Thursday, December 18, 2008

a mercifully unnecessary neologism

In the epic contest between "related videos" on YouTube and "related articles" on Wikipedia to be my most crippling time-suck, "related articles" recently took the lead as I learned all about the War of the Spanish Succession, in particular, how Charles II of Spain was physically disabled, intellectually stunted, and emotionally unstable, and how this probably had something to do with the fact that his grandmother was simultaneously his aunt and he was descended from someone called "Joanna the Mad" in a total of 14 different ways. All of this prompted MS and I to create a new, kinda gross word--grandbrother: n., the male offspring of a marriage between one's child and one's (hopefully step-)parent.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

in which we observe at least three different kinds of dorkery

Mind the gap:
: so this morning, for no raisin, b minor just came to my hand
AB: no raisin!
mikaydee: it just worked
mikaydee: it was weird
AB: congratulations
AB: you just made a leap into the next talent-bracket
mikaydee: level up!
AB: but under barack obama's administration
AB: you're going to have to practice twice as much to stay at this level
mikaydee: XP penalty
mikaydee: for success
AB: correct
AB: it's almost marxist
AB: his leveling-up policy is dangerous
mikaydee: well geez, i don't even want to practice any more
mikaydee: i'm going to just set my guitar on fire right now

Thursday, October 30, 2008

also apropos of the season

MS takes a quantitative approach:
: I think you're the only one I'm asking
MS: right now I have a 100% yes vote
mikaydee: nice. don't screw it up. representative sampling is for jerks and communists
MS: exactly. and I mean really, representative of what?
mikaydee: not people who suck, that's for sure
MS: right on

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

persephone stuck in traffic

One of the very particular things about the place I live now versus the place I used to live is that, where I live now, the weather pretty much never changes (unless you count the daily oscillation between 75-85 in the day and 60-65 at night, which some people, let's call them "wussies from the subtropics," actually do), whereas where I used to live, it might hail on your car the day after you opened your pool. The biggest effect this has on me is the loss of the weather as an omnipresent temporal marker; I used to remember roughly when things happened based on the physical state of the water in the atmosphere: solid, liquid, or horrible vaporous humidity requiring a hasty retreat into a building whose air conditioning provided Hoth-like temperatures with air as dry as Tatooine sand, and only marginally less abrasive.

Here, there is almost never water in the atmosphere, so time passes in a manner I would characterize as "allegedly." Case in point, I woke up today and realized that, without anything having apparently changed, I have been at my current job for over a year. I feel as though I walk around in a clueless daze, punctuated by tri-annual trips home where I experience weather for four disconcerting days at a time. Aside from these brief jaunts into and out of the real world, the only thing that keeps me grounded into the seasonal continuum is Starbucks. Absent the brisk chill of an autumn morning, Starbucks will tell me when I should begin to feel holiday cheer. Crunchy scarlet leaves being nowhere to be found, I rely on the regular annual appearance of synthetic pumpkin flavoring, eventually falling by the wayside in favor of bracingly refreshing peppermint mocha, to alert me to the appropriateness of feeling goodwill to all humankind. Until Urban Outfitters had to mess with my head in an attempt to sell more iridescent miniature Christmas trees, that is. At the UO store across the street, it has been Christmas for a good solid three weeks at this point. And because of the aforementioned preternaturally static atmosphere, I have no immediate evidence of the falsity of this misrepresentation. Simply walking down the street past the store gives me momentary starts of anxiety that I failed to pay my November rent, or that I missed my mother's birthday. I feel an exaggerated resentment toward Urban Outfitters, a store I normally patronize quite frequently. And why not? I don't have to be charitable. It's not Christmas yet.

Friday, October 10, 2008

the road to hell is paved with delicious animal products

In the spirit of and past discourses on the sociocultural constitutive power of food, PM and I are undertaking to cook "A Chili to Offend All Nations." This chili will include all of the meats banned by major world religions: pork, beef, and possibly even shellfish (more on this below), in addition to a couple meats that shock even the non-sectarian conscience, such as veal and/or foie gras. If the title of this chili is "A Chili to Offend All Nations," its tagline would be "If we could have included people meat, we would have."

When your stated goal for a task is slightly askew from the norm (e.g. cooking food not for nourishment or satiety, but for the cheap thrill of putting your immortal soul/liberal conscience in jeopardy) it leads you down some dark, dark paths. For example, the path to clamato juice, which Wikipedia describes as "a drink made primarily of reconstituted tomato juice concentrate and reconstituted dried clam broth, with a dash of high fructose corn syrup, and USDA Red 40 to maintain a 'natural' tomato colour." First of all, how do you "dash" something as viscous as high fructose corn syrup? Second of all, how far off the farm have you strayed when clamato juice is maybe the least disgusting way for you to achieve your goal?

Also troublesome is when you consider not including things you know are delicious because they are just not culturally offensive enough. Like lamb:
PM: i love lamb.
mikaydee: me too, but it's like the least offensive meat
PM: yeah, EVERYONE eats lamb
mikaydee: Jesus WAS the lamb.
mikaydee: and I eat him all the time!
PM: weekly!

on liberty

RM and mikaydee watch Chris Matthews interview a sexy army cadet:mikaydee: I'd sleep with him.
RM: Me too.
mikaydee: But he wouldn't sleep with you. Because he would lose his job.
RM: And then go to jail. Sexy court martial!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

heyre be spoilers

Yesterday, RM and I were watching the new episode of HOUSE, which featured a disgusting thing called a “bezoar,” (and an extremely hot and sexy thing called “Chase”) and toward the end of the episode, out of the same curiosity that made freak shows such a popular Victorian pastime, I googled bezoars, and, to my momentary astonishment but eventual utter lack of surprise following a moment's reflection, I saw that the Wikipedia article on bezoars already included a reference to the brand new episode of HOUSE I was still currently watching. Many kudos to the diligent web stewards of bezoar-related cultural trivia.

an open letter to my local mega-bookstore-cafe, whose inventory is inexplicably not posted online

Dear Nearly Anachronistic Establishment,

You have exactly one advantage over, and that is the possibility of near instant gratification, of being able to lay your hands on a book or CD or DVD mere hours or even minutes after first desiring it. Of the factors working against you, two are paramount: (1) your inventory is necessarily limited by the physical size of your store; and (2) your retail model requires interaction with another human being. These obstacles being easily mitigated (by posting your inventory online), yet still inexplicably uncorrected, I must adjudge you lazy and incompetent, and what was at first a utilitarian judgment involving the time value of money is now a moral repugnancy toward ever patronizing so lax a market participant ever again. Also, your coffee is subpar.


P.S. Exactly what part of “Designing Social Inquiry” did your employee need me to spell for him?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

highlights (for adultescents)

Update the first part ~ The Large Hadron Collider has not yet ended the world.
- Update the second part ~ The free market has yet to provide a badass desk chair.
- Update the third part ~ Mead might be making a comeback.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

on the autoethnography of one's own subjectivities

MS: I had a conversation last week about reclassifying all foods into two categories
MS: it was based on the BK ad were he claims to be a meatatarian
MS: but is clearly eating bread and cheese
MS: We decided that dairy was an ambiguous classification for food
MS: and should fall into the meat category
MS: but bread was a vegetable
MS: this lead to the man-conundrum
MS: a manly-man eats meat and drinks beer
MS: but this is clearly a contradiction
MS: he should eat steak and drink milk
mikaydee: ha! wow, that is absolutely correct
mikaydee: now, what about mead?
mikaydee: because mead is made from honey
mikaydee: which comes from animals
mikaydee: is mead manly?
MS: interesting...
MS: I'm going to have to go with yes.
MS: yes it is manly
mikaydee: awesome!
MS: you just saved men from drinking milk*
MS: congrats
mikaydee: yay!

*PM later rightly pointed out that, under this schema, manly-men could also drink fermented horse milk, which gets extra man points for being the default drink of the Mongolian mounted hordes.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

meanwhile, on the franco-swiss border

They're turning on the Large Hadron Collider tonight in the hopes of observing the Higgs boson at long last.* There is, apparently, a very small chance that, rather than allow us to observe the building blocks of matter, the Large Hadron Collider will instead DESTROY THE EARTH. Am I alone in thinking that "Large Hadron Collider" is kind of a meh name for something that could create a black hole in the middle of Europe? Maybe it sounds better in French (Grand? Gros?). With the sensibilities of American Anglophones in mind, I propose the following list of alternative names for the LHC (along with the media outlets that would likely use them):

- CBS: Super Hadron Collider 1000
- Spike TV: World's Most Extreme Hadron Collider of Death
- Comedy Central: Best F*cking Hadron Collider Ever
- Adult Swim: The Doomsday Device
- Food Network: The Hadron Juicer
- History Channel: Man's Hubris Made Manifest
- Japanese TV: Super Happy Crasher of Hadrons for Maybe Ending Things
*I have only the barest understanding of the preceding sentence; the following sentence should probably be evaluated accordingly.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

killing two birds for no reason

Further adventures in being brutally unhelpful to my friends:
AB: everything looks so bland and corporate
AB: i was excited til i clicked, i hate you
AB: i resent that that is at once a joke about desk chairs and a mockery of my values

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

wherein our heroine presents the detritus that is her meta-critical irrelevancy

Usually, I'm fairly excited for the release of extremely bad movies, because it means I get to read reviews of extremely bad movies, which are usually themselves pretty entertaining. Movie reviewers are generally an eloquent bunch, and they show off their skills best when, unencumbered by any sort of merit to which they might have to pay any amount of tedious respect, they are allowed to roundly savage a movie that is nearly universally regarded as awful.

So you can imagine how excited I was for the release of DISASTER MOVIE, a movie whose trailer failed to elicit from the audience even a knowing groan, moving well into the territory of "huh?" Sadly, it appears as though DISASTER MOVIE is so bad that critics can't even write a good bad review of it. A cursory survey of Rotten Tomatoes reveals a group of skilled writers so paralyzed with disgust, so resolutely defeated by having to take this movie seriously enough waste the calories required to put pen to paper, that they just gave up. Imagine a movie so qualitatively uninspiring that it fails to even inspire quality derision from people paid, largely, to deride?

And then I found this. Apparently, the lack of anything resembling a narrative left most critics with no jumping off point, no discernable skeleton on which to hang their well-deserved scorn. It would be like asking extraterrestrial, interdimensional beings made entirely of energy how the cake tastes. What makes this a bad movie? Who can tell, given how little resemblance it bears to the proverbial movie in the mind of God? Peter Sobczynski neatly gets around this problem by grafting the movie onto his own narrative of hope and despair, weaving together a tale in which a sense of historic purpose and childlike hope is nearly crushed under the weight of a supposed millenial self-awareness gone horribly, horribly wrong. He then bravely and thoroughly dissects the pure suckitude of this movie, like Edward Norton's pathologist in THE PAINTED VEIL, wading around in the crap on the dim hope that the rest of us won't have to suffer in the future. In the process, he reminds us that good writing can lift us up, that good satire does so under the guise of tearing us down, and why we all liked JUNO so much in the first place.

Friday, August 22, 2008

in praise of all-purpose retorts

YP: you should try this
mikaydee: why?
YP: why not?
mikaydee: transaction costs
mikaydee: and friction

Friday, August 1, 2008

in which we learn a number of wholly semantic, totally shallow lessons

MS: Whats your take on Pomellos
mikaydee: i've never tried a pomello
mikaydee: i should
mikaydee: although if i've ever learned anything from bad sci fi channel movies, it's that there is a price to be paid for messing with evolution....
MS: yes, great sci-fi movies...
mikaydee: also, black people die first, women are the only people who think about consequences, and cars will explode if a gun shoots anywhere in their general vicinity
MS: 2 out of 3 are true... I'll let you decide which 2
mikaydee: Can I pick 2/3s of each one?
MS: explain how that would work and I'll consider it....
mikaydee: well, i could take the easy way out, and say they are each true 2/3s of the time
mikaydee: but let's go with this:
mikaydee: black people die, women are the only people, cars will explode if a gun shoots
mikaydee: not perfect, i know, but i'm sticking with it
MS: I can go with that. (2/3s of the time would have been rejected...)
mikaydee: yay!
MS: Its nice. It drastically alters the previous meaning of what was stated, but stays within the specs.
mikaydee: to have complied, however contrarily, to the letter of the law is my true aspiration

Monday, July 7, 2008

wherein our heroine betrays both her provenance and her socioeconomic background

Apart from tennis (the only sport in which I have any vague facility, and therefore the only sport for which I can have that technical, almost tactile appreciation that I imagine most boys feel for many more sports than most girls), my interest in sports is almost purely jingoistic. I was born in Illinois, and therefore I enjoy watching teams from Illinois dominate and lay waste to teams from other places, preferably places reasonably close by, near enough that I might have some crude, cartoonish understanding of exactly what is wrong with them. (I'm looking at you, St. Louis.*) I feel like I would have made a good Spartan wife, of the come-home-victorious-or-not-at-all variety. This is precisely why I could never really get into, say, World Cup Soccer, or cricket, or other "international" sports. Even the Olympics leave me dishearteningly cold.** This is also likely the reason that I prefer baseball to any other sport, as it features a greater percentage of antagonistic-staring-down time than any other nationally televised athletic event. I don't know what it feels like to, at long last, make bat-cracking contact with wicked fastball; I do, however, know what it feels like to stand silently, eyes fixed and blazing, playing head games with an opponent. I'm a chick, after all.

This is all my very long-winded and tangential way of saying that this is an awesome article about tennis written by David Foster Wallace for the New York Times*** that perfectly captures the feel of the only game I have a feel for. Yay for good writing.

*...with your silly cracker pizza. (This isn't a racial slur. It really is like a cracker.)

**Paradoxically, I recoil from the kind of nationalistic fervor that is the stuff of real jingoism, where sports, war, and politics merge into a creepy, bombastic, Leni Riefenstahl-directed montage of pseudo-science and face paint. As far as constructed identities go, I much prefer my very clearly irrational and wholly impotent provincialism to any militant loyalty with an actual nuclear weapon standing behind it.

***...that I was reading in my Lincoln town car on the way to First Presbyterian. Seriously, that has to be the WASPiest thing I've ever written.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

to ourselves and our posterity

Magna-cartwheeling, noun: the rhetorical acrobatics used by certain American jurists (e.g. Scalia, Kennedy) to astrally project themselves to the rolling meadows of merry olde England, in an attempt to gaze soulfully into the eyes of ye olde free Englishman to discover what freedom means to him, specifically whether it includes oral contraception and/or Kalashnikov rifles.

Friday, February 22, 2008

workers of the world, stage right

The other night I was watching a PBS documentary about a state dinner at Buckingham Palace thrown for Jacques Chirac. The London cast of Les Miserables were set to perform right there in Buckingham Palace, in what is usually called "The Waterloo Room" but was cleverly renamed "The Music Room" for one night. In less diplomatic choices, the producers of the documentary decided to use the song "At the End of the Day," sung by those eponymous "Miserables," to score a montage of the servants of Buckingham Palace working their butts off to feed 70-plus guests arriving by private jet and limosine. Did no one put two and deux together to recall that the discontent of the French underclass, of the kind expressed in the song, has in the past led to the heads of aristocrats on the pitchforks of peasants? How about "Carolina in My Mind" over sepia-toned photos of General Sherman's scorched earth campaign through the American Southeast?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

man versus nuture

I now have two male friends who shave with straight razors because, they claim, it is more manly. Yeah...unless you are shaving with a straight razor because you live in the wilderness and you also use it to fend off bears and harvest willow bark as an analgesic for your many bear wounds, it's not really manly. It's really more foppish, the kind of thing that sits on your lacquered Louis XIV boudoir next to your snuff box, wig powder, opera glasses, and whatever apparatus is required to create those creepy fake beauty marks.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

waxing nonsensical

I once had a professor who likened the ubiquitousness of the statistical standard deviation to a goddess he called Normalina, whose purview it was to impose order on chaos in the form of a single, universal standard deviation. I immediately seized upon this idea for my magnum opus of notebook marginalia, one of my more impressive undergraduate achievements. In my mind (and alongside my notes for, e.g., Introductory French or Biological Anthropology), the Goddess Normalina had a standard-deviation-shaped hat, and she would peer down from the heavens, scanning the world for chaotic data sets, which she would then cram, unceremoniously, into her upturned hat, you know, really putting her arm into it. And then she would dump out the newly reformed contents back onto the earth, like Jello sliding out of bundt mold. Sweet, delicious math Jello....

Monday, January 28, 2008

the collective consciousness goes "huh?"

An election development so bizarre, it required its own neologism to accurately convey my reaction:Flabbergasm: n., a full-body shudder of complete bewilderment; adj., flabbergastic

Friday, January 11, 2008

open from a trusted source (i.e. not whitey)

YP: here's a cute asian baby
is this a picture of a panda?
not as far as i know
then why is the file called "panda.jpg"?
i think "panda" is just code for "asian"

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

the age of impertinence

We're going to the Opera! We (i.e., mikaydee's colorful cast of characters, PM, MP, and RM) just bought the tickets yesterday, and we are psyched to go all out: long gloves for the ladies, tuxes for the gentlemen, monocles for all! The crowning achievement of this exercise in vaguely satirical cultural pageantry would of course be a fur stole, the kind with the head, paws, and tail still attached.

The online box office page had a "how did you hear about us?" drop down menu, and none of the options adequately captured the accurate answer for us, which would have been something like "we live in this city, and we wanted to see an opera, so we googled the name of the city and the word 'opera'....welcome to the 21st Century" or perhaps, "logic dictates that you must exist." We settled on "from a friend."

This experience with poor survey methodology led predictably to the following mikaydee/PM brainchild:

The United States Federal Government: How Did You Hear About Us?
- word of mouth
- we strafe bombed your village
- we rebuilt your country following a major world conflict
- from a friend
- you fought a proxy war for us
- you fought a proxy war against us
- we supervised free and fair elections in your country
- we supported a brutal totalitarian kleptocrat in your country
- Baywatch
- propaganda [From where? (a) Politburo, (b) Al Jazeera, (c) CIA]
- you were tortured....but not by us* (*we deny any and all knowledge of and/or liability for positive responses)
- you own some of our national debt [How much of our national debt do you own? Enter a number between 0.01 and 9,203,378,381,250.93: $____]
- the internet

Thursday, January 3, 2008

on recreational math, grammar, and oppression

A few more of my favorite things:

(1) Favorite Palindrome: "reifier"

Well, that was predictable, wasn't it? The best part about accusing people of reifying things is that almost no one is ever actually trying to reify anything, so it's pretty easy to interpret any action that isn't revolutionary in some way as a reification of some status quo. Writing on piece of paper? Reification of the taxonomist oppression of trees by primates!

(2) Favorite Court Filing: Notice of Errata

First of all, love love LOVE non-standard plurals, especially Latin ones. (Sagitarii, represent!) Second of all, enamored of the whole mea-culpa-y nature of noticing one's errors in open court and on the public record, a kind of wussy, yuppie version of ye olde gratuitously public acts of penitence, e.g. hairshirts and self-flagellation. Forgive me Father, for I hath misnumbered mine interrogatoreyes....

(3) Favorite Number: 7.35 x 10^10
The acceleration due to gravity, as measured in furlongs/fortnight squared...yay for archaic things!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

14 points...of violent, abrasive contact

The makings of a great public service personal statement:

mikaydee: if i ever get bored of my job, maybe I'll apply to the wilson school
YP: what are you going to apply to it?
mikaydee: your face, as hard as humanly possible
YP: sad :-(
mikaydee: yes, you will be