Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bike Stuff

Things for which a bicycle makes a superior substitute:

1. metrocard
2. gym membership
3. hair dryer
4. hair stylist
5. video-game console
6. oil-war-centric foreign policy
7. prozac

Sunday, May 6, 2012

First World Problems

- Google took over Blogspot and now I have to sign in with a gmail account or something.

- My favorite place to order brunch delivery isn't on seamlessweb, so I'll have to either call them on the phone or order from my second-favorite brunch place.

- I had lots of unfinished drafts of potential blog posts and now that Google has taken over, I'm not sure how to access them.

- All our institutions are the exact opposite of what they say they are.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Santorum

Santorum is a frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter created by engaging in anal sex.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thought of the Day

Speaking truth to power is easier than speaking truth to the fools exploited by it. Of course, for democracy to survive, we must do both.

Friday, November 11, 2011

All Come Home - music video

Today is 11-11-11.  As a Levin, I feel somewhat responsible for everybody having an okay time today.  To that end, I offer you a tasty little bit of superpositivity in the form of a glowing audio-visual rectangle -- a music video for the song "All Come Home" by the electronic pop project Tiny Machines (Jon Margulies, April White and Lydia Ooghe)...

















Enjoy!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What Should I Have Done?

Years ago, back when I still sorta participated in human mating activities, I started seeing a lovely young woman I will call "Lenore."  She was smart and cute and fun and stylish and quirky and creative and cool and I really enjoyed her company.  But whenever we were together I felt a weird vague unease.  At first, I couldn't put my finger on why, so I just ignored it.  Denial makes all bad things go away!

But when I got together with her and the unease came back, I was so consumed trying to figure out what the weirdness was about that I couldn't just relax and enjoy Lenore's company.  Then it hit me... from certain angles she kinda looked like my mom in her youth.

Oh.

Yeah.  That's a problem.  I mean, my mom is a very nice person and all, and was certainly attractive in her day, but you know... it's my mom.  I believe the scientific response would be: Ew, gross.

Of course, it was only from certain angles.  From other angles she looked nothing like my mom.  And Lenore was really very attractive from all angles, regardless of who she resembled.  I tried to ignore this too.

But no.

Because I was trying so hard to pretend there was no actual resemblance, or that it wasn't an issue, it took me a while to resign myself to the fact there was just no hope of any boners in her presence. 

She soon noticed that despite how well we were getting along, nothing was really developing between us, and she wanted to know why I was holding back.  She asked me if anything was bothering me.

I didn't want to hurt her feelings and I didn't want to lie.  I rationalized that since the situation was nobody's fault, completely out of our control and just one of those unfortunate life things, the truth wouldn't offend her.  So I told her, as gently as I could, that she kinda resembled my mom (a young and lovely version of course).

Though she did her best to remain composed, I'm pretty sure she was deeply offended and weirded out.  And I never saw or heard from her again.

But what else could I have done?  I mean, really?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Imagined Phone Call

It is the late 60's/early 70's and LSD has swept the nation. The CEO of, say, Lockheed, or GE or some other giant military contractor, is talking on the phone to, say, some high-ranking military official. In the CEO's office, there's a giant TV nearby showing footage of dancing body-painted hippies at a huge war protest rally in a park...

CEO: Yeah, I'm watching it. ... Yes I agree, this is completely unacceptable! A bunch of drugged up shirtless queers who look like they never learned to bathe are actually undermining popular support for our WAR?! HOW the FUCK did this happen? ... Well what are we gonna do about it? Because I'll tell you something General, nothing like this is ever gonna happen again! I guarantee you that! ... Well sure, we all know we need greater control of the media. And we should have control over the government soon enough. ... Yeah, I think Reagan has worked perfectly in California and there's no reason why we can't try installing him in the White House eventually too. And if that works out, it'll prove the concept beyond all doubt and then the sky's the limit! We'll control the presidency forever and nobody will ever know.

[the footage on the TV shows a hippie who looks just like every popular depiction of Jesus ever, except with the words "Peace" and "Love" painted on his face]

CEO: Damn hippies! ... Yeah ... I hate the Christ-looking ones the most too. Jesus was supposed to be OUR thing! Christians aren't supposed to dance around naked protesting against war with fucking flowers in their beards! Christians are supposed to do what we tell 'em! They're not supposed to want to BE LIKE JESUS! They're supposed to subconsciously assume that if they behave like Jesus then we'll torture them to death! The Jesus-on-the-cross-warning worked so well for so long! How the hell did we let THAT get away from us!? ... Really? You think that in just one generation, LSD could override centuries of subconscious conditioning? ... Fuck! We are gonna need to update our goddamn playbook here!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

some thoughts

- If the right wing virtuosos of greed continue calling the shots for much longer, the other 99% of us will soon have only the following choices:
1. roll over and die
2. turn yourself into a raging selfish asshole in order to be accepted and able to survive
3. actively fight back and be labeled a terrorist, or discredited as insane (or both)

- I certainly don't want to be an apologist for the often-disappointing Obama administration, but we all knew that Dubya was leaving him with an impossibly huge mess to clean up, and that he'd be working in an environment of incredible hostility to his mere existence. There are right wing pundits and politicians (and those voters still fooled into drinking their kool-aid) who hate Obama and everything they think he represents so much, that they are willing -- and actively attempting! -- to burn the nation to the ground just to make sure Barack looks bad. OK sure, they're not literally setting buildings on fire (as far as I know). Their current weapons of domestic mass destruction are mostly economic, of course. President Eisenhower, a Republican and former General, warned us against allowing the military-industrial complex to get too powerful. Well, we obviously didn't listen to him and now the monster has become the military-industrial-media-financial-complex. As far as I'm concerned, the wall streeters who got rich by decimating the housing market are guilty of high treason and it's a little shocking that they haven't all been executed.

- Wait, why isn't Rupert Murdoch's head on a pike in the middle of town again?

- trying to imagine myself as a 12 year old in today's world. interesting kid. feel kinda bad for him though. his outlook is pretty bleak. or maybe he's happily making good creative use of shit like garageband on the iPad he bought with his paper-route money an' shit. Oh wait, nobody reads newspapers anymore. How do 12-year-olds make enough money to buy iPads these days? Selling meth I guess.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Unpacking and setting up some Magnetic Poetry™ yielded this:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hip Surgery Scar

Not for the squeamish...



That's most of it.

The full story of the accident is coming soon. Writing it up now.

Cheers!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Movie Review

Just watched Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story."

Yep.

Thinking of moving to Denmark now.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

clean energy

Many Americans are depressed. Why would that be the case in such a wealthy and wonderful country? I imagine much of the time it's because people don't have meaningful work to do. They might be jobless, or might have jobs that ultimately do more harm to society than good. There are many such jobs in the mainstream these days. Maybe even most.

In our current "system," work that doesn't cause harm generally doesn't pay very well. That's not a system. That's a global pig-fuck.

But people tend to have families to feed. Or expensive habits. Or both. So people go along to get along and everything keeps sliding into the shitter, while the poor suffer and the wealthy try to distract themselves from the damage they do with ever greater parties and ever more obscene luxuries.

Even if people have enough genuinely joyful distractions to prevent them from focusing on this whole "sliding inexorably into the shitter" thing, many of them are vaguely aware of it, and it makes them vaguely uneasy. They don't quite know, or admit, why. But they just feel depressed. So we medicate them with Prozac and the like, to keep them in the game. Like shooting the QB's knee full of a local anesthetic, it enables continued service while increasing the damage to oneself, and perpetuates the game that causes the harm in the first place. From my own life, antidepressants once made it possible for me to keep getting up in the morning and driving myself in a shitbox car on a dreary highway to go to sit in a windowless mailroom performing an utterly mindless routine in service to a ridiculous and utterly wasteful industry, for such little pay that it only sustained me enough to keep me showing up for the godawful work. Woo hoo.

Instead of that, people with no jobs, or with shitty oppressive jobs, should have access to a system that makes it easy for them to transition into well-paying work helping to create the sustainable clean-energy future. Tax money should no longer go toward anything that kills or poisons anyone anywhere or damages wildlife and ecosystems. That, of course, will free up hundreds of billions of dollars to devote to creating, running and maintaining sustainable clean-energy systems free to all people everywhere.

Friday, May 28, 2010

From a Comment on Chelsy's Recent FB Status

"1-800-Universe, how may I direct your call?"
"Uh, travel department please?"
"One moment."
[less than one moment later...]
"Travel, how may I help you?"
"Uh, traffic is way heavy right now, and um, I'm totally gonna miss my flight, ya know?"
"Ah... yep. I see it right here. Yeah, no way you're gonna make that flight with the traffic as it now stands. Literally, from the looks of it."
"Can you do anything?"
"We're the Universe. Of course we can do anything."
"Let me rephrase the question. How should we proceed?"
-----
"Well, that all depends. Which universe do you wanna move to?"
"What are my top, say, 3 options?"
"There's the universe where the dude who broke down on the highway in front of you, causing the traffic jam you're stuck in, decides to stay home and play video-games instead. You make it to your existing flight. There's one where traffic remains lousy, but a mechanic accidentally drops a wrench into a part of the plane your flight's on that should never have a wrench rattling around in it, and it takes long enough to remove it to delay the flight until you're safely on it. You make it to your destination just fine, only a couple hours late. Next we have a semi-wacky universe in which a hot-air balloon filled with rodeo clowns gets blown off course and makes an unexpected landing right next to your car so you jump out and impulsively ask if they'll give you a lift to the airport. They check the wind conditions and agree. Up you go, but it turns out they are dastardly rodeo clowns who intend to kidnap you and enslave you to the balloon-traveling rodeo show they're part of. Now, before I continue, if you pick this universe, there will be a question of whether you decide to join the rodeo clowns or actually get to your flight. And even if you do opt for the flight, there will still be a 40% chance or better that you will one day join the rodeo clowns, for they are highly persuasive rodeo clowns. Sorry, I just like saying 'rodeo clowns' for some reason."
"That's okay."
"Oh, and of course, you could always just opt to stay in this universe, miss your flight, spend an evening in the hotel airport, fly out the next morning and get to your destination a day late."
"What are the various ramifications I should consider for each choice?"
"Well, if you go with the video game guy staying home, nothing bad happens to you, nothing especially amazing either. The guy who stays home loses his job though. He's on his couch, smokes some pot, gets into 'Halo' or whatever, forgets to call in sick, and they just can him. Ah, but there's a slim chance this motivates the guy to get his shit together. Or possibly try to reform his band. Ooh. Not good. Um, also, several of the other people on the road make it to respective flights which they wouldn't otherwise, and one of those leads to a marriage proposal. Ah, but it gets shot down and the would-be suitor goes into a terrible depression for years. When he comes out of it, he has an idea for an invention that he thinks could make him rich (makes it possible to get toothpaste back into a tube... huh...) um, but if he pursues it he will lose his shirt because as it turns out, nobody gives a crap about getting toothpaste back into the tube. That, and the invention is the size of a small filing cabinet."
"So, wait... is that a good choice universe or not?"
"Hmm... really not sure. Let's see how it compares to the other choices."
"Good. Hit me."
"In the dropped-wrench universe, you make it to your destination a bit late, so you avoid traffic heading to where you're staying, which gets you there very quickly and in precise timing to catch a cat-burglar, making you a hero to the community. But your car takes a turn fast enough to startle a pedestrian into dropping his cel-phone leading to a chain of events too long to list but which ends with a very old man getting crushed by a falling refrigerator."
"What, out on the sidewalk?"
"In a stairwell. It's okay though, he lived a full life."
"Next?"
"Well, next is you join rodeo clowns who travel from show to show via hot-air balloon and often miss their targets leading them off on crazy adventures full of wacky hijinks. Also, the possibility exists that you visit NYC briefly in the middle there."
"What kind of wacky hijinks?"
"You mean, precisely? You want an itemized list? Well, many of them appear to be falling-out-of-balloon-and-landing-on-something-wacky-related. Can we maybe group those together and--"
"I think I get the idea. What's next?"
"You chillax at the airport hotel for an overnight. The room is adequate but you can't sleep, so you go to the lounge for a drink in the middle of the night and are mistaken for a spy. A waiter mysteriously slips you a check before you've even ordered. When you open the black leatherette check-folio thingy, the slip says 'Room 404, under the bed, 649' and there's a key to the room taped to it."
"Then what?"
"You go to the room, crawl under the bed and find a small box taped to the underside. You pull it free, and see it is combination-locked. You slide the numbers to read '649' and it opens. A voice instructs you to--
"Maybe just cut to the chase?"
"You survive your attackers, foil the evil plot of a genocidal madman, defuse a bomb with mere seconds left, and are then recruited by a super-elite secret strike force. But during a shootout with evil henchmen, one of your bullets ricochets off a fire-escape, through an opposite window and kills a young boy's pet lizard. He swears revenge and one day grows up to be your arch-nemesis, Doctor Iguana!"
"Oh, I am TOTALLY doing that one!"
"You sure you wouldn't rather do the wrench one, or the universe with the--"
"This is between me, and the lizard man."

Friday, December 18, 2009

If Republicans Get to Run the World...

...for an extended period of time, we may eventually see winters when homeless people freezing to death in the streets all over the country, are rounded up and marched/dumped into furnaces to heat the homes of the wealthy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fortune Cookie

I have a fortune cookie fortune tacked to my fridge.

It says: "Moderate your appetite so that with a little, you may be content."

Tacked to the fridge, it would seem like a good reminder for someone on a diet.

Or a budget.

Which is, like, nobody in America.

But probably should be 95% of the population.

Or more.

I kept it because I like applying it to other areas of life. Or trying anyway.

And, right... we should probably also apply the principle to society as a whole.

But of course, it has to start with individuals.

Enough individuals to reach a Gladwellian tipping point.

Feel free to use the term "Gladwellian" all you like (only for people familiar with the work of Malcolm Gladwell).

Once a tipping point of individuals with a new viewpoint is reached, society as a whole spasms forward. Then strides confidently. Then coasts for a bit.

In any case, I find that doing with less not only doesn't diminish my fun, it increases it. By maybe a lot!

Case in point: the immense blackout of summer '03. I ended up going to my roof where I met and hung out with some random neighbors from my building in dumbo. We'd all had the same idea: to watch the sun set behind a Manhattan skyline that wasn't going to light up. As if Christo, for the sake of Art, had covered all the windows of a normal Manhattan in heavy black construction paper. Just for one night. Just for the fuck of it. It was a pretty amazing sight.

In addition to their personalities, people brought things from their refrigerators/freezers to share. Spontaneously. And not just booze. Other stuff too.

Jeff contributed a hammock. I retrieved a lantern and an acoustic guitar. Various people brought varying ability to play guitar. There were cute girls.

It was the most fun I'd had in a while.

I'd like NYC to do that on purpose.

Every so often.

Regularly, even.

These 24-hour "electricity holidays" would of course be scheduled and announced well in advance, with plenty of reminders. Don't want people to have to climb up out of subway tunnels 'n' shit.

I could stand to do that once a month, possibly once a week. Would it kill us to go Amish one day out of seven? I think we might find we like it so much that some of us opt to get together for small-scale impromptu power-downs of our own. Though, it may be rough on gamers, geeks and internet-addicts (he typed into a blogger composition window).

It could become a tourist attraction too, but with no street lights, driving a car into/in town would have to be strictly forbidden. Well, maybe we would need minimal street lights, if for no reason other than to protect pedestrians from cyclists, who would most likely want to take full advantage of car-free roads throughout the entire city [viva la bicicleta!] Restaurants with gas stoves could still prepare candle-lit meals in candle-lit kitchens, and probably charge a healthy premium.

Street artists / performers covered in EL-wire and cool battery-powered blinky-tronic stuff would attract crowds, as would fire-spinners, drum-circles, little jazz combos, all over town.

Hospitals and all emergency response shit would of course still draw power as normal.

Dance club owners would be pissed.

So... clearly there are still a few minor kinks to work out.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jungle vs. Jungle

Here are some of my favorite differences between Peru's Amazon jungle and NYC's urban one...

PERU
Everybody I met seemed completely happy

NYC
Nobody I meet seems particularly happy at all

PERU
Nobody complains about anything, not even children

NYC
Everybody complains about everything

PERU
Most folks don't have a pot to piss in

NYC
Piss-pots abound (and come in many fancy styles and colors)

PERU
Sits on edge of largest expanse of wild nature on Earth

NYC
Has well-manicured, perfectly rectangular tree museum in the middle of it

PERU
Jungle rats are not only edible and delicious, but are even medicinal (cure bronchitis)

NYC
Rats must not be eaten under any circumstances, and their unstoppable army will one day rule the surface world

PERU
Totally worth learning Spanish for

NYC
Spanish can’t hurt you here either, actually

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thought of the Day

Here's how it all boils down:

The more we merge with what we create (products, fashions, entertainment distractions, etc.) the more stressed out and sick we become, on the individual, societal and environmental levels. The more we merge with that which creates us (each other, nature, a higher power/spiritual realm) the happier and healthier we become, on the individual, societal and environmental levels.

Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ok, I Admit it...

... there are some TV shows that I genuinely enjoy.

I know, I know. That makes me a lousy leftist. And a less interesting person. But at least I'm honest.

One of the shows I like is this new, slightly overweening drama "Kings." Big budget, good acting, interesting characters, insightful writing with keen social commentary, blah blah blah. It doesn't hurt that the lighting, cinematography, sets and locations are all gorgeous either, with many of the exteriors and even many interiors shot in NYC, to great effect. I recognized the auditorium of the New York Times HQ building in a recent episode. It looked better in the show than it did in person.

The most recent episode was kind of a metaphor for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, centering on a land-for-peace deal, bitterly opposed by the people living in the area that would be given back to the enemy in exchange for an end to the violence. Except in this case, the land in question is, like, Seattle.

The other show I like is one that, by rights, I should loathe. Or at least seriously resent. It is a middle-brow work-place comedy, stupidly entitled "Better Off Ted." The first mildly irritating thing about the show is that its logo uses the exact same font as the TED conference organization, a truly important cultural force which no mere TV show would ever deserve to be associated with. But then, it's just a logo font and I should probably let it go.

The show is about a guy (obviously named 'Ted') who runs the research and development efforts of an amoral mega-corporation portrayed as something like GE and Monsanto combined. They make everything from light bulbs to genetically modified food crops to advanced weapons systems. Each episode begins with a promotional spot for this fictitious company complete with mellifluous female voice-over and slick production quality. The main character is a likable everyman, aware of the absurdities of his job while struggling to live up to the fairly basic moral code which he has instilled in his own 7-year-old (?) daughter. The other characters are all quirky and likable too and include an obligatory cute love-interest woman, two obligatory nerdy/zany lab-coated scientists who argue a lot despite being best friends, and then there's Ted's boss. She is the second thing about the show that mildly irritates me.

Ted's boss is basically (exactly!) a character I wrote as the boss of a giant cosmetics company in a zombie screenplay I've been working on (on and off) for, um, wow, a few years now, crap. Some of you might be familiar with it. Anyway, seeing what pretty well amounts to a character I created some years ago, fully realized in a mainstream network TV show today is... I gotta say... pretty fucking strange. I feel like I should be really pissed off, but Portia de Rossi does such a good job with the character (playing her as the single most comically icy and heartless person you've ever begrudgingly liked) that I can't really complain. If anything, it makes me want to submit scripts and force my way onto the show's writing staff.

The satire varies from pretty dead-on sharp, to not-edgy-or-scathing-enough, to satirizing something which is even more absurd/horrible in real life so you can't count it as satire. Obviously, I'd like to see the show take a meaner, darker approach, but even in its currently tame and whimsical state, I have to admit... it does kinda tickle me. Pretty consistently too. And yeah, if I wrote for it, it would be much harder to find sponsors and it would have to be on late at night (much less "family friendly") and would probably piss off a lot of decent salt-of-the-earth types. Oh well. I guess I'll have to be satisfied with it the way it is. For better or worse, it definitely reminds me of some of the actual jobs I've had over the years. Well right, I guess that would have to go in the "worse" column.

Of course, it is also possible that this piece of toothless fluff is completely lame, I'm losing my mind in my old age and am now way too easily amused. I really don't know.

Cheers!

PS: Sorry I've dropped off the face of the earth lately. I'll try to pay more attention to this here word thing again. I'm leaving for Peru on the 16th, staying in the jungle for a couple weeks, and may have some fun things to write about upon my return, so there's that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Let's Play The Feud...

YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO USE MY ANSWERS! Copy this note and write a new note. Then erase my answers and fill in your answers. Tag your friends and don't forget to tag me too. Remember, you can't use the same answer as the person who sent it to you. If my answers are dumb, it's because the person before me had the good ones!

1. Name something you use in the shower: salad tongs

2. Name something a football player wears under his uniform: pantyhose

3. Name something people hate to find on their windshield: dead hooker

4. Name something a man might buy before a date: salad tongs

5. What is another word for blemish? Dubya

6. Something you cook in the microwave: chips ahoy cookies, seriously, 20 seconds, try it.

7. Name a piece of furniture people need help moving: man-sized safe

8. Name something a dog does that embarrasses its owner: puts the porn video they made on the internet

9. Name a kind of test you cannot study for: sobriety

10. Name something a boy scout gets a merit badge for: ratting out commies

11. Name a phrase with the word "home" in it: "play along with The Newlywed Game home version, only $19.95 available at Walgreens and wherever fine products are sold"

12. Name a sport where players lose teeth: The Sugar 5000

13. Name something a teacher can do to ruin a student's day: threaten to stop sleeping with him unless he murders her husband

14. What is a way you can tell someone has been crying? review the nanny-cam footage

15. Name something a person wears even if it has a hole in it: swiss cheese helmet

16. Name something that gets smaller the more you use it: global oil supply

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

25 fake things

In case you're not on the facebook.

(I would kind of like to see us lose our fascination with pseudo-obligatory nuisance chains. I mean, I thought memes were only supposed to spread via some sort of merit and not a misplaced sense of obligation/peer pressure. Having said that, yeah... I totally caved.)


1. I am fluent in almost 2 languages: English and Idioglossia.

2. Shortly after I was born, my parents were bitten by a wolfman. Raised by werefolk.

3. My boyscout leader taught me the proper way to smoke crack.

4. My favorite food is toast.

5. When I was in the 7th grade, I killed several prostitutes in dark alleyways of London and totally got away with it!

6. I am equal parts lizard, goat, soy and Rasputin.

7. As a small child, when adults used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said the same thing... "The mayor of ho-town!"

8. Throughout the 70's, I commanded my own Army of God and led my men on a campaign of destruction the likes of which Ridgewood, NJ had never seen.

9. Sometimes, when I didn't know the correct answer in history class, I would save face by pretending to be my own twin brother.

10. I once invented a time machine and went back in time and stopped myself from being born, just to see what would happen, and I've been stuck in a paradox ever since. It kinda blows.

11. My first real job in NYC was for a large company owned by a 60-something British gentleman and avid mountaineer who had once summitted Everest. One time, while flirting with our receptionist, I jokingly said I suspected the owner was merely compensating for the fact that his parents named him "Leslie" and then I called the man a "pathetic little pansy" not realizing he was right behind me the whole time. He challenged me to a race up the entire staircase of the office building (32 flights) the following day at noon. At the starting gun, he elbowed me in the ribcage as hard as he could, knocking me off balance, then bolted, taking the stairs two at a time like they were nothing. As soon as I regained my footing, I followed, ignoring the pain shooting through my chest. He had a commanding lead, but I figured I'd make up some distance if I could keep a steady pace into the upper third. By around the 25th floor, I was right on his heels, though he was still taking the stairs two at a time. The blood was pounding in my ears, as was the sound of our breathing and our footsteps echoing down the fluorescent-lit gray and beige concrete stairwell. The pain in my side had increased considerably and was making it all the more difficult to breathe, all the more painful to use the banister to help hoist myself up. I couldn't believe a guy 40 years older than me was still ahead, seemingly fine. Two flights later he faltered a bit, tripping ever so slightly, but quickly righted himself and continued as before. But it meant he was getting tired. So I made my move. Leg muscles burning, I shoved past him on the outside as we were making a flight-turn. Between huffs and puffs I said "Take THAT old man!" (though it probably sounded more like "Tay... tha... oh... muh...!") and with renewed zeal I started taking the remaining stairs 3 at a time, opening up a decent lead. This proved unsustainable and on the last flight I tripped, badly. I was disoriented for just a moment, but it was long enough for the old man to catch up. He took the opportunity to stomp my left ankle which was draped from one step to the next. I felt, and we both heard, the bone crunch a little. The pain was excruciating. Still, I dragged myself the rest of the way onto the roof, emerging into the midday sunshine only two or three steps behind him. He turned, pointed at me and was about to tell me I was fired and what a loser I was when he suffered both a massive heart attack and stroke. He was dead almost instantly. Whew, dodged a bullet there!

12. I like beagles.

13. My favorite diseases are the ones with the least clinical names: scurvy, scrapey, pringles, shegetz, exploding buttock disease, etc.

14. My favorite Star Wars character is the second Jawa from the left. I don't know his name, so I just call him 'Biff.'

15. I woud like to bring back names that have gone out of style, and so plan to call my male children things like: Smedley, Ozymandias, Abner, Agamemnon, Ivanhoe, Caligula and Kevin. My female children will be named: Bertha, Hecate, Lucretia -- wait a minute... those are actually kinda cool. Hmm. Female names not mockable. Never mind.

16. I have had lots of odd jobs: paperboy, rockboy, scissorboy, waterboy, astroboy, pickleboy, doorman, floorman, corpsman, manwhore, manservant, manager, ump, wimp, tramp, scamp, vamp, party clown, rodeo clown, subway clown, elevator clown, laundromat clown, sidewalk clown, crosswalk clown, urinal clown, fast-food restaurant employee, bookkeeper, bookloser, bookstealer, bookbanner, bookbinder, minderbinder, masterminderbinder, elf (x-mas), elf (regular), elf (high-octane), meal-replacement bartender and stooge.

17. Speaking of... My favorite of the Three Stooges is Shemp: the unsung stooge.

18. I was once bitten by a radioactive tree-sloth, giving me sloth powers, so I designed a costume and became Slothman, but nobody knew the difference so now I just hang out.

19. In the future, I will be Andy Warhol for fifteen minutes.

20. I am trying to get into the habit of... an attractive nun I met the other day. [rimshot!]

21. When future archaeologists unearth the time capsule I buried, the contents will convince them that every single other person living in this era has also buried a time capsule somewhere. I love messin' with future archaeologists.

22. I know the difference between your, you're, yore and yawer.

23. I blindly accept all cookies.

24. In all honesty, I can't be trusted.

25. Murly bok zaklompt feffen arungulous, pafto sherzen bejerzen. Oytag tatz? Totz. Tonkle totz. (See #1.)

Friday, January 30, 2009

25 Actual Things

Okay, here's the real list...

1. I was born 8 days early. This was the last time I was early for anything. Or on time even.

2. Around the age of 4, on a lovely suburban spring day, my mom told me to play outside (I think she just needed a little quiet time to herself). I refused. She shuffled me out the kitchen storm door. I opened it and came back in. She shuffled me out again and locked the storm door. I punched my fist through the window, cutting my soft little hand to ribbons. Blood and glass everywhere. What a stubborn little bastard.

3. My three most physically painful experiences so far: molar drilled with no novocaine, kidney stone, thumbnail ripped off. Of the three, I bet the one that made you wince was the thumbnail.

4. When I was a teenager, I never thought I'd live to see 30, partly because I expected Ronald Reagan, motivated solely by shits and giggles, to push The Button. But also because I assumed I'd do something really reckless at some point. These two things are of course related.

5. Even though I'm into health food and preserving nature all that good stuff, I have a secret perverse desire to create crassly commercial genetic abominations. E.g.: splice the gene that causes coffee beans to have caffeine in 'em, into cow DNA -- ladies and gentlemen, I give you... HyperBeef™!

6. Turning to sports... I peaked athletically at the age of 12. But back then (and I'm totally serious) I was pure poetry in motion. Okay, I'm still poetry in motion, only now the poet is Ogden Nash.

7. I am a perfectionist. I'm also a lazy slob. These sound completely incompatible, and they are. When I was young: torment. Now: meh.

8. In elementary school, my favorite subject was math. But in 7th grade, I decided words were more fun than numbers. Been paying the price ever since.

9. At 13, I was one of the first kids in my town to convince his parents to get a computer for the home. My dad, whose giant multinational pharmaceutical company had a Honeywell 6000 mainframe taking up half the corporate campus, wanted to know: why on god's green earth would we ever need a home computer? What the hell are you going to do with it?!? "I could do my school homework!" I said, by which I meant play games. The computer was an "Apple 2 plus" -- apple ][+ -- and it came with 48K RAM (expandable to 64K) at which my father was completely astonished. So much memory! How could you possibly ever NEED that much!? To put that in perspective, it might be enough memory to hold a second or two of an mp3.

10. I played the sousaphone in my high school marching band. Clearly, I thought I was this guy:


But everybody else probably thought I was this guy...


Really, I was probably closest to being this guy...


11. When I was at the height of my teen angst and confusion, I had a dream wherein all the mystical secrets of the Universe were revealed to me. I remember being so blissfully happy in the dream, to finally have the answers! It was all so simple. It made so much sense. I had understanding! It was genuinely wonderful. Then I woke up and was helpless to stop it from all slipping away, leaving me with an incredibly profound sense of loss. A cosmic tease of infinite bigness!

12. Whenever someone I grew up with finds me on the facebook and asks if I "remember when we did that thing by the place where we went that time? That was so much fun!/I was so mad at you!" I almost never know what they're talking about. So I ask, "Are you sure that was me?" and they're all like, "Totally sure! Don't you remember? That song by [80's pop group I swear I've never heard of] was playing on the radio and you said something funny about goats! Remember?" Um... I got nothing. This makes me feel slightly stupid. But in my defense, it was the 80's and I was in a state of fairly constant background-level existential itch, so for most of the time I just wasn't paying attention, even when it looked like I was. I usually joke that I've long since killed the brain cells that stored those memories. But I'm sure it's all in there somewhere.

13. Supposedly, my first word was "shit."

14. I never acquired ability to sight-read music because I memorized everything by ear long before figuring out what all the dots and squiggles were. Thus, I never became a musician. If I didn't believe in reincarnation, I'd probably regret this.

15. I occasionally talk to myself. For a while, this took the form of pretend conversations as a guest on Letterman. But not anymore. Now it's Jon Stewart. No offense Dave.
"None taken Jonnyboy. If you ever feel like paying us another visit, the door's always open."
"Thanks Dave, I'll try to pretend to make it back from time to time."

16. There are two babysitters from my childhood who stand out in my memory. One was Eddie, who could draw really cool-looking rocketships, and would let us build couch-cushion fortresses. The other was a girl whose name I've forgotten, but who we found incredibly entertaining because of this thing she could do with a ping-pong ball. (Haha, no. She could keep it bouncing on a paddle hundreds of times without missing. Impressive to a 6-year-old. Her record was over 700 hits I think. Come to think of it, that's impressive to me now! My brother and I were truly amazed but she must've been bored to tears. Yet, she indulged us, applying zen-like concentration to the super-repetitive, utterly pointless task.)

17. I was more of an adult 20 years ago than I am now.

18. I used to chop wood and carry water. Now, I chop wood and carry water. (In the future, I will use lasers!)

19. I can fall in love with a woman based solely on the sound of her voice/laugh. This has backfired on me.

20. Corollary to #19: If her voice doesn't do it for me, I could find a woman super-attractive in every other way and still not be able to -- ahem -- consummate. The attempt to ignore this has backfired on me.

21. When I was in the 5th grade, for Halloween, my elementary school had a "crazy hat contest." I figured all the other kids would come to school dressed as normal Halloween-ish things, with the addition of a hat with all sorts of wacky crap glued onto it. To counter this, and in an early manifestation of my love of efficiency, I decided to simply dress up as a hat for Halloween. I fashioned a crude giant wizard hat shape out of chicken-wire, and my mom helped me cover it in a dark fabric (all she had was purple) to which I hastily attached yellow stars and crescent moons an' shit. Even with the little eye holes we cut, it was difficult to see out of, and nearly impossible to climb stairs in. And even though it probably made me look more like a giant magical purple condom than anything else, I won the hat contest. (From this I concluded that 'concept' took precedence over 'execution', and that's why I've never achieved anything in life. Wah wah.)

22. I used to think that logic, reason and the scientific method would lead us to all knowable knowledge. I don't think that anymore.

23. As much as I consider myself a "word guy" linguistic precision doesn't really matter to me. And I'm not very good at scrabble™ -- I can't help wanting to make up my own words ('spaloney' should totally be a thing). I do take special notice whenever I, or someone else, utters a phrase or sentence which I can't imagine has ever been uttered before. One recent example: "Oh no, I spilled the oat-bran into the laundry basket full of garden hose."

24. Whenever I go for any length of time without a steady 9-to-5, I become completely nocturnal.

25. When I was 4 years old, I was in a pre-school class at our local synagogue. One day while the kids were all sitting on the floor listening to the teacher read us a story, a really tall girl named Sarah-Jane trapped me under her dress/skirt/thing. I struggled and crawled out only to have her trap me under it again. It was yellow, and allowed enough light in so I could see the floral pattern on her underwear. I remember being glad I didn't have flowers on my underwear. Anyway, as humiliated as I thought I should feel at being trapped by a girl, under her dress, I didn't want to do anything particularly drastic to change the situation. I didn't want to interrupt the teacher or the story-time, so I didn't yell. And I guess I figured it would be wrong to hit a girl, especially, you know, in the crotch. So, I just sat there, listening to the slightly muffled sound of Sarah-Jane trying to contain her giggles, and looking at her long, smooth legs. I sometimes wonder what happened to her. Probably a lawyer now.

Meme memed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A New Era of Honesty and Transparency

After I became an absurdly and unalterably happy guy about 12 years ago, I found myself bereft of the perverse joy of angry cynicism and mean-spirited dark humor that had nurtured me like a criminally insane mother's love for so many years. Despite the fact that this perverse pleasure was replaced by genuine joy, and thus has long been rendered utterly obsolete, I still crave it on occasion, and depending on how much caffeine I've ingested, am still capable of conjuring up some seriously cynical, though hopefully funny, shit.

And even though an honest man is finally -- finally -- sitting in the Oval Office; and even though that pilot did an amazing job landing that jet a few doors down from my apartment; and even though, thanks to the combination of corporate layoffs, a "warn notice" and a little thing called "severance" I get to be a man of relative leisure for a time; and even though the TED conference videos consistently reaffirm my faith in humanity... there are still at least a few things worth getting psychotically enraged over.

Like the fact that while I've been quietly expecting a major melt-down of the global economy for 14 years (ever since my first real corporate job inadvertently taught me that our entire economic "system" was built primarily on... absolutely fucking nothing) the "experts" were all caught with their pants down, shocked and awed. This is so infuriating it makes me feel like the Napoleon Dynamite guy at his most exasperated: "IDIOTS!" Why, only a few months before the market first crashed, I was telling a co-worker how I occasionally fantasized about one day owning an energy-independent off-grid home up in the woods somewhere, with a greenhouse to grow my own vegetables, allowing me to cut all conceivable ties to "the system." She asked why I would ever want to do something so extreme, and, among other things, I mentioned how it was so patently -- painfully -- obvious to me that our current practice of capitalism was inherently unsustainable and doomed to fail.

Ta da!

For my next trick, I'll guess the number of jelly beans in that giant jar: zero! (You can no longer afford jelly beans.)

During that conversation, my coworker didn't agree with me. She didn't see things the way I did. Nor did I expect her to. The patterns, the connections. But the fact that the professionals, the people who supposedly devoted their careers to studying every little detail of the corrupt, unregulated house of cards vapor and make-believe we call The Market, couldn't see what was so unavoidably clear to me, a nobody, was really rather frustrating. Or maybe they just refused to see/admit it. I mean, it does make a lot more sense that it would really be collective denial instead of collective idiocy.

But... it is now the dawn of a new era. The Obama era. The era of leaders who might actually do stuff that makes sense. The era of leaders who will base their decisions on "reality" and the good advice of people who know what the fuck they're talking about. The era of leaders who, when asked simple direct questions, will give simple honest answers. The era of leaders who might actually give a shit about the people who elected them. The era of leaders who can admit it when they make mistakes and accept responsibility for their actions/decisions like any normal adult. The era of leaders who don't have their heads up their asses. The era of leaders who aren't in it solely for the money (since there won't be any). The era of leaders we can actually respect.

Goodbye to the time of unbridled stupidity and greed! Hello to the time of unbridled... um... horniness!

Best of all, I've got my next project lined up, and I couldn't ask for a better one. It's in its embryonic stages right now, so I'm not going to say anything else about it. Just, you know, send me good productivity vibes. Yeah... just like that. Ooh... yeah, vibey.

Of course, there might someday come a time when I'll need to return to playing the role of drooling lackey to some corporate ogre, combing the help-wanted ads like everybody else. And I hope that if that day does come, this era of openness and honesty will be at its full flower. Imagine the types of job listings there could be...

DETAIL ORIENTED
Hyper-organized anal-retentive mouse-person with no life whatsoever wanted for extremely abusive department assistant position. Very long hours of high-stress low-paying drudgery peppered with occasional verbal/emotional torture. Those with friends, self-respect, need not apply.

SALES $
Relentless amoral asshole wanted to SELL SELL SELL! Do you have what it takes to convince poor people to spend what little money they have on nonsensical garbage nobody would ever need in a thousand years? Can you ignore the fact that rapacious consumerism will bury civilization under its own flatulent bulk until it chokes itself completely to death? Do you often feel like a hungry shark in a tank of bleeding pudgy children who never got past the doggie-paddle? Do you like feeling that way? (Do you love it?) If you answered yes to these questions, we want to hire you, you magnificent piece of shit!

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
Hot girl wanted for position as executive assistant to Senior VP of Marketing for a successful alcoholic beverage company. Must be exceedingly hot. Must have tastefully office-appropriate, yet totally hot wardrobe. Knowledge of and enthusiasm for alcoholic beverages a big plus. Good phone manner a plus. Anything less than top-tier hot need not apply.

HAZARD PAY
Extremely desperate individuals wanted for highly dangerous work with little chance of survival. On the job training. $1000 for every full week of service. Poor sense of smell a plus. Always plenty of positions to fill. Call any time and ask for Bob.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Something I'd Like to See

I just came back from the dentist. Routine cleaning/check-up. Everything's fine in there.

My dentist happens to be a really hot woman (married, alas) and all her hygienists are also really hot. Walking in there reminds me of the purple-roofed ethical suicide parlor from the Kurt Vonnegut short story, "Welcome to the Monkey House" except instead of the hot women in their white clinical outfits putting you to death, they simply inflict pain and discomfort on your tender teeth and gums for a while after which you emerge with cleaner, smoother choppers. That metal claw? The suction tube? The rotary grit-scrubber? That ultrasonic torture needle? The stuff of nightmares! Except, wielded by a pretty girl, so how bad could it all be?

Personally, I think that instead of white lab coats it would be more appropriate if they were dressed in full-on dominatrix gear. More appropriate and hotter.

That's all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Get Ready for More Bloggy Goodness

Last Thursday, our overlords informed us that they are shutting our portion of the empire down and laying us all off -- over 200 people. Wheeeee.

Don't really have time to write at the moment, so perhaps more about that in a future post. You see, I have until end of day tomorrow to tie up all the loose ends, finalize everything, square everything away clear out my desk and turn in my magnetic ID card. I've got more work to do now than I've had in months.

But as of X-mas day, I will suddenly have nothing to do and nowhere to go, able to coast for at least a little while on a reasonably decent -- all things considered -- severance, and that means mucho blogging-o.

Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

But for all my regular readers: my job loss is your bloggy gain! Or will be soon.

If you have any specific requests... things you'd like me to write about, issues or problems you'd like me to address... feel free to send 'em my way.

Happy happy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Someone Made My Invention

A long time ago, I had an idea to generate electricity by harnessing the kinetic energy of people moving through doors. I didn't patent it or nuthin' but I did eventually write about it in a blog-post here. And now, a little over a year later, the thing is for reals! Woo hoo! Of course, it took the Dutch to actually make the thing. We really need to take a page from their book. Several pages really. Maybe the whole book. I, personally, would like to see our 'New Amsterdam' adopt many more of the ways of original Amsterdam. It would be better for all concerned.

Anyway, seeing as how the nifty door thing has magically appeared in the real world (or, the Netherlands anyway) about a year after I wrote about it, here's another thing that really needs to exist, which I don't have the resources to make myself, but which the Dutch could certainly show us the way toward creating/using on a large scale (more of a technique than a "thing") and if they do it a year from now, well, better late than never...

This idea came to me on September 11th, 2001. As you may recall... there were these two really tall skyscrapers, with massive fires raging on upper floors. Firefighters who arrived on the scene went into the buildings from the ground, dragging their gear up the endless flights of stairs, climbing against the tide of people fleeing, which must have slowed everybody down in both directions. They helped many people escape the towers but continuing upward, and upward to put the fires out proved futile. The buildings collapsed. They all died -- over 300 of the bravest individuals our society is ever likely to produce, faced with an impossible task which became a suicide mission, all because of an inappropriate response to a specific problem. How do you put out a massive fire on an upper floor of a skyscraper, hundreds of feet in the air? Conventional firefighting techniques were never intended for such a thing. Men carrying hose from a ground-based pump, up 90 flights of stairs -- simply not right for the job. It's not a matter of good or bad. Only a matter of finding the tool or technique that best fits the situation. You don't use a claw hammer to remove a splinter from your finger and you don't use tweezers to pull a nail out of a board.

The right tool for this particular job would have been a small fleet of water-tank equipped helicopters.

Now, obviously, these already exist. Planes too. They are used primarily to help put out forest fires, wildfires in places with no fire hydrants, etc. They fill their tanks by scooping from lakes, rivers or the ocean, then fly over the fire and drop tons of water quickly. They can also drop other types of chemical fire-retardants which, as I understand it, would've been better than water for combatting the WTC fires, since they were caused by jet-fuel. Still, water would've been better than nothing, as it could have dissipated much of the heat which is assumed to have caused the failure of the steel support beams of the towers -- unless you believe, as some video evidence seems to suggest, that there were explosive charges already in place throughout the buildings.

Regardless. Why doesn't NYC have, say, ten of these firefighting aircraft? Five even. Last I checked, this town, with so many especially tall structures, is built on a bunch of little islands. Lots of water within easy reach of just about all the skyscrapers. It would be perfectly easy to deploy such helicopters to any part of town, at a moment's notice, all filled up and ready to go.

Perhaps even better than having them repeatedly scoop up water, fly to the scene and drop it, the helicopters could be equipped with extremely powerful on-board pumps and massively long hoses that could unspool and either attach to a hydrant, or simply dip an anchored end into the river. You suck water up continuously and spray it at the fire without ever having to stop to refill. If it's the dead of winter and the river is iced over, you build a heating element into the anchor end of the hose, melt your way through the ice to the water underneath, and pump away.

This is too obvious not to exist. It might be expensive to create, maintain and deploy. It would require teams of pilots and firefighters with highly specialized training, which, again, would be costly. But compared to the loss of life and property of a 9/11? A bargain at any price! Without it, the next massive fire that takes place on a high floor of a skyscraper will be just as impossible to counter as the WTC fire was, and more brave men and women will die needlessly. But with such an obvious system in place, they would at least have a fighting chance.

Look for a Dutch company to start up such a program in a year or two.

Instant Holiday Classic

This double-plus-good video entitled "The Seven Levels of Christmas" was created by my friends Lem Huntington and Sean Kaplan, and is certain to worm its way into the creamy center of your mind where it will incubate, gestate, hatch, mature, and then, on the day of destiny it will leave the nest of your head to take its act on the road, whereupon you will know the bittersweet yin-yang fulfillment of parenthood at its most harrowing [cough] rewarding.

HOWEVER: I recommend you do not watch this video unless your cerebral cortex is properly coated in at least one (preferably more than one) fortifying scheduled substance. Should you watch it in your raw, unaltered state, you run the risk of being forever tormented by a recurring nightmare in which you are a space alien trapped inside Bill O'Reilly's reptillian sub-consciousness, struggling to make sense of his twisted mundanity on a level he himself is far too chickenshit to face.

Enjoy...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The View

Recently, for my job, I've been researching various "green" technologies, learning about the cutting edge science and newest thinking on many fronts in the battle to create a sustainable way of life for modern humans.

I've also inevitably run across some naysayers, climate-change deniers, people who can't be bothered to go green or think it will be too difficult (especially now that the economy is in the toilet), or who simply don't want to change what they currently have/do, no matter what the consequences.

One example of this, which I find particularly frustrating, occurs around the question of whether or not, and where, to install large, utility-scale wind-turbine electric generators. Some of the places best-suited to this clean technology are at high unobstructed elevations, the tops of rolling hills and so forth, places which can be quite scenic. There are people who can't bear the thought of marring the view of such currently unspoiled natural places with obviously man-made distracting structures -- giant spinning propellers on sticks.

Now, my personal opinion is that these wind-turbines, spinning slowly in unison on a distant hill, mountain or plain, or just off the coast in the ocean, are actually quite aesthetically pleasing. But I'm also a big fan of unspoiled nature and can understand how people would prefer the view of the ocean or local mountain range sans turbines.

The problem is that these people aren't basing their aesthetic preference on enough reality.

Reality, as we humans typically experience it, consists of all this physical space around us. But it also has this other dimension, a "fourth" dimension if you will. Something called "time."

Time, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is that aspect of reality responsible for making us miss our flights. It is also the reason why the number of candles on your birthday cake keeps increasing. And as it turns out, it isn't separate from space. Space and time are actually one thing -- spacetime -- and this makes all sorts of nifty things possible, like...

- motion
- music
- stories
- growth
- evolution
- coincidences
- boredom
- getting the pizza for free

Of course, spacetime (and thus, time) is ultimately an illusion, but that's not relevant to this discussion.

What IS relevant to this discussion is that the folks who prefer the hilltop with no windmills, are only basing that preference upon a regard for space. They're completely ignoring time. As such, they think that the choice they have to make is: "should we go with the view of a lovely unspoiled mountain, or should we opt for the mountain with a bunch of annoying spinny things on it?"

But when you add time back into the equation, the real choice turns out to be between a view of a mountain with a bunch of spinny things on it, versus a view of a barren worldwide hellscape.

Now, just how MUCH time it takes to become the lifeless hellscape is impossible to determine, but if current trends persist, it could happen relatively soon. How relatively? Well... in terms of my relatives: my parents won't live to see it, but my niece and nephew absolutely will. Absolutely.

So, if you know and care about any humans whose next birthday cake will have fewer than, say, 25 candles on it, you owe it to them to take the long view of the scenic view.