Thursday, June 28, 2012


Lovable lab, or stone-cold killer? Decide for yourself yet either way, this dog is now, officially, the best thing since sliced bread. But hey, you say, sliced bread isn't all that impressive and while I'm sure you feel that way, Pep told me to tell you that being a dog sentenced to life in prison is, in fact, much more impressive than getting one's car washed or whatever else you mentioned on Facebook today, so go eat some sliced bread and stop criticizing me already.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Same Title, Different Song X

Today's competition is a monster; specifically, a genetically engineered beast of a match-up designed by top Soviet scientists exploiting the very best in sports, sport-based, and sporty technology. To sum things up in a single word, I give you...


On the slight chance that you actually grew up in a place like the Soviet Union, North Korea, or Newfoundland (and thus had no access to popular culture) here's five of the greatest minutes in cinematic history to help you get up to speed.

Now that your life has been enhanced by 53.5% you're ready for today's music. First up, Australian electronic band Cut Copy's single, 'Hearts on Fire', followed by the nostalgia-fueled juggernaut produced by John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band. Stallone would be proud.

Cut Copy - Hearts on Fire
John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band - Hearts on Fire

Back in 1988, PK's very own Harrison Forbes trained for weeks in the cold Burlington wilderness (climbed mountains, lifted ox carts full of elderly people, got shouted at by his dead friend's trainer, etc.) for the sole purpose of opening a jar of spaghetti sauce while shouting PREGO! True story. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Time Will Tell (Mesh)

The third post I wrote on this (hallowed) blog back in 2005 was about the Miami Heat, and Dwyane Wade specifically. Going way, Wade back, I found the fourth paragraph interesting:

LeBron? I'm not ready for that one yet. I don't want to go there. Ask me in a year or two. LeBron right now is still more tentative than Wade. He shoots the 3-ball better, but his drive isn't as smooth as DW, his J not as pure. But he's 3 years younger. Perhaps if 'Bron played a year or two in college and they were closer in age we could critique them fairly. But we can't. The fact is that Wade, in his second season, is simply the better player. Barring an injury on either side, it's going to be fun watching them both and debating who's better.

For me, it's been more fun in 2012 watching them play together, watching them win the 2012 title together. One thing is certain, though: Wade was the better player in '06, James the King Shit of Fuck Mountain in '12. LeBron's 2012 Playoffs performance was absolutely, incredibly, amazingly, abcredimazing. It was legendariblimazing.

As a Miami Heat fan, that's been both easy and, at times, weird to digest. I love Dwyane Wade more than I've loved any basketball player (John Starks is a close second). Hell, I named our dachshund, Flash, after him. When LeBron signed with the Heat in the summer of 2010, I was elated; who wouldn't want the best basketball player on the planet signing with their favorite team? Still, the question lingered: "How are Wade and LeBron going to mesh?"

Answer: "Sometimes hot, sometimes not."

Regarding the James/Wade dynamic, Bill Simmons made a salient point the other day:

Basketball doesn't work that way, for the same reason you don't need two transcendent lead guitarists for a rock band.

The one-two James-Wade punch worked against Indiana with Bosh out, but Simmons is right; someone has to lead, and someone has to defer. As much as I love Dwyane Wade, LeBron had to be the captain of the ship if the Heat were to win another title.

He was, they did, and now South Beach has another hero, a Superman to stand tall next to its Flash.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Children's Literature

How to draw an arrow:

Start with this:


Then, do this:


Finally, finish with this:


Then you have this:


And now you're ready to hunt.

See how easy that was?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Time of Matter

It's impossible to brace yourself for a stroke. One moment you're going about your daily life -- pushing a shopping cart in a supermarket, waiting in line at a bank, shaving in front of a mirror -- and the next everything is black. No warning, just a power outage of the head computer.

That was my experience, anyway.

At the age of 34, I had a stroke, which, I'm sure you've already kenned, I survived. I was lucky for two reasons: I was on our sofa at the time, so I didn't fall and hit my head nor break any bones, and it was only a minor stroke. Because I was "young," the doctor said. I have paresthesia in my hands and feet occasionally, especially at night, and I sometimes twist my mouth in a way that makes it look as though I'm unhappy, but otherwise it's been back to normal, save one disquieting side-effect:

When is the next one coming?

I don't live the healthiest of lifestyles. I drink too much, smoke too much. And dealing with stress is a cause-effect perpetual motion machine. Having a stroke didn't change that. In fact, it made it worse. When Death knocks on your door, even the slightest tap-tap-tap sounds like a clap of thunder, and having that constantly weigh on your mind is hard.

Forgetting it has been a breeze, though. Closing a door is easier than opening it, no? It's ironic that to forget my brush with death I continue to flirt with it, but what's that saying about keeping your enemies closer?

Human beings -- of which I am, somewhat embarrassingly, a club member -- are resilient. I want to live more than I fear dying. So every morning I wake up, get dressed, go about my business, keeping always in mind (but trying to ignore) that there's a clock counting down.

"Not today," I say to myself every morning before I leave for work. "Not tomorrow," I say before going to bed.

I'm usually right about that. One day I'll be wrong, though.

But only once.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Beast Friend

I have a friend named Steve Carpenter. He's a doctor. Cardiology. My late wife, whose surname is Lee, has an uncle named Bum-suk and a cousin named Ki-bum. A veterinarian and an Ivy League graduate respectively, they were mocked unmercifully about their names while studying abroad (my uncle-in-law in Australia, my cousin-in-law in North Carolina). When I was in fourth grade, our class was in near hysterics when we found out that our teacher Mr. King's first name was Richard. We would later discover to much mirth that his wife's name was Virginia. Oh how we laughed.

"Doesn't it drive you nuts?" I asked Steve one evening over drinks at his place, mine a gin and tonic, his a 7 and 7. "You must get the same lame jokes every day."

"Every other day and you'd be about right," he told me. "But why should I care? You learn to live with it. My pager goes off close to fifty times a day if I'm lucky, more like a hundred when I'm not. If I can stop being annoyed every time I hear or feel that vibration, it isn't hard to fake a smile and a laugh whenever a patient asks me not to give him a wooden heart valve."

Perhaps I care about the meanings behind titles and words more than most. It's my job, after all. I edit a very well-known thesaurus -- it rhymes with Jose's -- and I've spent the better part of my life pondering the weight that words bestow upon their manifestations. I've also wondered again and again whether anyone really gives a shit.

That might sound too cynical; it's not meant to be. Because I have hope: a word, manifested.

Evan Justice is the name of the man who killed my wife. Two years ago this spring. My wife, always a hot-headed driver, was driving home on the freeway when a motorcyclist cut her off. According to witnesses, she tailgated the offender and honked our Dodge's car horn for between thirty seconds to two minutes, depending on which police statement is most accurate (and at this point I don't much care, nor did I ever, I think). She then passed the biker and exited the freeway. She was stabbed to death by the motorcyclist in our driveway as she was taking grocery bags out of the car trunk.

Evan Justice. Sentenced to six years for aggravated manslaughter. I wanted to strangle myself with the irony of that name, that sentence.

Instead, I bought a dog. A dachshund. My best friend.

I named him Flash, after my favorite DC Comics superhero. I no longer recall why, but I think it was because I myself wanted to run away as fast as I could. From grief, sorrow, life itself. Described by H.L. Mencken as "a half-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long," it seemed foolish -- and unprofessional, given my job of corralling words close to their herds -- to name such a dog as anything connoting speed, quickness. No puppy with such short, stubby legs could ever grow up to resemble my imagined sobriquet for him, "Flashy Dashy."

There are times in life where I exalt in being wrong. Gifted with abnormally long legs for his breed, he jumps like a dog-sized Lee Majors' Six-Million-Dollar Man. And boy can he run. Every Sunday I take him to the park. I love watching him run away past fields of dew-kissed grass when I throw a tennis ball. I love it even more watching him running back.

"That's my boy," I say as he lays the ball at my feet and I rub him behind an ear. "Never stop running."

Flash. Yes.

Sounds right, sharp.

Like lightning.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Phases of the Shade

     If the dead could speak? the hooded woman says, interrupting our rambling conversation about George Romero's Day of the Dead and the speech capabilities of shambling corpses, the kind you have with friends working the graveyard shift at the deadest Texaco station in town, with a question that seems like more of an excuse than an inquiry accompanied by a thirty-two-ounce fountain drink set upon the counter. Mountain Dew, possibly diet. If the dead could speak, she begins, pausing only to take a big sip from the drink she has yet to purchase, they'd most likely opine that conversations are vastly overrated, which is to say, she stops again, briefly, to take another sip, they'd tell everyone to just shut the fuck up already. Additionally, she posits that the dead would suggest offering carbonated beverages free of charge since the reanimated tend not to preoccupy themselves with pecuniary concerns. Awkward laughter ensues while sardonic rejoinders are hastily prepared until the hood slips away to reveal something decidedly less than amusing, at which point someone declares, with snowballing exuberance, that fountain pop is on the house if she'd just, for the love of god, pull the goddamn hood back up. She takes another sip of Mountain Dew, possibly diet, and wonders aloud if this deal includes free refills because a lot of the pop is going to waste anyway, and who says no to that?

Kavinsky - Nightcall
Bloc Party - Hunting for Witches
Arcade Fire - Black Wave/ Bad Vibrations
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts - Do You Wanna Touch Me? (Oh Yeah)
Sufjan Stevens - The Are Night Zombies! They Are...
Florence + The Machine - Breaking Down
Foo Fighters - Stranger Things Have Happened
Radiohead - Climbing Up the Walls
White Zombie - El Phantasmo and the Chicken-Run Blast-O-Rama (Wine, Women and Song Mix)
M83 - Splendor

You can also download the collection in a zip file if that's your thing.

Fun fact, Constant Refrigerators: the title of this post, along with its predecessor are nods to Stephen King's Cycle of the Werewolf, as is the content -in a way, at least- because I love that book like Harrison Forbes loves pulling out.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chasing the Dragon

Kevin Durant is a shitty rapper. Russell Westbrook wears ugly golf shirts. James Harden hides a razor blade in his beard.

Pardon me; I'm trying to think of ways to dislike/despise the Oklahoma City Thunder going into this year's NBA Finals, and I'm having a hard(en) time. That's my problem: I like OKC too much. They're my Western Conference paramour. What they've done this postseason has been nothing short of incredible. They're an absolute juggernaut of basketball fury. And now they're set to play in possibly what will be the most-watched NBA Finals in league history against My Team, the Miami Heat, the so-called underdogs.


For players and fans, competitiveness in sports is a hard drug; you can be taken so high, reach ecstatic glory, or fall so low, into the nadir of disbelief and frustration (first stop: Cleveland, then Seattle, Vancouver, Buffalo, Toronto. All aboard!). Is it worth the risk of heartbreak? Yes. A million times, yes. The reward far outweighs the numerable lows. Because winning at the highest level is the Great Eraser; all that pain and torment, all those years -- decades in some cases, near-centuries in a few -- are immediately wiped out when the clock counts down to zero and Your Team has reached the pinnacle of its challenge.

Ask me if the Miami Heat will win the 2012 NBA title. "I doubt it," I'll say out loud, "OKC is too big, their outside shooting too strong," but inside I believe they absolutely will. That's what being a fan of sports is all about. More definitively, that's what love is.

If you have a shot, take it. Make or miss, you have had an opportunity, and that's the greatest thing about sports, life: if it goes in, you are legendary; if it doesn't, shrug it off, regroup, maybe it'll go in next time, maybe it won't, but at least you took a shot, drew breath and exhaled, hoping beyond hope to keep breathing, keep living.

But maybe I'm being overly dramatic. After all, it's only a game.