December 31, 2005

He's Quite Stocky

Seen on Netscape:



Um, maybe it's because you're ONE OF AMERICA'S NEWEST DEATH THREATS!!!!!!

Hooray, stock images! That reminds me, did I ever link to this?

December 30, 2005

Conversations With Greatness LX

December 29, 2005

Addendum

I really wanted to include an example of the "self-indulgent semantic nonsense" that I was complaining about before, but was having a hard time finding one when I wrote that post. Now, though, I've got a real gem:

"Although the jokes in this book are intrinsically enjoyable, they are only the raisins that make palatable the bran of abstract cultural and social theory— whose reconceptualisation is my goal."
—Murray S. Davis, What's So Funny? The Comic Conception of Culture and Society

Things At Which Horses Chomp And Something A Man With No Arms Does In A Swimming Pool

I am getting really frustrated with the damn internet here. For some reason my connection just keeps deciding, for no apparent reason, to not talk to a number of different servers chosen at random, despite functioning normally in general. So, for instance, I'll be able to check my mail but not load Sillytech; then I'll reboot my router, and I'll be able to read Sillytech but Blogger will hang indefinitely; so I'll reboot again and Blogger will work but MSN conks out.

I mean, my God, is my life the most unbearable series of tribulations you've ever heard, or what?

--

My new favourite album is Roìsìn Murphy's Ruby Blue. I bought it on Monday and have listened to it three or four times a day since then. It is ridiculously good. Go buy it. Not download it, Ken, Alice; BUY it!

--

I've started doing research for my honours thesis, the topic for which is gender and humour. The drawback of doing an academic study on humour is that you have to suffer through a lot of self-indulgent semantic nonsense about discourse and reality. But, on the upside, you do get to read a lot of jokes:

Three women are sitting in a bar talking about men.

"My man," says the first woman, "Is like a scotch on the rocks. He's smooth and cool, and when he gets inside of me it gives me a real kick that lays me flat."

"Well," says the second woman. "My man is more like a bottle of white wine. I always enjoy him slowly and savour every moment, and once he's all inside of me I'm out of my mind with ecstasy."

"And my man," says the third woman, without any explanation, "Is like Green Chartreuse."

"What's Green Chartreuse?" say the other two.

"Oh," replies the third. "Some fancy liquor."

Hey-oh!

--

The most entertaining news of the week, for me, is that Evan Bindelglass has added Alison as a friend on the Facebook. Evan was my roommate my freshman year of college, and was, is, and shall forever be something of an Emerson College legend. Evan is a very Jewish boy who wears khaki shorts three-hundred and fifty days out of the year, enjoys graphic design, and insists upon telling people he is from New York, when in fact he is from North Bergen county in New Jersey. His heroes are Elie Wiesel, Harry S Truman, and Aaron Sorkin, the creator of The West Wing (which Evan watched, without fail and with the phone off the hook, every week).

I am quite sure that Evan is the sort of person who Googles himself frequently, and with a name like that he only gets about 80 hits-- so I will refrain from mentioning any of his less, uh, endearing habits. Suffice to say, the nights I spent working in the dark at my computer while Evan fell asleep to C-Span are forever etched into my memory, and I was very glad to hear that he is now working at WCBS, which he described to Alison as "New York's flagship radio station".

--

Now, what artery-clogging food should I have for lunch today? Pizza, or fish and chips?

December 27, 2005

We're Ready For You, Ms. Dion

It would actually be a lot easier to write this blog if nobody read it. I can't bitch about my day without potentially offending people, I can't go into personal detail about my life without potentially offending people and/or embarrassing myself, I can't attack half-ton men without offending people... Hell, I can't even really complain about potentially offending people without potentially offending people, though I can't stress enough that this is not a jab directed at any person in particular-- I'm just feeling generally frustrated because I can't come up with anything to write about.

At least such rigourous self-censorship acts as a sieve to catch all the boring personal detritus that nobody really wants to read about, anyway. I mean, I know it would make ME feel better to bitch about my day, but it probably wouldn't be that interesting.

It's been almost two weeks since Alison and I broke up, though considering we were 'on a break' (*shudder*, I wish there was a less Friends-ish way to say that) for another two weeks before that, it's actually closer to a month that we've been apart-- which is pretty hard to believe. Under normal circumstances if I had gone a month with this little contact with her, I would be a complete mess, and the fact that I am only a partial mess is a testament only to how supportive and wonderful my friends and family have been. Also, a testament to the curative power of alcohol, to wit:



More, hopefully, in the next few days.

December 25, 2005

Ho Ho Ho!

Merry Christmas, one and all. Your gift, such as it is, is a greatly re-vamped Conversations With Greatness microsite, now with stylish CSS action, guest star bios, downloads, and more!

This doesn't make me any less cool, right?

December 23, 2005

Conversations With Greatness LIX

December 21, 2005

Oh, Beeb, You're So "Impartial"

I'm sure these quotation marks are not supposed to sound mean and sarcastic, but boy, do they!



Thanks to everybody who sent me warm birthday wishes, despite my petulance. You're all wonderful. (Though, Mariana, Edinburgh isn't actually the city of my birth, only my childhood. By birth I'm a dirty Sassenach.)

I saw five hours of daylight today.

December 20, 2005

We Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming...

Ahem.

Sorry for that little outburst before. I was just having a fairly black moment-- pulling an all-nighter only to find yourself in Heathrow will do that to you.

Anyway, let's just chalk it up to exhaustion and pretend it never happened, shall we? There's a good reader.

More when I'm actually awake. Hopefully my habitual, jetlag-induced sleepwalking won't lead to anything as sordid as this. I mean, my God, is that actually possible?

Happy Freakin' Birthday

Gosh, I should really do this post-emotional-trauma, day-of-birthday, transatlantic travel thing more often. It's super fun.

A few highlights:

1. The steward distributing drinks along with the meal service walked all the way up the cabin asking everyone "Would you like something to drink?", got to me, looked me up and down, and said "Can I get you a glass of wine?" Wow, thanks, do I really look that bad?

2. The arm of my seat was devoid of a headphone jack-- and I mean, like, seriously fucking devoid of a headphone jack, as in there was just a giant gaping hole where there should have been a pile of electronics-- so I didn't get to listen to either of the inflight movies (though I did watch adoringly as George Clooney swanned around in Ocean's Eleven).

3. Not a single one of the gazillion airline employees who has examined my passport has wished me a happy birthday! I mean, dammit, is that too much to ask?

4. In addition to my usual, crampy flight legs, I also have a massively stiff neck from having to look out the window (into complete darkness, I might add) for an hour or two so that the person sitting next to me wouldn't see me trying not to cry.

5. Say, if this is the largest airport in the world, why the Goddamn hell isn't there more to do here? Three and a half hours is a long time to spend blogging, even by my standards. I am so bored I want to Heathrow up. Ha!

I'm sorry, I know I'm swearing a lot, and I do hate to complain about my personal life (it's a British thing), but fuck it all to hell, it's my birthday, and it's been pretty shitty so far, and I will bitch and moan if I damn well want to.

On the bright side, I did get a very nice and unexpected email from my cousin Eric in Australia, and bought myself a delicious Ploughmans sandwich (to celebrate being back in a country where people know what a Ploughmans sandwich is). Now, if I can just get myself through the next few hours, I can drink as much of my dad's espresso and my mum's wine as is necessary to make me feel awake and happy for the rest of the day.

December 16, 2005

Conversations With Greatness LVIII



My God, this comic strip makes me the happiest I've been in a few months.

December 15, 2005

Lock Up Your Daughters

A propos of my recent mention of The Unfinished Revolution, I thought I would share with you what I found to be one of the funniest passages I've read in an academic book in a long time.

The author is discussing the radical wing of the gay rights movement in Britain in the 1970s:

"The London [Gay Liberation Front] went so far as to design buttons which proclaimed 'Gay Power', 'Avenge Oscar Wilde', 'Lesbians Ignite', and 'How Dare You Presume That I Am A Heterosexual'."

Okay, 'Gay Power' is fair enough, and even 'Avenge Oscar Wilde' is understandable, I suppose, in a British context (though it is a pretty surreal call to arms). But 'Lesbians Ignite'?! What the hell? That doesn't sound very progressive at all!

My favourite, though, is the last, if only because it is the most quintessentially British protest slogan I have ever heard, and it makes me so happy that people actually wore buttons that said that, and thought they were being radical. "Oh, uh, yes, well, do you think you might, er, you know, if it's not too much trouble, put ever so slightly more thought into, ah, the way you treat, well, homosexuals, possibly?" It's like Martin Luther King Jr meets Martin Clunes.

--

On Wednesday afternoon, Alison and I mutually and very amicably decided to end our relationship. I don't want to say any more than that about the actual details. It feels very, very strange, suffice to say, to suddenly be single after four and a half years, and I'm aching a little at the things I know I've lost. But things change, and nobody can help that, and deep down, I know that everything will be okay. Which sounds a little trite, yes, but after this long how could I feel any other way?

Now, can anybody tell me what's changed in the dating game since I was seventeen? Are girls still impressed when you can buy booze without being asked for ID? (Were they ever?) Does a movie and a lift home from your parents still count as a good date? IS NIRVANA STILL COOL?!?!?!?!

Lesbians, Ignite!

December 14, 2005

Kazakh Attack

As a culturally sensitive and politically correct kind of guy, I obviously find the following story appalling. But as a jerk, I think it's pretty damn funny:

The government of Kazakhstan, which has frequently expressed distaste at Sacha Baron Cohen (aka. Ali G)'s fairly racist portrayal of Kazakh culture, has suspended the domain name www.borat.kz, which Cohen had been using as a homepage for his recurring 'Kazakh' character, Borat.

'Borat' responded to the action by saying (quote): "I have no connection to Mr. Cohen and fully support my government's position to sue this Jew. Please, captain of industry, I invite you to come to Kasakhstan, where he have incredible natural resources, hard working labour and some of the cleanest prostitutes in all of Central Asia."

Hey, has anyone noticed how much I've been posting lately? Don't you love the end of term lull in work?

Ambassadork

From the International Herald Tribune: Stop criticizing U.S., Canadians are told

US Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins unleashed a thinly-veiled attack on Prime Minister Paul Martin yesterday, criticising a pervasive atmosphere of America-bashing in the Canadian government.

During his fiery speech, Wilkins remarked:

"Just think about this. What if one of your best friends criticized you directly and incorrectly, almost relentlessly? What if that friend's agenda was to highlight your perceived flaws while avoiding mentioning your successes? What if that friend demanded respect, but offered little in return?'"

Breaking into angry tears, Wilkins concluded: "Well, then obviously that 'friend' has been spending too much time with my WIFE, and I HATE THEM BOTH!"

Seriously, though, when did the US Ambassador to Canada turn into a bitchy, passive-agressive, twelve-year-old girl?

Actually, don't answer that.

December 13, 2005

Things I Love About My Toronto Family

There are still adolescent boys living at home, here, which means I get to engage in the sort of sub-witty banter that I secretly love but am too 'mature' to do with my friends. Example:

[15-year-old cousin] Mike: Don't worry, mom, I already did my math homework.
Me: Yeah, but did you do your GAY homework, Mike?
Mike: Um, no, did you do your SHUT UP homework?

I also get to drive my aunt's SUV from time to time, during which I always entertain myself by singing the 'Canyonero' song ad nauseam.

Sigh. Life is so much simpler when you're mentally thirteen.

Woman Makes Joke

From Netscape Celebrity:

"[Diane] Keaton, 59, appeared on the 'Ellen DeGeneres Show,' where . . . she drew a gasp from the studio audience when she announced, 'I am dating [Keanu Reeves]. We're going to get married.'

. . . But she later admitted, 'No, I'm not with him, of course not.' "


That was the entire story. Diane Keaton said something, then took it back. How is that "news"?! I brought myself one step closer to carpal tunnel syndrome by clicking on that link, and for what? Nothing! Not a single piece of real information about anyone, except that somebody made a lame joke.

Marshall McLuhan was SO on the money.

December 12, 2005

Butter Nut

I went to see Good Night, and Good Luck with my cousin today. The story was both fascinating and moving, but the cinema-fied elements seemed so limp and tacked on, I think I would rather have just watched a documentary about it. Of course, then we wouldn't have been able to gaze upon George Clooney's lovely visage, so maybe it's just as well.

Anyway, I had a point.

I bought some popcorn and, as I did so, the girl behind the counter asked: "Would you like any Bay Cell Top Pyongyang That?"

"I'm sorry, what?"

I got it the second time: "Would you like any Becel topping on that?"

Why do they think that the greasy goop they're about to slather all over your popcorn will sound more appealing when they specify that it is not, in fact, butter? They may as well ask if I'd like any butter-like chemical by-product on my food. Ick.

I'm not getting nearly as much work done here I was hoping, and though I am thoroughly enjoying my family's company, would furthermore really just like to get back to Montreal. My bed there is more comfortable and I have many productive things I could be doing while tipsy and procrastinating. Oh well.

December 10, 2005

Geektalk

I just learnt on Thursday night that apparently my blog has been doing all kinds of sneaky, nefarious things, like installing spyware and making pop-ups. I think I've fixed it, but do let me know if it keeps happening.

December 09, 2005

Conversations With Greatness LVII



This afternoon, to Toronto! (Where, at my request, my uncle has 'embalming fluids' ready.)

December 08, 2005

Department of Wah-wah-wahing

I was scouting MSN.com for blog material this morning, and the headline, "You think you've got it bad? Try being rich!" seemed fairly likely to yield pay dirt. Boy, did it ever!

So, from MSN Money: It Hurts To Be Rich

"So, you think things are tough for middle-income workers and the poor?"

Those whiny bastards? You must be joking.

Well, apparently, the "plight" of the affluent is even worse: the 'CLEW Index' (or 'Cost of Living Extremely Well Index') has risen an alarming 4% this year, more than the 3.6% increase in the normal Consumer Price Index. Basically, this means that Loaded McRicherson will have to pay a shocking $1,559 for a case of Dom Perignon, this year (as opposed to the much more reasonable $1,444 he had to pay last year).

But guess what? This is all very good news! See, the economy is guided by what we in the know call 'the invisible law of supply and demand hands', which makes sure that everything works out perfectly all the time, as long as nobody does anything to help poor people.

This means that, if the price of luxury goods is going up, there must be more demand for them! Ipso facto, there must be more rich people around, and the "empty-glass brigade" is just full of small-violin shit.

Never mind that an increase in rich people does not, ceteris paribus, mean that there is a corresponding decrease in poor people. In fact, quite the opposite: that extra money has to be coming from somewhere, and it sure ain't the Hamptons.

But not according to syndicated columnist Scott Burns! Quoth his article:

"As long as luxury goods are inflating faster than the regular stuff, the economy is cooking. There is a good chance that just about everyone is doing OK."

Are you SHITTING me?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?! If you're reading this, Scott Burns, I hope you choke on your caviar and turn as blue as your imported silk tie.

God, what is wrong with the world?

December 06, 2005

He'll Bush For a Conviction

From Netscape News:

It was revealed last week that President Bush was summoned for jury duty in his home state of Texas, but has asked that he be allowed to postpone the duty to a later date.

Apparently, the summons was sent to Bush's ranch in mid-November, but nobody thought to check the mail down there.

"When we learned about it, I think through media reports, we did reach out to the court to find out about this jury summons," said Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary. "Also," he added, "The homeless guy who's always out on Constitution Avenue was talking to one of the interns on his way into work this morning, and he said something like, I don't know, there's a war, I guess, going on in the Middle East somewhere. We're looking into it."

McClellan emphasised that, despite having asked to reschedule, the President does very much want to be on a jury, explaining: "He really enjoyed that movie with John Cusack."

December 03, 2005

He Was A Muppet, Right?

I went to Bifteck with some of the cool cats from the Sociology Students' Association last night, and had the following, thoroughly bizarre conversation with Aziza, the SSA president, after a guy stopped to say hello to us:

Her: What's his name, again?
Me: Richie.
Her: Richie?
Me: Yeah, you know, as in 'Richie Cunningham'.
Her: [blank look] Who's Richie Cunningham?
Me: From Happy Days.
Her: [blank look] What's Happy Days?
Me: [rub eyes with amazement] You don't know what Happy Days is?
Her: No.
Me: The Fonz? Have you heard of the Fonz?
Her: The who?
Me: [jaw drops] The Fonz? Fonzie?! You don't know who Fonzie is?!?!
Her: [getting slightly scared now] Um.... no?
Me: Come on... 'Heeeeey!' [pointing fingers at her and winking]
Her: [shrugs shoulders] Sorry. No idea.
Me: [world crumbles]

My mind is still reeling.

December 02, 2005

Conversations With Greatness LVI



Guh! Now they're getting Europeans to play Japanese roles!

December 01, 2005

Grammariantics

Apparently Microsoft Word's grammar checker does more than check grammar these days; it offers opinions on socio-economic issues, too!

Driving People Insane

I just read a mind-bogglingly irritating and long article (like, almost 3000 words long) on one man's epic quest to beat a $77 speeding ticket.

Now, gosh, I do hate to generalise and I do hate to rant about stupid people (especially the litigious ones), but Jesus, Mary and Joseph, this is ridiculous.

Let's do the math here:

Cost of ticket = $77
Cost of fighting ticket =

One book, Beat The Cops (sounds violent), by Alex Carroll, $14.95;

Several other, unnamed books, dealing with contesting traffic tickets, $30 (conservative estimate);

Home-made diagram of area where speeding occurred to show to judge, $4 (estimate for poster board and other materials);

Wages/productivity lost while attending traffic court, $230 (based on 1/365th of median salary for website editor, $84,157);

"Coat and tie" worn to impress judge, $60 (estimate; defendant presumably needed to buy these new, given that people who work for websites are usually not overly burdened with formalwear);

For a total cost of $338.95.

Net loss to invidivual = $261.95

Net loss to state (for having to run traffic court for litigious jerks with nothing better to do with their time) = difficult to estimate, but at least the $77 that Captain Tightwad wouldn't pay after going 15mph over the speed limit.

Net gain in moral superiority for individual = 0 (because, man, you didn't have to be such a douchebag about it.)

I also continue to laugh heartily every time I read the closing paragraph of the article:

"Clearly, if everyone went to traffic court, the system would become overburdened and collapse. So, if you feel your ticket was unwarranted, ask for your day in court."

I can't tell if he's a moron who actually thinks cops will stop giving speeding tickets if enough people go to traffic court, if he's a moron who thinks that causing the system to collapse would have no ill-effects whatsoever, or if he's a moron who just plain doesn't realise that he's suggesting trying to bring down the system.