July 29, 2004

Florida: The Next Florida

I'm looking at all the major news outlets, wondering why this isn't a major headline, one that we might want to track every single day, complete with its own logos and theme music:

Fear of Fraud

Some states, worried about the potential for abuse with voting machines that leave no paper trail, have banned their use this November. But Florida, which may well decide the presidential race, is not among those states, and last month state officials rejected a request to allow independent audits of the machines' integrity. A spokesman for Gov. Jeb Bush accused those seeking audits of trying to "undermine voters' confidence," and declared, "The governor has every confidence in the Department of State and the Division of Elections."

I hate to be so unamerican, and such a traitor, but I have to ask: Every confidence based on what? His state's track record from their last two elections, both of which either side would admit were riddled with technical problems?

I'd think he'd make every effort to at least give the appearance of making it a fair and transparent process. But then, I'm a few caste-levels down and don't always understand how the real world works. Plus, I hate the troops and don't support them.

Also: a good band name would be: "Florida Felon List."

Update: And now even the GOP is calling for people to use absentee ballots in Miami-Dade county instead of the voter machines?

Posted by Chris on 07/29/04

Batman Begins Again

Check out this link for the most understated trailer for a superhero film ever.

If the entire film is in this tone, I will praise Christopher Nolan, and Jebus. But this series has been the Lucy to my Charlie Brown far too many times. The football has been yanked away from me at the last second so many times that I have learned not to get my hopes up AT ALL.

To this day - and I am not lying - when my film geek friends and I get excited about some upcoming film, we always caution each other with the words, "Remember Batman."

Still - how cool would it be if we finally had the definitive thinking man's Batman film. WHAT?!? WHO SAID THAT!??! WHAT?!? STOP!

Also, note to DC Comics: The world does not need another Superman film right now. Give it ten, fifteen years. Yes, I know Marvel is kicking ass right now. Improbably so, since Stan Lee was apparently giving away the rights to his characters to anyone that just asked nicely for the last thirty years. (I think at one point even I may have held the rights to Spider-man, having acquired them from Lee in a game of Rock-'Em Sock-'Em Boxers that didn't go his way.)

But you're going to have to wait your turn. Also, you're still in the Penalty Box for Superman IV. Here are two words for you to meditate on while you sit there, one of them mispronounced: "Nucular Man."

Posted by Chris on 07/29/04

July 28, 2004

The thinking man's "truck" entry

Something I'll have no truck with:

Any use or derivation of the phrase "It is the thinking man's _________." Is anything smarmier than this shoot-from-the-hip insult? Even when it's apt, I hate it.


Posted by Chris on 07/28/04

July 26, 2004

Operation: Go West status: Condition Yellow

A note of interest to anyone that may be moving to the L.A. or Santa Monica area: there are tons of apartments, but their landlords do not know when they will be available.

Well - this is not precisely true. There seems to be about a five minute period between the current tenant saying "I'm out of here" and the new tenant moving in, when they are available.

But the landlords can't be sure that Current Tenant is actually moving out until they actually vacate the place. Until then, New Tenants, a group I woefully find myself in, are left to circle like sharks.

What am I to make of this strange state of landlord laissez-faire? In Chicago these things are carefully mapped out. I am positive any landlord in Chicago knows the date, the HOUR that their Current Tenants will be out. I have not seen it but I am sure that the Chicago Police have been called on occasion to help them find the door if they forget.

Do they not use leases in Santa Monica / L.A.? Do these documents not spell out the term of vacancy?

So we saw many apartments, but none were available in September. They were all available RIGHT NOW. If we had been ready to move in RIGHT NOW to just about any place, we could have done so, assuming we passed the stringent application procedure / credit check*.

And RIGHT THEN is when you need to make a decision if you find the right place, I found out to my heartbreak. In a city where no one tires of telling you how bad traffic is, we came across a perfect and cheap little place around ten blocks from the office. No car would have been necessary for me, no need to ride the bus, (which is apparently horrific). But things were going well at that moment; we wanted to wait a day to see more apartments. None of which were available, and when I called back about Perfect Place... it was gone.

So now we will either rent a place unseen, or else drive out without any place rented, knowing that when we get there something will be available RIGHT NOW.

The bottom line is, if you're moving Out West, you don't seem to need to even begin looking for a place until about three weeks before.

? ? ?

*Which is a giant blinking red neon question mark hanging right outside my mental window, keeping me from sleep at night.
Posted by Chris on 07/26/04

July 19, 2004

Operation: Go West - Santa Monica hiatus

To the two, or even one of you that read this, I'll be in Santa Monica this next week, looking for an apartment. I anticipate little to no updating of this space during that time. Unless of course there is. So check back in occasionally, if only to use the space to sell your generic drugs.

We have actually spoken to people in Santa Monica by now, making this experience finally visceral and real*. Of course, all these people had to say was, IT'S TOO FAR OUT TO KNOW WHAT WILL BE AVAILABLE. (Apartment-wise) For my part, in my figuring of the budget I have neglected to realize that Landlords generally want a deposit IN ADVANCE.

Good news, and Dear Jesus don't let me look back at this line in several months' time and laugh at my innocence: Current Landlady plans on meeting us on Move-Out Day to give us our deposit.


In the meantime, meditate on this: "Innocuous Syrian Band" would make a great band name.

*Another thing that will make it visceral and real is getting up at 4 AM tomorrow morning to jet out there.
Posted by Chris on 07/19/04

I read it.

G'luck to you two!


Posted by: Brian at July 20, 2004 9:25 AM

A Generation Called Horse

I've said it before, I'll say it again: KIDS SCARE ME.

Meat hook dangling craze mystifies police

Posted by Chris on 07/19/04

July 16, 2004


How long before Gary Cole is given his own movie? What a funny guy, what a good actor. He can do serious parts (One Hour Photo, West Wing), villainous (A Simple Plan), and of course, comedy. His "Office Space" character mannerisms have been absorbed into common usage. He IS Harvey Birdman, for God's sake. In Dodgeball he steals his scenes as the Ocho newsman covering the tournament.

This is a movie for pay per view or Netflix, not the theatre. But we giggled at Ben Stiller's hair, laughed at Vince Vaughn's standard casual winking charm, and anyway, is there a sport more inherently comic than dodgeball? Maybe that one where two men QUICKLY QUICKLY polish the ice in front of a rock to make it slide farther?

This marks I guess the third or fourth role where Christine Taylor has played Normal and Attractive Girl to her husband's over-the-toppery. I enjoyed the movie, but it's time for her to do something else. I also like Jason Bateman a lot, but it seemed like the filmmaker ran the "scatterbrained" idea past him the day he showed up to work on the movie.

All in all, enjoyable! It made me want play dodgeball, which I guess could only come from someone like me that has never played, except for the occasional impromptu pickup game in P.E. wherein others practiced their skills on me.

Posted by Chris on 07/16/04


Right out of the gate today, first thing in the morning, I'm exposed as an I.T. charlatan. I hate when that happens.

Yesternight I'd asked a question which was the equivalent of "Even though the power has been cut off and there is no electricity, why can't I just log on to the network from my workstation?" Sigh. The patient answer came back, stating the obvious. Not that everyone doesn't realize that I just Forrest Gumped my way into this job. I am the Kramer of this company - I just showed up one day and started attending meetings. Everyone knows, it's just that when I force them to confront it, it's uncomfortable.

This comes up occasionally. Usually I can go weeks at a time without revealing my true nature to my co-workers. Unfortunately I have that syndrome where the questions linger in my mind, and only after they have left my lips or my email does the obvious answer hit me. How many times have I hit the SEND button only to go NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Posted by Chris on 07/16/04

Now I know your secret identity as the IT Charlatan. I'm totally on to you, Chris. I can only hope that your arch-enemy, FattyFat, doesn't learn this before I have a chance to hatch my own devious scheme to effect your shameful downfall.

Posted by: Jefferson Burson at July 26, 2004 6:37 PM

July 15, 2004

The 4400

What does it say about me that in this show about 4400 U.F.O. abductees from the past 50 years all being returned at once, I am more interested in the logistics and legal ramifications of re-integrating them into society than I am learning anything about the aliens or why they were taken?

It wasn't that way when they all came out of the Mothership at the end of "Close Encounters." Then, I was thinking: Ooo! Pretty lights! and How nice of those aliens to offer them a ride back! But with "4400," I was thinking: What about all of them that were declared dead? Why CAN'T the lawyer have his job back? Why would a restraining order be acceptable just because a Returnee wanted to see her daughter? What about hazard pay? How will they track them, in case they do start to give birth to bugs? What about their social security benefits? How will it effect the election?

Maybe I've been reading too much political news lately.

It could also be that it's almost a certainty that USA won't do anything very interesting on the alien abduction theme anyway. Even X-Files sort of did a Chief Wiggums trail-off when pressed on why people are poked and prodded by Mr. Gray, as I recall. Don't look for USA to take a stance, although God bless 'em for trying.

It appears already that the Returnees have been dropped off with some extra-human abilities, a stalwart "back from space" idea, and they even appear to almost be of the complimentary X-Men-ish type. (Please Jesus don't let them form a crime-fighting team) Michael Moriarty is a Jean Gray who can't quite control it yet, there's a Rogue that can suck the life out of people, and also apparently re-inject it at some points, and then the Eerily Prescient Child, although she has no X-Men analog that I can think of at the moment. As a matter of fact I'm probably reading too much into the X-Men similarities, so never mind that part.

The pilot did have some above average bits, and, well, I DID watch two hours of it, (That's two Tivo hours, mind you) so it was by no means wretched. Like other shows (Is this to be a series? A mini-series?) there's a slight time-management problem: this show could be called 5 instead of 4400, as they're (wisely) focusing on just five of the Returnees, but they still seem to lose the thread occasionally. And the two leads are... unfortunate. If they are going for some kind of Scully / Mulder chemistry, they can forget it right now.

And let the aliens come back and abduct the woman, STAT. When the Director of Homeland Security asked her what would happen when the "comet" hit, and she said ominously, "You don't want to know," I shouted at the screen, "YES, HE REALLY DOES WANT TO KNOW, HE HAS TO CALL THE PRESIDENT."

It's the first show or movie I've seen where the Department of Homeland Security is featured. Maybe that's why I'm looking at it from a political angle. So far it's definitely no C.T.U. I expected to see a big "defcon" score board on the wall like in "Wargames," but instead showing what color of heightened security awareness we were on.

Posted by Chris on 07/15/04

July 13, 2004

The Dogsitter's Dilemma

We're currently dog-sitting for FattyFat, which is a task we actively seek out because FattyDog is so great. Just look at him.

So we picked up FattyDog about a week ago, along with all his supplies - doggie bed, a few doggie toys, two bowls, big ol' bag of doggiefood, doggie treats to pay him with after walks, and also plastic bags for those doggiewalks. But FattyFat - perhaps knowingly? - embroiled us in that most classic of consumer parodoxes: The Dogsitter's Dilemma.

For he had given only a slight handful of plastic bags.

Never having owned a dog in the city, I had to learn the hard way several dog-sitting episodes back that one should really take at least two baggies along on a walk. You don't want to be stuck bagless when your furry companion decides he really wasn't finished after all a few blocks back.

Have I begged a dog to please stop as it was making its third squat on someone's lawn, because I didn't have another bag? Have I hurried the dog away as fast as I could from that tertiary pile of shame, lest the homeowner come rushing out, demanding I clean up? Have I cursed a dog aloud for not confining its activities to a maximum of two pitstops? I'm ashamed to say: yes, yes, and yes.

NOTE TO DOGS: A GOOD dog would limit itself to two "serious" stops. (with an unlimited number of pee-only, territory-marking stops) If you take three stops to get the serious business done, then you are a cur, a mongrel, a whelp.

But FattyFat has left us in the classic consumption paradox, the Dogsitter's Dilemma. Without enough bags, we must ourselves purchase more items, or in other words, step up our consumption, in order to obtain more bags, at a rate hopefully to exceed that of the dog's natural digestive cycle.

We were both dismayed and amazed to find the natural influx of plastic baggies into our house, all purchases considered, was actually greater than we had thought. A pack of gum here, a salad for lunch there... our input could almost keep up with the dog's output. Almost.

But four days into FattyDog's stay, we found ourselves running out. The bags started to become inappropriately large as were forced to dip into the supply of big paper grocery sacks and Marshall Field's bags. Did our neighbors think we were just being ostentatious when we used a glittery gift-bag to pick up the dog's poop yesterday? Or did they realize it was all we had?

So now we find ourselves making extra purchases of small things, to accumulate the bags. Yes, we could buy a supply of actual doggie bags from some pet store, but that would be avoiding the central irony of the Dogsitter's Dilemma!

Note the pressures and ironies! Don't you see? We must step up our efforts at consumers, or be forced to deal with an ugly mess on someone's lawn! Is there a lesson here? A metaphor? You be the judge!

Posted by Chris on 07/13/04

A banner week for the legacy

We're working on postponing the presidential election, attempting to ban gay marriage, we're reducing restrictions on logging in national forests, we're not exactly cooperating with the AIDS conference in Bangkok, and oh by the way 20% of Americans think the media should not be allowed to publish or broadcast editorial opinions critical of how the war is being handled.

What's left for next week? The mandatory RFID implants? The long-awaited tax on air and sunshine?

Posted by Chris on 07/13/04

You need to be reading this guy. There might be a new Playlet King in the making.


Posted by: Jennifer at July 14, 2004 11:39 AM

I'll have no truck with this (read: I don't like it)

LISTEN! I don't like it when you people write something and then include a little parenthetical telling me what exact meaning I'm supposed to glean from it.


-While companies strive to reduce this two-thirds tax through lower labor costs (read: outsourcing), researchers are looking further down the road.

-Rumsfeld's memo outlined how prisoners might be placed in uncomfortable physical positions (read: stacked naked in a human pyramid) to make them more forthcoming during official interviews.

-The film critic was so worldly and wise that his observations simply could not be conveyed within the popular context (read: zeitgeist) of one language.

Much like other formatting issues I have no truck with, this modifier is an unnecessary stage direction for how the text is supposed to "sound." When I see (read: ) I always imagine the word coughed loudly into a fist, or delivered as an aside to the audience to clue everyone in to the author's cleverness.

Lord knows I'm guilty of including unnecessary stage directions in my writing, but ultimately, whatever meaning is meant to be (read: ) in your sentence should be in the sentence itself. If you include a (read: ) in your sentence, then go ahead and include everything I need to know inside those parentheses, because that's all I'm reading.

So as I have spoken, so let it be done.

Posted by Chris on 07/13/04

on the other hand, this opens up a whole new range of writing/stage directing possibilies. not only can you now supply (read:) but also (how to read:): "Lord knows I'm guilty of including unnecessary stage directions in my writing (read in whiney woody allen voice: i was just padding the text to reach the 100 word minimun)..." or "A GOOD dog would limit itself to two "serious" stops (read: exactly as written, but in sydeny greenstreet voice)."

Posted by: kjk at July 14, 2004 11:16 AM

Damn, you're right. Now I'm seeing the possibilities too. But now that I've come out publically against it, I can't go back! They'd call me a flip-flopper! A waffler!

Posted by: Chris at July 15, 2004 5:16 PM

July 12, 2004

Last week in kickball

My contribution was primarily to the morale and sometimes score of the opposing team, the "Flashdancers."

Last week the kickball was a slippery, abstract thing upon which my hands could find no purchase. The ball came my way several times but it was an object of which my grip would have no truck.

The picture is not of MY foot making flattening contact with the kickball but of friend Brian; I believe this was the kick when he brought two or three people in as I watched from a position of non-involvement behind the fence.

Posted by Chris on 07/12/04

Jon Stewart Watch

Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, and the funniest man on television, has just in this last week become a father. Let us watch him carefully over the next few years to see if and how his political views shift.

I'm not trying to make generalizations, and I'm not saying he will necessarily succumb to Lileks Disease or even Dennis Miller Syndrome. I am no one - NO ONE! NO ONE, I say! - to be critical of such a life change, but I note that for some people - SOME PEOPLE, NOT ALL PEOPLE! - that shift into protect-the-cubs mode also entails a loss of their capacity for nuance.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't anxious that he might suddenly join that group of 23% of Americans who believe the First Amendment goes too far in guaranteeing rights to free expression, or perhaps the 20% that believe the media should not be allowed to publish news stories that suggest the war is not going well, or even the 13% that say groups opposed to the war should not be allowed to protest against it.

Personally I believe Stewart to be strong with the Force, and such a thing to be unlikely. But I would have said that about Dennis Miller at one point too. And just look how the Dark Side seduced him.

Posted by Chris on 07/12/04

July 9, 2004

Spam Round Up

  • Apparently plenty of high-speed adult movies are available to me. These would be convenient for those days when I just don't have the time to watch the whole movie, and could really use one sped up to about 5X normal speed, like a Benny Hill skit. So, call them 5X-XXX movies.

  • Also, they have located several horny women in my area. So that's to the good. When I get this email I always picture some sort of unmarked van with a complicated, spinning radar antenna on the top rolling slowly through my neighborhood, scanning for female arousal.

  • As usual, plenty of offers to help regulate my pain, my penis, and my mood with a variety of mis-spelled medications. What am I waiting for?

  • Also - why would I pay full price for ANY software?

    By the way, you may not know this, but in a recent poll of Americans, 23% said they thought that maybe the First Amendment was too broadly written. That means the next time you get in an elevator with four other people, one of them - assuming it's not you - although likely not a Constitutional scholar, has thought of something that maybe the founding fathers just didn't consider. Why not take the elevator ride as an opportunity to bask in their wisdom?

    Posted by Chris on 07/ 9/04
  • July 8, 2004

    Today I can't be bothered

    A few random reviews:

  • Spiderman 2. Yay. Really good. Two strange bits of humor that almost seemed out of place - the really really long elevator scene with Hal Sparks (probably on his way to do a VH1 special*) and the B.J. Thomas interlude. Maybe they spent too much time showing Peter Parker being downtrodden? Did anyone else notice that Michael Chabon worked on the story? Cool!

    As FattyFat mentioned to me, Spiderman's powers seem to be code for male potency in these movies, which kind of makes it almost icky. Makes me wish for the days of metallic webshooters.

  • The man and his family who tried to sit next to me at Spiderman 2. A classic dickhead. When I told him the seat was taken it illicited the most world-weary sigh I've ever heard. HE'S JUST NOW TELLING ME THE SEAT'S TAKEN, he said to his wife. When was I supposed to tell you it was taken? I asked him. You could have told me before I got there, he responded. Leave it to me to not read peoples' minds the moment they get into range.

    Maybe I'M the dickhead here. Because with great mind-reading abilities comes great responsibility, as my Uncle Ben used to say, at least before I didn't save him a seat that time and he was killed as a result. UNCLE BEN NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  • Medium Cool. I saw it on IFC. Great footage of Chicago in 1968. It's almost surreal to see it back then, almost like being in a time machine. Especially with all we've heard about the police that summer. I'd never seen Robert Forster in his prime, either; my first glimpse of him had been in "Black Hole."

  • The signage in the Atlanta, Birmingham, and both Chicago airports: Really not that bad.

  • My holiday weekend in Charleston. Amazing. Beautiful. Bountiful ribs n' beer. No one really believes it when I tell them we did patriotic skits at the family gathering, and for our skit, we sang "American Pie" and then threw pies of whipped cream in each other's faces. But I swear we did.

    In other news, did I mention that 23% said yes? It's really pretty amazing when you start to think about it. However, WARNING: don't start to think about it. If you even try to parse through the levels of irony, it'll make your head explode.

    *Speaking of VH1 specials, we saw acquaintance Jack McBrayer doing commentary on one this weekend. Now I'm just two degrees away from VH1 fame! SUPERSTAR!
    Posted by Chris on 07/ 8/04
  • July 7, 2004


    A Softer World

    Posted by Chris on 07/ 7/04

    July 6, 2004

    Joe Q. Lunchpail: A Snapshot in Stats

    Some polling results from this weekend's Chicago Tribune report on freedom of speech:

    - Should groups opposed to the war be allowed to demonstrate and protest against it?

    13% said: NO

    - Should the government impose restrictions on information and content that appears on the Internet?

    38% said: YES

    - Should the media be allowed to publish or broadcast news stories that suggest the war is not going well?

    20% said: NO

    - Should the media be allowed to publish or broadcast editorial opinions critical of how the war is being handled?

    20% said: NO

    - Does the First Amendment go too far in guaranteeing rights to free expression?

    23% said: YES

    If this were a Twilight Zone episode (and one gets the feeling these days that it IS), then those 23% would wake up tomorrow as women in Afghanistan, so they could begin enjoying their idea of a better world.

    Posted by Chris on 07/ 6/04

    "I don't need to say anything dirty on the internets"
    "I don't care about what hippies think"
    "I don't need that free speech crap anyway"
    "Don't distract the president, you'll hurt his feelings"

    It's much higher than I can really believe.

    Posted by: Moving to Canada at July 6, 2004 2:14 PM

    When I am King, all adults and children will be required to attend both Civics Camp and Economics Camp. I will forcibly educate them about the freedoms we enjoy.

    On a serious note, politicians: Don't cater to people who think this way. They are logic-impaired. Don't pander!

    Posted by: Jennifer at July 7, 2004 11:04 AM

    Spy vs. Spy

    If you haven't seen the Mountain Dew "Spy vs. Spy" ad, then download and watch it here:


    Hopefully they're making more. The animation is so good it almost looks like people wearing big foam suits at times. Yes, in my mind the pinnacle of 3-D animation is now to mimic people in big foam suits. Which is where special effects all started anyway. It's the circle of life.

    I also see that this "spot" was directed, or perhaps direkted, by a man / production agency named Traktor. Is there a ceremony in the advertising world for directors to officially reject their surnames and first names? Tarsem? McG?


    Posted by Chris on 07/ 6/04

    Beware the Girls of the DNC

    They are out on the street, they are in our neighborhoods, they are cute, and they are not above looking right at you with their baby blues and acting interested in what you have to say. So far I have lost $40 to their menace.

    Posted by Chris on 07/ 6/04

    save your dollars for the inevitable parking/towing/just-because-they-can tickets.

    Posted by: mary at July 7, 2004 10:24 AM

    July 1, 2004

    Overheard on the street... II

    "Does anybody have a dollar, and I don't want some bullshit story!"

    ? ? ?

    Posted by Chris on 07/ 1/04

    Well Jesus Christ man, do you have a fucking dollar or not? Answer, bitch!

    Posted by: friend jessica at July 6, 2004 9:57 AM

    Overheard on the street...

    ... from a granola-esque mom to her little girl of about four, as they walked past one of the many themed Mickey Mouse statues Disney has everywhere downtown:

    "Mickey Mouse doesn't always do good things."

    I gather that the child had uttered some pleasantry about the mouse, and mom was correcting her with the news that wily Mickey is less an adorable cartoon and more an evil conglomerate.

    I imagine how a child would have to rearrange their worldview to accommodate this new, rather complex and adult information. Maybe they'd begin compiling their own little list of grievances against Mickey:

  • Repeatedly leads Minnie on
  • Arbitrarily elevates Goofy to human status while still treating Pluto like a dog
  • Refused to distribute "Fahrenheit 911" domestically

    Posted by Chris on 07/ 1/04