Ghost in the Machine: KcMLog

November 1999 Archives

11/30/99 - Hello again. I'm back from the South Carolina Thanksgiving trip, during which I consumed egregious loads of birdflesh, witnessed (on television) a barnburner of a Georgia bowl, and discovered for myself how lame the Bond franchise has become (although, the truth be told, TWINE is probably the best of the Brosnans). Also caught a Clemson-UCF basketball game in nearby Greenville - the Tigers need a scoring guard in the worst way - the only one they have at the moment - Ed Solomon - is a total chucker.

I just came back from Barbelith's weblog once more - his format is really much, much better than mine, but I just can't bring myself to steal it. However, I have stolen from him the Cool Website of the Day: The Shredder, a perfect way to unleash your violent impulses on unsuspecting webpages.

Speaking of weblogs, creating and updating this webpage reminds me a bit of Shelley's "Ozymandias." Here I've spent countless hours of free time erecting this monument to myself, my interests, my opinions, and so forth, and it's basically sitting in a cyberscape desert which racks up possibly 100 hits in a good year. (Strains of Depeche Mode's 1982 classic A Broken Frame also come to mind.) It's probably best not to think that way, I guess. Therein lies madness...

Although it does remind me of a story I heard former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich tell on Letterman once. One summer he was working the late shift on a top 40 radio station up in the New Hampshire mountains around Dartmouth College. He offered $100 to the first person to call in with the names of the past five songs. When noone rang, he offered $100 to the first person to call in. No answers.

But, no matter - I've got a cache of Chewy Chips Ahoy and a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat over here to keep me content, so I might as well type into the wind. Until next time.

11/24/99 - About to pack for the Clemson Thanksgiving trip. Elaine and I exchanged proposal-anniversary gifts yesterday: she got one dozen roses and I got The Corruptor on DVD. Ain't Love grand?

In reference to yesterday's NBA talk, Latrell Sprewell received a $10,000 fine and a harrassing early morning phone call from the NBA as his penance for heckling the hecklers. In other Knicks news, there's a great article in this week's Village Voice arguing the merits of a Sprewell-Houston backcourt. I can't understand why Van Gundy doesn't go this route - we are now an under .500 team who LOST TO THE CLIPPERS last night, for Pete's sake.

Speaking of the Voice, I just read a week-old Mondo Washington piece in which Ridgeway discloses that eight of Al Gore's fellow soldiers in his Vietnam platoon now claim that he received special treatment, including having other soldiers act as his bodyguards to keep him out of trouble. It is pretty disgusting to discover that, all the while Gore is making himself out to be a war hero, in fact he was getting the Saving Private Ryan special throughout Vietnam because of his Fortunate Son status. It's just plain sad.

11/23/99 - Hello and a happy upcoming Turkey Day to all. I'll be spending Thanksgiving with my in-laws in Clemson, South Carolina. Should be the usual fun combination of family, feasting, and football, I would think. Speaking of in-laws, today is the one year anniversary of my proposal to Eleni in front of the Capitol. Time flies when you're having fun!

Picked up 2 CD's today: The Man on the Moon soundtrack (by R.E.M.) and Chant Down Babylon, a hip-hop tribute to Bob Marley. For further thoughts on these two discs, check out my new Epinions. Elaine and I also saw The Bachelor on Saturday night - It was a better-than-average romantic comedy, benefiting greatly from Renee Zellweger's girl-next-door appeal and hammy performances by Hal Holbrook and James Cromwell.

After a two-month dry spell, I've gladly caught the reading bug again. I'm currently in the middle of Mostly Harmless, the fifth book in Douglas Adams's increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker's Trilogy. I had read the first four a long time ago, but I was encouraged to reread them before and during my recent trip to London. So far, Mostly Harmless is a strange bird, but I have yet to get to that point where all the varied subplots intertwine.

I've also just started what seems to be a great book entitled Black Hawk Down, by journalist Mark Bowden. It's a riveting minute-by-minute account of the Battle of Mogadishu, the most extensive American conflict in the Somalia campaign. The pace and intensity of the book is really quite amazing. I started it the other night intending to read a half-dozen pages before I fell asleep and had to force myself to put it down an hour later. My only qualm with Black Hawk Down, and it's hardly a qualm at all, is that Bowden is apparently shopping the movie rights to Jerry Bruckheimer. Meaning that, should the deal go through, we can probably expect this amazing piece of journalism to be converted into a truly awful film by the likes of a hyperkinetic hack like Michael Bay. Ugh.

I contacted a former editor of mine at Slate to complain about their publishing a Gore-written puff piece the same day as a William Saletan-penned Bradley-bashing. His reply: "I have no editorial interest in balancing the Slate books to produce 'parity.' Parity is for newspapers." Pretty disgusting, eh? A friend of mine put it best when he wrote, "Saletan is completely in the tank for Gore. it's absurd and off-putting and unbecoming for a magazine like Slate that purports to be mean to everyone." Amen, brother.

So Sunday night I finally caught an episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, which with Pokemon seems to constitute the most sizable chunk of the fall 1999 entertainment zeitgeist. I can see the appeal, I guess, although I think it's fundamentally unfair that a contestant can amass the same amount of loot after ten easy questions that it would take a Jeopardy contestant four or five days of brutal interrogation and cutthroat competition to enjoy. Regis does look happy to have ditched Kathy Lee, though, and personally I don't blame him.

Speaking of easy questions, now has an on-line trivia game where you can win a miniscule amount of store credit every day.

David Stern and the NBA higher-ups have started harassing their favorite target once again - Latrell Sprewell. Apparently, Spree used some profane words to shut up a couple of Golden State hecklers last weekend. This, coupled with not shaking the hand of PJ Carlesimo, the archetypal asshole coach whose choice words for Spree two years ago incited the unfortunate choking incident with which we are now all thoroughly familiar, are the pretext for Stern to pester Sprewell once again for his winning the Feerick arbitration. I subscribe to many David Stern conspiracy theories - this is but the latest...

11/20/99 - It's a beautiful Saturday morning here in Alexandria, and I'm off very soon to bundle up and shoot some hoops.

The GRE is over and done with. I did slightly better than I did on my SAT back in the day, meaning that four years of expensive education only made me marginally smarter. Ah well, at least I have the memories...

Caught Sleepy Hollow last night. To tell the truth, I was somewhat disappointed (this is why I really shouldn't get in the habit of adding movies to my Film page based on expectations). It was stylish enough in that Burtonesque fashion, to be sure, and Johnny Depp is always good, but in the end it still rang...hollow. Part of the problem, I think, was the Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven, 8mm) screenplay. Not only do I think he's overrated anyway (although I did like Fight Club), but I also wasn't expecting his kind of stomach-churning fare when I walked in. Ok, it's the Headless Horseman - you have to expect decapitations, but decapitated fetuses? Oedipal Iron Maiden flashbacks? Not my cup of tea, thank you very much. I had heard that Tom Stoppard had done a rewrite but, other than the occasional droll interplay between Constable Ichabod Crane and the town elders, his trademark wit is not in evidence. To be honest, I might have enjoyed this one more a few weeks ago, when I was in the Halloween mood and before I had seen Fight Club/Malkovich, but, in comparison to those two classics, Hollow doesn't hold together. Can't say enough about the cinematography, though. As can be expected, Burton knocked the style factor out of the park.

11/17/99 - Quite the consumer yesterday. Not only did the new Dre 2001 drop (My initial take - some decent hooks but not quite the second coming of hip-hop - so far I prefer the recent Method Man/Redman joint), but I also picked up The Spy who Shagged Me on DVD and a new Adidas lid (hey, it's getting cold in these parts).

Speaking of which, Elaine and I must have seen Austin Powers 2 at least 15 times all the way through on our Carnival Cruise honeymoon - it was showing on the stateroom televisions pretty much constantly. We also have an inflatable Mini-Me-shaped pillow floating around the apartment, which we lavish attention on when we want to hone our child-rearing skills. We might get a dog in the near future, but for now a plastic Mini-Me is so much easier to clean up after. Mini-Me, you complete us.

The first Bradley ad starts showing today in New Hampshire and Iowa - you can check it out at the official website. It's a classy 60 second biography, comprising of black and white still photos and testimonials and focusing mainly on the candidate's Senate years. I'm not sure if I like the new tag line all that much - "IT CAN HAPPEN." I'd prefer something more psychologically definitive, like "It WILL happen." Why leave room for doubt to fester in the minds of his supporters? Just some actualization advice from an ex-coxswain...take it or leave it.

Not much else to report. I'm slowly but surely resettling into Eastern Standard Time. Elaine and I went out for sushi last night at a restaurant that, suffice to say, we will not be returning to. At noon today, I plan to take a practice GRE, which should be more fun than you can shake a stick at. We're taking the test for real on Friday - I have yet to decide whether or not I'd like to go back to school next fall, but the dastardly exam must be taken so as to leave all options open. On that note, I should go make some coffee and dig deep for those old geometry equations...

11/15/99 - Hello all. After reaching a relatively decent stopping point in my homepage expansion about two weeks ago, I began exploring other personal web pages around the net (Barbelith, Megnut, and Saturn, for example) and was dismayed to discover that most of them had me over a barrel in terms of form and content. To be honest, there's not much I can do about the form: hopefully, the simple/retro/I know only the most basic of basic html look will never go out of style. As for the content, I've decided to take a cue from these admittedly superior sites and begin my own online journal here. Hope you enjoy it.

Just returned from a week in London this past Saturday, where Elaine was taking part in an international biometrics conference. It was nice to explore the old childhood haunts, although truth be told I didn't get to see as much as I would have liked. We spent most of our time enjoying the nightlife of the Tottenham Court Road/Covent Garden/Leicester Square/Piccadilly Circus environs, although we did manage to fit in a drawn-out bus tour and some day trips to Westminster Abbey and the National Gallery. We caught two shows during the week: Noel Coward's Song at Twilight, with siblings Vanessa and Corin Redgrave, and that old tourist standby Phantom of the Opera (my brother had recommended Les Miserables, but I had forgotten this nugget of information until after tickets had been purchased.) There was also much partaking of Fruit Gums and Bounty Bars, not to mention that wonderful European Mickey D's exclusive, the McBacon Roll.

Recent Rave: Being John Malkovich. A truly bizarre and unsettling film, especially for fans of ambiguously ending Twilight Zone episodes. Other than the immortal Irish sea captain bit in the final third, this movie is firing on all cylinders throughout. Excellent writing, scathing (and self-deprecating) satire, chimp psychology, and a gung-ho daring to push the envelope make Malkovich the best movie I've seen since...well, since Fight Club. It's been a truly grand season for movies of late. I can't remember the last time I've seen so many excellent-to-above average films in the theaters in a row (Malkovich, Fight Club, 3 Kings, American Beauty, etc.) Here's hoping that Dogma and Sleepy Hollow can keep the streak going...

In the world of basketball, alas, the Knicks have now lost three in a row by close margins and are now, as usual, a .500 team. More grievous still is the karmic spillover from this fact into the political arena, where Al Gore, a petty, desperate man who in a few short months I've gone from feeling ambivalent about to truly disliking, has used increasingly negative campaigning to widen his polling margins over Bill Bradley. I know the big dance is still a few months away, but the fear-and-loathing is starting to come on strong. I do not want to be put in a position where I have to choose between Bush and Gore, two pathetically uninspiring fortunate sons desperately trying to claw from out their fathers' shadows. I truly hope the Democrats realize what a Mondale-esque situation they're putting the party in if they choose Gore. We'll see.

Fun site of the day: The Wu-Tang Namelizer. Here you can find out your true Wu-Tang Killa Bee name. I happen to be Gorky's Zygotic Glove Puppet. Elaine came out as Sharpened Doctah, my brother Thad as Father Webmaster, my sister-in-law Lotta as Likable Warlock, and my favorite Democratic candidate as Grand Moff Puppeteer. Utterly useless, but fun nonetheless.

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