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I really spent 2012 finishing my book, but still serve up a smorgasbord of: more roof whitepaint, Joan Crawford in "Trog," spreading santorum, protestation, mixing music, Netflix in the mail, and Hollywood socialites Jessica and Hunter.  

Thanksgiving with Jessica and Hunter
In time for the holidays, a few words about Hollywood Youtube sensations Jessica and Hunter. Fun-loving socialites, they share catchphrases, clothes, and legal troubles, but no matter how dire the situation, they keep it in perspective with constant comparison to Hollywood celebrities, who figure prominently in their competing monologues.  Their Thanksgiving report, with veteran interviewer Damiana Garcia, includes a demonstration on how to make their traditional Thanksgiving stuffing with Twinkies, vodka, and fat burner pills.  The interview follows their established pattern: meeting a new person ("Excuse me officer, but his license is suspended after he totally crashed his car into the MAC Store at The Grove while sleepdriving on Ambien"), who they compliment ("You look just like Meredith Baxter-Birney's doppelganger"), use as an insult proxy ("I'm so glad we could spend Thanksgiving with you and my friend, Kathy Griffin's facial remains"), irritate (Trainer: "You cannot drink alcohol on a hike!"), and turn against ("ExcYOWZE me, Penelope Snooze, we are getting out of here!"). Then they reassure each other ("I think that went really well"). See further Jessica and Hunter semantic analysis here
posted November 21, 2012, 9:23 am  

Why I support Obama

Meanwhile, Romney is reported to have spent much of his time as governor of Massachusetts absent from the state he, with or without the benefit of his alleged binders full of women, was supposedly governing.  The New Yorker has written a superlatively beautiful piece endorsing Obama, see it here, and had some wonderful covers barbecueing Romney, see them here.
posted October 27, 2012, 10:11 am   

Liking Netflix by mail
Until Boston gets cheap and fast fiber-optic Internet—which, because Verizon doesn't want to deal with our twisty cobblestone streets won't be any time soon—I like getting Netflix by mail.  I like going to Netflix's website, choosing movies, lining them up in a queue, and looking forward to those cheery red envelopes arriving in the mail.  Back when I first started using Netflix back around 2003, there was a lot of concern about everybody getting enough disks in the mail fast enough so nobody would miss out on their chance to spend the maximum amount of time sitting in front of the TV.  Yet it's healthier, I think, to have a physical limit on how much Netflix watching you can do at once.  I chose Netflix not in order to spend more time watching TV, but to have better control over what and when I watch.  I even hoped that by achieving higher quality in my television viewing, I could also reduce its quantity, since the less you watch, the longer you live.  Read more on how I try to stay a light TV viewer here.   
posted August 5, 2012, 10:55 am

Mix making!How to make a mix
A deliberately late adopter of new technology (waiting allows a consensus to emerge, software to get better, and devices to get cheaper, which frees up money for investment), I finally got a $40 MP3-compatible boombox, which led to my spending an inordinate amount of time last Sunday updating my new mix page, which I originally developed to remind myself which holes to plug the cables in during last year's cassette tape-to-MP3 conversion project, but which has evolved, that's right, readers, evolved, to explore the new digital music world, providing guidance on how to record streaming audio, how to save in a format that permits future edits (it's not MP3), and of course how to visit the How To Make A Mixtape for Chuck Klosterman page.  I think I had the most fun finding a way to make the fonts, clip art, and formatting look nice.  
posted July 24, 2012, 8:47 pm  

Rise up
No longer the rebel that I was when young, I was heartened nonetheless to see protest marchers take to the streets today in my hometown Chicago (photo by Seth Perlman).  They were specifically protesting NATO, an organization which includes the U.S., Canada, the rich European nations, and a few other wanna-be-rich European nations, excludes everybody else, and accounts for 70% of the world's military spending, but what swelled the crowds and gave them urgency is this country's growing class stratification.  Back in the early 70's, in the era of the Weather Underground (there's a superlative 2002 documentary by Sam Green and Bill Siegel  here on Netflix, or here on Youtube, but best appreciated on DVD for Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn's soul-sustaining audio commentary), a father holding down an average job, say, as a barber, could send his kids through college, while a CEO might earn 30 times his pay.  Now, there's no college for the barber's kids except by plunging them into ruinous debt, the CEO earns 263 times a barber's pay, and it's getting worse.  Also to the point is Laurie Anderson's wry, apt, and fulfilling recent song, "Only an Expert" (on Amazon mp3 here).  Even as people still vote Republican, with a party that stubbornly keeps marching to the right, to the wrong side of history.  A nation this unequal can't be sustained.  Although I don't believe, as the Weather Underground perhaps did, in wholesale overthrow of the United States government, and although I do believe in healthy markets and plentiful entrepreneurial opportunity, I also believe—unlike the Repubs—in tougher and not weaker regulation, in progressive and not regressive taxes, in protecting and not destroying the environment, and in promoting and not denying opportunity for those of us who have to work for a living.  I believe in giving children a good education regardless of their zip code.  I believe we need protection from and not empowerment to the privileged few who would keep us on our knees.  Power to the people. 
posted May 20, 2012, 8:16 pm   

Joan Crawford's regrettable final film, "Trog" (1970), includes hackneyed material, bad special effects, an English countryside with a Pepsi Cola vending machine, and a matronly Joan Crawford giving a polished yet profoundly askew final performance, as this brief transcript will show: 

DR.BROCKTON'S OFFICE, with a filing cabinet, plaques, citations, and a cuckoo clock. DR. BROCKTON (Joan Crawford) looks intently at several photographic negatives, in light so insufficient she couldn't possibly be seeing anything, before swiftly putting them away, rising from her desk that has an ASHTRAY holding a single unlit cigarette, and with a placid smile, walking swiftly towards THE INSPECTOR.

INSPECTOR: Dr. Brockton, it is imperative that I talk to your patient.

DR. BROCKTON: I'm afraid I can't permit that. He's under sedation. [Looking at but through the inspector, slightly cross-eyed] Believe me, Inspector, I'm not trying to HAMPER your investigation. [pause] If possible. I'm even MORE interested than you, in everything you can find. 

INSPECTOR: In that case, I'd advise you to cooperate.

DR. BROCKTON: [Looking away] To the fullest. [Dramatically looking back up at the Inspector] May I suggest something? Why don't you talk to his friend, Malcolm Travis. He was the leader of this freelance [slight grimace] expedition. 
posted April 24, 2012, 7:41 pm  

Santorum tells a whopper
Surging Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is no stranger to error (March 16, he instructed Puerto Ricans, who have been speaking Spanish since 1508, to make English their principal language "in compliance with federal law," even though there's no such federal law); gay-baiting (in April, 2003, in an incoherent argument against gay marriage, he warned that sodomy among homosexuals was a threat to healthy traditional families and indirectly compared homosexual acts with child abuse, incest, and "man on dog"), inspiring newspaper editor Dan Savage to hold a contest among his readers that resulted in "santorum" becoming a fecal neologism); and delusion (denying, on March 12 that global warming even exists, suggesting, with a flourish of grade school science bravado, that people tell their concerns about carbon dioxide to a plant).  Kennedy on religious freedom and separation of church and state? "I almost threw up," Santorum said, a statement The Daily Show, for which Santorum provides endless fodder, mocked him for on February 28, having mocked his need to segregate men from women in the armed forces on February 14, and mocked Santorum's, well, santorum on February 16.  And interracial marriage? Don't get him started!  But the santorum really hit the fan on February 6, when, speaking at the American Heartland Forum in Columbia, Missouri, he asserted that "in the Netherlands, half of the people who are euthanized, ten percent of all deaths in the Netherlands, half of those people are euthanized involuntarily at hospitals." "Shocking," as Stephen Colbert observed March 15 on The Colbert Report, "and untrue.  Apparently Rick Santorum pulled his facts about The Netherlands from his nether regions."  His bogus statements earned him a whopping four Pinocchios—given for only the lyingest lies—on the Washington Post's much-needed Fact Checker.  Monitor the rising (and ebbing) tide of santorum on Savage's eminent
posted March 20, 2012, 8:37 pm   

I've painted my roof white, again. (Photo added in July, 2012, from Google Earth satellite picture taken in late spring, 2012.)Painted my roof white, again
Alert readers might remember my painting the roof white before.  I've done it again, with the new rubber roof I had put on this January.  (The old asphalt roof, while admirably white-painted, was more than 10 years old and was beginning to leak.)  I learned that only Gaco Roof White, a silicon-based coating, is compatible with both the EPDM rubber roof and the GenFlex GenSplice adhesive, that 20 one-gallon cans are preferable to four 5-gallon buckets for applying 2 coats to a 1,500-square-foot flat roof, because the paint settles in the can into a watery silicon layer and a viscid pigment layer, and mixing a five-gallon bucket of paint by hand on the roof is much harder than simply dumping the entire one-gallon can into the roof tray and rolling on the paint.  I fully divulge the secrets of painting the roof white, and explain why painting the roof white not only cools the house but could help the earth here.  (And, as Bob points out, now you can see my house from space!)
posted March 7, 2012, 8:09 pm     

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