Friday, August 31, 2007

The Moe's Burrito Was, in Retrospect, a Mistake

I grabbed a late lunch at the Moe's Southwest Grill just up the road (it's a Focus Brands property -- they do Carvel, Seattle's Best Coffee, Cinnabon, etc.)

It wasn't very good. And I'm not particularly fussy when it comes to burrito places.

I mean, I like both Baja Fresh and Chipotle, which are about as corporate as it gets.

The setup is basically Chipotle (big burrito they make in front of you) + Baja Fresh (salsa/hot sauce bar), with stupid names for all the menu items thrown in as an extra, unwanted bonus.

The burrito wasn't anything special (I wouldn't go as far as to call it "The Height of Moe-deocrity"), but the salsas were terrible; the "red" was basically some sort of chili oil.

Anyway, since I won't eat there again, it's not going to be a problem, though it may very well put a crimp in my plan to go the gym this afternoon. (I'm not going away this weekend, so I'm just going to hang out and slack.)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Something From AT&T That Doesn't Suck

I had the TV on just now, and an AT&T commercial came on. It features a band -- a girl on keyboards and a guy on drums -- playing a show in a club; the shot pulls back and shows all the happy cellphone users in the crowd bopping along (and presumably bootlegging the show with their phones).

It's a 15-second spot, and you only hear the song for about 10 seconds, but the tune is impossibly catchy:
I checked out the url featured in the commercial, Then (hey, that's what it says), which had no relevant information, but The Google has the ad on the first page of results -- the song is "For The Actor", the band is Mates of State, and they've got 4 songs for download on their MySpace page.

Another band for the list (which needs refreshing, anyway -- most of the bands I would go see live are defunct in one way or another).

Why Didn't Someone Tell Me About Pulp?

I'm not sure how, but I managed to completely miss Pulp back in the 90s.

That changed recently when I saw this clip of William Shatner covering 'Common People' with Joe Jackson and Ben Folds on the Tonight Show in 2004 (can't embed it, unfortunately).

I was watching it for the Shatner kitsch factor, but then Joe Jackson jumps in with his vocals and the song really takes off. It especially starts kicking ass when they duet.

(Take note around 2:19, when Jackson laughs a bit in reaction to Shatner over-emoting on the "everyone hates a tourist" line.)

Anyway, it rocks. I was curious about the original, which also rocks:

I'm kind of obsessed with both versions right now. I keep playing them back-to-back, then all of sudden, I see an hour has gone by.

And while I doubt I'll pick up the Shatner Has Been album, Different Class is definitely on my list.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Used CD Store Shuffle

It'd been a while, but I went to the CD Cellar on Sunday (actually, both locations -- Clarendon and Falls Church -- more on that in a sec).

While I was there, I experienced yet another occurrence of the Used CD Store Shuffle (note: also occurs in bookstores), where you're working your way down the table, and someone is coming at you from the other direction, and eventually, you'll get a section or two apart.

Obviously, if you're right next to each other, you'll get in each others' way, so then you skip over a section or two, then when it's "safe," you come back from the other direction.

Anyway, I was in Clarendon and did some damage (though I didn't find any Pulp CDs, which were high on my list), then went to the Falls Church location -- here's what I ended up with:


* Banco de Gaia, Farewell Ferengistan
* Belle and Sebastian, If You're Feeling Sinister
* Dressy Bessy, Electrified (from the 1 buck bin)
* Kaiser Chiefs, Employment
* Kaiser Chiefs, Yours Truly, Angry Mob
* Mazzy Star, Among My Swan
* Stereolab, Emperor Tomato Ketchup
* Throwing Muses, House Tornado
* Pete Yorn, Day I forgot

Additionally, not only did I nearly get my car trapped in the back parking lot of the Falls Church location (guided out only by the kindness of a stranger -- though I'm fairly sure that what I did was a topological impossibility), but the Mazzy Star album? Already own it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cold Cut Crash

Cell phone photo of the self-serve deli kiosk at the Harris Teeter tonight:

"A problem has been detected and Windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer."


Monday, August 27, 2007

More Big Infomercial Boobs

I was a little hesitant to blog this, only because I know it'll lead to a bunch of unrelated pageviews from horndogs who either:
  • Don't speak English as a first language, or
  • Just don't understand how to find porn with The Google very well
  • Or most likely, both.
But, hey, it's boobs. What can I say -- I'm a fan.

Following up on my earlier entry on informercial cleavage, it looks like others have hit upon this seemingly-sound late-night infomercial strategy: Feature big breasts and low-cut tops.

What's more, if one pair is good, two pair is even better, right?

Inadvertent porn mouth.

Just like poker, only with a brunette and a blonde.

At least with this one, they tell you what they're ostensibly selling (besides the false hope) -- it's some sort of turnkey Internet sales dealio, where working for mere hours a week, you'll get thousands and thousands of bucks, big houses, fancy cars, the adoration of your friends, the return of your dead pets (and not in the scary, "sometimes, dead is bettah" way), etc.

Yes, Joe and Jane Schmoe, by having your random crappy turnkey trinket e-commerce site, people will be beating down your door to throw money at you. And you don't even need to be there. It's nothing at all like setting up a lemonade stand on your front lawn and expecting to make a fortune, because that would be silly. This is The Internet. Completely different.

Don't know why no one else has thought of that yet.

Dr. Thaddeus Venture Pitches for Shell Oil

Driving in on the toll road this afternoon, I had the radio on and was half-listening to a commercial for some Shell credit card, when I realized (with a start -- which is probably the anti-cliche for the NYT Metropolitan Diary's overused saw "without skipping a beat") that the voice-over was coming from none other than Dr. Thaddeus Venture, the ineffectual, developmentally-arrested, amphetamine-addicted scientist-patriarch of The Venture Brothers cartoon series.

Although the odds of me getting a Shell credit card were already approaching non-existence to begin with, hearing the voice of Dr. Venture as pitchman effectively bumped that down to zero.

As it happens, James Urbaniak, the voice of Doc Venture and others, mentions the Shell gig in his blog.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

No More Human-Flavored Pez

With the Washington Post's Sunday Arts & Style realignment, I see that the "Life Is Short" human interest haikus (funny, they don't look haiku-ish) are no more.

This disappoints me -- they were inoffensive, quick and tasty bits of humanity, ranging in flavor from sweet to bittersweet (though always in a self-consciously-treacly kind of way).

Like little pieces of human-flavored Pez.

And yet the Sunday Source continues. Go figure.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Looking at the Zombie Revival: The Perfect Enemy for Our Time

[This is the first of a few entries about the modern zombie.]

Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z, by Max Brooks. And a skull
Max Brooks' Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z. The skull x-ray was salvaged from a book publisher's basement storage room during a work-study job a lifetime ago.
In case you can't tell from the picture, Max Brooks' Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z are two of my favorite books right now. I keep re-reading them. I've got zombies on the brain. (Braaaaains.)

And I'm not the only one.

We seem to be in the middle of a zombie revival (er, make that "zombie renaissance"), with fast zombies, reimagined zombies, zombie thrillers, zombie comedies, zombie walks, zombie colleges, zombie shoppers, zombie video games, zombie flash games, more zombie flash games, zombie underwear, and more.

Part of the reason why I think there's a resurgence in zombie interest is that zombies are the perfect enemy. They're not human (they just used to be human), so it's okay to hate them. They're already dead. They feel no pain. And once they turn, they're really obvious. There's no political correctness; no one's going to accuse anyone of zombie profiling.

(Zombies really stand out in a crowd. Unless it's a crowd of other zombies.)

And zombies want to destroy us -- there's no question about it. They can't be bargained with or negotiated with or even surrendered to. They are merciless and remorseless (and deserving of none in return). They're the enemy of all living things, they're relentless, and they won't stop until they're destroyed.

The solution to the zombie problem is drop dead simple:

You shoot them in the head, or you get eaten.

We are living. They are dead (well, undead). If they get you, you become one of them. "You're either with us or you're against us" doesn't get any clearer than that.

In other words, they're an unambiguous, black-and-white, us-or-them, guilt-free enemy.

And the kicker that makes them the perfect enemy? They stand up, moan, and come straight at you -- walking slowly. They don't take cover, they don't hide behind civilians, they don't plant IEDs, they don't learn from their mistakes (or ours), and they don't melt away into the shadows.

(Well, they're a little like suicide bombers in one respect -- they come at you with no regard for their own safety. But the classic zombies move slowly. They also don't explode.)

They never change tactics. They just come out, line up, and wait for you to shoot them.

It's a refreshing change. The perfect enemy for our time.

BOOM (Guilt-Free) Headshot!

What's more, I also see a lot of survival and gun-types have embraced the zombie preparedness theme pretty enthusiastically. Sure, preparing for the zombie apocalypse is a fun game that prepares you for other disasters, both natural and man-made: Do I have the provisions and equipment to bunker down and shelter in place? If I had to leave quickly, would I have a bug-out bag or go kit ready with the right supplies? Where would I go? How would I get there? Do I know how to read a map, treat injuries, start fires, purify water?

But as a bonus, in the zombie scenarios, you get to discuss -- even fantasize about -- the best ways to shoot lots of other people in the head.

What's the optimal range for zombie engagements? Do you use a scope or open sights? For quiet kills, a suppressed .22 or a crossbow? What's the better zombie-slaying assault rifle, the AR-15 or AK-47? Would buckshot fired from a 12 gauge shotgun be overkill (considering your reduced ammo load)? How much ammo should you carry for each of your weapons? How do you increase the probability of a headshot under extreme stress? What's better for close-in work, an axe, crowbar, or machete?

Because they're not really people, zombies are the perfect stand-in for your boogeymen of choice: Communists, terrorists, LA Riot/post-Katrina rampaging mobs, illegal immigrants, or jack-booted government thugs.

Even the most-hardened, callous keyboard warrior might be a little reluctant to endorse wholesale slaughter of a group of people (at least, in an open forum). But zombies? They ain't human -- fire at will.

[Next: Overanalyzing zombie science.]

It's a Minor Shiner, Not Eye Liner

I've got a bit of black eye today, from bashing my head into the nightstand last night (nothing untoward or interesting was involved, unfortunately):

It kind of looks like I'm wearing eye liner on my left eye. Or is it eye shadow. One of those eye things.

Here's a close-up:


Maybe I've discovered a way for poor emo and goth boys to save money on cosmetics.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Yes, We Have No Fall Kickball Today

So, due to a lack of lighted fields (at least, any that will let us play on them), it looks like there won't be any adult kickball in Fairfax County this year.

This is after both WAKA and the new Fairfax Athletics league fell through. (The latter was especially disappointing, since they have different rules and I would have gotten mad props for coming up with an option that didn't involve playing in Manassas or Springfield. Word.)

Though disappointing, I will survive and possibly even find something else to do. (Soccer? Too much running. Dodgeball? Too painful. Volleyball? Too much suck. Something.)

Perhaps this is not a bad thing, given that I cost our team a trip to Boston -- in our playoff semifinal game, Gonz kicked a three-run homer over my head.

This is not an excuse -- well, not entirely -- but we'd moved the fields a bit after I'd spotted some broken bottles in our usual spots. Consequently, we were playing a lot closer to the other field, and I was playing too shallow in right field -- running back on a slight downhill, I got a hand on the ball, but ending up eating it, and we lost.

The winner of that game, of course, went on to play Kick Asphalts -- no surprises there, but the 1st and 2nd place finishers had the opportunity to go to Boston for nationals.

Oh well.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cell Phones and Social Armor

A note that I'd saved in my phone's memo pad:
Text messaging is a way for unaccompanied non-smokers to look busy in bars.
(I guess I probably should have Twittered it, but I'm still not very much of a Twitter-er.)

Put another way: Having a cellphone gives you even more button-twiddling ways to avoid eye contact with other people in public places.

After all, looking down at your watch is good for dodging the gaze of an oncoming stranger on the sidewalk, but you can only stare at your wrist for so long.

Add your headset of choice and you can be completely wrapped up in your own little world.

When Your Coffee Just Doesn't Have Enough Kick

Picked this up this morning at 7-11:

Stok Black Coffee Shot -- basically a caffeinated non-dairy coffee thing.
Not for those under 18, or pregnant women. Pregnant teens are doubly out of luck.

It's a Stōk ("stoke") non-dairy creamer (actually, since I haven't opened it yet, I don't know if it's actually creamer) that has 40 mg of caffeine, or the equivalent of a shot of espresso.

In other words, it a booster shot of caffeine for your coffee.

How perverse.

The manufacturer, WhiteWave Foods, is the parent company of International Delight (no surprise there with the form factor of the package, right?), though one would imagine that they're going after a different demographic than blissed-out, flavored-coffee housewives.

Why did I not try it? I was already drinking the yellow-handled 7-11 Fusion energy coffee, which is spiked with ginseng (not traditionally noted for its energetic properties, but it is good with a chicken soup and I'm sure it increases your chi or your feng shui or something), yerba mate (a mild stimulant), and guarana (which is just another of caffeine).

With all that shit already in the coffee (plus two packets of Equal), I didn't want to push my luck.

Between the Fusion energy coffee and the Stok shot, all they have to do is start brewing the coffee with Water Joe or some other caffeinated water for some real fireworks.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Glaring Error in the Beastie Boys' 'Paul Revere'

Every time I listen to the Beastie Boys' Paul Revere (which is probably more frequently than would be considered healthy), I always change one lyric in my head. The verse goes:
Pulled out the jammy -- aimed it at the sky.
He yelled, "Stick 'em up!" and let two fly.
Hands went up and people hit the floor.
He wasted two kids that ran for the door.
Now, the line that goes:
He wasted two kids that ran for the door.

should be:
He wasted two kids who ran for the door.

The two kids are people (even after being wasted), and as such, should be referred to using the pronoun "who."

So I always make the correction.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Oh Lord, Please Let That Be a Dog Turd, Not Human

Thank you, dear neighbor (or passerby), for leaving that humongous turd in the common area directly in front of my house (thus making me, at least indirectly, responsible for it), between the hours of 2:30 and 10:00 AM on Wednesday, 8/15, which I can only hope and/or pray is canine in origin, not human.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Precarious Cheese Curls

I'd been wondering why so many people had been pounding on the vending machine on Friday:


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Joelogon-Fast Diet Plan

It's real simple:

A donut for breakfast,
A donut for lunch,
Then a sensible dinner of a mushroom-swiss burger with french fries.

[Riffing on an old slogan, for the youngsters.]

Monday, August 06, 2007

All I Want to Do Is Buy Some Goddamn Popsicles and Go to Sleep

It's been a rough couple of weeks on the personal blogging front. Almost makes me want to try swigging from a random bottle of 1800 tequila sitting on the curb of Clarendon Boulevard late Saturday night/early Sunday morning:

Fortunately, it was empty.

This was after heading up to Dupont Circle, which I will maybe talk about later, since as mentioned, I just want to buy a bag of store-brand Popsicles, cook a steak, (eat it) and go to sleep.