Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blinding You with Science: Life on the Moons of Saturn

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Saturn is a remarkable planet for many reasons:

  • Saturn's rings are 21 Earths wide, 65 feet deep and spin at a rate of 20-40,000 miles per hour

  • The material that comprises Saturn's rings is constantly eroded by micro-meteorites and the rings may one day disappear

  • There's a huge ass hurricane on the south pole and a hexagonal vortex on its north pole

  • It's less dense than water and would float if put in a giant ocean

But the weirdest thing about Saturn are its moons.

Titan and Enceladus, two of Saturn's 48 named moons, may have the ingredients necessary to support life.

Titan is the only moon with an atmosphere - an atmosphere made of methane and nitrogen, which are the same two ingredients that comprised Earth's early sky. When scientist Margaret Tolbert of the University of Colorado combined these elements in her lab and exposed them to sunlight, organic compounds began to form. Egads!

Enceladus is covered in snow -- yes, frozen water -- and one region in its southern hemisphere is covered in steam-spouting geysers. (We know it's water vapor because our space probes have flown through the geysers and collected samples, apparently.) Scientists think that the geysers are caused by Saturn's gravitational pull on Enceladus; this pull creates a tidal force that moves ice deep beneath the moon's surface. The friction of this movement warms the ice until it melts, and heats the water until it evaporates, until spouts of water and water vapor burst through the surface of the moon.

Scientists say there may be life in the water beneath the moon's icy surface -- but it would only be in the form of microbes and bacteria.

So, what if we found life on one of Saturn's moons? Would that put an end to Creationism? Or, could one claim that God put the microbes on Enceladus to test our faith?


Girls Against Boys performing V-Lux @ the El Rey

w/ The Moonrats
July 22, 2007

So how was GVSB at the El Rey?

You mean, how was GVSB in my art deco basement?

Because that's what it felt like. The show was criminally under-attended. But who cares? More GVSB for me!

And I must say that the evening was positively enchanted. First, I "won" two tickets to the show via MySpace (let's be honest -- they were giving them away), so my wonderful roommates Seth and Sarah came along.

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Sarah and the "GVSB"

After Sarah's expertly mixed shots of vodka, apple pucker and orange juice (what I hereby declare "The GVSB"), the three of us walked to the El Rey under the wispy clouds of a pink sunset. And then -- lo and behold -- it rained! In Los Angeles! A drop of water fell from the sky and kissed me square on the forehead! It wasn't enough of a pour to clear the smog away, but it was a nice accent to the evening.

We got there way too early and started drinking accordingly. After an impressively catchy set from The Moonrats (think GVSB meets Modest Mouse), GVSB walked onstage and I fled to the dance floor with Seth's jack and coke.

I was looking forward to the moment GVSB took the stage as the Moment of Truth: the moment when the opening throbs of "In Like Flynn" would part the crowd and separate the merely curious from my Brothers and Sisters, my fellow Bulletproof Cupids in this Tropic of Scorpio. So when the curtains opened and Johnny Temple started in on that bass, here's who I saw: two chunky, acne-ridden latinos; one short, greasy lip-syncer; a giant and giantess with long blonde hair and black t-shirts and jeans; the awkward, the horny, the misunderstood; the abominable, the Unfuckable, the Chronically Unlaid. Brimming with sexual energy but deprived of grace, charm, chance. The Loser Sleaze - those of us who, if we could just make it through the night, would show you a good time/coz we were already tired of waiting/already tired of waiting around.

So when Scott McCloud invited us to come down to his level in the opening lines of "In Like Flynn," we assented wholeheartedly. Down below, McCloud et al. began dishing it out: from the cheeky philosophy of "Go Be Delighted" to the carnal double-bass assault of "Rockets are Red" and onward through the apologetically skeevy "Satin Down," the aggressively apologetic "Let Me Come Back," the guilty angst of "Learned It," the sedated sensuality of "Get Down," the dire ecstasy of "Bulletproof Cupid," the whirlwind high of "Seven Seas," to the frenzied climax of "Billy's One Stop," a song McCloud claims is about being pulled over by the cops; a song that ultimately concedes to the numb hangover of "Bughouse."


After V-Lux, they launched into "Tucked In" and "Cruise Your New Baby Fly Self," which surprised (and delighted) me quite a bit and stoked my hopes for all of Cruise Yourself -- hell, all of the catalogue straight through You Can't Fight What You Can't See (EXCEPT Freak.on.ica, sorry guys). But then they played "Crash 17 (X-rated Car)", one of the best from House of GVSB. Then, for the encore, two crowd-pleasers - "Kill the Sexplayer" and "Superfire." I cheered my hardest for a second encore, but it wasn't meant to be.

So yeah, it was pretty amazing. Epic, indeed. I felt as though some great need had been satisfied; some divine truth had been revealed. It was the perfect show -- Seth and Sarah were there to keep me company, and kind enough to watch my bag as I rocked out show-lo at the front of the stage. Seth only stopped by occasionally to hand me more drinks. What a sweetie.

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Seth and I, delighted (and drunk).

Ahhhhhh I just love you guys so goddamn much/so come on mover/so come on switchman/so come on shaker/so come on switchman, baby.

get down/and shake your thang.


Amoeblog interview with bassist Johnny Temple

YouTube of GVSB performing two of their best songs in 1993: "Bulletproof Cupid" from V-Lux and "My Night of Pleasure" from Tropic of Scorpio

Another YouTube of GVSB performing this blog's namesake, "Go Be Delighted" from V- Lux, as well as "Wow Wow Wow" from Tropic of Scorpio.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mouth Breathers and Paste Eaters: Comic-Con 2007

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Favorites from this year's Con:

Wall-E panel

Sound designer Ben Burtt (Star Wars) demonstrated the layers of sound that will express the personalities of the characters in Pixar's upcoming Wall-E. Burt explained that he looks for sounds that have an emotional texture -- which can be anything from squeaky doors in hospitals or WWII engines he hears on History Channel programs and then purchases on E-bay (the latter is the noise for Wall-E's motor). Interesting stuff.

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Director Andrew Stanton revealed the story of Wall-E: the last robot left on a trash-filled earth breaks out of his trash-compacting daily routine when he becomes curious about the trinkets humans have left on their discarded planet and falls in love with a probe droid sent down from lazy humans' luxury spaceships (the humans have become couch potatoes - fat blobs who lie around on hover-lounges.) It's "The Little Mermaid" meets "Idiocracy." And it brought me to tears twice.

Iron Man panel

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Well, Robert Downey Jr. was there, so, yeah -- he has a way of lighting up the room. Equally enjoyable was Jon Favreau, whose enthusiasm for the movie was infectious. Terrence Howard pointed out that "every movie is like a comic book - you get to go into another world and experience something new." Gwyneth Paltrow sat quietly and smiled politely. And then Stan Lee showed up and delighted us all. And the movie? F-ing awesome. Iron Man kicks ass and Robert Downey Jr. seems perfect as Tony Stark (He was wildly approved by fans of the comic, as well as those of us who hadn't read the comic, myself included).

Are you the King of Kong? Donkey Kong contest.

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A tie-in to the upcoming documentary, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, the Donkey Kong contest invited Comic-Con attendees to give the classic arcade game their best shot Thursday through Saturday. The play-offs were on Sunday. Fun to watch.

Life-sized Old-school Batmobile

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LEGO Hogwarts

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It would be mine . . . if it wasn't $99.

Naked Fat Rave banner

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Representing a collective of artists. No "Naked Fat Rave" comic book (yet), but one can dream . . .

These treasures were among the few I could process during my whopping two hours in the Exhibit Hall. It was a little too crowded to stop and absorb anything. Just imagine navigating through thousands of people who are attempting to walk forward while looking left and right and up and down . . . while looking left and right and up and down yourself. A little tricky.

But I did complete my Comic-Con experience with this obligatory cell-phone exchange:

"Where are you?"
"Do you see the guy with the light saber?"


Friday, July 27, 2007

Off to Comic-Con!

Without a costume, sadly. I was hoping to get Tifa together, but life has been quite the bullet train lately.

However, I do hope to run into this dashing gent:

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Slint performing Spiderland @ The Fonda

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10:10 p.m.

Arrive at the Fonda after an excellent avocado kobe burger at Lucky Devils.

10:20 p.m.

Run into Kurt, et al. before the set.

10:35 p.m.

As Slint takes the stage, the audience moves forward and leaves the comfortable mauve leather couches near the bar wide open. We move in.

10:37 p.m.

Once sitting, the crowd blocks my view of the band. I stand up to see if I'm missing anything.


10:38 p.m.

The Fonda looks like it's made out of styrofoam and cooperatively painted in gold and cerulean blue by kindergarteners.

10:40 p.m.

Girls to the left of us in the bebe dresses will.not.shut.up. But the one in the polka-dot dress starts hopping from foot to foot like she's at a Hanson show, so I let it go.

10:43 p.m.

In the middle of "Nosferatu Man," I realize that Slint plays the same kind of creepy off-key slow rock I wrote in eighth grade coz I didn't understand chord progression or music theory.

10:50 p.m.

In the middle of "Don, Aman," I realize that 1) all of the members of Slint have, up to this point, stood completely still while playing, 2) the singer does not play an instrument, and 3) the back-up singer only sings in between licks; thereby exhibiting the same level of uncoordination I possessed in eighth grade.

10:51 p.m.

I realize that, although the members of Slint can put together a great song, they may be no more musically talented than I was in Jr. High.

11:00 p.m.

Committed to researching this theory.

11:20 p.m.

Theory supported by terrible "new song."

11:30 p.m.

Left early

But Spiderland still FUCKING ROCKS!

Cat Predicts When Patients Will Die

From the AP:

Twenty-five recently deceased patients at a Rhode Island nursing home spent their last moments with Oscar the cat, who only curls up next to people who are within four hours of death.


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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Blinding You with Science: Total Eclipse of the Moon!

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Good news for those of us on the West Coast!

On Tuesday, August 28th, we'll have the best view of 2007's second total lunar eclipse.

The entire eclipse will be visible from start to finish in the early hours of that Tuesday morning. Cast members of Lost and others lucky enough to be in Hawaii will be able to see "totality," aka a complete obstruction of the moon's glow by the Earth's shadow.

Even during totality, though, the moon does not "disappear:" the Earth's atmosphere reflects some sunlight back onto the moon, which casts the eclipsed moon in a blood-orange glow. Ancient Chinese believed that this color was blood -- the eclipse was actually a dragon eating the moon, and the coppery color was blood oozing from the moon's wounds.

Still others believe that the red hue is the Pain of a Thousand Yankees -- a lunar eclipse occured the night the Boston Red Sox won the World Series and broke the 86 year-long "Curse of the Bambino."

Mwaha ha ha ahaha!

Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken

I've survived the ATP shows . . . more on that later.

But first! A word from our sponsors:

Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken!
9537 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA

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As Patton Oswalt might say, Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken is like a tyrannosaurus rex that will wash your car and then blow you. And by that I mean it's magical.

The chicken itself is a crisp, golden brown - juicy, but never greasy. It comes with a side of honey and two hot sauces - one traditional hot wing-esque sauce, and one that's sweet and spicy. The biscuits are buttery, the pickles are sweet, and the fries are coated in thick salt.

Oh - and they have fresh-squeezed lemonade. Mmmm, mmm!

To entice Roscoe's enthusiasts, Honey's Kettle offers a hotcake and chicken special (blueberries optional). The best thing on the menu though, in my opinion, is the "Coffee Break" - one buttery biscuit, honey and coffee for $2.00.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sonic Youth performing Daydream Nation @ the Greek

Homerpalooza continued on Friday, July 20th, with Sonic Youth performing Daydream Nation at the Greek.

After the Herculean feat of acquiesing to a 15 dollar fee to drive up an uneven dirt road and park gridlocked among hundreds of other cars, we marched over to the Greek for some Olympian rock. (baaah ha!)

The Gold Medal goes to the audience: it was the most enthusiastic, most animated audience I've ever experienced in LA -- not bad for a mid-size, seated outdoor amphitheater. Many of those seated around us in the North Terrace stood and danced and cheered between songs; one group of Latino teenage boys sung along and yelled requests with the force and volume of a death metal "GAAAAHHH." And the best part: nary a self-righteous killjoy screaming "sit down" or "shut up."

The Silver Medal goes to Kim Gordon who, at the age of 54, still has the presence of a 20 year old. Fashionably clothed in a short silver and black striped mini-dress and mary jane kitten heels, she rocked, she danced, and she played her bass with a drumstick.

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(Joseph Mohan's photo of Kim Gordon at the 2007 Pitchfork Music Festival)

Rock does a body good.

Thurston, Lee and Steve brought it to our faces hard style, as well.

The Bronze Medal goes to the guy sitting to the left of us in the smiley-face Nirvana shirt, the wide leg jeans, and the green army jacket. I wore that exact same outfit to a Beck show in eighth grade. (And I have the photos to prove it).

Next up: GVSB and Slint

Mmmm, Donut . . .

This is the best donut I've ever had in my life:

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It's like a Krispy Kreme on steroids.

Pick one up at your local Kwik E Mart.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dear Paula

Dear Paula Abdul,


-stop mashing up beef jerky until it looks like poo and leaving it in your wardrobe assistant's bed
-threaten to commit suicide because you can't design clothing for the Bratz dolls
-crying on cable television coz your "consultant" can't reroute blizzards and fly to New York to
write your interview answers for David Letterman

and respond to my fucking fan letter.

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Yeah, I watched "Hey Paula" last night on Bravo. I know what you're up to. I know you have to take time out of your busy day of buying cheap sunglasses and throwing tantrums to train your new assistant Patty to cope with the "bullet train" of your life.

But goddamn it, I wrote you that letter in 1989. It's been 18 years. Eighteen years of defending Spellbound. All of it, from "Promise of A New Day" to "Will You Marry Me?"

I took jazz lessons for you. I wore a silver sequined headband and a neon splatter paint body suit and spun very, very slowly in front of at least 300 people for you. I thought, that after a few recitals and careful study of the dance steps in the Forever Your Girl video, we might perform together . . .

But no. You were out there mumbling, selling jewelry, getting your hair did while I sat in my room with my T-shirt tied in a side knot, waiting.

Oh, don't think I didn't try to forget you. I tried to move on. Bought a distortion pedal. Some Kik girl pants. Two tickets to see Xiu Xiu.

But part of me still hoped that one day, I'd walk down to my mailbox and find a letter from you, strewn among the bills and credit card applications and other repercussions of adulthood.

But to this day, I've received nothing.

I know you're not drunk, Paula. I know it's not the liquor that's making you act this way. It's the overwhelming guilt for having put me off for so long.

Well, it's time Paula. I'm ready. And in time, I'll forgive you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Socially Conscious Potato Chips

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As I pulled a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos from my kitchen cabinet, something caught my eye:

A picture of a young Latina and the word pedophile.

Perplexed, I read the rest of the text and learned that the woman pictured is 21 year old Cheryl Perera from Ontario, Canada, who posed as a decoy sex worker in Sri Lanka and lead police to the whereabouts of a notorious sex trafficker.

Doritos saluted her for her brave work and punctuated her story with a little black box that said "Do Something," with the URL http://www.dosomething.org/.

"Has Doritos created a philanthropy organization?" I wondered. Though noble, it seemed highly suspicious.

It turns out that Doritos is a sponsor of http://www.dosomething.org/, an activist site for young lads and lassies. The home page offers suggestions for aspiring do-gooders ("Bake cookies and deliver them to elderly people in your neighborhood!") and links to causes and projects ranging from animal welfare to body image to environmental justice.

A banner at the top right of the page explains the Doritos tie-in. The scrolling text asks "Guess who's on the back of 50 MILLION Doritos brand chips?" Click on it, and you will learn that "Doritos recognizes those who do something:"

Thought DORITOS brand just made chips? No way. The DORITOS team believes 100% in the power of young people to speak out and change the world. Starting this summer, they are using their bags to celebrate amazing young world changers and show that people like you can do something too. Check out their projects here.

Even if you're rich and famous, you can't buy your way onto one of these bags. Are YOU all that and a bag of chips? Find out what inspires you and do something now. You could be next...

So, getting your picture and story on 50 million bags of Doritos is a reward for doing good things.

This seems ripe for snarky criticism -- the involvement of Doritos (and Pepsi, and Jet Blue, and Channel One) reeks of corporate philanthropy, a calculated PR move to improve public opinion (and therefore consumption) of the company's product. But frankly, I think that in this world of me me me it's important to provide young people with any incentive to be compassionate. Even if it involves the consumption of Doritios.

So what came first -- the money, or the philanthropy? Does it matter? If a corporation's greed puts compassion out on the marketplace in a highly visible way, do the ends justify the means?

I actually took a class once that asked this very question. And it was like a dog chasing its tail for 14 straight weeks.

As Garth would say: "It's like people only do things because they get paid . . . and that's just really sad."

But hey, whatever works.

Blinding You with Science: Venus Envy

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This week's episode of The Universe was about the two planets closest to the sun: Mercury and Venus.

Picture this: You're standing on hardened lava in extremely dense, 900 degree toxic air. Above you, 50,000 degree lightening bolts discharge horizontally from sulfur cloud to sulfur cloud. Because the clouds are so thick, daylight is dim -- and because the planet's rotation is so slow, it will take eight (Earth) months for the day to end.

Yeah, that's what Venus is like.

But the most shocking factoid about Venus is that billions of years ago (scientists believe), it had oceans -- just like Earth!

But it also had a ton of volcanoes. And the volcanoes released so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that clouds formed, trapping heat and raising temperatures until the oceans evaporated.

Sound familiar? Yeah, that's the greenhouse effect -- in fact, we didn't know about the green house effect until we studied Venus.

So, consider this: If Venus had oceans until the carbon dioxide trapped heat and caused them to evaporate, is it possible that, if we humans somehow release as much CO2 as the volcanoes on Venus, our planet will meet a similar fate and become Venusian?

Or, what if it wasn't the volcanoes that dumped so much CO2 on Venus -- what if it was an earlier civilization of Earth-like humans? (Remember, Venus used to have oceans and a climate much like today's Earth . . .)

I'm not attesting to the likelihood of this theory . . . but it is interesting to think about.

Everytime I watch one of these shows, I think of how small and insignificant and arbitrary our lives are in the scheme of things (and by things I mean time and space).

Then I think, well, if we're so small and arbitrary and insignificant, then what makes us think we actually have the capacity to understand all this? Maybe science is just a bunch of BS.

But if science was just a bunch of BS, then we wouldn't have been able to use it to develop space travel, medicine, plastic, etc. etc.

So science works, is all I'm saying.

(And Creationism is stupid.)

(And Global Warming is real!)

What if Venus was a parallel Earth? A parallel Earth where humans existed and made great things with coal and oil and chemicals -- but the history of these humans was different than ours in that their attempts to regulate pollution with environmental regulations similar to those we put into effect in the 19th century and early 20th century here were defeated by religious zealots?

I want to see that movie.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Silverfuck'd: Smashing Pumpkins @ The Fillmore

Sunday, July 16, 2007 was a beautiful day in San Francisco.

We arrived in the city around 2:30 pm after some horrific traffic on the toll road and had lunch at Francis Ford Coppola's Cafe Zoetrope.

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After a bottle of Director's Cut pinot noir and some incredibly slow service, we were taken into the kitchen and through a very small, private bar (one booth, one three foot counter) for a tour of Mr. Coppola's private screening room. A tan leather couch and a matching set of unusually small chairs were pushed up against the walls, which were covered in seventies-green, fishscale-patterned wallpaper. The wall paper was in terrible contrast to the crimson carpet, which bore a pattern of light blue geometric shapes that looked kind of like a Transformer in mid-assembly -- not a machine, not yet a man. Of course, once we learned that the carpet was from the set of The Godfather, the whole thing became easier on the eyes. And let me tell you, that couch was comfortable.

After lunch, we got some gelato with the family and then parted ways to commence:

The Pre-Pumpkins Pub Crawl!

Our first stop was the San Francisco Brewing Company, near Cafe Zoetrope. We had missed the 3:00 pm classical piano, but got there just in time to take advantage of the happy hour ($2 pints). I had the Amber (too sweet) and the wheat (too bitter). Our waitress was a sweetheart -- she reminded me of my friend Becca with a darker wardrobe and a foreign accent. This possessed me to step outside and leave a drunken message on Becca's voicemail.

On the way out, we walked past Happy Donut. I've been craving a donut ever since the 7-11 Simpsons tie-in was unleashed on the public (Mmm, Donut indeed) so I stopped and got a chocolate iced. On the way back to the car, we spotted a sign for $2 well drinks at Larry Flynt's Hustler Club. I had just bit into my happy donut when Seth joked, "we should check it out." With a mouth full of sugar cake I replied, "Ihm dowhn ifh your dowhn."

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We walked downstairs past a skinny bouncer with a mohawk and into a purple velour cloaked den of blue green neon. It smelled like baby wipes. A chunky girl was dancing on a small platform in the middle of the room to garage meth remix of Christina Aguilera's "Dirrty." She was wearing one of those one-piece bodysuits -- leopard print -- with the sides cut out. Who thinks those things are sexy? And they make bathing suits like that. Have fun with that tan line, sucka.

Seth went to the bar to get some jack and cokes and an older woman with a very short haircut meandered toward me and then away from me as I sat down at an adjacent table. The girl in the leopard print left the stage and another one in an equally hideous white bodysuit lurched onto the platform to the tune of Nelly Furtado's "Maneater." Then, "Maneater" sequed to Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" and the girl's schtick went from lackluster to apeshit. She was rolling all over the stage like a hyper toddler while three guys leaned over the barrier, whooping and cheering and clapping their hands to their faces like they were extras in a movie. Emboldened, this girl shimmied all the way up to the top of the stripper pole and, just as I was wondering how they greased those things to avoid the sound of skin sliding down metal,


My own thighs still hurt just thinking about it.

We left, and walked to a Tiki-Ti esque bar called the Bamboo Hut, but like a liquor store in Indiana, it was closed on Sundays. So instead we hopped into Fuse, a bar completely covered in blue and bartended by the lead singer of Bare Naked Ladies. The jack and coke he gave me was weaker than the one at Hustler, but enough to reach a satisfactory level of drunk in time for the show.

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The area around The Fillmore looked surprisingly like a neighborhood in Chicago. And at sixty-five degrees with a sturdy wind, it also felt like fall. For a second, I started scheming a way to move there. But then I remembered that I'm scared of earthquakes and hills and being surrounded by water.

(Yeah, I watched Earthquakes! on the History Channel. That city is still fucked.)

After a decent will call line ("ZERO shirts get in front!"), we got into The Fillmore in the middle of Fair to Midland, which was like My Chemical Romance meets Nickelback (i.e., not good). So we walked around the venue looking for the legendary apples but couldn't find them. I think they were supposed to be on the third floor where the dining room is; my guess is that they were replaced by the YouTube booth. But we did get to see all the cool posters -- oh to have been there back in the day, and see Janis Joplin every Friday night (as Seth's mom had, and reminded us a handful of times that morning.)

Fair to Shitland ended and we took a spot for SP. It got pretty hot and stuffy -- I certainly couldn't trip in there; I'd hyperventilate and have a panic attack.

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Okay, yes: the new album sucks, and Billy is a dickhole for releasing four different copies of the album with an exclusive song for the Trifecta of Evil (or awesome, depends on how you look at it). But when he took the stage, nostalgia cut through pretense and pulled the crocodile tears right out of me.

Here's the set list:

Main Set :

United States
Doomsday Clock
Bleeding the Orchid
Blue Skies Bring Tears
Bullet With Butterfly Wings
Lucky 13
Heavy Metal Machine
Tonight Tonight
For God and Country
Rotten Apples
If All Goes Wrong
The Leaving Lament
To Sheila
Glass and the Ghost Children
That's the Way My Love Is


(No, I didn't remember all that. I got it from blamo.org)

The first three songs were glorious -- granted, I was still in "Oh My God, it's Billy Corgan" mode. The first real treat was "Today," though Corgan's rendition was rather perfunctory -- he seemed to speed through it, without emotion. The best moment of the evening was the soft/loud transition from the first verse to chorus in "Silverfuck," which made me look even more forward to the Mother of All Soft/Loud transitions, the jump from the bridge to the final chorus (after the whole "bang bang you're dead" bit) -- but he changed the end of the song and left me wanting. Sadness.

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As expected, the set was three hours long, and I patiently waited through the final epic 25 minute jam Gossamer, hopping from foot to foot on failing feet, hoping for a second encore and some Muzzle or 1979 or Fuck You (an Ode to no One). But after they left the stage the lights came up and we hobbled back to the car.

Overall, it was great -- a little disappointing, but great -- I finally got to see Billy and I got to hear "Today." And I wasn't eaten by coyotes.

Friday, July 13, 2007

This Just In: Bull Gores American Brothers

From the AP:

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One on each horn. Brilliant.

Future Perfect: Smashing Pumpkins & GVSB

The Hell that was Eighth Grade would have been a lot easier to bear if Christy and I could have gotten our Ouija board to spell out this glorious future:

In the year 2007, in a span of 7 days, you will see The Smashing Pumpkins and Girls Against Boys play all of your favorite songs in tiny Californian music venues.

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Yes, this Sunday, I will finally bear witness to his majesty Billy Corgan at the Fillmore in San Francisco.

And next Sunday, I will see GvsB play the magnificent Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby in its entirety at the El Rey!

It's self-indulgence fit for a Corgan.

Now all I need is a pair of these.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blinding You With Science: Microbes in the Mojave

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(photo by some dude named Eric Moore)

I always assumed that the cracks in desert soil were caused by high temperatures and drought. Nope! According to USC's own Dr. Kenneth Nealson, these cracks are caused by gas released from microbes called cyanobacteria -- organisms some scientists believe to be the earliest common ancestor for every species on earth.

Thanks to The History Channel's series "The Universe," I learned that cyanobacteria -- which may have been imported to the Earth by comets in the planet's early formation -- survived the early planet's scorching temperatures to eat up sunlight and multiply through photosynthesis. Thus began the chain of evolution that led to you and me.

Because cyanobacteria can survive extremely high temperatures, they thrive in desert soil. As one cheeky scientist put it -- our ancestors were "the scum of the earth."

That's about right.

"Disneyland was Awesome"

by Chloe Lutz (Age 8)

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Star Tours

"I want to do that 10,000 more times."

Soarin' Over California

"I liked the part with New York City."

Indiana Jones - The Temple of the Forbidden Eye

"That was the scariest thing of my life."

The Haunted Mansion

"That wasn't scary."

Chloe Lutz is a world-renowned Wii bowler and author of "Bulldozer Clouds with Clown Noses." She lives in Indianapolis with her three sisters.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fear and Loathing in the Showcase Showdown


Neither Geoff nor I had ever consumed peyote, but we both agreed the experience must be something like a taping of The Price is Right.

Consider the similarities:

Distortion of time and space

The first noticeable similarity between the taping of The Price is Right and a psychedelic experience was the complete distortion of time and space. Throughout the day, I experienced persistent confusion over what time and day it was and where I was supposed to be. This began immediately as I took my spot in line behind 246 other people on Beverly Boulevard at 4 a.m. on a Tuesday morning (after coming home from the El-P show and only sleeping for one hour). It lasted throughout the day; a day that ended with piles of free cheese samples from Whole Foods, picking Drew up from LAX and eating pizza while Geoff played God of War II. By the time the whole thing was over, it felt as though one week had passed.

Heightened awareness of bodily functions

I wasn't cold during the first hour I stood in line; probably because I was distracted by Super Mario on my Nintendo DS. But by 5 a.m., I had to put the DS away because my hands were going numb and I had to draw them into the sleeves of my hoodie to get my blood flowing again. But the hoodie wasn't enough to keep my body from convulsing and I shivered violently for the next hour and a half, well after the sun came up and Geoff and Ryan arrived in time to receive the first of our passes at 6 a.m.

Repetition and Cycles

Attending a taping of The Price is Right involved a lot of standing in line and waiting for pieces of colored paper with numbers on them, which were exchanged for other pieces of colored paper with numbers on them, etc. etc., ad nauseam.

First, we had to wait in line to get an "order of arrival" pass at 6 a.m.
Then, we got to leave, but had to come back by 8 a.m. to wait in another line for a "priority" pass.
Then, we got to leave again, but had to come back by 10 a.m. to get our "final" pass.

Then, we waited in the CBS holding area (a patio with a few metal benches) to exchange our final pass for an identification card, and exchange our identification card for a cardboard badge, and exchange our cardboard badge for a Pricetag Nametag. We sat there, lined up numerically, from 10 a.m till 1:30 p.m., until we were finally taken around the corner in groups of ten for interviews.

Delusions of grandeur

"What if we assassinated Bob Barker?" Yes, this is what Geoff asked me as he drove to Starbucks during our first break. The route to the nearest Starbucks from Echo Park seemed unnecessarily lengthy and, for a second, I was convinced he was driving me to a gun shop in Glendale -- but, nope, it was just a Starbucks.

The familiar becomes strange

After Starbucks, we returned to CBS studios and parked at The Grove. The Grove is a very strange place at 7:30 a.m. It's abandoned, except for a team of Latino janitors scrubbing the floors and fountains. And the music -- that ambient jazz still plays at 7:30 a.m., even though the place is deserted.

The strange becomes familiar

After we got our second pass at 8 a.m., the "priority seating" pass, we were released for our second break and walked over to Pan Pacific Regional Park. None of us had ever been to the park before, and I think we were all surprised by its size and amusements. Besides a soccer field, a pirate-themed playground, and plenty of open space, it also has a Holocaust memorial and a smattering of 70's era fitness equipment -- monkey bars, balance beams, and wooden posts of various sizes.

Unusual cravings

After we left Pan Pacific Regional Park we decided we should eat something else to prepare us for the long day ahead; something with more nutritional value than a Starbucks donut. So we walked over to the Farmer's Market but, in spite of its diverse offerings, couldn't find anything we wanted. We finally settled on two different kinds of sliced salami from Mr. Marcel's Gourmet Market (both delicious).


Back in the holding pen, we were smashed together with our fellow contestants, most of whom were from elsewhere in the US and had that certain middle-American varnish, if you will. Many were shouting and singing at the encouragement of the PAs. One off-duty PA -- to torture us? -- stopped by to lead the crowd in a few renditions of "The Brady Bunch" and other popular and intolerable television theme songs.

We had to sit there for three hours.

Periods of intense introspection

At 1:30 p.m., we were finally allowed to leave our metal benches and walk around the corner to sit on more metal benches, to be interviewed by a producer in groups of ten. This is how they choose the contestants. The producer only asks two questions -- where you're from and what you do -- so you better have yourself summed up in a pithy, enthusiastic answer. After thinking about it for awhile, all my tired brain could come up with was, "I'm a writer from Los Angeles." This will not get you on the show. Apparently, screaming "WHOEVER GETS ON THE SHOWCASE, IMA JUMPIN' ONSTAGE WITH YA!" will.

Sensory overload

The theater is just as trippy as you might imagine, with its day-glo banana yellows and electric oranges and whatnot, but it's even trippier in person because everything's smaller than you expected, and tangible. And the intolerable crowd you've spent the last four hours with keeps chanting and screaming for Barker's blood on cue.

Heartbreaking revelations of the human condition

I had to wonder how others in the audience, many of whom had traveled across the country and had been standing in line since 5 p.m. the previous day, could maintain their unflagging enthusiasm throughout the entire grueling process. Even though all I had to do was take a day off work and drive 10 minutes down the street, my own enthusiasm had been beaten down and sullied. I suspect that the Price is Right die-hards were sustained by the magic of television and their overwhelming desire for 15 minutes fame. Until the era of Reality TV, The Price is Right was the easiest way for the common man to a) get on television and b) win big -- you didn't have to know the name of the seventh Pope; you just had to fill out a self-addressed stamped envelope, fly to Los Angeles, and pay careful attention to the price of laundry detergent. A contestent can enter the studio as an Average Joe, but he can return home as a Star, forever known in his small town as the guy who won the drum set on the Showcase Showdown.

Finding God

Or maybe it really is just Bob. Because in spite of my exhaustion, and disappointment at being seated in the WORST seat in the house (in the front row, but in front of the announcer's podium, which blocked most of the view), Barker charmed my middle-American soul like only he can. It was kind of like the ultimate Sick Day -- I was tired, let down, bored and beaten, but then Barker took the stage and made everything okay.

Irreversible, life-changing experience

For better or worse, I will never feel the same after The Price is Right. It was like peering into something you were never meant to see: you feel privileged for the view, but soiled by the knowledge. Like when Dorothy sees the Wizard. Or when Ashton Kutcher travels through time in The Butterfly Effect. Or when Scientologists go out on boats and learn that L. Ron Hubbard is God.

Many thanks to G n' R for going with me -- I couldn't have done it without you guys.

Man, propelled by helium balloons, flies 193 miles

Go Be Delighted salutes Ken Couch, an Oregon man who flew 193 miles by attaching 105 large helium-filled ballons to his lawn chair.

Ken -- here's to you.

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The Decemberists @ the Hollywood Bowl

The Decemberists with the Los Angeles Philharmonic
w/ Andrew Bird and Band of Horses

Hollywood Bowl
July 7, 2007

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(Thanks, Pitchfork.com!)

Allow me to preface this half-assed review by saying that I know very little about The Decemberists. Granted, they're extremely talented and write gorgeous songs, but I have to be in the right "mood" to listen to them (and so I don't very often). But it turns out that the right mood is easily produced by a bottle of red wine at the Hollywood Bowl.

Though I'm a casual listener, I was thoroughly entertained by Mr. Meloy and his crew. The first (two) song(s) of their set, "Crane Wife 1 & 2," were spectacular: Meloy's lovely strumming and earnest singing was gracefully accompanied by the chill-inducing swell of the orchestra. But my favorite song was the creepy epic "The Tain," which is an EP (so I'm told).

Meloy is a great showman, and when technical problems rendered him guitar-less during "Perfect Crime #2," he improvised by doing the Ashlee Simpson all over the stage and around the semi-circle platform that seperated the pit from the box seats. Later, armed with his Gibson electric guitar, he did an encore run around the platform during "Chimbley Sweep" and explained that since his cord wouldn't stretch that far, the guitarist onstage would perform the solo while he air-guitared. So he mimed the solo on the platform and then ran back to the stage and fervently asked the audience, "will you indulge me?" Of course, we said Yes, and he asked "Can you do that thing where you hold your cell phones in the air like this?" and extended his arm, mocking those who often hold out their phones to snap a picture, or share a distorted jam for friends listening on the other end. Suddenly, the entire bowl was filled with the electric blue light of thousands of LCD screens.

Yes -- it was magical.

The opening acts were solid as well. Band of Horses lived up to the, um, hype? While there was nothing showy, they were very pleasing to the ears. The surprise of the night for me, though, was Andrew Bird.

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(Thanks again, Pitchfork.com!)

With his revolving gramophone(-like object) and glockenspiel, Bird dared me to write him off as pretentious, but I couldn't. The truth is, I was completely won over by his mad professor schtick.

Dressed in a tweed suit and backed by only a drummer and guitarist, Bird played riffs on a variety of instruments (glockenspiel, violin, guitar) and looped them to create a mellifluous concoction of awesome. I have to admit, I'm a sucker for some live sampling. I'm also a sucker for Jr. High Honors vocab words like "mitosis" and "apropos," which he dropped unapologetically. But my favorite element of the jams were the drummer's unexpectedly solid beats, which grounded Bird's quirky melodies. Without the drumming, I might have written the tunes off as charming and whimsical, but the drums pulled all of the wonderful elements of Bird's music together like a nice scarf would an outfit, or a shot of Patron would an evening.

I listened to the CD afterward; it's pleasing, but nothing like seeing him live. If you get the chance, I highly recommend you see this man in the flesh.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Bring your DS to the Ballpark

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Order nachos, view stats and watch instant replays --

On your DS Lite!!

Yes, it's true -- Nintendo is testing its Nintendo Fan Network at the Seattle Mariners' Safeco Field this summer. For $5, you can download a program to your DS Lite that will allow you to:

Order food and drinks, watch the live television feed of the game, access stats and scores and play trivia, all from the comfort of your seat -- whether it's a premium seat behind home plate or in the top row of the stadium.

Now, I personally don't understand why attendees would prefer to watch a live television feed of the game on a DS over the live game itself -- but ordering nachos from your seat? That's bangin'.

What else can Nintendo make more interactive?

Concerts: Sales figures, Pitchfork review scores, G-Force music visualization software

Zoos: Funny home videos of the animals as babies, gnawing on their trainers and whatnot.

Prisons: Family histories and testimonials, shivving how-tos, arrest reenactments

The possibilities are endless.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Socially Conscious Comics

Did you know that the Green Goblin's son Harry was hospitalized for using LSD? Or that the Green Arrow's ward was a heroin addict? Or that Northstar was the first openly gay superhero?

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(Thanks, marvel.com!)

If you're shaking your head "no," my friend Jeaux Janovsky is here to take you to school. He wrote and illustrated a great article on Controversial Comics for PulpSecret.com -- click on the "read more" link below to check it out!

read more digg story

Blinding You with Science: Time Before the Big Bang

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Have you ever thought about "existence" before the Big Bang and tried to conceptualize nothingness until your mind collapsed? Well, some scientists say there was something before the Big Bang: an earlier universe with different properties than our current universe.

And we might be able to see what it looked like.


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Dancing Butterflies

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Independence Day in Indiana involved a lot of watermelon, corn on the cob, and lighting off cheap fireworks in your driveway. My favorite cheap fireworks were the Dancing Butterflies.

The Dancing Butterflies begin with a modest shower of multi-colored sparks. Once the spray stops, it launches 4-6 sparking ground spinners that spin off erratically into your yard, the field across the street, your little brother, your mom's car, and/or the garbage bins.

I loved them because they were completely unpredictable; everytime you lit off a bundle of Dancing Butterflies, you never knew what was going to happen. And sometimes they set things on fire. Like the garbage bins.

So, as I sit now in my air-conditioned apartment in Los Angeles, I'm cracking open a can of Miller Lite in honor of Hoosier July 4ths past and raising a toast to the great state of Indiana and the freedom to send spinning balls of fire into your neighbor's lawn. Dancing Butterflies -- here's to you.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Kinky Kong (2006)

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Seduction Cinema's Kinky Kong, the latest from director John Bacchus, is the daring tale of a giant, horny ape's journey to overcome his sexual frustration.

I only caught the last ten minutes of this extraordinary film, but I was blown away by its sheer lunacy. Filmed in beautiful NYC and Butler, New Jersey, the film pushes the boundaries of visual F/X with an ill-fitting gorilla suit from Rite Aid's discount Halloween bin and a bevy of insulting chroma key. Like any red-blooded simian, Kong loves lesbians, and when he spots two tattooed dykes bumping vulvas (literally) in a high-rise penthouse, he humps the building until he ejaculates. The Kong Cum rains upon a transvestite below with the consistency of watered-down Elmer's glue.

The unsatiable Kong then travels to Ellis Island to fuck the Statue of Liberty. Could this film get any better? Yes -- apparently, earlier in the movie, Kinky Kong ass-rapes a T-Rex.

For more:


Scene: Our Daily Bread

(Two twenty-something male assistants with messenger bags rummage through loaves of bread in the Ralph's on Miracle Mile.)

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Tall Assistant: I don't know if I like this bag.

Short Assistant: Really?

Tall Assistant: Yeah, the strap is bothering me.

Short Assistant: Yeah, you're going to have to get a different strap.


Tall Assistant: Which one did he want?

Short Assistant: I don't know.

(Tall Assistant grabs a loaf)

Tall Assistant: What's this? Rye?

Short Assistant (interrupts): Oh, this one only has one gram!

Tall Assistant: That'll work.

(The assistants leave the bread aisle)

~End scene~

Blinding You with Science: Giant Prehistoric Penguins

I assume you've heard about the

Giant Prehistoric Penguins . . .

Welcome to Beautiful Rancho Cucamonga!

One of the fastest growing cities in the Inland Empire, Rancho Cucamonga offers luxuries seldom afforded to Southern Californians -- parking lots, open space, large identical homes in densely packed planned communities, a minor league baseball team (The Quakes), and a service-based economy.

What more could you want?

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How about the only Buffalo Wild Wings in the State of California? Yeah, the RC's got it! Formerly Bw-3s, and affectionately known as B-Dubs, Buffalo Wild Wings gives you the kind of hot wings you'd find at any respectable Midwestern eatery. And you can find them here, in beautiful Rancho Cucamonga.

But wait -- there's more!

You can also find:

* Chick-fil-A
* The Buckle
* Anchor Blue
* Hollister
* New York & Co.
* Sbarro
* TGI Friday's

And many other forgotten gems from suburbarural mega-malls.

Too Middle-America for you? Are you looking for something a little more, let's say, Pasadenish? Don't worry. RC also has an Anthropologie, Cheesecake Factory, CPK, Yardhouse and PF Chang's.

Just imagine -- you, too, could live and work in RC; gaining employment in one of these fine establishments, spending your hard-earned wages at someone else's fine establishment, providing wages for them to spend at your fine establishment, and vice versa, and on and on, ad infinitum, forever and ever.

Visit today!

Scene: Our Childless Future

(A Jewish son is test-driving a Prius. His non-Jewish GF is in the passenger seat. His Jewish Mom and a Toyota Dealer are in the back seats. The son is deciding between a Toytoa Corolla and a Prius.)

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Dealer: "One thing you should consider, if you're single, is if you're planning on getting married or having kids in the next three to five years."

GF: *shakes head vehemently* "that won't be happening."

Mom: "No Kids?"

GF: "No kids."

Mom: "Wait . . . ever?"

GF: *silence*

Mom: "Wait, (Son), I thought we discussed this. You'd have kids and raise them Jewish" *nervous laughter*

GF: (Repeats) "No kids."

Mom (to GF): "I don't like you anymore. Where's the eject button?"*silence fills the car*

Mom (to GF): I was just kidding. I still like you. I don't want my son to call me later and tell me I hurt your feelings."

GF: "It's okay."

Mom: "Really, I'm just kidding."

GF: "I'm not."

Mom: "No kids?"

GF: "No kids."

Dealer: "Well, anyway, it's just one thing to think about . . ."

~End scene~

Blinding You with Science: Asexual Shark Reproduction

Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center vets sedated a female black reeftip shark named Tidbit for a routine physical. Tidbit died. During the autopsy, the vets discovered that Tidbit was pregnant. HOWEVER:

There was no babby daddy in the tank.

Looks like Dr. Hammond was right --

Life will find a way.

Going Show-lo: Coachella

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My intense love for Bjork possessed me to fork $100 over to Ticketmaster and drive all the way to Indio to attend the first day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival by myself. I looked forward to the day as an opportunity to test the "Show-lo" hypothesis: that going to shows by yourself can be better than going with friends.

Of course, going to a show with friends can be great if you’re all mutually into the band and rocking out. But it can also be disappointing if the level of interest in the band varies from person to person, because you can feel self-conscious about rocking out too much, or too little; or you can torture yourself by sitting through some set you don’t want to listen to, or alienate someone by leaving said set, or piss someone off because you have to leave to pee, or move forward to get close, or go to the beer tent for another beer.*

(*Note: These sentiments may only apply to the chronically neurotic.)

Regardless, after feeling guilty for dragging people to the likes of Tricky and DJ Shadow, and annoying Magnolia Electric Company and Sufjan Stevens fans with bored pouting, I was eager to test my hypothesis. So, I drove out to Indio with two 32 oz. Tecates, a bag of caramel rice cakes and a mini-notebook, to see if going it alone might improve my concertgoing experience.

I parked at 2 pm, and as the lot filled around me and young eager hipsters popped out of their cars to lounge about the screaming hot metal of their trunks, drinking beer and applying sunscreen to their friends, I suddenly became very self-conscious about my plan to consume the two 32 oz Tecates before leaving my car. So, I decided to pick up my phone and call my BFF John so it would seem to casual observers that I was NOT drinking by myself; rather, I was enjoying a brewski whilst having a very important phone conversation.

I managed to break off the tab to my first Tecate without puncturing the can, rendering it useless, but one proved to be enough: after guzzling it in under five minutes, I began to lose track of what John and I were talking about and took this as a sign that it was time to leave my car. I walked to the field and stood in a long line for liquor wristbands, sandwiched between two couples, who precipitated the first of the day’s revelations:

Show-lo revelation 1: Girls are more apt to complain in the company of their boyfriends.

Whining, bitching, moaning; about the line, about each other, about what other people were wearing.

But my experience in the subsequent and even longer security line between two groups of girls required a modification of my earlier observation:

Show-lo revelation 1B: Girls are more apt to complain in the company of others.

You may be thinking: well, Duh. Of course people complain more often in the company of others than when they're alone, because when you're alone, you have no one to complain to. But my point here is this: the situations produce very different dispositions. If anyone else had been with me, I would have felt very anxious and would have complained; but alone, I felt very relaxed, and was content standing patiently while the sun beat down on my slightly numb face. Why would I feel more anxious if I was with someone else? Could it be that I'd be so uncomfortable with the thought of another person being uncomfortable in my presence that I would complain in an attempt to preempt their potential expression of discomfort, and blunt it or dismantle it by declaring that “I, too, am uncomfortable; even more uncomfortable than you," or "I, too, am uncomfortable; we can be uncomfortable together and seek solace in this shared discomfort.”

Well, regardless. Once I was finally in I was overcome by the beauty of all the people on the field, the hot desert air, and the robust palm trees lining the perimeter of the field. My first order of business was to get some much-beloved shitty festival food. I browsed the selections and settled on a Veggie Gyro, which precipitated the second revelation of the day:

Show-lo revelation 2: Life is like a veggie gyro on a summer day: stupid and sloppy and oh-so-satisfying.

While writing this one down, someone asked me if I was a reporter. Which led to:

Show-lo revelation 3: If someone asks you if you’re a reporter, say yes.

I caught the end of Comedians of Comedy, which was excellent, then made my way over to the beer tent and began consuming alcohol as quickly as I could, in an attempt to outpace my perspiration and stay drunk; but it was too hot, I was sweating it all out, and I gave up $28 later with nothing to show for it except a mild headache.

After watching Amy Winehouse with two 30-something bald men from Venice beach, I went for more food as the sun was setting. At this point, I felt kind of bored, and as I sat by myself on a grassy knoll eating a polish sausage doused in mustard and onions, boredom begot depression, and I felt quite foul about the whole thing. I almost gave up the "lone piece" (to quote a phrase from C-Dog) and called my roommate, who was backstage with some friends, but then I realized that Felix da Housecat was about to start, and that I could always count on dancing to lift my spirits.

When I entered the Sahara tent, I was put-off initially by a 40 something greaser and his two 40 something cougars, all of whom were evidently rolling, but I found my own little spot in the tent and got my rave on. It was great. I had forgotten how fucking great it felt to dance. I dropped some heavy footwork and jumped around; while bouncing, the sheer force of my $20 Urban Outfitters string-o-beads crashing against my neck snapped the string and sent beads flying everywhere. This was actually my second jewelry casualty of the day: Earlier, my Forever 21 bracelet dissolved in my hand; further inspection revealed that its two halves had been held together by Scotch tape. I guess that’s what you get for $3. Or is it?

Show-lo Conundrum #1: Do I need to buy more expensive jewelry so it won't break, or should I keep buying cheap jewelry because I break it all the time?


With spirits lifted, I walked over to the outdoor stage to watch Jarvis, who was absolutely fantastic. Afterword, I mistakenly forewent El-P in the Mohave Tent to get a spot for Bjork, which required watching Interpol, which I can only describe as “painfully boring.”

And at this point, I stopped having revelations. Truth is, I was bored sick of myself.

I was close to the stage for Bjork, but I still managed to end up behind a woman taller than me -- a thick Native American woman about 6 foot 5 -- so even with all my careful planning, I had a bit of trouble seeing the show. But it was amazing: the energy she brought to the stage was explosive, and although it was hampered a bit by a string of ballads in the middle of the set, the final four songs -- Wanderlust, Innocence, Pluto and Declare Independence -- were exultant.

By the end of the set, I was exhausted and eager to get back to LA. But I didn't make it back that night. My roommie convinced me to stay in the condo her friend was renting, and I'm glad I did, because I was terribly tired and I got to sleep in and go to the pool and hang out before I drove home the next day (Thanks S & K, if you're reading this). Ms. Roomie tried to talk me into staying through the weekend for more sun and debauchery -- several of her condo-mates had press passes -- but I declined. At that point, I wanted nothing more to get home and have dinner with the BF. Does that mean I'm lame?

"No, it means you're responsible. It means you've grown up." That's what John said to me on the way home. And with his help, I tried to convince myself that was a good thing.

So, Show-lo Number 1 was filled with many high highs and several low lows, compared to the mid-to high Muuuhhr of a companion-filled excursion. I wonder if this is consistent with the rest of life's activities?

Conclusion: More experiments are necessary to reach a conclusion.