Archive for January, 2010

“If You’d Have Told Me Ten Years Ago…”

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Kottke.org has the most comprehensive list of the 2000s in review, but maybe the best way to take stock of the last ten years is to think of the list of unlikely things that have happened. To get started, I Googled the phrase “if you’d have told me ten years ago” and came up with some seriously hilarious results. Try it for yourself (be sure to use variations like “10” or “you would“).

As a side note, this great segment of Robin Williams’s recent HBO special also makes for a nice collection of unlikely recent history.

Here are just a few off the top of my head.

If you’d have told me ten years ago that…

…suicide hijackers would destroy the World Trade Center…
…we’d elect a black guy for President…
…we’d start two land wars in Asia, and still be in them as of 2010…
…we’d be debating the intricacies of what “torture” means in sneakier ways than we did the word “is” back in the Clinton era.
…Americans would be obsessed with vampire romance novels…
…Americans would be obsessed with “voting” for “musical talent” on a TV show…
…I’d be able to watch on the web just about any music video ever made…
…I’d be able to see any part of the world from the sky…
…I’d be able to get directions to anywhere in the US at the push of a button…
…I’d be watching TV on a hard drive cable box…
…I’d be renting DVDs by mail…
…I’d be able to fit my entire CD collection in the palm of my hand…
…I’d be able to stay in touch with old friends every day, no matter how far away they lived…
…I’d purchase a brand new record player, with a USB port…
…Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of” would top the UK charts during Christmastime…
…the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, and the tallest basketball player is Chinese…
…Jon Stewart would be the cable news man I trust most…

…I’d have said you were crazy.

And last but not least, for myself, the realization that started this whole post:

If you’d have told me ten years ago that I’d be living in New York City, working on the 43rd floor of the American Express building in Lower Manhattan, I’d have said you were crazy.

Holiday Recap

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I haven’t done a recap in a long time because I haven’t had an intensely active series of days to chronicle. But the last few weeks have kept me busy. Here are the details with photo links:

Did I mention my roommate got a cat? Her name is Lola and she’s an affectionate former streetwalker who is finally gaining some weight.

Before Christmas I went to Macy’s. That was a mistake. I also braved our first blizzard to see the tree at Rockefeller Center. The snow continued to pile up while I was at Aly’s birthday party. Walking home was easier on the street than on the sidewalk. Getting into my apartment was tricky.

The snow also delayed Tara’s visit by a day, but she arrived just in time to catch the latter half of my friend Matt’s cookie competition at Bell House. We did Central Park in the snow, including skating at Wollman Rink. We took tons of pictures of the window displays on 5th Avenue but there are so many that I’m going to upload them later as a batch. We saw a 20′s/30′s swing band featuring a brilliant 85-year old clarinetist. The guy at the table next to us told us to check out a speakeasy on St. Mark’s. You go into a phone booth at a hot dog joint and pick up the receiver. The wall opens and the hostess asks if you have a reservation. Best bourbon and tater tots ever.

We returned to Arkansas on Wednesday the 23rd. Katherine and I had the same idea to have breakfast at Waffle House, where she pointed out to me the presence of reclusive author Charles Portis. Mom wanted me to come up to Harrison a little early to lend a hand, so I had a nice rainy drive through the Ozarks.

Christmas was delightful. I convinced my parents and brother to go in with me on a Hello Kitty electric guitar for my niece. My brother got his daughter Band Hero, much to the consternation of my stepmom’s dog. My sister got me the Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 collection, so that made me stupidly happy. I thought that I had ordered Firefly for my brother, but apparently I failed to do so, necessitating me driving all over Little Rock in the days after Christmas. Luckily I found a copy on sale at Barnes & Noble for much lower then their usual prices.

I knew I’d need more time to catch up with Little Rock friends, so I moved my flight back two days. I feverishly scheduled meetups with more than 13 people, and saw a few more down at The Big Cats show at Whitewater Tavern. And, sadly, for as many people as I saw, I didn’t think to take pictures of any of them except Heather. I did, however, take a picture of my friend Richard’s insane guitar collection. Just to show you that there’s always someone crazier than me.

My flight into NYC from Cincinnati was delayed a few hours, but I managed to make it to Aly’s New Year’s Eve party. Amy and I spent New Year’s Day in our pajamas watching the special Dharma Orientation edition of LOST season 5. I bought it at Best Buy, but if you buy it from that link to Amazon, it’s $20 cheaper. And I might get a nickel or two since I signed up as an Amazon associate.

That’s about it. This weekend I’m off to Austin to see a special screening of The Monster Squad. A rash, hasty decision, to be sure, and given this weekend’s forecast, one I’m sure I’ll regret.

The True Nature of Evil

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

“To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good . . . Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes, so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race, and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations.”
— Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago.