Monday, July 31, 2006


This post is dedicated to one song, Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want by The Smiths.
The track isn't one of their better known, a shocking fact given that it's their most beautiful song and one of the most beautiful songs in general. It's a ballad, and an incredibly simple one. There isn't any angst in it, no heavy beats or marching cries -- just pure, simple, sad melancholy. And it's stripped down, under two minutes long, with lyrics that don't say a word more than they need to. The only thing that sucks about the song is how short it is, and I suppose that's why people don't know it. I've asked musician friends to try and expand it somehow, and I know that might ruin it, but I'm always so disappointed when it ends.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

PEEPING TOM!!!! Aaaaahhhh!!

Peeping Tom - Neighborhood Spaceman (7-23-06)
Alright, I've got a video on here. This is good.
So on July 23 went to see Peeping Tom open for Gnarls Barkley at the Avalon, and my Mike Patton obsession is reaching alarming levels. The man works for every cent he makes, soaking his shirt all the way through and placing his neck at serious risk of injury with violent head thrusts.

Went with my friend May (Radiohead Superfan #1), who again procured tickets for us. She took a video of Patton singing another PT song, Don't Even Trip, and it is faaaar superior to the one on here (in large part because of my background screeches), but for some reason hers wouldn't upload to YouTube (it's a QuickTime file, don't understand). However, this was the show we attended, and the song they're playing is one of my favorites on the album.

As far as I'm concerned, Peeping Tom totally stole the show from Gnarls Barkley, at least for me because during the latter's set Mike Patton was standing right next to me and I was busy staring in complete, pathetic starstruckness not saying anything. Finally May tapped him on the shoulder and said she wanted to introduce me to him because if not I might explode. Patton was incredibly cool and I fucking hugged him but I always feel a bit silly making small talk with celebrities, especially ones I care about, because I feel like they think I'm a groupie. Plus, what am I gonna do with that experience (other than blog about it)? It's not like we talked about anything groundbreaking -- in fact the main topic I recall us discussing was the weather. Patton is cool, but I just don't know the guy, and it's not gonna happen at 2 a.m. after one of his shows in Hollywood. The only thing it could be is some lame groupie experience. Nonetheless later there was a more serious foray into groupiedom that involved some after-show stuff which I shan't divulge, and the next day some hanging out at PT's hotel. It was much less scandalous than it sounds, and I couldn't get over feeling loserish for doing it. But whatever.

What this all comes down to is that the coolest part of the night was the show. All of the hard songs on the album were a lot more fun live when you could jump to them with other excitables. It was so high energy Patton even attempted a stage dive. It was, like so many other things that night, a bit pathetic, because people didn't seem quite into helping him crowd surf, and for about 10 seconds afterward I couldn't take him seriously. Is the day of the stage dive over, is it on hiatus, or is the Gnarls Barkley crowd just the wrong one to try it on? Big questions.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

physicalness vs. digitalness

there was a good piece a couple of new yorkers ago on container ships, these huge ginormous things that move all the crap around the world that people use in their lives. what got me about container ships, other than the fact that they're a complete universe we never see but that help us live (sort of like loading docks from the sidewalk), is that the world is still quite a large physical place, and material stuff still needs to be moved around it. it's something we're apt to forget doing so much of our living virtually, but the internet can't do much to streamline the transportation of goods from one place to another. so, to get that shower curtain or printer paper that we need we must resign ourselves to using the rather primitive technology of... big boxes. on boats.

another physical process that hasn't changed too much over the years is mining. the only significant innovation has been that bigger trucks can now move a lot more dirt more quickly. but really what're you gonna do? no matter how you slice it, mining is going to involve first, digging up a mountain and second, getting ore out of rocks. ain't no digital process that could help with that. at one of the mines i visited recently i learned that the milling and crushing equipment the mining companies produce is nearly identical to the machines from 100, even 200 years ago. unsurprising when you think about the fact that it's all a purely mechanical, physical process. mechanical machines. neat.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Snakes on a Plane


analysis, not movie.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

on a lighter note

dirigibles are cool for a number of reasons. first, the name. in french, dirigible means "able to be directed," a rather humorous and self-evident name for the thing, as well as an adjective that's been turned into a noun. imagine if the car were called the driveable. same thing. but the true beauty of the word dirigible lies in a sort of onomatopoeia, which is both silly and quasi-scientific, just like the thing itself. if dirigibles make sounds, they probably go something like this: "ddddrrrrrrrigible!" and if i were looking at a dirigible and didn't know what to call it, i'd call it dirigible.

the dirigible comes from the era of early flight, which i thought accounted for the ridiculousness of the design, but it turns out i may have been wrong. there was a resurgence of interest in dirigibles -- i mean like as in actually using them -- in the early 90s. have no idea why. but today that's waned and there aren't too many dirigibles out and about.

a major dirigible disaster, the burning of the Hindenburg Zeppelin in new jersey on May 6, 1937, has etched the image of the dirigible fairly firmly in the cultural consciousness. my friend noah referenced the hindenburg in the final for his puppeteering class at wesleyan, which was a titanic/dirigible spoof entitled "Dirigible: A Woman's Heart is as Deep as an Ocean of Secrets." they actually built a dirigible puppet and set it on fire. got an F.

shortly thereafter, i looked into purchasing the domain name here's the response i got from the owner:

Dear Sir,Thank you for your interest concering i own. Selling price of this domain name is USD $35,000. If you can pay USD $35,000, we are that sell domain to you immediately. If you agree in this transaction, I will begin transaction after I join on escrow. I think we can transact safely if we get services through Escrow. Escrow service consists in Here is place that can believe most. If you money is paid to, I will change owner information. If you have any question, Please send email to me. Best Regards,Inchonseekers, Inc. David, Jun, CEO

i'm pretty sure old david is still current owner, but if i had USD $35,000 lying around, i'd contact the guy.

Friday, July 14, 2006


the israeli incursion into lebanon has created a familiar pit in the stomach feeling. its origin is fairly simple: the conflict of needing to have unwavering solidarity with a country whose tactics are not ideal.

my immediate feeling when news about the israeli bombings and lebanese civilian deaths came out was disappointment; such actions can never have the desired results of getting hostages released and, ultimately, achieving peace. but the ability to use logic deteriorates when the situation deteriorates. part of the stress of war, and what makes it so messy, are the animalistic decisions those involved must make to avoid death. when existence is at stake, doubts about the best moral avenue fall away, narrowing the question to one of them or us. and when taking sides is no longer avoidable, i must stand with israel.

i confronted the same quandary when i spent a semester in israel in 2000, arriving just before sharon visited the Temple Mount. it was the incendiary move that sparked the most recent wave of violence, which has lasted five years, five years! now. yet watching from los angeles as the situation once again becomes critical is very different. living in israel, one didn't have to ask, what can i do? simply being there was enough. but caring from here, not wanting israel to disappear from here, the question looms.

my ma made me go to an israel rally at the museum of tolerance and it seemed to be the question that every jew in los angeles who cared to attend was asking him or herself. and the question is far more critical now because truly what can the US, israel's best and often times only ally, do? our military is stretched the thinnest it's been in decades, and other western countries will not and are not standing unequivocally with israel. so who is israel's friend, if not the largest jewish communities outside the country -- those in new york and los angeles? and truly what can we do, other than have rallies and send money? (the jewish federation of los angeles mobilized quickly and is sending $1 million to take israeli children out of bomb shelters to safer places -- a thoughtful and important thing to do, but it hardly helps the country itself.) and -- what would i have us do if, in a crazy world, the jewish communities of the diaspora had military power?

the speakers at the rally included local los angeles jewish politicians, rabbis, daniel pearl's father, judea pearl, and mayor villaraigosa (love him). though the whole thing felt rather ineffectual, i sensed it was important to be there. and when everyone sang hatikvah, israel's national anthem, it felt so important it was scary.

i know it probably seems strange that i have what might be considered a right wing affinity with israel. for those who cherish liberal values, as i do, it feels convoluted, even backwards. i wish there were a grey area, but the bottom line is that if you don't want israel to disappear, solidarity is the only option.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Marsh and Gen. George Patton

UPDATE: CA fire territory is so goddamn volatile. thinking of you, Morongo Valley.

sometimes ghost town trolling adventures don't turn out the way you've planned, but it's usually still possible to salvage your excursion if you maneuver your day just right.

to anyone planning a ghost town excursion in riverside county, california (since i know there are so many of you): the ghost towning here is even more meager than what you might read on the web -- except for ruins in joshua tree national park, which, though i haven't seen them YET, are purportedly plentiful. but if you're planning on doing a car (as opposed to hiking) trip, be prepared for disappointment. i was planning to check out this place called Eagle Mountain, which was at various points a jail, a town, and other stuff. now apparently it's a sort of military training facility and you need special access to get in. berdoo camp was inaccessible without a 4 wheel drive, and both are far the f--- away. booooooo.

going that far though does have its rewards. for example, did you know that there is a george s. patton museum near the california-arizona border that along with patton -- lovingly remembered as Old Blood and Guts -- commemorates the WWII Desert Training Maneuver Area, the largest military training ground that has ever existed, and which covered 18,000 square miles and at which over one million soldiers were trained? me neither. it was very surreal visiting this place in 100+ temperatures, with memorial plaques and tanks just plopped down in the wavy heat in the middle of nowhere. made me think of the fabled militant training camps of afghanistan (except that at the patton museum there are christian and church-type commemorative things). the california-arizona border is an eh... inhospitable area.

also, did you know that morongo valley -- most widely known, at least among my relatives, for casino morongo -- is the location of a marsh preserve where over 300 species of birds live, including the endangered vermillion flycatcher? me neither. how can there be a marsh in some of the most godforsakenly dry desert in the world? in june of last year, a fire just above the marsh called the Paradise Fire took out a bunch of trees and 7 homes (which apparently is a happily small number), so now there is this unbelievable contrast between the marshland plants, which are as green as plants get, and the charred trees all around. i don't know if the plants were burned and if they regenerated in that time, but it was astounding to see. and though i didn't get a picture of them, i saw two vermillion flycatchers, and they are the most brilliantly colored bird. people come from all over the world to morongo valley just to catch a glimpse of these guys! and lastly, this place in MV, called The Happy Cooker, makes incredible chocolate shakes.

so in summary, riverside county -- weak on ghost towns, strong on other stuff.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

nerd time

i might be the least science and math-oriented person i know, but for some reason i'm really into the platonic solids -- convex polyhedra with regular polygon faces, in which all sides and angles are identical. there are only five: the tetrahedron (4 faces of equilateral triangles), the hexahedron (or cube), the octahedron (8 faces of equilateral triangles), the dodecahedron (12 faces of hexagons), and the icosahedron (20 faces of equilateral triangles). here's how we know that there are only five:

There have to be at least three polygons at a vertex; two would simply fold together back to back. Also the angles around a vertex cannot exceed 360 degrees, and if they equal 360 degrees, the polygons simply tile the plane. Thus we can rule out solids with 6 or more faces - hexagons tile the plane and all other triplets exceed 360 degrees. That means convex solids with regular polygon faces can only have triangles, squares or pentagons as faces. The only possibilities are 3, 4, or 5 triangles, 3 squares or 3 pentagons (at a vertex). Thus there are only five platonic solids.

so it's perfectly logical that there are only five platonic solids, but they seem magical to me. the ancient greeks were into them too, and so are many other nerd nut jobs. plus they can all be folded from a single piece of paper, which you know is kinda neat.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

hot tamales & photobooths, SoCo & lime

at a bar in silverlake called cha cha, at the end of each evening a mexican dude comes around with a heated case full of tamales, $2 each. though i was craving some Jack in the Box (the best fast food in the world (in 'n out doesn't count)), i decided to give it a shot. i was nervous it would be some horrible pouch microwaved crap, but nope -- homemade, wrapped in a corn husk leaf, chicken, pork or cheese tamales, with the non-cholula, non-tabasco, non-fake kind of spiciness that only comes from putting real chiles into maize. 'snice to be close to the border, i like!

also for $2 at cha cha: four distinct color photobooth photos. why photobooths are still such a fun novelty when cameras (be they digital or on your phone) are basically ubiquitous i'm not sure, but they still are. maybe it's the momentary blindness that ensues after each flashbulb goes off in your face (maybe it's the fact that they use flashbulbs), or maybe it's the naughty feeling of going into a photobooth with another person, or maybe it's just that they're old fashioned. whatever it may be, fine holiday fun. especially after you've taken down a couple SoCo and limes.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

World Cup Brilliance: Peter Crouch

like any good mexican, my dad has had the TV on nonstop for the past month. i've watched my fair share, but nothing quite compares with the rush of watching Mr. Peter Crouch play soccer. how can a man be so skinny yet so agile?! he looks like a scarecrow doing the tango. really really well. they probably told crouch when he was a kid that he'd never be able to go pro, but crouch showed them anything is possible.

which brings to mind two other very nimble yet lanky stars: ray bolger (scarecrow in wizard of oz, barnaby in '61 babes in toyland) and the much beloved john cleese (most notable lank in monty python and the out of towners). i've gotten almost as many laughs out of watching crouch as i have out of these two guys in their most seminal roles. holy! he's incredible. lanky + agile = great combo.

other world cup thoughts: if you can, do yourself a favor and watch the games with the announcements in spanish. they're friggin hysterical. very tongue in cheek, with the full skinny on the players that they're not afraid to give you. the american announcers are pure boredom.
i feel bad for goalies when it goes to penalty kicks. too much pressure.