Saturday, May 31, 2003

FRIGGIN' SAD: So I'm meeting some friends for a birthday bash at Fez above Time Cafe on Amsterdam. It seems I'm being sucked into the horde of JUPpies that alternate between Fez and Mod every Saturday eve. We live in the greatest bar town in the western hemisphere and I'm reduced to THIS? I feel like a free-range chicken. You know, they swing open the barn door to the great outdoors and say "be free" but all the stupid bird wants to do is huddle together in a corner and peck the other birds' sh*t. I bet I'll have a good time, though. We're all sheep.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

BLOGBLOG: I realize that blogging about blogging is frowned upon, but I feel that I have reached a point in the evolution of my blog whereupon I have to get a few things off of my chest. Gimlet Eyes is coming up on its six month anniversary and, as befitting an agenda-less blog, has seen several overall themes come and go. It seems fitting that my first post was related to pop culture and television, as the single most recurring theme has been my observations of what's on the telly. I'm not sure this is healthy as my blog does reflect the preponderance of my random thoughts and the trend is concerning. I hope to get out more and rely less on this social crutch in the future. I intend to pursue a bigger apartment and possibly a dog to assist me in this endeavor. The war is over, and while I refrained from directly commenting on it, Operation Iraqi Freedom was clearly on my mind during the war years/months/weeks. The random technology bits scattered throughout the blog don't accurately reflect my passion for the discipline, especially since I am way more interested in coding in general and "social software" in particular, than I am in hardware. At various points, I also discussed my family, my heritage, my city and my feelings about the Columbia disaster, all of which I hope to expound upon in the future. I'm hoping the outdoors, philosophy and new and exciting random musings will invigorate this space in the coming months -in addition to those themes worthy of continuance. In summation, dear reader(s,) stay tuned and keep the feedback coming!
RARE: Just saw an SNL rerun with Sean Hayes as the host. They did the "Geoffreys" sketch with Sean and Jimmy as the obnoxious salespeople in an avante garde boutique. Will came in as the boss on his scooter and answered his teeny tiny cellphone. While its customary for Jimmy to crack up (especially when Horatio is in the vicinity) even Will -who NEVER breaks character- lost it on this one. His Mugatu getup, the scooter and the aforementioned weensy phone was just too much. Anna and Molly get an honorable mention for tripping out on portobello mushrooms in their "Delicious Dish" sketch.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

ÜBER COUCH POTATO: If you've stuck around this long, you know that there's a very strong geek component to my personality. The cool thing is that when I'm done building this very cool little computer I'm going to put this onto it and hook it into my TV and amplifier. The idea is that in addition to having a free version of Tivo, I'll also have a DVD/CD player/writer and an MP3 player. I'll control the whole shebang from my couch with this. How cool?
IT'S A MAD, MAD WORLD: I dropped into my bank today to get some coin envelopes. Handing them over to me, the teller says:

We charge for accepting more than eight envelopes at a time.

So, let me get this straight, You want me to pay you? to give you my money? At a bank?

TRIBUTE: Last night's Futurama (rerun) paid tribute to silent film great Harold Lloyd. It turns out Doctor Zoidberg's uncle is the great silent holofilm star Harold Zoid. Harold even has Lloyd's trademark owl glasses. Now that's lobstertainment!

Sunday, May 25, 2003

THOSE MAGIC MOMENTS: Picture shopping for groceries at the neighborhood Associated late at night. On the checkout line with my mesclun salad, milk and rice pudding. The cashier is a middle aged Hispanic man working the late shift who brought his preteen daughter to work. She's at that age when little girls still think Daddy is the best. In a few years, she's probably be doing everything in her power to worry her father into an early grave, but for now, she's bagging the groceries he checks out. Sweet. So I'm watching her bag and gently giving pointers on which items to pack with which. You know, being careful to be helpful and giving dad a vibe that I'm enjoying pumping up his daughter's sense of the importance of her first "job." You've got to be careful here. If I seem to overbearing, the father will feel obligated to scold the well meaning lass and apologize to me for bringing his daughter to work, etc. Precious. As I took my bags and graciously thanked my helpful little bagger for a job well done, I noticed her "salary" jar and tipped my change into it. For a brief moment, we all shared something.

Friday, May 23, 2003

GML: I find the expressiveness of HTML and punctuation to be somewhat lacking. Hence, you may notice some unusual made-up HTML "tags" in my missives here and there. One I've used before is <reverb> and one I've borrowed from Jon is <sweeping generalization>. I'd like to formalize some tags into an expressive grammar for my blog. I christen this new grammar Gimlet Markup Language, or GML for short. Herein are some GML tags and their usage:
Tag NameDefinition
<reverb>Used to add that impressive echo to a statement. Ex: <reverb>Ladies and Gentlemen, Your New York Knickerbockers!</reverb>
<grin>Unary. Used to denote mischief/humor (context sensitive.) Ex: I mentioned you in my blog, so now you're famous <grin>
<sheepish grin>Unary. Used to shy humor. Ex: Yeah, choker does make you look cheap <sheepish grin>.
<salacious grin>Unary. Deprecated (being phased out) in favor of the binary <wink> (see below.) Ex: So, How YOU doin'? <salacious grin>
<wink>Standards compliant version of <salacious grin>. Used to connote ulterior motive. Usage: <wink>Wanna come over and watch a video, or something?</wink>
<TTMA>Talking Through My A**. When it is generally agreed that I don't know what I'm saying. Ex: <TTMA>Why don't you get a job?!</TTMA>
<TTHA>Talking Through His/Her A**. See <TTMA>
<nag>Literally, Nag. As in: <nag>When are you going to get married already?</nag>
<SKIB>Swift Kick in the Behind. Ex: <SKIB>Did you ever call that annoying client?</SKIB>
<DS>Dope Slap. Unary. Often used in place of <SKIB>. <DS> is the original Netscape version of the whacking reminder. More details here.
<SUH>Slap Upside the Head. Binary synonym of <DS>. This is the ECMA sanctioned version.
More tags to come as the working draft wends its way through the finalization process. Comments? Suggestions?
POINTLESS: As I suspected, the Michael Douglas remake of the In-Laws is nowhere nearly as funny as the original. Of course, Peter Falk and Alan Arkin shine in the 1979 original, but Richard Libertini steals every scene he's in as General Garcia, the insane dictator of a banana republic.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

SHOWER SCUM: I've been religiously spritzing my shower/bath with Tilex® Fresh Shower® Daily Shower Cleaner after every shower now for years. Let me tell y'all, while this stuff definitely does something, it's no panacea. The grout at the intersection of the tile wall and the bathtub is all sorts of brown. While the rest of the stall is OK, looking at that mildew farm every day encroaches on that squeaky clean vibe I enjoy so much. I can't scrub it off, though, as the grout is too weak. I'm sure as hell not gonna regrout the bath in my crummy little studio rental. Sigh, more signs from the housing gods that it's time to move on...

Monday, May 19, 2003

CHOPPERS: Orange County Choppers' Paul Teutel Sr. and Jr. are featured in the Discovery Channel's American Chopper Series. In a perfect world, these two hulking and temperamental gents would probably not be sharing a work environment. But they are father and son, and they seem to have come to grips with that in a touching and humorous way. Apparently Junior had several demons in his youth, but they were excised (exorcised?) by a religious experience. Junior and Senior -who doesn't seem to do much other than "manage" his son and verbally bully suppliers into compliance- collaborate to produce that great American art form: the "chopper." For the uninformed, choppers are the lowriders of the motorcycle industry. They usually posess a highly polished large block Harley engine (one that sounds like an invasion at full throttle seems preferable) and have extravagant bodywork and finishes. The episode that really warmed my heart, though, was when Junior worked with his "little brother" Cody to produce a bike that Cody designed. Cody is a teenager with a yen for motorcycle design and the Teutels let him hang around the shop and help out. The builders of these bikes represent the American ethos of individuality, camaraderie, know-how and our special relationship with the internal combustion engine. It's amazing how beautiful and inspiring these rolling works of art are -especially considering their humble beginnings and creators' simplicity. Most of the fabricators highlighted in the American Chopper series are not classically schooled as engineers, yet their creations come together and run with the precision of Swiss watches. Oh, and these guys collectively seem to have taken an oath never to wear shirts with sleeves. Now if only they would build a custom, macked out Big Wheel™...
WHOA NELLIE: Fat Girl, I have nothing, NOTHING, against you. But you should have the good sense not to wear Little Belly Shirt. And please, PLEASE, don't compound the error by trying to cover it with Tiny Zippered Sweatshirt. Hint: If the zipper won't budge, maybe it's trying to tell you something. Of course ignore my advice if your ultimate goal is to become this American treasure.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

HATE: I was waiting for the 190 bus in Port Authority that would take me to my brother's house today when I noticed a disturbing symbol for the umpteenth time. There, scratched into a metal upright by the gate was a small swastika. It never ceases to amaze me how these little symbols of hate pop up in the most unlikely of places. I still remember finding one scratched onto the screen door in the back of my house when I was a kid. Who, in New York City in this day and age, is so filled with hate that they need to express it by stabbing a bent cross into metal? My first reaction was to take out my keys and try to scratch over it. No dice. It takes more than a mere household key and casual pressure to ding those metal uprights. Someone must have some really sharp implements in their pockets for this work. What troglodyte would actually risk being seen putting some serious elbow grease into carving a swastika in a public place? My only consolation was a limited one. At least the misanthrope was going to New Jersey. But hey, I have family there!

Friday, May 16, 2003

FOUR: As the news rolls in on the latest series of terrorist attacks in Casablanca, it now appears that Al-Qaeda's calling card is the simultaneous launching of four terrorist actions at a time. How utterly, despicably evil.
DRAMATIC PAUSE: This Kristof op-ed piece (NYTimes, free registration required) eloquently sums up a nasty, persistent problem in some of the most pathetic places on earth. Additionally, the 'Times' editorial board seems to agree with me on the troubling behavior by NASA in the days before the Columbia disaster.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

OFFICE TRAMPS: I have a theory that there are two types of well dressed professional women. The first kind dresses sharp and professional and perhaps a little bit sexy but doesn't go over the edge, so to speak. The other, and, ah, visually more interesting, is just slightly over the top. You know what I'm talking about. The skirt is just a little to short; the neckline plunges just a little to far; perhaps a frilly flourish that says "Hey look at me!" Of course the open toe mules highlighting the pedicure and perhaps the toe ring caps the effect. So I'm thinking this latter category of office female is perhaps a little too vested in office life. The gossip; the shenanigans; etc. Am I way off base? Sound off on me here.
NEW LOOK: Waddya think?
MORE PROOF THAT CARTOONS AREN'T JUST FOR KIDS: I just watched an episode of Family Guy (part of the weeknight Adult Swim on Cartoon Network.) Brian the dog won an award for directing "Shaving Private Ryan," an adult film. The need for a "fluffing" was mentioned. Jenna Jameson and what was obviously Ron Jeremy made appearances. And kids watched this stuff?

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

I CAN'T BELIEVE I DID THAT: I actually just put the phone down on a telemarketer. No, I didn't hang up, I just put the phone down. Let them figure out when noone's listening anymore.
TICKLE ME MARTY: Anyone see the AmEx commercial featuring Martin Scorsese critiquing the pictures he took of him nephew's fifth birthday party?

"What was I thinking? I've lost the narrative thread!"

Jim Breuer gets an honorable mention for his Right Guard® commercial with Randy Johnson (the Unit) as a metaphorical odor killer firing dodgeballs at some poor gym shlubs who are hysterically running for their lives.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

TEN THINGS TO EASE YOUR (COMPUTING) PAIN: I was discussing the foibles of creating user interfaces with advanced features with my good friend Steve the other day. I lamented that it seems like an excercise in futility when most computer users we encounter in our line of work don't even have the mastery of the basic Windows interface. Some items we came up with that annoy us to no end and would make the user population's life so much easier if they were understood are:

1. Buttons do not require double-clicking. Only icons do. 2. Icons live on the desktop and in the system tray. Everything else that's clickable is an button, even if it looks like an icon (as in a picture "icon" on a web page.) 3. The rows of buttons at the top of programs underneath the menubar are called toolbars. Toolbars contain buttons and (sometimes) selectors. They do NOT contain icons. 4. The rows of buttons near the start menu is called the Quick Launch toolbar. 5. The row of ICONS near the clock (lower right hand corner) is called the system tray. 6. "Click" means left-mouse button click unless otherwise specified. For example, if you are told to "right (mouse) click" and then click, the second click should be a left mouse click. 7. Right mouse clicking on an icon brings up a menu of choices that you can perform on the icon. 8. The default action -which is what occurs when you double click on an icon- for an icon is the option shown in bold when right mouse clicking on the icon. 9. The cursor can be moved from input field to input field with the tab key. This eases the annoyance of using the mouse to constantly reposition the cursor for each field. Shift-tabbing makes the cursor move backwards through input fields. 10. Most commonly used menu items and buttons have keyboard shortcuts. Learning them makes you work faster. Extra Credit. Clickable items in web pages NEVER require double clicking.

Note that most of these rules also apply to other operating systems such as Linux/Unix and MacOS.

WASTE: I'm the kind of guy who picks up the egregious pieces of litter that others can trip on in my subway. Frankly, the world would be a better place if more people did this kind of thing. As for the metrotrash, (my sniglet for discarded metrocards) I just leave it be.
HAH!: Bender's least favorite word: "Antiquing."

Monday, May 12, 2003

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Spacing out the other day, I decided that people either seek to transcend or to exist. I seek to exist. But I dream about transcending. Specifically, I'd like to be a Jedi. Also: a good NYTimes op-ed read here.

Friday, May 09, 2003

METAL: Metallica's Hero of the Day from the Load album has made it back into my daily rotation. As when it was first released back in '96, I wonder why this song never really took off on the charts. It has all the classic metal ballad ingredients: Soulful guitar; mournful tone and children. For some reason all the great metal ballads have children in their narrative.
SHUTTLE IDEA: Couldn't an armored sleeve for the shuttle wing leading edge that gets jettisoned after the danger has passed be designed? That would solve the problem described in this article.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

CONFIRMATION: Loyal readers will remember that back on February 3rd, I maintained that NASA's failure to have the orbiting Columbia visually inspected by any of a number of ground or space based lensing assets after being damaged by debris on takeoff would come back to haunt it. Quoth The New York Times:

Another board member, Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Hess, said NASA management's decision not to ask other agencies to photograph the shuttle during the mission to see if the damage could be detected appeared to be based on a misunderstanding about who had actually wanted the images.

When management received the request, he said, "it was never made clear to them that the people who wanted the outside imagery were the damage assessment team," and not just kibbitzers. "At the end of the day everybody went back and did the best that they could with the information they had."


Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Ewan: I've always maintained that Ewan McGregor can be the next Harrison Ford if he plays his cards right. Now I think I'm about to be proven correct.
SISTER, SISTER: My sister Bena is the coolest. She's my elder by six years, but we still giggle like children when we get together. Who else consistenly laughs when I blurt out "Blücher!" or intimate (in falsetto) ""Miss Me?" Bena calls me just about every night to check up on me. We are each other's safety net and one of us usually knows exactly where the other is. Bena is also the most (bar none!) doting aunt imaginable. My neices and nephews all call me "Uncle Yaakov" (that's Hebrew for Jacob) but to them, she's just "Bena." She gives me an uncle complex. Bena buys toys for them every time she sees the kiddies, takes them to Broadway shows and such. I'm just starting to learn by imitation (from her) how to play the doting uncle role, but I'll never catch up. Did I mention she's a classy, high powered litigator? Weeeell, she's a lawyer, all right... Interestingly enough, I seem to collect surrogate sisters in other cities: There's Andrea in Los Angeles, my next door neighbor when I lived there for six months last year. Andrea lives with Smokie, Richard Grieco's cast away kittie. At this time I would also like to nominate Wendy as my surrogate sister in Chicago. Permission pending, of course. Wen, are you in?

Sunday, May 04, 2003

GO NEW YORK, GO NEW YORK, GO: Well -despite all of our highly paid sports teams- we may not have any postseason action in the professional leagues, but we did win the Kentucky Derby. Yes, that's right, a New York bred horse beat the good ole' boys' best at that old school Mecca of white trash sporting events. It's nice to know that despite all of its acclaimed multiculturalism, New York can still play the breeding game with the best of 'em. Sigh, the poor beastie was a gelding, or, as my equine-challenged friend says, "What, you mean a Hebe?" (He's Jewish too, so no bad blood here.) Although, if you think about it, that sorta does make the horse Jewish, in an extreme sort of way.

Friday, May 02, 2003

Wehhhhh-ellllllll: I just saw "A Mighty Wind" this afternoon. If you've seen it, you'll recognize the tag line at the beginning of this post. Seriously folks, this is one hilarious (or yet another hilarious) mockumentary from the wacky folks who brought you "This is Spinal Tap" and "Best in Show." All in the cast are hilariously funny, but some deserve special mention (IMHO). Check out:

-Jane Lynch as a white trash former porn-queen turned folk singer. -Jennifer Coolidge in a small but memorable role as a wacky, promoter's wife. What the hell is that accent? -Theres a member of the New Main Street Singers that's a dead ringer for Rivers Cuomo. Can anyone find out if it's really him?

HARVEY WEINSTEIN ON LINE ONE: How about a movie about college kids who:

a) Attend class. b) Are not majoring in the liberal arts c) Take an extracurricular interest in their studies. d) Are well adjusted despite the presence of a, b and c.

No movie (of recent vintage at least) that I can recall satisfies the preceeding criteria. Do I smell a niche?

Thursday, May 01, 2003

INSOMNIAC RULES: Dave Attell is my kind of comedian. In case you've never watched, Insomniac follows Dave as he visits cities and towns across America, does his stand up gigs, and prowls the nightlife. Tonight, Dave wanders into a model bar in South Beach and points out the partygoers: "Model, Model, Trust Fund, Model, Coke Whore..." His baldness observers: " I couldn't get laid in here if I was holding an Oscar." I must say, I appreciate Comedy Central's jaundiced view of the entertainment world. It's definitely an adult channel, as opposed to, say, MTV.