Sunday, December 28, 2008

From the Archives #4

"Guilt is when you do something and feel bad about it. Shame is when you do something that proves you're the kind of person you hate."

From the Archives #3

Another idea for a story:

"A modern man goes back to the past, but finds the only thing he can safely predict is what will happen in tv shows."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

From the Archives #2

Can you tell I was in college when I wrote this?

'I am in stage 3 tired, “fucking exhausted.” Very difficult to describe stage 3 tired — language skills go.'

From the Archives #1

Further proof my best years are behind me: "From the Archives" is a new feature where I type up things I wrote in my notebooks over the last 15 years or so.

"A character who has six different jobs, none of which he has to do any work for. He runs around all day punching time cards, moving huge stacks of documents from his in box to his out box, ... and following up want ads.

What does he do with the money? (Spends it on evading income tax!)"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Viewers Like You

I TiVo The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer every Friday because of this episode of The West Wing.

At the end of each "enhanced sponsorship," The NewsHour thanks "Viewers Like You." In the background of this message are images of seven of these viewers in silhouette, each engaged in a different silhouetted activity:

* A man who is sitting on a chair with skinny legs and is pointing a remote screen right.
* A woman bending down with a large still camera, pointing it screen left.
* A man in khakis holding a treat above a small dog who is standing on his hind legs (side note - in freeze frame you can tell the dog is a male)
* A woman with her hair in a bun turning clockwise with her mouth wide open and her arms up as if dancing.
* A man with a shaved head hunched over while playing a very small brass musical instrument.
* Two women with long hair crossing the screen in the foreground and background.

My question is, what demographic do these people represent?

First, I should concede that each of these people at least vaguely represents a different form of the arts - photography, dance, jazz, animal husbandry, TV watching, walking across a screen, standing on hind legs, &tc.

There's also a taste of the amateur or the domestic about the montage - the dog and the remote, but also the hesitancy in the turning woman, who does not turn like a professional dancer, and the woman with the camera, who seems to stop as she bends down to glance at the back of her camera, as if she is not sure she has the settings on the camera right.

But mainly I think we are looking at Yuppies.

Maybe it's the clearly identifiable khakis - in fact, on repeat viewing, I think almost all the men are wearing button down shirts. It could also be the chair the man with the remote is sitting in, which is more of a modern chair than a blue-collar lounge chair like you'd find in a non-yuppie living room.

Or maybe I suspect that those pictured are yuppies because they are enjoying the arts as a leisure activity, which I think of as a very yuppy thing to do.

As is, I suppose, watching PBS.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Travel Porn

Finally, a new way to waste time on the internet.

I discovered that my Zipcar membership also works in the U.K. and immediately starting looking up cars and locations.

Most fun so far: reading the surprisingly detailed descriptions of how to access various car parks around London, like this one for an underground car park near Tower Bridge.

Scariest thing so far: all the Minis are manual transmission.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Three Porn Movie Titles That Parody Popular Political Movements

Cum-Passionate Cunt-servatives

Third Way Three Ways

Morning in America's Vagina

If somebody out there wants to whip up some graphics for a DVD box cover, I think we could make a fortune.

On Becoming Older

Due to unlikely and shameful circumstances over which I will temporarily throw a veil, I found myself on an early-morning LIRR train from the Flatbush Ave. station in Brooklyn to the untamed wilds of central Long Island.

I rode in predictable silence on the sparsely populated 3:00 a.m. to Jamaica Center, where I was to connect to a Ronkonkoma-bound train coming from Penn Station in Manhattan. But when we pulled in to Jamaica, who should I find awaiting my train but hundreds - HUNDREDS - of drunken teenagers.

My first thought was, "what the fuck?" My next thought was, "is this a threat to my safety?," which it wasn't (cops by the door, many kids already passed out, my generally inconspicuous appearance, etc.) Then I settled in to my seat and got down to the serious and inevitable business of passing judgement on others.

Here were the facts I had to work with: this was the last train from Manhattan to Long Island for a few hours before or after. It was the night before Thanksgiving, which, in America, is traditionally when we as a people go home to our families, become desperate for a way to avoid them, and go out to get drunk with all our other friends who also live out of town and are also desperate for a way to avoid their families.

Between these two bits of information, I could conclude these were Long Island kids out for the night, inexplicably travelling together 600 at a time. Harmless fun, right?

Thing is, these 1) kids seemed too young for college, 2) they had that sort of over-privileged, white-bred look, clothes and nature that bugged me (example: the one Latino kid seemed to know everybody, which I'm guessing was at least partly because he was the only Latino in the school.) and 3), and this is the part that really bothered me, the couple across the aisle from me each did a bump of coke about half an hour outside of Jamaica.

Now I'll talk later about why, but my initial reaction was that this just made me furious. Then I went through a bunch of possible courses of action (take their photo and post it here? Tell the cops? Confiscate it?) before settling on my standard New Yorker response of sitting quietly and not saying anything.

Then I went through a run of second-guessing - would they really do that with the cops three rows away? Could this just be some sort of nose-administered decongestant? Could I really dissaprove this strongly of a little coke and give the obviously stoned kids that filled up maybe every third seat on the rest of the train?

Finally I let myself accept the fact that I had definitely seen these kids doing some coke, I certainly disapproved of it, and I absolutely felt that I was within my rights to do so.

Here's my problem with coke versus, say, pot: it's dangerously addictive. Here's my problem with these kids: they were way too young to be fucking with this shit. What's more, this was clearly not a one-time thing for them. You don't casually do a bump on a train in more or less the middle of a nap with cops five feet away unless snorting coke has become ritualized and routine.

But we're not here to talk about over-privileged kids from Long Island. We're here to talk about me. And my thing is, there was a time - indeed, a time in recent memory, when I would have seen these kids - or maybe the non-coke-sniffing versions of these kids - as peers.

Well, almost as peers - not enough to expect casual drug use, but enough that I could see them as distant, Yankee version of my own friends.

Instead I was looking at this half-dressed high school senior and future frat boy and just trying to figure out how I could keep my future kids from ending up like that.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Beware, Internet!

The internet is going through a Twilight fan fiction phase:

The Non-Adventures of Wonderella
Sore Thumbs
Shortpacked! (continues here, then click the forward arrow to keep reading.)

Ugh, is this another thing I'm going to have to learn about just because people are making jokes about it, like how I had to watch Titanic after I read this in the New Yorker?

Or will the internet be back to its usual stuff once the Christmas movies sweep the fall leftovers out and people start making jokes about how much Four Christmases is going to suck?

Must ... read ... socially-aware New York Times article about vacuous pop phenomenon ... must ... acknowledge ... popular tween entertainment choices ... must ... not be ... prejudicial ... NOOOOOOO!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

WALL-E as Outlier

My Hungarian friend has a habit of asking me questions that make me feel like a genius when I answer them. The other afternoon we were watching WALL-E and she asked me why WALL-E survived when everyone else had disappeared. The answer is that this WALL-E must have had something wrong with him.

We can see other WALL-E units in the movie that have run out of juice right in the middle of their programming. However, we know our WALL-E is self-repairing. What's more, there's a lot of things about WALL-E that just wouldn't make sense to put in trash-compacting robot, like his proclivity for "Hello, Dolly"-slash-ability to fall in love.

If this unit survived, it must be because something was different about it that led to some other behaviors that lent it to survival in such a hostile environment.

It makes sense - make a million units of something, and ten are probably going to have something wrong. With a thousand units with various defects, one might be an improvement. It's the same way we understand mutation in evolution (yes, Americans - that evolution.)

Why I Like Superjail

Animating is boring. You have to draw the same scene hundreds of times for a single minute of screen time.

The modern American solution to this problem is to mail the thing to Korea and get them to do it, or to animate on a computer, or to do both.

Regardless of their actual methods, Adult Swim's new show, Superjail, feels like the product of bored animators who do their own animating by hand and are trying to keep themselves entertained.

When animators get bored, which is often, they draw inappropriate things. Violence, pink elephants with substance abuse problems and naked Jessica Rabbits are the well-earned province of the bored-slash-hard-working animator.

Superjail shows many signs of animators doing things for themselves, like how each of the main characters has a particular style of moving through a scene that seems well thought-out and connected to their personality.

The Warden, for example, seems to move in great looping sweeps, like a splash of paint or a well-practiced signature. The Warden is divorced from reality in personality, and in appearance he tends to change shape and size without feeling any need to acknowledge the laws of physics.

In another sign of a dedicated group of animators, Superjail is very, very violent.

Let me talk a little about the violence.

One of my pet peeves is when people describe a movie as "violent" when there are very few actual moments of violence in that movie.

Perfect example: Pulp Fiction. Some guys get shot, one dude gets raped, there's some blood and guts, but mostly Pulp Fiction is just people talking. Sure, bad shit happens to people, but in terms of screen time, you'll find a lot more violence in an average Gov. Schwarzenegger film. Tarantino movies just feels more violent to people because there's a constant threat of violence and the violence that is represented seems more visceral than in a popcorn action flick.

That said, Superjail really is violent. People get sliced in half, they get their skin ripped off, they get forks plunged through their eyes. I just chose a clip at random from their website and there was a throat-slitting, a beheading, and a fatal stabbing in the space of 30 seconds.

Your kids should not be watching this cartoon, but you know what? You should. Just like the rest of the show, the violence is animated, surreal and actually pretty entertaining.

I have a few rules of thumb that I use to judge almost any piece of media. First, you can only take something as seriously as it takes itself. If a movie knows it's a silly movie, I won't hold its silliness against it. It's why I like Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle better than I like, say, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Second, I prefer that people make art for a reason, and that they're honest about what that reason is.

If you're making a James Bond movie, you know and I know that I came for boat chases, amoral villains and beautiful, ethnically ambiguous women. Because we both know it, I'm not going to provide any objection to your providing for my needs.

But if you're doing something serious, and you want me to take it seriously, you'd better be in it for the right reasons. If your art has a message, it better be a message you believe in. Audiences know Oscar bait when we see it.

Thing is, when I watch Jackknife getting sodomized by an armful of broken bottles in Superjail, I feel like it isn't in there for me - it's in there because the guys who draw Superjail really wanted to draw Jackknife getting sodomized by an armful of broken bottles.

And, you know, more power to them. If someone feels either compelled or bored enough to take the trouble to do really funny violence, I'm going to take the trouble to enjoy it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Very Short History of Me and Woody Allen

So I started watching Everyone Says I Love You Thursday night in the belief that I haven't seen it before, but it turns out that I have. I think I actually saw it when it first came out, 1996, which would make me around 15.

There is really no way to explain how important Woody Allen is to Jews from New York who are not in New York except to say that if you are a Jew from New York who is not in New York, you know what I'm talking about, and if you know what I'm talking about and you're not a Jew from New York, then either Judaism, New York or both are probably in your future.

I was born in the Bronx and lived for five years in Scarsdale before moving with my family to San Antonio, Tx. at age five. Now, I am not one of those people who thinks that everything developmentally significant that can happen to you happens by age five. But I do know that for the next eight years, from five to 13, I was really pissed off that we had moved out of New York.

Thing is, I didn't actually know anything about New York. I mean - I was five when we left! And what's more, I wasn't from New York City, I was from Scarsdale - the suburbs!

However, and I've mentioned this before, New York is one of two places I'm going to say ever that you can come to some sort of understanding of just by watching T.V. and going to the movies.

Just like Mad About You can teach you about true love, Woody Allen can teach you about being a New York Jew.

I loved Woody Allen growing up. I wore glasses because Woody Allen wore glasses. I cheated on girlfriends because Woody Allen cheated on girlfriends. I even played Woody Allen in a Woody Allen play. And first thing when I got of college? Moved to Brooklyn.

Okay, here's my final proof: I am visiting our New York-branch-of-the-family cousins in London in 1998 when Deconstructing Harry comes out (I remember it was Deconstructing Harry because of the snappy music in the opening credits) . We go to a movie theater. Suddenly I realize: every ex-pat New Yorker living in London in 1998 is in this theater.

Don't believe me? Go to a sort of arty theater in London next year the weekend Whatever Works comes out. You'll see.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Three Neglected Political Issues

India-Pakistan Peace
My odd and obscure high school in Wales was founded on the principal that if you brought future leaders of the world together in one place, they would meet people from other countries and later be much less likely to bomb those countries.

The most important thing I found out at school was that people from all over the world are pretty much the same. The people you went to high school with are the same as the people someone living on the other side of the world went to high school with.

One group of people at my school were "Subconties," i.e. of subcontinental Asia, i.e. Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshies.

those not attuned to foreign affairs, let me give you a quick version of 60-odd years of history: India and Pakistan fight a lot. They both claim ownership of Kashmir, both countries' politicians blame everything on the other country's politicians, blah blah blah, they fight.

Thing is, we are talking about two groups of people who are basically the same group of people. I would be talking to subconties hanging out together in the dorm, conversation would turn to the 60-odd years of fighting thing, and they would say "Yeah. We're the same." Once you take out the politicians on both sides saying "they started it and we'll make them pay," you get two peoples who really ought to be getting along.

Know what that is? An opportunity for peace. A GOOD opportunity for peace. I'd go so far as to say there's a better chance of India and Pakistan working out their differences than of Israel and Palestine working out their differences. Get some of those Israel / Palestine people in there, they'll have a Subconties' Cricket League organized within a year.

Tariffs on Imported Sugar
I think all my information here is based on a single article in The New Yorker, but here goes:

Ethanol is a fuel supplement not made from dinosaur bones. In the States, most ethanol is made from corn because Iowa, an important early voting state in Presidential elections, grows a lot of corn and has made ethanol a litmus test for presidential candidates.

Thing is, you could make ethanol a lot more efficiently by using sugar instead of corn. However, most sugar is grown outside the United Staes, and the small-big problem is that sugar from outside the country is heavily tariffed.

Get rid of the tariffs and you're one step closer to a green economy. Problem is it takes a lot of balls to stand up to a highly motivated lobby like the one aiming to keep sugar tariffs in place.

Amtrak is perpetually kept alive by federal subsidies, but, outside of D.C. to New York, it sucks. Why is there only one train a day to Vermont? Why does the train from New Mexico to L.A. have three hours of "padding" in the schedule between the penultimate and final stop? Why is Amtrak always slow, expensive and uncomfortable?

I can't quite decide if Amtrak sucks because it's grown lazy due to federal subsidies and a lack of competition, or if it just doesn't have the resources to do better, but I am HEAVILY leaning towards "lazy."

What, is America the only country IN THE WORLD that can't figure out how to have proper passenger rail system? Europe does it. India does it. Japan does it. Shit, they've got trains in SIBERIA. We can't do better than Siberia?!

I see functioning train systems running out of New York - Metro-North, Acela (the functioning part of Amtrak), etc. Why can't the national Amtrak system get its act together and become a serious alternative transport for traveling the country?

I know Biden is a big Acela guy, but I'm hoping it'll be a Nixon in China thing - no one could accuse Dick of being a commie, so he had the leeway to open up relations with the mainland. Biden is an Acela guy - he'd be in a perfect position to get Amtrak to stop sucking on threat of an end of subsidies.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The One Question I'm Really Stuck On

If there's one question I could pursue for the rest of my life, it is "How do references in media work?"

What I am looking for is some explanation of how one piece of media refers to another piece of media that is as comprehensive as, say, an explanation of how molecules bond chemically to one another.

Here are some of my unresolved questions about references:

What makes a specific moment or scene in a movie or T.V. show likely to be referred to by other media?

How does being referred to often correspond with the quality of a work?

How does it correspond to the significance of that work? For example, is being referred to often what defines a piece of media as important?

Here's why I think references in media are a big deal. (Note that this is not necessarily why I think you should think this is big deal.)

In college, I had access to a big media library, and I spent a lot of time tracking down the works that I heard referred to the most often and watching them. It was how I decided what to watch. As T.V. watching strategies go, it was pretty successful. I watched a lot of good stuff and figured out what people were talking about. Call this the beta version of a true reference sorter.

Second, references are what are currently driving the internet. Google, arguably the lasting achievement of mankind for this decade, is based on an algorithm that places the things people refer to front and center in any search.

Third, it is only a matter of time before all of television is catalogued, and all references are searchable. If you want an idea of what I'm talking about, look here. The referenced by page of an imdb entry is basically a primitive first draft of what will be a comprehensive database of when anything is cited by anything else.

Searchable video may be a ways off, but Google has already made images searchable and books are next - at some point, it will move past YouTube and start cataloging all the television that's ever been shown.

Fourth, references are both central to American dialogue and our one best shot at understanding the future of the world.

Fifth, ???, Profit! If you can figure out, and I mean prove scientifically and not just "have an instinct for," what will capture the world's attention and be referenced in the future, you have a shot at building it before anyone else. Bam, the ever-elusive corporate-produced viral video. Or maybe a way to get a message of art, hope or love out. You know - whatever.

I am especially interested in the idea of creating new systems of references that cross cultures. I know a fair amount about U.S. T.V. and next to nothing about T.V. from everywhere else. If we can rank all television in importance based on how often it's referred to in other work, I can watch the ten things everyone in Argentina has already seen and be able to carry on an insider conversation with someone there without doing three years of groundwork.

Or I could try to understand what people in Nebraska are watching. Or people in 1978.

You know.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Three Things About Atlantic City

I like that the best bet at a Casino is to not play. It gives me a good reason to sit around my hotel room in my underwear, writing.

Know who else gets a lot of writing done in casinos? Woody Allen.

Know who else compares me to Woody Allen? My mom.

I have a habit of finding one place where I like to eat and then never eating anywhere else ever again. In Atlantic City, that place is the Asian fusion restaurant in Caesar's, which is called KWI.

The first time I was in Atlantic City, I went on a tour of casinos because I'd read in a book that doing this was cheaper than gambling.

When I went through Caesar's, this place smelled amazing. I promised myself that if I won enough money to afford it, I would come back and have a meal. That night, I got exTREMEly lucky on the river, and so the next day I had lunch at the place.

It. Was. Amazing. I ate with a bunch of Asian-New Jerseyite high rollers and one of them shared his snow pea tips with me. The - Best Korean barbeque. Some other thing that wasn't on the menu that I don't remember that was delicious. Fuck. Ing. Amazing.

Last weekend, I took my second trip to Atlantic City, and I didn't waste any time. I think I ate three meals there in three days, and the portions were so big that I pretty much just ate that and breakfast.

The food there was so good that I actually had to start eating better food once I got back to New York. I remember the first time I ate a sausage bagel breakfast sandwich after I got back from AC. I was disturbed that one of my usual New York meals seemed bland and flavorless, but I was more disturbed that maybe it had always been that way and I just had never noticed it before.

That's the problem with affected luxury - you can get used to it.

PostScript: After writing this, I realized that after a single night being bumped up to a Trump Taj Mahal luxury suite, I finally rented a new apartment.

Despite my best efforts and self-awareness that I was a living cliche, staying at an Atlantic City casino reminded me of the following bits of media:

Ocean's 11
Ocean's 13
The Apprentice
This episode of Cowboy Bebop, particularly the scene where they're standing in the futuristic elevator and it lists all the games you can play at the casino and what floors they're on.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bumped Up at the Taj

It is strange to walk in to a room and realize that, at some point, someone has had sex on every flat surface there.

In a related matter: mirrored ceilings above beds make it very difficult to sit alone quietly and read a book (the light bounces all over the damn place.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

ribble's Brief Foray in to 2012

I starting writing this post in mid-October, when I was checking three times a day. Even then, for those of us closely following prediction sites, it was looking like a landslide - (this Politico article [link via E-V] presents some of the many theories on why the press didn't see it that way, but it's all sour grapes now I suppose.)

So I'm thinking: what can I, an intelligent but unexceptional political observer, predict about the future (say, 2012) without doing any research? Could I, for example, predict who will be THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES?!?!?!*


But here are some guesses about who the Republicans could put up to run against Obama, a little bit of no-research handicapping, and then a sort of general statement that dismisses the whole exercise as pointless.

* I am writing a lot of things IN CAPS because I am reading the new JOHN HODGMAN and he does that a lot.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Cal.)
Arnold has what David Bornstein might call a "small-big" problem - he would probably do pretty well if he ran for president, but it would be illegal.

Yes, you have to be born in the United States to run for president, and it would take nothing short of a constitutional amendment for him to be able to run. There is an "Amend For Arnold" movement out there which I refuse to google but I imagine has lost some momentum in the last three years or so.

So why mention him? Well, I like the idea of an amendment that allows someone born outside the U.S. to immigrate and run for President. Back when only white men could be President, maybe it didn't matter, but in this modern world, why not open things up to Americans with international backgrounds or funny accents?

It might be difficult to pull this off while my side is in control of things in D.C. just because the other guys already have their guy in mind, but I'll I'm saying is - Madeleine Albright 2016. Maybe at 79, she'd have to be at the bottom of the ticket, but come on. That would be awesome.

Leaving that aside - I almost feel like Schwarzenegger is too good a politician to take a show in 2012.

National name recognition, a carefully cultivated position as a moderate, awesome 1st lady, governor of some place (it doesn't super matter where you're governor of if you're running for president), and maybe even able to win California if he doesn't screw anything serious up in the next however long - this guy has too good a shot to try to run against a popular president with a high approval rating running for re-election. That's a sucker's bet. Look for a new Amend for Arnold movement around 2013 or 2014 anticipating a 2016 Arnold for President campaign.

Ugh. When CNN isn't talking about Obama's dog, they're talking about McCain's people calling Palin an idiot. And when they aren't talking about that, they're talking about Palin 2012.

It kind of makes sense to put these two ideas together if you assume running as a Republican in 2012 is a sucker's bet and Palin's some sort of sucker.

But I don't think Palin is the idiot we've been lead to believe. I certainly don't buy these anonymous campaign aids saying she didn't know Africa was a continent and couldn't name the countries in North America, and shame on Fox News, Jack Cafferty and whoever else for repeating it.

(Reminder to journalists: these McCain staffers were the same people making shit up about Obama.)

Sitting in her hotel lobby, Palin looked a lot smarter talking to the press than she ever did before. Now she has two years to get her act together on national and international issues instead of two months. She may surprise us.

Okay, that said, Palin represents a certain identity for the Republican party that I don't think is any longer tremendously effective or even very electable.

Maybe it's liberal wishful thinking, but I think if anyone's at the wheel for Republicans after they've had a chance to regroup, they'll start thinking of themselves as a pro-capitalist (as opposed to pro-business), more technocratic party that believes in climate change and puts results ahead of culture wars.

Absolutely none of that describes Palin.

Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.)

Young, fashionably non-white, willing to take charge of a place in trouble, from a state that had earned a reputation as nigh-ungovernable before he showed up, governor of anywhere and ready to make an argument on where the GOP should be going, Jindal is a serious guy with a serious shot at the nomination.

Gov. Jim Pawlenty (Minn.) or any of these other governors you hear about

Governors generally beat senators in presidential elections, but presidents tend to beat challengers. These guys are where the media is looking for the GOP's great white hope, if you'll excuse the term. Look for at least two governors to join the early hunt against Palin 2012.

REMINDER: I am not being more specific because I have not done ANY RESEARCH.

Alan Keyes (Illinois or wherever)

Alan Keyes is the perpetual African-American Republican candidate for president who no one takes seriously (or maybe this last time he ran as an independent or something? I am flying without a net here, people.) Last time Keyes was noticed by anybody: when he ran against Obama for Senate in Ill. after the original guy dropped out due to being corrupt or something.

Look for Keyes's name on your ballot on Nov. 6, 2012, and expect to be surprised to see it there because you have not really heard anything about him, and then to forget all about it by the time you leave your polling place.

Newt Gingrich

I am a diligent watcher of Stephanopoulos, where former house speaker and former kind of a jerk Newt Gingrich made occasional appearances on the round table.

From where I was sitting, Gingrich was coming across as a sort of lapsed elder statesman - he'd had his shot, been around, still knew the score for the most part, but could sort of do his thing as a commentator because no one really thought he'd be getting back in to politics (see Carter, Gore, Ayers, etc.)

So maybe a month ago, Gingrich was on and giving it pretty hard to the McCain people. Specifically, he was making a lot of anti-Obama arguments much more strongly and starkly than McCain had been doing it. Gingrich was sounding a lot less like a guy spending his retirement writing book reviews on the internet and a lot more like, well, like Rush Limbaugh.

At first, I just assumed that Newt had been politicized by the election just like everyone else. But when I was writing out my notes for this list, it occurred to me that maybe Gingrich was looking ahead, positioning himself for a run at 2012.

Gingrich is a return to the past, but he's still got a nationally recognized name, and there are those who think that what McCain did wrong was not being ENOUGH of a 1998-style Republican. Without doing any research, I'd take a chance and rank Gingrich among them.

I would not be surprised to hear about Gingrich taking a shot in 2012, but I'll be even less surprised when the media starts mentioning it a few years from now.

Why It Was Especially Dumb to Spend a Month Writing This

Here's a big secret that ought to be conventional wisdom: Obama is going to win reelection in 2012 no matter who runs against him. Here's why:

1) Incumbents tend to be re-elected.

2) The stronger challengers will wait for 2016.

Biden has said he won't run, meaning the Republicans will have a lot of the advantages in 2016 that Democrats had this year - basically, an open field against an incumbent party. Smart contenders will bide their time. The 2008 field will be taking their last shot before they're too old to compete.

3) Obama probably won't screw up in either his governing or in campaigning.

The most opinionated Republican commentators have adapted this very annoying "just you wait - you'll see we were right when Obama starts screwing up slash being a liberal terrorist" sort of attitude since the election. Fact is, Obama probably won't screw up.

The most persuasive evidence I see for this is how Obama ran his campaign. My mom was volunteering for the man in New Mexico. One week she came up to Brooklyn to visit, and there happened to be an article in the Times about an Obama campaign office in Pennsylvania or someplace. Mom said she recognized almost everything described in the office from her own Obama campaign office.

That sort of national consistency takes a master administrator. If you don't want to take Mom's word for it, check it this last word from FiveThirtyEight's On the Road series. It's almost enough to make you pity McCain - that guy was out organized from start to finish.

Obama is someone who learns from his mistakes and corrects them. Here's how Clinton won reelection: he never announced he was running and he started campaigning early for the time (like, two years before the actual election). Obama knows this. He will do these things.

4) Either the economic crisis will be resolved and Obama will be able to take credit for it, or it won't be resolved and the electorate will look to the Democratic party to fix it.

Reelections generally have more to do with the economy than anything else - it's the biggest reason Clinton won in 1996.

I believe that if anyone can solve this thing, it's our man Obama. But maybe he won't, or no one could - no matter.

The American electorate tends to favor Republicans on national security and Democrats on the economy. It's the number one reason Obama won this time out. Even if the economy is as screwed or more screwed than it is now, if Obama looks like he takes it seriously (and he will), he'll win reelection.

Don't buy it? Take 2004 as an example. That year was a national security election. The country was in deep trouble in two wars.

The American electorate still thought Bush was the only one who could be trusted with a national security crisis. It didn't matter that Bush was the one who had gotten us in to that mess in the first place - Americans trust Republicans with national security and Democrats with the economy, full stop.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Six Comics About Obama

Six Post-Election Comics About Obama

Three Mock-Cynical Comics About Obama
"Barack Obama and the Invasion of Time" from Bob the Angry Flower (compare to "Kerry Wins", maybe the saddest non-Peanuts comic ever written)

"The Two Presidents" (context starts here-ish or you can read up on Presidential Candidate Kerry Edwards in the news post here. Obama is becoming a strangely defined character in Overcompensating, take a look at the strip here to see what I mean.)

"President Hussein" at American't

Two Genuinely Sentimental Comics about Obama
"Dear Mr. Obama" from American't

"$15 from Leendert Geffen" from Donation Derby

One That Could Go Either Way
"Morning in America" from Cat and Girl

Tellingly, and lot of the cynical and genuine comics are coming from the same people.

My favorite thing said in a comic about Obama, from before the election:

"The engine of America is smoking and making clanky noises, ladies and gentlemen. We can worry about the radio when we hit the next gas station -- if we can make it there. Obama is not perfect but for a hitchhiker he's pretty good-lookin and he has a half-gallon of gas and says he knows how to work on cars and he doesn't seem too weird so let's pick him up."

Thank you, Jeffrey Rowland.

[update 8/14/09: Gastrophobia. I remember when I first started going through online comic archives, I would inevitably come across the strip the artist made for 9/11. Maybe now I can start coming across the strips everyone made for Obama's election!]

Friday, November 14, 2008

Johnson for Mayor 2009

May I be the first to recommend Avery Johnson for mayor of San Antonio?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Casino Vay Kay

Okay let's play roll the dice /
At the casino they treat you nice
-Freezepop / Vacation

I like Atlantic City because there is always someone around to help you out. Where's the bathroom? Where's the poker table? Could you get me a drink? How do I get to the Marina? Is there anywhere to get something to eat this late? They would love to let you know.

You don't even really have to pay attention to who you're asking - a uniform is a uniform. I once accidentally asked a New Jersey State Gaming Commission officer where I could check if I'd earned any comps. He didn't know specifically, but he certainly made an effort to answer.

I should note that I am not a relentlessly over-privileged capitalist in the grand American tradition. I do not send food back in a restaurant. Whenever someone pours me a glass of water, I look at him and say Thank You. I am uncomfortable being too attended to as I tend to equivalate this to making a scene. I surprise cashiers by speaking Spanish. I am an unceasingly polite customer.

In the casinos, however, the math changes. I am essentially making everyone money simply by being there. In these circumstances, it is in everybody's interest to listen, smile politely, and explain calmly how I may be able to add my name to the poker tournament starting in half an hour.

I don't mind enjoying this consumer haven for a couple of nights. After all, I'm paying the rake same as everyone else.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

ribble's Brief Foray in to Politics: Could This Be THE END?!

The election is over, but I have still not broken the habit. That said, if CNN says one more word about Obama's goddamn dog, IT IS OVER.

Seriously, I am thinking of starting a new blog consisting of nothing but cursing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

ribble's belated foray in to politics

The comment below this comic made me think of this, which had similar results.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Feels Like a Tuesday

I woke up at six a.m. and headed to my polling place to find it already packed.

I voted, got a cup of coffee and a bagel, read the paper and went home to watch CNN.

Now I'm on the train, and I think I recognize this feeling. It is exactly like the feeling I had Sunday in between the time when I finished making my movie and the time we showed it to other people.

It is the feeling of having made your effort and now having no choice but to await the results.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Presidential Stereotyping

Based on the prejudice map.

John McCain is known for *
... championing campaign reform
... straight talk, not snide talk
... having complete temper tantrums

Sarah Palin is known for *
... winning the world's longest snowmobile race four times
... her strident views on religion
... dirty tricks in Alaska

Obama is known for *
... his command of the English language
... his use of strategically-placed pauses
... firing up crowds with his oratory

Joe Biden is known for *
... his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
... misspeaking
... long-windedness at Senate hearings


The problem with watching Borat for the first time this weekend is that I'm incredibly tempted to do the voice, and two years ago that shit was so over that it actually started again.

I have a movie showing tomorrow at First Sundays that I'm actually pretty proud of, maybe because I haven't edited it together yet.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

How I Spent My Last Presidential Election Night

Four years ago Tuesday night, I was hanging out with My Friend The Kiwi at my place. The Kiwi and I had been hanging out a lot at my place even though she lived uptown because I had a TiVo and we were watching a lot of 24, and because I guess we didn't know a lot of people in the city at that point.

I was not following the EV and other important factors as closely then as I do now.

Also, we were drinking.

As a result, we started out very, very excited, and I remember as the night went on we just got more and more sober and depressed. Around the time Edwards came out and said "I'll guess we'll just have to wait until tomorrow, kthxbai," we just went to sleep.

Our feeling the next morning is represented in artistic form here, in the saddest cartoon of all time.

Post Script - Tuesday night's plans are here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

ribble's Brief Foray in to Politics #3 : The Inevitable

THE PLACE: Hanoverton, Ohio
THE TIME: 10:30:00 AM EST
THE MAN: John "Maverick" McCain (R-AZ)
THE INEVITABLE UTTERANCE: "You know, our friend Joe the Biden again ... "
COMMENT: !!!!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

ribble's Second Brief Foray in to Politics

I just realized that it took me four and a half years to measure the drapes in my apartment, which would put me somewhere in my second term.

Monday, October 20, 2008

One Reason to Want to Date Me

(In the tradition of EEK.)

When I meet people for the first time, but even with some people I've talked to every week for the last two years, I am basically just making a constant stream of references. It's like my side of the conversation is indistinguishable from a guy explaining all the jokes in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

I realized just how irresistible I find this urge when I met a bunch of new people at Marmo's party last week. In three conversations with three different people in the space of half an hour, I made reference to TvTropes, the movie Happiness (funniest child molestation movie ever) and Douglas Adams, in all but one case stopping these respective conversation dead in their tracks (the exception was the guy who'd read all of Douglas Adams, who referenced me right back to the game Galcom for the iPhone and iPod Touch).

Why do I think references are so important? There's a strip in Tailsteak's online comic "Band" where a character explains why Simpsons quotes are always relevant - they form a common ground between participants in the conversation.

I always thought that a diverse spread of references was a particularly American trade (for the record, though, Tailsteak is Canadian). Let me explain. When I went to my strange and obscure school in South Wales, all the people who came from the same country would occasionally all meet up, have dinner and talk.

These meetings would be a little window in to the soul of the nation, sort of. (I say "sort of" because this is going to sound like it's straight out of the prejudice map.) The Welsh would get together and drink. The Italians would get together and argue.

With us Americans, a certain national language would occur. I don't know quite how to explain it except to say that, although everyone at our school more or less spoke English, no one from outside the country understood what we were saying. Cartoons, movies, events of the 1980s.

This is what would define us as citizens of the U.S.A. And that's why you have to watch TV to know what anyone in this country is talking about.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Possibly an Illustration of the Long Tail Theory

Why are people coming to ribble's?

1) To figure out what the slang in Ocean's 13 means.

2) Looking for titles of porn movies.

3) Interested in women bass players or, occasionally, women wearing overalls.

4) Actually know me and found this through Facebook.

5) Want to read Deadliest Catch fan fiction.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Occupational Stereotyping

Inspired by the prejudice map.

Lawyers are known for *
... burying their adversaries in a blizzard of paper
... their in-depth knowledge of the law and medicine
... aggressively pursuing their clients' interests

Doctors are known for *
... their high standard of medical education
... patching up military members
... prescribing medications

Politicians are known for *
... lame jokes
... forcing their way into everything
... hauling out their children (bonus points for babies) anywhere there's a photo op

Mothers are known for *
... unconditional love
... having pet sayings for their children
... regular pre-and post-natal checkups

Real estate agents are known for *
Estate agents are known for *
... providing premier customer service
... tapping technology to service their clients better
... their competence and integrity
... their "flowery" write ups
... having an aggressive or pushy style
... saying what matters most is "location, location, location"

Businessmen are known for *
... hoarding gold
... having an aggressive do-or-die attitude toward business
... takeovers
Businesspeople are known for *
... being skilled negotiators
... their sharpness in detecting potential markets
... their flair, work ethic and innovative skills

Teachers are known for *
... their commitment to excellence in theological preparation, interpretation of the scripture and justice advocacy
... their sociable and creative natures
... being untouchable and unreachable

Administrators are known for *
... jealously guarding fucking up protecting the existence of new updated content and for reverting perfectly good edits
... staying in their office and seldom walking the hallways to see what is actually going on
... stuffiness

Bureaucrats are known for *
... amassing wealth
... going and looking for ways to spend more money on whatever good deed they think will make their position secure
... arrogance, thick webs of red tape and a robust commitment to boredom

Filmmakers are known for *
... lifting movies from Hollywood
... Oscars and Golden Globes
... producing haunting visual spectacles

Maids are known for *
... their gold bikini
... writing tickets just a few minutes before 6 p.m.
... carrying inspiration and learning from the realms of the gods to chosen mortals

Policemen are known for *
... throwing their weight around
... custodial rape, abduction and rape and corruption
... their abrasiveness and boorish behavior

Cops are known for *
... breaking into cars and burglarizing, beating women, pimping women and selling drugs
... giving people tickets for going too fast
... being a little twitchy

Truck drivers are known for *
... sitting on their bottoms
... working long and grueling shifts
... their rash driving

Artists are known for *
... their preference for studios with "north" light
... their individualism
... their pichhavais (large paintings on cloth)

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Short Note On Novelty Murders

I've been watching Life, and I spotted an element that I think is getting increasingly common in modern one-hour dramas.

I've explained why one-hour dramas are dead to me in predictably self-indulgent detail, but, of course, networks know what we want has changed (and television writers do watch HBO). Result: network one-hour dramas have picked up some elements of three-season story arc shows like The Wire.

Watch a one-hour network or basic cable drama and you'll get two stories. You'll get the one-hour story (novelty murder, altruistic cloak and dagger, novelty cloak and dagger), but you'll also get an installment of the multi-season story (thin blue line conspiracy, thin red line conspiracy, and conspiracy contained within the protagonist's brain, respectively).

Maybe I'm just seeing again what's always been there, but I think these multi-season stories are taking a bolder place next to their one-hour counterparts. In, say, Quantum Leap (to take a nostalgic example) you wouldn't see Sam wrestle with getting back to his old body every week. Things got started in the pilot and then each new episode dealt with whatever came up in the one-hour story.

These stronger multi-season story arcs can makes for more compelling drama. Burn Notice makes a habit of pitting Michael's this-hour objectives against his this-season objectives, even in simple ways (whenever two people want Michael to be in different places at the same time, drink).

God I love Burn Notice. Any trope that even indirectly taught me how to hide things in my walls? Totally worth it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tonight's Entertainment

Tonight I watched Rocknrolla and considered a career as a criminal.

Now I am reading The New Kings of Non-Fiction and considering a career as a reporter.

The key, of course, is to write movies about criminals and reporters, thereby justifying all my errant daydreaming.

More Fun With Google

Yesterday, Google created (or re-released?) a time machine!

Life was so much simpler then .

Thank God no one archived the program for my 1992 tap recital, "Tuxedo Junction." Or did I just put that back on my permanent record?

Stupid internet.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

God is *

God is *
... dead
... God
... Imaginary

God is known for *
... His love, His grace, His compassion, His justice, His fairness, and many other qualities that I don't have enough room on Xanga to list
... prudent management of resources
... heavy tourist traffic nowadays

Buddha is known for *
... uplifting the spirit and attracting wealth, prosperity, and abundance
... his holistic approach to hip hop
... a dragon painting on the ceiling

Muhammad is known for *
... his outspoken and often inflammatory comments
... his love of horseracing
... his passionate quest for identity and roots

Confucius is known for *
... his life as a teacher and scholar
... his humility, his gentleness, his respectful behavior
... emphasizing society / community

Moses is known for
... his holiness, his "perfection" and his connection to the Law
... Exodus chapter 7
... genuinely caring as well as helping students with their problems

Prophets are known for *
... 'aql (wisdom and sagacity)
... nice muscle definition
... announcing doom and gloom

Jesus is known for *
... his cross
... his dual role
... his parables

the holy spirit is known for *
... being a Gentleman not a circus puppeteer
... delivering semen
... exorcising demons and giving spiritual direction

Vishnu is known for *
... his bravery in destroying evil powers
... his relationship building skills, extensive contacts in the industry, very thorough candidate screening process
... ten reincarnations

Deities are known for
... their simplicity
... throwing lightning bolts
... favoring characters which continually pray to them

The Gods are known for *
... mimicing human foibles
... their slow, sludgy sound
... being magical like pizies

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ribble's Best Covers

I've been listening to odd foreign band Nouvelle Vague and thinking about some of my long-held opinions about what makes a great cover.

I think the key to a good cover is when a band reinvents a song in their own image. To do this properly, a band needs to have a strong identity coming in. In the best cover songs, I feel like I can recognize both the identity of the band and the contours of the original songs.

I first started thinking about this back in the late nineties when I was hanging out with an unrelated group of odd foreigners and listening to a lot of Ben Folde Five. Here was a guy with a diverse but very recognizable musical identity - I saw Folds at a college concert and he half-joked that his whole career he'd just written the same seven songs over and over.

If you can find some of the Ben Folds covers, though, they're pretty genius. It's the sort of thing where you start listening and then you say to yourself "oh, yeah! That's what this is!" (for the record, She Don't Use Jelly is one of my favorites.)

The best covers may be better than the originals, but it's like comparing apples and oranges. It's the same song in an alternate universe.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Googling the Republican Convention

Joe Biden Presidential Votes
(MSNBC was nice enough to clear this up for me: Huckabee got this out of nowhere.)

Republican Convention Live Blogging

Martha Cothren
(This one is true)

"We used to say if a frog had side pockets, he's carry a handgun"
(best guess I read: it's an answer to "if Kerry had won 120,000 more votes in Ohio, he'd be President now")

"Sorry about that war"
SNL "glimpse the future"
(You can read this here. Thank you, blog of Mike DeWolfe!)

Palin's accent
(Idaho? Minnesota?)

Private jets on ebay
(Buy it Now for $75,000)

Code Pink Palin

At this point, TiVo helpfully switches me to The Daily Show. Thanks, TiVo!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

iPhone Addictions

Why I'm walking in to traffic this week:

Sherlock Holmes


Sol Free Demon

...and why I was corrupting society last week:


Aurora Feint (which I am so over ... you know ... for now)


Jeez, am I an Apple shill or what?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

ribble's Brief Foray in to Politics

If you want to reach John McCain at three a.m., which house should you call?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Windmill City

I am fascinated by the future of the New York City skyline. I love trying to imagine how the city will look 20 years from now. There's a lot of interesting, idealistic ideas out there right now - the 2nd Avenue subway line, the Orwellian-designated Freedom Tower, the Fulton Street Transit Center, Moynihan Station (named for the guy who didn't want us to knock down the old one in the first place), the Highline, Hudson Yards - I even got suckered in to proselytizing the Brooklyn Nets stadium complex before Ratzinger and the Bush recession made a liar out of me.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I-Here) gave a bit of a boost to all us budding architectural futurists last night when he announced a plan to create wind farms right here in New York City that would provide a tenth of the city's power. No small fête indeed, and my initial impression is that Bloomberg is getting set to mess up another major initiative in the exact same way as his last two.

In his first term, Bloomberg championed a new Manhattan arena in the Hudson Yards as part of his New York 2012 campaign to bring the Olympic Games to New York City. Bloomberg went wrong there by pushing too hard, announcing a major initiative without first negotiating the details with the people of the City and, more importantly, the big three power brokers in Albany - the Governor, Senate Majority Leader and Assembly Speaker.

New York real estate is very complicated, and this was no different. I wasn't the only one who was uncomfortable with the idea of such a large project with such relatively limited uses on such a large plot of land in an area of Manhattan that desperately needs a well-measured revival.

Even those that supported the initiative could not have been surprised that Bloomberg was just not able to push it through without Albany's approval. The stadium died, a lot of Bloomberg's political capital went wasted, the Hudson Yards went into the lengthy process of negotiation which was probably inevitable and the games went to London. Strike one.

Then came Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan. Now, unlike the Jets stadium, this one was something I supported. What people saw when congestion pricing went in to effect in London was that nobody was sure about it, and then it happened, and then everybody loved it.

Now, there's a lot to be said for making a city more pedestrian-friendly and more petrolium-unfriendly. Unfortunately, Bloomberg once again put himself in a position where he couldn't get around to saying it. In fact, Bloomberg failure to get the people on his side before trying to get the plan passed was just one of the tactical mistakes that he ended up making for the second time.

Once again, we were reading about interest groups with pretty understandable concerns who didn't feel like they'd had all their questions answered by the Bloomberg administration. This time, they were local Manhattan car owners who were used to parking on their own streets, advocacy groups concerned that the new fees would would be discriminatory against lower-income workers, and those living just outside the then-96th St. toll border wondering if this meant everyone would be parking in their neighborhood.

Just like the Hell Kitchen residents who would have been most affected by the Jets stadium, this group deserved to have their questions answered or at least discussed. So did Albany. But, once again, Bloomberg had forced the issue too soon.

In what was probably his biggest mistake, Bloomberg had timed the announcement of his initiative so that Albany would have to pass it to qualify for a $500 Million (!) dollar subsidy from the Federal goverment for Congestion Pricing to have any chance of really happening. Albany Democrats refused to put the proposal to vote, essentially giving it a pocket veto.

As congestion pricing was failing, Bloomberg's tactics and his troubles were starting too fell a little too familiar. Now, I like Bloomberg - I'd bet, for example, that we'll ultimately end up seeing his school programs as successful. And I don't think you need to like him to see how much the office of the mayor can change the character of this city. Guiliani proved New York could be a better place, and Bloomberg proved the mayor could make New York City a better place without being an asshole.

But, although Guiliani's arguably fascist style and Bloomberg's corporate CEO decision maker style have both proved to be, on balance, more effective then simply being a cog in the New York City Democratic machine, simply going ahead with something and assuming that everyone is going to agree with you, and agree with you on your schedule, will only get you so far. Specifically, it is not good enough to make you president of the United States. What's more, it hasn't worked out for Governors too well, either. To move up to bigger things, you've got to be able to compromise.

Now Bloomberg has a new initiative that sounds great, but is big and complicated and involves a lot of interest groups pulling in different directions. What's more, he once again hasn't quite left himself enough time to get it done, although this time in may not be his fault - Bloomberg's second and final term ends in less than a year and a half.

If there's one thing that makes me optimistic about Bloomberg's wind power proposal, it's that it is not front page news, it's front-of-section news. If Bloomberg isn't staking his future on this proposal like he has in the past, that means that there's room for all parties involved to compromise. It even seems from the Times article that Bloomberg is taking the complicated nature of these negotiations in to account, seeing himself as just getting the ball rolling.

Ultimately, though, alternative power farming is going to depend on the man himself. If Bloomberg's learned the lessons of the mistakes he's made in the past, he has the potential to leave an environmental legacy that New Yorkers can just make out off their beaches and on their skyscrapers and be proud of. Otherwise, we'll once again just have to wait for someone who knows both how to lead and how to listen.

ribble's Guide to the Holidays

January 1
New Year's Day
Break as many of last night's resolutions as possible. Sober up. If already sober, wait out hangover. Shower. Take it easy.

January 27
My Birthday
Perfectly placed just long enough after Christmas that people are no longer burnt out on gift-giving, my birthday is one of my favorite days of the year. I look back on the past year, see how far I've gone, and then take all my friends out for dinner so they can meet each other, get wasted and tell me what they really think of me.

Having all these people who like me together in one place is also a very important opportunity to impress girls.

Also in January
Superbowl Sunday
The one day of the year where I can pretend I care about not only football but also commercials. Also one of the few times where everyone in America admits the importance of both snacks and beer simultaneously.

February 14
Valentine's Day
Is there any other holiday with such a rich contrast between two arbitrarily distinct groups of people? Valentine's Day is either all romance and flowers or all sucking and suck worthiness. Either I have a girlfriend on this one day of the year or I don't. I don't see why we've all got to get so worked up about it.

March 17
St. Patrick's Day
Okay - best St. Patrick's Day ever: My gigantic Irish friend Ben, an errant Canadian and I stagger across the fields of South Wales with a half bottle of Bailey's (having drunk the other half). In New York City, though, this is basically a bar holiday. I am a man who simply does not go to a lot of bars.

Mid April
Fiesta is a week-long San Antonio party that comes just before it gets too hot to do anything in San Antonio.

Fiesta used to be great when I was a kid because all our friends across the city would come down to my neighborhood for the King William Fair.

I went back recently and got to see Fiesta as the adults saw it - crowded and exhausting (although the parade was still awesome). Oh, well. You need to eat at least one funnel cake a year, may as well be here.

March 20-ish
First Day of Spring
In New York City on the first day of Spring, everything is beautiful and perfect in the world. Here's not one but three excellent songs about this particular season in this particular city: Jonathan Richman's "Springtime in New York", Jonathan Coulton's First of May, and, of course, the classic How About You? Woo, Spring.

Memorial Day / Labor Day
Because it was always hot in Texas regardless of "season," I am just now becoming acquainted with the value of the beach-going Holidays. As a result, I always get these two bookends mixed up.

July 4
4th (July)
The success of this holiday depends entirely on one's ability to get a good angle to see fireworks. Sometimes it helps to bring your own.

October 31
Last year, I crashed a Columbia party with Marmo while I was dressed as the Chinese Zodiac.

I pinned a bunch of tiny stuffed animals to myself for each of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac calendar. Then I decided my costume was too cryptic, so I took some masking tape and a sharpie on the train with me on my way to a party and I labelled myself - "Year of the Dog," "Year of the Rat," etc., and then three lines of tape saying "I am the Chinese Zodiac" on the front.

I couldn't find a stuffed rabbit, so I just drew one on a white T-shirt and put a label on the front of my coat saying "Ask to see my bunny."

Some Thursday in November
Traditionally the time when I go home and let my Dad cook for me while I play with my baby brother and half-watch American football on TV. I have tried to explain how good my Dad's cooking is to other people, but I rarely succeed.

Recently, a friend of mine told me a close friend of hers that had been living in France for years was going to finally be back in town in a few weeks. I listened, and then I said that during our coming visit to my parents' place, we were going to eat my Dad's ribs. It was only right afterwards that I realized that I had felt like my news about the ribs was just as important as my friend's news about being reunited with someone she hadn't seen in years. That's how good my Dad's cooking is.

December 25-ish
I watch Die Hard every Christmas.

December 31
New Year's Eve
Tied with my Birthday for my absolute favorite holiday. I like to think back on the past year, think ahead to what I can expect to come, make a lot of promises and just get absolutely toasted so as to watch things blow up high above the city, fully prepared for a new year full of the brand new holidays to come.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How About an Animated Series featuring the Cast of Scrubs Playing Teenage Clones of Historic Figures?

I was watching a lot of Clone High, U.S.A. lately (as much as someone can watch, I guess - there's only one season) when I realized that the janitor in the Litter Kills: Litterally episode looked a lot like another janitor I recognized.

Turns out, like, half the cast of Clone High are Scrubs principals and regulars.

So, if the idea of the cast of Scrubs staring in an animated series as the teenage American clones of historic figures is something you think you'd be into, then you have a very specific set of tastes.

But seriously, you should check it out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Musical Colors

This post came to me while I was thinking how someone could make a really good mashup of Blur's "He Thought of Cars" and all those scenes in Scrubs where people are driving places.

Basically, I'm interested in taking the (White plus Black equals) Grey Album one step farther.

The Yellow Album

The Green Album

The Orange Album (...and again)

My special Weezer section:
The Red Album
The Green Album
The Blue Album





Mauve. No, seriously. Mauve.

Colors (for U.S.icans)
Colours (for foreigners)


Brown (although, personally, I'd go with this Brown.

And, finally, The Khaki Album
(although I'd feel free to go with Kaki King.)

Fire up your Pro Tools, pop culture post-modernists! I want a full spectrum by next Fall!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ribble's Favorites

There's no curling and no women's two-person bobsled, so I'm no expert on any aspect of the Summer Games. As a result, I've had to choose who to root for based solely on athletes' countries of origin. I've got a short list of my go-to favorites here:

1. U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

2. New Zealand (I have a friend from New Zealand)

3. Mexico

4. Great Britain

5. Canada

And then, in no particular order ...

Argentina (for basketball)

And, if no one else is around ...

Korea (either is fine)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Things to Carry

This is what Dorothy Gambrell carried around the world, or at least what she was carrying when she made it back to Brooklyn from her trip around the world on boats and trains.

Reading about Dorothy's supplies reminded me of something I've thought about every week since I read the last few paragraphs of this interview in Wired Magazine in April of 1996.

In that interview "cybertheoretician" (there's a Wired Magazine neologism if I've ever heard one) Marcos B. Viermenhouk, by way of explaining humans as both increasingly specialized and increasingly interdependent, said "Pull Bill Gates out of his office and put him in the veldt - in four days he's a bloated corpse in the sun."

As a fifteen year old born on the The Day of Precocity, I found this idea appealing on a number of levels. The one that's stuck with me, though, is that I could be picked up from anywhere at any time and dropped off on the Veldt or anywhere else without the slightest bit of warning. Where would I be then? Would I outlast 1996 Bill Gates?

As a result of thinking of this idea for the last 12-odd years, I've become very conscientious of the things that I carry with me when I leave the house (I've always assumed that Viermenhouk would be good enough to let me keep my immediate personal effects.)

It isn't really a question of survival skills, after all, since if we're assuming the Veldt could hit you at any moment, absolutely anywhere else is possible as well. It may be useful to be able to set traps in the Australian outback, but drop me in downtown São Paolo and I'd much prefer a cell phone and a short stack of US currency. Flexibility is the key.

First, I always carry my black Swiss army shoulder bag with me wherever I go. Like an alligator with a shotgun, this thing always takes people by surprise. It can carry any amount of anything. In my pockets, I have my wallet, cell phone and keys. Always headphones.

In the bag, I always carry boxcutters (a habit from my gripping days), leatherman or multitool, an umbrella, matches, a small (eyeglasses screw-size) screwdriver, a cheap corkscrew, a small (2" long) philips' head screwdriver, a couple of pens, a pencil for crossword puzzles, my checkbook, two buttons (for clothes), one button for Nerdcore Rising, sunglasses, reading materials, the keys to my old employers' office, and various medicinal crap: antibiotic ointment, two very old pieces of nicotine gum, a powerful French lip balm which I never use except in winter, and a single sudafed PE which I have fantasies about grinding up and putting in someone's coffee should I ever be kidnapped.

With this full kit, I usually feel prepared for anything. It's not the perfect set of tools for a round-the-world trip, but for the challenges I run in to in day-to-day life, I do pretty well. I also for some reason enjoy the idea that I could take apart almost any sort of small electronic device, although I rarely know what to do with them afterwards.

With the issue of Veldt preparedness out of the way, then, my mind often begins to wander to the logical next question: who would I bring with me in to this excursion in to the random? Who possesses the crucial combination of useful skills and an agreeable personality for any possible situation?

For some reason, I always imagine myself with this person in one of the crucial scenes of Cerebus the Aardvark Volume 4: Church and State #2. I'm thinking specifically of when Cerebus is trapped inside a giant tower made of stone skulls while he's bringing a perfect sphere of gold to the moon.

As we all know, Cerebus was accompanied then by the Flaming Carrot in the famous Flaming Carrot Crossover.

The Flaming Carrot was a valuable travel companion as he not only possessed the wherewithal to cope with such a strange situation (in fact, one is left with the impression that he often caused exactly that kind of situation himself), but he also allowed Cerebus to move much more easily up the tower in the darkness of space as his carrot top is constantly on fire but does not consume itself. Handy in a pinch.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Very interesting Mixes

I recently completed one of my major "media projects" (read: wastes of time) - rating all the music in my iTunes library. It was a long journey and I had many strange adventures along the way. Like an anti-depressant that cures ED, one of the happy side effects of my indulgent and arbitrary objective was that I now have dozens of new and fascinating playlists.

As I worked my way through hundreds of tracks I hadn't listened to literally since switching to iTunes, I felt compelled to start grouping songs together the way I thought about them. I had a sophisticated system. I started with a playlist of a few hundred songs I felt I should rate next. I'd listen to these over a couple of weeks and rate them, and if I felt like it would fit with a list I already had or if I felt the song illustrated something other songs could also exemplify, I saved it first to a seperate playlist on my iPod and then to one of several mixes through my laptop.

What I ended up with was sort of an aural mind map. It reminds me of the shelves at Movie Library in Santa Fe. I have playlists like Songs for Driving Around Southern California With the Top Down, Songs about Trains, the Best 50 Songs Eva, Music I Really Want to Make in to a Music Video, a list of music that I had wanted to use in a stage project called Funny Bunny Dances several years ago but never got around to doing, and on and on. I'm experimenting with ways to publish them now.

So I finally got to the through all my playlists of unrated songs (not quite the end, actually, as I can't bring myself to listen to Vickyheart's CD of her vocals on opera classics with a critical ear) and what should I find at the end of my media critiquing rainbow but a big pot boredom. Like a bribed schoolchild, I found that without my goal of rating and making playlists, I now had no interest in listening to music.

The solution? Another playlist, of course! As I'd rated music, I had noticed that I was rating some songs higher than I really felt they deserved just because I wanted to listen to them once or twice before. Not wanting to bias my completely subjective exercise with these my own subjective allowances, I created a new playlist for music I was interested in listening to again with the title "interesting music." It was here I found a new arbitrary objective to distract me once my first arbitrary objective ran out.

As I went through the songs in my "interesting music" playlist, I noticed they really comprised two categories. First, there was the songs I'd just wanted to listen to once or twice more. Maybe I wasn't sure of the rating I'd given them, or there was something inthem that had caught my ear but I didn't feel like listening to it the first time through, or I thought they may be material for one of my playlists but I couldn't immediately figure which, or whatever.

The other, much more fascinating category was songs that were interesting and I thought may always be interesting no matter how many times I listened to them. I've posted this playlist, "ribble's Interesting Music," on iTunes.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Names I Considered for My New iPhone


iPhel (long i sound)

iPhle (short i sound)

I finally settled on iPple

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Where My Creative Effort Has Been Going

Rhymes with W.A.N.D.

Just a test. Many more to come...