Monthly Archives: November 2011

another maze for mazes sake



Oh technology… able to do so much and STILL SUCK SO BAD!!! Why do you toy with me so? Why do you hint at a future so awesomeballs and yet pull the football away at the last second?

Let me be specific. There’s a show on TV called Homeland on Showtime starring Claire Danes as a CIA agent who thinks a returning war hero might actually be a terrorist. For those of you stuck in 1994 on My So-Called Life, Claire Danes has reignited her initial promise (and Damian Lewis is creepily intense).

But I didn’t know it was any good until friends started recommending it a few weeks ago. So Tessa and I tried to catch up on the five episodes we missed. BUT HOW, OH TECHNOLOGY, HOW?

“Homeland” is not on iTunes, not on Hulu, and the episodes were not repeating on Showtime in any kind of chronological sense. Both HBO and Cinemax have HBO GO and MAX GO respectively, where you can watch any show on either network, but Showtime has no such option.

I don’t just subscribe to Showtime at our rental in LA, I subscribe to it again at our farmhouse. I subscribe to it TWICE, and I can’t watch “Homeland” ANYWHERE. So I had to go to the internets, find the bittorrent files, and spend all night downloading the show illegally on our farm’s shitty DSL.


Similarly, I like the show Downton Abbey, an upstairs/downstairs drama of constant fantastickness that was PBS’s best import from the BBC this year. So Season 2 was much anticipated by all American fops like me, and we were all told to wait until next January 8 for the big premiere.

Except that Season 2 was already shown in its entirety in goddamn Britain! Not just some of the episodes, all of them!

I do not like being told what I can’t do, so I went to Amazon UK and ordered the Blu-Ray DVD of the second season, waited a few days for the postman, and then WATCHED THAT MOTHERFUCKER.


don’t forget what the dormouse said



Okay, I was all set to come back from Thanksgiving with all sorts of impish invective, but then I was feeling kind of rotten and decided to take the edge off with 30ml of NyQuil.

And 20 minutes later I can barely spell or keep drool off my shirt. What the friggon bunnypants is in this stuff? And so I ask, what is your sedative of choice?

i genuflect for knees



Okay, besides the obvious things to be thankful for – my amazing extended family, my stunning friends, all things Carolina, and especially Tessa and the Lulubeans – there are many other little things that should get some thanks but always get ignored. NO MORE!

• flexible caulk

• the aurora borealis

• earlobes

• the color orange

• ambient floor heat

• the berries in CrunchBerries, the clusters in Honey Nut Clusters

• the adjustable “delay between wipes” setting for windshield wipers

• the elm trees that didn’t die from Dutch Elm Disease

• benzoyl peroxide

• peonies

Google Translate

• Arctic foxes

• “Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman”

• Daylight Saving Time

• the full-court bounce pass

• glass tiles

• The Cars

Paul Klee

• Courier New font

• Chiclets


The Twittering Machine, Paul Klee (1922)



In an effort to Remain Positive™ and Put My Best Foot Forward® so I can Hit the Ground Running©, I’m going to make a list of All The Things I’m Thankful For™!

Y’see, I was a bit of a downer (sad face!) for a few decades in there, and now I’m Really Turning It Around®!! So tell me what YOU™ are thankful for below, wontchya?

Don’t say “Nasal Decongestants©”! That one’s mine! >wink< CutiePieClipArt.jpg

monopoly, twenty-one, checkers and chess


Chris Matthews – who I quite like despite myself – said something very interesting on the last episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. They were discussing the hideousness of the Penn State scandal, and how Mike McQueary’s response to seeing a 10-year-old being raped was unfathomably inept, when Matthews said:

“When you join an organization, you gotta have your values before you walk into the door. You gotta know what’s wrong and what’s right. Because they’re not going to teach you there. [McQueary’s] first instinct was ‘My God, this is horrible, I can’t believe I’m seeing it’ and then he allowed himself to be propagandized into the system… You never ask a system to teach you values, because the values of a system is always the cover-up.”

I’d never thought about the world of cabals in quite that way, and while it seems logical that any major cultural or tribal organization makes its own survival the top priority, it didn’t ring true for me personally.

Was it because I eschewed (or made fun of) those old-boy networks my entire life? Or because I always seemed to join organizations that distinctly lacked the lockstep unity that guaranteed its vitality (Democrats, my fraternity)? And then it hit me: the reason the Penn State scandal feels so foreign is because I, too, am a ravenous member of a college sports cabal, but instinctively believe such a thing wouldn’t happen in Chapel Hill.


I know this makes me sound like every other dreamy-eyed fanboy lulled into fascist hegemony by a winning program and skimpy cheerleading outfits, but for better or worse, we have always done things the right way at UNC, largely because of the genius of two men: Frank Porter Graham and Dean Smith. I won’t wax deuteranopic about how they helped make the University color-blind, how they made us the shining Light on the Hill, because I don’t need to.

Many other universities and hallowed organizations have collapsed from the pockmarks of institutional rot, but we have not. Say what you want about our new Chancellor, but when things began to smell bad in the football program, he put a period on it. There are still crazed fans who want our old coach back, but hopefully Penn State can teach these people what happens when small infractions go unchecked over time, where a cult of both personality and sport combine to give protection to a sadistic fuck.

Chris Matthews may be right about most systems, but he’s wrong about mine: the Carolina Way did teach me certain values: playing hard, smart and together; thanking the ones who made things possible; and above all, excellence in pursuits both physical and intellectual. Many of us didn’t have those coming in – I, for one, was just a befuddled zork.

One of my favorite Michael Stipe lyrics is “Here’s a truck stop instead of St. Peter’s,” which is how I feel about Carolina Basketball. It might be a weird religion, and my Sistine Chapel may be a massive octagon that vends Beefmaster Franks, but I’ll never want for direction.

use some mercy now


I typically view anything occurring on the cover of “Us” or “People” magazine the same way I view wet barf on the subway platform, but the story of Gabrielle Gifford’s recovery from the shooting in January transcends all that. If you didn’t see 20/20 on Tuesday night, I’m pretty sure you can go here and watch it in its entirety.


she’s our age, y’all

I remember a neurosurgeon saying “we know everything about the brain except what it does,” and it’s this central mystery that makes Gabby’s story so frustrating and magical at the same time. I know this: I was trying not to cry so hard during it that I could barely breathe.

Oh, and she looks a lot like Jane Wiedlin now, and man, there are worse things in life.

i get knocked down but i get up again


Not that my opinion is required, but I’ve been relatively mum on the subject of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, partly because I’ve been long-stewed in political hopelessness, but mostly because it all seems very far away. When you live in Venice Beach, California – where nude performance artists rollerblade past medicinal marijuana superstores – any act of “civil disobedience” seems a little redundant.

There was a small gathering of people with signs near the post office traffic circle, and some people did honk their Smart car and Prius horns in support, but let’s face it: it’s impossible to drudge up righteous indignation in a community that already agrees with you.

The goings-on in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan are another kettle of scrod entirely, and today – for those blog readers 40 years from now – was the day everyone was kicked out. Whether this is the slow leak that deflates the movement or the spark that ignites the next level remains to be experienced, but my money is on the former.

I say this not to be a pessimistic, nihilistic, cynical dick, but because the weather will soon turn cruel, the cops have gas and guns, and it doesn’t take much to demoralize a movement that had yet to become the foregone conclusion of civil rights, temperance or suffragism.

Obviously, you know me, my lot is entirely cast with the OWS movement, whether or not it continues as a physical presence on the street. But tonight’s actions by Mayor Bloomberg, after two months of occupation, provide a moment of reflection: did the movement succeed despite everything?

One major complaint against OWS was its supposed “lack of focus” or “inability to articulate a message”. Sure, “America’s distribution of wealth is unfair” may not have the urgency of “Black men should not be slaves”, but it’s plenty obvious. Hell, I rallied against the 1% three years ago.

The key is this: given the OWS is not asking for a specific place to spike the football, can it declare a kind of victory by moving the goalposts back to where they belonged? Has the movement created an atmosphere where enough spotlight and shame has centered on CEO pay, bonuses and bank shenanigans, to at least give the system pause?

Given the amount of coverage it gets, and the fact that I’ve seen this graph ten times over the last month, you have to believe it’s seeping in:


But here’s the thing: there has to be some recognition of the last two months. You can’t pretend it didn’t happen. Obama has to refer to the movement itself, offer some kind of legislation, and deflect some credit back to the people that temporarily gave up their lives for an idea.

Because if it’s all nightsticks and beatings, tear gas and curfews, tires being slashed and jokes about drum circles, there’s going to be trouble. If all the fat fucks in monocles go back to counting their billions in front of a $35,000 commode, the OWS movement will metastasize into something much uglier. The original Luddites destroyed the machines that dehumanized them; a few motivated protestors could do a lot worse. And then we’ll be that kind of country.

took a rowboat to find ya


Today’s question will require just a modicum of thought. What are your top 2-3 “secret crush” songs? Here are the rules that make it a secret crush:

1) The song must have been on the radio at some point, not an obscure track on Side 2 of the album (which means no “Wildest Dreams” by Asia no matter how awesome the drum solo is)

2) The song cannot be considered widely popular, or played to absolute death in either Muzak or doctor office form (thus, no “If You Leave Me Now” or “Same Auld Lang Syne”)

3) The song cannot have already been rediscovered, chewed up and spat out again by the Irony Machine [which means no “Major Tom (Coming Home)”, “Break My Stride” or almost anything by Journey.


seriously, truly nothing is going to break his stride

My list? I have many, but here are three:

The Pointer Sisters – Automatic – With an androgynous vocal line and a sick electronic bass line, there was nothing organic about this song, and it fucking swung. I don’t know ANYBODY with this one on their iPod (except me, and I’m only telling because I asked).

Jane Child – Don’t Want to Fall in Love – I already wrote about this one: this song was so frickin’ insane when it came out around 1990 that Linda’s – a bar in Chapel Hill that was no stranger to some crazy shit – actually fell silent to watch the video. Featuring more chord changes than “The Rite of Spring” and a piano solo that KICKS ASS, she should still be famous. Alas, you’ll probably only remember her as the chick who had a chain from her nose ring to her ear.

Shalamar – Dead Giveaway – I mean, come ON! You’ve got Jody Watley with staccatos on the DX-7 synthesizer:

And yours? Those judged most original and creative get some personalized artwork from the Lulubeans!