Monday, June 30, 2008

"I'm not angry, just disappointed"

Just as I was starting to develop a semi-earnest interest in the election I came across this stultifying bit of news:

Obama Supporters Take His Name as Their Own

I might be more inclined to vote if I didn't run the risk of standing in line next to idiots like these.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

To Know Thyself, Know Thy Family

I recently sent a letter to my maternal grandmother. My mother has always been vague and dodgy about her side of the family, and I've never had any quality sit-down time with any of her relatives, so I was curious. I received a phone call not three days thereafter and had a wonderful conversation with my grandmother. I learned that her grandparents were Lithuanian (paternal) and Ukranian (maternal) Jews who came to America in the late 1800s. I also learned that my grandmother divorced my grandfather, Jim, 11 years before he died at the age of 65 and 10 years before I was born. He was a heavy smoker and suffered from severe hypertension. But perhaps most interesting, I learned that my second cousin once removed (my great-great-grandmother is his great-grandmother) is Dr. Richard Alpert, better known as Baba Ram Dass. He was a psychology professor at Harvard University in the early 1960s and happened to work side-by-side with Timothy Leary. He also ended up writing a book called Be Here Now in 1971. Here's a clip of Ram Dass in 2005 (he had a stroke in 1997, hence his dramatic pauses):

Strangely, I actually picked up his book in the Strand several weeks ago before knowing any of this and I almost bought it. Life is pretty crazy.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Robot Love

Pixar has really outdone itself with Wall-E. Elegant and simple in a way that only a children's story can be, Wall-E manages to turn the horrifying aftermath of consumer fetishism into a poignant love story. In a future where humans have abandoned this planet, leaving nothing but mountains of garbage and a haze of pollution, imagine the old cassette recorder you bought at Goodwill falling in love with an iPod.

Centuries after he has been forgotten, Wall-E continues to dutifully toil away at cleaning up our garbage and as heartbreaking as it is to realize how complete and profound his solitude is, there is something delightful in watching the transgressive pleasure he takes in adding unusual or unique objects to his personal collection. Fascination with the Other has long been a staple of children's stories - think of the Little Mermaid's collection of found objects - and Wall-E, freed of any cultural or societal context, develops his own criteria for what constitutes a worthwhile object; a diamond ring is discarded but its hinged box elicits a series of contented chirps (sound design by Ben Burtt of R2D2 fame) from the little robot.

Just as Wall-E the robot learns about love from a VHS copy of Hello, Dolly, Wall-E the movie borrows heavily from previous children's movies as well as from more adult science fiction classics and literature, liberally incorporating influences and ideas into a sleek and satisfying package that is at once both new and familiar. When Eve, a probe robot searching for life, arrives on Earth, it is no surprise that Wall-E falls instantly and irrevocably in love with her; she is everything he has ever wanted. Coy and seductive, elegant and powerful, Eve is the perfect combination of both form and function in Wall-E's unabashedly adoring eyes.

While it is not a perfect film (minimal human involvement in the last half slightly detracts from the whole) Wall-E is as close as you're likely to get in a G-rated summer film; easily digestible yet compelling romance combined with thrilling visuals and sound design (I saw it in a DLP projection theater - amazing). Highly recommended for anyone with a thing for love songs, loners, and the long term implications of consumer culture.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona on the Horizon

Woody Allen's newest; I think it's about kissing.

Something to look forward to.

Also, the longer American trailer.

Album Review: Home Schooled: The ABCs of Kid Soul

The Numero Group's Eccentric Soul series compiles the forgotten treasures of American regional soul labels in neat little compilations complete with meticulously prepared liner notes, discographic information, and rare photos. Each set chronicles a particular small town label or soul sub-genre and though they occasionally lack consistency, I have yet to find one that doesn't contain at least half a dozen gems.

Given the company's track record, I purchased 016 Home Schooled: The ABCs of Kid Soul without reservation. Aside from the promising cover art of an unsmiling preteen dutifully playing the drums in a suit and tie, the set featured "Sweet Pea" by Altyrone Deno Brown, the most haunting and memorable track from 003 The Bandit Label; if half of the songs in the set lived up to that track, the purchase would be worth it. I unwrapped the CD on the walk back to the car, eagerly anticipating what I assumed would be a mix of lo-fi Jackson 5 imitations and spooky Langley Project-esque R&B; I was sure it was a can't miss.

Unfortunately, The ABCs of Kid Soul failed to deliver on nearly every level. Aside from "Sweet Pea," most of the tracks lack not only polish but also passion. Most of tracks are either woefully underwritten and poorly produced or completely lack any focus as they try to blend lyrics about recess and puppy love with more adult R&B tracks. The prepubescent vocalists sound lost and confused as they try to navigate their way through the poorly conceived visions of their adult producers and the songwriting itself is more amateurish than the singers. I imagine some poor kid in a rented studio, trying to balance an over-sized pair of headphones on his head, one eye on the lyric sheet and one eye on the expectant parent/manager in the booth, wondering how he got sucked into wasting his Saturday inside while all his friends play kickball.

Overall, The ABCs of Kid Soul is an occasionally intriguing novelty but one that wears very thin after only a handful of listens and the liner notes detailing the history of the groups (all of whom have excellent names like Little Murray & the Mantics and Jack & the Mods) have more of a lasting appeal than the songs themselves. If you're looking to get your eccentric soul fix, I advise you to try elsewhere.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Stereophonic Philosophy: Part One

On a cloudy day in June, a Rationalist and an Empiricist were strolling through a meadow, arguing about the meaning of the universe…

E: To say “the universe” is a linguistic trick. It’s a label we’ve invented for an absence we can sense. We can sense the unity of everything, but in reality it’s only a trick. We can only infer that if you add up every thing there is, you would achieve a sum, and this sum would be a sum, therefore, monism is true, but only according to a particular, describable perspective consisting of a certain truth-criterion; that perspective is yours, yet you do not see it as such, while that truth-criterion is merely absolute objective correspondence. Your thirst for necessity has led you down that oh-so-beaten path, followed by true Christians, only to conclude that language is not a tool, but evidence of our divine origins. According to you, what we know is all we know and all we can know. I'm afraid that the Earth was revolving around the Sun long before Copernicus.

R: Surely. But what else could it be but a linguistic trick? You’re betraying your belief, sir; you believe that there is something beyond your apprehension of it, beyond what you understand it to be. If there is, and certainly an untrained mind will tend to think this, then we are not so special and the universe is actually unintelligible. If intelligibility is real, if we can know and not simply believe, there must be truth that we can say is true without reservation.

E: What does it mean to say a truth is true without reservation?

R: It means that 2 + 2 = 4 on the moon and in a black hole. It means there is a domain wherein we exist and of which we can know things, not simply believe things. Furthermore, there can only be one domain, because as soon as we become aware of something, it becomes a part of it. To posit an outside is to bring the outside within the Absolute, to make it inside. Logically speaking, there simply cannot be an outside to our knowledge. There is non-being, certainly, but in terms of there being an ultimate reality we cannot access, this is nonsense. Positivity is prior and ultimate; all things are what they are and what they are not, this is true. But in order to not be, it must first be. To repeat, the suggestion that there is something beyond our ability to understand it is utter nonsense. Just because we did not know then that the Earth was going around the Sun does not mean they didn’t exist or were utterly unable to be understood as such. To be is to perceive, to be is to be perceived.

E: Bravo. Your recourse to ontology was exquisitely well-timed and executed. To make a claim about “being” is to assume a direction. It’s like a basic conditional statement; if this, then that. Assuming this ontology, then blah blah blah. For all we know, ontology is an utter fiction rooted only in our desire to eat, procreate, and shelter ourselves. All else is frivolous. This certainly seems to be the case in today’s world.

R: But who are we when we are able to assert something like that? To say that my ontology is an utter fiction is to be a language-using human in the thick of the question of being.

E: How am I in the thick of the question of being? As far as I can tell, I’m in the thick of talking to you, friend. This reality to me is primary. Who are you to be pontificating about being, anyway?

Their conversation veered into economics…

E: Economics is the language of organized human sustenance. How am I going to feed myself and my family? The assumed answer to this question is the condition of everything else within the realm of human experience…

R: (cutting in) But what if that isn’t necessarily the case? What if the idea of economics is a fiction; it’s a costume we wear, designed by the Masters who make the Rules. Who does it benefit to break down human life into a matter of eating and having a roof? The insecure neurotics and the Masters (who are often one and the same). I don’t need McDonald’s to remind me I’m hungry and I don’t need my landlord to remind I want to stay warm and dry.. The power-hungry people who are unsure of themselves as primarily plural beings are the ones who benefit by manifesting their ego-will through choices and actions driven by domination and directed towards expansion. Economics knows no modesty, but modesty is as fundamental as eating.

E: I don’t think so. I think eating is, shall we say, the most fundamental aspect of being. It’s the closest we come on a regular basis to being in tune with the ebb and flow of energy that is the cosmos.

R: Now you sound like me.

E: You’re a persuasive fellow. Would you agree that it is people who exploit people, not systems, just as it is people who kill people, not guns?

R: Yes and no. I do agree, but only with you, whom I know to not own a gun and not have a desire to. I do not agree with that assertion if the person making it is simply contesting gun control. It’s a shallow argument not meant for politics. To make it is to foolishly disregard the meaning of the gun, i.e. the reality that its primary purpose is to hurt and kill. It’s a totem of power. Every gun in every cop’s belt is an assurance that might makes right.

E: But doesn’t that ignore the difference between a society that agrees on common goals and rules by which to live its life and a criminal with a gun? The former’s sole purpose is to prevent the latter. You have executive might and corporate might. One originates in whimsy, the other in an agreed-upon system. If you concede that though a dictator obeys only his whimsy, a system of operations emerges according to his tendencies, then you cannot avoid the reality that societies require systems to function. However, humans are more than parts of a system; they are the authors of the system and further, are infinitely more complex than the system itself. If there is to be a system, let it be based on rules concerning common goals that pertain to a given group of people while fostering the greatest amount of freedom of expression and self-actualization.

Just then, E tripped on a molehill and fell on his face. R crouched down with concern in his eyes.

R: Was that supposed to happen?

E looked at the sky, then R.

E: I have no idea.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nader Being Nader

Nader: Obama "talking white"

Is Nader pointing out the, ahem, white elephant in America's living room or is he beating a long-dead horse? The Obama campaign seems to think the latter, while us Molly readers would tend to think the former. Considering how completely misunderstood Rev. Wright's various "remarks" were in the media, is it intelligent to raise such complicated issues in an arena driven by headlines and sound-bites? Is that the whole problem?

In other news
, Fritzl's trial will begin "this year." Maybe the movie will be out by then.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Naked Campaign

For several months now, illustrator Steve Brodner has been creating a series of short videos that combine clever animations, live political cartooning, and thoughtful campaign analysis for the New Yorker's online only section. Each short artfully interprets a specific campaign issue or political concept; for example, with the aid of a marker board Brodner shows how an "intellectual" candidate like Barack Obama can be transformed with only a few strokes into Abraham Lincoln, Adlai Stephenson, or Woody Allen in the public eye.

Some of Brodner's shorts are a little too clever for their own good (straight talk egg-spress salad flavored with Hamas...) but usually his low-key analogies and visual interpretations of campaign issues come across as both educational and amusing. The entire series is available here at the New Yorker site.

Poor Kobe

Just in case getting schooled by the Truth and serenaded by "no means no" chants in Boston wasn't bad enough, Shaq skewers Kobe with a vicious freestyle rap at a NYC open mic.

Check out the article and video at

Saturday, June 21, 2008

PiL on American Bandstand!?

Dick Clark. John Lydon. Absurd.

the Coney Island Annual Mermaid Parade

We came. We went. We saw. There were boobs and tassles and tails and fins and sequins and floats and wigs and body paint and heat and sweat and cool cars and starfish over nipples. A large hallelujah for the likes of glorious Coney Island.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I know there aren't too many sports fans on this blog -- but its hard to see Kevin Garnett turn into a whimpering ball of emotion (with "We are the Champions" in the background) and not get a little choked up.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

That time Jess tried to get a free cat from Sunnyside, Queens

For about three weeks now, I've been maybe a little obsessed with the free pets you can get off craigslist. Up until last week, I was only emailing people who placed an ad on craigslist to get more information or photos of the pet up for adoption. Then I found this way cute, almost all-white, 8-month old kitten that was FREE and came with a litterbox, cat litter, cat food, 2 cat carriers, and toys. This cat was situated up in Sunnyside, Queens, and was up for adoption because the landlord found out this kid had a cat when he wasn't supposed to. I emailed the owner to tell him I was interested and when could I meet this kitty. The owner, one Akiva Rabinowitz, emails me back saying he's going to be out of town for a week at a wedding, so we agree to meet up the following week.

A few days later, I get a voicemail from an obnoxiously, wheedling male voice, and initially, I think someone's playing a prank on me. But then this voice says "Ya, ummm this is Akiva and ummm something bad happened to the cat." He goes on to say the cat's really messed up, he thinks a neighbor let the cat fall out of a window, he's really upset, doesn't know if she's going to make it, etc. I immediately email him back, asking about the cat's status, and yesterday he leaves another voicemail saying the cat doesn't look too good. I email him again asking for details, and Akiva answers me with this email:

"Hey Jessica, I would tell you what happened but it is a really sad and disturbing story. I would not feel that it would be acceptable for me to tell you what happened without your consent or foreknowledge that it is an upsetting story. - Akiva"

Now I just HAVE to know what the hell is going on. I give him my firm consent, and recieve yet another voicemail this afternoon saying nothing about the details but that there is some kind of "a happy ending" for the cat. "Akiva! You're such a tease!" I think to myself as I write him yet another email asking for details, updates, theories, pictures, maps, ANYTHING. And FINALLY, I get what I've been waiting for: the dirty details and the sorta happy ending.

Everyone, here is the story of poor Nadia the cat, a feline I never met, and her owner, Akiva, a person I can't really picture myself befriending because we seem to be on opposite sides of a spectrum, and yet we were all (kind of) together in this epic cat-drama:


So the story of what happened is pretty horrific, but has a relatively happy ending I guess. As we discussed, I went away for the weekend for my brother's wedding in Michigan. My one and only roommate, who is also away in Florida, made copies of our apartment keys and gave them to our mutual friend, Ben, a film student at the New School. The day after I got to Michigan, right before my brother's bachelor party, I get a call from Ben saying "I found Nadia in the basement and she is dragging her hind legs and stuff is leaking out of her anus." I have always known Ben to be the practical joker type, so I hung up on him and plugged my phone into charge. The guys and I then left the hotel for the bachelor party and when I came back at 2:30AM, I had text messages from ben saying "Fuck you" and "In case you care Nadia fell out of one of the windows" and "I had to pay 50 dollars to take her to the Veterinarian asshole and they wanted 300 dollars to do xrays so I just took her to my house." Meanwhile, Ben has owed me over 100 dollars for the past six months and not made a single attempt to pay me back. I stayed up all night feeling horrified and at 7AM I told Ben to take Nadia to an animal hospital and not just a Vet and that I would give the hospital my credit card information so she could get proper care.

About 4 hours later, a Doctor called me and told me that Nadia had broken her back on the 7th vertebrae and would likely need surgery. My brother's wedding was that night so I just asked the doctor to keep her comfortable (administer pain and sedation medication) for the day. I changed my flight to come back on the 16th rather than the 18th so I could address the situation. The vet called when I got home and told me that I had several options: I could take Nadia home, but would have to keep her confined in a cage and clean her daily because it was too painful for Nadia to clean herself. Additionally, the vet said I would have to learn how to squeeze her intestines to expel her poop and that she would always just pee in
place because there was no way she could get herself into the litter box. Well, since I am a full-time student, that option was really out of the question, as the doctor said Nadia needed someone home with her at least 8 hours daily to care for her. The second option the vet offered was to take an MRI to get more specific idea of the nerve damage so that they could operate and repair the nerve and the vertebrae. The vet said this option would not guarantee that Nadia's condition would improve and that the MRI plus the Operation would cost $6,000 (Ohhh, New York City). Being a poor college student, that option was out of the question. Finally, the only option left was euthanasia. I told the doctor to keep her comfortable and cared for for one more night and that I would come in the animal hospital the following day with a decision.

So, after I woke up on tuesday, I made my way to 55th St between 9th and 10th Ave and was placed in a room without an examination table with several boxes of Kleenex tissues. A young, male veterinarian comes in and advises that I agree to euthanize her, given my inability to constantly care for her and lack of financial means to pay for a surgery that had the potential to worsen Nadia's condition. So, bawling my eyes out he handed over an authorization form to euthanize Nadia which I signed without even looking at. Naturally the last thing this vet said to me was that "you have a balance on your account." Still bawling my eyes out, I gave the lady at the front desk my credit card and as she proceeded to print an itemized invoice of all the care they had administered I asked her nicely to just give me my credit card receipt and throw away the invoice. I bawled on the entire taxi ride back to Queens. I spent yesterday calling family members and telling them, but every time I tried to speak I would just cry.

Then, today, at about 11:00 in the morning I got a call from the hospital. My stomached turned thinking that they were calling to tell me that the euthanasia was completed and to please pick up her cremated remains. However, instead the same doctor who recommended I euthanize her says "We have not euthanized Nadia yet. Over the course of her stay at the hospital, several staff members and a doctor had become quite fond of Nadia." He asked me if I would rescind the euthanasia authorization and instead adopt Nadia over to the hospital and that they would care for her. It was quite literally the happiest moment of my life in years. They faxed me a form and I filled out all the information and faxed it back. Overall, her treatment cost $1,860, but the fact that she was accepted by the most loving and caring environment possible made the cost immaterial. The only sad part is I no longer have the right to see her or get information about her condition. Luckily, she is in the best place she could possibly be and thank god it is not "kitty heaven."

Akiva Rabinowitz.

west coast

I just recently took a trip to the West Coast with Brian Canning. We were there for about two weeks. We took planes and buses for transportation. For accommodations, we contacted people via and arranged, beforehand, to sleep on their respective couches / floor for the time that we'd be in their area. It was a good time. Our first stop was Portland, Oregon. Portland is a lot of fun. It's very interesting. You can walk to anywhere in the downtown and it's home to more strip clubs than I've ever seen in any other city in the states. The beer is fabulous and the bike culture is absurd - every few blocks, it seems like there is some kind of used bike / rental bike shop; bicyclists tear down the street in their fixed gears and the first night we were in town we witnessed a mass rally of bicyclists, all gathered together with their bikes to apparently just mingle. While in Portland, we first explored the Old Town / Chinatown district in the downtown area. This area seemed deserted / dirty / home to many homeless and mentally ill people. I believe the city is trying to renovate the area and there is a massive mural on a building declaring that Old Town is the "new nightlife" of Portland - bold claim, indeed. Our host in Portland was a Portland State student in his last year at university who was exceedingly gracious and helpful. As a side note, I highly recommend the project - it worked for us throughout the trip and is a cheap, easy and more importantly exciting way to travel. We next explored the University district in downtown Portland - it's beautiful, full of expensive shops and clothing stores and chock full of good places to sit down and read. While sitting down in the PSU campus, a decorated van drove by blasting the Bee Gees. As the van approached, we saw a large man inside with a clown nose on, holding up a hand puppet out of his window and singing maniacally to the disco music on his radio. It seemed like this act was a part of the man's routine, somehow. We were miraculously able to meet up with UNH's own Brian McCarthy, Chris Mikes and Cutter while in Portland. With these gentleman we did some exploring and partying. We visited a karaoke bar (I believe called the Stardust Lounge?) where B Canning got beer cans tossed at him for singing (quite admirably) the Electric Six's song "Gay Bar". We also explored the Columbia River Gorge, a beautiful preserve forty minutes out of the city featuring amazing views, waterfalls, and excellent hiking opportunities. Rent in Portland (certain areas anyway) seems to be cheap - not much more, if more at all than Portsmouth, NH. There are many places to play and see music and no shortage of places to get food / a drink. On our way out of Portland, we had to desperately hail a cab ride in order to make our flight. The cab driver was a musician and aficionado of local music, specifically punk music. He directed us to our first and only views of Mount Hood and Mt. Saint Helens - both visible from Portland if the persistent cloud cover lets up. From Portland, Brian and I took a plane to San Francisco. This part of the trip was much different. Our hosts were not there when we arrived at 10 pm in the Mission District of San Francisco. We carried our luggage about twenty minutes to a pizza place and waited. Our hosts were a thirty-something couple, who ended up being incredibly nice / fun / quality guides to the area. The first night, this was not that apparent. It just so happened that the night we arrived our hosts were "partying their dicks off" at a local wine bar which was closing for good (this was the grand finale). They got horribly drunk. Brian and I were waiting for them outside their apartment when they arrived with two of their friends. One friend was a jaded lawyer, great guy, very talented musician. The other was a nice, albeit very drunk and stoned gay man who proceeded to proposition me in very direct ways for the entirety of the night. Brian and I were exhausted, but our hosts were in the mood to party, so from about 11 pm when they arrived unitil around 3 am it was social time. We spent much time in the bottom floor of the apartment, where Brian and I were grilled on our philosophical beliefs. I powered through several chess matches, losing miserably in both. During this time, I tried to ignore such comments as "have you ever sucked a dick?!" or "I tried going with a girl before...I had her, it was horrible...and then my brother had her..." coming from the previously mentioned friend of our hosts. The situation was, in retrospect more fun than frightening - it's just bizarre to meet someone for the first time when they are probably the most drunk / high they've ever been in their lives. Our first day in San Fran was scattered - we went to the Height / Ashbury area - a tourist trap, but home to quality hookah bars. We saw a great film "Indestructible," about a man with Lou Gehrig's disease. Later, we saw the Golden Gate Park - quite unkempt in the areas we visited and full of people trying to sell you pot. We put on the garb of true tourists and walked the Golden Gate Bridge, wherein Brian retrieved a 49'ers hat off of the road with a long stick and I felt the persistent irrational fear that I was going to be blown completely off the bridge (San Fran, especially when experienced on a bridge, is quite breezy and cool and I am apparently very scared of heights). We saw the new Indiana Jones movie at the beautiful and historic Castro Theater in the Castro District of San Fran, home to a large gay / lesbian population. San Fran was the only place i've visited where I was consistently aware that I was straight. San Fran, as I'm sure you have all heard, is hilly. This makes for good workouts if you're walking or biking the city and also makes for excellent and unexpected views of the surrounding areas once at the top of various hilly streets. Public transportation is a must to get around the city and it's not hard to figure out. The BART trains are the loudest things I've ever been on and are grossly fast. The Presidio area in North San Fran is mega rich, with golf carts, a public wine cellar and gated communities. San Fran has shops that sell local 'zines and has many smoke shops. Our last day in San Fran was spent at the SFMofModernArt (which was quality though small), the Cartoon Museum of art (highly interesting and entertaining) and the Chinatown area. Chinatown was massive and pretty disappointing - tourist traps and bad food - not at all able to match Boston's Chinatown. As a reluctant afterthought, we visited a strip club - Larry Flynt's Hustler strip club. It was a classy place and drinks were $2. It was about 5 pm when we entered. We spent a total of fifteen minutes in the club. The club was spacious, with the main circular dance floor surrounded by a bar and some floor tables and then several tiered dining areas in the outer section of the main room. Large bouncers walked the interior of the club. Brian and I had never been to a strip club before and went out of a nagging curiousity and desire to have the experience of going to a strip club. We did not want a lap dance. We just wanted to get a drink and take in the atmosphere. The first dancer we saw was named "Winter". She was beautiful and a skilful dancer. Brian and I sat very close to the dance floor and so we seemingly monopolized the dancers' attention. Winter coaxed Brian and I to the dance floor. We stayed at our table, attempting shouted conversation, having no clue how to navigate this new social terrain. Immediately once seated, two dancers walked over to our table and sat down with us. They broached conversation, stroking our backs, chests and faces. The one seated near me left us for a table of older, better dressed men. The previously mentioned Winter soon after came to our table and sat on my lap. I was eager to have a conversation with her but her face was pushing up against my glasses and so all of my comments had to be directed to the space of air several inches away from her eyes. She had just started, liked the place, said many of the girls were "bitches," were competitive, though it was a good place to work. I found it hard to talk to Winter in any kind of engaging conversation as there was always present this pending question "do you want a lap dance". Once that question was accepted or denied, conversation ended. I declined the dance, tipped her several dollars (not sure why, it just seemed like that's what you do), which she attempted to deny. During this time (Brian told me later), Brian's "girl" had apparently touched his nipple and put her leg against his crotch. Brian and I downed our Sierra Nevadas and left the club, not quite sure what to think but fairly certain we would not go to a strip club for quite some time. By the end of our stay in San Fran, I was not completely taken with the city but very eager to come back and explore more. The last leg of our trip was to the Long Beach area, where Brian and I split up to visit our respective uncles who lived within forty minutes of each other - mine in Lakewood and Brian's in Laguna Beach. It was refreshing to have an actual conversation with my uncle and to interact with him outside of the setting of a family gathering. I got drunk with my cousin and played much catch with my Uncle's labradoodle. Long Beach is fucking hot and there a palm trees everywhere. My aunt and uncle live in a cute suburban area, full of similar looking houses all built around the 50's. Rent is crazy expensive and you'd be hard pressed as a college student to live in the area. We visited the Sony studios where my Aunt complained a lot and where we walked through the set of a pending Beyonce Knowles film "Obsession". If you see it at some point in the future and see a scene picturing Beyonce's character's living room, I was in there. The studios had massive buildings where they'd construct the sets - scenes from the "Wizard of Oz" were filmed there / Adam Sandler had an office on the lot / parts of "Knocked Up" were filmed there / Mickey Roonie and Robert Blake worked there / Katherine Hepburn had margarita parties in a private dressing room on the lot. We got to see a massive building which housed painted or digital print back drops - these were the size of entire walls in a house and are used as a kind of green screen in films where they don't want / can't afford to always be on location and film actual settings. We later saw Sunset Boulevard and Beverly Hills. UCLA is right there and it's kind of just a big tourist area, though it's interesting to actually see it. Huntington Beach and Newport Beach were near my uncle's house. Again, a lot of tourists and also surfing. During my stay my uncle achieved feats of awkward conversation, saying out of the blue "does your dog ever throw up?" and later "so what do you think of Sheila?" (Sheila's my Aunt). I found out that my Uncle desires to be a talent agent for a Hollywood celebrity and that when he was a drag racer his makeshift crew team called him "dream weaver" because he would always fall asleep at the wheel during the overnight drives to the various race locations. I am glad Brian and I took the trip and recommend a visit to the West Coast to anyone reading this blog. Portland seems like a viable place to live, though San Fran also has potential.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

No one belongs here more than you

So I am going to be in California for a little longer than expected and so I'm glad I picked up a few books. I am in the middle of reading a series of short stories by filmmaker, performance artist, and author Miranda July. This is her second published set of shorts and her debut solo authorship. The other book, Learning to Love You More was coauthored with Harrell Fletcher. July's stories are quirky to say the least and range in context from sexual encounters to the odd scenario of elderly women getting swimming lessons in a narrators kitchen. No One Belongs Here More Than You was the recipient of the 2007 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Light in drama but extremely heavy in originality July's collection of short stories are really very beautiful and will leave you both semi-confused as well as laughing out loud. And, in quoting an Entertainment Weekly review of this collection: "Who will Miranda July's work appeal to? To borrow the name of her lovely first film, Me and You and Everyone We Know."

Here is a link to the website for this book, it's really kind of neat and wonderful: No one belongs here more than you. stories by Miranda July

If for some reason I find out one day that I am unable to have kids...

I am going to hunt this fucker down.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wedding Bells

This weekend I'll be attending my sister's wedding. Realistically, I'm not expecting antics on par with the epic Full House two-parter wherein Uncle Jesse's skydiving adventure lands him in the back of a tomato truck en route to the ceremony.... but you never know. I've been doing some research and am prepared for a variety of possible scenarios.

Such as a shark attack leading to newfound wealth and security for the bridal couple:

... or unexpected religious conflicts between families.

... or embarrassing relatives at the ceremony:

... or the groom having to prove himself to his new father in law by rescuing the bride from a pair of Mexican bandits:

As a member of the wedding party, I'm pulling for the last scenario. I can only assume that my position as a groomsman would make me a lock for inclusion in the groom's bandit hunting posse.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Winning Mentality

Apropos of Father's Day:

One day I hope I get to say something as profoundly inspirational to my own children.

Don't be offended. I have had a bad week.

So my father ended up in the hospital yesterday. He has COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) from smoking. Basically one of his lungs isn't working so well and he will probably be on oxygen from now on. As a result of this our (my mother, father and myself) arrival back to New England will be delayed by an undetermined number of days. In the meantime I have been feeling rather creative. After watching an episode of "True Life: I Work In The Sex Industry" my brother, David and I were inspired by one subject, a young man named Aaron who did gay porn, blew dudes, took cum shots to the face, etc. but was convinced that this wasn't "homosexual" and in fact it was just " a day job" and he "does it for the money". Aaron was conflicted about this complex he had and so he decided to tell all of his friends and family the truth about his "job". As a result no one really thought it was that great and everyone agreed that in fact it was "Gay". One man sucking on another man's erect penis is gay. There is no argument. So I decided to come up with some possible gay porn movie titles (inspired by actual Hollywood movies). Boredom increased and the titles expanded to heterosexual porn titles and even some possible porn television shows. Here is a list of some of my favorite titles:

"Butt Pirates of the Caribbean"
"Lord of the Cock Rings"
"Who Flamed Roger Rabbit?"
"Bum Rush Hour (1,2,3)"
"A Cockwork Orange"
"Good Will Grunting"
"Hot Teen Boyz in the Hood"
"Homo Alone"
"Homo Alone 2: Lost in the Pork"
"Citizen Cum Stain"
"Finding Nympho" or "Fucking Nemo"
"Monster Balls"
"Meat the Parents"
"Around the World With 80 Gays"
"Gayzed and Confused"
"Glory Hole Road"
"The Fast and the Curious: Tokyo Stiffies"
"Field of Wet Dreams"
"Gay Pride and Prejudice"
"Gaylords of Dogtown"
"There Will Be Studs/Cum"
"Malcolm XXX"
"The Trannysporter"
"The Tranny Diaries"
"Riding Miss Daisy"
"One in the Stink, Two in the Pink Panther"
"Bi-Bi Love"
"Primal Queer"
"Uncle Buckwild"
"The Bath House on the Left"
"The Chronicles of Big Dick"
"I Know Who You Did Last Summer"
"The Girl With the Pearl Necklace"
"Requiem for a Cream Pie"
"Hardened State"
"Peeing on John Malkovich"
"Five Easy Pieces (of Ass)"
"John Tucker Must Likes Guys"
"Romeo Must Be Bi"
"Rub Down and Out in LA"
"A Few Gay Men"--you can't handle the cock!
"Freak Me Friday"
"Fifty First Date Rapes"
"Mona Lisa's Wild"
"Ferris Bueler Gets Off"
"The Gang Bangs of New York"
"Ass Blast From the Past"
"Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter Gives Great Head" or "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Hot"
"Dante Peeks"
"Lake Flacid"
"Mary Cockblockins"
"Missionary Position Impossile"
"Sword Fight Club"
"Saturday Night Beaver"
"There's Something Inside Mary"
"20,000 Leagues Under the Seamen"
"Lost in Penetration"
"The Longest Nards"
"Nookie of the Year"
"Barely Legally Blond"

It's rather easy (I think to see which movies I am porn-parodying). See if you can come up with some. It's fun!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Making Headlines - Complete

The complete headlines from the "Ballads" section of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music. Outside links to the recordings provided beneath the headline when available; all songs 1927-1932.

The House Carpenter - Clarence Ashley
Drunkard's Special - Coley Jones
Old Lady and the Devil - Bill and Belle Reed
The Butcher's Boy (The Railroad Boy) - Buell Kazee
The Wagoner's Lad - Buell Kazee
King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O - Chubby Parker
Old Shoes and Leggins - Uncle Eck Dunford
Willie Moore - Burnett and Rutherford
A Lazy Farmer Boy - Buster Carter and Preston Young
Peg and Awl - Carolina Tar Heels
Ommie Wise - G.B. Grayson
Bandit Cole Younger - Edward L. Crain
My Name is John Johanna - Kelly Harrell
Charles Giteau - Kelly Harrell
John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Man - The Carter Family
Gonna Die With My Hammer in My Hands - Williamson Brothers and Curry
Stackalee - Frank Hutchison
White House Blues - Charlie Poole w/ The North Carolina Ramblers
Frankie - Mississippi John Hurt
When that Great Ship Went Down - William and Versey Smith
Engine One-Forty-Three - The Carter Family
Kassie Jones - Furry Lewis (link is to Lewis in '68)
Down on Penny's Farm - The Bently Boys
Mississippi Boweavil Blues - The Masked Marvel a.k.a Charley Patton
Got the Farmland Blues - The Carolina Tar Heels

A Guide to Napping

Sleep tight.

Rest In Peace

I just found out that Tim Russert passed away yesterday, apparently from a sudden heart attack.
Sundays will never be the same.

Drawn Blank Exhibition

Bob Dylan's drawn blank exhibit opens this week in London. Click here for details and a slide show of paintings. Fun stuff?

Friday, June 13, 2008

I'm just as unsure on the the "how" end of it --

Topics of Discussion

I just spent an hour or so talking with my grandfather in the driveway. Topics of conversation included but were not limited to:

chiggers/ticks/mosquitoes and all manner of insidious pests; the automatic weapon he got to fire at a family reunion; FDR; a possible rabbit infestation under his shed; fond remembrances of a busty woman he saw jogging several decades ago; a 1939 Johnny Pesky rookie card; Libertarians; the elephant skin belt he wore sometime in the 1960s; dental hygienists; skipping his high school graduation to leave for Navy boot camp; rhubarb; researching local politicians on Google; the end of the world; knee injuries; turkeys; and a dog he used to own with a penchant for barking at people of Arab descent.