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Simultaneously mocking and participating in kitsch culture

Alan "reasonably dangerous" Berman

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May 4th, 2008

Build up to the letdown

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I'm sure there's probably more than just these two out there, but these are the two that always irritate me the most, so they're the ones I'll rant about.  These are the two songs that start out really great and then drop the ball completely when it comes to the chorus/hook.

#1) Heat of the Moment by Asia

Heat of the Moment starts out with these epic echoing chords and even though they're not on the track, you can mentally hear the crowd shouting as it plays.  It's that kinda song. I often wonder why they didn't record it live... it certainly sounds like it was recorded in a large space.  The vocalist calls out to the past, confessing his mistakes, building up to this magical point in the song he even says the line "and we would scream together songs unsung"... and then the rest of the band all chimes in with this watered down weak-as-hell chorus.  In the words of Lars Ulrich's father... "it doesn't rock hard enough".

#2) Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys

Seriously, what the hell was Brian Wilson thinking when he interrupted the prototypical emo song 20 years before emo existed, only to turn it into some bubblegum pop thing which doesn't match the intro at all?  Don't get me wrong, the main part of Good Vibrations is a fine song, but compared to the first 23 seconds, it feels tacked on and completely out of place.

I wish I were more musically inclined, cuz I'd love to "fix" both of those songs someday. :\

April 21st, 2008

Kosher for Passover

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So I'm at an offsite conference for work today.  It's kinda dull so far, but I guess that's better than being crazy busy. I guess.

For those of you who are keeping track, it's Passover this week.  Observant Jews must avoid eating 'chametz' (leavened bread).

At the luncheon today, the main meal consisted of: salad, potatoes, rice, chicken, beef, and fish.  Depending on one's interpretation of Jewish law, the only thing not-kosher-for-passover is the rice.

At a separate table was a sign saying "Passover Station" -- which had falafel, hummus, tahini, and pita bread.  Again, depending on one's interpretation of Jewish law, the falafel and hummus may be okay for passover, but pita bread? If you're gonna bother to have a special Passover table, at least get the rules right.  Might as well have a Yom Kippur brunch.

April 14th, 2008

Root Canal

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Last Wednesday I starting getting horrible pains in my face. Specifically, my upper right bicuspid. (A.K.A. tooth #5)

By Friday it was obvious that it was getting worse, not better, and I would need to see the dentist.  I made an emergency appointment with one Dr. Amidi.  She was very nice and quickly determined that 1) I was, in fact, in pain 2) The pain was coming from my tooth and 3) I needed a root canal.

I had hoped that I could just get the root canal thing done right there on the spot and just be done with it.  Alas, apparently root canals are not in Dr. Amidi's repertoire.  She referred me to one Dr. Hernandez.  Unfortunately, Dr. Hernandez couldn't get me into her schedule until the following Monday (today).

Today I met with Dr. Hernandez.  She was also very nice and determined that 1) I was, in fact, in pain 2) The pain was coming from my tooth and 3) I needed a root canal.  Unlike my Friday visit however, I got my wish. She performed the root canal right then and there. (Hoorj~?)

* * *  A bit about root canals * * *

For those of you only vaguely familiar with root canals, here's a quick synopsis.  They numb your face, they drill a big hole in your tooth, they scrape out all the nerves inside of the tooth, they fill it in with cement and a reinforcing post, then they bill you.

All my life the only thing I ever really knew about root canals is that they're sposed to be horribly unpleasant and painful.  Having now experienced one though, I must say I don't see what the big fuss is.  My biggest complaint about the procedure wasn't the pain (barely any) it was the smell.  The stench of drilled enamel and whatever other random compounds they used to reassemble my tooth was horrible.  I wanted one of those oxygen nose tube things.  And maybe a pair of headphones.  Given those two things I probably could've ignored the procedure almost completely.  Though my jaw did get a bit sore from holding my mouth open for about an hour. :\

I'm sposed to be sore and swollen now, but so far I'm feeling great.  Tomorrow I'm gonna make an appointment with Dr. Amidi to have the tooth crowned sometime next week. Then I'll be good as new. Maybe even better. :)  

March 12th, 2008

Dismissive of Peak Oil

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I've come to the conclusion that people love to complain about the price of gasoline.  I spose if I drove more often, I too would complain about the price of gas.  (I'm thankful I don't shell out $100 a week for gas, which I would be, if I were to drive to/from work every day in a vehicle of my own.)

I see a very obvious reason why the price of gas is going up, but whenever I mention it to my gas consuming friends, they dismiss it as crazy paranoid theories.  That reason being the imminent threat of Peak Oil.  I don't mean to say that when the price of gas fluctuates a couple cents up and down over a weekend that Peak Oil is the cause... that's more likely due to smaller market factors.  I mean overall.  The price of a gallon of gas is $3.50+ out here in CA.  I fully expect it to hit $4 by the end of the year.  It's slowly inching higher, and it's not going to go back down.

Lamenting over back-in-the-day when gas was $1.50 or $2 or whatever... it's never gonna be that way again.  Oil companies aren't stupid... they've now proven they can get $100 for a barrel of oil and we'll still pay it.  They also know that their product is gonna run out -- and soon.  Why is it so unimaginable that the reason gas prices are so high is because they're trying to get as much money as they can before their production runs dry?  Imagine what the price of gas will be when we're on the downward slope and oil production starts dropping?  As it is current models predict that point is within the next 5 years.  Any industry as huge and powerful as Oil thinks way beyond a mere 5 years. They see their demise on the horizon and they're provisioning for later.

There's very little we as consumers can do about the rising prices, as long as capitalism still rules supreme... so do what you can: use as little gas as possible.

If anything, I see this spike in oil prices as somewhat of a good thing, as necessity is the mother of invention.  There's more research in alternative energy going on now than ever. More energy being put into alternate modes of transportation, redesigning mass transit, etc.

But then again, I don't buy gas very often.

March 9th, 2008

It was a beautiful day today.  bunnyslope n' I went on an adventure, which resulted in no less than a pair of sunglasses, a repaired bicycle, and the best Thai food in SF (so far, anyway. We're always up for suggestions.)

I don't know about you guys, but I've noticed that when I live in a particular place, there's roads/routes I use almost daily to get to and from home, and then there are other roads that may as well be black holes from which only David Tennant can escape.  This is particularly true of my knowledge of my neighborhood.  I know my way around everything north of Clipper Street rather well, all the way up to Market.  My knowledge of things south of Clipper rapidily declines the further south one goes, with the exception of Dolores Street, which I use frequently enough to get on to I-280.

For you non-SF residents, here's a map of what I'm talking about:

Today I decided to remedy the situation.  We went south.  We discovered a lot of antique shops, a party supply store (which would have been handy to know about for the David Bowie party we attended a couple weeks ago) and Regent Thai restuarant. We didn't eat there immediately, but we ended up going back there for dinner later.  We also discovered that the 24 bus runs down there! Mystical.  After wandering through the black hole for a while we hopped the 24 bus and headed up to Japantown cuz  I needed some new sunglasses.  Japantown has the best selection of cheap-yet-awesome sunglasses I've found in SF.  I gots me some $7 not-quite-aviators.  The quest for the perfect pair of sunglasses continues, but these will suffice for now.  Then we stopped at Sanppo for an Island Roll -- the best sushi roll evar.  I don't care that it's not authentic/traditional/whatever.  It's really good. You owe it to yourself to have one.

Yesterday I'd dropped my bike off at Pedal Revolution (bike shop) to have the rear wheel re-tensioned.  We swung by PR on the way home from Japantown to pick it up.  Please note, PR is not on the way home from Japantown. We got my now not-noisy bike and took it home.  We took a nap.  We took Antony to the park.  Dogs feared him and children fed him grass, petted him, put sand on him and kept picking him up.  We weren't too thrilled about the last bits.  We took him home.  We headed back out (this time on our bikes) to the black hole for dinner at the Thai place.  The Double Cooked Duck was fabulous, as was the Salmon thingie bunnyslope got.  They had some cool appetizers called "Golden Bags" which were delicious onion/potato/curry puffs shaped like little deep fried money bags.  Definitely going to have to make that place a regular spot.  In fact, I'm kinda craving more of that duck already.

After dinner we rode back home (with a little help from the 48 bus).  Then we went to Safeway to stock up on foodses. Then we watched some Star Trek TNG. Now I'm writing this. Then I will go to bed.

I would like to add that virtually all of this travelling about was done on foot, bike, or public transportation. Except the getting groceries bit.  I love being able to do all that w/o a car. :)

March 6th, 2008

The Al Bits
I'm still alive. There's no reason to assume otherwise.
I'm still employed at The Big G. Work (and related activities) keeps me busy ~13 hours a day.
I try to hang out with people when I can.
I try to go biking when possible.
I did my taxes and gots me some moneys back. Yay.
I've been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately.
I'm taking a very long time to finish reading 100 Years of Solitude.
Wedding plans are coming together
I just saw a MSP improv show starring miss bunnyslope  tonight.

The Sundry
Flogging Molly has a new album. I haven't listened to it enough to form an opinion about it yet.
The 1960's black and white TV series The Wild Wild West is a bit too formulaic for me, though it does make me laugh often enough that I haven't tired of it completely.
Rickrolling is my new favorite pastime at work.
PicLens is quite possibly the coolest Firefox extension I've seen to date.
My friend dr_beep  is hilarious. He bought an entire print shop on a whim. Film at 11.
This (now probably defunct) blog is a man after my own heart -- he reviews crappy beverages in a hilarious manner.
Android is gonna be f'n awesome. I hope they come up with some decent hardware to place nice with it.

February 28th, 2008

Con la guitarra!

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Those of you who know my favorite things to say en Español will know why this song now has a special place in my heart.

February 10th, 2008

Thank me and hate me later

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Here, listen to THIS! I apologize in advance. (Though, to give credit where credit is due, I never would've found that song without some help from dr_beep.)

In other news, I am slightly ill, though that hasn't prevented me from hanging out and biking around SF with viajes all yesterday.  Our search for the cellphone-shaped-lighter-with-light-up-breasts-and-a-pot-leaf-that-says-fuck-you-when-you-light-it proved fruitless. Someone else must've bought them all. I will not give up completely though. I'm sure there are more somewhere. Hiding. Waiting.

They moved me to a new building again at work.  That's 3 times in 3 months.  There's a chance I'll be moved again in another month, since I'm currently part of a reorganization test-run.  I don't mind this move, as I am now in my favorite (so far) building on campus.  I miss the coffee maker in my first building, but I can always just bike over there if I feel the need.  The food in my current building is better.  I even brought the pastry chef a sample of some chocolate babka from Breadsmith and she tried to replicate it! It wasn't quite right, of course, but it was still good... we ended up with something akin to cinnamon rolls, but with chocolate and almond paste instead.  Damn good, but no babka. *shrug*

The weather this weekend has been absolutely gorgeous.  I wish I were feeling better, as I would love to go take advantage of the blue skies and sunshine. (Whoa, someone has secretly replaced me with Folger's Crystals, since when do I go play in the sun?)  Maybe I'll go venture down to Philz for some almost-as-good coffee.  Mostly I'm just looking for a way to while away the time until Sarah gets back from her grad school auditions.  Today is her audition with U of Delaware. Yesterday was the "big" day for her, with Yale, NYU, ART and NTC all in one day.

Ooh, I should go get some supplies for the David Bowie party this Thursday. Where the hell am I gonna find gold face paint at this time of year?

Today's word of the day: Angola

February 6th, 2008

Freedom, baby, yeah.

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My latest hobby is convincing my friend/ex-coworker Paul that he needs to upgrade everything. He told me he was gonna get a new macbook pro, so I convinced him he needed to max it out with 4gb of RAM.

Then he said he was putting together a desktop system, and asked me about IDE hard drive configurations. I convinced him to get a 10k RPM SATA drive with a little window in it, so you can see it spinning at 10k RPM.

I feel like I should be miniaturized, put on his left shoulder, and given a little red pitchfork.

* * *

Paul: i bought that hard drive that you can see inside
me: awesome! I will come over and drool on it when it arrives.
Paul: i won't even be able to see it work when it's in my computer though. i don't see the point.
me: it's just so that you can have that extra cool factor. you don't actually need to see the drive spinning, but you could see it if you wanted to.
Paul: lol
me: it's about freedom. it's the american way.
Paul: totally. if only it were made in america.
me: that'd be unamerican.

January 10th, 2008

As I think I mentioned, I now work in very close proximity to a Wii.  As in I can play it without even getting up from my chair.  This is a very bad thing, because I find myself actually playing the damn thing.  Bowling and Tennis and Fighter Planes and Prince of Persia and whatever other things we have handy.  I find myself playing it because it's there and it's on.  And when suddenly I realize 20 or 30 minutes have gone by, I put down the WiiMote and feel like I've just eaten at McDonalds.  I feel disgusted with myself.  There's a lot of other more interesting and productive things I could be doing in that time, but no, I'm waving around a hunk of electronics and accomplishing nothing.  I'm making my first post-new-years resolution. I'm never touching the damn Wii again.  When I feel the urge to waste time, I'll do it reading LJ or Facebook or mucking about with gOS or python or something vaguely more constructive.

I'm going to see Information Society play on Sunday night with Sarah n' Dave n' Katie.  I'm excited! All the original members together again for the first time in 15 years.  I've been listening to them since I was 9. Yay.

I got some nifty new tech stuffs for myself lately... a 1GB microSD card for my phone, which is handy and awesome. I also got a 4GB SD card for my camera, only to discover my Optio S6 can't handle anything over 2GB.  Neither can my f'n laptop.  So now I have a 4GB card and NOTHING that can read it. Bummer. Guess it'll come in handy someday when I upgrade though. I hope.

I also got a spiffy 2.5" external HD enclosure which can do both SATA and IDE drives. Hott.

Oh, and if any of you have more than one computer, I would highly recommend playing around with Synergy. Because it too is hott.

Attention Buffy fans: Giles is in this episode of Dr. Who which I watched on the shuttle bus this morning.  The robo-dog was by far the best part of the show though.
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