Wednesday, April 30, 2008

yesterday's news

so i'm embarking on my third decade of, uh, living and i feel rather conflicted. one side of me recognizes that aging is an inevitable process and that trying to fight it is pointless. not to mention, it'll probably give me unsightly wrinkles. of course, the other more existential crisis-prone side of me is a little bit weirded out by the fact that the anticipatory phase of my life appears to be over. this is when i should just be living: i'm not waiting to get into that great college, i'm not trying to figure out whether grad school is the right choice for me. essentially, i'm not living in a 9x12 room facing a building shaft in the east village waiting for the next thing. indeed, my salad days are over.

(btw - i totally didn't even know what "salad days" meant, and that it originated from shakespeare, but i'm seeing that term everywhere. what's the deal?).

besides, it's been like 6 years since i overheard one dude say to another at a concert, "hey, what time is your mom picking us up?" which made me think, shit, just how old am i?

anyway, whilst thinking about my own age i read this article. poor knut! he was so adorable before, but now people are just passing him by. no more haribo candies named after him! just cast aside by the cruel, fickle public. look at this devastating quote:

Andre Schüle, a veterinarian at the Berlin Zoo, dismissed concerns about Knut’s health, physical or mental. “I am very, very pleased about his development,” said Mr. Schüle. Knut is a healthy polar bear, but as a natural result of aging, “the cuteness factor is falling,” Mr. Schüle said.

don't be sad! you're still very cute!

update: thanks for all of your suggestions on the bridesmaid dresses. she picked this one, which was actually my choice as well. i was pretty happy at how everything turned out, until i saw this.

Music Video of the Day: Scar Jo, For Your Derision

E, I miss you. This bicoastal thing really gets in the way of our cynical banter. So, here's Scar Jo's new video. Leave your unadulterated bilious remarks in the comments section.

Also, why is Salman Rushdie nuzzling her neck in this video? This question follows in a long line of Salman Rushdie-related questions: For instance, why is Salman Rushdie playing the obstretician in Helen Hunt's new movie? Why is Salman Rushdie in Bridget Jones' Diary? Why did Salman Rushdie write the most outsiderly and hilariously inexpert account of New York City ever committed to print? Why is Salman Rushdie hanging out at Bungalow 8? How did Salman Rushdie land Padma Lakshmi? Why did Salman Rushdie get an eye lift? Why did Salman Rushdie turn away and run from me at that Breyten Breytenbach reading a couple of years ago? The answer to some, though not all, of these questions is this: because all your heroes will eventually sacrifice their innate gifts and become vain, fame-whoring parodies of themselves.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Psycho T Smells What Barack's Got Cooking

So much can be gleaned from the picture above--most important, the press corps does seem to harbor an indefatigable love of America's Sweetheart and secret Muslim-in-Chief, Barack Obama. According to the New York Times, during Obama's pick-up game against the Tar Heels this morning he didn't manage to score, and in the picture above we see him, having driven through the lane (past what looks like a lazing Danny Green, who's got to be worried about his draft stock now, I'm thinking), jump just a few feet from the basket to shoot, as National Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough's outstretched arms greet him. Now, we can assume that Hansbrough--although he is not known for his blocking skills--probably rejected the shit out of Obama in the moment immediately after this shot was taken. I mean we know for a fact that he didn't score. And in the subsequent moment, after the likely vicious block, surely Obama's crumpled frame fell to the floor as he gasped for air through his charred lungs, and Psycho T probably huffed and puffed over him--white middle class voter that he is. Where are these photographs that I have described? Why were they not taken? Why do we see Obama only in a state of beatific, lane-slashing glory, his eyes a-gleam with hope. Why do we not see the aftermath? Why does the media go to such lengths to preserve this man's image? Also, sidenote: how much does Psycho T hate Obama? Apparently, they were supposed to be playing on the same team.

None of this would have happened, had Obama's bodyman (think Charlie from The West Wing) and member of Duke's 2001 national championship team, Reggie Love, taken Obama and his pick-up game to Cameron, home of the elitist Duke Blue Devils--although Krzyzewski might have yelled at him about capital gains taxes or something.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

discreet charm of the bourgeoisie

first, "mancations" and now "nakations." but all i gotta say is:




god, i hope these people don't have kids.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Music Video of the Day: She, Him, Yo

So, here's a clip from Conan the other night: ittsiest of the it-girls (and bangsiest of the bangs-sporting actresses), Zooey Deschanel, performing with M. Ward and--how's this for street cred?--Blogger E darlings Yo La Tengo (or as one youtube commenter puts it, a "buch [sic] of fatasses in music class "). I prefer this song to the one they did on Conan, but either gives you a pretty good idea of what their deal is.

Deschanel is one of those "celebrities" whose name I'd heard bandied about without ever having any sense of what she looked like or what films she's appeared in, but I've been feeling the She & Him album (much of which she wrote, Scar Jo), and know who she is now. Her throw-back lyrics, awkward tambourining, and folksy twang are all win-win in my book.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

what the meaning of is iz

i had my last remaining wisdom tooth removed the other day and prior to the procedure my dentist took a panoramic x-ray of my entire mouth. of course, my insurance company decided to not reimburse me for this. now, my dental insurance policy said 100% of any "routine x-rays" would be covered, which was enough to get me on the phone with the insurance company. i felt kind of bad for the woman on the other end, since i'm pretty sure all she ever hears is people bitching about how much they are being charged.

the conversation went something like this - mind you, she was very aggressive from the get-go, probably because she was anticipating my yelling at her:

her: ma'am, we only cover routine x-rays and a panoramic x-ray is not routine.
me: i don't understand. how is it not routine when it's in the course of treating something like a wisdom tooth?
her: now, if your dentist took x-rays of only a couple of teeth, that's cheaper and considered routine.
me: but the dentist would take those x-rays only because there was a special occasion, like a cavity or a broken tooth. i don't think that should be considered routine.
her: panoramic x-rays are very expensive and not routine.

i pretty much left it there. am i crazy? am i totally misunderstanding the definition of "routine?" my friend pointed out that they can label it however they want, but the bottom line is, they're not paying for it.

Summer Movie Preview

So, have you visited my house lately?

You very well might have because March and April were really the high season for house guests at our place in old South (of) Temescal/sort-of-Korea-Town/maybe Mosswood. Plus, I had a birthday party recently, and many of the 11 people I know in the Bay Area showed up. Anyway, if you've visited my house lately you might have found me preemptively explaining the copies of Entertainment Weekly on the coffee table (by which, of course, I mean "in the bathroom" because I'm classy like that). I don't know how I got signed up for the magazine, and I don't know who's footing the bill--maybe I have a secret Magwitch in Hollywood--but one day a couple of months ago, it just started showing up at my house.

Part of me was mortified--everyone knows the Postal Service is quietly judging you based on your subscriptions (which is why, I make sure to keep my subscription to Cement Americas current)--and that part always wants to explain to people that I'm not, you know, the kind of person who actually goes out and signs up for Entertainment Weekly. But then another part of me waits for the magazine with bated breath, reads it cover to cover, only skipping over mentions of American Idol, Britney Spears, Gossip Girl, The Hills, and other pop culture phenomena that make no sense to me. So, "cover-to-cover" maybe isn't right--I read a good 19% of each issue. But those pages I read I read with great attention, and let me say this: Magazines for people with short attention spans?! What a country! Even though I slave through the maximalist New Yorker profiles in multiple sittings, I read the whole Tina Fey profile in EW last week while toasting and cream cheesing a bagel. I didn't even contract Tina Feytigue!

Ironic unself-awareness of maximalism references aside, I do have a point. The current issue of Entertainment Weekly taught me two things: 1) George Lucas' original concept for the fourth Indiana Jones centered around space aliens invading the earth, and he is obviously the dumbest person in America, and is lucky to have Steven Spielberg to save him from the rancid porridge residing in place of his brain matter; and 2) Adam Sandler is going to play an Israeli commando-turned-New-York-City-hair-stylist who falls in love with the Palestinian owner of the salon he takes a job with. Hijinks and Hezbollah! Merriment and Mossad! (See trailer above). Joke premised on Adam Sandler's foot? Check. Rob Schneider in brown/black/yellow face? Check. Sure-fire box-office gold? Umm, fuck yeah check.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

bulging brides

there are ads for this tv show all over the city - on telephone booths (indeed, they still exist), subway cars, random places where ads shouldn't be, etc. at first i thought it was about pregnant brides, which may have been an interesting concept. how do you design a dress for a woman whose size keeps changing? but no, turns out it's actually about brides who are too fat and have to lose weight for their wedding day. this is literally the premise for an upcoming episode:
Big Portuguese portions are keeping this bride-to-be bulging through the hips and out of her dress.

anyway, someone out there understands my hate affair with david brooks. to wit: The Brooks method is to take a banal, long-existing or only partially true observation, give it a cute name and take credit for it. In other words, he’s a perfect op-ed columnist.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The trailer for the film version of Blindness is above. In theory, there's a lot to love here--Julianne Moore is in it and it would be inappropriate and disturbing for me to elaborate on why that's excellent, so let's just accept that it is; the director created the visceral mind-fuck that was City of God. But clearly something's lacking. While the book is both dystopic and beautiful, the trailer suggests your standard near-future, science-fictiony, disaster fare. My friend Nancy says the problem with making Blindess into a movie is that the full achievement of the work itself has no place in cinema--that is, the book is terrifying precisely because it presents an entire world to us mainly through characters who have no sight. The ugliness of our species is lade bare, but simultaneously made invisible. Even the characters are nameless--they are anonymous, blind guides through a sudden apocalypse. That Saramago crafted a book from this premise is an achievement itself.

I know I complain a lot about how Hollywood likes to ruin things that I love, but how can you adapt Blindness--maybe one of the three greatest achievements in the last fifteen years of international literature--into a movie about sight? Julianne Moore's character--the Doctor's wife, the only one spared--says at the end of the trailer, "The only thing more terrifying than blindness is being the only one who can see." I disagree with the proposition, and her role, it looks like, will get more emphasis in the movie than the book--she, not the blind, will be our guide. If that's the road we're being led on, if this is a movie about being the sighted voyeurs, then this film's going to be a clunker.

But there is hope: If you'd told me the plot of Children of Men--also, a Julianne Moore film, also a film about an inexplicable epidemic--and then said it was going to jump off the screen and punch me in the solar plexus, I'd have been skeptical, but that's exactly what that film did.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Swedish Meatballs

Wow, talk about blog post explosion today. I must be crazy busy at work! Anyway, 'Pockets and I not-so-recently took up residence in a little section of Oakland that we like for many reasons, but one of the weird blessings/curses of our neighborhood is that we're about a five-minute drive from Ikea. This is a blessing because when we suddenly decide we should keep our pasta in tall air-tight, glass jars instead of the broke-ass boxes pasta comes in we can cruise on down to Ikea, grab a couple of hot dogs from the Ikea restaurant, and pick up said jars--maybe a stop at Trader Joe's, and still, we're back in time to watch Runway.

But proximity to Ikea is a curse because the convenience of it is slowly killing us. I wanted a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge to hang in our bedroom (needless trivia about us: the first time we met we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge to go to a party at a loft in DUMBO! ZOMG! Talk about capturing the wayward, early-20-something zeitgeist...)--anyway, like I was saying, I wanted a picture of the Bridge to put in our bedroom, and when I saw a nice one, framed, and affordably priced at Ikea, I bought it. Didn't think twice, and now I look at it, and I realize not only did I commit a crime against real art and sound principles of interior design, I've gotten sucked into the consumerist, domestic semi-consciousness Keanu Reeves warned me about. Do I deserve to blog still? Will the Internet forgive me?

Anyway, this was all a round-about way of saying that Ikea will either kill us all or put together a mercenary army of Viking carpenters, a ragtag bunch who'll be our only hope against the coming Chinese domination that I have warned against in these pages time and again. No, no. That's not the point. The point is this is a really interesting article about the founder of Ikea. Did you know he's cheap? He goes to bad restaurants? Drives a 15-year-old Volvo? Put together his Ikea furniture himself? Is worth $15 billion? Started Ikea when he was 17? Used to be a drunk? Probably is still a drunk? And, um, was a Nazi sympathizer? Anyway, fascinating stuff.


So, in the clip from 30 Rock above, which aired months ago, in those sepia-tinged days of Clinton inevitability, a simple play on words makes for a witty joke. What if a character--in this case, vapid Jenna, prone to errors in judgment--was made to air her patriotic bona fides on MSNBC, but confused the word "Obama" with "Osama"? At the time the scene (what with pompous man-child-windbag Tucker Carlson having literally been struck dumb at the end) made me laugh the kind of laugh one gives only to absurdist humor. But now, having seen Ted Kennedy, John Ashcroft, Fox News (sorry, no Youtube available), ABC News and CNN --to name only a few of our paragons of government and media--commit the same error, the 30 Rock joke starts to look more sad and prescient than absurdist.

Luke Henry--L.E.S. Artiste

The picture is of Luke Henry. He's running to unseat Sheldon Silver from the New York State Assembly, a hardly august body Silver has called home for 32 years (nearly the whole of Henry's life), the last 14 of which Silver has spent as Speaker, an immovable force who never saw a Republican budget he couldn't quash. In an age of vicious upstate party politics, Silver has made new strides in partisan intransigence. His inertia has earned him even the wrath of even-keeled Mayor Mike.

Notably, Silver killed the West Side Stadium proposal, the linchpin to Bloomberg's ambitious 2012 Olympics plan, in the process breaking the hearts of Manhattan Jets Fans--and, oh, by the way, the strongest opposition voice to the development of the project belonged to the Cablevision company, which contributes to the Assemblyman's coffers and hooks him up with Rangers tickets. Then, Silver killed the Mayor's congestion pricing plan, though it would have generated mad revenue fo the city, eased traffic, and made summer days in Manhattan slightly less carcinogenic. Though both Governor Spitzer and the Iron Sheik to his "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Joseph Bruno, endorsed the plan, Silver had reservations.

Many people seem to be fed up with Silver--and we are living in the age of hope and change, after all; so, who knows? Maybe this fresh-faced, marathon-running, Big-law-schilling, prep-school graduate newbie can find a chink in the armor of one of the two most powerful men in Albany, a man who is of counsel at a personal injury law firm, despite the obvious conflict of interest presented by his resistance to tort reform measures in the State Assembly. But then again, I wouldn't bet on it. Henry has a secret anti-weapon. He has been endorsed by AA, prized reader of this blog, supreme political operator, a miniature Bob Shrum, a man whose touch is more Grim Reaper than Midas. The odds are against Mr. Henry. Let's do him--and AA--a favor, and lend our support. We are the ones we've been waiting for.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

look up schadenfreude in the dictionary...

and i believe you'll find this article there.

in other news, thank goodness 30 rock is back! yeah, i guess it was a little bit weak, but you gotta love "we no longer wanna hit that."

Friday, April 4, 2008

You, You Got What I Need

So, if you're even an occasional reader of the blog, you might've gleaned that I'm of South Asian extraction, a fact perhaps made clear--or at least not controverted--by my enthusiastic, albeit controversial, use of "cracker" and "redneck" in quotidian exchanges, but up until the age of 11--hand to teeny tiny baby Jesus in heaven above--I didn't know I wasn't white.

Those sad, awkward days I spent in Mr. Kennedy's 6th grade class, a school term memorable for the vicious literary skewering we--students and teacher alike--executed on school-mandated masterwork, Come Sing Billy Joe (which Amazon sells in whimsical Spanish form as well: Sal a Cantar Jimmy Jo!).

At this point in my life, my goals were three-fold: I hoped to add a Ferrari to my Micro Machines collection, I wanted a pair of Reebok Pumps like Will Rivers wore, and I prayed that I'd wake up one morning in the corporeal form of Shock G, fake nose, honeys and all. Yes, wayward white, suburban youth that I misapprehended myself to be, I prayed at the altar of rap music (the expression "hip hop" would still be a Tribe Called Quest album or two away from seeping into my consciousness).

Fast forward 19 years, and I have no idea where my Walkman-worn copies of As Nasty As They Want To Be or Sex Packets are--though, for the sake of nerdy admission--my original Pakistani record-shop, bootleg copy of Cube's seminal Amerikkka's Most Wanted rocks out in the glove of my '01 Corolla, so don't step. Fast forward 19 years, and the world is a complex place. The black-fetishizing, suburban white boy within me still cries for a pair of Girbaud jeans, but who's he supposed to vote for when 50's telling him that Obama's the path to race enlightenment at the same time that Snoop's saying Obama's fronting for David Duke? If Tone Loc and Biz Markie (see above) don't weigh in soon with an opinion, then I'm at a total loss, and may cast my vote for Marion Barry. What's a poser to do?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

They Schools

In an other life, one in which I provided the world with some modicum of benefit, the life I lead before I took up my current occupation (writing orders that turn out to be unnecessary, doing research for cases that settle before anyone looks at my incompetent work product) was a life marked by various hardships: 5:45 AM alarm bells, followed by a commute made up of multiple modes of transportation (bus, subway, foot) to a job that took years off my life and allowed me to use the bathroom only at designated times of the day.

I can't say that I miss the time I spent miseducating the Bronx youth--after all, there is no joy like the joy that comes with sitting in a temperature-controlled office, putting on your headphones and blasting Prince while reviewing some CEO's emails (emails which may or may not contain damning admissions of liability, but which most certainly contain pictures of bare breasts fashioned with Christmas ornaments--attorney client privilege prevents me from providing a link here). Well, there might be an equivalent joy, now that I think of it: the joy of being able to evacuate one's bladder at the moment the urge arises. Thank you, corporate America. Thank you for that.

Anyway, back to my previous life: one day, at some point in the middle of my first year, I was told that for the rest of the term a Mr. Yeats was to provide me with a Tuesday respite from my den of unruly little monsters. He was the Social Studies teacher, I was informed, but I had not yet met him; I had not heard mention of his name even in the course of my first three or four months. It turned out that Mr. Yeats had spent the better part of the school year, imprisoned in teacher's purgatory, a mythical place that I would later fantasize being dispatched to, and which I imagined as a cinder-block-lined room with dozing teachers and strewn-about copies of the New York Post.

Apparently, Mr. Yeats had been involved in some incident the previous year--a student had accused him of some crime or indiscretion, and until the matter was resolved, he had to live out his week-days, 8-3, in teacher's purgatory down near the UFT office in Brooklyn. What Mr. Yeats did was never made clear to me, but upon his return, he seemed hell-bent on not repeating himself: The man was the most oblivious, disengaged teacher I've ever seen in inaction. Literally, he stood at the chalkboard, with his back to the students, droning on about the Boston Tea Party. So many fights broke out during Mr. Yeats' "classes" I gave up yet another bathroom opportunity to sit at my desk, trying to impose some order.

Anyway, two things reminded me of Mr. Yeats today: this insane article about a teacher being cast off to the middling confines of what I imagine is Phoenix's teacher purgatory because she dared use masking tape to designate boundaries for some of her more active students, and this wonderful This American Life piece on "The Rubber Room"--the proper nomenclature for New York's teacher purgatory.