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Showing posts from September, 2015
Some of you may have noticed that I can be read on platforms other than straight Blogger. I post links to new blog entries on Twitter, and bounce the entries to tumblr, among other things. I also have a Last.fm account, which I sometimes even remember to use, and I'm trying to keep up on Goodreads. I'm terrible at it. I read stuff and then forget to leave any kind of comments on it. But if you were curious about what I raid the library for, hey -- generally, it's going to be there.

Tumblr also has a slew of other stuff on it. The tumblr platform runs on a basis of clango ergo sum, so in addition to the blog entries (once a day, ideally), I have If This, Then That bouncing a lot of the stuff I regularly read, watch, or listen to into the queue, which is set to post two or three times a day. IfTTT is a fantastic free redirect service that is useful for throwing things around on the internet. It's a little like an RSS aggregator that can monitor a lot of other kinds of fe…
I have now seen Colbert vs Trump. I have also seen a lot of complaining about Colbert vs Trump, mainly about how Colbert did not personally beat Trump to death with his stylish new Late Show coffee mug and then mount his head on a pike staff outside the Ed Sullivan Theater as a warning to others.

There are really two separate complaints out of people who say Colbert's Trump interview was too nice: That Colbert didn't say mean enough things, and that Colbert didn't say things meanly enough. Content vs tone.

I do not think I have previously seen Colbert-the-human-being angry on camera. Everyone's seen Colbert-the-character angry and raving on his eponymous show, and a few times Colbert-the-writer-for-The-Colbert-Report has gotten pissed enough that his pundit rant went borderline OOC. Probably the most infamous instance of that was the piece called "Jesus Is A Liberal Democrat", where he tore into Bill O'Reilly for claiming that Jesus said it was A-OK to re…
I have been trying to stuff some theology into my head, on the theory that if other genius kids think it's interesting there's probably something worthwhile there. If you're doing Christian theology, logically you ought to start with the Bible -- or at least a Bible -- so I did.

I seem to recall trying this about fifteen years ago or so, and it didn't work that time, either. It turns out that if you have no emotional or spiritual investment in the thing, the Bible is a surprisingly boring book. One wonders if the Catholic Church resisted the idea of letting the faithful read the Scriptures themselves for so long because they didn't want to field questions about why the Almighty couldn't get a better editor.

During one particularly shitty week, I even tried to read St. Thomas Aquinas' More's Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulations. I figured that, even if the religion didn't technically apply to me, it would at least be a book full of someone's …
So I seem to have inadvertently started learning Hebrew.

I was working for Hillel as an usher at Yom Kippur services, and after gleaning some useful Yiddish from a grad student (shabbas goy, "Sabbath gentile", because while there are seemingly-endless varieties of work observant Jews are not supposed to do on holy days, nowhere on the list does it say you cannot hire the goyim to follow you around and do it for you) and explaining to several people that I had no idea what the difference was between the Conservative and Reform services (my solid Irish family is technically Roman Catholic, entering into our fifth consecutive decade of lapsitude), I headed into the boring stretch of the job. Hillel issues (free) tickets to their services for gatekeeping purposes, and the ushers have to stay on duty in case anyone comes in late. Essentially, you just hang out at the door and eavesdrop.

I did the same for Rosh HaShanah. High Holiday services involve a lot of chant-singing. The ra…

State of the Blogger

I would like first and foremost to thank everyone who's donated to my Un-F@$k My Life Campaign on GoFundMe. I am trying to figure out what the hell to give you all as a thank you, and I have absolutely no idea what I can do that's worth actual money. I have this problem a lot.

I was very close to doing all right this month, until someone I don't know used my PayPal account to send money to someone I'd never heard of for something I hadn't bought. If anyone happens to be acquainted with Global Test LTD, or someone named Maxim Filatov in Tyumenskaya Oblast, Russia, please feel free to register my displeasure with the situation. Creatively.

I logged in to thank PayPal for flagging a genuinely fraudulent transaction, and was punished by being unable to unlock the account to get at what is in fact my money. I apparently linked it to a pre-paid Visa as a "bank account" ages ago, before I had a proper checking account in Boston, and since I never pull money dire…

Saturday Serial: Superman #16

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So I've seen the first couple weeks of The Late Show. I'm on a day delay now, because while this is very entertaining, it is not entertaining enough for me to give CBS $6/mo for five whole hours of TV a week, especially since they make me pause the ad blocker for the free episodes anyway.

Colbert makes one thing clear from the very beginning of the very first show, and that is that he is going to sing as much as he possibly can. He's always had a tendency to burst into song at the drop of a hat, but this is now his show, which he gets to do as himself, so: Hat no longer required. I don't object. His is easily a professional-quality voice. I just find it amusing.

I've seen a fair amount of Colbert out-of-character at this point, because I've been specifically digging up interviews. I understand why he had to keep asking people whether they wanted Colbert or "Colbert" speaking at their event, because a lot of invitations were ambiguous, but I've nev…
Maybe I'm just having an incredibly cranky-making week, but I am starting to get ticked at the slew of articles with headlines that talk about 'the problem with Stephen Colbert'. I keep reading them, and inevitably it turns out that the problem the author is having is actually with CBS -- they are pissed that the network didn't hire a woman. Getting women into positions of prominence in comedy may well be a problem, but it has nothing to do with Colbert per se. They would have that problem with literally anyone in the role who did not fit their favorite list of criteria.

This is what I'm talking about with 'the perfect is the enemy of the good'. They think CBS's choice of host is unacceptable because he's not a she, even though Colbert arguably ticks most if not all of the other boxes they care about. I'm not kidding here. I'm not defending the guy just because, 'hey, dude makes me laugh, he can do no wrong'. I decided I liked him fo…
There are crickets in Brighton.

I do not miss many things from my childhood. I hated Arizona from the moment I was sapient enough to realize there were other places in the world, and that they were probably different. I cope poorly with extreme heat and dehydration, I have issues with UV glare, and socially the place is a hole in the face of civilization. But there were three things I used to hang onto, lying in bed late at night: The chirping of crickets, the sound of the train whistles from a railroad crossing three or four miles away, and the mass of leaves on the bougainvillea vines right outside my window.

None of these were perfect. The crickets in Arizona are desert-colored, which in insects mainly means translucent gold. They made excellent scuttling, hopping little anatomical models. My mother, who grew up in the Midwest with shiny black bugs, was forever skeeved out. The train whistles were from a freight line; so far as I know, there was, and is, no passenger service throug…

Saturday Serial: Superman #15

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«Le mieux est l'ennemi du bon.»

The next time someone tries to tell me that a piece of media is "problematic", I am going to scream.

"Problematicness" is not an intrinsic quality. Minstrel shows, for example, are "problematic" in the context of modern-day America. I quite agree that they are offensive and racist, and have no purpose other than to use stereotypes to make a particular group of people look stupid and inferior. In the context of pre-Civil War America, they were not "problematic" because they did not cause any goddamn "problems" with the prevailing social norms. There are people out there who would argue they still don't cause any "problems". They're not people I'd talk to, but they do exist.

"Problematic" was coined as an academic term for use in academic discourse, and it was used to describe a thing that came into conflict with some other thing that you had just spent the previous twenty-six fucking pages defining, expla…
Some days, you just have to accept that nothing useful is going to get done.

I had plans to cook. The oven, we have discovered, makes the kitchen smell of gas when turned on. Maintenance will be here to fix it... tomorrow.

Quit. Ate nothing. Cracked and went across the street to the Compleat Stoner at about 9pm, after it became evident that if I had to figure out how to cook something, I was not going to eat.

I had plans to work. I opened up a document and stared at it blankly for an hour before I decided to try something else.

Quit. Frustrated. Because normally this is easy.

I had plans to practice with a hoop. I have a room big enough to do at least some things with them now. I had to stop for a while, because I wasn't eating enough. Spent an hour doing... nothing in particular.

Quit. Put the hoop away. Went to take a shower. Work document still blank.

I had plans to read. I sorted out my library fines and got a new card, as I can't find my old one. The idiot tax, as it turn…
Boston is chock full of holidays I never had occasion to celebrate before I moved here. Some of them I was just in entirely the wrong cultural environment to run into, like the Moon Festival that happens in late-August-ish wherever immigrants from China/Japan/Korea congregate. Hanami, the cherry blossom viewing festival, happens when the cherry trees bloom, usually somewhere in May, and doesn't really end until everyone has shoveled their car out from under three inches of fallen petals. We've also just moved out to Brighton, so at some point I'm sure Jazmin and I will get to play a fun little game I like to call "Who's still open on Passover?" New England takes Christmas rather seriously, and the tree lighting is worth going to if you enjoy basking in the glow of blinkenlichten.

Some of them are regional. I was introduced to Hurricane Day by Irene, for example. The date varies from year to year, but I assure you that you cannot miss it, because for about a w…
I went and did the horrible thing on Thursday. I did not die. It was not fun.

As it turns out, everyone is really surprised when you show up for eviction proceedings in summary court. Ninety percent of their cases take like two minutes, because in ninety percent of the cases the reason the tenant has not paid their rent is that they have already fucked off to parts unknown without leaving a forwarding address. I'm pretty sure Jazmin and I made it into the Pro Se Civil Defenders Elite Club just by figuring out where the damn courthouse was, and not being high when we got there.

[One of the first things the ex-housing advocate therapist lady said to me when I told her that the landlady wanted to go to court was, "You seem like the sort of person who could handle this pro se." I am, albeit with help from people who know more specifics about the law than I do.

I also know that when you're being dragged through the legal system by someone who wants money from you, you sho…

Saturday Serial: Superman #14

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Happy birthday to me, fuck my life.

I turn 34 today. I have now officially survived longer than Jesus. I do not get a day off. I may have to go to court on Thursday.

The rats are fine, because I know you're all dying to know. They are blissfully unaware. They got a bowl of slightly-wilted lettuce for dinner last night, and are very pleased with themselves. Yuki has taken to keeping herself cool while sleeping by lying out splat on her back with all of her little feets in the air. Edelweiß uses her as a pillow.

If you want to help me un-fuck my life, I have a GoFundMe. Normally, I assume if something has gone horribly wrong, it's because I screwed up. For once, this is not my fault. I was a goddamn grownup and I signed a lease for an amount of money I could afford, and two other people were not goddamn grownups, and vanished into the wind. The other grownup roommate and I got stuck with a bill literally twice as high as we could handle. I am too ground down to have any dignity left, so if you want to donate to pa…
Just so everyone knows, I'm not dead. We've just moved out to Brighton, which sounds like a euphemism, but isn't. The new place has a lot to recommend it -- mainly to me, as other people for some reason seem to object to living in a building any older than they are.

I eyeballed the place and dated it (correctly, according to the property records) to the 1920s, based on the fact that there are so many layers of paint on everything that the frou-frou trim is starting to lose its detail, and the elevator is a tiny thing with decorative grilles at the ceiling, an electromechanical call system, and a brass accordion door that you have to heave open and closed by hand. There is a linen cabinet in our hallway, as if we are adult enough to own actual linens, and a proper double-hung window in the shower that has had several layers of privacy frosting applied to it. The interior layout of our apartment was done by someone who had never so much as heard the words 'fire code'…

Saturday Serial: Superman #13

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I hate moving. Moving transforms me into the Simple Dog. The only voluntary moves I have ever made in my life were the ones that took me from 'living in my parents' house' to 'living absolutely fucking anywhere that is not my parents' house, seriously, I don't even care anymore'.

All of my other moves have been due to forces beyond my control. The semester ends, the lease ends, college ends, the friendship ends. Moving to Boston was the first time I've ever even had a choice as to where I went, and that was more a matter of figuring out where I thought it would be most pleasant to starve to death than anything else. Usually I'm just informed that as of X date, my home will not be my home anymore. The lead time varies. I land in the only place I can both find and afford before I'm out on the street.

I even hate it when the landlord has to come in to look at or fix something. I don't like reminding them that I'm there. I know I probably so…

An Open Letter To The Gifted

Dear Young Enthusiastic Genius Kid,

Today is September 1st, so you're about to start college, or perhaps already have. That's great. I really hope you intended to be there. Universities are great places, if you actually want to go. A lot of your classmates don't, which is a social problem we're going to have to deal with someday, but many of you probably do, so congrats on obliterating the minimum SAT scores you needed to secure your spot.

I'm about to turn thirty-four. This makes me like way ancient by the standards of college freshmen. You really have no reason to believe me when I say I had much the same educational experience that you did, unless you go back through the archives of this blog and develop a vague feeling of kinship. That's fine. I didn't listen to anyone this old when I was your age either, which was probably a good decision, since most of them didn't know what they were talking about anyway.

I'm about to give you a piece of colle…