I’ve got reservations

Jones' candy corn sodaThanks to the generosity of my coworker Matt, I enjoyed/tolerated a can of Jones’ Candy Corn Soda at lunch today. My report: it tastes like candy corn. Sort of. Also like root beer, sort of. And honey-sort-of. But mostly, it tastes like [CLOYINGLY SWEET INDUSTRIAL BYPRODUCT].

Not recommended unless you are a soda company executive hoping for free press attention near a holiday.

girls like mystery

I realize that many already have, but I think we need to talk about Mystery. I only became aware of the guy recently, as he unexpectedly began appearing on various TV shows that play in the background of my usual late night routine (which usually consists of fervently trying to load ROMs onto something or other).

I guess that Mystery’s gotten himself a publicist and is making the rounds. I realize that in my own small way I’m playing into his hands by writing this. But I can’t help it. He’s just so awful.

He’s also the host of a reality show on VH1 that’s devoted to teaching guys how to pick up girls. Mystery is a pick-up artist, you see — the world’s greatest, apparently, although it seems difficult to find solid metrics about this sort of thing. He’s tall and not bad looking, although his wardrobe makes it instantly obvious that at some point in the past Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee had a garage sale. He paints his fingernails black. He used to be a magician.

I have to confess that I’ve never seen his VH1 show. I also haven’t read Neil Strauss’s book The Game, in which I’m told Mystery plays a prominent role (as you all know, I refuse to read any books that aren’t about wizards). I’m speaking from a position of blessed ignorance.

But I have visited Mystery’s website, which he runs with a guy called Matador. “Wait a minute,” you may be saying, “I’m beginning to think that these guys aren’t using their real names!” Right you are, my sharp-witted reader! It seems that people in Mystery’s line of work like to use pseudonyms — like bloggers, except with venereal disease instead of comment spam. For example, the coauthors of Mystery’s book include Lovedrop, Style, Sinn, Wilder, and Toecutter (Style is Neil Strauss). My favorite is Thundercat, who I found while googling in support of this post (bonus: he describes a Daily Show “sketch” as “chick humor”). Mystery was well-prepared for pseudonymity, having already legally inserted an unnecessary “Von” into his name in his early twenties.

Back to the website. It’s pretty sad. Not because there are 473 of 500 backstage passes available for the next seminar, or even because it’s running on a Microsoft webserver. No, it’s the testimonial video. You really need to see it for yourself, but for those unable to watch at work, allow me to summarize.

Three former students of Matador recount their experience at the “backstage” portion of a seminar. It’s instantly clear how these men have been instructed to make their appearance more appealing to the opposite sex.


stating the obvious

This is not an original observation by any means, but holy hell are Megan’s commenters a bunch of assholes. Faced with their host’s ecopostasy, they’re stamping their feet and fuming. Predictable, sure, but this is some really high-quality stuff: you only have to go two comments in before someone asserts that hedoesn’t see why he should alter his driving habits just because it might save an Indian child from drowning. No, sir, I say that it is asking me to change my behavior in any way which is the immoral act! By God, I will not abide that! Good day to you, sir!

Ah, to live your life by such strict adherence to principle — and in a roomy and rugged American car, to boot! Twin luxuries that I’ll probably never know.


From the bizarre opening production company logo to the moment in the climactic battle when the dragon goes through puberty, that was just about everything that one could ask for from a Korean dragon-versus-dragon movie. Along with awesome CGI and memorable catchphrases (“What are you talking about?”; “That doesn’t make any sense”), it boasted the most convoluted plot in a movie of Asian provenance that I’ve witnessed since my third viewing of Ninja Scroll revealed that the elite team of ninja monsters who poisoned the village’s well did so in order to manipulate gold prices in a bid to destabilize the Tokugawa Shogunate. The fiends!

The actual dragon-on-dragon violence occurred in a modern-day Los Angeles where Americans spend most of their time brandishing guns and familiarizing themselves with obscure aspects of Korean culture. Sommer was at the football game, so I haven’t yet been able to ask whether this constitutes a creative liberty. Either way, it won’t diminish the reptilian awesomeness contained in D-War. I don’t know if South Korean movies make it to the north end of the DMZ, but if they do I bet Kim Jong-Il is kicking himself for trading away his nuclear ambitions. Fuel oil isn’t going to do squat against an angry Imoogi desperate for Yuh Yi Joo.

iPhone users versus Apple, via the DMCA

C|Net’s got a very good writeup of the situation that owners of hacked iPhones face now that Steve Jobs has said Apple won’t simply tolerate their antics. It’s unclear how diligent Apple will actually be when it comes to fighting this battle — Jobs is very good at sounding soothing and then delivering nothing — but it seems likely that Apple will at least make a superficial effort to make life difficult for the more high-profile sources of phone-hacking software.

None of this is likely to matter much to iPhone users who know how to use Bittorrent and IRC, however. If Apple got serious about the effort I could imagine users getting locked out of firmware upgrades and iTunes use (lest they lose their hacked functionality permanently). AT&T might also start preventing nonstandard apps from using their network. The former seems likely to me; the latter, not so much.

plus time equals comedy

From Wired Magazine’s June 2007 Playlist feature, because the bathroom at work will not be restocked with reading material until Nicco returns to DC in 2008 or the End of Days:

Deadwood fans in our office are still smarting over last year’s cancellation of their favorite show. But they won’t be able to resist writer David Milch’s follow-up series, John From Cincinnati, which debuts June 10 on HBO. It’s got mystic philosophizing, SoCal surfing, drug addiction, and a mysterious person (or is he an alien?) named John, who is most definitely not from Cincinnati. Plus, Rebecca De Mornay plays a smokin’ grandma! What’s not to like? Whereas Deadwood was lavish and profane (think Cormac McCarthy with Tourette’s Syndrome), JFC is spare and spiritual (think William James with surfboards). But it’s pure Milch, so expect another overnight cult hit with memorable taglines (“Meet the fuckin’ Jetsons!”) and fanboy pilgrimages to Imperial Beach, California, where the series is set.

Scrubbed from the first draft: a bunch of exclamation points and a bit about how our future society will be based upon John From Cincinnati and occasionally have to send George Carlin back through time to help David Milch score heroin/bibles.

like having a disease named after you

Drupal is excellent software, PHP-based though it may be. So there’s a little thrill of excitement that occurs when you find what appears to be a genuine bug in a high-profile part of it. But that thrill is tempered when you realize that a) your clients don’t care about the exotic nature of the problem, as they have already launched their website against your recommendation and b) all of the people who could help you appear to currently be on planes to Barcelona.

So I reproduce my plaintive IRC begging here not because I think it’s likely to help (I know some Drupal hax0rs extraordinaire, but I don’t think they’re subscribed). No, this is just me crying out to the universe.

I’ve got a really weird issue with Views and profile fields. Essentially, a profile-heavy view intermittently stops returning any records. Resaving the view typically resolves the problem — for a while. I haven’t been able to determine the event that causes the view to break again, but it always does. Looking at the results from views_build_view(‘queries’,..), it’s clear that sometimes the module is forgetting to repeatedly join the query against profile_values.

for example, here’s how the query looks when it’s working: http://papernapkin.org/pastebin/view/2725

and here’s how it looks when it’s broken: http://papernapkin.org/pastebin/view/2726

in hook_views_query_alter this manifests itself as abbreviated ‘tables’ and ‘tablequeue’ properties in the query object. but adding code to that hook to manually alter those properties to the known-to-be-good version doesn’t resolve the problem. so I’m at a loss. any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

It looks like I’ll be dumping views and rewriting this page manually. Which, in turn, means that you can expect bitching about a SQL injection problem in this space in two or three days…

barely returned

Well, it was a beautiful weekend in Cazenovia — a fun wedding, a relaxing and productive couple of days after, and a nice time all around. Unfortunately, it seems that during the first twenty-some years of my life I was unknowingly using up my lifetime allotment of air travel karma. I can no longer set foot in an airport without some sort of travel apocalypse unfolding. If I checked bags I’d probably be dead by now.

Otherwise: work, busy, etc. I really need some sort of system to crawl out from under September. Inbox Zero might be a little ambitious, though. For now I’d settle for RSS Reader One Thousand.

I don’t mean to just whine, though — things aren’t all bleak. For instance, I’m continuing to make strides in the struggle for the fair treatment of Espers. In fact, let me take this opportunity to announce that I believe we’ve reached an accord with the Empire! It’s a momentous achievement, to be sure.

Admittedly, there are some alarmists on the internet who warn of an impending ecological disaster that could result in a floating and/or abruptly-not-floating continent. However, I remain confident that such doomsaying is wholly unfounded (although the issue does merit more study).

more like JERKsmith! (see, *I* know comedy)

The Post’s got a story that might be of interest to my fellow UVA alums: apparently one of the school paper’s idiot cartoonists has gotten himself fired over an offensive cartoon. It took some hunting, but I managed to find the cartoon in question, which comes from a comic strip called Quirksmith:

Quirksmith Ethiopian Food Fight Cartoon

As you might expect, the most notable thing about the comic is its overwhelming lack of funniness. The joke’s confused in a way that’s difficult to explain — rather than being smartly flipped to hilarious effect, the conceptual setup simply lolls off to the side, like the top layer slumping off of an overengineered cake.

It’s also not very offensive, I don’t think (said the white, middle-class, first-world blogger). The figures have a primitive look, but not one that’s easy to unequivocally define as racist (Thinking about this more, I’ve changed my mind — obviously implying that all Ethiopians live in primitive conditions is pretty racist; my initial scan was for physical caricature, which isn’t present. But the Post article quotes the aggrieved parties as complaining about the famine-related sentiment rather than the pictoral representation, so I think it’s safe to press onward regardless…). Maybe I’m being overly and/or insufficiently generous, but I doubt the cartoonist is even aware that there’s currently a famine (or near-famine) occurring in Ethiopia.

The Post article points out that the guy is 22 years old — that’s close enough to my age that I bet he heard the same Ethiopia-targeting “yo mama so skinny”-style jokes that I did in elementary school. In this case Ethiopia is just being lazily used as a stand-in for the tragically un-pluralizable Nicole Richie.

But he must have arrived on the tail-end of this lame playground schtick, or perhaps heard it from an older sibling. So it’s not entirely surprising that various similarly-aged student groups would see the strip as a mean-spirited non sequitur rather than merely a lame riff on a decades-old joke. Still, calling for the author’s head over this is strikes me as playing into the hands of the David Horowitzes of the world.

On the other hand, I think the strip has been somewhat comedically redeemed by the controversy, if only because the Post writeup includes the following:

Robert Mankoff, cartoon editor for the New Yorker, which specializes in drawings that mock human foibles, looked at Woolard’s cartoon after a reporter e-mailed it to him.

“The New Yorker magazine would not have published it,” Mankoff said.

Surprising, I know. You’d think it would be a shoo-in, given that it’s both a) so inscrutable as to imply non-existent depth and b) not at all funny. Unfortunately it contains no French puns, so the magazine had to politely decline the submission.

Of course, none of the preceding should be taken as a defense of the Quirksmith author. Like nearly all Cav Daily cartoonists, he deserves the worst that the universe can come up with. This isn’t the first time he’s fed indefensible red meat to ideologues, either; apparently the following cartoon actually made it onto The O’Reilly Factor:

another stupid quirksmith cartoon


I shouldn’t end on a down note, though. I can’t compete with Jon, who tells me that nearly-perfect Perry Bible Fellowship ran in the paper at Syracuse while he was in school. But the Cavalier Daily did have one or two good comics while I was an undergrad. My favorite was Shallow Grave, a bitterly funny strip drawn by a guy named Sean Polyn, who happened to work in the same lab where I spent some time.

Sean’s too busy being a neuroscientist to draw strips these days, but he’s still got a bunch of em online. Here are a few of my favorites: