Tuesday, August 31, 2004

To my dear friends: you cannot have it both ways. I realize that my political reorientation may cause dizziness, nausea and disorientation among you, given its vertiginous speed, but consistency is still a virtue, whether I've displayed it myself or not. You must pick one area of political mockery of me and stick with it. You may not jeeringly ask me if I am going to be among the pro-Bush counter-demonstrators at the Republican National Convention (like those carrying the "BUSH A-OK" placards - nice argument!), and three minutes later shriek "Leftist!" too close to my ear if I haltingly advance some defense of humanist prison reform. Which is it, cherisheds? Am I still the purported cryptofascist who has bravely taken your collective pinko assaults for years, or am I now a more violent shade of pink than even you people? *Pick a line of attack and stick with it.*

Friday, August 27, 2004

As a devoted hypocrite, I occasionally slice people out of my life for agreeing with me, when what's being agreed upon is something I wish were not the case. In other words, if a criticism stings me because it is true, I am the only one permitted to voice it. Ben Kingsley's acting, I realized today though compulsive reading of all available reviews of his current film, is one such area. Mr. [Lord] Kingsley can chomp at a set sometimes. He can chew through some sturdy scenery. Acknowledged. However: state this and you have made yourself an enemy. You think he went over the top in "Sexy Beast"? Duh, of course he did. But if you ever even hint at this non-disputed fact in my presence, I will remove myself for your company for at least a year.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

It hasn't yet reached critical mass, not like e.g. "reticent" being used to mean "reluctant", but: everybody? Please don't use "aftermath" to mean simply "stuff that comes after something else". Chernobyl had an "aftermath"; winning a gold medal? Not so much.

(I realize that these usage quibbles are among my least popular postings, but who can teach a bird not to sing, or in this case a damaged hornet in a jelly jar not to buzz impotently against the Masonry?)

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Why should Usher have all the fun? Here is a confession of my own: I have worked for a bondcentric investment banking firm for over four years and, to date, still do not quite know what a bond is. This is roughly equivalent to, say, a furniture store employee being fuzzy on just what a "table" or "chair" might be.

Monday, August 23, 2004

In the latest stroke of what's become routine in Berkeley - the closing of chain stores and restaurants due to Berkeley's principled yet still irritatingly-executed preference for the local and independent - the always poorly-patronized Taco Bell on University Ave. has recently been shuttered. And in keeping with the tastes of the city's residents, its shell will be inhabited by a fledgling, locally-owned enterprise. A donut shop. Not quite a certified-organic greengrocer, but not Taco Bell either. Little problem, though: the name. Flakey [sic] Creme. What, STDonuts was taken?

[Owls! postings will appear at somewhat erratic times this week, daily readers may wish to note.]

Friday, August 20, 2004

"Yeah, these Olympics have been good so far, but what's the point if there's no one for me to be sexually obsessed with?" a wise friend said to me yesterday. Indeed, indeed. The Algerians here and there in certain swimming preliminaries have proved a brief diversion, but overall there's a shocking lack of standout dreamboats, and I consider this a failure on the part of the entire enterprise.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

I realize that slang terms should come about organically, that deciding to attempt floating a new phrase or usage is about as cool as picking one's own nickname. But Tom Brokaw said something in one of my dreams last night that I believe merits such an attempt. I propose, per Tom, using "futile" in the same countertraditional way "sick", "ill", "stupid" etc. have been used in their time, to denote something exceptionally well-executed and/or dominating. Example: "Have you seen that live King Crimson performance of 'Lark's Tongue in Aspic' they play sometimes on VH1 Classic? I thought I hated King Crimson, but Christ, that shit is *futile*." What do you say?

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Washington (state) has the most glamorous zip codes, if you ask me. 98104: doesn't it gleam with the same pristine, yet not at all inhospitable sheen that Seattle itself possesses? Tacoma's 98405: like rock candy, but flavored with essences of glacier & Kaffir lime. Other ZIPs hold their own charms, of course. Atlanta's 30303: peach pie, enit? But those crystalline Washingtons, they're peerless. Of the Northeasternmost ZIPs that begin with zeroes, the less said the better.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Ah, Mel. I thought we had a unified purpose, and that we were honest with each other in pursuit of our shared goals. In exchange for not being killed, despite being a spider domiciled in my truck, you were to aid me in at least lessening my titanic arachnophobia. I fell for you, Mel. I gushed about you. I sang you a song written just for you. I did not, let's revisit this critical point, kill you. And how have I been repaid? With your teeming offspring. I should've figured. I should've known there would be an egg sac involved somewhere, and that my new leaf turned would lead to dozens of wee Mels, transparent, squirrelly, and with crab-like little jumping-spider legs barely visible for their tininess. As I snuff your tender progeny with my thumb, I will dwell on your treachery, Mel, and it won't be pretty for your kind.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Quite by accident, I just learned that my ability to process news stories that I find crampingly dull, but which I feel it's important to read and absorb, is greatly enhanced when the story is "read" aloud in my head by a particularly frosty female BBC news announcer. I just got through a real tumbleweed of a piece about California's recent budget stalemate that, prior to introducing this narrator, I'd never've been able to finish. I call her Miranda. Thank you, Miranda, for this unexpected boost.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Most people are probably familiar with the lesser levels of book-borrowing hell, the tiers reserved for borrowers who hang on to a friend's book for a few weeks too long, or who dog-ear pages in books owned by non-dogearers, or return a book with a fresh coffee ring on the cover. Those sorts of mundane offenses. Sadly, I consort with much more advanced sinners, those who should resign themselves to an eternity into the darkest depths. Those who highlight passages they surely know I didn't like, with probable malice. Those who pen bratty margin comments in response to my margin comments. Just a few days ago, I became acquainted with the blackest category yet: a borrower who Sharpied certain of my comments (in a Trotsky biography, of all books!) out entirely. Just scratched black bars right over them. Scoundrel. You will burn.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Mmm, the cozy, warm feeling one gets when an unexpected pocket of ignorance is brought hissing out into the light. Guess what I learned yesterday? Why, "czar" and "tsar" are the very same word! Little babies know this, right? Turkeys, gazing up into the rain about to drown them, they know this too? I didn't. I thought "tsar" was reserved for Russian monarchs, and "czar" indicated someone who merely headed something at a national level, like our government's drugs and AIDS czars, among others, appointed to pointlessly committeeize* intractable problems. Good grief.

*or even better, to head up "task forces". God, I love a federal task force! The velvety futility, the ecstasies of self-congratulation!

Monday, August 09, 2004

My favorite 50 lyric: "Many men/many, many, many, many men/wish death 'pon me". Because of that "'pon", obviously. It's clear from how the lyric's recited that it was written that way, that the "u" isn't elided through his normal delivery. He elected to use a creaky poetic short-cut more often seen in English poets trying to force a line to scan properly. *He wrote down 'pon.* Why? Has he other such lyrics in the pipe? Will the next G-Unit joint bring us "You can try to hide/but I'll track ya down anon"?

Friday, August 06, 2004

In a long-overdue decision, my personal justice system is finally ready to prosecute a pernicious class of offenders, one which has been recklessly flouting universally-held principles of decency since the early 1990s. The matter has not yet reached the penalty phase, so punishments have not yet been handed down. But, music journalists and commentators? If you have ever written or uttered the phrase "DJs are the new rock stars", watch. Your. Back.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

The drawbacks of the Bay Area's ongoing cocaine revival are ever-multiplying. For me, an avowed nonsnorter, parties are now almost unattendably irritating. There's the impossibility of getting anyone to focus on what you're saying. The supreme unattractiveness of the sinus conditions that arise. The second-hand embarrassment of hearing pallid indie rockers unironically refer to their beloved intoxicant as "yayo". And no one wants to eat anything, ever. The worst part, though, is how crowded the parties are. No one goddamn leaves. This means the host apartment gets uncomfortably packed with all of these cokefaces, and everyone's squeezing by everyone else. I happen to have a big rack. When I squeeze past someone, it's not my hip or my shoulder or even my ass that gets smeared across people. It's the rack. And when you inadvertently drag your breasts along the torso of someone who's all cokey? They, uh, they don't think it's inadvertent. I assume you can infer the rest.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

This here's a poem constructed entirely of (chronological, even!) wisps of unedited dialogue from an episode of "Antiques Roadshow" .
The use of grapes.
They were used as weapons.
They were placed in the fire to be near the burning wood.

The enamel is suspended, as it were.
The Oriental feel, the use of poppies.
I won't point it at you.

We're back on the floor.
We call it our valentine.
It tells us something about the desperateness.

You wanted to show off the fruit of the field.
Even pomegranates were used.

I shouldn't say it's broken, it's cracked.
Now, my question. How much credit can I take for how improbably credible it is? A lot, right? I get to take a lot?

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

No fresh hiatus today, just no time for a proper post - Owls! fans, your patience is saintly and faintly redolent of baby powder.

Monday, August 02, 2004

There are a few easily-recognized dangers associated with reading English novels of the nineteenth century: listlessness, glassy eyes, an elevated aversion to vermin. The lesser dangers, however, are no less threatening to one's emotional well-being. One may emerge from several hermetic hours with "Return of the Native" and hear oneself ask, of a lovely boxer's owner, "How is he called?" rather than "What's his name?", and have to scuttle back inside one's residence to blush and smack own's own forehead.