Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Too Soon to Snark?

Yeah, I know the people of Vermont are still reeling from Irene's aftermath, but can't a fella snark?

With the Vermont flooding, the worst since 1927, one can only hope that evidence of a hostile alien presence will come to light, much as it did in the 20's:

The whole matter began, so far as I am concerned, with the historic and unprecedented Vermont floods of November 3, 1927. I was then, as now, an instructor of literature at Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts, and an enthusiastic amateur student of New England folklore. Shortly after the flood, amidst the varied reports of hardship, suffering, and organized relief which filled the press, there appeared certain odd stories of things found floating in some of the swollen rivers; so that many of my friends embarked on curious discussions and appealed to me to shed what light I could on the subject. I felt flattered at having my folklore study taken so seriously, and did what I could to belittle the wild, vague tales which seemed so clearly an outgrowth of old rustic superstitions. It amused me to find several persons of education who insisted that some stratum of obscure, distorted fact might underlie the rumors.
The tales thus brought to my notice came mostly through newspaper cuttings; though one yarn had an oral source and was repeated to a friend of mine in a letter from his mother in Hardwick, Vermont. The type of thing described was essentially the same in all cases, though there seemed to be three separate instances involved - one connected with the Winooski River near Montpelier, another attached to the West River in Windham County beyond Newfane, and a third centering in the Passumpsic in Caledonia County above Lyndonville. Of course many of the stray items mentioned other instances, but on analysis they all seemed to boil down to these three. In each case country folk reported seeing one or more very bizarre and disturbing objects in the surging waters that poured down from the unfrequented hills, and there was a widespread tendency to connect these sights with a primitive, half-forgotten cycle of whispered legend which old people resurrected for the occasion.
What people thought they saw were organic shapes not quite like any they had ever seen before. Naturally, there were many human bodies washed along by the streams in that tragic period; but those who described these strange shapes felt quite sure that they were not human, despite some superficial resemblances in size and general outline. Nor, said the witnesses, could they have been any kind of animal known to Vermont. They were pinkish things about five feet long; with crustaceous bodies bearing vast pairs of dorsal fins or membranous wings and several sets of articulated limbs, and with a sort of convoluted ellipsoid, covered with multitudes of very short antennae, where a head would ordinarily be. It was really remarkable how closely the reports from different sources tended to coincide; though the wonder was lessened by the fact that the old legends, shared at one time throughout the hill country, furnished a morbidly vivid picture which might well have coloured the imaginations of all the witnesses concerned. It was my conclusion that such witnesses - in every case naive and simple backwoods folk - had glimpsed the battered and bloated bodies of human beings or farm animals in the whirling currents; and had allowed the half-remembered folklore to invest these pitiful objects with fantastic attributes.
The ancient folklore, while cloudy, evasive, and largely forgotten by the present generation, was of a highly singular character, and obviously reflected the influence of still earlier Indian tales. I knew it well, though I had never been in Vermont, through the exceedingly rare monograph of Eli Davenport, which embraces material orally obtained prior to 1839 among the oldest people of the state. This material, moreover, closely coincided with tales which I had personally heard from elderly rustics in the mountains of New Hampshire. Briefly summarized, it hinted at a hidden race of monstrous beings which lurked somewhere among the remoter hills - in the deep woods of the highest peaks, and the dark valleys where streams trickle from unknown sources. These beings were seldom glimpsed, but evidences of their presence were reported by those who had ventured farther than usual up the slopes of certain mountains or into certain deep, steep-sided gorges that even the wolves shunned.

Bernie Sanders has got to be in on the plot- his support of single-payer healthcare is a ploy to weaken the American people, softening us until we all fall prey to the alien menace and end up with our brains in jars. Oddly enough, with our brains removed, we'd be more likely to vote Republican... Damn you, Sanders, for coming up with such a convoluted, counterintuitive scheme!

Of course, other extraterrestrial threats are being downplayed by the mainstream media. Yes, the media and all those pointy-headed science-talkin' folks don't want you to know about the giant killer planet masquerading as a comet, or is that a spaceship? Sure, the establishment types say the comet is breaking up, but that's what they want the sheeple to believe! Hell, the media even refuses to cover what the queers are doing to the soil.

I have to post a link to this video, because it contains the beautiful admission: "MY MAJOR ERROR HAS OPENED THE DOOR TO SOME TROLLS." Damn, that's one of the great realities of the internet, innit?

POSTSCRIPT What we need is for an intrepid young reporter to investigate extraterrestrial activity in Vermont.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'd Say Irene Blew Their Brains Out...

...but they're not that brainy to begin with. Right wingers, predictably, are losing their shit over media coverage of, and government response to, Hurricane Irene. The fact that governmental agencies tracked the storm and coordinated the response to the storm's destruction during and after the "weather event" has their panties in a bunch. Pretty inconvenient for them, having government function well.

I'm going to focus on two responses I find particularly enraging, then provide some commentary on another asshole who has been thoroughly excoriated elsewhere.

The first asshole I want to call on the carpet is Ron Paul, who wants to take us back to 1900, citing the example of Galveston, Texas, which was largely destroyed by a hurricane which resulted in the loss of 8,000 lives. Ron Paul glosses over the reality of history by claiming that the federal government played no role in the reconstruction of Galveston, but the truth differs from his hare-brained free-market fappery. The construction of the Galveston seawall, which allowed the continuing existence of Galveston, was accomplished by local state, and federal entities, most notably the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Paul is technically correct when he states that FEMA wasn't in existence then, but he ignores the fact that the Corps of Engineers, a massive federal agency, was a close analogue. As usual, Bernie Sanders, whose constituents have suffered greatly, tells it like it is- Ron Paul is out to lunch, but at least it's not a government handout school lunch! Oh, who am I kidding? Ron Paul's been living on the public dime since 1997.

The next person I want to single out for scorn is conservative intellectual (heh heh) George Will who complained about the media "hype" surrounding Irene, which he dismissed as a "tropical storm". Yes, by the time Irene hit the Northeast, it was not a hurricane, according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, which measures sustained wind speeds. It does not measure rainfall, and as I wrote while in the thick of things, it was the rainfall, not the wind speed, which was of primary concern. Irene was a wet, wet slow-mover, she just poured buckets and buckets of rain in the areas she affected. Maybe the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is inadequate to express the true damaging potential of storms, so weasels such as Will can play their semantic games on national television in order to make asinine points. Of course, the Saffir-Simpson scale should not be confused with the Ashford-Simpson scale, which measures the solidity of a rock (RIP, Nick Ashford). Like Paul, who bashes government from the inside, Will bashes the media, while working for the media- can't these fuckers go "Galt" once and for all?

I hadn't heard about Howard Kurtz' bloviations about Irene "hype" until today, but he's been well excoriated elsewhere. I have little to add to Brad's takedown of Kurtz, except to say that, as Kurtz was writing his "Hurricane of Hype" article, I was standing in dirty mid-calf deep water, which had just overtopped the banks of a body of water on the grounds, watching the basement of one of our buildings get flooded to a depth of one-and-a-half feet. This occurred well after the rains had stopped, and we members of the skeleton crew had a brief "we think we'll skate out of this" moment before the water broke and birthed an unholy mess. Even today, two days after the rains ended, the flooding continues.

I got off easy- sure, I ended up crawling home sore and fatigued after thirty hours of work, but there was no major damage either at work or at home. I got my ass kicked, but I'm alive and well, and did not incur any losses as a result of the storm. Others have been devastated, and it really pisses me off the hear the lies and dismissals of people who live in bubbles. If Ron Paul, George Will, Howard Kurtz, and the others had been the ones standing in the pounding rain checking the function of some woefully overtaxed pumps throughout an overnight endurance tour, they wouldn't have been so nonchalant about things.

Fuck... it just hit me, these guys have never had "skin in the game" about anything. Their casual dismissal of Irene is much like their (with the notable exception of Ron Paul) dismissal of the true cost of the Iraq invasion, like their dismissal of the true extent of the economic crisis. Damn, these people need a reality check in the worst way.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene's Aftermath

I got home with no real problems last night (the roads were deserted, the flooding had subsided), then took a half-hour power shower (spending much of the previous twenty-four hours calf deep in dirty water, and having strong winds blowing up a fine spray of gack in which one finds oneself leads to a not-so-fresh feeling). I crashed hard around eleven PM, and slept until noon. Yeah, I can still pull all-nighters and function well, but I can't recover from such stints as well as I did when I was younger. I was pretty spacey for a couple of hours, and felt like I'd caught a major ass-whupping (I guess I did). A couple of cups of coffee, and I finally felt somewhat civilized. The Director of Operations, with whom I'd had a running phone conversation throughout my long Irenish slog, called me to thank me for my dedication, and inform me that the picnic had been cancelled (so much for swapping Irene stories with everybody). I've had good bosses in the past, but I've never been in love with the boss before.

I spent a little bit of time checking out the area, and there are branches down all over the place, to the extent that some roads are still closed to through traffic. My neighborhood got off lightly (I live on top of a hill), and we hadn't even lost electricity at any time. All told, I've pretty much recovered from Irene, except for tha pile of damp, dirty laundry that's going to require some attention...

POSTSCRIPT: Monsieur Bouffant informed me in the comments that yesterday was Jack Vance's 95th birthday. Jack Vance being one of my favorite authors, his birthday would have merited a major post, had I not been calf-deep in dirty water and up to my neck in a shitstorm.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Not Out of the Soup Yet

I reported for work almost twenty-six hours ago, fully prepared for an utter shitstorm... which I got. I was able to take a break from twelve noon to four o'clock in order to take a nap and a shower- basically to claw my way up the evolutionary scale*, like the protagonist of a Clark Ashton Smith story in reverse trajectory.

Oddly enough, the wind seems to have picked up, though the rain has abated. We have small branches down, but the bulk of the damage to the site has been through flooding. Of course, the big problem now is the presence of slack-jawed gawkers pulling into the parking lot and asking stupid questions. People, stay the fuck home! Honestly, some people need a beating my tired, sore ass just isn't up for administering at this time. Here, take a rain sunshine check, and come back some other time so I can give you a whallop in the melon.

My relief should be here by 9PM, and I think I'll spend tomorrow aestivating. The company picnic will be on Tuesday, and I imagine I'll have a lot of tales to tell to co-workers who haven't been here over the last couple of days.

*Yeah, I know it's a bullshit concept, and that evolution is not a hierarchical process with the pinnacle of creation being a straight, white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant male, but work with me, people!

UPDATE: Wow, fifteen more minutes before my relief comes. I desperately need a hot shower and a cold drink, and about fifteen hours of sleep. I'm beat, and I am at the end of my clean clothes allowance- I changed clothes over this thirty-hour stint more than Lady Gaga does at a typical concert (the shirt I wore yesterday afternoon is still damp!). Damn, damn, damn, it's been a rough time.

Not Exactly Live-Blogging Irene

I often joke that my job is very cushy, except when it isn't. Eighteen hours into a stormy ordeal (stordeal?), I have to say that I'm knackered and sore. After a stint at one site, working an event, I had to hotfoot it to another site in order to keep an eye on things overnight.

Everything was going pretty smoothly until about 5AM... I took a couple of walkabouts to make sure that important areas of the site weren't damaged by wind or water. The rain was heavy, but the wind was not too bad. Between 5 and 6 AM, the cumulative effects of the rain caused a serious threat of flooding. Thankfully, the head of the maintenance department had set up a pump near a building that is prone to flooding. I had to ensure that the pump was functioning well, and that the drains weren't clogged with debris. While the rain is slacking off a bit, the storm surge in the vicinity hasn't crested, so we're not out of the soup yet. I've gone through three changes of clothing, and am currently damp- my feet are wet and uncharacteristically tender. Things could be worse, though, I could be stuck working in the office of an insurance company.

My friend **REDACTED** always told me, "You're not happy unless you're getting your ass kicked." Well, the past hours have been one continuous ass-kicking and it wasn't particularly fun. Now, the storm is supposed to abate soon, but the roads are an unmitigated disaster. I am awaiting a call from the guy who is scheduled to work tonight, who may be hampered from coming in by the abysmal road conditions. Being my mother's son, though, I have to say that my current stationary situation is preferable to being on the roads.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Stormy Weather

The big news here is the Northeast is the impending arrival of Hurricane Irene. I began the workday at three o'clock this afternoon, and am pretty much resigned to stay on site until... whenever. Most of the evening up til now was occupied with working an event, and the couple who rented the site must have built up a lifetime of goodwill, because the real rain held off until they left the site. Of course, I got soaked to the skin while dotting the i's and crossing the t's before closing things up. Now that everyone's gone, it'll be me and Irene (and I hear she blows like anything) until whenever.

I often pack for work as if I were going on a camping trip- this trip just involved packing additional impedimenta. Of course, the brunt of the storm is supposed to hit tomorrow, and I am safely ensconced here, while the roads will all be a godawful mess.

It's always good to have a place to hide when the storm breaks:

Gotta love The Alarm... back in ought-six, the reconstituted Alarm played three shows at the Knitting Factory (both locations, LA and NYC) in three weeks, and my good friend J-Co and I went to all three shows, while a revolving cast of friends took the other tickets we purchased. Damn, they put on some fantastic live shows.

Here's another weather related song, with an intro which perfectly showcases the late, great Stuart Adamson's use of the E-bow to achieve the characteristic sound of the band:

Here's a final song, a not-so-long distance dedication to Irene, with whom I am going to spend the night. I'm hoping I don't get fucked by her!

I'd be remiss if I didn't give a shoutout to _____, the Director of Operations for my employer. She's been calling every few hours to make sure that the skeleton crew that's working tonight are doing well. I can't say enough about her, she's great.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Brooklyn! Beer! Botany!

Last night, I headed down to the lovely Bell House in Brooklyn for the monthly Secret Science Club lecture. This month's lecture was by Dr Rob Martienssen, a plant geneticist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. The main topic of the talk concerned asexual reproduction in plants, and the implications it has for agriculture and the production of biofuels.

The word clone derives from the ancient Greek word for a trunk, branch, or stem- the process of vegetative propagation has long been known. Plant clones can reach gigantic proportions and extreme ages, the most massive known organism on Earth is a male quaking aspen clone known as Pando.

Although asexual reproduction typically results in genetically identical offspring, epigenetic factors can cause changes in phenotypes. A good example of epigenetic change in clonal plants is the mutation of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Meunier grapes from Pinot Noir stock. Much of the epigenetic changes are due to the action of "jumping genes", properly known as transposons, which are segments of DNA which alter the genome of an organism.

Clonal reproduction allows hybrid plants to thrive, such hybrids often exhibit extraordinary health, or hybrid vigor- hybrid individuals with low fertility can reproduce clonally (a good example of this is Pando, the quaking aspen clone, which is believed to have not reproduced sexually for the past 10,000 years). While most clones reproduce through vegetative propagation, certain plants, notably dandelions, can produce seeds asexually.

In order to protect the integrity of the genome from the deleterious effect of transposons, small RNA molecules "silence" the jumping genes (they "clean up" the "junk" DNA). Besides gametes, pollen contains a non-reproductive "vegetative nucleus". Cells in the vegetative nucleus of plant produce the small RNA molecules which clean up the genome of a developing embryo.

Dr Martienssen ended his talk with a discussion of the potential for biofuel production using duckweed as a fuel stock. Duckweed reproduces rapidly, and can thrive in adverse conditions (low light, polluted water, varying degrees of salinity). During the Eocene epic (which was marked by extraordinarily warm temperatures- the "thermal maximum") the Arctic Ocean was largely isolated from other bodies of water, and the increase in salinity, caused dense, salty water to sink, resulting in a layer of fresh water at the surface which allowed the aquatic plant Azolla to thrive. The rapidly reproducing Azolla is thought to have removed much of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the dead plants were not subject to decay in the anoxic waters near the sea bed, and were buried by sediment, sequestering the carbon.

With its prolific reproduction rate, duckweed can be incorporated into wastewater treatment systems as well as biofuel production. The use of duckweed for biofuel production is preferable to the use of traditional food crops such as corn (cars shouldn't compete with humans for fuel).

Of course, I was just about having a nerdgasm at this point, because I've long been an advocate of energy production using waste streams (Poop Power!). In the Q&A, some other audience member stepped on my dick (there's a fine line between nerdgasm and nerdrage) by asking about the use of algae rather than duckweed in fuel production. Dr Martienssen agreed that algae would be good fuel stock, but many varieties of algae require high light levels. At this time, duckweed, with its tolerance of low light levels, pollution, and varying degrees of salinity, is a better short-term candidate. The algae question being asked, I inquired about the plant immune system and its role in the grafting process. While the plant immune system is not his bailiwick, he indicated that small RNA plays a role in the ability of such grafts to thrive.

Other topics touched up in the talk were the role of Arabidopsis as the go-to lab plant in genome studies (much like Drosophila is the go-to lab animal). Dr Martienssen also touted the Weed to Wonder website as a great resource for maize genetics.

All told, this month's lecture was top-notch. Of course, I'm a big botany nerd and a big alternative energy nerd, so it was a one-two punch of pure bliss for me... accompanied by copious amounts of beer, no less.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What's Shaking?

I should have posted this yesterday, but it was a luverly day, so I spent much of the day outdoors before heading down to Brooklyn for the Secret Science Club lecture. I have to be at a departmental meeting this afternoon, so I'll do the SSC recap tonight.

I worked a graveyard shift on Tuesday, so I pretty much spent much of Tuesday in the Land of Nod. Suffice it to say, I slept through the East Coast Earthquake. I got a phone call from Mom, who lives in Prince William County in Northern Virginia. She was at work when the quake hit, one of her best friends on the job, fortuitously, was away from his desk when a metal fixture fell on it. When in doubt, people, take that coffee break! Mom was fine. She's a lot like me, she decided to hunker down and stay put while most people were taking advantage of early work release/evacuation. Like me, she'd rather deal with the elements than with panicked people on the roads. She waited out the crush of traffic, and came home to find everything okely dokely.

Since President Obama is away from Virginia, I figured that conspiracy loons would find a sinister reason behind the earthquake. Sure enough, there are people who believe that the Virginia Earthquake was induced by HAARP. The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program has loomed large in the minds of conspiracy theorists, who view it as a combination superweapon/weather smurfing machine.

So, from the safety of Martha's Vinyard, Illuminati front man and possible Antichrist Obama has unleashed the earth's crusty fury on the Mid-Atlantic states to usher in a New World Order:

That being said, you don't even want to know what the queers are doing to the soil...

Enjoy the weird science fictional lunacy- I'll drop some real science in my next post.

UPDATE: Well, what have we here? Yeah, there's a guy who actually knows what the queers are doing to the soil:

I like you, Yehuda, you're not like the other people, here in the shtetl...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Diaphanous Domicile Demolished

A lovely home, one built with care,
But come the morn, it won't be there...

At the end of a workday, I found this huge spiderweb built in the parking lot, in the middle of the main traffic lane. The web itself was gorgeous, but I knew that, as soon as the 9-5 staff started arriving, this diaphanous domicile would be destroyed- a clear case of "well built, poorly sited".

I have actually relocated less elaborate webs than this by moving a couple of the anchoring strands to less-trafficked locations, but this baby was too big for that to be feasible. I hope the lovely tenant was able to relocate. Yeah, I don't mind the eight legged horrors- I spend a lot of time outdoors, and I prefer the speeders to the skeeters

Monday, August 22, 2011

Allen Needs a Job

Noted teabagger Allen West has made an extremely offensive comment likening African American Democratic politicians to plantation overseers. Of course, West's not being terribly original, he's just repeating hideous bullshit spouted for years by Conservative gasbags. The fact that he's putting a black face on a racist meme pushed by white race-baiters is particularly odious, but there's a delicious element of hypocrisy in West's calumny- he referred his brother to plantation overseer Maxine Waters for help in his job search:

I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords sincerely wish Allen West good luck in his job search, and hope that he obtains a cushy government job. Of course, the job I envision would involve relocation to South Florida.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I'm Number One!!!

Well, I mentioned it in my last post, I am the number one Google result for the search term "unapologetic ass man". To compound my amusement, antipodean dreamboat and all-around good guy Another Kiwi ran a Yahoo! images search using the search term "unapologetic ass man" and the results made me laugh. Yeah, besides a Frazzetta sketch, ya got my big bald melon, some clip art, pictures of tulip tree leaves, and a thumbnail of... Jar-Jar?!?!? How'd he get there? Is he an unapologetic ass amphibian (ASSPHIBIAN)?

I may be the number one non-apologizing ass enthusiast in teh t00bz, but there's a guy who has a more theological approach to the subject of the hinder parts:

Friday, August 19, 2011

What Happens at the Foot Fetish Place...

My Canuckistani drinking buddy made an enigmatic comment at his blog, "After the baby place, the beer and foot fetish place. The bastard will explain all." Yes, the Bastard will explain all, though the names will be left out of the post to protect any parties, innocent or not.

After the now-infamous Baby Beerhall Incident, Monsieur McGravitas and I took the 4 train to Midtown Manhattan. Not having any pressing engagements the next morning, we headed out to a venue where a good Friend of the Bastard runs an open mic night (don't want to give out T.M.I. in one post, so GOOGLE IT!). While the venue for the open mic night is a fairly straightforward restaurant, certain... shall we say... activities take place in a basement space. I'd had an inkling that something was going on, because there was always a steady stream of extraordinarily attractive young ladies passing through the restaurant. As it turns out, "foot fetish parties" are held in the basement Apparently, one pays twenty American dollars for a specific duration, in which one can indulge one's foot fetish with a young lady (STRICTLY NO NUDITY!).

Not having this particular fetish (I'm an unapologetic ass man, apparently the current number one unapologetic ass man in the rankings), I have never had an inclination to descend to the podiatric paraphilia playground, and merely enjoy a quick drink or a meal while listening to the open mic participants, and performing my singular musical act ***FUTURE POST***. I have to note that SMcG also refrained from descending to the depths of the Basement of Kink- there are no jumping grannies in the basement, at least not on Tuesday nights.

The Internet has brought broader exposure to a lot of outré sexual fetishes, the linear Kinsey Scale is completely inadequate for a world of furries, vorarephiliacs, and the like. Rather than a line segment, we need a "sexuality" scale that resembles a spirograph.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Uh, Dude, Your State Is Dying

Texas dumbfuck and corndog fellator Rick Perry has some lies to tell about global warming/anthropogenic climate change:

Of course, the East Anglia University e-mail "scandal" is clearly overblown bullshit, but the right wing media continues to push the story.

Of course, Perry's ignorance or mendacity regarding climate change would not be so repellent if his home state weren't in the grips of a warming trend and a deadly drought. Who you gonna believe, the guy with the nice hairdo and the overly large phallic snack, or the mute testimony of dessicated fish? If Perry's denialism weren't bad enough, his let God figure it out approach to problems is terrifying... we need a candidate who can be serious for a second, we need help, and Perry ain't it.

Sorry, Corndog Rick, you may be a Tea Party favorite, but that Texas tea's not looking too appetizing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

City of Substance

The day began like any other, with a cup of coffee and a hasty breakfast of scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon, sausage links, black pudding, grapefruit, toasted wheat bread with lemon curd, and a half-strength mimosa. I turned on the radi-adi-o to catch the local news, and realized that something strange was going on... tales of octogenarians forced to jump in public, rumors of a mysterious figure carrying a bag of stickers, and placing them on the enticingly large foreheads of random strangers. I had to substantiate the gravity of these rumors, so I hit the streets.

I needed help, and fast, so I headed down to downtown Brooklyn, to enlist the aid of a guy who was a mild-mannered family man by night, a skyscraper-scaling daredevil by day. Standing in the shadow of his peen-like abode, I knew I was close to the source of the rumors...


Yesterday, I was able to attach a name and a face to King of the Animated Gifs and all-around Good Guy Substance McGravitas. Yes, we hung out at a Baby Biergarten (note to motherlovers... where there's babbies, there's muthas, if you know what I mean and I think that you do). Ned's nuclear family, the lovely Mrs. B. and the not-so-mini _B (he's like a babysaurus- I mean, he's thirty pounds of baby!) accompanied us to the Playdate Beerhall. Big Mini _B is thirty pounds of awesome, he's a happy guy, and totes adorbs... I'd hang out with him any day, he's a total, as they say, chick magnet.

After some nice fat glasses of beer, we stopped by the local B.B.Q. pit and got some victuals to consume in the book-lined precincts of Casa _B. Nothing beats good old-fashioned down-home downtown hospitality. All told, it was a day to mark with a white stone.

So, who's the next person to get their ass to New York?

UPDATE: Does it even need to be said that Substance McGravitas has an enticingly large forehead? Didn't think so!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Brooklyn Bound

I travel to Brooklyn at least once a month. This time will my trip to Brooklyn will be different, I'll be meeting up with a Man of Substance and a substantial man.

How does my big bald melon look? Did I buff it to a glossy shine? Time to get my ass on that downtown train, and, yeah, I'm a fool for all those Brooklyn girls:

For the record, my favorite Tom Waits song is Jockey Full of Bourbon:

I imagine I'll be feeling like that while riding the subway home.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Gotta Feel Sorry For Tourists

Yesterday and today have been marked by record breaking rain in the New York Metro Area. With this sort of foul weather, tourists are advised to hunker down in sheltered areas, quaffing copious amounts of beer.

On the plus side, the weather is uncharacteristically cool for New York in August, even Pacific Northwesterners should be comfortable under our cool, lead-colored skies. That is, if they don't get swept away by our poopy, poopy rivers. Things could be worse, at least the rivers of poop aren't on fire.

At least the beer is clean.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Retro, Rapturous

This morning, while listening to the local college radio station, I heard a really sweet song by Brooklyn music group The Bandana Splits. The song is really catchy, and the video, with it's retro vibe, is instantly likeable:

The Bandana Splits - "Sometimes" from stereogum on Vimeo.

How can one fail to be charmed? The singers are enchanting, and the "working stiff dreams big" theme manages to be simultaneously poignant and funny. The setting, Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain, is attractive (I love the tile floor, it reminds me of Ferdinando's Focacceria, of course, I am more a spleen sandwich guy than an ice cream soda guy, but that's me). I think I may have to stop by Brooklyn Farmacy for an egg cream when I head down to Brooklyn to have a beer (or several) with Ned and ***SPOILER ALERT*** Substance McGravitas.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mitt, Ya Dumbass, Eat The Dog Food

Mitt Romney, that emptiest of suits, really isn't a smart man. He's a guy who was born to a wealthy, well connected father, and he used his inherited wealth to eviscerate American companies in his career as a vulture capitalist specializing in mergers and acquisitions... no need to be bright, just wealthy and sociopathic. Yeah, Mitt's not really that intelligent, and he's a piss-poor speaker, prone to malapropisms. Here's a funny bit from Thursday night's debatecle (sic):

Mitt, eat the damn dog food, it'll make you strong, and clever too:

Uh, maybe Mitt does eat dog food... that could explain his shiny, silky hair.

Friday, August 12, 2011

This Really Pleases Me

This week, I had twelve page views from Icelandic visitors. I have to say, (ek sagði þu) that this pleases me to no end. I am a big fan of the Icelandic sagas, and of Norse mythology in general (as posts such as this reveal). Welcome, Icelanders! Funny, Leonard Lopate's show featured an interview with Jane Smiley on the topic of Egil's Saga this week. Gotta love when the universe is in synch... I hereby proclaim this Iceland Week. Oh, and any Icelandic visitors, say hi to the sex with elves expert for me, and, if you're ever in the New York metro area, you can always look me up in the phone book, my name is Legolam* Glossybark.

This week is an awesome one, being Iceland Week, next week will be just as awesome, as it will be Substance McGravitas Week in New York. It's gonna be incredible!

*Ripped off shamelessly from this shameless ripoff.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Secret Science Club Movie Night

Last night, the Secret Science Club presented an encore screening of the documentary Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives, which chronicles indie rocker Mark Everett's exploration of the legacy of his father, theoretical physicist Hugh Everett. The film is poignant, an elegiac portrayal of a family characterized by genius, mental illness, and untimely death. More importantly, Alexis Gambis, now Herr Doktor Gambis (congratulations on your doctorate!), of Imagine Science Film Festival fame, put in an appearance at the beautiful Bell House. The film festival itself hits NYC in October, so any scicinefiles out there, plan to get your asses to Brooklyn.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Hangover

Yeah, the Democrats didn't capture a majority in the Wisconsin recall elections, and that's a letdown. What really pisses me off is the scant coverage that the recall elections have gotten in the national media. On the "all news, all the time (except when the Yankees are playing)" station, a mention was made of the unprecedented millions of dollars that were pouring into the state from outside sources, but this was spun to make it seem like the majority of the money was coming from unions, rather than front groups for plutocrats. Way to go, corporate media! Also, any of the "guy on the street" interviews were anti-recall, with the interviewees talking about how wasteful and undignified the whole process was.

I've noticed a real hard-rightward shift in formerly "neutral-seeming" news networks. Either I've become more sensitive to this sort of thing, or they've become less savvy about dissembling.

Anyway, there's a bit of a "hung over" feeling today. Luckily, I'll be heading down to Brooklyn to quaff dirty big pints of beer. Also, looking back to my last couple of posts, I realize that "Obi Wan Kenosha, You're Our Only Hope" would have been a real kickass title. No regrets- there's time for moping and strategerizin' (sic) later, tonight's a big beer night.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

You Gotta Agitate, Educate, Organize!

All eyes are on Wisconsin today- by all accounts, the voter turnout in Wisconsin is approaching levels usually seen only in presidential races. Buttloads of money from outsiders has been flowing into Wisconsin, to a heretofore unheard-of extent. While the outcomes of these elections is uncertain, the high voter turnout bodes well for the Democratic candidates (by delaying the elections a month through chicanery, Conservatives may have scored an "own goal"- they pushed the election back to a month when teachers tend to have some free time). Hopefully, the pushback will be successful, and liberals will gain some momentum. One lesson learned is that a "boots on the ground" effort will beat plutocrats' money-bombs.

Gotta put up a fist-bump, shake-rump song today. Wisconsinites, today's the day for a Big Decision... here's That Petrol Emotion's (the band was formed by former members of my beloved Undertones) Big Decision, a rocker which sums up what today is all about: "Wha'cha gonna do in this day and age? You gotta agitate, educate, organize!"

Give 'em hell, Badger staters! You know who you are...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Trashed Enough Already?

Yeah, baby, the Tealiban brought down the credit rating of the U.S., and a handful of superannuated Teahadis are cheering the nation's tumble from the top of the prosperity perch:

I wonder if any of these dumb geezers have any idea what really happened last week. Well, tomorrow, offers a grand opportunity for pushback. Time to give the "WOLVERINES!!!" crowd the old heave-ho... replacing it with a superior victory cry: BADGERS!!!

Give 'em hell, Wisconsinites.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Everybody seems to have one- the family member or acquaintance who always sends right-wing e-mails. Mine is a former co-worker whose e-mails I usually delete without reading. Last night, I saw the subject line "The Camel's Nose is Under the Tent!" (why are so many of their metaphors so damn racist?) and made the mistake of reading the e-mail, which included a link to a right wing article about the state of Michigan's food assistance hotline offering client services in Arabic. Normally, I'd make the assumption that this sort of offering was to help out a hypothetical 85 year old widow who emigrated from Jordan in the sixties but spent most of her time as a homemaker, and shopped largely in stores catering to the Arabic-speaking community and has the same level of English comprehension as the stereotypical black-clad Belmont nonna, but the freepers paint a picture of strapping young buqs buying halal T-bone steaks and ammonium nitrate with food stamps and Cadillac driving welfare sheikhs.

I read the summary, but didn't click the link- it's just the same old racist bullshit with an added paranoid spin. To spice up the e-mail, though, my former co-worker added a warning of his own to the e-mail... in 48 point red letters: WAKE UP SHEEPLE! YOU WILL BE SUBGAGATED!!!

You will be... subgagated? At first, I assumed this was a spelling error resulting from the brain-rot that seems to affect all right-wingers, but then I realized that it was actually a clever portmanteau word coined to describe a heretofore unrealized threat. The real danger facing this nation, subgagation, is subjugation by Lady Gaga. Yes, we will be crushed under the stiletto'd bootheel of a cartoon sexpot, and an individual who is renowned for not wearing a lot of clothing will lead us into a Burqamerican dystopia. Yes, we're nosing under the camel toe, and pitching a tent... soon, we will all be SUBGAGATED!!! If you think it can't happen, think again sheeple- hell, even the Amish are being SUBGAGATED!!!, and those d00dz don't even have TeeVee machines.

ADDENDUM: Damn, damn, damn, I started composing this post this morning after reading the inspirational e-mail, but was unable to write it immediately because of a crazy little thing called work. I totally forgot to add a throwaway sentence after writing about being crushed under the stiletto'd boot... "I'll be in my bunk... er... bunker." This is why I'm not pulling down the big bux writing for a witty TeeVee sitcom (do any still exist?).

ADDENDUM TO THE ADDENDUM: Is an addendum beginning with "damn, damn, damn" and addendamn?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Arrtexas or Textooine?

The news out of Texas is pretty terrifying. I know there are good people in Texas, but the shitbags Texans send to Washington seem to be determined to eliminate any chances that Texas won't be burnt to a cinder. Meanwhile dominionist nutball governor Rick Perry keeps asking Texans to continually pray for rain. As an aside, why the hell do "acts of God" seem to hit "Red State" America hardest? Yeah, when religious nutballs attack the "bluest" of blue states, our religious nutballs claim it's divine punishment, but Godless Liberal regions of the country are usually off the hook when it comes to natural smitings and blightings. Obviously, Southron style Christian fundamentalism has failed Texas, maybe they need to embrace a more technological solution.

I think Texans need to start wearing stillsuits, albeit with pearl buttons and giant belt buckles. Texas also needs a competetnt planetologist to design devices to capture moisture from the air. Although Texas certainly doesn't need him, I'm sure they'd love to adopt a horrid, gravity-averse baron to plunder the treasury.

An alternate technological solution would involve the deployment of moisture vaporators, though robots are needed for the programming of the vaporator units (and the Texas state legislature would probably ban sexy robots, even those wearing cowboy hats).

Yeah, the people of Texas are going to have to do something substantial, even if it means putting in draconian regulations reducing hat size to a four gallon maximum.

SERIOUS NOTE: One has to wonder if some sort of "vaporator" technology would be feasible- could solar powered "refrigerator" units be built to effectively condense water vapor into liquid water on a scale grand enough to supplement irrigation systems? Are any of the folks in R&D looking into this?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Living in Interesting Times

It's been a hell of a week. I've been spending a lot of time scratching my glossy bald pate and trying to figure out just what the hell has happened. The financial markets are in disarray, the "full faith and credit" of the U.S. has been downgraded by one of the ratings agencies. Things are volatile, unsettled... I like excitement as much as the next person, but this is a bit too much- an occasional roller coaster ride is great, but I sure as hell wouldn't want one as a daily commute.

I have to confess that I've had a bit of writers' block, my online time has largely been spent trying to glean enough information to make some sense out of what the hell is transpiring. One thing's clear, we're living in post-prospertiy America. There's one consolation, just because we're pauperized, that don't mean that we can't dance. Here's an appropriate tune, by one of my all-time favorite bands, Gang of Four- as always, crank it, and this time, chug prodigiously from a Carlo Rossi weekend special while shaking your now-stricken ass:

Damn, gotta love that chunky bass line- Gang of Four was always a most danceable group of polemicists. The album Entertainment is a remarkable document of the late twentieth century, and, depressingly, holds up as even more topical now than it was when it was released in the late seventies.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fighting Despondency, Fighting Hopelessness, Fighting

It's tough not to be a little freaked out about the current state of U.S. politics and the economy. Yeah, lefties, the president is channeling Hoover rather than F.D.R., the G.O.P.'s dirty tactics have descended to new lows. It's hard to muster any enthusiasm whatsoever for a cack-handed, gormless party. Yeah, it's time for a boost- how about a song which kept me largely sane during the Bush administration? I blasted My Country by New Model Army while pounding the be-jeebers out of a heavy bag.

Yeah, we can't afford to be despondent. All of us have to make sure that there's no rest for the wicked, even those of us who are young, gifted, and skint. Courage, good people, courage!

UPDATE: Do I even have to tell you to blast this at full volume? For those of you unfamiliar with the song (SHAME!!!), the lyrics are straightforward- this one's an anthem, a chant.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

We Have Always Been At War With Fantasia!

Conservatives had a hard time with the whole "Harry Potter" phenomenon, with its Gay Agenda, Satanism, and glorification of Vladimir Putin. Yeah, they exhibited overmuch butthurt over the boy wizard. Well, now there's a new source of butthurt among The Right's intelligentsia grievantsia- COMMUNIST SMURFS!!! Of course, the whole "Socialist Men Under Red Father" joke has been around for many years, much like the "Microsoft and the Bavarian Illuminati" spoof (or world-spanning plot!!). Of course, the whole thing's a joke, like the long discussions we had in college regarding drug references in Scooby Doo ("Scoob, the Dead's playing Anaheim!"). Now that a Major Motion Picture featuring the Smurfs has hit the screens, the navel-gazing wingnut-welfare recipients are taking seriously one long piss-take on a cartoon.

Do these people have anything better to grouse about? Yeah, I know, think of the children, seduced into a Stalinist nightmare by a cadre of argyric gnomes. Why can't the children watch a movie which isn't mired in badthink? How about showing them a movie about a magical snow princess who tries to save the world's most goodest country from a dark (in the most literal sense of the word) sorceror?

Even better, why not make a Conservative fantasy movie about a gay Conservative patriot who is forced to hide in a wardrobe closet because of attacks by the Luftwaffe homosexual mafia resulting from his political views? In the closet, he finds a magical land ruled by an evil bitchy queen, in which it's always last call but there are never any NSA hookups. Finally, a magical lion bear named Assslam comes and teaches him the healing power of self-loathing. Of course, this movie would be based on the beloved children's book The Lyin', the Bitch, and the Closet (insert joke about Turkish delight, whether Turkish bath delight, or Turkish prison delight). Wouldn't conservatives love to get behind such a movie?

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Little Escapism

Like many good lefties, I'm pretty pissed off about the whole debt ceiling disaster, and am pissed at Obama's capitulation. Sheesh, I think I need a little escapism today. Monsieur le Bouffant posted a couple of videos of Tighten Up by Archie Bell and the Drells. In 1979, mad geniuses Yellow Magic Orchestra (the number one dance band of Tokyo, Japan) covered "Tighten Up", and performed it in their hilarious "when worlds collide" appearance on Soul Train:

I don't know if it's from the same episode, but YMO also performed their cover of Martin Denny's song Firecracker on Soul Train:

Martin Denny's Firecracker was a bit of "exotica", a fanciful take on what would now be termed "world music". YMO's version is sort of a "right back at ya" gesture- it appropriates a song which appropriates a sound, and holds a mirror up to Western notions of "Otherness", no matter how sympathetic. YMO's version, preceded by Computer Games gained enough popularity among New York D.J.s that it was eventually sampled in singles by Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey.

It's the kind of day when it's not a bad idea to turn off the news, and to enjoy a long-past moment in which, however haltingly, Don Cornelius and Yukihiro Takahashi tried to conduct a dialogue.