Sunday, May 30, 2004

GET OUT THERE AND GRILL GRILL GRILL: Low-carb Jim has his hamuburger recipe up, which looks to be both simple and tasty. I go even simpler than Jim in terms of never really adding anything to my ground beef itself, but I usually require mayo, ketchup, American cheese and Spanish olives when the burger reaches bun stage. I don't know if I'll go "round the world" this year--one burger, one hot dog, one sausage (if present) and one piece of barbecued chicken--but I will give it my best effort.

No Chris Matthews today and Meet The Press started at 10 because of the French Open--which I can sort of understand, even if there aren't that many tennis fans left it's still a major event. And then This Week was pushed back for an even more washed up sporting event, the Indianapolis 500, so I missed Zinni and Perle on the Stephanoposhow. Which could've been quite interesting, seeing the Iraq War hater vs. the Chalabi true believer. Or not.

Instead I watched Russert interview Pelosi and Bob Dole. Pelosi does not impress me, and Bob has been ruined for me by a million Conan O'Brien sketches. HAPPY HAPPY DOLE DOLE....

Remember: safe grilling practices this weekend. No overindulgence in lighter fluid for comedic effect. Cook meat throughly, to remove the toxins. Wear an apron to protect your genitals. And don't go crazy with the cicadas, no matter how plentiful and nutrient-rich they are.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU CAN'T EVEN ENJOY A LAKERS LOSS?: Because that game looked like the Lakers were thinking, maybe we kinda want to win tonight but we're not real sure, let's see what happens--oh, wait, we did lose. Darn. Well, next time then.

Coaches always tend to not give the opposition credit, saying stuff like, "We just didn't execute tonight." And tonight the Lakers just didn't play hard and they were still a few seconds away from winning, given a few more Wally misses at the line. So I can't quite figure out a way to enjoy this loss, because the Lakers will just turn it on again in Game 6 or 7.

Don't you think Magic must have been the one asking to be on TNT? Because I can't imagine they sought him out. He has no chemistry with the other three--everything he says is an interjection in between the EJ-Kenny-Chuck banter. (This is not a man with much of an ability for self-deprecation.) He detracts from the broadcast, there's no way around it.

Things were done today:

--Books were returned. I would like to thank the lady at the post office for making sure several times that the package I was sending media mail was, in fact, a book. I'm glad there was that ind of trusting rapport between us.

--Crystal Palace actually did play their way into the Premiership--holy moley. This was actually a much bigger deal than I imagined, I who am not the most obsessive of Palace fans, shall we say. The broadcasters were saying that in December Palace was flirting with relegation, and then Ian Dowie took over and they went on this crazy run. Apparently an earlier West Ham victory allowed Palace into the playoffs, and then West Ham gets knocked out of the Premiership today by Palace. Palace's run was just really improbable.

As for the game itself--it wasn't a great game, but Palace played great. West Ham didn't do what they needed to do and Palace did. And after the first and only goal they really looked lost. So Palace wins 1-0 and is promoted. Which means I will actually get to see the English soccer squad I have pledged allegiance to next season. Huh.

I think I must've set some sort of record for repetition of the word "palace" in the above. They have another name--the Eagles--but I am unwilling to embrace soccer snobbery, since I really have no clue about soccer.

--Overtime was worked. The check was built up. The money goes back to normal once school starts Tuesday.

The New Yorker is really kicking everybody else's butt with the Iraq scoops, aren't they? Here's your really great Chalabi summary article. Via Laura Rozen--of course. I wonder if we're getting Chalabi love or Chalabi hate on tomorrow's talking head reviews.

Oh, and hey, Budweiser: Miller is kicking your ass in the creativity department. So what do you do? You send out your two lizards, who derivative of your crappy frogs, to basically go out and assert that the Miller presidential candidate guy is not funny. That's it. The lizards don't even try to outfunny the Miller ads, they just state that the guy isn't funny. They should've just spent thirty seconds saying, "We....we really have no comeback. Buy Budweiser." Because, really, bringing back the lizards just reeks of desperation. Advantage: Miller. Again.

Tomorrow: the long journey into barbecue. I hope there's not too many cicadas in backwoods Virginia.

Friday, May 28, 2004

THINGS TO SAY TO THE LAKERS FANS YOU KNOW: And you probably know some. Just use Bushian rhetoric. Set the Lakers equal to evildoers, and--you know--say something like, "You like the Lakers? WHY DO YOU HATE FREEDOM?" "If you're a Lakers fan you are objectively pro-terrorist, at this point." "A win for the Lakers amounts to appeasement, regardless of what the win meant in its own context. It suggests moral cowardice. Churchill must be spinning like a top right now, and with good reason." Well, you probably wouldn't say these things to anybody since it isn't exactly Bushian rhetoric but pro-Bush warblogger rhetoric and hence has more of an impact in the form of text, but you get the idea. Just remember that the Lakers are the evildoers and let it run from there.

In a related vein, make up goofy names for the Lakers:

"LAL Qaeda" or "LA Qaeda"

"Phil bin Jackson"

"Chemical Kobe"

And so on.

Bill Simmons is bringing the love for the much degraded (including on this blog) Pacers-Pistons series. Here he is on Game Two:

Remarkable game. Just remarkable. Was anyone else disappointed by Barkley casually dismissing it with his "that was just crappy offense" barb? I can't remember seeing a team protect the rim like the Pistons did. It was like watching a hot goalie in an NHL playoff game. Nineteen blocks? Are you kidding me? And has there been a better block in a big moment than Tayshaun's rejection on Reggie in the closing seconds? That looked like one of the blocks at the end of "Above the Rim," when the crazy guy who practices without a basketball -- because that's certainly a realistic thing to do -- joins the climactic game wearing jeans and tennis sneakers, then starts swatting layups off those nine-foot rims.

Hey, Reggie -- next time you might want to think about the dunk.
Here's the problem: Since there isn't anyone in the series who can create his own shot -- like Kobe and Cassell in the Western finals, or even guys like Mike Bibby or Dwayne Wade -- the defenses are just too good for the offenses. This isn't like those Heat-Knicks series from the '90s, with both teams pulling a Johnny Ruiz, slowing things down and thugging it up because they couldn't think of anything better to do. These Pacers and Pistons teams are too much alike -- it's like watching two boxers slugging it out with the exact same styles.

Now it's coming down to one question: "Who wants to win more?" In many ways, it is like a boxing match. A good one.

You should really read the whole thing, as they say. It's so good having Simmons back and writing about his baby, the N-B-freakin-A. Not that I'm sold on the goodness of this series, but he's watched a lot more NBA than I ever have, so I'm paying a lot more attention tonight.

How does Jim Gray stay on the air? I can understand, say, Craig Sager keeping his job once he had it--he's not good, but he's inoffensive and possibly even entertaining in a culty way, though he's not singular enough to inspire true cultishness. But Jim Gray isn't good. He's annoying, his questions are always inappropriate, and he's not somebody who entertains while he annoys. He makes you want to mute the TV or change the channel while he annoys.

Slate has an article claiming that the Pacers were the first to play sound effects (that Indy car engine noise--which only points to the increasingly anachronistic name of the NBA Indiana franchise; remember when the Indy 500 was a big sporting event? I don't--not old enough--and am thinking at this point the Pacers are at least as famous as the race they're kinda-sorta named for) during NBA game-play. It also states something I didn't know: "The angry hornet sound didn't follow the team to New Orleans, but Baron Davis baskets are still followed by a canned clip of pro wrestler Ric Flair's patented 'Woo!'" Because Ric Flair may hail from Charlotte, but he's The Man everywhere.

I just heard the ESPN NBA talking head (the one who isn't Screamin' A. Smith, Greg Anthony, or the white guy) say "what a game" about Lakers-Wolves last night. Yes. What a game it was, watching the Wolves get completely smoked there. Yep.

Speaking of Slate, here's Hitch defending his Chalabi-love. It's weak in the sense that he acknowledges that if the charges against Chalabi are true, all the stuff he's using to defend Ahmed--Saddam needed to go anyway, everybody's playing games in the new Iraq, everybody's talking to Iran--will no longer be much of a defense. Not that they are right now. And saying this:

I do not know what happened at the Petra Bank, and not even Andrew and Patrick Cockburn, who have done the most work on the subject, can be sure that Saddam Hussein's agents in Jordan were not involved in the indictment of Chalabi by a rather oddly constituted Jordanian court. It could be, for all I know, that he was both guilty and framed. The litigation and recrimination continues, and it ought at least to be noted that Chalabi still maintains he can prove his case.

Is realllly weak.

Things to do this weekend:

Get up early, return crappy books to the Science Fiction Book Club before they send me to the credit agency. You order the John Wright Golden Age 3-in-1 collection and a volume of classic Robert E. Howard Conan and they send you their usual sword & sorcery featured selection crap.

Then watch Crystal Palace play their way into the Premiership, DADDY! They are incredibly unfavoured, but they should take heart in having captured the hearts of those Americans who pick their English soccer teams on the basis of the names of the franchises.

Work some more, build a little bigger overtime-fuelled check before class starts Tuesday.

Go with brother to other brother's house for barbecue. Is it a tradition yet if you do it two years in a row?

That is all. Gawd, who unplugged the Pistons? Simmons can't be liking this Game Four here.
SOMETHING INTERESTING CHARLES BROUGHT UP DURING THE GAME TONIGHT: KG isn't getting any calls, but given the way the NBA works and given the people he's playing against, how is he ever going to get any? NBA refs are well known for giving veterans leeway, and Karl Malone, GP and Shaq are all made men as far as that goes. Only Kobe doesn't get an inordinate number of calls--thankfully, since a lot of those ridiculous shots he takes would be bailed out by fouls if he was, in fact, the actual Michael Jordan and not the pretend Michael Jordan. So who's KG going to get calls against? Not 50 year old ref-milking Karl Malone. Who has never been more annoying than he is right now. You look really cool when you're pointing down the court when a foul goes against the Wolves there, Karl. I just hope you remember that Derek Fisher saved your crappy championship season when you were doing your usual clutch-time choke job there in Game 5 against the Spurs.

BITTERNESS. Not that I feel much anymore, watching these playoffs. It feels like the past two or three years after the WCF, except that this year the second round was the best round. It's all perfunctory now. Maybe the Pacers and Pistons realize this on some level, which is why their series has lacked for energy. They know what's coming.

This Bill Cosby flap--I mean, the Cos is just another cranky old man at this point. Michael Eric Dyson can call it "generational warfare" but that's just an inflammatory way of saying cranky old manhood. He probably would want those kids "with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack" to STAY OFF HIS LAWN if there was any chance anybody could get near his lawn. Did you hear the clips, anyway? It was pretty much classic Cos in terms of delivery, though part of the cranky old man thing is that you can't tell if he's being funny or just crusty at this point. Whatever. Eff all you all. The Cos made all our long car trips far better than they should have been and you will applaud politely when they leave his microphone on, and think of routines past. Come out--FAT ALBERT.

I wish to correct the previous post, which implied the city of Seattle was in Oregon. The city of Seattle is, in fact, in Washington. Right above Vancouver. We regret the error.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

RANDOM THOUGHTS: I should jot down my posts when I think of them at work, so I'm not staring at an empty Blogger post box when I get home, trying to recollect where I saw what that was so interesting.

Al Gore really went nuts, huh? Is he regretting not running, now that Bush looks so weak? I bet a lot of people would be actively enthusiastic for Al, as opposed to the "We hate Bush! Vote for this...other" support Kerry gets. I myself was looking forward to Bush-Gore II after the high drama that was Bush-Gore I, but Gore pussed out and appointed Howard Dean his surrogate. Poor Al--he just isn't lucky enough, it seems.

Hey Maria--it seems you're moving to the assisted-suicide state. I can only think it must be really strange to practice psychiatry in such an environment, given that suicidal ideation is usually a good way to get yourself taken away by the nice men in the white coats. Yet in Oregon it's a psychiatrist who is supposed to decide in some cases if you're mentally fit enough to make the decision to take your own life--I think that's what they said on NPR today. Very contradictory, no? It just shows how important intent is, I guess, reminding me of the abortion debate to a degree.

Porto beat Monaco 3-0 in the Champions League finale today, a game that was confined to ESPN2 in this country. It was live but so completely unhyped I would've forgotten about it if the Frog hadn't mentioned it. Why ESPN bothers bidding on these mega soccer events it has no intention of promoting is beyond me.

I'm just glad that dork Figo doesn't play for Porto like I thought he did.

And the Magic won the NBA lottery. Lang linked to this seemingly far-fetched story about Shaq going back to the Magic in 2006 to play with T-Mac in 2006--and wouldn't that be the ultimate middle finger to Kobe. "See, Kobe, you think you're Jordan, but there's this guy in Orlando who is just as good as you are, plus he's not a brooding, weird loner. So I'm going to go win a title with him. Have fun in Memphis." Anyway--a Shaq-Okafor-McGrady lineup would obviously be topnotch. Okafor and McGrady by themselves would be okay, though McGrady would still be carrying a team offensively, something he doesn't have much stomach for after quite a few seasons of futility. Of course, the Magic could think they're the Knicks all of the sudden and draft the giant Korean kid. Or the Russian kid with the pituitary problem.

Pistons up 2-1. These playoffs are starting to lack in emotional resonance for me. It's a close, hard-fought game but it's hard to know who to root for or against between the Pistons and the Pacers. At least with the Lakers I know what to not like.

Comrade Blow is really harshing on Wonkette. Me, I don't read Wonkette because 1. I hate that logo and 2. I hate the idea of a blog created as somebody's attempt to cash on the new medium known as the blog. I don't mind it when Atrios or somebody has ads on his site, but Atrios started on blogspot and came up from nothing like a good honest blogger should. So I'm not opposed to blogs that make money. But a blog created to fill some perceived market vacuum--please. If I want Washington gossip, I'll read the other zillion Washington bloggers.

So let's hear it for the traditional, "amateur" blog, that exists only for itself, and that people only happen to read because they want that literary representation of their fellow men or women, or when they stumble across it looking for topless celebrity pictures or somesuch. Hip, hip, hurrah.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

MAN O' PETE: Nothing like working a 14-hour day that doesn't feel like a 14-hour day. You start saying to yourself, "Hey--I could work two or three of these."

So that Wolves-Lakers game tonight was not a terribly good game. There was a whole two quarters there about where each team was trying to who would end up having to put some effort in. The Lakers--as is their wont--were trying to go as long as they could with a minimum of effort. That's one of the more annoying things about these Lakers, this whole turn-it-off turn-it-on thing. It even offends my friend Joe at work, part-time Laker fan and long-time basketball aficionado. I can hope all I want it'll bite them in the ass at some point but it isn't going to this year. Besides the Spurs series, they've basically coasted through the Western Conference. Quite depressing.

You know what I've always wondered? Who's the guy with the white beard and the hat who's always with Jack Nicholson? For that matter, who's the androgynous Asian woman a few seats down? Both wear sunglasses indoors, if you're wondering who I mean.

That Pacers-Pistons games last night has driven Lang Whitaker to the dark side:

For a long time now, I've tried to be positive and upbeat about the direction that the NBA has been going, specifically the Eastern Conference. An expansion explosion, zone defenses, guaranteed contracts, the collective bargaining agreement, massive amounts of teenagers turning pro -- all these things are relatively new to the NBA.

But last night's game just left me depressed. These are the two best teams in the Eastern Conference? The Pacers shot 28-percent. Yes, that was partly due to Detroit's defense, but also partly because the Pacers did nothing but shoot jumpers in the fourth quarter.

Then he said:

And I don't know that there are many great players left. Especially not in the Eastern Conference. Will Rip Hamilton make the Hall of Fame? No, but he'll be a great Old School story in SLAM 30 years from now. Reggie Miller probably will. Jermaine O'Neal could. So could Ron Artest (well, probably not, but still).

But these are the best the East has to offer?

The NBA has been watered down. We all know this, right? There are too many teams, too many bad players witting on guaranteed spots in the League, too many people that can't play taking up spots. David Stern might be making money hand over fist for the owners, but the product isn't what it used to be. When we talked to David Stern about this a few months ago, he said the League is entering a new era, and right now there's no Michael's, Magic's or Larry's. What worries me more is that there aren't enough second-string Hall of Famers, guys like Clyde, Hakeem, Dominique. Maybe we'll have them in five years or ten years, but they aren't here right now.

And Lang is one of the NBA's biggest fans--only Bill Simmons could be considered more enthusiastic about the NBA. But you could really tell what he's talking about tonight. Those stretches when Phil Jackson puts Rick Fox, Kareem Rush, George, Fisher and Medvedenko out there....yeesh.

So anyway: You watch enough basketball, you see a lot of beer ads. And you can do a survey of the beer ads. Long time readers may remember that Coors Light ads have been awful before. Are they still?

COORS LIGHT: Apparently Coors Light must have decided that funny ads sell beer or something, because they go for the yucks in their current ad--it's the one with the two guys with the two girls out on the date and the one guy starts yelling his number to another girl across the room who is inexplicably staring at him. That's not exactly what happens, but the ad is basically incoherent. This Coors Light campaign--it's like the guy who sees somebody being funny at a party and says to himself, "HEY--that looks easy! I kin be funny too." So he breaks in and starts being funny and gets polite smiles and considers himself a smashing success, because he has no clue how to be funny, or what someone else does when they are being funny. Somebody in Coors thought this ad was a riot--that's the sad thing. And yet fratboys need their beer, and who's going to tell a fratboy he has a limited sense of humor?

BUD: In their heyday Bud always went for the wacky humor, with all the animatronic frogs and lizards and horses and dogs and such. And for a 3 Stooges thing when no animals were available. Somebody at Bud must have seen the writing on the wall after the Joe Camel debacle, and decided to go away from the cute animals lest the young ones start drinking too early. So they've gone with this Budweiser Institute (the exact name escapes me) deal where they have this fake institute where all these crazy people hang out--it looks like a movie version of a Hollywood backlot, if you know what I mean. And this Institute comes up with a treadmill that you walk with your fingers. Because you're really lazy. Yep. And it's funny and so--buy Bud. It's just not that good an idea, though it's executed better than the Coors Light nonsense.

MILLER: The king of beer ads. And it's a two pronged attack and both campaigns are good. The MGD ads where young people break up with their Budweisers--they're as well-executed as 30-second tales of somebody's failed romance with their old beer and promise of happy days to come with their new beer can be. And the President of Beers campaign for Miller--again, it's a funny idea done well. The Presidential candidate guy is well-cast, exuding the right mix of despair, sleaze and enthusiasm an over-the-hill politician should. The fake debates with the Budweiser horse--that's funny. Even when they're straying into the zone of "Look at us! We're being FUNNY!" as in the "traveshamockery" spot, it still works because the Presidential candidate guy is in on the joke. Unlike the two guys in the Coors Light ad who think they're slick items, a contention the ad does not challenge. We're meant to think these guys are realllly cool, even though the stunt they just pulled off is strictly impossible. (It's almost a Mentos ad level of a Celebrating Something That Isn't That Clever Or Even Likely.) We're not meant to identify with the Miller President, we only have to be entertained by him. And we are entertained and so we buy Miller beer, or not, and all is well.

I prefer Miller High Life, actually, but Miller never found a very distinctive voice for their third beer. Anyway, Coors: still useless. Bud: wackiness in search of a vessel. Miller: Funny ideas, great execution. Miller wins.

Monday, May 24, 2004

HONEYMOON PERIOD: It's when you get a new job at work (not a promotion, per se; more of a lateral movement) and it's still fun doing these rote duties that are not hugely different from your old rote duties. At least I have a cooler title now: REGISTRAR! Hey, just because Registrars were the data entry people of the 19th century does not mean the term does not lack a certain cachet, even here in the early days of the 21st century. Just think of all the good feelings that could be generated by turning Data Entry Specialists into Data Registrars. Of course, this cheapening of the term "Registrar" would constitute a grave threat to our society.

This Chalabi stuff is getting more fun. I think Ahmed Chalabi is like the Howard Dean of wannabe Iraqi strongmen in terms of having way more support on the web than he was ever going to have on the ground. Which means lots of cyberfun ahead as various people have to squirm their way into whatever their new relationship is with Ahmed, Hero to his People.

Reading this one would think that the only blogs that exist are political ones. Hey, there's 4 male poliblog readers for every 1 female one--quite the stripclubesque ratio. That may be mere coincidence.

All I got.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

COMICAL ACADEMIC MEANDERING: Medical schools and pharmacy schools have these big centralized application services; you give them your information, they pass it on to whichever school you want to consider your application. Nicey nicey, right? Basically, yes. But they do make you add, individually, into their database, every single college class you ever took. Even though they just go ahead and "verify" the transcripts themselves--which I think means they go through them all themselves like I'm doing--they still want you reliving every course you ever took. The goal is humiliation, obviously. To make you relive those goofy courses you took when you took classes because they were fun to take. Such as:

DEBATING EVOLUTION. Taught, of course, by a history department (history of science and medicine or something.) This was the one where my self-image as someone who was in control of how he appeared met cruel reality. See, our professor gave us the option of a paper or a talk. At the time I did not quite understand the difference between speaking well and writing well; they appear to be separate skills. And yet, within my head, I could command that room. So I stayed up and knew my material and got to class and of course I died in that room. There's nothing like having your professor say, when you're done, "Okay, first thing: from now on you have to write a paper." Eeyeargh.

THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF TIME AND SPACE: I don't remember too too much about this one, but I would think the title would explain everything.

FILMS OF THE SEVENTIES: Look, we saw some really good movies in this class. The Godfathers, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Klute--well, Klute wasn't that good. And we didn't get to watch Star Wars, an essential 70s movie. The point is, I actually took a class about the films of the seventies and I don't know how I got away with it or how my parents let me get away with it. Well, them I understand; they're like, "He's working hard. Let him take the occasional film class." But I can't forgive myself for the things on my transcripts.

ELEMENTS OF KOREAN: Remember the Monty Python sketch about the Italian class populated entirely by Italian speakers? That's what this class just about was. "Well, I kinda know Korean, but I don't know how to write it and I was never _formally_ trained...."

NATURAL & ARTIFICIAL: I don't remember this one at all. It was probably about sugar vs. Xylitol.

There's nothing like a Lakers loss where Derek Fisher takes a beating AND Karl Malone gets ejected.

This Chalabi stuff is pretty interesting, isn't it? Check out Randall Parker for the links, Steve Sailer for the distaff conservative moral outrage and Laura Rozen for the total Chalabi obsession experience.

I was hoping the girl behind this whole Washingtonienne thing would turn out to be a little beastly, so I could say to myself, "Look at these cretins in Washington, getting played for suckers by somebody who would not be turning heads anywhere but the halls of Congress." But she's actually strangely cute.

Jim hipped me to the Washingtonienne thing, by the way.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

WHAT DO YOU SAY, WHEN YOU'RE STARING AT THAT WHITE BLOGSPACE, AND THE WORDS AIN'T COMING EASY? You say, if Jeff Foster had a mustache he'd be a really tall Freddie Mercury.

I can't see either of these teams beating the Lakers. The Pistons have the better chance because of the basketball equivalent of a puncher's chance: a killer defense. Because the Lakers have close to a killer defense themselves and all they need is one of the associate Lakers to make a few threes at the right moment and it's this sudden ten point avalanche and--that's it. The game is done, with like two minutes left in the third quarter.

The Pacers....I mean, who's going to play Shaq on the Pacers? Ron Ron? Al Harrington? There's nobody.

And the Lakers looked like they were on all cylinders last night. They survived the Spurs; now they know exactly how to play to win the title. And they're not going to forget again--somebody's going to have to outplay them and it's not going to be the Minnesota Timberwolves. After last night, I think the Wolves could just as easily get swept as lose in six. The Pacers or Pistons could possibly outplay the Lakers for a couple games, but not for four games.

As of today, I am thinking: Lakers over Wolves in five. Pistons over Pacers in six. Then Lakers over Pistons in six games that will not have the goofy banter of Kenny, Charles and Ernie afterwards, which would take some of the sting out of the fourth Lakers title in six years. But there will be no banter, no Charles yammering about how glad he is to get back to the golf course; no; we will see Jim Gray asking Kobe loaded questions about how tough the season has been and did he think they'd make it this far? Jim Gray; that nauseating jockrider. As if we're supposed to feel bad for Kobe, the wunderkind who--regardless of what he did or didn't do--brought alllll his current troubles on himself. When the moment comes--don't even try, Jim.

When did Ben Wallace develop offensive skills? Back to the game and the world's weirdest Queen revival.

Friday, May 21, 2004

AND TO COMPLETELY NOT GO IN THE DIRECTION OF THINKING ON THIS BLOG: We'll do a post full of rambling thoughts and links.

--Because Bill Simmons is back and rambling again.

--Although Mystery Science Theater 3000 was supposed to be about awful, awful movies, some of the stuff they showed was transcendently great because it was inexplicably bad. Of all the episodes I've seen--and I've seen nearly half of them, I'd say--the "stupid Mexican kids' movie" Santa Claus is a good example of something so weird it can't be bad, with the strange transposition of Santa, Satan and Merlin, all the It's A Small World kids making the toys, the mechanical reindeers, the "aggressively cute" Lupita, the puppet show, and so on. I can only imagine how doubly weird it was in the original Spanish. It should be in the Christmas movie pantheon at this point--it's not that much weirder than, say, Year Without A Santa Claus. And Once Upon A Honeymoon--a musical short for the phone company that never mentions the phone company--is amazing.

--Here we go all Larry Flynt doing Andy Rooney: Remember when the girls in Playboy had tanlines and untrimmed pubic bushes? You don't see that anywhere in the Hefner empire anymore, not even in the college girl issues where there would possibly be girls who would be unaware there was a more attractuve way of being naked. I guess porn is so widespread at this point that there isn't any kind of natural nakedness in our porn anymore; if you're going to convert yourself into an erotic object, you know what to do to not look ridiculous at all levels of society. Or something like that.

--If you liked the Giffen-DeMatteis Justice League, you'll love the My Little Pony version. Via Kevin of Howling Curmudgeons, who points out:

Thus proving, once again, that art resides not in the result, but in the execution. These are well-conceived, artfully painted and re-sculpted; the details chosen to evoke the characters are precise and right. Go. Award pointless creativity for its own sake.

The thing is, I would not have expected the Giffen-DeMatteis League to engender this kind of obsession--then again, I am obsessed with that version of the League (JLA vol. 2, issues 1 through--what? 50 or 60?) myself. It was the only version of the League (or any topflight superhero group) that was absolutely different from what had gone before, or since, for that matter. I guess my initial impulse is that something I love as much as those comics should not cause another person to come up with this sort of fanboyish art. And yet--there it is. Proving once again that pop culture's meaning is personal--you decide for yourself how to react to it. Or: I love those comics so I write about them and reread them sometimes; other people, it's My Little Ponys. Different strokes, you know the rest.

All right, Wolves-Lakers Game One is on.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

WHEN YOU GET UP IN THE MORNING AND YOU DON'T RECOGNIZE YOUR OWN BLOG ANYMORE: Then you got problems. First of all, all blogspot URLs are banned by my office firewall, as I have mentioned before. Blogger itself is also banned. As a result, I cannot engage in my vainglory on company time. And most of my time is company time these days.

Second, I am one of the Instapundit-inspired bloggers. In my own case this means I used to blog like Instapundit: frequently. Glibly; tossing out the link, with a few set-up sentences wrapped around a quoted, italicised block of text. Focussing on politics, with the occasional nod to my own interests. But this is not something I could sustain indefinitely--so when I ran out of juice, I would quit for like months. Maybe because I thought I wasn't being Reynoldsy enough. But I don't have the interest to comment on everything anymore. And--as explained above--I don't have the ability to cover everything everymore via blog exposition. Plus Glenn himself seems like he's blogging from an alternate universe where the UN is something I'm supposed to care about and the Bush administration always has a secret plan to play the media for suckers. So I don't think the Instapundit is a good blog role model for me. Maybe not any of polibloggers, who were once the warbloggers, who I love reading (at least the left-leaning ones) but I cannot write like, not anymore.

Third: Maybe I just need to write a little more. Do a little more of the thinking and less of the linking. You know where to go for the phat links. I know where to go. That's fine. That is not here for the time being, I guess.

So: things are different around here. There are reasons for that, stated above. Statements of the grandiose new order in the land of Blogistan are sure to follow. Or not. But maybe we can get some consistent daily posting around here again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

THINGS TO DO: Have to organize that there life, son--can't just let it slip through yer fingers. Have to:

--Get my undergrad transcripts in to the centralized osteopathic and allopathic application services. Should send them in to the pharmaceutical one, too, though it may be a little early for that. With four institutions under my belt that is quite the laundry list I will need to pass on as proof of a decade of comical academic meandering.

--Decide on my schedule for the fall. Yes, it's early, but I should settle it now--my next prolonged break is in late August when classes will be filling up. We're looking at Genetics, Histology and Microbiology this fall, folks. We're looking at quite the rosy jaunt through Hades. Yes.

--Get working on my applications for the centralized application services above. I hope years of Office Drone status count as some kind of valuable life experience that a decent institution needs to bring balance to its student population. Frankly, I think I have a lot to share with those around me concerning Sitting On One's Duff, Internet Tomfoolery, and The Joy Of Expensive Pens You Didn't Pay For. These are things that--that you don't learn in school.

--Apply for GRE? I'm not sure. I need a back-up plan if professional school doesn't work out, and a Master's would be a way to do it. Then again, I don't know what I would qualify for as a lowly bio major with not a lot in the way of esoteric knowledge or research experience. But if I don't get in I really need to keep taking classes, if only to avoid getting dumber.

All for now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

SPRING 2004 FINALS WORKRATE REPORT: Okay--I did pretty good. It went something like this:

HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY: B. This was the academic equivalent of a three-pointer from the corner as time expires for THE WIN! Or, at least, THE B! As I had the B+ average on my tests but, due to my customary lateness and occasional bouts of being in class in spirit only, my quiz grade was, how you say, not so hot. So by my calculations I had to get a 93 on the final to get that sweet B. I studied for four days straight and! READ AND WEEP! But then I got my grade and it said C+. I wrote the professor and he politely informed me that I had, in fact, incorrectly calculated the number of points I needed. BUT--my e-mail got him to go over his calculations and he found 9 class participation points that had been denied me due to decimal point error. AND SO.....the B was had. By four ephemeral class participation points.

So it wasn't exactly a clutch shot. More of a ref gets hit, guy gets knocked out with steel chair, groggy ref counts out unconscious guy, foul play is apparently rewarded, other ref runs out and restarts the match, the gut who used the chair argues and gets rolled up in a flash 3-count thus serving justice kind of thing.

BIOSTATISTICS: A. This was the one that I thought, "Easy A," for. Our kindly old professor had spotted us points throughout the semester. None of the exams had been hugely difficult. Yet our kindly professor apparently thought to himself, "Well, I got three hours to play with for this here final. LET'S GO NUTS!" And so we were presented with a final that tested us on everything we were supposed to know, but that required calculations of a shall-we-say elaborate nature to complete. A level of difficulty was reached that had more to do with making things as long and painful as possible without going beyond what we knew. Hey, I did something right, obviously. But this was an endurance final.

PHYSIOLOGY LAB: A. The old writing skills pay off as I get 67 out of a possible 70 points on my lab report. This pushes me OVER THE TOP.

PHYSIOLOGY: B+. This is the scary class where nobody does well in strictly percentage terms and yet there is this wonderful thing called The Curve. The Curve.....forces us all to consider our grades as these quantum wave-form probability functions that do not take form as particulate matter until.....The Curve looks at them, and forces them into existence. Evidently The Curve was having a good day when it looked at my numbers.

There you go. I could do better--losing points due to absence is inexcusable. But I did all right with the things I had control over (e.g., how well I focused during studying) towards the end there. So--I mean--not doing the little things will keep you on that cusp between Above Average and Excellent. Way of the world.

"Workrate Report" copyright, as always, the DVDVR.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

YOU KNOW WHAT?: The NBA on TNT is one of the funniest shows on television. Tonight Ernie pulled his prima donna card and walked off the set leaving Charles, Kenny and Baron Davis to host a segment. Kenny put on the crying baby noise. They made jokes about finally getting some color around here. It was comedy gold.

Another thing about the NBA on tv: Al Michaels and Doc Rivers are a surprisingly "A" team on ABC. I'm so glad they didn't give Bill Walton the job. Not that I hate Walton, but his yammering about championship basketball and THE GRAND STAGE OF THE NBA FINALS kind of takes away from the grand stage of the NBA finals.

Friday, May 14, 2004

THE MOST GALLING THING ABOUT THE LAKERS WINNING THAT GAME: That friggin' Derek Fisher was the difference maker. Not so much the final shot--as Shaq said, it was lucky--but that six Spurs points were taken away after the fact by Fisher flops. Nauseating.

Plus the fact the Spurs got no help from the refs during their run in general. I was thinking as I was watching, if the Lakers win this series it will be through sheer NBA institutional inertia and the refs calling the games like they were when the Lakers were dominant. There is bitterness in what I write--oh yes.
OH GOOD GOD DAMN: I hate the Lakers.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

RANDOM COMICS THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Jim Krueger's sprawling, richly detailed (without being too fanboyish) Earth X saga is exactly the metanarrative Grant Morrison would write if Grant wasn't too clever by half. Yep.

Today's study break: at 3:30 E.S.T. Spurs 2, Lakers 0. Though I thoroughly expect the Lakers to win this one. Dang it.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

SO MANY FINALS: So little blogging. You'd be surprised how much depth you need to go into for even a cursory understanding of physiology--you really would.

Study Break at 9 P.M.: Spurs 1, Lakers 0.