November 29, 2007

This Blog Needs More Uma

Here you go.

November 28, 2007

Sure String Theory has it's "vibrating strings"

And the idea of the universe being made up of something like that is bound to please the public.

But the E8 geometry comes with this bitchen' animation.

The mandala like aspect is sure to please Hippies and Kabbalists alike

Oddly enough, I may have told the string theorists to suck it just a little too soon.

E8 is still a multi-dimensional representation of the Lie space of the most complicated hypersphere possible. And rather than 11 dimensions, E8 is in 248 dimensions, although it only has rank 8 (the maximum number of mutually commutative degrees of freedom) *

On the flip side, at least it's a mathematically sound model. And as complicated as 248 dimensions may seem, the Lie space is relatively simple.

Thank the supercomputers for actually factoring it out.

Or "If you didn't like vibrating strings, how does HyperBubbles grab you?"

*warning: I have a bachelor of arts degree in Math. This description may be completely inadequate.

November 27, 2007

Little-Known Fact

Dr. X posts this from the Alcatraz tour:

"If you haven't seen So I Married an Axe Murderer, don't worry, you didn't miss much. It has some special appeal because of the North Beach location shots, and because Myers gets in some good Scottish scenery-chewing (including this fine bit of bagpiping). But I was thinking of it today because of this Phil Hartman cameo, which is, um, a little dark."

November 25, 2007

Back to School

Dr. X posts this from that place where they discovered Hassium:

"Tom Lehrer's 'The Elements', animated.

"The Wikipedia article on Lehrer is pretty good.

"Here is an interview with The Onion AV Club from 2000, which includes this gem:
I mean, there's a recent case in Amherst, Massachusetts, where they canceled a performance of West Side Story in the high school because they thought it was offensive to Puerto Ricans or something, missing the point of the whole show. Or they ban Huckleberry Finn because it has the word "nigger" in it. That's just silly. But what can you do? Except kill those people.


Trust Us, We're Scientists

Dr. X posts this from the Don't Break the Universe Club in Palo Alto:

"What is up with the physicists?

"Ok, if I were a reporter, I guest I would run with this story too. But, upon careful review, it becomes fairly obvious that these people have no fucking idea what they're talking about.

"Penrose says consciousness is a quantum phenomenon. Everyone else says that's bullshit, but he's Penrose and they're not...

"Tipler thinks God appears at The Omega Point (until then, apparently, you're on your own).

"And Hawking wants to take to the lifeboats.

"When I went to Stanford, long ago, a physicist friend told me 'you never really understand a new theory of reality, you just get used to it.'

"Anyway, if I have to take a physicist I'll take Dyson.

"Oh, and here is an amusing article critiquing string theory, which includes this observation:
A simple argument in string theory indicates that the cosmological constant should be at least around 55 orders of magnitude larger than the observed value. This is perhaps the most incorrect experimental prediction ever made by any physical theory that anyone has taken seriously.

"Suck it, string theorists."

November 24, 2007

Annual Report of the Isengard.Gov International Sequim Bay Conference

1. Do not be fooled by the whizzing plastic airplane and the thin ka-chunk of falling chicken discs. Loopin' Louie, played correctly, is a game of intense psychological and physical challenge, not at all appropriate for children.

2. Some of's noted Contributing Staff of Renowned Experts were unable to attend, due presumably to flight delays, road conditions, floods, fires, emergency surgery, Interpol warrants and bubonic plague. We resolve that in the future, all our of key advisers should be on site, regardless of intervening international or domestic crisis.

3. Our knowledge of state capitols, while not terrible, can be improved through constant practice. Yes, we named state capitols.

4. First Sea Lord curiously offered to GM a role-playing scenario which will whisk players through the Iron Age Europe. Tabled until the holiday season, when actual present person densities will again be high.

5. If the Viceroy is charged $45 for garbage disposal at these prices, recriminations may be very severe.

6. The game of Munchkin is excellent, especially if you like very nearly winning for several hours, or winning from the worst position, if you are the Undersecretary.

7. The "Ikea-fication" of the lodge was a matter for concern. In our absence, someone girled the place up with tasteful, new furniture. This is intolerable! The whole point is to AVOID such unsatisfying, highly stressful luxurious conditions.

8. A promising simulation of a medieval Europe baronial conference had to be abandoned, when it was noted that the note on the first page of the rules, "this game is complex, but not complicated," was half false and it was unfortunately the second half, as became apparent in the subsequent 20 pages of 6 point type rules, none of which were appendices.

9. All in all, an experience most excellent.

Kowalski Approves This Message

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Review of the Second Half of Death Proof

Yeeeeee hawwwww!!!

That was fun! You need the first half to make the second as awesome as it was.

Now, for the benefit of Dr. X, I'm gonna quote some dialog from both halves:

First Half

Pam: Is it safe?

Mike: No, it's better than safe. It's death-proof.

Pam: How do you make a car death-proof?

Mike: Well, that's what stuntmen do. You've seen a movie where a car gets into some smash-up there ain't no way in hell anybody's walking away from?

Pam: Yeah.

Mike: Well, how do you think they accomplish that?

Pam: CGI?

Mike: (laughs) Well, unfortunately, Pam, nowadays more often than not, you're right. Tsk. But back in the all-or-nothing days -- the Vanishing Point days, the Dirty Mary Crazy Larry days, the White Line Fever days -- real cars smashing into real cars.

Second Half

Zoe: As of yesterday, for sale in this town, some dude is selling a stock 1970 Dodge Challenger with a 440 engine and a white paint job.

Kim: And you wanna buy it?

Zoe: A 1970 Dodge Challenger with a white paint job?

Kim: Oo, uh... Kowalski!

Zoe: Kowalski from Vanishing Point! Mate, it's a fucking Classic!

Abbie: What's Vanishing Point?

Zoe: What's Vanishing Point? Abs, I'm supposed to be the illiterate one. It's just one of the best American Movies ever made!

November 23, 2007

Review of the First Half of Death Proof

I watched the first half of Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof by myself, yesterday, finishing late last night. I can say now, after eight hours of nightmares, this was a bad idea.

Tarantino is probably his (ours for us Eisengeisters) generation's greatest, most original filmmaker. He is also Hollywood's most ingenious sadist. He can terrorize, brutalize, and torture his audiences at will, but indulges sparingly; just enough to make it hurt. He's like a really talkative acquaintance that is so compelling you can't help but enjoy his company, though you know he will inevitably take you outside of your comfort zone, sometimes by just unexpectedly punching you in the face.

I regrettably never saw Grindhouse, but I suspect that the impact of Death Proof was somewhat muted by having Robert Rodriguez soften up the audience for an hour with flesh-eating zombies and high-firepower prosthetics. I assume that the additional footage in the DVD release of Death Proof is mostly Tarantino-style chatty character development, and Tarantino showing off his exquisite taste in popular music.

Just don't get too comfortable. This movie goes from vaguely creepy to white-hot terror in under seven seconds.

Clairity in the Graphic Arts, 1939

Having just demeaned the poor, defunct San Francisco Call-Bulletin, I offer credit where credit's due. One day, in 1939, they had a really, really clear news graphic about an area tragedy.

See if you can guess what the subject of the news story is.

(From the estimable photographic collection of the San Francisco Public Library.)

The Kid Really Stays in the Picture

Dr. X posts this from :

"Happy Century to Sir Run Run Shaw, owner of Hong Kong's TVB Network, and a key player, at various times, at Shaw Studios and Shaw Organisation.
  • "In 1927 the Shaw Brothers open a movie house in Singapore.
  • "1942-1945 - forced to work for the Japanese in Malaysia.
  • "In the 50s and 60s, Shaw Studios invented and dominated Hong Kong cinema.
  • "In 1964 Chinese astronomers named an asteroid after him.
  • "In 1976 Time magazine reported that 250,000 people a day were watching Shaw movies.
  • "In 1982 he was a significant financial backer for Blade Runner.
  • "In 1984 he established the Blood Transfusion Centre, the only blood collection and storage service in Hong Kong.
  • "In 1994 he put up the money for the Institute of Chinese studies at Oxford.
  • "In 2004 the Shaw Foundation awarded the first $1 mm Shaw Prize, the 'Nobel Prize of the East'.

"Run Run says 'a person must satisfy himself. To make money - one satisfaction. To give money, another satisfaction. And whatever one can do to help.' "

November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

George Washington posts this from 1789:

"Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—

"That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country...for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed...and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually...

"To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best."

November 20, 2007

Hello Nasty Infomercial

Dr. X posts this from the 90s:

"Thanks to Youtube, behold, the classic Beastie Boys infomercial:

"Part 1 - "You're going to rupture your spleen!"
"Part 2 - "Money is so underrated in our society..."
"Part 3 - "Mike! You can't put car wash on a perishable!"


Dr. X posts this from the Royal Academy for Abject Apology:

"Two computer discs packed with the personal and banking details of 25million people - nearly half the UK's 60million population - have disappeared in the post."

David Brooks: Rock Critic.

What we've all been waiting for: What does David Brooks think about rock music?

Dear David,

Oh, no! No more rock megastars! We are all aghast! Our nation, our very culture is fracturing, because, apparently, indie rock stars are not ripping off blues musicians like in the 60s! Another pernicious fallout of multiculturalism! That's been the trouble with rock all along! Horrifying! How will music ever recover without the wisdom of the resolute, nice-guy conservative on the New York Times? How would we ever hear about how to recover, except to intereview someone whose fingers are always on the pulse of tomorrow, like Little Steven?

I try not to indulge in straight-up sarcasm, but Mr. Brooks, your inane comments on the nature of pop music have driven me to it. Aside from the unambigious lameness of laying blame for the state of American music on young rock musicians, holy shit! Look at you! The Admiral of Uncool! The King of Ass Obstructions! The Mayor of Squaresville! You're the squared square squared! You make George F. Will look like Tupac. You make the Federal Reserve Board look like GWAR. If you stood by Dennis Hastert, which of course you do, people would go: who's that sly bohemian hipster standing next to David Brooks?

I hope Karen O catches you on the lower East side and kicks you in the shin.

November 19, 2007

Believe the Hype

Dr. X posts this from that left turn at Albuquerque:

"As IAYPA devotees know, David Garrard has quietly fashioned himself into an elite quarterback. Today, even Peter King takes notice:

" 'On a list of the 10 most valuable players in the league, David Garrard would be nine or 10. Why? I watched most of the Jags-Chargers, and the difference Garrard made in returning from his ankle injury was palpable. His first three drives of the day: 12 plays for a field goal, 11 plays for a touchdown, nine plays for a touchdown.'

"That's how King looks at things. I look at them statistically, and I see 30 quarterbacks in the League, one of whom has not thrown an interception this year. Garrard doesn't pile up the yards (just 190/game), but he knows when to throw and when not to throw it. His passer rating is 102.9, 4th in the NFL, 0.4 points behind Blomo, I mean, Romo.

"IAYPA YTD, National Football League, min. 14 attempts / game:
  1. Brady, 8.3
  2. Garrard, 7.7
  3. Garcia, 7.0
  4. Roethlisberger, 6.9
  5. Romo, 6.9
"No way is King right about Garrard being in the top 10 players (he is at least 12th behind every starting member of the Patriots offense). And he can't (or hasn't shown he can) dominate a game the way a Favre, Manning, or Brady can. But he's playing at a top-5 or top-10 level. Which, in a sport where teams are so desperate for quality at the position that they start Vinnie Testaverde and Trent Dilfer, is very very valuable.

"(NOTE: We have had a flood of e-mail asking about, in light of recent developments, our advocacy of Damon Huard for a starting quarterback position. Are we ashamed that we took this view? Do we regret our endorsement of the Yakima Yeoman? Do we hide our heads? Ha! It is to laugh. Our point was not that Huard was the personification of excellence - it was that he is good enough to start for many NFL teams. And, by our calculations, as of today, the Tennessee Titans, the San Francisco 49ers, the Miami Dolphins, the Baltimore Ravens, the New York Football Giants, and the Chicago Bears, among others, would thank God for the opportunity to start a skilled and steady veteran like Damon Huard. So, suck it Huard-Haters!)

"Wow, I'm feeling a little lightheaded for some reason. Anyway, the thing to watch with Garrard is this: A lot of the quarterbacks who have stepped forward in recent years have had one or two great years, then lost some of their consistency (right, Drew Brees and David Rivers?). Others, like Brady or Romo, seem able to sustain that excellence. You have to be good enough to get there, then you have to be good enough to stay there. Roethlisberger is the poster child for the jinx - he played very effective, smart football his rookie year, then got hurt, then got hurt again, then played stupid for awhile, now seems to be back at that high level.

"If Garrard can avoid that slump, he may prove Peter King right."

November 18, 2007

Rebar for Tootsie Rolls: Get Stingy Wheels

August 6, 1942. Prelude.

3AM. Quiet, like a dead goat. Waiting by the streetlight. I am still, like death, like another dead goat. Watching: Up. The street: puddles. The Sky: a drizzle. The Flask: a torrent, rotgut whiskey like a half- distilled Douglas Fir. The window I watch: dark. In my guts: a colon. The building’s very bricks are made of sandy secrets, pulverized dreams, and angry straw. Somewhere in the distance, a failed contralto mangles Carmen. I flip the collar on my overcoat against the chill. A gum wrapper paper boat I made to kill time sinks into a puddle, its foil flashing in the streetlight like a little sailor flashing "Help.” Waiting - and watching - and waiting. Spent Lucky butts pile up by my right leg like a campfire of gnomes. And they are also singing “Carmen.” I guzzle another slug of Chuckley Canuck’s Birch Whiskey from a Calvin Coolidge flask an ungrateful Senator once tried to pay me with. Later, based on a anonymous tip I barely had the nickel for, the papers caught him with a 14 year-old girl in a Senate telephone booth. Unfortunately for him, she was Irish. Big Scandal. Now he rents out paddleboats in Omaha. And me, I'm watching now, watching and waiting some more, tensed to strike like a cottonmouth with a hangover, ready to bring in a dangerous Nazi pastry chef and former San Francisco Seals relief-pitcher, the deadly” Stingy” Wheels. "Stingy," because, being a fascist relief pitcher, he'd bean you when you weren’t looking-like when you were in the dugout, or getting a hot dog, or several hours after the game was over. And it stung, when it wasn’t fatal. When Stingy wasn’t on the kill.

Stingy Wheels: he’d beaned a Red Sox hitter into a coma in December ’35, inducing a popular novel. Stingy Wheels: he'd left a cigarette girl for dead in a Seattle match factory, and took her cigarettes. Stingy Wheels: He shot a kid on Ferris Wheel for his secret decoder ring. Stingy Wheels: once, he was Henry Ford's blintz chef. Stingy Wheels: about 6 feet, greasy dark hair, no distinctive marks, except maybe the murder in his heart and the port wine stain on his back in the shape of Western Poland. Stingy Wheels left a bloody trail down Market Street – even bloodier than you usually find walking down Market Street. Stingy Wheels: A traitor. A lousy Kraut killer. And not the good kind. And sometimes, he let the cream in the Bavarian donuts go off....

I'm waiting. I’m waiting to Get Stingy Wheels. America - I feel America herself beside me, her soft breath of liberty on my neck, her dainty fingers of freedom dancing along my upper thighs, yes, America is waiting with me, and I'm looking up at the filthy window in the dingy brick building, the one made of desperate secrets, my finger feeling the little grooves on the cold metal trigger of the .38 in my Harris tweed holster, tapping out a cadence, a cadence sung in America’s feather light soprano: Get Stingy Wheels. Get Stingy Wheels.

August 5, 1942. Steak and Eggs – With Revolution on the Side

The Case of the Lugubrious Celery Stalker wound down when I tracked the culprit to the La Conga nightclub and got him to sign a confession over six or seven Bloody Marys. He snapped like a celery stalk, admitting through a pathetic dribble of tears that on the morning of July 3 he destroyed 27 vegetable stands with a large wooden mallet as a political statement. At least it wasn’t a comedy act. I last saw the joker getting dragged by away couple of lumpy flatfoots, blubbering something about cream cheese.

But the evening wasn’t a total waste- the joint was jumpin’, as the kids say, and I somehow attached myself like a vegetarian limpet to a sweet slice of a dancing tomato named Polly or Pansy or something. Something about her – the way she looked at me like a starving gypsy at a seafood bisque. The way she smelled – it was astonishing, a sweet, refined musk, the mountain flowers of the Urals, a faint trace of tractor oil, and a delicate after-scent of “get over here, Stupid.” Polly or Pansy or something was a tomato with an angel face and devil expression, thick black hair, toned arms- she was built like the Eiffel Tower, but the soft, fluffy kind of Eiffel Tower with impressive sweater knobs and no rude Frenchies stuffing you into the elevator. We danced for hours to Smallie Vast’s Bum’s Rush Band, until hunger stalked us like a Siberian tiger that was also really hungry.

We made a short, juicy dash from Sutter Street to Barnacle Bim's House of Hash for eats. Barnacle Jim was too cheap to fix the sign. I followed her – a chance to take in her well-formed caboose, which moved like Astaire and Rodgers dancing in a silk bag.

Barnacle Jim was also unscrupulous, and a week's worth of meat rations on one plate would be sizzling on the grill. Where he got the meat I don’t know, but the zoo was missing a second giraffe.

That Polly or Pansy girl, well she looked fine sitting across from me, gobbling up the pancakes with whipped cream and the little banana happy faces on them that Jim had put there, grinning stupidly through the kitchen window. For the moment I settled on calling her “Kissy Lips.” I crammed toast and marmalade and eggs and stuffed it all in my face with little thought for anything but the giraffe steak on the way.

Someone left the San Francisco Call Bulletin on the table. Kissy Lips picked it up.

“You want me to read to you, Mack?” Damn, she knew my name already- although frankly I think Kissy Lips was guessing.

“Read on, Kissy Lips.”

She scanned a bit: “Which story, ‘Milton Deadd, Dead at 34’, or ‘Mystery Grows as Third Giraffe Missing from San Francisco Zoo’?”

Deadd is Dead?,” I said, surprised as a family of deer mice unexpectedly offered free medical insurance.

”Milton Deadd, Dead at 34, of a Hammering…” she started.

“You got a swell voice to go with those lips,” I said. A trace of a smile passed those soft, dark red, classically poofy lips, with the kind of little overbite that makes a man willingly hold her purse while shopping, and she tossed her head a little to one side, where a cascade of black hair flowed darkly like the Amazon river at night. What could a man do but paddle upstream, spurning the many signs of piranhas and angry river otters?

She read, her voice lilting like a Celtic harp. If a unicorn had walked in then I would have just patted in on the head and fed it pie.

“Police report a body of what appeared to city experts to be a white man in his early 30's was found Thursday morning in a Potrero area metal shop, beaten repeatedly with an automatic 80 horsepower metal-forming hammer into, according to the coroner, “a gruesome paste.” The hammering took place in "Grimeshaven's Steel and Wire Fabrication" on the 1800 block of Mariposa street. The man's wallet, which police noted was somewhat improved in suppleness by the hammering, contained papers from the White Eagle insurance company which identified the bearer as Mr. Milford Deadd, 34, of the Nob Hill Deadds. The Call-Bulletin's society columnist, Mrs. Dennis Westfield-Porter , noted that Mr. Deadd had just announced an engagement to Miss Anne-Marie Hawthorne, 17, of the famous Los Angeles Hawthorne Publishing firm, while Mr. Grimeshaven, the owner of the metal fabrication ship in question, has suspicions of wrongful activities by Red organizers who have plagued the shop with unceasing demands to raise wages and allow the hire of girls and negros to work on the plant's sensitive War Department contracts. Based on these facts, Police Lietuentant Mr. Don Pockles' feared "Pockeler Squads" have been raiding numerous Red Labor halls in fearsome dragnet regarding the certainly illegal flattening of Mr. Milton Deadd.”

“Typical bourgeois bird-feed,” she said, shaking her head.

Reading the Call-Bulletin is a great way to get the news if you're avoiding facts that day. And facts are my bread. Facts are my lunch and snack. Facts are my brunch when brunch isn't a hailstorm of bullets and knives. Facts are my pancakes, and context is the butter, and the real story is three tablespoons of rich maple truth, and in working my way now through the great breakfast of Justice, I realized, both figuratively and literally, that the waitress hadn't brought my fork.

“They got it wrong. Deadd wrong,” I said, realizing I sounded a little too self-consciously tough guy. Not that I wasn’t tough, mind you, tough as a tarred canvas apple turnover, and I’ll kill anyone who says different, but you know, it was coming on a bit thick.

“The dead guy's name was Milford. Milford Deadd. Even when Deadd was alive, it wasn't the kind of living you think of as living. He was the biggest knob on the hill. I saw him once at La Conga, the band bopping with a beat that would get Eleanor Roosevelt jitterbugging, girls swinging from the rafters, prop rockets flying through the air, gin pouring so fast it was making alcoholic steam, and there was Deadd, balancing his checkbook, with an expression like someone had just read him the Federal Register. ”

"One less Deadd isn’t much of a loss,” she said, her black eyes cool, distracted, distant even, like she was recalling a fond memory of putting some evil joker’s head in a vice, like I did once in Barcelona. “That’s one less bullet we’ll have to buy for the Revolution.”

Though the icing may have been buttery soft, this cookie was harder than a granite eviction notice.

The fact was the Deadds were rich. The Deadds had dough like Iowa’s got wheat. They made the Astors look like Okies. I thought about it a moment. Kill Deadd. Why? Cabbage. It’s always the cabbage: with Deadd dead, he was reborn as a big sauerkraut barrel of cash, and everyone would be circling around, carrying a naked bratwurst.

”Petunia!” I yelled – her name discovered by the old "let's look at each other's wallets" ruse. I'd been dating a Red with long brown hair and a Wobbly card called Petunia Mathleby- turned out she was a machinist and shop steward for the IWW All-Girl Local 673.

She was barely 24, according to her license. 5’ 8”. Long legs. Big black eyes. Believed in free love, hot jazz, D.H. Lawrence, gymnastics, and was still steamed over the Second International excluding the anarcho-syndicalists. That wasn’t on the license. Her father was sent up for a dime in WWI for entering the White House in protest over the imprisonment of Eugene Debs by placing an empty banana peel right where Woodrow Wilson could walk right over it. She was born the day Wilson got out of the hospital.

She also had a bad habit of calling people "the Masses," as in "The Masses will reject Errol Flynn as a genuine auteur, " or "in the syndicalist worker state, the Masses will not caper to orders for more coffee." The comment got a look from Maybelle, the old French waitress at Bim's, so old she made Crumples the bartender over at the Rusty Hobnail look sprightly, and he’d claimed to have beaten Gentleman Jim down with a brick in his glove. But that look seemed to say “comme cela,” because every French look seemed to say “Comme cela.”

This opened a turn so unexpected my teeth stretched.

“Petunia, mon ami jolie, all work is ze prayer,” Maybelle said. As she turned toward Petunia, her tiny skeleton rattled around in her loose, dry skin like a cat lost in a grocery sack.

"I have been watching you both,” she said, pointing a crooked finger to Petunia's gorgeous oval face, Maybelle’s watery blue eyes bugging like a beached grouper. “It is not ze coincidence that I have arranged for you Monsieur Mack and Petunia to meet at La Conga – last night, no?”

Petunia looked aghast. Then confused. Then aghast again. “You! You were the old woman at Macy’s – who sold me the perfume!"

“The Soviets’ finest secret of spycraft: Female Worker’s Seductive Initiative Scent, No. 5.

“How’d ya manage that, Gramms?” I asked, stupidly.

Maybelle was no ordinary diner waitress. First, she’d killed a lot more people. Second, she was a genuine revolutionary. 'Turned out the Lugubrious Celery Stalker was working for her, luring me to La Conga. She worked through Petunia’s Wobbly Girls to get her there, proposing through Petunina’s friend Missy Sailorwelcome that uninhibited jazz dancing would subtly destabilize the State. Maybelle fired up her particular form of business during the Paris Commune 70 years ago, from when she was known “as La Femme Croissant Fatale,” a spy for the revolutionary committee, known for her buttery softness and flakiness. And Third, she enjoyed her job.

“Ah, Petunia, you remind me of moi. I was beautiful in those days, I had ze fire of ze revolution, the winds of ze change, the waters of ze fall of ze bourgeoisie. And I was deadly, too, yes. I was ze finest sniper for the Central Committee. Ze beasts of ze traitor army fell like ze lap dogs from ze lap.” She said this, miniscule in her yellow and white waitress outfit, looking like a garden gnome, holding the coffee pot steady as a rock, giving us a creepy eye.

“But I know you, Monsier Mack, you find ze Nazis for the U.S.” she said. “ And I know Petunia, and as she searches her heart, she will come to know what I have done.”

Petunia was no daisy. “You put Milford Deadd’s head in that RD-417 Power hammer, ” she said, coolly, as if she were announcing a train arrival. Real riverter, that one. Knew her machinery. I was a bit put out, figuring that Maybelle just cheated me out of a fat paycheck from the Deadds for solving the murder.

"But I didn’t kill him, although I would have – how do you say - relished it.” She leaned in to Petunia, who was both repelled and fascinated. “Deadd was a traitor. To America, to France, to ze free peoples of the world everywheres. And Deadd was hiding ze most….

"Hey, where the hell is my cheeseburger,?’ demanded a man with a striped shirt and yellow bow tie.

“Put a corncob in it, Meatball!” I said. Stiped shirt slumped in his booth until his eyes were just under the lip of the table.

“Deadd was hiding a man so dangerous, so notorious, ze most heinous Heinie in the California. Ze man who repaid the kindness of the Deadd with ze death.”

"STINGY WHEELS!” I gasped!

Twenty minutes later, full of breakfast and briefed by Maybelle with what she called “Committee Orders”, Petunia and I ran through the gathering rain and mist to catch a streetcar downtown. We plopped down inside, the rain pelting the roof in the warm electric bulb gloom, steam rising from everyone’s hats. Petunia’s hands, hid discretely under the afternoon Call-Bulletin- and it’s LIES!- were handling the new .22 Trajoe Mexican Machine pistol Maybelle had picked up from Trotsky’s place the night he was axed to death. Her hands, delicate but strong, shook slightly.

"Need a little courage, Baby?” I said, offering her the flask of Chuckley Canuck’s Birch whiskey.

“Sure,” she said, gamely drinking it back. “Like Whitehorse on fire,” she coughed. Petunia’s searching black eyes took me in for a second longer than she need to. She rested her cheek on my shoulder. Nice cheek, that one.

The streetcar screeched and wobbled and rattled on. All we had was an address, a cold lead on a fat chance. But I was bleary and addle-headed, rinsed out like a kitchen rag. Some organ I didn’t know the name or function of ached. Even my gun throbbed from overuse. I was taking a crowded street car to find and maybe kill a man, or die, or both, and there wasn’t any juice in it, no money, no glory, no ration card, no vacation upstate, no mimosas on a Baja beach, and all I could think of was unpaid bar tabs and a seersucker suit I left at Wu Ho’s cleaners in June, 1937. The only thing was Victory. For other people. For all the people that weren’t in with Stingy Wheels and all the goons in the world with fancy suits and dead hearts. For Petunia.

We got close, hoofed up the steep hill in the rain until we found the dingy Victorian brick box under an overhanging hill off Jones Street, above the Art Institute. Only sailors, Italians and art students would put up with such a sketchy neighborhood. View was nice, though.

“914 Jones. That’s it.” We were quiet. Maybelle’s dope had it that Stingy was coming here tonight. When, we didn’t know. I jimmied the handle on a old Cadillac parked there, the sitting room on wheels model, on the same side as the street level door to Stingy’s flop. A red door. Like a maraschino cherry, or fresh blood.

“You wait in here, Petunia, and keep that tenderizer ready- with the safety off.” She nodded. As she got in her body brushed mine. Female Worker’s Seductive Initiative Scent, No. 5 was doing its work, convincing me of the inevitability of socialism. She kissed me, eyes open, drinking me in like cheap Canadian whiskey.

“Dead heroes don’t stop the Nazis. Stay alive, Mack.”

“I’ll consider it, Kissy Lips.”

She got in, nestling under a quilt. I closed the door, and went to stand on the opposite corner, in the tiny wind shelter of the streetlight. I pulled up my collar, and fiddled with my .38, noting again the engraving of Brughel’s 99 Netherlandish Proverbs on the handle. Cost me a pretty penny, that one. Might have time to figure out a couple now.

The hours went by, rain and fog came in waves. My feet were soaked. My cardboard belt disintegrated, threatening to unburden my waist of pants. I burned through the first pack of Luckys. No signs of Stingy. No way to know whether our tip was good or a complimentary ticket to Chumptown, which I believe is in Indiana.

August 6th, 1942.

I'm waiting. I’m waiting to Get Stingy Wheels. I'm looking up at the filthy window in the dingy brick building, the one made of desperate secrets, my finger feeling the little grooves on the cold metal trigger of the .38 in my Harris tweed holster, tapping out a cadence sung in America’s feather light soprano: Get Stingy Wheels. Get Stingy Wheels..."

Finally a noise, a rustling, an indefinable sound, sort of like a horse at trot but all wrong, lopier, slower. A car engine roared in low gear, climbing. Then, a shot rang out, a small caliber, a pea-shooter, a girl-gun.

Petunia started, got up, still covered in the quilt. “Mack, what is it?,” she whispered across the street.

“Get down, you adorable comforter!” The quilt deflated.

The sounds grew louder, and on up Jones street they came, first a girl, a pretty little blond waif of a woman in a white silk dress, riding a large caliber giraffe with a concerned expression, its orange fur wet in the drizzle, the girl hanging on to its neck with one hand and firing the small revolver with the other at something behind.

Now, this was an entrance. Or a hallucination. I was transfixed, dopey as they came up the hill, but I grabbed the .38 and held it up, ready for something even slightly more surprising.

A big blue Buick crested the intersection at speed, and I saw it’s undercarriage before it’s hood.

As the speeding giraffe passed, the girl looked right at me, her blue eyes big as commemorative plates. “Mister! Help me!,” she pleaded.

Before I could react, I saw a flash and a heard bigger report – a Luger - and saw a splash of blood and the girl on the giraffe fall to the ground right in front of me like a pile of uptown laundry. The giraffe hung a right and ran down the street, looking sad, bleeding on it’s right hind quarters from a glancing wound. And the Buick roared past, taking a potshot at me for good measure so I had to dive for cover into the gutter next to the girl. I fired a couple rounds lying down, not much chance, but I heard the tinny slap of lead against the steel of the Buick’s trunk.

In a moment, Petunia was standing above the girl and me. Nice view. She bent down and hugged me, her exotic squishyness in full bloom.

“You okay?”

“Yeah, fine, girl’s just passed out.”

“Who is she?,” said Petunia, glancing at the little blond angel in white sprawled on the wet black road.

“Milton Deadd’s fiancée, Anne-Marie Hawthorne. Saw her when I was stealing shrimp from the reception.”

“The Buick?”

“That…that was Stingy Wheels…the Nazi of North Beach, the Baker of Prague. Now you know what he’s capable of. And if we’re going to smash that squarehead’s soufflé, we gotta amscray, and tout de suite. ”

“What about her?” said Petunia, her chin toward Anne-Marie.

“Bring her. She’s alright, and she’s gotta know something, like where a joker goes after he shoots a giraffe. "

I took Petunia by the waist and looked out into the dark, early morning city. The streetlight cut the mist in a sick yellow shaft. A few dim lights twinkled on bridge. Somewhere on Russian Hill, a bleeding ungulate was going to surprise a milkman. And Stingy Wheels was still rolling.

The Rebar for Tootsie Rolls Stories, which are missing most of the important chapters, are at IRONCANDY.BLOGSPOT.COM.

It's in Your Employee Handbook, in Appendix 9b

Dr. X posts this from, well, everyone who matters already knows where it's posted from:

"At Boeing, according to this newspaper investigation, 'one [] team, dubbed "enterprise" investigators, has permission to read the private e-mails of employees, follow them and collect video footage or photos of them. Investigators can also secretly watch employee computer screens in real time and reproduce every keystroke a worker makes...' "

November 17, 2007

We Admit It: We Were Wrong

Dr. X posts this from the Roosevelt Study Center:

"Dear President Bush -

"Although it is perhaps fair to say that the contributors to this blog have not always seen eye-to-eye with you on the details of certain issues, I think we could also say that your regime, er, administration, has challenged all Americans, sparking a lively debate on the relative merits of scientific humanism, as opposed to, say, intransigent kleptocracy masquerading as a principled imposition of religious doctrine, complemented by a sweeping rollback of basic human rights.

"Both systems have their advocates, and many views have been expressed. But from beginning to end you have consistently articulated a vision of Pax Americana, the use of our Nation's resources to enforce order in a world that's constantly trying to be disorderly. (Science Theory promoters call this entropy, but, given their agenda, that's exactly what you'd expect them to say.)

"Nowhere has this been more evident than in Iraq. To be fair, some people thought Saddam Hussein was not unconnected with terrorism (James Woolsey and Laurie Mylroie come to mind), and a lot of smart people thought we would eventually have to take Saddam down. Well, as they say, Mission Accomplished.

"Now, of course, there were details, a bit of mopping up, a touch of nation-building, an intramural rumpus or three. But it seems pretty clear that you were right. Perseverance has paid off.

"We've won.

"And now the only logical thing to do is withdraw our forces, lest we be view by other nations as an imperial power trying to seize valuable energy assets while hypocritically waving the banner of freedom. We're sure that's the last thing you want, too.

"We hope this finds you well,

"Your Loyal Subjects at"

A Pleasant Side Effect

Dr. X posts this from a bungalow on Hillcrest:

"I don't watch much TV anymore (turns the kids into a psycho wrecking crew), so I didn't notice the strike... until the striking writers starting penning amusing things to read on the Internet.

"McSweeney's explains the secondary and tertiary effects of the strike, here.

"Carry on folks, for as long as you like - this is great."

November 16, 2007

Ted Stevens: The Little Red Choo-Choo Goes Chuggin' Round the Bend

  • Senator Ted Stevens, incredulous that anyone would be reporting on a story where his close friend Bill Allen testified in federal court that he illegally bribed him, manages to turn a typically awkward interview into a vague but fairly menacing threat against just about everyone. From today's ADN interview:

  • "

    Your papers print (the names of) those people who have been convicted and my son's name and mine at the same time. As far as the public is concerned, it's all the same ball of wax," Stevens said. "I'm not going to comment on that ball of wax."

    "But we've been included in a way that I hope people understand the laws that are doing it," he said. "Because when it's all over, some people are going to have to account for what they've said and what they've charged us with."

    It was unclear whom Stevens was threatening. When asked if he meant libel or perjury, Stevens said: "No. I'm just saying there are ways to account for this in the future."

    When asked if he meant political retribution, he remained vague:

    "I think the people out there ought to worry about that the way I worry about the investigation. There are myriad things you can do. Just a myriad of things."

    When pressed, he wouldn't elaborate further:

    "I've said it," Stevens said.

    November 15, 2007

    Finally, they found a novel use for E8!

    The First Sea Lord brought the solving of E8 to our attention a while back.

    Well, apparently a hipster / surfer / mathematician / genius has found an interesting use for it:

    "All fields of the standard model and gravity are unified as an E8 principal bundle connection. A non-compact real form of the E8 Lie algebra has G2 and F4 subalgebras which break down to strong su(3), electroweak su(2) x u(1), gravitational so(3,1), the frame-Higgs, and three generations of fermions related by triality. The interactions and dynamics of these 1-form and Grassmann valued parts of an E8 superconnection are described by the curvature and action over a four dimensional base manifold."

    Or in plain English: An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything

    All I can think to say is "Suck it, String Theorists!"

    November 14, 2007

    A Mild Retort to King Douchebag

    The moderate-left Seattle PI political columnist, Joel Connelly, takes Limbaugh on for his using his national radio platform to verbally assault a yupik girl who dared suggest the reality of global warming.

    My only complaint is that Connelly did not actually describe Limbaugh as "King Douchebag."

    November 11, 2007

    Before You Go

    Dr. X posts this from Annapolis:

    "One request to the GOP, before you leave. Fix the fucking Navy."

    Check Please

    Dr. X posts this from the desk of a University of Chicago-trained econometrician somewhere near Sacramento:

    "I think Bush the Younger has been seriously misunderstood in some matters, and, for the most part, sincere in his intentions. You could make a list of the things you don't like, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of those things were things the Clintons did too, would have done too (e.g., the Iraq War), or will reverse in 11 months or so. The point being, much of what this heinously arrogant and inept administration has done, can be undone, once remotely competent leadership is in place.

    "But there is one thing that can't be undone. While the GOP has reveled in insult politics, graft, and appeasement of the religionists, other countries have been training engineers, biotechnologists, and mathematicians. There are in the world nations that believe you should get a good education even if you are not rich. This is not one of them.

    "The Bushies have given the rest of the world an eight-year head start on the future, and we are well and truly fucked. Or so says Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz. Sounds right to me."

    Gridiron Notes

    Dr. X posts this from Kezar Stadium, former home of the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers:

    "It's WTF day around the League:

    "Peyton Manning throws six interceptions.

    "Heroic Brian Griese and backup Rex Grossman combine for 239 yards passing, zero interceptions.

    "Warren Sapp is too small - should he be a linebacker?

    "The new Michael Vick - Ben Roethlisberger.

    "And farewell, Dick Nolan."

    November 09, 2007

    Impeachment Hearings

    Dr. X posts this from the Impeachment Hearings:

    "There will be impeachment hearings."

    November 06, 2007

    If You Meet Yourself on the Road...

    Dr. X posts this from the Hansen Access Road in King of Prussia, PA:

    "My girlfriend had moved out, and I was set to go to Europe to think things over. I wrote a brief note to the landlord telling him where to stick his 'self-extending lease', and packed up the household - pots, pans, an iron, boxes of papers, my photographs and mementos, and my beloved library, all 500 volumes.

    "A truck came and took the boxes to storage, until such time as I was settled in a house and had room for them again.

    "That was in 1989.

    "This week, thanks to serious efforts by my wife, the boxes returned, and now occupy our overstuffed garage. I spent a little time going through them tonight. As you'd expect, there's a lot of junk - clothes that don't fit (and shouldn't be worn even if they did), pots, pans, a 20 year-old iron...

    "But after much rummaging I found what I was looking for. My first edition (1984) of The Sketchbooks of Hiroshige (with an introduction by Daniel Boorstin). No, not the hardcover edition that came out a couple of years ago - no no no...I'm talking about the collector's edition, the two-volume slipcase with fold-out accordion prints, printed by the Toppan Printing Co. of Tokyo. It cost me a day's pay in 1985, even with my WordsWorth discount. It was the one thing I regretted putting into storage (well, that and my college degree), and the first thing I got out.

    "And it's in perfect condition, after all that time.

    "I am an uncritical consumer of the woodblock prints of both Hiroshige and Hokusai, even those that are a little too precious for some tastes. But these sketchbooks are a completely different deal. They're pencil and ink, and were not intended for a mass audience. They're the private art Hiroshige made for himself as he traveled, and they still take my breath away.

    "Take this one, for example, "A Long Bridge with Distant Pines and Cherry Trees". From the 'Commentaries on the Plates': A bridge at Arashiyama on the Kozu River in northwest Kyoto. The artist used opaque white over the ink to represent the flowering cherry trees. The bridge is still there, though a bit modified.

    "Or this one, "Catching Fireflies", in which A girl uses her fan to gather the flies, which are then deposited in the covered cage with gauze walls and lid. The scene is set at an appropriate hunting site, the bank of a river, perhaps the one at Uji, famous for fireflies.

    "She was there 18 years ago, and there she is again - awkward and beautiful - just as I left her.

    "It brings to mind a verse from my college years:

    "Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought
    "As doth eternity: Cold pastoral!
    "When old age shall this generation waste,
    "Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
    "Than ours, a friend to man...

    "Truth, beauty, whatever...I don't know if I can endorse all those poetic equivalencies. But I'm very happy to have my Hiroshige sketchbooks back."

    Yahoo! in the Dock

    Dr. X posts this from the Internet Kiosk at Fry's:

    "Democrats and Republicans agree: Yahoo! are jerks for giving up Chinese dissidents. Even if it's just election year posturing, it's nice to see someone say it out loud."

    November 05, 2007

    Real Money Only, Please (Thank You)

    It appears that Brazilian super-models insist on being paid in hard currency, only.

    (Read: not U.S. dollars.)

    November 03, 2007

    Patton Oswalt Has a Steak



    Dr. X posts this from Dix Hills:

    "Al Arbor returned to the bench, for one night only, to coach the Islanders. And yes, they won.

    "While they're at it - bring back Billy Smith!"


    Interesting new science images created by injecting fluorescing protein dyes into mouse brains; the trick is that there are only a few proteins, but they deposit into the cells by type. The scientists are calling this "Brainbow."

    The color combines from a few protein "pigments" into a large variety of colors, permitting a new study of neural types, like mixing a full palette from a few primaries.

    The way the fluorescing proteins combine in a cell makes new colors which suggest possible biological relationships. The technique has permitted new specificity to be observed, so it will create new information to be researched: in this case, neural cell type, connectivity, and organization.

    From an art perspective, this is a good metaphor: the images are especially interesting because they permit our heavily visual minds to rapidly detect commonalities, distinctions, relationships, and transformative properties by color. Which is why the color printing industry is still pretty big.

    It's also accidentally good taste. The images are beautiful, because the color relationships are both naturally structured and naturally subtle, and become richer with further viewing - we stare in awe at the night sky: there more you learn, the more you can see, and yet the information steam only deepens - becoming a penetratable but always expanding mystery. When you uncover new levels of specificity - a bunch of new stars - you also get vastly complex new relationships among them: the specific web of space-time that determines their courses.

    The same is true, generally, of good art. If you create new specificity, you can potentially new types of aesthetic and cultural relationships. Good work is rich with specificity and only gets richer with further study- a principle true of Brueghel and Pollack and Anselm Kiefer alike. At its best, specificity in art can connect it's subject (what it's about) to highly complex systems of aesthetic, cultural, and philosophical relationships (what it signifies) outside of it's direct subject matter (what it shows.) A great painting is like injecting those fluorescing proteins into a mouse brain, and seeing a complex, structured and specific network previously unknown.

    There. I just legitimized abstraction, and at the same time, offered epistemological evidence that science is unlikely to exhaust itself. The more you find, the more you will have to find out.

    November 01, 2007

    The Class System

    Dr. X post this from his Blackberry at Phoenix Airport:

    "Class used to be a fairly simple thing, but not longer. Since everyone wants to be high class, the airlines have accomodated with frequent flyer classifications that simultaneously disavow and reinforce proletarian world views:

    "It goes a little like this...

    "Executive Elite
    "Super Executive Elite
    "Super Executive Prestige
    "Super Executive Prestige Gold
    "Super Executive Prestige Platinum
    "Super Executive Prestige Diamond
    "Black Card (unadvertised)
    "First Class"

    Bollenbach on MyArtSpace

    Gosh, I hate the name Myartspace- which has the tone of a forced quaint retirement village gallery, (the archtype being the Viceroy's suggested gallery name "Notions.") I also despise Rupert Murdoch, and believe he should be shackled in irons and tried for crimes against the people. Myspace itself is an increasingly cheesy pile of marketing poo, for the most part.

    Nonetheless, in the name of shameless self-promotion, the lifeblood of any Artist, here is a link to my gallery on myartspace. I am very slightly grateful, I suppose, for the free gallery software.