Friday, January 24, 2003

A few things:

Thing 1: Hanging a CD From Your Rear-View Mirror: I don't get this at all. Are these people missing the point of the CD? Did people used to hang 45s and LPs from their mirrors in the old days? I did a little research, and it turns out that people who hang a CD from their mirror are actually trying to frighten away birds and deer. This is important if you have a sudden bird and deer infestation in your car.

Thing B: The Duck People: I drive by a park on my way home every night. This park has a lot of ducks. When I say "a lot" of ducks, I mean there's hordes of them. An unreasonable amount of ducks. Geese, too*. And no matter what time I drive by the park, there are people feeding the ducks. Now, you expect to see a few people tossing the odd breadcrumb to ducks. I have no problem with that. Ducks don't ever repay these small favors we do them, but there you are. They're basically a bunch of ungrateful jerks, the ducks. If they were a little bigger, they'd probably try to kill you. That's just conjecture of course. Don't tell any ducks I said that.

But I digress.

What I'm talking about here is The Duck People. They're feeding the ducks all the time. They pull up in their cars, and open up the trunk, where they have giant bags of seed, which they throw to these teeming throngs of duckdom that gather around them in droves. Sometimes there are three or four groups of Duck People out there. And not always the same people. So these ducks are being fed continually. Why? What are The Duck People doing? Are they fattening up the ducks for any particular reason?

Maybe The Duck People don't really want to feed these ducks. Maybe they have to. Maybe the ducks call them and set a schedule.

"Hi! This is Wendy!"

"Wendy. It's the ducks."

"Oh. Uh. Hi."

"You will be here at 4:30."

"Listen, I'd love to, but I have a dentist appointment."

"You will be here. Do not push us, Wendy. We can destroy you."

"I'll...I'll be there."

Thing 3: The Excuse: Please excuse Mr. Kafkaesque from writing in his blog for the period of one (1) week. For karmic reasons, he will be on a business trip to a place roughly the temperature of the planet Neptune.

* Geese kind of freak me out. When I was a kid, my mom would always say this to me when I was in a situation where a goose was involved: "Geese can break your leg in half if they want to." So every time I see a goose, I get a mental image of a goose snapping my femur in half with its razor-sharp devil-beak. Or maybe it was swans.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Dude. We got Dells.

It's true. The wife and I finally bit the bullet and bought new systems, with some wild and woolly* James Bond-style double-secret coupon codes at

They're nice, and four times as fast as our old AlienWare machines, but I feel a little dirty using a Dell. Like that Stephen guy's going to show up any minute and want to stay a few days while he's between gigs. I just hope he's housetrained.

It's nice to finally be able to play some of the games we've acquired over the last year or so, the ones that made our old computers cough and wheeze (like Medal of Honor and Neverwinter Nights).

What have I been playing lately, you may well ask. Well, I've been playing Syberia. Syberia is a game for old farts and uncoordinated people, where you click on things and people talk to you. There's no shooting black-ops marines or smashing head-crabs with a crowbar. The art is great, and the story makes you want to keep playing, which is somewhat rare in computer games, as far as I'm concerned. The plot is basically that you are a lawyer trying to find the heir to a business that created automatons, or mechanical people. It also deals extensively with Mastodons and Rube Goldberg type devices.

The wife and I kind of pledged not to look at any online walk-throughs for the game. We've only looked once, and I have to tell you that the impasse we were at pretty much forced our hand. Honestly.

I should also mention that Syberia played quite well on my old P3 450MHz, in case you're interested.

* This is not technically true. While there was some wildness noted in the computer-buying process, there wasn't really anything that could honestly be called "woolly". Apologies for anyone who got a little excited at the mention of the word. Maybe, though, you should really think about why the word "woolly" sparks that sort of reaction anyway. I mean what the hell's wrong with you that the word "woolly" could do a thing like that. Are we talking about some crazy Freudian association here? Maybe some paths are better left untrod. Sometimes I worry about you.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

There is some truly awful singing going on in here right now.

It's wafting up from a few cubes over. Kind of high pitched, squeaky, singing-along-with-the-radio singing. The kind of singing that you can tell the singer doesn't know the song in even the vaguest way, where they just join in at the end of each line with what are basically just throat noises, calling to mind the plaintive cries of a pterodactyl.

I'm a car singer myself. I can't stop it. I play the music in the Kafkamobile pretty loud, so I don't have to hear myself butchering songs. I'll even sing at stoplights, though I usually try to rein in the grooving while the car is motionless. For some reason it seems to be OK for me to be howling away like an injured farmcat as long as the car's moving, but as soon as I hit the red light and there are other cars around me, silence takes over. No-one must know that mere seconds earlier I was shrieking along to "The Passenger" for all I was worth*.

At least I'm not one of those car-dancing people. Freaks.

* I challenge you to listen to "The Passenger" without singing, though. For my own part, I prefer the Iggy Pop version, though the Siouxsie version is not without its merits.

Monday, January 20, 2003

I don't know when the laminating got out of hand.

I got the laminating machine a few days back, to laminate some signs for a trade show. It's pleasing. You put things in there and they come out indelibly shrink-wrapped in tight, thick, clear plastic, preserving them for future generations as surely as a bug in amber.

The first things to go in were the signs. Before lamination, these were just little colored slips of paper, folded back onto themselves to become two-sided. After lamination, they were credit card-like. I even scratched one on my beard stubble, like in that old razor commercial, and I'm pleased to report that it made that satisfying "skkkkrkkk!" sound we all know and love, bringing to mind visions of out of control rollercoasters smashing through mountains of "Foamy" Shave.

Then a few business cards. You just push the lamination envelope into the machine a little, and it's sucked through like your car through a car wash.

Some memos soon followed. My library card. Plush toys. The K section of the phone book. 47 Gummi Bears.

My socks may not be as comfortable now, but I am now assured they will never, ever need darning.

I put my hair through the laminator soon after. I couldn't get it back out, but that is really of small importance.

I think it was about then that I put the first of the lunch meat in. Imagine it, salami preserved pristine, never to rot. All varieties of pressed meat, held forever in laminated limbo. I would stave off entropy and laugh in the face of decay. Hear me, decomposers! You shall not have my turkey bologna!

There are those who have called my methods unsound, but they've never felt the rush of raw power you feel when you've got that plastic envelope in your hand. The temptation to play God is pretty strong my friends, pretty strong.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Courtesy of the Tom Waits listserv:

If You're Happy and You Know It, Bomb Iraq

by John Robbins

If you cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq.
If the markets are a drama, bomb Iraq.
If the terrorists are Saudi,
And your alibi is shoddy,
And your tastes remain quite gaudy, bomb Iraq.

If you never were elected, bomb Iraq.
If your mood is quite dejected, bomb Iraq.
If you think that SUVs,
Are the best thing since sliced cheese,
And your father you must please, bomb Iraq.

If the globe is quickly warming, bomb Iraq.
If the poor will soon be storming, bomb Iraq.
We assert that might makes right,
Burning oil is a delight,
For the empire we will fight, so bomb Iraq.

If we have no allies with us, bomb Iraq.
If we think that someones dissed us, bomb Iraq.
So to hell with the inspections,
Lets look tough for the elections,
Close your mind and take directions, bomb Iraq.

If corporate fraud is growin', bomb Iraq.
If your ties to it are showin', bomb Iraq.
If your politics are sleazy,
And hiding it ain't easy,
And your manhood's getting queasy, bomb Iraq.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Video for Johnnys Cash's cover of NIN's "Hurt".

So moving, and maybe more so because you don't want it to be, because it feels a little forced.

Warning: 41 MB Quicktime file.
I totally forgot about these: Comic book style storyboards for the Tom Waits song, "What's He Building In There?", which details a nosy neighbor wondering about the significance of such things as a router and a table saw, and just why someone would be up on the roof signalling with a flashlight. Last time I saw Waits live he had some great asides during this song, like "Never trust anyone with a router", which is always good advice.




By the way, if anyone knows who did these, I'd love to know about it.

[courtesy of JPoulos]

Friday, January 17, 2003

Primo Toobin' Party Bowl - For all your Toobin' get-togethers. If there's one thing Toobers love after a hard day of Toobin', it's dip.

I have just spent the last two hours playing Toobin', and I have to tell you I was unaware of the harsh reality that is the Toobin' lifestyle. You wake up in the morning, and you toob. You might not feel like toobin' that day. Maybe you had a hard night. Or maybe you even toobed all night.

It doesn't matter. All that matters is that you keep on toobin'.

I mean, a lot people resent the carefree life of the Toober (not the carefree life of the tuber, which is an altogether different matter). Everyone's trying to bring you down. If its not angry Eskimos on the shoreline, its penguins diving at you, fly fishermen trying to pop your toob, or pink mohawked gentlemen lobbing beer bottles at you.

And for the love of god, do there have to be so many branches in the river?

Thank the lord thoughtful rivergoers have left empty cans floating all along the stream to help the humble toober.

But people just can't handle it. Everywhere you go, from the American River to the River Styx, its all the same.

Can't you just let me toob?
Hi! The seven eggs of I Love Egg are not normal ones.
They express feelings through seven cute expressions.
In addition, these seven eggs are so fashionable that they like to wear pretty clothes.
They are jealous of one another, trying to get the prettiest clothes.
They act like characters of fairy tales. They always attempt to change, since they feel that they cannot stay in the refrigerator as normal eggs.
They wish to be reborn.

Bill Watterson on "Peeing Calvin" stickers:

Asked how he could take the concept to the next level, Watterson added, "I would like to see the feline philosopher Hobbes get involved. Since they are best friends, they could wee-wee on many things together. Maybe even leave a special surprise in that annoying babysitter Rosalyn's soda? The possibilities are endless."
There are no other words that can wake you up with the efficiency of this simple statement: "Oh my God! I set it for PM!"

Monday, January 13, 2003

Scenes of Domestic Tranquility

Music: that music from the cartoons that are, like, fake Nature documentaries, and that were made in the 1940s and have turtles that look like Bing Crosby in them, and end up with dogs waiting to pee on the one tree growing in Brooklyn. You know, when the landscape is waking up, the sun dramatically sweeping across the vistas? That music. We zoom in across litter strewn streets of Southern California. We are almost hit by a guy in a Honda Accord with a 5 foot spoiler and the words "El Stupido" airbrushed proudly across the hood. We recover. We climb the outside of a four story apartment complex which is intended to look Mediterranean but does not. We set one of our feet on fire on those tiki torches someone is burning on their balcony. Blind to the pain, we continue up, ever up, to the two bedroom apartment which is nice because it has a fireplace but not nice because having a fireplace means one less closet and therefore too much stuff. We watch the denizens within:

1. The wife's out to dinner tonight, so for dinner I had:

- The remnants of 10-day old potato salad
- The last slice of a pizza from the weekend
- The last of the stuffing and potatoes from December 26th

I am, apparently, the family dog.

2. Last night, I had a terrible experience. I was home with the wife. We had just finished a nice dinner, and I built a fire, so we could snuggle up and watch a movie. Then, something happened to me. Or, rather, didn't happen. I told my wife it had never happened to me before. She was very nice and understanding, but I could tell things would never be the same between us. Guys, you know what I'm talking about. It's something that fills us with shame and I just never thought it would happen to me. At least, not until I'm older.

That's right: I couldn't get the fire to stay lit. I stuffed newspaper under the wood, I poked with the poker, I used that crazy tong tool thing I like so much. Nothing worked.

So we watched the movie and sat in front of a fireplace that contained no fire. Just a few glowing embers, mocking me silently.

While all this was going on, I released lots and lots of smoke into our apartment. You could have filmed "Backdraft" in our apartment. This fills me with trepidation, because I live on the fourth floor and subsequently have one of those "ceiling sprinkler" systems. I always think that one day it will go off and really, really piss off the cat. Not to mention destroy all of our stuff.

We also have the regular smoke alarms. But there's really nothing to worry about as far our smoke alarms are concerned. It is impossible to set them off with anything except toast. I could be running around in the kitchen with my hair on fire, fall into the curtains, which would be subsequently set ablaze, and not a peep would sound from the alarms.

God help you if you leave a sesame seed bagel in the toaster for a moment too long, though.

They're not smoke alarms. They're Toast Alarms.

3. Something in my nature makes me want to destroy my wife's finer garments. I don't mind doing the laundry. I happily sort colors, only occasionally calling for help in determining the difference between brown and orange. But good god, can I destroy a silk blouse. It always happens the same way: I'm doing the laundry, being careful to take the clothes that don't go in the dryer back into the apartment, to be hung in the bathroom. Then I'll see some shirt of hers that I know absolutely for certain goes in the dryer, and I will feel proud that I have completed this challenging task.

That's the silk shirt that "Absolutely for certain does not go in the dryer", and which will be reduced to roughly the size of a postage stamp when the dryer has had its wicked way with it.

It's all part of the plan.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Inflatable Mott's Clamato Mascot!
I was just updating my Netflix queue (sadly, I missed my one day window of opportunity to get Signs, and am now damned to the purgatory of "Very Long Wait, Mofo"), and I typed my password in incorrectly. I was greeted by an error message that said in red:

Passwords must be between 4 and 60 characters

60 Characters? Does that seem a little excessive? I mean, sure, I don't want people to bust into my Netflix queue and see that I'm still waiting for Krull, Xanadu and Pete's Dragon, but I don't think I'm going to go to the extreme of having a 60-character password.

Mine's only 56.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Monday, January 06, 2003

William Gibson's Blog

Kangaroo Jack: Two childhood friends, a New York hairstylist and a would-be musician, get caught up with the mob and are forced to deliver $100,000 to Australia, but things go haywire when the money is lost to a wild kangaroo.

This sounds like it will be the greatest cinematic achievement of our time. I saw a preview for it this weekend and I'm still recovering.

Not to be confused with Matilda: A small-time talent agent [Elliott Gould] discovers an amazing boxing kangaroo and figures to use it as his stepping-stone into the big time.

When will people learn? Kangaroos are not your friends. They will not help you to hit the big time. They're evil. And they inspire crappy movies.

And to think I spent all that time trying to help the mother kangaroo save her baby from that vicious gang of monkeys in the early 80s. It doesn't bear thinking about.
We will be looking to buy a house in the coming year.

My wife and I are very into gardening (at least theoretical gardening, where you don't have to lift anything heavier than a coffee table book with pictures of snapdragons on it) and would like to do some landscaping, if we can find a place with a big enough yard.

One stumbling block we may run into is trying to combine a Zen Garden with a Horseshoe Pit. Further research is called for, but it seems like a natural. You've got gravel, you've got horseshoes...a combination made in heaven. And you can really only find serenity for so long each day. Then your Zen Garden is just going to sit there, not doing anything useful. You need to show those hoseshoes the One True Way, preferably while sipping a Lucky Lager.
My Life as an American Gladiator is no longer on hiatus.

Unless I need another good excuse for not writing any posts.

What happened was that I went on vacation for a while, to New Orleans and the Alabama Gulf Coast.

My vacation taught me many valuable things:

- You can get enough boobie flashing on Bourbon Street real quick.
- Thunder on the Gulf Coast makes an exceptional alarm clock.
- Do not, under any circumstances, turn down the wrong street in small Mississippi towns. Listen to your wife. She knows where you should be going.
- Mint Juleps really do taste better on a plantation. We stayed at Oak Alley Plantation for a night, and that was probably the highlight of our trip. It's just amazingly beautiful, and you get the run of the grounds at night. The sight of the stars through a canopy of ancient oak trees is not something you want to miss. The plantation was featured in "Interview with the Vampire", if you are Rice-ly inclined.
- Do not fret when your return flight is cancelled. You will be upgraded to first class. Incidentally, while flying first class kicks a major and serious amount of ass, there's no way that the price difference is worth it. For any of you out there who may have been in Coach on a particular Continental Airlines flight, I sincerely apologize for calling you variously "a horde of steaming animals", "the common folk" and "vermin". I really didn't mean it, as I reclined to an angle you could only dream of, accepting yet another free cocktail from the stewardess.


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