Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin, you rock my world

Bless you, you sweet crustacean-huntin, beauty pageant/votin down equal pay and reproduction rights-lovin lady, I do believe you just cost McCain any chance at the presidency.

You're like a grown up wind-up doll spewing catch phrases about "shattering the glass ceiling," you've met McCain once or twice and have absolutely no national or foreign political experience. You come from Alaska. No offense to Alaska, just the politicians who live and lie there.

The median age to become a member of the AARP is 60, McCain is on the death end of the spectrum. Let's just say that, since you would hypothetically be "a heartbeat away from the presidency," Americans will be less inclined to envision you leading our great nation than Joe Biden. Hahahahahaha! I love you!
Hey Candypants, let's climb the ladder of romance.

Some sweetass lines in this here song (thank you, Nicoleo).

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Misery index high, funny index low

I was watching this Bill Moyers fellow today, about this damned country's diminishing middle class...let me start over...this country isn't damned. It's not damned because there are no more electable Bushes:

Working Americans, and that's most people, are experiencing the "big squeeze." In fact, they're trying to survive one of the most profound social and economic changes in our history. The middle class is disappearing, facing a decline in standards of living. So you'd hope that the Democrats in Denver next week and the Republicans in St. Paul the following week would confront this crisis head on and not just serenade struggling families with a chorus of sympathetic but meaningless sound bites.

As wages stagnate, prices are soaring. Economists call this pain the "misery index." It's a combination of the unemployment and inflation rates, and it's what politicians have in mind when they ask, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" Well, the misery index is the highest it's been since George Bush's father became president, seventeen years ago.

At the end of Moyers' report, he quotes former IMF chief economist Ken Rogoff who said at a recent conference in Singapore, "The U.S. is not out of the woods. I think the financial crisis is at the halfway point, perhaps. I would even go further to say 'the worst is to come.'"

Yikes. I really laughed hard at this article a few years back, from the Onion, entitled: "National Museum Of The Middle Class Opens In Schaumburg, IL." Somehow it's not as funny anymore.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Genius of Damon Albarn

I just listened to the Damon Albarn-scored Monkey: Journey to the West, a soundtrack to the circus/opera of the same name that has been touring the world since last year, and it's utterly amazing.

With conceptual collaboration from Gorillaz illustrator Jamie Hewlett, you would expect nothing more than a little well-worn Gorillaz hybrid territory: hip-hop beats, indie rock sensibilities, eclectic guest singers and rappers, and perhaps a dash of Chinese string instruments to go along with the theme in this case. But the album is so much more than that: orchestral, sweeping, stately, cinematic and majestic; it utilizes authentic Chinese musical stylings and incorporates Mandarin-speaking vocalists. Albarn even went so far as to invent new musical instruments. According to The New Yorker:

While visiting the city of Yinchuan, in Ninzxia Province, Albarn spent an afternoon lying on the floor of his hotel room recording the sound of horns in the street. When he returned to London, he enlisted David Coulter, a multi-instrumentalist and conductor, and the visual artist Gavin Turk to help him build an instrument that plays notes using nothing but the air horns found in cars. The resulting instrument—Albarn calls it a klaxophone—is almost as big as a piano: thirty-six air horns housed in a wood-and-Plexiglas box powered by an air compressor from a dentist’s office and operated by a series of colored buttons and a pink joystick lifted from an arcade game.

The former Britpop poster boy has come quite a long way since he fronted the band Blur back in the '90s. He's since scored film soundtracks, had about a half dozen side projects (Gorillaz; The Good, The Bad & The Queen) and has now helped to create a multimedia opera that may become synonymous with all the Beijing Olympics '08 hype (see the BBC's Hewlett-animated promotional video).

The playlist below highlights some of my favorite Damon Albarn musical inventions, in chronological order, starting with my favorite Blur songs. The last track is from Monkey, called "Heavenly Peach Banquet." And it is just so beautiful and haunting. Enjoy:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Like a slug in a sandpaper trenchcoat

The winners of San Jose State University's Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest were announced this week, and they were sublimely craptastic. The Bulwer-Lytton competition enables amateur writers to come up with "purple prose"--or overly flowery, garish writing that oftentimes changes perspective through a flighty narrative--a kind of ode to author Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

Bulwer-Lytton was a Victorian-era writer and politician known for the clich├ęd novel opener: "It was a dark and stormy night." He was also known for such phrases as "the great unwashed," "the pursuit of the almighty dollar," and "the pen is mightier than the sword." Apparently the only work that was widely received when he wrote it in 1834 was The Last Days of Pompeii, which, according to wikipedia:

...culminates in the cataclysmic destruction of the city of Pompeii by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD...uses its characters to contrast the decadent culture of first-century Rome with both older cultures and coming trends. The protagonist, Glaucus, represents the Greeks who have been subordinated by Rome, and his nemesis Arbaces the still older culture of Egypt. Olinthus is the chief representative of the nascent Christian religion, which is presented favorably but not uncritically. The Witch of Vesuvius, though she has no supernatural powers, shows Bulwer-Lytton's interest in the occult - a theme which would emerge in his later writing, particularly The Coming Race.

The winning entry in Bulwer-Lytton's legacy competition came from Communications Director Garrison Spik of Washington, D.C., who cites Devo, Nathaniel Hawthorne and the film "Curse of Bigfoot" as inspirations.

Spik's winning submission:

"Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped 'Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.' "

Brilliantly pretentious. A professor from SJ State explained to the Washington Post why the passage was such a winning failure:

"It starts out in a familiar vein, one more attempt to define the nature of someone's exquisite love," says Scott Rice gravely. Rice is the lit professor at San Jose State University who founded the contest back in 1982. "But mentioning a cab is somewhat of a step down, and finally at the end it degenerates all the way to a manhole cover with the little detail about Piscataway."

Here's a few of my favorite runner-ups:

"The mongrel dog began to lick her cheek voraciously with his sopping wet tongue, so wide and flat and soft, a miniature pink fleshy cape soaked through the oozing with liquid salivary gratitude; after all, she had rescued him from the clutches of Bernard, the curmudgeonly one-eyed dogcatcher, whose tongue--she remembered vividly the tongues of all her lovers--was coarse and lethargic, like a slug in a sandpaper trenchcoat."
Christopher Wey
Pittsburgh, PA

"Mike Hummer had been a private detective so long he could remember Preparation A, his hair reminded everyone of a rat who'd bitten into an electrical cord, but he could still run faster than greased owl snot when he was on a bad guy's trail, and they said his friskings were a lot like getting a vasectomy at Sears."
--Robert B. Robeson
Lincoln, Nebraska

"Our tale takes place one century before the reign of Alboin, the Lombard king who would one day conquer most of Italy and who would end up being murdered by his own wife (quite rightfully, I'd say, since Albion made a drinking cup out of her daddy's skull and forced her to drink from it), when our little Sonnebert was seven years old."
--Edo Steinberg
Beer-Sheva, Israel

I would like to add my own beginning passage. It's something I came across a few days ago when I was cleaning out my documents. I was under the influence of pulp/noir detective stories, and, at the time, was working in a London pub and obsessing over the Liverpudlian restaurant manager. Sadly, I was not aiming for humor when I wrote this. And yes, I thought "eyeshaunting" sounded really good at the time. Here goes:

Adam. Who was this mysterious deep-set eyeshaunting slender, graceful work of art, and of all names that of the original man? Adam: tall and lanky, brilliant sun behind his every move as he breezes through the colorless masses in a parkside London pub on an unforgivably humid summer day. With sun-kissed hair and one eyebrow arched at the sight of a stranger, I was about to find out.

Apologies for any nausea induced upon reading the above passage.
Life's Enduring Questions

Over the course of my 29 years on this planet, only a few burning questions have lingeringly floated through the echo chambers of my mind--as a youth and adult--and left me without answers: Was the untimely death of Marilyn Monroe really a suicide? Are alien spacecrafts currently held in Area 51? Was my hometown built on top of a series of Native American burial grounds and therefore a good number of homes remain haunted?

Today, I have discovered the answer to one of (my) life's great mysteries. The rumors that the popular 1995 Alanis Morrisette song, "You Oughta Know," was inspired by Dave Coulier, aka "Uncle Joey" on Full House, are actually true.

The Calgary Herald recently unleashed a Dave Coulier exclusive:

He says he was driving when he first heard the tune.

"I said, 'Wow, this girl is angry.' And then I said, 'Oh man, I think it's Alanis,'" Coulier tells the Calgary Herald. "I listened to the song over and over again, and I said, 'I think I have really hurt this person.'"

Inundated with press calls, he says he tried to get a hold of her — and eventually got through.

"I said, 'Hi. Uh, what do you want me to say?'" he recalls. "And she said, 'You can say whatever you want.'"

Eventually, he says, "we saw each other and hung out for an entire day. And it was beautiful. It was one of those things where it was kind of like, 'We're good.'"

Let's recap some of the lyrics shall we?

An older version of me
Is she perverted like me
Would she go down on you in a theater

Or how about:

'Cause the joke that you laid on the bed that was me
And I'm not gonna fade
As soon as you close your eyes
And you know it

And every time I scratch my nails down someone else's back
I hope you feel it
Well can you feel it?

Let's all let out a collective, "Eeeeeew Uncle Joey....grrrossss."

Thursday, August 14, 2008


According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan public interest group whose reports can be read via the website, it seems our troops overwhelmingly prefer Obama to McCain for president, by a margin of six to one:
Despite McCain's status as a decorated veteran and a historically Republican bent among the military, members of the armed services overall -- whether stationed overseas or at home -- are also favoring Obama with their campaign contributions in 2008, by a $55,000 margin. Although 59 percent of federal contributions by military personnel has gone to Republicans this cycle, of money from the military to the presumed presidential nominees, 57 percent has gone to Obama.
Suck it, grandpa!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Goodbye, Penis Envy!

Hello, P-Mate!

I want to have a pissing contest with this lady, Jamie Holland. We'll haul a keg into Central Park after a good snow, down a few, and just piss our names all over the fields, along with, "Chicks don't need dicks!" or "I am a lady and I am free to pee!" We'll just golden shower it up in front of a crowd of onlookers, and find out who can strategically urinate the longest. And you know what, it probably won't be considered indecent exposure because it won't be our man parts hanging out, but a strange funnel-like contraption "made of recyclable materials" that is "shaped to fit the female body form." I love me some technology and innovation.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Zen and the Art of Loving Las Vegas

I'm sun burned, broke, and on what seems to be an endless hangover...but I'm glad I did it, I'm glad I stayed in Las Vegas for nearly one week. Bless you oh land of opportunity/reckless oasis of sin and filth/harbinger to a return to the nihilistic banality that envelops nearly every other city that is not you!

I'm not supposed to like the place, grew up around casinos in Tahoe and was purposefully steered away from learning about such things as poker and blackjack. Casinos were where I had to follow my mother to get her paycheck: strategically hopping from one geometric shape on the gaudy carpeting to the next, through tobacco-tainted smoke clouds and the endless tableau of adult zombies glued to video poker like moths to flames. The roaring clashes of coins in the slot machines still haunt me. It was not a glamorous scene.

But I was not about to go to Vegas for the glamor, nay, I was there for the spectacle.

I think you have to go with the right group of people, or mind frame, to enjoy the city of sin for what it is: a bastardization of all things cultural, worldly, prudish, environmentally scenic and graceful. It's like all of the casino proprietors and developers are like, "Hey! F-you Paris! F-you New York! F-you natural lighting, Venetian canals and Greek statues! We're going to turn all of you into potty stops and minor points of interest along one sick pub crawl where visitors will spend nearly everything they can possibly spend and then some! Yaaaaay Capitalism with a capital C! Go Team America!!!"

In this respect, Las Vegas is a stunning testament to an overindulgence in the indoctrination of American capitalism. --I saw a Neiman Marcus the size of two city blocks! And inside the shopping plaza at Caesar's Palace, there are kiosks with slurpee machines filled with slushy margaritas and daiquiris right outside of Versace and Louis Vuitton boutiques!

Alien concepts to Las Vegas: moderation, regulation, responsibility, subtlety.

What people don't tend to think about is that this rebellious attitude extends, historically, to the state's relationship with the Federal Government. This is a state that has been going through a major drought for years with its dependency on the ever-dry Colorado River, yet maintains a massive man-made lake so that private yachts can flaunt themselves like floating peacocks. A state where an organized-crime boss named Bugsy Siegel made an honest living and in turn created a major city, and a state where civil liberties have always held true to the spirit of the Wild West (i.e., generous gun, prostitution and public drinking laws, etc etc).

And then you think about all the atomic testing, Area 51, the toxic waste dumping grounds and whatever else no one hears about, and you realize: this is one f-ed up state. Not the ideal breeding ground for a nuclear (no pun intended) family. Novelist Elizabeth Benedict, in the essay "Searching for Treasure in Las Vegas" states:

Nevada has been a victim of the government's exploitation in a way no other state has been. It has also quite deliberately created its own smarmy identity — by legalizing gambling, in 1931, and prostitution, quickie divorces and quickie marriages— in a way no other state has done...Nevada is the homely girl from the wrong side of the tracks who knows the only way to become popular is to let all the boys sleep with her, and so becomes the town whore. The state itself — terrain, natural resources, weather — was not much of an enticement as a destination to live or to visit, until it became the only place in the country you could easily get married, get divorced, get laid, and maybe even get rich quick. It's easy to become the town whore. It might even happen overnight. But once you are, it's tough to transform yourself into anyone else.

Concepts I could do without, and did, in Las Vegas: elitism, oppressive policemen and patrolling, apparent presence of homelessness, bourgeois influence.

As long as you have money to burn, you can access whatever social environment you so choose. To my knowledge, none of the clubs we visited excluded anyone based on attire or looks. Sometimes, I was told, you can't wear flip-flops, but that's about it.

And, as a woman who considers herself a feminist and has had to live with the indignation of sexual harassment on the street through the years, I loved seeing flyers and billboards of scantily-clad women in every direction. There was so much commodifiable sex that nobody seemed to notice female bystanders. I guess men get so inundated with sexual options that they just give up. No creepy stares, kissy noises, unnecessary propositions...I could have walked around in a bikini and no one would pay any mind. I respect that in a city.

From space, Las Vegas is the brightest city on the planet. According to my shuttle bus driver, who must have been loaded what with all the swerving, the city's casinos take in roughly $18 million per day. And it all started with a few gangsters with dreams so big that no rule of law could stop them. And the legacy continues, with corporate robber barons picking up the slack. Hunter S. Thompson was wrong, Las Vegas is not the death of the American Dream. It's the only place where it still lives--albeit a bit anemically.

(Bonus section)
The Top Five Greatest Things To Do in Vegas:
5. Drink margaritas poolside in lieu of breakfast. Bonus points for drinking margaritas out of plastic cowboy boots or Eiffel towers. Negative points for drinking margaritas at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville (they don't even play that song there--rip off!).

4. Jump on the bed/dance to the Top Gun soundtrack. Especially Kenny Loggins' "Playing with the Boys."

3. Watch other people wig out on the hallucinogen salvia (it's legal in Nevada).

2. Rap the copy of the bible found in your nightstand (John W: "The Book of Job has a particularly pleasing iambic pentameter!").

1. Eat your weight in Alaskan crab legs and shrimp cocktail at the Spice Market buffet.