2002.08.01

Linkfarm #2002.08.01

More random linkmania to brighten your day with wonderful fruit flavor!

Song of the day: Liz Phair, “Polyester Bride”

This is a good day

I. Signs and portents that may acutally indicate that today will be a good day

1. Door drops of stilted-English flyers for goods & services (contents abridged):

TATIANA FABULOUS CLEANING SERVICE
Homes, Offices, After Conctructions

We Will Make Your Home Crispy Clean!

We Are a small Family and Friends Busness, and We Really Treasure Our Relationship With Our Clients, and Their Pets Too.

The best part is the bottom of the flyer, next to the phone numbers, where (Mac Warehouse catalog-like) there is a photo of a happy operator-lady on the phone.

2. Weird care packages from Mom.

Contents:

  • Orthopedic sandals
  • Two (2) walnuts
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

People wonder why I’m a little odd. Now you know.

3. Beating mysterious yard creatures at their own game.

The award for most useless mow has to come to me for my performance today. At most I shaved a centimeter off the height of the grass. But it was ALL ME, BABY! Anyways, someone’s coming by to aerate and re-seed the lawn this Saturday so staving off the gnome is probably a good thing, lest it trample the seedies.


II. Lessons in fast food

If you’re sitting in your car, eating the chicken mcnugget value meal you just bought on the way to work, and you notice that the nuggets are far more juicy and tender than usual, DO NOT LET CURIOSITY FORCE YOU TO TAKE A PEEK AT THE NUGGET.

You might discover, like me, that the interior of the thing is TRANSLUCENT and UNCOOKED.

Ack! And of course I only checked on the sixth nugget I ate.

I might even have not cared if I knew that it was normal chicken parts but hey, it’s McDonald’s. Who knows where that action came from? I’ll tell you one thing, I bet it’s not “crispy clean.” On the bright side, it might not even be animal matter at all; maybe I should take some comfort in that.

Anyways, it’s been three days and I’m not dead, so time to stop worrying about it. But suffice it to say that I’ll be staying away from Mickey D’s for awhile.


III. Pre-emptive pillow book entry.

Channeling Sei Shōnagon makes me feel good.

Things that are happy

Delivering cookies to one who is sad.
Moist soil.
Sharks that are on the other side of the glass.
Warm sheets on a cold morning.
Gumbo on a late-night bar menu.
Soft things.

I know some people back east that would think right about now, a “cold morning” would be enough for boundless amounts of happy.


Day of suck.

A word to the wise: never declare out loud that a day looks like it might be good, because you could end up like me, with a cut finger, flat tire and a giant death-cloud of anger floating over my head.

My right rear tire blew out as I was driving home, right in the middle of highway 520, and I was forced to pull into the little triangle at the I-405 interchange to replace it. Now, I know how to change a tire (which has saved my behind on a couple occasions), but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to doing so on the shoulder of a freeway at night. Every single car and truck flashing by at 70 mph threatens to move the car a couple inches, which is a harrowing feeling when you’re trying to jack up the vehicle. I spent a couple tearful minutes on the phone venting to friends before I got up the gumption to go outside and start fixing. To make matters worse, it took me ages to find the stupid security lock so I could remove the fourth nut on the tire.

Things turned out okay in the end, which ended up being a half hour later. I didn’t even realize I’d sliced my finger open in the process until I got home and washed the grime off of my hands.

Anyways, home now. Still upset, though just getting inside has done a lot to cool me off.

Agh, I have to buy new tires tomorrow, damn it.


2002.08.02

Countdown.

T minus 1 day two hours and forty-one minutes.


2002.08.03

Comfort food.

As if everything else in the past week wasn’t enough, I started to feel sick at work yesterday. It was a very indecisive kind of sickness, seemingly unsure whether to settle in my stomach or my head, but the fact that it never took full root didn’t make it any less disconcerting or miserable. By seven o’clock I was utterly useless and called lish to cancel my attendance at this evening’s festivities.

Was getting pretty hungry right about then, with one caveat. Whatever was ailing me didn’t have any affect on the amount of my appetite, but it did polarize it strangely. For some reason, though I hadn’t had it in years, I developed a powerful craving for ddeok-mandu-guk, a Korean soup which I hear is firmly in the comfort-food category. Of course, I had no idea where I could get it nearby.

God bless the internet! Ten minutes and a lot of menu googling later (by the way, let me just say right here that the art of transliteration makes these things exceedingly difficult), I made my way to to Seoul Olympic in Bellevue to get my lovely bowl of happiness. Service was slow, but the food was right on the money.

And — surprise! — everything since has seemed a lot happier. Maybe I should start a website where people can list their favorite comfort food restaurants from all sorts of cuisines. Perhaps it could be my lasting legacy to the world.


By the way, I have new tires. So expensive, but definitely a good thing. And the lawn people came by today to aerate and reseed the lawn. Also good. Best of all, B.’s arrival (for a 10-day visit) is now T minus three hours thirty-three minutes. Yay!


Blog update: kakumei has a blog. Louis has a blog. Robin has a blog. Chris has a blog.


Yay Bollywood! There’s a new Bollywood cinema in Seattle! Well, relatively new. The old Totem Lake movie house has been rented out by the folks who used to run the Roxy in Renton and now shows Hindi, Telugu and Tamil films on a regular basis. I found out about this last week, but it’s now it’s been written up in the Seattle Times


I’m currently watching an E! True Hollywood Story episode about Wayne Newton. The commercial that’s on right now is using “Danke Schoen” as background music. Bizarre.


2002.08.04

Distinguished parentage.

Miranda pointed out an interesting site called BlogTree, which aims to map out the genealogy of weblogs around the internet. I haven’t added n(e) yet (whose parentage would certainly include Ms. Gaw, lish, Grimm and others), but I probably will in the next couple days. Check it out!

[Update: I’ve registered now; you can see n(e)’s pedigree (id 1354) here. The tree as it stands is pretty sparse, I’m sure this will resolve itself in time.]


La Dolce Vita

First Sunday of the month means fun & games at Dolce Vita in Queen Anne. Wasn’t very inspired today for whatever reason, so my contribution was rather weak, but the great thing about these events is that there’s always good company and tasty food to offset any lack of creativity.

B. got to meet everyone as well, which was really nice.


2002.08.06

My daily struggle

There are some things you only worry about if you have a mysterious lawnmowing visitor who seems to strike on an unpredictable but repeating basis. For me, it’s concern that the gnome might strike my newly reseeded lawn and swallow up seeds in a vacuum vortex of misdirected charity. And I can’t mow myself as a signal to the gnome, because that would be just as destructive.

For awhile I considered putting a sign up which said:

ATTENTION
 
To THOSE who would MOW my LAWN
you may resume doing so on or after
24 AUGUST 2002
 
—the management

But I suspect this would only further convince my neighbors I’m a crackpot.

Thankfully kakumei has a manual push-mower that I had the bright idea to borrow; assuming it’ll fit in my car it would be a perfect solution: lawn can be mowed non-destructively, and there will the presence of freshly cut grass to act as bane for my mysterious benefactor.

Serendipity!


Daily observation: A five pound bag of Wonka Runts from Costco contains a crapload of Runts. I thank my coworkers’ gluttony, my only hope for the eventual disappearance of this sugary stockpile.


Song of the day: David Byrne and Marisa Monte, “Waters of March”

The state of western cinema

Currently watching Collateral Damage on DVD, a completely silly movie that reminds me of an old 80s flick called Let’s Get Harry which I saw on TV as a child, burned for many years in my mind as the worst movie I’d ever seen. This one’s not nearly as bad (I mean, it has production values), but the story is vaguely similar and there are plot holes big enough to fly a plot through. Also, it’s not over yet, so there’s still wiggle room for it to move in either direction.

I’m hoping, praying at this point, that someone shows up later in the film, stands before congress and says:

“It was a rescue mission. But when we found him, he had already been incinerated.”

Then there’s the question of Arnold’s tagline. There has to be one to close the film, you know. Personally, I’m hoping for “insufficient collateral.”


Somewhere, I think Miranda is smiling.

Had a really tasty Thai dinner tonight, at Chantanee in downtown Bellevue. I’d been there once before but on that occasion played menu roulette and came out on the (slightly) losing side. This time we had a guide in Rob, B.’s old friend from the consulting days, and the results were much better. For the benefit of those who may follow: angel wings, crispy garlic chicken, larb, even the phad thai… So yummy! Now I can say this is the best Thai I’ve found in the area (I can’t count Wild Ginger since it’s not strictly Thai).


In other news, there doesn’t seem to be a single copy of the new Star Trek II DVD anywhere in the Seattle metro area. Very unhappy! On the other hand, the preview footage from The Two Towers and the extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring on the FOTR DVD (also released today) is just so deeply cool.


2002.08.07

A day in film.

Had the day off (in fact, am off work until next Tuesday), and so B. and I ended up, among other things, watching a couple recent (and future) flicks. Correspondingly, here we go with another movie-centric entry.

First, at an early afternoon matinee with kakumei, M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. Good, not really reaching the heights of The Sixth Sense but better than Unbreakable (which, by the way, I did like quite a bit). Very tightly constructed and effective, a couple of weak moments notwithstanding. Shyamalan is shaping up to be a master storyteller with a knack for suspense. Perhaps in time he will come to be the next-generation Spielberg.

Added 2005/05/14: Wow, this film did not wear well. I can barely stand to watch it anymore, mostly because of the lamer-by-the-minute ending (but the Spielberg comparison still seems apt).

I’ll tell you one thing that may seem a bit random: Shyamalan has a real knack for using music and sound in his films, and his composer of choice, James Newton Howard, is cultivating a real Bernard Herrmann-esque sensibility about his stuff. I sat there, listening to his excellent main title theme, enjoying its strange modalities and aggressive energy while watching the spare, “retro” title cards, and suddenly I thought I was watching a newly discovered 50s Hitchcock film. And amazingly enough, the title music was the same music that had been in the trailer all along. There’s a rare phenomenon!

Later we went with lish and Ida to a free preview screening of Disney’s new adaptation of Tuck Everlasting. I haven’t actually read the book it’s based on, but the result is pretty standard fare for Disney or television afterschool specials. Pretty, recognizable faces, blatant sentiment and broadly drawn characters. The main theme kept nagging at me until I realized it sounds almost exactly like a certain Suzanne Vega song. I’d probably have made more of a connection to the flick if I’d actually read the novel.

Speaking of which (and damn you, enigma), has anyone made a film of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler? Hmm, an imdb search seems to indicate a retitled 1973 film (The Hideaways — blech!) with Ingrid Bergman (ooooh!), as well as a 1995 TV version starring Lauren Bacall. Perhaps it’s time to go visit a Hollywood Video or something.

Finally found a Star Trek II DVD, at Borders in Redmond Town Center. It’s got so many special features! I’ll probably be several days getting through it all.

One last note, spurred by Collateral Damage last night. One of the things I remember vividly about the morning of September 12 last year, as I was catching the one functioning subway train into lower Manhattan (the J, to Essex/Delancey) was walls plastered with the poster for this film. It had been scheduled to start that Friday, an opening that was obviously postponed. As B. and I rode back into the heart of that wounded city, I thought long and hard about what was and wasn’t really important in life. At the time, I don’t think I could have stomached the film at all. Now, with the benefit of distance, I think that the gift of this new perspective is the ability to see these [naive, simplistic] fairy tales in a more honest light. Or, at the very least, an object lesson in how blind we were to the danger we faced, even when envisioning worst-case scenarios.

Enough introspection! Time to watch some more Star Trek. Because, while I’m trying to cultivate a veneer of elegance, I’m still a geek at heart.

Tomorrow: the quest for a nice backyard grill. Assuming that the result is successful, I’ll pass the story along. Otherwise, I’m sure I’ll find something else to babble about.


2002.08.12

Grilling out

The problem when you invite fourteen people to a fancy dinner party is that they could all say yes. I love cooking intricate meals, but the thought I might actually have to do so on a scale larger than that typically presented in the C. I. A. cookbook (The New Professional Chef — “Serves 10,” “Serves 12,” etc.) drove me to one last, desperate act. A cookout.

Why did I ask so many folks? I wanted this to be a kind of housewarming, since I hadn’t actually had one (even though Imoved over a year ago). Since B. was over and it was supposed to be a nice weekend, weather-wise, so it seemed the opportunity. For such an occasion, a large invite list is required — my mistake was envisioning a nice, sit-down occasion.

Also, a party/housewarming is a perfect excuse to buy furniture, decorate and clean up!

I’m not handy with tools nor an outdoors type by any stretch of the imagination. I do like to know how things work and can on occasion be successful at fixing things, but just as often, disaster does strike in spectacular fashion. I have, in the past, (a) managed to short out an entire house, (b) set the inside of a wall on fire, (c) gotten a nail stuck in my foot, (d) caused a light switch to explode into flames — no joke! I don’t know the first thing about grilling, propane gas, or seasoning a grill, but that wasn’t going to stop me from trying.

To that end, I acquired a nice, cheap, gas grill, a replacement cast-iron cooking grate, some other tools & utensils, and about a metric ton of meat and vegetables. Managed to get the propane filled and transported back home without any fireballs. Swept the deck clean and cured the grill. I chopped vegetables while B. marinated burger patties. Waited for people to arrive.

Discovered that grilling is easy!

I know that all of you are shaking your heads right now but it was truly a great discovery for me. I felt like Fleming and those petri dishes.


 
Three sizes of burgers, from left to right: normal (n(e)-style), super (D.-style), and insanity (kakumei and nonours-style)

Not everyone came, actually, but we still had ten people for the cookout. Among bloggers, lish, kakumei were there. Stacy & Darryl brought their adorably puppy Trinity, who played in a little pen on the deck for most of the evening. She does tricks too — the benefits of schooling.


 
Trinity. So cute!

Trinity even has a web site!

B. bought a Polaroid i-Zone camera at Costco the other day and spent the evening making sticker photos of most of the folks there.

After dinner & and an Austin Powers flick, we all played a long game of Taboo. Stacy managed to get a lot of points using Trinity as the basis for her clues.


 
The boys scratch out a win. Boo!

Finally, those few that remained after board games played a few rounds of Dance Dance Revolution with kakumei’s modified Dreamcast pads. I have to say it’s a lot easier to play when the pads are rigid (in this case, made so with plywood boards). On the other hand, it makes it that much clearer that failure is the fault of poor coordination and stiff movements rather than inadequate controllers :).

That about does it for yesterday’s festivities. Fun, but exhausting! Today will be a day of rest.

And here’s one other thing: I have enough leftover burgers to last me a lifetime. So I’m safe from starving for the foreseeable future.


Paso doble! Finally cracked open my DVD of Strictly Ballroom, at B.’s urging, and watched the film for the first time in about five years. I forgot how much I loved this movie! Like the last time I saw it, I’m finding myself thinking that I need the soundtrack album, but I fear that divorced from the visuals it might not be quite as appealing.

Also… want to take dance lessons!


Song of the day: “Time After Time,” the version on the Strictly Ballroom soundtrack.

2002.08.13

Sigh.

T minus 24 days one hour fifty-seven minutes.

Sigh.


Stuff

Back at work after almost a week off. It seems so strange. On the other hand, it’s really nice to be in an air conditioned office when the pacific northwest is topping out the mercury. I know you’re saying, “OH NO!!! 90 DEGREES!” in the most sarcastic voice you’ve got. I admit it, I don’t like heat.

B. is gone, so everything seems just a little less sunny. Apparently, though, New York is even more of a Crock-Pot than Seattle at a heat index that “feels like 101°F” Wow, nasty!

Speaking of Crock-Pots, we bought one yesterday, with an electronic timer and stay-warm setting — the whole shebang. Have spent the past 24 hours dreaming of stews, roasts, maybe some lamb curry. That is, after I finish the ten thousand leftover burgers in the refrigerator. Still, the sunny future awaits.


“It was only a Corvette!”

Saw xXx last night, which was pretty action-packed, completely preposterous, and a lot of fun. Thirty-three years later, a skiing-against-an-avalanche sequence isn’t any more believable than when James Bond did it in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. On the other hand, the quality of ski stunt sequences certainly seems to have improved since the days when Willy Bogner was the only one doing them. Vin Diesel actually managed to be more charismatic than any of the trailers would suggest (but anyone who saw Boiler Room probably didn’t need any convincing) and the equipment and stunts were pretty slick. Kind of a reinvention of the Bond genre mixed with heavy metal and extreme sports.

The next movie I want to see: Neil LaBute’s adaptation of A. S. Byatt’s Possession. Talk about drooling.


The census is a-coming

The folks at Movable Type are running a survey to help them estimate how many people are using the system. If you happen to use MT (and I know more than a few of you who read this blog do) then do them a favor and fill out the form!

Song of the day: Shin Seung-hun, “I Believe”
(again! but this is because kakumei has gotten me the soundtrack now)

2002.08.14

Unmasked!


La fée verte

La fée verte. The Green fairy. Absinthe.

I remember first reading about it years ago in Jim Garrison’s On the Trail of the Assassins and later in lots of books during my obsession with the Bohemians and Van Gogh. Lately, it’s popped up in film (Moulin Rouge, From Hell, xXx, etc.) and is suddenly hip again.

So we decided, just for kicks, to have an absinthe “event.”

By reputation, Hill’s is a pretty terrible brand of absinthe. It is, however, the most popular brand (mostly due to the company’s aggressive move into the UK when sale of the drink there became legal again), so it happened to be the one that was available.

We did the Bohemian ritual, which is basically to dip a sugar cube in the liquid, set it on fire on a slotted spoon, and let it caramelize. Finally, douse it in an amount of cold water equal to the original amount of absinthe and stir the sugar into the mixture.

The taste is not unlike sweet, herbed peppermint schnapps (others would say “mouthwash” and they wouldn’t be too far off). The effect, due to the 70% alcohol content by volume, is strong and immediate. “It tastes like burning,” to quote Ralph Wiggum. For me, it also caused a huge headache to start developing.

After that, straight shots were also tried. As a liqueur, it’s not bad, actually! Would probably would make a decent mixer, perhaps with some bitters and lemon. As an absinthe — who knows? Next time, I’d like to try a sans-thujone pastis of some repute, maybe Herbsaint or Ricard. Unfortunately, the only variety available in local stores is Pernod, which is horrible, horrible (Good ‘n’ Plenty liqueur, I call it) and a far cry from the drink marketed under that name in the 1800s.


Played more DDR after drinks, the first few games of which were rather interesting due to the aftereffects of alcohol. After a short time things went back to normal and I tried something new: double mode.

Double mode is like normal DDR except you use two controllers, and arrows move seamlessly between the left and right pads. Tough, but lots of fun! A good workout, sorely needed. I’m glad for kakumei’s pad-modding — double mode would have been nearly impossible without it.

And by the way, let me say that the Dreamcast versions of the DDR games are so much better than Playstation in terms of song selection!

Did you know there’s a DDR 7th Mix in Japan? Can’t wait for it to cross the ocean so I can get a crack at it.


2002.08.16

Out of the frying pan…

Every so often, I’ll be driving up to a freeway entrance and manage to notice, before it’s too late, that it’d be a very bad idea to actually take it. This is what happened to me last night as I was attempting to leave the U District via I-5. Counting my lucky stars, I bypassed the intersection and continued westward.

Fortunately I ran right into state highway 99, the other major north-south thoroughfare into the city, and though I didn’t know the road that well, I got on. I knew it didn’t intersect with I-90 but I was fairly certain I could find my way there with little trouble.

As I drove down highway 99, which was completely clear, I could look over to my left and see the traffic nightmare on I-5 that I’d narrowly escaped. It was quite clear that nothing was going to ruin my night. I had Miyazaki’s Spirited Away DVD (rented from Scarecrow) on my passenger seat and a bellyful of Godiva chocolates. Sakamoto Chika was playing on the stereo, and the Mariners had just beaten the Red Sox 4-3. Drunk with power, I took the first exit when I knew I was in the vicinity of my interstate target…

… and emerged one block north of Safeco Field. Ten minutes after the end of the previously mentioned baseball game. A long cargo train was stalled to the east, blocking all traffic in that direction, with Puget Sound an impassable barrier to the west.

An hour later, I was home. A bit of karmic payback — it always gets you in the end.


2002.08.17

Musical explorations

Today saw MH, a high school friend who also followed me to college in Boston. It was good catching up on old times and trading some music recommendations. For future reference (and so I don’t forget), I’m going to jot down a quick list here.

Noticed at Barnes & Noble that Balligomingo finally released a CD. I had their demo on constant rotation a couple years ago, so I should probably pick this one up.

Song of the day: Motoya, “Almond Eyes”

Spirited Away

Saw Miyazaki’s Spirited Away this afternoon, and it was just incredible. It was big, beautiful, weird, dark, whimsical… that last one, especially, a Miyazaki trademark I thought sorely lacking in Mononoke Hime and a big reason why I haven’t ever thought of that film (despite its wide acclaim) as one of his better works.

Truthfully, I’ve never really been able to rank Miyazaki’s output; each one is so different that at various times, any of his pictures have had special resonance with me. Totoro and Kiki talk directly to earlier versions of me, Porco Rosso to my hopelessly romantic core (and I suspect, something more complex as I get older), Laputa to my sense of adventure and wonder. Mononoke is the exception, because in many respects it’s a reinvention of his earlier Kaze no tani no Nausicaa rather than its own distinct work. It remains to be seen where Sen will stand; I suspect many more viewings will be necessary before I know for sure.

Hopefully Disney will market it well. I think it would appeal to kids hopped up on Harry Potter or Roald Dahl books.


Last night was Battle Royale, a film from Japan dealing with a class of high schoolers who are left on an island with weapons and explosive collars around their necks. Their task: only one can remain alive after the third day, or everyone dies. I would say Lord of the Flies on speed, but I haven’t read (or seen) it yet.

Can’t say I was a real fan of this film, but a lot of the recent hyper-violent Japanese movies that have been getting popular over here in the last few years (for example, about a billion pictures by Takashi Miike) haven’t done much for me, either. Come to think of it, this applies even to more introspective films, such as Shunji Iwai’s Lily Chou-Chou no subete. I think there’s something about the modern Japanese youth experience that I just can’t relate to, and that’s affecting my ability to enjoy these pictures.

Of course there’s something about lots of anime youth titles that I click with instantly, stuff like Kareshi kanojo no jijo. But most of what I like is at least four years old now and the live action films I talked about are all from the last two years. There’s also probably a noticeable age gap between the folks who made the anime and these new, hotshot directors.

Is this just a way of saying I feel old? I guess so.

Oddly enough, I’ve very much been enjoying youth-oriented Korean films from the same timeframe. Something else to wonder about?


2002.08.18

Scare me good

Last night I saw Soul Survivors, a DVD Klar picked up pre-viewed at Blockbuster (with this useful, reusable justification: “It’s not any more than paying for a movie ticket”). I knew I was in trouble at the trailer’s opening crawl:

From the producers of
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER
and
URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT

Is it just me, or have mainstream directors forgotten how to make a good, scary film? None of the recent pack of teen-idol slasher/supernatural horror flicks have made me the slightest bit uneasy about turning off the light to go to sleep. Hannibal sent no shivers down the spine, no matter how much it revelled in being explicitly gory. Soul Survivors was just messy: messy script, messy directing, messy everything. A scary movie should make you too jittery to leave to use the bathroom, no matter how desperate the need!

What were the last few films that genuinely spooked me? Hmm. Stir of Echoes, probably. Before that, The Ring Virus. A couple of really good flicks by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Cure and Seance. And then The Sixth Sense, the movie that got me back into watching scary movies again in the first place.

Oh, and Scott’s latest entry, that’s succeeded pretty well at freaking me out.

Someone out there, recommend me a good, recent, scary movie. Something you’re willing to watch with me, though! Because I’m a giant wuss if it’s really scary.


Only 3 feet tall

Was just shown the most frightening thing: a music video of Leonard Nimoy singing “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.” It frightens me that something like this can exist. Apparently it’s already spread like a virus through the blog community, so I won’t tire you with a link. Besides, I’d feel guilty if I did.


Return of the beast

Special fun & games session in Seattle to celebrate grimm’s visit.

I went to the ______ Kinko’s to buy new blank business card-sized cards and the man there tried to charge me $506.50 for 500 of them (1 box). A dollar a cut! Now, we bought our last box at a Kinko’s (different location) for less than $20, so he was obviously trying to fleece us. But come on! If you’re going to reel someone in, quoting an insane number like that isn’t going to fool anyone. I don’t know what I’m more insulted by: his attempt to scam me, or his ineptness at doing it.

Anyways, that was the beginning of the day. Friends, conversation, a bit of playful frolicking in a playground on a beautiful day, and then — yum! — raw tuna at Chinoise have turned things around quite effectively.


2002.08.20

Babble

blog ma po tofu.
blog hot & sour soup.
blog curry beef chow fun.

blog pernod
+ blog oban 14
+ blog glenlivet 18

= s u g s blog

tomorrow to blog BOMBAY.

blog domestic science club drinks blue champagne, honorary member mike nesmith’s mother. next stop, blog wonderland.

UNDERSTANDING may not bring HAPPINESS.
REVEL in the NOW.

blog sleep.


2002.08.21

Eat Poop You Cat

Eat Poop You Cat, a neat little game with an, um, interesting name. In concept, seems like Telephone or Exquisite Corpse, only crossed with a bit of “React-o-Draw” mixed in.

To quote the rules (from the above site):

Yarr! This be a game whar ye writes a sentence on a piece of paper. Arr. Then ye gives the paper to some other scurvey sod, who draws a picture of the sentence. Tarr! Then they folds ye sentence back and gives the paper to another mangey fish-licker, Who writes his own caption, then he be foldin’ back the picture and the game goes on! Blagarrr! Rarrr!

The game was invented by pirates! Apparently, it’s a good way to while away time that would otherwise be spent contemplating one’s scurvy.

Would like to try and host a game sometime, either standalone or as part of a fun & games session (not sure how the logistics would work out, but I bet it’d be interesting finding out). Looks like my kind of game!


Buffy on CD

The soundtrack for the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Once More with Feeling,” will be released on 24 September by Rounder Records. It’ll include four bonus tracks (an early demo track as well as suites from three episodes — “Hush,” “Restless,” and “The Gift”) , so it should definitely be something to sing about!

Rounder’s put up their info page for the CD, and it looks like you can preorder it there as well.


2002.08.23

Entelechy in action

A big advantage of Sugs’s visits is his “deep rub neck repair therapy” sessions.

Every Friday at work we have a meeting which mostly consists of a few salient announcements and then the imbibing of alcohol and (sometimes) outdoor frolicking. Today the activity of choice was Ultimate Frisbee, a game which I’ve never really played but which has always looked like fun. I made a diving catch in the endzone, which ended in my doing a forward flip in the grass and banging my head on the ground on the rebound (I held onto the disc though!). It wasn’t until much later in the day that I realized I’d messed up my neck a bit.

Enter the magic hands. I don’t know what he does, but it hurts like hell and it’s pretty darn effective. He’s better at straightening out a knot than most of the professionals I’ve tried, and also at imparting such searing agony that one tends to start uncontrollably drooling onto whichever unlucky surface one is resting on.

As I type this, I’m very, very relaxed. Also unable to move. Magic hands.


I have proof! I bowled a totally improbable 185 today!! Since I never expect to get here again, I present my line score for posterity.

[0/][X][9-][8/][X][F/][X][X][9-]

Yes, I fouled the seventh frame. Apparently, “for insurance reasons,” Sunset Bowl has to have foul lights active at all times. I guess I’ve never played a game before where there was an actual penalty for fouling (specifically, it resets the second half of the frame as if no pins went down), so I’ve been blissfully unaware of my poor form — until today!

More notable was the man in the lane next to us, who had a clear ball with a Budweiser bottle floating in it.


Simone is a fairly silly movie with some nice moments scattered throughout. The technology shown in the film is laughable, although the central concept, a completely computer generated film actor, seems at least plausible in the near future.

Incidentally, a lot of the actual sequences featuring “Simone” seemed pretty obviously computer-rendered, so we were wondering if her face at least was some kind of composite ideal (which would be kind of neat, considering the content). This line of thought was encouraged by the cast credit (“Simone as herself”). Unfortunately, she was an actual, individual actress after all.

Still, it was somewhat entertaining. 6 out of 10, maybe?

The most memorably silly technology line I’ve encountered in a recent movie was in Lynn Hershman-Leeson’s Teknolust, where the script dodges the explanation for how something is possible by presenting the following exchange:

Agent Hopper: Professor, is it possible for a computer virus… to infect a human?
 
Professor Crick: Oh sure, yes, it’s possible…

…after which point the film continues as if other explanation is needed!

(don’t shoot me if the wording isn’t exact, it’s been two months!)


2002.08.25

Notebook shopping

Ahh, the joys of shopping for a new computer.

My current laptop (Dell Inspiron 3800) has been falling apart for a long time. Half of the keys on the keyboard spontaneously disable themselves for hours at a time. The case has cracked along one of the seams and I now have to be careful about how I carry the thing, lest it undergo sudden and catastrophic mitosis. The newest insult is that it doesn’t always want to turn on; it’s now been powered up for the last 120 hours straight because I’m too afraid to shut it down.

I need to send it in but I don’t really want to deal with life without a computer for the next six weeks. The kicker is that this machine was a warranty replacement for my previous Dell, which was even more of a mess than this one.

Thankfully it’s bonus time and I can do something about this. I’ve been spending most of the day researching notebook computers with the aim of getting something sturdy and fast; a real desktop replacement. Truth be told, that was my goal when I purchased my last computer two years ago, but at the time I was approaching things from a more conservative viewpoint. Having my last computer, a super-fancy top-of-the-line laptop (the first “premium” machine I ever stuck my neck out to buy), stolen in Vancouver within three weeks of purchase was somewhat traumatic for me.

I won’t splurge extravagantly this time, but I’ll definitely aim a little higher than the “buy low to prevent future heartbreak” approach of the year 2000. Currently looking very promising is the Fujitsu Lifebook E7110. I’ll tell you one thing: It won’t be a Dell. Not for a couple years, at least.

Will be sure to update as things proceed.


Picked up a Canon Powershot S200 for B. at buy.com last night. Toys for everyone!


Unbelievable

Sugs’s first statement after watching Unbreakable: “That wasn’t a true story, was it?”


2002.08.26

Wrong message

We’ve just all been given baby rattles to shake at the company meeting tomorrow. I mean, yes, they come in a variety of “tasteful” highlighter pen colors and have that fancy little butterfly logo on them, but in the end they’re still baby rattles.

It’s kind of deliciously appropriate, since as a division, we’re the one that spends all day suckling at the corporate teat without contributing too much in return. Still, I’m not too sure if that’s the message we want to emphasize to the powers that be!

Ah, corporate life.


Googlewhack this

Sugs on Stealing Harvard: “I had hoped never to put the names Tom Green and Jason Lee together in the same sentence.”


SEXY ULALA YEAH!

The senbei came over tonight with a Japanese Playstation 2 and a selection of bizarre games which, once again, affirm that the Japanese people are some of the strangest on Earth.

First is a bizarre game called Yoake no Mariko, which (get this) is a voice acting simulation game. Seriously. You get a character, acting tips, a movie sequence and an onscreen script. Then you speak into the game-supplied microphone peripheral at the prompted time and the character’s mouth moves to your words. You’re scored on how well you fit the allotted time and your intonation, and the story of the cartoon (with character designs by Spumco of Ren and Stimpy fame) will change depending on your performance. DDR-like, a phantom announcer will yell things like “Excellent!” and “Boo!” after each line you perform.

At the very end you can watch a highlights reel / trailer of your movie with your recorded lines stuck in. It’s very, very strange (but cool). Apparently it was popular enough in Japan to force the release of a sequel. Neat!

The second game is one I can’t really put into words. It’s called Super Galdelic Hour and is published by Enix, and to my eyes resembles nothing less than a party game starring busty females dressed as Teletubbies. The mini-games include things like whack-a-mole, boxing, a version of sumo wrestling that involves the women whacking their butts together, each trying to knock their opponent out of the ring.

Only one word works: disturbing.

Finally, Sega’s super sequel, Space Channel 5 Part 2. Gameplay is similar to the first game, but now we get different costumes for Ulala, kicked-up-a-notch dance moves and soundtrack (featuring the return of our retro friend, “Mexican Flyer”), rapping, singing, bemani-style playing of instruments, and a full cast of characters old and new.

Soul-singing space president! Police playgirls! Space cheerleaders! All cheer in our glorious engrish!

GO GO GO GO SPACE CHANNEL 5
LETS DANCING LETS SHOOTING
SEXY ULALA YEAH!

Best of all, the PS2 controls seem a little more forgiving than those on the Dreamcast release.


Computer hunt update: laptop’s been ordered. Estimated delivery 9/24. O torture!

Song of the day: “Mexican Flyer” (Gomi’s Lair Radio Edit)

2002.08.27

Just a metal

[01:48 AM] jet: incidentally, i can’t belive there’s a freaking international association for magnesium
[01:48 AM] jet: it’s a fucking element, people
[01:48 AM] jet: get a life

Construction time again

Have reconfigured n(e)’s sidebars extensively over the last few days, hopefully cleaning up clutter and making them more useful.

New panes! Hopefully interesting information! Do you love it? Hate it? Don’t quite love it but will help me raise the baby?


2002.08.28

Pop! Pop!

The guy in the next office has been spending the last hour popping bubble wrap. I’ve peeked in through his window a few times, and witnessed him doing the following: Typing on his computer, popping bubble wrap. Eating lunch, popping bubble wrap. Talking on the phone, popping bubble wrap. How do you do that without your conversation partner reaching through the handset and strangling you?

Pop!

Earlier, when I realized exactly what he was doing, it became crystal clear in my mind that this has actually been going on for weeks now. It’s been a constant background rhythm to my workplace existence.

Click!

For a second I wondered how a habit like this was sustainable, but then I remembered that there’s a giant roll of bubble wrap mounted on the wall of every mailroom in the complex. So presumably, this could continue for years.

Pop!

This is like those damned reel change markers in films. Before I knew what they were, they also existed in a world that sat comfortably just beyond my consciousness. Now that I’m on to this bubble wrap thing, I’ll never be able to relax.

Click!

Gah.


Dogs and cats

Thank goodness we don’t have pets.

[17:36] b: stupid
[17:36] b: dog
[17:36] b: i hate all dogs and cats now

You’ll have to cut her some slack. She’s had a bad day.

Specifically, B. got bitten by a dog on the street after work, and had to get rabies shots at the ER because she didn’t know whose dog it was. Four hours in the hospital and three painful shots (with more sessions to come). It was a little bite, from a little dog, but better safe than sorry.

If you’ve got some spare warm wishes today, consider pointing them towards the big apple. They’ll be appreciated.


Snippets

The Laboratorium’s blog lives again!


Digging the self-titled album by LASZLO, Norah Jones’s old band. MP3.com has four of their tunes available for free listening, but the whole album is good. Enigmatic, energetic acid jazz/pop. Is that even a genre? Music’s not my primary hat.


Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky is a fascinating film that doesn’t quite seem to settle into either the truly unsettling (presumably aquired from its predecessor, Abre los Ojos) or the truly meaningful (presumably Crowe). Nevertheless, it’s compelling in its own way, and definitely very pretty. It also has the Monkees’ “Porpoise Song” in its soundtrack! Definitely scores bonus points for that. Features decent performances by Tom Cruise and Penélope Cruz, and an excellent one by Cameron Diaz. Touches of What Dreams May Come and Total Recall.

Not sure I liked the message the film gives about the importance of one’s looks. Trying not to spoil the story, so I’m being deliberately vague. But still, what kind of message is that?

Definitely do want to see Amenábar’s film now, though. From all accounts, it’s better.


Re-read John Varley’s Blue Champagne anthology, newly acquired, last night (and believe me, locating a copy for sale was something of a task). Now I remember why Varley’s my favorite SF author of all time. It’s too bad that his novels don’t have the same tautness and spark of the stories, and that he hasn’t returned to the short fiction format since this book was published in 1987.

If you like speculative fiction, I highly recommend both this collection as well as two others, The Barbie Murders (a.k.a. Picnic on Nearside), and The Persistence of Vision (a.k.a. In the Hall of the Martian Kings). All three are currently out of print, which is a real shame, but it’s possible that your local library or used bookstore might have one.

Song of the day: LASZLO, “Butterflies”

2002.08.29

Le Package Totale #2

[17:25] cheerful: ah you must be doing really lofty important stuff. Just wanted to say hi, and affirm that no, you can’t order le package total at Taco Hell and actually receive it without explanation.
[17:26] yukino: you tried it?
[17:26] cheerful: yeah
[17:26] yukino: and failed utterly?
[17:26] cheerful: I didn’t even get a larf
[17:27] cheerful: I must have gotten the disgruntled taco boy

See? Told you.


2002.08.30

NO STRIKE

No strike! Yeah!

My faith in baseball is restored!

Now if only the Mariners could limp into the playoffs, I’ll be happy.


Figs figs figs

I’ve been watching a lot of The Galloping Gourmet on the Food Network lately. Talk about tearing down my youthful illusions.

Um, let me explain.

When I was growing up we didn’t have cable television. Not that I grew up before cable was big, but my parents didn’t see any need to receive (or pay) for it. They’ve moved off that stance lately and finally signed up in 1998 — I guess Dad just needed more of a sports fix than you can get off the air nowadays.

What all this meant was that when I was growing up (and during the summers when I started boarding school and later, college), I got most of my entertainment from PBS. Good old WTTW-11 Chicago. I watched Doctor Who, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Two’s Company, and cooking shows. Lots of cooking shows.

This was when I first got acquainted with Graham Kerr. Not in person, of course — just that special relationship a viewer has with a favorite tv personality, somewhere at the mid-point between “casual fan” and “psychotic stalker.” He was hard not to like, with those crazy suspenders, that accent, the sense of humor. Plus the total adherence to non-fat, healthy cooking, and somehow the food still looked so good! I think his show was called Graham Kerr’s Kitchen.

Thus was I totally unprepared to deal with The Galloping Gourment — didn’t even have an inkling that Graham Kerr was well-known as a television chef back in the 60s, nor… this. The entire paradigm of this show.

At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss the dated clothing, the decor, and Kerr’s slightly goofy demeanor. After awhile, though, you realize that it all reinforces the unstructured, swinging-bachelor-pad gestalt of this show. It is, on every level of its existence, completely and utterly hedonistic. Gallons of clarified butter, heavy cream, thinly veiled sexual innuendo, and frequent imbibing of wine. If you don’t know what I mean, combine the ideas of free love and British cuisine together and you’ll have it in a nutshell.

The recipes look so instantly fatal that watching them being made is kind of like observing a train wreck in slow motion. One thing hasn’t changed, though — the food still looks tasty! Also, the man oozes a charisma and capricious joie de vivre that certainly seems to have become dulled in older age. It’s no wonder there was a cult of personality built up around him and his show when it first aired.

No suspenders, though. Still, makes for fascinating, fun viewing, while one ponders the eternal question: Did aliens abduct Graham Kerr in the 70’s and replace him with a robot?

I think it’s time for a new Galloping Gourmet cult. Just don’t eat too much of the food.

[Some online research seems to indicate that he had a near-fatal accident (among other misfortunes) and then discovered religion. I guess that would tone anyone down. Would explain the obsession with healthy eating too, I think.]


Speaking of food, had dinner last night at Restaurant Zoë in Belltown. Condensed review:

(1) Cocktail: The Siren. Tasted kind of like a jalapeno margarita, with a big slice of pepper floating in the middle of the glass. Was actually very tasty, though sugar on the rim of the glass made for unpleasant, sticky hands.

(2) Raw albacore appetizer, made with what seemed to be a cucumber-dill sauce and potatoes. Simply amazing!

(3) Roasted pork with figs, citrus-flavored couscous and fried sage. Wonderful stuff. Loved the figs. All restaurants should use figs, in quantity and more often. Not quite up to the level of the appetizer, though.

Ambience seems perfect for a romantic evening. Also, in a big bonus, there was a man who would keep your bread plate full with as much diligence as a water-filler in an Indian restaurant. And it was good bread!

Song of the day: LASZLO, “Beloved”

2002.08.31

Diving in to accessibility

Today’s major events consisted of an impromptu day trip to Portland, and major behind-the-scenes tweaking right here on the site.

For those who don’t know, Mark Pilgrim’s Dive Into Accessibility is an incredibly useful guide to ensuring that one’s blog (and, by extending the concepts, general web pages) is viewable by everyone, regardless of browser type or user.

Been trying to implement as many of these suggestions as possible, which has been easier than it could have been because I’ve actually been paying a lot of attention to browser compatibility all along (paying attention, but not always succeeding!). I know there’s not really much of an audience here, but at least it makes me feel better. Anyways, new features include:

More to come later, I’m sure. In the meantime, check out the guide. Perhaps you’ll want to make your own site more accessible too.

I’ll post all about the Portland adventure tomorrow. Sleep beckons.



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