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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Family Affair

While investigating my ancestors I found this quote from my great uncle, Friedhelm Maximilian Reinhold Scheck (“Corky” or "The Corkmeister" to his friends), before he was chased out of Germany in 1938. “Somewhere on this planet a piano is falling ten floors to the street below. The challenge all humanity faces is to find a way to put Adolf Hitler between it and the sidewalk.”

Perhaps I should make my fictitious great uncle a regular feature here.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Black Beans in a Pressure Cooker

This is a very basic dish but perhaps I can teach you a trick or two. Pressure cookers are the only way to cook beans. These black beans would have taken three hours to cook in a regular pot.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Graffiti in the Digital Age

In an era where a successful YouTube video can receive hundreds of thousands and even millions of viewings it’s a wonder that teenagers still bother to buy cans of spray paint to defile any and all public surfaces.

In all of my years here in graffiti-plagued Spain I’ve never actually seen someone out tagging. I’ve seen a few graffiti artists at work but these two groups are completely different. A good 90% of the graffiti can simply be classified as vandalism without any artistic pretense. Most of this form of destructive graffiti is simply tags, spray-painted signatures of the idiot committing the offense. As crude as these tags may be they must be thought of as communication in some form, quasi-literate as it may be.

Don’t these kids have cell phones? Why don’t they upgrade to Twitter? It’s the new graffiti and although it's just as stupid as tagging you don’t have to buy paint. If you need more characters than those alloted on Twitter then may I suggest getting a blog? It’s free and you don’t have to go out at 04:00 to do your dirty work like with graffiti.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Miracle Street

If you really believed in miracles would you have bars on your windows? I may be mistaken but I think the miracle in question is the so called “virgin birth” so if they are trying to avoid that again I think that steel bars make for a pretty poor prophylactic. I like how in Valenciano they don’t even call Mary a virgin; she’s just God’s mom. It’s like they’re saying, “Sure, we’re Christians but a virgin? Let’s not go overboard.”

People here aren’t too religious but I think we can all agree that the water into wine stunt would be pretty cool.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Most Inspirational Video You Will Ever See!

I've decided to become a life coach...or the director of an insult clinic. Being able to accept crticism is the first step towards a better you!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Advantage #432 of Owning the Cheapest Cell Phone on the Market (that I bought used)

I can’t give this thing away. My phone fell out of my pack on the share bikes here in Valencia yesterday and sure enough some nice Spanish kid called my home number (in my contacts) and told me he found it. Not to take anything away from his good deed but it’s easier to be honest and there is absolutely no dilemma when you find something that is practically worthless. I bought him a bottle of Spanish cava that cost more than my phone. It’s easier to be generous when you don’t blow money on your phone.

I keep thinking that I'll buy a new phone with internet access and all the bells and whistles. I'm actually paying for the service with my internet provider and home phone plan yet I stick with this miserable relic. It has sort of become a point of pride with me at this stage of the game and I think I will hang on to it until it breaks...and then I'll pay to have it repaired. For me it's just one less distraction in my life.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Another Reason to Hate Facebook

Below is a little experiment I did on Facebook.  After my status update I have placed my comments after in numbered order. I have left out the comments of my friends.

Day One
I’ve thought about doing this before; I’ve thought about liking everything within sight just to see if perhaps Facebook sets limits on how many things you can like. This Wired article is pretty stupid and talks about what liking does to your news feed. I don’t know what a news feed is and hope to die with that gap in my knowledge (I know what it is now). I just think the whole concept of a like button is completely absurd. And now I will take a walk on the wild side of liking the living shit out of everything on the internet. Won’t you join me?

my comments:
1- Yikes, liking shit can be exhausting. Luckily Facebook is cooperating because they just line stuff up in “Recommended Pages” and I just mow them down like in a zombie apocalypse.

2 - It's like a video game but I think I just liked Hitler.

3 - I got a warning saying "It looks like you are using this feature in a way it wasn't meant to be used. Please slow down or you could be blocked from using it" (picture above). Gutless punks! This never happened to the wimp who wrote the Wired article.

4 - It's all for the sake of scientific inquiry. For some reason the “Recommended Pages” has offered a slew of young, beautiful women from India. Mail order brides? If so I hope that they get into a huge Bollywood catfight over me with singing and dancing.

Day Two
I’m on day two of what I'm calling “Operation Like My Brains Out” in which I like everything in my path. One thing that everyone needs to remember is just how much of internet culture is driven by the triviality of “hits” and “likes” which are completely passive acts that don’t cost people anything and simply represent someone pressing their finger on a mouse. “Hear ye, Hear ye. All honor the mighty mouse click!” I liked hundreds of things yesterday at a rate of probably 40-50 per minute. This is somehow registered somewhere as having some sort of meaning or value.

I must admit that I just don’t have much stomach for it today, may the spirit of scientific inquiry be damned. It's too much of a good thing that wasn't even good to begin with. Instead of Like I will imagine that the button says Lick in an effort to fortify my will.

my comments:
1 - This morning I liked a whole bunch of jazz artists whom I actually like. I’ve been listening to McCoy Tyner lately and after liking his page I was asked if I wanted to visit similar pages. Why the fuck not? It beats 300 Indian women who I don’t know from Eve that I liked yesterday.
Today I stuck mostly with stuff that I actually do like. Even with that in mind it’s easy to be totally indiscriminate in my use of the like button.

2 - In the “Recommended Pages” part of FB it says if someone on my Friends list has liked a particular page. From now on everything you look at will have my name there. I like everything!

3 - I just find the whole idea of the like button to be completely absurd. I made myself laugh because as I was indiscriminately mowing down things with the like button I stopped dead in my tracks when the Recommended Pages offered up the movie Rain Man. I hate that movie and wouldn’t hit the like button even on my like rampage. Sorry Sara, I don't think that I can like your comment because I have already been warned that I’ve used up my likes, at least for today. I'll try one more.

4 - File under, "I rest my case."
      I have a theory that any film that has more than one explosion in the trailer is a piece of shit. The trailer for The Expendables 3 (The Excrementables 3?) has more explosions than I could count yet the YouTube video has 8,301,007 hits with 25,226 likes.

5- P.S. I’ll be incommunicado for the next few days. I’m going to camp out for tickets to this new Sylvester Stallone movie (Excrementables 3) and I don’t have internet on my phone. 

In conclusion, the Wired article was written by a geek about geek concerns (what’s in his news feed, FB algorithms, etc.). I couldn't give a shit about that or other geek concerns. To me the Like button is nothing more than an emoticon, a shortcut to real writing. Instead of hitting the like button why not add an actual comment to a friend’s post? Hell, even if you only write the word “like” in the comments section it means more than a mouse click. I have never, would never, and will never use an emoticon so why would I bother hitting the like button?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Boyhood by Richard Linklater

When I first heard about Richard Linklater’s newest movie, Boyhood, it just seemed like an idea too incredible to miss, a production 12 years in the making portraying the lives of a family over the course of the childhood of the protagonist. I wanted so much to like it and I was practically terrified that I wouldn’t. I won’t spoil any of it for you but it really was incredible. It’s worth the price of admission just for the music.

P.S. It’s odd for me to say this but the film makes me miss Texas and the whole American West.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Few Words about Social Media

This is something that I would never post on Facebook because I’m sure that it would offend a large segment of those listed amongst my friends.

Dear Facebook Friends,

There are a lot of reasons why Facebook can be a good thing but I’m sure that everyone has their gripes. Although I’m childless I love pictures of my friends’ children, no joke, and videos of little kids doing screwy things almost always make me laugh or at least put a smile on my normally dour face. I enjoy your vacation pictures and you shouldn’t feel guilty about rubbing it in that your life is better than mine because almost everyone’s life is better than mine. I am always heartened by the accomplishments and talents of people I am lucky enough to call my friends and I swear I’m never jealous of your achievements.

Here is a brief list of things I don’t like:

1)      Pictures of kittens hanging from something that say something about how shitty Mondays are. I think we can all agree that those suck, so stop already.
2)      Links to videos about some damn thing and that the end will somehow “break your heart.” I’ve never watched one of these, ever. Never will.
3)      Videos of accidents in which someone probably ended up in intensive care if not on a slab at the morgue. I also don’t like snuff films.
4)      Everything from Buzzfeed.

If you notice the common denominator of these peeves it’s that none of them have any reflection on your lives. These are all just ways to waste time on the internet and I already do a fucking great job of that without anyone’s assistance, thank you. Don’t post something simply for the sake of posting and a link to some dumb shit isn’t communication and tells me nothing about you except that you’ve been using your time unwisely. Don’t worry too much about that because you are the member of the largest club on the planet of which, shamefully, I have been a lifelong member.