Thursday, March 30, 2006


When I grew up in Texas, I would steal away to the third floor late every Saturday night to watch Joe Bob Briggs's Monstervision on TNT. This is the best way to watch cult horror movies - alone on in an isolated room at the top of a big, empty house in Texas in the middle of the night. I have Joe Bob to thank for my love of Barbarella and Big Trouble in Little China.

In college, two of the movies that I had the most fun watching were Shaolin Soccer, which was an excellent movie, and Blade II, which was a terrible one. I saw Blade II at a free movie night at the one theater in our tiny college town, and Shaolin Soccer with a crowd of about 50 college students in the attic of a fraternity late one Thursday night.

I had such a great time watching these movies in these contexts because this is how they were made to be watched. You watch your cult horror films alone so you can scare yourself stupid without anyone to judge you and you watch your good guy vs. evil guy movies with a big crowd of college students so by the end everyone's cheering the good guys and hating the bad guys and you're really living that movie along with everybody else.

This Saturday I'm seeing ATL with codename Erin, my cousin the revolutionary, and a couple of other kids from the great, lost city of Atlanta. Grab the southern side of your family and I'll meet you in Times Square.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Update: Erin files

Check out Erin's photo (top left of the "Oh My Rockness' March Radness! @ Brooklyn Lyceum, NYC" section) from last Friday's party. Note that in the photo caption, Spin totally blows Erin's cover.

The show I went to the next night at South Paw put me a bit more at ease about the prospect of a hipster invasion in Park Slope. The first show I saw at South Paw was a They Might Be Giants Katrina tribute concert, and the South Paw crowd struck me as more of a TMBG crowd than anything else, if that makes sense. A little more dork than punk, like me. I think there's probably just a different local crowd living here than I originally thought, which makes sense considering how little I go out in my own neighborhood.

In other news related to that post: I am not the only one tracking hipster migration.

The Origins of Boris

Some of you may wonder what I'm doing awake at this hour. I'm waiting up for Boris, my friend the Russian spy, to get in from the airport.

Boris and I met at my obscure school in Wales, where Boris was charged with covertly monitoring Welsh agriculture. This being Wales, Boris chose to disguise himself as a sheep, which was relatively easy, because Boris is a sheep.

After smuggling himself in to a care package from my mother, Boris and I first met. Boris is about a foot and a half long and fluffy. He has a black face and ears and a friendly smile that makes him very popular with the ladies.

When we first met, Boris didn't speak at all, but one night when I had spent a particularly unaccountable period at the pub, Boris started talking to me.

"Hello," he said, in a thick and (I feel) very plausible Russian accent. "My name is Boris. Have you seen, perhaps, any official agricultural documents hanging around?"

Over the next several weeks, Boris would talk to me whenever I had a little bit to drink. Pretty soon after that, he started talking to me all the time. Soon after that, he started talking to my friends. And by then, of course, he was already hitting on women.

When I left Wales, Boris came with me to school, where he became involved with a Mexican beauty and Zapatista sympathiser, but that's a story for another day.

Women love Boris. The fluffiness, the accent, something about him drives them crazy, even when he's half-dazed with drink and seran wrap. Once I walked through the dining hall at my college with Boris poking his head out of my messenger bag, and no less than four seperate women in a five-minute period came up to him and yelled "Oh! What a cute lamb!" I finally had to tell him, "Boris. Stopping hitting on the pretty girls in the dining hall." He would not listen.

Despite his hard- and fast-living ways, Boris is a good friend to have. There's always vodka in the apartment, I know where to find a good poker game in the city, and I always feel safe because if anyone ever broke in, Boris would just call a hit on him. My only nagging doubt about Boris is that I think he might secretly be Latvian, but don't let it get around.

Tonight, I'm waiting for Boris's flight to get in from Bratislava. All of his missions are confidential, of course, but many involve an amoral, expressionless penguin named Phibs who, coincidentally, also lives in my apartment.

This particular time, I believe Phibs was involved in some sort of kidnapping of a subcontinental princess and the replacing of certain nuclear plans of attack with forged protocols that would mean any nuclear escalation would ultimately destroy walruses around the world. I believe Boris was successful in foiling these plans and rescuing the princess, but I'll know more after he gets back, any moment now.

Hugh Laurie's old tricks

Hugh Laurie, we're on to you.

I'm a big fan of House, but they've been up to something, and I can't quite decide whether it's genius or starting to get on my nerves, or both.

We know, and the writers of House know we know, that someone has to become ill during the first, pre-credit sequence of every episode of the show. So House tricks us in to thinking one character in that sequence is set for illness, then actually goes ahead and makes another person sick.


Call it the House Bait-and-Switch.

My favorite use of the House Bait-and-Switch was an episode called Humpty-Dumpty. In the pre-credit sequence, Cuddy goes for a run, and it is the most suspenseful jog I've seen on television since that time Bradley Whitford showed up in a sleeveless shirt.

House knows that we know that if Cuddy ever got sick, it would be a great episode, and so every possible minor physical ailment that could happen, happens to Cuddy. Her leg cramps up, she gets a headache and just when she's choking on a glass of water, some dude falls off the roof of her house.

I'll tell you, I'm leaning towards genius. In an inherently stupid medium, someone is bothering to think about and acknowledge the expectations of us, the viewing public, and not pretend we don't notice. The House Bait-and-Switch is such an obvious ploy that, once you know what you're looking for, it's like the writing staff of the show saying hello to you at the beginning of every episode. It's like seeing an old friend every week.

Hello, writing staff of House. Tell me where the difficult-to-find tumor will be placed this week.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Smart is the New Funny

Sci Fi in general has been beating the same dead horse for awhile. I always loved Hitchhiker's Guide, so it made sense to look to the funny stuff for innovation. I was surprised when I figured out that Futurama was coming up with the only really new ideas in sci-fi in awhile, but it made sense - in a strip-mined genre, the most innovative stories come from parody.

So if sci-fi creates the future, will the future be funny? And, specifically, will there be livestock-based workstations?

In the Douglas Adams future, very little is manufactured, because it's usually growing somewhere in the universe anyway. There was a great bit where Marvin has a long chat with a playful sofa before it's harvested.

I say, let's do it! Grain-fueled computing is a must for the new era! I say to America's scientists, go! We choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard! Computers in cows by 2012!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Last Night

When my cousin the revolutionary or I see a white person turn our direction after getting out of the subway instead of heading up the slope, we still notice. But there have been more and more of them lately, and we haven't even lived here that long. And everyone else has been seeing at least two white people in the neighborhood every day - my cousin and me. We're the gentrifyers as much as anybody.

Anyway, last night our friend Erin (name changed for total anonymity) dragged me away from my Friday-night couch session to go to some random show which, it turned out, was at a venue in my neighborhood.

Now, Erin either can't or won't acknowledge how his own behavior fits in to the standards of society. This makes him awesome to hang out with because in addition to not judging himself, Erin is happy not to judge you.

Erin is also a total hipster, right down to hating all other hipsters. So the funniest moment of the night was when Erin's outfit, which consisted almost entirely of clothes stolen from his friends, led a photographer from Spin to take his picture (photos should be online on Tuesday).

The show, Oh My Rockness' March Radness, was a complete and total blow-out. Awesome. Emphasis was first on volume, but music value was a close second, unlike a lot of the loud music I've heard lately. With my extremely limited musical knowledge, I recognized a Franz Ferdinand influence. Erin called it Indie Noise, which seemed pretty accurate. The crowd was mostly young and white.

The next morning, Erin and I went back to the Lycium. Erin bought a cup of coffee, and we noticed there were a bunch of families with little kids, probably around five years old, running around the massive dance floor we'd been raging on the night before.

My first thought was that this was very impressive from a logistical point of view, because I was sure we'd trashed the place seven hours before those kids showed up. My second thought was that it was about the most quintessential Park Slope scene I could imagine.

So white people are flooding Gowanus, self-hating hipsters are going to obscure clubs there for Sparks-sponsored parties, and Spin is taking pictures, leading to the question, WTF?

Is Park Slope becoming hipster central? Or was this a flash in the pan? Maybe the Park Slope hipster revolution already happened, and the fact that I'm noticing it means it's already ended? But how to explain the sheer impossibility of so much hipsterdom happening at once? But hipsters in Park Slope? It's just too crazy to be true.

In journalism, three makes a pattern. I'm heading to South Paw tonight to check out Dr. Dog at another friend's recomendation. Her hipster credentials are also good - implacable style of dress, address in Williamsburg. If I see all the same people again that I saw last night, I'll be that much closer to calling Park Slope for the hipsters.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Which way to the revolution?

Yesterday, my cousin the revolutionary and I hopped a Metro-North train to Greenwich, Conn. to see this thing he'd done this past summer. Greenwich represents my second voyage to just beyond the New York metro area since I moved here, and I was ready to get back as soon as I could.

Now, when I first came to New York and got past the initial post-College shock, I understood I was a lifer. It was instinct, like fish porn.

But not far beyond the gentle reaches of my fair city lies the rest of the nation. Not far at all - at my first job, I went in to a restaurant in Sheepshead Bay and found what appeared to be hundreds of mid-Westerners.

I was surprised how quickly I got used to tall buildings, the subway and lots and lots of people. I've always liked home and hated travel, but it's getting so I'm agoraphobic, but for America.

ribble's contemporaries

Beyond the issue of the touchstone of my generation, there remains the question of which American sweetheart of my approximate age I will eventually marry. Will it be Michelle Kwan? Natalie Portman? What about Zooey Deschanel, is she seeing anyone? Is Vera Brosgol even straight? Katrina Kerns must live in Brooklyn. They say Scarlett Johansson is really difficult to work with. Is that some kind of requirement? Could I date 1993 Stacy Haiduk, or would that mess up the space-time continuum?

What about you? You doing anything Friday night?

Intel Centrino ads

The funny thing about the Intel Centrino ads is that out of everyone who's been in one of these, the only person who looks really uncomfortable with the fact that he's sitting on a stranger's lap is Elijah Wood.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Word's out

Say hello to to my mom, my cousin the revolutionary, my old friend from school, Johnny, and my two most outspoken Aunts. Yes, the word on this blog is officially out. Next stop: world domination.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Compulsion to Write

I've been trying to keep the ratio of posts about blogging to posts about everything else to a minimum, but resisting self-indulgence has never been my strong suit.

The first thing I've noticed is that I can't stop writing. Like everyone who's ever been involved in the film business, I am working on a screenplay. I did a first draft and put it down for, oh, about a year. Lately, I've picked it up again, and I've made good progress. They say the key to writing is to write - I'm writing that script again because of this blog.

The other thing I've noticed is how quickly ribble's has gotten a consistent tone. A little personal, a little sad, funny but not ha-ha funny. Basically, I've got a blog that sounds like me. Not the same as being a good blog, but a decent start.

Then there's this weird format. My cousin the revolutionary is in an internet media class taught him that linking is what defined blogs as a medium. What I didn't realize was to what degree blogging could indulge the instinct for references that I've always had.

I've written in a lot of different mediums — scripts, a good newspaper, a bad newspaper, papers for my high-pedigree school. Oh yeah. I've done it all. Blogs are the closest I've come to being able to write like I think.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Funny Bunnies

I am a very good dancer, but that doesn't mean I'm not a ridiculous dancer. The only person I've seen dance like I dance was Eddie Kaye Thomas in the DVD extras of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.

I mention this because a few weeks ago my ex-girlfriend sent me this link with the subject line "Funny Bunnies." This girl and a few others were members of the theoretical dance troupe I planned to train for a show called Funny Bunny Dances.

Which I again mention because that same ex-girlfriend is now the first official reader of this blog. Welcome, patient zero! The meta-reference is just getting started!

Hawai'i memories

Never been to Miami. Never been to L.A. But I did spend two years in Wales, so this is a story about Wales.

Wales is a wonderful place. For example, I lost my virginity there. But the first thing you have to know about Wales for this story is that it has the worst weather of anywhere I've ever lived.

It was, of course, always raining, but it was never good, honest rain -— a thunderous storm that makes you happy you stayed inside with a mug of hot chocolate, or a sun-drenched, get-naked-with-a-loved-one drizzle, or a good suburban downpour that you float little boats in.

No, Welsh rain was a fine, cold, steady trickle. There was never too little to ignore and never enough to really make a point. It always made me think of cat piss. And not in a good way.

What made the rain just so much worse was the very cold, very relentless wind. You could bundle up. This wind did not care. It would blow through your coat, then through your skin and finally through your very soul. You know that machine in Princess Bride that takes a year off the end of your life? It was like that, but for happiness.

And then it was dark. I went to an environmental conference once where a guy said if you had solar panels on your every other roof in Europe, you could power the continent, but in Britain you'd need to put it on every roof, full stop. When I first got to Wales, I noticed that for every nice, sunny day, there was one overcast day, and as the year went on, the ratio got worse and worse.

The second thing you need to know for this story is that, technologically, the U.K. is just a bit behind.

At the obscure school where I lived, the nearest internet access was at a town 20 minutes away. We had one phone in my dorm, but what with the time difference and the expense of phone cards, internet was really the only way to get in touch with friends at home.

The last thing you need to know for this story is that this was the first time I'd lived abroad and that my school was a very strange and sometimes lonely place.

Here is the story: I am in the local internet cafe. Outside it is already dark and there is rain and wind. I am reading and writing emails home to my friends. I look up, and I see the most beautiful, sun-drenched scene I've ever seen in my life. It is on T.V.

The only thing I can compare it to is opening up your window, walking to the other side of the room, and then looking back and realizing that although you live in suburban Detroit, your window is opening up in the Sahara.

I watch only for a few minutes. The picture quality, the clothes and the cars place it mid '70s for me. I see a desperate man with binoculars, a criminal, watching a particular landing outside a room at a large hotel. He is watching for a signal, a red flag or towel. I'm not sure, but maybe the signal isn't there, maybe someone is watching him, too.

What I remember most is the light in that place. I can't describe the light. Everything seems to glow with that light. Everyone is wearing sunglasses - there is so much light, they are fighting to keep it out!

The man with the binoculars has a jeep with an open top. He is squinting with the binoculars, there is so much light. He looks again for the signal. I feel like I could climb inside there that T.V. and walk around in that incredible light. It is more real than the world in which I am living.

I pay for my half-hour of internet and walk back to my school.

With the massive body of television knowledge I have since obtained, I can say that the show I saw was definitely probably Hawaii Five-O. I've been to Hawai'i twice with family, but I don't remember anything like that. It's sunny in Texas, but it's a hot, brutally muggy sunny. Never been to Miami. Never been to L.A. My only memory of light like that is that one day in Wales, on T.V.

ribble's a lightweight

This evening I started watching a Tim Allen movie and I found it really funny. Then I started cooking dinner and I found myself cursing at a kitchen appliance. Then I realized that two drinks is pretty much my limit.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I Order In

As a man who both never learned to cook beyond the secondary-school level and rarely leaves the couch, television has become a mine-field of hunger for me.

There were always the classic food movies, but I can plan ahead for those. I just match the nationality of the movie I'm watching to that of the evening's cuisine.

Reality T.V. is the real killer. It took me about two seasons of Survivor repeats before I finally admitted to myself I couldn't watch it on an empty stomach. Those people are constantly talking about food.

Obviously Iron Chef is right out. You'd think Top Chef would be okay since most of the contestants suck pretty hard, but when you're going on coffee and trouble, pretty much anything's going to make it worse. (By the way, why can't I stop blogging about Top Chef? What the hell is that about?)

About the only reality show that's safe to watch is The Apprentice, which used to have some great food rewards but blew its budget.

Then, there's the most nauseating show on T.V. Overweight Midwesterners in houses with unpainted white walls just puts me off my appetite.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


In the spirit of rediscovering my childhood and for other reasons, I've been reading through the Narnia books over the last few months. I know everyone's all MLAH IT'S ALL JESUS BLAH but here at ribble's we believe in accepting the values of authors in the context of their work. Otherwise you miss out on some great stuff. Once you accept the fact that C.S. Lewis was a pretty Christian dude, Narnia is a fascinating read.

These are, in essence, stories to keep children interested - they've got action, adventure and talking animals (although Lewis's talking animals could kick the ass of any suck-up remake talking animal modern America could throw at them.) But Lewis has a real sense of story and a casual way of putting the reader right there next to the main characters. Lewis will say "I can't describe this, you really would have had to have been there to have seen how awesome this was," in almost-so-many words. By making us imagine how something is so much better or more awe-inspiring than the description we're reading, our imagination makes it that much more real. It's like how Miazaki exaggerates the motion of a little girl and so makes her more real than any little girl we've seen. Lewis gives us the ball to and lets us run with it.

Lewis also has the best approach to sequels I've seen. I've said this before and I'm not the first, but the key to a good sequel is expanding the world of the original. Lewis did this in four of his six sequels to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by having hisheroess go in a different direction from Narnia each time - East, North and down, South and finally West and to the end. Our heroes were demonstrating the literal limits of the world of Narnia. Throw in a prequel and you're set.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Amtrak rant

A round-trip express ticket from New York to Boston officially costs as much as a round-trip plane ticket from New York to San Antonio (direct flight, even). If Amtrak were in Europe, the Europeans using Amtrak would riot! Then they would eat some stinky cheese.

OMG OMG Turn On BBCA Right Now!

I learned two things today that I already knew.

1) I can't keep a secret. I've already told two people about this blog (although I haven't given out the URL yet, it is, let's face it, only a matter of time). This is, what? Day four? This is the same reason I'm never cheating on a girlfriend again.

2) Eddie Izzard rocks my world. Dress to Kill and Glorious were required viewing during college along with Fawlty Towers and History of the World: Part I, at least at my odd, co-ed, non-fraternity house. Eddie Izzard's new special, Circle, is on BBC America right now (EST), and I have no one to tell. Perhaps, someday, with an audience, I can post my recomended viewing every day and change the world.

St. Patrick's Day memory

Me, Ben and Gordon, staggering through a field in Wales with a bottle of Bailey's. It is friggin' cold.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Adveritos? Hangers? Calnows?

Is there a word for when you're watching t.v. and between the last commercial and the beginning of the show there's a one- or two-second part of another, totally unrelated commercial?

What about when someone posts a question on a blog he knows for a fact no one reads? Is there a word for that?


"Bravo: somewhere along the line, we got really gay"

I'd heard somewhere that Bravo had gotten really gay, but I didn't fully understand to what extent until I watched tonight's episode of Top Chef. Would any network but Bravo take a run-of-the-mill reality show and throw in sexy desserts, Mr. S and RuPaul in only the second episode? That takes some balls. Some incredibly gay balls.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

ribble's cult

I've developed a sick fascination with the ads for Axe body wash, The Order of the Serpentine. I've never seen a cult recruitment video, but the oversaturated color, the deliberate use of an unsynched voice over, the use of video over film and the narrative structure of the story made it strangely affecting.

I am not going to blog music, because then this would turn in to a blog about They Might Be Giants and Parliament-Funkadelic. But I will blog obscure references, and I think there's a direct connection between these ads and the title track of Comfort Eagle. The first time I heard that song, I freaked like Jesus.

If you ride on a subway in New York for long enough, someone you don't know will hand you a piece of paper. Experience has shown these papers fall in to one of three categories.

The first two are Falun Gong literature and commercial advertisements. These should and can be easily avoided - just look for short women in funny hats or people who look like they're being paid to stand there, respectively.

The third is bible tracts, and I have had more fun reading bible tracts than anything I have ever brought on the train for myself. Bible tracts have a sentiment to them, an honesty, a straightforwardness, and, yes, a spirituality that as a dyed-in-the-wool, never-look-back atheist I appreciate with no more irony than that endemic to the situation.

Maybe I've just been deprived, but something about paper-thin spirituality really rings true for me.

Wow, ribble, your early stuff sucked

I pride myself on taking the long-term view. I'm a big picture guy. I know, for example, that compared to the things I write later, all the stuff I put up early in this blog's life is going to suck.

I don't know what I'm doing. I have no unifying theme. The blog might not last at all. It's touch and go. Like a four on the Kinsey scale, it could go either way.

The best I can hope for is that I hit on the right style for my real blog, the blog I'll tell others about. Then I'll shut this site down and start something new. Maybe with some graphics.

In fact, if you're reading this now, it's likely either because I've shot off my big mouth and actually told someone about this thing, or I've become an overnight success in, say, 2009, and you've chosen to read the archives. Either way, these early posts have no potential beyond that to embarrass me.

So let's say we both get through the early stuff as quickly as possible and move on, eh?

The Power of Obscure References

This is one of my favorite books, which will make this one of my favorite movies.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Here's the thing about blogs: there's a lot of them.

The best blogs make you feel like you're sitting next to someone you know. I figured this out when I started listening to the music over at Speedrail's blog. Speedrail and I used to work in the same office, and reading his blog while listening to his music is exactly the same as working next to him in an office.

It's the same with Johnny's blog. When I first found Johnny's blog I hadn't seen him in awhile, and I spent two days straight clicking through the archives. Even with a number of people working on it, a good blog can keep a unified voice. Without a unified voice, a blog's just a mess.

My highest ambition for ribble's is that someone can read it and feel like we're sitting next to each other on the train.

That said, lurkers welcome. But I'm keeping my biographical details to myself.

This is ribble's

Yeah, blah blah, first post.