Sunday, September 30, 2012

October Goals, in Which I Invent the Beer-Hour

I had planned to pursue goals in September.  I had put up a post about it here, in which I gave a list of five goals of varying difficulty for the month.  Almost instantly after clicking the "Publish" button, I found that I could not pursue those goals for a couple of reasons.  At the time, I wrote that I would put off those goals until October.

Now that October is upon us, I figured that I would revise my goals a bit.  I still plan to have goals for October--well, one goal.  That will be the change.  Instead of a bunch of easy or medium-difficulty goals, I figured that I would aim my sights at one tough goal.

Write 50 hours of fiction during October

That would work out to 1.6129 hours per day, or about one hour and 37 minutes daily.

My original goal would have been 10 hours or so.  After all, I only wrote 1 hour of fiction (or non-blog material) last month.

From one hour to 50.  A big part of me thinks that it is not going to happen.  A big part of me thinks that I need some extra motivation to pursue this goal.

Thus the idea of the "beer-hour."

The concept of the beer-hour is simple: Every time I write one hour of fiction, I can drink one beer.

The beer-hour is an earn-as-you-go system.  If I write zero hours, I can drink zero beers.

When Monday rolls around, I already know how it is going to go.  I'm going to come home from work, get work emails out of the way--at which point I will notice how tired I am--and then start to have what I like to call "Beer Thoughts."

However, I won't have written anything by then.  So I'll have to go back to my laptop, scribble for an hour--or five, depending on my needs--before I can do anything about it.

Naturally, this writing goal is going to absorb a lot of the time that I normally set aside for blogging, games, downloading music, and reading.  And so while I will keep up with Band Wars 2, I will do so at a much slower pace.  For October, at least.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Matthew Dear, Black City

If you haven't heard of Matthew Dear, then you might want to check him out.  A couple years back he released an album called Black City, and it is all kinds of fun.  It's not your typical dance music.  My two favorite tracks from the album are the catchy

"I Can't Feel"

and "Slowdance"

When the background singers start singing, "Dum de de dum  Dum dum de dum," they sound like the giant from Jack in the Beanstalk.

Anyhoo, this album is in my regular rotation.  One of my favorites.

His newest album, Beams, is in the Band Wars 2 competition.  If Beams comes anywhere close to Dark City, then it stands a good chance of winning it all.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Band Wars 2: The Revenge

I figure that it's just about time to start with Band Wars 2.  The last first incarnation happened in May.  At the time, I included only recent releases.  In this version, I am only including albums that have been released since the end of Band Wars 1.  By the way, the winner that time around was M83's Hurry Up, You're Dreaming, a tremendous album.

Here are the results of Band Wars 1 if you're curious:

My process was simple.  Play two competing albums back to back, then choose a winner.  To win, the best album had to be catchy enough to survive a first listen but have enough staying power to still sound good on the fourth.  I tried to be fair and ended up surprising myself several times.  Youth Lagoon, for instance, is a first album by some undergrad--I think--up in Idaho.  His Year of Hibernation was consistently strong.

Anyhoo, this time around I am going to double the size of the competition.  In order to represent 32 bands--rather than 16--I found the need, due to my inept Paint skills, to create two brackets.

A comment or two about Division 1 (above).  It is the weaker division.  (That's my guess anyway; I haven't listened to all of these albums yet.)  You will notice that Mount Eerie is represented in this division and in Division 2 (below).  That's because Mount Eerie has released two albums in the last few months.  Some of the band names are abbreviated due to space limitations.  

Anyhoo, early favorites in the above bracket are probably Frank Ocean, the Walkmen, the Dirty Projectors, and the Divine Fits (the new band led by Britt Daniel, the singer of Spoon).  Whichever team is the last band standing in that division will match up against the winner of Division 2 (below).

I would guess that Division 2 contains three or four of the best albums in the competition--the Grizzly Bear album, which has gotten rave reviews, as well as the albums by Hot Chip, Matthew Dear, John Maus, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, and Fiona Apple.  Other consistently solid bands include Animal Collective, Four Tet, David Byrne (with St. Vincent), and Beach House.  Division 2 seems stacked.

However, I fully expect to have an album or two surprise me this time around as well.

32 bands leads to 31 matches.  16 + 8 + 4 + 2 + 1.  I think I got that right.  And because I'll probably average about one matchup per day, I'll finish right around Halloween.

Completing this competition will be one of my goals for October.  I enjoy it.  Along the way, hopefully I'll discover a couple new albums for my rotation.  Worked wonders last time around.  Despite being an October goal, I think that I will start the competition early.

It is now Thursday afternoon.  In the Middle East, Thursday afternoon means one thing and one thing only to a university teacher: weekend!  (Out here, Friday is a holy day.)  Time for beer and music.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Nana Eats Second Slice of Carrot Cake, Dissolves Parsons Family

Abigail Parsons, known as "Nana" in the Parsons family, was witnessed by several family members eating a second slice of carrot cake this afternoon at the birthday party of four-year-old Tommy Parsons.

She denied it.

Arriving before any other guests, Nana was ushered to the head of the Parsons table.  Her grandchildren, of which four were present, lined up to kiss her rouged cheek, which more than one grandchild described afterwards as "gritty."  In front of her was The Cake.  Written on top of The Cake in robin's egg blue were the words "Happy Birthday, Shoop Suit!"

"Who the fuck is Snoop Shit?" inquired Nana, at which point her son Roger informed her that Shoop Suit--not Snoop Shit, but Shoop Suit--was indeed Tommy Parsons, his son and Nana's youngest grandchild.  Tommy had just watched a children's movie with a lead character named "Shoop Suit" in a movie of the same name, in which the lead character, a midget panda bear, spends his time jumping from job to job to find the one that will make him happiest.  And so Tommy had adopted the nickname as his own.

"Everyone calls him Shoop Suit now, Nana," said Roger.

With a wave of her hand, Nana urged Tommy forward.  He inched toward her not without hesitation.  She rested her hand on his shoulder, looked him in the eyes, and said, "Kid, your name is Eddie."

"Tommy," corrected the boy's mother.

"Tommy, " Nana continued. "Kid, your name is Tommy.  Live with it.  My name is Abigail.  I cried myself to sleep over it for 6 years as a young girl.  You're not a midget.  You're not a Panda Bear.  You're not employed.  Cry it out."

Then Nana declared that she was suffering from low blood sugar and called for the knife, upon the receipt of which she sliced away the "Oop" of the first name and the "Su" of the second name from the cake, set the oversized piece on her plate, and began eating.

When Tommy saw that the cake now read "Happy Birthday Sh________it!" he quietly began to cry.

Other guests began to arrive, filling the Parsons household.  Before they could see the cake, Roger took another slice of the cake and set it on a plate.  When the guests turned back to the table, both pieces of cake were missing.

"Who ate the second piece?" asked Roger.

"Nana," declared Shoop Suit.

Nana pointed a single bony finger toward the soul of Shoop Suit and announced, "Liar."

"Hey now," said Roger.  "You didn't eat a second slice?"

"I fucking deny it."


"He who lies dies," declared Nana.  The weight of her arm made her finger waver.  Then still staring at Tommy, she said, "I cast you out."

"You what?" said Roger, the boy's father.

"I cast him out."

"It's his birthday.  You can't cast him out."

"Am I the matriarch?"

"Of course, Nana."

"I lead the family?"

"Of course."

"Does the matriarch have any power?"

"Of course, Nana.  You have plenty of power."

"Then I cast him out."

Shoop Suit began to cry.

Now Nana stood.  All of her progeny were in attendance.  She waved her arm toward everyone.  "I cast you all out."

"What does that mean?" asked Roger.

"I dissolve you.  The Parsons are dissolved.  Like Alka Seltzer tablets.  I'm taking the name Parsons with me back to the farm, and I'm burying it where no one will find it.  You're all a bunch of Snoop Shits now."

And that is the story how Tommy came to work full time as a paperboy until the age of 42.

Nuns Eating Meatloaf (And Other Curiosities)

First, thanks to mudwig, whose blog I have been following for a few years now, and to grouchie, whose blog I recently discovered, on mentioning my blog in recent days.  That simple act by both of you has spiked my readership a mind-boggling 1,700%--a bump from an average of one view per day to 18 (!!!)  Let's hope that the interest lasts longer than the Romney bump after the Republican National Convention, which lasted as long as a morning hangover.  Both of their blogs are on my bloglist for two simple reasons: (1) they are entertaining and (2) they are updated regularly. 

I didn't know that the Innertube was so massive.  People who are not my mother are reading this blog.

Parenthetically, and apropos of absolutely nothing, I have found that when I type the words "nuns eating meatloaf" into google images, I get the following picture:

. . . which feels at best like a lazy effort by Google and at worst false advertising.  I don't see meatloaf anywhere.  Also, I am beginning to doubt that these ladies are nuns.

So I will give Google Images a second chance.  Now I will try to enter a search string that should lead me to the same picture: "Non-nuns not eating meatloaf."
When I do, all that remains are pictures of (M/m)eatloaf, the dish and the singer.

I suppose that this is my way of saying that Google Images makes me sad.

Did you ever see Being John Malkovich?  If you didn't, there's a part of the movie when John Malkovich enters a portal that will lead him into the brain of . . . John Malkovich.  And what happens when John Malkovich enters a portal into his own brain?

Or to picture the question as an image . . .

? ? ? ?

Well, the answer is that everyone has a Malkovich head and speaks in a single-word language that we'll call, oh, I don't know, Malkovich.

Waiter: Malkovich Malkovich?

Woman: Malkovich.

But you knew that already, I imagine.  But I would like to advance this idea just a little bit.

What if I type the words Google Images into Google Images?

Will the images look like this?

Turns out the answer is no.  Instead we get what you might expect:

Or alternatively:

* * *

After looking through my blogger stats for this blog, I found that my most popular post has more than double the views of my #2 post.  It is a clip to a Nicolas Jaar song, whose album Space Is Only Noise is fairly tremendous.
I get the feeling that there's some Russian dude out there who found the link, made it one of his favorites, and clicks on it every day to hear the song "Too Many Kids Finding Rain in the Dust."  It's moody, melodic, and evokes Nick Cave.  Nice choice, Sergei.  Molodetz!

In an earlier post, I was on the fence about starting Band Wars 2.  I am no longer on the fence about it.  I am going to do it again because it is going to force me to listen to the music that I have been obsessively downloading. 

At the time, I had 29 albums lined up and needed 3 more to set up a good March Madness-style single-elimination tournament.  Well, here are the last 3 that I plan to add to the list:

Dntel, Aimlessness

Antony and the Johnsons, Cut the World

Guided by Voices, Class Clown Spots a UFO

There, that makes 32, a good number of which I have not yet listened to.  So no recommendations yet.  Barring a few last-minute changes, all I have to do is pick the names out of a hat to randomize the matchups.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Marshmallow Experiment

Heard of this experiment?  The original subjects were four-year-olds.  A kid in a room has to sit in his chair. In front of him sits a plate with a marshmallow on top of it.  The experimenter tells the kid that she has to leave.  If the marshmallow is still on the plate when the kid returns, then he will get two marshmallows.

The experiment has been duplicated in the video below (although I doubt all of these kids are four years old).


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Crack Rock Crack Rock

Frank Ocean, one of the few R&B singers whose music I actually like, released an album recently called Channel Orange.  Song #9 is called "Crack Rock."  The chorus contains the lyrics

Crack rock crack rock

Hitting stones in glass homes

You're smoking stones in abandoned homes

You hit them stones and broke your home

Crack rock Crack rock

In the song, he sings the words "Crack rock" almost as if he were a drug dealer calling out to passing cars.  It is very catchy.  In fact, yesterday I found myself wandering around the apartment saying "Crack rock crack rock" apropos of absolutely nothing.

My girlfriend would say, "I have to go in to work tomorrow from one to five."

My reply: "Crack rock crack rock."

You get the idea.

Here's my question.  If those lyrics are such a mindworm for me--who has never smoked crack--I wonder what kind of effect it is having on crackheads.  After all, I imagine that they're walking around all day thinking about crack . . . how to get some and where to smoke it.

As they are walking along the street thinking "Crack crack crack crack crack crack," which perhaps is a reasonable estimate of a crackhead's mental activity, suddenly a car passes the crackhead with the window down, and the car replies, "Crack rock crack rock."

And they have their answer.  They will purchase some more crack rock.

I wonder if Frank Ocean just invented a new two-word language.

Or what about former crackheads who have rehabbed well enough to stay clean?  I can only offer one piece of advice.  Do not buy them this album.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Band Wars 2: The Revenge

Well, it has been four months or so since Band Wars, a deathmatch style game (in my mind) in which bands pitted their new releases against the new releases of other, hopefully inferior, bands until one survivor remained.  Since Band Wars ended, I've been downloading (illegally) an immense amount of music.  The most promising contenders that have released an album recently seem to be:

Beach House, Bloom

Motion Sickness of Time Travel, Motion Sickness of Time Travel

Mount Eerie, Clear Moon

The Walkmen, Heaven

Japandroids, Celebration Rock

Sun Kil Moon, Among the Leaves

Hot Chip, In Our Heads

Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel . . . 

DIIV, Oshin

Twin Shadow, Confess

Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan

Frank Ocean, Channel Orange

John Maus, A Collection of Rarities

Passion Pit, Gossamer


The Antlers, Undersea

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Mature Themes

Divine Fits, A Thing Called Divine Fits

Matthew Dear, Beams

Four Tet, Pink

Wild Nothing, Nocturne

Dan Deacon, America

Animal Collective, Centipede Hz

Bob Mould, Silver Age

Mount Eerie, Ocean Roar

The xx, Coexist

David Byrne and St. Vincent, Love This Giant

Grizzly Bear, Shields

The Sea and Cake, Runner

That's 29 albums.  A couple of issues.  First, Mount Eerie released two albums over that period.  Ought there to be a rule against both albums competing?  I think not.  It could lead to matchup of Mount Eerie against Mount Eerie, which would seem funny, like forcing someone to punch himself.

Second, a single-elimination bracket works best with 16 albums or 32 albums.  29 won't work.  So over the next couple of days, I'll have a couple of decisions to make.  The first Band Wars involved 16 albums.  Should I go for 32 this time around?  And the other big question: Do I even want to bother doing it this time around?

While I think about it, I'll inevitably get to 32 albums by checking the new releases over the coming week.

* * *

I achieved all of my goals yesterday, except for the ants.  I was determined to kill 100 ants.  It's really hot here, ants hate the heat, they'll keep trying to come into my place despite the fact that I have made my apartment a death machine for them.  When I swept and mopped, however, the ants skedaddled.

I finally started writing something.  It is a sluggish process, and it was hard to get started, but once the hour was finished I found that I wanted to go back and continue what I had started.

Back in college, I used to wake up, turn on my computer, and play chess until my head felt hazy from lack of food.  Then I would eat and play chess until, once again, my head felt hazy.  Occasionally, I would do the same thing with short stories I was writing.  It's good to have OCD when I'm doing something productive.  Not so healthy to be OCD when there's beer around, and there's always beer around.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Web Hopping

I was bouncing around the web today when I reached a new website, the Freakonomics one, where I started reading an article on online poker.  The article wasn't particularly revolutionary or informative, but something strange happened while I was reading it.

Along the bottom right of the screen, a tiny pop-up appeared.  It read: "Recommended for You: Cats and Dogs, Donkeys and Elephants."  Inside the pop-up, I saw a tiny picture of a grey cat that was apparently resting its head on a pillow.

Now, I had never been on this website before, so my question is how could they know that I would find this link irresistible?  These freakonomics people are geniuses.

I am clicking on it right now.  The first thing I see is the cat.

In the article, I learned things.

1.  British cat owners are better educated than British dog owners.  Okay, informative.  Useless but informative.  I say useless because this is not the kind of information that will better my chances at winning on Jeopardy! if I should ever get the chance to compete on that show.  

If I did get a chance on Jeopardy!, by the way, I would like to give my occupation as "homeless," even if it happened not to be true.

"Hello Alex Trebek, I'm Yakshi.  My occupation is homeless."

If I were sitting at home watching Jeopardy! and a contestant identified himself as homeless, I would think two things.  (1) That guy rules, and (2) I want that guy to absolutely destroy his homeowner opponents.

2.  In the U.S., there is an insignificant difference in the education level of American cat owners and American dog owners.  As informative as #1 above.

3.  Another study suggests that dog owners are more extroverted, conscientious, and agreeable compared with cat owners, who are neurotic but more open.

Hmm.  I own a cat.  It happens to live with my mother, who likes it more than I do.  I happen to be neurotic as well.  But I am fairly closed.  I'm happy to say that my coworkers know almost nothing about me.

Still, Freakonomics was able to predict what would interest me.  Does a website know me better than I know myself?

* * *

To increase my productivity, I recently bought a white board.  It acts as my conscience.  (Otherwise, I have none.)  On it, I write the things that I have to do.  Then, as I do them, I erase those things.  It is fantastic.  For today, I have four things written.

1.  Sweep and mop

2.  Walk 1 hour

3.  Kill 100 ants -- next to this goal, I have the number 25 written in red, which represents "Daily Dead"

[Edit: Previously, I had written "Kill 100 hands."  I don't know how I could do that.]

4.  Write 1 hour (nonblog)

If I could achieve this last goal, it could be the start of something that would make me feel good.  I haven't written a nonblog word creatively in years.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Leaving UAE

I have decided to leave the UAE at the end of this school year--late June of 2013.

I have one basic feeling about this decision.  It goes something like this:


It is such a good feeling.  This place has served its one true purpose--to get me out of debt.  I will have the entirety of my law school loans paid off by this Christmas.  In essence, I will have gotten rid of a $110,000 debt over the span of 2 years and 5 months.  That's the upside of being here, and it is significant.

One of the most common things that I've heard people say but not really mean is "Money is not a strong motivation for me."

Bullshit.  I hear them say it, and I immediately think, Do they really believe themselves?

For me, money is a strong motivator when I am in debt.  I hate debt.  As soon as I owe money, I want to pay it off ASAP.  If I have a lot of debt, I stress the fuck out.  Back in undergrad days, I racked up $10k in debt on a credit card and I kept thinking, 10k!  How in the world am I ever going to pay off ten THOUSAND dollars?

It seemed insurmountable.

Years later, fucktard that I am, I decided, Why not go to law school?  The decision seemed like such a good idea at the time.  So off I went to Colorado, where I proceeded over the span of three years to accumulate eleven times the debt that used to flip my shit.

I became strongly motivated to get rid of it, and teaching in the UAE turned out to be the best way to do that.

So that'll be nice.

Let me clue you in to some of the downsides of living in the UAE:

43 degrees Celsius

People unable to confront the growing evidence that their God may not exist

Lack of useful career experience

Wealthy, mentally retarded students

Insane drivers

Wealthy, insane, mentally retarded students driving past me at 200 kilometers per hour in 43 degree heat

But they're harmless for the most part.  But I have to tell you, dealing with morons all day every day really sets in the brain rot something fierce.

I may have gotten rid of debt here, but this place has also made me stupider.

In conclusion, this essay is over

I took way too many English classes during my undergrad days, writing dozens of essays about novels and poems written by dead white men.  I always wanted to finish at least one of these essays with the following one-sentence paragraph: "In conclusion, the essay is over."

Hopefully, the rest of the essay would be so strong that they would have to give me an A.  It seemed like one of the only ways to trash talk in an essay.

Or perhaps even better: "In conclusion, you gave me an A."

Even today, this idea has a strong appeal to me.  Maybe it means that I have not matured in the intervening years.  I'd like to hope that that is true.

My girlfriend is on Huffington Post.  She likes to read through the political section and then to make comments.  As you might've noticed from earlier posts, she absolutely hates Romney.

Anyhoo, I had just woken up and walked into the living room when I saw her on HuffPost writing out a reply.  She was replying to a comment that said that Romney had "higher cognitive powers."  My girlfriend seemed stumped.  Her fingers were poised on the keyboard.  She said, "What are two things that don't go together?"

My reply, after being conscious for only about 45 seconds: "A monkey in a pink suit with a corncob pipe?"


Now I felt more confident about it.  "A monkey in a pink suit with a corncob pipe."

She paused.  She said, "That won't work here.  Got anything else?"

"Nope.  Just a monkey in a pink suit with a corncob pipe.  And I bet that image will be in my head all day long.  Thanks for asking."

In conclusion, this story is over.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Power of Negative Thinking

Goal:  It is my goal to get through the day without shitting myself.  It is now 7:54 a.m. Abu Dhabi time.  I currently do not have the runs.  I estimate that my chances of success are 98 percent, which is another way of saying that I anticipate that I will shit my pants 1 day out of 50 or, to extrapolate, that I expect to roll a deuce in my shorts one week out of the year.  This estimate seems accurate despite the fact that I currently do not have a history of shitting myself.  Anything, however, is possible.  Will today be the day?  Can the power of negative thinking affect my chances?

Result:  It is now 12:37 p.m. Abu Dhabi time.  I did not shit myself.  I count this result as a qualified success--qualified because I almost shit myself. 

For breakfast, I ate half of a falafel sandwich and drank a large mint mocha.  Then I taught two classes back to back, with little chance for a bathroom break in between.  I finished at 12:15 and had to hurry across campus to meet a student at 12:25.  So I was rushing.  I had to cross 300 yards in the direct sunlight on a fairly hot--40 degrees Celsius--day.  Now for me, the following equation holds true in almost all occasions:

Coffee + Being in the Heat = Shit Myself

And I noticed as I was walking that the equation was doing its best to prove itself true.  I had to--how can I put this?--I had to squeeze.  So I am walking and squeezing and doing the best I could not to make it look like I was squeezing while I was walking. 

Now, people tell me that I appear very mellow most of the time.  I think that this is true because very often I play out disaster scenarios in my head.  If I am crossing a busy street, I will inevitably envision a car appearing out of nowhere and making contact with my person and sending me flying 45 feet in the air like a rag doll so that I land on my head, my skull opens up, and my brains leak out and start frying on the hot pavement like an egg.  I suppose scaring myself like this keeps the stress away.

Today, I imagined the following scenario.  I am hurrying across campus, with my body desperately wanting to shit itself.  I arrive at my destination in a state of extreme anguish, hurry up the stairs to be on time for my appointment, see my student, invite her into my office, present her with the certificate that she came for, thank her for participating in last semester's workshop--for which she earned the certificate that she now held in her hands--and then promptly shit myself.

She, of course, would hurriedly exit the office, tell someone, and I would instantly be fired.

In fact, as I was hurrying across campus, I had the following thought.  I thought: Holy Christ, why in the world did I make that joke post this morning about shitting myself?  I challenged my body, and my body is taking up the challenge in earnest.  I convinced my body to shit itself.

Why couldn't I convince my body to shit itself on a day off work?

Thankfully, it didn't happen.  I handed the student her certificate and told her that I had to run.  Then I ran, literally, to salvation.  And made it just in time.

In This Post, I Try to Guess What Is Playing on My IPOD

I've been downloading so much music and cramming it onto my IPOD (the 160 gig variety) that now when I play it on shuffle I often have to see what the hell it is I am listening to.  Or when I attach it to my girlfriend's sound system and click shuffle, I have to repeatedly get up out of my seat, cross the room, and once again find out what the hell it is I am listening to, until curiosity trumps laziness, which hasn't happened yet.  I wish it would.

Right now, I will try to guess ten songs on shuffle.

Song 1:

My Guess:  Something by Portishead from the album with "Sour Times" album.  Mellow, cool, and creepy as a rubber fist.

Result:  Ding ding ding!  One for one.  "Strangers" from Dummy.

Song 2

My Guess:  Nick Cave song from Dig, Lazarus, Dig, an album I've only listened to once (downloaded it before the summer).  His distinctive voice gives it away.  The chorus--"We're gonna have a real good time!"--is upbeat but also seems dark, like it could be playing during one of the murder scenes in Natural Born Killers.  It's happy and upbeat, but it's happy and upbeat filtered through the fucking insanity of Nick Cave, and so necessarily it is happy and upbeat and unnecessarily goofy and randomly violent.

Result:  Winner.  Two for two.  "Today's Lesson" is the name of the track.  It would fit well in a mix tape entitled "The Dance Mix of Hate."  Killing with a grin, service with a smile.

Song 3

My Guess:  Barry White.  That is all I know.  Lots of strings.  He's really belting it out there.  Based on the chorus, I'd guess the title is "I'm Qualified to Satisfy You."

Result:  Boom, bitches.  Perfect so far.

Song 4

My Guess:  Robyn.  I downloaded a couple albums by this chick in April or May.  I think I've listened to a half-dozen of her songs, but her high-pitched delivery and heavy pop vibe are unmistakable in my collection. I think this artist is a misfire.  I mean, I don't think I'll ever say, "I didn't really like Robyn at first, but after playing her shit every single day for a month straight, I now see the light."  But the song isn't really a crime against humanity, which is the criterion that would lead me to delete her album from my collection.

Result:  Robyn, "Dancehall Queen."  Four for four.

Song 5

My Guess:  Hmm, tough one.  Female singer.  And I recognize her voice.  Who is she?  Ah, I think I know.  I'm going to guess Fever Ray, who is the woman from . . . and now I can't remember the band she's part of. They made an excellent album about 7 years back.  [Edit: the chick from Fever Ray is a member of the band called The Knife, whose album Silent Shout fucking rules.]

Result:  Wrong.  It's Arcade Fire from the Suburbs album, which I've listened to maybe once.  Funny, my first thought when the song came on was that it was an Arcade Fire album, but then I owned myself by thinking too much.

Song 6

My Guess:  Easy one.  Traffic, "John Barleycorn Must Die."  Does owning Traffic albums make me lame?  I suppose it does.

Result:  Correct.  Five for six.  Based on past performance, I would've guessed I'd be batting .500 by now.

Song 7

My Guess:  Starts with a piano playing a few notes repeatedly.  Then the violin playing the same melody over and over.  More strings.  The sound is growing, which strikes me as the modus operandi of Godspeed You Black Emperor!  If I'm right, I can expect to relax for a while, because this song should last about 25 minutes.

Result:  Wrong.  The band is A Silver Mount Zion.  The song is "Stumble Then Rise on Some Awkward Morning."  I feel ripped off with this one, because some of the members of A Silver Mount Zion are also members of Godspeed, but wrong is wrong.  Five for seven.

Song 8

My Guess:  Another instrumental tune with lots of strings.  Drawing a big blank so far.  Man, I can't think of a single band that this song sounds like.

Result:  Fuck.  I got owned by Brian Eno.  "Variation on the Canon in D Major: (ii) French Catalogs" from the album Discrete Music, which I have not yet listened to.  I downloaded this one some time over the last two weeks.  Five for eight.  I should make a rule for this: If the song is instrumental, and if I have no clue who the artist is, I should guess Brian Eno.

Song 9

My Guess:  This sounds like music for a vampire movie.  The sun has just set.  Looping music, drum machine, creepy synthesizers.  My best two guesses are either John Maus or else Matthew Dear.  I'm going to guess John Maus.  I bet I'm way off.  These instrumental songs are brutal.  In fact, I'm not even sure whether Maus or Dear even make instrumental songs.

Result:  Sigh.  I want to facepunch myself.  Amon Tobin, "Deo," from Supermodified.  I should definitely have known this one.  Five for nine.  Maybe I'll bat .500 after all.  Oh, and the drum machine just kicked into high gear.  I should've waited until the song ended to make my guess, because his drum sound would've given Tobin away.

Song 10

My Guess:  Easy one.  A friend of mine from college absolutely loved Kate Bush and played her albums endlessly.  Almost without variation.  Anyhoo, this one is "Running Up That Hill" from the Hounds of Love album.

Result: Yup.

So I got 60 percent.  Or to put it another way, if this had just been my first quiz, I would currently be getting a D in my own music.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Hospital Visit

I have asthma.  It isn't a big deal, except when I visit my parents or my sister, who both have cats, or else when I smoke, which I do most of the time--and so I guess it is sort of a big deal.  In any case, I need to have an inhaler near me all of the time.  Hospitals, as so happens, never give prescriptions for two inhalers, however.  And so by necessity there will be times when I am "out of ammo"--where my inhaler will be out of gas . . . or whatever magic mist happens to be inside of it.

Today was one of those days.  Actually, the inhaler went dry last night.  I didn't give it much thought until I felt some tightness in my chest last night.  After a quick search online, I found out that the best alternatives for asthmatics without inhalers is to either drink coffee or Coke or turn on a hot shower and inhale the steam.

It was late, so caffeine was out of the question.  And we live in a desert, so we never have the hot water heater on.  So I went with Option #3: Breathing in and out of my mouth slowly until the attack passes.

I did, and it did.

Today at the mall a new, minor asthma attack hit me.  Just some tightness in the chest, enough to notice and worry about.  I told my girlfriend about it and we headed straight for the hospital.

We got there, and I went straight to the registration desk and said, "I am having trouble breathing."  Which was true.

She quickly said, "Go straight to emergency."  No forms, nothing.  I had never had such a reaction.  Cool, I thought.

At emergency, I used the magic--and true--words: "I am having trouble breathing."

They said, "Come."  They directed me in into the back room, where all the shit goes down.  Two nurses surrounded me.  One put a clamp on my finger and read a computer screen.  The other asked me questions that I don't remember.

Finally, the nurse who had clamped me said, "You are okay.  Your oxygen is at 98 percent."

I had no clue what he meant, but 98 percent for oxygen sounded like I was in A-plus territory.

Almost immediately, they started treating me differently.  They became more relaxed.  I was no longer an emergency.  But they said, "Doctor soon," which sounded good.  Nobody likes to hang out in hospitals.

The nurses turned out to be right.  They showed me in to see a doctor within 2 minutes.

Awesome service!  There's nothing like appearing to be very sick at a hospital.

I thought about it a bit.  I hadn't lied.  They had simply taken the darkest view.  The words "I am having trouble breathing" could mean (a) I have some tightness in my chest and would like a new inhaler or (b) I'm fucking dying, man!

They acted as if I had said, "I'm fucking dying, man!"

So they bring me in to the doctor.  She checks me with a stethoscope and informs me that I am "fine."

Then she seems to relax.

Now, I begin to think that everyone is pegging me as a liar--just some dude who wanted to bypass the lines in order to get a new inhaler ASAP.  Except I hadn't lied; they had simply taken the darkest view.

So as I sat in a chair across from the now-relaxed doctor, a thought struck me.  Why not give them the darkest view?

Why not throw myself onto the floor and start flopping like a fish, all the while holding my breath so that my face would turn red or--hopefully--blue?

That would really fuck their shit up.  Suddenly false-alarm Yakshi is the real deal.

The doctor would rush to the door and call for the nurses--the nurses who had relaxed earlier when they assumed I was full of shit--and all of them would crowd into the room and do their best to resuscitate me.  And I would let them pull me back to life and shake all of their hands and hurry home with my new inhaler.

I wish I had that story for you.  Instead, I waited for the doctor to fill out my prescription, headed to the pharmacy, picked up my puffer, and headed home.

I hope your day was better than mine.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why Romney Can't Win

Woke up to see my girlfriend punching the air.  She said, "I'm just going to be airpunching Romney for a little while.  Don't mind me."  Soon after, she was kicking backwards saying, "Donkey kicks.  Donkey kicks."

Romney is an asshole --> Women hate Romney --> Romney can't win.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I was taking a walk tonight through Al Ain, one of the bigger cities in the United Arab Emirates, and something struck me.  I had noticed it before, but now I really started to pay attention.  Like a kid, I started to count cars.

Well, the color of cars.

I was really focusing on one color: white.  White cars.  White cars seemed to be everywhere.

So I was on my walk, with nothing else to do except listen to music and . . . count cars.

So I did that for a while, and here are my results.

Total: 55 cars

White cars: 28 (!!!)

Non-white cars: 25

Taxis: 2 (always silver)

More than half are white?

I know I live in the desert, but does the color white really reflect the glaring sun that much?

Such a boring place.

Monday, September 10, 2012

I Would Love to Be Named Schlomo

It would be so nice.

Friends could say, "Hey, Schlomo, pass me another beer."

And I would say, "One?"

And he would answer, "Yes, Schlomo, one."

"You sure?"


"Yeah, who?"

"Yeah, Schlomo."


And then I would pass him a beer.

And that's how it would go throughout his life.  Because I would control the beer.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Platform

It is election season in the United States, a time when everyone worries that the country will descend into fascism (again).

It got me thinking.  Should I run for office?  If so, what would be my platform?

A simple three-pronged attack should suffice.

1.  Every household gets to choose to receive one of the following each week:

  • Roasted chicken
  • Six pick of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer

It will be quite simple.  On Wednesday, you will receive a Selection Card from the U.S. Government.  The selection card will have your address stamped on it.  Below your address, you will find the instructions.


Below the instructions, you will see the following:

______ Chicken

______ Beer

If you are conservative and you do not want the interference of the federal government, choose nothing.

If you are conservative and you do not want the interference of the federal government, then make a selection, you fucking hypocrite.

So generous, right?  How will we pay for it?  


2.  Eliminate the military.  

Congrats, right wing!  You got your wish.  Smaller federal government.

This platform position makes abundant sense, considering the fact that the United States is geographically isolated and relatively safe from a ground invasion from evil Canada and empire-chasing Mexico.

3.  Give jobs to the unemployed former members of the military in the chicken and beer industries.

And that, Solid Citizen, is how I will snatch up a cushy job in a domed building somewhere.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


As you may have read in an earlier post, I wanted to pursue several goals in September.  Dropped that notion for some good reasons, but I'll most likely pursue the same goals--or something similar--for October.

What I want the very most right now is to start writing fiction every day.  I don't have a lot going on.  I am teaching the same subject to four different classes this semester, an ideal setup.  And because I've taught the course a few semesters in a row, I won't have to do any preparation.

So what gives?  

It's just so hard to get started.  I have to force myself to sit down, stare at my screen, and type anything that comes into my head . . . until I find an idea worth chasing.

In other news, Mitt Romney and his Republican army look like a phalanx of fucktards.  

That party has put forth a really weak effort this time around. 

Obama should scoop.  Unless he starts calling us all a bunch of honkeys at the Democratic National Convention.

And speaking of the DNC, at least one political commentator--Republican, by the way--said that Bill Clinton's awesome speech sealed the deal for Obama.  I also read a comment that opined that Clinton was the "coolest" president in U.S. history.

Looking good for the donkeys this week.