Thursday, November 30, 2006

Who To Hate
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?

Yesterday, towards the end of the work day, I received a bit of fan mail. Yes, I receive fan mail. Yet this fan letter wasn't pure, unadulterated fanboy/fangirl love. It was tough love, in fact. It begins with a butter-'im-up opener:
"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

i wrote on my profile that i, "like every other twentysomething male with a toehold in a creative industry," enjoy hemingway. clearly the statement is overly general and encompassing, like a grandmother's quilt, but i like it nonetheless. i was musing on it at lunch, and thought that it might better read, "...toehold in a semi-creative industry."

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

My anti-vegetarian rant of 3 March 2006 has been commented upon 10 times by 8 distinct individuals, which, using a conservative multiplier, translates into hundreds of thousands of page views and readings. My opinions are snaking their insidious way through the culture.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

People often ask me, "Barrett, what do you do all day?" Well, being Fareed's go-to boy, I do whatever he tells me, mostly reading lengthy academic texts on something related to history, foreign relations, or some combination of the two. Then I summarize it all and add a bit of analysis for him.

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

New Words

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"):

josh: so i shamelessly used your joke last night at a bar following my improv practice, telling the assembled improvisers that my new favorite noun was "twatwaffle." red-headed courtney laughed so hard that she was this close to having beer shoot out her nose.
me: congrats on beer-nostrillating the poor young thing. she's a redhead, she deserves it.

Which is funny, because Alisa is now a redhead too. Sorta.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Josh and I gushed and oozed about A.O. Scott last night. We spent ten minutes talking about his latest article in the NYT Mag, then delved into biographical tidbits.

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

The Man Fade

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 in
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."
Now I receive constant man-vitations for man-dates. I made clear that I was straight, but he pursues. Time to take evasive action.
An itemized list of things that happened this weekend.

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

A joke I made up

Q: What do you call a terrorist that gets a lot of chicks?


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The IT workers in our office just had their titles changed from "Technical Support" to "Support, Technically." The only concrete change has been in their intra-office interactions. Now when you ask, "Aren't you supposed to be fixing things?" they can respond, "Well, technically."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Some fun-loving medical researchers were sitting around the lab counter, strewn with Bunsen burners and Erlemeyer flasks, one day.

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#1: What?
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.