Friday, December 22, 2006

Sentimental Moment or Why Did the Baguette Cross the Road? by Robert Hershon



Don't fill up on bread
I say absent-mindedly
The servings here are huge

My son, whose hair may be
receding a bit, says
Did you really just
say that to me?

What he doesn't know
is that when we're walking
together, when we get
to the curb
I sometimes start to reach
for his hand

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden

Photo by Robert Varnham


Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

Remeber when cartoons were blantantly racist?

Check out this children's classic - Coal Black and Da Sebben Dwarfs.

More classics are available on this list of the 50 greatest cartoons (although "greatest" is subjective, especially since my personal favorite isn't listed).

Brighton Blues Redux

Apparently someone was listening to my pleas, because when got home from work yesterday, Brighton was finally open! How long it will last is anyone's guess, as there is still a significant portion just north of 72nd street that needs to be widened. For now, dashing through the snow will be just a bit easier.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm just sayin'.

I don't know about you, but whenever I read about teenagers using over-the-counter or perscription drugs to get high, I think, "Hey, thanks for the tip."

YAYAYAY! (picture me running around gleefully in circles)

John Hodgman's wonderful book, The Areas of My Expertise, is available as an audiobook FOR FREE on iTunes. From the first couple of minutes, it is the greatest audiobook ever read ever ever ever. Ever. Holy crap, the more I listen, the better it is. You. Must. Listen. Now.

Did I mention I love John Hodgman?


Brighton Blues

In late summer of 2005, some friends bought a house right up the road from us. Driving straight north on Brighton, we can get to their house in 3 minutes. Then, about a week before they moved in, construction began on Brighton closing the road from 72nd street northward to highway 152. Now, instead of a 3 minute trip, it's a 8 minute trip, thanks to detours. No big deal, except that the road has been closed for over a year, and has been essentially finished for about two months. There are still barricades preventing its use, but we've taken the road a couple of times, in both our car and our Jeep.

Here's where I get pissed: Since the road is done, except for the removal of barricades, I see more and more cars travel the closed route every day. Apparently a bored cop looking to spread some Christmas cheer noticed too, because the rumor is that an officer was parked on the closed road last week dishing out tickets to motorists wishing to save time by driving down a finished Brighton.

This Brighton project has gone on long enough. The road is finished (for now) - let us use it. To the asshole cop who thought he was so clever staking out a closed road, merry Christmas, and i hope a lump of coal hits you on the head.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Last minute gift idea.

I know this is all over everywhere, but with good reason. Dick in a Box is probably the funniest thing I've seen in a while. I just cracked up typing that. Dick in a box. Haahhehee. Dick in a box. That is seriously funny.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Hey guys! Watch this!

iFilm has compiled a list of the top viral videos of 2006. Make sure to check out:

Leprechaun Hunt - Classic in so many ways.
Good Day, Mr. Kubrick - Surprisingly, there is no IMDB entry for this guy.
Average Homeboy - The white rap movement is in good hands.
The Easter Bunny Hates You - Who knew the Easter Bunny was a psychopath?
Hyper - Lasse Gjertsen is an editing whiz kid.
Seinfeld: The Lost Episode - Incorporates Kramer's stand-up comedy.
People's Court Interview - Moustache.
Sesame Streets - Scorsese does Muppets.
Tetris - Really big Tetris.

This list leaves out a personal favorite, Lazy Sunday. Oh - and also from SNL, Taco Town.

Here's a few of the best from 2005, in case you missed them:

Numa Numa Dance - This one started something. I don't know if that's a good thing.
The Gap: Pardon Our Dust - Who hasn't wanted to do this to a Gap store?
Kennedy: Your Mama - Who's lovin' your mama after the parent-teacher conference?
Is This the Way to Armadillo? - Excellent video made by British troops as a morale booster, based on this popular British video.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Since U Been Gone

Horny Manatee. “The product of our love shall be half a man, and half a’tee.”

From Writer’s Dreamtools comes a reference of history by decades, a timeline of people, fashion, entertainment, events, etc. from every decade since 1650. This is truly fascinating reading, and a remarkable resource for writers.

Video based on an 11-year old boy’s experience with a bully. “I hate Drake. Because he sucks, that’s why.”

Urban Dictionary harbl. ytmnd harbl. RideMonkey harbl. Flickr harbl.

Art Trip

I'm a total sucker for oddball, almost grotesque characters. I suppose I can blame it on my early fascination with all things Muppet, or the trippy Sesame Street animations I absorbed on a daily basis between ages 2 and 7, or perhaps it was just an overexposure to Beetlejuice. At any rate, I am thrilled to have discovered beinArt's surreal gallery.


Friday, December 8, 2006

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Telegram.

Sore throat. Stop. Achy, coughing, sniffles. Stop. I wish this would stop. Stop.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wii news

So we've got the Wii, and it's even better than I thought it would be. Ours only came with one remote and nunchuck, so we're stuck sharing. We found a second remote at GameStop, but no nunchuck. Seems the nunchucks are hard to come by.

For all of you Wii players out there looking for accessories, here's an early Christmas present for you: The UMKC Bookstore has, as of this afternoon, at least a dozen of each of the Wii remotes and nunchucks. We stopped by there after our cafeteria lunch today (which was very good - the food is great since last September's remodel) and behind a counter in the back, lo and behold, a gamer's paradise. There were Wii accessories and games, as well as games and accessories for the PS2 and XBox 360. I didn't see any PS3 stuff, but I didn't look that hard.

As for the games:

Wii Sports: I'm so glad the Wii came with this. It's a great introduction to the capabilities of the remote/nunchuck system, as well as a whole lot of fun. The Wii lets you create avatars that can look remarkably similar to yourself (or whoever you want), and it's fun to watch my avatar out there sliding across the tennis court to hit a difficult shot, or darting around the bases in baseball. My favorite of the games is bowling, but they are all a blast. Graphically, Wii Sports is rather elementary, but I think that almost adds to the casual feel of the Wii, and helps showcase the "play a quick game, go do something else, play another qick game" aspect.


Rayman: I L-O-V-E the Rayman game. It's just as much fun as I thought it would be. It uses the remote to its full potential, and I like the mini-game concept. If I want to commit to playing a game for a long period of time, I'll sit down to WoW. Otherwise, I love that I can walk up and play for a few minutes, then go do something else. The music Rayman is fun, and so are the costumes. Mostly, though, I like to hit rabbits with plungers.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion: I like the operation part, but I don't like the story scenes. Rather than voiceovers and animations, they went for a comic book look, with text that scrolls across the screen. It's corny, and while I like corny sometimes, I don't like corny and anime mixed together. It just comes across as cheap. For fifty bucks, I want voices, dammit! I also don't really understand the story very well - I'm only on chapter 5, but it seems like I missed something. That said, I think the integration of the remote and nunchuck is cool, and I almost think I could remove polyps on someone's pancreas, if I had some of the magic gel used in the game.

Need for Speed: Carbon: We got this one on Sunday, and took it back on Monday. I don't like games that make me figure out how to play them. If the game has a 30-minute tutorial, no thank you. The graphics were cool, and I liked the music a lot. I also really liked the voiceover work. I didn't like the way the car drove with the remote, though. It was impossible not to oversteer, and then more impossible not to overcorrect. Perhaps we could have mastered it with practice, but fuck that. I want to play and win NOW. We traded this one in on Cars, but haven't had time to play Cars yet. We'll probably crack that one open tonight.

The Sloth by Theodore Roethke



In moving-slow he has no Peer.
You ask him something in his Ear,
He thinks about it for a Year;

And, then, before he says a Word
There, upside down (unlike a Bird),
He will assume that you have Heard—

A most Ex-as-per-at-ing Lug.
But should you call his manner Smug,
He'll sigh and give his Branch a Hug;

Then off again to Sleep he goes,
Still swaying gently by his Toes,
And you just know he knows he knows.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Around the ‘net

Being that on vacation for six days, I'm just now catching up on my browsing. Here's some of the better finds:


Map of the world, according to Ronald Regan. For more map fun, visit strange maps.

The Wilhelm Scream - you've probably heard this a hundred times and didn't realize it.

Leslie Harpold’s advent calendar. A delightful way to count down the days to Christmas.

Potential Christmas idea - Zombie art! Braaaaaaaaaaaains!

On the Zune: "Avoid," is my general message. The Zune is a square wheel, a product that's so absurd and so obviously immune to success that it evokes something akin to a sense of pity...

Kottke on Wii - his impressions are the same as mine. It's love, baby.

The Hitch 50 guys successfully completed their 50-state journey, Alaska and Hawaii included.

Words of Dental Wisdom

Give a man some teeth, he'll eat for a day.
Teach a man to brush, he'll eat for a lifetime.

Odds and Ends

NOTE: I meant to publish this last Wednesday before I left for Thanksgiving vacation, but I forgot.

Our Wii is en route to our house, according to the UPS tracking information. It should be there when I get home from work tonight. I already bought this game because it reminds me those cute little bunnies in Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit:



Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I can't believe it's already that time of year. We aren't brining a turkey this year - the thought of getting up in the middle of the night and putting my hands in a bucket of ice-cold turkey fixings does not appeal to me. I think we're having ham. As long as there is green bean casserole involved, we could have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and I'd be happy.

Speaking of jelly, my mom made the best apricot preserves, apple butter and grape jelly I have ever tasted. Seriously, this stuff is sellable. I can't believe I never really realized what a fantastic cook she is, but damn near everything she makes is great. Her Christmas toffee and fudge are legendary. She also made raspberry-infused vodka. The verdict? It's freaking delicious.

We got our personal property tax in the mail. Holy shit, there goes Christmas. Why does this have to be due in December? Can't they mix it up and relieve some of the stress of the holidays by making it due in July or something? Get bent, TAX MAN!

We thought trying a dairy-free pumpkin pie sounded like a good idea. It wasn't. The pie had the consistency of pureed carrots mixed with too much corn syrup. As for the taste - well, imagine you made a pumpkin pie and instead of adding, let's say, cinnamon and nutmeg and vanilla, you added V8 and strained grass water and sadness.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tuesday Afternoon at 1:30 - A Haiku

no no no no no
no no no no no no no
no no no no no

Salt and Pepper by Samuel Menashe

For Calvin Bedinet

Here and there
White hairs appear
On my chest--
Age seasons me
Gives me zest--
I am a sage
In the making
Sprinkled, shaking

The Emigrant Irish by Eavan Boland

With Thanksgiving less than two days away, I would like to point out that some of this poem makes me think of the pilgrims and their Mayflower journey, how they too would have "thrived on our necessities" and how we could not have survived their plight, let alone lived it.


The Emigrant Irish by Eavan Boland

Like oil lamps, we put them out the back —

of our houses, of our minds. We had lights
better than, newer than and then

a time came, this time and now
we need them. Their dread, makeshift example:

they would have thrived on our necessities.
What they survived we could not even live.
By their lights now it is time to
imagine how they stood there, what they stood with,
that their possessions may become our power:
Cardboard. Iron. Their hardships parceled in them.
Patience. Fortitude. Long-suffering
in the bruise-colored dusk of the New World.

And all the old songs. And nothing to lose.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

my first liveblog

this keyboard sucks. the truman library is fucking packed. people don't know how to follow directions. i'm number 345 and probably am waiting in vain. caroline's hand must be cramping like mad.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Light (rail) reading.

People Reading is a new blog that shows us what people are reading around San Francisco. The blogger sees people out and about (mostly on the BART train( and if they are reading a book, asks them about it. From the blog:



Over the past couple of months I've come to the conclusion that the main competition for books is not movies--it's iPods, cell phones, suduko, crossword puzzles, conversations, PDA's, laptops, children, daydreams, food, coffee, weekly magazines, newspapers, dogs, and knitting.

I'd do this around Kansas City, but there are several impediments to this, the biggest of which is that I don't use public transportation. Are Metro bus riders bibliophiles? I somehow doubt it. Maybe if the whole light rail thing happens, then we'll have a reason in this city to buy video iPods and read books in public. Also, do I really want to know what people read in this city? Would I be pleasantly surprised to discover a secret society of Edward P. Jones and John Hodgman lovers, or be neither shocked nor awed by the revelation that most of the readers in this town think James Patterson is fine literature, or worse, that Ann Coulter has some sort of rabid KC fanbase?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Random quotes.

"There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved." - George Sand

"If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed." - Albert Einstein

"This thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down." - Mary Pickford

"Be careful how you interpret the world: it is like that." - Erich Heller

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people do that, but the really great make you feel that you can become great." - Mark Twain

Friday, November 10, 2006

What have I done?

This seriously makes me reconsider my recent decision to switch to Bank of America. I did so for purely financial reasons, but I'm kind of wondering if I sold my soul.

Head games.

A student of cognitive neuroscience at Boston University becomes a contestant on in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and uses his knowledge of the brain to advance.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Witness.


"What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more that all the words I have read in my life." - Walt Whitman

Things I was happy about 4 years ago (and for the most part, still am).


  • Cadbury Creme Eggs

  • New episodes of Survivor (I haven't watched one episode this season)

  • My neighbors Sal and Maria, and their beautiful vegetable garden (They didn't have a garden last year or this past summer. Sal died from brain cancer early this year)

  • Being caught up with laundry (this is an ongoing battle)

  • David Sedaris at UMKC

  • Simpsons skies

  • White grape and peach juice

  • Hammy the hamster rolling in his ball (my in-laws pet hamster; he died two years ago)

  • Roy "playing dead" with Ralphie

  • Checking our wedding registries online to see what has been purchased

  • The Shelly voice from South Park

  • Hearty, grainy bread

  • Mr. Awesome's fried egg breakfast sandwiches

  • The sound of honking geese flying overhead

  • Bargains on formerly expensive sweaters

  • Andy Richter's puppy-lined jacket, because what good person doesn't love puppies?

  • Donnie Darko

  • Drinking lots of water

  • Really good hair conditioner

  • Automatic bathroom faucets

  • Paradise Grill's birthday dessert platter (this was one of my all-time favorite restaurants. It closed about 3 years ago)

  • Hand lotion scented with perfume

  • Mazda zoom zoom ads

  • Sade's songs

  • Taj Mahal Indian restaurant at 75th and Wornall (This place has a great lunch buffet, but I now think Swagat in Zona Rosa is my favorite)

  • Tofutti Cuties

  • The woman at Wal-Mart who asked her 6-month old child if it wanted cherry or grape cough syrup. She answered for it - grape (I really hate shopping at Wal-Mart and avoid it whenever possible)

  • Watching the Oscars to see what people wear

  • Drive-thru windows at pharmacies (I do mail-order now)

  • Wheat bagles with roasted red pepper hummus

  • Mom's teapot collection

Shutterbug.

Beautiful photographs of Kansas City by Brad Finch. The photographer has taken time to document the locations and even gives some great tips for getting the perfect shot.

I recently purchased a Fuji FinePix A700 digital camera to replace the old 5 megapixel Sony Cybershot. The Sony, as cool as it looks, takes terrible quick pictures. Every shot I took in NYC is blurry. Posed shots that I can spend several minutes focusing and adjusting turn out okay, but I want portability and speed. The Fuji takes excellent candid shots, even when moving. Plus, it was less than $175, and for a camera that I want to carry with me in my purse for those Kodak moments, that's a good deal. This is not to say that I will ever be even a decent photographer, but a good camera is a start.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

My November Guest by Robert Frost


My November Guest by Robert Frost

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
For they are better for her praise.

The tasteless and the touching.



"If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you." - Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne.

And here's an old favorite - Pooh Goes Apeshit. I'll never forget the havoc that was wrought when I posted that to the alt.fan.pooh Usenet group back in 1995. But that's a story for another day.

Sonnet III by Edmund Spencer

Thou sovereign beauty which I do admire,
Witness the world how worthy to be praised:
The light whereof hath kindled heavenly fire,
In my frail spirit by her from baseness raised.
That being now with her huge brightness dazed,
Base things I can no more endure to view;
But looking still on her I stand amazed,
At wondrous sight of so celestial hew.
So when my tongue would speak her praises due,
It stopped is with thought's astonishment:
And when my pen would write her titles true,
It ravished is with fancy's wonderment:
Yet in my heart I then both speak and write
The wonder that my wit cannot endite.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Ya Rly.



Cartoonist goopymart has posted a brilliant Flickr set of illustrations based on net-speak.

I love this concept.

Souvenirs or postcards of landmarks held up over the actual landmark while a photograph is taken. Sounds complicated, but it's actually a great idea. My favorite execution of this was in the Village Voice from 2001, after the World Trade Center attack:

This is bliss.

There was a moment on Thursday evening when, sitting in the Schubert Theater, watching the cast of Spamalot sing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and being sufficiently filled from a dinner at Macy's Cellar Bar and Grill (where I dined surrounded by relics from Thanksgiving Day parades past), I realized that I was about as happy as I ever have been and I could not stop smiling. The only thing that would have made the moment more perfect is if Mr. Awesome were with me.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Seed Shop by Muriel Stuart



Here in a quiet and dusty room they lie,
Faded as crumbled stone or shifting sand,
Forlorn as ashes, shriveled, scentless, dry -
Meadows and gardens running through my hand.
Dead that shall quicken at the call of Spring,
Sleepers to stir beneath June's magic kiss,
Though birds pass over, unremembering,
And no bee seek here roses that were his.
In this brown husk a dale of hawthorn dreams,
A cedar in this narrow cell is thrust
That will drink deeply of a century's streams,
These lilies shall make summer on my dust.
Here in their safe and simple house of death,
Sealed in their shells a million roses leap;
Here I can blow a garden with my breath,
And in my hand a forest lies asleep.

A sigh of relief.

Riverbend is back and blogging as of October 18th.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sound and motion.

Hypnotic, beautiful, strange and remarkable.

"A musical realization of the motion graphics of John Whitney as described in his book Digital Harmony."

Forcast in Hell: A bit chilly.

I'm listening to the latest My Chemical Romance album, The Black Parade, and I am really liking it. I don't want to like it, but it's actually very good. I always fast forward through their videos because they all have this, "I hate my horrible, spoiled-brat life" quality about them, but the music here is not unlike The Killers, which I like, mixed with some Queen, which I also like.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Happiness by Carl Sandburg


Happiness by Carl Sandburg

I asked the professors who teach the meaning of life to tell
me what is happiness.

And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
thousands of men.

They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though
I was trying to fool with them

And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along
the Desplaines river

And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with
their women and children and a keg of beer and an
accordion.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dirty Politics - the bros before hos edition

Text from an actual ad put out by the Black Republicans:
BLACK MAN #1: "If you make a little mistake with one of your 'hos,' you'll want to dispose of that problem tout suite, no questions asked."

BLACK MAN #2: "That's too cold. I don't snuff my own seed."

BLACK MAN #1: "Maybe you do have a reason to vote Republican."

That's right - they are so hurtin' for votes, that they are going after the pro-life pimp demographic. No, this isn't a Dave Chapelle skit - it's real. To listen to the actual ad, visit http://www.voteourvalues.com/, click on "Listen to the ads" and then #17.

Thankfully I have yet to hear any of this nonsense in Kansas City... yet. As one friend put it, "It IS the fucking end times, man."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Missing.

Riverbend hasn't posted since August 5th, and I'm getting a little worried about her safety. A couple weeks or a month between posts isn't unusual, but it's been over two months now and still nothing.

I hope all is well with her and her family. She is such a powerful and necessary voice to the western world about "real life" in a Iraq, that such a prolonged silence is sorely noted.

More discussion at The Daily Kos.

Random quotes.

"I wanted a perfect ending... Now I've learned the hard way tha some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity." - Glida Radner

"Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather become frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind." - Leonardo da Vinci

"In the end we shall have had enough of cynicism and skepticism and humbug and we shall want to live more musically." - Vincent van Gogh

"They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel." - Henry James

"People who know little are usually great talkers, while men who know much say little." - Jean Jacques Rousseau

"The church says that he Earth is flat, but I have seen the shadow of the moon and I have more faith in the shadow than in the church." - Ferdinand Magellan

"One's real life is often the life that one does not lead." - Oscar Wilde

Warning by Jenny Joseph

Before I get to the poem, some facts:


- I first heard this poem over 10 years ago in my high school psychology class. In that same class, I made a brain out of candy.


- I was in a Red Hat Society for a brief period. Before you ask, yes, people under 50 can join - we just wore pink hats instead.


- My pink hat was a fuzzy pink beret.


- Rather than partake of the usual Red Hat fare of bingo, buffets and Branson, our little group would dine at extravagant restaurants and drink until the management asked us to leave.


- Eventually, our Red Hat group drifted apart, but we still see each other every Christmas. Gifts + food + booze + funny hats = jovial glee.



When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandles, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.


You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.


But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.


But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Mouth music.

A group of musicians under the direction of animator David Firth, and calling themselves The Incredible Mouth Band, makes music by saying the names of various instruments, rather than playing them. The oddball masks make this more surreal than it has to be, but amazing concept, anyway.

Hitchin’ a ride.

Tomorrow sees the start of the Hitch 50 project, an attempt by two guys to hitchhike to all 50 state capitals in 50 days:
The map at the top of our home page shows our current location, with updates every few seconds. The map comes from the GPS chip in our cell phone, and links our location to this web site. If you zoom in you can see the exact building we're in, or the exact corner we just took on the highway...it's actually really creepy.

This should be fun to watch...

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Amp’d mobile is the worst cell phone company in the world.

Why?

  • It took 4 days to port our phone number.

  • Their "customer service department" is staffed by teenage boys.

  • Those 4 days consisted of us being told by 3 different "supervisors" that our phone would work "in 24 hours."

  • Our first bill, which was supposed to be for $49, and during which billing period we made 24 minutes worth of calls, was actually for $290.74. We were billed for 1,993 minutes worth of calls that were made over a 5-day period. WHO THE FUCK can talk on the phone for 1,993 minutes in 5 days?!

  • When we called to dispute this bill, we were told by "customer service" that they would have to send a request to the Billing department, who would get to the reuqest in 3-5 days, then take 24 hours to respond. Their response would be in the form of a text message sent to our phone, as the Billing department does not make outbound calls. Huh?

  • The reason given for the Billing department's slowed response time? "It's the holiday season and we're swamped." It's October! What holiday? Is Columbus Day suddenly the busiest time of year for cell phone companies?

  • I can't submit a dispute request to the Billing department because I, the account-holder's spouse, am not an "authorized signer" on the account. I can make major medical decisions for my husband, but can't ask a question about ridiculous cell phone charges for calls that were made before we even had an account.

  • I never, in the last 10 years of using cell phones, have had a dropped call within the KC city limits, no matter what the carrier. Really. That is, until I started using Amp'd. In the last week, I've had 3 dropped calls while using the phone in my house.


In short, I did not know what "buyer's remorse" was before this fiasco, but I do now. Thankfully, I am within the 30-day buyer's remorse period and can cancel service - err, I mean, Mr. Awesome can cancel service.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Two poems by Allen Heinrich

Cotton Candy
She will ask him one day,
when first
love whispered her name,
and for a moment's breath
he will think of ships
raising sail
by the painted thousand,
and the woman whose face
could draw them forth.
He will think how once
a glance
could fire a man's heart
and in so doing, torch
an entire city, and how still
the smallest dart can strike
the warmest embers.

No matter, then, that she laugh to
think he
remembers her first
in the whirl of candy
cotton-pink, a lightness
reminiscent of the girl -

Already he is building ships...

Tang
I'm fed up with poems
manufactured for astronauts -
the systematically
dehydrated
artificially flavored
mass-produced
pre-packaged powder
passed off as fruit -

Feed me
an earthier flesh,
a natural taste and texture:
peaches for the hands
to find sticky,
and the tongue, tart;
plums I can bite into
deeply, so that after,
I might lick from the corners
of a satisfied mouth,
the tang of ripening juices...

More about Allen Heinrich can be found in the October edition of Present Magazine, or in his literary mag, Carnelian.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

For the love of hobos.

Interview with the delightful John Hodgman. Hodgman is quickly becoming one of my favorite personalities:
I am on top of a roller coaster that I never expected to be on. I don't know what's going to happen when the roller coaster goes down. My guess is I will fly out and I will hit a pole.

Comes the Dawn by Veronica Shoffstall

After awhile you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul.

And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises.

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open,
with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.

And learn to build all your roads today because tomorrow's ground
Is too uncertain for plans, and futures have
A way of falling down in mid-flight.

After awhile you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure...
that you really are strong
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn.. .
With every goodbye you learn.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Democrats go to the matresses.

The Clinton interview heard 'round the world.

Keith Olbermann's brilliant and heartfelt response. Olbermann is absolutely remarkable, calling Bush's response to 9/11, "the textbook definition of cowardice." Make sure you watch the video, not just read the transcript. It's riviting.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Audiovisually Speaking

Pitchfork's 100 Awesome Music Videos, complete with - you guessed it - videos. Some of the video files aren't there anymore, but most are.

Stylus magazine has their top 100 music videos of all time, too. This one is more mainstream than Pitchfork's, but there is just enough overlap on these two lists to be interesting.

Some of my favorite videos, from those lists or not, are:

The Child - Alex Gopher
Font as a character.

Frontier Psychiatrist - The Avalanches
Vaudevillian dementia.

Where's Your Head At? - Basement Jaxx
Monkeys with instruments.

Float On - Modest Mouse
Cool moustache, and even cooler Loretta Lynn look-alike.

Closet Freak - Cee-Lo
Before there was Gnarles, there was Soul Train.

Burnin' - Deft Punk
Is that a groove, or a fire alarm?

Danger! High Voltage! - Electric Six
Remember the Tra-la-la guy? I think that's him. Actually, it's rumored to be Jack White, which is just as cool. This is the best train-wreck of a video ever.

First Day of My Life - Bright Eyes
Lovers in love.

Hurt - Johnny Cash cover of Nine Inch Nails
Fitting tribute and autobiographical account of the Man in Black.

It's Oh So Quiet - Bjork
All musical theatre-y.

Can't Get You Out of My Head - Kylie Minogue
That white dress/pantsuit/curtain is mesmerizing.

Imitation of Life - R.E.M.
Kind of like a Where's Waldo, only with weird people.

Wild Wild Life - Talking Heads
John Goodman in a leisure suit. And David Byrne.

Weapon of Choice - Fatboy Slim
Walken channels his inner Gene Kelly.

Love is a Battlefield - Pat Benatar
Thriller, but with 80s punk bitches instead of zombies.

Vidrar Vel Til Loftarasa - Sigur Ros
Beautiful and devistating.

Drop - The Pharcyde
Spike Jonze does it backwards.

Once in a Lifetime - Talking Heads
A seriously stressed out David Byrne.

Star Guitar - The Chemical Brothers
Landscape was percussion.

Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel
Sure you've seen it. Watch it again now that you are older and enjoy it even more. While your'e at it, see Death Cab for Cutie's homage to this video with their Crooked Teeth.

Bad Cover Version - Pulp
Like Band Aid on a budget.

Rabbit in Your Headlights - U.N.K.L.E. featuring Thom Yorke
Sad, powerful, and ultimately very moving.

We Will Become Silhouettes - The Postal Service
An early 80s childhood brought to life, except for the gravy drinking.

Such Great Heights - Ben Folds cover of Postal Service
If there is a musical equivalent of Hollywood, Ben Folds should be the fucking emperor.

For more excellent music videos, check out David LaChapelle's video page, which contains the excellent "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" vid, which is linked to but missing from Pitchfork's list.

Also, see this excellent rendition of Radiohead's ode to moroseness, Creep.

Finally, Kenna's Hell Bent video is one of my all-time favorites.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Old School

The oldest audio ever recorded. Hauntingly beautiful.

Transcript of Arthur Sullivan's message to Edison upon introduction to the phonograph:

" . . . For myself, I can only say that I am astonished and somewhat terrified at the results of this evening's experiment -- astonished at the wonderful power you have developed, and terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music may be put on record forever. But all the same, I think it is the most wonderful thing that I have ever experienced, and I congratulate you with all my heart on this wonderful discovery."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Track 17

There's only us, there's only this
Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.
No other road, no other way,
No day but today.

There's only now, there's only here
Give in to love or live in fear
No other path, no other way
No day but today.

I'm listening to the original Broadway soundtrack to Rent today, as rain falls on my office window. I'm thinking of an old friend who I haven't talked to in too long, because I keep telling myself I am too busy to call him. Actually, I am too embarassed to call him because the last time he called, I was rushing out the door, swore I'd call him back, and then forgot for two days. By then, I was "too busy," and I still haven't called him back. I can't be "too busy" anymore - "no day but today," as the song goes.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Punctuation in Jeopardy?

News stations find protection through properly-placed punctuation. Jon Stewart examines the use of the question mark, which seems let anything be said, as long as it's phrased in the form of a question.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Best Comedy on TV

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I've not liked a comedy this much in a long while. It's on FX on Sunday nights, but you can (and should) download it from iTunes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Prettifying my Mac

Tonight I downloaded ShapeShifter for my iBook. It's a theme changer, which is essentially a program that lets me change the look of my Mac in much the same way I changed clothes on my Barbie dolls. I decided that I like the Sweet Slumbers theme, created by Idleware, which is sort of American McGee's Alice meets Hello Kitty.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Future of Word Processing

If you haven't sprung for a word processor for your home computer, or if you just don't use it enough to install one on a secondary computer (like me), then you need to check out Writely, Google's new free browser-based word processor. Once you register, you can create and edit documents, and save them as Microsoft Word docs, Open Office files, or PDFs.

After about 2 minutes of playing, Mr. Awesome and I even figured out how to share a document and work on it simultaneously from our respective computers - his a PC and mine a mac. In over 10 years of using Microsoft Word, the closest I've come to actual document collaboration is putting a file on a network share.

From what I've seen, this has the potential to be a very big deal. Did I mention it's completely free?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Clash of the Titans.

I love the music of Steely Dan. I love the films of Wes Anderson.

I am now IN LOVE with Steely Dan, and if Wes Anderson actually participates in their "intervention," all will be right in the world.

See also this.

Invictus by William Earnest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

Talking to Americans

A Canadian political satire show ran some segments a few years ago called Talking to Americans, in which Americans were interviewed "man-on-the-street" style and persuaded to make ridiculous statements about the United States and Canada.

Someone has graciously posted a Talking to Americans one-hour special on YouTube:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

More about Talking to Americans here, here and here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Religion, Bias, and Class

David Byrne on Jesus Camp and Christian fundamentalists.

More about the actual Jesus Camp here.

Reaction to this film is apparently favorable on all sides of the religious and political spectrum. Conservatives see it as promotion of the right way to raise your kids and be a good American and Christian, and Liberals see it as a affirmation that people who send their kids ot Jesus Camp or whackos at best. I'm interested to see how the documentary is presented - will it be unbiased?

Before you go and say that no documentary can come close to being totally unbiased, I ask you to view the documentary I watched on PBS last night, People Like Us: Social Class in America. This film takes an honest and straightforward look at how class shapes our society. From "white trash" to black "bougies" (a term I was completely unfamiliar with until last night, along with the organization Jack and Jill) to WASP's, the relationships in and among classes in America are explored, as well as the attitudes people in those classes have towards others in their own class and out of it. At no point do the film-makers appear to "take a side" - I never got the feeling that one class was better or worse than another - they are just what they are and that's all.

Back to Jack and Jill for a second - here is an organization that has existed since 1938, and has chapters in Kansas City and Johnson County. Hell, I even found out from their web site that a young man from Rockhurst won their national poster contest. Here is an entire organization that is as important to some as the Boy and Girl Scouts, DeMolay (another organization I don't know anything about, but at least I have heard of it), or 4-H, but because of racial divisions, I knew nothing about. Not that knowing about it is a life-changing experience or anything, but it does point out to me that because of my race (or my class) I am exposed to certain experiences and not exposed to others. It is up to me to break out of the race or class bubble to find these "hidden" pockets of experiences in order to be a more complete person.

To see what types of people live in your community, click here.

I also know that I must be realistic. Seeking out new experiences, to me, does not mean deciding to attend that big 'ol megacurch or going on a crack/meth hunt, or buying a jerky machine from Wal-Mart. I'm talking more about paying attention to what is going on in all areas of our city, not just the places with which I am familiar. I'm talking about being more consciously aware of my attitudes and perceptions with regards to race and class in my neighborhood, in my workplace, and in my city. I'm not saying that I still won't profile people - if I see a scuzzy-looking person walking down the sidewalk in the direction of my car, I don't care what color their skin is or what sex they are - if they look like they look like Kurt Cobain or Lil' Jon, or Ashely Judd with no makeup, I am locking my doors. I see that as a reminder that I need to lock my doors - not that THAT person is going to carjack my ass, but just in case the next one wants to, I'm gonna be prepared. But I am saying that I am going to try not to drop eye-contact with someone that I might perceive as "other." I would like to eventually move past the entire concept of "other." As it stands now, however, I am a work in progress.

And speaking of setting aside preconceived notions of behavior, this is one of my favorite short films. It was apparently an actual pilot for a TV show in Japan.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Empowerment.

I found this post to be most eye-opening and strangely calming and affirmative to me:

Empowering Beliefs from Steve Pavlina.com

Briefly, what he is saying is that we are all of one consciousness, and to live with that understanding is empowering. I don't agree 100% with everything he says, but his beliefs are far closer to mine than any religion.

Watch this.

I don't normally do these, but with all the acclaim that Lost and 24 get, and given the fact that I haven't seen more than an episode and a half of either of those, I was curious to see where my TV viewing tastes lie. Please keep in mind that shows like The Golden Girls and Growing Pains are hold-overs from my childhood - I haven't seen an episode of either in over 10 years.

Instructions: Bold all of the following TV shows which you’ve ever seen 3 or more episodes of in your lifetime. Bold and italicize a show if you’re positive you’ve seen every episode of it. If you want, add up to 3 additional shows (keep the list in alphabetical order).

24
3rd Rock from the Sun
7th Heaven
Adam-12
ALF
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Alias
Allo Allo
Amazing Race
American Idol /Pop Idol/Canadian Idol/Australian Idol
America’s Next Top Model/Germany’s Next Top Model
Angel
Arrested Development
Babylon 5
Babylon 5: Crusade
Battlestar Galactica (the old one)
Battlestar Galactica (the new one)
Baywatch
The Ben Stiller Show
Beverly Hills 90210
Bewitched
The Bob Newhart Show
Bonanza
Bones
Bosom Buddies
Boston Legal
Boy Meets World
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Bug Juice
Chappelle’s Show
Charlie’s Angels
Charmed
Cheers
China Beach
Columbo
Commander in Chief
Coupling
Crossing Jordan
CSI
CSI: Miami
CSI: NY
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Dancing with the Stars
Danger Bay
Dark Angel
Dark Skies
Davinci’s Inquest
Dawson’s Creek
Dead Like Me
Deadliest Catch
Deadwood
Degrassi: The Next Generation
Designing Women
Desperate Housewives
Dharma & Greg
Different Strokes
Doctor Who (new Who)
Doctor Who (series 1-26)
Dragnet
Due South
Earth 2
Eight is Enough
Emergency!
Entourage
ER
Everwood
Everybody Loves Raymond
Facts of Life
Falcon Beach
Family Ties
Fantasy Island
Farscape
Fawlty Towers
Fear Factor
Felicity
Firefly
Frasier
Friends
Get Smart
Gilligan’s Island
Gilmore Girls
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
Green Acres
Green Wing
Grey’s Anatomy
Grounded for Life
Growing Pains
Gunsmoke
Happy Days
Head of the Class
Highlander
Hill Street Blues
Hogan’s Heroes
Home Improvement
Homicide: Life on the Street
House
I Dream of Jeannie
I Love Lucy
Invasion
Iron Chef (Japan)
Iron Chef (USA)
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Hell’s Kitchen
JAG
Jackass
Jeopardy
Joey
John Doe
Kath and Kim
LA Law
Laugh-In
Laverne and Shirley
Law and Order
Law & Order: SVU
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Leave it to Beaver
Little House on the Prairie
Lizzie McGuire
Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Lost
Lost in Space
Love, American Style
M*A*S*H
MacGyver
Magnum P.I.
Malcolm in the Middle
Married… With Children
Mary Tyler Moore
Melrose Place
Miami Vice
Mission Impossible
Monk
Moonlighting
Mork & Mindy
Murphy Brown

My Family
My Favorite Martian
My Life as a Dog
My Mother the Car
My So-Called Life
My Three Sons
My Two Dads
Mysterious Cities of Gold
NCIS
Newhart
Night Court
Nip/Tuck
Northern Exposure
Numb3rs
One Tree Hill
Oz
Perry Mason
Picket Fences
Prison Break
Profiler
Project Runway
Psyche
Quantum Leap
Queer As Folk (US)
Queer as Folk (British)
Queer Eye For The Straight Guy
Red Dwarf
ReGenesis
Remington Steele
Rescue Me
Road Rules
ROME
Roseanne
Roswell
Samurai Jack
Saved by the Bell
Scarecrow and Mrs. King
Scrubs
Seinfeld
Sex and the City
Six Feet Under
Slings and Arrows
Smallville
So Weird
Spaced
Sports Night
Square Pegs
St. Elsewhere
Star Trek
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Enterprise
Stargate Atlantis — New season
Stargate SG-1 — New season
Superman
Supernatural
Surface
Survivor
Taxi
Teletubbies
That Girl
That 70’s Show
That’s So Raven
The 4400
The Addams Family
The Andy Griffith Show
The A-Team
The Avengers
The Beverly Hillbillies
The Bionic Woman
The Brady Bunch
The Colbert Report
The Cosby Show
The Daily Show
The Dead Zone
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Flying Nun
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Golden Girls
The L Word
The Love Boat
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Mighty Boosh
The Monkees
The Munsters
The Mythbusters
The O.C.
The Office (UK)
The Office (US)
The Pretender
The Prisoner
The Real World
ROAR
The Shield
The Six Million Dollar Man
The Sopranos
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
The Twilight Zone
The Waltons
The West Wing
The Wonder Years
The X-Files
Third Watch
thirtysomething
Three’s Company
Top Gear
Twin Peaks
Twitch City
Upstairs, Downstairs
Veronica Mars
Wildfire
Wings
What Not To Wear (US)
What Not To Wear (UK)
Whose Line is it Anyway? (US)
Whose Line is it Anyway? (UK)
Witchblade
Will and Grace
Wonderfalls
Xena: Warrior Princess
Young Hercules

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

The most important blog you will ever read.

http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

For the last 3 years, a 20-something Iraqi woman who goes by the psudonym "riverbend" has been blogging about her life in Iraq. She is a fascinating person and gives insight into the situation over there that no one else can give. I've learned more from her about life in Iraq before and after Saddam than in all media reports combined.

Did you know that prior to our "liberation" of Iraq, women made up almost half the workforce and had equal pay? Riverbend was a computer programmer, but can't work now because the status of women in Iraq is far, far worse than before.

Did you know that one of the most beautiful areas in Baghdad was the road to the airport that was lined with the most amazing, old palm trees - that is, until American tanks plowed them all down in the name of "safety?"

What is happening to Iraq and Riverbend and her family is just horrible. She lives in a constant state of fear, she can't leave her house without a hijab and an escort, she can't drive a car, she can't work - she's a prisoner in her own land and it's getting worse every single day.

Please, please read this blog. Start anywhere you'd like, but I recommend reading the archived posts, if for no other reason than to see another side of this conflict.

http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Bent Over the Rainbow

Those wacky gay-haters are at it again. This time, the focus is on a lovely little bed and breakfast in Meade, Kansas called the Lakeway Hotel Bed & Breakfast Inn.

Seems J.R. and Robin Knight, the couple that runs the hotel, received a gift of a rainbow flag from their 12-year old son before he headed to California to stay with his grandparents. You know, because he will be "over the rainbow" and won't forget them - isn't that the sweetest thing? The Knights hung the flag outside their inn and the next thing you know, the local paper is making a huge deal out of this gay-friendly symbol. Someone even tried to cut it down.

So now there are people from all over sending rainbow flags to the Knights, and even helping support them by paying for rooms via credit card, even if they have no intention of travelling to Meade.

That takes some courage to stand up for your rights in the face of ridiculous ignorance. The worst part of stories like these is that the people who are doing the harassing are always the first to call themselves Christians. I know I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said a hundred and fifty bazilion times before, but it just makes me SO GOD DAMN MAD.... grr!

Flavoroma

Okay - first of all, who doesn't know how to make a transparent gif? I mean, seriously, Ice Cream Guys - get some new web designers. I digress. On to the reason why this pitiful example of graphic artistry is on my page in the first place...

Have you ever wanted your house to smell like an ice cream parlour? I know I have - and now my dream can finally become a reality, thanks to Ben and Jerry's Waffle Cone Room Spray. Thanks, Ben and Jerry! Also available in Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Is it possible to gain weight by smelling?

Great - now that I started looking around on their store site, I am finding all sorts of fabuloso things. Peanut Butter Cup Lip Balm in a super-cute container? Hello?

Talking about Ben and Jerry's reminds me that about 8 years ago, I won an online contest hosted by the Ben and Jerry's website wherein contestants had to locate secret ice cream cones hidden among the various site pages. By locating the special cone, I won an autographed copy of Ben and Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book. Five moves later, I have no idea where that book is anymore, and that makes me sad. You know what would cheer me up? If my office cube smelled like waffle cones, that's what.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Read more about this poem here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It’s 2006… where is my jetpack?

Handy-dandy map detailing the cost of gas by county across the country.

I paid $2.87/gallon this morning at the local Quik Trip. All told, we spend about $200 a month on gas. We don't make any more money than we did a year ago, so we have had to cut back on other things just to pay for gas. We can't go out to eat as much, so the restaurants we usually frequent are taking a hit. We used to drive out to Oak Park Mall once a month or so, but we haven't been there since Christmas, thanks to high gas prices. It isn't just the consumer that's suffering here - it's the businesses that the consumer supports. The only people not feeling this crunch are oil company execs and their supporters. If anyone has thoughts otherwise, please let me know.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I am pissed at Charles Dickens.

I'm working on a project that involves transcribing several issues of the magazine that Dickens published, Household Words. As a result, he and I are forming a relationship of sorts that trancends space and time - I am typing his words just as he did, and am therefore absorbing some his thoughts and ideas in the process. Our first encounter was a lighthearted jaunt into the realm of the fruit import/export business. Next came the sad tale of the syche sharpeners, which was nothing if not silightly interesting. Then came his long winded and rambling questions about the infamous "They" in which I started to realize that I am doing more than just transcribing - I am having a conversation with a dead man. I am actually finding myself growling back at his words, or giggling, or sighing in frustration, or just asking him to make his damn point already. But today my transcriptions are introducing me to a side of Dickens that I knew existed, but had heretofore never experienced first hand: the pompous jackass:

 


Her flaccid muscles, tender skin, highly nervous organization, and aptitude for internal injury, decide the question of offices involving hard body labour; while the predominance of instinct over reason, and feeling over intellect, as a rule, unfits her for judicial or legislative command. Her power is essential a silent and unseen moral influence; her functions are those of a wife and mother. The emancipatists rate these functions very lightly, compared with the duty and delight of hauling in main-top-sails or speechifying at an election. They seem to regard the maternal race as a race apart, a kind of necessary cattle, just to keep up the stock; and even of these natural drudges the most gifted souls may give up their children to the care of others, as queen-bees give their young to the workers. Yet no woman who does her duty faithfully to her husband would find her time unemployed, or her life incomplete. The education of her children alone would sufficiently employ any true hearted woman; for education is not a matter of school-hours, but of that subtle influence of example which makes every moment a seed-time of future good or ill. And the woman who is too gifted, too intellectual, to find scope for her mind and heart in the education of her child, who pants for a more important work than the training of an immortal soul, who prefers quarter-decks and pulpits to a still home and a school-desk, is not a sea captain, nor a preacher by mission – she is simply not a woman. She is a natural blunder, a mere unfinished sketch; fit neither for quarter-decks nor for home, able neither to command men nor to educate children.



I know he existed in another time, essentially another world. I know how the Victorians valued the principle of "seperate spheres" for men and women - one public, and one private. But good lord, Dickens. Not all women wanted to be mothers, and that didn't make them "a natural blunder." It's okay to want to extoll the virtues of motherhood, of domistic bliss, of the traditional family roles. But give me a break - even you have to know what you are saying is just fodder for the masses and not really rational arguement. I can forgive you a bit because you know your audience and are an entertainer at heart, but if you could only see how your "logic" becomes perverted even today by people who see women as less because we have actually achieved many of the goals that women of your time only imagined - despite our children turing out for the most part okay - you might change your tune a bit. Would you really side with the ultra conservatives on this issue today? I don't think you would, and that's why I'll keep transcribing the rest of this article, and all the others. You do have something to say to us today - but I can still get pissed at you, Dickens!

 


Monday, July 24, 2006

This used to be my playground.

This is just plain sad.

At the corner of North Oak and Vivion road in the Northland is one of the most beautiful areas in the city. It's a totally undeveloped corner, with rolling hills, lots of trees, and a small pond hidden from view by said hills and trees. This corner holds a special affinity for me, since I grew up in a house almost right across the street from it.

When I was growing up, there was a fence around that corner, and 3 to 4 quarter horses roamed the field. When we would drive by, I would always try to spot a horse and would wave at them, whether I could see them or not. Once, when I was about 8 or 9 years old, my mom, step-sister and I climbed over the fence to pet the horses, and made it back to the stables behind the big, white house before anyone knew we were there. The man who discovered us was very nice and let us pet the horses, before sending us along with a stern warning not to climb over the fence again.

About a week ago, Mr. Awesome and I were driving past that area and he commented that he was so happy no one had touched that corner. I agreed, and silently thanked the Midwest Baptist Seminary for keeping the land as it is.

That corner, the Northland fountain, and the back-road that runs between the park and the YMCA were my playground, my territory. There were no other children in the area, so I roamed around all over with my dog, or my bike, or on roller skates, or whatever. So now that I hear the Seminary has sold the land - that beautiful, inspiring corner - so another useless strip mall can be built, I'm really, really sad and more than a little angry.

The southeast corner of that intersection is a strip mall, the northeast corner is a strip mall, there are strip malls all over everywhere, but where else in this city do you find rolling acres amist the strip malls? Antioch Mall is a perfect area to put the business that want to inhabit yet another strip mall - go there instead and leave my corner alone.

I know there are many people who have to feel the same way I do about that corner. Imagine how you would feel (or felt) when your childhood playground is paved over. What a fucking waste of some restraint in the name of community beautification. An even greater insult is that the deveolpers of this atrosity to my sensibilities are getting tax breaks from the city that are normally given to redevelop blighted land. Does that area look blighted to you? Do you think Anita Gorman would live half a block away from a blighted area? The only blight in this picture is in the hearts of the counciltards who approved this bullshit.

A special thank you to Becky Nace, for being the lone voice of reason in a room full of greedy bastards.

I am just going to have to avoid the area for the next couple of years, as I think I'll be hard-pressed not to cry as I pass when they start their ridiculous cosntruction project. Whoever is responsible for this - I hope meth-heads move in next door to you.

And while I'm on the subject - to the current residents of my childhood home: trim the goddamn shrubs. The house is starting to look like an overgrown mess. How hard is it to get out the hedge trimmers every couple of years?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Where do you want to go today?

Every weekday it's the same question. Today, we ended up at Room 39 for the first time. I had a duck salad: pan -roasted duck breast with spinach, roasted squash,
crispy red onion, goat cheese and chipotle-honey vinaigrette. Mr. Awesome had a chicken salad sandwich: roasted free range chicken with mayonnaise, tarragon, lemon zest,
fennel seed and crisp bacon on a bun with vegetable chips. We both thought our meals were delicious.

The downside to Room 39 is that it is very small, so we were stuck sitting at the bar on very uncomfortable bar stools. As much as I loved the food, we probably won't add it to the rotation because I don't want to end up on the bar stool again. I know we could wait 15-20 minutes for a table, but when you only have an hour for lunch, that's pushing it. They serve lunch on Saturdays, so that's an option.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Another reason to look forward to Fall

Here's the trailer for Christoper Nolan's new movie, The Prestige, due out this Fall.

Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Michael Caine in a film about Victorian-era magicians? Looks like Christmas will come a bit early for me this year.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Me Talk Pretty One Day (thanks, David Sedaris!)

Here's a handy page of what the authors call non-errors - "Those usages people keep telling you are wrong but are actually standard in English."

I am ashamed to admit that I don't know as much about grammar as I think I should, but I think I know enough to not sound like a moron.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I’ll be singing Neil Diamond all day now.

Why? Because I just took a short sample American citizenship test. I scored a 95% - the only question I missed was about what form is used to apply for citizenship. I actually knew all the rest. Not bad for a Liberal. You can sing along, too!




America



Far
We've been traveling far
Without a home
But not without a star
Free
Only want to be free
We huddle close
Hang on to a dream

On the boats and on the planes
They're coming to America
Never looking back again
They're coming to America

Home, don't it seem so far away
Oh, we're traveling light today
In the eye of the storm
In the eye of the storm

Home, to a new and a shiny place
Make our bed, and we'll say our grace
Freedom's light burning warm
Freedom's light burning warm

Everywhere around the world
They're coming to America
Every time that flag's unfurled
They're coming to America

Got a dream to take them there
They're coming to America
Got a dream they've come to share
They're coming to America

They're coming to America
They're coming to America
They're coming to America
They're coming to America
Today, today, today, today, today

My country 'tis of thee
Today
Sweet land of liberty
Today
Of thee I sing
Today
Of thee I sing
Today


I have memories of this song, and the Harmonaires, and New York, and the Statue of Liberty, and being insanely embarassed at my peers for singing said song in the narrow, echo-chamber that is the stairwell of said Statue of Liberty. Looking back, I still think they were idiots - not for singing this song, but for singing some song they made up on the long bus ride to New York from Kansas City, about a podunk town called Iola. Who am I kidding? Over 10 years after the fact ,I still remember the Iola song (sung to the tune of a popular children's song that I can't for the life of me remember the actual words to), even though I never actually sang it with them:



Iola has a Wal-Mart, a Wal-Mart, a Wal-Mart.
Iola has a Wal-Mart and Ken's Pizza, too!
McDonald's and Dairy Queen - Iola has everything!
Iola has a Wal-Mart and Ken's Pizza, too
!

Now picture this little ditty being sung by 15 or so high school kids on a bus for hours on end, the words and tune reverberating through the cramped, muggy space and drilling into my brain. Then imagine this same annoying song being sung on the long, exaustive walk up the stairs inside the Statue of Liberty. Yeah, it wasn't a plesant experience. That said, I still remember this song and the circumstances in which it was sung, and although it still bugs the shit out of me, I can kind of find humor in the situation, and I have to admit I'm glad I still remember all the words.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Old and the New

We Real Cool
by Gwendolyn Brooks

THE POOL PLAYERS.
SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

We Old Dudes
by Joan Murray

We old dudes. We
White shoes. We

Golf ball. We
Eat mall. We

Soak teeth. We
Palm Beach. We

Vote red. We
Soon dead.

Read more about "We Real Cool" here.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

The worst holiday ever.

I love holidays and the traditions that accompany them. Valentines Day and the hearts, Easter and its baskets, Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the rest are days I look forward to every year. I love holidays - but I hate the 4th of July.

I am not unpatriotic - far from it. When I see fireworks in the sky, I actually think of the Star-Spangled Banner, what with the rockets red glare, and the bombs bursting in air, and how they gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. I think of these things. But do you think the asshole hillbillies that live near me and shoot off home-made bombs for days before and after our nation's Independence Day give a shit about the American Revolution and the poetic musings it inspired? Do they wonder about the lives of our founding fathers as they set a huge brush pile on fire and try unsucessfully to put it out with a fire extingusiher, before giving up and leaving an ever-growing blaze behind them while I call the fire department from my deck? Do they contimplate the history of our nation - the struggles, challenges and lessons learned - while they drink their beer, light their firecrackers, and keep me and my pets awake until 3 in the morning for 3 nights in a row? I am going to guess not.

God, I want to move. Does anyone know if there are these problems in Brookside or Fairway?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Do you YouTube?

A writer from ESPN recently listed his favorite YouTube videos of all time. This is decent list, but mostly a killer time-waster.

There are two videos in the article that are deemed too vulgar to link on ESPN. Here they are for your viewing pleasure:

Worse than Michael Jackson
Fan of the Game

And it's true: this just gets better with age.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Trip the Light Fanstatic

From L'Allegro by John Milton
Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee
Jest, and youthful Jollity,
Quips and cranks and wanton wiles,
Nods and becks and wreathed smiles
Such as hang on Hebe’s cheek,
And love to live in dimple sleek;
Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
And Laughter holding both his sides.
Come, and trip it, as you go,
On the light fantastic toe;
And in thy right hand lead with thee
The mountain-nymph, sweet Liberty;
And, if I give thee honour due,
Mirth, admit me of thy crew,
To live with her, and live with thee,
In unreproved pleasures free ...

In keeping with the theme of dancing, free and uninhibited, please see the video located at www.wherethehellismatt.com. This guy is living my dream (sans the bad dancing).

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Words of Wisdom

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."
- Mahatma Gandhi

"When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen."
- Ernest Hemingway

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods."
- Albert Einstein

"Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather become frozen: even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind."
- Leonardo da Vinci

Zen Poem

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge.

The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was now waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man then saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other.

How sweet it tasted.

Monday, June 19, 2006

And the world is queer, and the human is strangest of all…

One of my all-time favorite CDs is David Byrne's Grown Backwards. Maybe my love of that CD is why I am drawn to Byrne's tree drawings. Both the CD and the drawings focus on simple themes that are injected with smart commentary on our contemporary existence.

Byrne is a true Renaissance man who appears just as comfortable behind a computer or camera as he is writing music. He's got a website that he keeps updated more than regularly, and even streams a monthly music selection.

On July 28th, David Byrne will release his latest book, Arboretum. I have no idea what to expect from it, but he gets an assist from Dave Eggers, so it is sure to be somewhat interesting.

Better living through chemistry?

Not for this guy, who chronicles his experiences with Paxil, an anti-anxiety drug. He compares it to ecstasy (which sounds good), but then says he has no feelings and has the urge to get drunk all the time (which sounds bad).

Happy Morning.

This commercial for Folger's coffee from director Steve Ayson is bizarre, witty and spot-on with regards to my personal relationship with mornings and coffee.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

If you ignore it, maybe it will go away.

Jason Kottke says it better than I ever could:

Please stop


I know everyone's upset about her new book. I'm not going to use her name, but you know who I'm talking about; she's blonde, leggy, confident, radically conservative, radically full of shit, and you hate her with the fire of a million suns. But she's also a huge troll. Wikipedia defines a troll as:

...someone who comes into an established community such as an online discussion forum, and posts inflammatory, rude or offensive messages designed intentionally to annoy and antagonize the existing members or disrupt the flow of discussion.

And the best strategy against trolls? Ignore them. If I see one more blog post, newspaper column, or debate on TV attempting to refute this woman's claims, I'm going to scream. Claims? What claims? She wrote that book to piss you off and get you to respond, thereby legitimizing her ramblings. That smile of hers? That's her celebrating a victory that you handed her without any effort. YOU'RE SMARTER THAN THAT...KNOCK IT OFF!

Please pay attention to him.

Now where have I REALLY heard that before?

Tenser, said the Tensor took a closer look at the list of common expressions attributed to Shakespeare that I posted about last week, and found that several of them have earlier citations in the OED.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Cereality.

When will Kansas City get one of these? I am guessing never, but one never knows. I'm just excited that UMKC may be getting a Starbucks. Did I just say that out loud? Oh well. Share in my joy, ye coffee lovers at UMKC. I think I had to put that may in there.

Anyway, every morning I have my own Cereality experience as I mix together my current favorite combination of Cocoa Dyna-Bites (yes, the stuff in a bag), Count Chocula, and a handful of Frosted Flakes. A few months ago I was on a Life kick. Before that it was Frosted Mini Spooners. I think it was just that I like the word "spooner" in reference to breakfast food.

Where was I going with this?

"There is more simplicity in the man who eats caviar on impulse than in the man who eats Grape Nuts on principle."
- G. K. Chesterton