Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dexter's War on Women

I'm re-watching seasons one and two of the Showtime serial killer series Dexter in spurts of one or two episodes as preparation for viewing the third season and beyond. I like the show's dark humor, often with deadpan delivery by Michael C. Hall, but it's been difficult to shrug off what I believe to be obvious misogyny by the writers. Harsh as it is to say, the women in the Miami of Dexter suck at life. Hard.

Dexter's sister, Deborah, is an vice officer-turned-crappy/lucky homicide detective who's a traumatized wreck after her fiance is revealed to be a serial killer. Lieutenant LaGuerta is a fame whore. The new female lieutenant is wrapped around the finger of an apparent douchbag boyfriend and spends most of her time (and department resources) dealing with those issues. And Rita, Dexter's girlfriend (for the time being, at least)...there are no words. I can't stand her.

This all reminds me about an article I recently read over at the Savage Critic comics blog about how many of the major story arcs in the Marvel Universe currently running have revolved around staggering levels of gynophobia on the part of the writers. I suppose we all had our stereotyped impressions of comics writers and illustrators not being terribly suave with the fairer sex, but guys, vagina dentata and female submission? Work it out in therapy, not the pages of a comic.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Like Hindu Cows

Definitely among the best things to pop up and gain momentum within indie culture in the past several years has to be the found footage movement. There's the annual found footage festival that makes its national tour, usually stopping in SF at the Red Vic or maybe the Roxie. But really, people are reintroducing pretty much anything of interest one can think of, from whimsical baubles to the historically significant, it's antiquing meets anthropology meets archaeology.

Case in point: a man rooting through his grandparents' stuff found film (super 8 perhaps?) shot in Alameda and SF from 1958 and posted it online. The quality is astounding. Well, I was expecting much worse, at least; reel-to-reel cameras captured a significant part of my youth thanks to my father's insatiable desire to document everything, but the quality is spotty at times.

I can't help but wonder if the inhabitants of SF, here on the cusp of the 60s, had any clue of what was about to come barreling their way. Everyone's face looks so placid and, indeed, the face of the city itself follows suit with its serenity and cleanliness. I'm reminded of a tsunami rippling out at breakneck speeds where the surface looks serene while hiding a tremendous force below.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Somehow People Are Still Bent Out of Shape About This

Man, it is hard to fathom that people are still railing against Episode I. If Tim Beasley from Spaced were a real person I'd email this to him...on second thought, he would have already produced it. Please, sit a spell and watch all seven parts:

I have to wonder about how George Lucas's work on these movies affects his three kids, Amanda, Katie and Jett. These tikes have all appeared briefly in the prequels and are too young to have experienced the original trilogy during its heyday, but not so young as to escape taunting from upperclassmen over how their father took all that was good and special about Star Wars and transformed it into a mound of steaming excrement through some kind of alchemy. I suppose they wouldn't feel much seeing as how the obscene wealth they've no doubt grown up around has numbed their emotions to the point that they probably don't even hesitate to call down their entourage of gold-flecked bodyguards on any naysayers.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Constructing the More Sophisticated Drunk

I was walking towards Ashby BART yesterday when I spotted an empty bottle of Sho Chiku Bai nihonshu (known far and wide as that catch-all for Japanese booze, "sake") placed upright on the pavement adjacent to a fence. Odd, I thought, but isn't that so North Oakland/Berkeley? Our swerving, street-prowling winos won't settle for Boone's Farm or Charles Shaw, hell no, their discriminating palettes demand they gulp from the nectar that is the Far East's finest, cheapest libations.

God bless the Rising Sun.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Celery: Not Just Good With Peanut Butter Anymore

I kinda sorta totally hate Twitter, but the following news story about a grandmother in Troy (NY or MI?) who faxes her tweets to a company that posts them for her is adorable.

The company offering this service, Celery, is a quirky story in and of themselves. Oddly, their business model has two competing faces, each the polar opposite of the other. On one hand they negate some key purposes of networked personal computers (the paperless and instantaneous data transmission aspects) by printing out hardcopies of emails for customers, while on the other hand they offer the service featured in the video of connecting people to the net by proxy who may not have previously utilized it in any way shape or form.

Pat, if you're reading this know that Celery is the brainchild of an RPI graduate. Imagine, you could have been a millionaire, and all it would have taken was a bottle of scotch, a well-placed fall where your skull met a coffee table corner and a subsequent idea like "Hmm...what if we stripped 99.8% of the internet's utility and capabilities then sell it back to people at a premium?"

For the kinds of blackouts that lead to genius try cucumber gin next time, man.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The, Uh, Southern Winds

Your local neighborhood cafe is, on average I'd say, a pretty sedate place that many choose as their daily refuge from the personal C.H.U.D.S. we're all fleeing in some unique way. Excepting Starbucks, sure, and maybe the new breed of cafe conducive to interaction/networking like Four Barrel in the Mission (if you can't find a seat, don't worry, the milky-dark brown coffee will keep you on your toes at attention) folks get a healthy dose of relaxation from these urban oases and it's surprising, maybe even a bit mortifying, when something to break the spell comes along.

With that kind of lead-in, you may be expecting a truly harrowing tale of coffee espionage or murder by creamer, but once again I have to disappoint and tell you this is all actually my round-about way to attempt understanding of certain social protocol. The first disruption at Nomad, my local cafe, is the always tragic neighborhood schizophrenic. Nothing terribly funny about that, this guy truly needs help and, judging by his decidedly un-disheveled look (he looks like a friend's father, actually), he's getting it from somewhere, but he'll saunter in occasionally to order something sophisticated and then nurse it for hours and stare at me while muttering. God damn, those boring fucking eyes! Can't get a lick of work done when he's there. If the voices decide it's time for him to go he'll suddenly yell out "OK, let's go!" and disappear into the day. Godspeed, man.

This next bit is really why I'm here today though. Yesterday, I was typing away revising some docs when the man two tables down, also on his laptop, just goes and rips a loud, brief fart. Heads tilt by one or two degrees, eyes dart around looking for recognition with the faces of other patrons and the world skips off its record for a moment. Everybody's thinking it: "Did that shit just fucking happen?"

It did, I'm afraid. And no, I'm not trying to cover myself--I didn't smell it or deal it. That being said, OK, hypothetically you did just tear a stink hole in the space-time continuum at a cafe. What next? Do you follow it with an encore, or let well enough alone? Apologize to everyone with a quick "excuse me" or just keep your piehole shut (though you obviously can't keep the exit side of the piehole quiet). Honestly, what's the social protocol here?

And let me tell you, once you hear that it's in no way possible to resume work or a book. Just hunker down to some mindless sudoku or get the hell out, because that sound never exits the brain.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Infographers Are Magicians

Oh, this modern age of easily accessible design software, like Adobe CS4, thank you! Thank you for making the immutable truth so simple to understand that even an elementary school child could see clearly that which hovers in front of our noses. Today's infographic is about the inherent stupidity that is bottled water. In much of the Bay Area we have Hetch Hetchy water--some of the tastiest and safest in the country--flowing from our taps, so why drink anything but this nectar from the gods? The only water I have ever quaffed that tasted better was at actual springs gushing out of the mountainside in the back of beyond of Japan. Why fly several thousand miles across the Pacific when it's right here for the taking?


The New Media

This is it, folks, the nerve center of American online collective consciousness. I dare you to turn up the volume and watch the entire thing.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fuck the Deniers

Climategate got ya down? Those leaked memos have probably won more borderline skeptics over to the full-on denier side than any red-faced huffing Republican ideologue. But the media is skipping over two crucial details from this debacle: first, scientists are humans and humans act like petty little douchebags sometimes--get over it; next, and certainly most important, THIS DOESN'T CHANGE THE SCIENCE ONE BIT!

This editorial in Nature magazine summarizes it pretty well. To see why the science doesn't change a bit, check out this beautifully produced data visualization by one David McCandless. It will blow your socks off.


'The Truman Show' Taken Out Back, Shot

This multi-layered stuff is to, like, deep, man! But really, I enjoyed the following a lot:


Monday, December 7, 2009

"Jesus is a Raisin"

I can see this starting a meme:


Sunday, December 6, 2009

I'm Freeeeee! Freefallingggggggggg!

Finally, a photographer with a far out vision that I can get behind! Kerry Skarbakka has released a photo series containing himself in various stages of falling. Some of them are absolutely cringe-worthy, your brain automatically connecting the dots on what follows in the proceeding milliseconds. Impressively he did it all with the help of some simple climber's rigging and what I like most is that his statement is decidedly not pretentious, breaking down to about this: we struggle to right ourselves on a daily basis, but what does it mean to simply let go?

Find out at the link above.


Mmm...Stoke Those Inadequacies, Baby

This may be a first, posting a link to a list here, but it just so happens I came across what I consider to be the first really worthwhile internet list courtesy of Asylum (a pretty unlikely place to find it). So, here it is, a list of five ridiculous overachievers. Concerning Philip Parker, the man who authored over 200k books, yes, he has an automated program that sets into action the fully hands-off process of writing the tomes, but the man also holds three undergraduate degrees, two masters and one PhD. Zing!

The big whammy that floored me last night and got my brain juices bubbling--as they do when a pointless-yet-fascinating niche of this world reveals itself to me, plus considering my educational history--was the multilinguist Ziad Fazah, who claims mastery in 59 languages. Fifty. Nine. Throughout history only a handful have approached or breached this astonishing number. As somebody who struggles with only a single foreign language I can feel deep down what an achievement this is.

(Interesting factoid: J.R.R. Tolkien was fluent in 13 and knowledgeable in 12 other languages. I'm sure inventing the Elvish language was child's play to him.)

As it happens, statistically, most inhabitants of Spaceship Earth are polyglots, with the good ol' U.S. of A leading the way with most monolinguists per capita. Huzzah. If it feels like America's been getting dumber recently I think this may be the cause, or at least a good scapegoat since being a polyglot seems to increase cognitive abilities across the boards, according to studies. C'mon, American families, teach those kids Finnish already!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ooh, They're Such Rebels!

I am banging my head with a frying pan trying to figure out where I saw this kind of thing on the street recently--somewhere in Berkeley or Oakland, obviously--but I do recall it was basically a tea cozy for one of those green phone switcher boxes. I imagine this is how the Amish womenfolk express their urban art sense.

A certain friend of mine from Wyoming could become the next Banksey or Yok in this field of graffiti me thinks.


Thursday, December 3, 2009


There is absolutely no better voice to do this site--sponsored by Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board--than that of The Venture Brothers' Brock Samson (Patrick Warburton). Concerning the Farmer John, the Lumberjack, the Sheboygan and the Macho Nacho...Oh. My. Fucking. God.