February 27, 2005

Rebar for Tootsie Rolls: Chapter Twin .50s - The Sodden Wavering

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Dardenella was waiting in the bar of the slightly less expensive the Three Seasons, wearing a dress indistinguishable from a miserly film of black oil paint. Her hair was chesnut enough to roast on a fire, and lips were like a red airfield beacon, so there was the usual flight pattern of men around her trying to get clearance to land like Wildcats on the Lexington. I brushed them aside by firing off a couple of rounds from my .38, kissed her like I was headed off on a suicide mission in the morning and helped myself to six or seven of the pile of free drinks on her table, flicking the little umbrellas contemptuously at the scattering Toms, one landing gently down on the bleeding leg of one of the slow ones. I offered him a suggestion that Dr. Alexander Hamilton would take care of everything, and folded it into an origami crane for a bit of apologetic flair.

The gunfire attracted onlookers, pressing their moist noses against the window for a better view of the romantic devastation. I noticed a wavy waft of long blond hair outside. Then Dardenella screamed!

As a spiderweb pattern of death opened in the plate glass window, her best hat exploded in a snowstorm of silk, netting and tiny wooden bird splinters! If her hair hadn't been piled high as the Stanford rowing crew's workout sweats she would have been laid out for the big dirt nap and I'd be looking for another girlfriend on the side. As it turned out, a quick coif and a foggy layer of Aquanet could fix what a shot an inch lower would have taken the entire drunken incompetence of San Francisco General Hospital to fail to do.

It had to be Heinreicha.

"You're alright baby. We gotta blow. 23 Skidoo. We've got a date- for a menage a-trois of revenge!~" I said.

Dardenella was upset. "I'll tear that Nazi bitches' arms off! I'll gum her hair to P-40 prop! . I'll sew her lips to Goering's Ass!."

"I like the way you think, sugarlumps."

I ran outside to the intersection and spotted a stopped rider on an Indian motorcycle. I waved one hand in the air like a moth for distraction and pulled out his goggles and snapped them back on his face.

"Sorry, Pal, Police business. Here, Call the Chief at his home number, " I said as I pushed him off, got on the bike and got Darenella on the back. As she grabbed me to hold on her chest pushed softly into my back like a couple of silk lunch bags full of fresh warm tapicoa pudding. I hit the throttle and we roared off.

Dardenella roared in my ear - she'd gone line by line through the Bay Area City Directory of Fascists and Totalitarians and had a hunch they were meeting at the Japanese Tea House in Golden Gate Park.

"I checked the cop reports. There's been at least 147 murders in the city of federal officials, Democrats, US Army Air Force personell, jazz musicians and attractive brunettes - all people sworn to stop Hitler. At every single crime scene is a woman with long blond hair, long black boots. It's been so bad the San Francisco police have actually begun to investigate. They always find a single 9mm casing, enammeled with a pink swastika. Look out!" I swerved casually to avoid an oncoming baseball stadium.

We were hot on the trail of Heinreicha the Bulleteer, the deadliest German since a cook from Hamburg invented E Coli at the 1909 Chicago World's Fair.

Riding along the paths I gently rolled the bike into the pond near the tea house rather than pay the outrageous nickle for parking on a motorcyle I didn't even own. We went in -but of course since the War started the tea house was run by Austrians.

Impatiently I grabbed the first man I saw with a name tag that said "Hello, My Name is Hans- ask me about our Alpine Tea Ceremony" and smacked him around until I happened to look out the window and notice Henreicha paddling by in a bicycle boat with a man so small, dangerous and shifty he made Peter Lorre look like Jimmy Stewart. I told Hans "sorry, maybe Abe Lincoln can help" and tucked a fiver in his apron for the trouble and the Thompson .45 I picked up from behind the postcard rack.

There was nothing to do but follow them on another paddle boat. We clammored in and peddled away.

It was a clear sky around the little forested park hill and the round lake. Hundreds of children were playing and beating each other up. The dappled sun slapped aroung the water. The ducks were pecking each other, and shunning the coots. A goose was extorting bread from another goose with compromising photos. A swan was on his back plastered from drinking two quarts of Mad Dog. The day was beautiful, but the world was ugly, and would be, tilled we scoured the sink scum of totalitarianism from it with bleach and grit for extra cleansing power.

As if to underscore the point, three huge holes drilled into the wood on our boat and water spouts from a deadly yet refreshing spray of bullets splashed high.

Normally, when you chase down the bad guys in SF, you go the nearest chase clock, punch your card, receive the car keys , cop a little air down Jones street, take out a couple of fruit stands, crash into the bay, and Bob's your Uncle. This was different. I was in just the sort of nightmare situation every private dick fears: in a Tommy gun firefight with an expert female Nazi sharpshooter around the paddleboat lake in Golden Gate park on family day. I squeezed off a few dozen rounds as she paddled round the bend, and I shouted at the sweaty but game Dardenella to increase speed to .25 of a knot. I started picking apart my cotton candy and tossing and burning it to lay down a smokescreen.

The chase has a long tradition in town, every since Stinky Yamaguchi tried to outrun Sherriff "Handlebar Bob" McFierce in his stolen '02 Horseless Smokester, nearly getting away before a carelessly tossed stick of gum put the kibosh on his wheels turning when he hit Market street. This was so far back that Stinky was sent up San Quentin for 16 to 20 for felony interference with a magical elf carriage, the only applicable law on the books.

But this was today, not yesterday. Here, not there. Now, not then. 1 O'clock, not 11 am. It was time for justice.

Smart Kid

Stanford freshman lets fly, just like bombing womp rats back home...

Anna May's Big Role

Anna May Wong had few starring roles, and many of these were in movies that were not very good. I have read breathless reviews of Daughter of the Dragon, in which she plays the vengeful spawn of Fu Manchu. Call me skeptical.

She co-starred with Dietrich in Shanghai Express - a movie much-praised for its style. Kael called it “irresistibly enjoyable ... a triumphant fusion of sin, glamour, shamelessness, art, and, perhaps, a furtive sense of humor." From what little I've seen so far, Anna May could have classed-up Hee Haw, so von Sternberg probably had the right girl, though she didn't get to speak much.

Her best acting performance in a starring role appears to be Piccadilly (1929 - due out on DVD shortly), one of the last great silent films. Where many reviews of Shanghai Express don't even mention Wong, her notices here veer toward the hyperbolic and worshipful. A British Film Institute note on the film is here.

The kiss, almost shown here, was cut by the censors:

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Very frustrating for all concerned. Wongus Interruptus is the technical term, I believe.

So Piccadilly's next. It's on order, though explaining the box art (not in the movie, btw) to the wife will be a bit of a challenge...

February 26, 2005

'Greed' in SF

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von Stroheim's Greed was based on Frank Norris's McTeague, a novel he based on actual events in San Francisco that occurred while he was in school at Berkeley. Filmed in the same year as Thief of Bagdad, the initial cut of Greed ran nine and a half hours. The studio made him cut it to two, and much of the cut footage was lost.

In 1999 Turner Entertainment did a partial restoration, which got good reviews. In retrospect, that would have been a good time to watch it...

Greed was filmed on location in San Francisco and Death Valley. One of the most important locations was this building at Hayes and Laguna. In the novel McTeague's dental office was at the corner of Kearny and Geary, and there was an actual dentist's office at that location (note the tooth hanging over the street...actually, that whole americahurrah site is very cool...).

This fellow has built a website about the movie. A summary of the movie is here.

February 25, 2005

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Sitemeter predicts this little blog will have 3000 visits in the next month. Even accounting for my re-reading "Rebar for Tootsie Rolls", that means a lot of people we don't know are reading this. Many are new to Eisengeiste, and so perhaps it would be worthwhile to explain who we are and what we do here.

First of all, Eisengeiste is a conversation. It's basically the conversation you'd have in a bar with your friends if your friends were clever traffic menaces from Boston, Skinhead-whipping hotties from West Virginia, and street thugs who grew up together on the mean streets of Anchorage, Alaska in the 70s. It's a little different from a bar conversation, though, because most bar conversations are incomprehensible infantile gibberish. Eisengeiste is usually not infantile.

Eisengeiste has standards. We will not publish or comment on sex, hot sex, porn, gay porn, Britney Spears, Halle Berry nude, hot teen cheerleaders, Anna Kournikova, Ana Kornikova, Annie Kuournikafka, Christo, or libertarianism.

What does the name mean? It means "Iron Minds" in German, except we're bad at German, so not really. For you n8bes, Ironminds was a blog site that ran for while in Bubble Time. It was wildly uneven, but it had its moments. It's gone now. When we started this blog a couple years ago we wanted to make sure it was pretentious, ironic, and completely self-absorbed. So we named it The New York Observer. But we found out that was taken. So it's Eisengeiste, or Esprit de Fer, or Mentes Ferrarius, or whatever seems fitting at the moment.

Some of the contributors on Eisengeiste are actual public figures, who have posted their profiles on the Internet so they can be contacted by Hot Singles in Their Area. Some are out of the closet, but hoping no one notices. And some of us are in the Federal Witless Protection Program.

But, for all our diversity, there are themes and ideas that we all share, things we're all on board with. Topics where we all sing from the same hymnal, as it were. Briefly, these are:
  • We believe that the basic unit of moral calculus is human suffering and that we live in an age where the mighty make up fairy tales to distract the rest of us from the wounds they inflict. OK, that's no different from any other age, but it annoys us.
  • We believe torturing for freedom is like fucking for chastity.
  • We believe The Royal Navy had a pretty good run there.
  • We believe that most everything, including a lot of stuff you don't want, is for sale.
  • We believes that Ulysses, wearied of wonders, wept with love on seeing Ithaca, humble and green, and that Art is that Ithaca - a green eternity, not wonders. Art is endless like a river flowing, passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same and yet another, like the river flowing.
  • We believe that the current account deficit of the United States has reached unsustainable levels and will correct via continued depreciation of the dollar vis a vis the currencies of developing Asian countries.
  • We believe, when playing chess against a stranger on a train, you should essay the Latvian Gambit and go for the throat.
  • We believe John Taffin has matched the great Elmer Keith in his careful and nuanced presentation of the relative merits of American sixguns.
  • We prefer the V-Max to the Vespa.
  • We believe if it's not Scottish, it's CRAP, and Martyn Bennet died before his time.
  • And Bush sucks.

February 24, 2005

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More here.

February 23, 2005

The 11th Commandment

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Church sign generator is here.


Tiki God USB storage.

I Feel Much Better Now

You know what we've been missing in the Bay Area this year? A big-mouthed wide receiver who has no sense and puts his personal achievements above the team. And now our dreams come true.

Lest we forget, Moss "has gained more receiving yardage in his first seven seasons than any other player in NFL history."

Please God, let them sign Jeff George (he becomes an unrestricted free agent March 2!) to throw to him...

February 22, 2005

Seahawks Maneuvers

Yahoo! Sports - NFL - Seahawks sign Hasselbeck; GM Bob Ferguson resigns

What this means: the Seahawks have managed to keep Hasselbeck, Alexander, and Walter Jones. I would have bet that they would have lost at least one of the three. This is good news.

February 21, 2005

Olbermann En Fuego

"The website AmericaBlog reported that one of Mr. Guckert/Gannon’s profiles on an escort-themed website was still “active” earlier this month. Exactly when does the past become the future? When you get caught having one? Presumably the rule of thumb for all of us is this: one needs to at least take the naked pictures of one’s self off a website before complaining about an invasion of one’s 'past.' ”

Some clown meanwhile is maintaining an "Olbermann Watch" blog. Yeah, watch him kick your ass.

Cuz That's Just the Way He Is (Was)...

Yahoo! News - Writer Hunter S. Thompson Commits Suicide

February 19, 2005

A Bit More Anna May

I had overlooked two very interesting things about Anna May Wong. First, her birthday is the same as mine. And second, this January was her 100th.

Richard Corliss of Time wrote a long article about her commemorating the occasion.

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Another Beverage Option

Some people say green tea mixed with sugary cola is bound to be unpleasant, but they're wrong. It's tasty and refreshing. Still more sugar than I'd like, unfortunately, and the diet version gets panned at Bevnet (I had never heard of Bevnet until now), but this was one of my better decisions of the day.

Oh, and spot the out-of-work brand manager....

Exchange from Blackadder II

M. and I have been re-viewing all of the episodes of Blackadder (thanks to Dr. X for the gift of them on DVD a few years ago). I felt compelled to write down this exchange between Blackadder (the second) and Captain Redbeard Rum, played by Tom Baker of Doctor Who fame.

The Setup: Blackadder, Percy, and Baldrick have set sail with Captain Rum, who not only doesn't know how to get to the Cape of Good Hope, but doesn't know how to get to France, either.

Blackadder: Look, there's no need to panic, someone in the crew will know how to steer this thing.

Capt. Rum: "The crew," me Lord?

Blackadder: Yes, the crew...

Capt. Rum: What crew?

Blackadder: I was under the impression that it was common maritime practice for a ship to have a "crew."

Capt. Rum: Opinion is divided on the subject.

Blackadder: Really?

Capt. Rum: Yes. All the other captains say it is; I say it isn't.

February 18, 2005

Review of "Rebar for Tootsie Rolls"

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Time to Get an Agent

I am surfing around tonite trying to figure out how to get some of this stuff noticed (we should be charging serious dough for "Rebar for Tootsie Rolls"). Any thoughts on where we belong on DMOZ? And can we get a volunteer to write an article for Wikipedia on us (if Fark gets an entry surely we should too)?

Rebar for Tootise Rolls: Chapter .45 Auto: The Stink of Disimilitude

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Having captured the S.S. EssEss with a well-placed sharpened bamboo stick, we steamed into San Francisco Bay, leaking like a 4 year old on his fifth pint of lager. It was great to see the Golden Gate again while some Sinatra-crazed jilted bird wasn't hurling herself off to get back at her Evangelical parents for sending her to millinery school. But as we pulled up to the docks and the brow was extended, I turned it all over in my mind like an turnover with lot of jelly and only one cherry in it, and it all added to one thing: a big pile of Hippo stink with the vanilla frosting of deceit. Sure, the commandant had cleared Crumples the Bartender after a little session with sodium pentathol and an eyeless Mickey Mouse doll, but somewhere in San Francisco a whole clump of Nazis was running around free as millionaire sparrows.

After the incident in the galley with the Russian life insurance salesman, Jenny clung onto my arm like a honey-soaked staticky balloon animal Jean Harlow, and of course now she was dressed only in an impromptu frock made of pale green actuarial tables. We hailed a taxi and got in.

"Where to, Mack?"
"Ingvar's Real I-talian Bistro, on Columbus. And step in it. On it. Sorry, Buddy."

The driver stabbed holes of glaring into my hat. I turned to Jenny. She was adjusting the mortality table for 47 year old single operators who smoked, which drove me crazy with a crazy kind of sexy desire. I could not take my eyes off the percentile risk columns. If I'd had a slide rule I probably would have been slapped.

The '42 Dodge lurched violently left and right down California street, which was a problem because it was straight road downhill. The driver's turns were so sharp a cable car had to pull a u-ey to get out of the way. I watched the sad, determined faces of several Businessman in gray flannel as they bounced off the bumper like fiscally secure corn stalks.

"Hey, Pal, want to crank it down a notch?" I inquired. "There's an extra fiver in it for you if we get there at all." He didn't say anything. "You see that cab up ahead? It's not killing anyone. Try following that."

Silence. We had just crested the top of a hill and taken out a small troop of retail candy store trainees. That's when I finally took my eyes off Jenny long enough to notice that the driver's brains were inappropriately splattered on the passenger window. A silencer! This Joe was silenced alright. Jenny screamed and raised her hands to her mouth, ironically rending the mortality estimates for taxi drivers with more than twenty years experience. I would have been more turned on if we weren't plummeting down Nob Hill at 85 mph.

I pushed the driver over and grabbed the wheel, and though I couldn't slow it down I tried to steer for something softer than the Chronicle Building, like a school bus. Right now I wished I bought that policy the Russian was trying to hustle me when I was smacking him around in the ship's galley with a pair of brass knuckles and a french horn-a couple of years in Stalin's Magadan breaking ice into cubes had taught him the value of persistent salesmanship. Fortunately at that moment, the X-tra Comfy Super-Soft Mattress Delivery Truck making its weekly deliver to the San Francisco Chronicle swerved to avoid a malemute puppy and overturned spilled matresses everywhere, just enough to overturn the cab and eject us both into the matresses, which had as it turned out impressive lumbar support.

"Funny, I've been working on getting you in bed a long time, schnookums, " I was contractually obligated to say. The tumble in the mattress had ripped so many of the remaining actuarial tables from Jenny that only collision damage estimates from 1937-42 Buicks kept us from getting arrested.

She undid my tie and made an impromptu skirt. You couldn't see everything, but you could see the future.

Fortunately we were near North Beach and Ingvar's. We walked past a goateed hepster inspired by Jenny's jello-cake walk to wolf-whistle and I had to put the beatnik down. We got to Ingvar's. It wasn't exactly a great place. The speciality of the house, lutefisk risoto, had put more people in the hospital than the Andrea Doria; on the other hand it was cold, dank and dark. I peered through the whale oil lamp light for our contact.

A silhouetted figure at one of the barrel tables with a checkered cloth on the top took a long drag on a hookah, and a sickly orange light struck his crooked nose and 16 inch Van Dyck, which cut through the rising grey smoke. He was thinner than a dieting willow branch. His skin was a syphillitic shade of green, and his black and silver hair could have greased a 6 by 6. He wore a kind of Teutonic zoot suit, with a giant hat and pants and an old fashioned high collar with bolo tie clip made from what I hope was a monkey skull. This was the other Russian guy all right, trouble with a capital Rouble. He motioned for us to come over with a skeletal finger.

"I am indeed Professor Clammato. You must be Brain. And this charming companion is, Miss Diver, I presume?"

"Creeped out, I'm sure" she said.

"You vill of course share a drink with me?," He sort of offered or hissed, or fissed, in a sort of ashy Sino-spanish-Lativian accent. "Ingvar! Another formaldyhyde and lemon! I svear by it. The cellular tissues- they do not dissolve."

"Fine, but make mine a Naked Dane, that's anise vodka and mezcal, with a sprig of pine."

"Ya, I know, I came up wit dat, " said Ingvar's enormous droopy moustache. "To gedda girl in high school. Ha. Ha!" He creaked like a knock-off Louis XIV chair. Looking at Ingvar it was a wonder he hadn't added morphine.

"I'll have a morphine and Coke," said Jenny. "A-Cola," she added. "And you got any women's clothes in the back? I'm a little breezy here." Indeed, her nipples were more at attention that a formal review of the Royal Navy.

"Ya sure, I'm in touch vit my sexuality."

"So, Brain," said Clammato, with his pimento-like pupils trained on a small red leather book. "As you know I am a Professor of Hydraullic Engineering and Women's Studies at Berkeley. As such, I have been privileged to be the recipient of a large federal grant to cure monthly cycles. I noticed several weeks ago a certain teaching assistant named Henreicha Coulter at a formal dinner with a Death's Head hairclip which I believe she left on by accident. "

Just then Ingvar arrived with a blue silk dress for Jenny with shoulder pads so sharp she could mug a sailor.

"I have done some investigation with my contacts," Clammato continued. She is somewhat conservative in politics, in the sense she was kicked out of the Nazi party by Speer personally for making others uncomfortable with inflammatory proposals. Her thesis proposal is for aggressive kitten eugenics, " He wagged his beard sadly. " I have been a fool not to see the signs. When the invasion of Poland was announced, she brought out champagne and strudel for the undergraduates. She is so blond a DC-3 once mistook her hair for a landing light in the fog and crashed into a beauty salon. One student even referred to her 'jackbooty.'

I was starting to put the pieces together."Is she by any chance an expert rifledame?" I asked.

"If you mean does she brandish a K-98 Mauser sniper rifle to hunt squirrels in Golden Gate park at distances exceeding 1000 yards, I would say 'yes.'"

Finally a lead. But the danger was increasing. Our dinner had arrived. Only Ingvar wasn't actively trying to kill us.

With all the folks having babies lately...

.. the subject of names keeps coming up.

Among perenial favorites of discussion are topics like "John seemed like it was a really common name when I was growing up, but now not so much." or "What ever happened to all those great 'turn of the century' names like Zelma?"

While this insanely cool interface doesn't answer the question of 'why', it does provide an informative display of 'when' and 'how much'.

For an extra fun exercize, try typing in Biblical names and see if you can't correlate them with the rise of fundamentalism in the US!

February 17, 2005

The Old Ways Are Best

It brought a tear to my eye when I learned that today's youth, through the miracle of the modern Inter-net, can access this profound, ancient knowledge.

February 16, 2005

How Do These Rumors Get Started?

Apparently the air campaign is getting underway. A large unexplained explosion was heard today near an Iranian nuclear facility.
  • Iranian spokesman: It was "friendly fire," and "several such mistaken friendly fire incidents have been reported there in recent days."
  • Anonymous witness: A plane dropped a fuel tank or bomb.
  • Russian spokesman: Nothing happened, everything is normal.
Now they're saying it was a construction blast.

Uh huh.

By the way, Iran and Syria have come out of the closet, arm-in-arm.

February 15, 2005

Get That Weak Crap Out of Here

We were Vikings. We pillaged Europe and half of Asia. And you think we're going to fold up over your crummy research center?

Perhaps in America, where corruption has sapped your people's native instinct for independence, you can bully people like this. But not here. This office, this government, this nation are not for sale! Here, sir, a rich man is just a rich man. Good day.

At least that's what I hope they told him.

February 14, 2005

Dear Parent or Guardian

It is with regret that we must inform you that your missile defense system has failed another test. Additionally, it fails to perform up to even the most minimal standards set for other missile defense systems of its age and development. During diagnostic sessions, your missile defense system often seems sluggish and uninterested. It consistently keeps to itself and makes every effort to shy away from other missiles even when interaction is initiated by beacons of greeting. We fear that if your missile defense system does not show marked improvement, we will have no other choice but keep it in during missile defense system recess.

There's No Such Thing As Bad Publicity

Though it's hard to figure out how this is good...

February 13, 2005

Survival of the Prettiest

I'd missed the emerging body of evidence on the universality of human beauty. Researchers have actually identified a "consensus beauty" that is, they say, attractive to virtually all men. I saw this on TV tonight, and the researchers overlaid pictures showing the similarities with Liz Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, and Halle Berry.

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But that's not who I saw when I first saw the drawing. Judge for yourself:

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Perhaps the Sea Lord is onto something.

It Isn't Coffee

Pufka-esque in SF

I shall from now on refer to the Kafka-esque Putinization of the country as Pufkaism. The latest example:

"Steve, a freelance photographer, was stopped while taking pictures in a San Francisco MUNI station, told that he was breaking a post-9/11 law against photographing San Francisco's public transit. He challenged the MUNI cops to name the law he was breaking, aware that such a law was unconstitutional, and they -- unsurprisingly -- couldn't identify the law. That is because there is no law. They were lying.

"So then they called the real cops, who proceeded to dress Steve down for breaking this nonexistent law -- for being a troublemaker who wanted to exercise his constitutional rights and ply his trade -- and threaten to trump up a trespassing charge and jail him for the weekend if he didn't meekly acquiesce."

I, tool would like to prevent further terrorist attacks on our country. However in this instance 9/11 was used as justification for:
  • Making up a law that didn't exist
  • Lying to a citizen about their rights
  • Threatening the citizen with incarceration for refusing to cooperate
When the cop says "we're going to put you in jail if you don't do what we say" with no legal justification... and when you ask why, he says it's because we're at war to protect our precious freedoms... That's Pufkaism.

February 12, 2005

Getting the Dosage Right

I swore off caffeine for a couple of years in the early 90's and I was not happy. Two books convinced me that I should return to the dark mistress. After reviewing the pharmacokinetics of both caffeine and alcohol, the author of Buzz concluded that alcohol was probably worse for you than generally supposed, but caffeine was probably better. And Jane Katz claimed in her swimming book that a shot of caffeine improved her athletic performance. Evidence on this is mixed, but no one is saying it hurts. And on mental tasks there's no question stimulants are beneficial - why would a generation of parents give speed to their kids? Because their grades improve, that's why.

So I'm good with caffeine. I've made my peace with it. But now the crucial question - how best to deliver the drug? Some notes follow:
  • Coca-Cola. The old standby, 45 mg of caffeine bundled with 10 teaspoons of sugar. (But it's fat-free!) I like the low-sugar C2, but no one else in America does, apparently. It can't be long for this world - C2 is not mentioned on the Coca-Cola official website.
  • Diet Pepsi. Mother's milk to the Laird, endorsed by P. Diddy, this is clearly the frontrunner in the cool category. It supposedly has a bit less caffeine than Coke (35 mg), and of course no sugar. But dude, you're giving up the sugar synergy! You just don't get that snap from the diet drinks. The molecules just don't line up the same way.
  • Mountain Dew. Same as a Coke, but 75 mg of caffeine.
  • Starbucks Coffee Frapuccino (bottle). OK, this is basically a Coke with twice as much caffeine and some fat. The argument for it is that it is made of actual food products (coffee, milk) instead of pharmaceutical herbs (coca leaf, kola nut) and corn syrup. But it tastes lousy warm so you kind of have to chug it, which causes your blood sugar to spike and sets you up for major pain when you crash.
  • Starbucks Doubleshot. Three times the caffeine of Coke. Drink this and you're in junkie-land. Might as well set up a payroll deduction to Starbucks to ensure continuous supply.
  • Tall Cup of Coffee (Starbucks) . 70 mg of caffeine, 2 tbsp of sugar, a bit of fat if you add milk like I do. A great option but again you need to drink it fairly quickly - cold coffee is awful.
  • Cup of Cocoa. Crummy 8 mg of caffeine - you'd have to drink a quart to get the kick of a Coke.
  • Red Bull. 80 mg. Umm, no.
  • Cup of Tea. 50 mg. An intriguing choice - green tea has proven medical benefits and prevents bad breath as well. But no sugar, and adding sugar makes it taste worse. The Chinese take it with little cookies to get the sugar synergy. Objectively probably the best, but the last time I tried to run on green tea I went down with a two-day migraine.
So despite Coke's obvious issues, it has been difficult to displace it in my delivery regimen. It's cheap, it tastes good, and it get the drug to the brain. But I really do want to avoid the insulin pump, so I may give green tea another try...

February 11, 2005

Rice admits Bush invaded Iraq due to "personal shortcomings" Posted by Hello

He Doesn't Need Your Respect

But he's earned it.

Manilow was the '70s

America: A Bit Slow. Arr (Retort)

Bush's approval rating begins to plummet. A bit late.

We contacted a famous pirate Pol for comment on this development:

Ye muddleskulled, bat-faced cowflops! I'll rub sand in yer eyes and keel-haul the lot of ye, ye poxy blackguards! How could you be so addle-pated and fat-witted, what with drinking of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, that thou coulds't forget the calendar herself! The election was three months ago, ye salt-blasted kelp-livered poppinjays!! To the devil's small clothes hamper with ye! You mayst as well rigged the mainstay to the anchor line and dropped her out of soundings, you land-pining bilge rats!! You pushed the fox out of the henhouse and installed a rabid sea-bear with an unfillable hole in his belly, and now we're all for the hangman's tender mercies, ye dumpling-balled idiot's paiges! I'll have yer lungs for purses, and yer entrails for lute-strings, and I'll wage the Sea Witch to a whore's pimple I couldn't get ha-pence for yer porridge-and-suet brains from a famished Turkman!! ' Tis the Primal ARR for the Whole, Miserable, Sorry Lubbery Lot of Ye !!!: ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!

February 10, 2005

Putinization Continues, Lie Back and Enjoy It

More than 200 scientists employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say they have been directed to alter official findings to lessen protections for plants and animals, a survey released Wednesday says.

Lost in Time, Lost in Space...and Meaning

Hollywood is old, almost as old as the current Nation, if you count from the end of the Civil War.

The thing about movie history is that we focus on a few icons - Marilyn Monroe, WC Fields, Erroll Flynn - and the thousands of performers around them fade into oblivion. And this site (from a 1923 book) brings them back. It makes you realize Hollywood wasn't just Groucho and Charlie Chaplin. It was an industry then, too; there were hundreds of stars.

Have we really forgotten Bert Lytell's performance in "Rupert of Hentzau"? Is there anyone left whose heart quickened at the sight of Mary Philbin's majestic mane? Billie Dove? Here. Dinky Dean? Here.

Betcha can't read just one...

[Update: "Dinky" Dean Riesner passed away in 2002. In addition to his career as a child star, he is remembered for writing "Play Misty for Me" and "Dirty Harry". ]

Criticizing and Exposing Collaborators

Norman Rockwell flattered in the sincerest way:

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From The Onion!

Frederick's Of Anchorage Debuts Crotchless Long Underwear

Fredericks of Anchorage Debuts
Crotchless Long Underwear

(I'm just so proud . ..)

February 09, 2005

Make Their Misfortune Your Entertainment

After reading Kidd of Speed's description of the battle, play Korsun Pocket, "arguably the best traditional hex-based wargame of all time."

I'd play it myself, but I have diapers to change...

Foxy on the Dneiper

Kidd of Speed, fabulous girl motorcycle explorer of Chernobyl, is back with a tour of Ukrainian battle sites.

The Serpent's Wall itself is an ancient earthen defensive wall that figured in a number of battles around Kiev. She motorscoots around and digs up these tragic and fascinating sites, picking up rusty Nazi grenades and 1000 year old earrings, with her dry, cool unflappable style and bit of fascinating history. (For example, I had no idea about the real anarchist army.)

This is one stone-cold Ukranian action amateur archaeologist fox. I think I'm in love.


I forgot to be Run-Run Shaw (98 years young). Happy Chinese New Year, one and all!

The Black Hole of Geneva, Slush Station Zebra

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is warming up for its 2007 start. It may be used to create minature black holes.

I realize the risk of getting sucked into an artificial black hole is fairly small, but I also am given to understand that the probability is non-zero, which warmly reminds me of the calculation before the original atomic bomb test that there was only a 25% chance of the entire atmosphere catching on fire.


Meanwhile, climate change is (of course) worse than we thought (and BTW the Greenland is melting scenario from ten years ago is back), but can oil rigs actually save us by reinjecting CO2 back where we got? In the meantime, as goes Shishmaref, so goes Bangladesh.

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The North Polar Ice Cap, January 6, 2075 (Projection)

Attention Climatologists: I know it's your training. I know there are outstanding issues. But stop equivocating in public, or we and most of the earth's creatures may be dead of starvation. We're pumping the atomosphere full of CO2, a gas which certainly causes it to heat. We need to knock it off.

Which is why, as I write this, I decided to enjoy a second donut, and will spend tomorrow painting a beautiful woman.

May A 1000 Syphyllitic Camels Find His Lotion Amorously Irresistable

Karl Rove moves up in the White House. Apparantly there is still work to do, such as leave the earth a smoldering ash-and burned plastic strewn ruinous waste, starting wars with Scandanavia, and formalizing indentured servitude for medical care.

This leaves me wanting to look up actuarial tables, such as the likelyhood that Rove will be run over by a cement mixer, struck by a bout of toxic zits, get whacked by the mob for betting $2 trillion in government on the Eagles without being able to cover the bet because of tax cuts, or his colon, out of sheer patriotism and exasperation, reaches up and strangles him internally.

February 08, 2005

On an Almost Related Note

I love "La Marseillaise" and can even waddle through it in French, because I love lustily crying:

"Aux armes citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons."

That "marchons, marchons!" part always gets my juices flowing.

However, I fear it is less wonderful in translation:

Let us go, children of the fatherland
Our day of Glory has arrived.
Against us stands tyranny,
The bloody flag is raised,
The bloody flag is raised.
Do you hear in the countryside
The roar of these savage soldiers
They come right into our arms
To cut the throats of your sons,
your country.

To arms, citizens!
Form up your battalions
Let us march, Let us march!
That their impure blood
Should water our fields

I really don't support that impure blood tillage business. But, man oh man what an anthem.

On the other hand, I understand why the Soviet National Anthem has fallen from favor...

Great Russia has welded forever to stand.
Created in struggle by will of the people,
United and mighty, our Soviet land!

Sing to the Motherland, home of the free,
Bulwark of peoples in brotherhood strong.
O Party of Lenin, the strength of the people,
To Communism's triumph lead us on!

Through tempests the sunrays of freedom have cheered us,
Along the new path where great Lenin did lead.
Be true to the people, thus Stalin has reared us,
Inspire us to labor and valorous deed!

...but I miss its haunting melody.

17th Century Mulligan

As many of you know, I've been working on abortive attempts to put together a role-playing game campaign for the last few years. This time, I've got my ducks in a row to land this baby. (Is that mixing metaphors?)

The Game System

I decided that the most popular role-playing systems (D20, GURPS, et. al.) were insufficient for this game. During my trip to Hawaii, I started to work on my own combat system. When I returned, I set about investigating whether someone had already invented teh combat system I was inventing. As luck would have it, the answer is yes; it's called The Riddle of Steel. What separates it from other systems is 1) detailed, realistic combat rules (which is a vast oversimplification, as it's realism can itelf be "cinematic" or fantistical), and 2) a character development system that puts strong emphasis on the character's defining motivations and spirit.

The Setting

The game will begin in England in the year 1603, at the time of the death of Queen Elizabeth. Many heroes of the Elizabethian age are dead and gone: Sir Francis Drake and John Hawkins, Robert Devereux (Earl of Essex), and William Cecil (Elizabeth's minister). The most famed Englishmen alive at the time are Sir Walter Raleigh, Francis Bacon, and William Shakespeare (whose career is at its zenith). Somewhat less well known, yet crucial figures include Robert Cecil, Charle Blount (Lord Mountjoy), and George Clifford (Earl of Cumberland).

Jame VI of Scotland is poised to take the English throne as James I. (But will he?) There are no English settlements in North America -- the first colony failed. (Will the second succeed?) Henry Hudson's voyage is still six years in the offing. (But will someone get there first?) The Gunpowder Plot is two years away. (Will it succeed?)

The Player Characters

There are no character classes. The mechanics of creation primarily consists of assigning priorities to physical and mental attributes, professional abilities, martial proficencies, gifts and flaws, and (key to this setting) social class and wealth. Also, a character's predilection to concience, faith, passions, drive, and luck are selected. Particular detail is lavished on martial proficencies. In this game, any boldness may well have to be backed up with steel, and there will always be a risk of grievous wounds or death anytime it comes to blows. But, mark well, fortune favors the bold.

February 07, 2005

Guide to manly, patriotic TV viewing

Far and above the best way to get your fix of hard-boiled WW2 action ever.

(Just pretend there aren't any entries on the page like this one)

Nice Guy Gorilla Can't Get Date

Girls say they like sensitive guys, but they always go out with the other kind...

February 06, 2005

But Try Not to Think About It

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People who have a tendency to worry or feel very stressed out may be more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease later in life, new research reports.

February 05, 2005

Maybe I'm Doing this Wrong

But it looks like a Stellerite is a bigger hitter this decade than Ed Asner...

I'm Working on Conditional Love

I think that unconditional love is not all it's cracked up to be.

I've found a lovely way to waste time and put a dollar figure on love.

If you go here you can type in a name and get a review of loveliness in the form of a history of a person's political contributions, with handy subcategories like: billionaires, chefs, corporate convicts, authors, Charlie's Angels, zealots, and weird names.

People I, sadly, love less:

Viggo Mortensen
lousy $250 to Howard Dean
Yoko Ono
apparently nothing since '83 when she gave $1K to Alan Cranston
only $2,200 for a pro-choice group

People I, surprisingly, love more
Andre Agassi
More than $70k to Dems, including $2k for Tony Knowles in '04. Yeah, that Tony Knowles.
Edward Norton
More than $70k in the last four years, including $10k checks to the DNC in swing states.
Bradley Whitford

Note that Uma Thurman ponied up $7K over 2 years (4 for Kerry, 2 for Hillary, 1 for a PA Dem. Rep. but Ethan Hawke was in for more than $25.


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  • He took over for the injured Johnny Unitas at the start of the Baltimore Colts' 1969 season, and led them to Super Bowl III, losing to the Jets.
  • He took over for the injured Johnny Unitas in Super Bowl V and led the team to victory over the Cowboys with a dramatic fourth quarter scoring drive.
  • At 38 he took over for the injured Bob Griese in game five of the Dolphins' 1972 season. He went 8-for-10 in that game and kept the team winning until the AFC Championship, when Griese returned to finish the job. Most people don't realize that Griese only led the team for six games in that perfect year.
  • He played in more football games (255 - among QBs, only Blanda played more), had more yards-per-attempt (7.7), and was involved in more Super Bowl victories (2) than Marino, Elway, or Tarkenton.
As the teams take the field tomorrow for their moment of fame, let's remember a real football player, a humble warrior who got the job done.

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Here's to you Earl Morrall, the greatest back-up quarterback in NFL history.

I Believe

A little late night work here, and Action Jackson's on cable. This is one of the few movies the Laird and I see eye-to-eye on. It's not, strictly speaking, good...but the stunts are great and there are lots of good throwaway lines. And how many films end with the hero's car in the villain's bedroom?

A shame about the acting, though. I'll give bad acting a chance, Lord knows. But it's painful even by 80's action standards.

So the few good performances stand out in bold relief. Sharon Stone does a nice job in an early role, bringing more to her character than is in the script (other Stone roles of this era were Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, and Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol). But the most memorable acting performance, and I admit my own biases here, is delivered by Vanity. Smart-mouthed, good-humored, tough, funny, and hot hot hot:

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Maybe you already knew that she got messed up on crack, lost her kidney function, went deaf and blind, and turned to Jesus. She has now recovered enough to preach the gospel in Fairbanks (next gig is later this month). She's a regular at a church over in Fremont, and has her own inspirational website.

Which is interesting, because her Action Jackson role was kind of a religious experience for me. Looking at her in this movie I'm just thinking, nothing that beautiful could have just randomly evolved. Surely a higher intelligence must be at work.

Hard to believe she's the same species as Rush Limbaugh or Karl Rove, isn't it?

Did he who made the scam,
make thee?

February 04, 2005

A Fun Little Routine

Just a wonderful moment on Virtues of Harmony the other night. One of the recurring characters is 11th Brother, a professional actor. He was the top leading man on Hong Kong TV back in the 70s, but is just getting bit parts now:

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But his career is suddenly resurrected when he stars in the violent but hugely successful hit "Kill John". He's a star again, and just so people never forget it, he dresses like his character all the time:

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He has a son - an effeminate but definitely heterosexual young man:
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But no mother is ever mentioned. Until one day, she returns:

A meek but sly woman, who we learn later is also a con artist and former Malaysian porn star (I think that's a joke, since Malaysia is an incredibly conservative Moslem country). She evades 11th Brother and makes dinner for her son (she really is his Mom):

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She is getting ready to tell him the truth when 11th Brother, enraged, knocks on her door. In the ensuing confrontation they manage to maneuver into the kitchen where they can argue out of earshot of the befuddled young man.

"Who do you think you are coming back? Do you know who I am?" he shouts. "I am the star of 'Kill John'!" he screams, tearing a banana in half for emphasis.

"Do you think I care?" she counters, picking up a large spiked durien to hit him with.

They are about to meet, like ship and ice-berg, when their son, still confused, walks in.

"What's going on?" he asks.

They are standing inches apart, father and secret mother, holding fruit in attack positions. They look at him, then at each other and say..."we're singing a song!" And they belt out a song and do the old soft shoe.

It was beautiful.

Great Journals

I met a fellow yesterday whose spiral-bound journal had been made from the old covers of an old science encyclopedia. I thought he'd made it himself, but he said he got it from this outfit. Neat.

February 03, 2005

A "Girl From Ipanema" Joke

The Girl From Ipanema

Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes,
Each pirate she passes goes - Arr.

A Short, Brutish Party

Finishing my class, a friend called to invite me to "a pretty rockin' party;" an easy drive, I pulled up quickly. I said hey to my friend who was checking out a '69 Coronet, and walked into a red-lit, well-finished but spare restaraunt room filled with what I was just begining to recognize as a small part of Seattle's rock star aristocracy (0f the approximately Alice in Chains bass player variety) - and an appropriate trailer of astonishing young women. I was there literally two seconds, one second away from either a jaw-dropping brunette or an impressive tray of eggrolls, when a vaguely punk rock guy pushed pass me to beat the living crap out of a older biker looking chap, jumping him, getting him in a headlock and punching him repeatedly in the face. A massed crowd of friends and chefs pulled them with great difficulty apart, the biker bleeding badly from the cheek onto his red beard, the attacker holding up a bent pair of glasses and yelling with underwhelming righteousness:

"Do you expect me to take... THIS?"

Apparantly, important eyewear had been bent.

My reason for being there, already shaky, was now thoroughly unclear. I started to leave, and I just heard the biker, who said something about just trying to be nice. It sounded plausible. The hoo-hah, like most such hoo-hahs, made little sense. Last I saw the biker guy was in the back of a car, making general plans to avoid the police, who showed up later in some force. At some point a gun was supposedly pulled by someone, but I missed that.

Next party: I get egg rolls for sure.

Cool Tool

Parse the State of the Union addresses. In February 2001, "liberty" and "evil" never came up...

A Little Recognition

If you haven't seen this movie (one of the best of 2002), don't blame yourself. They don't let Americans see the good stuff anymore.

How Many Divisions Does the Ethics Committee Have?

GOP: STFU during SOTU.

What Assurances can the 700 People of Galena, Alaska Give Us That Their Nuclear Reactor Will Be Used Soley For Peaceful Purposes?

Bob Tsigonis, Owner, Lifewater Engineering Company of Fairbanks standing in front of one of the units. Photo courtesy of Lifewater Engineering Company
Galena, Alaska's New Solid Waste Plant, Which They're Really Going to Need

The tiny town of Galena is about to get acute, little free nuclear reactor from Toshiba to solve the tricky problem of rural power generation, when you've only got a couple months a year to barge diesel up the Yukon.

If the choice is between definitely scorching the earth with coal and maybe scorching the earth with nukes, I may be open to this, particular if the design is anything like it is advertised. But the free nuke aspect of it kind of suggests a nickel bag of uranium. If they can't even get diesel up the river, I've got four words to tickle the imagination: radioactive liquid sodium fire.

But will Galena sign the non-proliferation protocols? What happens if Tok or Chicken or Egegik gets their own nuke? Will resentment over Galena's free nuke cause Whittier to build nuclear weapons in hopes of getting a free power plant, which, if you've even been to Whittier, you know the curious people in their well-protected fjord are perfectly prepared to do.

February 02, 2005

The Good Stuff

Elektronika MK 98

Soviet calculator collection. Ooh, ahh....

A Democratic Rebuttal Worth Listening To

I turned off Reid before he could finish the sentence about growing up in the high desert of Nevada. What crap. Here's a substantive rebuttal: Andrew Tobias on social security.

Morality is Such a Subjective Term

Five years ago, Adelphia stirred a local controversy by dropping Spice — a popular soft-porn channel — from newly acquired cable systems here because Adelphia founder John Rigas considered X-rated programming immoral.

Today, the 80-year-old Rigas and one of his sons are facing prison terms after being convicted last summer for looting the company and engaging in fraudulent accounting.

February 01, 2005

It's Dr. Dean for the Ds.

Howard Dean secures the leadership position for the Democratic National Committee. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton gets something interesting to do, where he can take all the love the W will never get.

Also, is the Pope on the ropes?

The BBC is now updated every minute. Neat.

Another Partisan Report From the Reality-Based Community

This one from the GAO: "Simply put, our nation's fiscal policy is on an unsustainable course."

Interesting twist in the GI held hostage in Iraq

Is the hostage being held named John Adam, or is he named Special Ops Cody?

Presumably they are threatening to behead him unless we release all the members of Cobra currently being detained in Gitmo...