October 26, 2006

So his gray hair is older than I am

Recently I've been getting even more spam than usual. Today, on a lark, I decided to read one of them, and BOY HOWDY am I glad I did. After a bit about selling me some European stock (I think), the end of the email contained a quantity of text having nothing to do with stock and little to do with anything else. The text is oddly moving, in addition to being flat-out hilarious. The sentences read like something out of a Don DeLillo novel or a Radiohead liner note. Here's one example:
I was driving home in rush hour traffic, on the highway,in the rain, in the left lane.
In summary - everything. Here are some ideas to break through writer's block. Here are some ideas to break through writer's block.
Man she was a tyrant.
So his gray hair is older than I am.
He likes to make like the mailbags are answered by us collectively, but anyone who knows us quickly realizes that the replies are way too nice to come from me or Steve.
Greg Mankiw spotted an article about the Pigou club in the New York Times.
What is the GMAT and how can you prepare for.
Here are some ideas to break through writer's block.
Those guys were definitely our biggest fans and talked the site up more than we did.
: Pas de nouvelles, bonne nouvelle ? We used to make fun of her old-maid status. Trapper got his own special Christmas message from a herd of Elk that crept into his living room and baked a bunch of pies while he was tucked away, dreaming of sugar plums. So his gray hair is older than I am.
In summary - everything.
Greg Mankiw spotted an article about the Pigou club in the New York Times.
The ride is excellent. Alpha zebra foxtrot decca!
Humanity is not ready for FT to have an army of judo chop robots.
As more and more search engine algorithms evolve into complex, human-centric logics, they seek content that is relevant to the search conducted by the surfer. So, because I am too busy impressing the Texas sweethearts with my strut, there are no new reviews this week.
: Pas de nouvelles, bonne nouvelle ?
Actually, we will still be doing FT reviews but we will just not be showing them to you.
Maybe then the squirrels will stop bothering me.

I can't put into words why I love this so much; I can only hope someone else appreciates it half as much as I do. Maybe then the squirrels will stop bothering me.

October 24, 2006

let's talk about bums

One distinct memory I retained from my visit to the west coast a few years ago was the abundance of bums, relative to the east coast. Sure, Atlanta, D.C., and NY have their vagabonds, but their number pales in comparison to the hordes of panhandlers populating the Pacific coast. My visit to Seattle earlier this month reinvigorated this perception. I suppose it's just good business for bums to hang out in areas populated with young liberals.

Probably because of all the competition, many west coast vagrants have turned panhandling into something of an art form. To accomplish this is itself something of an art, because if their schtick becomes too involved, then suddenly they're performing a service rather than just asking for free shit. And then they're not bums, no matter how bad they smell. In this vein, here are my 3 favorite bum-related stories from Seattle:

(1) One woman asked us if we would give her some of our money. We lied and said we didn't have any on us. Undeterred, she brazenly asked, "you got a debit card?" Rather than bury ourselves in another lie, we kept walking.

(2) The next day, a dude near the fish market took the opposite tack. He rolled up and asked if we had any money (to give him, presumably). Again, we lied and told him we didn't. Instantly, he said, "oh okay, that's cool" and walked away. I can't imagine this technique helps him earn anything, but it sure was refreshing.

(3) Our last night in the city, a Sunday, a friend and I were trolling downtown Seattle for bars. I guess we were near the financial district or something, because nothing seemed to be open on a Sunday night. We stood on a street corner and quietly discussed our dwindling options. As we stood there, a bum approached from the block above us, and immediately started telling us where some bars were: "well you've got [Bar X] down the street, [Lounge Y] a block over on [Jerk Street], and [The Z Hole] down the hill on [Bullshit Ave]". Or something like that. The weird thing was, there's no way he could have heard what we were talking about before he started helping us. It really sticks in my craw that he merely assumed two twentysomethings in downtown Seattle at 11:00 on a Sunday night were looking for a bar. Stupid bums.


There aren't so many bums in New York these days. Rudy Giuliani is famously responsible for this, although I'm not sure exactly how. Apparently he just kicked them out and sent them to Jersey or something. But here's what confuses me: if he did this, how come there are still a few bums scattered around the city? Were they friends of the mayor? Did they call in a favor? Maybe he held some kind of Bum Olympics and instead of a gold medal the winners got to stay in New York. I can't imagine the ones that are still here are here because Giuliani's anti-bum patrol couldn't find them- they sleep on First Avenue for pete's sake.

Also while I was in Seattle, the earbuds for my iPod stopped working. Upon returning to NYC, I was about to throw them away when I realized that headphones/earbuds are an awesome bum deterrent. Now when I go to work, I always have my earbuds in my ears, even though I'm not actually listening to anything. Rethink, Reuse, Recycle- that's my motto!

October 20, 2006

My Most Ambitious Project Yet

Reason #2 Why Elvis Costello is Lots Cooler Than You'll Ever Be

Earlier on the same North American tour where he refitted the lyrics to "Less Than Zero", Elvis found himself, with his new touring band The Attractions, in New York City. The Sex Pistols were supposed to be playing Saturday Night Live that weekend, but some shady influences prevailed upon NBC to yank their performance. NBC instead booked Elvis Costello & The Attractions as a last minute replacement.

NBC told Elvis to perform "Less Than Zero". When their time came, the band played a few bars of the song, then abruptly switched to an unreleased song called "Radio, Radio", an angry tune protesting the commercialization of Big Radio (Elvis was quite ahead of his time in this respect. This was before Rush covered some of the same ground and eons before the (recent) Sony Payola scandal). Anyway, the video of his performance can be seen below.

Let's face it: even if you tripped over a guitar and accidentally wrote two awesome songs, you still wouldn't have done that to NBC. The performance resulted in Elvis getting banned from SNL for 12 years. Happily, though, Lorne Michaels eventually mellowed out, permitting Elvis and The Beastie Boys to recreate the incident (with Elvis interrupting The BBs' "Sabotage") for the 25th anniversary special in 2000.

And while I'm at it, I should mention that the Dallas version of "Less Than Zero" was actually performed at a show in Canada, not in Dallas. The worst thing about telling other people's stories is that it's incredibly easy to be called out for fudging the details...

October 17, 2006


However sadly I may have failed, I have so far tried to make every one of my meager blog entries interesting in some way or another. All that ends now.

As part of my ongoing project to keep updating Certain Blogs without actually adding any substantive content, I've decided to display, in the right margin, the title and author of whatever book I'm currently reading. In doing so, my hopes are twofold:

(1) Perhaps one of my readers (now approaching double digits!) will recognize and have something insightful or snarky to say about whatever I'm reading, and will feel comfortable doing so. (This just occurs to me: I'm too dumb to program any sort of separate comment section for the current book thing. So go ahead, imaginary reader, and attach any book-related comments to whatever asisine blog entry about fast food or bodily functions I happen to have posted most recently.)

(2) Hopefully the knowledge that, on any given day, as many as 3 people might know what I'm reading will motivate me to read more books. It'd be awfully embarrassing if Debbie Does Dallas (Now a Major Motion Picture!) languished on my webpage for more than a couple of days.

That is all.

October 12, 2006

An actual blog

So I've been without a computer or internet access for a couple of weeks. Sorry. I should have computer access, but a lot less free time, now that I've started work.

Anyway, I'd like to begin a continuing series about Elvis Costello and why he's so goddamn cool. I know I just called Tom Waits the coolest god damned man on planet Earth, and I'm not ready to take that away from him, so Elvis will have to be satisfied with the title of My Personal Hero. So.

Reason #1 Why Elvis Costello is Lots Cooler Than You'll Ever Be

In the late 1970s, on the success of his debut album "My Aim is True", Elvis toured the United States. These days, this album is best known for the song "Alison", but the single that first gained him notoriety was "Less Than Zero", the first of his many erudite, long-winded political rants. While traveling to a show in Dallas, Elvis decided to rewrite the lyrics to be about the JFK assassination, simply because he's lots cooler than you'll ever be. I'm notoriously bad at interpreting lyrics (I, like Homer Simpson, assumed "You Light Up My Life" was about a man), but so far as I can tell, Elvis imagines that the true target of the assassination was one of JFK's bodyguards, whose wife was cheating on him. Among the lyrics:
Jenny takes her clothes off in succession,
While her husband rides a bumper in the President's procession.
She sees him on the screen as she looks up from giving head.
When he's had enough of that her lover throws her on the bed
to teach her she's alive and suddenly he's dead.
A pistol was still smoking, a man lay on the floor.
Mr. Oswald thought he had an understanding with the law.
She's got rubies on her fingers, Jenny turns and looks away.
Her mind upon a basement out of the USA.
She says, "Let's talk about the future now we've put the past away."
(Regarding the first couplet of the second exerpt, it warrants mentioning that Elvis is British, so he has that weird way of making "law" rhyme with "floor". Just so you know.)

And just for the hell of it, here are some facts about Elvis Costello that, while not quite evidence that he's better than you, are nevertheless fun and/or interesting:

- Elvis's backing band for his first album was Clover, which later added a lead singer and changed its name to Huey Lewis and The News.
- The Bret Easton Ellis novel Less Than Zero was named after the Costello song, although the stories have little in common besides some good old moral bankruptcy. Ellis later wrote American Psycho, which you probably didn't read. But you sure did like the movie.