Saturday: Read a good story from a back issue of The New Yorker by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, whose writing I was introduced to in college (most notably her novel Heat and Dust). Anyway, her story, "Innocence," can be read here.
Had delicious dining experience with friends at Ruby Foo's on the Upper West side.
Saw The Ant Bully with wife and kids at the UA near Union Square. Hit Trader Joe's afterwards and snagged some more salsa. The movie was entertaining and a worthwhile kid flick. Can't remember when I last saw an R rated movie in the theaters.
Whole weekend punctuated by not being able to get into landlord's apartment to take care of their dog while they are in Greece. The cousin who takes care of the dog Monday through Friday threw the deadbolt and we only had the key to the bottom lock. No way to let the poor thing out. Fortunately the A/C was on and we got to him Sunday afternoon, so don't be calling the ASPCA on us.
Surrealistic twist: While trying to reach the landlord, got an incoming call on the cell and confusedly mistook it as a call from Greece...young lady on the phone sounded a lot like landlord's daughter, said she was drunk, and then the call turned weirdly obscene. Just a little bit disconcerting.
Spoiler Alert: If you haven't solved the Sunday New York Times magazince crossword, stop reading. Yesterday, as I was working my way through the Sunday puzzle, I discovered that the theme "Finanical Funny Business," referred to a quote by a comedian. The quote, which extended over 6 long clues is "My output is down but my income is up. I take a short position on the long bond and my revenue stream has its own cashflow."
Sound familar? The quote is from George Carlin, and is an excerpt from his act, a video of which appeared last Sunday here on BillyBlog. See? We're a practical problem-solving resource!
Also, my Friday post has messed-up links to domain names that had silly addresses, all things considered. The Mrs. questioned me when they weren't working as to whether they are real or not, the links have been repaired. Hop to the post here.
Monday, July 31, 2006
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Sometimes spam is fun. Case in point:
"Hello my new friend.
My age is 27 years. My birthday is April, 11, 1979. I was born in the
city of Kazan. This city is located on territory
Russia federation. My name is Karina. I have higher education.
I am very hardworking person. I am very responsible the
person. I am the nice girl. I have no harmful habits. I do not
smoke, I do not drink, I do not use drugs. I am very romantic. I am very
cheerful, I was good spend the leisure. My hobby: I love sports, in
particular volleyball, tennis, swimming. I like to read! I love to
learn new things. I like to study culture of others are strange. I had
no the husband (I was not married earlier) I have no children, I like
children. The purpose of my acquaintance - I search the satellite for
the man, I want to find love, I want to create real family. I had no
opportunity to create family in Russia, I could not find the partner
in life in Russia.
My friend, if you have interested to me, that answer
to my e-mail: email@example.com
I will be waiting your reply with big impatience.
Your new friend Karina from Russia."
Posted by Tattoosday at 7:33 PM
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Ok, this is a work-related post, but since blogging at work is such a high-profile Human Resources issue, and I am, uh, a H.R. Director, I am making some small edits [which will be indicated by brackets]. What we have here is an e-mail sent by a candidate for employment. He is following up because he received a letter from us advising that we would not consider him for employment at this time. This is copied verbatim, all spelling and punctuation (or lack thereof) are preserved for effect.
I kid you not. This is an actual e-mail. Anyone care to guess whether we have reconsidered his plea to be reconsidered for employment? Let me know, in all dude time.
Hello Mr. [Name of H.R. Manager, misspelled]
Unfortunately I wasn't consider a position at your company and that's why I'm not going to stop i was refereed by [name of former employee] He worked there a few years very good guy I must say and why i wasn't consider a position when i passed the [industry-specific test] with a 90% [80% according to our records] and I'm confident to say that I'm qualified for this job I'm strong motivated aggressive for this position and way over qualified and I know i deserve a reason & reconsideration on why i wasn't hired
PS Mr [Name of H.R. Manager, spelled correctly this time] please I'm desperate and very eager for this position and i know i can do this job please contact me [phone number] if i just so so happen not to hear in dude time i will contact you as soon impossible Thank You Sorry!!!!
Posted by Tattoosday at 5:44 AM
Friday, July 28, 2006
Parents aren't the only ones who don't think when they name their children (just ask the parents of anyone named Harry Dix). Company webmasters also should be throttled on occasion for their lack of insight. Then again, we wouldn't have these examples to amuse us:
See if you can guess what these sites are for:
Ok, so this is base and juvenile. But if it brought a smile to your face, it was worth it. Have a great weekend!
Posted by Tattoosday at 7:37 AM
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Funny how things happen. You may recall my telling of how I came about reading A Prayer for Owen Meany.
Let's rewind to the end of May. I received the following e-mail from someone I had never met:
"Hello, I stumbled on your top 20 booklist while looking up some info on Haruki Murakami. Run, do not walk to get Helen DeWitt's The Last Samurai (no relationship to the Hollywood film by that name). If I had an all-time list, this book would easily be in the top five. Cheers--Now, I do not take book recommendations lightly. Ask anyone. Ask the Mrs., she will tell you how resistant I am to even reading books that she says I should read. But this e-mail intrigued me.
First, the recommendation was in juxtaposition with Murakami, one of my favorite writers. Second, I had never heard of this book, which appealed to me as well. Had she said to go read Dan Brown's DaVinci Code, I would have had further resistance to it. But clearly this stranger felt passionately about a book, so much so that she felt it necessary, almost obligated to pass on the good word. That fascinated me.
I received this on a Friday, and the book club I belong to was meeting the following Tuesday. I printed out the synopsis and read it to the group. I can't speak for the folks that were there, but the impression I received was that such a book was unappealing at best. This is what I read:
In essence, this sounded like no other book I had ever read, and was instantly drawn to it. Of course, it helped that I enjoyed Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, which is an integral piece of the book.I will admit, this book is not for everyone. Initially it was a bit of a struggle, as we are given the perspective of Sibylla, the female protagonist raising her son, Ludo, in London, while struggling to make ends meet. Ludo is a prodigy, and he learns multiple languages (Greek, Hebrew, Inuit, etc) at an early age. There are digressions that distract, but prove essential to the narrative.
Helen DeWitt's extraordinary debut, The Last Samurai, centers on the relationship between Sibylla, a single mother of precocious and rigorous intelligence, and her son, who, owing to his mother's singular attitude to education, develops into a prodigy of learning. Ludo reads Homer in the original Greek at 4 before moving on to Hebrew, Japanese, Old Norse, and Inuit; studying advanced mathematical techniques (Fourier analysis and Laplace transformations); and, as the title hints, endlessly watching and analyzing Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece, The Seven Samurai. But the one question that eludes an answer is that of the name of his father: Sibylla believes the film obliquely provides the male role models that Ludo's genetic father cannot, and refuses to be drawn on the question of paternal identity. The child thinks differently, however, and eventually sets out on a search, one that leads him beyond the certainties of acquired knowledge into the complex and messy world of adults.
The novel draws on themes topical and perennial--the hothousing of children, the familiar literary trope of the quest for the (absent) father--and as such, divides itself into two halves: the first describes Ludo's education, the second follows him in his search for his father and father figures. The first stresses a sacred, Apollonian pursuit of logic, precise (if wayward) erudition, and the erratic and endlessly fascinating architecture of languages, while the second moves this knowledge into the world of emotion, human ambitions, and their attendant frustrations and failures.
The Last Samurai is about the pleasure of ideas, the rich varieties of human thought, the possibilities that life offers us, and, ultimately, the balance between the structures we make of the world and the chaos that it proffers in return. Stylistically, the novel mirrors this ambivalence: DeWitt's remarkable prose follows the shifts and breaks of human consciousness and memory, capturing the intrusions of unspoken thought that punctuate conversation while providing tantalizing disquisitions on, for example, Japanese grammar or the physics of aerodynamics. It is remarkable, profound, and often very funny. Arigato DeWitt-sensei.
Ultimately, however, the narrative thread shifts solely to Ludo, and Sybilla becomes a secondary character. Ludo holds the stage and captures the imagination. It is quite breathtaking.
Does this brilliant book kick down the door of my top 20 list? No, but it does come with my recommendation, and is worth the effort. I was truly sad to see the book end. I wanted more of Ludo and his brilliant quest, but that was not to be. Janet Maslin, in the New York Times, stated in December 2000:
In an exhilaratingly literate and playful first novel punctuated by divine feats of intellectual gamesmanship, Ms. DeWitt joins Dave Eggers, Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon in going to the head of this year's class of flamboyantly ambitious novelists whose adventurousness spins out on an epic scale. And like their books -- ''A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,'' ''White Teeth'' and ''The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,'' respectively -- her ''Last Samurai'' is a sprawling, aggressively showy book with flashes of genius to keep it soaring. It is possible to recognize the hubris here without, like Ms. DeWitt's characters, being able to read that word in Greek or elaborately analyze its derivation. But it's also possible to be utterly delighted by this author's high-risk undertaking and her fresh, electrifying talent.
That's some nice company for Ms. DeWitt. Maslin continues:
Along the way, the reader will also learn the Icelandic word for seal meat and the precise way (''heptakaiogdoekontapodal'') to indicate an 87-legged spider, which is a concept Ludo comes up with after he sketches an 88-legged one and imagines that it got into a fight and lost a leg.
Surely, that's not useful information, but it is definitely fascinating. And a last word from Maslin, whose full review is here:
Ms. DeWitt, an American who seems to have written this book as if her life depended on it and poured vast reserves of inquiring intelligence into the process, saves her most fanciful efforts for presenting potential candidates for the role of Ludo's father. She spins enchantingly surreal stories about the overrated artist, the Nobel laureate, the foreign correspondent and the bogus consul (''When asked why he had impersonated a member of the Belgian diplomatic corps he had replied: Well, someone had to'') on the short list of candidates whom Ludo sequentially discovers.
Maybe time will slip this onto my top 20 list. It certainly is a worthy effort, and one that I recommend to those patient and curious enough to give her a shot.
I'll leave you with this bit of biographical tidbit: "In 2004, it was widely reported that Helen DeWitt had gone missing from her Staten Island home after sending a suicidal e-mail, but she was later found unharmed near Niagara Falls."
Posted by Tattoosday at 7:45 AM
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I have begun reading the new book of Murakami stories, but the UK version. So I am getting a lot of mums and flavours and realises and some other British words. The title story is the first in the collection and Murakami explains in the forward that he has made significant changes to it since being originally published.
I'm not sure which version this is, but there is an earlier incarnation online here.
This version is entitled "Blind Willow, Sleeping Girl".
Posted by Tattoosday at 7:48 AM
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
First, a happy birthday to Little Sister, Alicia. Happy Birthday!
Also, I raise an imaginary glass toasting the twenty-third anniversary of my first occasion of intoxication at "Blue Beach," a bar in Northern Israel, on the Galilee. Two cheap screwdrivers in plastic cups and I was flying high. Yee-haw. The things we remember.
Finally, an acknowledgement of the music blog Feed Me Good Tunes, which I discovered through the Best Week Ever site this morning. FmGT, as it is affectionately called, provided me with a sampling that served as my commuting soundtrack this morning, a nice mix of Sonic Youth, They Might Be Giants, R.E.M., The Meat Puppets, and Oingo Boingo. Check 'em out!
Posted by Tattoosday at 7:45 AM
I found this a couple weeks back on 86th Street and 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, crumbled and ripped in half. Of course I had to reassemble it, especially when I saw it was addressed to "Derrick DooDoo Head".
Ah, Graduation! A Time when we leave behind all those immature people from high school and find that they've all gone on to become immature people in college and in the workplace...
In case you can't make it out, it reads: "Dear Derrick: Congrats! You didn't even go to graduation so you're still a senior! Goodbye. i love you. NOT"
Gee, can't imagine why Derrick would want to skip graduation. Maybe to avoid Maggie Wong?
Posted by Tattoosday at 7:28 AM
Monday, July 24, 2006
Sunday, July 23, 2006
I am posting a great clip of George Carlin, my favorite comedian. It's 3:42 long and it was e-mailed to me. Definitely blogworthy, especially if you are a Carlin fan. Nobody else does this and, if they do, it's not done as well as Carlin does it. Pure brilliance. Enjoy!
Posted by Tattoosday at 9:33 AM
Saturday, July 22, 2006
I don't know if these are all legit or not, but they are definitely clever. I received them in an e-mail entitled 2005 Advertising Awards. Kind of vague, and not worth vetting, so just enjoy...
For a pesiticide:
And lastly, this should definitely get a rise out of you:
Posted by Tattoosday at 9:37 AM
Friday, July 21, 2006
I got this via e-mail but thought it was well worth sharing. Very creative foreign ad, definitiely unlikely to be shown in the good ol' U.S. of A. There is sound, but it is mostly music, so if you do not have sound, just replay some good R & B in your brain. Thanks to Ian for sending me this.
Posted by Tattoosday at 7:32 PM
I am almost three weeks into being 39 and never finished really talking about all the cool stuff I got for my birthday. I was going to devote a post to each item but I lost steam (must be my advanced age). So, you won't hear about my "Pearl Jam: Live at the Garden" DVD, my Timberland sneakers, my as-yet-unredeemed Century 21 Department Stores gift card, or my cool bottle of Belgian beer (tho I may talk about that after I crack it open). However, I did buy myself something, and I wanted to share here what it was.
One of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami, has published a new book of short stories called Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. This is what it will look like when published in the U.S. on August 29:
Here's the problem, the book was actually released in the U.K. six weeks earlier, on July 6. And here's the cover of the U.K. edition:
So, what's a Murakami fan to do? Why order the book from Amazon.uk, of course. If interested, click the link in the title of this post. I haven't started it yet, but hope to soon, and will report back accordingly. I am in the final pages of Helen DeWitt's The Last Samurai, which is incredibly good and will also be reviewed in the immediate future.
Posted by Tattoosday at 8:13 AM
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
The Mrs. will tell you that most of my enjoyment of the television show "Twin Peaks" came from my fascination with Sherilyn Fenn, but I had the soundtrack once too. I have since relocated it in the blogosphere here. If the crazy blog from Barcelona freaks you out, the music is also here on this Twin Peaks site, The Twin peaks Brewing Co. However, the first blog has some interesting and eclectic music on it.
So where were we? Sherilyn Fenn? Uh, yeah. No. I mean, I ran into her backstage at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards and was instantly smitten.
I digress, sadly, for this post is not about the character of Audrey Horne, nor the actress that played her, but about the music. For I sampled some of that Twin Peaks-y music from the above-mentioned sites and flashed back to my owning the CD, the haunting collaboration of Angelo Badalamenti, David Lynch and Julee Cruise.
This morning the music came through the BilliPod and I was transformed back, ugh, 16 years to those days right out of school and it was hard to go far in Los Angeles without seeing a Who Killed Laura Palmer? bumpersticker.
Ah, the early nineties....
Posted by Tattoosday at 7:23 AM
Monday, July 17, 2006
This little item came to my attention via BillyBlogReader Jill...thanks for the drop, Jill!
Wed Jul 12, 8:34 AM ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An opening sentence containing a burrito, an angel and a shovel was judged appalling enough to win the annual Bulwer-Lytton literary parody prize on Tuesday.
Retired mechanical designer Jim Guigli of California was proclaimed winner of the contest, which challenges entrants to submit their worst opening sentence of an imaginary novel.
Guigli's winning entry read: "Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you've had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean."
Guigli's powers of invention and his determination to succeed -- he submitted 60 different entries -- also won him a "dishonorable mention" in the historical fiction category.
"My motivation for entering the contest was to find a constructive outlet for my dementia," Guigli quipped.
The Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest was started in 1982 by the English Department at San Jose State University to honor the Victorian novelist who opened his 1830 novel "Paul Clifford" with what were to become the immortal words, "It was a dark and stormy night."
It began as a quiet campus affair and now attracts thousands of entries from around the world. But the grand prize winner receives only a pittance and other winners "must content themselves with becoming household names," organizers say.
The 2006 runner-up, Stuart Vasepuru from Scotland, played with one of the most famous pieces of dialogue from the Clint Eastwood movie "Dirty Harry."
"I know what you're thinking, punk," hissed Wordy Harry to his new editor, "you're thinking, 'Did he use six superfluous adjectives or only five?' -- and to tell the truth, I forgot myself in all this excitement; but being as this is English, the most powerful language in the world, whose subtle nuances will blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel loquacious?' -- well do you, punk?"
Any time someone wants to send me something that may be blogworthy, please feel free to pass it on down the line.
Posted by Tattoosday at 7:54 AM
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Since is is so steamy in NYC this weekend, I totally was drawn to these paintings. Enjoy these samples!
Posted by Tattoosday at 12:01 AM
Friday, July 14, 2006
When in doubt, whip the BilliPod out. Although I am currently listening to Pearl Jam's recent (7/7) San Diego concert via a French website, which allows streaming audio of recent shows. The site is here. Worth a peek/listen.
Anyway, let's see what our random five are today.
1) "Little Red Corvette" - Prince, from 1999. This is Prince when he was at his popular peak, or just before the hugeness of Purple Rain.
2) "African Blues" by Larry Young from Young Blues. Young is known as one of the great jazz organists of all time. I don't know why I have this album on my iPod, probably because I read somewhere, perhaps on eMusic, that it was an essential jazz record. From 1960, it's quite good. Read more about Larry Young here.
3) "Hard Times" by Ray Charles, from Martin Scorcese Presents: The Blues. The track was originally from the album Here's Ray Charles.
My mother told me
'Fore she passed away
Said son when I'm gone
Don't forget to pray
'Cause there'll be hard times...
4) "Graceland" by Paul Simon from the album of the same name.
From what many consider Simon's crowning glory of his solo career. Brilliant.
5) "Gratitude" by The Beastie Boys from their anthology The Sounds of Science (interesting juxtaposition with Mr. Simon, no?)
Anyway, that's it from me. Please share a quintet in the comments section should you feel so inclined.
Happy Bastille Day!
Posted by Tattoosday at 7:18 AM
Thursday, July 13, 2006
by David Ignatow
We're not going to die.
we'll find a way.
We'll breathe deeply
and eat carefully.
We'll think always on life.
There'll be no fading for you or for me.
We'll be the first
and we'll not laugh at ourselves ever
and your children will be my grandchildren.
Nothing will have changed
except by addition.
There'll never be another as you
and never another as I.
No one ever will confuse you
nor confuse me with another.
We will not be forgotten and passed over
and buried under the births and deaths to come.
Posted by Tattoosday at 7:44 AM
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
On Saturday, just a month short of her 10th birthday, we surprised eldest child Jolee, by allowing her to get her ears pierced, finally.
There are obviously a ton of different perspectives on this. It is not uncommon for babies to have their ears pierced at an extremely early age.
It may seem like a small thing nowadays, but the anticipation and joy that she experienced as a result of the new holes in her head were quite thrilling to watch. I kept thinking, every time she went to a mirror to look at her new earrings, how interesting it was that she was experiencing a great thrill and joy that a lot of other kids don't ever get, because they can't remember getting pierced, and have taken those two pinholes for granted.
In the Fall of 1985, three or four weeks into college, my fleeting girlfriend (if that term even applied) convinced me to pierce my left ear, because she thought it would look good on me. I would've shaved my head and eyebrows had she wanted, I was so smitten. I went with her to Eagle Rock Plaza to a jewelery store and pop! went the earring. A "conservative" gold stud.
Yet this was 1985, and pierced ears was not as common thing for eighteen year-old boys as they are today. It wasn't unheard of, but it was a bit unusual at the time, at least coming from the relatively conservative bastions of Iolani School.
Dear old Dad still mentions and/or remembers me calling from the dorm hallway phone (back when room phones weren't even standard - some rooms had no jacks) and saying "Dad, I did something to myself....". Such tact! Such honesty! Such seriousness! The father still recalls the fleeting moment of panic, his eldest son not even a month at college and confessing to some unmentionable self-multilation or disasterous bodily aberration. I told him. He was relieved. Maybe a bit disappointed, but relieved. I mean, an extra puka in the head was no big deal, right?
My stepfather, on the other hand, was an old school conservative Hawaiian retired battallion chief for the Honolulu Fire Department, and he took one look at me, when he saw me that first Christmas break home, and shook his head in disbelief. The new jewelery in my ear combined with the bouncy way I walk on my toes (always have, always will) made him wonder about my sexuality. Mom had to reassure him I was not one mahu (not that there's anything wrong with that) and that this was just what the kids were doing nowadays.
In 2006, when piercings barely raise an eyebrow (the jury's still out on what my girls will be allowed to do, and when), the hubbub about a simple single pierce in an ear, of all places, seems rather quaint.
A couple of months after the earring went in and Ava moved on, I attended my first and only concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The amazing triple bill of Megadeth, Wendy O. Williams, and Motorhead. I remember a few things about that night, one of which was coming out of the mosh pit during Megadeth's set and seeing the ideal Metal chick fantasy, an amazingly beautiful woman, all denim and leather and hairspray and... and.... and....what the hell was that? a nose stud?
I literally could not believe this woman had desecrated her temple of a face with a hole through her nose. I was visibly shaken. I still remember the shock. And of course, in retrospect, such naivete amuses me and most likely, you, dear readers.
Of course, now piercings seem to be no big deal...they're in eyebrows, navels, noses, ears, tongues, nipples, and various and sundry nether regions.
But I cannot help but smile as my almost-ten year-old fiddles with the earrings so recently popped into her earlobes.
I touch my ear, I feel the hole still there, the back covered with new skin. I wonder. . .
Posted by Tattoosday at 7:43 AM
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Monday, July 10, 2006
Breaking news: there was an explosion, fire, and building collapse on the East Side this morning. The White House has reported that "terrorism was not the cause," according to the New York Times. And if it was, there'd be widespread panic. Don't always believe what you read. Including this blog.
Not-so-breaking news: Remember BandMadness? They're in the finals and it's a runaway...Nine Inch Nails is destroying Pink Floyd. Those NIN fans are quite organized.
BilliPod is on shuffle as I compose and I just heard Al Green's cover of "I Want to Hold Your Hand". Interesting. It just flipped over to Pink Floyd's "High Hopes". Not a cover. No rubber tree plant enclosed therein.
The New York Post has a lovely cover for a slow news day. I guess the World Cup finals wasn't worthy enough. I wasn't going to post the cover, because I do that a lot, but as I think about it, the more it is necessary. Otherwise, you may not believe me.
I mean, I guess it's news, but front page? I guess puns trump all. Mazel tov.
A particularly bitter and sarcastic post on Veiled Conceit had me in stitches this morning.
Last night I grabbed a nice short Thelonious Monk concert from 1975 here at a cool music blog called Ear Farm.
I know my birthday was a week ago, but I still have to share what I got.....here's another goody that came my way:
Yeah, I know, big shocker. This 2-Disc DVD captures Pearl Jam on their last tour, at Madison Square Garden on July 8, 2003, the night before I saw them. Both shows are regarded by many as two of the most amazing PJ shows in recent memory. It was because of this first show that I went to both East Rutherford shows this year.
Another tidbit, and I'll leave: a blog dedicated to bicycling in New York City. It may be interesting to others, who knows? Check it here.
Posted by Tattoosday at 10:11 AM