Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Post With No Media

I drove my friends to the airport at four o'clock this morning. Last night, I wasn't sure what approach I should take. Should I try and just stay up and crash when I get home or split up my sleeping time? I took a different strategy and it seems to have worked.
At about 8 PM last night, I turned off all the lights, got under a blanket, and started Lord of the Rings. At about 9, I was passing out, so I shut off the movie and slept for 6 hours. I must have had it in my mind all night that it was coming, so when my alarm went off, I was able to jump right out of bed and my adrenaline was pumping so hard that I feel like I could have just driven to Vegas. The only problem is that now I'm back here in my apartment, it's the middle of the night, I can't possibly go back to sleep, and I'm checking online to see if and when the Starbucks will open. I'm also checking movie times because if there's one thing you can do on Christmas, it's go to the movies. I tried typing "Starbucks Open Christmas" into Google, and what came up were a bunch of employee message boards whining about how they have to work on Christmas, so I took that as a positive sign that I'll be able to get coffee come 6:30 AM. I also hope that by this time tomorrow I will be #1 in Google for "Starbucks Open Christmas" based on my use of the phrase twice in this blog post. I will check tomorrow and report (not at this exact time).

Merry Christmas to all.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Top 25 Albums of 2007

I really had to think about this list, especially the top 10. Last year, there were a few clear frontrunners, and my top 4 or 5 from last year, if released in 2007, would all be vying for the top spot. That's not to say that 2007 was not a good year for music. Dance and Experimental Pop really took over this year
and made a good case that the standard guitar-bass-drum rock band is dead, or dying.

Another difficulty were the 21-25 spots. I originally was only going to post a top 20, but there were so many albums I wanted to squeeze in that I expanded it to 25, and even so some great records didn't make the cut (there is an "honorable mention" section at the bottom).

So, let's get things moving. The Top 25, in reverse order (you know, for suspense):

25) Radiohead - In Rainbows - Why so low? I'm not sure. This is a great record, but I just didn't love it as much as some other people. I'm listening to it right now, and the trio of "All I Need", "Faust Arp" and "Reckoner" make me think it should be higher, and it shouldn't be held against Radiohead that In Rainbows is a bit underwhelming. Still, high expectations can be the undoing of a piece of art. So, don't get me wrong: I love this album. But, Kid A it ain't.

24) Ghostface Killah - The Big Doe Rehab - Another great hip-hop album from the most consistent rapper in the business. Though undoubtedly not as life-changing as 2006's Fishscale (what could be?), Big Doe Rehab is a solid effort with some great retro-infused tracks. Love the garb, Ghost.

23) Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover - This is probably the most complex album Spencer Krug has ever made, and that's saying quite a bit. Like songs from his other albums, the melodies are in the details, and Random Spirit Lover has some real gems. "The Courtesan Has Sung" has one of the best build ups this year.

22) Low - Drums and Guns - A retreat from the 8-minute droners of Trust and the masterpiece Things We Lost In The Fire, Drums and Guns sees Low putting out 3-4 minute, soft-spoken rock songs. It's their most accessible record and very under-appreciated.

21) Bill Callahan - Woke On A Whaleheart
- Even though he's dating my lovely Joanna, I just can't hate Bill Callahan forever. The songwriting on this record is very precise. Opening track "From The Rivers To The Ocean" is pretty staggering.

20) Caribou - Andorra - "Melody Day" really sets the tone for this one. It's a bright, sunshiney album that gets better each time I listen to it.

19) Black Moth Super Rainbow - Dandelion Gum - Freaky Deaky. Jeff over at I'm Only Sleeping introduced me to these guys, who should definitely be bigger than they are.

18) Justice - - The only reason this album isn't higher is because it doesn't end as strongly as it begins. That would be a tough feat to match, however, as "Genesis", "Let There Be Light", and "D.A.N.C.E" are a dynamic trio of dance songs, and some of the best tracks in a long time to put on your party mix.

17) Blitzen Trapper - Wild Mountain Nation - How could I not include the album containing the song from which this blog gets its name? An eclectic mix of songs here, throwing together folk, punk rock, and some other sounds I can't even think of a name for.

16) The Field - From Here We Go Sublime - The only electronic album on this list that isn't really dance music. I listened to this album while driving from L.A. to San Diego and it put me in a weird, fourth dimensional trance. It has more of the repetitive elements of house music, but it's so much better than what they're playing in the shoe store.

15) The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters - Rock music with an accordian and a lead singer with a heavy Scottish accent. So heavy, in fact, that sometimes you might think it's Mike Myers doing one of his voices (any of them really, they all sound like some Scottish guy). With searing melodies building to some pretty intense crescendos, this album ended up a bit higher than I expected it to.

14) Battles - Mirrored - Listening to Mirrored is like being in a frenetic, extended chase sequence. Just having it on here at the computer makes me feel like I'm in Run Lola Run. A "genre" description I'm reading online calls it "noodled, mathy electro". That's one way to look at it.

13) Frog Eyes - Tears of the Valedictorian - This is pop music at its fastest and most eccentric. It also contains "Bushels", possibly the best song on any Frog Eyes album.

12) The National - Boxer - The National follow up Alligator with another album of emotional, hooky rock songs. Contrary to most of my peers, I think Boxer is even a little better than their last record, with "Mistaken For Strangers", "Green Gloves" and "Start A War" showing that their songwriting hasn't let up in the least.

11) Jay-Z - American Gangster - HOVA is back! Sure, he pulls out the big guns with "Roc Boys" and "Hello Brooklyn 2.0", but c'mon man, these beats is so good, he don't even need no hook for this shit!

10) Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - This is a remarkably tight rock record, which, like most Spoon records, has a few songs you can't get enough of for about a month. On this one, those would be "Don't Make Me A Target", "Don't You Evah", "You Got Yr Cherry Bomb", and "The Underdog".

9) Arcade Fire - Neon Bible - It's hard to follow up an album like Funeral. The initial complaints about Neon Bible was that it wasn't as "big" or "powerful" as its predecessor. Maybe it is a little more intimate, but it's no less intense, and it shows a willingness to not be tied down to one sound. It makes me very excited for what they'll do next.

8) Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity - Deerhoof just doesn't get tired of busting out insane pop songs. I'm convinced that +81 would be a huge hit if it could make its way on the radio. I went to a Deerhoof show once, and I was one of the oldest people there, which surprised me. But, now that I think about it, their music does sort of have a childlike, dreamy quality. Plus, they use them in Crayola commercials.

7) Kanye West - Graduation - Seriously, Kanye has all you rappers beat right now. People talk so much shit bout him at barber shops, they forget to get they hair cut! He samples CAN on this, people!

6) Okkervil River - The Stage Names - Equal in pretty much every way to the also-brilliant Black Sheep Boy, this record has some real beauties. Listen to it while driving alone in the desert, if you have a chance.

5) Panda Bear - Person Pitch - This one, on the other hand, listen to alone in your room in the dark with the headphones on. Or, maybe listen to it while leaning up against the only tree in a long grass field on a really sunny day. No matter the setting, Person Pitch feels like the perfect mood. It also was recently named Pitchfork's Best Album of 2007.

4) Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog - Sam Beam's most recent and most intimate album is also his best. The songwriting on here is quiet and beautiful. It's also remarkably accessible. There's really no reason anybody out there shouldn't like it.

3) Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? - This is the best Blondie album in 20 years. No, seriously, this has elements of the best glam rock and the best new wave. It's different from earlier Of Montreal albums as it's more immediate and the melodies just jump out at you. This record is in HD.

2) LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver - Play this album at a party. If everyone is not dancing by the 3rd minute of "Get Innocuous!", kick them out.

1) Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam - Was there ever really a question? I tried this year. I really tried to like something more than Animal Collective, but it's just not happening. The most consistent, energetic, and creative band of the last 5 years has released another masterpiece. From the opening rush of "Peacebone", through the screaming anthem of "Fireworks", to the underwater cabana groove of "Derek", Animal Collective delivers exactly what music should be.

Honorable mention-- As I said before, great albums undoubtedly got left out, and here they are, presented mercifully without my endless commentary:
Deerhunter - Cryptograms
The White Stripes - Icky Thump
The New Pornographers - Challengers
Feist - The Reminder
Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
St. Vincent - Marry Me
Sea Wolf - Leaves In The River
Thurston - Trees Outside The Academy

Disagree with me? Please post your own lists, arguments and criticisms in the comments.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

White-Hat ELO

Google is truly amazing. Here's how Google works in a few short sentences:

Google looks at keywords on your page to determine what the page is about. For example, if I have the words "albino", "fetish" and "porn" on my page, chances are my page is either about Albino Porn Fetishes, or is my brother's blog. Google then decides how good your page is based on whom you link to, and more importantly, who links to you. Therefore, just based on that link above to my brother's blog, Google thinks that my brother's blog is just a little bit more important than it really is. Google uses the "twin schmuck" theory, which states:

If one schmuck links to another schmuck, both may be slightly less schmucky than we think, and could be worth looking at.

However, the system isn't perfect. Some people don't understand that Google is a machine just looking at groups of keywords, and will type in actual questions, thinking that it is smart enough to understand the question and its context. Google is essentially just that "Dr. Know" character from Spielberg's A.I.

At any rate, this "asking a question" idea of searching is what led to Ask Jeeves many years ago, which argued that you could actually do that and the search algorithm would understand it. Of course, this didn't work, and that is why you have Ask.com today, which apparently is only good for helping Bigfoot learn how to shave.

This brings me to the point. Someone made it to my blog by typing "can $1,000,000 in one dollar bills fit into a suitcase" into Google. Those quotation marks are mine. Why would you need to know this information? I doubt any gun dealers have ever asked to be paid in "One million dollars, all in unmarked one-dollar bills, please."

Of course, I soon realized that this was likely a third or fourth grader, based on the top result in Google for this query. This link is a series of activities for youngsters to teach them math, within which is this word problem. Fabulous! Google works. Someone typed in that question and Google immediately provided an answer. This begs the question: If someone typed this into Google, and the very top result clearly provided the answer, why would the searcher scroll down and click on the #6 result, which says this:

"Country Caravan: September 2007
Unfortunately, you can only fit in 16 letters at a time on this one, .... There are forty suitcases. One of them has 1000000 dollars, one of them has 1 ..."

This blurb obviously has nothing to do with the question asked. It's not clear what exactly I was talking about, but based on the series of ellipses, I was certainly not providing an answer to the question.

Some of these results are interesting. My blog is currently #20 on Google for "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" which I'm pretty sure is the exact quote from Romeo and Juliet. I am going to try and get myself in the top 20 for a whole slew of Shakespeare quotes. Can you imagine if I were in the top 20 for "E tu, Brutus?"

Oh, and I suppose, if you think there are some good alternatives to Google completely owning your search experience, you should check out Mahalo. But honestly, if you're on my blog and you don't know what Mahalo is, what is with the caravan jokes?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Passion Of Joan Of Arc

Carl Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc is available in its entirety on YouTube. This is a really great and engaging movie, even if you don't often watch silent films. If you have 80 minutes with nothing to do I suggest you watch it.
A few warnings: There is no soundtrack. Choose your own and play it in the background. The Mulholland Drive soundtrack would probably work or anything by Scott Walker.
Also, there are a few title cards in French with no subtitles, but that doesn't really matter. It's just the story of Joan of Arc and it's pretty simple to follow even without being able to read French. Just watch Maria Falconetti's face. One of the great performances in film history. Enjoy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

My name is Jonathan Harris. I work at Mahalo.com. However, type "Jonathan Harris" into www.mahalo.com and what you get is not me. What you get is this guy. He is an artist or something. He apparently creates "projects that explore human expression on the Internet."

Wow, I do that, too. Me and this Jonathan Harris guy have so much in common. I'm not bitter, really. After all, would I actually expect the "Jonathan Harris" result page to be about me? I haven't done anything of note, and it is, admittedly, a rather common name. I have one of the most popular male boys names in the country, and "Harris" is up there among the most common last names. I've often wondered whether my name has restricted me, made me seem more common and average than I might really be.

There are many notable Jonathan Harrises who have accomplished quite a bit. He was the villain on the original "Lost In Space" show. (Side Note: Weird to read an obituary with your name in it) He's this artist guy mentioned above. He's a Connecticut State Senator. He, apparently, sells totally badass camera equipment. AND! I just discovered that he's a fairly ridiculous country singer. <----Seriously, this link is worth clicking on. The biography on his official website describes him as "a popular fixture of the Puget Sound country scene". Golly, and I've just done nothing with my life!

I know I'm not the only one to have this problem. Just in my office alone, I work with a Michael Moore, an Andy Kaufman, and an Adam Smith. I also work with people who have completely original names. So original that the chances of someone also having it are extremely slim. I envy them at times. All of this is covered quite festively in Alan Berliner's film The Sweetest Sound where he finds about 11 other people in the world with his same name and invites them all to dinner. It's quite interesting.

Anyway, here are images of the people I also am, none of whom look anything like me.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

I Made A List Today, Oh Boy

I was discussing The Beatles with my friend Lelah yesterday and what our favorite songs by them are. I'm not sure she has a specific favorite, but she said she's had "I'm So Tired" in her head for several days now. I don't think I've listened to The White Album all the way through for awhile, and I remembered what a great song that was. I thought I'd post my Top Ten Beatles Songs, which is a harder list to compile than you might imagine, because so many brilliant songs are inevitably cut.

Keep in mind that I went with my first instincts here, and would almost certainly create a different list in another month or another year. Here they are, in reverse order:

10) I've Just Seen A Face - Amazingly, this is the earliest song on this list. One of Paul's very best two minute pop songs.

9) Dear Prudence - It was between this and "Happiness is a Warm Gun". John's best song from The White Album gets the spot at Number 9, Number 9, Number 9...

8) Eleanor Rigby - I don't have much to say about this one.

7) While My Guitar Gently Weeps/Something - I know I'm cheating a little bit, here, but I wanted at least one George song on this list, and I just can't decide between these two.

6) Dig A Pony - A frequently overlooked song, considering some of the softer melodies on Let It Be. A miraculous song, and maybe the best straight-out-rock tune John ever wrote.

5) Tomorrow Never Knows - It's trendy to pick this one, but can you imagine hearing this for the first time in 1966?

4) She's Leaving Home - I don't have much to say about this one either, but it's a beautifully sad song and seems to fit in perfectly in the middle of Sgt. Pepper.

3) I Am The Walrus - What can you say? This song is out of its mind:

2) Let It Be - Heather Mills says Paul was violent and abusive to her, and maybe he was, I have no idea. How could someone who did those things write this song? It doesn't make any sense.

1) A Day In The Life - If I had the strength right now, I'd do my "Greatest Songs Ever" list. This would be high up there. It's a song I've heard countless times and I don't get tired of it.

I invite lists of your own in the comments below and I'm sure I'll be reminded of a few songs that I'll want to include into my own list. "Top Ten Dylan Songs" coming soon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I went clothes shopping today after work. Yes, at an actual store. No, they don't also sell used record players. Seriously, an actual store! Of course, I couldn't verify that the clothes weren't made by young children chained to a table in Indonesia. But, what do you want? It's Christmas.

Anyway, I'm always very cautious about buying clothes. I'm convinced that I have absolutely no style, and that this quality is a main feature of my persona, as if people think of my inability to dress myself upon the very mention of me, before any other aspects of my personality.

"Jonathan? Why, yes, I know him. The guy who dresses like Balki from Perfect Strangers?"

I bought a green zip-up sweatshirt, a red button-down shirt with white stripes and some grey pants. The store called them "The Producer". I feel kind of Bob Weinstein-ish sometimes anyway, but it helped to be wearing the pants.

That's interesting, isn't it? You zip up, but you button down. You only "button up" if you must do it very quickly, as in "My husband is home, button up!" And you only "zip down" if it's to Starbucks or something, as in "I'm going to zip down to Tijuana and blow the kid's college savings." (Don't sue, Carlin!)

I went to two stores. One had a Men's section and a Women's section. Very convenient. The other store had two different rooms, but the clothes were all scattered, so each room had both men's and women's, pants, shirts, scarves, shoes, all mingled together. The clothes at this place are also such that I was often confused as to whether I was looking at men's or women's clothing.

You used to be able to tell by how the circulation to your lower half got cut off by the pants, but now men's jeans do that too! I guess I just wasn't made for these times.

Final note: I can't wear the clothes for at least a few days after I've bought them, or else I feel like I'm trying to prove something, and everyone will know I just went shopping. Wonder why that is?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

That's The Dopplr Promise

It's been a week since I've posted, and I can think of nothing better to promote this week than Monday's edition of Mahalo Daily. If you look real closely, you might just see some familiar faces.

Don't worry, my blog will not turn into a Mahalo-promoting machine. We're just too damn good sometimes.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Oh help me, dear doctor, I'm damaged

I'm trying to think of another profession in the world where you can be chronically late, for every single appointment, and be completely immune to criticism. The only other person I can think of who is late every time is the cable guy, and he takes tons of criticism!
Actually, he doesn't. The poor person on the customer service helpline who's been there since 5 AM has to hear about how you have to take your dog to the kennel and pick your children up from day care and reorganize your senile uncle's sock drawer, blah blah blah. The point is, that industry gets intense criticism.

Doctors, on the other hand, have never had an unkind word said to them. For all they know, we like waiting in two separate rooms for 40 minutes apiece. I'm almost disappointed when the doctor finally comes in. After all, I only have to leave to put money in the meter twice!

I had a doctor's appointment the other morning. I specifically requested the very first one, so that there would be no running-late/previous-patient nonsense. I was amazed. Only in the waiting room for 10 minutes and the nurse was calling my name. "Mr. Jonathan?" That's me!

The nurses, I must say, are right on the money. They check your height, weight, blood pressure, temperature in about 30 seconds flat. I love the efficiency. We went through that whole business in which I learned that I, in fact, have shrunk another half inch since my previous visit to the doctor two weeks ago! I'll be 4 inches tall in a few months or so and then I can finally take that trip to Lilliput!

Anyway, my excitement brewed as I made it into this empty series of corridors so quickly. I was positive that the doctor was just sitting alone, right inside his office, perhaps doodling or playing with a rubix cube, eager for his first patient to arrive. I was led into my little room and hopped right up on that paper runway (germs could never penetrate that!) and commenced with what, I was certain, would be no more than 4 minutes of thumb-twiddling.

Three September 2003 magazines, a thickening beard, and one vernal equinox later the doctor opened the door and spent approximitely 16 1/2 seconds actually speaking to me. He quite resembled that guy who used to do the Micro Machines commercials back in the 80s.

Based on the time I have spent actually in the presence of a doctor in my life, I estimate that they see anywhere between three and four-thousand patients per day. Either that or they spend their entire mornings attempting to read their own handwriting.

Whew. What a rant! Serenity Now!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Few Plugs

I have an honest-to-god real post coming soon about going to the doctor's office, but for right now, a few plugs for Mahalo.
Thanksgiving is coming up, and Mahalo has a plethora of outstanding search results to help you plan your Thanksgiving meals, festivities, etc.
Here are some pages:
Best Vegetarian Thanksgiving
How to Survive Thanksgiving Dinner with Your Family
Thanksgiving Casseroles
Thanksgiving Cupcakes
Thanksgiving MySpace Layouts
Thanksgiving Turkey
Thanksgiving Wine

One more plug. The new Mahalo daily podcast, aptly titled Mahalo Daily, is out and getting great press! Featuring the mythical Veronica Belmont.
Check it out!

Typical Jonathan post featuring whining and lovable sarcasm coming soon....

Monday, November 5, 2007


I ate at Michelangelo in Silver Lake tonight. One of my favorite Italian restaurants in Los Angeles. After much urging, I tried the risotto, which I've never had before, and ended up being quite delicious.

The service wasn't perfect, but I was in a party of 14 people so I'm sure they were a little overwhelmed. When it's your birthday they turn off all the lights and play loud, distracting music so that everyone in the place knows it's your birthday and starts to hate you. It's great if it's not your birthday and you can just watch with amusement.

It's cold in the city now, which makes me not want to stay out late eating, especially in the middle of the week. It's also that time of year when I started thinking that my alarm clock is playing a cruel joke on me, because it couldn't possible be 7:45 AM when it's that cold and unforgivable out.

I'm only titling this post "Michelangelo", because putting "Michelangelo Silver Lake" would make it look like I was desperately trying to get into that #1 spot in Google for that result. I'll test it in a few days and see if my keywords and blog prowess have been successful.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stumbelina and The Greatest Band Ever

I haven't written in nine days and I'm desperate for a topic. When I first started the blog, I thought this would never happen because it would theoretically be an effortless flow of information from my head. However, since people sometimes actually read this thing and would like to find it amusing, I have found it prudent to have actual topics of interest to discuss.

So, I've been "stumbling" (see this post for background) looking for something to write about. I don't have much to say about this, but check out this site of what are supposedly phone exam answers. My favorite is the bonus point hostage or maybe the "noob" answer. I also like the ones where the student obviously had no clue whatsoever and just wrote something highly offensive to maybe get a chuckle. I can appreciate both the a) hopelessness and b) creativity.

You want more entertainment? Sigh...watch this then if you haven't already:

By the way, now that Halloween is almost over, you can all start thinking about Thanksgiving! And make cupcakes!

I'll think of something to write about soon. I swear.

Monday, October 22, 2007

More People I Supposedly Resemble

Note: This list comes from Crief, who says I resemble the following people, even though I look nothing like any of them.

Former Detroit Tigers Pitcher Mark Fidrych, a.k.a The Bird

Edmonton Oilers Head Coach Craig MacTavish

Bill Walton "in his Trailblazers days"

Sideshow Bob

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Drop It Like It's Hot

A fast and rowdy game is taking place between about 8 teenagers. They’re tall, fast, and look like they know what they’re doing.
A YOUNGER BOY, around 7 or 8, sits on the blacktop just outside the court, his elbows on his knees, watching the game.
From one side of the court, one of the broader players steals the ball and drives the length of the court. He stops as another player rushes to cover him, fades back, and takes a shot.
The ball bounces off the rim and over the backboard.
The younger boy throws his hands up.

Come on, man, I could have made that shot with my eyes closed!

The game stops and the teenagers turn to look at the kid. The BROAD GUY who missed the shot looks around at his friends, some of whom are snickering at him.

What did you say to me?

I said that shot was textbook. That’s like shooting a lime into a shopping cart, man, you can’t hit that?

The broad guy’s friends start laughing.

You think you could hit that? Under pressure?

What do you think? I’m two feet shorter than you. You got eyes, dude?

So you can’t talk. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Get out of here, alright?

Him and his buddies turn, pick up the ball and begin shooting around again. The young boy stands up and spits in the direction of the teenagers.
A tall and skinny player sees it.

Are you spitting at us, kid?

I can spit all over your dumb asses.

Is that right?

Damn right. Check it.

He takes off his shirt and reveals a large gold chain hanging over his chest.

Check, check, 1, 2.

He clears his throat.

I’m bringin shame on your crew / A bunch of fishes lookin’ for your Shamu / You know it’s like I point the finger at you / Breakin’ your heart like I was Fredo in Godfather 2

The teenagers all stand dumbfounded. He continues.

I’m throwin heat on you like Michael Mann / I’m Slim and you bitches are just my Stan / You cryin, you my biggest fan / You better hide with Osama in Afghanistan

The broad guy comes forward. He stands rubbing his temples, thinking for a minute, then begins himself.

Little man, why you being so uncouth / It’s too hot for you here, that’s the inconvenient truth / you out of your game, you should be ashamed / I’m the Blue Cross, bitch, I’m denyin’ your claim / Go back to day care, you gettin fatigued / There’s no crying in baseball, your not in my league / Your scrawny ass frontin, you nothin but a n00b / I’m the walrus, baby, goo goo ga joob

The other teenagers nod their heads and grin at the kid. Some of them start to egg him on.

You gonna let him get away with that?

I don’t know, man. I wouldn’t like being called no n00b.

Yeah, man. What you got? Oh, you’re done?

The young boy looks at the ground for a moment, then he looks up, tugs on his chain, and steps forward.

That taste in your mouth, it’s only turning sour / I waterboard your ass like I was Jack Bauer / I’m a virus, bitch, messin with your PC / You gonna hide and run away, LOL BRB / You got no game left, you spit then you drop...uhhh....

He pauses and thinks the quickly. The teenagers lean forward and start to chuckle at his stumbling.

...uhhh...I’m giving you signs, circlin in your crop / You mess with me twice and I def pull the trigger / you best step off, man, I’m a crazy-ass...uhhhmmm...

He stops. He can’t think of anything.
The teenagers lean forward. Some of them gasp.

Damn. You guys win.

He pulls the chain from around his neck, drops it on the ground, and walks away.
The rest of them turn back. The skinny guy picks up the basketball, fades back and shoots. It sails through the hoop.

It was an easy shot, man.

For more information, see the following resources.
SeeqPod Music beta - Playable Search

Friday, October 12, 2007

Beirut at the Avalon

I realize I've been on a blogging drought. Every night I sit here and try to think of something to write about, but it seems I've used up my clever angles and gimmicks for the month. Raj says I should write about the Cowboys-Bills game of last Monday night and go in depth as to the agonizing and painful defeat the Bills all-too-often take. But, as all writers must, I am thinking about my audience, which consists of a few people at work, my mother, and the seven people a week who get here by typing "Caravan Jokes" into Google.

Honestly, what are these hysterical jokes about caravans I am missing? The surprising volume of people looking up this subject makes me think there is a vast, untapped market I should be looking into. I may become the world's first Caravan Comic. Nothing but jokes about emigrating nomads (a Rabbi, a Priest, and a Buddhist).

I eventually settled on the Beirut show I went to see on Wednesday night. Beirut is essentially this very talented guy Zach Condon and crew (a caravan, if you will) of cellists, violinists, pianists, horn players, and whatever else he may need. Here's them playing the song "Postcards From Italy" from their previous album "Gulag Orkestar".

They have a new album that came out on Tuesday that I haven't bought yet. And unlike some experimental British popsters I could name, they actually expect you to go to a store and buy it, in person! I'm all too happy to oblige. I don't have $220,000 sitting around to give to the RIAA.

Speaking of which, do you know why nobody buys music anymore? There are no record stores! Just a few years ago, when I was in college, they were everywhere. Nowadays, the only place I really know to go to is Amoeba, and parking there when it's busy is like trying to get Britney Spears to wear underwear!

Anyway, if you like Beirut and think that music might be a suitable blog topic in the future, why not let me know? It seems odd for me to talk about music on the blog, and I'm not much of a critic, so there won't be much in the way of cornea-damagingly long reviews.

Anyway, have a good weekend everybody.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Other People I Unfortunately Resemble

Samwise Gamgee

Kerry Strug

Dylan in the 80s

Alvie Singer

Fat Clay Aiken

A baby wearing a toupee

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Common Orange County Conversation

Dude, dude, you know what's awesome? The Office, dude. Crazy funny. Did you see the one where they hid Ed Helms' phone in the ceiling? Oh, man, I was like dying! What? What other version? Oh yeah, I heard about that, but like, you can't hear what they're talking about. It's all like English-talk and stuff. Plus, the American version has so much more Looking At Each Other Awkwardly. The British one only has like 4 Looking At Each Other Awkwardlies per episode. Lame.

No, dude. You know what's really awesome? That Disturbia movie. Freaky, dude, just like, freaky. Kid can't leave his house and then he looks in the window next door and he sees a murder. No, dude, he can't go do anything about it! Cuz he's under House Arrest, bro! What do you mean that's been done? Right, like in the 50s. Whatevs, dude, whatevs. Seriously, bro, everything has "been done" if you go back far enough. Who cares if some old geezers did the same thing in like the Stone Age? Dude, you are like so past-minded man. You have to look into the future. You know what those Oasis guys said? Be here now. There's alot of truth in that. What do you mean, Buddha said that? Dude, seriously.

Ok, you want to go all old and classic? I got you covered. 1990s, bro. Dave Matthews Band has this song they only play live called Watchtower. Killer, man. It's like all eight minutes long but it totally holds your attention.

What are you talking about. Is he still alive? Dude, you are such a buzz kill. Like seriously.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Anyone Can Cook

In Ratatouille, the Peter O'Toole character, Anton Ego, has a great speech about the nature of being a critic. Here is what he says:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new.

This is pretty insightful and accurate.

Except in the case of Fox's new sitcom Back To You, which is a painfully unfunny new show starring Kelsey Gramm
ar and Patricia Heaton. I had an idea that I would have a weekly segment on the blog where I would watch Back To You and talk about how bad it is. Frankly, though, after watching one episode, I honestly don't think I can do it. The entire episode centered around Kelsey Grammar trying to cover up that he killed a goldfish and Fred Willard trying to figure out how to get an orange into his pants, magically. Does this sound entertaining?

So, after careful consideration, I have decided to scrap that segment of the blog. Plus, how can I be mean to my personal acquaintance and friend Kelsey Grammar? (Oh y
es, I'm confident he remembers me.)

Instead, going back to Ratatouille, I've been told by several friends that I resemble the lead human character, Linguini. Here are pictures of us side-by-side:

I don't see it. But hey, it's like hearing the sound of your own voice.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Casa Nostra

Sometimes you see a movie and there is a character in the movie who talks in a really cool or unique way, and after you leave the movie you find yourself talking like him/her for several hours. Just me?
Okay, well there's also the game "Mafia". And after you play it with a group of people, you find yourself thinking about the perfect strategy to win it for several days. That's what I've been doing.
If you don't know how to play Mafia, here is a pretty decent explanation from Wikihow. It has some variations I don't use often, especially that if the "Sheriff" is right about who the Mafia is, the Mafia is immediately dead. Go ahead and read it if you're not familiar because I can't really explain the whole thing in the blog.

Ah, you know how to play now? Good. Here are my thoughts:

Everyone who is Mafia has a tendency to be very quiet. This is why I tend to be a dead giveaway when it's me, unless I'm playing around people who haven't played with me before or don't know me very well. It takes an incredible amount of restraint when you're a Civilian (an "innocent" in the Wikihow explanation) to keep quiet. You know it's not you, so you want to do everything to find out who it is, meaning you're probably very loud and exuberant.

Knowing that this is the main giveaway when you ARE the Mafia (acting differently than you normally do), the key may be to act exactly the same no matter what. Just sit there stone-faced. Of course, this isn't exactly a strategy. It doesn't do anything to convince people that you aren't the Mafia. It just suggests that you act the same way every time and are therefore just as suspicious as anyone else. There has to be a better strategy.

I've come up with it. A brilliant strategy that will make you lose at first, but if you're playing long enough, will give you a remarkable victory. By the way, if anyone reads this whom I will be playing with soon, forget everything I'm about to say. I totally won't be doing it.

Here it is: You're likely to be an Innocent for a round or two. This is good. Act however you normally would as an Innocent. Yell, jump around, whatever. But, remember what you're doing and how you're acting.
Then, when you finally become Mafia, be a dead giveaway. Sit quiet, shift your eyes, act totally suspicious. If they pick you and you lose, no big deal. Everyone will have a good laugh. Whatever. Keep playing the game.
The next time you're Mafia, don't be a dead giveaway. Jump around, yell, whatever you do every time you're an Innocent. But you have to sell it. Don't hold back. If your usual tactic is to accuse the same person, accuse that person. Everyone has already seen what you do when you're Mafia, so nobody will suspect you. It's all about being a good actor, but only after you've made everyone think you're terrible.

Game, set, and match.

And...just to show you all I haven't lost my touch...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Not To Be All Dave Barry, But...

You know what's fun? Anagram generators. I usually use this one. Here's what you do:
#Think of some celebrity you want to make fun of.
#Type their name in the anagram generator.
#Then see what funny anagrams there are!
Sometimes you don't get any funny ones, though! I typed in Britney Spears and one of the better ones was "Best In A Sperry". That would be hilarious, if only "Sperry" meant "bourbon-reaking mobile home". No, apparently "Sperry" is the name of the guy who invented the gyrocompass.
Other possibly funny ones:
I Try Bean Press
Press It Nearby
(this next one is cruel, possibly):
Barren Yet Piss
(and I think we have a winner):
Try Beer, Pin Ass

There may actually be other good ones. I didn't go through all 5,908. And, just for the record, I don't really have anything against Britney Spears. I just figured her name had enough letters, and there were likely to be some funny combinations, considering her reputation.
Unfortunately, you can only fit in 16 letters at a time on this one, so I can't even do Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I honestly wanted to try his name. But now it's just an excuse to put in this picture of him.

Doesn't he look like a fun guy? Such a publicity hound, though. Probably a nice guy to have a beer with. Unless he finds out I'm a Jew Atheist. That's an idea rife with comedy! I smell a Fox sitcom with me and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad living in an apartment. It's called "Nuclear Family".
Anyway...one more just for fun.
Let's try Ann Coulter:
(Note: You may see four letters in "Ann Coulter" that you may think perfectly describe her. However, amazingly enough, none of them really fit into a distinct thought, and the anagram generator omits those anyway, so I have as well.)
These first few make little sense:
Not Nuclear
Noun Cartel
No Rent UCLA
Corn Nut Ale

These next few are getting closer:
Cannot Rule
Cannot Lure

Ah, here it is:
Real Con Nut

Funny, how that works out sometimes.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore

I was trying, tonight, to think of what the Funniest Joke Ever is. I went to one of those online joke sites where users rate the jokes. Now, I'm not saying that people don't know what "funny" is, but this is the Top Rated Joke on the site:

A crowded Virgin flight was cancelled after Virgin's 767s had been withdrawn from service. A single attendant was re-booking a long line of inconvenienced travellers. Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said, "I HAVE to be on this flight and it HAS to be FIRST CLASS".

The attendant replied, "I'm sorry, sir. I'll be happy to try to help you, but I've got to help these people first, and I'm sure we'll be able to work something out." The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM?"

Without hesitating, the attendant smiled and grabbed her public address microphone: "May I have your attention please, may I have your attention please," she began - her voice heard clearly throughout the terminal. "We have a passenger here at Gate 14 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to Gate 14."

With the folks behind him in line laughing hysterically, the man glared at the Virgin attendant, gritted his teeth and said, "Fuck You!"

Without flinching, she smiled and said, "I'm sorry, sir, but you'll have to get in line for that too."

Ok. Clearly not funny. Made even unfunnier by the fact that the joke is passed off as a true story. How is this the top-rated joke on any website?

This joke was labeled in a BBC article as the funniest joke ever:

A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator, in a calm soothing voice says: "Just take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. The guy's voice comes back on the line. He says: "OK, now what?"

Really? The funniest joke ever? It's slightly funnier than the last one, but still not great. So, if anyone out there can remember the funniest joke they've ever heard, post it as a comment. I'm having a hard time thinking of any right now. Perhaps this is because of the nature of comedy. Once you've heard or seen something funny once, it becomes less funny each time you hear or see it again, as the element of surprise is gone.

Speaking of surprising, I just came upon this clip of a talking bird. I remember this very clearly, as I was backstage watching when it was filmed. I was a Production Assistant on "Pet Star" several years ago, and apparently this clip has stood the test of time.

Ha ha! Non-stop hilarity.
Did you find that as funny as those three minor celebrities?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Arcade Fire

Last night I went out with some friends I don't see terribly often. They had the idea to go miniature golfing in Sherman Oaks, so I said sure. When we got there the line to play mini-golf was around the block, so we decided to just wander around the arcade area for awhile.

Inside the arcade, it's your normal assortment of racing games, shoot 'em ups, and Dance Dance Revolution. Except....right there, in the middle of the room, was the Deal Or No Deal Arcade Game. If you haven't seen Deal Or No Deal, here is how it works. There are forty suitcases. One of them has 1,000,000 dollars, one of them has 1 dollar, and the rest have amounts in between. The contestant chooses a suitcase and then they open up the remaining suitcases one at a time. Then, the "banker" (this shadowy guy up in a booth that everyone hisses at as if he was running a Puppy Prison up there) makes an offer to the contestant based on what is likely to be in his case. The contestant then chooses Deal or No Deal to decide whether he/she will take the offer or go for the 1,000,000 dollars. The entire show is just one extended 4th grade probability word problem.

Anyway, the Deal or No Deal arcade game consists, completely, of a giant screen with scantily clad women holding cartoon suitcases, and two buttons. One says Deal, the other says No Deal. You put in something like two dollars to play this game, and get this: If you hit Deal, the game is immediately over. Because you've accepted the Deal! So, not only does this game have no action or interactive playability, but it doesn't even have any critical decision making whatsoever! Your entire job is to sit there and hit the No Deal button. That's it.

Which brings me to what I saw last night. The guy playing the Deal Or No Deal arcade game was a large white man with a goatee, a Red Sox cap and a Red Sox Jersey. He essentially looked like Larry the Cable Guy.

Okay, so this guy is playing the Deal Or No Deal game, and he is really really into it. He sits on this stool, stroking his chin intently, lowering his eyebrows at this, apparently, diabolical torture apparatus in front of him. Occasionally, he even stands up and paces in front of the machine, ignoring the families standing a few feet behind him, waiting to play this glorified Coin Flip. Of course, all he ever does, after this endless filibustering, is press the No Deal button.

You may be wondering what you can actually win in this game. Instead of money being in the suitcases, each suitcase says something like "20 Tickets". You know those tickets you exchange at arcades for prizes? I think the grand prize in the Deal Or No Deal game is something like 400 tickets, which, at Sherman Oaks Castle Park, I believe you can exchange for either a thimble full of honey, a thumbtack, or a dead bee.

Anyway, he's furrowing his brow at this thing. Beads of sweat dripping onto his hands. He's down to about four suitcases left. This man has obviously been there all day. He's going to conquer this machine, it's clear. His hands hover over the buttons and he cringes as if they make him sick, like Alex in A Clockwork Orange. He lets his left hand drop, he raises his right, and slams his palm down on the No Deal button. This is the next thing I hear:

"Goddammit motherfucker!!"

I look up and he is on his feet, slamming his fist down on this poor, pathetic machine, kicking the stool out from under him. He takes off his hat and flings it, helplessly, onto the floor. The next moment is one of those times when you realize you've just way way overreacted, like when you rent a DVD and it keeps skipping and you almost rip the thing out of the wall and go nuts rubbing the underside of the disc on your shirt.

Anyway, he finally realizes that everyone is looking at him, picks up his hat, and skuttles away. I won about 12 tickets playing Ski Ball and traded it for three paint chips.

Thank you Sherman Oaks Castle Park.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I ramble on like a Macaca...

So John McCain is in a tiny bit of hot water because he called some kid a little jerk. Now he has to spend the next several weeks trying to explain the comment and weasel around it and pretend that he never has negative thoughts about anybody, ever. I'm not a big fan of McCain, but I always defend something like this. I even defend Jerry Lewis when he blurts out the F-Word (the other f-word).

Because things like this happen to me all the time! Not quite as bad as calling someone an f-word or a "little jerk" even, but I get in tons of trouble, have to apologize profusely, and then (and this is the worst part), the offended party totally misses the joke!

Years ago I'm in a store with my girlfriend at the time. We're walking around and I think I had to buy an external hard drive or something. She sees one of those dogs with the scrunched up little faces that look like its eyes have just sunk into its head.
She says: "Aww, that's so cute! I love little faces like that!"
I say: "Me too! Why do you think I'm with you?" (I gesture at her face)

Okay...I know what you're thinking. In hindsight, the benefit of the joke was not worth the having to apologize for 4 hours. Plus, it's not even that funny. I could see if the joke was really really funny, it would have been easier to smooth over.
(Note: I have a similar, longer story to this one involving a funnier joke, but since the bulk of the people reading the blog have heard it, I will refrain for now).

The point of the above story, however, is that of course I didn't mean it! How could I have meant it? There must be some cursed gene I have that makes me not think about the consequences of words before I speak (or write) them. Same gene that Michael Richards and Jerry Lewis have. Now, to be fair in my generalizing, I will come right out and say that I exclude people like Isaiah Washington, Bill O'Reilly, George W. Bush. Those people are, respectively, a homophobe, a total schmuck, and some sort of unnatural, word-stumbling, snickering cyborg. These people do not get excused as easily, because they either have significant time to choose their words, or it's clear that they really mean what they are saying (France Boycott? I think he was serious about that...)

Anyway...the brevity has slipped away right now. What was I trying to say?

Oh yeah, everyone who reads my blog is a little jerk. No...wait a minute....

Monday, September 3, 2007

Are you ready for some slow statistical aggregation?

First thing's first. My friend Lelah has a blog, and she has been kind enough to reference Country Caravan to send her readership over here (Hi, Dylan). She has cleverly taken a picture of just her nose and mouth in order to remain inconspicuous to potential hordes of adoring fans. For some reason, I'm not as worried about that. (see picture)

Anyway, I'm in a Fantasy Football League at Mahalo. Here's how it works. 12 of us get together and hover over computers for an hour and a half to choose what we think are the players that will be the most productive, statistics-wise, over the course of the season. We frequently get frustrated and yelp and stomp our feet like pre-historic monkeys when other "General Managers" take the players we had wanted on our team. We ignore the fact that these wealthy, professional athletes would likely want nothing to do with us, even if we did own professional sports teams, and would probably only allow us into their homes if we were shooting their episode of "Cribs".

The Football Season starts this Thursday, and then things will really heat up. We will stand about five feet in front of the television and scream expletives at nobody in particular, oblivious to any events surrounding us, even if those events could seriously affect our lives (i.e. fire, being evicted, sibling dying, etc.) It will sound like the Klingon language to the uninitiated. Here is an example: "Calling a draw on third and fifteen with 1:06 left and Palmer having the kind of game he's having?!? GAAHHH!!!!"

There are penalties for those who cannot adequately finish off the season. There are no exceptions for not giving one's complete attention to the weekly roster.
"Your sister is getting married? Don't make me laugh."
"You accidentally cut off your finger and have to rush to the hospital immediately for reattachment? Go to hell."
"You spoke to an actual girl last week and are going to have coffee with her? I have no son."

I will, of course, keep my avid readership up-to-date on my ranking in the Kokua Football League.

Sidenote: I'm about to go buy a blender and am doing some serious research on Smoothies. Happy Labor Day.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Free Idea For StumbleUpon

I think StumbleUpon is probably the best of the discover/tagging/bookmark sites. If you haven't used it and you're reading this (Mom), StumbleUpon is a social bookmarking site that shows you new, unique, and interesting websites tailored to your interests. How does it know what sites are good? Because, ordinary people "tag" a site when they like it. The more tags something gets, the more likely it is to show it to you, I think. The coolest part of StumbleUpon, and what distinguishes it from something like Del.icio.us or Digg, is the "Stumble" feature that you can install as a toolbar in your broswer. I click "stumble" and it takes me to some random page in one of my pre-selected interests.

I just clicked Stumble, and out of the blue it took me to this really awesome site I've never seen before, with interactive Fridge Magnets. Great idea, very simple, and I haven't seen it done before.

Just clicked it again, and it took me to this SEQL page, 100 Ways to Save the Environment
A little hippie-ish, but hey, I'm the one who clicked Environment under my interests.

Anyway, StumbleUpon's awesomeness gave me an idea for a great podcast/Tv Show/YouTube Meme Nonsense video.
What if every week, StumbleUpon (and Fox/CBS/HBO/Whomever) picked three of these out-of-the-blue pages that nobody would usually see, and did a 7-10 minute segment on each? Go and see the developers, maybe act out on some of these environmental recommendations and see if they work. Do a bit where you take the guy who created Charlie The Unicorn and dare him to do a 10-minute stand-up bit and see if he gets any laughs. (If the guy who created C the U actually is funny, I'll issue a full retraction).

The whole thing can be hosted by Ryan Seacrest or Bob Saget or whoever is available. And here's the clincher. Weekly guest appearances by Sammy Stephens!

Again, I have not registered this idea with any writer's guild. The StumbleUpon guys and gals can get on this tomorrow...no finder's fee necessary.

One more thing: Just in case you were wondering, I promise here and now that I will not embed Flea Market Montgomery into the blog more than once a week.

[deep breath] This isn't going to be easy....

A Good Blog Name Is Hard To Find

I had the idea that the title of my new blog was a make or break decision. Everyone wants to have the best blog title, band name, fantasy football team name (mine is Johnny Hive and the Upstart Five...also not great). Here was my process for deciding:

My first instinct was to choose a song title or lyric that would be suitably ambiguous, but that people in the know would recognize, and thus think I'm quite cool.

I chose the phrase "Also a Tin Teardrop" from Captain Beefheart, but thought it sounded too hokey after careful debate. Then I got a brilliant idea. Candy Colored Clown. It satisfied several criteria:
1) Suitably ambiguous for people not "in the know".
2) References both a classic song and a classic film (if you don't know what either are, I know several people who would not be your friend).
3) Pleasant sounding enough that I could deal with it for several months/years if necessary.

Wouldn't you know it? Some thoughtless cretin already took the Candy Colored Clown name from Blogger! And this is all he's doing with it??

Suitably discouraged, I flipped through the 'ol iTunes library and found something simple, not terribly funny, and hopefully indicative of the scattered nature of the coming posts. It's from a Blitzen Trapper song. I will attempt to embed it here in the blog, along with N.W.A and Eazy-E's "Eazy-Duz-It", just so I don't look like a hippie or anything.
Internet Savvy!!

Much thanks to Julia and the How-To Crew over at Mahalo, who made this process extremely simple with the following page: How to Set Up a Blog
Full disclosure: I work at Mahalo. I love it, but I'm not making this blog just to promote it. Happy, Winer?

I will also be trying to drum up support for a unique screenwriting contest I am starting soon. Details to come on that...

Also, I will attempt to design this page a little better to remove from it all notions of Splogginess.

The End...?