Monday, December 5, 2011

This is about to happen.

The next six weeks of my life will be devoted to making sure I don't die of a high-altitude asthma attack in a remote mountain range straddling Uganda and the Congo.

I'm hoping it will raise awareness for a very important issue—which is to say, I hope this is a rhapsody, and not a requiem, for glaciers.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

NewCityMoon by Ryan Spring Dooley

After attending a (mandatory) class on "search engine optimization" (SEO to the interwebs savvy), I learned about certain tags and keywords that make your post more likely to be read. One of these words was "boobs."

I really wanted more people to see this brilliant animation from street artist Ryan Spring Dooley. So here it is. And here, also, are some boobs. Well, not real boobs. But the word "boobs."

ANYWAY This animation is compliments of the always excellent street art repository Wooster Collective—a site I highly recommend visiting if you're ever feeling uninspired. Three seconds of scrolling and you'll be convinced again that we do, in fact, live in a beautiful world populated by wildly creative people doing unbelievably imaginative things.

And boobs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Failed Children's Book Titles

Compliments of Twitter. Read more here, and feel the flames of hell lapping at your feet...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Drugs: The Video Game


The intro to the new Beatles: Rockband is probably the best argument for picking up a fake guitar—and real psychedelics—ever. Watch this and I guarantee your next two phone calls will be to Best Buy and your dealer (though not necessarily in that order).

PLUS: A vintage video game bonus... The origin of Tetris! In which the creator himself, Alexey Pajitnov, humbly reveals that he has no fucking clue as to why his game was so compelling—while the guy who brought it to the States speculates that "there is some basic psychological pleasure sensor that Tetris has found that others don't. The balance is so good, it feels like you can always go a little more."

And speaking of more... Have you ever wondered which shape of Tetris block best describes you as a person? Wonder no more with this online personality quiz. I am an L-shaped Tetris block. Apparently this makes me sensual (look out, lady blocks!).

Friday, May 29, 2009

Q: Why was the Yeti late for his appointment?

A: He forgot to check his sasq-watch!

(Not my fault. My best friend Bart stole the obvious best headline for his Portland Monthly blog.)

The next time you're miserable, just take a lesson from this dude at 2009's most excellent Sasquatch Festival. And if you can't move your body in such a lithe, rhythmic fashion, don't worry. This video will remain here permanently. For medicinal purposes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Personal Computer Club of Toronto


Making fun of nerds is a pretty lame pastime (I myself have been the victim of aimless and unwarranted nerd bashing throughout my youth). So I have to point out, here, that it is for purposes of total admiration—not mockery—that I make you aware of the The Personal Computer Club of Toronto.

It's awesome enough that they chose to photograph each of their members in front of a faux tropical digital background (this guy even went the extra mile and photoshopped himself a Hawaiian shirt). But I was also touched to learn that these passionate people still believe, even now, that there is a need for an organization "to encourage public awareness of computer hardware and software." It's a quaint old sentiment—borrowed from the days we wrote programs on a cassette deck attached to my friend's Commodore VIC-20. Back then, we were dazzled by jagged circles on cathode ray tubes. If we only knew that, in the future, there would be palm trees (!), I'm pretty sure we'd all be in this club.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Accidental Highlander

So tomorrow I'm heading here:


...to compete in this.

You can check out our team bio here. And for you Twitter-minded folks, apparently you can get up-to-the-minute updates on how we're faring by following @club1745.

Meanwhile, please refer to this for inspiration and general insight into Scottish culture. Often.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

badpaintingsofbarackobama.com


In commemoration of the first 100 days....

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Service Changes


Pardon the NYC inside joke. But for those of us who live here, this is slightly ingenious....

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Different Kinds of People That There Are

In the current issue of Seattle's The Stranger, columnist Lindy West takes the time to categorize every single type of human being on Earth. This must have been an exhausting task—not least because it's brilliant and hilarious. Among the categories:

Wizards

Assholes with beards who do magic. In modern times, wizards look just like normal people, because they've learned to wear tracksuits and tuxedos over their robes. This means that wizards could be anywhere. Can you trust the people you work with not to be wizards?

Russians

Citizens of Russia. The sworn enemies of wizards.

Russian Wizards

Don't be ridiculous.

People Who Let Their Cat Walk Across Their Kitchen Cutting-Board, Even Though Those Are the Same Fucking Paws That Have Been Tramping Around That Shit-Filled Cat Box and I Don't See a Kitty Foot-Washing Station Around Here, Do You?

Well? Do you? ANSWER THE QUESTION.

In addition, she mentions hoboes. So really, she's already won.

DNA Ice Sculpture

Every year up there in Palin territory, BP sponsors something called the World Ice Art Championships, in which hundreds of well-insulated entrants saw through tons of frozen water and create what essentially amounts to a huge temporary sculpture garden—all of it lit up in psychedelic hues against a snowy evergreen backdrop. The night shots make the place look a little like Burning Man North, and sort of make you want a Hot Toddy spiked with LSD (you know, more than usual...).

The other thing that's cool about this is the inherently transient nature of the art. First sign of Spring and that "museum" is toast, the entire exhibit reduced to groundwater. Consider the weird intersection of these two seemingly unrelated groups: ice sculptors and street artists. Both, unlike other artists, have to accept the idea that their vision is doomed from the outset—one from cleanup crews, one from the month of May. And that's not a defeating aspect in either case. It's the whole appeal.

Above is an entry for the "single block classic" abstract category (ice sculptors, feel free to elucidate) called "Preserved." It didn't even place. Maybe the judges were confused as to "where that funny staircase leads to." Or maybe it has something to do with the host state's governor believing the world to be 8,000 years old, thus billion-year-old sciencey things are accordingly frowned upon. In any case, this undeniable awesomeness is the handiwork of Ronald Daanen of Holland and Ina Timling of Germany. Well done, Team Science. May you one day make millions freaking out the buffet crowd on Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Worst Homemade Star Wars Costumes of All Time

Holy Taco is featuring a gallery of the laziest, most ill-conceived Star Wars costumes this side of the ice planet Hoth. In addition to the above failed attempt at Boba Fett meets Old Navy fondler (I still can't tell if he's extending his hand or a piece of raw meat) there is also an excellent unintetnional re-envisioning of Darth Maul as Mexican wrestler. Why any of these men and women would leave the house dressed like this is anyone's guess—but it also sort of misses the point: These are the meta-nerds—the sad and hopeless subset of a fringe cultural cross-section already dismissed as sad and hopeless. I mean, shit—if you're going to commit to a lifetime of not getting laid, put a little effort into it for crissakes.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'll marry you!

Last night a very good friend of mine asked me to do something I'd never done before: officiate a wedding. His wedding. Needless to say, I was touched. And because this man happens to be one of the finest exemplars of the human species I've ever met (ok, that and I really want to don clergy robes), I immediately accepted. So today I set out on the curious endeavor of getting ordained—a process which, in this era of flying cars and wireless Interwebs, took approximately 30 seconds. For those of you who don't yet know, the Universal Life Church can have you ordained faster than you can download Left Behind to your Kindle2. Now that I'm a Reverend, I join a storied congregation that includes such illustrious members as well-known director John Waters, and several of my less responsible friends. So hurry up and propose to her already. I'm bored shitless.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

the various and sundry signs of the apocalypse


As the shit hits the fan, shit just keeps getting weirder. Apparently there have been so many foreclosures in Las Vegas recently that a mosquito epidemic has broken out from all those abandoned swimming pools. So now, the county is actually hiring people to go from property to property and release mosquito larva-eating minnows into all that stagnant water (hey, it creates new jobs!). Of course, the article says nothing of the already bizzarro-world scenario of mosquitoes in the middle of the goddamn desert.

From the article:

Long term is key, as foreclosed homes tend to remain ignored for months or longer and fetid pools can lead to such mosquito-borne diseases as West Nile virus. Last year 16 cases of West Nile virus were reported statewide. The district received 2,854 complaints about green pools last year, up from a previous high of 1,624 in 2007. This year the district has dealt with 271 complaints, nearly 100 more than this time last year.

If you're still not convinced that it's time to hawk all your possessions, stock up on canned goods, and move to an underground bunker in Greenland, here's another piece of solid evidence for the encroaching End Times: a $250,000 wristwatch that does for you what the three witches did for Macbeth:

(From Walletpop:)

Borgeaud, a Swiss manufacturer of premium watches, has teamed with Indian astrologers to produce a fortune-telling watch. The company's "Panchang" line allegedly combines "the best of Swiss watch-making and one of the world's oldest almanacs" to produce a timepiece that will tell users when disaster is poised to strike. The silver-faced watch features what Ananova describes as a "bedpan-shaped" cutout. The space is generally blue, but occasionally will fill with a brown color, indicating that astral forces are poised to wreak havok on one's life. These looming terrors correspond to the "Rahu Kaal;" according to Indian Vedic astrology these dark periods are inauspicious times in which to begin new undertakings.

Dark times indeed. One can only hope that sucker's Rahu Kaal predictor accounts for Daylight Saving Time. You don't want to be caught without an umbrella for the rain of frogs. (Speaking of which, a record of the various times it's already rained animals, divided into species.)

See you all on the other side.

Monday, March 23, 2009

"One of his specialties is lighting himself on fire."


Forgive me for giving away the best line in the whole story with the title of this post, but the New York Times' James Schembari has a good piece in the March 22, 2009 edition of the paper on how you, too, can be a stunt driver. You know, like, deliberately.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Fine Art of Office Party Crashing


Yesterday, after forcing several of my coworkers to down Irish Car Bombs at O'Whateverthefuck's downstairs from our office, I crashed a party.

It's not something I do. But a friend of mine crashes it every year and he gave me the rundown. Free liquor and bands! Posh skyscraper with wraparound balcony and a view of the parade! No need to vie for space with piss-drunk Sigma Delts from U. Southern Newark, who took the bus in with the express purpose of throwing up on your streets!

I'm still not even sure where I was. Some kind of Irish hedge fund. There were framed pictures of autumnal Irish golf courses on the walls. Cherry wood desks and low-pile corporate carpeting. The average age was somewhere around 60—which pretty much corresponded to the age of the band, who spent a lot of time singing about the hills and the heathers and fair ladies with emerald eyes. I was about to high-tail it outta there with my Solo cup full of Dewar's when I met this guy.

That's right, the legendary Father Pete: hard-livin' priest to the hard livin' Times Square set—shepherd to lost whores, junkies, celebrities, longshoremen, and everything in between. Savior to Mickey Rourke! A bona fide New York icon, and a relic of a happier, grittier time when peep shows still outnumbered wine bars—and when, with the right password and a crisp Benjamin, you could probably still procure an actual human hand.

Here's a guy who'd seen it all—including his own imminent death at a very early age: "When you have a heart attack at 27, you fuckin' die," he said to me and some total strangers out on the balcony. But Father Pete—61 now—did not die. He just kept on keepin' on, with his steady time-proven diet of burgers, cigarettes, and whisky—that's right, whisky.

So how does one act around a priest who slugs Dewar's, smokes butts, and drops F-bombs? Clearly I had no clue. Because at one point in our conversation I got a little excited and let slip a loud, "JESUS CHRIST!"

"That's great," some drunk lady laughed, "Take the Lord's name in vain in front of a priest!"

"Yeah, sorry about that, Father," I said. But ol' Father Pete just took another drag and smiled. A knowing smile. The kind of smile that says, "Kid, I got far bigger things to worry about than some blaspheming party crasher."

Then he said what all of us had been thinking but didn't have the courage to say.

"I gotta get outta here," he said. "I'm shitface drunk."

Father Pete, we salute you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, y'all!

In lieu of shamrocky bud lites and green rivers of beerprechauns, meet Fight Like Apes and Dirty Epics—two fine bands out of Dublin comprised of 1) kick-ass musicians who do not play the tin whistle; and 2) ass-kicking frontwomen who will mess up your face. The groups played back-to-back gigs at Pianos last night, fresh off the plane from the Emerald Isle. Dirty Epics frontylady Sarah Jane Wai O'Flynn pulled off a cover of Iggy's "Search And Destroy" that pretty much came out of nowhere and set fire to the single hair on my sweaty, white chest. She later displayed remarkable patience when I used my hands to explain the relative geographical locations of California and Florida (this is the band's first trip to the States). Fight Like Apes' MayKay writhed around the dirty, dirty floor and dissolved into a pool of red satin, glitter, and extremely loud synthesizers while singing about stupified geese in a tune called Jake Summers (Check out the video below). Both bands are headed to SXSW to mess with Texas. Crooked Highway sends them glad tidings from New York! (50 bucks if you can name the Irishman I stole that from)

On Arachnids and Cherry ICEEs...

My fake date with singer/actress Emmy Rossum in the April issue of Details.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"The conflict was comparable to a local insurgency with undeclared territorial claims and demands."

There are so many brilliant passages in this vignette from Marines Magazine that I didn't know where to begin. So I present to you, free from unnecessary embellishments...


The Monkey War

Submitted by Gunnery Sgt. Bill Donnelly, Retired

In what was once the Upper Marine Expeditionary Force Camp on a high jungle ridgeline between Subic Bay and Cubi Point in the Republic of the Philippines, Marines fought a little-known and relatively unspoken war. I don’t know when it started, how long it waged or how many combatants were ultimately involved, but battles raged for years between rotating Marine Corps units and infiltrating bands of long-tailed macaques in what we called, The Monkey War.

I was a radio tech chief with Combat Service Support Detachment 35 in the final year of our presence at Subic Bay and first learned of hostilities when I noticed a puzzling succession of mobile radios with blown amplifier modules and antennas with traces of charred fruit. I had no idea what this meant, so I asked a lance corporal. “Oh, staff sergeant the grunts must be fighting monkeys again,” he said.

Somehow, I intuitively knew what he meant, but when I looked at the damaged equipment, I couldn’t imagine how, or why, a monkey would be in the electrical path of an antenna. So I went up the hill from the Lower MEF Camp to Upper MEF and discovered a large band of monkeys just inside the jungle in a battle line parallel to a row of Quonset huts. At the slightest provocation, or sometimes none at all, belligerent monkeys advanced in raiding parties and pummeled Marines with anything they could throw.

Short of using weapons and munitions, Marines engaged as well. They moved communication vehicles near trees and rigged remotes to energize radios when monkeys reached for baited antennas. They also launched frequent coordinated barrages of San Miguel bottles. Strikes rarely escalated beyond these tactics because monkeys were known to shriek incessantly, charge when threatened and bite in close quarters. Real battle was too costly and Olongapo liberty was a diversion to the monkey campaign.

The conflict was comparable to a local insurgency with undeclared territorial claims and demands. When we withdrew from Subic in 1992, our departure effectively conceded victory to the monkeys, ending The Monkey War.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Friday, January 2, 2009

1.2

Compliments of Mr. Jeff Magnum...

Vacationing in Iraq

My latest piece for Details.

You Can't Come Halfway Home From the Bar

My piece on the poet Jeffrey Miller for the Poetry Foundation. Read it here. It's a long one, so find yourself a golden corner to curl up in - and hang on to your sanity. This one goes out to the Russian River gang...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE

Down by the river
was it bombs or kisses? It took me weeks
to get those
broken kites out of my mouth
sticks poked holes in my brain & the moon boomed in,
internal hatpin
milking The Zombie's eyeball.
Actually,
I'm not so big on torture,
preferring the euphoric touch
where the string's end gets tied to a toothache
& bells spit out a bloody yippee
whenever you sneak out
& slam the door.
-in the empty bowl of a has been
-in the sticky distance of a drowning fly swims
toward that lone Cheerio,
-in a wink, tossed across a crowded party & demolishing
the polite wall of chatter
-here on The Lush West Coast
where passion's a crime against nature,
you stuck your tongue out
& I felt infinity
—filling my ear
like rock & roll




—Jeffrey Miller

Nailing New York

















Back in April last year, the intelligent, insightful, and highly Canadian Adam Sternbergh wrote a piece on the High Line, the abandoned elevated railway on Manhattan's lower west side that's been out of commission for 28 years. It is now being converted into the new main nerve of Manhattan cool - a linear amusement park of unaffordable condos and bottle service nightclubs. That is to say, the story of the High Line is the story of New York City in miniature. Of course, the symbolism of an elevated wonderland is almost too easy, a place where figuratively looking-down-upon meets literally looking-down-upon—a modern-day take on the Penthouse Effect.

The last graf is one of those things you'd circle in red and write "FUCKING EXACTLY" next to if this were part of your grad school curriculum.

[snip]

"The High Line, too—by which I mean the park, the neighborhood, the festival, the ballroom, the lounge—will one day look to us like a monument to the time we live in now. A time of great optimism for the city’s future. A time of essentially unfettered growth. A time when a rusted railbed could beget a park, and a park could beget a millionaire’s wonderland. And a time when the city was, for many, never safer, never more prosperous, and never more likely to evoke an unshakable suspicion: that more and more, New York has become like a gorgeous antique that someone bought, refurbished, and restored, then offered back to you at a price you couldn’t possibly afford."

1.1

Monday, December 18, 2006

Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg















Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg
by Richard Hugo


You might come here Sunday on a whim.
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss
you had was years ago. You walk these streets
laid out by the insane, past hotels
that didn't last, bars that did, the tortured try
of local drivers to accelerate their lives.
Only churches are kept up. The jail
turned 70 this year. The only prisoner
is always in, not knowing what he's done.
The principal supporting business now
is rage. Hatred of the various grays
the mountain sends, hatred of the mill,
The Silver Bill repeal, the best liked girls
who leave each year for Butte. One good
restaurant and bars can't wipe the boredom out.
The 1907 boom, eight going silver mines,
a dance floor built on springs--
all memory resolves itself in gaze,
in panoramic green you know the cattle eat
or two stacks high above the town,
two dead kilns, the huge mill in collapse
for fifty years that won't fall finally down.
Isn't this your life? That ancient kiss
still burning out your eyes? Isn't this defeat
so accurate, the church bell simply seems
a pure announcement: ring and no one comes?
Don't empty houses ring? Are magnesium
and scorn sufficient to support a town,
not just Philipsburg, but towns
of towering blondes, good jazz and booze
the world will never let you have
until the town you came from dies inside?
Say no to yourself. The old man, twenty
when the jail was built, still laughs
although his lips collapse. Someday soon,
he says, I'll go to sleep and not wake up.
You tell him no. You're talking to yourself.
The car that brought you here still runs.
The money you buy lunch with,
no matter where it's mined, is silver
and the girl who serves your food
is slender and her red hair lights the wall.