Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An artful plagiarism in children's furniture

Here's a good way to give your kid some culture with their need for speed / need for arctic animals: a polar bear rocker. A rocking bear, if you will. The culture aspect comes from the origin of the bear, which incidentally, Netto doesn't mention on their product page: a sculpture by François Pompon in the Musée D'Orsay. I recognized it as I happened to sketch the sculpture in my journal while abroad in college. At the time, it seemed to me that Coca-Cola was quoting Pompon's Ours Blanc in their polar bear ads. Netto's use is less subtle — it's exactly the same. Nice use of fine art, but they should probably give some credit somewhere.

TSA sitting break

I thought this was a funny enough picture to snap with my iPhone. TSA taking a break. Tu lo mereces, as they say in funny talk. But what wasn't funny was the adrenaline rush I got taking the photo, wondering if I was gonna be shaken down or beat down or cited under meaningless codes in the name of homeland security. I've seen enough pathetic police action in the news to know that the authorities like to invent laws regarding camera usage around the authorities. The feeling I got suggested a lot about where our government's positioned itself in regards to security. Surveillance by the citizenry is discouraged or outlawed, while surveillance of the citizenry is mandatory. That sounds like a police state to me.

'Kernel panic' is fun to say.

I had the honor of my first Mac OS X kernel panic yesterday. This screen strikes fear into the technologically faint of heart (and those on deadline), but it was more of a curiosity to me. In four years on this G5 PowerMac, I don't think I've had a kernel panic myself, but I dealt with hundreds when I worked as a Mac Genius.

You need to restart your computer. Hold down the Power button for several seconds or press the Restart button.

When my computer tells me "You need to restart your computer," I like to fire back at it, "No, you need to restart your computer!!!" The circumstances were innocuous at best with one app open, Mail. It panicked when I quit. Seeing it freeze was a small thrill. It's almost a challenge to kp Mac OS X. It's like a rush, like when Jay yells "yeeeeeaaaaah!" in Clerks.

Kernel panics aren't the end of your computer, but it probably means your software needs some cleanup. Worst case scenario, you have to boot from your restore disk by holding down the C key at startup and do an archive and install. Or actually, worst case scenario is that your processor needs replacing. But that would only be the case if this was happening again and again after your computer heated up. Which means essentially, ha ha, a new computer. When in doubt, hit up apple.com/support.

It hasn't happened since. It's probably just that the system is over two years old and runs some heavy-duty apps. Most heavy Windows users I know say they have to reinstall every six months, so I'd say one kernel panic in four years isn't so bad. And really, I like saying "kernel panic". I picture popcorn having a neurotic episode.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Jack Kerouac: "To Harpo Marx"

In preparation for this Beat retrospective tomorrow night, I met Tucker Booth and Colin Campbell down at the Hermosa Beach Historical Society. They've got a great facility down there, and the show should be engaging. Hermosa Beach has a good sense of its own cultural identity, and that makes a place desirable, to know where it's been and where it's going. That identity includes a good deal of Beat culture. Colin told me he used to visit the old bums playing chess in the park out here, one reading Marx while the other moved, and the other reading Sartre while the first moved. Resulting in very long games.

The interesting artifacts in their collection include a full lifeguard station, a variety of significant antique signage, and all kinds of historical Hermosa tchochkes. But what caught my eye was an item by Jack Kerouac in an old Playboy magazine from the 1960s, entitled "To Harpo Marx":
O Harpo! When did you seem like an angel
    the last time?
    and played the gray harp of gold?

When did you steal the silverware
    and bug-spray the guests?

When did your brother find rain
    in you sunny courtyard?

When did you chase your last blonde
    across the Millionaires' lawn
    with a bait hook on a line
    protruding from your bicycle?

Or when last you powderpuffed
    your white flour face
    with fishbarrel cover?

Harpo! Who was that Lion
    I saw you with?

How did you treat the midget
    and Konk the Giant?

Harpo, in your recent nightclub appearance
    in New Orleans were you old?
    were you still chiding with your horn
    in the cane at your golden belt?

Did you still emerge from your pockets
    another Harpo, or screw on
    new wrists?

Was your vow of silence an Indian Harp?

I'm sure I'm not unique in holding Harpo Marx as a personal hero, but to see him celebrated by the king of the Beats is a kind of thrill. Two nights ago around 2 am, I remembered the New Yorker was holding a contest to interpret their foppish dandy mascott, Eustice Tilly. The deadline was 9 am (EST) yesterday. Cursing myself that I had neglected to contribute, I took a few hours and whipped this up before grabbing a few hours' sleep for work. It's not perfect, but that's the story of my bachelor's in studio art. I'm happy with having cast Harpo as an inversion of Tilly. I think there's some nice symmetry to it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Saturday night at Hermosa Beach Historial Society

Come down to Hermosa Beach this Saturday night. Tucker Booth and I will be playing at the Hermosa Beach Historical Society's beat poet retrospective, "The Beat Goes On." Details below!

To whet your appetite, here are a couple of videos from our show last month at the Starfish Learning Center. I play an acoustic rendition of "We The Freaks", from And How They Flew, while Tucker plays a rare piano composition about super heroes.

The Beat Goes On

A night of poetry at the Hermosa Beach Historical Society, 710 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach, California.

4:30 pm - Dr. Colin Campbell presents "The Beatnik Movement in Southern California"

6:30 - Bob Hare, Founder of the Insomniac presents its history & performs, followed by poetry readings, special exhibits, and live music by Tucker Booth and Rob Getzschman.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stealth Burger Reviews: Jack In The Box 100% Sirloin Burger

The alleged 100% sirloin
Tonight, to finish the sad trifecta of oversized mass-market burgers, I took on Jack In The Box's 100% Sirloin Burger. It's clearly set up to compete directly with The Six Dollar Burger at Carl's Jr. and the 2/3 Pound Angus Burger at McDonald's. In fact, it really looks like there's a shared marketing panel between these three that agreed it was time to dress up some fast food into something more like meatloaf, with big picnic toppings and specially designed packaging.

Right off the bat, Jack In The Box tells us they're playing for keeps: their box is hexagonal. Bang! Kind of looks like the big pod where Darth Vader spends his down time, but it's got a remarkable factor to it. Like the others, the burger has the SoCal handwrap on it, and it weighs like a shot put. The pickles were cut long-wise and laid across like bacon, which gets style points. No sesame seeds on the bun. I must say, the 100% Sirloin Burger was the first I physically had trouble taking a bite of. I sort of had to circle it for a few minutes, plan my attack. Even then, it's size resisted consumption. From there, it clearly stood above and beyond Carl's and McDonald's.

Jack's burger has one distinctive advantage in the taste of the meat. Whereas Carl's and McDonald's went for the Angus, which is a breed, Jack just went for sirloin, which is ostensibly steak. Honestly, I could taste the difference. It was kind of like I was eating, ironically, a salisbury steak, which is hamburger made to look like a steak, but either way, there was a distinctive flavor of the beef that sets the 100% Sirloin Burger apart from the others. And if I'm going to bother with fancified fast food, I don't want it to be more of their usual burger. I want a robust bouquet with high notes of citrus and sandalwood.

So hopefully from here on out I'll be eating burgers that you can't eat all across America. Because while burgers are America's best contribution to world cuisine, the best aren't made by international corporations. They're made by people. People: it's what's for dinner.

Moldy Peaches on The View

The Moldy Peaches of antifolk fame were on ABC's The View on Monday. It's a trip to see them on national television, and I must say, a cultural triumph. Without a movie like Juno, this song and this act would never be on mainstream television. I would still guess that the average producer would be perplexed by the performance. They tried their best to get some camera dynamics in there, but it plays odd against Adam and Kimya's placid presence. 

It's nice to see they'll be playing DC tonight at Crooked Beat, one of the last remaining record stores. That store can fit about eight people at a time, so it should be an interesting show. 

It occurs to me, now that the Moldy Peaches are everywhere, that this is a pretty amazing case of trickle-up culture-nomics. Kimya and Adam have been playing for over a decade, and have even been on hiatus for years, but the success of Juno pulled the trigger for them. I imagine there'll be a halo effect, and indie directors will emulate Jason Reitman's selection of unknown artists. It's one thing to do it with a pop-ready sound like the Shins on Garden State — it's another thing to do it with a band that sings "Downloading Porn with Dave-o." 

I imagine Jeffrey Lewis' stuff will pop up in an indie flick next.

Rob Getzschman in Greenwich Village, c. 2000

My friend Vic just pulled this off the shelf, one of my first performances after moving to New York City. This was at the Baggott Inn on West 3rd, at an open mic. The club never had what you'd call a scene around it, but it was a place a lot of antifolkers played when they were new or looking for somewhere to play besides Avenue A. 

I love Victor's summary of the night: "Anti-Folk artist Rob Getzschman delights a young upwardly mobile crowd of middle management execs with his melodic ballads of working man blues." So yeah, cool club. 

The first song is the first off my first album, so it's interesting to see it in context when it was a mainstay in my songlist. The other song, "Manual Labor Pains" was a crowd favorite (clearly), though I only recorded a demo of it. 

Kinda painful to watch.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The shower poof as model of expanding universe

(Fig.1) Negative illustrates
energy at the core.
Now I'm no doctor of physics, and in fact, I wouldn't even consider myself an armchair cosmologist, but there's something about a shower poof that seems ideally suited to modeling the expanding universe. Follow me here, because this blog post will be plagiarized by doctoral candidates, so I need you to bear witness to the genius. It all started here. Or actually, in my shower.

When you buy a shower poof, something amazing happens — people brand you a metrosexual. Your sexuality will be questioned around a theme of health and beauty products. This can be avoided by not telling your male friends that you use a poof instead of a washcloth. But when one experiences the sheer volume of suds that a poof has to offer, no rational being — hetero, homo or asexual — would pass up a shower poof.

That hurdle overcome, you can observe the slow transformation that occurs after you buy a shower poof. Typically they come tightly bound around a central core, where the fabric is gathered in ruffles. After months of use, the fabric pulls away from the core, expanding in folded planes away from the core. 

(Fig.2) The shower poof.
I can only imagine this parallels a model of the universe as it expands. The photos I've attached here resemble something like a big bang, expanding in mathematical planes away from an origin in three dimensions. And imagining the relationships at the atomic level, I can't help but think it would make a perfect fractal of the universe.

I've color corrected these photos so that one can better envision what I'm talking about. Fig.1 is a negative image of my poof as it hangs in the shower. Fig.2 is the same poof against a black backdrop. As in these images, an explosion the size of the big bang wouldn't send matter and energy hurdling away at an equal rate in all directions; rather, waves would form and confront space at different intervals, creating an expanding cloud something like a shower poof. 

Moreover, some of the color intensity seems to illustrate how energy or gases could gather in the folds and toward the core. Perhaps it doesn't relate, but it reminds me that light bends around planets and that some physicists propose that even the laws of physics evolve over time. 

Fig.3 The unbound poof.
What's interesting to me is that a shower poof is actually one long plane, bunched again and again (Fig.3), and as it collapses on itself, it becomes spherical. A priori reasoning leads me to deduce that the universe grows closer to planar as it expands, much as planets share a plane of orbit. (Don't they? Is that typical of solar systems of every kind?)

This post is open to all sorts of criticism, as I have nothing but imagination for credentials. I'd like to say I've read some pop cosmology like A Brief History of Time, but really I'm just riffing. So if you're an expert, feel free to enlighten us with the latest theories. It is my hope that breaking this discussion on the blogosphere will out enough closeted poof users to dissolve the stigma associated with using a shower poof. I don't think Stephen Hawking has to put up it.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The erudite and eloquent David Lynch iPhone ad

There's something so pleasing about seeing David Lynch curse judiciously at the evolving mores of media culture. I love the clip of him summarizing product placement in movies as, "Bullshit ... total fucking bullshit." The way he builds to a personally offended conclusion in this clip is only topped by the addition of the twinkly iPhone music. 

Eight days til Macworld

And I hope they'll be announcing this rumored product: an iMac display that is actually a docking station for an ultra-slim MacBook Pro.

Wow. Sometimes Apple's innovations are so simple, they could be the work of a child. And by the look of the patent drawings, maybe this one was:

Figure 1B features a liger pawing fancifully at it. Maybe this is just a cleverly crafted rumor — it wouldn't be too hard to have faked a patent application to build some buzz. But I have to say, if this is a hoax, it's a seductive one.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Justified By Academia Re: "Under The Bus"

Having academia independently confirm one's own findings is so validating:

... 19 words or phrases ... appear in Lake Superior State University's annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness. The school in Michigan's Upper Peninsula released its 33rd list Monday, selecting from about 2,000 nominations.

The list ... included "waterboarding," "perfect storm," "under the bus" and "organic." Also: "It is what it is," which Jeffrey Skrenes of St. Paul, Minn., said "accomplishes the dual feat of adding nothing to the conversation while also being phonetically and thematically redundant." (Link.)

"Perfect storm" is another I've had on my personal blacklist as well. People love to say that one, even if it's regarding a momentary traffic jam in a mall parking lot. Watching the shelf-life of words is a beautiful thing. It's now five hours into 2008, and it's nice to see these selections officially deemed defunct.