Friday, November 30, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Just something I was thinking about when I woke up at 7 this morning: Consider how big an effect technology has had on changing people's imaginations. You imagine new Firefox add-ons, people used to imagine new plow add-ons. In particular, I was thinking about Hieronymus Bosch and his incredible painting from the early 16th century, The Garden of Earthly Delights. Imagine how different that painting would look now!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
For a real treat, check out the International Bottled Water Association's home page.
Here's a nice position statement in response to that vicious New York Times hit piece from a few months ago.
Maybe Beneficent Allah can give us a log-in to the Member's Only section?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I mentioned the issue of white writers discussing the black experience here. You can find more thoughts on the issue here, in a commentary by Steve James, the maker of Hoop Dreams. Check out previous posts in that thread for more commentary. Be careful for spoilers in other entries, however, if you have not seen all of The Wire.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I picked up a Rider Report Card Multi-Lingual Brochure today and was fascinated by what languages made and didn't make the cut.
The information was available in 14 languages, including the usuals like English, Chinese, and Spanish. But in lieu of languages you might expect to see such as French, German, and Japanese, other languages included were Haitian Creole, Hebrew AND Yiddish, Polish, Bengali, and Urdu. Yiddish, really? I guess they probably know what they are doing with this thing, I just found it amusing. Furthermore, people who speak French and German at least are probably more likely to know English or another language on the list than Bengali speakers, so that might be part of the reasoning behind their exclusion.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I can't help it, because Super Mario Galaxy just came out to universal acclaim (and I just ordered it on Amazon). IGN calls it the best game for Wii and arguably the best Nintendo platformer ever! Also, check out their neat history of Super Mario Bros.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Look, I can't help it if Apple manages to find really catchy songs for its iPod commercials. And I can't help it that I have an iPhone (it's just the money-est (moniest?) phone). Their latest wonder is "Music Is My Hot Hot Sex" and it's a great listen (over and over and over again). Previous studs for me were "Jerk It Out" and "1234"...at least I haven't bought them on iTunes...
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
It's available for the Wii. Just the way they made it originally in Japan. Mushrooms that kill you, Bloopers (squids) flying in the sky, the usual. I am now a proud owner of this very difficult game and I no longer have to rue the day I decided not to buy it in Japan (well...I can rue it less).
I am also gonna buy Donkey Kong this weekend so that I can beat Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell soon.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
I can't help myself, but I have this silly problem. I am much more likely to read a feed that has a manageable number of unread items, such as 10 or fewer, because I enjoy the sense of accomplishment of being up to date on these feeds too much. Even though I should really be spending my time only reading blogs that are the most interesting to me, once I fall behind on those I waste time reading a few posts on lesser lights of the blogosphere. Reading 5 of 85 posts just seems more daunting than reading 5 of 5 posts, even if those 5 of 85 will be better!
Finally, for better or worse, I always prioritize posts written by friends of mine. I'm going to try to get better about this, but I feel like I'm not alone...
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The real Frank Lucas is much more interesting to read about in this article than the dramatized Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is to watch in American Gangster. There's a simple explanation for this:
Then finally, Frank said, "Look, all you got to know is that I am sitting here talking to you right now. Walking and talking -- when I could have, should have, been dead and buried a hundred times. And you know why that is?"Because: People like me. People like the fuck out of me."
Needless to say, it was difficult to "like the fuck" out of Denzel's Lucas character. He just wasn't compelling and charismatic enough. Maybe it's because I always knew I was watching Denzel and couldn't imagine him as the character. Or maybe it's because the movie just didn't do a good job of making Lucas a three-dimensional character. Anyway, I couldn't get into the story and character as I expected to. I found myself much more wrapped up in the aforementioned article and the more recent conversation between Lucas and Nicky Barnes, moderated by the excellent Mark Jacobson.
On another note, why is it that middle-aged Jewish men (Jacobson, David Simon, Richard Price and others) are so good at getting to the core of these black gangsters? Maybe these great writers all just happen to be Jewish. Or maybe, as David Milch believes (in general about Jewish writers), there is more to the story. Because of a need to fit in (and hide their "Jewishness"), Jewish writers have always been able to use a certain chameleon-like quality to integrate themselves into other milieus, especially that of the ideal Christian family in the 1950s. So perhaps these writers are using this same quality to write about important issues in the black community? Just a thought.
Finally, while I was disappointed with American Gangster, partially because I had such high expectations, I will give it credit for at least attempting to do what The Wire does so brilliantly. It showed the story of the streets from both sides. It wasn't always 100% obvious who to "root for." And while it's not fair to ever condone the violence and drug dealing that a character like Lucas engages in, his position speaks to a larger problem with the culture in which he grew up and lived in. When your opportunities are limited to criminal ventures, your only role models are gangsters, and your friends are all involved in "The Game," it is hard to adjust your frame of reference. Most people have a lot in common with their friends and do not want to think of them as doing bad things, things that would reflect badly on themselves. And if it's not bad for your friend to do it, it's not too long before it's not bad for you to do it.
Which leads to this fascinating idea of characters like Lucas (going to Thailand to buy heroin) or for an even better example, Stringer Bell (knowingly applying macroeconomics lessons to drug dealing), displaying business acumen that you know would have been put to better use if they had only explored other opportunities. Or had the chance to do so...
When asked about the relative morality of killing people, selling millions of dollars of dope, and playing a significant role in the destruction of the social fabric of his times, Frank Lucas bristles. What choice did he have? he demands. "Kind of sonofabitch I saw myself being, money I wanted to make, I'd have to be on Wall Street. On Wall Street, from the giddy-up. But I couldn't have even gotten a job being a fucking janitor on Wall Street."
Friday, November 02, 2007
You know where I really shine? Filling out the memo part of a check. Like, I might be paying my gas bill, but in the memo I'll write "Meatballs." I wish I could see the expression on the face of whoever opens up that bill! Of course, I always add an asterisk and an attached note to make sure they know I'm just kidding and don't return the check uncashed. I may be tastefully madcap, but I also have a credit rating to think of.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Pants are back baby! As someone who has eschewed jeans for so long, what does this mean for me? Well, for starters, it means that I'll no longer get dirty looks for wearing corduroys. On the other hand, if everyone stops wearing jeans all the time, I'll be more like everybody else, which is never a good thing. Let's see how this one plays out.
But as men grow more at ease articulating how they want to look, the limitations of jeans become clear: you are always that guy in jeans. What connoted rebel status in the ’50s and cool status in the late ’90s now merely looks safe.
Hat tip to Mom.
Sadly I have been remiss in updating my site because of work-related conflicts, but I promise all concerned that I have plenty of notes about places I have been recently, so that it will be easier to put them up once I get cracking again. In the meantime, I have still been thinking about the site constantly. Check out this "upgraded profile" information from my Halloween costume:
Here's a close up of the early stages of the Eat Richly logo: