Sunday, October 22, 2006

Now Amos Moses Was a Cajun, He Lived By Hisself in the Swamp, Hunted Alligator For a Living, Just Knock Em in the Head With a Butt

Awesome or important or otherwise remarkable things that have happened since Wednesday before Wednesday last:

-tournament at the University of Rochester went down. It was extremely well run tabroom wise by my lovely wife and overall pretty successful. The lack of a number of folks I would have expected to show up meant that the divisions were not as big as they have been in years past, but certainly everyone had good eats, decent competition and at least tolerable weather. We got to celebrate Sunday evening with the coaches who stayed in town and while it was certainly the drunkest I’ve been in a while, I recovered perfectly the next day in time for a reasonably productive debate practice. I’m mackerel like that.

-Packers Win!! This was technically the first victory I have witnessed by the Pack this season, since I was driving back from Kings when they bested the Motor City Kitties. Everybody played pretty well, even, and I know this isn’t believable, the SECONDARY, who picked off Joey 3 times including running one back for a touchdown. Watched the games with Gordie and made a generally footballriffic afternoon.

-Apples and Kitties Saturday. That’s the official title of October 21st, 2006 in my book. We woke up reasonably early and made it to the fruit farm about 10 minutes away from our house. The place may not have the bells and llamas (whistles really don’t impress me, but llamas are another story) of Becker Farms back near Lockport, but it made up for that with a tremendous apple variety. We picked golden delicious, empire, Cortland, sun crisp, fuji, jonagold and idared apples. I didn’t include two varieties in that list, cuz I had literally never sampled them until yesterday: fortune and Northern Spy. Both of the last two varieties were enormous and the Northern Spy were among the best fruit I ate all morning. We followed up our app-stravaganza with a trip to the National Siamese Cat Show. I assumed, based on the title, that this show would be all the best Siamese cats. That would be really neat, cuz even though Siamese cats are far from my favorite kitties, they are still kitties after all. But I was wrong, and the show featured all varieties of cats, from the improbably perfectly coated Russian Blue, to the rare and beautiful Egyptian mao. There were a couple Scottish folds and some other really pretty cats, but most important were the incredible Persians which were in great abundance. One of them was the puffiest creature I have ever seen and simply adorable. There was also a four month old orange and white kitten who was so gorgeous and playful and a couple of grayish kitties who would have really enjoyed coming home to play with Hippo. Anyway, cat shows rule, even though you can’t pet the kitties, which is a rule that I both understand and judge to be electro-to-the-weak.

-Jericho is a pretty decent show and wow, has Skeet Ulrich grown up. I mean, he is still Skeet Ulrich and boyishly handsome in a slicked-back-Johnny Depp but not so indie sort of way, still, he has grown up. Not just in the way that everyone grows up when they return from their adventures around the country and while they are briefly visiting their tiny dusty small Kansas hometown the United States undergoes some sort of indeterminate nuclear catastrophe. More like in the way that your career essentially peaked in 1996 when you tried to kill Neve Campbell, who was totally hawt but somewhat overshadowed in Wild Things.

We bought Hippo a really neat sparkly bouncy cat toy at the kitty show to make up for the fact that we decided not to bring her home a Persian, exotic shorthair, or Scottish fold friend. She would like to play with it now, I believe, since she is throwing it at me and meowing. It is the cutest object I have ever had anyone throw at my head.



Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lay Your Head on My Chest, Come Feel My Heartbeat, We Can Park the Jeep, Pump Mobb Deep and Just Spark the Butt

So we are currently trying to struggle through the premiere of Brothers and Sisters, which we tivoed weeks ago but have not yet attempted. I like Calista Flockhart from her Ally days and Rachel Griffiths from Six Feet Under and there are certainly some other talented acting folks around. Based on the first twenty minutes, the acting is utterly failing to overcome two much more significant problems:

1. Calista Flockhart’s character is not only conservative, but seems to be modeled around the Ann Coulter-youngish-blondish-not uglyish conservative chick. I’m not sure I could get around the conservative part in the first place, but I’m virtually certain that I can’t get around the fictional attempt to render human and/or likable one of the most vitriolic skeezes around. All the Ann Coulter knowledge I need I’ll get from the Rude Pundit.

2. The writing is awful. Sorkin didn’t put a lot of conservative viewpoints on his show, but at least there was the occasional Republican who didn’t sound like either a straw-person fascist or unable to string a sentence together. The only piece of televised dialogue as bad as her defense of conservatism I’ve seen recently was Close to Home’s horrendous attempt to imitate CSI in an episode about sleeping beauty syndrome rapists.

I’m pretty sure we’re moments away from erasing the other two episodes we have tivoed, since its not like we have enough time to watch even the TV we actually do enjoy. Oops, that did it. We stopped at about 40 minutes when Ally started explaining that she was only “6 blocks away when the towers fell.” There are limited times when talking about 9/11 in some melodramatic way are tolerated by me, but this was not among them. Besides the fact that Smith was canceled 3 episodes in, this makes Bros+Sis’s the first casualty of our fall season.

Had a long weekend in Lexington which included some pretty decent moments. One of our teams went 3-5, but had to debate Cal’s top team in a 3-3 bracket and then just missed ending up 4-4. That’s obviously not extraordinary, but it’s a good place to be at Kentucky, early in the year, when one of our debaters was probably at her 8th-9th tournament ever. The other team had a couple tough losses, but half of it started really getting involved in this season less than a week ago, so 2-6 is something to build on. I was amazed to see that I judged 7 out of the 8 debates I was committed for, which seems to be solely a result of the fact that Dartmouth doesn’t mind me around. When they don’t get to bring 5 teams to Wake, I might end up spending most of the weekend watching football.

The far more important part of being in Lexington was the food and let me tell you, it pwnd. We landed Friday and immediately upon starting out down the highway discovered that Kentucky is in fact home to THE CRAVE! I got 10 burgers and a sack of fries, which enabled me to enjoy riding in the van far more than I typically do. We got set up in the hotel, cut some cards, did some drills and made it out to a joint called Billy’s Barbecue in the Chevy Chase area of Lexington. The wings were incredible, the light cornbread (which the menu described as a sort of combination of cornbread and white bread) was outstanding, but the cheese grits were not as good as I had hoped for. The star of the night, however, was the mutton which I decided to give a try. I had actually never had bbq mutton before, since it is a sort of Western Kentucky pit specialty and I have very little experience there. It definitely had some of the taste of lamb, but also this almost game-like twang. The meat was not as fatty as pork, but still perfectly moist and pulled to exactly the right size. I highly recommend it next time you head to the University of Kentucky.

Lunch on Saturday was Qdoba, which I recognize isn’t anything extraordinary, but since they don’t fucking exist in Western New York for God only knows what reason, it and the trip to Chipotle on Monday were a taste treat as well. Saturday night we checked out a spot I found reviewed in a number of places called Bourbon and Toulouse. The food is cheap and good. Katie and I each got a full plate of high quality Cajun food and a soda, plus tip, for 16 bucks. The jumbalaya sells out within a couple hours of it being made, so I had to opt for the gumbo, which still ruled. Quality vegan and vegetarian options as well as a generally cool little joint inhabited and staffed by cool people. Also in the Chevy Chase area and rocking. Sunday night we were tired and made the classic run to the Waffle House. I have never lived anywhere where there were Waffle Houses available, and as far as my cholesterol is concerned, that’s prolly a good thing. Waffle House really knows how to hash a brown though, I’ll tell you that much.

Final Kentucky story before I grab a feather and start playing with Hippo. We flew through Newark on our way home, though our layover was only about 30 minutes long. I went in to hit the bathroom and walking out, as I was walking in, was this pretty significantly sized dude and another guy behind him, even bigger. I gave a brief thought to the fact that the original dude looked like Fat Joe, but dismissed it pretty quickly. When I returned from the bathroom, the subject of conversation was exactly the same question. Specifically, it was whether or not the dude who was walking out of the coffee place was Fat Joe. I was doubtful, but spotting the nearby posse wearing what were identified by others as Terror Squad pendants, we confirmed that it was in fact the Fat one. I know enough about him to think it was cool that we saw him in the airport, but not enough to care about getting his autograph, like Gunther did. It was a good, if fairly inconsequential celebrity encounter.

Alright, Hippo wants a feather, preferably on a stick, to be shaken nearby her kitten face and it continues to appear that the feather is not going to start shaking itself.



Thursday, October 05, 2006

I Close My Eyes, Only For a Moment, and the Moment's Butt

I cannot imagine that anyone could determine what this picture is without me describing it, so I will. Let me preface that description by saying that this was one of what I imagine are the moments which artists and intellectuals feel when they actually are "inspired." I don't know that anything will ever come from my experience of this morning, but it blew my mind and I loved it.

At the very end of the American and contemporary art wing of the Philadelphia Museum of Art there is a room featuring a great number of the d00d who is probably my favorite artist, Marcel Duchamp. I was amazed at the pieces this museum posessed, including the re-issued versions of Fountain and Bicycle, as well as Nude Descending a Staircase, and Etant Donees. The last of those is one of my favorite works of art period, and while the guy writing the description I linked to sounds like he might be kind of a tool, it is a pretty legitimate run-down of this piece, which is really something to behold. Anyway, what you sort of see in the camera-phone picture above is Duchamp's "Large Glass." (note, the second picture down in the Wikipedia entry is the work as set up in Philly)

The other notable item in the picture is probably much easier to decipher, that being the smallish children gathered around the works. They weren't just there by the way, they were scattered (quite literally) all around this 20 x 20 or so room full of Duchamp. They were there as a part of some art program, I would presume one sponsored by the museum itself, and it appeared that they were all practicing their drawing skills by replicating the paintings and sculpture near by. I am not sure what the motivation to use this particular room was, but I found it both brilliant and hilarious simultaneously.

Brilliant for at least two different reasons: 1) Duchamp had an incredible eye for lines and perspective, as the incredible cubist paintings from early in his career should indicate. The same is true in regard to Etant Donees, which works entirely because of what you are and are not able to see. 2) The entire point of Duchamp's "readymades" was the contrast between art and the everyday. What better way to drive that point home than by reproducing the object which, for its entire history, has been oscillating between art object and rubish object. Not only reproducing it again, but reproducing it without any of the trappings of "high art," or at least in the specific context of children's art skillz.

Hilarious for another reason altogether. That being that the whole point of Duchamp's art was in a way a criticism of what is being done in this class. That is to say, the institutionalization of specific canonical requirements that distinguishes art from non-art; the idea that by reproducing something that an artist of acclaim has already done, that you can learn the techniques involved in artistic creation. In at least two ways, Duchamp is directly responding to this practice. First, of course is the cerebral and intellectual aspect of his art, which makes it essentially un-reproducable. By this I don't just mean that the important aspect of his art is "the idea," though that is probably true. What I am referencing is the aspect of naming, the fact that a urinal or a bicycle wheel becomes art insofar as Duchamp assigned it that title and displayed it as such. If the artistic moment is in act of assigning a name, then the reduplication of these objects, however much they may be worthy of being drawn or good teaching tools, is by definition not art. Secondly, as the hilarious painting, which I believe is required to be the favorite of every postmodernism loving college student in the country for at least a moment, L.H.O.O.Q. , shows, duplication is always already an act of creation, and vice versa. Applying a moustache to the Mona Lisa and giving it a saucy title certainly does produce something new, but it depends upon the prior image, whose meaning it creates in reproducing it. That is to say, Duchamp articulates a vision of the Mona Lisa which he then is able to comment on. In a way each of those paintings that the three-year old's parents hung on the Frigidaire were original Duchamps, produced almost forty years after the man died.

Enough of that, I say, though I do quite enjoy the exceedingly brief forays into legitimate thought that occassionally take place here. Last night, Katie took me out for my birthday, which technically occurred last Saturday during the Cornell tournament. Katie gave me some awesome presents, including a new DS game, a really cute canvas printed picture of her and Hippo, and a phat #4 jersey. We headed out to the Crystal Barn last evening, a joint recommended by Christy and approved by Katie, since it had coupons available on The place was admittedly pretty cool looking, big ass chandeliers, old school barn job. The decor was nothing too fancy, but still very comfortable. We ate really freaking well, let me tell you. I started with a Maker's Mark manhattan, I guess because Katie decided it was a fancier and more respectable drink order than a Maker's on the rocks. Admittedly, adding a cherry and just a spritz of vermouth doesn't hurt anything, so it may become a thing. It also seemed to be bigger than your standard maker's on the rocks, so thats certainly a plus. Katie had a riesling, jobviously. To fulfill everyone's birthday fantasy of steak-lobster, we started with an appetizer of their "lobster dainties: three petite lobster tails wrapped in bacon and grilled, served with a roasted red pepper sauce which I sopped up every bit of.

The salad I had was nothing to write home about, perhaps, but the house made dressing was a "Creamy Cheddar Cheese," which was unlike any salad dressing I had previously experienced. Thats not to say it was necessarily the best, just that it was distinct and very very good. My birthday dinners are all about steak, and this was no exception: a 24 oz porterhouse served with a sauted mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes and sauteed veggies. The veggies were good if for no other reason than that they were distinct, carrots, rutabaga, and brussel sprouts (which I adore when well cooked). The potatoes were great, but tremendously overshadowed by the steak, which while cooked a little but on the actually rare side of rare, rather than the extremely rare side (I should have been more specific I suppose) was delicious. I won't go into my usual analogies for the porterhouse steak, but it blows my mind every time I enjoy it. Dessert was the classic Katie favorite flourless chocolate cake, AS WELL AS, a chocolate peanut butter pie which was without question the best peanut butter dessert I have ever eaten. We almost never order two desserts at a restaurant, but since there were four on the tray I was interested in, it seemed warranted.

Anyway, we got home, stuffed to the gills and very happy with life. Hippo was there waiting for me, she tossed the remote into my lap so I could pop on the newest episode of ANTM and see my girl A.J. smack the losers around and handed me a tasty bourbon on the rocks. She is the cutest and most incredibly talented 6 pound persian in the history of the universe, pwnz.



Monday, October 02, 2006

There's a Shadow Just Behind Me, Shouting Every Step I Take, Making Every Promise Empty, Pointing Every Finger at Butt

I have not had a great weekend, to be honest, and the debate that I am watching this morning is not making it any better. There is nothing wrong with the two teams I am watching, but for some reason they are embracing bad form for the sake of bad form, since they are both making arguments that are incredibly capable of being articulated in a more “traditional” debate sense. I fundamentally don’t give a shit how people choose to organize their debates or what they choose to do, I just don’t get bagging on “flow-centrism” and then running Agamben.

Holy fuck. You have got to be kidding me. I am literally, going to blow up the room in which this debate is occurring, because the 1NC just concluded with silence. Yep, silence. I would say that silence is the worst argument in the history of the world, but IT IS NOT A FUCKING ARGUMENT, IT IS, BY DEFINITION, THE LACK OF ANYTHING EVEN BORDERING ON ARGUMENTATION. I’m not pretending that discussions of silence, or even the real world function of silence, is not important. There is about a 5 page discussion of the concept of silence in psychoanalysis in my dissertation, but I (I think wisely) did not include 200 blank pages after that discussion to perform the value of silence. There was only just over a minute left in the 1NC when d00d stopped talking, otherwise I would have gone in search of diet soda.

Enough debate rants. I say that, but of course, I have no other rants to go on or anything else really to comment on. We are attempting to catch up on all the TV that we have not watched because of the ricockulous amount of debate work and such that we have been doing, but have not been entirely successful. If we could only afford (NO, NO, SERIOUSLY, THE 2AC IS NOW BEING SILENT. NOT ONLY IS THAT HIDEOUS, BUT I COULDN’T EVEN TELL IF SHE WAS BEING SILENT OR IF SHE JUST LOST HER TRAIN OF THOUGHT. MY BRAIN IS CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A TURF WAR BETWEEN STUPID IS AND STUPID DOES) DirectTV, a Slingbox, and 1-2 more tivos, I think we would be golden. That does not appear to be around any corners of which I am immediately aware. My favorite Survivor was booted last week, so at least I had only had 2 weeks to grow fond of CeCe. It would have sucked if she would have continued to be so cute and charming for 12 weeks before she was brutally assaulted by Ozzy and his hair-a-palooza of wad-ish-ness.

My van on the way down to Ithaca had an intense conversation about the potential distinction between Gwen Stefani’s “Holla Back Girl” and Fergie’s “London Bridge.” I personally like both of those songs, but maybe its just my love of foot-stamping rhythms for pop music. A love that dare not speak its name, I know, but a love nonetheless. I can fathom not liking either of these songs, prolly cuz you are an elitist snob who can’t ever enjoy the finer things in life and takes even more pleasure than most in the continual (THREE MINUTES OF THE 2NC ARE SILENT. THREE. MOTHER. FUCKING. MINUTES. I AM WRITING AN ALTERNATIVE TO SILENCE CALLED “VAGINA” WHERE WE JUST SAY “VAGINA “FOR THIRTY SOLID SECONDS, THEN ARGUE THAT AT LEAST SOMEONE REPEATING “VAGINA” IS FUNNY. EACH SECOND OF THAT TIMER IS A MOMENT OF MY LIFE THAT THIS DEBATE HAS STOLEN FROM ME.) ability of popular culture to fail to live up to your lofty and arbitrarily contrary standards. Regardless, its music so I get that your taste might not line up with mine. What makes zero sense to me is enjoying one of these tracks and loathing the other. The reason I like them both is that they are the same freaking song. Substitute the spelling of fruits with the reference to children’s rhyme-y things and you have a winner. Also correlatively decided in the van ride: whichever record producer or label was bold enough to sign off on a major lyrical moment in a multi-million dollar single being simply the repetition of a word which would be laughed out of a 2nd grade spelling bee.

Silence going on in the 2nr, btw. Katie brought me a Diet Coke before the 1AR, and clearly that has calmed me down, cuz I would be caps-lockin-and-loading like a horny toad on jimson weed if I was still thirsty. It makes me feel like perhaps I am not actually cranky in debate rounds, but rather that I have just been thirsty for a bit over a decade. (I thought I had mono for an entire year once, turns out I was just really bored.”) Anyway, the post round discussion was far better than the actual debate, and I don’t want to give the impression that I was mad at the debaters themselves. I think its primarily just that I really hate to see arguments not make it to their full potential and become so bogged down in the question of what we should debate about that we never actually engage in that debate. All the people in this round agreed that alternative forms of argument (i.e. parables or stories, not silence) were worthwhile, so lets have at it, not race to see who is the most tolerant of alternate arguments.

I’m missin my Hippo right now, but she is psyched that we will actually get to watch the Packers together this Monday night. She is excited to have a party with cream and nip while we are gone, but still, her philosophy is that football is always better with a lap to purr in. Sometimes, I can hear her softly purring the Monday Night Football theme song when that long Monday afternoon really gets to her (she has a small case of Garfield syndrome). And with the rampant discrimination against kitties practiced by the bars in Rochester, it is hard for her to join us in a booth at the Distillery for the NFL Sunday ticket. Anyway, hopefully I will be home for some Sunday Night pigskin as well, I can hear Hippo leap from her tower in happiness.