Tuesday, June 27, 2006


it's been kind of humid around here these days. you might think being born and raised in michigan (and therefore living perpetually in 1984, when our beloved and beleaguered tigers last won the world series - though they're finally pretty good again this year), and having lived on the east coast for over ten years might have acclimated me to humidity - but, no.

anyhoo, the strange humidity has reminded me of how much i enjoy california. sure, people have their complaints about the southland (e.g., the flakiness, the smog, the traffic) but all in all it's been great. just like anywhere else, i suppose it's what you make of it. maybe it's because i didn't bring any expectations about what it would be like here...

well, that's not entirely true. one preconception that has been trounced to bits by tahoe after tahoe is the idea that californians would all be driving tiny, efficient automobiles. you know, the kind you plug in at night - and that greets you with a warm, green hug in the morning. i suppose my thinking was: californians are environmentalists, gigantibus gas-guzzling suv's are really bad for the environment, therefore californians all drive priuses (priae?). boy, was i wrong.

most any day on the freeway, i expect to hear an announcer echoing about how "grave digger is driving down the 91 westbound this tuesday, tuesday, tuesday" as i see that ford excursion with five-foot tall tires bearing down on me in my rearview mirror. tahoes, suburbans, escalades, navigators, hummers, h2s, titans, f-150s... all waiting to crush the poor fools who get in their way.

it's called the topkick (the red one) and it's usually manufactured as a dumptruck or shuttle bus, but monroe truck equipment will sell about 750 of these bad boys to napoleonically-complexed citizens each year. look how it dwarfs that h2. mpg? i think i might be more fuel-efficient than this car, if i were the one drinking gasoline. it's like giving the metaphorical finger to all those poor fools who worry about the environment, dependance on fossil fuels, or being run off the road by overly-aggressive road-ragers. for anyone who has wanted to be grant the hunter, shooting down bald eagles and eating them on sandwiches, have i got the car for you!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

she's a maniac

better than mentos & diet coke (even that orchestrated bellagio-style fountain)...

Friday, June 16, 2006

confusion (instrumental)

these days, video game soundtracks are a big deal. even the hollywood bowl orchestra features an entire performance of their arrangements of video game music (including zelda, warcraft and mario). the typical soundtrack for a sports game (football, skateboarding, etc.) usually includes some combination of metal, hip-hop and punk. it's almost always loud and it's intended to be extreme! you know, because button-mashing is tough work and i nothing helps me gets my game on like that dude in the red hat yelling stuff over hyper-processed guitars!

anyhoo, the soundtrack for major league baseball 2k6 (didn't we get past naming things this way?) has some very, um, interesting choices. the line-up sounds more like a twee festival in the uk than a testosterone-level-raising rawk fest. the heavy thrashing lineup includes such shredders as belle & sebastian, pavement and yo la tengo. i mean, when i hear the opening strains of "box elder" i know i need to throw that mid-90s sinker! and "big day coming" makes me want to turn that fastball to the opposite field! actually, i think this is a great soundtrack (bear vs. shark, guided by voices, mogwai)... just kind of odd.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

riders on the storm

the world cup 2006 has officially begun! well, the first match was actually last friday but, for me, it started early this morning.... korea kicked off their followup to their historic 2002 run to the semifinals with a 2-1 victory over tournament first-timers togo.

while i'm not a hardcore football enthusiast (for example, i can't really name any european club teams beyond man u, arsenal and real madrid), i do enjoy the game. especially when the world cup rolls around! after all, what sport is more global? what tournament offers such twists and turns (trinidad and tobago!)? what soccer might lack in sportscenter-ready highlights, it more than makes up for with its strategy, finesse and brute athleticism. we're used to seeing james posey flop on a jerry stackhouse drive to the lane - imagine instead running full-speed, while dribbling a soccer ball, and being shaolin soccered across both shins.

and, while the sport does have certain major issues with which to contend (racism, in particular), soccer endures in its ability to bring together different nations. i'll never forget during the 2002 tournament when i met a gas station attendant in new jersey who was of turkish descent. we talked about the upcoming match between turkey and korea and, as i was leaving, he smiled and said, "we are brothers." maybe football can offer some small gimmer of hope to bringing the civil war in the ivory coast to an end, as bono suggests via voiceover in certain world cup preview adverts. c'mon, let's hug it out like korea and togo!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

something to believe in

jason boyett's pocket guide to the bible is an easy read. this, as it turns out, is quite a compliment, given the difficult nature of the subject he is covering - no less than the Good Book itself.

boyett stuff pgttb's 191 pages with a veritable biblepalooza's-worth of information (biblical terminology, character and content summaries, history of the bible itself). to some, this might sound duller than sitting through last quarter's earnings summary report, again. however, boyett's conversational tone is both humorous and engaging, making pgttb a very enjoyable reading experience.

beneath the winking and smirking, readers will find pgttb a very useful reference - and not only bible novices. even long-time bible readers will probably find themselves asking, "is that in there?" as they read through some of boyett's insightful breakneck summaries. the biblicabulary will help readers understand key insider lingo faster than king nebuchadnezzar can say to the israelites, "all your base are belong to us." chapter six, "the brief history of holy write," is an invaluable resource for both understanding how that purpose-driven pimply teen boy's extreme study bible ended up on your coffee table and as a concise survey of some important church history.

and, really, what bible readers haven't found their thoughts wandering in some of the more obscure texts into thoughts such as, "now that would totally rule as a band name!" look no further than page 186 for seven (count 'em, seven) such would-be awesome band names. in fact, i think his list of awful health conditions (see page 173) would make correspondingly wicked lead singles for some of these bands. imagine the intro, "and after the break, we'll hear 'smited bowels,' the hot new track from forsake my sweetness."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

man in the mirror

while watching vh1's "40 least metal moments" (which, incidentally, was won (lost?) by vince neil of motley crue performing the chicken dance at some random community fair in, like, cincinnati) i realized that scott ian from anthrax is charlie hall's doppelganger:

while we're at it...
nick nolte : gary busey :: patrick swayze : kurt russell
michael douglas : martin sheen :: julia styles : kirsten dunst

i mean, really, have any of these people been seen together in the same room at the same time? just some pseudo-apocalyptic 06.06.06 rambling...

Friday, June 02, 2006

everybody wants to rule the world

immigration is such a hot-button issue, especially here in the southland (infamous home of the minuteman project). i was listening to npr yesterday as i was driving and i heard a very provocative set of interviews with different residents of border towns - both from mexico and the united states.

one story: us border officials set up a roadside check-in station in a city (not a border town, though) and pulled over people who appeared to be of latino descent. one family was forcefully separated by these officials, after the entire family was detained and the parents were interrogated for over eight hours. as it happened, the parents had immigrated illegally thirteen years previous to this incident, and their children were born in the states. after basically being treated like the perps in the law & order questioning room, the parents waived all their rights and were deported. just like that.

another woman, an american, was interviewed in a different city (this one a border town). she complained loudly about how "those mexicans" earned money here in the states and then sent it back home to mexico. according to this woman this is a major economic issue, you see, because that money should stay here. the reported must have sensed something was off, because he continued to question her.

he saw the woman's family in the car, so he asked if the family was going somewhere. they were going across the border to mexico, she explained, so her daughter could get an eye exam. an eye exam? the reporter questioned. well, duh, the woman answered - it's like $30 there and over $90 here.

after an awkward pause, it dawned on this woman. "well, um, i guess our money isn't staying here, either," she stammered.

if this woman could remove all of "those" people from this nation, how would it improve her lot? *sigh*

Thursday, June 01, 2006

another time, another place

my family and i took a quick memorial day vacation up to san francisco (how delightful, "francisco. francisssco!") and, like good tourists, took in a bunch of the sights. we rode the cable cars, walked around the fisherman's wharf, drove across the golden gate bridge and, of course, visited alcatraz!

as our boat approached the island penitentiary i had a strange feeling of deja vu, even though i knew i had not been there before. and then it hit me - i had visited alcatraz many times... through a tony hawk skateboarding game on the ps2. i'm definitely not a gamer, so it was a completely surreal experience to walk around this place that i had randomly visited in cyber/gaming-space. i must say, the tony hawk folks did a pretty good job at mapping out the island ;)

anyhoo, during the audio tour of the prison itself, we heard many interesting stories about notorious inmates, breakout attempts, prison riots and such. on one wall was this photo, describing some of the most infamous inmates ever housed at alacatraz:

second from the left is al capone, notorious gangster and tax cheat.... next to him, i believe, is the man known as the "birdman" of alcatraz (who ended up, apparently, in isolation because he was quite a handful as a prisoner). but when i saw alvin "creepy" karpis (second from the right), i had that same, strange feeling that i had seen him before. was it from a movie? was he a minor character from the tony hawk game?

it wasn't until we were driving home that i blurted out to my startled wife who it was, exactly, that i thought mr. creepy karpis looked like - adam clayton from u2, of course! it's always the bassist, isn't it? my wife, being the compassionate and reasonable around here, responded by asking, "don't you think he would be sad to hear that?" now, i'm not saying anything bad about adam clayton from u2. he seems pretty nice. still, though, bono and the gang might want to run some background checks :O