Friday, August 30, 2002

Also, I'd like to clear things up about this Richard Gere thing.

Yesterday was third time someone has told me that I look like Richard Gere, star of such light classics as The Mothman Prophecies. I never saw The Mothman Prophecies. I think it had something to do with Moths. Like some creepy old guy saying "Beware the moths!" a lot. Or maybe some guy dresses up as a moth and eats all of Richard Gere's socks. I don't know.

I don't look a lot like Richard Gere. We are both bipeds. I'll give you that. Then there's the thing with us both having eyes and legs. And hair. And the same general number of fingers. Other than that, there is not too much similarity. And also, Richard Gere is not a very good celebrity to look like. The whole rodent thing is not something I want to be associated with, urban legend or no.

And honestly, I look more like Richard Gere than, say, a 500 lb Samoan guy with facial tattoos, but that's about as far as I'm willing to go.

It is pretty cool though, to party with the Dalai Lama.
I have been paying my rent every day here in the Tower of Song, but times are getting a little tight. I may have to consider moving to the Duplex of Tuneless Humming.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

An entire site dedicated to Theme Park Brochures!

[via The Ultimate Insult]

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Greedy's Bakeries!

Damn your smurf to a lifetime of mockery and abuse at the hands of cruel and callous smurfholes, as the pies and eclairs drop ever faster, ever faster, inevitably falling to the smurf-floor, where they will end up dusty and unloved.

Or, if you prefer, go and take the Which Smurf Am I Quiz, which I got 3 out of 6 on, even though I assure you I was robbed of two answers on pure technicalities.
I wrote this entry for no clear reason, except to say the word "toast" a lot. It's not the best thing I've ever written on my blog. I just wanted to get that out in the open from the get-go. You may want to just skip to one of the archives right now, to be totally honest with you. But, you know, I'm not exactly burning the midnight oil on the blog entries lately, and some the magical elves at Kafkaesque Labs are starting to grow complacent, so here you go:

Toaster Shopping 101

To choose the best toaster for you and yours, just stop by your local Target, Macy's or what have you, with a couple of loaves of bread. For the beginner, I would recommend white bread, or perhaps a light rye. More experienced shoppers may opt for anything up to pumpernickel, though I advise you to steer clear of Vollkornbrot or non-frosted Pop Tarts, for reasons both aesthetic and aerodynamic.

Once you have come to grips with the layout of the store, toaster-wise, secure your borders. Make sure there are no miscreants poking or otherwise fondling any of the toasters or generally being a nuisance. You can chase them off with sharper implements from the Housewares section. The blade from an Oster blender, for example, makes an excellent Shuriken, or throwing star.

Once you have the toaster "theater" to yourself, you are ready to shop.

Assemble all of the toasters next to each other, and load them up with bread. It is extremely important that you depress all of the toast-plungers at the same time, probably requiring the use of a "toast stick" from a toast stick manufacturer of good standing in your community (unless you are one of those Indian gods with eight sets of arms*).

Take note of which toast pops the fastest, which has the longest "hang time", and which achieves both the highest altitude and airspeed velocity. This is the toaster for you.

If no clear winner has emerged, it may be necessary to institute a challenge round, where toast is popped for distance, or accuracy (which may be important if you have visions of using your toaster for home defense).

For more advanced toaster hunters, a "toaster-off" (or "Duel o' the Toaste") may be undertaken, in which two persons "square off" by marching ten paces away from each other, turning and then firing toast until one person is hit by toast, the bread runs out, or one participant either falls asleep or suffers death by electrocution (note: if you are fatally electrocuted by a toaster at any point during your toaster shopping, make a note not to purchase that particular brand.)

* Of course, if you were one of those Indian gods with eight sets of arms, you could probably depress the toast-plungers simultaneously with your mind. Or, come to think of it, you could just toast the bread with your mind. But maybe you're a sentimental, old-school kind of Indian god with eight sets of arms who enjoys sitting home of a weekend and manually toasting. I don't know. I don't want to pigeonhole you into a certain disposition, especially seeing as how you could probably set me up with a good word for the reincarnation thing. So, to summarize, if you are an Indian god with eight sets of arms: firstly, welcome to my little blog. I am honored that a deity such as yourself could take time from your busy schedule just to read about shopping for toasters. Secondly, just go ahead and do what you think is right as far as the depression of the toast-plungers. I'm sure you know better than me, a mere mortal, who only has the one set of arms

Sunday, August 25, 2002

I just narrowly escaped death by Baba Ghanouj.

In the Kafkaesque household, weekends signal the time for DVD watching, beer consumption, and housecleaning. I dove into the Himalayan pile of dishes stacked by the sink with what I considered to be relative aplomb, and happily scrubbed and prewashed for our somewhat temperamental diahwasher. It fills me with delight that I have to wash everything before it can be adequately washed.

Anyway, I spotted a Whole Foods tub of Baba Ghanouj remains, perched on the edge of the sink, and half full of water, the top sealed.

I looked at it and thought, "You know, I bet that old Baba Ghanouj that's been soaking in water for over a week smells revolting."

So I did what any right-thinking individual would do: took the top off and held it to my nose. I don't know why I do things like this. It must be some inner deathwish, or perhaps the desire to be able to bore people with particularly evocative olfactory metaphors in the days to come.

A variety of descriptions spring to mind for the aroma that sprang from that little tub:

· the chill, death ridden air of the charnel house
· Satan's cologne
· a Bio-warfare weapon too awful to inflict upon humanity.

I lit matches. I waved towels. I sprayed things that you spray. Nothing would disperse that vile stench.

Even now I have visions that my memoirs will end thus:

It's late, and I fear the worst. The Baba Ghanouj smell has found me. I thought, halfway around the world in a small Tunisian village, I would be safe. And for years, my life has been idyllic. But always lurking in the back of my mind has been the threat that it would one day find me. I must close now. It comes.

Friday, August 23, 2002

My copy of Haruki Murakami's new collection of short stories, After The Quake, arrived today.

I received it at work and drove home joyfully (apologies to any pedestrians who may have been frightened), eager to crack it open. I grabbed a glass of water and took to the balcony with my new little book.

By the way, I have to say that Murakami's hardbacks (at least the English translations, which are published by Alfred A. Knopf) are always really pleasing. The heft of the book. The cover art. The typesetting (In fact, this, like the other books, has a note at the end on the typeface itself. After The Quake uses "centaur" typeface). They make the reading experience multi-faceted, for me at least. This is a short-ish book. A couple of hundred pages, containing only six stories. The type is double spaced and the margins large. I just like the fact that it seems the publisher actually cared about the presentation of the book.

Anyway, I opened the book and read the first story, "UFO In Kushiro", in about ten minutes.

And then, I started to feel a little afraid. Here was my new Murakami, that I had waited for for so long, and I was in danger of leaping through it in the course of an evening! I have been rereading his books again and again for years. Was I going to devour this one so quickly, and add it to the pile of already-read?

A dilemma, to be sure.

I put the book aside and found something else to do. I think I'll try to budget it. Maybe treat myself to one story a day.

Anyway, this is just a little recommendation, I guess. Because there aren't too many writers who can provide me with a dilemma like this. Maybe Iain Banks, though he hasn't consistently grabbed me with every book like Murakami does.

I guess I'm a fan.

(added bonus: transcript of webchat with Iain Banks)

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Can we stop it with the talking babies?

Talking babies aren't funny. They aren't cute. They're even less cute if they're wearing those "Risky Business" sunglasses. Or singing. Or wearing a bowler hat. That really sucks too. Well, maybe the hat is OK. But not if they're talking too. No deal.

I know it's the easy way out, ad guy. You've got a deadline and you just panic. You're going to get fired and you just just blurt out "Talking Baby!!" And the deal is done. You've damned us to another spot with the talking baby.

Nothing is worse than the talking baby. Except two talking babies. You know, one of them's a boy and one's a girl? And they're flirting with each other? All wrong.

It's just freaky. So stop it.

And another thing here, while I'm on a roll. The feathered-hair girl lip-synching the words to a Foghat song on, like, every single damn Classic Rock Radio Station commerical ever in the history of recorded time? Enough!

The seed has been planted. "Live Like a Refugee" is inexorably bonded with the air guitar and lip synching thing. Come up with something else, for god's sake!
So what the hell else is going on? I hear you cry.

Well we rewatched The Singing Detective in the last couple of days. It's so good. You've got psoriasis, hallucinations, animated scarecrows, dead people being fished out of the Thames and lip-synching too. You should get it right now. It is, by the way, a six-episode British miniseries starring Michael Gambon (of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover fame). I would say the best miniseries ever made are The Singing Detective and Brideshead Revisited. That is, of course, just me.

What's this?? NO! They are remaking The Singing Detective in Hollywood! With Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Junior!

Why do they have to do stuff like that? Why did they have to remake Wings of Desire into a crappy Nicholas Cage movie? Why did they have to utterly destroy The Vanishing and La Femme Nikita?

God forbid the American public should watch the smart version. The original version. No, they have to take great films and make them accessible to the Lowest Common Denominator of society.


Monday, August 19, 2002

This weekend we went all crazy and visited places in Los Angeles we've been wanting to go.

The Bradbury Building - Remember Blade Runner? The building where JF Sebastian lived, where Batty chases Deckard around and gets all mopey with the doves? This is it.

From the visitor handout: "The story of The Bradbury Building is as dramatic as the building itself - inspired by an 1880s science fiction story, designed with an assist from the occult by a draftsman with no architectural or engineering training and built by a mining millionaire as his final monument..."

The Canals of Venice Beach - Venice Beach, the famous part, is not all that interesting. Not unless you're into crowds, stinkiness, stale churros, body piercing and Muscle Beach. What is fascinating is the canal system that was built there.

From the Streets of Los Angeles site: "Venice California was a one man's dream of a place to resemble Venice, Italy. In 1900 Abbot Kinney founded Venice, California. At first Venice was a romantic twenty-mile network of canals, and waterfront homes. Kinney's idea never really caught on, and with the arrival of automobiles as the main mean of transportation, the canals were abounded. Most of the canals were filled in and today the remaining canals are the foreground to a postcard-like neighborhood which attracts tourists from all over the world."

We wandered around the canal streets and had a look at the million-dollar homes that line them. I wondered what it must be like to live in such a place, where a steady stream of gawkers is ambling by your front gate, trying to catch a glimpse of you as you make your morning coffee. It would definitely have its down-side, especially if you are a tragic victim of bedhead.

Here's an interesting site with a big collection of historical articles on Venice, including the somewhat disturbing "Horrendous Amusement Park Accidents".

The Museum of Jurassic Technology - So great. This place is somewhat hidden in Culver City, and somewhat hidden even when you get there. You have to ring a doorbell to be let in, and then you are ushered in to what is really a treasure trove of little delights, small somewhat quirky, maybe even crazy, artifacts and displays from the "Lower Jurassic". What's not really ever made clear is when the Lower Jurassic was. The theory seems to be that we are still in the Lower Jurassic.

Displays include the work of Kircher, who developed, among other things, a magnetic oracle. Spheres with tiny magnetic human figures, suspended in wax would supposedly answer direct questions. Another highlight was a "bell wheel" he had invented. More on the museum and Kircher.

One of the best things about the Museum of Jurassic Technology is the way they present things. You can hear the sounds of displays in other rooms as you wander through. Painstaking diaramas depict the history of trailer life in America, down to the little light in the miniature Airstream.

You feel as you walk through the place that you are inspecting a repository of wonder, of forgotten delights. Everywhere you turn is some neat little gadget or factoid or theory, perhaps charmingly anachronistic, or disturbingly off-kilter. But part of the idea of the place is the theory of museum-going, and what it should be. I thought it was fascinating. Just go check it out. You'll like it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

I don't know why, but this was one of the funniest things I've ever seen on TV.
Toilet Tamers

Dress your toilet up like an animal (or Santa) for no reason at all!
Who would win in a fight between Toilet Duck and the Scrubbing Bubbles?

Our sinks, toilets and countertops, that's who. And delighted children across this great nation. Unless Toilet Duck got disemboweled or decapitated or something. That might be a little traumatic for the children.

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Patio Man and the Sprawl People

[via, you know, everyone]
Shamey Metalcraft, Weird Belt-Buckle Maker To The Stars!

Just check out his client list:

Greg Allman, Wolfman Jack, James Brolin, Sammy Davis Jr (with tasteful glass eye motif), Bobbie Darrin, and Uri Geller.

Fruit Pit Carving

Toothpick Characters

Very cool stuff!

Sunday, August 11, 2002

I had a fantastic idea while cleaning out the lurking terrors in my refrigerator today:

Sake 'n' Mayonnaise Sports Drink!

It's a sports drink whose time has come!

You see, every time I go to play tennis (if I manage to play long enough to not receive a serious head injury, which is honestly pretty rare), I have to go through the tedious and unsightly task of carrying a jar of mayonnaise and a bottle of nice hot sake down to the court with me.

The beauty of Sake 'n' Mayonnaise Sports Drink is that the sake and mayonnaise have already been combined in one slammin' plastic thermos thing, that is somewhat dishwasher and microwave-safe.

The marketing is a cinch: I have the magical elves at Kafkaesque Labs out hunting down everyone's favorite minor celebrity Mako to be a spokesperson, even if it's technically against his will. Also, a seance is underway to gain the aid of dead ghost story author Saki.

Soon all the sports world will be merrily quaffing Mako 'n' Saki's Sake 'n' Mayo Sports Drink!

Special Double Secret Bonus Link: Pictures of someone's hamster in Japan
Tales of the Plush Cthulhu
We were watching Jason and The Argonauts tonight, and I was struck, as always, by the Harryhausen stop-motion effects.

Jason and the Argonauts is great. Everyone remembers the Hydra, and the skeletons, with their cruel grins, coming after Jason and his pals as they try to fleece the enemy kingdom. I thought, watching this again after so many years, that the effects would look cheesy and dated, but they look just as magical as when I was a kid watching TV on a Saturday morning (except for the big Triton guy holding back the Clashing Rocks...that was a little cheesy). Perhaps there is more humanity in these physical models than in the high-tech CGI effects we have now. I was thinking about that while watching Lord of the Rings for the fourth time last night. I love Lord of the Rings. It's a great movie, better than I could ever have expected, but is there a coldness to the effects? A loss of that human element?

On the Jason and the Argonauts DVD, there was a segment with John Landis interviewing Harryhausen about his creations, and Landis mentioned how the monsters are imbued with personality. And it's true. Each skeleton has an expression, ungainly as the jumpy process may seem. Jason is nowhere near the heads of the Hydra when he swings his sword, but when the process works, you feel a real appreciation for the craft of Harryhausen.

Anyway, go watch Jason and The Argonauts. Be a kid again, for an hour and a half.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

A My Life As An American Gladiator Tip: Learning the guitar is more difficult than you might think.

There are six strings, for one thing. I know! Six strings. It's pretty unreasonable. I have somewhat less than six fingers, due to a childhood trauma, so I am at a significant disadvantage, chord-wise. I think maybe two strings would be more realistic.

And then there's this thing with the frets, which is just plain confusing. You have to put one finger on this string, one on that string. Sometimes you've got to Barre the damn things?! What do these people want from me? I'm just one man!

I have a book which tells me one finger positioning for the G. I have a video where a sedated instructor, who resembles Mr Heat Miser, tells me another positioning. What is meaning of this? Are they just making it up as they go?

And don't get me started on the video instructor. He's like some sort of evil clown, mocking me with his effortless folk songs. He never changes his tone, speaking very rhythmically and slowly, without a hint of inflection in his voice, like he's trying to bend me to his will, to indoctrinate me into some lethargic cult, as he sings "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands" again and again and again...

I have visions of myself, locked in a nightmare world where I can only play Pete Seeger's "Let's Go Riding In The Car" for all eternity, and even then, I keep screwing up and have to start over.

Monday, August 05, 2002

The wife and I saw a car over the weekend with a large logo on the back that read: GRAVITY OUTLAW.

Now, you've got your outlaws, your rebels, but this guy is setting a new standard in rebellion. He's saying "Isaac Newton? I don't remember making you the boss of me! Physics? Ha! I never signed up for that! Me and gravity, we just don't see eye to eye."

Then he'll do that weird Sammy Sosa finger-kissing thing and float off into the sky, gravity-less and free.

Yeah, man. Screw physizzics!

Friday, August 02, 2002

It may have been a tactical error cutting off my hair.

You see, I have an amazing propensity for hitting myself in the head with things. This propensity seems to vary directly with how little hair I have on my head. I once had my hair almost completely shaved off, which led to a truly alarming episode at a pub wherein the spiked lid of an iron lamp-post fell on my head. The ensuing mayhem was reminiscent of a Dario Argento film, but at least garnered my friends and I free beer.

When I had long hair, I never clonked my head on anything. Now, any time one of the higher cabinets in our kitchen is a bit ajar, I stare at it fearfully and whimper. In fairness to the inanimate objects that tend to run into my skull, it must be said that I have a really big head. If an object is falling from the sky anywhere in Orange County, California, there's a better than average chance it'll hit my head. So there's that.

One of my favorite places for head injuries is the miniscule "storage" closet off the balcony of our apartment. I'm about 5'11", and the doorframe of this little closet is about 5'9". I am reminded of this every time I render myself insensible trying to stand up before I'm out the door. The scene usually goes like this:

Kafkaesque crouches and wedges himself into storage closet, grabs tiny Weber barbecue. An internal monologue is heard.

Internal Monologue: "Don't stand up. Don't stand up. Don't stand up."


Kafkaesque falls to the floor, clutching his head. Crows are heard laughing.

*minutes pass*

Kafkaesque, undaunted, goes back in for the briquets and lighter fuel.

Internal Monologue: "Don't stand up. Don't stand up. Why am I even bothering telling you this? You're just going to--"


Far off, a mariachi band pauses in the middle of a song and, as one, cast their gazes skyward and shake their heads. Then, they resume playing.

Exeunt all.

Other places I have hit my head:

Under desk, retrieving rogue pen/Cheez-It/shoe
Various file cabinets, ramming head into open upper drawer
Memorable incident in bagel shop where large box full of toilet seat covers fell on head while on top step of ladder
The Berliner Dom: Not recommended for head-hitting at all. The ceiling is astonishingly hard.
Dulwich, England: Details hazy. Pull-up bar may have been involved.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

SUVs. OK, I know, everyone loves to talk about hating SUVs.

I hate them too. They are environmentally unsound. We all know that. And they don't have enough wood panelling anymore.

But the real problem is poor shmucks like me who drive VW Golfs have to share parking lots with them. I happen to work in a city that is the epitome of the "my Planet Eater is bigger than your Behemoth!" mentality. As a result, everyone has Suburbans and Excursions and Monstrosities or whatever. These vehicles are about 47 feet high, at least half a mile long, and are usually parked in alternating parking spaces, leaving little alleyways between them, where I can dock my cute little car. This is, of course, just fine, and the natural order of things.

The problem comes when I want to back out.

There's no way to see what's coming on either side when you have two morbidly obese "off-road" (yeah, right) vehicles sandwiching you. Today I was at the store, picking up a new shipment of tree frogs, and when I was ready to leave I was put in the familiar position of putting my car into reverse and uttering silent prayers that no-one would come roaring down the parking lot, as people are wont to do in this town. You see, not only do we have the mongo SUV brigade, we have the ridiculous "my spoiler has a spoiler" Nissan/Eclipse/Geo Metro brigade zooming around town with megaphones scotchtaped onto their mufflers for added effect.

But back to me in the parking lot. I put the car in reverse and just drift backwards at roughly the pace of a three-toed tree sloth or a hermit crab with a limp, knowing that the only thing that will save me from major body work is pure blind luck. Inevitably, I get to the point where I know any rational human would see me and stop their car, at which point I begin to relax, and ease into the backing-up process.

Roughly 1/2 a second after this occurs I will hear the squeal of brakes and look behind me to see a very angry Escalade driver. On the phone.

Well, that was an extremely unpleasant, and frankly kind of whiny, blog entry. I hope we all learned a little something.


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