A [excluded] work of [excluded] genius

I like Penny Arcade. Remember when you lived in a geeky apartment full of computers and gaming systems, and you played Need For Speed with your best friend every day? Penny Arcade is all that and more, and if you don’t read it at least once in a while you are sorely missing out.


In what starts out as a madcap romp of a post, Tycho takes us down the Oregon Trail of youthful romance that leads to a sensation of poignant loss. I’m commenting on it simply because I can.

Tycho posits that he often excludes 50% of his vocabulary when he talks to people. I think that we all know that the percentage of discarded vocabulary more closely approximates 99% rather than 50%. People don’t got words, so you gotta talk with small ones so they get you.

From what I have seen, this is Tycho’s best work.

“Just as the man who is gutshot is made instantaneously aware of previously unknown internal geographies, it became suddenly clear that there was a vast expanse in me, a region, a continent, perhaps even a universe that could contain a truly stunning volume of pure pain.”

I’m afraid that I have thrown away the words to properly describe the genius of this sentence, so I will use the small ones that I have left: fucking awesome. On the sixth word I was instantly feeling every crush I’ve ever had over again - every woman for whom I’d ever pined - every crazed obsession that forced me to walk past a girl’s house on the way home from junior high (or out of my way) - all of that in one elaborate unraveling of emotion.

Okay, some of this is just hyperbole because I’m inspired, but hell, Penny Arcade deserves it. Thanks for the wang jokes, guys!

Also, Tycho inadvertantly introduced me to Built to Spill, which was a real act of kindness indeed.

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I wouldn’t even have this phone line if it weren’t for the DSL!

From: http://xpto.org/~dbcm/ntl-sucks.txt

Dear Cretins:
I have been an NTL customer since 9th July 2001, when I signed up for your four-in-one deal for cable TV, cable modem, telephone, and alarm monitoring. During this three-month period I have encountered inadequacy of service which I had not previously considered possible, as well as ignorance and stupidity of monolithic proportions. Please allow me to provide specific details, so that you can either pursue your professional prerogative and seek to rectify these difficulties or more likely (I suspect) so that you can have some entertaining reading material as you while away the working day smoking B&H and drinking vendor-coffee on the bog in your office.

My initial installation was cancelled without warning, resulting in my spending an entire Saturday sitting on my fat arse waiting for your technician to arrive. When he did not arrive, I spent a further 57 minutes listening to your infuriating hold music, and the even more annoying Scottish robot woman telling me to look at your helpfulwebsite. HOW?

I alleviated the boredom by playing with my testicles for a few minutes — an activity at which you are no doubt both familiar and highly adept. The rescheduled installation then took place some two weeks later, although the technician did forget to bring a number of vital tools — such as a drill-bit, and his cerebrum.

Two weeks later, my cable modem had still not arrived. After 15 telephone calls over four weeks my modem arrived, six weeks after I had I requested it — and begun to pay for it. I estimate your internet server's downtime is roughly 35% — the hours between about 6 pm and midnight, Monday through Friday, and most of the weekend. I am still waiting for my telephone connection.

I have made nine calls on my mobile to your no-help line, and have been unhelpfully transferred to a variety of disinterested individuals who are, it seems, also highly skilled bollock jugglers. I have been informed that a telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been cut off); that I will be transferred to someone (and then been redirected to an answering machine informing me that your office is closed); that I will be transferred to someone and then been redirected to the irritating Scottish robot woman. And several other variations on this theme.

Doubtless you are no longer reading this letter, as you have at least a thousand other dissatisfied customers to ignore, and also another one of those crucially important testicle moments to attend to. Frankly I don't care. It's far more satisfying as a customer to voice my frustrations in print than to shout them at your unending hold music. Forgive me, therefore, if I continue.

I thought British Telecom was shit; that they had attained the holy piss-pot of god-awful customer relations; and that no one, anywhere, ever, could be more disinterested, less helpful or more obstructive to delivering service to their customers. That's why I chose NTL, and because, well, there isn't anyone else is there?

How surprised I therefore was, when I discovered to my considerable dissatisfaction and disappointment what a useless shower of bastards you truly are. You are sputum-filled pieces of distended rectum incompetents of the highest order. BT — wankers though they are — shine like brilliant beacons of success in the filthy mire of your seemingly limitless inadequacy.

Suffice to say that I have now given up on my futile and foolhardy quest to receive any kind of service from you. I suggest that you cease any potential future attempts to extort payment from me for the services which you have so pointedly and catastrophically failed to deliver. Any such activity will be greeted initially with hilarity and disbelief and will quickly be replaced by derision, and even perhaps bemused rage.

I enclose two small deposits, selected with great care from my cat's litter tray, as an expression of my utter and complete contempt for both you and your pointless company. I sincerely hope that they have not become desiccated during transit — they were satisfyingly moist at the time of posting, and I would feel considerable disappointment if you did not experience both their rich aroma and delicate texture. Consider them the very embodiment of my feelings towards NTL, and its worthless employees.

Have a nice day. May it be the last in your miserable short lives, you irritatingly incompetent and infuriatingly unhelpful bunch of twits.

May you rot in Hell,
Robert Stokes

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I wanna see it when you find out what comets stars and moons are all about

I love Built to Spill. I used to listen to “Keep It Like a Secret” all day long, just looping through the slide guitar goodness over and over. Last week I was given some comps for the Built to Spill show at First Avenue by my friend (and DJ) Pam, who kicks ass.

It was like coming home. Everything was still flat black and funky. The tattooed, dreadlocked, and pierced employees still stalked from one end of the club to the other, up and down the stairs, behind the bars - everywhere. The music is still being cranked to unbelievable levels- drinks vibrate in your hand, and your brain melts into delicious goo.

Built to Spill opened with a skillful yet mechanical instrumental, loosened up a bit with something that I hadn't heard, and then hit me all at once with something from “Keep It Like a Secret” that practically knocked the wind out of me with its seeming perfection. It was “Center of the Universe”, and there I was, singing along at the top of my lungs- the center of my own little universe. Melissa and I swayed under the force of the onslaught of beauty.

They played “Cortez the Killer” for an extended psychadelic reggae dub freakout solo, where an extra (third!) guitarist came on stage to help out. Echoes and reverb stretched out to the horizon and the solos rode the tradewinds into the - ummm, well - eventually I started to want to hear a new song, but it was pretty cool.

Pam wanted to know if they played “Reasons”, “Car”, and “I Would Hurt a Fly” (I think). They played the first two (and “Car” was spectacular. One of these days I am going to go get “There's Nothing Wrong With Love“, because I've really only heard the live versions.

I should mention the opening bands - The Solace Brothers led off, playing straight forward rock that got better as Melissa and I grew more absorbed in Tetris. Their keyboard seemed to reach farther into the forefront as their set progressed, and that's a Good Thing. Their guitarist had a trucker hat and a molester moustache. Add in a mullet and you've got the unholy trinity all in one. Oh well.

I don't remember The Delusions very well - aside from a general feeling that they didn't suck. I think their guitarist, Jim Roth, was playing guitar for Built to Spill, and it sounded like they had always been together. Hmm. Note to self: check out The Delusions.

It's funny, but when I started thinking about this a week ago, I could swear that I had a lot of really cool ideas and marvelous turns of phrases. I should write that shit down. Oh well.

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This is off the hook for sure


Melissa said:

jpmullan.com looks pretty sweet ;)

She's right: it does!

Edit: well, no, not really. That site is apparently not compizatible with mine.

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Totally awesome!


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His cane says “Bad MF” on it.

座頭市 Zatôichi (2003)

There's a new Zatoichi movie out. I am excited. I don't know how I caught the original the first time, but there it was in black-and-white glory - a blind samurai reluctantly but thoroughly kicking ASS. I TiVOed and watched the next few Zatoichi movies, but somehow they stopped getting shown. The new trailer looks way awesome, though.

If you happen to catch one of the Zatoichi movies, watch for the sword to magically out of his cane and slice something in two in midair. It never gets old, as far as I am concerned.

The official site:

The (awesome) trailer:

Get yer Zatoichi background (and cool stuff) here:

Zatoichi movie reviews: http://members.aol.com/ZATO1CH1/

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Don’t you have anything better to do than look up “crotchless pants” in Chinese?

Apparently, I don't. Melissa sent me this story, which is… well, different cultures have different ways, and while pooping on the ground might seem wrong to me, who am I to- no, wait, that's gross.

Read about it on wcco's site: http://wcco.com/water/watercooler_story_258145321.html

[edit: link sadly offline, so I updated it to point at a google search for kaidangku.

Chinese characters thanks to http://www.tigernt.com/


開襠褲: kaidangku (open crotch pants)

[kai1] /open/operate (vehicle)/start/

[dang1] /crotch/seat of a pair of trousers/

[ku4] /drawers/trousers/pants/


开裆裤: kaidangku (open crotch pants)

[kai1] /open/operate (vehicle)/start/

[dang1] /crotch/seat of a pair of trousers/

[ku4] /drawers/trousers/pants/

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Thanks, http://www.tigernt.com/, you always know just what I want!

画廊 [hua4 lang2] /gallery/

美术馆 [mei3 shu4 guan3] /art gallery/

畫廊 [hua4 lang2] /gallery/

美術館 [mei3 shu4 guan3] /art gallery/

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You can tell your DJ anything

I met with a good but rarely seen friend of mine tonight. I had two delicious beers, stuffed my face with food, and babbled on endlessly. Pam sipped a glass of wine, ate most of my fries, and dispensed sage advice like she had thought about it in advance and then prepared notes.

I went to my car just as relaxation was starting to turn into a buzz. If I would have stayed longer I would have switched to water. I wouldn't have minded staying longer - it's a beautiful night and I don't mind the gusts of wind. However, the timing was perfect, since I met my friend Monte at Kory's house when I went to close the windows in anticipation of upcoming stormy weather.

Monte and I chatted for just a short while, but it seemed productive - out there on the deck with my feet up. Maybe I was just relaxed for the first time in a great while. It's the new/old house - it just feels more like home, and that makes me feel better, even when I'm not home. I guess knowing that there is a place to go at the end of the night makes all the difference.

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“Ramen” means “noodles”

Tampopo/タンポポ (1985)
Writer/Director: Juzo Itami

ラーメン (ramen: noodles)

If you're me, you have survived on the magic of instant ramen noodles. If you are someone else, you may have at one point or another eaten ramen for several weeks because it was ridiculously cheap. You may have secretly loved it, since it was so basic and consistent. It might not have been gourmet food, but you really liked it for the first week- or at least a couple of days.

Unfortunately, a lot of stigma has been attached to ramen. It's the prototypical starving college student staple. Po' folks buy it by the case, and it never goes bad, which lowers it into a class with Twinkies and Spam.

The film Tampopo implies that in Japan, noodle shops are as ubiquitous as hamburgers in the United States. The noodles that they serve are called ramen, because ramen is simply a word for noodles. In Tampopo, fresh noodles are dropped into boiling water, then spooned into a bowl with soup stock, various vegetables and a little bit of meat. Imagine a deli for soup, where the cook assembles it in front of you, to order.

However, Tampopo is not really about noodles or even the noodle shop and the characters who find themselves connected (or not connected) to it. Tampopo is about the human relationship with food and its preparation. The movie has many storylines, which sometimes connect by a bare thread and sometimes happen completely independently.

Tampopo touches the whole range of human emotions. Laughter, anger, love, grief, lust, and - of course - hunger all wink at you from behind thin slices of pork and spring onions. If your mother passed away while cooking her final meal, would you eat it while it was still hot, or would you mourn her and let that meal go to waste? How gentle do you have to be to pass an unbroken egg yolk from your mouth to your lover's mouth - and how many times could you pass it back and forth with delicate kisses? Can you take pride in preparing simple food that makes people happy?

Okay, not every question asked by the movie is life-changing, but there is a lot of hidden depth, even in the broadly comic portions of the movie.

Noodles noodles? Delicious!

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