Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
OK, my new thang to decorporatize myself, even just the littlest bit, is to buy CDs from less well-known, indie artists directly from the small, less well-known record labels that are discovering and promoting these artists and releasing their albums. Sometimes it means goodies, like a stickers and a free 7-inch (which I have little use for sans turntable) with Jenny Lewis's Rabbit Fur Coat (I also got this a few days early), or a poster and airline wings from Camera Obscura's Let's Get Out of This Country, but mostly it means that Best Buy and Circuit City aren't making any more money from me. Incidentally, the cost is typically about a wash. The discs are often cheaper, but the shipping adds up. With the Pipettes that meant getting it much earlier, but as an import, ergo more expensively. It turns out that iTunes had We Are the Pipettes in the U.S. store the same day the CD was released in the U.K. and it was just $9.99, but then no liner notes, etc.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Friday, August 25, 2006
This was a five-day trip; I'd be in Portland from the morning of Sunday the 13th through the evening of Thursday the 17th. I told my friend Bill, from college, that I had one goal. To relax and recharge the batteries before we entered the intense deadline push at L.A. Youth. He was totally amenable to that goal. So we planned out a rough itinerary of catching a baseball game Monday night, dinner with his parents on some night, meeting up with another college friend another night, driving out to Astoria (Goonies and Kindergarten Cop) and a short hike up to the top of a waterfall. Something more or less for each day, but nothing that would require any one too-packed day.
After I got in Sunday late morning I was hungry. So it was time for lunch at Kells Irish Pub in downtown. http://www.kellsirish.com
Make sure you try the Ulster Champ, a traditional mashed potatoes with butter & scallions. These are the BEST mashed potatoes I've ever had. No hyperbole. Btw, this trip has started very un-California, with me eating heavy food for lunch and drinking multiple pints of Guinness for lunch. NICE.
Next was the imprecisley named Portland Saturday Market, which is open Sundays. A very cool, street fair/open air shopping bazaar of local artisans and merchants. http://www.portlandsaturdaymark
Before we left downtown we checked out Powell's Books, the largest independent bookstore in the United States. THIS IS A MUST STOP. http://www.powells.com/ They ship everywhere! I bought an old edition of All The President's Men for $2.95 (no sales tax) and also Working by Studs Terkel for $2.95.
The rest of the day I chilled at Bill's and he gave me a quick tour of Lake Oswego, Oregon. A Portland suburb that is very toney. And home of probably the two nicest high schools I have ever seen. http://lhs.loswego.k12.or.us
Saturday night Bill's parents took us out to McCormick and Schmick's. Yeah, it's become a chain but this was the original location in downtown. Excellent seafood. http://www.mccormickandschmicks
And I promise that things will move much more quickly now.
Monday: We began watching old game shows on GSN. Newlywed game back then was horrid. People were fugly.
AMAZING lunch at Widmer Brewery. http://www.widmer.com/brewery
Then we toured the old U.S. Naval submarine Blueback. It was pretty cool, but why must museums gear everything toward children?? I understand the reason behind and even applaud trying to make things appealing to kids, but come on ... do I need to pretend I'm the Captain of a submarine while the tour guide presses a diving sound effect button? Ironically, had there not been a tour guide, I would have pretended I was the captain. http://www.omsi.edu/visit
Monday night caught the Portland Beavers game against the Tacoma Rainiers. Even if you're not a sports fan, see PGE Stadium, it's quite fab for a AAA facility. Very clean, great sight lines, cheap tickets. We almost got a foul ball (we were closest) but it moved so fast that no dice. Best part about the baseball stadium, it's right on a MAX (public trans train) line. http://www.trimet.org/max
After the game we went to my second favorite bar in the world. the Kennedy School, which is owned by McMenamin's brewers. This is an old elementary school. The cafeteria has been converted into the main restaurant and kitchen. I cannot begin to describe the coolness factor in this place. From mis-matched antique ceiling lamps to dark wood interior to great beer to kick ass food, this is the best place you could imagine. http://www.mcmenamins.com
Tuesday: We watched more shitty gameshows in the morning on Game Show Network. While watching the Newlywed Game I had the big epiphany about Cali's influence on me. The contestants were fucking ugly. I am sorry. But like beyond homely, beyond geeky, beyond wanting to even look at them. So ugly you almost wouldn't dare make fun of them because it's too easy and so sad. Granted, I'm no looker by any stretch, but this was hideous. I mean it forced me to re-evaluate the what I consider the most important advances of the last 30 years. I now say that the emphasis on looks for being allowed to get on TV is überimportant. I mean we've got severe buckteeth, combovers, yellow teeth, pastiness. COME ON. If anyone decides to hate me for my Los Angeles shallowness, I'll totally understand. I am a bad human. As I once said at work, I could be in a room with a satanist and I still wouldn't be the better Christian.
[aside: Throughout my life I've rarely noticed the changes in myself, save for a few occassions, despite when others have claimed that I was different—coming back from my first semester of college probably being the most prominent. Teachers, relatives, friends even my parents said that I seemed "different." I passionately refuted those claims, but I think they were probably correct. At least they would prove to be correct by the end of those four years. And that makes sense, if I had been the same at 21 as I was at 17, I would have wanted to eat my arms.
Well, since moving to California now more than four years (!!!!!) ago, I can readily admit that I've changed. It's pretty amazing how having a job you love, not having to shovel snow and not living in a shoebox makes you. I laugh more easily, don't drink my tension and sorrows away, exercise more and am much more Type B pesonality-wise. In fact my friends who've known me only in California say that they cannot imagine me as a tense asshole-type. And I've also felt like I've adopted the best of California: KCRW/NPR, a like for veggie burgers and tofu and more exercising and I've been proud that I never acquired certain "California" habits, like Valley Girl speak, or dressing up to go to the mall. But I have become a looks-snob. OUCH. It's ironic that a 30 year old guy with a severly thinning scalp who is 5-4 would become a looks snob.]
Lunch was Arby's. I mention this only because they had this bell you could ring as you left if you got good service. I felt like we did so I rang it and everyone yelled out "thank you!" AWESOME. Why doesn't everyone do this? seriously? Though i didn't need it, a Whammy like buzzer for bad service should have been there also.
The main activity for the day was to check out and hike Multnomah Falls. This is also a must-do to me. http://trips.stateoforegon.com
That night we had dinner with my friend Robb, his wife, his two brothers and his mom, and his baby daughter. Very chill barbecue, but way cool. Hadn't yet met Carly nor seen his fam in years, so this was good. Just a very chill, beer-filled night.
Wednesday: More newlywed game. More ugly people. I don't know how we got out of the 70s as a human population, b/c I wouldn't want to mate with anyone.
Met Robb for breakfast at Fuller's in the Pearl district. http://www.roadfood.com
We spent this day driving out to the Oregon Coast. MUST: Hit the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, which was way cool. [http://www.crmm.org/] Avoid the gift shop. Most annoying song ever about lying. But my main reason for hitting Astoria was movie locations (OK, another example of my Californiaizing.) We saw the elementary school from Kindergarten Cop and Astoria is where Goonies was fimed. Super awesome. We also climed the astor tower. It's not that tall, but it has a great view, if there was ever a clear day in the Northwest.
Also checked out Ft. Clatsop the second replica, so third generation location of where Lewis and Griswald, er Clark, wintered at the end of the Oregon trail. This was kind of a ripoff. They're not finished building the latest version, but they don't tell you that until you've already committed to paying. It's very small and was overrun by this overzealous camp leader type who carried a compass and GPS inside to confirm his location. WTF? The Battery Russell though was way cool. It's the site of the first attack on the Continental U.S. since the War of 1812. The japanese fired us on during world war 2. it was june of 42. I hadn't known that. Saddest thing though was how run down the site was. Barely any interpretive plaques. It looks now more like a place where high school students would go at night to make out and scare each other, and judging by the tagging it is.
Aside: on the way to Astoria and throughout the area we saw about a billion fotomat-sized to-go espresso places. I don't even know what to make of that. Also, we saw the world's tallest sitke spruce. Must for being UNDERWHELMED. The other TRUE MUST of the day was Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock. http://www.cannonbeach.org
That night had dinner at the Rogue Public House. These are the cats responsible for Rogue Dead Guy Ale. http://www.rogue.com/locations
Thursday: last day and this e-mail is almost over. Just go to Pal's Shanty and get the dungeness crab and cheese sandwich. You won't eat a better menu item in a local dive bar anywhere. period. http://www.barflymag.com/bar
OK, that should cover it.
Last thing: San Jose is the WORST aiport I've ever been in. I had to transfer terminals via bus at this tiny airport to catch my connector. And transferring terminals meant leaving security-cleared area going outside and then having to enter another screening area! That was awesome, except for the part that it totally wasn't.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Amazing is one word for it: The Post offers a dispatch from one of the White House's lamer photo ops. President Bush had coffee with Katrina survivor Rockey Vaccarella, who then gushed to the waiting cameras, "You know, it's really amazing when a small man like me from St. Bernard Parish can meet the President of the United States." Of course, it's somewhat less amazing when you consider that Vaccarella is a Republican activist in Louisiana, who repeated several times during his few moments in the spotlight that America needed a third Bush term. "You know, I wish you had another four years, man," Vaccarella said. "If we had this president for another four years, I think we'd be great."
ME: Somewhere, Jefferson is being exorcised or ghostbusted or something else horrible that happens to dead people.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Anyway, over the years I've become the irony police among my friends. I've been called twice at beyond socially acceptable hours from parties to resolve disputes over the definitions of irony. It seems like sports announcers tend to be the worst abusers ironically substituting "ironically" for "coincidentally." I said "ironically" in that case, because they're trying to sound smarter but instead look stupider. Or they would if the rest of the fucking country knew the fuck better. But they don't.
From here on this blog will track all misuses that I come across. Some setup: Wide receiver Ashley Lelie was traded from the Broncos to the Falcons Tuesday. Here's a slice of espn.com's John Clayton's story:
The former University of Hawaii star, who ironically played for former Falcons head coach June Jones in college, led the NFL in yards per catch in 2004 (20.1) and 2005 (18.3).
There's nothing ironic about playing for a former Falcons' coach. It's a simple coincidence, assface.
Never cross paths with my sword of irony.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
"Imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein was there, stirring up even more trouble in a part of the world that had so much resentment and so much hatred that people came and killed 3,000 of our citizens."
--George W. Bush, yesterday!!!!!!!!!
Hey, more than three years after we invaded on the false grounds of chem/bio/nuculer weapons, it's good that our fucking PRESIDENT is still lying about ties between 9/11 and Iraq.
At least we live in a country that would elect an avowed atheist to public office, allow a woman to decide what's right for her own body without moral judgement from the State, the right to love and marry whomever we want, freedom from state-sanctioned execution, the maturity not to rename French Fries, trusts its people enough not to listen to their phone calls, read their e-mails or monitor their banking transactions.
... OK, this part isn't a test, just a frightening-the-soul kind of thing:
For context, Alabama's per capita income was $18,189, according to the last census.
Thx (i think) to Al's Morning Meeting on poynter for finding that.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Friday, August 11, 2006
I promised I would not let my blog become one of these types of things ... (referring to a collection of these inane types of posts), but I'm beyond tired and sorta hot (in a non good-looking way) right now, which is affecting my judgment's control on my actions.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
There's a lot more coming soon in this blogspace about politics and America and such, but this is basically where I'm going. My disappointment and feelings started to crystalize this evening thanks to a conversation with my friend, Jon.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Monday, August 07, 2006
Did Saddam Hussein's government have weapons of mass destruction in 2003?
Half of America apparently still thinks so, a new poll finds, and experts see a raft of reasons why: a drumbeat of voices from talk radio to die-hard bloggers to the Oval Office, a surprise headline here or there, a rallying around a partisan flag, and a growing need for people, in their own minds, to justify the war in Iraq.
People tend to become "independent of reality" in these circumstances, said opinion analyst Steven Kull.
The reality in this case is that after a 16-month investigation that cost more than $900 million, the U.S. weapons hunters known as the Iraq Survey Group declared that Iraq had dismantled its chemical, biological and nuclear arms programs in 1991 under U.N. oversight.
That finding in 2004 reaffirmed the work of U.N. inspectors who in 2002-03 found no trace of banned arsenals in Iraq.
Despite this, a Harris Poll released July 21 found that 50 percent of U.S. respondents - up from 36 percent last year - said they believe that Iraq did have the forbidden arms when U.S. troops invaded in March 2003 with the goal of eliminating the supposed WMD. Other polls also have found an enduring American faith in the WMD story.
"I'm flabbergasted," said Michael Massing, a media critic whose writings dissected the largely unquestioning U.S. news reporting on the Bush administration's shaky WMD claims in 2002-03.
"This finding just has to cause despair among those of us who hope for an informed public able to draw reasonable conclusions based on evidence," he said.
Timing may explain some of the poll result. Two weeks before the survey, two Republican lawmakers, Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, released an intelligence report saying 500 chemical munitions had been collected in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.
"I think the Harris Poll was measuring people's surprise at hearing this after being told for so long there were no WMD in the country," said Hoekstra spokesman Jamal Ware.
But the Pentagon and outside experts stressed that these abandoned munitions were 15 years old or more, their chemical contents were degraded and they were unusable as artillery ordnance. Since the 1990s, such "orphan" munitions, from among 160,000 made by Iraq and destroyed, have turned up on old battlefields and elsewhere in Iraq, ex-inspectors say.
"These are not stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction," said Scott Ritter, the ex-Marine who was a U.N. inspector in the 1990s. "They weren't deliberately withheld from inspectors by the Iraqis."
Conservative commentator Deroy Murdock, who trumpeted Hoekstra's announcement in his syndicated column, complained in an interview that the news media "didn't give the story the play it deserved." But in some quarters it was headlined.
"Our top story tonight, the nation abuzz today . . ." was how Fox News led its report on the old, stray shells. Talk-radio hosts and their callers seized on it. Feedback to blogs grew intense. "Americans are waking up from a distorted reality," read one posting.
Other claims about supposed WMD had preceded this, especially speculation since 2003 that Iraq had secretly shipped WMD abroad. A former Iraqi general's book - at best uncorroborated hearsay - claimed "56 flights" by jetliners had borne such material to Syria.
But Kull, Massing and others see an influence on opinion that is more sustained than the odd headline. "I think the Santorum-Hoekstra thing is the latest "factoid,' but the basic dynamic is the insistent repetition by the Bush administration of the original argument," said John Prados, author of the 2004 book "Hoodwinked: The Documents That Reveal How Bush Sold Us a War."
Bush administration statements still describe Saddam's Iraq as a threat. Despite the official findings, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has allowed only that "perhaps" WMD were not in Iraq. President Bush, since 2003, has repeatedly insisted on one plainly false point: that Saddam rebuffed the U.N. inspectors in 2002, that "he wouldn't let them in," as he said in 2003, and "he chose to deny inspectors," as he said in March.
The facts are that Iraq - after a four-year hiatus in inspections - acceded to the U.N. Security Council's demand and let scores of experts conduct more than 700 inspections of potential weapons sites from Nov. 27, 2002, to March 16, 2003. The inspectors said they could wrap up their work within months. Instead, the U.S. invasion aborted that work.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
The following link is to a diamond mine in Siberia, which happens to be the largest hole man-made hole in the earth.
Al says: Make sure you locate the tiny arrow pointing to a huge truck inside the mine as a matter of scale. The hole is so big that helicopters are not allowed to fly over it, because the might get sucked in. Here it is on a Google map.
Note, the photo is stolen from airliners.net
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Can Ice make you sick?
Absolutely. The University of Texas found that salmonella, E. coli and shigella all survive frozen in ice cubes. Even if the ice is subsequently mixed with 85-proof tequila, the bacteria and viruses can survive.