Monday, July 31, 2006

Wheelhouse

I'd like to take a few minutes of your time to talk to you about "The Commish." It was a show that ran in prime-time on the ABC Network from 1991 to 1995. Actor Michael Chiklis (of "The Shield" fame) experienced his first big TV break from this show after a movie career that appeared to fizzle after the John Belushi biopic "Wired."

The basis of the series was the exploits of a good-hearted police commissioner named Tony Scali in charge of a small-town in upstate New York. It was described as "offbeat," and by all accounts it was well-made, but that kind of appeal is hardly sure footing in today's TV programming environment. With an estimable supporting cast, including such vets as Teresa Saldana and David Paymer, it was well received, but after ABC started shuffling the time slot around in 1994, it started to hemorrhage viewers and...

What's that? An octopus? Whoa, it's getting closer.... I.... oh no... NOT THE FACE! MMMPPPHH! MMMPPPPHHHHMMMMPPPPHHH!! MMMMMMM! RRRMMMMMPPPHH! MMPPHH!!

MMPPH! PPHHH! MMMPPPH!! MMMMRRRRMMMMRRR! MMPPPHHH!!

MMPPH! MMPPH! MRRRRPPHHH!!

Special weirdness

This was a weird nugget that made little sense when I first perused it -- a so-called dialect called Special English is employed in American broadcasts of news internationally. As the article says, it's "a 1,500-word vocabulary and short, simple phrases without the idioms and clich├ęs of colloquial English, [and] broadcasters speak at about two-thirds the speed of conversational English." The first thing I thought was Esperanto? ¡Que?! But you have to hear this weirdness to believe it.

Sample it fo yoself.

The intentionally... slow... cadences... are... immensely... creepy. It's as if you're listening to someone talking out code for Le Resistance buried in the nightly news on NPR. Or, brainwashing. Or, an episode of "The Outer Limits."

Inner workings

I'm feeling no confidence in capitalism at all these days. My (nameless) place of business is owned by (nameless) private equity investment group, who have revolutionized corporate hackery in the fiercest manner possible since they bought us.

These guys make David Brent look like Jack Welch -- they fired half the total employees at our paper upon purchase and then proceeded to wrap their impecunious fingers around the windpipe of capital improvement. They have nickel and dimed us at every turn for such frivolous purchases as "light bulbs" and "windows." Seriously, half the floor works under dimmed lights because fluorescent bulbs run $80 a throw. The walls are cracked from moving abuse, and the air conditioning fails frequently enough to threaten all of our IT. We have routinely gone 48 hours without e-mail because the server was toasted by kiln-like temps. A daily newspaper -- going without e-mail for 48 hours. Why not have us do without voltage, too?

The worst thing to come down the pike recently is the realization that the world of capitalism, the Adam Smith laissez faire fantasy world of consequence-free material accumulation, is run very much like this throughout the country, if not the world. There is no thought given to people -- the workers, comrades -- who make it possible, only the tunnel vision that drives managers and execs to wring a stone dry of every last droplet of blood they can squeeze from it.

There is a serious climate of antagonism at work here -- bad secret-keeping, continual withholding of raises and bonuses and 401k contributions, the constant threat of relocation to Long Island. It feels like the late 19th century, where corporations were allowed to beat their employees with glowing-hot lead rods when the caprice struck them. Sometimes, the worst times, it's not even like there's an outright intent to harm, but rather, what we deal with is merely the capitalistic fecal matter resulting from gross negligence and incompetence.

I advocate utopian anarchy, where valued commodity is phased out, food and product distribution occurs on an as-needed basis, housing is provided willfully and responsibly, and rainbows shoot out of my ass as I ride a Loch Ness Unicorn with Sasquatch.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Shill!

We ate at Batali's pizzeria Otto down by NYU today, and it kicked our balls. It was awesome -- the formaggio was excellent, and the fucking wood-fired pizza ruled my perineum it was so goddamn tasty.

I don't know -- we go to lauded restaurants all the time and food is good, but not great. The fucking food here was dappled with the magic semen of Pope Pius, or some enchanted Italian magical gooblegobble. No other way to explain it.

I don't regret a single one of the 5,000 calories consumed in only 45 minutes time. Suckahs.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Cool movie review: "Miami Vice"

Psst... hey kid. Yeah, you kid. C'mere. Wanna see something cool? Go out and sit through "Miami Vice." I'm of the opinion that Michael Mann can turn water into wine (even less than successful efforts like "Collateral" are eminently enjoyable), and his resurrection of the 1980s TV staple is a summer movie victory for the director.

Moody, dark, sexy, and shot in gritty DV, Miami has never looked steamier and dirtier than when Mann puts his camera to it. The skies at night are full of expansive, angry clouds, bathed in the city's orange light pollution, swollen with moisture and portending lightning storms at a moment's notice. The eight-cylinder sports cars rev in and out of frame, taillights streaking across our view. High-octane speedboats dart across gulf waters under blazing hot sunlight. What a world Mann has created -- and what fun it is for leads Foxx and Farrell to play in that world, what with the female companionship in the pulchritudinous personages of Naomie Harris and Gong Li.

The trademark Mann gun violence is back for another go around, with some vicious firearm back-and-forth that both opens and closes the flick. This is not your average summertime Gore Verbinski joint -- you're in the hands of a real auteur here.

Bonus fact: It seems like casting director Francine Maisler looked to the HBO Sunday night lineup for hints, as no fewer than three leads from 9 p.m. Sunday dramas are featured in the cast: John Hawkes ("Deadwood"), Pascha Lychnikoff ('Deadwood"), and Ciaran Hinds ("Rome").

Friday, July 28, 2006

The acid problem

In the latest of a grand cavalcade of "Stuff That I Make Fun of That's Horribly Unfortunate For the Downtrodden of Bangladesh" stories I like to bring up, acid attacks are apparently on the rise.

On the rise. Acid. Acid attacks. Attacking with acid.

OK, I'm more than willing to throw a bone to the various ways of means of human violence and depravity, but acid strikes me as more than a little byzantine. Especially amongst the poor and downtrodden of Bangladesh. You'd figure that if someone wanted to fuck up another South Asian's shit, he'd just pick up a crowbar, piece of jagged metal, or gun, if it's a Sunday.

What other esoteric violences will the Bangledeshis be inclined to employ? The Pear? Or perhaps, the Judas Cradle?

On ze couch

Und zo, tell me vaht you are so scared of.

Well, doc, my wife is going on an overnight trip to the greater D.C. area.

Vashington-Dizzle-Sizzle, you mean?

No, I don't mean. Please don't say that, ever again.

Okeydoke... continue.

Well, she's going to be be gone until tomorrow, and I'm just afraid that...

Zat you vill miss her? Very understandable!

No, doc, that's not it. What I'm afraid of is... is...

Uh huh, yes, yes, zis is a zafe place... say vaht you vill.

It's just that... there's a danger of her... filking.

Uh, "filking"? I'm not understanding.

Filking -- it's a hobby that her hosts are apparently into.

Yes, yes, but -- vaht is zis "filking"?

Filking is a music genre amongst fans of sci-fi and fantasy. Fr'instance, if you ever boogie down to a Star Trek convention and catch some dudes dressed as Klingons dirging over past victories and lost brethren, that's filking.

Vhen vould I ever boogie down to a Star Trek convention?

Me... this session is about me, you imaginary Austrian fever dream!

Right, zen. Zo, vhen it comes to zis filking, you're afraid of your vife succumbing?

I saw "Trekkies." I know how magnetic the pull of a prosthetic Klingon brow smeared in spirit gum can be. What if she comes back different? What if she starts acting like the merciless Klingon sisters Lursa and B'Tor from the "Next Gen" episode "Past Prologue"? I shudder to think what hunnish practices Klingons submit their mates to on the marital bed.

Vell, zat would be interesting. Might you come back and give me details of ze Klingon romantic habits? I vould like to hear of any testicle-related torture zo zat I may incorporate it into my own perverse -- borderline illegal -- sexual predilections.

What am I paying you for?

You're not paying me a single zing. You're imagining all zis vhile passed out on the stoop of your building after a hot afternoon zpent quaffing gravy and Scotchgard.

Oh yeah. Good times!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Simple pleasure

Like, holy shi'ite, I just ate the best peach of my entire life. It was one of those white California deals, and it possessed the perfect sweetness-to-juiciness ratio. Even the physiognomy of the fuzzy rind was pleasing, suggesting a well-balanced and even-tempered fruit. It was at such a state of greatness that it was one of those peaches where the pit had separated from the meat perfectly, allowing me to poke it out and avoid the inconvenience of having to chew around it.

I know... I did say it was perfect!

[Note: The peach pictured above is merely a stunt-fruit.]

Bitch had it coming

What year is it? 1981? 2002? I just heard a co-worker grousing about a woman who disappeared off the West Side Highway last night after a night of clubbing in Chelsea last night.

The details of the story sound cautionary -- underage drinking, wandering inebriated and alone in the big city -- but the details this guy kept hitting on were the "white mini-skirt and a black halter-top," as in, "what do you think is going to happen to you if you walk on the West Side Highway alone at night wearing a mini-skirt."

Ohhh... I get it, dude. She had it coming, right? Because of the way she was dressed! That's it! Sure, it was a stupid thing to be doing anyway, but her slutty attire set this up in a way that makes it her fault she vanished.

I get it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Kevin Smith-ee Project

I've always been unapologetic of my fondness of 1994's "Clerks." It struck me at just the right time -- filmmaking was becoming more democratic again, a la the ’70s, and I was developing a taste for offbeat movies as I was simultaneously jockeying a fucking register in Dead End, Long Island. Whatever it is about Kevin Smith movies that speak to people, it spoke loudly to me. Fat bastard can go out, sell his comic collection, and shoot a semiautobiogaphical tale of complacency and ennui, sprinkled with blowjob jokes and "Star Wars" references. A tidy little project in its day...

But now, after twelve years and seven flicks, Smith's welcome is wearing thin. Whereas there has always been a chewy emotional-nougat center at the center of his movies, Smith's proclivities tend to get in the way of clear storytelling -- penchants for female denigration/punishment, homoerotic denigration, and the ubiquitous dick joke. There have been a few unvarnished instances where he's successfully conveyed a poignant moment ("Chasing Amy"... and... "Chasing Amy"), but too often, you just wind up sitting through "Clerks II."

Why, oh why, does any movie need a donkey-show scene? Is it off to say this was a totally gratuitous donkey-show scene? And what's with trying to sell the emotional climax of a movie just as a man fucks an ass in the ass?

An open letter to Kevin Smith:

Dear Kev,

Find your actual core strengths -- it's not directing, guy, and sometimes, it's not even writing. But more often than not, it's writing. You used to be described as the Woody Allen of your generation, but these days you're more like the Hal Needham of your generation. Your dialogue can still crackle, and some actors have never sounded better than when they were reading your lines.

Get back to zero. Concentrate on what you do best. Yours can be a comeback also heralding the return of Affleck, an actor I've always had some affection for, as long as he's reciting your lines.

And for chrissakes, do it before you're 40 and a footnote.

Sincerely,

Bill Scurry

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I sold my diamonds

I love these Fabrikant ads that run in the Old Grey Lady a few times a week. Apparently, they're this jewelry concern who'll pay you cash for your old diamonds... that you just have laying around.

I know a only little about advertising, but within that discreet bundle of knowledge is the fact that you have to know who your potential client is when crafting an ad. The dissolute (a favorite vocabulary word of the Salad's these days, as we careen towards the Apocalypse) recumbent lady in the ad above is just hanging around her Upper East Side townhouse, wearing that Chloe dress from last season, wondering what to do with the buckets of diamonds that her coked-up architect husband keeps buying her to distract her as he carries on an affair with his 19-year-old intern from Bridgehampton. Which is just as well, because she's so Ambiened up that the last time she felt anything even remotely resembling an erotic urge was two years ago at the Spence "Class of 1990" reunion, when she accidentally brushed up against that server, Eusebio, as he was bringing out the crab and hearts-of-palm canapes.

Or something like that. The other ad the Fabrikants run feature and 80-year-old dowager with pulled skin and a David Gest-like look of surprise that accompanies an overlifted brow, who courteously shares with us "I sold my diamonds to Andrew and Peter Fabrikant." And thank Christ! If there's one demographic in the United States that's severely underserved, it's wealthy old social register matrons from Manhattan.

C.C.H.

The Good Mr. Rich was very kind to me on my birthday, and he set my shit up with the first season of FX's "The Shield" on DVD. This is a high act of rule-ification, as the awesomehood of "The Shield" now owns my ass into indentured perpetuity. This is why I love when people rain down gifts of TV shows on DVD (take the opportunity to browse my Amazon wishlist on your way out -- you set me up, I'll flash ya a little neck via my iSight webcam). The Salad and his Wife-o-matic 5000 gobbled up the first season and went back for more, post haste.

You know, everyone raves about the realism, the performance of Michael Chiklis, etc... and those are all laudable aspects. It's a great show. But I'm here to throw a klieg on Carol Christine Hilaria Pounder, aka C.C.H. Pounder, aka Det. Claudette Wyms on the show. Where you been all my life? You wanna know what makes this programme better than all the other cop shows of the past 15 years? C.C.H., that's what. To my knowledge, not since Tyne Daly has there been a lady cop who's NOT a lady cop. The role of Wyms was written for a guy, but they cast her instead -- and didn't change a lick of dialogue in the process. She's awesomely strong, awesomely fearless, awesomely skilled -- awesomely awesome.

Pounder bolts into the ground a show that might otherwise start to float away into implausibility on the merit of some of the pulpier/soapier aspects. With her service, the show is given the range to go places and retain gravity and almost total plausibility, the lifeblood of this L.A.-based series.

Buy up stacks of this show's DVDs -- Pounder deserves a raise.

Headline

This BBC headline caught my eye today:

"RUSSIAN OIL GIANT LIQUIDATED"

I can only imagine what that titanic battle must have been like, with said megalith tromping through Moscow, stepping on tanks and squashing the citizenry of that fair burg. And just as all hope seems gone, Giant Lenin breaks out of his sarcophagus and enchanges blows with the massive petrol monster, reducing the creature to a noxious slick that washes through Red Square. With the threat over, Giant Lenin returns to his normal size and lays back down in his tomb, arms crossed, waiting for the next threat to his city.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Discarded

Wig Head, oh Wig Head! Who has discarded you?
Wig Head, oh Wig Head, what's going on in that styrofoam noggin of yours?

Laying on a pile of hangers in a basket, oh Wig Head,
That doesn't look comfortable. I don't think you belong there.

What stockperson misplaced your lovely spheroid head?
Oh Wig Head, what color mop were you styling for us, anyway?

Was it the Tova Borgnine collection?
Perhaps the Jessica Simpson line... we just don't know.

Wig Head, oh Wig Head! It's fate that turned my peeping lens upon you!
Wig Head, do you hear me, you foamy bitch!

No wonder why you're cloistered here, in this lonely corner.
You're a total asswipe.

Desk

I think I've found the single locus in the contiguous 48 American states that contains the greatest concentration of fruit syrup -- the desk pictured above. When one mounts the boss's chair, the nostrils are overwhelmed by the sickly scent of dried splashes of fruit salad, so much so one could reasonably expect there to be a cloud of yellowjackets swarming the desk as you might find around a picnic garbage can.

Amidst the coffee-ringed paperwork and velvety pelts of industrial-strength dust -- if you're so bold as to dare an intrepid finger about the morass -- you will quickly find a dread stickiness commensurate with the rankest of men's room floors.

My enthusiasm for this job just never seems to wane.

Mediocre Adventure

We got the gang together and went to Six Flags in New Jersey, the place of many a happy memory as a child ("Dad, put down the gun"). The Salad loves to be thrown this way and that at high speeds by unreliable machinery -- and the Salad also needed a severe fucking break after the fiery inferno of last week's work-slash-personal imbroglio.

We bust ass out of the city at first light to make the gates as dey open -- and the sumbitches at Six Flags have already taken the liberty of closing three marquee rides for the day, including the rocket-to-hell called Kingda Ka (above). Slam. Shut. Close. Wham. What the fuck? A Friday in the dead center of a steamy July, and they have the baulce to turn rides off?

And it only got worse. As the threat of showers drew closer to the park at various hours of the day, they grounded the entire park to all visitors, leaving the people who ponied up 50 Yanqui dollar to either sit on their hands or eat ice cream gravel (and I'm not complaining about the latter). The final score was: Us - 11 rides; Six Flags - $300, at very least. No refunds, bitches.

The highlight for me was a bone-grinding ride on El Toro (above), the largest wooden roller coaster dealie in the world. Motherfucker was fast, and all squeezing-the-blood-out-my-brain and making-me-see-stars and shit. It was almost worth the cash to get good and fucked up like that.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bombay doors

Wait for it... wait... wait... right... fucking... NOW!

Did you feel it? That moment right there.

The moment when the bombs hit Lebanon. When that sea cruise nearly tips in the Atlantic. When the air temp gets to be unbearable out there, and power blinks out of existence under the crushing weight of 100 degree misery. When carbombs hit crowds of laborers in Iraq, killing hundreds of people. When Zelzal rockets fly into a Haifa train station, killing a bunch of commuters. When a drive-by shooting in Queens kills a bystanding 11-year-old girl. When your brother keeps telling you he wants to die.

Things just flew out of my grip. I need a whiskey. Or seven.

New way of doing things

There is a plague of young ladies walking around our fair burg holding their bags in the crook of their elbow, as our lovely model demonstrates above. Is this a new thing? I don't see how this is an easier way to carry a Coach hobo bag, as opposed to closing one's fingers over the strap.

The end-state is a dissolute look on the subject in question, padding around the city in her $300 flip-flops with a pair of huge sunglasses on. She's muchtoomuch precious to mingle with the element of the street, and her manicure is too delicate to grip this tote (which only contains a MotoRazr and a gram of coke, anyway). If it's possible for someone's arm to convey smug, this terrifying mode of ferrying a satchel fits that particular bill.

Bad timing

It's very inconvenient when your shrink accidentally pencils your standing Wednesday appointment into someone else's hands, just as all hell is breaking loose.

Looks like it's time to pencil in my own appointment with Dr. Bombay Sapphire.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Writing on the wall

We're challenged to look past our parochial notions of beauty:

YES, CONSTRUCTION SCAFFOLDING! YOU ARE WISE! I SHALL SMOKE THE SKINS OF SIX ENEMY FIGHTERS AS A TRIBUTE TO YOU THIS NIGHT!

Shnebber shnebber

Flupejack nippledinger. Shuwee gimma gimma hom. Blur naba blur naba shur. Doucshewiffle shnackycake fishtoast. Snickery traincorn weebuh doonk! Flurmble! Rupe seidey-heidey guhbink. Humma humma geflarg, yee-arrr-woop!

Monkeyarm toweljack. Whirr. WHIRR! WHIIIIRRRR! MOOPLE! SHMOOPLE! WHEEE!

Deadwood vs. Lucky Louie


This is brilliant execution, and I wish I had a brain that worked so I could think of this stuff myself.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Alike

Not to kick a guy when he's dead or anything, but there's this juxtaposition of Red Buttons and Darth Sidious:

I mean, c'mon! The resemblance is uncanny!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Changing sides

It's one thing to make us wait for two years for the ultimate "Sopranos" season. But, after dropping the weakest season in the run of the series, HBO is gonna make us wait another three or four months for the coda?

Oh no. Oh no. I'll watch this bitch, but don't expect me to be invested. Not like "Deadwood."

Speaking of which, David Milch tosses HBO its finest season of "Deadwood" yet, and he gets mere CRUMBS to finish his show off. Muttering, stumbling pricks.

Worldwide strife

Hey everyone! Buck up! It's not so bad! Just because every Arab seems to have a bloodlust on for the Jews these days and women are raped for sport in Africa, we still have reason to hope -- cats and mice can call a truce and be buddies! Whee!

White coat

Quick -- the guy on the right, is he the man who grinds your cracked peppercorn turkey at the deli counter, or is he a resident at Johns Hopkins?

No way to know for sure. I was pushing the cart yesterday at my "local grocer" and noticed the proliferation of the lab coat in use at the supermarket. As if there's science going on in the frozen food aisle. Does Boyle's Law still apply to the frozen spanakopita if it's stacked alongside tail-off shrimp?

Copernicus died trying to figure that one out.

Season 3

At last, something to destroy the doldrums of the steamiest July in memory -- some good TV in the guise of Project Runway, season trois. There was two hours worth of content last night, and a shitload of material to process. I never absorb contents of a reality season-opener; it takes me a good three eps to get a handle on my heroes and villains. I liked the screening process, but was taken aback by how many prospective contestants offered "building a brand" as their reason for entering. Building a brand? Seriously? What about a slickly earnest I design because I have to, or else I'd wither away into a pile of dry autumn leaves and blow away? How about some degree of design-school enthusiasm untainted by marketspeak? Whatever...

And for all Heidi and Nina Garcia's trumpeting about how this is "far and away the best group of designers ever," it seems hard to believe considering how weak some of the first task results were. Seems to me that the first expellee, Stacy Estrella, was an easy mark to go, what with her dot-com reasoning for getting into design. Also, the loser-up Vincent Libretti (he of that dumb fucking bucket-hat) seems destined to get dumped early, if for no other reason than his terminal indecision and complete inability to discern "fugly" as a concept. In addition, I don't see Hotlanta's own Michael Knight lasting too long. His portfolio looked so weak it had seven days.

The two designers who sound especially scabrous are Malan Breton and Laura Bennett (top right). If Malan mentions he was born in Taiwan one more time, I hope that Tim Gunn commands him to walk across the river into Brooklyn and fetch a slice of Junior's cheesecake, a la Diddy. Laura, however, is a different case -- her fucking audition tape screamed "UNFIT MOTHER." She looks like one of those women who hits 40 and refuses to acknowledge that she's got five kids, either behaviorally or sartorially. Seriously, her makeup and clothing suggest that she just drove Doc Brown's Delorean out of a Robert Palmer video.

In addition, the task results were mostly underwhelming. Still, I can't wait for next week for more personality to emerge.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Elocutor

The little Typewriter Guy In Your Head is not happy. He's wringing the damp rag of imagination, and is only getting tiny droplets.

Typewriter Guy is stymied -- work is a pain in the balls the last week or so, and he's not getting more than a few minutes of uninterrupted creative time a day with which to weave the webby-magic-make-em-ups that are his hallmark.

Also, Typewriter Guy In Your Head is fat. The Stupid Scale is a pole-smoking sonuvabitch when stood upon in the morning. It keeps displaying to him a number higher than the one he expects to see. Stupid Scale makes Typewriter Guy have low self-esteem.

Typewriter Guy in Your Head wants to have a week off, so he can recoup his creative batteries by reading Mary Roach books and watching "The Shield" on DVD. Typewriter Guy is just starting to enjoy the warmth of summer, but whenever he gets used to it, it's "back into the Brainpan with you, ye scut!"

Typewriter Guy In Your Head applied for a handgun license nine days ago. Only one more day to go...

Teevee rots your brain

Turn on brain.

Watch "Deadwood." Thought provoking violence.

Turn off brain.

Watch "Entourage." Mind-numbing excess.

Brain like portrayal of consequence-free fantasy life in Los Angeles.

Want to eat at Spago's. Want to drive Aston-Martin.

Brain decide it want to live in Los Angeles.

Brain look at busted-ass cats, non-sexy phone, lack of agent. Brain sigh.

Turn on brain again.

Brain need to steam pants before it go to bed.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Dateline

2:30 p.m., Mulberry St., Little Italy:

The World Cup final is on every publicly-displayed TV in sight, and the excitement is palpable throughout Little Italy. The person who's dismbodied legs are in the window above La Mela would occasionally crane downwards toward the open window and, with Peroni in hand and face purpled from screaming at the telly, whip up the crowd with a chant of, "EEE-TAL-YAA! EEE-TAL-YA!"

People took a moment between mouthfuls of penne arrabiata and chicken francese to holla back at the playa.

And after Italy actually scored? Forget it -- the howl lasted for blocks, from Kenmare and Cleveland (above) all the way down to Chinatown.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

New with added newness

Friends -- are you tired of getting people's headblood all over your shoes!? Don't you just hate it when you're walking to work, and the next thing you know, you're all walking up in some poor bastard's brains!?

Well, lament no more! Now there's the Rocky 8" First Med Composite Safety Toe Zipper Boots!

Walk in blood and brains without any fear of... skull... and... brains... up in your instep.

Or some shit.


(Ed note: This is an actual page from Galls.com, the fire/police buff's catalog. Don't ask me how I got it.)

It's a steamer out there

Where do pigeons go to cool down on a hot New York day?

Current

Mood: Stink-eye

Dry-cured meat: Cappicola

Nelson: Gunnar

70's smooth-rock band: Poco

Asian tribe: Magyar

Word score: Double

Diet secret: Phen-phen

Overt threat

There's this Buddhist sect called "SGI" that has a newish looking building on 15th Street, a door down from an Au Bon Pan. You can tell something is amiss just from looking at the facade. There's kind of a haunted-house feel to it, and only two signifiers give it away as a potential "House That Travolta Built": a nameplate that says SGI-USA (Soka-Gakkai International), and the above warning on the gate to the underground staircase. Which, by the way, you shouldn't go down unless you want to be eaten by a skunk.

Night After Night

Does anyone remember this show besides me? "Night After Night With Allan Havey" was one of the first shows on Comedy Central, back in 1991. He was pretty funny as a host. I liked this program.

Letter from abroad

I'm happy because I just received an e-mail from a friend of mine who lives in Berlin -- she stayed with me for a week a few years back during her first trip to New York.

She writes, "Dear Bill, How are you? You are in soccer fever? Whole Germany is a little bit crazy because of the World Cup. But it's a good atmosphere because many Germans are friendly and cooler, not so serious. On the other side I'm very happy when the World Cup is over and the city gets more quiet."

She is such a great soul, and I had a lot of fun having her as my guest in my old cramped apartment in Astoria, Queens. It was strange meeting someone so young who was so well-traveled and cosmopolitan out of the box, as most young Euros tend to be these days.

And it is a pleasure to report that I am, in fact, in soccer fever -- or at least I feel the excitement as I walk down the street and see crowds of Spanish, French, Portuguese, Germans, Brazilians, Africans, etc., huddled around storefronts with TVs watching the game very excitedly. And that's not even counting how busy it is in Queens, where over half the pop is foreign-born (Caribbean, Chinese, Korean, Czech, Greek, Mexican, Itals, etc).

World Cup summer in New York is so delightfully fucking polyglot, more than imagination permits (like that Star Wars cantina), and it makes me feel like a lazy, insular sod for being so poorly traveled.

Uncle Owen, this droid has a bad motivator!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mexican election

Felipe Calderon is declared the winner in that controversial Mexican Presidential election recount.

I worry about a fiscal and social conservative like Calderon beating out leftist-populist Obradors in a nation that's so rife with violent drug crime, low wages, and booming emigration. But what do I know about Mexican politics?

Reprehensible logic

The New York State Supreme Court shot down any wiggle room for same-sex marriage yesterday, and the fallout is being felt everywhere. This is, of course, the one lasting bit of conservative legacy for our ineffectual moron governor Pataki, considering that he's auditioning for a future failed presidential run in 2008, and anti-gay legislation is sure to be a hallmark of that campaign.

What's most repellent about the decision is the language used by Judge Robert Smith in the opinion:

"First, the Legislature could rationally decide that for the welfare of children, it is more important to promote stability, and to avoid instability, in opposite-sex than in same-sex relationships. Heterosexual intercourse has a natural tendency to lead to the birth of children; homosexual intercourse does not. Despite the advances of science, it remains true that the vast majority of children are born as a result of a sexual relationship between a man and a woman, and the Legislature could find that this will continue to be true. The Legislature could also find that such relationships are all too often casual or temporary. It could find that an important function of marriage is to create more stability and permanence in the relationships that cause children to be born. It thus could choose to offer an inducement -- in the form of marriage and its attendant benefits -- to opposite-sex couples who make a solemn, long-term commitment to each other."

This is a jurisprudential "expert," presiding over one of the highest courts in the land, and he has the fucking balls to include such hateful and disparaging slurs in a court opinion. To opine from the bench that gay relationships are "casual and temporary" is a grave, grave error in judgment, and borders on hate speech. Would he dare suggest that "Japs have tails," or that "cheap Jews have horns"? I think not.

But, as we've noted before, anti-gay sentiment has been practically enshrined from the top down in today's America. This decision, following the Kevin Aviance assault, is a dark day for gay equality in a state that should be at the vanguard of the movement.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The next great viral



The awesome Kyria found this curiosity out there in the world, and it has all the makings of the next web classic. Is there enough room in your hearts after "Fat Kid Jedi" and Juggernaut Bitch" for "How Is Fish's Weight That Dora Cat Can Carry?"

Well, you better MAKE room!

This is a sport?

Here comes golf at us again, riding the crest of Michelle Wie and Annika Sorenstam again. It's no suprise that the media love the female side of the sport, because the male side of the sport tends to resemble John Daly (above).

Sport? Why call it a sport when you can look like this and still perform at a peak level? Isn't this guy a disgrace to golf, or professional athletics in general?

I hate writing about sports, but I love bile.

Twist of fate

What if, when he was shot by thugs in the line of duty, Michael Knight was saved and nursed back to health not by Knight Industries, but rather by the newspaper syndicate KnightRidder?

KnightRidder, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young editor on a crusade to champion the cause of ledes, typography, and inverted pyramids, in a world of criminals who operate above Strunk and White's.

New anxiety

I just got done clipping my thumbnail (one of the Salad's more obscure compulsions is the constant surveillance of his fingernails) when I noticed the stamping in the metal base: "KOREA."

What? Who? Omigod! I bought a product made in Korea, but there is no hint as to which Korea it was milled in -- North or South.

This is a huge gamble. I may have unknowingly fed the rapacious, corrupt regime of Kim Jong Il with my insatiable need to maintain a constant fingernail length. Damn my want to cheaply-produced foreign-made goods! Damn this global interrelated world commerce paradigm!

For all I know, I may have enabled Kim to buy a bottle of Dom Perignon to smash over the nosecone of one of those Taipodong ICBMs. I may have personally jeopardized the safety of the entire West Coast, Japan, and South Korea.

Damn these fingernails... damn my hygienic fixations!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Business casual

They make such a huge deal out of what I wear on weekends (above) around here. It's not like I have a seersucker suit in my closet. Just take this thrown fish in the spirit in which it's given -- laterally.

Interlude

Mundi swings and whirls the blade swiftly, cutting the air with a distinct whick-whick every time he strikes at Hellbind. In his defensive posture, Hellbind analyzes the swordsmanship style even as backs away and parries each lunge.

Whick-whick, the air issues forth -- the noise of the blade's tip moving faster than the speed of sound. Whick-whick, a quiet whisper that betrays the imminent danger of the magma-forged blade in the hands of a master.

As Mundi swings high, Hellbind bends backward like a beach-reed in a breeze. As Mundi swings low, microseconds later, Hellbind's legs are a blur as he steps around the attempt.

No matter the tactic, Mundi is unable to nick even the outermost layer of fabric on Hellbind's topcoat. He's only getting within a micron's distance: Dangerous, yes, but well under a lethal threshold. And I'm not getting any nearer.

Hellbind maintains eye-contact with his assailant -- a necessity in this sort of close-contact combat. The eyes, he thinks, reveal everything about his strategy.

Mundi swings forth with unflagging speed, a whirling dervish of coruscating effort attempting every attack plane imaginable -- but for every strike, there is only a hiss of whick-whick, the chime of futility. Hellbind is too damn fast.

From his defensive posture, Hellbind issues his taunt. "You can't strike me. You couldn't ever hit me."

His opponent tries to not get flustered -- but he believes the truth of it.

"And besides, what would you do if you could land a blow?" Hellbind says as he stops moving backward, placing his hands on hips -- the perfect akimbo target.

Mundi moves in and slices through the air between he and Hellbind, one final whick, before he makes contact with his quarry's organic left arm -- there would be no point in striking the obsidian-steel right arm. But the result is unexpected all the same: CLANG!

The vibration traveling through the hilt of the sword into the handle stays Mundi's hand for a moment -- As if I strike metal! His attention flags for a second before he begins chopping downward, as if wielding an axe.

An axe that strikes unbending metal.

A slight smirk curls the corner of Hellbind's mouth. I live for these moments.

A few moments out of your day

From the next table over at lunch last week...

Guy #1: I bet they have big spiders in Rio.

Guy #2: No, they don't. I grew up in Brazil, and you don't have to worry about them.

Guy #1: I heard they have these giant spiders in Rio de Janeiro.

Guy #2: No, even at my grandfather's house, deep in the rain forest, you don't have big spiders. There's a lot of other things, like scorpions, but not spiders.

Guy #1: I could imagine being worried all the time about spiders.

[beat]

Guy #1: What do you think of these jeans?

Guy #2: They are nice.

Guy #1: They're beach-washed. I wondered if I should wash them some more.

Guy #2: No, they look good as they are.

Racial profiling

We're watching that new "The Amazing Race" rip-off "Treasure Hunters" on the NBC network that the kids love so much these days, we were reviewing the casting. The show involves 10 teams of three running around like jackasses trying to find some stupid shit -- like I said, all tightly-based on a "TAR," except without a shred of pacing, wit, or adventure.

The only reason I bring this programme up is because the only black participants on this show are "The Brown Family."

Yes, "The Brown Family."

I mean, yes, their last name is Brown. But within a show that seems to have received its casting manifesto from David Duke, perhaps it's only a fortuitous coincidence that the only minority castmember's name this season also doubles as an adjective. Actually, it's an embarrassment, is what it is.

It wouldn't be fair if I didn't hammer "TAR" for this same offense -- two seasons ago, during the infamous "Family Edition," the sole black family in a sea of caucasoid faces was named "The Black Family."

Yes, "The Black Family."

Perhaps it's time to do better next time, reality-TV-Mark-Burnett-casting Big-Celebrity-Mole-Brother guys-in-charge.