mishak: (gotplur)
I’ve sold my house. Friends ask me why – It’s a great place, great location, it’s got a bar in the living room, for god’s sake. But I’ve been here for thirteen years, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to die here, so now is as good a time as any. Change is good. But I’m going to miss this place SO MUCH, I start thinking about all the things we’ve done here, all the amazing experiences and connections and relationships my friends and I have made and done and lived within these walls, and I get all maudlin and I don’t want to leave. I hate goodbyes more than anything. What sustains me is the promise of more and new things in the next place. I would like to stay in Union-Porter-Davis area. It is currently a difficult market to buy in, my first reaction to most home prices is “Bitch, please.” We’ll see what happens, I have to move by the end of July. I believe the term is “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here."
mishak: (gotplur)
A Message To Gun-Rights People:
Stop trying to say that you want guns to protect yourself and your home. There are anecdotal incidents of gun owners defending themselves from trespassers and assailants, but just as many stories of things going really badly, by accident or passion, when people have guns. Both statistically and anecdotally, it’s a wash as to whether guns are good or bad for safety, so that argument doesn’t benefit anyone. And if you were seriously concerned about you and your family’s safety, you would check the batteries in your smoke detector every six months, and always drive the legal speed limit. Do you? Of course not. Nobody does. So stop with the “safety” thing, it comes off as disingenuous. There is one inarguable, indisputable reason why you love guns: BECAUSE GUNS ARE AWESOME. That’s why I love them. No need to justify it with home-protection or resist–the-gubmint bullshit, just remind people that guns are awesome, end of story. Me and about half the country will agree with you.

A Message To Gun-Control People:
Realize that a huge number of your fellow Americans think guns are awesome. You want strict gun-control laws? Laws need to be passed by voters, and plenty of voters who think guns are awesome will sink your legislative efforts, every time. If you want to change the laws, you need to change people’s minds, to convince them that guns are not awesome. I wish you luck with that, seriously. Maybe it’s a marketing thing, maybe there’s some rhetorical judo you can play, use people’s love of guns as a reason for retooled and robust gun legislation. I have no idea how you’d do that, but that’s what it would take. You know what really hurts your cause, is to sound like you know better than the gun-rights people, or that it’s somehow weird or scary to love guns. Then you just sound like a sanctimonious douchebag.

A Message To Me:
Why do you love guns so much? I dunno, I grew up with Arnold Schwarzenegger movies like every other red-blooded American boy, so there’s that. But I’m a little geekier about guns than the average person, the average person doesn’t know the difference between 5.56 or 7.62, closed or open bolt, standard or bullpup. Guns are the fascinating intersection of engineering, design, sociology, psychology, and politics. They’re just cool as hell.
mishak: (gotplur)
I’ve said before how much I love John Green and his new book The Fault In Our Stars. It’s the only book where I finished the last sentence in tears and turned right back to the first page because I could NOT let the characters go. It hadn’t occurred to me just how many other people this book is affecting the same way. There are, like, no bad reviews of it; the’ve have used up the normal supply of power words like “poignant”, “heart-rending”, “romantic”, “elegant”, “touching”, “raw”, “breathtaking”, they’re going to have to resort to non-standard verbage like “ggblarrgh”. I read this blog from a woman who went along on the promo tour for the movie (coming June 6!!) and thousands of crazy fans turn out in Nashville, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami. During the preview showing of the film, the crowd goes absolutely bonkers with screaming, crying, full-on breakdowns. I love how the book is so powerfully received and it’s not lame-ass vampires or dystopian future bullshit, it’s just two sick kids falling in love.

Playboy

May. 15th, 2014 01:11 pm
mishak: (gotplur)
I’ve had a subscription to Playboy magazine for like 15 years, I originally did it as a lark, one of those $14.99-subscription postcards came in the mail one day. I’ve kept getting it because Playboy is a great magazine. Yes it’s all about the writing, why else would you look at Playboy? There’s nothing particularly special about pictures of naked pretty girls, and if you want actual pornography, Playboy sure ain’t it. Man, if you think Playboy is porn, you are living a sad, sad, life. Anyhow, the writing in Playboy is honest, straightforward, funny, and just…cool. One of my favorites is when a guy wrote in asking about how to make his dick bigger, and their advice was: “#1: Lose the beer gut - For every 30lbs overweight a man is, he loses a quarter inch of penis length. #2: Trim the hedges – Not only is it more pleasant for your girlfriend to spend time down there, a well-maintained area also gives the impression of more length. That’s why porn stars do it. #3: We really do NOT recommend it, but if you have tried everything else and you absolutely are convinced a surgical option is the only hope left, there are a few operations you can look into. They all have potential drawbacks, so do your research first. Good luck.” That is the classic Playboy attitude, addressing a sensitive subject with candor, reason, and humor so everyone feels more comfortable.

As cool as Playboy is, this month they really impressed me with a page-long essay titled Evolution, it’s about transgender people, how the third gender has always existed, and how the our ideas about gender is being re-thought with greater fluidity and acceptance. It’s not an evolution of humans, it’s an evolution in the way we perceive identity in ourselves and others. The facing page is a beautiful shot of a stunning trans woman named Ines, they tell a bit of her story, how she’s always known what she really is, had gender reassignment surgery as a young teen, she’s been happy and healthy her whole life. It’s a wonderful, sensible counterpoint to the sensationalized media view of trans women that hints of drug abuse, prostitution, or something else “wrong”. They end the piece with “Just look at this beautiful woman.” Playboy, you are awesome. Here’s to many more years of being the clearest voice of reason in the room.
mishak: (gotplur)
I judge people all the time, but I can only judge people for the right reasons. I will judge you depending on how you treat waitstaff, how you treat friends and romantic partners. I will judge you if you try to deny climate change or evolution. I will judge the hell out of you if you think gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married.

I notice news stories coming up with an implication that women will date a guy for money. This bugs the hell out of me, because I think it’s complete bullshit – the ONLY thing that matters is who the person is, that unique chemistry you share with the person, the dynamic between the two of you that creates this living breathing thing that I can only describe as magic, as souls, as love - the reason we’re here on this planet. Is it possible that how much money a person has might be part of who they are, like age, race, where they grew up? Possibly, but that is all dim noise that is immediately washed away the moment you start talking to a person, who they are is the only thing that exists. Think of our friends, the women we know: can you picture any of them saying “I really like this guy, but he doesn’t have any money so I won’t go out with him. This other guy I don’t like so much but he’s rich so I’ll date him.” If I heard that I would be completely aghast, girl what the fuck is your problem.

But then I realize that I only judge people in my own social, economic, and cultural level. If a woman in some tribe in Tanzania says she wants to marry a man with enough resources to provide for her and her future children, I’m can’t judge her; our worlds are so out of context, I can only respectfully observe the diversity of human culture and civilization. It’s funny that way. When we say we’re not judgmental, that only means we judge people on what we think they deserve to be judged on, no more and no less.
mishak: (gotplur)
The Fault In Our Stars by John Greene is just as good as reviews and everybody says it is. The narrator Hazel has cancer and has to breathe with one of those portable tank-and-nosetube things, she meets a boy Augustus who had cancer and lost a leg to it. The cancers are the kind that do not encourage living comfortably to a ripe old age. This book is so smart and so funny and heartbreaking, I finished and turned right back to the start and began again, still crying from the last page. Two people falling into bright unexpected love with an implied time limit, that situation resonates strongly with me right now. Okay? Okay.
mishak: (gotplur)
The midnight Marathon Ride was huge fun and really inspiring, in the way that being among hundreds of like-minded people committed to a single event always is. A river of blinking lights streaming ahead into the darkness, laughing and shouting and pedaling for that finish, miles into the night. It was really amazing.

And then some guy crashed into me. I was stopped at a red light in Natick Center with 8 other riders, there was an oncoming ambulance turning left, no siren but lights flashing. All of a sudden I’m shoved forward a few feet, I looked back and this older dude is on the ground, he’s kitted up in all this professional-looking cycling tight gear, his limbs tangled up in a $4000 Cervelo frame. My voice is saying to him “Woah are you ok?” but my brain is going “DUDE WHY DID YOU DO THAT!?” He gets up, asks if I’m ok, I say ok, and everyone goes on with the ride. A hundred feet down the road my bike feels funny I look down and the back tire is wobbling like crazy. I pull over and spin the wheel and it’s bent comically out of true. I call Cris and Lily and they ride back to me, Cris works on the spokes a bit, Phat Mike rolls up and works on it a bit more, they get it to a point that it rides not badly, but I bet it looked pretty funny. I finish the ride, and it was an awesome experience overall, but I would have preferred not to get rammed from behind. That’s what she said.
mishak: (gotplur)
I love it when music theory nerds explain pop songs. I don’t know shit about music so stuff about chord progressions and time signatures are lost on me, but it’s so cool to hear the breakdown of the song’s structure, and why it affects us the way it does. How a tune is designed to be soothing, or off-balance, or an unstoppable juggernaut; how a song constructs an expressive framework and executes the emotional payoff. It all comes together in our brains in a way that’s irresistible, but I don’t know _why_ it’s powerful. Until the music theory dude sums up Get Lucky with “It sounds off-balance and playful and sexy, like a foreign exchange student who might be a little drunk” and I think YES THAT’S EXACTLY IT!! I love music theory because it reminds us that notes and chords and rhythm are all Math. And then reveals how songs are intersection of Math and Emotion, which are two things most people see as polar opposites. The tension of opposites brought together to make the most powerful and universal force of all human existence – music.

My question for you people who actually create music, when you’re constructing a new song, do you have this stuff in mind? Do you intend to make a song that’s dark, or tense, or uplifting, or another specific emotional ride, and so you plan the keys and chords and rhythms to generate that effect? Do you precisely engineer the emotional effect, or does it just flow from your magical music-brain?

The fact that I just said “magical music-brain” shows how much I know about the process of creating music. Some songs I love so much, they are so perfect, nary a note out of place, that it is inconceivable the song could exist in any other form than its finished perfection, it must have sprung fully-formed from its creator, as like Athena from the forehead of Zeus. But I take it that making music might actually be hard work?
mishak: (gotplur)
When the fascinating John McAffee trainwreck/caper/merry-go-round was unfolding couple years ago I thought he was just another coked-out nutjob on his way to a fitting Bonnie & Clyde shootout finale in whatever backwater country of which the local authorities had finally had enough of his bullshit. But reading the Slashdot Q&A with him, this guy is _great_. He’s cuttingly intelligent, wryly articulate, and goddamn funny. I imagine a scoundrely-yet-lovable combination of Han Solo, Hunter S Thompson, and Ernest Hemingway. He is by no a means good person and makes no pretensions as such, but he a fine example of humanity as its most terribly awesome.

http://interviews.slashdot.org/story/14/04/06/2344201/interview-john-mcafee-answers-your-questions
mishak: (gotplur)
We need a word for that, that feeling slightly mortified by what we used to listen to and wear in our teenage years, yet proudly owning the fact that we loved it at the time. Everyone knows what it feels like, that delighted chagrin, I think it’s ingrained in the biochemistry of the human brain. 60,000 years ago our ancestors were sitting around in caves going “Remember that banging rocks and grunting we used to be into? OMG that stuff was kinda terrible, but so great!” “And we used to wear our furs with popped collars, that was so bad!” “But so awesome!”
mishak: (gotplur)
Finally got around to seeing Frozen. I’d heard this is supposed to be the best Disney movie in a long time; I haven’t been impressed with a Disney film since Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, and Aladdin, what for me is the pinnacle of Disney animation. I’m not talking Pixar, they’re a different pantheon. Everything since then – from Hercules to Mulan to Emporer’s New Groove to Tangled – is entertaining for sure, but not even approaching the old greatness. Frozen comes closer. It’s interesting how they’ve updated some of the classic concepts, and the characters are decently scripted, but there’s no really dynamic villain (which is usually the most interesting character in the story). There is one thing this movie knocks out of the park: that song. Let It Go. The song is a fucking monster. I got chills halfway through the first verse, it is goddamn amazing. It’s more than just catchy, it is thematically and structurally one of the strongest songs I’ve ever heard from Disney. This thing is going to live forever, up there with Under The Sea, Be Our Guest, and A Whole New World. One drawback: it is difficult to sing. Like, a bit harder than the Star Spangled Banner. I just might be able to swing it, but I have to be paying real close attention.
mishak: (gotplur)
Somewhere, out there, is a band that has not done a cover of Royals. Bluegrass, Black Metal, Glitch, Tuvan Throat Singing; every musician in every known musical style has done at least one YouTube video of it. Members of the Ava-Canoeiro tribe, an uncontacted people indigenous to central Brazil, have been recently observed performing the song as part of a fertility ritual. The only musician not to cover of the song is Lorde herself, as it would be, by definition, not a cover. Scientists are working to overcome this by cloning the singer, thus creating a Lorde who is sufficiently not-Lorde who could then cover the song.
mishak: (gotplur)
Watching the first Matt Smith Dr Who episode with Johanna, it dawned on me what is so familiar to me about The Doctor (Eccleston, Tennant, Smith, I’ve never seen the old ones) when he’s pissed off and telling some alien world-eater to sod off and leave Earth alone. The Doctor has no direct power in the situation, the aliens could squash him with impunity, but he uses his reputation, knowledge, wit, and sheer ballsiness to bluff and send them running. That is totally John Constantine! The brilliant Hellblazer comic John Constantine, not the lameass Keanu Reeves movie version. God I miss Garth Ennis writing that book. To be clear, there are many differences between the characters, The Doctor is definitely Lawful Good, while on his best days (of which there are not many) John Constantine just might be Neutral Good. His actual Good-aligned associates might disavow that. His friends would stick up for him, though. If any of them were still alive.

Speaking of ballsiness, ever think that since The Doctor has two hearts, what other body parts does he have multiples of? I maintain that The Doctor has two penises, five balls, and three anuses.
mishak: (gotplur)
I loved the Spring Breakers movie, I’m serious I think it’s a genuinely good film. It could be this generation’s Less Than Zero. I find myself doing that, now and again, wondering about present-day analogues to notable influences when we were growing up in the 80s. Like, Perks of Being A Wallflower could be this generation’s Breakfast Club. Broadly speaking, I think Young Adult novels these days are significantly better than what I read when I was a kid. My main data point, of course, is Harry Potter. I loved my Narnia and Wrinkle In Time books, but Harry Potter blows them away in with depth, emotional content, and just plain fun. Though it may not be fair to compare fantasy written in the 50s and 60s to stuff written today, especially a phenomenon like Harry Potter. But still. The Terry Brooks and Piers Anthony stuff I was reading way back when is considerably surpassed by Guy Gavriel Kay and George RR Martin’s books now. Are books really getting better all the time, or am I just reading them better than when I was a teenager? Possibly both.

Puzzling

Jan. 2nd, 2014 10:34 am
mishak: (gotplur)
My mom had a few boxes of 1000+ piece puzzles lying around so I spilled one out on a table to see what I could do with it. Turns out puzzles are the perfect activity for hanging out with mom when we don’t really need to talk, she watches TV and I do the puzzle and it feels like we’re spending time with each other and it’s nice. The downside is that there’s always one more piece I think I can find, I can’t walk by the table without trying to place a few more pieces, I’m staying up past midnight just going to do one more piece one more and then I’ll go to bed HELP ME I AM IN OCD HELL.
mishak: (gotplur)
I’m making a small but conscious effort to look at my phone less often. In particular: when I’m at a restaurant and my friend has got up to use the restroom so I’m at the table and there’s nothing to do. The urge to pull out the phone and check Facebook or whatever is SO STRONG, and especially for that reason I’m trying to not do it. It’s not like there’s really nothing to do - dude look around the place, most places try to put some thought into lighting and décor, see what they’re trying to do. People-watch. I was out at this Brazilian BBQ joint with Sam and while she was gone for a minute I started looking around and thinking what would I do it a bunch of ninjas came in and tried to kill me. Where are the exits, what can I use as cover, where are the nearest possible weapons? What those in the security biz call Situational Awareness and it’s fun to do. And might just keep you from getting killed by ninjas.
mishak: (gotplur)
I’ve never identified with any particular age, gender, race, or economic class. I’m aware that I’m male, Chinese, early 40’s, middle-class; and if you’ve ever spent any time around me you know that I love making jokes about race, age, gender, and money, but none of that means anything to me personally. Is that weird? Am I supposed to have more of an ego or identity or connection to any of those statistics? Sometimes I feel I’m a bland mishmash of unfocused influences. Maybe it’s because I love so many incongruous things at the opposite ends of the spectrums. I love guns and chicks and cars with as much passion as I love musical theatre, dance, and fashion. I love precisely executed, rarefied cuisine, and I love cooking with Cheez-Whiz and Fritos. I am often sensitive and emotional, also I am crass, rude, and a complete pig. So age and gender and race and money mean nothing to me - that’s good, we’ve all grown up with Disney movies and everything else telling us it’s the person inside that matters, yup, got that. But what is that person inside? Sometimes I feel like I’m this nebulous vague uninteresting thing, because I don’t have an easily identifiable core. But then, most of us are in the same boat, aren’t we?
mishak: (gotplur)
So our government is finally –maybe- getting somewhere in dealing with Iran in a halfway sane and adult manner, and Israel is throwing a fit that we’re making a big mistake and not being tough enough with the big bad Iranians. Who the hell invited Israel into this? I swear, Israel is like our asshole little brother who keeps mouthing off and starting shit with the other kids in the neighborhood. We can’t just tell them to fuck off cuz they’re family but they really need a smack upside the head.
mishak: (gotplur)
The Mazzy Star show last night was such magic. Hope Sandoval looks and sounds exactly the same as when I saw her play twenty-two years ago, further proof that she is, in fact, a faerie princess. Not the bright sparkly kind of faerie, unless sparkles can glow hazy black. Wings made of shadows at sunset. A sidelong glance, for just a moment, that swaps out your soul for a blurry photograph of the beloved home you’ve never seen. Her voice so warm and lush and enveloping, whenever there was a pause in a line or a quiet break in a song, nine hundred people held their breath and the only sound in the building was the low whoosh of the air conditioning. If the My Bloody Valentine show was an unrelenting sonic assault, this was the polar opposite - a spiral down the dark rabbit hole to a forlorn wonderland. I can’t imagine better bookends for Early 90’s Shoegaze, still my drug of choice.
mishak: (gotplur)
Listening to This American Life the other weekend this story comes on about a guy driving his dad home, dad’s a bit Alzheimers and he forgets where he is, and then forgets who the son is, but he’s in good spirits going on a ride and he’s having a good time and it’s soooo bittersweet happy-sad I pull in to this apartment complex to hear the end of the story and the guy telling the story is crying a little so I start crying in my car in the parking lot, and I decide to call my mom because I haven’t talked to her in a while and mom says that Sophie, my sister’s husband’s mom, just passed away a few days ago. Sophie was 90 years old, and she went peacefully, she had been fading in and out the past few years, last time I saw her at Christmas she wasn’t really all there, and she’d been in and out of the hospital the past few months so this was probably best. And we talk about dad a little bit and I’m crying some more, not bawling so much that’d you’d notice, I’m keeping it more or less under control. Deep breaths. It’ll be good to see mom and the family for xmas.

I was talking about this to a good friend of mine and she noted that I’d been talking about death a lot, well not a lot, but death has been around me more recently so is maybe on my mind. Certainly never been on my mind before, which is funny; like, I’ve been goth for twenty five years and only NOW I think about death? Yeah, pretty much.
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