September 30, 2009

Tiramigiu

The bag of Italian Roast coffee that Mallory got me at Starbucks today advises that I should enjoy it with "tiramisu and a slideshow of Rome".

Thanks, Starbucks.

In other news, next time I go out for a beer, I plan to enjoy it with pretzels and an episode of Booze Britain.

--

Also, after banning clove cigarettes last week, the government is now going after American Apparel; why does the Obama administration hate Emerson students?

September 28, 2009

Tongue-In-Cheek Headline of the Week



At least, I hope it's tongue-in-cheek.

September 25, 2009

September 24, 2009

Bewildering Spam of the Day

Today I got a message in my spam folder that said, simply:
We do not promise to give free golden mountains.
...and then there was a link (which, naturally, I did not click).

What does that mean? Is a golden mountain some kind of sex move? Is spam chastising me for wanting something for nothing? Is this just a particularly coherent piece of randomly generated text? WHAT IS GOING ON?!!

September 23, 2009

What's Next? Skinny Jeans?

The deeply ironic community of Emerson College was thrown into apathetic chaos today, as a new Food and Drug Administration regulation came into effect banning the sale of clove cigarettes nationwide.

The ban is a result of wide-ranging new powers granted to the FDA by President Obama, who signed the legislation in June. The agency is now able to regulate the sale and marketing of tobacco products — other than normal cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco — in the same way that it would with other products.

"I just… I just… I don't know what to do with myself anymore," said Emerson sophomore Panama Perkins-Smyth. "Now those fifteen minutes between 'Fundamentals of Gendered Communication' and 'Editing Animated Shorts' seem to stretch on and on into a giant, painful void." Perkins-Smyth added that she may have to take up writing poetry again.

The new regulations are intended to prevent youths from becoming smokers, as clove cigarettes (along with the other flavoured cigarettes subject to the ban) are generally more appealing to young smokers. According to the New York Times 17-year-olds are three times more likely to smoke flavoured cigarettes than smokers aged 25 or older.

It is a risky move by President Obama, whose catchy campaign slogans, media savvy, and overwhelmingly liberal stance on issues like gay marriage and the environment make clove-smoking hipster college students one of his prime demographics. In passing the law, Obama is taking a gamble that by the next election cycle those same students will have adopted new vices — such as root beer bongs and iPhone sex — and will therefore not hold the ban against him.

If the views of Emerson junior Florida Jones are anything to go by, however, the President may face an uphill battle. "I totally voted for Obama last year," said Jones, "and now he turns around and does this? I don't care how awesome his Twitter feed is — this is so completely uncool. Like, no we can't, man. Know what I'm saying?"

Others in the Emerson community, however, are pleased with the new law. "Now I can walk to work every day without having to pass through clouds of foul-smelling smoke," said an employee of a campus coffee shop. And a worker at a nearby Dunkin' Donuts seconded that feeling: "I said milk no sugar, you said YEAH! Now take your damn coffee, fool."

September 21, 2009

Plethoric Pew-digrions

The Project for Excellence in Journalism over at the Pew Research Center has an interesting article up from earlier in the summer, comparing the responses from the blogosphere and the (American) traditional media to two major news stories back in June.

I'd like, at this point, to reiterate a key point from that last sentence: The Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Now, the gist of the article is that, while the U.S. media led mostly with moderate coverage of the recession and the Holocaust Museum shooting in Washington (followed by — what else? — healthcare reform), the blogosphere was dominated far more markedly by coverage of the Holocaust shooting, and by another story that the U.S. media barely touched: the election of two BNP members to the European Parliament.

Sorry, in case I hadn't made this clear: the article was published by the Pew Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

What's interesting about the article is that, while it might not seem overly surprising that the Europe story got more coverage in the blogosphere (which, naturally, encompasses people all over the world, unlike the U.S. media), the blogosphere coverage actually included a number of U.S. bloggers as well. The reasons why are fairly clear: first, bloggers are more likely to be nutbag extremists, and a good deal of the U.S. response to the election was "Way to go to Europe! Death to liberals!". But second — and the article doesn't really touch on this — bloggers are under more pressure to find "niche" stories that the traditional media doesn't cover. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love a good blog every now and then, but let's be honest: why would you choose to get your news from blogs when four 24-hour news networks and a handful of mainstream news websites, newspapers, etc., are reporting on the same story? No, the role of blogs, it seems to me, is to draw attention to the news stories that the mainstream simply aren't covering.

Of course, that also begs the question: why didn't the U.S. news media cover one of the most controversial European election results since 1933? But I'm not even going to begin to try to answer that right now, because I have a stack of papers to grade and an improv rehearsal to get to.

What I would like to do, though, is draw your attention, once more, to the fact that this article was published by the Pew Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, and also to the following excerpt:
But most of the attention to the EU results came from British bloggers who focused on the election of two members of the anti-immigrant British National Party. . . .

"The BNP winning seats in the European parliament is a bit like the Nazi Party winning a Grammy; nobody quite knows how it happened, no reasonable person thinks it's warranted, and everybody is filled with a sort of horrified curiosity to see what they're going to do with it," analyzed Andrew at Plethoric Pundigrions.
Booyah. Can somebody start paying me to do this now, please?

September 20, 2009

Assault and Battery

Dedicated readers may remember that last year I was tickled a delighted shade of pink to discover that Boston had finally acquired a good, authentic fish and chips place.

Well, I've been considering another trip there sometime soon, so today I Googled it to double-check the address, and came across this review:
Being of Irish and English background myself...and having recently returned from a trip to Europe, I was eager to once again sit down and dive into a plate of fish and chips. My lasting impression is that today was my first and last time going to The Battery. . . .

I ordered the pollack portion, onion rings, and a soda. . . . The batter used, while nice and crisp, had no distinct or special flavor...at least not to a degree where it would separate this restaurant out from any other. It was quite greasy. . . . The tartar sauce was bland and did little to add flavor to the fried fish. . . . I had to actually ask for tartar sauce . . . .

The prefried slabs of haddock just sit out on the counter waiting for someone to order them. Not very appealing...nor is seeing all of the deep fat fryers directly behind the cashier's counter. . . .

The Irishman inside of me hopes and prays that things get worked out for this restaurant in its early phase and that changes are made.
Well, ScottyD, considering that:

1. You find it surprising that fish and chips are greasy

2. You find it surprising that there were prefried pieces of haddock sitting out for people to order

3. You find it surprising that the deep fat fryers were in plain sight

and

4. You asked for fucking TARTAR SAUCE to put on fish and chips

I would submit to you that you have never been to an actual fish and chip shop in your life, and that you in fact have absolutely no fucking idea what you are talking about.

Additionally, considering that:

1. You used the words/phrases "soda", "bums me out", and "awesome"

2. You managed to squeeze the fact that you have an Irish background into your 476-word review TWICE

3. You described yourself as having Irish AND English background (which no self-respecting Irishman would ever fucking do)

I further submit that you are merely an American twat whose grandfather read The Dubliners once, and that your claim to Irish heritage is based entirely on that or some other similarly tenuous connection.

I know I'm being a little harsh, but pal, you were asking for it. If The Battery goes under I'm coming for you first.

September 18, 2009

September 17, 2009

Same Ol', Same Ol'

From The New York Times: As Race Debate Grows, Obama Steers Clear of It
[President Obama] woke up on Wednesday to a rapidly intensifying debate about how his race factors into the broader discussion of civility in politics . . .

Mr. Obama’s response to all this, aides say, has been to tell his staff not to be distracted by the charges and to focus on health care and the rest of his policy agenda.

“He could probably give a very powerful speech on race . . .” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama. “But right now his top domestic priority is health care reform."
There you have it, folks.The Obama administration is now officially blasé about his impressive rhetorical abilities.

Oh, sure, he could probably issue an incisive and eloquent rebuke to the nation over this latest uproar, but to be honest, he'd rather have a hot dog, you know? Being a moving and inspirational public speaker these days is just so... yawn city. And let's be honest, we're clearly not really listening, right? Otherwise the whole Gates thing would have been the last we heard about race. So let's just give him a break for a while, okay? And then the next time there's a Holocaust anniversary or something we can dust off the old autocue for old time's sake.

Deal?

September 16, 2009

More From the Ongoing Pot-Kettle Dispute

From AOL News: George Bush Called Sarah Palin 'Not Remotely Prepared'
In a new memoir . . . Bush staffer Matt Latimer describes his boss's initial reaction to the news that McCain had chosen Palin. . . .

Bush [said]: "This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for. She hasn't spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family. Let's wait and see how she looks five days out."
Man, when even George W. Bush thinks you seem unprepared — ouch. Just . . . ouch. What's next, Kanye telling her she's an oaf? Gwyneth Paltrow telling her she gives her kids stupid names? Stephen Hawking making light of her achievements in ice hockey?

September 15, 2009

Ummm...

From Daily Finance: Dan Brown's 'Lost Symbol' reveals his greatest secret

Okay, I'm going to go ahead and have a snotty writer's/thinker's conniption, here. If such things bore/offend you, you may wish to look away, now.
If the past few years are any indication, Dan Brown has mastered the art of giving the American public what they want. The DaVinci [sic] Code, his breakout novel, has sold 40 million copies worldwide.
Yes, WORLDWIDE sales are always a sterling indicator of what the AMERICAN PUBLIC want. You get an A-fucking-plus on that one.
The Lost Symbol, Brown's latest outing into the world of Langdon, is already a bestseller, despite the apparent handicap of not having been released yet. For the last two weeks, it has been number one on Amazon, merely based on advance orders, and it is already on the British best-seller's list.
"BEST-SELLER'S list"?! SERIOUSLY?!? You're going to write an article that is ostensibly lit crit and get a POSSESSIVE FUCKING APOSTROPHE in the wrong place? I think you'll find that best-sellers don't have lists themselves, but rather appear on BEST-SELLERS LISTS. Get it?
Brown's books don't feel like empty calories. With a heady dose of religious history and symbology, he assumes -- correctly, as it turns out -- that his readers are interested in learning a few new things. While he applies a thick lather of poetic license to his tales, his eye for fun details and exciting historical anecdotes gives his stories a patina of intellectual respectability.
I'm sorry, a patina of WHAT? Are we really going to use the words "intellectual" and "Dan Brown" in the same sentence? Look, I understand, he writes popular books — I can get behind that. People enjoy reading him. Great. Bully. Keeps the publishing industry afloat. But INTELLECTUAL? Just because he went to a fucking library a few times doesn't make his book intellectual — in the same way that writing a few words on the internet doesn't make you a FUCKING WRITER.
Beyond that, Brown's stories are plotted exceedingly well, with twists and turns that, if not plausible, at least are sufficiently explained.
There you go, fellow MFAs: forget all about whatever Pam Painter told you. Your plots don't need to be PLAUSIBLE, they just need to be "sufficiently explained", whatever the fuck that means. Also, it's been a while since I've read Da Vinci, but I'm pretty sure there were a couple of plot twists in there that slipped by without much explanation — like, if this mysterious code is so opaque and impossible to crack, how come one balding academic twit and some one-dimensional French police hussy can crack the whole fucking thing in approximately twenty-four hours?

Oh, but wait, maybe I'm not qualified to talk about what good plot is:
Plot has, over the last few decades, become something of a lost art, with navel-gazing "literary" novels squaring off against mechanical mysteries, romances and adventures that often feel like they were churned out by one of Orwell's book-writing machines. In this context, Brown's books sometimes feel like a perfectly prepared fillet mignon slapped down in the middle of the unappetizing buffet of contemporary fiction.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! Oh, I'm sorry that all the "literary" drivel being churned out by contemporary writers is too plotless to keep you interested — perhaps Jonathan Franzen should have inserted a chase scene through the Louvre into The Corrections to better hold your attention. And "unappetizing buffet of contemporary fiction"? Somebody better tell FUCKING OPRAH, so she can stop recommending navel-gazing bullshit to the reading public. LOOK UNDER YOUR SEATS! IT'S YOUR OWN COPY OF ANGELS AND FUCKING DEMONS!
Brown's ultimate flattery lies in the organization of his stories: the Langdon books are structured to allow the reader to discover things a moment ahead of the genius protagonist. Having spent hundreds of pages establishing Langdon's bona fides, Brown's decision to let the reader constantly one-up the professor makes each of the books an ongoing exercise in self-congratulations.
Oh, so the fact that every single puzzle in Da Vinci is embarrassingly obvious is INTENTIONAL! What GENIUS! Give this man the Booker Prize!
To put it bluntly, by the time Brown's readers finish a Langdon book, they feel smart.
That's odd, because when I finish a Langdon book I feel like FORREST FUCKING GUMP.

I suppose this is what I get for reading a website called "Daily Finance" and expecting an intelligent discussion of the state of contemporary fiction.

September 14, 2009

Quote of the Day

From FOX News:

"There is a lot of crotch grabbing and moon walking going on in my house."
—Madonna

September 12, 2009

But If Bachman-Turner Overdrive Are Available...

From Newsvine: Obama says Status Quo no solution on health care

In a searing indictment of the Seventies boogie rock band, Obama told supporters Saturday that he would not stand for their unique brand of danceable pop hits as a solution to the nation's healthcare crisis.
"I will not accept the Status Quo. Not this time. Not now," the president told an estimated 15,000 people during a rally. . . .

"If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen. My door is always open," the president said.
A Serious Set of Proposals is, of course, a lesser-known bootleg album of Lynyrd Skynyrd tracks from 1974, although the president seemed even more enthused by the thought of breaking out some old Machine hits:
"In other words, [losing coverage] can happen to anyone," Obama told the raucous Minneapolis crowd. "There but for the grace of God go I."
Even Republicans joined in the broad condemnation of the ageing British rockers:
Reacting to the president's new campaign, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said: "The Status Quo is unacceptable. But so are the alternatives that the administration and Democrats in Congress have proposed."
Pundits have been surprised by the Republican ire directed towards the Quo, as their 1979 hit "Whatever You Want" is usually taken as an implicit endorsement of the laissez-faire policies that the right tends to favour.

I think I've taken this one far enough.

September 11, 2009

September 07, 2009

Channel Five, 21st Century; 21st Century, Channel Five

While I was in the West over the weekend, I was staying in a dinky little hotel in the dinky little town of Mallaig, which, as far as railways and the west of Scotland go, is literally the end of the line. (You've probably seen the line itself, as sections of it double for the track to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.)

Anyway, said dinky hotel provided me with a dinky little room in which there was a dinky little TV (gosh, this is beginning to sound like a children's book, isn't it?), and that dinky little TV received precisely one channel: Channel Five.

Now, as anyone who lives in Britain will tell you, Channel Five only has a dinky little bit of class, and I've long given up expecting much from it except low quality softcore porn, Neighbours, and atrocious game shows. Case in point was a programme they broadcast in 2001 called Touch The Truck:
Basic rules: There is one truck. There are 20 contestants. You will touch the truck. You will not sleep. You will get a ten minute break every two hours and a fifteen minute break every six hours. Last one touching the truck wins the truck.
...which, in 2001, I expect was the second most horrific thing you might have seen on your TV.

But I have to say, even I was unprepared for the sheer fuckwittedness of their evening news programme, which lumped together in its headlines: a horrific kidnapping/robbery in London, Robbie Williams' new album, and finally, as an afterthought, something to do with Afghanistan or something. And then:

As the (male) anchor introduced each segment, he would, as anchors tend to do, say: "With more on this story, here's [X]," where [X] is the name of a correspondent. Except that, whenever the correspondent was a man, he would be introduced with [first name] [last name], and occasionally a title, like "Senior Political Correspondent" (not a position it's hard to snag at Five News, I wouldn't have thought, as long as you own a tie). Whenever the correspondent was a woman, on the other hand, she would be introduced by her first name only, as if she was some silk-bloused Fifties secretary ("Jane, get me more on this story, will you?").

Um, hello? Channel Five? Have you heard of the fucking women's movement? Or do you think a glass ceiling is just an awesome way to see up girls' skirts? How about you join the rest of us in 2009 and attempt to at least appear as if you give a shit about equality, huh? Thanks.

On the bright side, Robbie Williams apparently wants to rejoin Take That. Hallelujah!

September 06, 2009

Lede Fail

From The Scotsman: Three questioned about dead babies discovered in attic
THE bodies of three newborn babies were found when police were tipped off following a drunken row at a lingerie party, it was claimed last night.
Way to keep it classy, Merseyside.

Sorry for long silence recently — last days of the Fringe and then this weekend I was in the Hebrides, of which more, maybe, later.

September 04, 2009