Archive for February 5th, 2009

05
Feb
09

Speaking of Coffee…

I’m lovin’ it.

McDonald’s Iced Coffee Reviews From Actual Drinkers

Hint: Explosive diarrhea abounds.

(courtesy of coffeerama.com)

05
Feb
09

Hillary Sometimes Forgets She Ran For President?

Not. Bloody. Likely.

During her first town meeting as SoS, Ms. Clinton joked to her besotten crowd:

You know I ran for President…?” The audience broke out in laughter. She added, chuckling, “I sometimes totally forget that.

Uh huh.

She then continued:

It was like a blur it went by so fast.
So no, America, it was not and interminable primary season!  Far from it!  It was too short!  See, if she’d just had some more time to win the delegates over to her side…oh, forget it.  She already has.*

*just like she’s forgotten ol’ whatshername with the blue dress.

05
Feb
09

It’s Insane, These Guys’ Taints!

Again? Really?

Leon Panetta Accepted over $700k in Fees From Troubled Banks

Granted, this one seems like/is a huge stretch (as is the scandal involving Hilda Solis, the proposed Labor Secretary, but it’s still there.

Can’t we just admit we all have taints and move on?

05
Feb
09

Coffee As Cultural Barometer

When I first arrived here in Madrid, I immediately fell in love with the architecture, the warmth of the people, the food, the lifestyle. The only thing I found vexing was that there are no mini-kitchens here at the University where I work.

Let me explain. I work as a postdoc in experimental physics. I’ve gotten accustomed to the fact that there’s no such thing as “to-go” in much of the world, that one is forced to work at work, then take breaks for food consumption (a foreign notion to a U.S. native, to be sure, but one which I’ve accepted). The one thing, though, that has held in every academic setting in which I’ve worked is the presence of mini-kitchens, which are there really for one reason: the coffee maker. The notion that I would be forced to do work without a steady stream of the black elixir of mental life became almost oppressively odious to me. How in the sam hell did these bastards expect me to get anything done? Was water (sans bread, even) to be my brain’s only nourishment??? And, maybe most importantly, how would I form another chapter of our pun-ilicious-ly-named “High Energy Coffee Club” (since we work in high energy physics*) ?  How would the founders gain worldwide acclaim for their hilarity now?????

*insert rim shot here

In any case, it turned out this was all much ado about nothing, and that the reason there was no coffee machine was because it’s expected you take coffee breaks here. Fine. Understandable. The difference, however, between the Spanish coffee break and any other country’s (that I’ve taken) is the social Our greatest sociological resource aspect. It’s not that it surprises me that my office mates and I would head for coffee together; it’s the enormity of the process that still strikes me. Phone calls begin around 10:00 to various other departments to see who’s game; people are alerted, ferreted out, texted that it’s happening. Finally, an hour later, a group of no less than 5 and quite possibly more than 15 people wander en masse over to the cafeteria, where the conversation and caffeination will take at least an hour (before returning to work and beginning the phone tree again for a 2-3 o’clock lunch).

It’s extraordinary, the social networking here. Friends are not only the people you call for advice, they are really anybody around, and they are necessary if you are to leave your house to eat/drink/be merry without attracting stares. There is no such thing as someone going to a bar to unwind by themselves here, no such thing as one couple going on a date, and (perhaps most extraodinarily of all) no such thing even as being friendless.

As I just mentioned, I work in physics, so the geek factor is awfully high. I have spent many a lunch contemplating with colleagues whether some of us are honest-to-goodness Asperger’s Syndrome cases, or just assholes. (To be fair here, I think that, once you reach the level of terminal-degree-dom in any subject, you’re going to encounter insufferable bores, but still…the stereotype exists for a reason). I was recently telling a story about some geeky thing to a compañero here, and I asked how to translate “geek” or “nerd.” Ready for a kicker?

It can’t be done. There is no word for it. Sure, there are words for “bookworm” or “workaholic” or “brainiac” (or thereabouts), but there is no way to express that you think someone is any of those things, and also excommunicated from “polite” schoolyard society. It’s not that there don’t exist socially inept people here (one is sitting right behind me as I type this), but they are never excluded from the whole. Yup, here Rudolph played reindeer games with the other kids quite nicely, thank you.

So I get the bi-hourly massive exodus to seek sustenance, cafe-con-leche-based or otherwise. Part of me is still too used to my routine (which is why I have my mug by my side, ready for filling with *gasp* instant coffee in a pinch), but I join the ritual more and more, since immersion in this foreign land is half the point of living abroad, yes?

Plus, the cafe con leche is fucking great.

05
Feb
09

Lux Interior Interview

In case you, like me, can’t get enough of reading about, mooning, and mourning over our dearly departed:

Interview From a Belgian E-Zine

05
Feb
09

Pretty

Jude Law should go for the operation. He looks much better this way.

Yes, it’s for a movie. Sally Potter’s Rage to be specific. Here’s how she describes it:

“Part of the subject matter of RAGE is the ugly use of beauty in the pursuit of profit. Drugged by Marketing, sapped by fear of aging, conned by the cult of celebrity… image becomes all. Jude Law, whose beauty has sometimes been held against him as an actor, made the courageous decision to accept the role of Minx – a ‘celebrity super-model’ and took on a kind of hyper-beauty for this persona… a ‘female’ beauty which gradually unravels as the story unfolds. Strangely, the more he became a ‘she’, coiffed and made-up – the more naked was his performance. There was great strength in his willingness to make himself vulnerable. It was an extraordinarily intense part of the shoot.”

Wait, Jude Law’s beauty’s been held against him? Cause all those ugly English actors get all the breaks? Feh.

Regardless of the inanity of the explanation, it’s a pretty picture. So, here. Enjoy.

05
Feb
09

Battle Royale

Perfect.

05
Feb
09

My Doomed Love Affair With The Red Scare

This is hard to say, because, even amongst my hippie friends, this engenders some disgust: I am utterly fascinated by and mildly obsessed with Vladimir Putin.

Hear me out, because I believe there to be two forces at work here. Number one: I lived in New York for quite a while, and then in Louisiana. As a resident of either state, you have to learn to distance yourself from terrifying things happening right in front of you. Manhattan taxi drivers are some of the most insane risk-takers known to man, and yet I’ve never once put on a seat belt while in the backseat, instead choosing to gaze on in amazement as we graze 4 or 5 cars on our way onto the West Side Highway. Similarly, while in Louisiana, I would watch (stupidly gape-mouthed) from behind the bar while gun sales were being made in the parking lot, lines were being done by people in the bathroom while their grandkids waited in the car outside, and the city’s most observant cops, charged with sleuthing out the local serial killer, were asking my 45-year-old co-bartender if she was still in college. In short, I’ve developed a sort of defense mechanism for these things, looking at them as stories rather than actual events.

Which brings me to the second element at work here: I like stories. It’s the lit geek in me. And this guy is the most over-the-top character I’ve ever seen, making the guys Harrison Ford regularly defends our freedoms against seem like panty-waisted nonentities (I will see your Captain Vasily WhoseyWhatsitRedOctoberGuy and raise you four hundred Goldfingers). Let’s look at what I’ve heard so far about him:

He’s ex KGB. (check)
He’s a Judo master. (sure)

He was just given a pet tiger. (why not?)

He also hunts tigers. (of course)

He just left his wife for a teenage contortionist. (who hasn’t?)

He kills his dissenters by bizarrely untraceable types of radiation poisoning. (how else?)

The guy’s character is just so…fully developed, you know? I mean, if I were writing this guy, I might choose one of these things to describe him as perfectly evil and “Soviet” in that throwback-y oh-no-the-commies-are-coming sort of way. But, Jesus God, man, he’s ALL of these things? Does he also enjoy feasting on the raw innards of small game birds, sopping up the juices with bread, all the while enjoying the cries of his impalees as his dinner music?

So, yeah, maybe love affair is the wrong phrasing. I do, after all, acknowledge that he is at best a horrible despot, but more realistically a pissy second-rate bully. But dammit if he isn’t the most wholly realized villain we’re up against (Kim Jon Il having too many goofy qualities, and Bin Laden being too genuinely threatening).

Why am I blogging about this now? Because his soft underbelly was just made visible. Namely, he paints. Pretty well. Like a Nancy boy. But a Nancy boy who sells said paintings for 1.15 million pounds. And then maybe goes home and cries because someone has validated his artistic expression of his inner pain. Then he fucks his contortionist child-bride and shares a raw steak with the baby tiger he’ll one day hunt for sport.

05
Feb
09

Lux Interior, National Treasure

I woke up about a half an hour ago with a sense of dread and “Bop Pills” in my head. I came out to find something stupid to read to put me back to sleep and saw this. *sigh* We’ve lost another one.

Our National Treasure

In case you’re unfamiliar, Lux Interior was a founder of The Cramps, one of the greatest punk bands of all time. He wrote devastatingly sexy lyrics before Prince did, and holds the title in my head for coming up with the two best album titles ever (“Songs the Lord Taught Me” and “Bad Music for Bad People”). Hell, that band even made 90210 fun to watch once (yup, they appeared at the Peach Pit After Dark in what’s known in my house as the Best. Episode. Ever.). His 37-year marriage to Cramps co-founder (and hot bitch), Poison Ivy, also served to melt my cynical black heart lo these many years. He was a Goo Goo Muck, a Garbage Man, a Human Fly, and the greatest ever Creature From the Black Leather Lagoon. He really did have all the violence and liquor within close reach, but all the barrooms and freeways always led him back to the beach and…

Here’s hoping he spends eternity flowin’ through a whirlpool to his beloved she-feast wrapped in silk.




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