Archive for February, 2004

Google Boondoggle and Meeting the Parents

Tuesday, February 24th, 2004

Evidently Google has started smoking crack. The ranks for a lot of my clients appear to be based on CrackRank™ technology, whereby the #1 position is determined by a blindfolded monkey who has been spun around several times in the dark.

Friday night I met Natalie’s family for a big steak dinner at their place. They’re a fun bunch. Just as friendly and offbeat and smart and talented as she is, which only makes sense I suppose. The food was fantastic and afterward we adjourned to the living room for music and relaxation. Apparently everyone in the family plays an instrument – Natalie played some piano, her mom played as well, along with Natalie’s brother James on soprano sax. Maybe I’ve not been to enough homes, but I feel like this sort of familial merriment just doesn’t happen much anymore.

And her dad gave me Costa Rican beer. In fact I don’t recall any non-specialty beer in their fridge. Which is really nice.

Hot Topic, Spam Poetry, and Summit Mall

Wednesday, February 18th, 2004

Lots of little things today. First among them – new plog.

Second, Simon Properties is giving up on the Summit Mall concept. For 15 years they’ve been wanting to develop a huge new mall in West Little Rock despite traffic concerns (they wanted an exit on a bypass, but the point of having a bypass is that pass by something, not be used as an arterial), and protest from citizens (particularly those around the University corridor that houses Park Plaza Mall and University Mall, both of which would die horrible deaths in Summit’s wake, no to mention the fact that we’ve got plenty of malls already around here). I myself spent some time working with the Little Rock New Party to raise peoples’ awareness of the thing – putting out petitions and flyers and such. So this news is an incredible sigh of relief for a lot of people.

Third, remember when I mentioned the random-word spams I’ve been getting? Well now the spammers have already progressed into random sentences. It’s almost becoming a form of artificial intelligence. Here’s a sample work entitled “drunk soccer moms”:

Any soft silver boots is on fire.
Any given well-crafted sloppy pencil arrives.
A given red balloon stares.
The beautiful camera lies the time that their white small bed is angry.
A beautiful silver round bottle walks.
Mine fancy book fidgeting.
Any given round purple bottle smiles.
Our children silver computer calculates.
Their silver clock adheres however, the silver smart green round-shaped printer stares.
Their well-crafted balloon prepare for fight as soon as his brothers noisy green paper smells.
Her daughters golden ram adheres.
A given round-shaped book lies.
Mine well-crafted mobile phone lies.
A expensive clock prepare for fight.
Any red hairy under wares calms-down and still any
given beautiful gun smiles.

This was preceded by a link to what I can only assume was pornography. Soccer-moms.biz, for those who dare.

Sixth and lastly, I went to Hot Topic in the mall recently. That store continues to bend my perceptions and blur the line between kitschy irony and legitimate nostalgia. I don’t know if their funky 80′s t-shirts are intended to be statements of irony to be laughed at or part of some actual reverence for things past. Possibly both? Ironic yet sincere? Is that possible? This paradox is further compounded by the fact that the store seems to position itself as the anti-conformity conformity store.

I went there to get a Yo! MTV Raps shirt, but it only came in red, so I bought a Homer Simpson/Mr. Sparkle shirt instead. If you haven’t seen the Simpsons Mr. Sparkle episode, you haven’t lived.

I also went to Sam Goody and bought another big $50 CD shelf. Finally I have room for all my crap!

Wolfowitz: "Not a reason to put lives at risk"

Monday, February 16th, 2004

I like Dennis Miller’s new show (which, weirdly, seems to not exist over at MSNBC’s website). Miller has turned into a cranky old bastard who almost makes Andy Rooney look like Al Roker, but he did have Scott Ritter on last week, and Scott mentioned this passage, so I dug it up. Very enlightening stuff to anyone whosays the reasons for this war were based on human rights:

“There have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people…The third one by itself is a reason to help the Iraqis but it’s not a reason to put American kids’ lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did it.”

Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense
Vanity Fair, 5-15-2003

Naturally he said that before the first two reasons were all but shot down for lack of evidence. Now they openly admit there was no terrorist connection. Now that WMD and terrorist links have been disproven, the administration are betting everything on the human rights angle. With all the bad intelligence that went on in the first two angles, I have to wonder — is this administration horribly corrupt, or just horribly inept? And which is worse?

And if the argument for war is still human rights violations, then I have to ask what makes Hussein any different than these guys – because it sure isn’t WMD:

  1. Kim Jong Il — North Korea (in power since 1994)
  2. King Fahd & Crown Prince Abdullah — Saudi Arabia (in power since 1982 & 1995, respectively)
  3. Than Shwe — Burma (in power since 1992)
  4. Teodoro Obiang Nguema — Equatorial Guinea (in power since 1979).
  5. Saparmurad Niyazov — Turkmenistan (in power since 1990)
  6. Muammar al-Qaddafi — Libya (in power since 1969)
  7. Fidel Castro — Cuba (in power since 1959)
  8. Alexander Lukashenko — Belarus (in power since 1994)

That list was pulled from Parade magazine’s list of the top worst dictators, as compiled by human rights organizations. Of course there are others: Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Omar Bongo El Haj of Gabon, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela…

You’ve Got Bombs, Baby

Tuesday, February 10th, 2004

Looks like the Google bomb battle rages ever onward. Luckily, now that it is long since past its 15 minutes of fame, the term “miserable failure” now belongs to Michael Moore in Google. So just for kicks, I’ll do my part to restore that Bomb to its rightful owner, George W. Bush. Speaking of Dubya, this is a great analysis of his mindset.

Reflections on Frank Zappa

Saturday, February 7th, 2004

Sometimes there are signs that life is improving, even in the face of long-lost tragedy. I’m speaking of course of the fact that, on the 10th anniversary of his death, Frank Zappa is on the cover of two major magazines. Mojo (UK, natch) and Downbeat both recently featured Frank on the cover of their magazines. God bless them. People need to be reminded of who Frank was.

Frank Zappa could have had no other name. “Frank” is a synonym for “honest,” and there is no other more honest musician in the history of popular music to my mind. Everything Frank did was unique, creative, and honest to who he was. He was incapable of inauthenticity. Of the many stories Steve Vai likes to tell of Frank, I have two favorites. The first was about a time when Steve was working as Frank’s transcriptionist and was working on a piece that could’ve been written in either 2/4 or 4/4 time. Publishing rates being dependent upon the number of bar lines, Steve asked Frank if he wanted to call it at 2/4 to make some extra bank. Frank said “do it the way it needs to be done. I don’t need to make money like that.” The second story was in the early 80′s when Frank was working in his studio and his secretary told him Rolling Stone magazine was on the phone and they wanted to put him on the cover. Frank said, “why should I help them sell magazines? Tell them no.”

What’s cooler than being on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine? Turning it down.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Frank, printed in the January issue of Mojo:

“Artistic and cultural taste in the US is dictated by a 13-year old named Debbie from a God-fearing, government-trusting family of white folk from the suburbs. As a result, any artist serious about their work might well pass around a jug of cyanide-spiked Kool-Aid, like they did at Jonestown, and kiss their art goodbye.”

We still miss you, Frank.

"Video Hits" No More

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2004

I’ve recently noticed that VH-1 has gone the MTV route: no videos, all programming. The VH-1 format now appears to be entirely pop culture/nostalgia shows. Mostly I see “I love the 80′s,” and now I see they even have a show that treats last week like it was nostalgia, “The Best Week Ever.” It has the same format as “I Love the 80′s,” which involves B-list and C-list celebrities reading scripted commentary about stuff. To quote Max from Kicking and Screaming:

“I’m nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday. I’ve begun reminiscing events before they even occur. I’m reminiscing this right now.”

I’ve just discovered that this is called nanonostalgia. So evidently that is what VH-1 is trading in with “The Best Week Ever.”

I think I’m finally coming out my weird illness. Hopefully it will be gone tomorrow. I was worried that I might have to actually see a doctor. Which means I’d have to find a doctor. Which I should probably do anyway because I haven’t had a checkup in a very long time. Which means I probably have a brain tumor or something. I stayed inactive for the entire weekend. Saturday was OK; Natalie and I had a nice lazy day – she brought me food and meds and we watched “Better Off Dead” and listened to music. Sunday I did even less. I did manage to make it to the laundromat, though, if only for a few loads.

Meanwhile the rest of the US was, in their heart of hearts, actually deeply excited by Janet Jackson’s exposed breast. The more hue and cry raised, the more turned on people were and didn’t want to admit it. I’ve found that the more offended people are, the more insecure they are in their own feelings. Personally, I found Mike Ditka’s commercial discussing his erection to be far, far, far more disgraceful and disgusting. I also noticed that there were not one, but two companies hawking erectile dysfunction medication. This speaks volumes about the target market of the Super Bowl to me.