How annoying is this? (via Spin) I'll have to do some investigating -- I exit the subway near GWU every day -- and report on the details.
The rise of the Yao Ming phenomenon, particularly the side of his life explained in those WaPost articles, has me thinking that 30 years from now, China will be looking for its own ambitious film director to helm a Yao-changed-the-world biopic. Of course, they'll also have to find a ridiculous pop star to sing the sappy title track, and a large, agile Asian man to play the lead. If Yao's career quickly goes south because of a debilitating injury, he could always take the Brian Bosworth route and make crappy action flicks. He's tall enough to carry a couple of bazookas as if they were shotguns.
February 27, 2003 at 18:22 | Permalink
Nothing in pop culture right now is more annoying than the Hipster Handbook, and if I ever actually hear anyone using the term "deck" without even a tinge of self-awareness, I will pummel them. That said, I'm jealous of anybody who comes up with a literary Pet Rock and makes money from it. Hipster culture, at least the form that the handbook tries to capture, really isn't possible without capitalism and consumerism to rebel against. In a communist or authoritarian state, the 'hipster" usually makes the leap to "revolutionary," because there's actually a reason to behave with more than hollow self-interest. But back to the West: Chuck Barris proved that the mightiest, weirdest, most awesome hipsters are the folks who create the Pet Rocks of the world. What's more pure than a cultural virus? True memes are the path to coolness. I need a piece of that action: dollar-dollar bill y'all.
February 26, 2003 at 16:04 | Permalink
I tied off the kitchen garbage this morning and put the bag outside my apartment door. It was a good hour before I left for work. When I stepped outside, the bag was gone. My first media-paranoia-driven instinct was: damn, somebody nabbed it so they can steal personal information about me. I'm usually pretty anal about tearing up paperwork that has my name on it (gotta buy a doc shredder), but I guess it doesn't help all that much if the pieces are held tidily in one bag. Then I thought about what was in the bag: A two-week supply of rug dirt emptied from the Eureka; several limp banana peels; the bathroom garbage, which is never pleasant; some spoiled salad greens; and at least one loogie. My concerns were for naught: Some kind soul (or disgusted neighbor) had put the bag in the building's Dumpster. They obviously hurled it in a disgusted hurry, because it was resting on top of the lid, not in the bin itself.
February 26, 2003 at 01:13 | Permalink
Looks like Rudy Giuliani's squeegee-man policy has been adapted by the DEA. Such a move really only removes the gimmickry from the equation. If the feds really wanted to be hardcore about cracking down on drug gear, they'd also shut down vo-tech workshops, brownie-baking contests, plumbing supply stores and horticulture hobbyists.
February 24, 2003 at 21:49 | Permalink
I walked out of my apartment this morning and heard a boom. It wasn't quite as loud as when the airliner hit the Pentagon, but it came from the same general direction. There was another boom, and another, and a few more. Then I realized it was probably a 21-gun salute at Arlington National Cemetery. It must've been somebody important, because the guns were big. If not that, perhaps the government is building another secret underground project, this time in Virginia. Speaking of Arlington, the snow removal in the semi-burb has been wanting in spots, if not altogether lacking. My apartment complex pretty much gave up on the shoveling, so I went out today and carved a small path on one steep stretch of the sidewalk. My wife had to shovel out our parking-lot spot on Saturday night because the property manager still hadn't paid somebody to do it. We're required to pay extra to use the spot. I have a feeling we won't be paying for it the next time around, if you catch my drift. In fact, I'm a little sad that we didn't shovel a bunch of snow into the property manager's spot. CONTEST: Name the group and song for the following quote: "That's because I kick so much butt/I kick ass." Anybody with the correct answer (I forget the song, so you'd better be right) will win a CD from a decidedly unfamous major-label rock band. I have plenty of those, so don't be shy.
February 24, 2003 at 19:27 | Permalink
Still in Philly, and besides plowing through "The Corrections" (a very Philly book, it turns out), I've been filling my free time with the "20 Years of Dischord" box set. I'll keep it short: Today's emo wannabes are missing one vital thing: the sense of hope underneath it all. Almost every Dischord band operated under the premise that bad things don't have to last forever.
Today's extended metaphor: When my cat sees another cat outside the window, he runs around like a freak, and attacks anything that moves inside the apartment. Ah, the wonders of displaced aggression. The cat outside may or may not present a threat to the apartment, but that doesn't matter. My cat knows it can't lash out through the glass. So he chomps on my arm or leg instead. I shouldn't be so smarmy. I guess the local good guys -- who are governed by a democracy, after all -- couldn't handle it themselves. I liken the bad guys in the Philippines to the equivalent of a drug cartel setting up a headquarters compound on the Texas side of the border. Every "Soldier of Fortune"-readin' fool would be lining up for a piece of the action. I guess the Philippines doesn't have too many "Soldier of Fortune" readers.
February 21, 2003 at 15:41 | Permalink
1. Walked a mile for a BLT and a cup of coffee. I'd been to this diner before. The last time, about six years ago, I passed out in the gutter outside the front door.
2. Watched a belligerent drunk woman harrass the waitress at the register. No blows were exchanged.
3. Came upon a taxi stuck in the snow. The driver, obviously an African immigrant, apparently was new to the idea of driving in the white stuff. A guy sporting pointy forest-green leather boots, John Lennon shades and a bad attitude (an overstylish foreigner, natch) jumped out of the cab as soon as it became apparent that it would be stuck for awhile. The African dude took all of our instructions patiently, and with the help of a shovel borrowed from a nearby doorman, the cab was sent on its way.
4. Watched my future sister-in-law make snow angels with toddlers that belonged to proud Hispanic parents.
February 17, 2003 at 20:27 | Permalink
Of all the weeks to have business in Philly ... the snow has stranded my wife here with me at least for another day. We're with family, and not in some roadside hotel, so it's actually quite enjoyable. Snow days for adults -- truly the most wonderful time of the year. Of course, this is Pennsylvania, and although the lovely Keystone State has relaxed its blue laws, it's not so easy to buy a six pack or a bottle of shiraz on a normal Sunday. Thus, the Blizzard of 2003 all but nixed our plans to drink the day away, so we're eating and sleeping it away instead (tip o' the hat to "Polar Opposites"). When conscious, I'm making good progress with "The Corrections," which is far less annoying than I expected it to be. Genuinely entertaining, even.
February 16, 2003 at 21:30 | Permalink
We laughed, at least a little, when President Bush urged us to shop, shop, shop for national pride after the Sept. 11 attacks. Now the government wants us to buy, buy, buy as a deterrent to terrorism. Check out this timeline:
Feb. 10: The feds issue the duct-tape-and-plastic-sheeting advisory.
Feb. 11: The Washington Post puts this piece of information at the very end of its second-day story on the advisory:
U.S. officials said one reason for yesterday's advice, and release of information about security discussions, was that al Qaeda tends to avoid targets it feels have been hardened. "When we have more protections up, and signal we're paying attention, it lessens al Qaeda's interest in attack," an official said.
Feb. 12: By now, people are going apeshit at the Home Depot, and it's impossible to find bottled water at the supermarket.
Feb. 14: Now that the shelves are empty, Bush and his security team decide to cool everybody off a bit.
OK, fine, the standard joke is that the hardware and grocery industries engineered the advisory to pump up their sales. Yeah, that's an easy potshot for amateur conspiracy theorists. The awful truth: We're all playing bit roles in a piece of theater. Come on, kids, let's show Osama the power of our pocketbooks: No country on Earth is better prepared to send its citizenry into hiding at the first whiff of airborne nastiness. It's just like the theory that the Russkies never invaded us because they knew every goober in suburbia has a 12-gauge under his pillow. It's virtually impossible to prove that such a deterrent works, unless the enemy comes out and says so. Now that surely ain't gonna happen. I wonder who the "U.S. official" was in the Feb. 11 Post story, and how he knows that al Qaeda would be less likely to attack the United States because just because folks here are at near-panic levels.
February 15, 2003 at 04:32 | Permalink
I think I like this guy, if only the calculated-brutal-honesty part. Despite that refreshing approach to life-n-work, there's still a ton of big-penis Hollywood nonsense in him. Maybe it's a function of his career choice; I have a feeling that if he had chosen to be a priest, he might've been another Cardinal Ratzinger. Compare these two statements from the links above:
"There's a lot of freedom that comes when you abandon the need to be loved," says a friend, the director Jon Turteltaub. "Sometimes, the word for that is 'sociopath.' On the other hand, the word is sometimes artist. I don't think Gavin likes people disliking him, but he also doesn't wake up every morning trying to recreate himself in the image of what he thinks people want.''
As Grand Inquisitor for Mother Rome, Ratzinger keeps himself busy in service to the Truth: correcting theological error, silencing dissenting theologians, and stomping down heresy wherever it may rear its ugly head -- and, consequently, has received somewhat of a notorious reputation among the liberal media and 'enlightened' intellegensia of pseudo-Catholic universities.
February 13, 2003 at 14:55 | Permalink
Maybe I'm an idiot, but I see no need to rush out and buy stuff to protect my home from airborne contaminants. I'm more leery of taking a final Metro ride next to somebody laden with plastic explosives. Bombs are still cheaper to make or acquire than most chem-bio-nuke weapons, and it's reasonable to think that there are people in America right now with the will to play explosion-martyr in a public place. Somebody will do it soon enough, even if it's just a psychotic lone-wolf with no international connections. It's really that simple. Against this backdrop of paranoia, I recommend The Super Best of The Damned, in part because of the crappy Japanese packaging. Now there's a culture that knows how to fear contagion.
February 12, 2003 at 16:39 | Permalink
The Frogs and the Krauts should've known from the start that the current incarnation of the U.S.A. is gonna take its "moral clarity" and shove it wherever it wants to. Oh well. It just means that Saddam will meet his gangster's fate sooner rather than later. So then what? Looks like the administration claims to have a clue about what to do in Baghdad after the fun is over: Stop the bombing and let a reform government take root, then let that government decide what to do within its borders. Sounds like Yugoslavia II. But I'm not buying it yet. There's a whiff of politically correct lip-service in what Grossman, Tenet and the others said during the hearing today. The jist: Sure, we're gonna bomb the Republican Guard back to the stone age. But have no fear, anti-imperialist complainers, we don't want the oil or the responsibility of running Iraq. Right. It's hard to believe that the United States government has absolutely no interest in how a future Iraq handles its oil stores. Just like we have, uh, no interest in how Venezuela manages its black gold.
February 11, 2003 at 22:34 | Permalink
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
St. Barris de Tube,
Not quite 'Boogie Nights'
Girded for chick-flick;
Discovered fresh peopleness
What's the dude version?
Thighs of Zeta-Jones
Prove to be more cerebral
Than Zellweger's brain
February 10, 2003 at 19:44 | Permalink
A sweet little app: Forgive me if you've played with this before. The best way to rock it is to wait until my scribbles are done, then hit the "clear" button. Choose your marker and your color, doodle away, then send it to a friend. They'll get a link and watch your drawing happen. Curse words look especially funny.
February 07, 2003 at 22:34 | Permalink
Seems like CNN face Aaron Brown is still taking a beating for his decision to stay at a golf tournament instead of rushing to a newsroom to anchor the network's shuttle-disintegration coverage. Yawn. This kind of thing requires a heroically cynical analysis: Aaron Brown works for CNN, a serious news network. Society likes to believe that its serious news anchors are public servants. It's a hangover from the Walter Cronkite days, when we had no choice but to trust what CBS News told us, because there weren't too many other places to get TV news. But today's anchors are merely trusted celebrities. They're not public servants, and they're kidding themselves if they think that way. They are employees of gigantic media conglomerates that loathe their TV news divisions because the profit margins aren't too sexy, and the typical audience member is more likely to buy Depends and glucosamine, not the usual 18-35 demographic stuff. It's admirable that Brokaw and Rather and the others busted up their weekends to cover the fate of the Columbia. They have principles, and one could argue that their pure-hearted, johnny-on-the-spot job dedication is the only way to respond honorably to a news market that's now driven mostly by the ratings game. But the Aaron Brown approach works for me, too. He probably realizes that he's simply a high-profile employee of AOL Time Warner, which probably could give a crap about how well CNN covers something, as long as people stay tuned. When he's on the air, he's solid. But when he's off the air, he's obviously not wedded to life as an anchor. I can dig it. (Apologies to the Wook and anybody else who jumped on this story earlier.)
February 06, 2003 at 19:48 | Permalink
Off to New York for a couple of days. Expect more postings later in the week. I'll leave you with this:
ME: Man, this PDF is gonna be like 20 megs.
CUBEMATE: Your mom is like 20 megs.
ME: You're just jealous because your mom only got a page of thumbnails.
February 03, 2003 at 20:23 | Permalink
This is the end of a stretch where I've worked 12 days straight. A shoddy existence, this has become. I'm still at work now, actually. Don't ask why. The simple truth is this: I hope I never work 12 days straight again unless I'm doing something I absolutely love. This stretch was more about someone else's need for me to do things: About 90 percent of journalists are computer idiots. The journalists who aren't computer idiots are running well-read blogs, writing under pseudonyms for Slashdot, or consulting newspaper groups on how to improve the integration of print crap with the electronic world. Or they're ex-journalists in the private sector, checkin' serious bank. I'm somewhere in the middle of all that crap, and that apparently makes me the kind of person who gets stuck working 12 days in a row on electronic journalistic hoo-hah. Am I proud? Try ambivalent. At least one record bubbled to the surface amid the haze: Ron Sexsmith's "Blue Boy." So friggin' tight: Huzzahs to Steve Earle's production, and a full bow 'n' scrape to Sexsmith's spot-on vocals, hurtin' lyrics and generally cool-ass demeanor. Ignore The Onion AV Club's cautiousness on it: It defiantly transcends most of the NPR crap your coffeshop neighbor swears by. But save the disc for when you're a little wounded yourself. If you're at the top of your testosterone flow (or your geek-analysis tip), you'll overlook its heart.
February 01, 2003 at 05:02 | Permalink