31 July 2008

oh-oh-oh Laughing By Myse-elf

Reading David Sedaris in a public place is never a very good idea...

This i discovered today, first as i was eating lunch in the cafeteria and later, more conclusively, when i was in the CyberCafe/Lobby area. I'm reading Sedaris' newest book of essays, When you are Engulfed in Flames, and it's good, though not as laughOUTloud funny as his previous offerings. I've been alternating back and forth between it & The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman the last few weeks at lunch. I generally eat alone here at Northwestern Mutual and, having learned my lesson from miron, i place a napkin on my lap before eating & reading...

Today i was eating a salmon cake

*** 6 December 2009 ***

Unfortunately, I don't recall what happened with the salmon cake. I'm sure it was really important and rife with significance, but alas, it's lost to obscurity...

29 July 2008

Happy 50th NASA!

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of Dwight D. (Dwight) Eisenhower's signing NASA into existence, and it's a good thing, too.

I've been a big fan of space since i've had the cognitive ability to be a fan of much of anything... which perhaps hasn't actually been that long. Nonetheless, i love it. Space, the final frontier & all...
Of course Kelly has already commented & blogged & explained the day, but i really think this is something special.

Space and the possibility of space exploration has always been a sort of guilty fascination of mine. I like the fiction of space (Star Trek & Firefly and all the rest), but i also really like the reality of space exploration/travel. I was truly giddy when i heard the report of Richard Branson's new Virgin Galactic space tourism, which won't even possibly be ready till next year, and probably later than that, and it will cost $200,000 so i will never be able to go.

But there i sat, watching an awkward television interview with some fool reporter and the "rebel billionaire" and i was excited, truly excited in that kidd-ish way you don't often experience.

Which is kind of my point here. I really like space in an unsophisticated way. I like to stare up at the stars and learn about what makes them tick & all, (Astronomy was one of my favorite classes in all my time at Luther, and not just because the professor was cute...) but mostly i like space in the sense that i'd like to ride around checking out a host of new planets & solar systems... I want to cruise around boldly going where no one has gone before... i want to be a space explorer.

In fact, the potential of future space exploration (i mean the walking around on artifically grav-plated decks, not the squeezing tang into the air and catching the droplets while floating upside down variety) is one of the main reasons i'm exploring ways to become immortal. Whether it be downloading my consciousness into an android, cryogenically freezing myself for 2500 years, or going the undead route & coming back as a vampire (it's always dark in space, right?) i want to live forever... or at least a really long time... or at least later than now. And the primary reason for this is because i want to cruise around in space.
The Pareto Principle states: “Most businesses know that 80 percent of their revenue comes
from 20 percent of their clientele.”

"Learn and capitalize on people's issues -- whether it be their children, health or career desires." (Wall Street ** Update 14 November 2009 **, I honestly don't know {and am too lazy to look up} whether this is from Wall Street the movie, or if I just hadn't typed "Wall Street Journal" yet, or what...

I have no clue what I wanted to write about here... but i'll leave these two quotes from "business types" to speak for themselves. And see what we might do with them.

28 July 2008

Assume a Position

As part of my “academic review” at the end of last semester, Andrew Kincaid suggested to me that I write up a series of “position papers” that might function as 30 second – 10 minute summations of my areas of interest. The idea being that I needed to be able to define myself and an area of study, particularly with regards to the job market, but more generally as an academic, and so I present the first, perhaps most general of my position papers for your review. This is a sort of never-ending work in progress, so (as always) comments and questions are more than welcome, they’re absolutely fundamental…

*** *** ***

Why study death?

Death is an essential and fundamental part of all of our lives (one Walter Benjamin calls “exemplary”), but it is an aspect of modern life that we avoid talking about or even thinking about if possible. The modern need to overfill one’s life with events & stuff & people (the modern hyper-busy) is the need to distract one’s attention from death. Entire industries, such as life insurance and legacy investment planning create institutional denial of death by recreating a new, modern afterlife, namely the bank account – the trust fund.

The simultaneous wane of absolute religious authority and development of the ‘self’ in the modern era have created a situation where the game of life (& death) has become unwinnable. Previously, an individual who was dying was secure in the comfort of some version of an afterlife, or continuance, either a religious heaven, the promise of reincarnation or a more ecological dispersal of the body. Additionally, before the advent of the modern ‘self’ a dying person could trust in the continuation of the line through children and the tribe, or even the civilization. This isn’t to say that pre-modern man didn’t see any distinction of the self, but that modernity’s (and especially late modernity’s) emphasis on individual destiny and its insistence on splintering society, separating people from one another makes a collective immortality (or at least survival) less appealing.

There was an earlier time when death wasn’t seen this way. It wasn’t a horror in and of itself. It was scary, perhaps, but it was joked with, laughed at, and most importantly considered. I am interested in tracking these changes, both temporally and geographically and understanding first, whether some fundamental change has taken place and if so, what the implications might be.

24 July 2008

Evidently not everyone has brewer fever...

Last night as I was listening to the end of CC Sabathia’s dominant 3-hit shutout in my backyard, a strange voice kept cutting into the broadcast. Bob Uecker was announcing just the 3rd (& final) hit given up by CC when this nameless trucker (I would come to know it was one side of a CB conversation) says “you gotta be really screwed up to have your dad take off […] then yer’ mom to take off you gotta be screwed up.”

This was actually the second or third thing I’d heard the guy say & I’m not sure if he was breaking into just my broadcast or that of the entire AM620 listening audience, but I ran into the house to grab a pad of paper & a pencil. It’s times like those that I wish I’d taken a secretarial shorthand course back in the 60s (or had a Truman Capote-type memory), because I couldn’t keep up with the conversation & missed a lot of it, but what I did catch, I present here, for your…amusement(?).

***Note: Breaks between lines vary from a matter of seconds to as much as a minute. Any lines that are incomplete contain […] to indicate missed dialogue, again ranging from a few words to several sentences.

Trucker: “One day […] we’ll see a shrink”

T: “How many times we can see a shrink, Tom, eh?”

T: “[…] Sorry if I messed up your Christmas […]Heh-heh-heh heh”.
Something unintelligible about “whitewash”

T: “…almost 40 years old and you’re paying for his doctor and all that […] probably hold the door open for her and touch her […] but we’re all paying for it.”

T: “Well, you guys shouldn’t come up here then, you should stay in the south. Nobody gives a crap.”
An MGD commercial runs in what has now become the background.

Bob Uecker: “…Hard fought series here in St. Louis…”
Ryan Braun hits a solo homerun (25) in the top of the 9th.

BU: “Ryan Braun adds a Badger Mutual Insurance Run […] Prince Fielder with a walk, Hit By a Pitch and 2 Strikeouts […] 0-2 pitch…”

T: “Can’t know what any of these _______ are sayin’ right now.”

T: “What he got—let me guess. […] You got who’s hitting your […]”

T: “This guy is taking your money and you’re pissing and moaning about who’s taking your money […] you should be busting his door down if not, put in for new work.”

T: “More ambition than Tommy had in his entire life.”

T: “Yeah, he’s a fudge packer.”
Corey Hart hits into a fielder’s choice and Billy Hall comes up.

BU: “There’s a runner out there for Billy Hall […] 41,415 at St. Louis tonight […] 2-2, had a good cut […] Corey Hart almost got picked off. Corey’s got a couple of hits tonight and a run scored.”
Bill Hall strikes out.

T: “That SOB, it does not work. […] Hey, I’ll give you a perfect example. My son was 16, he’s ________ to work on the farm, worked the extra summer […] Tommy Sehry out there _________ a donkey or a goat. […] kid worked like a bugger today […] work ethic, ________ and health insurance that we are not paying for today.”
Pujols bats.

T: “Tommy got up there, Caballo’s up there. […] Yeah, I’m sorry for ______ you. You are in cahoots with Tommy. Well not cahoots, but whatever you two are in.”

So, that’s the whole of what I jotted down. It provided an interesting counterpart to Uecker & Jim Powell. All in all, it was a good game and a surreal broadcast.

23 July 2008

a theory...

In 1988 Gore Vidal was supporting Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign.

At some point during the election year Vidal made a comment that amounted to something like this (apologies, i don't recall where i heard this and i'm too lazy to look it up... it might be a national press club event, maybe the 16th of March, 1988):

After 8 years of horrific governmental mismanagement, overstepping countless international laws and accepted practices, and borderline insane economic irresponsibility the NEXT 4 years might be quite ugly indeed.

as such... the BEST thing Republicans, who might be reticent to elect an African American as President, might do is to elect an undesirable

** Updated 14 November 2009 **

That is, of course, undesirable to the hypothetical evil conservative... I still sort of stand by this post, more than a year later, but perhaps it's not the case... My sense is that anyone who the corporate hates, things look bad for, anyone who the corporate loves gets a pass (eh?)...

22 July 2008


Last night i went golfing by myself, which is as rewarding an experience as going to movies by myself or sitting in coffee shops by myself. I played Grant Park Golf Course, which is close to (but out of eyeshot of) Lake Michigan on Milwaukee's southSide - after 7pm, they have "sunset" rates, which is $7 for as many of the 18 holes as you can get in. I got through the front nine, just barely (because of a couple larger groups that wouldn't let me play through).

I stepped up to the 9th tee, it was getting darker faster than it should have been due to the cloud cover and there was a light rain (better than the last 2 holes' middling rain) falling. I hit my tee shot once the foursome turned the left dogleg and it felt good. No idea where it went, didn't see it at all, but it felt like a nice shot.

I decided to play a 2nd ball, an orange ball, a "Noodle 2" in fact in case i didn't stumble upon my first ball. It was a line-drive right, into some trees, i saw it bounce, then saw somebody move toward my ball, "Shit!", i thought, "i almost hit that dude", but i quickly realized there wasn't anybody in the woods, rather two deer. I almost hit one of them with my orange ball, though they didn't seem to mind.

I walked in their direction, slowly, pulled my cell phone out of my bag and tried to shoot a few quick photos (nothing doing, it was too dark to get much of a shot). I didn't end up finding that orange ball, but the two deer ran to the middle of the fairway & i followed, figuring i might just skip the 9th, but their path took me over my original ball, the Nike Swoosh looking up at me.
I hit possibly the best 5-iron shot of my life then, just short of the green and looked once more at the deer, who were headed back toward the 9th tee now. I watched them go, then got to my ball, realized all the lights in the clubhouse were out and mine was the only car in the lot & proceeded to chip poorly & three-putt to end my round. Naja, it was worth it, though, and i played an ok round... Not great, but ok.

21 July 2008

2 shots!

I, along with ferry boatloads of other people, saw The Dark Knight over the weekend and was surprised to find my expectations (which were high going in) exceeded by Christopher Nolan's latest film. The film is dark and smart and scary (not in the 'boo' slasher sense, rather in the afraid of yourself because you're laughing at that sense) and funny. The film also rounds out (though likely doesn't finish) one of the oddest series of films ever to be scored by the joel & joel shot system of movie ratings with this latest installment scoring 2 shots & an earlier rendition (Batman & Robin) scoring a record 17 shots.*

By way of warning, this post may contain some minor spoilers...

Because there are clearly better & earlier reviews of The Dark Knight out there, i won't go into too much detail about the film and its high & low points, instead i want to think about its themes & implications. By far, Heath Ledger is the best part of this movie. He's scary & hilarious and while the makeup surely helps (Oscar nod & win is already in the bag for that make-up job, methinks), the Oscar talk for Ledger himself is actually not that far off. But the character of the Joker is much more than he's ever been in earlier film versions, because he wants nothing but chaos. The writing somewhat clumsily equates anarchy & chaos (and terrorism), but what seems to be missing (or contradicted) in a lot of conversations about this theme in the film is that The Dark Knight ultimately comes to a very conservative & statist conclusion. The film sets up an unfair binary (the only variety there is) of the Joker's variety of disordered violence & the institutional order of the police (& the corporation - Wayne Enterprises) as the only two alternatives. Clearly, no sane person would prefer the mob warlords world where everyone's life is constantly threatened by those who are stronger (or have the most guns).

The ferryboat scene offers a possible 'third way', and delivers (afterwards, i couldn't quite decide how i wanted that scene to turn out, i think it would have spoken volumes had any of the possible outcomes happened), but ultimately they are all rescued by the established institutional forces. While you can point out that Batman is a vigilante, on the run from the law (at least officially) during and at the end of the movie, this serves as a fine critique of corporate power & its abuses as well as an illustration of any government's willingness to look the other way when corporations break laws if it helps maintain the established power structure. All in all, The Dark Knight is a strong critique, a good movie, a fun ride, and a useful jumping off point... Go enjoy it.

*To purists who will immediately object, yes, of course i understand there is no connection between earlier Batman movies and these latest two, but just as i will consider J.J. Abram's upcoming Star Trek (which, OMG, i am SO excited for) a part of the franchise, i see these films as perpetually linked

07 July 2008

See, see!

So, with CC Sabathia added to the Brewer's roster and starting tomorrow night (i'll be there, likely getting booted out of the slightly more expensive seats...again), i think it's time to take a look at the sporting world of sportJoel.

** Updated 14 November 2009 **

I'm not sure what I was going to write about, but there is a vast text base from which to work... Email me for a copy* of "Sport Joel" & "Probe-Film", both of which offer up fantastic insight into the early sport-i-ness days of joel.

*Please specify format you'd like the footage delivered in. Pricing will start at the basic "VHS tape - $15.00, DVD - $30.00". These prices are subject to change (after I've figured out how to make the first copy, future copies may get much cheaper...