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January 30, 2004
This, That, and the Other
If there is a record you remember fondly -- or if you have kids and have found a CD that both you and the twerps enjoy -- lemmie know in the comments.
Bad Review Revue: The Perfect Bore
Critics weigh in on the new teen / S.A.T. / heist film The Perfect Score:
"Scholastic craptitude." -- Desson Thomas, WASHINGTON POSTJudging by RottenTomatoes.com, the perfect score works out to be around 19%.
January 29, 2004
Checkout line at the grocery store, conversation between my cashier and my bagboy, neither of whom looked to be over twenty:
Bagboy: I like Dean.
January 28, 2004
Research Day: Who The Hell Is Silvergirl?
I have been listening to (and learning the lyrics from) a lot of Simon & Garfunkle songs in preparation for The Squirrelly. After all, that's what I was raised on, and look at what a wunderkind I turned out to be. Besides, there's nothing like singing The Sound Of Silence to your child to provide him the existential angst of overwhelming emptiness that most childhoods sorely lack these days.
In particular I've been focusing on "Bridge Over Troubled Water," because it's 66.66% Daily Affirmation. The first two verses describe how the singer is "on your side / when times get rough / and friends just can't be found,", etc. etc. It's all very Stand By Me-esque. But then, in the third and final verse, we get this:
Sail on silvergirlYo, Silvergirl! What are you doing sailing through my nurturing and supportive lullaby?!
In Googling this, I gathered more supporting evidence for a hypothesis I coined while researching Hotel California: "Any ambiguous lyric in a song released between 1964 and 1982 will be interpreted as encouragement of drug use or Satanism." Specifically, the first few websites I checked out regarding Silvergirl all claimed that the entire ballad was a tribute to smack:
Last Trumpet Ministries: "Paul Simon referred to heroin as being the "Bridge over troubled waters." In that infamous song he referred to the bridge as a 'silver girl', which is the street name for a heroin needle."And so on.
Fortunately -- and unlike Hotel California -- it didn't take me long to get the skinny on this myth. Here's Paul Simon himself refuting the rumor in an Song Talk interview:
SongTalk: [Do] people come up with perverse ways to read your songs?So who was this elusive Silvergirl? In another interview, this one with Playboy (work safe link), Simon spilled the beans:
Playboy: When you wrote Bridge Over Troubled Water, did you know immediately that you had written a hit?Bah. These things always wind up so mundane.
Moral: if you want to be remembered as a songwriter who routinely encourages drug use and Satanism, it's better to write lyrics like:
And so the flaming argyle hidThan:
I really enjoy smoking crackBonus Research Day Fact #1 : I found zero corroboration for the claim that "'silver girl' .. is the street name for a heroin needle". See: Google: ("silver girl" OR silvergirl) heroin needle -bridge. Oh those Last Trumpet Ministries -- I'll never trust them on matters of street slang again!
Bonus Research Day Fact #2 : Paul Simon was married to Carrie Fisher??! I had no idea.
January 27, 2004
Instructions For NH Voters
Welcome to the New Hampshire Democratic primary. Please select one of the following candidates:
Democrats: Please vote for the candidate that you think will receive the most votes. Remember: the key to this election is electability, so do NOT vote for the person you would prefer to see as President. Instead, choose the person that you predict the most other people will prefer to see as President in the general election. Also remember that the Democrats will only win if they can attract conservatives "Crossover" voters, so imagine a right-wing Republican -- preferably someone who holds political views antithetical to your own -- and vote as you think he would.
Republicans: If you are a Republican trying to "spoil" the primary, your goal will be to vote for the LEAST electable candidate. Try to figure out which candidate the Democratic caucusgoers would vote for if they were voting their conscience instead of voting for who they think will get the most votes, and vote for that person.
Thank you for your participation! Democracy works because of voters like you!
January 26, 2004
I wept because I had no shoes, until I met a man with no feet.
And Christ, all that guy could talk about was having no feet. He'd be, like, "Return of the King? No, I haven't seen that movie ... because I have no feet!" Or "thanks for the pie but I didn't really enjoy it, what with the having no feet and all."
So I reminded him that there were men with no legs. That shut him up.
Plus, then I found my shoes under the bed, so everything worked out great.
January 23, 2004
January 19, 2004
How Time Flies
Hey, whoa. The second anniversary of defective yeti skulked right on by me. I started this whatever on January 10 of 2002, and have somehow managed to keep at for 24 straight months, which is pretty much longer than I have engaged in any activity not regulated by my brain stem.
I attribute my dedication to two things: (a) idiot drug junkies on my bus who keep saying hilariously stupid things that I feel compelled to put down in hypertext, and (b) you guys, who, for reasons I find largely unfathomable, keep reading this ridiculous thing and leaving awesome comments.
Last year, upon hitting the one-year mark, I hemmed and hawed about continuing; this year I know for a fact that I'll be posting for another 52 weeks at least. (Although I expect output to drop for a while after The Squirrelly arrives. My output, I mean: I'm sure The Squirrelly's output will be voluminous.) I've gone from the stage where I was crazy-excited about the yeti to the stage where I kind of viewed it to a chore to the point where I can't imagine not writing here every few days. So I guess quitting is no longer an option, really.
That said, I'm taking this week off, both to celebrate the anniversary and because I'm having my first honest-to-goodness freak-out about the prospect of a small human being joining the Baldwin Clan. I will therefore be devoting the rest of the week to obsessively researching the Consumer Reports rankings of onesies and having the radiator fluid in my car changed for no obvious reason.
I'll be back on the 26th, and should have a piece in The Morning News later this week.
January 16, 2004
Friday Afternoon Scratchpad
The defective yeti How To Drink Without Becoming An Alcoholic Program
My coworker told me his new year's resolution: he had decided to only drink once a week.
No, I replied. No, no, no. I tried this, and it's a bad idea, here's why: one, you'll fall off the wagon by February 13; and two, you'll probably fall off the wagon by January 27.
Besides: you're supposed to drink every day -- Science says so. That why I thunk up The defective yeti How To Drink Without Becoming An Alcoholic Program, and have more-or-less adhered to it for a couple of years. It has worked so well for me I'd be remiss not to share it with the world.
So here it is. Are you ready? Okay, write this down:
No more than one drink a day except for one time a week.That's it! You get your Science-prescribed daily-glass-o-red-wine and you get your weekly three-beers-with-the-buddies outing.
The trick is to remember the caveat: "No carryovers!!" If you forego your nightly drink, you don't get two the following day (unless it's your designated "one than one" binge). Likewise, you only get a single "more than one" day per calendar week -- no carryovers!!
Works for me.
Speaking of drinking, I recently walked from the Rendezvous to my bus stop at around 11:00 at night, following one of my aforementioned three-beers-with-the-buddies outings. As the Rendezvous is on 2nd and Bell and my bus stop was on 4th and Stewart, this necessitated travel through some Seattle's Sketchy Neighborhoods, so I reflexively adopted my Badass Motherfucker gait, a mode of walking that involves long strides, a puffed-up chest, and lots of scowling.
(Note: I was raised in the suburbs, so my perception of a Sketchy Neighborhood is probably way skewed. I consider any block that doesn't contain a Dairy Queen, a Blockbuster or an antique store to be a "Sketchy Neighborhood". But work with me, here.)
At some point I got the munchies and dug some food left over from my lunch out of my backpack. I began snacking on that as I walked.
But then I saw my reflection in a store window, and realized that my choice of foodstuff pretty much negated any advantage gained by my strutting. Because here is a 100% true fact, folks: nobody looks like a Badass Motherfucker while eating baby carrots.
In recent weeks I have been sneaking links onto my sidebar. I was being all stealthy 'n' shit because, in most cases, I was embarrassed they weren't there already. But I'll fess up:
Update: Holy crow, I just realized that I never put Choire Sicha on my sidebar. Whatta idiot. Me, I mean, not Choire. Anyway, he's there now. Dumb dumb dumb. Uh: again, that means me.
Back from the dead: Mr. Pants. Year Of The Smore, yo.
Says Wesley Clark's campaign: "Lieberman is like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense: He's dead and doesn't know it yet."
Jeeze -- just blurt out the ending, why don't you?! What if everyone followed your example?
For The record
January 15, 2004
Kerry Enjoys Surge
Speaking at the Sanford Center earlier today, Senator John Kerry reveled in recent polls showing growing support for his presidential aspiration. "Do you like the surge?" Kerry asked the crowd of more than 200 people. "Are you ready to add more surge? Are you ready to make more surge, more surge? And are you ready to make more and more surge?"
Kerry's elation was also evident as spoke with reporters following the speech. "The American people have a thirst for crisp, clean, refreshing solutions," he told ABC's Cokie Roberts, whom he affectionately referred to as "The Coke" several dozen times. "And I'm pleased that the press is no longer giving Howard Dean a free pass on his various reversals. Whenever you see the doctor, pepper him with questions about his controversial statements on Iraq. I want that doctor peppered."
The rising poll numbers are good news for a candidate that has been dogged by allegations of impropriety. Rivals for the Democratic nomination claim that an unnamed corporation recent gave Kerry's campaign enormous contributions in return for product endorsement. While Kerry acknowledges a recent influx of funds, he dismisses claims that he is providing anything in return as "sheer fantasy." "No amount of money," said Kerry, "is going to prevent me from doing what sprite for America."
Footnote 1: I totally not making up that surge quotation.
Foornote 2: In doing "research" for this post, I came across the best legal boilerplate ever: "We love your dedication, we love your passion ... but also want to remind you that, no matter what you do to promote SURGE and SaveSURGE.org, make sure it's legal! SaveSURGE.org cannot be held responsible for your actions. Thank you all, you're the best!"
January 14, 2004
I Am My Anti-Drug!
The Queen calls me at work:
The Queen: Guess what.
January 13, 2004
Since I used to maintain the board game site acesup.com, and because I now write about board game here from time to time, I often get email from folks asking if I know of game groups or game stores in the Seattle area.
I've been meaning to improve my CSS skills for a while anyhow, so I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and create a website devoted to the Seattle boardgame community. Thus, my new side project: http://www.seattlespiel.com.
January 12, 2004
I rarely care enough to send the very best, but I recently saw this card at Hallmark and considered picking up a few:
Wow, talk about useful! I mean, that's got to be one of the subtlest death threats I've ever seen.
IT Guys ... In The Elevator!
Overheard in the elevator:
IT Guy 1: Sure, I know that band. They're pretty good.Oh, brother. At least when guys discuss their cars there's a modicum of subtlety about what they're actually comparing.
January 09, 2004
Lord Of The Ring Of Fire
By the way, halfway through The Return of the King I figured out that the entire Lord of the Rings saga is an allegory for pregnancy.
Seriously, check it out. You got your Frodo and your Sam, trudging to the Crack of Doom, right? And that's about as apt a description for pregnancy as you're likely to find: nine months of trudging to Mordor. (Fun fact: "trudging to Mordor" was euphemism they used on I Love Lucy before they could say "pregnant" on the air!)
But only one person is the appointed bearer. And that poor sap has to carry the burden the entire way, a burden that just gets heavier and heavier as the weeks wear on. The bearer gets increasingly tired and cranky as they approach their destination -- and who can blame them? Their good-for-nothing companion doesn't do anything useful, except flit about and say things like "jeeze, I wish I could carry the burden for a while!" and occasionally fight off an enormous spider and/or fetch chocolate ice cream.
But as bad as the journey is, it's the ending that truly sucks: the agony of carrying the burden is nothing compared to letting it go. The bearer gets all, like, "I can't do it, it's impossible!" and the companion stands around heming and hawing and lamely asserting "sure you can!" And then, out of nowhere, a creepy-looking bald-headed creature comes onto the scene.
Skeptical? Further corroboration!
The Bad Review Revue
Love Don't Cost A Thing: "An inept and sleazy remake of a bad movie that easily edges From Justin to Kelly as the dullest major-studio release of the year." -- Lou Lumenick, NEW YORK POST
My Baby's Daddy: "Diapers, even from three babies, can't stink worse than this." -- Peter Travers, ROLLING STONE
Paycheck: "Doesn't come within a light year of even science-fiction plausibility." -- Jack Mathews, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Mona Lisa's Smile: "To call it one-dimensional would be an act of charity." -- Carrie Rickey, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
Chasing Liberty: "The film does provide one solid reason to display a little patriotic fervor: we have the freedom to avoid such rote, shallow dullness." -- Connie Ogle, MIAMI HERALD
January 08, 2004
Movies: Return of the King
I was a little apprehensive about The Return of the King. I mean, I knew it would be great -- it was, after all, filmed concurrently with the other films, with the same cast and director and source material. But Peter Jackson was passed over for the "Best Director" award in the last two Academy Awards ceremonies, and I was worried that, if the final installment was not as over-the-top great as the first and second, he might not get his due.
I needn't have feared; The Return of the King lives up to the astounding precedent set by The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, and Jackson will almost certainly get his statuette.
And yet, I couldn't help but be ever-so-slightly disappointed. Don't get me wrong, I thought it was fantastic -- my favorite movie of the year, even. But after investing so much time into watching and rewatching the first two films, I wanted a Big Finish, I wanted the last movie to be even grander and more sublime. But, honestly, how could it? With the characters and cinematography showcased in Fellowship, the war scenes and the eerily realist Gollum on display in Two Towers, Return was left with little new ground to break. And I knew that, even before entering the cinema. But, still. When RotK failed to exceed the films before it, a little voice inside of me kinda went "darn."
My enjoyment of the film was also vaguely sullied by the fact that I didn't rewatch The Two Towers before going to see RotK. I had honestly intended to do so in the weeks before the premiere, but I never got around to it. Consequentially, I spent much of the first hour of the film trying to remember all that had happened before. As with TTT, Return gives viewers no "Previous On Lord Of The Rings" recap --which, frankly, is how it should be -- so those who didn't refresh their memories before heading into the theaters may have found their transcendental viewing-experience occasionally interrupted by thoughts of "wait -- who's that guy, again?" So if you're the one guy in America who hasn't seen RotK yet (Brent Wilson of Gerbil Junction, Iowa,) and you happen to be reading this, take my advice: rewatch the first two films now.
(Return of the King also contains the only deviation from the books that I object to -- a matter, for the sake of Mr. Wilson, I will discuss in the comments, so as to keep spoilers off this page.)
Well, enough carping -- Jackson gives me three of the greatest movies I've ever seen and all I can do is bitch. Seriously: Return of the King is, like its predecessors, a wondrous and enthralling experience. Even at three-and-a-half-hours I never felt it to be overlong or ponderous, and at times I found myself marveling that such a lengthy film could move at a breakneck pace. And, having read the book, I knew how things wrapped up, so I had no objection to the plethora of endings.
The Fellowship Of The Ring will always be my favorite of the three, simply because I vividly remember the moment when amazement washed over me halfway through the film as i realized they weren't going to screw it up after all. And then Two Towers came along and somehow managed to be every bit as good. Return of the King didn't exceed my expectations, per se, but it was every bit as good as I'd hoped. And taken as a whole, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is surely one of the finest achievements in the history of cinema. Jackson deserves ever single award he is bound to receive.
Note: The comments are not spoiler-free.
January 06, 2004
Yesterday the Mars Rover sent back detailed photos and video of the planet's terrain; today NASA released the first audio recorded on the Martian surface. During the 24 minute broadcast, listeners could discern the faint whistling of world's thin atmosphere, the low rumblings of tectonic movement, and, in the background, the distant but unmistakable strains of Outkast's "Hey Ya!"
January 05, 2004
Ahead Of The Curve
The trick to making a bajillion dollars off a fad, of course, is to get way ahead of the curve.
That's why, for a limited time only, I'll be selling bumperstickers (and other merchandise) to my conservative readers.
Be the first to slap one on your car, January 21, 2005!
Update According to whois, "impeachdean.com" was registered in Novemember of last year. So was "impeachclark.com." Curiously, "impeachkucinich.com" is still available ...
January 02, 2004
Pat Robertson said Friday that God told him President Bush will be re-elected in a landslide.
For the record, here's the full list of God's 2004 revelations:
January 01, 2004
Matthew Baldwin, Perpilocutionist
There are so many fabulous words over at the Glossary of Linguistics and Rhetoric that it's hard to pick favorites, but here are some of mine:
The person sitting across from me on the bus this morning was engrossed in a small, slender magazine. His lips moved and he occasionally muttered unintelligibly in his enthusiasm. I assumed he was focused on a religious tract of some sort, as he seemed like a man doing his daily devotional.
He was so absorbed in his reading that he almost missed his stop. As the bus pulled away from the curb at 4th and Marion he suddenly looked up, leapt to his feet in alarm, and hollered "back door!" As he scurried past me I caught a glimpse of the book's title. It read "WORLDS GREATEST WORD SEARCHES."