Monday, July 31, 2006

Top Ten Reasons Why People Quit Their Jobs

From Gregory P. Smith.

1. Management demands that one person do the jobs of two or more people, resulting in longer days and weekend work.

2. Management cuts back on administrative help, forcing professional workers to use their time copying, stapling, collating, filing and other clerical duties.

3. Management puts a freeze on raises and promotions, when an employee can easily find a job earning 20-30 percent more somewhere else.

4. Management doesn’t allow the rank and file to make decisions or allow them pride of ownership.

5. Management constantly reorganizes, shuffles people around, and changes direction constantly.

6. Management doesn’t have or take the time to clarify goals and decisions. Therefore, it rejects work after it was completed, damaging the morale and esteem of those who prepared it.

7. Management shows favoritism and gives some workers better offices, trips to conferences, etc.

8. Management relocates the offices to another location, forcing employees to quit or double their commute.

9. Management promotes someone who lacks training and/or necessary experience to supervisor, alienating staff and driving away good employees.

10. Management creates a rigid structure and then allows departments to compete against each other while at the same time preaching teamwork and cooperation.

Response to Mel Gibson’s Anti-Semitic Behavior

I’m not going to write about Mel Gibson's recent ranting against the Jews during his arrest for DUI; The anti-semitic behavior I'm interested is his film the Passion of the Christ.

When the film wash released, Gibson negated the history of the use of passion plays to incite people against Jews during the Middle Ages and on. He also dismissed any charges that his film was a provocation against the Jews.

I saw the Passion. It’s a startling film that vividly portrays pain and vilification of a human being on an epic level. It in no way made an argument for divinity or understanding. Nor did it show the many good qualities of the Jews like humor and Sandy Koufax. Basically, it was the sickening treatment of a human being. Something that has happened over and over throughout human history. Something that is despicable, no matter the perpetrators or victims.

If suffering violence nobly is the mostly Godly act in the world, then I’d like to be as little like God as possible. As far as the genius and liberating thought of the historical Jesus, it was almost completely absent in the film-- except when Jesus created the world’s first bar stool, to the amazement of Mary. Also absent was the ranting against homosexuality that must have taken up most of Jesus’ time, based on the passions of his followers.

In summation, The Passion of the Christ was offensive.

Gibson’s recent arrest is simply a comic revelation of the true intentions behind the film.

The Estate Tax: Robbing the Rich to Starve the Poor

Please read Valley native Greg Palast’s pitch-perfect take on the atrocity of the Estate Tax cut passed by Congress last week.

A taste:

It’s not easy being a child of incredibly wealthy parents. Indeed, as the President noted, “death taxes” are supremely unfair to those who’ve earned these millions. As Mr. Bush often mentions, he himself worked long hours his whole life to be born into a rich family.

4 Misconceptions about "The Big Bang"

I encourage you to read the entire post from the Angry Astronomer, but here's the basics.

1) The Big Bang was not an explosion

2) The Big Bang theory doesn’t explain what caused it

3) There’s no evidence for the Big Bang

4) The Big Bang doesn’t leave room for God

Word of the Day: Contretemps

contretemps: n. something inopportune or embarrassing.

Today's word of the day pays tribute to two great traditions:

1. Bands that find their name in the Dictionary.
2. Irony.

Check out The Contretemps "What Katie Did."

Word of the Day is Valley Jew's daily attempt to display some of enjoyable nuggets of the content that are a part of massive depths of user-created content. Every day we search's somewhat obscure Word of the Day on a content site and show you the top result.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

10 Foods to Avoid: Fast Food Fat Bombs

While it's a surprise to no one that the Triple Whopper isn't healthy, this list from MSN Health helps you keep in mind how dangerous fast food can be to your diet.

1. McDonald’s Deluxe Breakfast-
1,220 calories, 550 of them from fat, including 17 grams of saturated fat.

2. Burger King’s Triple Whopper With Cheese-
1,230 calories and 82 grams of fat including 32 grams of saturated fat.

3. Taco Bell Fiesta Taco Salad-
860 calories, 46 grams of total fat, 14 grams of which are saturated fat.

4. Pizza Hut's Stuffed Crust Meat Lover’s pie-
2 slices. 1,000 calories, 82 grams of total fat, 22 grams of it saturated.

5. Cinnabon's Caramel Pecanbon-
1,100 calories and 56 grams of fat.

6. Boston Market's chicken pot pie-
750 calories and 46 grams of fat, including 14 grams of the saturated sort.

7. Subway's 6-inch Double Meat Classic Tuna-
790 calories, 55 grams of fat, including 16 grams of saturated fat.

8. Domino’s ExtravaganZZa Feast deep-dish pizza-
2 slices. 860 calories, 46 grams of fat and 17 grams of saturated fat in just two slices.

9. KFC's Mashed Potato Bowl With Gravy-
690 calories and 31 grams of fat, nine of them saturated.

10.Dairy Queen's Caramel CheeseQuake Blizzard-
1,290 calories, 500 of those calories come from fat, including 39 grams of saturated fat.

Word of the Day: Heterogeneous

heterogeneous: consisting of dissimilar elements.

Found on

Today's word gives us one of those blogs that started as a great idea but faded into Internet like an unfinished deck or a half-knitted sweater.

Last updated on June 24, 2006-- shortly before civilization ended-- Best Google Videos promises to give you: "The most bizarre, heterogeneous, original, hilarious videos found in Google's Video Search." And it looks like it delivered on that promise for just under a dozen posts in less than six months.

Word of the Day is Valley Jew's daily attempt to display the enjoyable nuggets of the net that are a part of massive depths of user-created content. Every day we search's somewhat obscure Word of the Day on a content site and show you the top result.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Word of the Day: Apologia

apologia: n. a formal defense or justification

and bring us

Word of the Day is Valley Jew's daily attempt to show you to increasing depth of user-created content on the web. Every day we search's somewhat obscure Word of the Day on a content site and show you the top result.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Word of the Day: Grandiloquent

grandiloquent: adj. lofty in style

brings us three rocking teenage boys experimenting with the limits of digital video.

Word of the Day is Valley Jew's daily attempt to show you to increasing depth of user-created content on the web. Every day we search's somewhat obscure Word of the Day on a content site and show you the top result.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Word of the Day: Plebeian


plebeian: adj. common; vulgar.

and bring us

Word of the Day is Valley Jew's daily attempt to show you to increasing depth of user-created content on the web. Every day we search's somewhat obscure Word of the Day on a content site and show you the top result.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Word of the Day: Limn

limn: to draw or paint; also, to describe.

Brings us

"The Miserable Disco" of

Word of the Day is Valley Jew's daily attempt to show you to increasing depth of user-created content on the web. Every day we search's somewhat obscure Word of the Day on a content site and show you the top result.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Secret Behind Zune:
Music is Just Software

Microsoft’s iPod killer is coming for this Christmas, and it’s called Zune. The biggest news of the impending launch? After investing in “partners” like Napster, Rhapsody and Urge, MS has decided they have to go it alone. Much like iPod + iTunes, Zune will have its own exclusive store and not open it up to any partner sites.

The X-box team is behind this gambit and over the weekend I’ve realized that they really know what they are doing. They are building a hardware device with exclusive software. Something that has worked for Apple and home game consoles for nearly three decades.

Music is just software on a player. Led Zeppelin II is virtually the same as Super Mario II. Of course, Zune probably won’t have the entire Zeppelin in their store/service. None of the digital music providers do. Hence the complication of music versus games, the meandering arcane web of rights and ownership that keeps music from being available.

It’s like the complications of video game plus dealing with a real Mario and a real Princess, with their real personalities and their real team of lawyers.

But let’s say Zune launches with The Beatles as an exclusive. There’s a killer piece of software that will do a bit of iPod killing.

Where does that leave MS’s “partners” and others like Yahoo! Music? They’re exactly where they are now: stuck with a service that has to be free for people to use it. They’re just web radio and they better try to kill or absorb or Pandora before they even set their sites on iPod.

We Angry Bloggers

Why are we in America surprised when the rest of the world won't be as complacent and quasi-diplomatic as we angry bloggers are?

Joe Gandelman on The Moderate Voice writes:

Now, let me get this straight, this guy is on our side?

Yesterday, the speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, said “We know there was a corrupt regime in Saddam, but a regime should be removed by surgery, not by butchering. The U.S. occupation is butcher’s work under the slogan of democracy and human rights and justice.”

White House honcho Bolten assures us he is.

Today on Meet the Press, White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten said he has been in meetings with al-Mashhadani and the speaker has an “appreciation for the sacrifice so many Americans have made.”

Whew! What a relief. Now I know we're all operating on the same page.......

The Bush Adminstration's ruse of compliance is fading all around the world. We just have to be ready for the aftermath. Based on what's going on in Lebanon and Iraq, it won't be pretty.

This Would Be Crowdsourcing
(If There was a Crowd Involved)

Click here for a new track that I'm making to infiltrate the culture.

As an avocational beatmaker, I am aware that my music is low on quality and high on retardation. But it's fun, and that I'm so bad makes my diss raps even MORE potent. How the fuck are you such a lame rapper that THAT Jew felt he could diss you? (SEE King of the WESH.)

But enough bombast.

Besides not making it and replacing the boring drums (which I'm gonna do), what might you suggest for the track?

Careful or you could be the next person up on the proverbial Summer Jam screen.

Word of the Day: Mordant

Mordant- adj. Biting; caustic; sarcastic.

Word of the Day is Valley Jew's daily attempt to show you to increasing depth of user-created content on the web. Every day we search's somewhat obscure Word of the Day on a content site and show you the top result.

Getting Faded

You are four times more likely to be seriously injured if have just been drinking, according to a new study.

10 Ways to Avoid Cancer

1. Get to your local farmer's market

2. Stop smoking

3. Shed excess weight

4. Use fake tan

5. Know your genetic history

6. Know your bowels; stay as regular as possible

7. Break into a sweat every day

8. Have a weekly curry to get your tumeric

9. Make some time for those annoying tests like Pap smears, prostate checks and mammograms

10. Eat as much green as possible (except candy and ice cream)

Read the whole thing.

Four Reasons it isn't World War III

From Thomas P.M. Barnett:

1. The world has never been more at peace.

2. World Wars were wars between states.

3. The ultimate exit strategy in the Middle East isn't a military victory. It's JOBS!

4. This whole "world war" since 9/11 hasn't yielded a good week's worth of WWII dead.

Read the whole the thing.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Why I Enjoy SLATE

Three great articles for this weekend:

The Evidence that Pot Doesn't Lead to Heroin
But she found no evidence that they were more likely to become addicted than the rats in the control group who'd never been exposed to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, marijuana's main ingredient.

Superheroes and Male Anxiety in My Super Ex-Girlfriend
A less willfully misogynist movie might have made Thurman's double identity the starting place for an exploration of female power, super- or otherwise. What would you do if your girlfriend not only made more money than you, but knew how to stop an incoming missile with her bare hands? Instead, the movie, like Wilson's character, spends two hours cowering under a table, waiting for the scary lady to go away.

In Defense of M. Night Shyamalan
It's shaping up to be the worst summer of M. Night Shyamalan's charmed career. Nearly a decade has passed since The Sixth Sense catapulted him onto the Hollywood A-list, and the critics have been souring on his twist endings, earnest mysticism, and crowd-pleasing thrills.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I'm Saying It's Homophobia

Nissan pulls hot car ad with Kim Cattrall. WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Japanese carmaker Nissan said Friday it has pulled a raunchy commercial starring "Sex and the City" actress Kim Cattrall from New Zealand television after complaints over its content.

People just can't stand to see a drag queen be sexual, I guess.

Subs are the Most Fun!

Yesterday, I read about the substitute judge who counted to twenty to give an illegal immigrant a chance to get out of the court before he had her deported.

Today I learned that this comedy is, of course, a tragedy. She was there to get a restraining order against her abusive husband. Imagine how scared she must have been to even approach a courtroom.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Creative Control

You Tube is making a bold move by updating their Terms and Conditions too late. Now it says what almost every other content sharing site does. They own your shit.

Is now the right time to be doing this? Now when they just hit 100 million views a day. Now when content providers are realizing that the creators are going to eventually have to get their share of the money. Now when Bree and Daniel aren't talking.

Well, they had to do it. At the risk of kissing all the right ass, I think we are heading to a crisis of rights management that can only be resolved by using Creative Commons licenses to let the users determine how their work can be used. If YouTube isn't up to it, some other site will be.

Help Us, Mr. President

There’s a strange thing going on when adult humans meet today.

I imagine it’s a tiny bit like when Nazi Germany was hitting its stride or Marge Schott owned the Cincinnati Reds. You aren’t sure if someone you're meeting realizes that something completely aberrationaly insane is going on with our government. And every once in a while you meet someone who doesn’t seem insane on the surface, yet they still support George W. Bush. I test it out by saying something like, “Isn’t it weird that someone who knows the oil industry so well hasn’t been able to help us at all with these gas prices?” When they say something about Anwar or Sand-niggers, I just nod and smile and move on to the Clay Aiken jokes.

With the accused and proven guilt of his associates—Tom DeLay, Ken Lay, Jack Abramoff, Scooter Libby—and Bush doing weird things— like massaging the German Chancellor in public and vetoing maybe the most decent Congressional legislation in years—everyone is starting to get it. Bush sucks as a President. And I’m not able to pretend anymore that I don’t think his supporters are part of a conspiracy of fools so caught up in American-style success that they can’t see what an abomination this administration is to true patriotism.

But that’s not fair. It’s just my truth. Not THE truth. I just aspire to be right. I’ve given up clinging to it.

So in the interest of being open-minded and somewhat American, I am going to make a public appeal to George W. Bush that will help bridge the gap between the people who got scared into voting for him and the decent people of this country.

Mr. President. First, congratulations on Tony Snow. He actually seems like a Simpsons character come to life and makes the news much more enjoyable. It’s kind of like your own Colbert Report.

Hey, but seriously could you do me a favor? From now on--since you don’t really have to worry about being reelected or getting any job ever-- when you look at a bill or a situation in the world think about the people of this country who are already suffering.

Don’t just see the 1% chance that we may be attacked from every different angle.

See the mothers who are dying of diseases like Parkinson’s and Cancer. Realize that since man most likely created these diseases it is our obligation to work to eradicate them.

See the young adults who went to bad schools and are trying to get a college education but can barely afford gas.

Don’t just see the millionaire farmers who can’t pass their legacy on to their kids because of the Estate Tax.

See the millions of farmers who could have decent, promising careers if we immediately moved to 100% flex-fuel compatibility for all cars built in America.

Don’t just see the oil companies whose financial security has built this country into the world’s true superpower.

See the technology sector that will take us into the true information age, when connectivity doesn’t just give us more productivity. It brings us more peace.

Help us, Mr. President.

Help the people who commit themselves everyday to their routine American Dream. The people who pay taxes, do not commit crimes (or at least have the decency to not get caught) and dream of houses, communities, cities, states and a nation that we can be proud us. Help us and do what you can to make life better today. Not just for the people who elected you. But for all Americans.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Classic of the Future

A Scanner Darkly is a crime movie with no bad guy, except maybe God for creating the world. Or the pharmaceutical companies.

Everyone is dimly motivated by the same paranoia, escapism, pride and belief that life shouldn’t have to be as shitty as it is. But just for them. Unfortunately there is no escape for the characters in Richard Linklater’s film adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. Everyone is trapped, the only difference between the characters is how resigned they are to their fate. Maybe the bad guys are the one who just try to have the most fun with the system. Yeah, the pharmaceutical companies are the bad guys.

This movie is so good that it hasn’t sunk in yet. Only 60% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 75% for the well-done, yet bland Superman Returns.

This is film is a classic of the future. See it now.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sharecropping on the Internet

A loophole in the content business that will be closed by savvy startups which identify the top 5% of the audience and buy their time.” – Jason Calacanis, CEO of Weblogs, Inc.

It just makes sense that the content creators who drive the most traffic deserve some of the financial gain if anyone is making money at all. Calacanis set the model in place by paying bloggers. He now wants to expand the project to the top users of DIGG, Delicious, Flickr, MySpace, and Reddit. Seemingly, just to make the point.

The only problem I see is that he’s not including the most popular content on the web: attractive teen girls on For example, here’s what happened when LonelyGirl15’s parents let her go hiking... with Daniel. Here's a blog in tribute to her.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Drug Use Can be Predicted in 3-to-5 Year Old Kids

By looking at measurements of "behavioral control" and “resiliency,” scientists believe they can predict how likely a child is to become a drug or alcohol abuser. That’s what a new study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests.

An anecdote from the study: Young Jim Ignatowski, who later popularized drug and alcohol use as a character on Taxi, spent the forth year of his life trying to fill his penis hole with glue. This perseverance made him an excellent addict.

Focus on Blair

Like the war in the Middle East, the War Against Lisa Whelchel's parenting advice has been raging under the radar for a while now.

Apparently the woman who player Blair, the Stepford member of the Facts of Life cast, wrote a book about her 'Christian' tact for raising a child.

Some examples:

p.22 “All children are born with foolishness bound up in their hearts.” “When we allow our children to determine the outcome of a situation, even subtly, it weakens their trust in us.”
p.25 “I grew up in the South, where I was taught to reply, ‘Yes, sir’ or ‘Yes, ma’am’ when following instruction.”
p.27 “Disobedience comes in many forms, including whining.”
p.28 “Teaching our children to obey us and our words is primarily to teach them to obey God and His Word.” “Because the rules I’m instilling are God’s, I no longer have to respond with ‘Because I’m the mom. That’s why!’ I can calmly tell my kids, ‘Honey, I didn’t make up these rules, God did.”

Covering the Crisis in Israel

News feeds:

Daily Star-- English language newspaper in Lebanon

Jerusalem Post

Pajamas Media-- continuing coverage by bloggers

BBC- Middle East Feed

Good list of people Blogging the War: HERE

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Fresh Nation Needs Fresh Radio

I've been to two Jazz Master Ceremonies sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, which honor great living Jazz figures. So I know that the organization is doing some all right things. But their current motto “A Great Nation Deserves Great Art,” is an idea that only a Bush appointee could love.

A great nation doesn’t deserve great art. A nation needs art to be great.

We also need great commentary on art to keep the arts alive. That’s what NPR is for. Especially Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

A few great NPR links:

Terry Gross interviews Thom Yorke
about his first solo album, The Eraser.

Terry Gross interviews Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian.

And as annoying as the concept of a storyteller is, Kevin Kling’s piece “Weaving the Land into Stories, and History” is worth a listen.

Rocket Go Boom?
OR Time for a New Blond?

Buzz Machine has a great post from Fred Graver about the Rocketboom explosion of the last few weeks. Some deep perspective from a TV exec who is smart enough to be scared of two kids in a dormroom in San Diego blowing him away by posting something on YouTube:

And at this point, I freeze the image on the screen and ask you all… how is this different from anything we’ve seen in the past 300 years of show business? If you’re having ANY trouble understanding what’s going on here, read Trav S. D.’s brilliant history of vaudeville, “No Applause, Just Throw Money.” The phrase “Hit the bricks, kid, I got a million of you” was born at the same tame as the phrase “Ladies and Gentlemen, on with the show.”

Producers (myself included) make our living off of building a stage. We build it out of a concept, script, cameras, props, and actors… and hope and pray for an audience. At the very end of the equation (for most of us) there is money. (And rarely at the beginning… which is why Amanda and Andrew both get huge grace points in this story. It’s clear that two people who were overjoyed at splitting a forty thousand dollar check after months of work weren’t in it for the money.)

The problem with the internet –and a thorny problem it is – is that the phrase “I got a million of you” can be uttered by everyone in the equation – actor, writer, producer. There’s a million stages now, a million actors, a million writers. EVERY ONE of them can command an audience. Every one of them can start a show.
God love it. But there’s going to be a tiny bit of hell to pay before we sort out the equation of who runs what. And Andrew and Amanda are paying the first dues for all of us. What follows is a little bit of advice for both of them that hopefully will make the next few weeks or months easier.

Andrew – you are the producer, the entrepeneur. You put up the idea, you put up the energy, you put that ad up on Craig’s list. You were / are amazingly generous in calling Amanda your partner. (I suspect you feel a little bit like your proposed marriage on your first date.) Screw the apologies. You own Rocketboom. Take a lesson from Dick Wolfe – the franchise (in his case, Law and Order) lives. The actors come and go. Put another fucking show on the web and move on. (To continue the bad marriage metaphor… what the hell were you thinking, bringing in mediators!??!?) Move ON! On the other hand… it’s been a year or so… what else are you going to do with this brilliant idea? Boom some more things, it’s about time.

Amanda – I’ve got two words for you: Martha Quinn. You’ve got a tough road ahead of you. You’re going to have to create a franchise for yourself. Get to work – the clock is ticking and 90 days from now, it’s going to be “what the fuck happened to Amanda Congdon?” (OH… and 90 days is about the time it takes for to load… might want to look into that.) I think you’re wonderful on camera, and would LOVE to do something with you at MTV Networks. But the poor little girl act (”I’m at my parents house in Connecticut?” … poor choice of state, my friend) is going to wear thin really fast.

Finally… a word or two from a VERY old warhorse… None of us are so good at this as to warrant this kind of public display of bullshit. What I’m obsessed with right now is feeling that two kids in a dorm somewhere in San Diego are going to release something on YouTube that’s going to blow us ALL away… Amanda, Andrew, myself, Jeff… we all have to be ready for the next generation of web media — something that’ll be as powerful as “Real World” was to MTV: the thing that made Martha Quinn look like… well, Martha Quinn.

Would a Jew Live in Culver City?

He'd have to consider it with all the great things going on.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Real Progressive Idea

The dean of the Iowa press corps suggests holding the first primary in the state where the Presidental election was the closest in the last election. That's applying at least the logic that sports leagues use when determining draft position.

Virginia Soft on Witches

After only one conviction in their pre-colonial "War on Witchcraft," Virginia is pardoning their lone witch. If I had my way, she'd still be in Guantanamo Bay.

In related news, Connecticut is proving to have a harder line on witches in their recent arrest of Real World: Key West cast member Paula.

The Half-Year in Music

2006 is more than half over, and July is a nice time to measure time in music.

A Spacious Hole in the Ground does an excellent job of laying out their favorite songs, albums, artists, new artists and their runner-ups. Plus they certainly spread the wealth when it comes to linked MP3s.

The Phoenix's On the Download delivers with a dissection of the world’s most addictive substance SUMMER SONGS. Like everyone with ears, they know that Nelly Furtado & Timberland’s “Promiscuous” will make you do somersaults.

If Nelly Furtado's voice and visage were any sweeter I think I’d get diabetes soon.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Novel Feeling

According to Jennifer Senior's research for her exhaustive new article on happiness in New York Magazine, "Married people are happier than those who are not, while people who believe in God are happier than those who don’t...Smarter people aren’t any happier, but those who drink in moderation are. Attractive people are slightly happier than unattractive people. Men aren’t happier than women, though women have more highs and more lows. Surprisingly, the young are not happier than the elderly; in fact, it’s the other way round, with older people reporting slightly higher levels of life satisfaction and fewer dark days."

Happiness. Whether it is the ultimate possible human experience or just an accident of chemicals, the pursuit of happiness—defined as being essential to the God-given right to freedom laid out in the Declaration of Independence—obsesses both humanity and huwomanity, who are, as I suspected, better at being both happy and sad than humanity.

How do you know you are happy? Maybe, it’s like whether something is porn. Your mom can always tell.

If someone tells you that you seem really happy and you’ve never been diagnosed with any sort of bipolar disorder, you are probably pretty happy. If your mom gets it wrong, it might make you suicidal. It also could mean you are an expert at getting along with people and know how to hide your emotions like it’s your porn.

If you smile, you are happy, right? I’d say so. In most cases.

But that just doesn’t work for me, though. Since I had full-metal braces installed in my mouth, I have perfected the art of disconnecting my emotions from my facial expression. I always shudder when I see machinery peaking out of a human. And having that shit in my mouth and my mirror made me quit smiling.

When I talk, you can tell if I’m happy. But that’s not fair because 99% of the time I’m happy if I get to talk. My nickname as a kid was Motormouth. That it sort-of rhymed with my Hebrew name, Mordechai, made it seem to my family like it was ordained by God. But attention is any kid’s warm sun. Talking just worked for me. If I were super cute just being alive, I probably would have learned coyness. But them the breaks.

Here’s how I know that over the last few years I have been unhappy.

Whenever I was in an airplane and experienced any turbulence, there was always a little prayer in me for a crash. It didn’t feel suicidal, because there was no bravery or anger behind it. I wasn’t doing anything else even dangerous or life threatening in my life, except driving, which is obliviously dangerous.

Crashing just seemed like an easier thing to do than go on, wait for my luggage, get a cab, meet people, etc. On an airplane flying back from New York City on September 15, 2001, I remember how every face and sound from the airplane seemed dangerous and doomed. And how it all appealed to my sense of lust for death, which I equated to the ideal sensation of my brain just stopping. But I lucked out and my wish didn’t come true.

I'm happy to report that on my flight back from Chicago this afternoon, each drop in altitude or slight twinge in trajectory scared me shitless. I have to work on my novel in the morning, I thought. A crash would completely fuck that up. And that I didn’t want to die made me pretty exceedingly happy.

Now, I have to admit that it’s most likely that my newfound happiness is probably due to my prescription of Prozac. But that I began writing every morning right as I started taking Prozac completely screws everything up. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a wee little Jew. I’ve written but never felt like a writer. But in the last year I’ve discovered that more than wanting to be a writer, I want to be a novelist.

Attempting to create the realized world of a story is the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done in my life. A novel is an orgy of creation. And focusing on the telling and syntax needed to communicate a story effectively has led me to questioning every word and action in life. For instance as I was boarding the plane today, I was thinking how it I HATE IT when writers use the word “orgy” metaphorically. Like the word is capable of describing anything but lascivious fucking. But I realize now that words are like every thing. They are all in context. And sometimes using the exact wrong word says more about a story and a character than the right word ever can.

So, when someone uses the word “orgy” metaphorically, they are probably just feeling either very horny. Or pretty happy.

Early Dylan Show

Kwaya Na Kisser has posted a great pre-debut album Bob Dylan show.

The most continually surprising thing about these early, early New York City shows is what a great entertainer Dylan was.

In a logic that only makes sense to me, here's a great Stephen Malkmus appearance on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The War Against Burning Couches

In Isla Vista, California—the beachside student ghetto of the University of California, Santa Barbara—one of the favored ways to celebrate academic success—in addition to excessive drinking, promiscuous sex and listening to Bob Marley's Legend—is burning couches in the middle of the street.

The student newspaper The Daily Nexus reports that police are fighting this public act of arson/jubilation with plain-clothes officers who are fingering those who are light or fuel the fire.

The best part about the story is that some students can’t understand why the police are becoming so adamant.

“You get to show up … and light a fire. No one ever gets hurt. You’d have to be pretty stupid if you’re jumping over it or something.”

Some students are more wary and logical about the situation.

“I’ve seen them catch someone’s house on fire, but it’s the end of the year, and people are getting rid of things.”

Police aren’t so lighthearted about the situation. Those caught burning their furniture can face up to a $1,000 fine.

Superfluous Voyeurism

One of my favorite guilty pleasures of the web is a good blog written by an effusively honest person. Superfluous Juxtaposition is just such a treat. Written by a single Jewish gal in LA who is relentlessly pursuing love through Jdate, this blog is as usually as sincere as a blush.

Today is great example of what I love about peeking into the lives of people I'd probably never want to know. The author is on her third date with a male Jdater, whom she proudly describes as 'normal'. They dine, walk, play air hockey. "But when he leaned in and kissed me goodbye I felt absolutely nothing. Not a thing."

Nine comments follow her post. Her friends support her lack of interest. A typical response, "May he be normal, cute, smart, and most importantly, may there be chemistry!"

Eight straight no votes for the normal guy. All hope is lost until Mom weighs in. How do I know it's Mom? That's the name used on the comment, "MOM." The bit of wisdom from the matriarch?

Sorry Hil, but I disagree with you and all the above comments. A really nice guy deserves more of your time. Often the chemistry comes when you learn more about the guy. When you find out more about him and what makes him tick, the chemistry will possibly develop. Your Dad and I did not feel chemistry at the beginning…actually, not until we got to know each other. And, as you know, we dated 2 years, engaged 1 year and married 37!!! It can happen that way too. When you fall in love with the inside…the outside chemistry will come!!! MOM

That's the modern conflict of feminity, as I see it. The 'feelings' mentality of young generation versus the 'investment' mentality of the older. I like to imagine that's the war going on in the mind of the writer herself. The superego of Mom wrestling with her Id who needs fireworks. Not those same boring ones that rain down every year. New fireworks that explode unimaginable ways.

As I read it, I like to see myself there with her. Always whispering, "Keep going. Write it all down. But MORE details!"

Great Article in RS about Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne

Among the interesting quotes from Mark Binelli's profile:

"I never liked drugs. They scared me. I just really love my senses too much."

"People act like you're limited by your gifts, but I don't know," Coyne says. "When I started out I couldn't sing at all, and now I can sing pretty good, just by trying to sing like people I liked."

"The more insignificant I thought I was, the more significant I think I sounded. The more I admitted I was helpless, the more powerful I became."

Banned Books

From Digg Politics, a great list of challenged and banned books.

Like all censorship, the reasoning is almost always hilarious in retrospect.

For example:

Alice in Wonderland. Banned in China (1931) for portraying animals and humans on the same level, "Animals should not use human language."

A Summer of Break-Ups

First Justin and Cameron.

Now Madonna and Kaballah?

I hate to put down anyone's beliefs, but if you're giving 10% of your money to any religion they better give you some magical powers or the ability to marry multiple women.

Timberlake's Sexy Return?

Justin Timeberlake's new single is already all over the web. I'm just trying to decide if it's as cool and breakthrough as his first solo album. My early guesstimate is that it is. This is a man with perfect timing, just look at when he got rid of Britney.

J-Tim definitely has still got Timberland on his side. And he has the talking points down:

"The best way I can describe that song is say David Bowie and David Byrne decided to do a cover of James Brown's Sex Machine," Timberlake told reporters.

I hear the James Brown part. Bowieness seems ellusive. There's quite possibly some Bryne in the consistent "Yeah!" sample.

Listen for yourself. Link from Stereogum, who hates the song.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Jew is In Chicago

to read at Jeff Hurlow's art opening.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

URLs I Own

This is more like a To-Do list. A reminder to myself that I have to get busier.

MFA Shows Breakout All Across LA

July an is an excellent time to take note that about half of all the serious and seriously aspiring fine artists in the United States are living in the LA area. Get a taste of all that artiness this month with all of the MFA shows you can handle.

Like the comedy scene, I believe most talented artists are either in New York City or LA somewhere trying to become someone.

Or they are already someone.

Or they're like the modern Henry Darger.

O they're just warming up.

Or art is their hobby like Bingo or collecting plants or jewelry.

Here's where you can eat between shows.

Ebay Bans Google Checkout

Has the war between Ebay's Paypal and Google's new payment site begun?

I'd say.

And I'd say that CNET is reporting on the digital version of the firing on Fort Sumter.

UPDATE: Digital Om explains how Google's marketing plan for a "nanosecond" between a customer decision to purchase and their purchase is a direct assault on the way that everyone on the Internet is making money. It can even been seen as an assault on the AdWords business model itself.

If that's true, than you can see why this is an escalation of the battle of the Internet robber barrons-- Ebay, Amazon, MS, Google and sometimes Yahoo!

Is This the New Napster Effect?

WiredNews reports today AOL Ponders Free Internet Service.

Is this part of a trend I'm calling the New Napster Effect? I'm not talking about the original Napster which enabled and popularized priracy.

I'll argue that the new, corporate Napster changed the game with their free dot com site where you can listen to your choice of two million songs up to five times for free. It's just smart. Now every struggling web 1.0 subscription service will at least have to consider a free, ad-supported version of their service.

Listen to Money Changes Everything on the new Napster.

(UPDATE: This Wall Street Journal Article explains why free may not be good enough, at least for college students:

College students don't turn down much that's free. But when it comes to online music, even free hasn't been enough to persuade many students to use such digital download services as Napster, Rhapsody, Ruckus and Cdigix. As a result, some schools have dropped their services, and others are considering doing so or have switched to other providers.

People just need to face the fact that anything that you can't put on your iPod is just a better version of radio. Programming it that way is the only way to be relevant.)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I Met Hasselhoff Once

When I found out that they were filming an episode of Knight Rider down the street from my house, it was like Hercules was in town filming a Hercules movie. KIT and Michael Knight were that important to us and our safety and the war against the bad guys. (Bizarrely enough, I believe Gary Coleman was there. A guest star.) Anyway, Hoffy was very nice and I remember hearing that he was a big fan of the ladies, even the little ones. Anything he did was news.

It finally seems like the Hoff is finally getting his due attention from the world. This man is a real-live 80s celebrity. He's pre-irony and so sincere that you actually believe that the car can talk. This is a man who makes waves everywhere he goes, and I'm glad I'm finally getting some of The Hoff Surf Report that I crave so bad.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Road to Guantanamo

I can't recommend that you see this movie.

There are enough visuals to fuel a lifetime of nightmares.

But it's definitely crucial that this story gets into the national consciousness. So, if you can stand the worst in life, please check it out.

Told in a very unique, effective and affecting mix of documentary and reenactments.

It either kills you or makes you stronger. I think it kills me.

Bad News for Drunk Drivers

Does alcohol blind you to craziness around you? A new study shows that 82% of drunk individuals completely MISSED the appearance of an gorilla in the middle of a film they were watching of two children playing catch.

The real bad news for our collective power of observations is that 54% of the sober viewers missed the gorilla, who appeared on the screen and beat its chest before walking off.

Unconventional Work-Out Playlist #1

If you felt good about yourself, why would you'd ever push yourself to the extremes needed to get a good workout? You wouldn't. You'd just eat Doritos and order Stuffed Buffalo Wings. These songs will seep into the cracks of your self-esteem and break your soul apart. Don't worry, just like your muscles, your spirit will come back stronger and with more definition.

No Name #1 (Album Version) Elliott Smith
"No Name #1" is the first record of series of six "No-Names" that Smith recorded over his career. A steady, sad portrait of diffident loner at a party. Perfect for your dips. Great lyrics include: he got nervous/ started whistling/ every thought a ricochet/ did you notice?/ well i wondered/ what's the worst thing i could say?

The Chain (LP Version) Fleetwood Mac
Listen to the intro. If fucking for Buckingham and Nicks was anywhere as passionate and competitive as harmonizing, I'd love to see a sculpture series about it. This is a pure cardio burner, but no inch of human genitalia is immune to getting goose-bumps from this song. And you know what that means? Add fifteen pounds to your tricep max-out. Guranteed. Best lyric ever? If you don't love me now, you will never love me again.

Motorcycle Drive By Third Eye Blind
Why an obscure Third Eye Blind album cut? Did I lose a bet with a mean older-brother figure. No. I love this song. Opens and ends with dreamy flashbacks. Builds to an effusive climax that finds our hero-- and the inventor of rapping-- Stephane Jenkins screaming, "I've never been so alone/And I've never been so alive." Use this song to turn your crunches into a road trip though a minefield of hot poon, self-aggrandizing and 90s surf rock.

Thanksgiving Grey Jim Yoshii Pileup
Matt Alberti writes, "An intense opus of excruciating father hatred. Nothing pushes you harder. Even if you don't hate your father, this song will show you why you should. 'Push those weights, you little fag!' you'll imagine your personal patriarch saying.

'Well, I'll show YOU dad. I'll show you who's strong. You won't be laughing at me in front of your friends when I'm ripped. More ripped than even my report card that you tore up when you saw I was in dance class. You won't be laughing then, will you? WILL YOU?' "

Elevate Me Later Pavement
Staring at the Sun TV on the Radio
Black Swan Thom Yorke
Planet Telex Radiohead
Phantasies Stephen Malkmus
Peace and Hate The Submarines
What Jail Is Like (LP Version) Afghan Whigs
We Can Work It Out The Beatles
Livin' Thing ELO
World Wide Suicide Pearl Jam
The National Anthem Radiohead
I Was a Lover TV on the Radio
I Wanna Be Your Dog [Previously Unreleased] Uncle Tupelo
The Beatles Daniel Johnston
Black Tambourine Beck
Here Pavement