Thursday, March 29, 2007

Incomplete List Week: Likes

Things I can't explain my affinity toward:

black chai tea without the sugar and/or milk that really make it "chai"
Luke Wilson's acting technique
Samantha Brown
Eleanor Friedberger's voice
sleeping awkwardly on my stomach

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Incomplete List Week: Break Room Periodicals

There's a sign in the break room asking people not to remove the magazines. It works.

There's last January's Country Weekly

And a fascinating issue of Time that has a sneak peak at that new Star Wars movie.

And this magazine has been in the break room since I started working there.
A cheery smile despite his medical problems, Al Roker is a daily inspiration.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Incomplete List Week: Marriage

Things I will silently hate:

a headboard for the bed
a massive amount of Christmas decorations
signing up the kids for a youth soccer league

Things I will resist, but eventually allow:

a canopy for the bed
pillows more decorative than comfortable
boy scouts/girl scouts

"I'm going out for cigarettes...":

faux mosquito netting draping the canopy of the bed
creepy religious decorations (paintings of Jesus staring at you, etc.)
giving the children names that rhyme (or all begin with the same letter)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Incomplete List Week: Tipping Points

characteristics of women I could date
characteristics of women I could not date

plays guitar
plays double-necked guitar

one tattoo
many tattoos

piercing on something that does not have a distinct biological purpose
piercing elsewhere

enjoys dancing

Insert Glass Pun Here

What percentage of This American Life listeners/watchers assume host Ira Glass is gay? It must approach 70%, right? Well, this promotional photo for the new Showtime series won't do anything to lower that number:

I like how his shoulders slant downward at the same angle as the hill in the background.

I get art.


This afternoon I heard and enjoyed Kasper Hauser's This American Life parody. You can stream it here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Grin And Bear Clip

The technical term for this clip is "goddamned hilarious".

Wikipedia provides all the background you need:
Despite his bluster, Colbert's character also demonstrates a notable phobia of bears, which he refers to as "godless killing machines without a soul," or as he said on The O'Reilly Factor, "giant marauding godless killing machines." Bears often top his "threat downs", lists of the greatest threats facing America.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Reasons To Live

In About a Boy, one of Hornby's characters (it's been 6 or 7 years since I read it, so bear with me) talks about why he could never commit suicide -- there was always at least one thing he was looking forward to. (An example given is a new episode of NYPD Blue; again, remember, this was a long time ago, when NYPD Blue was hot and cool.)

With that philosophy in mind, witness the newest addition to my sidebar, "Reasons to Live". It will feature the upcoming movies, music, concerts, vacations, and other events (in chronological order!) that keep loaded guns away from my mouth.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Basic Cable Instinct

Shawn and I took some time out (timeout! Get it?) from the NCAA tournament this afternoon to view other programming. When you've got the chance to watch a TBS airing of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" with Shawn, you've got to do it, basketball games be damned. That man really knows how to mock Andie MacDowell.

We also flipped over to the Travel Channel. Samantha Brown gave us a tour of Barcelona, Florence, and Venice, and we gave her our hearts. She's the best.

It inspired me to write about my favorite, underappreciated cable TV ladies. Samantha was #2 on my list, second only to the hairstylist on TLC's "Ten Years Younger". I never watch that show in its entirety, but I've become skilled at switching over as the subject is getting her hair cut by Jenn MacDonald, the sexy stylist with bright red hair.

When I went online to find a photo of the lovely Jenn, I found out she was a lesbian. Not only did that fact bump Samantha up to #1 on my list, it took the wind out of my sails, resulting in this shitty blog post.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Spring Break

I have been on the couch, watching basketball, since yesterday morning. I've been sitting here for so long that my back hurts from all the slouching.

Good vacation.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Dark Side Of "Neon Bible"

I was enjoying the new Arcade Fire album as I drove to the museum last week. I continued to enjoy it after parking in the surprisingly small underground garage -- track 2, "Keep the Car Running", was in my head as I unfavorably judged those damned Dutch artists.

"Keep the Car Running" was bugging me. I thought it sounded like a song I'd heard before, but I couldn't figure out what that song was. My mind connected the dots that afternoon. I knew what the old, similar song was, but I hoped my brain had made an error. I didn't want the older song to ruin one of Neon Bible's better songs.

I consulted the internet to see if anyone shared my concern, but I couldn't find a sympathetic soul. I emailed my panel of expert friends, but they didn't find the connection that I did. Finally, after asking Google again, the internet showed the way.

An Onion AV Club commenter felt my pain, as did a few bloggers. Taking a cue from a like-minded thinker, I present to you two YouTube videos: Arcade Fire, and Eddie & the Cruisers...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Day At The Museum

I spent some time in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art last week, and it proved enlightening and thought-provoking.

The first thing I learned was that Germans are more reserved than the French:
The words “naked” and “nude” are defined as synonyms by the American Heritage Dictionary. “Naked” entered the English language from the German nakt, while “nude” derives from the French nu. Through centuries of use, the words have taken on subtle distinctions.

The ideal nude, often inspired by the poses of classical sculpture, has been viewed as the most noble subject in Western art since antiquity. During the 19th century, this tradition remained strong, even as Impressionist artists sought to represent the naked body with a new, unwavering realism.

The Modern tendency toward abstracted and expressive form means that depictions of the body diverge from classical, academic and realist ideals. Yet, the notion that to be naked is to be exposed and vulnerable, while to be nude is to be comfortable and at ease, remains valid in 20th-century art.
Walking among the museum's rooms, staffed by friendly men and women in suits, I considered their job reponsibilities. What is this overweight 40 year-old going to do if I pull this portrait off the wall? And if I run toward the door, how is this 20 year-old waif going to block my exit?

I viewed two pieces of art that made me consider the awesome lives of the obscenely rich and long-dead. Had I been so priveledged back then, would I have commissioned a bust of myself? Or my wife? Or, if I had a mistress, would I go the route of the man that commissioned this painting? (Forgiveness please, as the museum's website does not yet feature this work, and I could not find it elsewhere on the internet.)

The work is titled, "Portrait of Emily St. Clare as a Baccante". I do not recall the name of the long-dead rich man that commissioned the life-sized portrait, but I do know that a Baccante is down with Bacchus, who is also known as Dionysus, God of Wine and all-around party animal, whose divine mission was to mingle the music of the flute and to bring an end to care and worry.

How exquisite of a lay was Emily St. Clare that this guy would have her painted as such?

And where do you hang a portrait of your mistress? Keeping it at her place seems silly. The office, maybe?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

My Eyes! The Goggles Do Nothing!

So I glance at the magazine rack and I see...
I mean...


I mean...

How am I supposed to take this? Because I'll tell you how I'm taking it -- I'm against it. Music aside, what the fuck, dudes? This is your cover? This is the cover? Whose idea was this? I... I think I need to know if this was Rolling Stone's idea, or if this was Fall Out Boy's idea. No, wait. No. I don't want to know. Well, maybe. I might. I think... yeah, I'd like to know.

Because if it's Rolling Stone's idea, it's their worst since they assigned that teenager to write that Stillwater thinkpiece.

And if it's Fall Out Boy's idea, then I give up. I fucking give up. I mean, I thought it was kind of lame to name yourself after a Simpsons character, and I thought it was really lame to name a song after a Rushmore quote, and I thought it was really really lame for them to say that they wanted to be like Jay-Z, but I always figured they were savvier than they let on. This photograph must be considered bulletproof evidence to the contrary.

[At this point, I was going to launch into a, "Hey, dude 2nd from the left, (insert noun) called, and (noun) wants (its) (insert other noun) back," tirade, but I've decided to leave the comments to you.]

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Tired Of Sex

I listened to the latest This American Life compilation last Sunday, on the drive back from Minneapolis. Right around the time I exited the highway for some snack mix and cheese curds, I heard "Infinite Gent", an interview with a man who used to be a woman. He spoke about life before and after massive doses of testosterone:
Before testosterone, I would be riding the subway...and I would see a woman on the subway and I would think, "She's attractive. I'd like to meet her. What's that book she's reading? I could talk to her. This is what I would say..." It would be a narrative -- a stream of language. It would be very verbal.

After testosterone, there was no narrative. There was no language whatsoever. ...I would see a woman who was attractive -- or not attractive, she would have an attractive quality, you know, nice ankles or something and the rest of her would be fairly unappealing to me. But that was enough to, basically, just flood my mind with aggressive pornographic images, just one after another. It was like being in a pornographic movie house in my mind, and I couldn't turn it off...

...I remember walking up 5th Avenue. There was a woman walking in front of me and she was wearing this little skirt and this little top, and I was looking at her ass, and I kept saying to myself, "Don't look at it! Don't look at it!" and I kept looking at it. I walked past her, and this voice in my head kept saying, "Turn around and look at her breasts! Turn around! Turn around!" My feminist, female background kept saying, "Don't you dare, you pig! Don't turn around!" You know, I fought myself for a whole block, and then I turned around and checked her out.
It's a stunning interview in all, but that part of the conversation was particularly striking -- it seems to excuse men from our tendencies to leer, to shrug it off as a matter of biology. This kind of evidence -- the smoking gun of testosterone -- might upset some women who argue the issue is behavioral, or a matter of discipline. Certainly, staring at breasts and wagging tongues are the result of both biology and will. I wonder, though, would women be more sympathetic to these actions if they knew how exhausting our behavior is? Or how discouraging it can be?

Take two examples from yesterday. (Note how far back I need to go to find TWO examples.) I was out with three other gentlemen, and our first stop was at a Kansas City casino, where cocktail waitresses dress like showgirls. One waitress stood with her back to us, taking a table's drink orders. She looked great, but we couldn't see her front.

"I'm trying to see if this chick is hot."
"Don't. You're going to be disappointed."
"I just saw - it's disappointing."
"I told you."
"Are you sure? I can't see. That guy's blocking my view."
"Oh! I just saw. Disappointing."
"Really? Are you sure?"

I was sure. There was nothing ugly about the woman, but her face could not meet the expectations that her body provoked. I was disappointed, but hardly surprised, because the same pathetic little scene plays out dozens of times each week of my life. Jogger on the sidewalk. Driver in the rearview mirror. Woman pushing the shopping cart. Every stranger that appears to be female is a target to be assessed, and 90% of the targets are appraised incorrectly.

I can't stress enough how discouraging this is, for most every glimpse of hope be crushed by reality over and over again.

I'm now at the point where my will has overcome my biology; to spare myself from disappointment, I'm no longer looking at joggers as I drive by, or checking out women in other cars. I've given up. I'm assuming that everyone is not worth seeing. It's hard.

You know how you see someone who's got an arm in a cast, or a missing leg, or a huge scar across their forehead, and your impulse is to ask, "What the hell happened?" Your mind is racing with possibilities: alligator attack, prison cafeteria riot, angry pimp, etc.? Then the injured person answers with something benign. Sports mishap. Fall.

I got tired of hearing those boring explanations, so I stopped asking altogether, resigned to the fact that the story won't be interesting. Now it's the same way with the possibly sexy stranger just out of view.

Discouragement is only one of testosterone's unwanted side-effects, second to exhaustion, which is illustrated in example #2 from last night's activites. After breaking the bank at the casino, we ventured to Westport for drinks and excitement. We settled in at Harry's, seated at a table facing a busy Westport intersection. Marry / Fuck / Kill: the Star Wars edition wore down, and we were belittled to "Who Would You Do?", starring every female that we spotted outside, moving along the crosswalks and sidewalks. Yes. Yes. Yes. No. Yes. Yes. No. No. Yes, but not the other one. No. No, but yes to the one with the hat. Yes -- no, I think that's a dude. No. Yes. Definitely. No, never. Well, not never. Yes. Yes. Yes.

You may be horrified to learn that this went on for about an hour. Indeed, you may think, "Didn't they have something better to do?" Well, touche. You've made wormsmeat of me. But ladies, have a little empathy. Our simple, testosterone-driven brains are locked into that game, and we men are required to play all day, every day. The only difference between that game at Harry's and, you know, our lives, is that we were thinking out loud on Saturday night.