7.27.2006

Downsizing

I believe that I will be moving all my postings to LiveJournal. I've been double posting, but there's no sense in keeping it up. Anyway, it's the same ol' Debaclypse, just not spread so thin.

Please click...
http://debaclypsenow.livejournal.com/

Adbominations

You can't ever go wrong with excretions and emissions, can you? I mean, you're bound to get a laugh from someone. Be it a dog peeing on someone's leg or some spirited farting around the campfire, it all works for someone. It's because those things are impure and dirty and a little taboo and that's good enough for most twelve year-old boys and Freud.

When I was twelve, and this shouldn't surprise you, I had a hard time relating to the humor of my peers sometimes. I had already begun to relish Lenny Bruce and George Carlin and I'd probably read Woody Allen's Side Effects about five times. I don't say this to show I was precocious, but to demonstrate that generally I was pretty inept at being a kid. I did not always play well with a demographic for which "Your epidermis is showing" is the gold standard of high brow. There is one particular afternoon, however, which I remember quite clearly and to the contrary.

A friend of mine and I had decided that modern English, replete though it is with language both clinical and flowery for individual bodily functions, needed more exacting terminology for combined, simultaneous emissions. The game then became to pack as many references to as many functions as possible into a single, compact term. The resulting neologism? "Farburdivomshiss." Please parse it at your leisure.

GI Joe didn't have shiss on Lenny

It's not a pretty word - it's pretty stupid - but we thought it was freakin' hysterical. And, to be fair to us, it is functional and rolls off the tongue once you get used to it. I still love this kind of wordplay, making up words to unite ideas, though not necessarily ones having to do with, say, a sextet of corporeal seepages. For instance, referencing someone who has one parent in the Tribe and one who is a gentile as a "Jewlatto" is one of my current favorites. It's descriptive and a partial pun. Very tidy. But that's neither here nor there. We must move on to Mars.

* * * * *

TBWA/Chiat/Day is no slouch in the ad world. They've got accounts with the likes of Apple and adidas (whose +10 ads for the World Cup were pretty damn good in my book). TBWA has done the unbelievably successful Absolut Vodka ads for almost two decades, leading to a reported 14900% increase in sales. They also do Skittles, which I find super-annoying, but I like to think that there are thousands of homophobes out there who won't touch a Skittle because they think "Taste the Rainbow" is slang for some unholy man-on-man act. These ads are all well and good, but I am not the first blogger to point out that their current street ads for Mars Candy are shit.
You've seen them on cabs and buses for Snickers. The Snickers logo with absurdly unwieldy linguistic conjurings such as: Satisfectellent, Substantialicious, and Hungerectomy.

There are two that I don't really have a problem with: "Peanutopolis" and "Nougatocity." These two have a few things going for them: they are clean(er) sounding, they describe the product, and they, somewhat accidentally, identify the product with a place: "-polis" actually meaning city and "-ocity" sounding like city, though the etymology is a false one. You know like San Francisco is identified with Rice-A-Roni or New Orleans with chocolate. The others...horrible.
Doctors are split on whether the hungerectomy
is best performed with local or general anesthesia.


AdRants points out that a Hungerectomy may not be the best approach to woo people to your product. One online medical dictionary defines "-ectomy" as:

"A surgical suffix referring to the removal of something. For example, a lumpectomy is the surgical excision of a lump which may be benign or not, tonsillectomy is the removal of the tonsils, a partial colectomy is removal of part of the colon, an appendectomy is removal of the appendix, etc. From the Greek "ek" (out) + "tome" (a cutting) = a cutting out."

Snack foods and the excising of lumps may work well in theory, but rarely mesh well in practice. A less obvious consequence of this ad might come with a bit of creative parsing, which leaves you with: "Hung. Erect. O My!" Taste the rainbow.


I believe that similar hints of unpleasant medical experiences plague the term "satisfectellent." The "fect" sound elicits too strong an association with "infection" for me. No candy bar of mine should have to be washed down with a spritz or two of Tough Actin' Tinactin.

The last one here, "Substantialicious," is just bad. Sorry. I may want my chocolate rich or velvety, but substantial? Where's the sexy appeal of that? That ranks up there with the time I told an ex-girlfriend that her ass "had personality." No sale.

In the end, my gripe is grapey...and sour. Why don't I get paid to make words up? One can make the argument that I would be if I hadn't been lazy and dropped out of grad school (I studied under an unabashed neologist). Still, to the Mars Candy company I say, next time you want your products to sell like fungal infections or cyst removals, please call me.

7.26.2006

Caliente Off The Presses

(Piracy Warning: This story is totally stolen from skc, but she should know better than to tell me such things)

News outlets are reporting that Thursday night history will me made at Milwaukee's Miller Park. The Brewers, along with Sausage Race sponsor Klement's Sausage Company, will unveil a fifth sausage, the Chorizo, to run in their legendary races. The announcement is also being done to coincide with Cerveceros Day which doesn't really exist, but will be celebrated at the Park during Saturday's game against the Reds. This should be especially well-received by the Mexican community given the connotations that sometimes accompany the term "chorizo." Although Cerveceros Day isn't actually a real holiday and has no actual significance in the Hispanic community, it should work immigration reformists and English Firsters into a xenophobic frenzy nationwide. Expect irrational encased meat boycotts (senseless under any circumstances) to ensue.

The Original Franksta's

Despite the media blitz being given to the announcement, Klement's representatives are being coy and have been stingy with the details:

"Don't bank on anything until you see it live," said Dan Lipke, Klement's senior vice president of sales and marketing. "There are a lot of ways we can go with this."

Asked if the Chorizo would be the newest Racing Sausage, Lipke said, "I'm not laying claim that's what you will find."

There may be, as Mr. Lipke says, "a lot of ways we can go with this" but sources say the actual way of the One True Chorizo will be one "adorned with a mustache and a sombrero and...sport[ing] the traditional colors of green, white and red."

Chorizo and his secret ethnic training regimen.

The Chorizo will join the likes of the Bratwurst, who apparently suffers from the racing sausages' bane - trick ankles, and the Italian, who leads this year with 17 wins, but who enjoyed fame before landing amidst the glitz of Beer City, USA: "He is one of the better known competitors. Much of this acclaim comes from his activities on the Silver Screen where he has been featured in such low budget films as Sausages Are A Butcher's Best Friend and Sausages, Sausages, and More Sausages."

Those unable to be in Milwaukee for the festivities are encouraged to partake in the Racing Sausages Video Game, which is precisely how your boss and mine want people to celebrate diversity in the workplace.

7.25.2006

I'm A Joiner

In honor of my friends' recent engagement, I have taken my own plunge and become ordained. This was a difficult decision which came on the heels of decades of arduous, soul-wrenching reflection. Once I had resolved to dedicate my life to the Lord (or at least to a Church which seeks tax-exempt status in His name), the question was which one.

Catholicism seems pretty with its gold doodads. I've also heard that if you join in the next 48 hours you get the option to buy a time-share in Vatican City for way below market. Still, the era of wholesale canonization ushered in by the late JP II doesn't bode well for their standards vis a vis the Divine. No sluts of sainthood will get their hands on my soul.

Then there's The Church of the Subgenius. They tempted me. A lot. Their prophet smokes a pipe; they sell "gimcracks, gifts & geegaws," and they spoke to me deeply about the true Nature of Love: "Love can crush Hot Wheels. But watch out because Decepticons are bigger than Love and can blow it away." Sadly, the price I would have to pay for my faith was too high ($30!).

And that leaves the good ol' Universal Lifers. Back at my old food service stomping grounds, we had a simple motto: "We hire everyone." I wanted to bring this motto into my spiritual life. The Universal Life Church fought the State of Utah and won. They bring you salvation to your desktop. And they have "no traditional doctrine" that I need to follow like those other demanding Houses of God.

I now can be counted among the many fine souls of my more than 20 million clergy brethren: legendary star of The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia PhenomenonTony Danza, TV host-person guy Jeff Probst, and food ninja Fujisan. So if you're having a crisis of faith, are in need of guidance, or if you just need someone to listen, I'm here. And I'm now holy.

Fellow ULC Reverend, The Honky Tonk Man,
heals the stricken King Kong Bundy with the Rope of Eternal Light

7.24.2006

Le Fou de Riz, C'est Moi

Every little neighborhood eatery has one - the guy about whom the staff can say, "It's the same thing all the time. He comes in here everyday at exactly ten after twelve and orders a Mr. Pibb and a small bowl of capers. I don't understand it, but damn if he ain't our most loyal customer." It's all part of the local flavor. The delicious local flavor of capers and knock-off Dr. Pepper.

Most of the time we never really know what drives these creatures of habit. Perhaps the man of my example requires the sodium of capers and the sugar of Mr. Pibb to maintain his health, youthful good looks, and keen mind. Or, far more likely than that kook hypothesis, perhaps this food and beverage combination reacts uniquely with his saliva to create a pop rocks effect, capers secretly crackling on his tongue much to his delight. While I certainly can't lay claim to such private pleasures as savoring exploding mouth capers while a bemused waitstaff looks on none the wiser, but I am starting to be recognized as something of an odd bird at one particular establishment.

Not that the 53rd St. incarnation of Noodles Etc. has any place putting on airs. It's Pan-Asian at its panniest. They do a serviceable pad see ew, but that's about it. Over the years Noodles Etc. has asserted its Asianness in odd ways. They have an open kitchen, visible from both the cashier area and the street, so that everyone can see that the food is clearly not prepared by anyone of remotely Asian descent. Even more curiously, there used to be this hostess who worked there, a Caucasian of the palest stock, who would speak in stereotypical Asian English while at work, but who had quite standard, American-born pronunciation when not on the clock. Seriously. "Por' flied lice," "He say he want tree pad thai ri' now," "You want chopstick?" the whole nine yards. It was ridiculous.

So, do you think they should be making fun of me when I come in two or three times each week ordering only a small white rice for $.82? I thought so. Nevertheless, they do. They see me coming and smile knowingly. Like I'm one of those crackpot grad students who lives on $3000 a year and has resigned himself to cheerfully consuming plain white rice because this, my 17th year in the Div School, is gonna be the one when I finally get that approval from my committee and am dubbed Rice-eating-nutjob, Ph.D.

The truth is that I eat a lot of those microwave curries, the ones that Patel Bros. sells for $1.79. The rice is accompaniment and not main course. I'm sometimes tempted to tell them this, so that they finally understand, but I'm not sure going there would be fun anymore. I want them to go out drinking on the weekends and tell their friends about "this dude who comes in there and orders nuthin' but rice." I want to be burned clearly enough into their psyches to appear as a non sequitur background character in their dreams, "I was just about to feed my big sister the poisoned cake which I baked for her after all those horrible, tormented years of beating me up and stealing my boyfriends. But then this guy, you know, the Riceman from the restaurant, taps on the window and whispers to me, 'It's a fine October for a swim, dontcha know?' And then it all comes flooding back to me. I remember that time when I was ten and there was this super hot Indian summer, and my sister convinced me to ditch school and go down to the Lake. We swam and ate Italian ices and they tasted better than ever just because we knew everyone else was stuck in school doing grammar and eating cold salisbury steak. And so I didn't feed her the poisoned cake after all." Isn't that sweet? And still they think I'm a bit off. The nerve.

SWAD MICRO CURRY: It's The Crazy Maker!

7.23.2006

An Informal Inquiry Into The Valuation of the Aesthetic, or What The Fuck Did I Spend My Money On This Weekend

Two strong points I do not possess: a good understanding of economics and the ability to understand or judge works of art. From this one might conclude that spending money on art not mass produced for sale at CB2 or a university poster sale may not be wise.

Friday night I attended an opening for a local artist named Quang Hong. I first saw Quang's work when it was on display at Menagerie, the former Belmont Avenue restaurant. At the time, my sophisticated reaction to his work was Spicoli-esque. If I had to describe his work (and I guess it would be helpful), I would use words like surreal, isolated, monstrous, Asian-inspired, darkly funny. That doesn't help. Look at his website.

After walking around, drinking an Old Style, and eating some beef kalbi with my fingers, I teamed up to negotiate a price for two of his paintings. I want art for my apartment, but this was more than a modest-sized impulse purchase.

One painting is called "Tick-O" and is, shockingly, a painting of a tick, or of a vaguely cartoonish tick-like creature. It does not look like The Tick though. The other is called "Venus Pancake" and is of a gaunt woman wearing a long red dress and standing alone in a desolate landscape. I really like this painting, but I fear that it may be too reminiscent of moody teen girl cartoon icon Emily Strange. I may be imagining this resemblance, but I'm pretty sure that by the time I pick the paintings up from the gallery I will have firmly convinced myself that everyone who sees this painting in my apartment (or worse, in my bedroom where I originally thought I'd put it) will suspect that I spend my nights trying to pick up fourteen year olds on Alkaline Trio message boards.

How to know if I didn't get totally ripped off? There's no real resource to compare purchase price histories as you can with artists whose work is up for auction. Maybe the monetary value of a local artist's work has nothing to do with value in the art world at large because no one sees it as a real investment. Maybe the value of Quang's work is purely aesthetic whereas a Picasso derives its value from the anticipation of accrual. In any event, I hope the value of these paintings is not based solely on my ability to use the paintings as collateral to post bond subsequent to my arrest in an Alkaline Trio message board sting.

* * * * *

In a completely different effort of art appreciation, on Saturday I went with some friends to the midnight showing of the 1980 Olivia Newtown John disasterpiece Xanadu. In the interest of fair and balanced discussion, you may peruse the evening's organizer's ode to Xanadu. If you are not interested in this, well, you'll have to blindly adopt my view that this is one horrible flick. Actually, she thinks it's horrible too, but she has an attachment to it born of youthful memory. I do not. My perception of its almost impossible amount of suck is untainted.

Anyway, for those of you who haven't seen this gem I'll give a quick synopsis. Olivia Newton John is a Muse named Kira who befriends and falls for an artist named Sonny Malone. Artist is really a generous term because all Sonny really does is paint copies of album covers for record store displays. Kira is really crappy at musing. She doesn't really inspire him to be a better artist, since Sonny never does have one original artistic creation at any time in the movie. What she does do is help Gene Kelly taint his reputation by encouraging his character, Danny McGuire, to open a rollerskating dance club to recapture the vitality of his youth. Malone and McGuire somehow become partners in this venture even though Malone seems to have a dearth of ideas, experience, credentials, and, most significantly to the business savvy amongst you, capital. At some point, Malone skates through a wall mural to meet Kira's dad, Zeus (yes, that Zeus), who apparently has left his digs on Mount Olympus and has moved into a condo on the set of Tron. And that's pretty much about it.

To keep with the larger theme, what is the value of Xanadu? Well, the movie itself wasn't actually worth the $9.25 charged by the Music Box. Fortunately for me, the vocally disdainful crowd, never shy about letting the characters know how cheesy, poorly dressed, and insipid they were, was totally worth it. In fact, I would estimate that such aggressively ironic enjoyment would be worth at least $13 on the open market. So, the moral of the story is that I am way more confident about estimating the value of the overzealous use of the special effects mixed with abysmal dialogue than I am of creations that I really feel are striking or beautiful.

7.20.2006

The Most Carnivorous Quote I Heard On The Radio On The Way To Work Today

"Birds are good because it's fun to stuff them inside one another and eat them. It's no fun to do that with vegetables"

And with that I return to my lunch of left over chili mac made with Lightlife Smart Chili, (chock full of textured soy protein concentrate!) with a side of mustard greens steamed and sauteed with garlic, ginger and kim chee. My kingdom for a game sausage.

7.19.2006

The Wednesday WTF?

There is no sports team in the world with which I die harder than the New York Islanders. What can I say? They were there for me when I needed them. In a time of early tumult in my life I readily immersed myself in the sport of hockey and the Islanders did not disappoint. From 1980-1983 the Isles won four consecutive Stanley Cups (the oldest and most storied trophy in North American sports just in case you non-believers didn't know), something that no American team had ever done in that most Canucky of games. In fact, they even swept the actual Canucks of Vancouver in the 1982 finals to win the third of their championships.

Rarely do teams stay great forever, but there really should be a limit to the absurdity and humiliation fans are subject to when a team bottoms out. As a good Islanders fan, I think it's safe to say that things really started going bad when the hated rivals, the Rangers, won their first Cup in 54 years in 1994. I was literally distraught to see the fuckin' asshole Rangers toting that Cup around and the gloating of their douche bag fans.

Then the drought came to the Island. Starting with the 1994-95 season, the Islanders began a seven year stretch of not making the playoffs. Let me reiterate this point. The New York Islanders, a team in a league where over half of the teams make the playoffs, could not manage to do it once in seven years. Steaming piles of suck do not appear naturally. They are carefully crafted by ineptitude artisans. Oh, they were dark days.

In the midst of this period of athletic impotence, there was John Spano. Oh, you don't know him? Seriously? He was the white knight on the white horse, the man who was going to buy the team and return it to its former glory. And bought them he did. Trouble was that he didn't actually have the money to pay for the team, but he went through with the purchase anyway. Faux pas! Fleet Bank was not as appreciative as you might think they would be about being conned into lending $80 million to a man with only $2 million in assets. It seems that such predatory lending practices were still only in vogue for banks dealing with minorities looking to live the American Dream. Fleet saw no value on foreclosing on a crappy hockey franchise. In 2000, Spano was sentenced to six years for bank and wire fraud.


Another brilliant move in the 1990s was incorporating the Gorton's Fisherman into their logo. The marketing machine was really purring in those days.

Then there was the farce of the Isles' home. Once the toughest, rockin'est arena in the NHL to play in, the Nassau Coliseum had become decrepit. The Islanders even sued the Coliseum's management company and were restrained by a New York State Supreme Court Judge from playing at the Coliseum because an engineering report on the scoreboard's hoist system declared it unsafe. You see, there was some danger that it could come crashing down which conflicted with players' desire to not be crushed to death during a line change. Whiny, spoiled professional athletes. In any event, the sparse crowds and falling scoreboard hazards (even after the restraining order was lifted) caused a new moniker to stick once and for all. The Islanders home was known as the Nassau Mausoleum.

Hope did flicker though. Things were looking up when the team was bought by Computer Associates moguls Sanjay Kumar and Charles Wang. Of course, Kumar pled guilty for securities fraud and obstruction of justice in 2004 and Wang yesterday secured his position as heir apparent to George Steinbrenner as professional sports' meddling kook owner extraordinaire.

What's the opposite of a moment of clarity? A moment of delusion? A moment of opacity? A bout of catastrophic clusterfuckery? In a moment of catastrophic clusterfuckery, owner Charles Wang decided to fire the experienced General Manager Neil Smith (the guy who built the NY Rangers Cup winning team of 1994 incidentally) whom he hired six weeks ago. Smith's replacement? The back-up goalie.I'm sorry. What?

Yes, Garth Snow (pictured below, apparently at a management training seminar) has gone from being a scrub (albeit an able scrub) on one of last decade's worst teams, to being its general manager, in control of player personnel decisions, wheeling, dealing, and bringing the team back to prominence. Wikipedia is already calling yesterday "Black Tuesday." (Actually since first writing this, the "Black Tuesday" reference has been taken down.) Ah shit, what do I want from an owner who once sent scouts to Japan to consider sumo wrestlers to play goalie? Any man who doesn't understand the tenuous, but simple relationship between the ankles of the obese and ice skates, can't really have much expected of him.















New GM Garth Snow Orchestrates His First Deal As GM With "The Ice Girls": Swapping spit for a fourth round draft pick and a position to be named later.

7.17.2006

Oh Good, Israel Problem Solved

Kudos to the Washington Post for resisting the urge to write "[expletive deleted]":

During a lunch with other leaders at the Group of Eight summit on Monday, Bush was caught on a live microphone talking in tough, occasionally profane terms with British Prime Minister Tony Blair about the latest conflict in the Middle East. Bush criticized the position taken by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, and said he would soon send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region.

"What they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over," Bush says with his mouth full as he buttered a piece of bread.

"Who, Syria?" asked Blair, standing next to the seated Bush.

"Right," Bush said. Within an hour, the remarks were broadcast on television stations, radio stations and websites around the world."

7.14.2006

I'm Chosen; I'm Chosen Not

(I submit this to the reading public as an installment in an unofficial series of rants undertaken by a number of friends: 1, 2)

This is obviously prompted by the hellish escalation in violence in Lebanon and Northern Israel. I hate discussing Israel. Loathe it even. It's frustrating, migraine-inducing, and utterly untenable.

I hate it first and foremost because, as a Jew, I feel like I was willfully deceived about what Israel is and where it came from. I'm not sure if it was simply the shortcomings of my personal education or a general habit of propagandizing among the Tribe, but the history I learned was, to be generous, selective. For me, the claim to the Land of Milk and Honey evolved thusly:
  1. God chats up Abraham and they work out a deal.
  2. Everyone hates us for a while. Then they hate us so much that they make us slaves.
  3. Moses shows up and says come this way. He points at the border and dies, probably of guilt from the trouble he has wrought by bringing his people to Israel.
  4. Some temples are built and destroyed.
  5. We end up in Europe somehow. How do we know this? Because there are philosophers writing stuff (I know this less from Hebrew School than from the fact I was born in Maimonides Hospital) and inventing the academic industry of Talmudic scholarship. Plus we were hated some more, but by different people. This is to say nothing of the fact that we're all the ancestors of European immigrants.
  6. Suddenly the Holocaust happens and Jews can go back to Israel.
  7. A lot of people hate us for it, but it is the burden we bare.
Not much talk of who was there before 1948. No mention of how Palestine was the only colony I can think of in which the colonizer relinquished power by giving it to someone totally unrelated to the majority of people who lived there during their occupation. No talk of anything other than it was Right. Of course I realize that no religion is going to undercut something so fundamental and tangible as its followers right to inhabit its Holy Land as ordained by God by casting doubt upon the very claim to said Land. But someone could have. No one did. Maybe it happened in households and social circles which were more Jewish than mine. Maybe families with stronger connections to that land - more than an aunt, uncle, and some distant cousins, families whose kids did their time on a kibbutz or at least made a trip over - faced the fact that more than Jewish blood was shed for that piece of arid real estate. But not a single person I knew addressed or even acknowledged the savage irony of the displacement of Palestinians on the heels of the Holocaust.

This is not to say that Jews don't have the right to be there now. The people who are there now, who built the modern state of Israel, created an infrastructure, farmed the desert, and raised families, certainly do have some right. My gripe, or my initial one anyway, is that educated debates and, more importantly, diplomacy efforts have to acknowledge the historical context that is the conditions of Israel's formation. If any discussion should be stripped of the obfuscations of political correctness, as well as incendiary asymmetrical language of the generally anti-Arab West (a terrorist in some other land is a freedom fighter), it is this one. And don't mistake this for some stereotypical liberal nonsense about empathizing with the terrorist. Anyone who walks into a busy market dressed to the nines in explosives is a fucking murderer. Let them and the cowards who train them to kill burn in Hell. Still, everyone has blood on their hands here and the moral high ground has long since been leveled, so let's be honest about it and acknowledge the ample and well-distributed blame.

Assuming I could live in a world where a complete history of Canaan/Palestine/Israel was taught and a candid, unflinching lexicon for discussion was established, I doubt I could take a position on the issue anyway. The fact is that I don't believe there is a solution that is both just and socially and politically feasible. In my heart, I don't believe it can end. Neither side is going to give in. Both sides have enough funding and political support from across the globe to keep the fight going for far more than my lifetime. I am hard-pressed to fathom a non-apocalyptic resolution. The best I can come up with is a third-party administration which ensures the rights of both sides and gives them both access to the sacred sites through an equitable, but iron-fisted administration of the country. This magical impartial UN-like organization does not exist and, of course, would look too much like the entity that really got the fireworks going in the first place to ever work. No good.

When push comes to shove, I think the biggest problem is that, while I'm reticent to engage people in discussions about Israel, I feel it is my obligation to do so. This is what really kills me. How can anyone be an active and interested participant in the world without addressing this, the epicenter of the unrest in the world? I like discussing politics. It's what citizens of a healthy world should do. There's no way around it. If Americans participated in the marketplace of ideas, I can't see how we wouldn't be better off. I certainly can't see how two George W. Bush presidencies could have happened. So, I feel some ethical obligation to want to engage the subject more.

Finally, there is the nagging sense that my heritage means I should debate the issue and even defend both Israel's methods and America's uncritical support of Israel. Yes, it's not just Jewish parents who use guilt, it is Judaism* itself. With the emergence of groups such as Not In My Name, I don't feel particularly isolated in criticizing Israel and its relation to the Palestinians, but hard line Zionists still play dirty. They insinuate the ghosts of the Holocaust to justify Israel's actions. I think that's part of the dishonesty I felt from when I was younger. I don't recall any Palestinians' names on the design plans for the chambers at Dachau. Stop trying to get wrongs to add up to a Right. Just like that fucktard's "Roadmap" is no substitute for actually hands-on diplomacy, using the methods of your tormentors is no way to rationalize your actions or sway opinion to your side.

*By "Judaism" I am referring to an ethnic category rather than a religious one.

7.13.2006

Honolulu Wrap-Up

My obstructed view seats of the Pacific.

The business trip of my dreams has come and gone and it looks like the actual work we did was more than adequate not to sink my company. Seriously, I'm totally not fired. This is not to say that the team from the client was delighted to see us there (their VP of Sales, who we were working with on-site, was clearly not tickled to see my smiling face every morning at 6:30 am and he did not so much as extend an invitation for a drink for the whole time we were there), but their CEO should find the results of some sort of interest which is something.

I don't mean to disparage the free trip which I have boasted about incessantly, but I think I would have liked Maui or Kauai better. I'm not complaining. Shit, everyone should work like that every now and then. Waikiki is just not my style. It's Hawaii meets Vegas, basically a strip of all hotels and absurdly high-end shops designed to make people feel like their some place that is fancily exotic. Let me just put it this way, I did not see a whole pineapple until the third day when I ventured into Honolulu's Chinatown. It was, however, the greatest pineapple ever to cross my taste buds. Speaking of food, here are some highlights:
  • Kalua Pig Plate at Ono's, a little out-of-the-way place skillfully recommended by my friend Alex, Ph.D. It was moist and wonderful. Initially, when I heard it pronounced I thought this was pig cooked with coffee liqueur, which sounded fine by me. Turns out, "kalua" means"to cook in an underground oven." Also fine by me.
  • Keo's. This was not out of the way. Keo's is a high-end Thai place on the main Waikiki strip, Kuhio Blvd. As far as I can tell, Keo Sananikone is kind of like the Arun Sampanthavivatof Hawaii. Alex, Ph.D. did not recommend this one to me, but it turns out that his brother works there. So, Alex called his brother up and it was suggested that I go for the shrimp and scallop panang. This was damn tasty, but my co-worker got the crispy mahi-mahi with sa-teh sauce. Best peanut sauce ever. It was unreal, a thicker, darker, and more flavorful version of the stuff you get with a skewer of chicken here Chicago. Co-worker also bragged that the lava flow he drank was manna from Heaven's corner tavern.
Nicest men's room flowers ever. (Keo's)
  • Yet another Alex tip was Alan Wong's. Wong has two restaurants in Honolulu, but we chose The Pineapple Room, which, we didn't realize at the time, is inside of Macy's. Macy's colonization of Marshall Field's aside, this seemed like a very bad sign. However, when pineapple-glazed ribs are on the menu, well, evandebacle is in. The ribs were an appetizer, as was an amazing taco with a shell that was a fried won-ton of some sort and that was filled with kalbi (korean-style beef), avocado, chili sour cream, and goat cheese. Then there was more mahi-mahi.
  • Sadly, I went to Cheeseburger (as in "in Paradise") Waikiki twice. So touristy, though their macadamia nut pancakes made for a tasty for breakfast. Plus I got to watch most of the World Cup final there, though not the important part. You know, where balls went in nets and whatnot
  • Even the conference hooked us up with good food. The exhibition hall where I was doing my thing was also the home to the breakfast and lunch buffets. Macadamia nut pound cake with pineapple compote and all the Kona you could drink! Also, while this wasn't the greatest conference for swag, one morning ABM had a exotic fruit cart so people could sample their goods and I got to try dragon fruit, which, in fact, is kinda dragon-y looking.
Dragon fruit. Please no jokes about gay role playing games devotees.

Beyond the food, there was a lot of walking around, looking at water, a nice sunburn (my back is totally hypercolor now), and general seeing of sights. Granted, I never actually entered any places of cultural interest, but I did wander around outside a royal palace here and an old church there.

King Kamehameha

Like any good American, I exhibited only a superficial interest in indigenous culture and history and spent way more time in shopping areas than anywhere else. Unfortunately, in Waikiki and Honolulu there seem to be few outdoor markets designed to give the traveler the illusion of local flavor. Plentiful, though are the designer boutiques. Shopping centers crammed with denser concentrations of high-end stores than I imagined possible. My assumption is that they are able to stay in business because Honolulu is a destination for wealthy Japanese who fly out for shopping excursions. This is only a theory, but is corroborated by the fact that some shops take Yen and the prevalence by wacky Japanese cartoon characters like the one below, chock full o' non sequitur cuteness.

My Humps, Your Humps. Camel Humps. Doggie Humps.

Let me end this by answering a question that was posed to me shortly after I arrived: are the people there hotter than in Brazil? The short answer is no. I've repeated a million times how Sao Paolo was a testament to race mixing. In Hawaii there were plenty of beautiful people, but for some reason it seemed to be more about sex (miscegeny now!). In Hawaii, sexuality, as opposed to beauty, seemed more palpable. Everyone looked like they were anticipating or had just completed the greatest erotic experience of their lives. Maybe I'm projecting my assumption onto them. Could be that everyone just glistened a lot and wore minimal clothing and that bronze skin and bright flowers made for a fetching contrast, not to mention the fact that many people had a wedding and/or honeymoon glow about them. The key thing is that the attractiveness of many of them seemed to be a product of their context. The beauty of the some of the Brazilians was so improbable that you assumed that they could show up at your doorstep after a 72-hour bender which followed directly on the heels of their 24-hour shift at a slaughterhouse and still look stunning. In Waikiki, you had the feeling that the people, while perhaps attractive in their regular lives, fell within the normal range of looks.

But enough of these tropical urges. It's gonna hit 98 degrees this weekend in Chicago after all.

7.12.2006

Returned

Goodbye tropical tourist trap paradise.

Almost full moon, Waikiki, 10 July 2006.

Juvenile Photography Lesson #6: Perspective Makes Things Appear Dirtier Than They Are

Statue in front of the Hawaii Convention Center from the side.


Statue from behind.

As an astute observer said, "That looks like one giant Hawaiian dong." My name is evandebacle and I am supposed to be 31 years old.

7.10.2006

The So-Not-Accidental Tourist

With my time in Hawaii dwindling, I really needed to beef up my tourist cred. Without an aloha shirt or a room at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, my work was cut out for me. In a daring tourist move, I decided to walk around downtown Honolulu toting a pineapple under my arm and a bulge in my shorts that was so clearly my digital camera I was sure to be a mark for muggers, swindlers, and timeshare hawkers. But I strayed. I ended up in the Lyon Arboretum. What had I done? This was so obviously not a tourist attraction. How did I know, you ask? It did not boast being voted "The Most Authentic Luau/Village/Polynesian Cultural Event/Sunset/etc." in Hawaii! I was a rookie, a hack. No seer of sights was I. But then, when all seemed lost, I pulled off a tourist coup. A group of Japanese tourists, clearly skilled in the ancient art of shudderbuggery, appeared. Sensing their aura of prefab experience, I got them to take a picture of me standing under a baobab tree. It was wonderful. I'm certain to get full membership into the Tourists Local 808 now. It was beautiful. As the Japanese man gave me back my camera, seemingly breathing a sigh of relief as his wife returned his own camera to his waiting hand, a tear appeared in my eye. And as I wiped away that tear, I could swear it winked at me and said "Hang loose." Mahalo, little tear. Mahalo.

7.08.2006

Since I'm Sure You Want To Know

Today I:
  • Met with my client and learned I had the day off.
  • Ate Kalua Pig. Succulent.
  • Climbed into the rainforest in the Manoa Valley and saw something billed as Manoa Falls, but could be more accurately described as Manoa Trickle.
  • Learned a valuable lesson about the utility of Converse All-Stars as the hiking shoe of choice in the Manoa Valley.
  • Encountered a woman whose job it is to hold up a sign advertising self-storage while she wore an aloha shirt and army fatigue pants.
  • Swam in ocean.
  • Saw, for the first time, a motorcycle with both a sidecar and handicap license plates.
  • Decided that Polynesians, while they have gorgeous skin, must suffer from a lack of goth culture because of that very attribute.

Service with a spectrum

It only took two minutes out of the airport for me to see a rainbow. I feel like I've died and gone to a romantic comedy.

7.04.2006

Awesome Weekend or Holiday of Mediocrity: You Make The Call!

Rousing Success! I Rule!
  • Went to South Side BBQ where there were dogs to play with, meat to eat, that vaguely homoerotic frat boy cookout game (cornhole) to play, and, oddly considering our Southness, the Cubs/Sox game on the radio, but tuned to the Cubs broadcast. The official explanation was that one-half of the host couple is a Cubs fan, but I suspect that it was the Sox fans who secretly reveled in Ron Santo emoting in tongues whenever bad luck (i.e., AJ Pierzynski) befell the Cubs.
  • Went to vegetarian North Side BBQ where I had delicious Romanian sausage and met some guy who was jealous that I studied with Michael Silverstein. I accept your envy graciously, but seriously dude, your energies are best directed elsewhere.
  • Two words: Rainbow cone.
  • Cooked a panang curry.
  • Watched the awesome Italian victory over Germany while eating someone else's chilaquiles from Arturo's.
  • Listened to politicos try to save the Left. (1, 2)
  • Avoided the Taste of Chicago.
Horrible Failure! A Disgrace to My Family!
  • Only went to two BBQs.
  • Had Cold Stone Creamery for the first time. Great if you want to enhance the hyperactivity disorder(s) of your obnoxious yuppie child; poor place for ice cream.
  • Did not eat a single rib.
  • Bowled poorly.
  • Remember all that stuff I was gonna get done for work? Uh...
  • Failed to do sentimentally American things such as eat a slice of apple pie, kiss a girl beneath the fireworks, or detain an enemy combatant.
  • Tried to befriend a bird. Bird bit me three times, only landed on my head once.
  • Went to see An Inconvenient Truth, but primarily for the air conditioning.

7.02.2006

The Mark of Gore-o

The credits told me to tell all of my friends and family to see this movie. I always follow orders when a screen instructs me to do something.

Last night I took in Al Gore’s flashy new campaign video, An Inconvenient Truth. Viewers be warned: this movie can be confusing if you’re not paying close attention. As the title indicates, the movie focuses on an inconvenient truth, meaning that it is one of several truths in the world which may cause you inconvenience. There are several points in the movie when it appears that the most important of these truths is that George Bush claimed Florida’s electoral votes and became president. In these moments, one can’t help but feel that Al still feels that the Supreme Court’s hiring decision back in 2000 totally inconvenienced him. Such moments do pass; however, and it becomes evident that the primary truth in question is about earthly warmness. Once that truth misunderstanding is out of the way, look out. You are in for 98 minutes of an indefatigable firebrand preaching to choirs the world over, telling rapt sympathetic audiences of the impending cataclysm and how he invented the ecosystem. In fact, when not being presented with tableaux of global warming's destruction, we are met with one unassailable fact: Al Gore lost in 2000 not because of his inability to distinguish himself personally or politically or because Bush stole the election. No, Gore lost because the small screen on which he campaigned and debated was too small to convey his charismatic swashbuckling gravitas. It is no longer a mystery to me why Gore was called the Tyrone Power of Environmental Politics. The only difference between Gore and such chivalrous heroes of the Golden Age of Cinema, is that, instead of a scabbard at his side, Al fights evil with a iBook slideshow.

In all seriousness, once I got past my initial poster peeve* I thought it was a good film, basically a concise lecture from Environmental Apocalypse 101. Trouble is that, like, say, anything with Michael Moore's name at the top, I can't imagine this reaching the audience it needs to. The one thing that gives me a wee bit of hope is that Gore is taking a page from The Book of Rove and trying to undertake some interesting positioning. A number of times in the course of his lecture (and that's basically what this movie is), he refers to climate change as "a moral issue." Now, he unfortunately confounds "moral" and "ethical" which belies the fact that the Conservative strategy of incessant repetition is in the hands of a novice, but he's on the right track.

If real change is going to take place with regard to American consumption and pollution it's going to have to emerge from a realignment of political alliances. One catalyst of that shift has to be the idea that humans are not merely transforming the earth through our actions, but that we are destroying Creation. This is not an original thought by me. I was delighted to read a few months back that Rick Santorum, junior douche bag from the Great State of Pennsylvania, was assailed in absentia by environmental evangelicals at a screening of The Great Warming at Messiah College (sadly not one of the schools I considered for undergrad). Saying that I’m optimistic is a stretch, but it’s at least a flicker of hope.

*Nerdy Gripe Note: Below is the poster for An Inconvenient Truth. I think that the design is extremely effective, but I was confused by one thing.


You'll notice that the hurricane features clockwise circulation. This struck me as odd. Clockwise circulation is the hallmark of low-pressure systems which form in the Southern Hemisphere, as opposed to the counter-clockwise systems in the Northern Hemisphere. Considering that the target audience and the bulk of distribution for the film is in the North, as are the most culpable polluters, why choose a Southern storm? I haven't tried to get this question answered. It's possible that they used the image of an anomalous storm which hit Brazil and has been attributed to global warming. That'd be an acceptable rationale. In any case, I was stopped in my tracks when I first saw this poster's layout, as I'm sure you were too.