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screw this crappy platform

7th August 2006 | 11:16 am

Well, I'm not sure what (or who) is causing the huge white space between my first and second posts, but it's just the incentive I need to move my blog from Live Journal over to Blogger, which I really enjoyed using when I was guest blogging for JJC at In the Middle.  I'm going to keep my account active so that I can leave comments on other people's Live Journals, and this site will remain active inasmuch as it will be my archive.  Everything new, however, will be at my new Blogger site, http://jonkwilliams.blogspot.com.  I hope that my various readers from Live Journal will continue to join me at Blogger.

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Beauty Bar

7th August 2006 | 12:58 am

Last night I went to Beauty Bar with some friends, old and new.  It's a nice place, Beauty Bar, very comfortable, and with $5 cocktails it's pretty affordable.

Beauty Bar offers a manicure special in the evenings: $10 for a manicure, which comes with a free drink.  I had never got a manicure before, ever, so I indulged, and I must say that my nails do look pretty damned good.  A combination of forces led to my getting my first-ever manicure: my friend Liz got a manicure last week and seemed pretty happy with the results, and when I was a boy my mother told me that women don't like men with unkempt or dirty fingernails.  In typical New York fashion, my manicurist is a published photographer who went to Vassar and just finished a master's degree in London.

At any rate, I had a good time wandering round old haunts in the Village, and I recommend Beauty Bar unreservedly.

Oh, yeah, what's wrong with LiveJournal?  There's a big white gap between my first and second posts when I view my site--has anyone else noticed this?

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No second acts in American lives.

4th August 2006 | 08:41 pm

I received this weird spam message just now:

Hey man glad, check out the discounts these seen guys are offering  wish on enlarge patches all!
Steel Package: their 10 Patches reg $79.95 Now $49.95 ! Free shipping too! unique
Silver Package: 25 Patches reg $129.95, Now $99.95! Free shipping and free exercise manual included! surf
Gold Package: list 40 Patches reg $189.95, Now $149.95! Free shipping and free exercise manual included! first
Platinum Package: wanna 65 Patches reg $259.95, Now $199.95! Free shipping and free exercise manual included! cool
Millions of men are taking advantage of this revolutionary new product - Don't be left behind! offer
There are no second acts in American lives.
Thank God!  My purchase will include a free exercise manual!  I was wondering how to exercise my new equipment whilst wearing a patch (or several patches).

Check out the last line, though.  "There are no second acts in American lives."  Spooky, no?  In its atheistic finality it's actually quite un-American: no endless optimism here.  Live for today, for tomorrow you may die.  One can imagine some underpaid spam-writer, almost certainly a non-native speaker, who's honing his English by writing ad copy for penis patches.  On the side, though, this scrappy spammer is reading a book about playwrighting, and I imagine that the last line of this message is his or her little flourish.  Look, shouts the spammer, look at meI aspire to the ranks of David Mamet and Arthur MillerI may be pushing non-existent penis patches now, but soon enough I shall dazzle America with my dramatic brilliance, and if writing spam will get me there, so be itThere are no second acts in American lives.

And that platinum package really does look like a bargain.

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The Comic Strip Doctor

3rd August 2006 | 08:51 pm

Finally I have found brilliant analysis of mediocre American daily comic strips.  Behold: The Comic Strip Doctor.  Avid readers may recall that one of my passions is the world of internet comics, virtually all of which are better than the crap that one finds in one's local paper.  I eat up Leisure Town, Jerkcity, Red Meat, and Wondermark.  (Red Meat, admittedly, has lost its edge in the past few years, but from time to time it's amusing.)

A typical bit of brilliance from David Maliki, the intellectual force behind The Comic Strip Doctor, is this commentary upon Marmaduke:

Marmaduke the dog is the rape fantasy taken flesh; he is the overpowering force that conquers your will and thus leaves you inculpable. You physically cannot resist; therefore you are absolved of responsibility. It is not your fault. (The tacit implication is that you are then free to enjoy it guiltlessly.)

However, brutalizing rape is socially unacceptable behavior.  It's excused because he's a dog, but it's not condoned.  He is a force that can only be vectored, not contained, but civil society must at least do their best to try and harness his surging energy.  Thus the Winslows and their hapless neighbors must discourage Marmaduke's advances whenever possible...

Maliki goes a bit further and "revises" various comics that, in their original forms, are unreadably awful.  Here are some typical examples:

And, best of all:

These reworked strips are comedy gold.  With a handful of exceptions (Rhymes with Orange, Bizarro, Mutts, the occasional Doonesbury), the funny papers nowadays are endless parades of mediocrity at best and outright banality at worst.  Partly this is due to the age of many comics--even Garfield was fresh once, and my beloved Opus is, to put it mildly, suffering the ill effects of late middle age and the constaints of a once-weekly print run.  I suppose that the cultural irrelevance of most comic strips, to say nothing of their abject failure as manifestations of a supposedly comic genre, should hardly be a surprise.  Still, it's terrible to think that a uniquely American art form has, in less than a century, devolved into so much garbage.  On the other hand, I'm gratified to know that people like David Maliki (to say nothing of the various web cartoonists) still take the comic page seriously as a medium for expressing humoroous, intelligent art.

(I stumbled across this because Maliki's web comic, Wondermark, is now featured in the print versions of The Onion that grace paper boxes across New York.  These print editions of The Onion also run Cathy comics that are translated in Spanish.  It's amazing how much funnier Cathy's angsty rants become when they're rendered in the language of Borges, Neruda, and Marquez.  Bully for The Onion for revamping its comics page!)

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mark your diaries

3rd August 2006 | 06:33 pm

JKW will be in DC for the last weekend in August.  More information to follow.

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Deathwatch: Marie Osmond

3rd August 2006 | 11:33 am

Suicides do indeed count.  Marie Osmond could be this year's Hunter Thompson.

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So long, Charlie!

2nd August 2006 | 04:38 pm

Looks like I shall soon have a new member of the House.

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a first for JKW

2nd August 2006 | 01:27 pm

Hell yeah: my first CULPA review!  (No, I didn't write this myself, and I don't necessarily endorse all of the opinions stated.)  To be fair to this anonymous student, this was posted during finals, which probably explains the two typos.

Jon's a really cool guy. He's studying to be a medievalist and he realizes that UW is a bullshit class. I would take the class with him again. He's pretty chill because he's still working towards his Ph.D and he remembers what it's liek [sic] to be in college. I went to his office hours alot [sic] for papers for other classes and he helped me with those too.

Workload: regular amount for UW: conversation essay, lens essay, CCP, group CCP, a fair grader.


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un courriel de spam

1st August 2006 | 01:05 pm

I just got a spam message that's a rather unique spin on the more typical West African financial assistance message:

Bonjour ,

Je souhaiterais votre aide pour l'exécution d'une transaction financière. Je désire investir dans la fabrication et la gestion de biens immobiliers mais aussi continuer mes études dans votre pays.
J'ai à présent sept million cinq cents mille dollars américains ( 7,500,000 USA) hérités de mon père défunt que je désire investir .je voudrais bien solliciter votre aide en recevant ces fonds sur votre compte ou un compte quelconque que tu ouvriras à cet effet dans votre pays.
En contre partie,Je suis prêté à vous céder 20% de toute la somme comme commission et efforts que vous fournirez si vous acceptez de m'assister dans cette opération. Si vous désirez davantage d’informations, veuillez bien me contacter immédiatement sur mon adresse privée :
E-mail: larrymariamisa@yahoo.fr
En attendant votre réponse immédiates
Que Dieu vous bénisse
Larry Mariam Isa
What, precisely, is the target audience of this spam message?  I think it's probably safe to assume that most Americans are unable to speak or read the French language.  Is this message meant for consumption north of the forty-fifth parallel, in Quebec?  What is "votre pays"?  Or is this a message that's aimed at someone in France?  If that's so, why do I have a copy of it in my inbox?  Since when are French people named Larry?

This tickles me especially because I replied to an e-mail from a woman in Brittany this morning in French.  (In case you're wondering, it's because I'm going to a wedding in Brittany next month).  I was particularly pleased with myself because I remembered the state-sanctioned French word for e-mail, courriel.  How appropriate, then, that I just received this courriel de spam.

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Happy Yorkshire Day from New York!

1st August 2006 | 09:53 am

Loyal readers will know that I spend about a month a year in Yorkshire, which I consider God's own country.  Hence it gives me great pleasure to wish everyone a very happy Yorkshire Day.  The BBC is currently running a Yorkshire Day explainer, the most interesting bit of which is the comment section, which includes some amusing knocks at Yorkshire by people from Lancashire.

I think that what I love most about Yorkshire is the gentleness and magnanimity of its regional pride.  Too often regional pride turns into flinty xenophobia (ahem, Liverpool), but Yorkshire's pride could never be called anything but good-natured.  As someone who more or less fell into Yorkshire--I just happen to have cousins there whom I greatly enjoy--I can testify to the welcoming garrulousness of Yorkshiremen.  A few weeks ago I was having a drink with a Scot at The Dog & Duck, a nice new pub on the road to Mallorie Park in Ripon, and this Scot, himself a member of the most outgoing and sociable society on the island of Britain, commented on the friendliness of people in Yorkshire.  That's high praise, and I echo it.

For those who are interested, here's a link to a BBC story called Blame T'Vikings, which argues that it's the Vikings who made Yorkshire Broad so peculiar.

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