.

Apparently, this all started in Dartmoor, England when a guy left his business card in a bottle. Hobbies have a funny way of getting out of hand. Now there are between 10 and 40 thousand letterboxes hidden in Dartmoor alone and a published catalog listing the clues. Letterboxers have a scoring code to indicate how many boxes they've found and left. And there are funny variants of letterboxes like the Hitchhiker box - a letterbox placed inside another letterbox and moved from place to place when it is found.

Recreation is serious business.


I am ready for the future.

September 22, 2003

History will call us dorks

Do you see what happens when you read Dune as Primary Colors. It's like the Bible Code:

"If we want to solve this riddle, we need to find out who is playing the role of the Baron. When I saw that Monkey Mail post today that said Cheney had urged Clark to run, the bells went off. Is this true? Did Cheney urge him to run? Have you heard anything more about this? If he did, then I'd say we have our fat man. Maybe Cheney's undisclosed location is Geidi Prime."

(via Superelectric)

September 21, 2003

Abby Singer

It's like Cecil B. Demented, but, you know, real and unterrible:

"Ryan has emailed me about an impending highly secret action he has planned, which he has codenamed Operation Night Hawk. I am invited to join him. He says he cannot tell me much about it for fear of jeopardising its security, but convinces me that, by the end of the President's Day holiday weekend, every studio executive in LA will know about Abby Singer. What's more, they will each have a trailer on their desk."

September 19, 2003

Nature forges a deal / To raise wonderful hell

The Yanks and O's attempted to play ball today in Charm City despite the oncoming hurricane. It didn't work out so well and the game was called in a tie. Derek Jeter on the situation:

"They're canceling everything around here -- schools are canceled, the government left, the Navy's pulling out, and the Orioles and Yankees are playing baseball."

September 17, 2003

The Etymology of K-rad

The debate still rages. My favorite theory:

"K" is short for "Thousand", as in Kilobyte, and therefore "K-Rad" means "A Thousand Times As Rad".

September 16, 2003

St. Louis Spiral

My hometown has seen better days. First, a school board member called down a curse upon the mayor for allowing a corporate turnaround firm to close down 16 schools ... which, you know, fair enough, sometimes cursing's all that's left.

But now, they've got digital bugles playing Taps at our military funerals and clearly it's only a matter of time until one of them's accidentally set to Reveille.

September 11, 2003

Chiquita Crisis

I've been warning people about the impending demise of the banana for weeks. Most are dubious in a "that asteriod's not really gonna hit us" sort of way. But really, as the Guardian explains, it's all a matter of time.

The bananas we enjoy today are mutants and susceptible to fungi like yellow Sigatoka. In fact, such a fungus would have completely wiped out bananas in the 1950s if not for the heroic Cavendish variant. But now! there's a new form of Sigatoka ... black Sigatoka. And the Cavendish is imperiled.

There is some hope that a new hybrid may save the day. But only if we get the world's best deep core driller mutant fruit hybridizer and his ragtag crew of misfits to head on down to Honduras and show those boys at FHIA what real cross-breeding is all about!

September 07, 2003

Death of Socialism

A kid at my Mom's school, when asked if he knew what Labor Day meant:

"That's the end of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summer Sale!"

September 05, 2003


Steve via voicemail at 6:39:54 pm last night: "...I'll send you email about that, too - Holy Jesus Christ there's an earthquake! Wow this is a big one. Uh ... ... yeah .. um, ok, as soon as the earthquake finishes I'll give you a call."

September 04, 2003


The whole Omnimax v. IMAX thing has confused me for a while. The Metreon in SF has an IMAX theatre, but it's not of the domed, planetarium style. It's more of the "WHOA! That sucker's HUGE!" style. After seeing so many movies projected on tiny multiplex screens, it's really something to see Matrix Reloaded on a 80' x 100' megasurface.

Basically, you end up seeing a lot more detail. Laurence Fishburne's face is quite bumpy, for example.

The side effect is that if a small gnat happens to settle on the projection glass, you end up with a 25' killer bug stuck on the side of Keanu's face.

August 29, 2003


Jeffrey Lee Parson gets made fun of by the NYT for not disguising his identity when he launched the Blaster worm:

"As a byproduct of each infection, every victim's computer sent signals back to the '' Web site that Parson had registered in his own name, listing his home address. The computer bug also included an infecting file called 'teekids.exe' that experts quickly associated with Parson's Web site: Hackers routinely substitute '3' for the letter 'e' in their online aliases."

Congrats to the Paper of Record for being hip to l33t-speak. The editor of Virus Bulletin further ribs Parson for being so conspicuous, "I guess we should praise the Lord for stupid people, right?"

Or blame them for leaving easily-exploited security holes in their software.

August 28, 2003


From Nelson's blog, I learned the State Fair's this weekend ... home of many fine attractions, including:

B.J. the Goodwill Ambassador

Look for this charming puppet in his Coca-Cola Model-T meeting and greeting guests and handing out souvenirs to his new friends!

Speaking of Big Fun, I watched the commentary to Heathers last night and learned many fun facts.

  • There's a lot of Kubrick infatuation: director, Michael Lehmann made everyone watch Full Metal Jacket before the shoot - hence, the ultra-wide angle lens look.

  • Writer, Daniel Waters, also loves Kubrick. Originally, the movie ended with the death of Winona. In one version, she was to have watched Christian Slater explode, give the kiss-off to Shannon Doherty and then siddle up to Martha Dumptruck ... who pulls out a gun, says "Fuck you, Heather" and shoots Veronica in the mouth. As Veronica lays dying, Dumptruck rises from her motorized wheelchair and exclaims, "I can walk!"

  • Kubrick love notwithstanding, Lehmann and Waters ... really never did anything ever again. Waters next wrote Ford Fairlane and then Hudson Hawk. Lehmann last directed 40 Days and 40 Nights. Sad, really.

August 24, 2003


There's no reason for high school reunions - just wait for your friends to get married. Last weekend, Andrew & Hallie got hitched in St. Louis, and I got to hang out with a whole bunch of old-timey friends. It's funny talking about home ownership with a bunch of folks you used to trash homes with.

Not that we were punks or anything, but there sure were a lot of "remember when we broke that lamp / wall / turkey dinner including the plates" stories.


August 22, 2003


Fox Loses Bid to Stop Sale of Franken Book:

"There are hard cases and there are easy cases. This is an easy case," said U.S. District Judge Denny Chin. "This case is wholly without merit both factually and legally."


I shoulda known better when Steve gave me all his skee-ball tickets.

August 10, 2003

Van Photos

Today's the last day of my vacation. I feel great, simultaneously much vacated, and yet also full of many new seen sights. Herewith I present the photographic record of said sights. If you're looking for hints on what to do in Vancouver, I highly recommend the Lonely Planet guide.


August 09, 2003

Everything looks beautiful when you're young and pretty

The first time I heard Birdhouse in Your Soul was on a mix tape of Aaron's sister. Because it came right after It's the End of the World as We Know It, for a long time I thought REM sang Birdhouse as well. I had a troubled youth, in many respects.

Just got back from seeing the They Might Be Giants documentary, Gigantic, and it was a rockin', dorky good time. I've never had a stronger mimetic experience than watching high school debaters argue over the meaning of Particle Man.

But the most impressive thing to me was what was left out. Somewhere toward the end, there's footage of the two Johns doing a release show at Tower Records for Mink Car. The card reads "September 10, 2001 - Midnight in Manhattan." And you're just like, "Oh, man here it comes - time to make contact with the great touchstone of national tragedy." Instead, you've got TMBG singing New York City, and the film simply transitions from the record store appearance to a stage performance of the same song. And that's it. No falling towers - no channel-flip style news footage.

In talking about the happy-sad mix of most their songs, John Linnell says something like "It's not really interesting just to watch someone's heart break." It's much more interesting to wrap despair in this complex wrapper of accordion punk rock.

August 08, 2003

Light Quality

Back at home and there's no place like it.

Before heading out this morning, I zipped around the Vancouver Art Gallery. Got to see one of the Lombardi conspiracy maps up close ... damn you Henry Kissinger!

And I saw Danica Phelps' work which consists of an obsessive, beautiful record of the transactions and events in her day-to-day life. My first thought was "Wow! This is what a blog looks like put up on the walls of an art museum." But maybe that's not quite right.

August 07, 2003

You shoulda been a clerk

Not much time left on vacation, so I've been doubling up. Yesterday was the Day of the Two Formal Gardens (one japanese one chinese). Well, it was also the day of dropping a bunch of loot in Zulu Records which has the same kind of well written reviews you find in SF's Aquarius and a wider selection of Anticon stuff than I've seen anywhere.

Today I hit up both Pacific Spirit Regional Park and Queen Elizabeth Park - one very treeish with a bit with a bog, the other more flowery. And then I had to eat dinner in three different places to squeeze in the remaining restaurants I wanted to try.

Nothing can stop the Blob.

August 05, 2003

Slash death

Thanks to Sutter I'm now rocking out at I feel all grown up.


After walking to a lighthouse surrounded by an old growth forest, I decided to do my Zelda: Wind Waker imitation today. I rented a motor boat from up in Horseshoe Bay.

I was a little worried that since I lost my driver's license a while back, I might have some trouble. Turns out there aren't many rules up here in regards to renting a boat. You don't need to actually know how to drive one. You don't need to wear a life jacket. Basically, you just get in the thing and point it at the pretty stuff.

And, man, is it fun. Howe Sound is dotted with islands you can zip around, some of them peopled by lazy sea lions. I was amazed by the distance I covered in 2 1/2 hours.

Having spent the afternoon communing with marine life, I decided to spend the evening eating it. Whole mess of oysters, whole mess of trout. Good times.

Oh, and then I saw Northfork which is a really fine looking movie that may or may not be about something. God, maybe.

August 04, 2003

Been here 4 hours

My first day in Vancouver has been pretty amazing. This morning, I saw a crazy clock that runs on a combination of steam and the dropping of stainless steel balls.

I walked all over Stanley Park which, I feel, is better than NYC's Central and SF's Golden Gate if only because there's an unlimited number of places where you can stop and eat salmon.

But the real kicker was the all-you-can-eat japanese restaurant. In some ways I feel I'd been waiting for that meal all my life. 12 dishes later I stumbled back to my hotel.

Tomorrow I predict there will be more eating.

July 28, 2003


Bob Hope was so old that the guy who wrote his obituary is dead.

Friendly Confines

I'd been wanting to see a game at Wrigley for a while now and finally had the chance a couple weekends ago.

Moreso than even Fenway, Wrigley Field is all about the old timey baseball feel. Instead of a Jumbotron, there's an electromotive scoreboard for keeping track of balls and strikes and hand-turned placards for everything else. I was sitting dead center in the outfield bleachers, directly beneath the scoreboard. Whenever there was a one ball count, you'd hear an electric whine from the board laboring to display that number. During the 7th inning stretch, rows of heads popped out of the empty holes on the scoreboard to see the guest conductor lead the crowd in Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

From the outfield, you can't see any ads at Wrigley. There are two small video strips in the grandstand that show the score and have a Sears logo. Aside from that, nothing. Quite the contrast to PacBell park.

At one point, some of the rowdy bleacherfolk I was sitting near tried to start the wave. They were mercilessly heckled and revealed to be out-of-towners posing as locals. A guy in my row turned to the would-be wavers and said, "I was born 3 blocks from here and have been coming to Wrigley my entire life. So let me tell you, there's no fucking wave!" Right on.

Modern baseball park design has focused a lot on trying to incorporate the stadium into the city rather than just dump it on the side of some highway. Nowhere is that neighborhood feel more authentic than at Wrigley. From our seats, I could look straight down Waveland and Sheffield Avenues. And in addition to the folks watching from the rooftops across the street, I saw parents playing catch with their kids in the street, others flying kites outside the park. Wrigley is the neighborhood.

All this and the Cubs won. Certainly, not disappointing.

July 27, 2003

One for my Bro

COM 480: Ethnography of On-line Role-playing Games:

"In this course, we will conduct an ethnographic study of the behaviors, cultural practices, and motivations of MMORPG players. The course packet will include readings that explore role-playing games, virtual community, and the construction of identity on-line. Extensive attention will also be given to methods for conducting research on-line."

(via Costik)

Doc Type

When Errol Morris talks about self-deception, he doesn't do so from a superior position of "This only happens to other people." He argues that we all self-deceive; perception easily deludes us into thinking of ourselves as protagonists in our own personal dramas. Well, maybe not Buddhists or something.

It's this sense that's lacking from Spellbound, the spelling bee documentary. There's a lot of "Man, these kids and their parents are freaks" and not enough of "And so are we all."

The kids are wonderfully dorky and the movie has great narrative tension. But instead of pulling back to show the spelling bee as just one of the many ways we create arbitrary definitions of 'smart' and 'successful', the movie tacks on some ad hoc conclusions about the American Dream. Spelling as the great American scholastic tradition and lots of Algerisms about how anyone can succeed in this Great Land.


The flipside of Errol Morris' argument about Perception: The Great Deluder is that there is such a thing as historical truth. "There's a real world in which real things happen. And in some small way, my job is to look at that world and to try to figure out what those things might be."

Andrew Jarecki's documentary Capturing the Friedmans takes a somewhat different slant. In this story about a Long Island family torn apart by a pedophilia and sex abuse scandal, the hook is that it's all on tape. The Friedmans were meticulous in recording their familial meltdown and surely there's some interesting stuff going on about the American compulsion for self-documentation.

Of course, the alleged abuse itself, that's not on film. Most likely because it never happened. There's a lot of Thin Blue Line moments with prosecutors and witnesses doing a great job discrediting themselves. But Jarecki's not coming down one way or the other, and, according to Debbie Nathan, that's part of the marketing strategy:

"While the film was in production, Jarecki told the Friedman family he thought the two were innocent of the charges. Polling viewers at Sundance in January, he was struck by how they were split over Arnold and Jesse's guilt. Since then, he's crafted a marketing strategy based on ambiguity, and during Q&As and interviews, he has studiously avoided taking a stand. Teaser ads pitch the film as a Long Island Rashomon: 'Who do you believe?' For Jarecki and his PR people, the question is rhetorical."

That ain't so cool, Mr. Moviefone. It's much more interesting to walk the tightrope between "the struggle with perception" and "the truth is out there". To wit, Errol Morris' next movie, Fog of War, consisting solely of interviews with Robert McNamara. In this LA Times piece, Morris says:
"What it does is take you inside someone's head. It's part dream, part history, part self-analysis, part self-justification, part mystery.

People say nothing can redeem McNamara's conduct during the war, and maybe that's true. But the fact is he's trying to grapple with who he is, trying to come to an understanding of himself and the world. And just because there is one voice, that doesn't mean I wasn't hard on him, it doesn't mean the voice is left alone in some uncritical way."

I can't wait.

July 26, 2003



My adopted home state has decided to do its impression of what democracy looks like in a recently westernized Baltic country.

With all the recall talk, I had some trouble tracking down what the ballot will look like come October 7. It's not good.

According to this article there will be two questions. First, an up or down on Gray Davis. Then, if the answer is down, the election of the replacement governor.

The election of the replacement governor (who will serve until 2007) will be based solely on a first past the post vote. No redistributive voting, no ranking - just winner take all.

This is a bad system of voting in general, but absolutely retarded when the election is going to happen in less than 80 days and the field will be flooded with any random weirdo who's managed to get 65 signatures. Like the guy who's running on the legalization of domestic ferrets platform.

A lot of the commentary about the recall has been very folksy. Isn't America great? We've got accountability for our leaders and anyone can run for office.

Yeah, anyone can run. But with only 80 days to campaign, it's not going to be about who's got the best ideas for how to fix California's problems. It's going to be about who has the most money and name recognition. And, yes, these are the dominant factors in modern politics anyway, but they will be the only factors for a hyper-crowded field of candidates with no real time for debate.

Which means we're totally getting Arnold.

And I didn't move to California to end up living in Minnesota.

July 23, 2003

American Dream

Errol Morris:

You know, I have this version of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

God, in expelling Adam and Eve, kind of felt bad. He had gotten very angry, right? You know, you get angry and then you feel, "Well, maybe I overreacted."

So, God was in that kind of mood when he expelled Adam and Eve from the garden. But his hands were tied. He had to go through with it; he had made the decision. God doesn't want to constantly second-guess himself. But he thought, "I know. I'll give them self-deception. Things are going to be truly horrendous out there, but they'll never notice."

July 20, 2003

Fake Hippie Bullshit

Everything was going just fine - I'm watching the VW/iPod ad and digging on the romance between the iPod's curves and those of the NewBeetle. And the bit where the music goes distorted as the lady switches from earbuds to car speakers ... nice.

Then I wonder, "What's this song?"



The Polyphonic Spree! These people must be stopped. Sutter and I saw them when Chris' kickass band, Citizens Here and Abroad, opened up at Slim's a while back.

The Spree is a fucking army of pseudo-hippies draped in white robes that blasts the audience by having 24 people all play the same goddamn thing. And that thing is happy gospel pop rewarmed from the early 70's like some kinda 30 year-old fondue.

And man is it ever a fondue of poop.

They sell the white robes for $30 to the Spree faithful and when I asked Sutter, "Who the hell would pay for that?" He said, "Watch - one day they'll be huge and someone will be jealous that we saw 'em back in the day."

Fucking pre-cogs.

July 19, 2003

NOC List

Political outcry only works if there's a handle. Congress wasn't willing to make the larger argument that the war on Iraq was unjust. But now there's the Case of the False Nigerian Uranium and all the would-be presidents are gearing up to beat the administration with its own 16 words.

To wit, Howard Dean's got 16 Questions for President Bush. The one I found most remarkable was:

"4) Mr. President, we urgently need an explanation about the very serious charge that senior officials in your Administration may have retaliated against Ambassador Joseph Wilson by illegally disclosing that his wife is an undercover CIA officer."


The source is a Nation article and, apparently, senior officials used Bob Novak to out the wife of Ambassador Wilson. All because Wilson came out with the story that there never was any reason to believe that Iraq was getting uranium from Africa.

July 16, 2003


When Aaron and I saw Winged Migration, he said that the music really reminded him of Nights in White Satin (extended version). I said it sounded like something else.

Last night, I heard the 8 minute version of Nights for the first time and I feel I've seen the other side. There simply isn't a more pretentious song. The song builds into a majestic orchestral surge and the breaks down into a spoken word litmag crapfest:

"Bedsitter people look back and lament
Another day's useless energy's spent
Impassioned lovers wrestle as one
Lonely man cries for love and has none."

I don't understand how this song was a hit. Moreover, I don't understand how it was a hit 3 different times in Britain during the 70's. People really couldn't find another song to make out to?

July 14, 2003

Windy Whatnot

Had a great weekend in Chicago visiting my old college roommate Jonny B.

Saw the Cubs beat the snot out of the Braves at Wrigley, powered in part by a Sammy Sosa homer that squeaked over the ivy in left field.

Got to see the Art Institute which features a great exhibit on Himalayan art, Van Gogh's Bedroom, Wood's American Gothic and the big ole' Seurat.

And I feel, with slightly more time, we would have made the trek out to Highland Park to trash PapaJon's sportscar.

July 09, 2003

Icy Hot

DGCopter: "I have discovered the joys of taking very cold showers and letting my fan dry me off. That's as close as I'll get to a/c."

Ah, not-so-fond remembrances of the hot, humid East Coast summers. I spent a couple in New Jersey, lying on the concrete floor of a college building's sub-basement ... the only cool spot in the entire state.

I'm still puzzled as to why everyone doesn't live in California ... I guess the parking's pretty bad.

July 07, 2003


"I do miss sausage," a vegetarian friend confessed to me a couple days after my 4th of July BBQ.

This year's shindig featured a Salute to Sausage with 5 different kinds of sausage representing their respective homelands. We also had the Great Potato Salad Face-Off courtesy of Steve and Stacy.

And then it got cold and everyone started wearing my clothes.

There were also 2 digital cameras per attendee so the pix you see here are just the beginning. (For example, Eric's, Ev's or Willo's)


July 01, 2003

Makes me Dragon Scales

And Buck65 said:

The story of my childhood is bad luck and crises.

Born in the year of the rat and I'm a Pisces.

Which makes me a ratfish.

June 30, 2003

To know inauthenticity is not the same as being authentic

There's an SUV ad with the tagline "Go climb a driveway." It means, "We know that you know that you're never going to use your SUV to climb a mountain like in those other SUV ads. But you want the SUV anyway. That's cool."

The point of this form of irony is to disarm the audience; to remove the need to pass judgement by making fun of yourself. The catch being that you never actually own up to anything.

Anyway, Zoe Williams has a great Guardian article on irony in general and this point in specific:

"So, you take a cover of FHM, with tits on the front - and it's ironic because it appears to be saying 'women are objects', yet of course it isn't saying that, because we're in a postfeminist age. But nor is it saying 'women aren't objects', because that would be dated, over-sincere, mawkish even. So, it's effectively saying 'women are neither objects, nor non-objects - and here are some tits!'"

This reminds me to reread The Fall at some point wherein Camus admonishes the existentialist set for being such dicks.
"I was wrong after all, to tell you that the essential was to avoid judgement. The essential is being able to permit oneself everything, even if, from time to time, one has to profess vociferously one's own infamy."

Well, yeah, the thing is you're not supposed to like the guy who says that.

June 29, 2003

To do this week

Find someone at work to tell me why I'm #5 for on a search for "shit showers".

Surely, I can make it to #2.

June 28, 2003

Bible Trivia

DragonRaid: "In DragonRaid, the participants role-play Christian characters in the land of EdenAgain, where they are known as LightRaiders. LightRaiders are members of the TwiceBorn who, together, courageously follow the call of the OverLord of Many Names and go into the Dragon Lands to combat and defeat evil." (via Fe�rag)


A recap of things that happened while I was sick:

  • Yo la Tengo at the Fillmore: You've not heard "Little Honda" until you hear it build into a noise-feedback climax only to drop back down into the next verse of "It's not a big motorcycle, Just a groovy little motorbike."

  • A drunken lover's spat in my backyard at 5am: Not sure which of my crazy neighbors were involved. It was hard to place the low, droning male voice who slurred for 15 minutes, "You're not going to hit me anymore. You're NOT going to HIT me anymore."

  • Winged Migration: This movie's French, yo. Gotta lot of good-looking bird photography. The soundtrack's got various bird-inspired tunes that sound like the soft-rock offspring of Rush and SpinalTap.

  • Santa Cruz: I got to be the guy who gets to the front of the parking toll booth line and realizes he has no money (I'd gotten a pass that apparently wasn't good for anything).
    I'm really sorry ... but what do I do now?
    [Angry stare] You leave.

  • And, I feel as a result of sleeping oddly, I had a dream about being abducted, strapped face down to a massage chair and forced to suckle its hairy nipple headrest.

June 19, 2003


The producer behind the X-Men movies is looking to make a live-action Transformers flick: "The feature film will tell the story of an intergalactic war between two races of robots: the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons. When their fight comes to Earth, the future of humanity inevitably hangs in the balance."

I see Vin Diesel in the role of Grimlock.

June 17, 2003


From the Brazil DVD box set, I learned that the whole Buttle/Tuttle device was Tom Stoppard's idea and basically defined the structure of the movie.

From K5, I learned that: "a glitch in US airport security is causing headaches for men named 'David Nelson.' For some unknown reason (supposedly if 'they' discussed the matter it would breach security) security computers give a 'no fly' or 'potential terrorist' warning whenever someone named David Nelson attempts to board an airliner."

Matrix Re(x3)loaded

So, this past Sunday I saw The Matrix Reloaded for the third time at the Coronet Theater. I'm still incredibly impressed.

And worried about the sequel. I'm sure that whatever the Wachowskis have planned for Revolutions will be great. But I feel it won't be as mind-bendingly wonderful as I initially thought.

Specifically, I now have a $1 bet with Jason Sutter about the trilogy's conclusion. He is of the "nested matrix" camp - those who think that the reason Neo can control the sentinels at the end of the movie is because the "real" world is, in fact, another matrix. I believe that Neo has this real world ability (no quotes) because he is now part-machine. The natural resolution in this scenario is that machines and humans realize their inter-dependence and must combine as the yin and yang to advance together (translation: big fight with Agent Smith).

Anyway, Scott Manning has some great things to say on this topic.

June 13, 2003

Chicken Apple

I used to be a hotdog technician. On a hot and muggy afternoon in St. Louis, I tended to the sausage needs of overweight suburbanites as they rested from digging through discount software bins to snarf on free snacks. If you want to get people to spend $50 on add-on floppies to Strip Poker 7, you need to provide some snackage.

That was the first time I almost died. Sweating my heart out over an open grill in the St. Louis summer and trying to field absurd hotdog requests from the thrifty . "I want mine completely black on one side but raw on the other!"

Jason Sutter eventually took pity on me, but hotdog jokes have followed me to this day. To wit, Lane's recent portrait.

I'm sporting my old favorite sweatshirt in those photos. I still love Themselves. But now I'm rocking the Blogger hoodie.

June 12, 2003

4th Wall

"I don't know who I am anymore," Chris said in a panic. "If this doesn't stop soon, I'm gonna end up being for the war."

Who would've thought that a rock n' roll concert could go so far off the rails. The New Pornographers show started out with just a few generic problems. A bad soundcheck that left the vocals basically inaudible during the first song. A too drunken keyboards player who was occassionally way out of sync and would snap his fingers arhythmically when not playing as tho' he was trying to convince himself that he'd found the beat.

But then the band noticed the kid in the Rush t-shirt at the front of the crowd who was playing air guitar along to every song. "Hey - c'mon up here, kid," they told him. And up he trundled to hop around stage playing air guitar during the next tune.

At the end of that song, his friend came up to play air bass. Then their lady friend played air drums on the song after that. Eventually there was an entire shadow band pantomiming the show, spewing plumes of chugged beer in mock rockstar glee. It was a nightmare.

The two albums that the New Pornographers contain only amazing songs so it was still fun to see them played live. But I get a little nervous when the accepted standards of performance are so blatantly flaunted. Audience in the crowd, band on the stage. It's the natural order of things.

June 11, 2003


Aaron Fagerstrom is a master of flesh and bone.

And MattB has got a brand new blog full of tales of Midwest bawdry. Plus great non-blog stuff from his LoFi days.

In short, Sutter's online empire is on the move.

June 09, 2003

Bus Lightning in a Jar

I'd been warned, but I waited for the 22 Fillmore anyway. Very foolish.

20 minutes later I jumped in a cab. The cab driver explained to me that the Union Street Fair had messed up everything. He also explained that he was from Tunisia and that he's sick of hearing tourists complain about the cold summers in San Francisco and that he moved here to get away from the heat. I liked him immediately.

"I hate the heat, too. And Tunisia, that's like desert hot," I said.

"Nah ... the desert's further south, Tunisia's more Mediterranean."

I felt bad for being another American completely ignorant of world geography. But I looked it up later. Where this dude's from may be all riviera'd, but the Sahara's definitely in that deal somewhere.

Passing Dolores Park, we saw a paddy wagon being stocked up with homeless people who'd been sleeping near the tennis courts. The cabbie said he used to run in the park but stopped because he was afraid of all the homeless who slept there.

"Do they have a lot of homeless people in Tunisia," I asked.

"Nah ... when they find people living on the streets they just put them in homes or take them to the doctor if they're sick."

"Wow! That's nice that people get taken care of there. How's it work that Tunisia can do that for its people, but we can't do that here."

"Well, Tunisia's a more socialist country than America. Here, you've got to rely on yourself which is what makes it great."

"Yeah, I guess so. But still it'd be nice if we took care of folks."

"Yes. Some people are like dogs and need to be taken care of like dogs are taken care of."

A Tunisian true believer of the American Dream. Well, I'm the one who thinks I know where the desert is because I saw it on a map.

June 08, 2003

Treasure Wart

Just got back from driving around Treasure Island with Jason Sutter. What a fucking misnomer. Treasure Island is what happens when the Navy decides to float a suburban turd in the middle of the San Francisco Bay.

Also, it's largely abandonded. The Fleet Admiral Nimitz Convention Hall? Not that happening. Good place to film a zombie movie, however.

After returning home, I remarked to my diminutive friend that I was feeling pretty worn out. He wondered why that was. So I turned to my new/current employer for advice.

I'm still tired, but as a result of the Feeling Lucky hit, I found this helpful info about Myo-Blast CSP3. Sounds great:

"Well guys, ive been using this for a while now and although i have had seriously satisfying pumps at the gym i have found that i have diveloped large warts around the crack of my arse and in between my now muscular toes. Sadly as a result of this i am no longer having satisfying dumps in the can since it stings and this sensation never stops hurting me. Does anyone else suffer from these symptoms?"

June 06, 2003


Pulling up the rear of the employment wagon, I finally joined my cohorts in full-timey Google status. Come Monday (the day of my beating-in) I get a new shiny badge, a bucket of rocks and everything. Woot!

June 05, 2003

Snow Crash

Wired News: "Mike Gontelli, a late arrival to the game that evening, said that when he arrived in Shadowbane 'there were hundreds of tombstones. New players were being beaten and tortured. Newbie blood was flowing like a river. I knew it wasn't real, but it was oddly terrifying.'" (via lil' Goldtoe)

June 03, 2003

Why I don't buy pornography

Just picked up a bottle of Crisco and a 4 pack of batteries from Walgreens. Crisco always seems dirty on its own, but the C cells suggested some additional level of depravity. Does vegetable oil conduct? Some sort of auto-electro-lubricatory ridiculousness?

Good lord, my mother reads this. And me not only buying Crisco and batteries but also with a rented copy of Secretary secreted away in the pouch of my hooded sweatshirt.

So, yes, for all of this. And because the internet gives it away for free.

May 30, 2003

Love makes you do the wacky

Aaron Schwartz: "On February 21, 2003 I watched my first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (6x09). ... Since then, I have watched every aired episode of Buffy, spinoff Angel, and creator Joss Whedon�s other show, Firefly, from the beginning, in order."

May 29, 2003


I'm back from the soggy graduation proceedings in Providence wherein I saw many remarkable things. I saw a baccalaureate service held in the First Baptist Church in America that opened with the Muslim call to worship, featured a Taoist prayer and closed with Chinese dragon dancing. I ate a lobster omelet, heard a kickass song about seaweed and drank one of the best Chai teas I've ever had.

And got to see my brother graduate in a soaking wet cap and gown. Never one to miss an opportunity to exploit sibling embarrassment, there are naturally many pictures (in deference to my mother, the shots of his crackden dorm room have been withheld).


May 24, 2003


My today's being scraped across America as I wing my way to Providence, RhodeEye for my brother's graduation. The last time I was there was during the weekend of my own graduation ... we took a family roadtrip up North to check out the campus. For some reason, it took 2 hours to find a place to eat lunch. I assume we'll be better informed this time.

May 21, 2003

Choir boy

As I've not driven regularly in over 8 years, I'd forgotten a couple things about my driving habits. In particular, the fact that I sing along loudly with the car stereo and play a mean set of steering wheel drums. And nowadays, I'm using my iPod to pump out the jams so I've got 2500 of my favorite songs to belt out.

Incidentally, this device from Belkin is just great. It's an iPod charger that also has an amplified line out for use with cassette adapter. Perfect for giving you that extra jolt needed to hit the falsetto intro to New Order's "Temptation."

May 18, 2003


TelevisionWithoutPity: "The 25th Amendment again. I feel like every show I watch is dealing with this theme. (Okay, they haven't really gotten into it on Trading Spaces.) It's just a big coincidence, right, that popular culture seems pretty taken with the idea of removing a sitting President from office for being unfit? Right?"


I ended up hating on the first Matrix movie because everyone kept talking about how amazing it was from a metaphysical perspective. And the movie supported this kind of over-seriousness: "No one can be told what the Matrix is." Well, actually, you can.

It's for this reason that I was completely blown away by Matrix Reloaded. There's an NYT article today about Cornel West and his cameo in the movie. He's quoted as saying, "The second Matrix movie actually critiques the idea of the first. It's suspicious of salvation narratives. It's deeply anti-dogmatic."

I completely agree. Those who would try to sweep the sequel under the easy "brains in jars" philosophizing of the first are really missing out. Reloaded goes far beyond the original by building layers of myth around the central question of "What is the Matrix?" so that there is no easy, superficial answer.

All of which makes me wonder why the effects are all that's mentioned in every review I've read. I mean, it's got to be said that the effects are phenomenal. The chase sequence certainly makes the Coruscant chase of Episode II look like the unimportant cutscene it actually was.

But when I was leaving the theater all I could think about was the first time I saw Dune or 2001 and knowing that there was more going on than I could have possibly absorbed in the first viewing. It's science fiction at its best - creating a complex, complete otherworld and filling it with questions that extend beyond the plot. To call it a "popcorn movie" is like calling Blade Runner a stereotypical film noir.

May 15, 2003

Your logic does not resemble our Earth logic

Saddam Hussein is/was a man.

All men are mortal.

Therefore, Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

In this NRO article, Jim Lacey tries to come up with a reason why we've been unable to find WMD in Iraq. Occram's razor be damned, Lacey says. It can't just be that there weren't weapons there.

Instead, he concludes, "Saddam wanted the program and was willing to endure crippling sanctions to have it. However, his henchmen were unable to deliver and, unwilling to be on the receiving end of Saddam's zero-defects program, they faked it."

So let me get this straight. First off, it was these folks on the right who kept trying to get me to understand that Saddam was a megalomaniacal dictator so evil that he might as well have been the love child of Stalin and Hitler. Now these same people can't possibly see why said megalomaniac would get pretty prickly on issues of sovereignty and forced inspection.

But the part about the WMD program being faked, well, that's just a new level of self-deceit. So, our intelligence is so bad that we can't tell the difference between a real threat and a staged one? If that's the case why should I ever believe you when you say that we must use force now in order to protect ourselves from the Big Bad?

But the biggest question of all is that what does this say about the ethicality of having invaded Iraq if, in fact, the WMD was a fake. The pro-war arugment has seemingly become that pre-emptive force is justified not only in the case of an actual threat but also in the case of one that ultimately turns out to be a fake.

In the name of efficiency, we've managed to remove the second step from the doctrine of Shoot First and Ask Questions Later.

May 14, 2003


Somewhere in the previously posted picture is a bunch of poison oak that I seemingly bathed in on the way down to the beach. Jason Sutter was unaffected.

May 12, 2003

May 11, 2003

Kill the rabbit

Proposition: The internet is amazing. I needed a place to get my smog checked and the Feeling Lucky hit for "smog check San Francisco" pointed me to the perfect place just 8 blocks away from my house.

What's hot is that the referring page is a personal account of smogcheckery, complete with hard-to-read font and layoff commentary. I've been connected to someone I'll probably never meet (and a great garage) by virtue of search.

Opposition: My blog is the first hit returned for a search on "rodent death."

May 10, 2003


Most often, the quality of your seats at a baseball game makes for an easy 1-line conversation rather than a genuine debate. "Decent seats, huh?"

My $8 upper deck tickets at today's A's game were no exception. The angle made some foul balls seem fair, but the view was good enough to see Roger Clemens rack up career win 298 and Jorge Posada deposit a monster homerun into the left field bleachers.

Also, I got to witness the pride of the dad in front of me who found a triple decker peanut in his bag during the 3rd inning. I wasn't scoring the game or I would have made a special note.

May 09, 2003


This weekend I'm going to be reunited with an old friend ... my mom's '89 Camry. It's being carted out here on an open-air car carrier (by way of LA and Fresno).

This is the car I learned how to drive in, the one I lost my mind in while listening to the Les Mis soundtrack on a family roadtrip to Colorado and the one I got my first ticket in when out after curfew at the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Now we'll be spending our mornings and evenings together on 101, hunting for parking in the Mission and taking new, Kansas-free road trips.

May 05, 2003

Anchovy nonsense

At the last professional conference I attended, I was told that the only way to write software requirements was to analyze the root cause of the problem using a shipyard management tool. This seemed odd. Moreso, when it was revealed that the tool was called the Fishbone Diagram.

You gotta question any system that uses fish parts to divine knowledge.

Fortunately, this week I'm at the Adaptive Path conference where the second slide warned against the One True Way of design.


May 02, 2003

April showers, the flowers ... all that shit

Come on, Spring.

I know it was a dry winter and all, but this raining 3 times a day thing is preposterous. And you're such a tease. When it's not raining it's all blue skies and comfortable climes. In fact, usually it's like that when it's raining.

They have a saying for that type of behavior. The devil is beating his wife in hell with a skillet.

Not a pretty phrase, is it, Spring.

Get your deal together.

May 01, 2003

False Idol

There's a bogus story that the word posh is an acronym for Port Out Starboard Home. The idea being that luxury cabins should be in shade on a boat heading east in the morning and west at night.

It's not true. Well, the part about where the sun would be is true.

But since I take Caltrain south in the morning and north at night, I end up sitting on the starboard side for both legs to avoid the glare and better watch Dr. Strangelove on my laptop.

Sosh. That's what I am.

And sick of taking the stupid train.

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.