August 28, 2002
Nesting and Brooding

I've spent the last few days trying to change the nature of my cluttered apartment - bringing in plants and throwing out piles of catalogs full of stuff I don't need (yes, I'm buying the plants, so yes, I'm still a consumer, and yes, I see the irony, and yes, just because I see the irony doesn't make it any less ironic).

I've also been mulling around money-related topics - I just read Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids about Money That the Poor & Middle Class Do Not, which is such a swirling combination of good and evil that I'm still pulling at threads.

And my friend Ghida and I saw Nickel and Dimed - the Play…there is much to be said about that. Short version: the play fell into every middle-class-POV-on- poverty pit that Ehrenreich so deftly avoided, and actually managed to dig a few new ones. The long version is in progress.

In the meantime, don't forget to tip the pizza guy.

August 23, 2002
The CIA's Homepage for Kids

I kid you not.

August 22, 2002
On Wisconsin

Today I am interested in badgers.

August 21, 2002
One scone to rule them all

The building I work in has one of those virtual concierge things in the lobby - basically it's a big touch screen with speakers, and the lost or bored can poke at it for information about the building and the neighborhood. But since we live in an age where even the spines of telephone books carry advertizing, if the screen isn't otherwise occupied, it plays ads. It must have been hocking the DVD for The Lord of the Rings, because as I shuffled through the doors this morning with a scone in one hand and a very large coffee in the other, I was greeted by the rousing opening bars of the soundtrack. It made coming in to work much more dramatic, and while I wasn't attacked by Nazgul on my way to the elevator, I did have to dodge that creepy guy from HR.

August 20, 2002
All I Want for Christmas

Oh man oh man oh man oh man oh man oh man...

August 19, 2002
Speaking of attention seekers...

I witnessed a car accident recently - fenders were bent, but thankfully no one was injured. My father and I were standing at a corner waiting for the light to change when a woman ran a red light and smacked into a car in the intersection.

There were a lot of witnesses on other corners heading toward the scene, and we’d decided to go on when a pair of women halfway up the block ahead of us started moving toward the accident, hooting and hollering with excitement, telling each other that they saw it, and that, "Oh, yeah, she had a green light."

They were talking about the woman who had run the red light.

As we passed them it was clear that they couldn’t wait to get into the thick of things, to offer their eye-witness accounts. The fact that they were facing the other way at the time didn’t seem to bother them.

And that’s when my dad turned around.

I had an "Oh, shit" feeling, not because I was unwilling to get involved as a witness to the accident - it was pretty clear that we would have to, if someone was offering a contradictory version - but because I didn’t relish a direct confrontation with the drama queens. So as my father went to speak to the driver of the car that was hit, I went over to the corner where the other witnesses had gathered.

We’d all seen the same car run the red, and in fact two of the witnesses had just passed through the crosswalk and so were seconds away from having been hit themselves. Nevertheless, the two women from up the block rallied to the side of the woman at fault, swearing up and down that the light had been green. The driver asserted the same, and it was creepy to watch them reinforce their version of events, each of them becoming more sure as they talked.

One by one, the rest of us went to the other driver, told her what we’d seen, and gave our phone numbers. She was a teenager with two friends in the car, and though she’d only had her license for a couple of weeks, she stayed calm and kept her wits about her. Some of us waited on the corner to give statements directly to the police, watching in amazement and not a little disgust as the two non-witnesses made up with volume and righteous fervor what they lacked in accuracy. As they basked in the attention and tried to engage other witnesses in debate, I couldn't help thinking that irresponsible pair would have been right at home during the Salem witch trials.

August 16, 2002
Fear Factor

I had a vision of a dystopian future in which participation in reality television shows was compulsory. Every American citizen was required to spend a fixed number of hours stranded on an island with strangers, instigating mayhem on talk shows, going on blind dates with a camera crew in tow, or the like.

The more fortunate had gone though some kind of interesting disease or botched surgery and were therefore able to satisfy the requirement with a profile on "Dateline".

The less fortunate had to appear on the latest hit, "Friends and Lovers", a show of "The Newlywed Game" variety in which the conscriptee’s friends competed with his or her lovers (current and former) to see who would more accurately predict responses to embarrassing questions.

This horrific state had come to pass because the Audience had grown weary of the attention seekers who actually wanted to be on these shows, and were only satisfied with watching the truly discomfitted. The level of humiliation needed to keep things interesting had long surpassed what even the most clueless or masochistic were willing to endure.

I think we're on a slippery slope here, people, so please: if you’re approached by the producer of a reality TV show, just say "No!"

August 11, 2002
Roy G. Biv

As I was walking home last week I noticed a rainbow reflected in the windshields of a series of cars. I like rainbows - not in a kittens and Care Bears "I wuv you!" sort of way (okay, I admit it - I like kittens…with a nice chianti…no, I'm kidding, I really do like kittens, for petting an cuddling and stuff and not for eating, not even as a snack, not even if I have low blood sugar), but in a Fun with Physics, check out that there keen optical phenomenon way. So of course I wheeled around to see it up in the sky.

But I couldn’t find a rainbow.

Which meant I had to come up with a hypothesis to account for the fact that car after car had a rainbow reflected in its windshield.

Hypothesis 1: The windshields are reflecting a banner of some kind.

So I looked for the banner. No banner.

Hypothesis 2: All the cars have some sort of polarized window tinting, and that somehow explains the rainbow.

That car has untinted windows, and it's got a rainbow. Damn.

Okay, get more data.

Say - that old VW bug isn’t reflecting a rainbow at all, and the window is much more perpendicular than the others, which means, based on the angle of reflection, I really ought to looking somewhere in the neighborhood of, oh, straight up.

And there it was - more like a piece of ribbon than a bow, but still very red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

Hey, check out these cute kittens!

August 06, 2002
Hi, I'm Ingmar from IKEA

Thank you for choosing FLURDVANG, a post featuring quirky Swedish design and dimensions in centimeters. Because you build the entry yourself, IKEA posts are much cheaper to create, and we pass the savings on to you!

FLURDVANG packing list:

Seven (7) facts
- The Blue Angels were in Seattle this weekend.
- Jane grew up in Southern California, inside a triangle formed by three Air Force bases - Edwards, March, and Norton.
- Edwards is a frequent landing site for space shuttles.
- March is now a reserve facility only.
- Norton was closed in 1994 and converted into the San Bernardino International Airport and Trade Center.
- All of them hosted airshows (including the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds) out in the desert.
- Jane's not all that wild about military aircraft performing aerial stunts over major urban centers.

Two (2) opinions
- The San Bernardino International Airport and Trade Center is kinda sad.
- The Blue Angel is much better than The Blue Angels.

Five (5) links
Edwards AFB and the Space Shuttle
The Very Scary City of San Bernardino Page
The Very Sad San Bernardino International Airport and Trade Center Page
Tom Tomorrow on the Blue Angels and Major Metropolitian Areas
Falling in Love Again

Ten (10) little wooden pegs

Eight (8) big ol' screws

Sixteen (16) itty bitty screws

One (1) Allen wrench

One (1) page of illustrated instructions (missing)

Veneer of respectability and Swedish meatballs sold separately.

August 02, 2002
The Postmodern Prometheus

Unofficial Frankenstein Week culminates with an ultra condensed version of like, you know, Frankenstein.

But before I begin, a note for the young people: what follows is no substitute for Mary Shelley's excellent book! You will not be able to pass a test based on this entry alone (well, actually, I follow the plot points and the body count pretty closely, so you might squeak by with a D...unless the section with the stoners inspires you to write an extra-credit essay about free will v. predeterminism, and then - provided you didn't use the word "stoners" - you could probably score a C, maybe a C+...but certainly no more than that, so for gosh sakes read the book!).

Scene 1
Frozen Arctic waste. Enter CAPTAIN WALTON and his CREW. The unearthly roar of the CREATURE can be heard in the distance.


ANOTHER CREWMAN: What was that?

VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN enters at a full run.

FRANKENSTEIN: Okay, there's a monster, and we like totally have to kill it!

CAPTAIN WALTON: Oh yeah, I’m gonna listen to some freak like you.

FRANKSTEIN: Dude, I’m serious! See, there was this babe...

Scene 2
Flashback: a mall in San Fernando Valley. The child VICTOR and his MOM are hanging out by Orange Julius. Enter his DAD with the young ELISABETH.

DAD: So like her parents croaked.

MOM: Dude! Bummer. We should, you know, adopt her.

Scene 3
Ten years later. VICTOR is packing for his freshman year at U.C. Berkeley. ELISABETH enters.

ELISABETH: Dude, Berkeley. That’s like, far.

VICTOR: Hyeah. (Pause.) So you wanna like, I don’t know, get married when I get back?



Scene 4
A dorm at Berkeley. Enter VICTOR and his new roommate HENRY.

HENRY: So you don’t like, snore, do you?


HENRY: Good.

VICTOR: But I am, like, totally into reanimating dead flesh.

HENRY: ‘Kay. Just don’t, like leave hair in the sink.

Scene 5
The same. HENRY is near the sink, holding a severed human head by the hair.

HENRY: This is like, so gross.

Scene 6
VICTOR in the lab. He is standing over the CREATURE.


CREATURE: Well, duh.

VICTOR: Eeeewwwwwwww. You’re like, gross.

CREATURE: Oh, and you’re a babe.

VICTOR: Go ‘way! (He throws a sports bottle at the CREATURE.)

CREATURE: Ow! (He exits.)

VICTOR: Dude! Like, what have I done? (He faints.)

Scene 7
The dorm. VICTOR in bed, HENRY standing nearby.

HENRY: Dude, you were like totally out.

VICTOR: Whoa. My head fully aches.

HENRY: So like, you want a Flintstones vitamin or something?

VICTOR: You are such a geek.

HENRY: Nuh-uh.

VICTOR: Yuh-huh. (Pause.) Dude, gimme a Wilma.

Scene 8
A trailer in Bakersfield. STONERS and the CREATURE are sitting in a circle, passing a pipe.

STONER: Dude, so what you’re saying is that, like, an individual’s character is not shaped by biology, but by his, like, experiences?



STONER: But what if you’re, like, biological ugly, so then, like, that’s why people are mean to you?

CREATURE: Dude, it’s like still the experiences that’re formative.

STONER: Yeah, but like you wouldn’t've had those experiences if you weren’t, like, gross.

CREATURE: Whoa. Dude. Are you like saying I’m gross?

STONER: Oh, yeah. Fully.

CREATURE: Dude! Icy! (He exits.)

Scene 9
VICTOR returns to the Valley. ELISABETH enters.




VICTOR: Hyeah.

Scene 10
VICTOR’S younger brother, WILLIAM and the CREATURE.

WILLIAM: Dude! You’re like, gross!

CREATURE: Duh. (He kills WILLIAM.)

Scene 11
ELISABETH enters with WILLIAM. A mournful wail:

ELISABETH: Duuuuuuuuude!

VICTOR: Little dude!

ELISABETH exits with the body. The CREATURE enters behind VICTOR and taps him on the shoulder.


VICTOR: You like totally suck.

CREATURE: Thank you, Mr. Parental Guidance.

VICTOR: You are so lame.

CREATURE: Hyeah. So like, I want a babe. Make a babe for me.

VICTOR: Oh, like, no way.

CREATURE: ‘Kay. See ya.

VICTOR: Whatever.

Scene 12
A dorm in Berkeley.

HENRY: Ick! You’re like, gross!

CREATURE: Duh. (He kills HENRY.)

Scene 13
A honeymoon suite in Las Vegas.

VICTOR: Ready?


The phone rings. VICTOR picks it up and listens.

VICTOR: Dude! (He runs out.)

ELISABETH: No way. This sucks.

The CREATURE enters.


CREATURE: Oh, what? Like, I’m gross?

ELISABETH: Well, duh.

He kills her and exits. VICTOR re-enters.

VICTOR: I am like, so pissed.

Scene 14
Arctic waste.

VICTOR: So like that’s why we have to kill this thing. I’ve been chasing him for like, years.

CAPTAIN WALTON: Dude, I’m like so sorry. I was just like totally not listening to your story.

VICTOR: Dude! (He falls over dead.)



August 01, 2002
Good Grief

Okay, yesterday an English Major Who Shall Remain Nameless gave me some grief about using "Frankenstein" instead of "Frankenstein's Monster" in my previous post. And ya know, I originally used "Frankenstein's Monster" specifically to avoid said grief.

Then I decided that because I was dealing with a visual image, the reference was - ahem - mediated through Boris Karloff's iconographic portrayal. And while strictly speaking that character is called "the Monster", he definitely has a place in the popular imagination as "Frankenstein".

So let's do a little experiment, EMWSRN, and no cheating...

Quick - visualize the Bride of Frankenstein!

Thought so.

Now before you waste any energy on an argument about the ambiguity of the genitive case, consider the righteousness of your cause and ask yourself - could "Frankenstein's Monsterberry" generate this kind of enthusiasm?