Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tabby Cat Confessions

I posted this last week on Dave's in a thread titled "Confession Time," but for posterity's sake am posting it here, not because I think what I did was anything noteworthy, but because I like the writing. Read on:

My second year in Korea, I took in a free cat advertised on the Internet. This feral monstrosity, though it was but a wee young thing, would claw and bite me non-stop, and more than a few times it shred my newspaper before I had had a chance to read it.

Compounding my feline problems was the fact that kitty litter was nowhere to be purchased, and even after the wife (then girlfriend) and I covertly procured some sand from a nearby construction site, the little terror wouldn't regularly use the box, preferring instead to piss behind the TV stand and any other corner it deemed fit.

At night I would close the bedroom door, for I learned early on not to allow the wretched beast to lie abed with me, for the sake of my own sanity; it would claw and jump and bite at my face and legs ceaselessly into the early hours of the morning. But when I shut out the little devil, it mewled and caterwauled so that the neighbors cursed me, and I spent many sleepless nights.

At the end of my tether, I resolved to turn the enfant terrible out; I first tried to give it away in the same manner in which I had obtained it, but with no success. Finally I opened the door and nudged the cat out as I was on my way to work one afternoon. Yet it stayed; it was there seven hours later when I returned. I had second thoughts and wondered if it wasn't a good idea to give the poor thing a second chance, or at least wait a little longer until I could find someone to take it in. But the wife (then girlfriend), ever the Lady to my MacBeth, insisted that what I had done was for the best. The cat would soon enough venture out and either take up with the neighborhood strays, or, hopefully, a kindhearted man or woman would come across the cute little creature and find it in their heart to adopt the little Damien.

Three days passed, then four. The cat was still outside my door (hey! I'm a poet and I didn't even realize it). It looked emaciated and weathered, but still I wouldn't take it back in.

I like to believe I have compassion and a kind heart, but I guess that's untrue, a bunch of BS, because I let the cat stay outside my door for a full week, and when I awoke one morning, it was no longer there.

I like to think that the cat found someone, anyone, whether feline or human, to accept it into their fold. Sadly, I doubt this is true. One scorchingly hot summer afternoon three weeks later, while my mother was visiting from Canada, and shortly after I had proposed to my wife, we returned from lunch to find a tiny cat's corpse, fetid and desiccated, at the foot of the alley that ran up to our apartment.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Was Jack London racist?

The term "racist" wasn't in the popular English lexicon until the 60's (it was first used as early as 1932, long after London's time), and these days its connotation reaches broader than maybe it should, but I have to ask myself the question posed in this entry's title, because Jack London is my favorite American writer, and, though it shouldn't, thinking that he was perhaps a bigot gnaws at me.

Here is an interesting bit on London's racialist/racist views:


Reading London, it's necessary to separate the characters' and the writer's beliefs, which is often difficult because, as with many writers, the views of both tend to cross-pollinate and confuse. As often as his white characters or the narrative espouse the indomitability of the white race, he also shows the savageness and raping that same race is guilty of, and he has championed the will and heart of other races and cultures --Mexican, Indian, and African American to name but a few -- in many of his short stories and novels.

Which is all to say that I have no idea, really. Maybe the guy was a racist, as defined by today's terms. But I don't really think so.

One thing's for sure: there's no way that London's works would be published in America, and achieve the success they did then, were they written in this day and age.

Nor perhaps Melville's, or Shakespeare's, or...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Hungover Eye for the Drunk Guy

I figured I might as well post something a little bloggy, since it's Saturday night, the little girl has just gone to bed, and I have nothing better to do (well, I could read a book, but I'm too damned tired and that'll put me to sleep faster than Superman fucks).

Plus, blog entries about getting drunk seem to be par for the course for Koreacentric expatriate blogs, and I realized today that I don't have a single one regarding what is arguably my favorite pastime.

Tonight I'm busting my cherry, so to speak.

Last night I met up with Zyzyfer (not his real name), who used to live in Bundang but who recently moved to Seoul and started a new job. I met him at Samsung Plaza, and, both of us starving, we searched for a place to appease our discerning appetites. We settled on a sam gyup sal place specializing in 'kimchi sam gyup sal,' which we ordered, but which didn't appear any different from regular sam gyup sal except that it was served with kimchi soup (not chigae, just watery kimchi soup). And kimchi of course, but that's to be expected, right?

[As a brief aside, nothing beats kimchi cooked on the grill. They need to market grilled kimchi-flavored potato chips here. Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? Your guess is as good as mine.]

Afterwards we headed to a place called Monkey Beach Bar. Before dinner some guy handed us a flier and explained, in rather good English, about the establishment. It was 'Thai style,' whatever that means (lady-boys and people trying to steal your passport?). The bottom line for both of us was that it was dirt cheap. Beers were 2000 won and shots of tequila were 1000. A price like that for a shot of tequila tends to make me think that the booze is watered down, but it tasted pretty darned potent to me.

The problem was that, when we entered, the bar maiden said that they were full (the place isn't that large). So we went to a 'western bar' called Posse instead and had some Millers and shots of tequilla, which were a lot pricier than at Monkey Beach.

After a few drinks at Posse we returned to Monkey Beach and were able to get seats at a table. Actually, tables were our seats. two rectangular tables sat on opposite sides of a circular, raised table. Except for the poor circulation in my legs from sitting in a such a way, I wasn't complaining. The drinks were cheap, the staff friendly, and the atmosphere nice.

We remained there for a few hours, talking philosophy, and then headed, drunkenly, back to my place. My wife, god bless her, said she didn't mind having a guest stay the night. We got home at about 3, cracked open some Budweisers that I had in the fridge, poured out some Pringles (Tomato & Garlic, which is pretty similar to ketchup chips for all you Canadian snack food junkies) and watched half of Collateral on DVD. At a quarter after 4, Zyz and I split a microwaveable pizza pocket, drank some coke and called it a night. The plan was to have Burger King for lunch (very effective in curing a hangover; the PR people for Burger King should actively promote this) and head down to the Tancheon river to play basketball.

Which we did. Pretty amazing, because I -- and I assume most others -- talk out of my ass a lot when drunk. I inwardly postulated that there was a high probability we'd wake up in the morning and be too tired and hungover to do much else than grunt and groan. But, remarkably, both of us felt pretty good when we awoke, despite lack of sleep. I had some emergency work to take care of (thanks, Mr. Lee, for sending me a text message at 5:30am to let me know that you needed the assignment handed in ASAP) , and then we ventured off at a quarter to 12, bidding farewell to my polite yet visably annoyed wife.

BK, as always, was the move. Then we took a cab to the river and played ("tried to play" is perhaps more accurate) b-ball. Man, was it ever humid today. The sun was hidden behind a thick haze, yet I still managed somehow to get a sunburn after being outside for close to three hours.

[Second aside: I once read that one can get a sunburn through glass, but my father, a scientist, contends that it's impossible.]

Some Korean high school students who spoke great English (why is it that I always encounter Koreans who speak English well only when I'm out with other expats and never alone or with my wife?) asked to join us, and we played for close to two hours. The heat and humidity finally got to me, so I decided it was time to head home. However, since I neglected to put on deoderant before venturing out, I smelled terrible, and, not wanting to subject innocent public transit riders to my fetid stench, opted to walk home rather than ride the bus. It took me roughly 45 minutes, and by the time I arrived back at Chez Sparkles I was insanely exhausted. I took a shower, turned on the a/c and lied in bed, watching Saving Private Ryan before falling asleep.

I awoke an hour later, hearing the rabid cries of children scampering around our apartment. My wife had decided to serve raw fish to the mother and children who live next door. After they left, I got up and cleaned the apartment. I wasn't feeling too great, likely from all the heat (don't you just love how people who have drunken a bit too much the night prior will find every possible reason to explain their shitty condition, except for the most obvious one?). Dehydrated, I managed to drink about 4 liters of water, but all that seemed to do was give me stomach cramps and the runs.

So now here I am, nursing a beer in an effort to quell the belated beast of last night's debauchery.

And I'm actually starting to feel better. Maybe I'll have a nip of whiskey to preserve the feeling.

Or not.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Corey Haim's Marlon Brando Impression

You mean he's not a tattoo artist living in Guam? No; the one-and-only Corey Haim is back...and larger than life.


I'd buy the License to Drive DVD, except that it's bereft of commentaries from the Brothers Corey, which is undoubtedly the worst marketing decision since New Coke.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Tom Cruise gets a facial.

Are you sure that's water?


The funniest pic? The last one with Cruise and Joey, sorry, Katie..uh, sorry again, Kate hugging. She's a freaking Amazon, right? I mean, dude can't be that short, can he?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The crayon is mightier than the sword.

It appears that, in addition to rice and kimchi, Korean students are being served up fat doses of Hatorade:


and more:


Saturday, June 18, 2005


Meet the Flintstones.

Where's Poochie?

I agree with most of this list, but no one, and I mean no one, disrespects The Great Gazoo (and misspelling his name is downright heresy).

10 Worst Cartoon Characters of all Time


Tweety Bird
You know there's a problem when every single kid roots for the "hero" to be devoured in each episode. No sense of humor. No personality. Annoying voice. Plus he was always tattling. I knew kids like this growing up. Most of them ate paste, sat in the front of the bus, and got me in trouble.

Grape Ape
A real moron. All he knows how to say is his name. And he does so non-stop for a half an hour. I'd rather watch "Davey and Goliath covet their neighbors model airplane."

Olive Oyl
Am I the only one out there who thought this was one lady NOT worth fighting over? And that's what they did every episode! She talks like Edith Bunker and looks like a pipe cleaner with a cheap hat. Hey, Popeye, you're a sailor... you can do better! Plus Olive can never decide if she wants to date that jerk Bluto or not. The girl is just bad news.

Petunia Pig
Remember her? Porky's girlfriend? She was a real zero. What was the point of her anyway? To make Porky look good? Come on, who did they think they're fooling. We all know Porky is gay.

Pebbles & Bam-Bam, as teenagers
What were they thinking? Were they trying to cash in on the "Joanie loves Chachi" thing? And how come every cartoon teenager plays in crumby rock band? An awful, and thankfully shortlived, idea.

Pepe LePew
Hello, Warner Brothers, ever heard of sexual harassment? Let's take a good look at this character; a horny, rapist skunk who's attracted to other species! NOT good for the kids. Plus, worse still, he's French.

Alan, from Josie and the Pussy Cats
How weak was this "Fred" clone? They even gave him an ascot, for crying out loud. Well, I knew Fred. I grew up with Fred. Fred was like a friend of mine. Let me tell you something...you're no Fred.

Zan and Zana, the Wondertwins
How many times do we have to say it? Leave the crimefighting to the professionals! "Form of... an idiot!" They should have been voted out of the Hall of Justice a long time ago. There's no room for dead weight in this game.

Kazoo, from the Flintstones
It's like "Hmmm, a miniature, green spaceman who appears only to Fred Flintstone isn't enough of a stretch. I know! Let's give him a snotty London accent!" Um, could I get a drug test from Hanna Barbara, please?

Scrappy Doo
And, really, who else COULD it be? This guy ruined Scooby Doo! Just came in and ruined it! Scrappy is the Yoko Ono of Saturday morning cartoons. I can't even talk about it anymore. It's too upsetting.


"Pass the bone, kid, pass the bone..."

Let's get on this mission like Indiana Jones.

The 18th letter does her inimitable Liza Minelli impression

Friday, June 17, 2005

"I'll probably never see you again."

I really need to stop eating pizza before going to bed.

Last night -- or, more accurately, this early morning -- I had one of the most vivid and involving dreams I've had in a while. For the past half-year I've dreamt very little, if at all, but this dream awoke something that I generally repress. No, not my latent homosexuality, something else.

I came to Korea to work shortly after graduating university, and doing so left behind a lot of good friends. At the time most of us were regularly out of touch, because we were all either finishing school or had moved away, and it was hard to call or write everyone at the time to say farewell. This is something I regret terribly, because while I have made a lot of friends over the years, I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twenty-two. Jesus, does anyone?

Five years later, there are some friends I haven't heard from or, for my part, bothered trying to contact. One in particular is Mike M, a friend whom I first met when I was in eighth grade and became close friends with in the ninth. Though we were never best friends (we didn't live close enough together I suppose) he is one of the most amiable and effortlessly witty guys I've ever known.

We used to have contests to see who could come up with the silliest or most grating word to the human ear. I think I won with fecund, but it's been a long time, and my memory tends to favor myself.

Why so girlishly lachrymose?

Yesterday I went out for dinner with a colleague, and we brought our wives and children. During our meal my acquaintance's eight year-old daughter, who can speak English remarkably well, asked me, unsolicited, which dog I think is the most beautiful. This led to me expounding (rather drunkenly, I'll admit) on the virtues of pets, until at last I recalled from the cobwebs of memory my friend Mike and the Irish setter he had.

This dog was, to me at the time, a giraffe with a hunch. It was so mammoth (for a dog) that it often wore a bandage on its long tail from slapping it against the narrow hallways of the Cape Cod-style house.

When our respective families were parting ways, my colleague's daughter asked "doesn't it make you sad that you'll never see that dog ever again?"

Man, did that hit a soft spot.

And so last night I dreamt that I was at my old friend's house, both of us teenagers again, his parents away. As bored teenagers are wont to do when confronted with this limited freedom, we took a swim, heisted some of his old man's beers from the fridge, and ordered pizza. Afterwards we shot the breeze, sitting on his front porch, smoking.

That is until a gangland shootout suddenly occured and I had to take cover underneath his parents' Acura Integra from a shower of uzi fire. A news crew was soon there, and, this being a dream, I could hear the newscaster's report of what was happening live. The camera panned to a white sedan, and a reporter identified it as belonging to a police informant. Apparently the gunmen could also hear what the newscaster was saying, because afterward they all turned their weapons on the car and shot the driver, who had run out into the street, dead.

I awoke soon after. I know the dream itself means nothing, but it brought back memories of a friend whom I hadn't given a spare thought about in nearly 3 years. The last time I heard from him was in the fall of 2002 when I was back in Canada on the eve of my wedding. He called a half hour before the family and I returned home after the rehearsal, and when I called back his father told me he had just left. Since then, nothing.

I woke up from my dream with a sensation of profound...I don't know. Lonliness? Not quite. Is there a single word for fond-yet-regretful reminiscence?

Guilt maybe?

As an addendum, today I took a nap and dreamt I had to evacuate the wife and daughter from a labrynthine movie theater which had caught fire. I hope this doesn't portend any peninsular strife.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Wind of Change

I wanted to title this post 'Rock You Like a Hurricane,' but it didn't seem as apt.

Helpful Dave's ESL Cafe poster stumptown (not his real name) informed me that posting comments was restricted to registered members only. I've now changed it so that anyone can post -- though if you register you'll receive a year-long subscription to Sparkles Quarterly and a football phone!

Your feedback is valued and appreciated. Go ahead, call me an asshole, I deserve it. Today I used TWO public restrooms and didn't bother to flush either time (and I may have peed on the seat(s) to boot!), AND I pressed all the buttons on the elevator before leaving work today.

I'm a menace II society.

Monday, June 13, 2005

R.I.P. Hamilton

Maybe what 'Sheed needs to do is tombstone piledrive Timmy D.

This season and these Finals have been the sports equivalent of M. Night Shymalyan's (or however the fuck you spell his name) The Village: totally gripping, intense stuff, with an ending that sucks harder than Mika Tan.

How the fuck do the Pistons lose Game 2 when they actually played the Undertaker's theme music during their player introductions? I know it was supposed to signify that they were already dead, but c'mon; you don't play that shit for a team with a power forward who actually owns and carries around a championship belt.

And you especially don't play that shitty "Y'all ready for this?" techno song from 1992, that would only get 40+ year-old housewives exercising to aerobics or Tae-Bo hype, during your home team's intros. Who the fuck on the Spurs actually digs that shit?

Well, maybe Tony Parker.

I keep picturing Tony wearing a beret, smoking long-filtered cigarettes, and shouting moi? incredulously at the refs whenever he's called for a foul. It's the only way I'm going to get a kick out of this series.

Two notes:

1) Al Michaels is a jackass. Bring in somebody who can actually call a basketball game. Hubie's awesome, but Michaels stinks like rotten shellfish. An actual line (or close enough) from last night's broadcast:

"And the Pistons pick up another foul. If you're a casual fan of basketball and don't know the rules, if a team picks up more than five fouls in a quarter, the opposing team automatically gets to shoot free throws, even if it's on a non-shooting foul."

What the shit? I've never heard an announcer say something so blatantly pandering. ABC must really be hurting for viewers. Part of the reason I enjoyed watching sports as a kid was because the announcers rarely if ever explained the rules. It was as if they were saying "if you don't know what the fuck is going on here, figure it out on your own or get the fuck outta here." That's how it should be, not Al Michaels's Basketball for Dummies.

2) Emanuel's a great player and all, but it was pretty obvious that he didn't deserve as much credit as he received for the Spurs Game 1 win. It was as though the media was saying "see? There are stars in this series. We don't need a Dwyane Wade or an Amare Stoudamire". Sorry, the Spurs would have won Game 1 without Ginobli's fourth quarter heroics.

What this series will prove is that the Spurs are in fact the best team in the L, and can adapt to any style of play. They're boring as hell (so is DET), but they're also one of the best teams ever. Probably better than all of those championship Lakers teams post 1999, and what I really want to know is, would the Bulls have had a chance if they were matched up against these Spurs in the '96, '97 and '98 Finals?

Now that's a matchup I'd like to see.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

See, this is why we can't have nice things.

One for the time capsule: there was a time when being deft at cut-and-paste could guarantee you a free submarine sammich.


Oh, how times have changed. Now I have to pull out a gun just to get a free pizza.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Nigh Resolution

Bad medicine.

And so we move from complaining about one book to a whole series of them.

I guess I should make this proclamation first: I consider myself a mid-level geek. I like shit like Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. I used to read a lot of comics and watch a lot of pro wrestling (the former I still have fond memories of, the latter a "what the fuck kind of drugs did I do in college, anyway?" level of astonishment). And I take a keen interest in the development of films regularly reported about on sites such as ainitcoolnews.com and chud.com. I say "mid-level" geek because I've never a) written a vitriolic, hate-filled letter to George Lucas, b) dressed up as a character from a comic book, except for in 5th grade when I was the Joker for Halloween*, and c) I have a job and a family, and everyone knows that hardcore geeks live in their parents' basement and avoid real work because they're working on a screenplay, novel, or both (usually a biographical film or book glorifying their mundane existence).

I'm not like that. I recognize my mundane existence, embrace it fully, and tuck it in my pocket where it's safe. If I ever start writing about how the pizza guy screwed up my order, or what I ate for lunch (oops!), please feel free to throw eggs at my house.

So while I'm not a geek (I'm not, I'm not, I'm not), I do feel I have a constitutional right to complain. Complain and flush toilet paper down the hopper withought recrimination. And that's just what I'm going to do (complain, not brazenly flush TP).

Honestly, The Dark Tower series contains so many things to nitpick about that I won't bother getting into too much detail, because it has so many things going right as well. Mix the best of fantasy with the best of spaghetti westerns, throw in some of the coolest characters whose adventures I've had the pleasure reading about, and I really can't fault King for the myriad plot holes and loose ends he fails to tie up. After all, it took the dude most of his life as a writer to finish what he himself will admit is his opus. It's very, very hard to return to something and get it right...again, and again.

But that's what King did. Over the course of the first four novels, he constantly upped the ante, hypnotizing readers who love fantasy (and probably a significant number of his fans who don't). The first four books in this series are simply amazing. They're like drugs, addictive. I first read The Gunslinger in 2000, craving a fantasy fix after finishing The Lord of the Rings trilogy for the upteenth time. I was not disappointed. I then voraciously read The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, and Wizard and Glass. Finishing Wizard was bittersweet, because King had been hit by a van the previous year, and fans of The Dark Tower series were not very optimistic that he would live long enough to finish the series -- especially since it had taken him so long (roughly 25 years, as far as publication dates go) to write the first four books of what he had envisioned a seven-book series (Hey! Just like Harry Potter!).

Then, about a year and some change later, King announced that he was going to finish the damn thing. He was going to write, write, write and make sure his series didn't suffer the fate of other untold stories, such as Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, and my favorite novel, Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.

I didn't know this, because, while I am a fan of King and the series, I didn't want to obsess over it, because I didn't believe it would finish anytime soon. So I pushed it to the back of my mind and, eventually, forgot all about it.

Then, in the spring of 2003, I remembered. I don't recall how, just that I was at work one morning, bored, surfing the Internet, and I experienced a quick thought of fondness regarding the gunslinger books. I did a Google search and happily discovered that Wolves of the Calla, book five in the series, was to be released that fall, followed by Song of Susannah in June of 2004, and The Dark Tower in the fall.

Holy shit! said I, immediately sucked back into that remarkable world. He's done it, King has finished the series, and I'll be around to read it all to the very last page!

To make a long story short, I read the three remaing books in the series and enjoyed them immensly; until, that is, the ending of book VII.


One thing King has been critcized for during his career as a writer is that his books tend to have rather disappointing endings. He's a great writer in the sense that he has ideas up the yin-yang, and he writes as accessibly and as fun as any writer I've ever read. But he wraps things up in most of his books -- if I may distort the English language so -- a little half-assedly.

But for this series, there was no bloody way I or any of his fans was going to allow him to drop the ball.

Unfortunately, that's what he did.

After killing off or abandonning every character save Roland, the gunslinger, Roland finally reaches the Dark Tower which he has spent a lifetime in search of. And when he gets to the top of the tower and opens the last door, the novel ends with him at the beginning of the series' first book, The Gunslinger.

That's right, a fucking loop.

I'll probably read the series again (maybe a dozen more times), but I can't forgive King for shitting the bed so egregiously. Hell, the loop thing is the kind of boneheaded idea I would have come up with while writing a story when I was in elementary school. It screams "I don't know how to end this, so I'm not even gonna bother trying."

For his part, King acknowledges that the ending is poor, going so far as to warn readers to stop reading and put down the book before Roland opens that door at the top of the tower. He also admits in the book's afterword that he isn't very pleased with the ending, but that "that's the only ending there is", (or something similar).

Fuck, Stevie. Way to let me down again. Why are you so afraid to write a good, or at least half-decent ending to a great series? A series that I know means as much to you as it does to your fans.

But I should stop now, for I'm treading into super-obsessive geek realm. Tomorrow I'll wake up, eat breakfast and go to work, never once thinking about The Dark Tower. That's for the best, because it opens too many old wounds.

*In all honesty, when I was a kid I used to put steak knives between my fingers and run around the house, pretending I was Wolverine -- but I never let anyone see me.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Longest Page

My Great White Whale

A mushroom walks into a bar. The bartender looks at it derisively and says, "we don't serve your kind here."

"What's the matter?" the mushroom asks, astounded, "I'm a fungi."

I really wanted to like this book. After reading a string of downers, I was ready for a good laugh, and I had heard that A Confederacy of Dunces was a riot. I actually purchased the novel close to 2 years ago, but for some reason always procrastinated reading it.

Jesus, this book won the Pulitzer Prize? Really? Why? For a novel that is supposed to be "uproariously funny," there sure are very few laughs. If you enjoy laughing at border-line retarded people or the misfortune of imbeciles, maybe this book is for you. For me that's the reason why I hate it: there are no characters that I can find even a remote liking for, nor a redeeming quality. It would work a lot better were it a short story, perhaps. Jack London's In a Far Country is about two loathesome men forced to share a tiny cabin in the Arctic North, and it works; partly because of the story's length, but also because the weaknesses of those two men, as contemptible as they are, are frighteningly plausible, and question the readers' will and willpower. A Confederacy offers no such personalities.

The book's author, John Kennedy Toole, commited suicide before the novel's publication, and if it wasn't for his mother, it would have remained unpublished. But Mama Toole believed her son had written something great, and due to her hard work, the novel found publication close to 10 years later.

I don't want the bad karma that may come with criticizing the work of a dead man, but I have to say: there's no way this book gets the acclaim it doesn't deserve, let alone published, were it not for the fact that the author killed himself. I'm sorry if that sounds callous, but it's true. It's just not that good a book. Again, there are no characters that are the tiniest bit likeable (save maybe for Jones, the black custodian of The Night of Joy nightclub). It's as though the author went out of his way to make every single character as repulsive, as detestable, as possible.

Perhaps that's why it's taken me so long to read. For me, picking up Confederacy is harder than putting on wet socks. I started reading it over a month ago, and I still have just under a hundred pages left. Take into account that the book, though the page count totals roughly 390 pages, is gigantically spaced, and the page borders are almost as spacious on the page as the text is. If this were a regular paperback, I'd be surprised if it clocked in at over 200 pages.

So, mercifully, it isn't as long as Ulysses; if it were, I think I'd kill myself.

It still baffles me how much acclaim the book gets. Of course, I haven't finished it yet, so I probably shouldn't be sounding off on how it's the worst novel ever subjected to mankind. But I don't see a big turnaround coming soon.

What is it? Is there a check for one thousand dollars attached to the back of the book that I don't know about? I hate to be one of those guys: someone who rags on something one cherishes dearly. For example, if someone were to tell me "The Lord of the Rings movies were the worst things I've ever seen in my life," I'd probably dismiss them as mental. But I just don't get this book. I'm tempted to read it again and again until I do, because I can't think of a book that has garnered so much acclaim and which I loathe to my very being. I keep telling myself I'm missing the point -- but I'm afraid there really isn't one (though I do believe the book should be required reading for anyone surfing the Internet). For me it ranks only with Catch-22 in terms of books with a premise (or gimmick) that the novel's length far exceeds.

Then again The Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite novels. So maybe I'm not the best authority on "acclaimed novels with a loathesome protagonist" that are, in fact, garbage.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

"What the fuck happened to you?"

A guilty pleasure of mine these days is http://www.awfulplasticsurgery.com. It's both tremendously funny and depressing. Like finding out an ex-girlfriend/boyfriend is now unemployed and has a hardcore drug habit.

But if that doesn't tickle your funnybone, maybe this will (though nowadays it's not entirely true, what with her coke-binging and all): http://www.lohanfreestyle.com


I know a tomato is technically a fruit, but that still don't make it right:

http://www.ht.co.kr/html/ (check the ad at the top of the page)

For the record, last Tuesday I bought and consumed one of these aberrations.

Update: I can only assume that their tomato ice bar experiment has ended in failure, because I can't for the life of me find a link to the disgusting 토마토마 bar anywhere on the site.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Dalton Ames! Dalton Ames!

The Sound and The Fury is a great novel. It's harder than Chinese arithmetic, especially if you read it while drinking, as I did in the spring of 2001, but it's still a great book -- unlike Joyce's Ulysses, which is the literary equivalent of a spinal tap.

A few years ago I came across a website where the webmaster(?), Doug Shaw, a university professor, had posted reviews of the Modern Library's list of the Top 100 English-language Novels of the 20th Century. I was curious to read his take on some of my favorite books. I found his reviews insightful and, even though I sometimes disagreed with his overall opinion of a particular book, very humorous. I'm still waiting for his review of Lord Jim; that's how much I enjoyed his reviews.

Which brings us back to The Sound and The Fury. I'd put it behind only The Grapes of Wrath -- another novel that Shaw, if I remember correctly, was quite ambivalent towards -- as the greatest American novel ever written. Sure, it can be a pain in the ass at times; but so can my wife, and I love her dearly.

Shaw's review, which is somewhat on-the-fence, is worth a read for its humor alone. Maybe I'm making it seem funnier than some people will ultimately find it. But it still made me chuckle, reading it today.

An excerpt:

How to be a better writer than William Faulkner

If you are writing a story that jumps around a lot in time and space, do NOT give two different characters the same name.

If you are writing a story that jumps around a lot in time and space, with a very subjective narrative that doesn't clearly delineate who is who, do NOT name a female character Quentin.

If you insist on writing a story that jumps around a lot in time and space, with a very subjective narrative that doesn't clearly delineate who is who, that has a female character named Quentin, do NOT then give a different, male character the same name.

If you somehow think it is a good idea to write a story that jumps around a lot in time and space, with a very subjective narrative that doesn't clearly delineate who is who, that has a female character named Quentin, and a male character named Quentin, do NOT then give the retarded narrator of the first quarter of the book TWO different names like Maury and Benjy.

If you are a complete bastard and go and write a story that jumps around a lot in time and space, with a very subjective narrative that doesn't clearly delineate who is who, that has a female character named Quentin, and a male character named Quentin, and a retarded narrator of the first quarter of the book who is named Maury, and also named Benjy, do NOT, in the name of Somerset Maugham, do NOT then name the UNCLE Maury as well. What's wrong with you?

For the full review, visit http://www.dougshaw.com/Reviews/review6.html

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

"Don't go against the grain."

I'm pretty easy. Like Sunday morning. I don't wear cologne, usually; I'm not overly picky about what I wear; and I've never had any of the following:

a manicure, highlights, electrolysis, teeth whitened, ass and/or pectoral implants.

My typical routine for getting ready each morning is to shower, shave, brush my teeth, throw on my clothes (the wife presses them; I actually do more harm than good when I try to iron), and apply the tiniest amount of hair gel to banish my perpetual cowlick(s).

No silly metrosexual stuff for me. Still, I have a weakness, and it is Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It's high-quality, entertaining television. And if you can't see the genius of it, well, sir, I'm afraid we can't be friends.

And while I get a tremendous kick out of the show, I hardly adhere to all of the Fab Five's sage advice. I mean, I've rarely thought about or given a shit whether my belt matches my shoes. I'm a clean guy, and our apartment is nice-looking, but as far as interior decorating goes I'm hopeless. And, as previously mentioned, I can't cook for shit.

So why do I like the show so much? Beats me. I also like watching the Food Network for hours and hours, but it's not for culinary preparation tips or Jamie Oliver's lisp.

Watching the show, I became very curious about something. Every episode they show the subject getting ready for his big date/dinner/surgical operation/whatever, and when the guy shaves they always make a note of whether he shaves up or down, with the grain or against it. If the subject shaves against the grain, the guys shriek and protest as though the dude has decided that instead of his face he's decided to shave his balls and has nicked a testicle.

I mean, what's the big fucking deal? I shave against the grain. If I didn't, I'd have stubble all day. It gives me a closer shave. I understand that it might give you some serious razor burn if you have sensitive skin, but I'm used to it.

I'm a big boy. I can take it.

Gay people can be so squeamish.

The Greatest Pac-Man Victory in History

This guy masturbates. A lot.

Kids, always follow your dreams and you can achieve the impossible. Not even late president Ronald Reagan and a little Asian-American kid can stop you, the fuckers.


Gratuitous Cute-ity

Your consideration for the vacant Pistons head coaching job.

This ain't Disneyland, is it?

The Diabolical One.