October 2005 Archives

A few things:

  • The holiday seems to be driving a lot of traffic to this old post about cheap halloween costumes. There are some good tips in there, so if you’re still hunting for that perfect, cheap costume….
  • One of the occupational hazards about living in New York is that you’re never sure if someone’s dressed like that because it’s Halloween… or if they really are a ‘intimate services provider.’
  • And finally, this is the iconic music for Halloween (link expired). This particular performance of the d-minor Toccata & Fugue is a little ideosyncratic, but that’s because it was recorded in a cathederal in Freiberg that has four different organs. E. Powers Biggs bounces the various themes and counter-melodies around the church like a tennis ball. It’s a neat listen (and the SACD surround-sound version—it was originally recorded for quadrophonic sound, apparently—is supposed to be even more spectacular) and it’s even better if listened to at the appropriate volume for listening to organ music (i.e. loud enough that one feels one’s internal organs vibrating—listening to an organ recital is isn’t just about listening, it’s a whole-body experience).

Welcome, MUGgers!

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Welcome, MUGgers! I’m immensely flattered that Charlie saw fit to include this here little blog on his esteemed list of 400, in the company of such esteem’d sites as NewYorkology, The Morning News, Toys In Babeland, A Hamburger Today, rion.nu, Banterist, Jen Bekman, Overheard in NY and some 391 other excellent sites… Congratulations to everyone (and everything) picked!

Happy Halloween, Everybody


For some unknown reason, Amy Langfield saw fit to forward this image to me:


(via Amy via Ishbadiddle via this very cool photoshop contest)

Baby, It's Chili Outside


So, here’s a question that arose as I was making today’s chili—what wouldn’t go into chili? Martin and I came up with pomegranates and citrus fruits and, well, not much else. Anyone have any ideas?

UPDATE: Bracy posits limes as an exception to the citrus fruit rule cited supra. I’d think that while lime juice would be perfectly acceptable, the pith of the lime would be problematic. What sayeth you?

Of All The Gin Joints

Of all the utterly improbable things that happened tonight, perhaps the most improbable happened when my taxi cab stopped in front of my house. The fare, including tip, was about $13; I handed the cabbie a $20 and asked for change back. He handed me a $10, and then asked me if I had $3 in singles. I checked my wallet and unfortunately had to report back that all I had left were $20s; he smiled and said, “That’s ok,” and waved me out of his cab, leaving me holding a $10 bill as change for a $13 fare.

Is This The Best Headline of the Year?


I don’t know, but “Good Smell Perplexes New Yorkers” certainly is a very strong contender…

Harriet The Spy

Well, it looks like someone in the White House finally came to their senses, if only for a short while: Miers withdraws Supreme Court nomination.

Of course, the White House manages to blame the Senate for forcing this withdrawal, not the fact that they nominated someone who wasn’t qualified. It’s kind of a shame they folded, because

  1. I was looking forward to the Senate hearings
  2. It’d give the next Democratic president an excuse to nominate Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court…

It Was A Prematurely Air-Conditioned Supermarket

This 12-minute track is a excerpt from the monumental Philip Glass/Robert Wilson collaboration Einstein on the Beach. It’s often called an opera, and to a certain extent that’s accurate, but it’s also, to a certain extent, not entirely accurate. For one thing, there’s not much in the way of a traditional narrative plot; for another, traditional opera forms like arias have been thrown out the window entirely. On the other hand, “opera” is probably the only really appropriate word to use to describe its potent synthesis of music and theater. I’ve never seen Einstein in person—my exposure has been limited to owning the recording and watching a PBS special about the show. Perhaps one day Wilson and Glass will decide to remount the production…

If you were wondering, the slightly surreal stream-of-consciousness lyrics were written by Christopher Knowles, an autistic poet who has worked often with Wilson.

Finally 3,000

It only took… a really long time (something on the order of two freakin’ months), but we finally have a winner in the 3,000 comments contest (click on the image for verification).

Congratulations to Caitlin of Jackson Heights, Queens! An exclusive pf.org prize pack will be winging its way towards you very very very shortly. And given the rate of comments we’ve been getting recently, expect the next contest to come… well, sometime in the summer of 2007.

pf.org: where we plan ahead. Waaaaay ahead.

Mario, Mario, Mario

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Had dinner at Otto tonight. In attendance were Bridal Beer and Martin and Amy Langfield. Both the food and the company (a few pictures of the latter are up on Flickr; no pictures of the food because we were too busy eating) were spectacular. We started with the Sformato di Parmigiano and Artichokes “alla Romana”, and then followed up on that with the Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese pizza, the Quattro Formaggi pizza, the Penne alla Norma, and a butternut squash/hazelnut penne.

Delicious. I’m still stuffed.

The two bottles of white we went through might have had something to do with it, though.

Like A Vacuum Cleaner

Wow, there are a lot of sucky teams in the NFL this year. Going into today’s action, Green Bay, Minnesota, Arizona, San Francisco, and Oakland are all 1-4, and Houston is a hapless 0-5. The entire NFC North is below .500 (Detroit and Chicago are tied for the division “lead” at 2-3).

There are some oddities, though. While some teams have earned their suckitude (i.e. San Francisco giving up more than twice as many points as they’ve scored), Green Bay has only one win despite outscoring their opponents 124-95. And Oakland, which has been badly hampered by their utter lack of a running game (second-to-worst rushing yards per game in the league), collected their sole win against NFC East-leading Dallas—and everyone in the NFC East is above .500 right now.

Come Here Baby, Put Your Leg Before My Wicket

This is a bit of an odd song, but then again, the artist is a bit of an oddity. David Wrench is a gaunt 6’5” albino Welshman who is probably most famous for a extended spat with Thom Yorke of Radiohead (involving a cover of “Creep”). His so far only solo album, “The Atomic World of Tomorrow” (only available in the UK) is stuffed full of dance music that sounds like Abba songs covered by the Pet Shop Boys and sung by Morrissey. If you actually listen closely to the spectacularly rude (clever, but definately not safe for work) lyrics, you’ll discover that this particular track is really a glorious tribute to Britishness (I think—anyway, it’s an appropriate bit to put up on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. Or it could be an ironic comment on being British. I’m not entirely sure. Either way, anyone who can make cricket (the game, which is played by grown men wearing white trousers and cable-knit sweaters, and really, any activity that’s undertaken whilst wearing a cable-knit sweater really can’t be considered a sport) sound as perversely dirty as he does has a certain amount of talent. Oh yeah, and then there’s the 3 minute Eno-esque coda, which just adds to the oddity…

College of Cardinals

Given Will Leitch’s eloquence, as amply demonstrated in this post about the Astros blasting off for the World Series, it’s a freaking miracle that no-one’s given the kid one of those ginormous blogger book contracts yet…

UPDATE: Will writes back and points me to this. His book is set in the small town of Mattoon, IL (not entirely surprising, given that Will grew up there), which is, coincidences of coincidences, the hometown of the parents of my college girlfriend. Small world.

Walker, Dance Floor Ranger

My friend Patrick Runkle and his band Ganymede are playing a show this Saturday down in TriBeCa. The coolest part is they got Chuck Norris—the man, the legend, and apparently a big electropop fan—to write the official invite:

Chuck.jpgDear Friends,

Rescuing prisoners of war in Vietnam and protecting the United States from Mexican invasion is tough work. I’m up to the challenge, but I can’t win this battle alone. That’s why I’m asking you to support my friend Patrick Runkle and his electro-disco band Ganymede in their quest to bring down the house at their forthcoming show at the ultra-hip Pussycat Lounge in Tribeca on Saturday, October 22 at 10 pm. Only by a strong, united showing of strength can we achieve our goals and protect our homeland.

Some “liberals” may think that my extra-judicial methods are too harsh, but I don’t see them complaining when their kids aren’t dying of marijuana overdoses because I dropped some Colombian drug dealer onto the pavement from a low-flying aircraft. No way! Patrick promises me this show will affirm your belief in a strict interpretation of the Constitution, and will also include ultra-low bass frequencies and a new video projection system.

So please, America is counting on you. Don’t let me down.


I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Glenn Gould, DJ

My friend Boris Anthony came across a unique outtake of Glenn Gould improvising a mashup of God Save The Queen and the Star Spangled Banner during a Bach recording session. Great stuff, and highly worth checking out.

Eight Pints of Stella

So it seems that Harold Pinter has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

A moment of silence seems to be the appropriate way to celebrate.

New Toys From Apple


So the great Steve has gone out and given to us the wonder that is the long-awaited video iPod. And the masses saw it and it was good (plus the new dock has S-Video out, and lo, that is a very good thing).

But I’m not all that interested in the new iPod (yet). What I find interesting is the new iMac. Why? Well, for one thing, it comes with a remote control. And it comes with Bluetooth and Airport Express (aka 802.11g) standard. And that, to me, suggests that Apple is nudging this device slowly towards that fabled land of convergence—or, in non geek-speak, it’s becoming more like a home entertainment center and less like a computer.

What you do is you take the iMac off its pedestal and mount it directly on the wall, and use a bluetooth mouse and keyboard to control it (along with the aforementioned remote). Run some cable to some external speakers, and it’s almost like having a home-theater system! Well, except for the fact that a 20” screen is kind of small for that sort of thing. But…

The image you see above is taken straight off of Apple’s home page. And it really seems to me that there’s room in that picture—directly underneath the hand with the remote control—for a picture of a 30-inch iMac. Don’t you?

(And on a completely unrelated note, I find it interesting that my female readership—usually quite active commentators—have been entirely silent about my previous post.)



When a young woman says “You’re like a brother to me!”, what possible response can there be?

“Thanks, but I have enough siblings already?”
“That’s nice, but you’re not like a sister to me?”
“The line for surrogate siblingship starts over there?”

I should already know the answer to this question… but it’s possible that this one is one of those unanswerable koans.

Sometimes I expect to see a man dressed in a black suit and white shirt step out from behind a large ficus bush on Columbus Avenue and start detailing my life in a slightly nasal voice to an unseen audience.

It started on Friday.

I knew the week was going to be discombobulated from the start, as we had Tuesday and Wednesday off for Rosh Hashanah. But that was ok, as my Monday afternoon class was canceled. At least it was until I get to school, open my computer, and check the day’s schedule to find that Monday afternoon’s class, was, in fact, not only not canceled, but it had never been canceled. It’s a bit like one of those nightmares you have about school where you show up and then you’re forced to go to classes that you never signed up for.

Tuesday was a relatively normal day. I went to the gym, got not enough work done—SOP for a day off in the middle of the week.

I woke up Wednesday a bit stiff from my exertions at the gym the day before and a sharp pain in my left foot. It hurt enough to curtail any plans I had for the day—either take advantage of the sole remaining day of the Indian Summer and head out on my bike, or perhaps head to a museum—but not enough to prevent me from finally getting a round tuit and schlepping all 15 of my dress shirts to the cleaners (aside from the fact that this literary technique is called foreshadowing, getting my shirts laundered is one of the few not really necessary luxuries I allow myself; I hate ironing shirts) to be delivered on Thursday.

Inexplicably, my foot hurt even more on Thursday morning. And when I say it hurt more, I was beginning to wonder if I’d broken something in there. Downed three Advil to prepare myself for the day, strapped the balky foot into my shoe, and, after hobbling out to the street corner (this, after missing a noon-time interview seminar), decided that there was no way in hell I’d be able to walk to the subway and back and took a cab to school. Survived my sole class, scheduled a doctor’s appointment to look at my foot for the next morning, did the reading for the next day, redosed myself with Advil, and then contemplated my options for getting down to New York Law School for the opening night of State of Play.

You know, trying to catch a cab during rush hour in the rain with a bad foot really isn’t as much fun as you might think.

Got to the conference, ate dinner, watched a great panel discussion and got very interested in attending the rest of the conference, had some drinks with some friends from the Berkman Center, and then took a cab home.

Sudden loss of mobility is a very strange thing. For one thing, you very quickly learn just how much in your life depends on having two good wheels. And I’ve never been the most graceful of humans, but because one leg is doing the work of two, I was even more clumsy and oafish than usual (plus I was worried about hurting my good leg by overcompensating… but that’s another story).

I was having trouble getting to sleep because my foot was throbbing, but I eventually drifted off… to be woken up 90 minutes later by the throbbing pain in my foot. Three more Advil, plus an adhoc ice pack, plus another hour of lying there in the dark waiting for the ibuprofen to do its blessed work.

Friday morning—after not nearly enough sleep—I somewhat improbably found a cab to take me up to the doctor’s office during rush hour. The doctor was puzzled—it didn’t seem like a break, because I would have felt it when it broke, but, on the other hand, tissue injuries tend to get better with time, not worse. So he sent me down to get x-rayed (and all the while the previous night’s Advil is wearing off).

Apparently they have a system in this office building where the doctors can log directly into the radiology office’s servers and view the scans right their on their computer. The system wasn’t working. So they burned a CD for the doctor and sent it back up to his office. His computer couldn’t read the CD. And so on. Why they didn’t actually send the x-rays up, I’ll never know…

Cutting this particular part of the saga short, the x-ray didn’t show a break—so it was just a nasty case of tendonitis. He gave me a prescription for a very powerful anti-inflammatory, an ace bandage, and said that if it still hurt the next week after icing it, to call him to schedule an MRI (sorry, it’s an anti-inflammatory, not an opiate).

I go home on the bus (not a good idea, in retrospect) and collapse. My father very kindly takes the time out from his day to get the prescription filled. At this point in the day, there’s absolutely no chance that I’ll either go to school or get to the rest of the conference, and anyway, rest is indicated since it seems that what little stomping around I managed the day before is somewhat responsible for the situation getting worse. Ice is applied to the malfunctioning foot, and I settle in for a long nap.

Late that night, foot still in pain and elevated, the phone rings. It’s the owner of the dry cleaners. As best I can figure out, my shirts are gone. Because the van was stolen. With the laundry inside. At gunpoint.

In other words, my shirts were carjacked.

I’m not sure how else I could end this, so I’ll just elide over missing the rest of the conference because I didn’t leave the apartment for 48 hours, the suddenly possessed cable box that refuses to show broadcast television (channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13) but shows every other channel perfectly (when it’s not crashing and rebooting itself) and the very short, but rather curious, IM conversation I had with someone who was apparently sleepwalking at the time…

Oh, and my foot’s a lot better now. Thanks for asking! Who knew that rest, ice, elevation, and really powerful drugs could be so effective?

Update: Whybark suggests that I avoid playing the numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42 in the lottery this week.

State of Play


At the State of Play conference at New York Law school. Fascinating panel on reporting about—and in some cases, reporting from—virtual worlds. Second Life is mentioned heavily, and the World of Warcraft plague got some play too. Talking now about the interface between these virtual worlds and the real world, which I think is a really fascinating topic. Rebecca MacKinnon and Cam Stracher are modering the panel, consisting of James Au, Daniel Terdiman, Clive Thompson, Julian Dibbell, and a guy who’s name escapes me mostly because he doesn’t seem to have a name plate in front of him.

One thing that strikes me is that many of these virtual worlds aren’t reallly games in the traditional sense at all (much like the Sim series). There’s no real beginning, and there’s clearly no endpoint (which sort of makes most kinds of traditional game theory inapplicable).

Notes—apparently a few law students have set themselves up as judges/mediation services in Second Life. One wonders if they’re setting up a common law system or are they headed more towards a civil law/equity-type system…

Links to be added later (if at all).



Ok, this whole not-being-able-to walk thing is starting to really suck.

Captured by Unitarian Terrorists

Garrison Keillor on has some advice for the fall: “There is almost no marital problem that can’t be helped enormously by taking off your clothes.”

(Yes, I know it’s behind the Salon firewall; watch the ad and then read the article. Trust me, it’s worth it.)

Dueling Blogs

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Supremely under-qualified Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers has a blog, apparently.

As does J. Micheal Luttig, one of the leading conservative (former) candidates for the position.


Perhaps US/Indian rock star Karsh Kale was profoundly moved the last time he was in Italy. Or perhaps he wrote this song about Milan, Michigan, home to a drag-racing strip. It’s hard to tell, since it’s an instrumental.

(OK, it’s probably about the city in Italy)

Back In The Saddle, So To Speak


Made it back into the kitchen tonight to make dinner for the rents. Ribeye steak, green beans, broccoli with bacon, tortellini sides, and a salad. My knives were kinda dull, but given how long it’s been since I’ve cooked, that’s not entirely surprising. I woulda taken pictures but when you have three burners going, photography isn’t always the first thing on your mind. It came out pretty well, though I cut some corners experimented with the broccoli and that came out on the smushy side.

It was nice to get back in the kitchen and do some cooking.

No More Bzzzzzzzt

So I finally got a new phone to replace the one that broke, but I haven’t gotten around to moving the phone book over. So if you have my cell phone number, call me so I can put you in the new phone…

You Are Stepping Into An Alternate Dimension...


Ever have one of those days where things are just a little bit off? Nothing disastrous, but like you’re running late and you get to the subway and your monthly metrocard has expired? And then the rest of the day is slightly off kilter, like going to the gym and discovering halfway there that while you have your iPod, your headphones are sitting on the dresser at home? Or like once you’ve gotten to the gym, after having gone home to get the headphones, you realize that you left your water bottle—which you originally left the house with the first time—is sitting on the dresser at home? Or when you’re out at an event and a friend tries to set you up with a girl and two-and-a-half minutes later she’s completely bailed, leaving you holding her $11 gin-and-tonic?

Yeah, my day went a little bit like that. Plus I seem to have entered into a semi-faustian bargain to root for the St. Louis Cardinals for the duration of the NL playoffs.