Friday, December 08, 2006
If history has one lesson to teach us, it is this:
Do not invade Russia in wintertime.
Best Quip of the Day
A 1980 movie, "Raise the Titanic!", lost so much money that the producer quipped, "It would have been cheaper to lower the Atlantic."
Thursday, December 07, 2006
David Letterman famously said that without coffee, "I'd have no identifiable personality whatsoever." Imagine, then, the personality in coffee worth over $50 a pound. Among connoisseurs, these unblended gourmet coffees receive the same regard as rare fine wines.
The Guatemala Special Reserve El Injerto is the latest coffee to set roasters astir. This year's crop set wholesale auction records, going for $25.20 per pound. (Average coffee sells for just over a dollar a pound.) This high-altitude bean yields a lively, acidic coffee with strong citrus notes (about $50, www.terroircoffee.com).
For the cup that Coffee Review called "perfumed perfection," look for Panama Esmeralda Especial. Declared "Best of Panama" for three years running, the Especial mixes African seeds and Central American soil to produce a cup with strong berry flavors ($100, www.haciendaesmeralda.com).The world's priciest coffee hails from Indonesia. All Kopi Luwak beans have been eaten by the palm civet, a raccoon-like mammal. Workers collect the animal's droppings to find beans that are then cleaned and dried. The coffee's hefty price tag ($200 for a one-pound gift set) is part novelty, part biology. The civets "don't just scarf any [coffee] cherry they find," says Todd Davis of AnimalCoffee.com. "They find which ones are best and ripest." A sip of Kopi Luwak virtually guarantees personality of the most identifiable sort.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
A more vivid portrayal of the verbal snobbery of me and my friends (oops, my friends and me), I cannot imagine.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
A New Feature
In a new semi-regular feature, I reveal the sheer idiocy of our media-obsessed culture and narrow in on a particularly deserving twatwaffle.
Today's winner: Amanda Sanders, a "New York-based celebrity image consultant."
I know what you're thinking: Doesn't her title alone qualify her as one of the twatwaffliest sleazemongers ever? Well, yes. But it goes further.
In an LAT article on Britney Spears' crotch, the reporter asks Ms. Sanders to chime in on Britney's party-girl antics with Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and other Empresses of Vapidity.
"She's a beautiful girl and now that she's single and she's having fun, I think she's just trying to express herself. Unfortunately, it's the wrong message that's coming across. And the shame is she was really such a role model."Kinda makes you want to declare jihad, doesn't it?
"i enjoy keeping up to date on your life and hearing your funny quips and anecdotes. it makes me feel close to someone i consider a friend."But then comes the Conjunction of Foreboding:
"with that said buddy,"Followed by the foreboding material itself:
"a major purpose of your blog seems to be the unadulterated masturbation of your own intellect. i'm a big vocab guy--i like words too, but you take it to a new level."Now, I'm a Man of the People, so I listen to my readers. Especially when, given the size of my readership, a single suggestion represents anywhere from 1/6 to 1/3 of my audience. So expect a little change around these parts. I'm still an unabashed word snob, so they won't disappear completely. But my reader(s) has (have) spoken, and I am listening.
Now it's time for a rant:
I was reading a NYT article on Ecuador's elections (the Eclections, as i like to call them) last Sunday, and they were talking about how there's a partial media blackout for 20 days before election day -- no opinion polls are allowed to be published. I think it's a pretty brilliant idea, and something that should also be done in the U.S. -- one minor step to tame the media monster and make the whole process less of a circus. And then -- get this -- the article went on to quote a private poll taken by UBS or some other mwahaha-give-me-money investment bank. They ponied up their own funds for a private poll during the blackout period so their Masters of the Universe (Latin edition, like Enrique Iglesias meets Hank Paulson) would have a better foresight on the election outcome. So, like, they undermined the spirit of the law (if not the letter) to make a little bit of money. And you know they were rooting for Daddy Warbucks (a.k.a. Banana Tycoon Alvaro Noboa) and all his business-minded good sense to win La Casa Blanca. Jesus.
Lastly, if you have any interest in corrosive criticism, read this review of a Rick Moody book.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
why does the semi- sound better to my ear? perhaps because any hyphenated compound word sounds more academic, snobbish and, hence, literary. but also because we're living in non-committal times, and the addition of a semi- puts the statement in safer, more middling territory. thanks to four letters and a hyphen, i don't have to make an unequivocal judgment! hooray! i can caveatize, exceptionalize, and preemptively rebut ("i only said it was a semi-creative industry...").
thank you, semi! making safer ground for conflicted views since 1440. er, since circa 1440. or, maybe, since the fifteenth century. hell, let's just say, "for a while."
Monday, November 27, 2006
My favorite sentence of the last 4.35 days:
"Have been doing some temp work since I got into town last monday. Construction, shoveling, errands for rich Jackson residents, none of it has been bad enough to complain about and a good bit has even been fun or interesting."I know that it's a two-sentence quote, and thus my introduction should read "My favorite sentences of the last 4.35 days," but it's really only the second sentence that tickled my cerebral cortex. The first is there for context.
Anyway, it's a very Hemingway-esque thing to say, and as a white male twentysomething with pretensions of artistry, I'm pretty much genetically predispositioned to love Hemingway. It reminds me of the introduction to his short stories, when he says that Madrid was "a good place for working," as was Paris and Key West and others. Then he says:
"Some other places were not so good but maybe we were not so good when we were in them."
Monday, November 20, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Lately, for instance, I've been reading about the British Empire, which was acquired in "a fit of absence of mind." A glorious phrase -- a fit of absence of mind. As if the British people got black-out drunk and woke up in the morning with India in their bed. And then India gets up and cooks them eggs, and does their laundry, while Britain puts on a nice jazz cd, something to relax by, maybe get India in the mood again, until finally Gandhi knocks on the door and says, "India! Your mother (Nehru) and I have been worried sick about you!" And then he sees Britain lying there with a half-chubby and says furiously, "Come on. We're leaving this instant." And part of India is like, "Okay," but another part is like, "You're not my father!" and India cleaves in two. And that's how we have India and Pakistan. I'm not really sure how Bangladesh fits into the story. Or Kashmir. But they're in there somewhere.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I came up with a new word: hipstorian. Defined as either a history professor that listens to Yo La Tengo and Le Tigre or a chronicler of the history of hip, a Chuck Klosterman with a bit more of a backward perspective.
I coined the word while trying to come up with a way to describe Ecuadorian hipsters, a bipedal subspecies that Sarah discovered in the Andes. I eventually decided on ecua-hipsters, shortened to and pronounced like equipsters.
And, under the heading of "conversations with Josh" (kind of like "Travels with Charlie"):
Which is funny, because Alisa is now a redhead too. Sorta.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Josh: He's writing a book about the American novel since WWII.
Me: Did you know he's on Myspace?
Josh: He's such a good writer. He went to Harvard, right?
Me: Yeah. And then to Duke. Or maybe Johns Hopkins.
Josh: For a grad degree?
Me: Yeah, a masters.
Josh: We need to stop this right now.
Other things I'm thinking/reading/gushing about: giant meteor impacts, dr. seuss dogs, and the truth about borat
Monday, November 13, 2006
I am going to man-fade scary Porto Rico coffee boy, who accosted my brother and Josh and I one day and forced his email address on us. I established contact, on a lark, to ask about his screenplay. Here's the synopsis, verbatim, straight from the horse's mouth:
"Max Whits a rock musician and Charlie McClaren a painter, are life long friends and roommates both excepted into the modern day New York party culture. They live a life that those outside of their world might find fascinatingly strange. A documentarian comes into their midst and shows us an insiders view of their private lives as struggling young artists; giving a glimpse to their sexuality, drug abuse, openness, and creativity. All the while, keeping us slightly inNow I receive constant man-vitations for man-dates. I made clear that I was straight, but he pursues. Time to take evasive action.
tune with their humanity through the bond and love in which they have for each other. As the story unfolds we meet their parents The Whits' a happily married couple, Denise is a religious fanatic always on the go, and her husband Jimmy a hardworking subtle man. The McClarens, recently separated, Marlene Is a creative type much like her son, and the father a business man having been singled out by his artistic wife and child. After meeting Max and Charlies parents, and the large round of people who are a part of their lives, including their band mates and supermodel girlfreinds, tragedy strikes bringing the very different worlds of this handful of people into the same realm. Ultimately the writer gives us a thought through his beautifully constructed characters that no matter what kind of lifestyle we lead, if we break down our pride we can always find a way to relate to others."
1. I spilled Blue Moon on Rachel N.'s crotch.
2. I spilled Mike's Hard Lemonade on Alisa's computer. (Note: the Lemonade was not mine. I have testicles.)
3. Coming out of the subway, holding hands with Alisa, a bearded homeless man said to us, in the sonorous voice of a radio announcer, "WHY IS LOVE SO EXPENSIVE?" A pregnant pause later: "INVISIBLE. THINGS. COST. MORE." He threw a smile at us.
4. Kate H. called me on Sunday morning, the night after her date, to ask for restaurant suggestions. "By the way, how was the date?" I asked. "Stiiilll going," she said.
5. I learned that Down the Hatch is a smelly hole filled with twatwaffles.
6. Twatwaffle became my new favorite noun.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Science Guy #1: You know what I love?
Science Guy #2: Jesus?
SG#1: Hell no! I'm a child of the Enlightenment, a man of science and rationality. No, you know what I love? Red wine.
SG#2: Well you know what we should do then?
SG#2: Inject a bunch of red wine into some mice.
Clearly. But instead of ransacking their stash of pinots, they just bought a bunch of resveratrol, a naturally occurring compound prevalent in red wine. Then they porked some mice up American-style, giving some of them resveratrol. The unlucky, resveratrol-free mice got fat, lazy, diabetic, and died soon. The reservatrol mice just got fat.
So cheers to our buddy Bacchus! Drink up! But no, the New York Times has to rain on the parade.
"The mice were fed a hefty dose of resveratrol, 24 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Red wine has about 1.5 to 3 milligrams of resveratrol per liter, so a 150-pound person would need to drink from 1,500 to 3,000 bottles of red wine a day to get such a dose."
Better get started then! That's almost a bottle every 30 seconds. But again, the NYT steps in.
"Whatever good the resveratrol might do would be negated by the sheer amount of alcohol."
Thanks for the warning.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
The New York Times is trying to convince me to eat fewer-than-normal calories. They put up pictures of rhesus monkeys to prove the point. Frankly, the one that's supposed to be healthier (on the left) looks a little gaunt and a lot like famed economist John Kenneth Galbraith. He calls himself Canto and has a "nice coat, elastic skin, a smooth gait, upright posture and an energetic demeanor." Hate it when your skin gets all un-elastic-y. You know you're over the hill when...
In other news, L train service is "janky" because they're frequently testing a robot train. Can't wait for robot train. Puts us one step closer to Skynet and the triumph of machines. Let the rebellion begin.
Monday, October 16, 2006
North Korea detonated a nuke and obliterated the Foley scandal from the headlines. Senior White House officials report seeing Rove preparing a gift basket of James Bond movies and hair gel. Intended recipient? Your guess is as good as mine.
"so, if you have a sleeping pad or anything like that, you should bring it. alternatively, we can share my bed. it will be cute, and later we can tell our wives about it, and speak with mock derision, careful to hide our true feelings. later still, annie proulx will write a gripping short story about it, transplanting the storyline to the appalachians (for dramatic effect), and ang lee will see the cinematic potential at its heart."
Yes, I just quoted myself. Self-aware literature and meta-commentary are the hallmarks of postmodernism, and if I'm not postmodern, blow me.
Anyway, this weekend was one of those weekends where, Sunday morning around the brunch table, you relate for all your friends (of both the genuine and the Nicole Richie variety) a shot-by-shot recount of the previous night. "Oh, jeez man, I drank so much...Jager at Bar Nine, whiskey sours at Bar None..." This would normally be the beginning of an arduous, poorly-written and alcohol-imbued story, but I have pretensions to a higher calling, and cling delicately to my image of self-imposed maturity. Plus, Josh and I didn't wake up until noon, so frankly there's no breakfast-table bull session to transcribe.
We also took the ferry to Staten Island, which always elicits the question:
Friday, October 13, 2006
Goodies from Amazon.com today. TV on the Radio's Return to Cookie Mountain and two Cormac McCarthy books. He uses fun words like "quirt" and "crozzle" and swims in a sea of testosterone. What a man.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
I was deeply depressed by the following article in the L.A. Times.
"Idiocracy" begins as your standard suspended-animation plot, with its stars thawing out in 2505 ... America 2505 is populated not by the fittest but by the fattest and the dumbest — the overbreeding, oversexed spawn of the cast of "Jackass." Their Barcaloungers are fitted out with toilets so they don't have to miss a moment of the top-rated show, "Ow, My Balls!" The nation's hit movie is "Ass": 90 wordless minutes of bare butt, winner of Oscars for best picture and best screenplay.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
The "child," by the way, is 19-year-old Sam Cauley. Don't worry, he's just small for his age.
Friday, September 29, 2006
Things I've learned this week:
*The coffee at Europa tastes like silt.
*John McPhee will inspire you to write.
*Even Princeton graduates struggle to find their Purpose (and I'd always thought their Purpose lay in WASPish dinner parties and inherited wealth...).
Friday, September 22, 2006
If only the name of that show were more literal. I could really use a doctor to help with the housing hunt.
A conversation with my friend Josh:
Josh: So, any dating for you?
Me: No. I lack permanent shelter at the moment.
Me: So, you know that pyramid of human needs? The one you learn about in high school? Who made it? Pavlov, or something?
Josh: Uh, maybe.
Me: Yeah, well, shelter is at the base, with food and water and stuff. I need to take care of those things first.
Josh: So where is sex?
Me: I don't know. Higher.
Josh: It should be at the same level as food and water.
As with most things in life, I was wrong. First, it's called Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, and second, sex is indeed at the base, along with food, water, excretion, sleeping, and other physiological needs.
Next comes security, such as:
* Security of employment
* Security of revenues and resouncy, aggressions
* Moral and physiological security
* Familial security
* Security of health
So in other words, we should all be more concerned with sex than with our jobs, income, physical well-being, family, and health.
Sounds about right.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
They are not, as popularly believed, at Ground Zero, but rather a nearby parking garage rooftop. They are also not a single beam but rather many smaller beams that coalesce in the sky and look like one solid ray from a distance.
These first two are from an amateur photographer I met on the roof.
And a couple from my shoddy point-and-shoot digital, which has twice been dropped in vats of liquid (one time a stream, the other time a bathtub of watery beer, or beer-y water, take your pick)
Monday, September 11, 2006
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I relish the controversy. First, because the news media thinks the Facebook News Feed is newsworthy. Second, because of this kid's quote:
"I think the thing that was overlooked was how the users themselves would react to the news feeds," says student and blogger Kiyoshi Martinez, a critic of the changes who is organizing protests through SaveFacebook.com, a community action site. "From what I've read, the Facebook community wants to have more control over how they use News Feeds, and there wasn't any discussion about that prior to the changes."Ah, the Facebook community. Where everybody knows your name. And they're always glad you came. Where our troubles are all the same. I get a warm, new-puppy-on-Christmas-day kind of feeling just thinking about it. Or I would, if I used Facebook for anything more than cell phone numbers and trying to decide whether someone is attractive or not.
Third, I really like Zuckerberg's response to the whole thing:
Let me summarize his reaction: I understand why you're upset. But you're wrong. Stop complaining.
"We think they are great products," Zuckerberg wrote, "but we know that many of you are not immediate fans, and have found them overwhelming and cluttered. Other people are concerned that non-friends can see too much about them."
"None of your information is visible to anyone who couldn’t see it before the changes," he added. "Nothing you do is being broadcast; rather, it is being shared with people who care about what you do -- your friends."
Zuckerberg, you should cash out while you still can.
A story in NYT about curbside bus operators, including the turf wars between two Hasidic companies and their Chinatown counterparts. The Jews are fighting each other in court, one arguing that the other infringes on its route. The most interesting part:
"Whatever the legal outcome, the dispute pales in scope and ferocity to past battles in the curbside-pickup bus industry. In 2003, a struggle for control of a Chinatown bus line led one employee to fatally stab another, the police said.
"The following year, the authorities were investigating links between the infiltration of Asian organized crime into the growing industry and as many as three murders."
Who knew that when taking the Chinatown bus, I risked not only fiery-auto-accident death but also vicious-Mafia-stabbing death?
Friday, September 01, 2006
When conversing with co-workers, there really are only two topics of ultimate inoffensiveness: the weather and the weekend. The weather is always safe, and you can even reveal a comfortable amount of roguishness by saying that you "really like" the rain or don't mind a sudden mid-summer temperature drop. This shows that you're a rebel, but a safe one.
Asking and answering questions about weekend plans is also fair game, unless your weekend plans have to do with snorting blow at the Gypsy Tea Lounge or getting a handjob in the backseat of a cab.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Monday, August 21, 2006
So I'm reading an article in the NYT on belt-tightening in Hollywood. Big budget movies are getting postponed, contracts with big-name stars are being downwardly renegotiated, etc. Then comes this gem of a paragraph:
"But while Hollywood has undergone periodic shifts like this before, many people here agree that there is something different this time, a permanence to Hollywood’s new austerity plan. Executives are facing too many unknowns, among them, changing moviegoer habits, rising costs and the threat of piracy."Look closely, and you'll see that every single NYT story ever written has a paragraph similar to this one. It starts with a caveat that undermines the freshness of the trend being discussed: "Hollywood has undergone periodic shifts like this before." Then it uses nebulous evidence to show that, lo and behold, this time it's different, somehow more permanent and real. The evidence: "many people agree."
Many people agree. Not even most -- just many. Who are the shadowy many? Could be the glass-eaters at Venice for all we know. Or maybe one of Angelina's adopted Cambodian faux-hawk-wearers.
I understand the need to make things fresh and newsy, but do we really have enough new trends to satiate the ever-growing appetite of the NYT?
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Now, in our hyper-ironic, self-aware times, we get movies that are aware of their own cheesiness. They embrace it. It's a selling point. Sam Jackson:
"I read [a Variety] article and it said Ronny Yu was doin' this movie at New Line, SNAKES ON A PLANE. So, Ronny and I had done a film before and we were in touch, so I emailed him. 'What is this, man?' He's like, 'Oh, it's a horror picture about poisonous snakes on a plane.' I said, 'Can I be in it?' He was like, 'For real?' I'm like, 'Ya! For real. Seriously!'"
Which proves that a) Sam Jackson is a badass and b) Snakes on a Plane is founded on the assumption of its own ridiculousness.
The interviewer also asked him whether they added a lot of gore when they did re-shoots to make the film R-rated:
SAMUEL L. JACKSON: Yeah. Yeah. It's all about that, you know. You go back and you put in the snake hits you wanted to put in because you have the ability to show a snake gnawin' on somebody's arm, not just jumpin' off screen and jumpin' back, cutting to somebody (holds his arm) going "Ow-ow-ow!" You see that snake hangin' on that person's arm and that person' tryin' to shake it off! Or somebody gettin' bit in the face, you know, by a snake. Nasty stuff!
QUINT: Great. Because if I was in the audience for SNAKES ON A PLANE and just saw a parade of reaction shots I'd be pissed.
SAMUEL L. JACKSON: No! Hell, no! You want the snake hit! You want to see it. You have two people goin' to screw in a bathroom on a plane and you know that there are some snakes on there... you know that when that tit comes out, you want to see a snake on that tit! At some point you gonna go, "Man, I know a snake's going to show up somewhere... and hopefully that snake's going to be on that tit!"
Read the whole thing at AICN.
Friday, August 11, 2006
The movement has its critics, but the Times editorialists, cogent as ever, rebuff them:
"There are two excellent reasons to encourage this sort of thing. One is that although legislatures do indeed have many more important things to do, experience shows they’re probably not going to do them."
In other news, I am officially a movie star.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
"We had better printers in Baghdad."
So said one recently returned foreign correspondent to an editor. Apparently they had wireless internet, too. Back here in New York, my mouse gets stuck rolling across my fine composite wood desk.
But I'm not complaining.
In other news, a couple living next to me took a very unsexy shower together. Snippets of their conversation:
Man: "Like, if you got pregnant, you'd get an abortion, right?"
Woman: "I mostly write for technical and financial journals."
Man: "That was a cute outfit. You looked like Johnny Depp."
The whole exchange tempered my enthusiasm for maritime intercourse.
Monday, August 07, 2006
(Disclosure: Santa Clara County still owns $35 worth of my net assets in the form of unpaid parking tickets. That's approximately 1/6 of my total net worth. They won't get it unless they hunt me down in an electrically powered golf cart.)
You might notice that other media outlets have already published this story. Well, that's the way journalism works: harried, overworked AP reporters and niche outlets do all the legwork, then big publications steal the idea and get the credit. It pays* to be at the top.