Saturday, November 29, 2008

Duck Tree

This evening I was trying to piece together the genealogy of the Duck family tree from the Duck Tales animated series. The task at hand (and lack of sleep) gave me a headache so I went online. I did end up finding a pretty extensive Duck family tree. The confusion was, for me, that Hooey, Dewey, and Lewie referred to Scrooge McDuck and Donald Duck as their uncle. Likewise, Donald Duck calls Scrooge his uncle. It turns out that Scrooge is Hooey, Dewey, and Lewie's great uncle, while Donald is their uncle. Donald Duck is the nephew of Scrooge McDuck. For some reason we also don't know the identity of Hooey, Dewey, and Lewie's father. The boys are also frequently seperated from their mother. Their story, as I see it, is a rather sad tale of a broken home.

This Thanksgiving break has completely whiped me out so I am going to go to bed. Tomorrow I will be back on track with my classes and some more conventional blogging.

Speak easy,

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Holidays just aren't the same anymore. After a certain point everything in life develops into solid reality, but in a bad way. Magic becomes lies becomes boring. It is strange how parents talk to children about Santa, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and god. The latter being the only one that they inevitably hide behind. Santa Clause is to presents as God is to Earth. All of this worries me. What should I tell my own children? What do I say to them if another child tells them that there is no Chris Kringle? This reminds me of the stork lie. Children ask where babies come from and the child's parent tells them that the baby is delivered by the stork. First, that implies that children are not really connected or related to their parents. This does not seem like a better explanation than the truth, it just sounds confusing. Second, the answer doesn't even explain where the babies come from. Do the storks give birth to the babies or do the babies come from somewhere else?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

short message before naps

I finally got back to Cape Cod for my Thanksgiving break. This is Puff. She is a fairly stupid cat that my family adopted. Sometimes she sleeps in the shelving of the computer desk. I guess that is kind of cute.

My brother is watching the television show 'The State of Panic' on the SciFi channel. It seems to be some sort of reality show that borrows heavily from the Saw franchise. The show is neither scientific nor fiction, but is none the less on the Science Fiction Network.

Last night I barely got any sleep so I am cutting the blog short in favor of a nap. I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving and check back for a better entry tomorrow.

Speak easy,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

for those that live lawyerless lives

Its warmer today but the rain makes for a pretty miserable walk into campus. Lucky for me, rain also makes it fairly easy to decide whether or not to skip my classes.

Recently I've noticed how, in a world with such an abundance of textual communique, it is getting increasingly more annoying whenever you are unable to get in touch with someone. When I was little, it was two phone calls, and if I couldn't reach someone with two phone calls, that was it. My friend was probably at the store or the zoo. Today we have facebook, e-mail, text message, voice mail, home phone, and any other modes of communication I am sure I am leaving out. People are developing shorter and shorter attention spans. Everything is immediate. If I am trying to get information and the page is loading slow, the information isn't worth the time.

To consider that the most convenient information is the most consumed information is kind of an alarming notion.

The average American buys just one book every year. Taking into account Stephen King, Dan Brown, Harry Potter, and The Twilight Series, there are a lot of Americans that don't buy any books at all. I think the problem is not that people don't like to read, it's just that they don't know what to read. For instance, I am sure there are people that haven't read a book since high school but would none the less be unable to put down a Chuck Palahniuk book. Not that I think they are specifically great, I just think that they are good books for people who don't like books. If we stop making books, what would all the trees do?

I heard that MIT graduate, Daniel Biss, wrote a theorem that proves that a circle is nothing more than a bloated triangle.

The value of your life, as I see it, is measured by the amount of lawyers that are in it. If you do not have any lawyers in your life, things are probably looking pretty good.

Tomorrow I am going to finally meet Puff. If you don't know, Puff is the cat that my family replaced me with as soon as I left for college. It makes sense because a cat is much easier to take care of than a human.

The cat pictured below is my Moldovan friend, Poofa. That's the phonetic spelling of his name anyway. The name means 'Puffy' in Romanian. It will be difficult for Puff to compete with this guy for my all time favorite puffy cat. Poofa caught his own mice and loves to eat bread; pretty tough competition.

Virtue 6: "Industry." You should always have a job and always be employed in something useful. This kind of fits with yesterday's "frugality", except that it implies that by constantly doing, you are not wasting. Benjamin Franklin also insists that you ought to cut off all unnecessary actions. This raises the question, "What is a necessary action?"

Speak easy,

Today's Playlist:
Driving Home to Cape Cod: Part II (Requested by Andrew)

1. Built To Spill - Car (There's Nothing Wrong)
2. Feist - I Feel It All (The Reminder)
3. Say Hi To Your Mom - Blah Blah Blah (Impeccable Blahs)
4. They Might Be Giants - Experimental Film (The Spine)
5. Her Space Holiday - Four Tapping Shoes and a Kiss (XOXO, Panda...)
6. Sunset Rubdown - They Took A Vote And Said No (Shut Up...)
7. Death Cab For Cutie - Pity and Fear (Narrow Stairs)
8. The Good, The Bad, & The Queen - '80's Life (The Good, The Bad...)
9. Desaparicidos - Greater Omaha (Read Music, Speak Spanish)
10. Cloud Cult - Story of the Grandson of Jesus (Feel Good Ghosts)
11. Regina Spektor - Music Box (Begin To Hope: Bonus Disc)
12. The Format - Dog Problems (Dog Problems)

Monday, November 24, 2008

mimes are from mars

All of my important classes are done for the week. It feels really good just to be able to relax. Procrastination is a cruel mistress.

I was thinking about the mouth and all of its functions. How it can chew food and, likewise, be used for defense. How it can taste all different kinds of spices. How you think something and, through practice and understanding, you are able to communicate. The way a curled smile can travel from one persons soul and travel straight through another. The soft intimacy of a passionate kiss. An open passage that brings air into the lungs to keep the heart beating.
Although, when you view the mouth closely, it really isn't much to look at. Go find a mirror, you'll see what I'm talking about.

By the way...all men are d*cks, all women are b*tches, and everyone is crazy. The normal ones are just the ones that can hide it the best. This is just the way it is.

Now onto today's virtues...

Virtue 4: "Resolution". If you start something, you ought to finish it. This also applies to performing tasks that you ought to complete. The way I see it, you are the sum of your accomplishments. Not just creations but ideas and skills too. I'd elaborate further but I feel like I'm getting too "big picture". The bottom line...just get up and do something that you can be proud of.

Virtue 5: "Frugality" Don't waste money or time if you can help it. There's only so much you get before it's gone. Which reminds me, we need another space race. I really want to see Mars terraformed by the end of my lifetime.

Here is the first page of the book I did for my senior project class a few years ago. The final project was about 24 pages long; 10 of which I'm not completely embarrassed of.

Speak easy,

Today's Playlist:
Driving Home to Cape Cod (Requested by Andrew)

1. Shout Out Louds - Tonight I Have To Leave It (Our Ill Wills)
2. Pavement - Cut Your Hair (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain)
3. Andrew Bird - Tables and Chairs (The Mysterious Production of Eggs)
4. Ben Folds Five - Army (The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold...)
5. Liam Lynch - Still Wasted From The Party Last Night (Fake Songs)
6. Grandaddy - A.M. 180 (Under The Western Freeway)
7. The Flaming Lips - The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (At War With The Mystics)
8. Animal Collective - Water Curses (Water Curses)
9. Los Campesinos! - Death To Los Campesinos! (Hold On Now, Youngster)
10. Adam Green - Jessica (Friends of Mine)
11. Goldspot - Float On (The OC: Mix 6) *Modest Mouse Cover*
12. The Shins - New Slang [feat. Iron & Wine] (Fighting In A Sack EP)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

no common point of understanding

I just watched a video of a giraffe giving birth. It's possibly one the the oddest things I have ever seen. While I'm on the subject of hooved (or is it behooved?) animals, I would like to call attention to the sheer awesome nature of the miniature donkey. They are kind of like dogs but way goofier. They probably ride better too. Being indoors so much really makes me forget about how alien the world really is.

I drew a picture of a giraffe with a short neck. The results were extremely disappointing.

This is the willow tree next to my hall. The leaves fell off of it and now the stoners have one less place to smoke pot.

Virtues are not intrinsically good, they are good because they produce the best consequences.

Virtue 2: "Silence". Basically you should only speak when you have something of value to say. This gets kind of confusing, especially if you think that everything is bullshit.

Virtue 3: "Order". Organization and time management is an incredibly important application in ones life. Keep a clean house, an orderly desk, and a time schedule. This depletes anxiety and improves the level of awesome in your life.

Today in the library I found a book about writing comedy. Upon flipping through it I came across this image that I found really funny. Is it ironic that I find humor in a diagram outlining humor itself? The word, ironic, is one I usually stray away from because 90% of the time it is used incorrectly. Personally I think that silliness should be placed somewhere between humor and absurdity (which sounds kind of like nonsense).

Whenever your feeling kind of tired, just do some jumping jacks to get your blood flowing. If that doesn't work you should probably just take a nap.

Speak easy,

Today's Playlist:
Love: Part II (or It'll Never Work)

1. The Beatles - Yesterday (Help!)
2. The Elected - Sun, Sun, Sun (Sun, Sun, Sun)
3. Fiona Apple - Parting Gift (Extraordinary Machine)
4. Stars - Your Ex-Lover Is Dead (Set Yourself On Fire)
5. The Streets - Dry Your Eyes (A Grand Don't Come For Free)
6. Of Montreal - Tim Wish You Were Born A Girl (Cherry Peal)
7. Cake - Sad Songs and Waltzes (Fashion Nugget)
8. Death Cab For Cutie - Cath... (Narrow Stairs)
9. Kate Nash - Foundations (Made Of Bricks)
10. The Mountain Goats - No Children (Tallahassee)
11. Regina Spektor - Ode To Divorce (Soviet Kitsch)

According to Wikipedia, Yesterday by The Beatles is the most covered song ever. Congratulations The Beatles, you finally made it!

*If anyone has any ideas for playlists, playlist recommendations, or your own playlists that you would like me to post, let me know.*

Saturday, November 22, 2008

c'est triste, n'est-ce pas?

Yesterday I had class and then hung out with friends. By the end of the night I was at Katie and Sarah's house, off campus, and was unable to catch a bus. This resulted in a severe lack blog yesterday. My intention is to blog daily, even when I have classes or work or friends to occupy my time. In order to make sure I keep on top of this, I have decided to post something embarrassing every time I neglect my blog. Without checks and balances, everything would fall apart. Sarah recommended that I should talk about my love for the O.C. and Gossip Girl. It is true, I really enjoy watching these shows and have never missed an episode. When it comes down to it, Lev always dismisses my opinions because of my affection for Gossip Girl. I don't hold it against him.

At the bus stop this morning I stood next to a homeless man. A pleasant African American fellow wielding a big white bucket (to drum on), a kazoo in a harmonica holder around his neck, and a glittering purple cape. He even asked me to straighten his cape for him! I couldn't help but notice that he kind of smelled of plastic, although that could have been his bucket.

Before I delve into my "Contemporary Gentleman" list (which I will post next week), I would first like to backtrack to the late 1770's. There you will find a chubby bifocaled man with a quill in his hand and hope in his heart. I am talking about Benjamin Franklin. Although he did not follow a lot of his own advice, he still proved to be one of the first great thinkers in American history. Mr. Franklin brought forth a list of virtues that one ought to live by.

The first virtue that BF wrote about was "temperance". This means that one ought not eat to dullness, nor drink to elevation. It is important for us to practice this kind of self control in our lives. For more virtuous advice from our founding fathers check back tomorrow.

While spending time in Moldova I heard that their homeless people live underground. There are large cracks in the concrete that are large enough for people to climb through. Underneath the city there are large pipes that transport hot water throughout Chisinau, the capital city of Moldova. I'm really glad they have a warm place to sleep because the homeless people that I saw there were some of the most downtrodden I had ever seen.

I really like when you spend the night in a different house. When you get home you can't help but notice that your clothes smell different. The French have a word for the residual smell of something. The word is sillage.

Here is a video of what dorm life is like in Moldova. The guy in the middle with the grey shirt and black sleeves is Alex. He stood up for me the day I got to Moldova. I wasn't supposed to be spending the night in the dorm and he got me in the building as his guest. There was a chance that he could have been kicked out of the building for harboring me. I found that people over there, at least the young people, were very polite and helpful.

Speak easy,

Today's Playlist:
Funny Farm (or music to accompany the voices in your head)

1. Animal Collective - Peacebone (Strawberry Jam)
2. The Fiery Furnaces - Nevers (Bitter Tea)
3. Man Man - Black Mission Goggles (Six Demon Bag)
4. Sufjan Stevens - Belly Button (A Sun Came!)
5. Tim Fite - Thought I Was a Gun (Fair Ain't Fair)
6. The Paper Chase - Said The Spider To The Fly (God Bless...)
7. Dresden Dolls - Girl Anachronism (Dresden Dolls)
8. Sufjan Stevens - Siamese Twins (A Sun Came!)
9. Neutral Milk Hotel - Marching Theme (On Avery Isle)
10. Radiohead - The Gloaming (Hail To The Thief)
11. The Robot Ate Me - You Don't Fill Me Up The Same (On Vacation Vol. I)
12. Modest Mouse - The Devil's Workday (Good News For People...)
13. Tom Waits - God's Away On Business (Blood Money)

This video is too funny to go without mention.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Central Nervous System

Right now I am trying to figure out how you tell the difference between your life's one big mistake and your life's one big regret. Is it possible that they could be one in the same?

The first two times I did laundry, here in the dorms, I mixed in a brand new deep-red hoodie with the rest of my laundry. This led to my socks (and white boxer briefs) to be thoroughly engulfed in a pinkish hue. I did this twice because the second time I washed my clothes I figured that the dye had finished bleeding the first time around and that it probably wouldn't happen again. Wrong.

Last week, Lev and I were discussing masculinity, which is what guys talk about when women aren't around (well that and cars, sports, and ninja turtles). Lev claimed that my socks were feminine. My response was that a real man knows how to fix a washing machine and a woman knows how to use it properly. Therefore, it is manly to have pink socks because it shows the owners lack of knowledge when it comes to operating washing machines.

Yesterday I had to read an essay on gender, written by Myra Jehlen, for my English 200 class. There was a passage in the book that reminded me of my pink socks. Jehlen writes that "threading is what men skillfully do-not-do". Keeping my socks white is something that I very skillfully do-not-do.
In case anyone is wondering, the quote is a reference to Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, in which Huck attempts to convince Judith Loftus that he is a little girl.

Now that I am a man, or pretty close to it, I have noticed a distinct difference between the way that I treat my acquaintances from my friends. When I am trying to be friends with girls, whether it is a pursuit of friendship or a pursuit of more than friendship, I treat them all the same. When I am pursuing a friendship with a man, on the other hand, I find myself making a conscious effort to not be overly friendly. For some reason if a man is nice to me I feel a wave of skepticism. I feel like maybe they would like to be more than friends and that if I am too nice to them, they may get the wrong idea. This reaction is probably a mix between mild homophobia and a desire not to hurt the other persons feelings. Now that I think about it, when I am sure that a girl is being overly nice to me, I treat them in the same manner. It makes me want to go back to fourth grade when things like gender and sex and intimacy don't matter. There was just you, that one girl in the class you never talked to because she was far too cute and smart for you, and everyone else.

It is getting increasingly colder outside. There is one way, I've found, to slightly overcome an unbearable windchill. All you have to do is let the wind flow through you. Just relax your muscles and picture the wind as water and yourself as the jumbled net that it passes through. This may also work if you are being threatened by a polar bear.

The eggplant sandwich falls within the taste spectrum somewhere between chicken and vegetable. Defying logic. Defying reason...and a little piece of it just fell between the cracks of my keyboard.

Speak easy,

Today's Playlist:
Love: Part I (or A Solemn Ode To Devotion)

1. Feist - One Evening [Gonzales Solo Piano] (Open Season)
2. Broken Social Scene - Anthems For a Seventeen Year-Old Girl (You Forget It In People)
3. Weezer - Always (Island In The Sun Single)
4. Iron & Wine - Love and Some Verses (Endless Numbered Days)
5. Saves The Day - She (In Reverie)
6. The Decemberists - Red Right Ankle (Her Majesty)
7. Death Cab For Cutie - Passenger Seat (Transatlantisism)
8. Bright Eyes - Kathy With a K's Song (Oh Holy Fools)
9. The Mountain Goats - Love, Love, Love (The Sunset Tree)
10. Ben Folds - The Luckiest (Rockin' The Suburbs)
11. Cloud Cult - Love You All (Feel Good Ghosts)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Night Lightning

Here are some fun facts involving celebrities and other stuff that you may or may not be interested in. This is the kind of knowledge my brain finds important to retain...

1) Tim Allen was was once arrested for possession of 1.6 pounds of cocaine. He avoided a sentence of life imprisonment by ratting out his drug dealers.
2) Woody Allen left his long-time girlfriend, Mia Farrow, to pursue Farrow's adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. She is 35-years younger than he is. Kind of weird.
3) William Shatner was homeless for a period of time after the cancellation of Star Trek.
4) Gary Coleman, at 40 years old, is still a virgin despite his marriage to 22 year-old Shannon Price.
5) Brittney Spears, however, lost her virginity at 14.
6) Samuel L. Jackson did not say the line "I have had it with these motherf**king snakes on this motherf**king plane!" in the original cut of the film, Snakes on a Plane. After a fake trailer of the movie went viral, with this line included, the movie was re-shot in order to include this line. IMDB lists Mr. Jackson for having 119 different films/television appearances. This man is a machine.
7) George Clooney owns a pot bellied pig. The pig sleeps in his bed and it is probably adorable.
8) Chuck Palahniuk, the bestselling author, is a homosexual. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it does kind of explain a little about Fight Club.
9) Marlyn Manson got his stage name by combining the names Charles Manson and Marlyn Monroe. Contrary to popular opinion, he has never removed any of his own ribs.
10) Chuck Norris is a normal human being that has no supernatural capabilities.

Although I do not advocate the abuse of alcohol I am pretty excited about this new mix drink I came up with. It is called the "Night Lightning" and is quite simple to make. The ingredients are as follows:
-1 part espresso
-1 part moonshine
-1 part awesome (optional)

I'm not sure if moonshine is even legal but I suppose you could substitute the moonshine with Bacardi 151°. My interest is not in the drinking itself but in how the body might react to a drink with so much raw power.

Today I looked through my drawer and noticed how many different kinds of tea I have taken from the dining commons. They have been piling up ever since I got my coffee maker. I think it's strange that we go through all the trouble to purify water when most of the time we turn around and pollute it with coffee grounds. It seems to me that more people would be content with drinking water if it only tasted better.

Once I have my own house I will set a room aside and put googly eyes on everything in it. I feel like there's not enough of that in our lives.

Speak easy,

Today's Playlist:
Clear the Floor! (or songs to dance to with the blinds down)

1. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands! (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah)
2. Devendra Banhart - I Feel Like a Child (Cripple Crow)
3. The Fiery Furnaces - Tropical-Iceland (The Fiery Furnaces EP)
4. Say Hi To Your Mom - A Hit In Sweden (Numbers & Mumbles)
5. Adam Green - Dance With Me (Garfield)
6. They Might Be Giants - Damn Good Times (The Spine)
7. The Faint - Glass Danse (Danse Macabre)
8. The Format - Oceans (Dog Problems)
9. Ben Folds - Zak and Sara (Rockin' The Suburbs)
10. Franz Ferdinand - Michael (Franz Ferdinand)
11. The Blood Brothers - Peacock Skeleton With Crooked Feathers (Crimes)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sleeping is a Gateway Drug To Being Awake

I woke up early this morning to get a paper done. After napping this afternoon, I discovered drool on my pillow. This is 1) monumental and 2) gross. Luckily my immediate reaction leans towards the latter, prompting me to flip over my pillow in a thoughtless stupor. This is, however, monumental because it means that I drifted into a deep sleep only reserved for the aftermath of a rare sleepless night. Now that I think about it, maybe this wasn't so monumental.

If I can teach anyone anything it is that pulling an 'all nighter' is counter-intuitive. Your body needs to recharge any way it sees fit and will do so by sucking all of the energy and creative juices from your body and mind. But what do I do if I have something important to work on and its Midnight and I really really need to hand it in to get a decent grade? This is what you do. You go to sleep and set the alarm for 4 o'clock in the morning. This will give you the necessary boost that most energy drinks only promise. Take it from me, this is your best bet.

The birds on campus are all piled on top of each next to the central pond. I don't know why they do this. It reminds me of the scenes towards the beginning of Mulan when the troops are all gathered outside their tents. This is after she becomes a man but before she shames her father. Every time I walk by there is always one duck that laughs just like Donald Duck. For some reason I keep thinking that this sound may be one of the angry sounds a duck makes. I really hope not though, it makes me smile.

Lev and I have this little piece of paper with taped to the door of my closet. If either of us find ourselves in a compromising situation with a lady friend we have agreed to tape it adjacent to the doorknob. This process is classier and much less obvious that a sock or scrunchy on the doorknob. We have not had to use it as of yet.

Within the next week or so I am going to try and compile a list of "The Necessities of a Contemporary Gentleman". It will include all of the things that a man must do or have in order to be a decent contemporary gentleman. Chivalry isn't is just out somewhere politely holding a door open for a fine young woman.

Speak easy,

Today's Playlist:
Hip Hopscotch (or I think I may be too white to make a playlist of rap/hip hop songs)

1. Aesop Rock - Coffee (None Shall Pass)
2. M.I.A. - Paper Planes (Kala)
3. The Streets - Turn The Page (Original Pirate Material)
4. Ninja High School - Jam Band Death Cult (Young Adults Against Suicide)
5. Islands - Where There's a Will There's a Whalebone (Return To The Sea)
6. Tim Fite - Over The Counterculture (Over The Counterculture)
7. Islands - Rough Gem [Remix] (Rough Gem Single)
8 Flight of the Conchords - Hiphopopotamus Vs. Rhymenoceros (Flight of the Conchords)
9. Gorillaz - Double Bass (Gorillaz)
10. Time Fite - It's All Right Here (Over the Counterculture)

EDIT: Just in case anyone was curious, the cube pictured in the photo is the Weighted Companion Cube from Portal, a PC/XBOX 360 game. At the end of one of the levels you have to "euthanize" your new "best friend", the companion cube, in order to proceed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Life Expectancy

Last night at the Dining Commons they served chicken and swordfish. I felt better about eating the swordfish because, out of the two, swordfish can defend themselves. They are fast swimmers and also have swords on their faces. Swordfish are second to narwhals for being the greatest animal with a weapon on its face. At the end of the day they are both equally delicious.

Lev believes saber-tooth tigers are the best animal in the animal kingdom with face weapons. Although they do have sabers for teeth, they are also extinct. I'll meet him half way and say that the saber-tooth tiger is the best land animal in this category.

After dinner, Lev and I talked about where we would live in Europe if we ever got the chance. Lev said that he would like to live in Switzerland because it is a neutral country. If Switzerland had a pH level, it would be 7. Its a good choice.

This is the UMass Amherst W.E.B. Du Bois library. I've heard that it is not only the tallest masonry structure in the world, but also the tallest academic library (not the largest, just the tallest). When it was built, the engineers did not anticipate the books to weigh as much as they did, so bricks began shooting out from the base of the structure. There is now a fence around the building and books in every other floor. When I am afraid that my entire day will be devoured by my dorm room, I take a stroll over to the 12th floor and do some leisurely reading.

Yesterday I noticed that sliding box cat was featured on Yahoo for two days in a row. Take that Obama!

My friend, Steph, told me that chipmunks live for 3-4 years in the wild, apposed to the 12 years that they live in captivity. This got me thinking. What if the average life expectancy of a human boosted to 300 years while in captivity? By captivity I mean being abducted by aliens, which I am pretty sure is our equivalent to chipmunk abduction.

Speak easy,

Today's Playlist:
C:\>music for robots.wav (or Yes Virginia, There Is a Robot Overlord)

1. Radiohead - Fitter Happier (OK Computer)
10. Say Hi To Your Mom - Pop Music of the Future (Numbers & Mumbles)
11. Tokyo (Lost In Translation OST)
100. The Olivia Tremor Contol - The Gravity Car (Music From the Unrealized...)
101. Does It Offend You, Yeah? - Attack Of the 60 ft Lesbian Octopus (You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into)
110. Crystal Castles - No Skin (Thrash Thrash Thrash)
111. The Robot Ate Me - Tied To The Car (They Ate Themselves)
1000. onelinedrawing - Smile (Visitor)
1001. Grandaddy - I'm On Standby (Sumday)
1010. Flight of the Conchords - Robots (Flight of the Conchords)
1011. Architecture In Helsinki - One Heavy February (Fingers Crossed)
1100. Sufjan Stevens - Joy! Joy! Joy! (A Sun Came!)
1101. The Most Serene Republic - Prologue (Underwater Cinematographer)

*Numerals coded in binary for your convenience.


Look closely at today's headline picture and you can see a flying 'V'!

If you listen to any music that I've posted it ought to be Fiona Apple's rendition of Across The Universe. Her voice is like warm bubbles in your head that never pop...they just kind of float around.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


It is Sunday and time is boiling slowly. Sometimes I feel really tired and I can't tell if it's from too much coffee or not enough coffee. I tend to side with not enough coffee because that one tastes better. Since I moved in to my dorm I have been using plastic spoons to stir my coffee. There is a part of me that is worried that the outer plastic of the spoons is melting into the coffee and eventually I will develop cancer from all of the toxins. I should probably just take regular spoons from the dining commons. Lev told me that they tag on extra money to your dining fee which covers theft. The same goes for clothing stores. This is why shirts at Hollister are $50.

Yesterday I commented on the elusive squirrel sneeze. The only thing I would like to add is that squirrel yawns are far less rare and much cuter. Check them out, they are amazing. Chipmunks are great too. They are like baby squirrels on Red Bull. The picture below was very hard to take but I was able to sneak up on this little guy while he was performing a Vulcan mind meld on a pile of rocks. It goes without saying that his hands are his best feature.

My roommate, Lev, spent the first 12 years of his life in Russia. You wouldn't know it talking to him. His English is flawless. This morning he was telling me about this phenomenon in Russia, called Зaпoй (or Zapoi). From what I can gather it is some sort of sporadic alcoholism. It begins with a night of heavy drinking. The next morning the drunkard stumbles to the liquor cabinet to fetch some more vodka. The best antidote for a hangover, Lev says, is more alcohol. Apparently when you drink, the blood vessels in your brain expand. After the effects of the nights prior wear off, you are left with incredibly constricted blood vessels in your cerebrum. The alcohol you drink in the morning expands these vessels enough to relieve the discomfort. Anyway the Russians nurse their hangovers with more alcohol until it is late afternoon, and it is only proper to begin another night of "vodka like water". A good Зaпoй lasts about a week. How anyone gets anything done in Russia is beyond me.

When I check my email on Yahoo I usually find myself looking through the headlines on the front page. There are always so many different kinds of news stories. If you haven't seen the 'cat sliding into box' you should definitely go see it for yourself. He is really a 5 star cat. It looks like Obama did something important too.

I have somewhere between 7 and 9 pages to write in the next 36 hours so I should really get to work on that.

Speak easy,

Today's Playlist:
Under The Covers (or artists who like other artists)

1. The Polyphonic Spree - Lithium (The Wait EP) *Nirvana*
2. Cake - I Will Survive (Fashion Nugget) *Gloria Gaynor*
3. Syd Matters - Hello Sunshine (The OC: Mix 6) *Super Furry Animals*
4. Bright Eyes - Devil Town (Noise Floor) *Daniel Johnston*
5. Rogue Wave - Everyday (Stubbs The Zombie OST) *Buddy Holly*
6. Xiu Xiu - Under Pressure (Women As Lovers) *Queen*
7. Youth Group - Forever Young (Casino Twilight Dogs) *Alphaville*
8. Nada Surf - If You Leave (The OC: Mix 2) *Orchestral Manoeuvres...*
9. Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah (Grace) *Leonard Cohen*
10. Gary Jules - Mad World (Donnie Darko OST) *Tears For Fears*
11. Iron & Wine - Such Great Heights (Such Great Heights EP) *The Postal Service*
12. Fiona Apple - Across The Universe (Pleasantville OST) *The Beatles*

Someone actually covered the Bright Eyes version of Devil Town. It follows the arrangements and instrumentation almost exactly. The song was recently featured in a 'Friday Night Lights' commercial.
I was tempted to put on some Me First and the Gimme Gimmes but it didn't seem right. I would recommend them though if you are looking for more cover songs.

Lev woke up with fireworks in his pocket. It was a surprise to both of us.
He also told me about some guy who's friends with his dad, a mathematician, that named his dog 'Cosign'. Now that's what I'm talking about!

EDIT: Here are some playlist recommendations I received from Taylor Rose...

1. Jenny Lewis - Handle With Care (Rabbit Fur Coat) *Traveling Willburys*
2. John Mayer - Message In A Bottle (Any Given Thursday) *The Police*
3. The Vines - I'm Only Sleeping (I Am Sam OST) *The Beatles*
4. The Vines - Ms. Jackson (Outtathaway! Single) *Outkast*
5. The Vines - Paint It Black (Unknown) *The Rolling Stones*

It looks like there is some controversy on whether The Vines actually performed that cover or not. Either way I'm going to check it out. Thanks Taylor!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Il pleut un ami mange du pain.

Today it is Saturday and it is raining. Days like these actually make me feel better. On a sunny day you will always end up inside, at least for a brief period of time. During this time you feel like you should be outside. It's like eating salad at a pizza place. On overcast days you can take a walk or go to a book store or watch a movie and never feel like you are missing out.

Walking back from the library I came across a squirrel eating bread. It wasn't nearly as interesting as finding a bread eating squirrel but it was still fun to run across. Most animals react to a camera as if it is eating their soul. He, however, was very polite.

In one of the buildings on campus I saw a framed portrait of a squirrel sneezing. This was really exciting for me because 1) it's incredibly cute, 2) it is very rare to see this happen, 3) to be able to take a picture mid-sneeze is a Herculean feat, and 4) someone else shares my affinity for the little sneezes. I would go as far to say that this picture alone is worth at least $450. At first I thought to compare it to taking a picture of lighting. But I realized that not only do squirrel sneezes occur (approximately) in a shorter period of time (Faster than lighting!), but one is also more aware of lighting as it approaches.

I spent a few minutes looking for pictures and videos of sneezing squirrels but was unable to track down any. Your best bet is to go to a park or any sort of squirrel Rainbow Gathering and wait patiently. Someone told me that if you have to sneeze you should just think of elephants and then you won't have to sneeze anymore. This only seems to work 50% of the time.
While searching for a picture of a sneezing squirrel I learned that the female squirrel takes two weeks to ovulate. In this time the gentleman squirrel chases the lady squirrel in a way that kind of looks like they are playing a game of tag. This sounds exhausting but also very cute.

I find the mist, during days like this, to be really interesting. It almost feels as if nothing exists past the grey blur of the horizon. It reminds me of this game for the Sega Dreamcast, Shenmue II. In the DC version the processors weren't able to load textures that were beyond a certain point on the in-game map. It caused the same kind of misty horizon effect.

Okay, one more thing. I was thinking about how people say that something is like "Selling ice to eskimos". To me it would seem really easy to sell ice to eskimos. Who else likes ice more? If eskimos came into the liquor store over the summer and wanted to buy something, 9 times out of 10, it would be ice.

Watch out for jellyfish (they can be dangerous),

Today's Playlist:
Light Rain (or songs that are playing through the tape deck in the dashboard of an old boxy car while driving down a winding country road and it has just rained heavily but now it is just lightly raining...and all of this is a good thing)

1. Islands - **Secret Song** (Return To The Sea)
2. Bright Eyes - I watched you taking off (a collection of songs...)
3. Feist - The Park (Reminder)
4. The Decemberists - As I Rise (Her Majesty)
5. Devendra Banhart - Will Is My Friend (Rejoicing In The Hands)
6. Broken Social Scene Pres. Kevin Drew - Gang Bang Suicide (Spirit If...)
7. Modest Mouse - Styrofoam Boots/It's All Nice on Ice, Alright (Lonesome Crowded West)
8. All Time Quarterback - untitled (All Time Quarterback)
9. Bob Dylan - Don't Think Twice, It's Alright (The Freewheelin'...)
10. Rilo Kiley - ripchord (More Adventurous)

*sneeze pics and playlist recommendations would be appreciated*

The squirrel let me get really close and I took this video of him. Music playing is 'Chick A Boom Boom Boom' by Mocean Worker. I may have also thrown in some duck footage for good measure.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Water for Words

My name is Neil and I am an English student at the University of Massachusetts. I am currently drinking fresh coffee well into a Friday night. I was supposed to go home for the weekend to do laundry and meet Puff. Puff is the cat that my family adopted immediately after I left for school. She has replaced me and is probably wearing my old clothes, watching my television, and painting the walls of my room as I type this. Because of problems with time and space I am in my dorm room this weekend.

The title of this blog is the title of a chapter of the Nathanael West book, Miss Lonelyhearts. It is really good and I am going to write some sort of thesis paper on it before the semester is up.
For some reason I find it incredibly difficult to name things that are not completely self contained. Bands and blogs and projects. Songs, on the other hand, are usually fairly easy to well as pets (charlie, jameson, keifer, and jeff are all good names). I have a theory that the older you get, the weirder your pet's names should be. For instance a guy like myself would not go wrong naming his dog "Mike", while an elderly person should totally name their dog "Little Stallion". It just makes sense.

Okay, so I was skimming my bookshelf and class notes looking for something that would resemble a good blog name and my eyes fall on 'The Brief Penguin Handbook'. My mind, being the way it is, processed this bit of sense-data as 'The Brief Penguin Handjob'. My roommate, Lev, insists that this is some sort of Freudian slip. The title just raises so many questions. Like "Why?" or "How?" or "Brief?".

Since my life plan seems to change just about every week I thought I would track the evolution of my future...if that makes sense. Right now I am learning French and aspire to become a "Teaching English as a Second Language" professor in Paris.

Stay hydrated,

I really do listen to a lot of music on a daily basis and enjoy making themed playslists. With each post I am going to try and compile a new (fun!) playlist. Hopefully this will force me to explore the previously unearthed regions of my iPod. 26 gigs and I listen to the same 3 songs over and over again.

Todays Playlist:
Flux Capacitor (or songs with years in the title)

1. The Smashing Pumpkins - 1979 (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness)
2. Yeasayer - 2080 (All Hour Cymbals)
3. Peter Bjorn & John - Paris 2004 (Writer's Block)
4. Architecture In Helsinki - Spring 2008 (Fingers Crossed)
5. The Olivia Tremor Control - Memories of Jacqueline 1906 (Music From the Unrealized...)
6. The Elected - 7 Septermber 2003 (Me First)
7. Los Campesinos! - 2007, The Year Punk Broke My Heart (Hold On Now, Youngster)
8. Neutral Milk Hotel - Holland, 1945
9. The Unicorns - 2014 (2014 Single)
10. Gorillaz - 19-2000 (Gorillaz)
11. The Hives - Inspection Wise 1999 (Veni Vidi Vicious)

And for those with a more eclectic taste...

12. The Robot Ate Me - Oh No! Oh My! 1994 (On Vacation Vol. I)
13. The Fiery Furnaces - 1917 (Blueberry Boat)

*If you have any recommendations that might fit into this playlist let me know*