A doctor/expert on CNN just said that Bush's colonoscopy is a "search and destroy mission" because the docs apparently will remove polyps if they find any during the scoping. Isn't the proper military jargon "sweep and clear"?
Just finished a NYT Magazine article about how the rare and used books trade has become a success story online because it's a classic case of the Web unifying very small markets that before were fragmented. Many used book traders operate exclusively online now, and some of them have found profit in focusing on one tiny idea: A guy in the story makes money by putting sets of used sci-fi paperbacks together for people who want all of an author's books. This got me thinking: One day, people will be urged at a young age to develop strange, highly focused hobbies so that they might help the overall knowledge output of society. We will all have a role in sorting out the significance of every piece of our consumer culture and repackaging the stuff for anybody who wants to acquire it -- eBay is just the beginning.
June 28, 2002 at 17:15 | Permalink
A friend sent me this e-mail today:
I'm sure by now you've heard about John Entwistle's passing. He was part of the greatest concerts I've ever seen -- The Who in Philadelphia doing "Quadrophenia" in 1974. But I also stumbled across this: "Timothy White, Billboard's editor in chief and a giant of music journalism, died suddenly today in New York. He was 50. White apparently suffered a heart attack after returning to the Billboard offices from lunch with a long-time friend. He was unable to be revived after being rushed to St. Vincent's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead." I remember reading him in Rolling Stone when it mattered, and his opinions, while not as flamboyant as some, were always thoughtful and well written. Fuckin' A.
June 28, 2002 at 14:30 | Permalink
There's one thing certain about the next wave of network news anchors: Some of 'em are WAY too friggin' tan. The worst offender is ol' fake-bake himself, Brian Williams, who has very weird white patches under his eyes. Not too far behind is CBS hair-helmet man John Roberts, who's probably next in line once Dan Rather slips into permanent incoherency.
June 27, 2002 at 21:47 | Permalink
To hell with the Sixers for trading Speedy Claxton. The organization has done the same lame-ass thing for the past couple of drafts: They select older, low-profile college players, deal away one of their better bench dudes, and claim it's an effort to keep the team at a competitive level. How about getting somebody who can shoot? And what the hell is Mark Bryant good for these days? And, good Coach Larry Brown, if you're "dying" that Claxton is gone, why didn't you figure out a way to keep him? Ugh. Anyway, my fave sleeper picks are Denver nabbing the Brazilian Stallion Nene Hilario, and the Wizzzads going for local hero Juan Dixon. The other Maryland stud, Chris Wilcox will fit right in with the bangers on the Clippers.
June 27, 2002 at 15:20 | Permalink
Here's why the tech boom/Enron boom was the worst damn thing to happen to anybody in my shoes: Companies like WorldCom misstated profits, leading the market to go crazy. A crazy market means lots of people make money. With all that money floating around, they buy houses in formerly inexpensive neighborhoods close to the city. Lots of folks get new pads, but everything is screwed up for the long term. The truth about the misstated profits comes out, and the stock market goes down. But there's still enough money floating around to cause the housing market to stay expensive. Then, because the stock market is screwy, people formerly loyal to securities pull out money and invest in houses. So blokes like me are double-screwed: A tough market only gets tougher, and I'm living smack-dab in the middle of a metropolitan area where $300,000 gets you a shoebox that needs work, unless you want to commute 90 minutes every day. That's not livin', if you ask me.
June 26, 2002 at 14:59 | Permalink
After reading this Michael Medved piece, I'm wondering why he's even surprised that Hollywood has no desire to portray Islamic terrorists. Let's face it: Today's summer blockbuster formula does not require a complicated or nifty villain. Sure, political correctness plays a role in script decisions, but the bottom line is more important. Why pay a writer to concoct a nuanced Muslim extremist when a cheesy neo-Nazi or a pissed-off Serbian will suffice? When on the assembly line, it's always important to ask yourself, what would Roger Corman do? Otherwise, when depicting angry Islamists, stick to the Three Kings Rule: Be sure somebody gets to pour oil down Marky Mark's throat.
June 25, 2002 at 16:52 | Permalink
If you remember the entry about the demise of Arlington's Flying Dutchman transmission shop, you'll be saddened to know that the building was completely gutted, its facade was totally redone, and it now houses a Starbucks. Here's another entry from the future mindblog:
Dissolved into my fave virtual dive today, and I got stuck with a "drunken Brit" person-routine. The pubmasters apparently had purchased the rights recently from a cut-rate psuedorole outlet, and decided to foist the job on a loyal customer. I tried to make the most of it -- the alcohol simulation was strong, but because I agreed to assume such an unpleasant playup, I had a little leeway with the scenario precepts. I dodged a few criminal urges and hewed more to a Falstaffian tone: Some minor ass-grabbing, one lager-fueled spit-take (somebody else was quite good in the "ball-breaking Italian" psuedorole), and a couple of naughty haikus. I'm wondering if the ball-breaking Italian was Sheena. She'd never tell me, because it's more fun that way.
June 24, 2002 at 22:44 | Permalink
The United Kingdom's most prolific horndog crank yanker has been prosecuted, but I'm wondering what would happen if Afghanistan's chick-fearing ex-Taliban dudes got their hands on unregistered mobile phones: "Hello. I am dreaming daily about what is underneath your burka. Mmmmm. Oooooooh. Uuuuuuuuuh. All praise to Allah."
June 24, 2002 at 20:20 | Permalink
Woke up this morning around 6:30 and headed to Johnny Link's place (that's the second JL reference in a week, if you're counting) to watch the U.S.-Germany game with some fellow ethnic whiteboys. The usual accouterments were in place: flapjacks, homefries, percolated coffee, OJ, scrambled eggs and thick bacon that was a little too well-sliced to qualify as back bacon. I drank a 16 oz. can of Bud, too, in an effort at conjuring some slightly ironic patriotism. Anyway, that meal is starting to feel like spackle in m'bowelage. I ate a side salad for lunch.
June 21, 2002 at 19:00 | Permalink
We're sitting ducks. The world's spam flow has increased to ridiculous amounts recently. I can't believe the reams of crap that I get every day. My dialup ISP finally began offering a bulk mail filter and a block-address list for free, but like any of that stuff, those mechanisms aren't 100 percent effective. I think a lot of people have fully awakened to the annoyance: Just today, the usually patient Johnny Link switched from Hotmail to Yahoo simply because of spam, and the IT director of my company sent a huge e-mail around explaining that we should all get used to gobs of unsolicited junk. Sooner or later, somebody's gonna make a "Falling Down" for the spam-haters of the world. Joel Schumacher can do the updated version, but the star should be Jack Black.
June 20, 2002 at 19:07 | Permalink
That's probably not it. He's not nice enough. Love your '60s records, Bill, but sometimes you need to let America be America. In other crap TV news, last night's American Idol was better than anything Ed McMahon ever conjured. Who wants to watch tap-dancing moppets and second-rate beauty queens when there's vacuous, bitchy late-teens going head to head with Paula Abdul, a jackass Brit and a three-ton urban music mogul?
June 20, 2002 at 14:18 | Permalink
Props to Ridley Scott for attempting to capture the weirdness of building-to-building urban warfare in "Black Hawk Down." Not that I know the first thing about it. But I liked the fact that the flick is like one long explanatory schematic: it's all angles and bullets and maps and tactics. It was such a screwed up situation, and having a dramatized explanation -- a glorified newspaper graphic, if you will -- seems to serve a noble purpose. It made me want to read the book so that I could get a better idea of who the people were -- Scott's approach made little time for that, but it didn't really piss me off. It's a CNN movie, from a CNN-heyday moment. (I waited to see it because all those TV trailers with the Dave Matthews song gave me instant gastrointestinal distress.) Bonus props for using Spud from "Trainspotting" and Ewan McGregor as yankees, even though each took a John-Wayne-ish approach to hollering in an American accent. Back in the real world, the disconnect between average folks and U.S. military operations abroad is pretty much the same as when Somalia was hot. Sure, public opinion is more favorable to the operations, but it's my general impression, gathered through anecdotal evidence, that people don't really care that deeply, as long as their lives haven't changed. USA Today ran this today:
U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan has fallen well below the number of American soldiers patrolling Kosovo and Bosnia. The last major battle in the war on terrorism ended three months ago. Yet President Bush and senior officials in his administration have ratcheted up their war rhetoric in recent weeks, emphasizing almost daily their contention that the nation is at war. Now, a small but increasingly vocal body of critics — from retired military officers to commentators, Republican and Democrats — is beginning to question the White House’s repeated use of the expression "We are at war." They worry that the White House risks trivializing the phrase, scaring U.S. allies and even harming the economy. "Everyday life has pretty much returned to being everyday life. The inconvenience the everyday citizen experiences, the expectations of sacrifice, are clearly minimal," says Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel who teaches international relations at Boston University. "To the extent there’s a war on, it’s a war in which the American people are not engaged."
June 18, 2002 at 15:13 | Permalink
There should be a regulation that forces anybody in the CIA to answer truthfully if someone asks them, "are you in the CIA?" Y'know, like in a cop flick when a hooker asks our hero, "are you a cop," and then she says something like, "if you're a cop, you have to tell me that, y'know?" Anyway, I just watched "Spy Game," the Redford/Pitt flick about a few clandestine ops dudes. Tony Scott almost fucked it up royally -- there's a lot of whooshy sound effects and B&W freezeouts every time the Redford character makes a key decision (been watching too much "Out Of Sight," Tony?) -- but by and large, it ain't too bad. It's silly how the Pitt character wears a 1990s San Diego Padres cap, but he's supposed to be in mid-'80s Berlin. Whatever. There's plenty of sites dedicated to that kind of anachronism. Anyway, back to the intel stuff. I think one of the neighboring apartments here in the semi-real world was being used by an intel family, but I could just be Hollywoodizing my life. They were a couple that claimed to have a pad deep in the Virginia exurbs, but they decided to get a rental close to DC so they didn't have to commute so far during the week. Never really got a look at the wife, although I know she exists. The hubby was one of those apparently ballsy, obviously firearms-trained, bearded-but-non-revolutionary types who spoke every sentence like it was an opinion. I only talked to him at length once, when I was returning from getting my car out of a tow lot when it had been carted from our OWN SPOT erroneously. Landlord bastards. Turns out the hubby had a similar problem, and threatened some sort of vague legal action at the rental office. He claimed to work for a government agency that handled airplane-part safety, or something like that. "Out at Dulles," he said. Yeah, sure, but not the airport, dude. They're gone now.
June 15, 2002 at 02:54 | Permalink
Let's assume that the blog phenomenon lasts for decades, into some sort of multimedia future where instant video production allows for 3-D mindblogging or whatever. This would be an entry in my mindblog. I assume that the exclamation "yo" will still be in my vocabulary:
Check it out, yo. My biochip says that my prostate-specific androgens were elevated another 0.0003 percent today. Looks like the ol' walnut is gonna need some over-the-counter gene therapy. It's amazing what they can do with suppositories these days. They should make suppositories that substitute for the back-of-the-neck biochip. That way if you don't feel like hearing every damn death-harbinging factoid about your body, you could just pull the datacollector out of your cornhole for a few hours, and kick back with some tobacco and red meat extracts without fear of a self-crime report to the medbase. Now THAT is my kind of intake-noise. Straight up gin, juice, blood and smoke, bro. They should just skip the chemical pseudo-fication of the pleasure molecules and just aerosolize the whole friggin' cow. With hints of Marlboro & Tanqueray. I never smoked when I was young, but I'm ready for the nic fit now -- no simulations, just the bad stuff straight through the bloodstream. This is what having nine kids will do to a man.
June 13, 2002 at 22:16 | Permalink
Looks like Brazil is the Copa Mundial team to beat, so mark my word. I say Turkey makes it to the semis, along with Germany and Spain. Dudes, I've played a lot of FIFA 99, so I consider myself well-qualified to make this prediction. For anybody who doesn't give a crap about soccer, I offer this ninja story. "Officers found a sword, but no gun."
June 13, 2002 at 18:04 | Permalink
I like this quote from Andrew WK, who was asked by Entertainment Weekly about why this year's Ozzfest performers are excited: "We're gonna just throw down and throw out and throw up. We're gonna cross up and lace it out and take a solid stance from which we can form the foundation of an iron cube with a platinum core and diamond edges that can cut anything in our way, yet maintain a certain amount of strength to hold us steady."
June 11, 2002 at 13:50 | Permalink
I ate a pumpernickel bagel today. I looked up the word "pumpernickel" in an online dictionary. Here's the edited version of what the dictionary said: pum·per·nick·el -- n. a dark coarse sourdough bread made of unbolted rye flour. Etymology: German, from pumpern to break wind + Nickel goblin; from its reputed indigestibility. Date: 1756. Here's more on the topic from The Straight Dope.
June 10, 2002 at 15:05 | Permalink
Nobody ever really likes Spin magazine, but it serves a purpose: If you ignore the poorly chosen cover stories (they lost me at Alanis a few years ago) and the increasingly irrelevant album reviews, the rest of the mag is a decent compendium of just-on-the-fringe pop culture. Lately, though, it's starting to read more and more like Jane For Boys. That's good in some instances -- the stuff in the first third of the book is entertaining as hell -- but if I wanted to read Jane, I'd subscribe to that instead. But Katherine already does, and I read it, so the point is moot. I guess I have the greatest problem with the fact that the most interesting stuff in Spin really isn't about music at all -- the pieces might feature rock stars, or analyze the accoutrements of rock culture, but there's very little about rock tuneage and why it's something that can rearrange your head, not just your wardrobe. The escalation of Sia Michel to the mag's editorship probably won't change the current trend anytime soon. (June 2002's cover? Weezer. I like 'em, but why put 'em on the cover now?) I suppose one could analyze these comments as me just being chauvinistic, but I don't mean to imply that females can't produce a decent rock mag. I'm just saying that Jane is better at being Jane than Spin is, y'know? Maybe I'm just getting cranky & old. But if that were the case, would I enjoy reading the holier-than-thou dickhead-kidstuff of Pitchfork as much as I do?
June 07, 2002 at 17:43 | Permalink
Alright, so I'm watching the video for Biggie Smalls' song "Juicy," and during one of the parts where he's stumbling around Brooklyn, he passes by a greasy-spoon joint with one of those classic "GYROS" posters in the window. You know the one I'm talking about: GYROS in white letters, the blue background, the way-too-chipper-looking bottle-blond woman ... and the fat-ass perfectly doctored gyro, placed front and center. She doesn't look as if she's actually EVER going to eat the damn thing, but you can be friggin' sure she auditioned for at least one John Hughes flick back in the day, and got offered a B-movie softcore role instead. She didn't take the softcore role, of course. If she can't eat the damn gyro, how's she gonna do softcore? Anyway, I did multiple permutative searches (Google, eBay) of the words "gyro," "poster" and "Kronos," which is the company that made the thing. (OUCH -- I was in the middle of typing this, and Blakey saw a cat outside the window. He climbed down from his perch and totally launched into my foot, as if my FOOT was the other cat. I'm now bleeding in four places below my knee. I'm not lying about this. He's back at the windowsil. Spastic animal.) ANYWAY, the only gyros-poster thing I could find was this damn term paper or whatever the hell it is. And it only refers to a chicken gyro poster. So I'm bloody and I have no poster image to accompany this article.
June 06, 2002 at 03:45 | Permalink
There are plenty of World Cup player-haters out there, but I gotta say that I'm into it. My Spanish will improve, for sure. Univision has the decency to replay the games during the day. ESPN2? No replays, unless our boys buck up. Disney-minion cowards. I thought this kind of thing is why they created ESPN2 in the first place. While Univision is getting its futbol on, ESPN2 will be showing RPM 2Night and a tape of the 2002 Pro Wakeboard Series from Charleston, S.C. (We'll let 'em slide at lunchtime, because at least they'll be rebroadcasting Baseball Tonight. That's still a good show.)
June 05, 2002 at 12:00 | Permalink
To my three or four regular readers, I apologize for my lack of blogjuice lately. But it has been a busy time: My mom made it through surgery this morning just fine, so that's news item No. 1. If you don't have the scoop on that, drop me a line and I'll explain. Less importantly, all of the FBI/CIA/Sept. 11 chatter the past week leaves me with the urge to promote the Electronic Privacy Information Center once again. If you have a spare $20, you could do worse than donate it to EPIC: As the government tries to figure out just how much it should get its spook-on, I submit that it's muy importante to fund the watchdogs, and the dudes at EPIC -- at least in my experience -- take their job very seriously.
June 04, 2002 at 22:21 | Permalink