I've been to the Scientology Mecca.
While inside, I watched a short film about Dianetics. It felt like watching Triumph of the Will. Psychiatrists were shown performing lobotomies and doctors were shown completely ignoring the well-being of their patients. L. Ron Hubbard was treated like a deity, or like George Steinbrenner on Seinfeld, in the fact that his face could not be shown. But he did have a street named after him...
The genius of Scientology is that they make it seem like a self-help thing, before you later find out about Xenu and thetans...After the movie, a man tried to draw a diagram of the mind for us, but instead we left for Griffith Park where I got my picture taken on a hoverboard (sort of) outside that famous tunnel (paragraph 3).
Sunday, December 31, 2006
I've been to the Scientology Mecca.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Location: Westfield Mall Movie Theater
Lester spotted Jon Lovitz walking in front of us as we were walking towards the theater. Naturally, I decided to speed up my pace and ended up just a foot or two behind him as he entered the lobby of the theater. Despite my proximity, however, Mr. Lovitz did NOT hold the door for me. He proceeded to the automatic kiosk and picked up his ticket before walking into Charlotte's Web alone with nary a peek behind him.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Location: Hollywood Park Casino
A black man is wearing a t-shirt commemorating the life (and death) of James Brown, including his lifespan in big letters (1933-2006).
White Man: Oh, James Brown, he died, right? How old was he?
Black Man: Can't you see my t-shirt nigga?
White Man: Long live the King of Rock and Roll, eh?
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
It's barely worth discussing, but My Super Sweet 16 is a revolting show. Except for that time where Kanye performed at this kid's party and then P Diddy talked about how he was so proud of his god son and that he taught him how to party.
What better way to celebrate Christmas than with a sick marathon of materialism? It's especially amusing that the parents (at least in the three 3 lifetime episodes I've seen) are all self-made people living the "American Dream" and then spoiling their kids rotten. Wonderful. MTV is quite a network. But hey, the market demands it...
Sunday, December 24, 2006
You know what, being a prisoner in Alcatraz really didn't seem that bad. I mean you could get any reading material you wanted from the library, and you had SO much time to read! And the views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge are just lovely. And supposedly the food was pretty decent.
On my way off the boat, one of the guys gave me a very half-hearted "Welcome to the Rock." I loved it.
Merry Christmas from California, where palm trees double as Christmas trees.
Addendum: Actual Rod might find it of interest that I shared my trip to Alcatraz with the entire Southern Illinois Salukis basketball team.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
...back back to Cali Cali. Leaving this afternoon, will be back in NYC on December 30th. Any recommendations for places to go in the San Fran/Oakland area? Also, any good places to stop on the drive from Carmel to Los Angeles?
At dinner tonight:
Me: Gee, I really want a gray sweater and a navy blue sweater. But I bet that the post-Christmas sales will make them much cheaper, so I might as well wait it out.
Mom: Yeah, you're right Rich, I'm sure those sales will be great.
An hour later:
Mom and Dan give me a gray sweater and a navy blue sweater respectively. But Mom had played it so cool at dinner! And Dan was simply thoughtful. Thanks guys.
I quickly started talking about the Nintendo Wii, along with some ties and shirts that I had been looking at...
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
As part of our meal, Jen and I decided to share a Sushi Deluxe that came with 9 pieces of sushi, 1 hand roll, and 1 regular roll. But since each piece of sushi was different, the dish could not simply be divided evenly. Thus, the most equitable course of action was a Sushi Draft! Jen earned the first pick.
Jen: I'll take salmon.
(Jen eyes the Spicy Tuna hand roll, thinks for a second grabs it.)
Rich (aggressively): Whoa, whoa, I didn't think that hand roll was in play!
Jen: Are you serious?
Rich (sheepishly): Uh, yeah...I mean we can split that...it only seems fair, right?
Jen: Fine, Red Snapper.
This may be old news to some of you, but just two weeks ago, Bruce Tinsley, the creator of Mallard Fillmore, was arrested a second time for an alcohol-related incident in the past four months. Now we all hit the sauce every once in awhile, so I am not here to vilify him for that. However, after reading about the incident, I read a little more about Bruce and his creation. I had always considered Mallard to be "just another mediocre daily comic strip with little meaning beyond trying to perfect the form of the lowest common denominator joke." Well it turns out that I was wrong! Tinsley's strip is actually extremely political. Tinsley uses the comic to disseminate right-wing propaganda. Lovely, eh? Maybe Hagar the Horrible has some conservative tendencies too?
Here are some of the "best" strips from this treasure trove of cartoonish thinking (thanks Dan):
Pity Fox News and the people who need more conservative reporting
New York Times? More like New York pinko, atheist, liberal bastards!
How to beat the rap if you get caught doing something wrong in a car...
Tinsley must have forgotten to follow his own advice!
Monday, December 18, 2006
It's finally time for you to vote for the best pitch for the best NFL Super Bowl commercial ever. I have been telling all of you about this contest for weeks now so please indulge me by watching some of these pitches. There are 12 in total, but you have to choose your favorite one. To go directly to voting, click here. The ones that I like best are Abe and Craig. Sadly, the "Baby Free Agent" idea didn't make the final cut.
And we also have a new game called "Playoff Bandwagon." Raiders fans might like it.
PS: I know that mine was better, but I wasn't allowed to compete. If you'd like to see what I came up, leave a comment or e-mail me.
Or so this article seems to say (thanks to Noah for sending it). I agree to a large extent. Although I don't think that EVERYONE has the potential to be a Chess Grandmaster or a PGA golfer, I think that a lot more people than we think have this capability. They just have to work very very hard for a very long time...
Once upon a summer, my friends and I used to frequent a mediocre Chinese restaurant in Rockefeller Center called Manchu Wok about twice a week. Every time we walked in, each of us would get a nice greeting of "Hello young man."
Flash forward 4 years to the present day when Dan and I make a triumphant return:
Woman in charge: Oh, hello, long time no see young man (spoken as it looks in the title of this post)...how are you today?
Me: Good, it's nice to be back. I'll take the combination plate with...
Woman in charge: White rice, chicken mushrooms, beef broccoli, chicken broccoli.
Me: Wow, that's amazing that you remembered my order!
Woman in charge: Of course I remember orders of all young man that come in here.
(After we start eating, a 40-year-old man starts demanding $10 in change from the woman)
40-year-old: Give me my $10 back! I paid with a $20 bill.
Woman in charge: No you didn't young man, you paid with a $10.
Woman in charge: $10 young man, sorry you will have to leave.
(After some more heated debate, another customer in his 40s speaks out in favor of the woman, and she says "Thank you young man." The guy finally leaves. A woman in her 50s walks up to the counter.)
Woman in charge: Hello young lady, how are you today?
I had never heard the second woman who works there say a word before. Dan was trying to bus his tray when he heard a cry from behind him that got his attention. Naturally, this woman's first words to us were: "YOUNG MAN!"
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Thanks to Kingspawn (and Tom) for alerting me to the absolutely remarkable story of the world's tallest man, Bao Xishun, saving the lives of two dolphins by pulling pieces of plastic out of their stomachs. For his next trick, he will reach into the cabinets above my refrigerator without standing on his tippy toes...
Also, if you have a chance to visit the MoMA before March, you should definitely check out this exhibit about the construction of the new CCTV and TVCC buildings in Beijing. They are true architectural marvels. And while there you should also see the Manet exhibit about the Execution of Maximilian. I found all the different accounts and interpretations of the actual execution to be fascinating. Especially the French newspaper accounts glorifying Maximilian.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Courtesy of Ken Jennings, I have stumbled onto a challenge that David Sklansky posted on twoplustwo.com. While I agree with him that it is not a good idea for people to be involved in organized religion, I think his challenge is pretty silly. Jennings does a pretty good job of making this case, but I will add that Sklansky's arrogance is sort of bizarre. He talks about how he wants to make this bet to prove how he's so much smarter than these ridiculous protestants, but he will not take on math professors...I thought it was all-comers if they could pass the polygraph? Further, using the SAT or GRE (even with half the time) does not make that much sense. Those questions are far too easy to prove anything about the VERY intelligent, which seems to be his main purpose, proving that no true Protestant can be very intelligent (e.g. smarter than Sklansky the genius).
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The New Yorker has a fascinating article about the Bible publishing industry. Everyone knows that the Bible is the best-selling book of all time, but did you also know that it is the best-selling book in the country EVERY YEAR?! Look at the top of the Fiction list sometime...
This story also led me to look up the "Revolve Bible." This is a Bible dressed up as teen-girl magazine. It looks like a brilliant parody, but amazingly it is real. Look for gems like this:
Q: What do you think about girls and guys praying together?
A: There are exceptions, but usually it’s pretty sketchy. I’d avoid it until you’re engaged.
(Revolve, p. 342)
Another nightmare is brewing in Africa. Somalia and Ethiopia may go to war. Not surprisingly, America is tacitly(?) supporting the Ethiopians against the new Islamic government in Somalia. This government has done some very good things to clean up Mogadishu, but then again, didn't Benito Mussolini get the Italian trains to run on time? Passages like this are especially troubling:
One Islamic leader in a town north of Mogadishu recently issued an edict threatening that anyone who did not pray five times a day would be beheaded.The problem here, as in Palestine is that these Islamic governments have popular support. America can't just go to every country where it doesn't like the government and force regime change. And they wonder why people hate America? There has to be a better way to approach these situations (political scientists and Actual Rod help me out here?). Finally, the worst thing is that a lot of the people in Somalia and other Islamic strongholds are probably pretty moderate, but get swept up in all this garbage because the situations are too predicated on confrontation.
“It’s black and white,” said the leader, Hussein Barre Rage. “The Koran says people must pray.”
“I’m not into thought control,” said Dahir Abdullahi Hirsi, a pharmacist in Mogadishu. “But I hate Ethiopians even more.”
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
It looks like my friend Kai has quite a future as a food critic. Enjoy his excellent performance here in this episode of "What Am I Eating?" from Huge in Asia. You can also read Kai and Nate's blog here. It looks like things are going swimmingly so far in Hanoi.
Seeing as I have been spending an inordinate amount of time watching these two shows, I found this little tidbit from the Arrested Development Wikipedia entry to be of interest:
The character of GOB was the most challenging to cast. When Will Arnett auditioned, he depicted the character in an interesting way, different from expectations. The casting for the role of GOB came down between two actors in the end — Will Arnett and Rainn Wilson (now appearing on the American version of The Office). Ultimately, the part went to Arnett.Obviously Wilson's portrayal of GOB would have been vastly different, but I still can't imagine that it would have been as good as Arnett's. He's just brilliant in that role. Although something about George Michael's complete and utterly innocent awkwardness makes him my favorite character probably.
For the one of you who is curious (you know who you are), I just finished the final episode of Arrested Development and I have four episodes left to watch in season two of The Office (before I start season three). Also, I thought that the early plot in season three of AD was a little weak, but that the last few episodes were among the funniest of the series.
The good guys are the small business entrepreneurs and the bad guys are the monopolists. Since players do not play by the same rules, fairness is achieved by a patented probability technique, has given each side equal chances to win.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Now that I'm a Blogebrity, I better start acting like one. This means saying goodbye to old friendships and only hanging out at Gawker and other blogs that you rabble have never heard of. Dan and Delino, I hardly knew ye. It also means hiring a publicist, an agent, and a stylist (it's a good thing that I already decided to get my haircut today!). Any takers? And can you paparazzi stop hounding me already? It's really getting old. I'm not gonna do the "Beriched" look for you more than 5 times! Take a hint.
But wait, maybe I'm being too harsh, does anyone want to be part of my Entourage? That leaves the possibility for retaining three friends. Four if you count Ari.
I am officially a Blogebrity. In wonderful news, I recently became a C-List Blogebrity, on a par with such other blogging luminaries as Aaron the Truck Driver, The Hot Librarian, and Office Monkey Blog! I'd mostly like to thank myself for getting my name out there and writing the blog. But my readers have been helpful as well, with their occasional comments.
Finally, I would like to thank my brother Dan, the mastermind behind Delino, for inspiring me to blog. Next stop, The B-List! Watch out London Cokehead...
(Note: I am listed as "Rich (Not About Marquis Grissom)")
Monday, December 11, 2006
Or else you might get relegated to the dustbin of comedy. Just ask Aristophanes:
It's not that my material isn't strong. Come on! You don't win competitions at both the City Dionysia and the Lenea if you don't know how to work a room. Yet people only seem to like that Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey baloney. Lowest-common-denominator nonsense. You think anyone's going to remember Larry The Cable Guy in 2500 years?
A little while ago, Tom told me that Rod Carew wasn't really Jewish. Adam Sandler lied to us impressionable youths. BUT, do you know who really is Jewish? American Idol judge Paula Abdul! Like me, you may have always thought of her as vaguely Latino, but she's as Jewish as Woody Allen and Moses.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
This is a poem I wrote in 10th grade. I guess I was destined to go to Yale. Also, maybe I should have submitted this to the Trumbull lit mag:
a glorious autumn afternoon,
when the leaves had changed their shade.
Two teams set out to mark each other's ruin.
The Eli and the Crimson
had met like this before,
each game a major battle
in their never-ending war.
The coaches screamed like generals,
their troops obeyed strict orders.
The Harvard men struck first,
crossing over enemy borders.
The first half came to a close,
with Harvard ahead by nine.
But the warriors from Yale returned to battle,
with vengeance on their minds.
The Elis roared back,
with a fire deep inside.
Their defense roamed the field,
with a lion's ferocious pride.
It came down to one final play,
a life or death decision.
The quarterback threw a desperate pass,
it landed with precision.
The Yale faithful stormed the field,
behind the setting sun.
Yale had won the battle,
but the war was far from done.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Rich, Dan, and Finnegan are walking up 3rd avenue on 21st street discussing the absurdity of the Iraq war.
Dan: It's crazy how many people have died out there.
Finnegan: Yeah, I heard in the new Lancet report...
Enter an educated, bald, goateed gay man on steroids (wearing his sweatpants from the gym).
Gay man: 500,000. 500,000 people have died in Iraq. Civilians. Sorry I just overheard you talking and I had to say something. It's crazy, only in America could we sit back and enjoy our Big Macs while this is going on. In Western Europe they wouldn't stand for it. In Hungary they'd be marching in the streets! Now you guys have a good night.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Some Yankees fans (you know who you are) are very excited that Andy Pettitte is probably coming back to New York. The Yankees are paying him $16 million for one year with a player option for a second year, presumably at a similar price.
Personally, I am happy to see this development. The Yankees are overpaying for a pitcher who might be a little better than average. Remember, he was very mediocre last year, and that was in the National League. Furthermore, this is giving Yankee fans false hope, which will make it even more glorious when they fail to win the World Series again in 2007. Who's next, Paul O'Neil and David Cone?
Meanwhile, I hope that the Mets can sign Barry Zito because they really need a top level starter to have a good chance of winning the World Series.
With Rex Grossman playing terribly again, I feel like I can refer you all back to what I said about him in January 2006. I told you all that he wasn't very good. Did anyone listen? Even with Trent Dilfer (2001 version), Chicago might be able to win the Super Bowl this year. With Grossman? No dice.
Or is it really a way to spend dead time more efficiently? Or is it just plain fun?
I bought a Nintendo DS Lite recently and I love it. I've mostly been playing New Super Mario Bros. (which mostly combines the best of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World into an entirely new game). I am also considering picking up Brain Age and Big Brain Academy to keep my mind sharp. No one puzzle in either of these games is that hard, but the fun and the challenge come from trying to do the puzzles as quickly as possible.
Arguably my favorite aspect of the DS is the sleep function. Whenever I am playing Mario, I can just close the system at any juncture and the system will go into a very efficient energy-conserving sleep mode. Then, as soon as I open it back up, I will be EXACTLY where I was when I closed the system. I can just dive right back in. Brilliant!
I finally got on Blogger Beta. It is WAY better than the old Blogger service. I highly recommend an upgrade for everyone. Thanks for making this happen Google. For more info about the benefits of upgrading, go here and here.
My favorite thing is how changes take place IMMEDIATELY.
I've always valued productivity at work more highly than attendance at work. Now it seems as if Best Buy agrees with me. Will their revolutionary plan be successful? I hope so. Although I am a little afraid of the idea of work and home blending together too much, I'd still rather take my chances with this new system.
Hat tip to Modern Demagogue.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Here's the basic argument: Ohio State has already proven itself to be better than Michigan...now if the Buckeyes prove to be better than Florida, they are the clear national champions. Michigan had its chance to beat Ohio State and failed.
It's a decent idea. I'm happier to see Florida play Ohio State instead of Michigan, but obviously, the whole system is absurd. Amazingly, the reason for it is money. But the league commissioners are SO short-sighted. How could they not think that an 8-team playoff (or something like it) would make them more money? Don't these same people sanction the cash cow that is March Madness?
The NCAA is the worst-run, most hypocritical sports organization in America. Our athletes need to be students and not miss classes (except if they play in Division I-AA or II or III or play basketball or any other sport). Our athletes cannot take ANY money, even for jobs unrelated to football (but we can make millions of dollars off of them). And the list goes on.
Finally, I used to get excited for college bowl season...not anymore! I only plan on watching the Title Game, maybe the Rose Bowl, and bits and pieces of other games. And I'm supposedly a big sports fan. Believe you me, I'd be watching a lot more of the College Football Playoffs.
To me, at least, this is the real moral of the story. Peer-production of digital media probably will produce a fair quantity of awesome popular stuff lurking amidst the vast pool of dreck. And well-designed services will let the awesome stuff rise to the top and the dreck fade to the background, rendering those services awesome and popular. But -- and here's the rub -- having something awesome and popular just may not prove to be especially lucrative. In the past, a popular television show or a popular album or a popular film or a popular distribution channel guaranteed you vast sums of money. In the future, that just may not be the case. The very most popular things will generate some income, enough to live off of and continue financing new projects, but not the sort of gigantic windfalls associated with 20th century media hits. And lots of other things -- including reasonably popular ones -- will only generate trivial levels of income. And they'll continue to be made. Made by people who think its fun, or who derive some benefit from their work other than direct monetary income.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
My idea of a "Tall Tale" from November 8, 1993:
This is the story of how I became a multi-billionaire. It all happened one night in Las Vegas. My luck started with a nickel that I put in a slot machine. I won $1,000,000. Through the night, my luck continued, and I ended up with over $1,000,000,000 in winnings. My luckiest game was roulette where I won $400,000,000. I now own many major corporations. I also own the New York Giants and New York Knicks. I am also the richest person in the world. Before this I was just an average 10 year old boy.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
From a writing assignment I did on September 17, 1993 (copied exactly as written):
One day a drug was discovered that would let you live for 300 years. The one catch was, if you took it you would become bald. I would take it and then use a hair replacement system. I think that the creators of the drug made a good discovery but they should make sure that not too many people take it.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Location: Smith Street (Brooklyn) at 2:20 am
Scene: An NYPD squad car pulls up outside of a clearly dark and closed Dunkin' Donuts. Two cops get out and start banging on the door saying, "Police, open up!" This persists for about 5 minutes before they drive away empty-handed.
Analysis: What looked like a potential raid against criminals was nothing of the sort. The boys just wanted a late-night snack and they were trying to use their influence to get one. They were simply unlucky that the store was really closed.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Check out this clever idea from Scotland where you can bid on meals at restaurants. Let's say your restaurant isn't that crowded for the prix fixe on Tuesday night. Will you accept a bid of $25 for a meal that normally costs $35? You can lock in some money or hope that someone walks in...And it's especially fun for the customer, because he/she has a chance to get a great deal! Thanks again MR.