Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Top 8 Albums I Consider Perfect

I think that everybody has--in music, books, movies, or anything else a they really like--a few examples of what ideal or near-ideal success in that medium is.  These are the music albums by which I rate all others.

A weird start to this list, I know, but if you're like me, you pretty frequently get frustrated with  music and wish you could hear something that not only
1) wasn't like what you'd heard before
but also
2) was GOOD
This album isn't quite like anything Eno had done before or since, solo or with other groups or as a producer.  It's also not like anything Byrne had done or has done since.  But it manages to be interesting, compelling, hypnotic, and even CATCHY, in the absence of any clear melodies, or chord progressions, or anything that you previously thought  music needed to have.  I don't mean to kick this off by being so pretentious, but really, this album is incredible.

7. Nas - Illmatic

When the dust settles on hip-hop many years into the future, some album is going to end up representing "rap" in its most fully realized, essential form, the way that, say, Exile on Main St. represents "rock 'n roll" or London Calling represents "punk," or Nevermind represents "grunge." None of those are the first in their respective genres or subgenres, but they've come to be something more than just pioneering or excellent--they're emblematic.  Maybe I'm a hypocrite for not putting any of those albums on here, but that's just because I don't think any of them are as good as this one.

The production, by DJ Premier and Q-Tip, among others, is about the best example of production matching a rapper's style that exists.  Nas's rhymes and flow manage to be just about as technically proficient and complicated as any rapper ever on record as well as being eminently and immediately listenable.  And the guy was NINETEEN when he recorded it.  This is about the most genuine prodigy story of modern music I have heard.  Here's hoping that Illmatic is the album that makes that slot for the admittedly broad category of "rap."

Here's the pitch for this album--the sloppiest, goofiest, most fun band of slackers in the world make a perfect pop record.  I don't know if it was magic, or what--and I know it's on the poppy/catchy side for some Pavement fans--but this album strikes one of those balances that you feel like almost never happens, and when you're listening to it, it feels serendipitous.  They're more calculated than they seem, I'm sure--but it sure does feel like they just walked into a studio, pounded out 14 absurdly catchy tunes with sometimes-meaningful sometimes-nonsense lyrics, then walked away with the guitars still ringing.

I feel a little guilty for not putting more jazz on here--especially because I used to listen to more jazz than I do now.  But in any case--this is my #1 Miles Davis album, and it probably always will be.  The Gil Evans/Davis collaborations are my favoite of his albums, and this one is just so perfectly playful when it needs to be and somber when it needs to be and showcases Miles when it can and brings out the ensemble when it can.  Just listen to the first track--"Springsville."  Isn't that exactly what you always wanted to find in a jazz album?

What's the best way to talk about this album?  Do you go track by track through it, stopping on EVERY SINGLE song, all of which are about as purely wonderful nuggets of folk/rock/country/pop ever written (and by that I mean all four genres, not just the meld), or do you talk about how the whole thing ebbs and flows and seems like it has written in it some higher purpose without that purpose being yelled at you?  (Okay, it's yelled at you a little in the title track, but it feels right when it is.)  All this, and it was made by a CANADIAN?  I am so gay for Neil Young.

I know I already said that I hope that Illmatic goes down as the most definitive, pure example of what good rap/hip-hop is.  So what is a different album doing higher on this list?  Well, 3 Feet High and Rising is in no way a definitive, pure, example of anything, really.  It's a collage of tons of different ideas and samples, and somehow, impossibly, it coheres into this big mess of goofy fun, Steely Dan, numerology, transmissions from space, and lyrical brilliance.  It's older than Illmatic but certainly younger than hip-hop itself--and it's responsible for a lot of the different directions the genre went in since.  And it's a fucking GREAT album.

Let's see.  Did I already use my "sloppy heros make incredible pop album" line on something else?  Damn.  I did.  Well Let it Be is like that, but then some.  Because Let it Be isn't just about pop perfection, it's also about the most eloquent, poetic, and emotionally compelling narrative of teen years ever put down.  One of their songs is here, for that reason exactly.  If you've been a teenager, you've felt everything in this album.  It's fun and it's wacky and it'll tug ya heartstrings LIKE YA WOULDN'T BUH-LIEVE.

When I set out to make this list, I knew this would be number one.  I think it's a little goofy to have a "favorite" when clearly the albums here on this list are all my favorites--but I think this album provides maybe the best example of setting an artistic goal, then achieving it, then going above and beyond.  This album's lyrics have some of the most dense and brilliant turns of phrase ever put to record ("Just before our love got lost you said / I am as constant as a northern star / And I said 'Constantly in the darkness, where's that at?' / If you want me I'll be in the bar"), and at every step of the way you feel like Joni's showing you something that she couldn't possibly show you any other way.  And she couldn't--that's what great art is.

But look at me, I'm gettin' all gay over music.  Over GIRL music.  Seriously, though, if you don't have any of these albums, please get them.  If not for yourself, FOR ME.

Top 55 Things To LOL At

Today, Rob and I were gchatting and we got to talking about the internet expression "lol". Well, it went like this. Rob was talking about reusing some titles he pitched to The Onion in an upcoming list, and then he typed "lol recycling". For some reason I thought that was one of the titles, like a Point/Counterpoint: "Recycling Is Key to Our Planet's Future vs. LOL Recycling"... 

Anyway, we started talking about the diminishing power of "lol". Aside from just abbreviating "laughing out loud", it also has this incredible property to instantly deflate whatever follows it. Not maliciously, certainly not intelligently, but the effect is undeniable. It's a flippant display of skepticism. And sometimes, it's the only way to express that some concept or idea is so big, so complicated, so absurd, that you can't really take it at face value. You just have to lol.

So. Inspired by some of the things that Rob and I lol'd at today, here's a list. (Or poem?)

55. lol recycling

54. lol snowy owls

53. lol coral reefs

52. lol energy efficiency

51. lol net neutrality

50. lol conflict diamonds

49. lol veterans of foreign wars

48. lol globalization

47. lol privatization

46. lol the housing bubble

45. lol stimulus package

44. lol bipartisanship

43. lol monogamy

42. lol two-state solution

41. lol reparations

40. lol universal health care

39. lol Large Hadron Collider

38. lol quagmire

37. lol caves

36. lol Mohammed

34. lol Jesus the prophet

33. lol Jesus the son

32. lol no child left behind

31. lol children

30. lol childhood

29. lol adulthood

28. lol voter apathy

27. lol yes we did

26. lol mavericks

25. lol lipstick on a pitbull

24. lol Joe the Plumber

23. lol Joe the Biden

22. lol viral presidency

21. lol AIDS virus

20. lol A-Rod

19. lol the love of the game

18. lol the book of love

17. lol the line of David

16. lol David at the dentist

15. lol Charlie bit me

14. lol Chocolate Rain

13. lol Purple Rain

12. lol bad moon rising

11. lol China on the rise

10. lol Israel and Palestine

9. lol Florida and Ohio

8. lol Tom and Katie

7. lol the levies

6. lol Kanye West

5. lol West Africa

4. lol East Berlin

3. lol North Korea

2. lol the South will rise again

1. lol tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

Monday, February 23, 2009

Top 1 Video of Me Doing Stand-Up Available on the Internet

1. Rob Trump - Stand-Up Comedy at Caroline's

I admit that it bugs me a decent amount how much I flick the stupid little mic cord in this video--it was all dangly and annoying and it wouldn't get out of my way.  But other than that minor quibble--please enjoy!

(Note: I also recently made myself a Myspace Comedy page because it seems like the thing to do.  I didn't intentionally list myself as "Stand-Up / Sketch Comedy / Female" and I don't actually know how that ended up there.  Anyway, add me as a friend or whatever if you're the kind of mongoloid who uses MySpace.)

Top 10 Most Ridiculous State Mottos

The morning after writing a 1700-word Oscar-live-blog post, you probably were not expecting a follow-up. BUT THAT IS WHY I AM SOME SORT OF INTERNET SUPERHERO! (And also, your best friend.)

10. Kansas, "To the stars through difficulties"
Note: Do not trust the Kansas Space Program.

9. Maine, "I direct"
But what I really want to do is... produce?

8. Massachusetts, "By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty"
...but only liberty on Thursdays, and only Thursdays with a lunch special, and only if they have cheese fries, but actually, if the cheese isn't muenster, forget it...

7. Oregon, "She flies with her own wings"
The next big hit from Sarah McLachlan.

6. Alaska, "North to the future"
This sounds like the wackiest mashup of North and Back to the Future. Someone make that, immediately.

5. Texas, "Friendship"
Attention, Texas. "Friendship" is not a motto. It is a word. Aside from that, it is a song from Anything Goes. Maybe you should just take "Anything goes" as your motto. Seems more fitting. (Also, speaking of Texas... a big ol' "Well done!" to Texan friend-of-the-blog Grace Parra, who's writing about bakeries for The Examiner these days! If you live in LA, you should probably go to all these bakeries she writes about.)

4. Michigan, "If you seek a beautiful peninsula, look around you"
Incidentally, this is also the B-side to Britney Spears' "If You Seek Amy".

3. New Mexico, "It grows as it goes"
Leave it to the Land of Enchantment to have a statewide dick joke for a motto.

2. North Carolina, "To be rather than to seem"
I have been to North Carolina and can attest to the accuracy of this motto. You get there and it seems kinda lame... then you realize it is kinda lame.

1. Maryland, "Manly deeds, womanly words"
Welcome to Maryland, the Tranny State!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


11:53pm - Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire. The absolutely right choice. Great! Great Oscars. Couldn't be happier. (Spoiler alert: Meh, I probably could...)

11:47pm - HOLY SHIT! Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke are brothers!?

11:42pm - And the gays are cheering in Hell's Kitchen! I'm totally onboard with this selection. Rourke was phenomenal, but Sean Penn was Harvey Milk. Actor: Sean Penn, Milk.

11:37pm - Sweet A-Team music... there goes my next joke. Also, this blog post may be longer than the actual telecast. My dad is probably in need of freak-out control for the love Adrien Brody is throwing at Richard Jenkins.

11:35pm - We's officially over time. Young David Niven looked kinda like Current Hugh Jackman.

11:32pm - The Eiffel Tower is sending so much love to Kate Winslet. "Why hasn't Winslet won one", no more. Somewhere, Ricky Gervais is smiling. Who are we kidding, he's always smiling. Fucker. (Kidding.) Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader.

11:30pm - Presenting Meryl Streep... Medusa.

11:28pm - Yo, I'm sooo tired. (The Reader = funniest movie evvvver.) Marion Cotillard is an alien...

11:20pm - Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire. Danny is right, the show has been bloody good to look at. He has the happiest face and the spikiest hair. Also, I think he thanked me.

11:18pm - Reese Witherspoon apparently assumes that "the people at home" don't know what a director is. I gotta go with Danny Boyle on this one, but Gus Van Sant is equally deserving. (It's a shame Aronofsky wasn't nominated.)

11:17pm - Death is sad, sadder still with Queen Latifah singing behind it.

11:08pm - Another upset... Caitlin is telling me that I won, because The Departed just won best Foreign Language film. She is mistaken/drunk. Foreign Language Film: Departures.

11:04pm - Wow. I totally thought Peter Gabriel was all over that... well. So much for that indie-letdown. Original Song: "Jai Ho", A.R. Rahman.

11:02pm: This is all really wonderful, but I would have killed to have seen how they worked Bruce Springsteen into this.

11:01pm: Hi, I'm John Legend, I'll be your Peter Gabriel tonight.

10:57pm - SWIFFER CONTINUES!!! Original Score: A.R. Rahman... and then he gets to do his best MIA impression. PS, MIA congrats on your baby!

10:55pm - Caitlin just did a beautiful interpretive dance during the original score selections. Tom burned himself trying to pop a kernel with a lighter.

10:46pm - Wow, that was a pretty tight speech.

10:45pm - Are they playing "Wonderwall" over this Jerry Lewis montage?

10:41pm - Oh great. Now we get to listen to Jerry Lewis talk for a while.

10:39pm - Caitlin wants you to follow this chain of thoughts... Slumdog Sweep -> Slumdog Swiffer -> Swiffers in general -> "Baby, come back!" I get it... I think.

10:34pm - Editing: Slumdog SWEEEEEP.

10:31pm - Sound Mixing: Slumdog Yay!

10:29 - Sound Editing: The Dark Knight. Eh... fair. I woulda picked Slumdog. Whatevs.

10:28pm - Visual Effects: Benny Buttons. Honestly, no one would have seen it if that's what it was called.

10:25pm - Ah, Mr. Will Smith. Do action movies really need more respect? I actually think Iron Man and Dark Knight are pretty well-respected, blood. Just 'cause they didn't get Oscars... oh, wait. That was kinda bullshit.

10:17pm - Well, Jackman promised us more show and less biz. I'd say they're pretty much delivering. Documentary Short: Smile Pinki.

10:16pm - Documentary Feature: Man on Wire. SWEET MAGIC TRICK, DUDE WHO WALKS ON HIGH-WIRES!


10:08pm - To Heath. Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight.

10:06pm - WHOOOOOA. Michael Shannon looks crazily like Walken.

10:04pm - Alan Arkin basically just said, "I'm Alan Arkin and I don't need to know people's names." Seymour Philip Hoffman... heheh. Two first names, y'all.

9:57pm - The musical, apparently, is back.

9:52pm - Call answered. America is getting gayer by the second. BEYONCE ALERT. (Caitlin hit her head on the wall when Ms. Knowles showed up.) Tom and Caitlin are now hyperventilating... this is a good time for me to note that the Wild beat the Blackhawks 2-1 tonight.

9:50pm - There has been a call for more dance numbers.

9:46pm - Excellent Comedy montage. And Janusz Kaminski is a comedy-genius. ("Suck on that, Anthony Dod Mantle!") James Franco thinks Toyland's German name is hilarious, apparently. Live Short: Toyland. I am always partial to films from and about Germany.

9:39pm - Jessica Biel (who is not Jessica Alba, as originally posted) luvs Tom Edison 4ever. (Two days later edit! Thanks Charlotte, you're absolutely right. And Jessica Alba is way cooler than JBiel.)

9:35pm - Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire. Brief Slumdog v. Dark Knight squabble in the apartment. I am soundly backing Slumdog on this. There were some crazy shots in Dark Knight, but Anthony Dod Mantle is loooooong deserving. Seriously, Millions, 28 Days Later, Last King of Scotland... that's a solid resume.

9:32pm - We were due for a Joaquin Phoenix joke. Way to go, Ben Stiller. Also, way to go, whatever writer came up with "Hasidic meth lab". Also, way to go, Greta Gerwig.

9:28pm - Nice Romance montage. This whole Oscars-video-yearbook thing is a nice way to get movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall a tiny slice of Oscar pie. (Um, and the same goes for Marley and Me, I guess.)

9:23pm - Seriously great year for Makeup. Not sure why The Reader wasn't nominated. Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. SOLID. New Orleans says your welcome. (I don't actually speak for New Orleans.) Tom needs freakout control because that angular pale dude from Twilight is talking.

9:19pm - Wow, this section is draaaaagging. Costume Design: The Duchess. Laksh says this film was great, and I believe her implicitly. Costume Design always goes to the film with the most dresses.

9:16pm - Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I'm actually very down with this. I enjoyed the second two hours of this movie. (I was eating a sandwich at Lenny's during the first hour.) Tom thinks Marley and Me was snubbed.

9:10pm - Animated Short: The one about an old man with cubes. Caitlin and I have noted that there is always an animated short about an old man collecting small things. PS, the dude who accepted ACTUALLY made a "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto" joke.

9:06pm - Animated Feature: Wall-E. Yeah! (To be fair, the fact that Jack Black was presenting was a pretty good sign that Kung Fu Panda wasn't going to win.)

9:03pm - Janniston and Jables are dronk. Caitlin claims that the cockroach at the end of the Animated Feature montage was a reference to the insignificance of all of this.

9:01pm - FIRST SLUMDOG WIN OF THE NIGHT!!! Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire. I wanna read the book. Mr. Beaufoy is very grateful for the opportunity to have learned about India.

8:58pm - Great speech from Dustin Lance Black. Here's hoping.

8:56pm - In the words of Tom, SCORE ONE FOR THE GAYS! Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, Milk. Totally deserving.

8:53pm - Tina Fey/Steve Martin bit. Sean Penn loved that joke about aliens and made up religions. SUCK IT, SCIENTOLOGY.

8:47pm - Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona... wait, wait, wait; Woody Allen writes great characters for women? If your idea of a woman is a thing with breasts that talks exactly like Woody Allen. Eh. Boring choice.

8:46pm - Sweet Sister Act ref, Whoopi. Also, this format is going to make the night last forever.


8:42pm - Shitty curtain work, nerdos.

8:39pm - Oh, hey, James Franco... looks like you're not studying in Butler Library tonight.

8:38pm - I will see Wolverine solely based on that opening.

8:35pm - Billy Crystal, eat your heart out. This opening is fantastic. (Anne Hathaway has a voice.) Billy Crystal, actually, though... please don't eat your own heart.

8:33pm - Milk-by-way-of-The-Music-Man... nice.

8:32pm - Hugh Jackman, you know that Australia wasn't good, right? Sweet DIY set, btw.

8:31pm - Apartment is full of gays. Hugh Jackman is on stage. Apartment is now full of wah's and oh's.

8:24pm - Now Tim Gunn is making a move on Marisa Tomei's pleating. Also, that Jack Black by-the-bar interview was a train crashing into a plane crashing into the sun. Also, Seth Rogen believes that Jerry Lewis is some sort of eternal.

8:22pm - Robin Roberts, maybe don't be a dick to Richard Jenkins? "People will be more familiar with your work now?" Eh... mean.

8:21pm - Meryl Streep alert. Also, Tim Gunn has a friggin' huge crush on Penelope Cruz.

8:20pm - The PriceWaterhouseCooper accountant dudes are tole dating.

8:18pm - Caitlin thinks that the cartoon bee from the Nasonex commercials is probably voiced by a "nice guy", who'd be "interested to talk to you".

8:17pm - Guest of the Eiffel Tower Matt (also known as Lord Matthew) gets in the first contender for Comment of the Night: "Miley Cyrus looks like a cartoon beaver."

8:14pm - Viola Davis is absolutely adamant that her stress tabs are homeopathic. The girl does NOT pop pills. Only weird, herbal shit.

8:12pm - Weird Zac-Efron-to-Dev-Patel backhanded compliment. Vanessa Hutchens is not sure if Meryl Streep is there? Wow. WOW.

8:11pm - Mickey Rourke's love for his dog Loki is actually heart-breaking. Apparently only for me though, as Tom and Caitlin shit all over it. Wipe your asses, guys. I have to live here.

8:10pm - WHY ARE NONE OF THE SLUMDOG KIDS NOMINATED!!! Also, Dev Patel and Freida Pinto win cutest couple by default.

8:09pm - Obligatory Cher/Bjork fuck-you! "Obligatory" Valentino nice-job? Hahah, none of these people have first names.

8:04pm - Taraji P. Henson, you's adorable. I gotta slow this down, PS. There's like, a billion hours left.

8:03pm - It is apparently not funny that Amy Adams is competing against topless stripper Marissa Tomei. PS: Matthew Broderick forgot how to talk.

8:02pm - Josh Brolin is in a daze. Diane Lane is in a fox suit... that is to say, she is a fox. (Her dress was nice, too. Tim Gunn is explaining why.)

8:00pm - This is ON. Tim Gunn and Robin Roberts are in full effect on the red carpet. Tom thinks Kate Winslet needs work on her eyes. The night is off to a snarky start! (Tom, you need some work on your HEART.)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Top 6 Matchups of Kid Things vs. their Adult Analogues

6. Milk chocolate vs. Dark chocolate

Milk chocolate is delicious.  Dark chocolate is tasty, but not delicious.  It's purer and snobbier or whatever, but seriously, if you actually think dark chocolate tastes better than milk chocolate, then go eat unsweetened chocolate because that would be even more hardcore.

WINNER: MILK CHOCOLATE (Kid things 1, Adult things 0)

5. Ping-pong vs. Tennis

Somebody might object to my classification of "ping-pong" as a kid thing, when it's an Olympic sport and there are professionals who devote their life to it.  But hold--those people are playing TABLE TENNIS.  If you call it ping-pong, you are probably still a kid.  And you can learn to play it way before you're physically able enough to play tennis.  And has so much depth that there ARE professionals, and watching professional ping-pong is almost as entertaining as professional tennis!  It's a close call, but the versatility of the former through age ranges takes it.

WINNER: PING-PONG (Kid things 2, Adult things 0)

4. Pacifiers vs. Cigarettes

Some smokers are going to give me grief about how cigarettes are more than just "things you shove in your mouth to keep it busy."  And I agree.  They're "things you shove in your mouth to keep it busy that also give you cancer."  PARMLOT COMES OUT STRONGLY IN FAVOR OF TRUTH, THE ANTI-DRUG!!!!

WINNER: PACIFIERS (Kid things 3, Adult things 0)

3. Fairy tale utopias vs. Dark fairy tale dystopias

This is a tough one.  The fact is, I like fairy tales, mythology, that whole bit.  Especially Greek/Roman and Norse mythology.  But I also like inventive visions that create entire worlds but one which are wholly and fundamentally flawed, stuff like 1984 and Brave New World, things that make us recontextualize ourselves and our relationship to both fantasy and progress.  On the other hand (back to the first hand, I guess?), I'm wholly sick of the current trend of stuff like Shrek and Enchanted and Pan's Labyrinth and their overly conscious effort to adult-up or realistic-ize my fairy tales (even though two of those three are pretty good movies).  So in the end, straight up fairy tale utopias are gonna take it.

WINNER: FAIRY TALE UTOPIAS (Kid things 4, Adult things 0, this is looking to be a blowout)

2. Grape juice vs. Wine

Well, the adults have to win one sometime.  As much as I like grape juice, which is friggin' DELICIOUS, wine manages to have the combined qualities of being even more delicious than grape juice and also making you all drunk and shit.

WINNER: WINE (Kid things 4, Adult things 1, could they make a comeback?  They could if you're bad at math!)

1. Videogame consoles vs. Computers

My heyday for video-game-playing was in the time of the Super Nintendo.  I could tell you more about Donkey Kong Country (and its two sequels), or Final Fantasy II or III, or ESPECIALLY Chrono Trigger, than I could about any other videogame.  I'm actually just remembering now that at one point in time when I was a kid what I actually wanted to do with my life was to write videogame plots.  That shit's nerdy.  But is it as nerdy as everything you can do with a computer?  More importantly, is it as good as everything you can do with a computer?  Well, guess what I'm typing this up on right now--as much as we both wish it was a Virtual Boy--it's not.  I finished a new draft of a 30 Rock spec earlier today, and similarly, Ataris were not in any way involved.  You can't surf YouTube on a Bally Astrocade.  (Maybe that one's actually a point for videogame consoles).  Well, in any case, the adults have it on this one, too.

WINNER: COMPUTERS (FINAL SCORE: Kid things 4, Adult things 2)

Hooray!  The kids beat the adults, just like in every good episode of What Would You Do?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Top 9 Articles in the Journal Science in the Past Few Months

As part of my job, I have to read scholarly journals so I can stay up do date on, um, science things. One such journal is Science. Now, I usually only read the articles that are related to developments in neuroscience, but every once in a while, there's a gem that you can't ignore. The lesson is this: there are millions and millions of dollars being spent on figuring out how bugs do it and what noises they make while doing it.

9. Queen Ants Make Distinctive Sounds That Are Mimicked by a Butterfly Social Parasite

Francesca Barbero, Jeremy A Thomas, Simona Bonelli, Emilio Balletto, and Karsten Schönrogge, published 6 February 2009

Sounds made by queen ants denoting rank are copied by the larvae and pupae of a parasitic butterfly, facilitating their infiltration into ant colonies.

"We conclude that acoustical mimicry provides another route for infiltration for ~10,000 species of social parasites that cheat ant societies."

Finally, the scientists are speaking for the ants.

8. Broadband Ground-Plane Cloak
R. Liu, C. Ji, J. J. Mock, J. Y. Chin, T. J. Cui, and D. R. Smith, published 16 January 2009

An automated design process arranges thousands of metamaterial components to cloak an object on a metal surface.

"The possibility of cloaking an object from detection by electromagnetic waves has recently become a topic of considerable interest."


7. Strong Release of Methane on Mars in Northern Summer 2003
Michael J. Mumma, Geronimo L. Villanueva, Robert E. Novak, Tilak Hewagama, Boncho P. Bonev, Michael A. DiSanti, Avi M. Mandell, and Michael D. Smith, published 20 February 2009

Earth-based spectrometers have detected seasonal variations of methane emissions from certain locations on Mars in 2003.

"In northern midsummer, the principal plume contained ~19,000 metric tons of methane, and the estimated source strength (≥0.6 kilogram per second) was comparable to that of the massive hydrocarbon seep at Coal Oil Point in Santa Barbara, California."


6. Avian Paternal Care Had Dinosaur Origin
David J. Varricchio, Jason R. Moore, Gregory M. Erickson, Mark A. Norell, Frankie D. Jackson, and John J. Borkowski, published 19 December 2008

The large egg clutches of troodontid and oviraptor dinosaurs and evidence that fossils of brooding dinosaurs were males shows that paternal care was ancestral to birds.

"To assess parental care in Cretaceous troodontid and oviraptorid dinosaurs, we examined clutch volume and the bone histology of brooding adults."

Heh, heh... broody dinosaurs boning.

5. Brown Clouds over South Asia: Biomass or Fossil Fuel Combustion?
Örjan Gustafsson, Martin Kruså, Zdenek Zencak, Rebecca J. Sheesley, Lennart Granat, Erik Engström, P. S. Praveen, P. S. P. Rao, Caroline Leck, and Henning Rodhe, published 23 January 2009

Biomass burning accounts for at least one-half of carbon-rich aerosols in the Asian atmospheric brown cloud that forms each winter.

Brown Clouds over South Asia: Biomass, Fossil Fuel Combustion... OR AWESOME PROG-ROCK CONCEPT ALBUM TITLE!?!?!?!

4. The Spreading of Disorder
Kees Keizer, Siegwart Lindenberg, and Linda Steg, published 12 December 2008

Upon observing signs of social disorder (such as littering or graffiti), individuals are more likely to disobey a variety of social rules, including prohibitions against theft.

"Imagine that the neighborhood you are living in is covered with graffiti, litter, and unreturned shopping carts. Would this reality cause you to litter more, trespass, or even steal?"

Wait, wait, wait... what's wrong with unreturned shopping carts? You can't play with them if you return them!

3. Selfish Genetic Elements Promote Polyandry in a Fly
T. A. R. Price, D. J. Hodgson, Z. Lewis, G. D. D. Hurst, and N. Wedell, published 21 November 2008

Genes that confer a deleterious sex ratio in Drosophila also decrease male fertility and promote repetitive mating in females, providing a possible explanation of polyandry.

"It is unknown why females mate with multiple males when mating is frequently costly and a single copulation often provides enough sperm to fertilize all a female's eggs."

Yah, tell me about it. HOLLER!

2. A Great-Appendage Arthropod with a Radial Mouth from the Lower Devonian Hunsrück Slate, Germany
Gabriele Kühl, Derek E. G. Briggs, and Jes Rust, published 6 February 2009

Fossil evidence for the great-appendage arthropods extends to more recent periods by about 100 million years.

"Schinderhannes bartelsi shows an unusual combination of anomalocaridid and euarthropod characters, including a highly specialized swimming appendage."

Yeah, those arthropods better have a radial mouth if their appendages are so great. (Prehistoric entomology and blowjob jokes do mix!)

1. Harmonic Convergence in the Love Songs of the Dengue Vector Mosquito
Lauren J. Cator, Ben J. Arthur, Laura C. Harrington, and Ronald R. Hoy, published 20 February 2009

Male and female mosquitoes change their wing beat frequencies to match each other as a prelude to mating.

"These findings revise widely accepted limits of acoustic behavior in mosquitoes."

Awwwwww, groundbreaking and adorable!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

GUEST LIST: 13 More Aphorism/Movie Title Mashups

We have been graced with a GUEST LIST from Laura Kleinbaum, who gives us a sequel to the riffing started by Peter in this list.  Thanks, Laura, and to anyone else who wants to write a guest list, send it to us and we'll totally post it if we love you enough!

13. Don't throw the Baby's Day Out with the bathwater.

12. All roads lead to Roman Holiday

11. Raining cats and Hotel for Dogs

10. Be the change you wish to see in the Waterworld

9. Slow and steady wins the Race to Witch Mountain

8. Mi casa es su Casablanca

7. Beauty is in the I've Loved You So Long 

(of the beholder is where that was going...)

6. Beauty is only skin Deep Impact

5. Time heals All the President's Men

4. Shot in the Armageddon

3. Up shit's creek without A Walk to Remember

2. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on Meet the Fockers

1. Always the bridesmaid. Never the Brideshead Revisited

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Top 10 Sandwiches at the Hamilton Deli

Back in days of yore, Rob and I were in college together. (Rob is still there, in fact.) We did lots of fun, collegey things together--one of which was devising a grueling eating contest called the Tour de Ham Del. The Tour de Ham Del was a semester-long assault on the palette and stomach lining, whereby participants were challenged to eat each of the named sandwiches at the Hamilton Deli--Ham Del, for short--over the course of a semester. There were, at the time, 29 named sandwiches. You can read more here. Anyway, Rob won, but then they invented a new sandwich and I got to it first. Just last week, they came up with an additional sandwich, the Ben Arnold. I can only assume that Ben is short for Benedict, because it is a traitor of a sandwich. It has sundried tomatoes on it, which we all know are bullshit. Rob ate the Ben Arnold before I did, so I suppose in some bullshit universe where sundried tomatoes are allowed on sandwiches, he's the current champ.

Anyway. Here are the top 10 sandwiches at Ham Del. You won't find the fucking Ben Arnold on this list.

10. Mojo Melt

Ingredients: hot roast beef, melted american, coleslaw, russian dressing on toasted hero
Commentary: This sandwich is like a hybrid between a cheese steak and salad. In the battle between cheese steak and salad, there can be only one victor. Your stomach.

9. Lewinsky

Ingredients: chicken cutlet, melted mozzarella, tomato, and our own secret sauce on a toasted hero
Commentary: Oh, Ham Del. "Secret sauce"? I just got that. Really. (Eds. note: Not really.) Leave it to Ham Del to take bad 90s jokes and put them on a sandwich.

8. Oh Barbara

Ingredients: Virginia ham, salami, pepperoni, melted muenster, lettuce, tomato on a toasted hero
Commentary: Attention--are you a fan of fatty meats?! Of course you are, you are a human being! That is basically your whole deal. This is the sandwich for you--although if you eat it more than once a month, you are basically committing suicide.

7. The Gipper

Ingredients: hot roast beef, grilled onions, melted provolone, brown gravy, on a toasted hero
Commentary: Let me tell you about gravy. I am a huge fan of it. I'm always looking for a good, new gravy recipe or a fun, new use for it. Using it on this sandwich was a brilliant idea.

6. Balboa/Cordon Bleu/Buffalo Blue

Ingredients: some combination of chicken cutlet, sauce, cheese, another cheese, and maybe ham
Commentary: These three sandwiches are all basically the same. I mean, they're not supposed to be, but if you order a Cordon Bleu, you will invariably get a sandwich that is essentially the average of these three. Some ham here, some hot sauce there. Oh well. I'm not saying this is a bad thing.

5. Monte Cristo

Ingredients: hot turkey, ham, bacon, swiss, lettuce, tomato on a toasted hero
Commentary: The Monte Cristo is a relatively canonical sandwich... like the Reuben or the Croque Monsieur. That being said, Ham Del does the canon proud with this entry.


Ingredients: hot roast beef, onions, hot peppers, bacon, american cheese, lettuce, tomato, and BBQ sauce
Commentary: This is basically the Tex-Mex with cheddar instead of American cheese. Therefore, the difference between a New York police officer and someone standing on the Texas/Mexico border is the type of cheese they are covered in. Anyway, this is a great sandwich.

3. Clinton

Ingredients: chicken salad, bacon, lettuce, tomato on a toasted hero
Commentary: Plus one million points for inventiveness. This is a combination I had never, ever considered until Rob told me that this was his favorite Ham Del sandwich. Chicken salad, to start with, is not really my favorite meat salad. I get tuna salad... I didn't use to get chicken salad. THEN, you throw in bacon, and your mouth is like, "Wait, you're doing what to me?" But the result is sheer bliss. You grow to crave it, to need it.

2. Twister

Ingredients: grilled smoked turkey, melted provolone, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, mustard, mayo on a toasted hero
Commentary: The Twister is the old stand-by of Ham Del sandwiches, and I say that with all due affection and care. It's like a cliche of a sandwich. The reason so many people order it is that it's actually wonderful. It's a taste you remember, and one you can return to lovingly after a long hiatus. Also, it's good on a wrap.

1. Let It Ride

Ingredients: chicken cutlet, melted swiss, onion rings, brown gravy on a garlic toasted hero
Commentary: The day I discovered this, I was born anew in Christ. Except Christ was a sandwich. Ew. I've already said my piece about gravy--ie, as condiments go, gravy owns--but let me close this list with a few words on onion rings. Onion rings are friggin' baller. Especially on a sandwich. When you eat an onion ring on a sandwich, you are saying to the world, "Hey. I know I'm subverting the logical consumption mechanism of this food. I don't need to eat it as a side. It can and will be a topping. I am just that hardcore. Do you want to stop me? Don't. I will defeat you."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Top 10 Best Reviews of "Time for Andrew" on

As you may know, I'm always into new ways of discovering found art, especially on the internet.  One that I discovered a few months ago is reading reviews of children's books on clearly written by children.  Here are my favorites for this fine book.  I won't point out the gems, because it's more fun to find them yourself.  (Note: names have been removed because I don't hate kids THAT much.  But seriously, the names are pretty easy to find if you go on the site.)

10. Review name: "This book is a timeless classic" (5/5 stars)

I have read this book twice, and I loved it both times! It mixes suspense with a ghostly twist. If you want to read a book that will keep you turning pages until one in the morning, read Time for Andrew: A Ghost Story, by Mary Downing Hahn.

9. Review name: "Spooky" (5/5 stars)

It's just plain scary. If you like scary stories this is the right book for you. This book is about a boy named Drew who is staying with his Ant at her frightening and haunted house. Aunt Blythe Drew's aunt took marbles that were cursed by a ghost. Then Drew wen't to bed. He heard a noise in the attic and put a chair in front of the door. Slowly the creaking door opend. out from the other side came a boy exactly identical to Drew. The boy walked and looked around. He tried to get Drew out of his bed and then he sneazed. The boy said he had diptheria so Drew switched times with him. Later the other boy said he woldn't switch back untill he beats him in marbles and Drew didn't know anything about marbles.

8. Review name: "This book is a wonderful read aloud to elementary students" (5/5 stars)

The students are sitting in story time waiting for me to read the next chapter. Several of the students have gotten the book out of the library to read along with me. It's very suspensful!

7. Review name: "Just try to imagine Aunt Blythe's creepy house!" (5/5 stars)

Time For Andrew is written by Mary Downing Hahn. It is published by Avon books. Time For Andrew was published in 1994. Do you like mysterious books?
Drew is visiting Aunt Blythe for two months. He hears cries and starts to see things. Then he finds Andrew, who has diptheria. Andrew wants to switch with Drew for a cure. Drew agrees.
When Drew goes to bed one night during a storm he sees the attic door open. That's when he meets Andrew. 
" You can't be alive," Drew whispered, "you can't - it's impossible."
" Do I look as bad as that?" Andrew asked. "Dr. Fulton told Mama I was like to die before morning, but he saved me from blood poisoning last year and the measles the year before that, and cough and whooping cough as well. Hannah lived through diptheria. She says I will too."
Others will like this book because it is very interesting and mysterious. Drew is not realistic. You will find mysterious things happening throughout this book. At times it will make you shiver. If you like mystery and ghost books, you will like this book.
I would give Time For Andrew a 1 with1 being the best.

6. Review name: "Time for Andrew" (4/5 stars)

My book is about a character who finds a sick boy, and that the boy was from the future. Andrew's sister, and John thought they were going to live a long long time, and that Andrew's sister was ruining his life. Read this book, and find out if Andrew dies or not.

5. Review name: "Good Book" (5/5 stars)

This book is slow but good. If you like a slow book, this is a good book for you.First Andrew [ From the past ] is sick. In his time they can't cure the disease but in the future they can. And there is Drew [From the future ] Andrew wants to be cured BUT.....................Will Drew change places? You have to read the BOOK to find out.

4. Review name: "Time for Andrew" (5/5 stars)

Time for Andrew written by Mary Downing Hahn is an enjoyable book about two boys -Drew and Andrew- who switch times and lives. I loved this book because the author added so much description that it painted beautiful pictures in my mind. 
The characters in the story are well developed and are described extremely well. The author used the technique of describing characters by what other characters say about them. The main characters are Drew and Andrew...two boys who look exactly alike. 
The setting is in the late 1950's and 1910 and the main setting is Aunt Bylthe's house. A few backdrop settings are France and the train track. 
I would rate this book a 10 for its extremely amazing description. 

3. Review name: "This is the best book I've read since Harry Potter" (5/5 stars)

In fact I don't no which is better! I'm Ten and I loved this book. Time for Andrew is a story about two kids that are related, both named Andrew and are identical but from 2 totally different time zones. One is from 1910 and the other is from 1990 and they have the exact opposite personalities. One is rough and doesn't get picked on but the other is weak and can't defend himself. When they first meet the Andrew from 1910 is almost dead with Diptheria. The two Andrews switch places in time. Well what the Andrew from 1990 found out is that once the Andrew from 1910 is healed he doesn't want to switch back. To be able to go back to his regular time period he has to play ringer a game he doesn't know how to play and beat the other Andrew. The book is a good mystery and has lots of suspense.

2. Review name: "Suspenceful book!" (4/5 stars)

'Time for Andrew: A Ghost Story' by Mary Downing Hahn gives us a lot of imagery in our heads and creates a very realistic picture of the story's setting. The mood can be somewhat spooky and also serious due to most of the conflict Andrew will face during his visitation at his relative's house. It's a very interesting story; you will be wanting to read three chapters in one night--and that's because of the foreshadowing the author has produced. Only one negative about this book was that some parts of the novel were dramatically decreased in action (began to get boring); only one flaw like this isn't bad enough to put the book away and collect dust. You can't miss this book; and if you like ghost stories or suspence, this book is definitely for you.

1. Review name: "The Must-Read Book of the Year!" (4/5 stars)

Time for Andrew is an amazing story of courage. This book helped me to realize that you can't always control your life. It is about a young boy who comes face to face with his ancestor. These two have lots in common and many differences. They both switch lives, venturing into a world with unfamiliar backgrounds. Andrew is trying to save his ancestor's life by letting him go into a world with a cure for a disease, which they couldn't cure in his lifetime. When Andrew began to act more and more like his ancestor, he grew worried that he may someday forget who he really is and fights for his life. In order to get his life back, though,he has to beat his ancestor in a game of marbles. In the nick of time, he finally wins the victory and takes over the throne in his world. When he gets back home, he finds a miracle, which he helped create. I suggest this book to anyone who loves mystery and adventure books. It is a fabulous book.