April 29, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XXVIII

I'm sorry, that was a little obscene, wasn't it? I'll do better next week, I promise.

April 28, 2005

Babelfish Poetry, Part I

AltaVista's usefulness as a search engine may have faded over the years, but its Babelfish translation engine still provides a fun way to pass the time. To wit: please enjoy the following 'poem', created by fitting together lines taken from an Italian op-ed piece, and translated by Babelfish.

"Blue Eyes, Much Sad"

The small Heron Badillo
Condemned from one serious shape of leukaemia.
Heron did not have more a hat;
We only waited for that it died.
The child returns to you,
To house has said: ' I have fame'.

He has said himself also
Of sacred images that cry
And storcono the eyes;
To Immense, city abruzzese,
A donnetta recognized in a small cuttlefish bone
The plagued face of the Redentore.

Perhaps but I, because sinner,
Did not feel that the wax,
Incense scent that burnt,
The heavy air of the heated crowd.
Tawny-verdognola complexion, the blackest hats:
Dress white man tending to the blue, perfect Italian.

Its figure gave off luminous beams;
They saw with of the flowers between the arms,
While an alsacian peasant described it with a ghiacciolo,
Symbol of the scarcity, in the left hand,
And the other three ears:
Then the time of the abundance comes.

This incomprensibile weft has been entrusted
To "one small signorinella more young person of the sin",
Witness without malizia of an extraordinary event.

I await my literary award.

April 27, 2005

Taglines That Time Forgot

I just watched The Girl Next Door. Shut up. As you probably remember, the film follows the adventures of a high school senior who discovers that his neighbour's housesitter is a porn star.

The movie's tagline is:

"Matt never saw her coming... but all his friends had!"

I feel like that line itself should be rated PG-13.


April 26, 2005

Fans of Pomo: Look Away Now

One of the depressing things about being an aspiring writer these days is that, judging from the tripe that actually gets published (and lauded!), in order to have any success in the fiction world one has to write vapid postmodern drivel that is painful to read and boring as hell.

Coincidentally, I just finished reading Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo. It is the quintessence of crap, a nonpareil of nonsense. DeLillo manages the impressive feat of making every single sentence a non sequitur, as he leaps from implausible event to absurd characterization, never once managing to write something that actually creates something as baroque as a ‘plot’. To give you an idea of how irritating it is, I will now write a short passage in the style of Mr DeLillo.

He sat, clothed in the miasma of his obeisance. People hurried around him, a nun dressed in slacks, a street vendor with two thumbs on each hand, a businessman devouring the fact of money. His girlfriend stroked his hand. But was it his girlfriend? Or was it merely his lost empathy for penguins? Suddenly he understood the world, a swirling mass of squishy reality, intensely wide. He wanted nothing more than to ejaculate onto a plate of international treaties, while his ex-wife stroked his calves. Historical currency swaddled his existence. The sun rose, and with it came pizza.

I don’t mean to paint all modern writers with the same broad strokes-- certainly, there are a number of extremely good books out there, being written by a number of extremely talented individuals. Nonetheless, from now on, I will read no contemporary fiction that has not been explicitly recommended to me by somebody I know to have good taste. I can’t handle another 200 pages of DeLillo-esque garbage.

April 25, 2005


With only ten days left to the British general election, Tory leader Michael Howard has shifted his campaign almost entirely to character attacks on the Prime Minister, repeatedly calling Mr Blair a liar. Howard claims that Blair lied about Iraq, lied about not raising taxes, and is still lying in order to win this election.

Well, allegations of lying are a pretty serious matter. Indeed, as Mr Howard himself says, "It is time for the British people to take a stand" against dishonesty in politics. Like in November of 2002, when (Conservative leader) Michael Howard said: "I will never stand again for the leadership of the Conservative Party". Or earlier that month, when he promised "to work tirelessly" not to let his party down, despite having voted the week before against a proposal to introduce morning sessions of the Commons. Or, in the same speech, the way he called the Conservatives a party that was "broad in appeal", despite the fact that in the last election they won only one seat in the whole of Scotland, N. Ireland, and Wales. The proof of Mr Howard's own dishonesty is, as they say, in the pudding. Which is why I heartily encourage all of you to call him on +(0)20 7219 5383, and ask him about the importance of telling the truth.

This message is in no way endorsed by the Labour party or its members, but I bet they appreciate it nonetheless.

April 22, 2005

Sanjay O'Malley?

From MontrealPlus: Le Vieux Dublin:

"For those looking for authentic Irish dishes, be sure to try the Bhoona gosht, chunks of beef cooked with tomatoes, peppers, onions and spices served with rice, or the Sag, chunks of fresh shrimp or beef and spinach cooked with spices in a tasty rich sauce."

'Bhoona gosht' must be Gaelic, right?

Conversations With Greatness XXVII

I wonder what it would be like to play Scrabble with someone who's that competitive.

April 21, 2005

Minute Changes

I got the following email this morning:

"Dear Expedia.ca customer,

Delta has notified us of an update to your flight itinerary for your Daytona Beach, FL, United States trip. Your flight from Montreal (YUL) to Atlanta (ATL) will now depart 3 minutes later than previously scheduled."

Man, I hope I can still make my connection.

Dennis Miller Just Stole My Bit!

On the Daily Show, talking about the new pope:

"Ratzinger? Isn't he the guy who sat at the end of the bar in Cheers?"

Ken and Adrienne will attest that I made the same joke yesterday. So why aren't I best friends with Jon Stewart?

April 20, 2005

Department of Petulant Citizens

With the British election drawing near, fears have been expressed (as is the custom in modern democracies) about low voter turnout. Many people, it seems, are choosing not to vote, and are thus being labelled 'apathetic' by freedom-lovers everywhere.

But the charge of apathy, apparently, is a slander! A travesty! A besmirchment of the fine reputation of British voters! The site www.notapathetic.com (which, ironically enough, IS a pathetic dotcom) has been established to catalogue the real reasons that Britons are choosing not to vote. Apparently, it isn't so much apathy as it is stupidity.

For instance, take this individual:

"If Labour win with 40% of the vote on a 60% turnout (both of these are overstimates) they will have the support of less than a quarter of the adult population, this is bad democracy."

Well why don't you f**king vote, then, and raise the turnout?!?!

Then there's this fellow:

"No political party can truly represent the range of wants and need of the population."

...So let's not even try. I'm sure all the zealots who DO vote will elect a very reasonable candidate.

And the king of allegory:

"There's not enough difference between the parties. Voting feels like being asked to choose between Coke (the one in the red can) and Pepsi (the one in the blue can), when what I want is a cup of coffee, not a cola drink."

Look, mate, just drink the fucking cola, okay? Coffee's only going to stain your teeth and raise your blood pressure, anyway.

I also enjoy:

"Like Marx and other genuine democrats."


Go check it out. If nothing else it will remove any doubts you have about the British populace.

April 19, 2005

Drinking on the Yob

The hot issue in British election coverage today is... binge drinking! (From the Beeb.)

Tory leader Michael Howard weighed in on the issue, criticising the Labour government's soft stance on the problem (and thus bringing the number of issues on which Labour are allegedly "soft" up to 50,039). The best solution to rowdy, drunken yobs, said Howard, is to subject them to the same sort of fear they cause in others. Mr Howard then stumbled over to a drunken yob and enquired whuhtha fuch he was looking at.

Mr Howard insisted he was not against people having a good time, as long as it didn't turn into a "nightmare" for others, and as long as it wasn't in any was socialist or homosexual.

Labour minister Hazel Blears responded to the Tories by calling their allegations "desperate stuff" (and thus bringing the number of issues on which the Tories are allegedly "desperate" up to 61,664). Said Blears, "Labour is already taking firm action on yobs and antisocial behaviour . . . Hear that? FIRM! Not soft! FIRM!!!!"

The LibDems also chimed in, but their policies sounded kind of ridiculous and nobody was really paying attention, anyway.

Only 16 days until the election.


By the way, those of you who can't get enough of Conclave 2005 should check out the BBC's live 'Vaticam', which is providing 24-hour live coverage of the cardinals' chimney. (And that sounds way dirtier than I intended.)

April 18, 2005

Grandmaster Bash

From Netscape News: Kasparov Hit Over Head With Chessboard

Most surreal story of the year, so far...

Garry Kasparov, the world's former No. 1 chess player . . . said he had been hit over the head with a chessboard in a politically motivated attack . . .

[Kasparov] was not injured Friday when he was hit with the chessboard after signing it for a young man at an event in Moscow . . .

The unidentified attacker-- who did not reveal his political allegiance-- tried to hit Kasparov again but was hauled away by security guards.

Who gets a chessboard autographed? Get your virginity signed, instead; it'll probably last longer.

April 15, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XXVI

I really like imagining that this was how they actually worked together.

April 13, 2005

Studying is Fun!

From Disturbing the Nest: Family Change and Decline in Modern Societies, by David Popenoe:

"It is reasonable to say that with modernization almost everything about the Western household changed, except its size and composition. Yet even its size changed . . . and its composition changed also." (67, emphasis, believe it or not, in the original.)

And you just know that in my exam on this tomorrow, there's going to be a question along the lines of: "Does Popenoe think that the size and composition of Western households changed with modernization?" After which I will cry a bitter tear of frustration and then eat my answer booklet.

April 12, 2005

Eighths of a Dollar, Twentieths of a Pound

I keep a folder in my bookmarks bar of things I think would make for good blog material-- but a lot of times I can't quite work out how to use them and they just sit there, forlorn, and gathering eDust.

Like, for instance, this story about the potentially hazardous effects of soy on men.

Over a period of fifteen months, researchers administered high levels of soy isoflavones to male monkeys, who subsequently showed far higher frequencies of "intense agressive [behaviour]".

Frankly, I don't find it very surprising. I don't imagine I'd be able to eat nothing but soy for fifteen months without beginning to feel at least a little aggressive.

Next, a story from Texas, where local congressman Al Edwards has proposed legislation to ban "sexy cheerleading". Well, gee, that seems like a good idea-- no wonder Edwards has the support of local cheerleading association, the Austin Cheer Factory. I mean, the objectification of women is bad; we want women to feel like real people with rights and independence, right?

"It would give parents a better feeling, mostly dads and boyfriends, too," said ACF owner, J.M. Farias.

Oh. Right. I forgot that men are the most important consideration in anything that ever happens, anywhere.

Finally (speaking of right-wing values), the BBC reported in January on US military plans to build a "gay bomb". The "distasteful but completely non-lethal" plan involved developing an aphrodisiac chemical that could be released among enemy troops, causing them to become "sexually irresistible" to each other and to begin having so much homosexual sex as to be completely incapable of fighting.

To prevent the aphrodisiac from affecting US troops by accident, the military proposed feeding them nothing but soy for fifteen months.

And that's all until Friday.

April 11, 2005

A Taste of Things to --*giggle*-- Come

So, I'm well aware that my blog output lately has been far from prolific and even further from stellar. It's because I've had very regular deadlines all term and haven't had too much time to spare.

But never fear! From this Thursday I will be a (more or less) free man, and have all sorts of grand plans lined up for my coming months of leisure, including:

1. Extensive coverage of the upcoming British elections, and all the adorably quaint aspects of British politics that they will undoubtedly involve.

2. A serialised short story.

3. A baffling array of guest stars in Conversations with Greatness.

4. Some new scandal involving Google referrals and a parade of weirdos leaving comments. And, of course...

5. Colin Farrell's cock.

And, tomorrow: odds and ends that have been kicking around my notes folder for a few months.

Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen...

From BBC NEWS | Magazine: Designs for a happy life

In an article about how product designers are beginning to put more thought into how people actually use their products:

"Plain anthropology is about watching how remote tribes go about their everyday lives and joining in with them eating nasty things."

*smacks forehead*

Actually, kids, anthropologists don't just study remote tribes... THEY WALK AMONG US! MUAH-HA-HA-HA! THEY MIGHT BE STUDYING YOU RIGHT NOW!

April 08, 2005

Conversations With Greatness XXV

Dammit! I just realised that this is CWG no. 25! If only I'd thought of this in time for the last one!

April 07, 2005

Marvel At It

Here's something that's doing the rounds at the moment... From Netscape News:

That, folks, is the first page of a new Colombian comicbook titled "El Increible Homopater"-- or, in English, "The Incredible Popeman." (More pictures are also posted at Carbongeek.)

The first issue will presently be going on sale (in Colombia and Poland only at this point, I'm sorry to say), and will follow the Incredible Popeman as he meets with established superheroes, such as Batman and Superman, and learns from them how to fight Satan (which, if I may so, is the most unoriginal name for a comic book villain I've ever heard).

The Incredible Popeman's costume includes a yellow "anti-Devil cape" and green "chastity pants". He also has superpowers above and beyond his earthly infallibility, which is good because, man, what a lame superpower that is. ("I'm going to shoot you in the head now, Popeman!"; "Yeah, you just try it. I can't do anything wrong.")

I can't shake the feeling that this is some kind of hoax.

April 06, 2005

Elevator? I Hardly Know 'er!

From Netscape News: Deliveryman Stuck in Elevator Four Days

"NEW YORK (AP) - A deliveryman who vanished after taking Chinese food to a Bronx apartment complex was found alive Tuesday after apparently spending four days trapped in an elevator that had become stuck between floors.

Ming Kuang Chen, 35, had been the subject of a widespread search after he failed to return to his restaurant Friday with $200 in receipts."

I like that the search was launched because he owed them $200, not because they were particularly worried about him or his safety.

Firefighters were called to the apartment complex early Tuesday after getting a complaint that someone was stuck in the elevator.

"They said, 'We think the guy's drunk. We can't understand him,' " fire Lt. Peter Chadwick told The New York Times. "Little did they know he wasn't drunk, but probably feeling the effects of being in an elevator'' for days."

Or speaking Chinese?

I made up another joke today:

Q. What advice did the father mole give to his son as he was leaving for college?
A. Neither a burrower nor a lender be.

Bonus punchline: the father mole's name was 'Molonius'.

Ah, Shakespeare puns. Cristina, if you're reading, that was for you.

April 01, 2005


I'm in Boston today without my laptop (it's rough). So I can't post a Conversations With Greatness. Sorry. Instead, I invite you to imagine one. Here, I'll help:

Durkheim has just said something seemingly innocuous. There's a long silence. Now Marx says something that obnoxiously misunderstands what has just been said, and is probably offensive to Durkheim's mother.

Also, on the bus yesterday I was bored so I made up a joke:

Q. What should you tell a new recruit to the police force who wants to catch a lot of people speeding?
A. Disguise the limit!

*Drum riff*

And now, to Beantown!