Chris reviews Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Well, George Lucas has finally abandoned his dedication to mostly-digital or all-digital productions and made a totally organic film that adheres to Dogme 95 standards, and the results are very nice. Instead of the cold, lifeless shapes and colors that filled the last two Star Wars installments, in this film we get nothing but the real thing: real lava, real metal robots, real HUGE LIZARDS, real YODA, real DOG-HAIR costumes for the wookies (spoiler: yes, I said 'wookies'; yes, the wookies are back and thank goodness), etc. The difference is huge. The film opens with an elaborately staged space battle -- ships and lasers and droids whizzing in every direction like hi-tech shrapnel -- and it just feels so damn real. Because it IS real! Which is a big part of the fun in watching this movie: you think to yourself, Holy crap, how did they do this without using digital effects?
If Lucas did a 180 on digital because the fans complained, then it wasn't the only area where he listened to fans. All the naysayers who called episodes I and II proof that George Lucas can't write dialog are now wiping the crap out of their eyes. Revenge of the Sith boasts Harold Pinter-level dialog. At one point Anakin lops off Lord Dooku's head (spoiler: yes lops off his head, thus killing him) and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine goes, "Good! Goo-hoo-hoo-hood!", and Anakin goes, "It doesn't FEEL good," and Palpatine says, "Ha ha ha. Good, Anakin." When the first Padmé-Anakin scene begins, I felt everyone in the audience tighten up in anticipation of some dialog blows to the head, but instead what they got was this:
PADME: "What's wrong, Ani?"
ANAKIN: "I won't lose you" (and yet he does, to childbirth (spoiler))
PADME: "I love you."
ANAKIN: "What is... Oh. Was Obi-Wan here earlier?"
PADME: "Obi-Wan. He's worried about you."
ANAKIN: "Worried about ME? Don't you remember how I was the one who saved his life?"
PADME: "He said he remembers that, yes, but that he worries."
ANAKIN: "Worries about what? About dying when I'm at home with you because no one will be there to save him?"
PADME: "No. Oh... maybe. I don't think so. He said you. Obi-wan is worried."
ANAKIN: "Obi-wan was here?"
PADME: "Yes, Anakin, he's worried."
ANAKIN: "About dying? Because who will save him?"
PADME: "Yes, I think so."
ANAKIN: "Well... I wonder if he's even still alive right now. It's been forty minutes."
There's never even an explicit acknowledgment that Anakin has used a Jedi mind trick to persuade Padmé, but the dialog is so well done that you know exactly what's going on without anybody saying "Jedi mind trick" aloud as in past movies.
(Spoiler:) Yoda is in this film. At one point he kills a dog with a sling-shot and everyone in the audience went crazy with grief. He's actually sort of the main character, and in one scene he drives a truck off a bridge and you wonder if even his jedi skills will bring him safely through -- they don't (spoiler: dead). In another delightful scene that by itself enriches the series immeasurably, Yoda says this to Obi-Wan (yes, Obi-Wan is back): "In two years time a child will be born unto the widow Merlin. Besieged by grief and fear of unnatural birth she will take her own life. You must save the child, whose destiny entwines with and lifts aloft the destiny of us all. Go to her disguised as a woodsman and ask for food and shelter. At night, while she slumbers, place this leaf atop the swell of her belly. Three days thence she will swallow poison. After she dies you will have the sands of this hourglass to cut the child from her. You must take it to the black hills and await me there. Remember that if you are caught all is lost, now go!" says Yoda. A satisfying ending to a hit-and-miss but ultimately great series of films.
Chris reviews Gas station marketing
One bag? No. No, it's not. What the hell can you do with one bag of ice? You can't do anything. There's not enough ice in one bag of ice to cool down anything. You couldn't bring down the temperature of a luke-warm beverage even one degree with a bag of ice. If you put only one bag of ice in your pants, right inside your underwear, you wouldn't feel anything -- it's not cold enough to make a difference. If you took a gerbil out of his nice warm burrow and packed him into the middle of one bag of ice, that gerbil would assume he was still snug in his burrow, such an ineffectual chiller is one bag of ice. No, you're going to need far, far more than one bag of ice. You're going to need at least six bags. Six to fifty. Fifty bags of ice should just. BARELY! be enough for your intended use, whatever that may be. Whether it be to put into your cooler or even just into a cup of scalding coffee in order to bring the temperature down to a nice drinkable "hot". For these and other things, you will be relieved to have one hundred bags of ice on hand. Now, head over to the register with these four hundred bags of premium ice and we'll get you on your way.
Michael reviews Heartbreak
I would wish it on my worst enemy.
Chris reviews New York City's weather
Holy sweet narcoleptic jesus, what the sonofabitching fuck is going on here? We've returned from recording to find that the temperature in New York is literally 50 DEGREES LOWER than in LA.
IQ quiz, first question: These two major cities have a temperature difference of 50 fucking degrees. Answer: Um, Baghdad and Camp Shackleton, Antarctica? Wrong!
As I shuffled down the sidewalk today, I heard a guy bluster to his friend, apropos of the cold: "It actually doesn't bother me. I actually find it invigorating." That's a lie. This weather is deadly. This weather is invigorating if you're a seal, not if you're a man. If you're a man, this weather is the grim reaper's icy breath, and you know it.
Thermometers fear this weather. Here is a graphical representation of what the weather is doing to thermometers:
Small dogs don't freeze in this weather, they explode. You come in from a ten minute walk to find that your body is full of blood-flavored slurpee. Meteors that have just had 80% of their mass burned off squeezing through earth's atmosphere land cold to the touch. In this weather, the most ardent, anguished, burning love turns into a small bowling ball.
Chris reviews A small sign he saw at the register of the deli a block away from Keith's house (here reproduced using computers)
Wheedling and disingenuous. Passive aggressive. Just say "NO CREDIT that's all".
Chris reviews His Mustache
My mustache possesses the simplicity of elegance. As a statement it is assertive and concise. But it is not a statement.
My mustache demonstrates a preternatural wisdom. It is fledgling, yet it speaks with assurance, with the creaseless authority of the eternal.
My mustache, were it a sandwich, would be a club. Were it a plane, it would be a MiG-28.
Many ask, of my mustache, "Does it make you better than other people?" I admit that it does. Because of my mustache I can go into a grocery store and collect the items I need, pay, and get out of there without being distracted by the colorful packaging of the hundreds of thousands of products I don't need. Because of my mustache I can run a mile in two minutes forty seconds. At least, before I couldn't and now I can. Because of my mustache people are more suspicious of me, and rightly so.
One thing I have to hand to my mustache is that it knows sports. I don't follow sports at all, so when a sports buff tries to make conversation it's usually a nonstarter. But now with my mustache on board, somebody says, "Oh, Barry So-and-so of the Pistons got into that amazing scrimmage with Dwight D. Whomever of the 49ers and shot two for two off the line or whatever," and I'm just like, "Yeah? No shit! That's hockey?"
An aspect of my mustache that I've never been totally at peace with is its ability to accurately predict the future. It almost always withholds from me the fruits of this ability, so my problem is not that I have to deal with knowing what's going to happen in the coming years and centuries; my problem is more general than that. Specifically, do I have an ethical responsibility to try to convince my mustache to be frank with the world about where things are heading? So that we can all try to band together and avoid any grave repercussions of our current environmental, political, and religious habits? Does my mustache owe it to us to divulge details about imminent climatic tragedies -- large scale earthquakes, etc. -- so that we can better prepare for them? Should I try to prevail upon my mustache to give us the answers to "the big" questions: How did the universe begin? Is there non-human intelligent life on other planets? Does God exist? If so, how best shall we make appeals to him, and what is his intention for us?
Chris reviews The location of George W. Bush's heart
Highly unusual. When he passes, it is imperative that science be allowed to dissect him and learn more about this wond'rous anomaly.
Chris reviews The sweetest, most heartwarming thing he's seen in years, maybe ever
Awwwww... that's sooo nice! How thoughtful of Coca-Cola to remember Delta's 75th birthday! And to commemorate it with these tasteful cocktail napkins that Delta customers can actually get some good use out of! And okay, Coca-Cola's name does kind of stand out up there, so it's not necessarily the most selfless gift ever, but if you had seen the 60th anniversary napkin they did, you'd realize Coke has come a long way in terms of learning where the spotlight belongs -- on the birthday boy! On Delta Airlines, the adorable birthday boy!
Chris reviews The lessons of Krull
Krull, the 1983 action/sci-fi spectacular, is a film that can be watched simply as an unparalleled piece of entertainment, yes, but the attuned viewer will pick up some terrific lessons as well, guidelines to help him or her live a happy, full life. Krull is a film that, like The Bible and the books of Hermann Hesse, was written with ideas in mind, very powerful ideas that the author not only wanted to share, but maybe on some level felt compelled to. Here are a couple of my favorite Krull lessons. What are yours?
Chris reviews Elevators
It's my feeling that we've drastically underthought the elevator. Here is a device that could offer many useful functions, but is instead offering only one: delivering people and objects from one floor to another in multi-story buildings. It makes me sick, and I'd like to workshop a few ideas.
Chris reviews The Chronicles of Riddick having seen the preview many times but never the actual film [spoilers!]
Coming at the end of an embarrassing string of cruddy action poops like XXX and XXX 2: Bat Poison, The Chronicles of Riddick is probably Dave Riddick’s last shot at wearing the heavyweight title that he would inherit from those action fixtures of the 80’s and 90’s of whom he seems a watery amalgamation: Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis. Alas, the film announces not a victory, but instead Riddick’s intention to downclass to middleweight, to sprint and punch and stutter along with the Jean-Claude Van Dammes of the world, the Steven Seagals, the Dolph Lundgrens. Perhaps the problem is that all the good action scripts now draw talent like Tom Cruise and Will Smith, leaving guys like Riddick only ill-reasoned, dialog-tarded, proto-CGI fests. That said, Riddick and his emponymous film leave you with little doubt that Dave Riddick is here to stay, if only to fight his way through ten more years worth of high-action, low-concept films that will continue to be sufficiently entertaining to a certain demographic.
The year is 201704 A.D. (or whatever it was in Pitch Black), and the Necromongers, a warrior society intent on cosmic domination, are battling their way across the universe, leaving in their wake a scatter of scathed planets, their cities razed, their water supplies fouled, their nuns tempted. On each conquered world, the Necromongers plant half a dozen mile-high statues, effigies of the ruthless Necromonger High Commander, Pat. These serve both to remind the 19 people left living who it was again that erased their entire culture, and also to be scaled and swung from during theoretically harrowing fight scenes involving Riddick’s character, Vin Diesel.
It is by absent-mindedly running over a tiny model ship with their big model ship that the Necromongers first encounter Diesel, who is shown prior to the running-over in a shot that implies he’s on the tiny model ship, even though there’s no way even a cat could wedge itself into the tiny ship – by comparison, maybe five cats could comfortably hang out in the Necromongers’ ship. Diesel looks on with his kind-of-wide-eyed facial expression, bathed in fire-colored lighting, as the tiny model ship that he’s make-believing he’s on is run over by the Necromonger ship. In the next shot, he’s a prisoner of the Necromongers, who all dress in armor, except for Winnie (Thandie Newton), who dresses in three small patches of fabric the same color as Necromonger armor. Winnie is High Commander Pat's daughter and the wife of Zantor (Mathew McConaughey), second-in-command and first general under Pat. Winnie and Zantor both take an immediate liking to Vin Diesel, who impresses them as both a prime physical specimen and a person with shiny silver eyes. Also, as a purveyor of bon mots such as “Be my guest” and “You’ve got to be kidding”, he’s a hell of a funny guy to be around. Many happy interludes are had by these three burgeoning compadres. Zantor even offers Diesel a taste of Winnie’s ass, to which Diesel replies pithily, “I’m into guys.”
All is well until, 90 seconds after arriving on the Necromonger ship, Diesel tells his hosts that he’s ready to go, and that they should provide him with a ship since they smashed his little model ship. Winnie shoots Zantor a look that says “We can’t just let him walk out of here,” and her mouth says the very same thing, leaving little doubt in Zantor’s mind as to where Winnie stands on the issue of “Should Vin Diesel leave the Necromonger ship? Further, should we give him a small ship to leave on?” Zantor implores Diesel to stay, to share and assist in building the mighty Necroneptor empire, but Diesel declines by punching three Necroneptor soldiers in quick succession and driving a small ship out into space. Zantor and Winnie send the crème de la crème of their royal guard after Diesel, and turn their attention to the next planet they are “visiting”.
After several days of travel, Diesel stops off at a space station to refuel. Nature calls, and he rents out four lily white twelve year-olds and gets a room at the space station hotel and drills the children’s back ends into pudding, then settles in for a good night’s sleep. He wakes in the middle of the night with the gentle suspicion that he’s being watched; indeed, his bed is surrounded by the crème de la crème of the Necroneptor royal guard, and there is a pile of dismembered twelve year-old parts in the corner, right where he left them. Though he fights like a bobcat in a burlap sack, Diesel is ultimately no match for the bobcat that the royal crème put him in a sack with, and with a look on his face that says “I can’t believe this is happening,” and a mouth that says the same, he is hauled back to Necroneptor HQ, where he is tortured and his eyes are removed and surgically installed in Winnie, silver eyes being what she has always wanted and what, in fact, the Necroneptors have been scouring the universe for all along. And so the deadly wave of Necroneptorian destruction rather abruptly reaches an unforeseen high water mark and recedes back to its origin, never to be heard from or worried about again. The Necroneptors leave the statues behind as remuneration for “any damage [they] might have caused.” Also, they no longer have room for the statues on their ship, for they have picked up tons of souvenirs.
What I liked most about Riddick was its refusal to trade in moral certainties, a rare bravery in the action/sci-fi genre. Though we identify with Diesel, with his bald head and flaring muscles, we aren’t quite sure what to make of his homicidal pederasty and blanket sadism and slavish addiction to chocolate. Likewise the Necroneptors, though we can’t easily agree with their means, ultimately show themselves to be sensitive, thoughtful collectors of silver eyes. In telling a story like Riddick, the filmmakers had to make a pact with themselves, a promise to avoid compromise at all costs. They held rigidly to this promise, and while Riddick is stylistically clichéd and the dialog is horribly underwritten and the acting is for the birds and the set pieces are ugly and the action sequences are confusing and unbelievable, still it has an undeniable authenticity of the sort that is all too scarce in mainstream movies.
Riddick, then, is ultimately a colossal, consummate failure; however it is not without a final scene in which Dave Riddick has his eyes flipped out by Dame Judie Dench’s sorbet spoon.
Chris reviews The word 'hear'
Have you noticed that 'hear' has the word 'ear' in it? Creepy.
Chris reviews The Color of Snack Cheese
The color of snack cheese (think Doritos) is hunter orange. Hunter orange being the blazing fluorescent color that hunters buy their clothes in so that other hunters won't mistake them for anything remotely deer-like. And it's the color they choose because it has never, in the history of our planet, occurred in nature. The wavelength of light that comes off a hunter's vest and tells your eyes to show your brain hunter orange is a wavelength of light that was literally invented in 1972 (or whenever DuPont invented it). Light waves of that length had never existed, since the formation of the universe. Which makes it weird that Frito Lay would decide on this color for their chips. As though they need their chips not so much to look appetizing as to stand out against any possible background.
To most people, snack cheese=hunter orange. Doritos, Cheetos, Kraft Macaroni: all occur in hunter orange. And I'm willing to bet it's not just people that have learned this association.
Nature has been reduced to an archipelago of well-spaced theme parks. Even standing in the middle of Yosemite or Arches, it's an absolute triumph of the imagination to feel like you're "in the middle of nowhere"; you could use the spinning pointer from Twister as a compass and within half an hour you'd run into either (a) a freeway, (b) a town, or (c) Chicago. There's no border anymore between civilization and wilderness; animals that can live amongst us -- birds, chipmunk, racoons, possums -- do so, and the rest, the wolves and bears and lions, live in zoos or on preserves. Given this overlap of habitats, it's safe to assume that animals have by now eaten plenty of Doritos and Macaroni out of dumpsters; or hell, from the hands of two year-olds sitting in the car with the window down while mom pays for the gas. And they're starting to learn, some of them, that hunter orange is the color of snack cheese. So how fantastic is it going to be when packs of wild dogs and deer and coyotes start attacking hunters because they think they're big delicious cheese mummies.
Chris reviews Honeymoon
The song Honeymoon, by French rock band Phoenix, is so, so freaking awesome. This is maybe the sexiest song I, as a white person, am capable of hearing.
What it's got:
Roughly a minute into his first listening of Honeymoon, Michael Tapper opined in one or another Caribbean accent, "Ooo, mon! Girl come in my space, this song on da discmon? Me she gon' get dat happy time!" He didn't put it quite like that, but the gist is all his.
This is a feel-good, sensual-ass song. It plays in the elevator as you and your prom date - fingers entwined, gazes meeting shyly in the mirror walls - rise toward the 17th floor, toward room 1706, which for about 8 minutes will be the center of the known universe.
Chris reviews Vampires
Vampires. Like all of us, they have their positives and their negatives. Here those are:
Key: '*' indicates a pun
Chris reviews The Film Medium
Chris reviews Bogus, Lying Assholes
I've met and in many cases maintained friendships with many, many very cool people, people who exemplify many positive traits. But then you have these bogus, lying assholes. What a bunch of pricks. These are the people who, if you ask them a straightforward question, will invariably serve up a lie in response.
One much-favored technique of their's -- the bogus, lying assholes -- is to gild a festering, malicious lie with a sweet cocoon of truth, then serve it to you on a doilie and take great pleasure from your eagerness to gobble down what looks like a sour-apple Jelly Belly(TM). These scum, they are filth. Your innocence, your ingenuousness is to them like sun on the face of an albino, or a vampire, or even, god help you, a vampiric albino: it burns; god how it burns.
Here's something to try next time you encounter one of these assholes, these bogus fucking liars. After he finishes feeding you a line of particularly unsavory and malignant bullshit -- something intended to trick you into going into a back alley with him where you can be secretively robbed and stabbed by his cronies, or something to get you to fall into an uncovered manhole for his entertainment -- smile at him thankfully, say "what wonderful advice!", and offer him your hand to shake. When he takes it, make sure you have one of those hand-buzzers in your palm, but set to "kill" instead of "stun". Fry that bogus dick. Shirr his lying parts so they fall away from the bone like the ashen, cylindrical remains of a cigarette giving up its cohesion and snowing down to the sidewalk.
Or heal him with love, this bogus, lying shithead. Say, "My brother, I can appreciate that your very nature compels you to lie constantly and maliciously, that mendicating is to you as masticating is to a cow: a long, never-finished duty that forms the defining core of your everyday actions. However, my poor fallen brother, you must get a handle on it, lest the next fellow you jest with in your peculiar way shirr you with his goddamn handbuzzer. For will not the world cheer when, charred unto cinder, your body falls away from its frame like dust blown from the face of an ancient tablet by Indiana Jones?"
Chris reviews the deli where he gets his lunch most days
Pax is the name of it, and it is, for all intents and purposes, the best cheapish food option in the area where I work, which maybe isn't but SHOULD be notorious for it's incredible dearth of decent cheapish food options. There are none, save Pax.
A person would be tempted to say that Pax has a very good selection; good to very good. They certainly have a lot of stuff -- from salads, sandwiches, and soups, to entrée-style plates of chicken, salmon, grilled veggies, and the like. But something I've just seen proves that estimator far too generous.
I am standing at the the sandwich section of the ordering counter -- this was two hours ago -- waiting as my order is assembled, and next to me stands a mother and her two young daughters. I imagine them to be tourists from Cleveland; at any rate their appearance suggests they aren't from New York City. But so, when one of the very friendly, smooth-shaven, more-Spanish-than-English-speaking sandwich assemblers asks the family how he can help them, one of these little blond girls asks, hopefully, "Um, do you have baloney?" It was incredibly cute, but this is no time for reflection. The Pax man is confused; he doesn't appear to have heard of baloney. He has the look on his face of an 8th grader who does not -- simply does not -- know the answer to the teacher's question, but knows one is required, and so is kind of searching his mind with a half-expectancy inspired by his teacher's full expectancy. The mother sagely deciphers his look, then less-than-sagely rephrases her daughter's query, framing this second effort with an amicable, matter-of-fact, just-between-us-adults shrug and a hand gesture possibly meant to emulate a slice of baloney lying flat on a counter. She says, "Do you have any baloney?" But it works, actually, he understands her. Either the hand gesture, which firmly placed baloney in the category "flat things", was revelatory, or the little girl's vocal register differed by so many octaves from anything he'd heard that day that the Pax man couldn't really hear what she said. Maybe both. Anyway, he can now confidently state that no, no baloney.
Which of course we knew all along, you and I, cuz this is a Manhattan deli. But that doesn't make it right. And I found myself standing there very much wanting a baloney sandwich instead of the salmon and cream-cheese on pumpernickel I'd just been handed.
Email Pax at firstname.lastname@example.org and request that they begin carrying baloney (and baloney-related products such as white bread) at their sandwich counter.
Chris reviews Brand Strategy for Cadbury Eggs
In 2004, the percentage of people who in some way limit their diet for health reasons is substantial; many are vegetarians or vegans and refuse to eat eggs. Obviously these people don't make an exception for any particular *brand* of egg, but, if you think about it, there's one brand that really should be exempted from herbivorous prohibition: Cadbury.
See for yourself. Check the ingredient list for a Cadbury egg and you'll find, as I did, that these are not actually 'eggs' in the strictest sense of the word. They are, basically -- and no disrespect toward Cadbury or their products or the nutritional value of their breakfast products is intended -- just candy. Syrup, chocolate, goo, etc. And yet this is neither widely known nor actively advertised. As far as John B. Consumer is concerned, Cadbury Eggs are just one among many entries in the chicken egg category. What happens if we change that?
I say let's find out. I'm guessing the effect will be major. Make the large vegetarian/vegan subculture aware that there's an egg on the market that they can actually eat, and you're bound to see a huge surge in sales. Veggies *want* to eat eggs! They just can't because it grosses them out to know that they're slurping down little undead baby chickens. Offer them a meat-free egg, though, and they'll go nuts -- completely, totally fucking nuts.
I'm envisioning a TV spot with two friends at a diner. One of them says to the waitress, "Gimme two eggs scrambled -- Cadbury -- with hashbrowns and wheat toast. And coffee." The waitress leaves, and Friend B says derisively, "Hey, I thought you were all Veggie-Man these days," throwing scare quotes around 'Veggie-Man'. Friend A, generously but with a touch of condescension: "Bro, it's *Cadbury*." Cut to the waitress setting the plates down on the table. Friend B's eggs are standard yellow gross-outs; he takes a bite and kind of gags and chokes down the scrambled undead baby chickens. Friend A scoops up a big forkfull of steaming, chocolatie-brown Cadbury scramblers, smiles, and consumes them with a look of total ecstasy (eyes rolled up in his head, big grin on his face, fingers clawing the vinyl bench). Super runs over a shot of Friend B looking with revulsion down at his plate, his lips twisted tightly into a moribund sneer, his eyes welling with tears: "Cadbury Eggs: No chicken, just chocolate. Ain't no lie."
Chris reviews The state of fashion
Alive and well, with an emphasis on sexy.
Chris reviews A few diction issues
Language is something I pay a lot of attention to and care a lot about, and so poor usage really bums me out. Few things needle me more than somebody using "cozen" when what he means is "cousin", or "fathom" when what's called for is "fat them".
Following are a couple of mis-uses that I've been hearing a lot lately. If you or someone you love makes these mistakes, for the love of god, fix it. You're hurting yourself, and, more importantly, you're hurting me.
Great. Just remember: with a little attentiveness and determination, we can all stop looking like buffoons when we say things like, "It was him, officer, he's the one I saw cuddlebugging my dog!" Because that's like, hey officer, give this guy a medal -- he's really nice to dogs. He snuggles them.
Keith reviews This One Thing he Saw in a Mr. Magoo Cartoon
So, last night I was at a party in Brooklyn, and, as I am wont to do whenever it's possible at social gatherings, I spent the bulk of the evening watching a silently projected broadcast of the Cartoon Network. If you've never seen a muted episode of The Smurfs scored to the ambient strains of The Pixies' Trompe le Monde, please allow me to go ahead and recommend as much to you now. But that's not my point. My point is this: it came to pass that a very special one-minute-long(?)(!) episode of Mr. Magoo was featured, in which Magoo, through what I am presuming were the ill-effects of an advanced case of glaucoma, or something, mistook an egg incubator for a billiards table and began racking up the eggs with a fishing rod (which, I guess, he thought was a cue). How Magoo unwittingly found himself at an egg hatchery and holding a fishing pole while in search of a good game of pool is beyond the scope of this article. In any case, Magoo lets fly with a few strokes of the fishing pole, and before he knows it, he's inadvertently hatched a trio of baby chicks, who somehow manage to escape from the incubator. At the close of the piece, Magoo breaks the fourth wall for the first time, turning to the camera and speaking to us. His message went unheard by me (remember, the sound was off), but it wasn't really important anyway. You see, no matter what he was saying, it couldn't have been more compelling or informative than the fact that, unbeknownst to him, those three newborn chicks had somehow found their way atop his head, and, looking us - the audience - straight in the eye, were themselves chirping away (probably) inanely, effectively rendering Magoo's point utterly moot.
The thought struck me - how similar is my world to the world of Magoo! How often have I been trapped in conversation with a blithering idiot who was all too happy to spend the evening holding forth with whatever faux-profundity his addled mind had most recently pieced together, presuming that he is dazzling me with his rare insights, while, in actuality, I'm mightily distracted by the parliament of chirping birdies (a spectre that, given my particular peer group, I'm afraid to admit, can be taken either figuratively or literally) that have taken roost upon his head with neither his knowledge or consent. Would that the real world were like Magoo's world, where the conversational vampires at parties can be spotted by the bustling bird's nest that rests atop their crown, where their empty-headed monologues are routinely drowned out by the e'er-present din of chirps, where an unbearable conversation can be aborted simply by tossing a handful of chicken scratch at their scalp and then stepping aside to avoid the ensuing bloodbath.
Magoo, I am ready to enter your world.
Chris reviews Paperclips
Everybody is familiar with the wonderful agglutinative properties of paperclips. If loose sheets of paper are heads of cattle (as has been argued convincingly), then paperclips are cowboys, forcing those cows into neat little stacks.
But often overlooked is the paperclip's ability to poke holes in things. Paper, vellum, thin plastic, foil, even fabric: if you unfold a paperclip, you can push its tip through any of these things. Even brick.
There's an energetic metaphor in this. Looking at a paperclip out of the box, you wouldn't take it for much of a hole-poker -- indeed, neither of its points are exposed; each is wrapped into the clip's endemic curve. But disfigure that clip, and you give it new meaning, fresh powers. It exchanges the ability to bind with the ability to skewer. It becomes, for all intents and purposes, a really crappy awl.
Lesson being, if you get messed up, physically or psychologically, by a car crash or lost loved one or fall from height, consider the possibility that though you're no longer able to complete tasks that formerly gave you little or no trouble -- driving a car, sitting in a room by yourself without crying, putting on a glove -- you may now be better suited to some new activity, such as being portrayed in a gritty documentary distributed by IFC that, while difficult to watch, ultimately purveys hope.
Chris reviews The events of Monday last
On Monday I got a new bass. Since on Monday I already owned a beautiful Musicman Stingray, that would seem indulgent -- though hardly uncharacteristic of a musician, "musician" being most helpfully defined not as someone who plays music but rather as a person who FUCKING CANNOT OWN ENOUGH MUSICAL EQUIPMENT -- if you didn't know that when I opened my Stingray's case for practice on Monday evening I found an altogether different instrument than the one I've played for the last 2 years. That may be overstating it, but I did find that my sweet little guy (still talking about the Stingray) had a nob broken off and, more crucially, a cracked neck. I have no idea when or how the damage was levied -- the bass could have self-inficted it as some sort of grand gesture that I have yet to understand. Over the course of a 1 hr. practice, it went out of tune -- this is an instrument that usually goes weeks without even the slightest detune. I knew I had to act fast, while the crack was still small, so I blocked out my emotions, went straight to Guitar Center, and got $750 in trade toward a Fender P-Bass -- not a bad deal given that my Stingray retails for $1300 new, without a broken neck. It pleased me -- perhaps immorally -- to note that, as I had hoped, the Guitar Center guy's inspection was too circumspect to uncover any problems beyond the missing nob.
The thing is, now that the dust has settled and my hot young sunburst P-Bass has moved into my apartment, I kinda feel like shit. Did I betray that Stingray? I think I may have. One little nob falls off, one little crack appears in the neck, and I'm off trolling for a flawless young thing to replace her. She barely has time to adjust to the light of day -- she's been out of her case for 2 hours tops -- and she finds herself being handed over bodily to some Guitar Center scumbag, her injured neck giving her trouble as she cranes to watch me saunter out the front door carrying some trim-waisted dye job with perfect skin. What have I done?
The fact is, that Stingray was on her way out. A cracked neck is not an easy repair; the prognosis called for steadily diminishing health. But an attachment forms, doesn't it? Even though things outside ourselves attain value only insofar as we invest them with it, it's possible that being human consists in doing exactly that -- when we stop believing that the stuff around us has intrinsic worth, something separate from the esteem we assign it, then everything becomes really fucking stale, like when you've been playing a video game all afternoon and you put down the controller and think, "How stupid was that? I have to go outside now." To form relationships with inert objects is to be human.
But to be a human musician is to want desperately, desperately to fuck Guitar Center. It is to want that with your entire mind, such that often it's all you can think about. "Well, this is the point in the evening when I recount to all of you a few anectdotes that I think the groom would prefer died a quick, quiet death, not unlike the many whores he's known in Tijuana, right Bobby? Ha ha. But listen, first let me tell you about my plan to finally stick it to those heartless bastards over at the Guitar Center."
That Stingray gave her life that I might fuck those shiftless, heartless bastards over at the Guitar Center. Think kindly on her once in a while, won't you?
[Apologies to readers who work at Guitar Center or have a 35 year old son who works at Guitar Center living in their basement. Guitar Center is not as bad as all that. I really like when they have "green tag savings extravaganzas" and, in particular, "monster savings extravaganzas". The prices during these times are unreal.]
Chris reviews Crack Cocaine
There's been a lot of talk in recent years by pseudo-scientific persons and their chosen news outlets about the supposed negative effects of crack cocaine on the general health of its users. Let me tell you right now, the people who have been making these claims are -- so to speak -- on crack.
Let me relate what I feel is a rather revealing anecdote. I was sixteen and friendless, my self-esteem at an all-time low. My chances of getting a girl to look twice at me -- much less get into a bed with me and let me put my penis into her, as was my goal at that time -- were slim to none. And: my vision was poor, requiring me to wear corrective lenses. All in all, I felt that, like Job, I had been singled out by the Lord for some especially sadistic breed of test. Then I discovered crack cocaine, and I didn't care about those things anymore. Were it not for criznack (or 'crizzle-snack', as I sometimes call it, affectionately), I seriously might not be here today, doing all this stuff, working these miracles with la gente.
What I love about doing crack, though, is that it almost gives me special powers. This one time, high as a goddamn space shuttle, and better armed, I was talking to this guy at a party. And he was like, "Man, I've been watching South Park since it first came on." And, my eyes all bugged out like a goddamn preacher possessed by the Holy Spirit, I just looked at him for what was probably an uncomfortably long time. I was reading his mind. "Bullshit!" I whispered. He cocked his head to the side. "Bullshit, you, you...," my third eye wandered like a divining rod across his very MIND, "you have never seen South Park. Isn't that right." I had looked into his very mind and perceived his entire consciousness, the whole damn thing, and there was no South Park there. "No, I've seen every episode," he tried to tell me, but I was through with him, so I shot him right in his face, something I would never have thought to do had I not been so high that my brain was skipping across sanity like a flat stone side-armed over a whisper-still lake, like a small ejected passenger against the rubber-black tarmac, like chalk pushed at the wrong angle across a blackboard.
chris reviews Bugles
Who knew the good folks over at General Mills continue to crank out Bugles, America's favorite conical snack? They do, and what's more they are available in the snack machine on my floor here at the Multi-Demonic International Visual Gag Facory, where I work.
Sniff of a freshly-opened bag and your reward is essence de glue -- but that's not a bad thing. It's testimony to what a light, effemoral flavor the Bugle effects; so light that it's easily overwhelmed by the woody but innocuous packaging adhesive. And light enough that it's totally overwhelmed by the tuna salad sandwich I've chosen as its date to the mid-day dance.
On the back of the bag, there is this: "THE RED SPOON PROMISE: The Red Spoon is my promise of great taste, quality and convenience. This is a product you and your family will enjoy. I guarantee it." That, signed by Betty Crocker herself. To her signature she appends her toll-free phone number, the hours when it's okay to call, her web address, and her mailing address; all of this in case you should want to take issue with The Promise or talk smack with Betty about pallid Bugle immitators like Dorito's 3-D. Giving out Betty Crocker's personal contact info is, to me, a great idea. I'm not even sure Betty Crocker makes Bugles; I think she's just a very satisfied fan with some industry clout who wants to help out the brand by throwing her weight behind it. And I'm all for Bugles getting big, getting the popular recognition they deserve, as I'm sure they soon will. But part of me, a rather shrill and strident part, is hoping Bugles will remain my little secret. Frankly, I love sliding a bag out of my shirt at a party, pulling it open and passing it around. And the ensuing chorus: "Bugles, eh? Why haven't I ever heard of these fellas?"; "What is it? 'Buggles'? I love these -- [munch munch] -- how come I've never heard of 'em?" And I'm the hero. Me. I am. Not some goddamn corporate vagary named Betty -- ME. Not some sonofabitching Wizard of Oz bullshit robotic Betty Crocker figurehead who leapt onto the wagon only once it was fucking safe, but ME.
Keith reviews The group of girls sitting to his left at a recent viewing of a lamentable romantic comedy, which romantic comedy will, for obvious reasons, go unnamed, except to say that the only reason Keith went to this romantic comedy was because it features both Hugh Grant and That One Hot Girl From the Pirate Movie, either of whom is, independently, excuse enough for Keith to eat popcorn and Pepsi, that's for sure, but also anyway, these girls, these interminably vocal girls, would deliver a huge, collective sigh at even the slightest romantic provocation from the film, like when this mousy little shit of a kid divulges to Liam Neeson (who, by the way, what the fuck happened to his career, is something else we should be reviewing at some point) that he (the kid) is not too young to be in love, to which this collective of lovelorn girls responded by practically barking "awwwwww!" in unison, like a cadre of goddamned seals before a bucket of chum, and they did this, loudly, roughly once every 4 minutes, depending on the relative sappiness of that particular portion of the film.
Keith will never, ever date one of those girls.
chris reviews His desire for this bass amp
I think I want it pretty bad.
Actually, I'm not even sure the Fender Bassman 400 head with a 4x10 and 1x15 cabinet is really what I should get; mainly I think my desire is rooted in a fully-flagged enthusiasm for the amp I currently play on, Ampeg's Shitbox 100, which sounds every bit as bad as it sounds, if you follow me.
But I think the Bassman has a great sound. I've played through it at Guitar Center many times, and once or twice at Sam Ash. Always I'm impressed by its warm, round trouncing of my current piece of shit amp.
Maybe my Ampeg Amp of Shit is fine. It's certainly possible that general dissatisfaction or even dissatisfaction in a specific area of my life that has nothing to do with music is creating this sudden antsyness about the amp. But I think it's actually because I just came upon $800 more or less unexpectedly and have to spend it within about a week or I'll go crazy like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. This Scramble-to-Spend policy comes from a piece of financial advice I read in the Wall Street Journal or Highly Effective Habits... or the like a couple of years ago; it read, roughly, "If you come upon a chunk of money -- whether through chance, hard work, or sneak thievery -- you must quickly spend it on that thing which you think is very cool and has a good, warm sound, and will give you pleasure for the longest amount of time with the least risk of infection. A good time frame for expenditure is three to seven days." So actually I'm fairly conservative, giving myself a week.
So I don't know. How pure is my desire? I don't know. Who knows. I don't fucking know.
Michael reviews Looking Good/Feeling Good
OK, so my point is that there's a relationship between looking good and feeling good and that this relationship is exploitable. One immediate snare that I've been trying to address all along is that who's to say who is looking good at any particular time? I mean, is he looking good? Well, certainly yes. But is this guy looking good? Maybe not as good as he has, objectively speaking. But maybe some people will think otherwise. You see, that's where my point comes in, as neither objectivity nor public opinion have any significant consequence here. The connection between looking good and feeling good lies with the person's self-image, and that's what allows a person to exploit the relationship for their own psychic benefit.
So, like the other day. I was feeling pretty bad: I didn't get the big promotion at work; my kids were using drugs; the wife was seeing other men. So I wanted to look good. I put on about 15 layers, cause that's how I do - dark undershirt, long sleeved undershirt, striped button-down, sweatervest, light jacket, etc., etc. I put on my tightpants. I got my dress shoes. The works. Now I'm feeling good. I don't give a sweet shit what anybody else thinks, cause I'm looking good, you know? I'm looking good and feeling good. Like this guy right here. I saw it in the mirror. I know what's going on. I can sit back, I can take it all in. Sip on a glass of JD, listen to the jukebox, talk to a stranger. In other words, I'm enjoying the finer things in life. Looking sharp. Feeling great. Or at least better.
Does that solve my problems? Probably not. Does it improve my quality of life? Definitely. Should I still pursue other banal pleasures? Why not. There is no downside to this, kids. Looking good to feel good is right up there with convincing that attractive stranger that you're a legend in your home country (while feigning an exotic accent) - there's absolutely no reason not to try.
Chris reviews This glimpse into the future.
As glimpses into the future go, this one is uncommonly crystalline. A monkey, it is predicted, will be able to get hooked up to a complex apparatus and control a robotic arm with his mind. We will have to teach the monkey to flex his mind through a Dumbo's Magic Feather sort of goof involving a joystick that isn't hooked up to anything, but once he gets the hang of it this monkey never forgets.
The implications are exciting. If we can teach a monkey to control a robotic arm with his mind, that gives him three total arms with which to labor. And if he can control one robotic arm with his mind, then why not two; and if two, then why not three; and if three, then why not three hundred. Ultimately we may be able to hook a single monkey up to all of the hundreds of machines that build cars on an assembly line and ask him to comport them all in perfect symbiotic order. More likely and equally useful would be a Monkey Digging Unit, or MDU. An MDU would feature a single monkey's marshmallow brain as the nerve center for a vast network of digging arms, all working to dig one big hole, such as a mine, or many smaller holes, as might prove useful to farmers. So the monkey could be digging away like crazy with his own two little fuzzy arms, and then also he'd be surrounded by thousands of gleaming robot arms scooping furiously toward the same goal.
A single monkey could now wait tables for an entire very large restaurant.
One monkey could clean all the streets in New York.
One monkey could comb miles of beach for a lost bauble.
A single monkey could simultaneously give himself high-fives a thousand times over.
Keith reviews Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill"
The following filmmakers are hereby invited to place a pistol in their mouths and do the honorable thing:
That is all.
Keith reviews A sign at the Brooklyn UPS pick-up center, which sign reads: "Please Have ID With Name and Adderss. Packages Can Only Be Given Out To Cusomers Which Whom They Belong To" (sic).
That sign totally fucking sucks.
Michael reviews His Building's Cafeteria
Almost every day, I eat in my 50-something-floor office building's 8th floor cafeteria. For the first couple months at my job, I didn't know that my building had a cafeteria, so I would always walk five or six blocks to a row of restaurants and pay $7-8 for some mediocre NY-fast-food (Burritoville, Dunlop & McMullen's Soup and Sandwich Bar or whatever, etc.). Then one day, my co-worker introduced me to our building's cafeteria, supplied by our landlord and business partner, JP Morgan Chase. I was both excited to finally make this discovery and annoyed that no one had told me earlier. To get there, although I work on the 5th floor, I have to take an elevator down to the lobby, walk half a block down the hall, and take a separate elevator up to the 8th floor. For some reason, my elevator only goes up to the 6th floor. Sometimes, though, if you're lucky, it'll go up to the 7th floor, stop but not open, and then take you down to whatever floor you requested. I think if it opened, you would probably see the face of God and die. Yesterday, on my way up to the 5th floor, the elevator went up to 4, then went back down to the lobby, paused, and then went up to the 5th floor. That kind of stuff is often the highlight of my day.
The cafeteria overall is not a bad guy. The food's okay and reasonably priced, and the ambience is all you could hope from a large banker-filled room flanked on one side by a wall of windows overlooking Park Ave and on the other by library-shelf-print wallpaper. Definitely a step up from my college's dining hall, which wasn't a bad dining hall, but only one step.
I'd like to give a well-rounded review of the cuisine, but unfortunately, I only ever eat two dishes there. If it's not salmon day, then I have an order of onion rings and a soda. The salmon is almost always delish. Tender and juicy. Yummy in my tummy. It comes with either rice or noodles, and some kind of vegetables. The vegetables are usually not very good, a little undercooked and a little bland for my tastes, which kind of pisses me off. Since salmon day only happens once a week, I usually eat onion rings. To be completely honest, I sometimes get an order of fries instead. The onion rings are really hit or miss at this joint (as is the soda, weirdly), so the fries would be a safer bet, cause they've got less variation, but when the rings're good, and you never know when that'll be until you sit down at your table and open the Styrofoam gift-box, they totally blow away the fries. It's Happy Time. Sometimes, though, and almost an equal amount of the time, the rings are pretty bad, overcooked and kind of crunchy/chewy. They often seem like they've been sitting under the heat lamp for a few days. Also, the Styrofoam box is usually partially melted on the inside from the searing-hot onion ring grease, which is fairly worrisome but which doesn't really correlate with the quality of the ring. I choose to trust that Corporate America has carefully determined that melted Styrofoam cannot harmfully infect my food. Regardless of the day's onion ring quality, I proceed with abandon to souse my rings in a mixture of 5 parts ketchup and 1 part mayo, a trick that tastefully compliments a superb onion ring while effectively compensating for a disastrous one, not to mention the added nutrients it provides.
Keith reviews L.A.'s weather
Don't ever let anyone tell you that Los Angeles is not the absolute *center* of "cool." Check this out: unwilling to let something as ludicrous as an indoor smoking ban keep them from always looking hip and smooth, Angelinos have contrived a means of ensuring that they always appear to have a freshly fired-up Marlboro going. Their secret? Sweet smog! I don't know how they do it - the essense of true cool is always fleeting, n'est pas? - but they've managed to infuse their available air supply with a thick, lustrous smog that allows even the most anemic geek to come off as a regular Bogart, constantly ingesting and expiring a visible cloud of suave, lady-killing exhaust. The best part: "smoking" the L.A. atmosphere requires no hands, so that once you've been spotted shooting out smoke circles by the man or woman of your desire, you can dive right into the heavy petting, unencumbered. Also, the risk of setting one's bed on fire during a post-coital smoke is now a concern for only our most incompetent citizens - in L.A., you need only push your unconscious partner away and breath deep the sweet, creosote-tinged air, worrying about the possibility of having contracted crabs at some other, less respiratorily-satisyfing time.
Chris reviews Technology
Technology, all in all, is a good thing. People will tell you the opposite; they'll say, "Technology killed my rabbits," or, "Technology is so dumb that I hate it," or, in one case I personally witnessed, "Technology fucking killed my six cats, man." You'll find without fail, if you care to inquire, that these people are veritable morasses of resentment, resentment of their own inability to effectively interact with technology. "Take a class," I usually tell them. "You killed your rabbits, not technology, when you put them in the 'Rabbit Merry-go-round', which is in fact nothing of the kind." It was a Microwave, this so-called 'Rabbit Merry-go-round', and that person has to live with what she did forever.
Technology's coolest development of recent years is inarguably The Innernet. The question has become, "What can't you find on The Infranet?" Check this out. And this. And this, for chrissakes!! One of my favorite things in the world is taking a lazy stroll through the verdant, efflorescent, naked-pussy-laden fields of The Iggernet. So much to see!! So much to learn!!
Those who would blame Technology for the planet's woes (I'm talking to you, Luddites! And you, Animalia!) would do well to imagine their world without Technology. Let's have a look: You wake up in the morning, roll out of bed, and have a nice, big stretch. Aaaaaarrrrrggh -- that feels nice! A peak out the window reveals a perfectly lovely, smog-free morning (Smog? What's that?) and -- OH SHIT!! Oh shiiiiiiit! Judging by the position of the sun, you should have been at work two hours ago! And worse, this is the twentieth time this month you've been late, because ALARM CLOCKS DON'T EXIST. You throw on some crooked, handwoven, scratchy-wool clothes and run to the kitchen to grab a little something to eat. Options for breakfast this morning: smoked meat; two-day old, preservative-free, rock-hard bread; other, older smoked meat. Looks like smoked meat! And you might as well pack a lunch -- a rock-hard smoked meat sandwich sounds delish! Now out the door OF YOUR CAVE and off to find the rest of your work crew who, like you, are hunter-gatherers that wander the unspoiled countryside picking berries and occasionally slaying a rabbit with callused-past-all-sensation hands or a well-cast stone. Ahh, sweet life! Sweet life absent Technology!
Not for me, thanks. I like Technology. I love what it's done with the place. I like a digital watch on my wrist, treasure chest-shaped purple marshmallows in my cereal, concert tickets that vanish of embarassment when exposed to a photocopier's fascistic inspection. I like space blankets (and I use them all the time). I think the George Foreman Grill has been a big help. In terms of Chemistry, as a field, I laud the following technological advancements: acetone, shampoo, Excedrin, Mountain Dew, penicillin, Sunkist, Dr. Pepper, the various colas and their cherry isotopes. And I salute Physics for bringing us black holes, supernovae, the moon, lightspeed space travel, "beaming" as a viable and cheap alternative to commercial airlines. I admit to not knowing what Geology does nor why we continue to fund it.
Technology receives high marks from this reviewer, and I can only hope that some of you will start to come around to its numerous merits.
chris reviews Petco
Petco is a great, great place to get rabbit and cat supplies. I've got rabbits and cats, and everything I ever need to buy for them so that they enjoy comfortable living I buy at Petco. I've got a lot of friends who have rabbits and cats, and they feel exactly the same way.
By focusing on cat supplies and supplies for rabbits, Petco is able to outdo competing pet shops on every level. Where your pet store might have ten different cat foods to choose from, Petco will have fifteen; where your store has ten different saltlicks for rabbits, Petco will have eleven or twelve. The catnip aisle at Petco is great: catnip-scented toys, catnip flavored litter, catnip infused holy water, catnip salad dressing -- Petco goes above and beyond. They have all different sizes of rabbit ear-socks.
I've got six cats and six rabbits, and they love to come with me to Petco. If this isn't a sign that Petco runs a nice, high-quality store, then what is. I used to try to take all the fellas to PetSmart when I shopped there, and they hated it there. They went fucking crazy the moment we entered the place; I felt like I had my arms full of crazy snakes instead of gentleman mammals.
Chris reviews Cabin Fever
"He asked for our help; we lit him on fire."
Chris reviews Robert Rodriguez Presents Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp is always a hoot to watch in a feature film, but never moreso than when a director scraps his original intentions for a movie, rolls film on Depp for an afternoon, and cuts the results together into a two hour highlight reel. The new Rodriguez movie does exactly that, and the results are amazing. At one point Johnny Depp claws out his own eyes or something. He changes clothes like thirty times--an unnecessary but appreciated perk.
The one downside of the movie is that Rodriguez occasionally splices in footage from Desperado; this he does for reasons I can't guess at -- I'm no Hollywood insider. But if you love Johnny Depp, hate not-Johnny Depp, and Pirates of the Carribean has left theaters in your town and is not yet out on video, definitely see Robert Rodriguez Presents Johnny Depp.
Michael reviews The Reviews Page
Oh my word, this page is a mess. I mean, it's pretty empty but quite a mess no less. First of all, there're typos everywhere. Well, they aren't exactly typos, I guess, but it shouldn't say (Movie Reviews) at the top of the page because we decided that we're going to review more than just movies, if movies at all. Which explains the erroneousness of the first post, "movie postage coming so soon". In my defense, I merely posted that as a test and under the assumption that this page would contain movie reviews. Still, at this point, it's as good as a lie. A lie that has seeped into the very physical being of the page itself - in the HTML file's name on our server! What sloppy planning!
And poor execution: the current title of this page is "the location station," which the observant sci-cave-peruser will immediately recognize as the title of our shows page. Whant? The reason, of course, is that the template of this page was copied directly from the template of our shows page. An efficient maneuver, sure, but one with no excuse for half-assedness, given its simplicity.
Content-wise, there're an astounding number of errors for a page with only 33 words (title included) and no complete sentences.
Aesthetically, it's pretty boring. White background and Garamond text of varying sizes and boldnesses. And it's got the link to the hit-counter right there in the middle of the page. How tacky. The only possibly exciting characteristic of the page, in this reviewer's opinion, is rendered powerless by the very lack of content mentioned in the the previous paragraph. The viewer cannot scroll down and watch the floating sidebar float! Travesty upon sloppy travesty! The only possibly redeeming quality of the page nixed by the sheer laziness of its creators. Hence, this review.
If I were to review the page immediately after this review was posted, the content alone wouldn't earn it a more favorable rating (if, also, the review contained a rating), but the floating sidebar, people. It's in the sidebar, where the magic resides. (I mean, like: Where does the magic reside? In the sidebar.) Its beauty is like that of the doomed fly buzzing happily toward the dung lying just beyond the spider's web, of the disinterested breeze sailing through sails torn by looting pirates, of the plumber's crack blushing as its proprietor unwittingly exposes the privacy of a strange family's kitchen to its hungry yet modest eyes. By which I mean the sidebar's beauty is not readily apparent to some people. Like, for instance, Keith and Chris don't think it's all that, which I take to mean that it has a nuanced greatness, imperceptible to the ignorant hordes and the hardened of heart.