Saturday, November 18, 2006

A-gigity-gigity

My favorite Family Guy clip of the moment:

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Remind Me by Royksopp

This music video is like an animated version of the How Things Work book. More importantly, it's really awesome. And surprisingly, I actually even like the techno-ish song.

from Pogue's Posts

Monday, July 10, 2006

I've got more hits than Sadaharu Oh

On a drive from Oakland to Minneapolis in early June, I picked up a USA Today in Elko, Nevada. On the cover of that USA Today I saw the smiling mug of a Minnesota sports favorite, Torii Hunter. The article attached to the photo discussed how Torii has set up an organization to get US American black kids--particularly city kids--interested in baseball again. He's asking other major league baseball players who support the cause to pitch in to the tune of $10,000 each and, as you can imagine, several have happily stepped up to the plate. Since I read that article I've read about Torii's program again in the New York Times, Sports Illustrated and, strangely, just this last weekend in my once-again local Minneapolis Star Tribune. It's certainly a story that the mainstream press likes to print.

Now Torii's face and cause brought a smile to my face and generally made me feel good about being a Torii Hunter fan. Indeed, I whole-heartedly support his cause, and in fact, any cause that aims to make the erstwhile national passtime more appealing and inclusive for everyone in the nation. However, across all the articles I've read I've heard the same assumptions about the declining popularity of baseball among African Americans uncritically accepted and rebroadcast.

Here's some representative copy from an SI article:
Nearly 60 years after Jackie Robinson burst through baseball's color barrier, U.S.-born African-American players are virtually vanishing from the game. Three decades after blacks made up nearly 30 percent of major league rosters, they now make up about 8 percent — less than half the 17.25 percent of 1959, the first year every team was integrated.

OK, so there are fewer African Americans playing the game than when it was integrated. That's a fact. And it sounds horrible. And maybe it is horrible. May-be it is. But for the sake of argument, here's my angle... Dear reader, you tell me if it holds water:

According to the US Census Bureau, there were 35 million "Blacks" in the United States in 2004, or about 12.4% of the US population. Now, against that percentage, 8.4% in the majors doesn't seem all that shocking. It's certainly a statistically significant decline from the 30% of a generation ago, and it is certainly an impetus to further research. But instead of measuring the black representation of the game today against that of yesteryear, shouldn't we instead compare the heterogeneity of major league baseball against the heterogeneity of contemporary America? (Actually, it gets more complicated since it is a world sport, but then again it is disproportionately popular in Asia, North America and Latin America, but we'll leave that out for now since it's way too confusing to deal with.)

Anyhoo, my point, which you may have already have guessed, is that the "ideal" percentage of African Americans in major league baseball (if such a concept means anything) should be 12.4%, not the 30% of yesteryear. Now, MLB is at 8% right now, and that is clearly below 12.4%, but it's not as far off from the general US population as articles like that SI one I quoted above make it seem. And when black players made up 30% of major league rosters, wasn't that just as, if not more out of whack than it is today? See, I guess what I'm getting at is if you think that African Americans *should* be disproportionately represented in professional baseball--as they are in the NFL and the NBA--aren't you kinda coming at the question with your own racist assumptions about the natural athleticism of African Americans?

What does it say that the news media loves printing stories about Torii getting black people to play America's game again but is silent by comparison on the parallel fact that black people are overrepresented in the NBA? Put differently: why is it so natural for us to accept that black people should be overrepresented in all sports, and, relatedly, for baseball to be re-legitimized as a "true American sport" it's got to get blacks to play the game again?

Now I'm not saying what Torii Hunter is doing is bad by any stretch of the imagination. Moreover, I'm more for bringing baseball back to the inner city than I am for say bringing back guns and drugs, but not actually more than bringing back science and economics education, or even say, jobs or equity, since there's probably a lot fewer than 8% black representation in the sciences and in finance capital. But this isn't an argument about whether it's better to have Torii spend his time on baseball rather than finance capital, I think it's fine for Torii to be doing what he's doing. Someone else can teach math to the kids. That's a different guns and butter-esque argument. My only point, really, is that I wish all these articles on the declining popularity of baseball would maybe frame the discussion a little differently and maybe get into some of these larger issues.

I've said what I think. Now, what do YOU think?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

There's not much glam about the English weather. There's nothing left keeping us together.

Slow down! It's Summer '06 and politics is not where it's at. Instead I'd like to talk about baseball, specifically Central Division interleague play:

A Midsummer's Day, 2006:

Chicago AL 20
St. Louis 6

Detroit 10
Milwaukee 1

Minnesota 6
Houston 5 10 innings

Cleveland 4
Chicago NL 2

Kansas City 10
Pittsburgh 6

Also. Iraq. Yawn. Apparently, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead and who are the two happiest factions? The United States government and al-Qaeda, that's who. Unfortunately, Zarqawi's legacy is an articulation of anti-Americanism to a fascist atavistic politics that recalls an imagined eleventh century caliphate for a generation of Iraqi freedom fighters. What can we gather from this particular moment in world history? That Sunni-Shia race war is the new geopolitical hot potato, toward which is it in the status quo's best interest to be always lukewarm.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My love/hate relationship with Starbucks.

For the first time in many years, I am questioning my relationship with the Starbucks Coffee Company. As with any other major life-changing decisions, I need time to assess the situation in detail. Am I ready to cut off a long-term committed relationship spanning over 5 years? I don't want to be hasty; why should I suffer?

Reason #1: I have become addicted. I don't know how or when it happened, but it has. I know this, because I sit here at work at 2:30pm waiting for my girlfriend Cathy to bring me back my tall non-fat mocha frappuccino with easy whip. This morning, I already downed a tall non-fat iced vanilla latte. This is why I fear the addiction is only getting worse. I can't remember every having two Starbucks drinks in one day. At least I'm not in denial.

I even try, at times, to switch up locations just so that I'm not "that girl", the one that Barista #206 knows; she knows my name, exactly what time I come in every morning and my drink order according to my moods or the weather outside. I hope that day never comes. By the way, the dictionary defines a Barista as: "a person who makes coffee drinks as a profession; an espresso bartender who is an expert in the art of making espresso and espresso based beverages". Basically, a fancy word for "coffee maker". I say, BORING.

Reason #2: My wallet. The suffering to my bank account. Can we talk about that for a second? It just can't seem to handle the daily trips any longer. $2.90 on Monday, $3.45 Tuesday. Heaven forbid a co-worker asks if I can pick them up a latte on my way to work (or I feel obligated to pick them up one because they have done so for me in the past)...then the order goes up to $7.00 and some change. I have mouths to feed, a car payment I can't afford and rent that is sucking me dry. It's summer...I need a new bathing suit, shoes and there is also weekend drinking to be done, and by weekend drinking I mean many alcoholic beverages that don't come cheap. I also need to travel and save up to buy a house. I think it would be pretty pathetic of me if I realized at some point I couldn't afford the necessities because my Starbucks addiction had thrown me into bankruptcy. I don't want THAT hanging over my head.

Reason #3: I'm fully against whatever it is that they put in those drinks (I have no idea if it's heroin, special caffeine or some secret substance that keeps you running back for more), but whatever it is...I'm against it. What DO they put in those drinks? Occasionally I think I should just sit here with a drip in my arm like a heroin addict, rocking back and forth...de-lish. Fill me up. Keep it coming please. Then, I ask myself "does this really do something to me or is it just psychological? Leave it to me to overanalyze a cup of coffee. I should just get decaf, really. I never see a significant change in my energy level. I don't even think caffeine has any affect on me at all. My partner-in-crime aka boyfriend will tell you otherwise, but I beg to differ. And yet, I still continue to have this feeling, this urge for Starbucks. It's a sickness, isn't it? They suck you in with their "specialty" drinks, the little tasters they have sitting on the counter as you wait, and now with all the tao, chai, green tea drinks. It's a one-stop-shop. Why go anywhere else?

It has been more than two weeks since I started writing this blog and I am not any closer to making a committed decision to stop purchasing from the Starbucks Coffee Company. Back to square one...feeling indecisive, and by feeling indecisive I mean trying to decide what type of non-fat latte to order later this afternoon.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I've been to 36 states!

Friday, May 05, 2006

In Defense of Keith Hernandez

Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez was recently reprimanded by the team's TV network for "inappropriate" remarks during a broadcast about a female member of San Diego's training staff.

We're wondering when somebody's gonna say something about that mustache.

After spotting Padres' full-time massage therapist Kelly Calabrese high-fiving Mike Piazza after a home run, Hernandez said, "Who is the girl in the dugout, with the long hair? What's going on here? You have got to be kidding me. Only player personnel in the dugout."

When he found out later that Calabrese was on the training staff, he repeated that she was out of place. "I won't say that women belong in the kitchen, but they don't belong in the dugout," he said.

And you, my friend, belong in a cave with a club and a sabertooth tiger-skin toga. Or in a kennel with a muzzle. Or on a platter with an apple in your mouth. Or back in rehab.

Hernandez later laughed and said: "You know I am only teasing. I love you gals out there -- always have."

Which, of course, makes it all better. Meathead.

So this attempt at journalism is admittedly taken from the Contra Costa Times, not exactly in the pantheon of American dailies, but its attitude is pretty damned representative of the reaction of the national sports press to announcer and former New York Met Keith Hernandez’s comments during a game between the Mets and the Padres in San Diego a couple weeks ago. Even those two guys from ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” whose entire show consists of the two of them arguing about almost anything they can think of, were in perfect harmony on this one: Hernandez is a sexist, inconsiderate boor, an idiot even. He’s living in the Stone Age and he deserves to be fined, suspended, fired, etc. God, what a jerk.

And so then my friend and blog-patriot Nate Fisher e-mailed me an article comparing the Hernandez debacle to a troubling incident in the career of Kim Ng. Ng is the Assistant General Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers; she previously served in a similar capacity with the Yankees. I submit to you the following:

In 2003, Bill Singer, a scout for the New York Mets, approached Ng at the GM meetings in Arizona.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I'm working," she said.

"What are you doing here?" he asked again. Singer went on to mock Ng's Asian heritage before New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who had hired a 29-year-old Ng as an assistant GM, intevened.

Now this exchange got Singer fired, and rightfully so. The guy was calling into question a person’s right to work in a professional, corporate environment based upon that person’s gender and nationality. Obviously not cool. Ng has proven herself to be another Theo Epstein type – anything you read about her describes her as being as whip-smart and as hardworking as anyone in the business.


You might notice my use in the above paragraph of terms like “professional, corporate environment” and “whip-smart” and “hardworking” and “business.” None of these things, in my mind, really apply to the game of baseball itself. Sure, many of the players train hard to get to where they are. There’s a lot of work put in. That work is done mostly in batting cages, at the gym, etc., and not in the dugout. What do players do in the dugout? Mostly they sit around, watch, wait, and cheer on their teammates. Oh they also chew tobacco or gum or sunflower seeds. They used to be able to smoke in the dugout, which I find awesome. But seriously, if my boss came in this morning and I had a massive plug of chaw in my left cheek, I don’t think it would pass as acceptable behavior. I think it would pass as “umm dude what the fuck is in your mouth. You look like half a chipmunk.”

This whole situation is kind of like poker night. Poker night is, in my opinion, guys’ night. It’s a time for men to get together, talk about sports, talk about women, etc. There’s usually whiskey, cigars, sometimes pot. And then you have one guy bring his girlfriend and it sort of kills a whole element of it. Because then you KNOW that Tom’s not going to be comfortable telling his story about how last weekend he got a prophylactic stuck inside some girl he’s seeing and they spent the whole night at the hospital and then they had to wait for a pharmacy to open up so they could get the morning after pill and everything. See, these are the ties that bind us as men. Well, they’re not the only ones, but they are sort of important. Because it’s a funny story. But where as eight guys could have enjoyed the retelling of the story together, the shared experience, then one guy brings his girlfriend and the volume on the whole evening goes down from 25 to like 10. Thanks, Mike. Thanks for ruining poker night.

It’s like Keith said later in the game:

In the fifth inning, Hernandez returned to the subject of Calabrese, who again was on camera. He elaborated on his second-inning commentary.

"I stand by those statements. I think this is a man's game and I feel very strongly about it," Hernandez said. "And if anybody thinks when I made that comment about women being in the kitchen, and takes it seriously, well, get a sense of humor."

Of course this didn’t satisfy ANY of the people who were angered by the comments in the first place, so he issued the following non-apology the next day:

"In my discussion I made a couple of inappropriate comments," Hernandez said. "If I have offended anybody I sincerely apologize."

Baseball: a man’s game. Poker night: a guy’s night. What is so wrong with these things? A man shouldn’t have certain areas of his life that are kept from the other sex? And I guess if Keith Hernandez thinks it’s a man’s game, that’s just one man’s opinion, right? Which you can take two ways. Either think he’s an idiot and move on with your life, or think “hey, this guy actually PLAYED pro ball for like 12-15 years, maybe he has some idea what he’s talking about.”

So but another thing to mention: out of everyone I’ve talked to, and everyone on the air blathering about this, nobody was actually watching the game at the time, except me. They were forty minutes into the broadcast, but all anyone heard were those thirty seconds. Hernandez’s quotes were taken COMPLETELY out of context. Completely.

There’s a certain rhythm to the announcing of a baseball game. I mean, think about it. These games are like three hours long and there are 162 of them in a season. That’s almost 500 hours, almost 20 days straight, of two guys talking. So my first point is that over the course of a season, baseball announcers will wind up talking about some pretty weird and off-topic shit on the air, guaranteed. If you don’t believe me, try turning on a game in late August, when they’ve already been at it for four and a half months. I once heard Tom Seaver do a fifteen minute sort of philosophical-slash-comedic bit on why Arizona doesn’t observe daylight-savings time. He really beat this topic into the ground. (If you’re interested, it’s because of farmers or something. I’m sure you can find it on wikipedia.) So point being they’ll talk about anything, and they’ll stretch topics out way too long, because, well, what the fuck would YOU talk about if your interior monologue had to be verbalized and broadcast for three hours every day?

And my second point is that if you took a few sound clips of Vin Scully talking out of context, you could make about a five-minute pastiche of stuff that could serve as sufficient proof of insanity to have him committed to a mental ward for the rest of his life. Now Vin is old, but he’s pretty damned lucid for his age. Rhythm, people. Rhythm. You can’t pull the scene of Zed fucking Ving Rhames in the ass out of “Pulp Fiction” and expect someone who’s never seen the film before to think they’re not watching gay porn. Context. Rhythm.

So within the rhythm that EVERYONE failed to hear EXCEPT those of us who were actually watching the game, Keith’s comments not only came off as non-offensive, but actually funny. I was watching the game with a real-live female, a rather comely one, and she totally appreciated Keith’s humor and found no offense in it whatsoever. It’s like, you ever read Dave Eggers’ “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”? There’s this part where he talks about how he and his little brother have a joke where they’re always going “you’re just saying that because I’m black,” even though both of them are white as the driven snow. They’re making fun of the American hypersensitivity to ethnic discrimination or whatever. But we all know that Dave Eggers is basically a hippie and a good Democrat and probably these days drives a hybrid. I mean he lives in fucking San Francisco, right?

But if Keith Hernandez, (and who knows his political orientation but he’s a dumb jock who stumbled his way behind the microphone somehow and now offers sexist rants daily, right?,) if Keith Hernandez starts saying these types of things, then all of a sudden he’s the David Duke of baseball. Because there’s no possible WAY that Keith was being at all self-aware when he made these statements, right? This being the fucking guy who starred in two episodes of Seinfeld? You think he might have just the slightest grasp of irony, sarcasm, wit, meta-humor, or whatever you’d like to call it? No, no, no, that’s impossible. He’s a caveman. For sure.

You see what I’m getting at here? I know it’s taken me a while to make my case, but I hope I’ve convinced you. I’m really hungover and tired, hence the fragmentedness and ranting above. I just moved to Venice Beach last night and we had sort of a mini-housewarming party so old Charlie’s a little flagged. But anyway, thanks for reading the first of my blog postings. Oh, and before I go, I just want to add that women have no place in the dugout. I won’t say they belong in the kitchen, but they don’t belong in the dugout. End of story.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Family Guy

There are very few shows on television that I enjoy these days; Re-runs of Seinfeld, Extreme Home Makeover (the family version that makes me tear up just watching the previews and then I practically breakdown by the end of the show), Friends re-runs and sometimes the Discovery Channel. Occasionally, I’ve even been known to take in a game or two of Jeopardy, if I have my steady companion with me, because he is amazing to watch and smart as a whip. Damn him! I rarely watch it anymore, it’s like Trivial Pursuit to me; I can never leave feeling smarter.

However, I will admit to thoroughly enjoying The Family Guy. I’ve only seen a few of the episodes but to me, it’s akin to laughing at a nasty joke in church: it may be screamingly funny, but you're pretty sure you're going to Hell for thinking so. It’s often outlandishly offensive and yet you find yourself glued to the television wondering what Stewie Griffin will say and do next. (If you haven’t seen the show and you don’t know who Stewie Griffin is…you should watch it because I don’t think I’m going to go into detail about the cast members). But I will say that Stewie is this genius infant with a head shaped like a football (sideways) who speaks with an English accent.

While The Family Guy's humor often obliterates the boundaries of good taste, it also espouses faith in the American Family, however mutated. As the theme song declares, The Family Guy is about "good old-fashioned values". The characters do reflect those "good old-fashioned values," but outside of traditional social norms. I consider myself to be a pretty family oriented person with pretty traditional values, so the first time I saw it, I was shocked at how much I laughed…out loud, nonetheless. No, I hadn’t been drinking (well, that’s not necessarily true), but I hadn’t been taking any illegal substances while watching.

I now find myself going over the show in my head sometimes, laughing (almost out loud) remembering some of the funnier things that Stewie may have come up with. “Stewie: Easy! Massage the scalp. You're washing a baby's hair, not scrubbing vomit off your Christmas dress, you holiday drunk.” If you’re watching the show with someone who truly appreciates its humor, it’s a much safer environment. This way, you don’t feel AS guilty laughing at some of the rather obscene jokes and the way the family is really a family and yet completely dysfunctional…plus, laughter is always better with someone. It keeps me from feeling crazy or at the very least, having others think I am crazy.

Anyway, I believe the show's genius is that it challenges censorship codes while also providing material that appear to justify their existence: given the chance, it seems sometimes the show may "go too far," pushing the codes until they snapped. Laugh-out-loud one-liners and sight gags and critiques, The Family Guy, I think was underappreciated and underrated. Underrated like eating Marbled Molten Panda, which I may talk about in the future.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Si se puede


I attended a large May 1 rally in San Francisco today. This is significant because while May 1 is a worker's holiday in much of the world it is not a holiday in the United States. The rally was combined with a general strike. People took the day off work to gather and march one and a half miles down Market Street, from Justin Herman Plaza to the Civic Center. The rally was a backlash against HR 4437, which cleared the House of Representatives in April and would felonize undocumented immigration. One objective of the rally was to call for an amnesty for the approximately 12 million undocumented workers living and working in the United States.

The scope of today's events was unprecedented. Over one million workers participated in a general strike, which has perhaps never before occured in US history. It is especially compelling that this was a labor rally that was not primarily conducted through union organization and thus had an organic feel to it that wouldn't have been present if they were simply an action by organized labor.

I know that Los Angeles, Chicago and for some reason Denver got a lot of attention in the media for their rallies today but I want everyone to know that SF held it down with between 50,000 and 100,000 in attendance. I have been to several antiwar demos in SF and there were at least as many people today as there were at the largest one I went to, back in October 2002. The most striking feature of the rally was that--and this was true all across the United States--everyone got the message to wear white. The sea of white that flooded Market Street looked really sharp, let me tell you.

Maybe one reason the SF rally didn't get as much press is that people were probably just like, "Predictable old San Francisco. They'll protest about anything." This is of course true. And a San Francisco protest can get pretty lame unlike, say, a Sydney protest (where I happened to find myself when the Iraq War began on March 20 2003 and where the protesters met up in pubs across Sydney for the party after the demo). But the people here today were not your typical wine-swilling, East Coast educated post-hippie fascists who make up Nancy Pelosi's base. They were overwhelmingly Latino, which is a different ethnic composition than the antiwar rallies I've been to in the City. Moreover, as Aaron Golfsmith pointed out to me today while smoking a Parliament Light on the steps of City Hall as the rally flooded into the welcoming bosom of the Civic Center and UN Plaza: whereas these protestors took work off to be here, the opportunity cost for people at antiwar rallies (which are, in any event, held on weekends) is, for the most part, nil.

Anyway, it was hands down the most chill demo I've ever attended. People really seemed like they were having a good time. There was dancing in the streets and music everywhere. But the message was serious. It is also important to remember that the rallies and strike were, in essence, reactionary. That this event was a backlash makes the chillness of the whole thing that much more impressive.

I think the rally really captured the sprit of May Day: people took a day off work, enjoyed the time they took, and gathered to participate in and celebrate organic class organization. It was cool that the rally wasn't opposed by organized labor, which in fact helped organize the rallies. This is a step forward. But it would be nice to see all US workers, regardless of race, view immigration as a class/labor issue instead of as a racial/national issue.

While the protest was peaceful, I also say kudos to the SF police for blocking off streets and directing traffic even though the rally didn't have a permit. The police did exhibit their disturbing, hilarious tendency to post up outside of fast food restaurants on Market Street, though. What's the deal?

An introduction of sorts



Welcome to the POP car.

The POP car is this tidy corner of the world in which myself, your narrator and my beautiful fiancé, Clea Duvall reside. Much like the secret Soviet shadow government of the Cold War, we spend our days riding around in a special MUNI train in San Francisco through secret tracks and underground passageways. If the train says “out of service," look carefully into the tinted windows and you may be able to see us–watching cable news, telling bedtime stories, chainsmoking cigarettes and playing dominoes, or making love in the operator’s booth.

POP is the Paramecium of Parables, which is what we write. The stories we tell are small in nature: bedtime stories to help you drift off to sleep. Mostly, it’s a
cynical take on life that drives them. Clea, after a moderately successful movie career, gave into the despair. I found her curled up in a passenger car on an Amtrak train, 400 miles outside of St. Louis and heading west. Only through riding in a train could she deal with the small, gnawing knowledge that everything was more or less total shit and that there was little hope in the human condition. Now, there is nothing more attractive than a depressed B movie actress and our eventual union was foretold in the stars.

We chose
train sharing love together and ever since then, Clea has begun to improve. A train is a calming instrument, a type of therapy for the bitter. The sensation of the train, of traveling, taught her that there were possibilities over the next horizon. We came out here together and the grateful city of San Francisco awarded us with our own train car.

Here, we meander on forgotten tracks through the quiet neighborhoods and filthy slums. There is no reason to stop because then we would have to actually be somewhere. This way is much better. We see much from the train, via satellite, via wireless internet connections and through the words of many prophets. We are here to deliver you the big intangible sorrows of the world in bite sized snacks.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Don't go throwin' no coupons on my grave. Don't go carvin' no happy face on my tombstone.

April has traditionally been a poor month for new media. It comes as no surprise, then, that April 2006 has seen A Century of Controversy over the Foundations of Mathematics enter into a time of fallow. Well, before improved soil husbandry, this sort of thing was common, dear readers. What we gained in prolificacy, we lost in terroir: the terroir of the mind.

Two weeks ago, I held a staff meeting in the West Village. Claire, Ji and I met over a few pints of Brooklyn Pennant Ale and frankly managed to avoid all discussion of our blog. Then Claire and Ji touched and disappeared in a flash of light. All seemed lost.

Then I met my dear friends Chuck Ittner, Kelly Lowenberg & Aaron Golfsmith, as well as Chuck's beloved Misty at the Redwood Room in San Francisco on Sunday evening. Among the increasingly desperate starfuckers and the disconcerting digital portaiture, Chuck suggested to me that all A Century of Controversy over the Foundations of Mathematics needed was a little "shot in the arm."

That made a lot of sense.

So, the upshot is, look for big things in this space again real soon. I'm working on a roster of 7 bloggers, each of whom will blog on a different subject of their choosing on their own unique day of the week. Claire and Ji will be grandfathered in and will be able to blast through the schedule as they see fit. Something tells me we'll never hear from either of them again, though.

Until then, friends.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

And now for something completely different... Ask an Informative but Chauvinistic Business School



Dear Informative but Chauvinistic Business School,
I'm deeply in love with my best friend. I've tried to drop some hints to show him how I feel but he just doesn't seem to see me as anything other than a platonic friend. How can I get his attention without having to resort to a slightly desperate (prob. drunken) confession? -- Longing in San Pedro


LISP, it appears to me that what you have here is a classic marketing problem. Assuming you have a competitive product (you're not fat, are you?), your business challenge is to heighten perception of your brand among your target demographic audience (male, 18-25, best friend).

There are several approaches you can take to reposition your product in the marketplace. Although recent surveys show executives increasingly question their effectiveness, a traditional advertising and/or PR campaign is one option. Place pictures of yourself in conspicuous locations he's sure to see, preferably wearing a bikini. Remember, you want as many impressions as possible since repetition is proven to impact consumer mindshare. It'll require more creativity on your part but you can also come up with a catchy jingle about yourself that you should sing, often, in his presence, preferably while wearing a bikini.

Another initiative you can pursue, probably even in conjunction with an advertising/PR campaign, is to relaunch your brand, creating a "blank slate" with which to develop an identity with your target audience. This often includes a name change, which may seem drastic at first, but is a widely accepted industry practice and has been an effective marketing strategy. Case in point: do you know who Natalie Oliveros is? That's right, no one does. But under the pseudonym, Savanna Samson, Natalie Oliveros has starred in two dozen pornography films and recently won Best Actress in the Adult Video News Awards.

The last topic I'll touch upon is the time-tested power of word of mouth advertising. Especially in a small market, word of mouth can often be the very most effective method of advertising your product plus your cost expenses are greatly minimized. Recent examples that easily demonstrate how much of an impact word of mouth can have include: Skype, Myspace.com, and the Brooklyn band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! (esp. due to the music website pitchfork.com). So... you may want to consider sleeping with his friends. A positive testimonial about you from a close friend can potentially persuade your target consumer to perceive your brand the way you want it be.

Warm regards,
Informative but Chauvinistic Business School

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Notes from a Dream-Journal

The eros struggle why are you here she asked I am a parricide ein parasit I knew committed crime prières de pènitence expiate the woman smiled lightpitiful Osterberg's my name the masked man said I knew the voice Gottwalles les brumes de l'Est the frontier-town and Osterberg Easterberg Mt. Easter Pâques and Ostern immer die Grenze Eastertown how strange the Buddha language die heiligen worte der urzeit die schwestern tanzten les oraisons des saintes . . .

(This material was never developed; but I find the notes interesting as demonstrating the automatic metamorphosis of a night-word.)

- Eugene Jolas (American, 1894 - 1952)




"Abduction" is the ninth in a series of ten etchings collectively called "A Glove," drawn in 1881 by Max Klinger (German, 1857 - 1920)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Kirby Puckett, 1960 - 2006


From Wikipedia:
Kirby Puckett (March 14, 1960 – March 6, 2006) was an American center fielder in Major League Baseball who played his entire career with the Minnesota Twins from 1984 to 1995. Puckett led the Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and 1991, the only two championships for the franchise since their move to Minnesota in 1961. After being forced to retire at age 35 due to loss of vision in one eye from glaucoma, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001 in his first year of eligibility. He passed away at the age of 45 following a massive stroke.


I lived in Minnesota for 19 years including all 12 of Kirby Puckett's seasons for the Twins. For the past few days I have been trying to think of an appropriate Kirby moment to relate to you, but I've come up short. I remember going to the Hubert H. Humphrey metrodome as a kid; I listened to the announcer yell "Kirrrbyyyyy Puckett" as he stepped up to the plate countless times. Kirby was synonymous with Twins baseball to my young mind but nothing really stands out as a special on-field moment. On August 30 1987 (in the thick of a pennant race), Kirby went 6 for 6 against the Brewers with 2 homeruns and robbed Robin Yount of a grand slam in the same game, but I had just turned six years old and don't remember it.

By 1991, I was listening to games on the radio every day. During those games, I would thumb through my Topps and Upper Deck sets of Twins cards, taking special care with Kirby's cards and their imposing offensive stats. Obviously, his solo shot in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the World Series that year was huge. For me, though, mundane as it is, the presence of a likable hometown superstar for my childhood years was a greater contribution than any individual moment of greatness Kirby provided.

Kirby valued his privacy a lot and I feel like the public respected that privacy for the most part. It's a little awkward writing this since I don't really know much about him. I know he was born into poverty in the projects on the South-side of Chicago. I know he was engaged to be re-married when he died. I know he had a lifetime batting average of .318. I know at his retirement press conference he said, "Don't take anything for granted, because tomorrow is not promised to any of us." That's about it.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Barbara Guest, 1920 - 2006


Poet Barbara Guest died February 15th. She was one of the venerable New York School poets. You may have heard of the rest (Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, John Ashbery). There was no obituary in the Times until March 4th, so I couldn't link to it until now. Here is an excerpt from "An Emphasis Falls on Reality."

A column chosen from distance
mounts into the sky while the font
is classical,

they will destroy the disturbed font
as it enters modernity and is rare....