December 2005 Archives

2005 Through The Mirror

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A look back at the past year, as told by the first sentence of the first entry of every month:

January: Surgery blogging is the new black, don’tcha know? (Or The New Brown. Or The New Gray. Or The New SOMETHING.)

February: Craigslist on the differences between the sexes: (Craigslist Knows All)

March: This past summer, it seem’d to me that the Hong Kong tabloids (Apple Daily in particular, but that should come as no surprise) papers would compete to publish the least flattering picture possible of Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive. (Tung Out!)

April: Most popular names for popes, all-time: (Name That Pope)

May: How’d you like to have lunch with Paul Simon and Chevy Chase? (Illiquid Lunch)

June: Anyone want a postcard from the scenic bay state? (Leafy Cambridge)

July: You know, with all the hoopla about Live 8 going around, I gotta say that I haven’t seen a whole lotta people asking actual Africans what they think of the whole thing. (Live Ate)

August: Time to go back into the WayBack Machine, back to the late 1990s, when the new sound they called trip-hop was the now sound… (Last In A Series (for now))

September: It’s been a while since I did a roundup on this website. (Hoedown!)

October: Ever have one of those days where things are just a little bit off? (You Are Stepping Into An Alternate Dimension…)

November: The NYT on the evolving role of chicken in the American kitchen (hint: it has something to do with the evolving American kitchen, too). (It Tastes Like…)

December: As it turns out, the official Dad of is featured on today’s Rocketboom. (Hey, That Guy Looks Really Familiar)

Have a happy new year everyone, and here’s to hoping that your hangover won’t be too bad…

I'm Dreaming of a White New Year

It seems to be snowing, which is something of a surprise. Oh well—the weather will come as a great disappointment to the throngs who are headed to Times Square today.

I Was Aiming For 10, But Missed

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Since it seems that everyone and her brother are doing top ten lists to wrap up 2005, here’s the official Top Ten Earworms of 2005, presented in no particular order:

  • Spinvis, Ik Wil Alleen Maar Zwemmen. I have no idea what this song is about—it’s in Flemish—but you can dance to it anyway. The song starts off with a simple solo guitar riff—very indie-rockish—but about half-way through it drops into a wonderful synth bass break that’s as hip-loosening as anything I’ve heard recently.
  • Annie, My Heartbeat. It makes the list solely for the tight, funky instrumental break after the first chorus.
  • Robyn, Be Mine!. The previous song was about the start of the affair; this one’s about the end of the affair. Fantastic production on this one too.
  • Ed Askew, Fancy That. Truly wonderful and bizarre alt-folk. Except that I’m not sure that Mr. Askew would embrace labels like that…
  • Genesis, Squonk. I wrote about the squonk before, in this post. In case you’re wondering, this is from Genesis’ first album after Peter Gabriel left, but before Steve Hackett left and the group turned into the pop powerhouse they were in the 1980s.
  • Imogen Heap, Hide and Seek. A cappella vocoder overload, or, perhaps, the most haunting thing I heard all year. I still haven’t figured out what the song is about.
  • The Free Design, I Found Love (Styrofoam & Sarah Shannon Mix). The Free Design were an entirely obscure pop/folk group from the hippy Sixties; they were rediscovered and their songs updated, to varying degrees, last year. Lovely, cheerful, optimistic Summer-Of-Love pop filtered through a indietronica sensibility.
  • Kudu, King Kong. No tie-in to the Peter Jackson movie, but a great commentary on alpha males and the war of the sexes.
  • The Cat Empire, Hello. Guitars, horns, the funky, and Australian vocals run through a distortion filter—what’s not to like?
  • Yes v. Sir Mix-A-Lot, Owner of a Lovely Butt. Exactly what you’d expect: “Owner of a Lonely Heart” remixed with “Baby Got Back”.
  • April March, Sugar. There’s much to love about this song, but I’m particularly taken by the rhythm section, which sounds like it wandered in from a Blue Note recording session, circa 1963.
  • La Laque, Secret. I thought these guys were Canadian of the Quebec persuasion until I looked up their website, where it turns out that they’re a NYC band that just happens to prefer singing in French. Still, there’s something about a breathy femme whispering en français—it doesn’t matter what, hell, it could be a grocery list—that’s just incredibly sexy.
  • John Hiatt, Thunderbird. A little country, a little roots rock, a little Americana… hell, it’s just a great song about a guy and his favorite car. Screw labels.
  • Royskopp, What Else Is There. Take some chilly, glassy electronic beats, add a dash of synth pop and some obscure, moody lyrics (hey, at least they’re in English!), and stir. Pour over rocks.
  • Bonobo, Nothing Owed. Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s an oboe solo actually, on further review, it seems more like a soprano saxophone.

I guess that’s more than 10. At least I left out the song performed entirely on the hurdy-gurdy.

Vacation=No Blogging

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Some links for my content-starved public:

What with finishing my last final at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve Eve Eve (known to most people as December 22nd), I had but little time to ‘get into the holiday spirit’, whatever that is (for those of you wondering, I don’t mean a bottle of Johnnie Walker wrapped in tinsel when I say “the holiday spirit”).

But still—an old friend took me to the Prairie Home Companion Christmas show at Town Hall on Christmas Eve Eve (from which I stole borrowed the title joke), and the show (for a change, taped Friday night for Saturday night’s broadcast; the cast and crew justifiably wanted to be at home on Christmas Eve)—which featured three child singers singing various traditional carols from Eastern Europe in languages I don’t know, two opera singers, Odetta, and a young man who played heavy metal (“Sweet Child O’ Mine”, to be precise) on a ukulele—had a marvelously calming and holiday-fying effect. The carol sing-along at the end of show helped, I think.

On Christmas Eve proper, my second cousin held a traditional Polish Christmas dinner at her apartment, complete with carp, gefilte fish, herring salad, pireogies, and so much more. Plus more singing of carols, including the full twelve days of Christmas, which I probably haven’t sung in full in at least 20 years. Anyway, that particular song reminded me of this classic piece of humor, regarding what would happen if your true love actually did send you all that stuff. A sample, from day five:

Dearest Fred,

What a surprise! The postman just delivered the “Five golden rings”; one for every finger. You’re just impossible, but I love it. Frankly, all those birds squawking were beginning to get on my nerves.

All my love,


It goes on somewhat from there.

So, enjoy your winter holiday, be it Christmas, Hannukah, Festivus, Saturnalia, the Solstice, other, or any combination of the above; and when you gather with your family and friends, may your glass have as much cheer as spirit in it.

Halfway Home


Well, I’m done with finals. And I guess this means I’m halfway to being a real lawyer (if you ignore, you know, that whole deal with the bar exam).

Next up: dealing with the giant mutant metastasizing pile of dirty clothes.

Stupid Human Paul Tricks

I developed a blister on the inside of my right middle finger, right on the last knuckle, the other day. I think it was caused by addressing Christmas Hanukkah Kwaanza Festivus Saturnalia Solstice holiday card envelopes. Not sure how exactly I managed to pull that one off…

Domain Name for Sale


Anyone want to buy

God Bless The MTA (and its union)

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Thanks to the threat of a strike, I’ve had two of my 3 exams moved from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. Not that it’s that much more time, but it’s better than nothing…

What I Learned In Family Law This Semester

Never get married.

Never have kids.

Die alone.

Tactical Error #8,571

In retrospect, buying a jar of Nutella as a study aid might have been a mistake.

Dating in Darfur is Dire

Make Rick Rich

Professional gadabout and man-about-town Rick Bruner has been driven insane by the daily avalanche of spam he has to fend off and has been sent to a small white room with padded walls where the nice men in white coats try to help him. Fortunately for us, before they took him away, he was inspired by the madness to create a line of CafePress t-shirts celebrating spam.

Please buy one; he’s paying the nice doctors with the proceeds from these shirts (or, in the alternative, buy one of my shirts).

Not To Complain, But...


All my finals this year are at 8:45 in the bleeping morning. Consider that my earliest class this semester started at 11 a.m….

Her Lede Reminds Me of a Joke About A Brewery Worker

Over at What’s New, Pussycat?, Shauny writes about her relationship with Nutella.

The stuff’s like crack, I swear.

The Martians Took It

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From a review, of sorts, of True Crime: New York City wherein they try to see just how lifelike the game really is:

The only place the guides couldn’t find [George Washington] was on the steps of Federal Hall, because Federal Hall itself was missing. A quick check identified additional absentee landmarks, including the Apollo Theatre, the Intrepid, and New Jersey. (True Crime’s Battery Park City has fabulous views of the open ocean.)

It's A Good News/Bad News Situation

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The good news is that my international law final is only three hours long.
The bad news is that my international law final is only three hours long.

Merry Christmas, Mister President

Here’s an animated christmas card to the President of the United States, from the brave men and women of the US armed forces.

It does speed up after a while, though having said that, it also still takes a really long time to complete (I think, though, that’s part of the whole point)…

Giant Sea Monsters!

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I have to say that this story about giant jellyfish plaguing the fisheries of the East China Sea is really cool and seems like it comes right out of a monster movie….

Copyright Time Warner


I’ll spare everyone the self-indulgent ramblings about how it’s only a number and that there’s a point where it goes from being sometihng to celebrate to being something that brings you one year closer to death and how, ultimately, it won’t matter at all, but I am vastly amusedly by the following fact:

Today, it is demonstrably true that I have simultaneously both more and less hair than I did a year ago.

Update: Fark is running stories about this ‘tragic day in history’ all day, including “Spice Girls win the Billboard Music Awards album of the year, completing the downfall of pop culture.”

Update II: And it occurred to me that I still have 365 days left in the coveted 18-34 demographic. Marketers, set your ads on “Stun”!

(and if, you’re wondering what the title of the post means, look here).

Even before I tell you that it’ll be released in January, you know that the movie version of Tristan & Isolde (and that’s how they spell it—with an ampersand) will suck in glorious fashion. But then you watch the trailer, and in mounting horror, read the title cards as they tell you that “Before Romeo and Juliet there was Tristan and Isolde”.

“Was”? WAS?

I’m not even going to go into the violence done the legend by the screenplay (and it does seem very unlikely that the score will feature extensive use of diminished minor seventh chords).

Bringing A Whole New Meaning To The Phrase "Kinetic Art"

Some friends of mine have just launched a brand-new interactive art project at the Whitney they’re callling Follow Through.

Jennifer and Scott’s project makes museum-goers interact with the art on the walls in an entirely new way. In a way, it makes museum-goers—and museum-going—part of the art, rather than keeping patrons passive observers who are removed from the art. How? Well, from the press release:

The project is inspired by the discrepancy the artists found between the dynamics of the art on view in the galleries and the rather passive and languid body language of museum visitors looking at that art.

followthrough1.jpgReferencing the structure of the existing audio tour, the artists invite visitors to engage in a set of exercises designed to bring well-established behavioral codes of museum attendance into relief. Visitors are prompted by visual instructions that appear on the screens of the handheld players. The project’s title has its roots in sports terminology where the term “follow-through” describes the act of carrying a motion to its natural completion. With “Follow Through,” the artists are inviting visitors to complete the dynamics in the galleries in an experience that goes beyond the mental act of contemplating or interpreting artworks.

It’s going to run for two months—from December 1st to January 30th—and there’s a opening reception this Friday (the 9th) where the artists will say a few words about their work. Check it out.

It's Even Better Than Poetry About Dead Swans!*

The BBC had ginned up a Vogon poetry generator. Herewith, a sample:

See, see the indomidable sky
Marvel at its big puce depths.
Tell me, Martin do you
Wonder why the molerat ignores you?
Why its foobly stare
makes you feel sonammbulent.
I can tell you, it is
Worried by your thundariferacious facial growth
That looks like
A cheese.
What’s more, it knows
Your tautological potting shed
Smells of snot.
Everything under the big indomidable sky
Asks why, why do you even bother?
You only charm fishheads.

*I expect about two people to understand why the joke about poems about dead swans is funny.

Google's Ten Golden Rules

This Newsweek article outlines ten basic rules that Google tries to live by as a company. They are, in no particular order,

  • Hire by committee.
  • Cater to their every need.
  • Pack them in.
  • Make coordination easy.
  • Eat your own dog food.
  • Encourage creativity.
  • Strive to reach consensus.
  • Don’t be evil.
  • Data drive decisions.
  • Communicate effectively.

While this is very obviously a list that’s created by and for a software engineering environment, one wonders how applicable these rules would be to other professional, knowledge-based companies. Like, say law firms (I’m thinking that the first to go—or at least get rewritten—would be #8).

I Think This Happened Last Year, Too

It’s the week before finals and the WiFi in the library is on the fritz.

It's Finals Time, Baby

Because It’s Finals And People Are Telling Me I’m Not Blogging Enough:

  • stealthvibe.jpgAstute readers will remember my old cell phone, which would not stop buzzing; BoingBoing recently discovered that the general idea has been commercialized in the form of a vibrator disguised as a cell phone (see picture—it even looks like my broken phone). What will they think of next?
  • Blogspot was down for a while yesterday, wiping out a healthy portion of the blogosphere; in an email, Jose Manuel Tesero of Global Voices called the temporary disaster “Blognarok”.
  • The cable TV guide says about tomorrow night’s Victoria’s Secret TV special: “Women model lingerie at the annual event in New York.” Who writes this stuff?
  • According to Daring Fireball, now that Adobe’s purchase of Macromedia is complete, they’re apparently thinking about a horrific mutant combination Flash player/PDF plug-in. Mere Words Cannot Express The Horror.
  • Fantastic food blog. Too bad there’s not RSS feed.
  • This article about the football coach at Texas Tech, written by the same guy who wrote Moneyball, is fascinating. The basic question is how does Texas Tech—a second tier college program—manage to lead the nation in scoring year in and year out? Their offense is a freaky, video-game-esque scoring machine. Last year, playing a heavily favored TCU, Texas Tech was losing 21-0 midway through the second quarter. The final score of that game was Texas Tech 70, TCU 35. The writer ignores some historical antecedents—Tech’s system of running only a few plays out of multiple formations is reminiscent of Joe Gibbs’ Redskins teams of the 80s, which only had four running plays in the playbook but ran those four plays out of a dizzying array of formations—but nonetheless, it’s a great read for anyone interested in football.
  • Clotilde Dusoulier—the genius behind Chocolate and Zucchini—takes us on a culinary tour of Paris.
  • Going back to pro football for a second, it does look like it’s going to be The Year of the Horse. Having said that, their next three games are tough sledding—on the road at Jacksonville, the Chargers at home, and the Seahawks—the best team in the NFC—in Seattle. Plus it’s quite likely that they’ll have to go through two teams from the AFC West on the way to the Super Bowl—two out of the Chargers, Broncos, or Chiefs—and all three of those teams are built around solid defense and a punishing running game, the kind of team should give the Colts a real run for their money.
  • A curious Fickr set from the Korean DMZ. Check out how the guards are standing.
  • And finally, after many false starts, winter has finally sputtered into New York City. It snowed on Sunday, and it’s snowing again right now. All I have to to is find my gloves. They’re in my apartment somewhere…

Hey, That Guy Looks Really Familiar


As it turns out, the official Dad of is featured on today’s Rocketboom. He can be seen at about the 1:17 mark of the show…