Monday, November 29, 2004

Cooking With Chemistry

I was looking in our refrigerator for something to make for breakfast and I found what could best be described as individually-wrapped slices of "Sharp Cheddar Artificial Flavor Non-Fat Pasteurized Process Cheese Product." This stuff is so not cheese that they can't even legally call it "cheese"! But it is fat free. Yum.

I actually wonder what it would be like to have an entire meal made of all straight-from-the-earth ingredients — nothing cooked up in a lab. Haven't had one of those in a loooooong, long time. For example, we gave up butter for margarine a while back because those milk-cows weren't exactly concerned about Mom's arteries, and now we've given up margarine for this vegetable oil substance called "Benecol," that looks and tastes like the unwanted bastard child of butter. I can't imagine what kind of anti-epicure mad scientist is creating this stuff, but I bet he has very low cholesterol.

So I tried the Sharp Cheddar Artificial Flavor Non-Fat Pasteurized Process Cheese Product, and it tastes like a dirty test tube. But I guess it's still a step up from that cheese that sprays out of an aerosol can.

"You know, Mother, this could almost have passed for a palatable banana pudding, but without Nilla wafers it's just another one of your wretched culinary abortions." —Family Guy

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Seasonal Affective Disorder

It's the holiday shopping season again, which I could totally do without. Don't get me wrong: I love the holidays — the lights, the window shopping, the presents presents presents, and the potential for more presents. However... you know, for eleven months of the year, I can hide in my room, safe and secure and uncomfortably alienated from everybody, but then Santa rides down Sixth Avenue at the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade and it's time to go through my address book and make my own little nice/naughty list.

I guess I'm not all that different from everyone else during the holidays — only more neurotic. Santa doesn't need to worry whether his supposed friends are gonna think enough about him during the Christmas season to reciprocate his generosity. So there's that, and it's not like there isn't the least bit of bitterness simmering in my heart when I remember going year after year without so much as a card from them. So there's that, but like I said, I love the holidays, unduly even. The real depressing issue for me is the second list, what I'm gonna buy the lucky folks who fall on the good side of my nice/naughty list.

The whole gifting process is a very delicate one, because I want to find the absolutely perfect gift. I used the to think that the perfect gift for a friend was something they wanted but they'd never buy on their own, but I've done some unhealthy soul-searching and I realized there's more to it than that. The perfect gift reflects the receiver... and when I can't find the perfect gift, it's because I'm so aloof that I never really got to know even my best friends. Constant reminders. And no wonder people get depressed during the holidays.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

A Completely Impartial Review of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"

God, I hate this movie. Everybody else seems to like it — it's on TBS and USA and Comedy Central all the time, even though there's absolutely no comedy in it. (Although Comedy Central also has interminable showings of "Mad TV," which is also devoid of humor.) People seem to think that the title character is sooooooo clever, but he's really not. He's just a selfish asshole who manipulates everyone. Now, Matthew Broderick started to redeem himself with "Election," but he's got a long way to go, especially after the 1998 Godzilla remake. I'm still waiting to be reimbursed for those two hours I spent in the movie theater.

Wait a second.... you mean to tell me that today's not Canadian Thanksgiving? Just the lame, gift-free American version? Totally disappointing.

Now, I loathe this holiday. I think a lot of my seething hatred comes from my younger days, when my dad thought it would be "hip" and "rockin'" if our whole family watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade together. Which was okay, maybe, the first time — and was okay, maybe, when Dad and I went in person and sort of watched the parade from the hood of a parked cop car. But what Dad doesn't seem to realize is that it's the same goddamn parade every fucking year!!! I know, I know, they add floats and special guest stars every year — and Dad doesn't have a fucking clue who any of them are.

By the way, while I'm thinking about it, does anyone else find Spongebob's phallus-shaped proboscis totally offensive?

So, no better way to celebrate the mass slaughter of America's indigenous people with a crass parade of helium-bloated corporate logos. I fell asleep about five times this morning, watching a "Cheap Seats" marathon on ESPN Classic while the parents kept asking me, "You're not watching the parade?" and "What's 'Cheap Seats?'"

Okay, so everyone's a decadent hypocrite, and I'm not thankful for that. To be honest, although there's probably a thing or two I should be thankful for, I'm not. In fact, I'm making my New Year's resolution to take more things for granted, to feel a greater sense of entitlement, and to be even more irascible in response to the universe basically screwing me in every aspect of my life. Now, I know, I have, let's say, my health, even though I'm allergic to goddamn everything and I managed to graduate from college without growing past puberty yet. But here's my honest feelings on the matter: health is a basic human right. If God is gonna put you on the planet, then it's just plain cruel of Him to give you cystic fibrosis or Lou Gehrig's disease or ragweed allergies.

Like, I'm glad I'm not one of the Darfur refugees, but, unlike the negative Nancys who want me to be thankful I'm not being hunted by the Sudanese Janjaweed, I'm too busy being pissed off at God for not snapping His metaphorical fingers and solving the damn Darfur problem. I believe that happiness is a basic human right. Inalienable and endowed by their Creator and all that shit.

And I'm not feeling it right now. I feel kind of estranged and depressed, and just bored with life. I tried lightening things up with alcohol during Thanksgiving dinner; at Sarah's recommendation, I had a white Russian. It didn't make me any more enthusiastic about being alive, but it did burn my throat, especially on the way back up. 8-)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Here's another pet peeve of mine: restaurants and hot spots that think they're so trendy they don't need a name. I passed this place on Great Jones Street that certainly looked like a restaurant, but I guess they didn't want anybody to know what its name was, like if the average schlub on the street were talking about the place by name, it would become that much less cool by association. Thou shalt not speaketh the secret name of the restaurant.... Which, come to think of it, is somewhat true. Knowing someone's — or some place's — name does take away some of its mystery, its incomprehensibility. It gives you the power to speak of it, to turn it into a referent.

Almost as irritating are places whose names defy all rules of pronouncability or that wind up being incomprehensible in the guise of creativity. I'm sure there's a rave somewhere called ? ("glottal stop", for the purists) or o6rj;a, and while I guess names like those give some insight into the character of the place, they're not all that illuminating.

All that being said, I think I'm gonna be a total jackass and change my own name to Umlaut. Or maybe ¨. Not Umlaut Harris. Just Umlaut, like Prince or Madonna, except it'll be Umlaut. When you think about it, it's not really all that out in left field, considering, for example, how Gwyneth Paltrow named her kid "Apple" and Michael Jackson named his unfortunate kid "Blanket." (Okay, that last one's a bad example.) If I had a kid, I'd name him or her Diaeresis — it's a gender-neutral name — because I hate kids.

Monday, November 22, 2004

A Completely Impartial Review of Starbucks' Seasonal Eggnog Latte

I felt compelled to try Starbucks' new Eggnog Latte drink, even though I like neither eggnog nor latte. While I applaud Starbucks' beverage experimentation, throwing random desserts (gingerbread, pumpkin spice, Kit Kats, etc.) into coffee, I have to say that eggnog plus latte tastes like tinsel that's still on a Christmas tree in February. Also, it didn't keep me awake, and it turned out that drinking a latte didn't make me any more of an intellectual.

Eggnog: Who thought that one up? "Hmmm, I wanna get a little drunk, but I also want pancakes." —Dave Attell

Saturday, November 20, 2004

A Completely Impartial Review of the Grand Re-opening of the Museum of Modern Art

Today was the grand re-opening of New York's Museum of Modern Art, and I wanted to be there for the festivities. Actually, I didn't really care about the festivities; I just knew that I'd eventually want to check out the museum, and it was free today. Also, today wasn't really the museum's grand re-opening — Erica tells me that there was a special preview re-opening for VIP's, and I'm assuming my invitation just got lost in the mail. Otherwise, when I become world dictator, I'm gonna have a whole new list of candidates for slavery in the plutonium mines.

Anyway, Erica and I thought it would be packed. It was drizzling, and we stood outside in one of those snaky deceptive amusement-park-style lines for about half an hour before they let us in. There was another line for checking our bags, not as long but just as labyrinthine; we skipped it and were pleasantly surprised when the presumably overworked museum guards let us in without so much as a terrorism-free-zone bag search. Score one for the formerly security-anal MoMA!

The main feature of the new museum building is a room with extremely high ceilings, that houses Monet's "Water Lilies," and some weird pyramid structure thing that doesn't really go with my furniture. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed that the Water Lilies Room is no more, but I guess I'll get used to the new layout. I mean, if I can get used to that new detective who replaced Jerry Orbach on "Law and Order," I can get used to this. Now, now, now, in the room next to Broken Obelisk Room here, there is Josiah McElheny's incredibly cool Modernity, Mirrored and Reflected Infinitely, which is totally worth the free price of admission.

See, not only is MM&RI aesthetically awesome, but it's one of those pieces where you can just look at it and know what the artist had in mind. I really appreciate that. Like, next to MM&RI, there's this illuminated photograph where the artist tried to recreate the prologue of Ellison's Invisible Man. It was also aesthetically... well, not quite pleasing, but interesting, with the 1,369 light bulbs compulsively hung from the ceiling, siphoning electricity from Monopolated Light & Power. But it didn't all fall into place til I read the little title/artist/incomprehensible explanation card next to the piece. And then only because I read Invisible Man in tenth grade and it was a powerful enough work that I'm still able to make associations with it to this day.

I drove my art hum professor, Christina Kaier, absolutely mad with that sort of attitude. All I wanted was to glean a little insight into the artist's mind from his work, and maybe also a little insight into the clearly miswired mind of the common art critic, but Prof. Kaier took my innate reluctance to appreciate chiseled rock or paint on canvas to mean that I outright hated every masterpiece of western art. Not true! I hated every pompous snooty ass-kissing critic of western art who told me what was beautiful and what was exquisite as if I didn't have my own two eyes and a brain. Also, artists who produce mindless works that I could've made will be at the front of the line into the plutonium mines when I become world dictator.

Back to the MoMA, our favorite Cézannes and Van Goghs and non-Guernica Picassos are still in the galleries, as are our favorite Kandinskys and de Koonings. And I was quite pleased to see a relative dearth of vacant conceptual art, although I did mistake a pair of wall clocks for nothing more than a pair of clocks. My final opinion is that the MoMA is certainly worth the time but not the price of admission, which the trustees raised: $20 for general admission and $12 for student admission (I saved my Columbia ID for just such an occassion). I will not be subsidizing the Modern, because they just spend their money on crap, literally, as this hard-hitting exposé by Dave Barry informs us. Some artist, some blatantly egotistical artist named Piero Manzoni, sold his crap to ninety museums around the world whose directors have bad enough taste to buy it.

Here's what I think... It's not that I think my own crap is more valuable than Piero's; it's more like I'm pretty damn sure that even if he is an obscure artist, his crap ain't worth a dime more than mine. Boy, it's little things like that that just make me want to open up those plutonium mines.

Friday, November 19, 2004

People Magazine Fails to Give Me My Props (Again)

Apparently, the folks at People magazine think that Jude Law is the sexiest man alive. Well, obviously, they haven't checked out the picture of me wearing my hot hot swimcap that you'll find in the upper-right corner of the page. God, that picture's making me horny already.

Eye of the beholder, people.

Fine, maybe I'm not the sexiest person alive. But it's not like I wasn't self-conscious enough of that fact without the good people at, uh, People reminding me of my banal ugliness. I'm twenty-two years old and still slopping acne cream on my face. I go to the gym to build up my arms and pecs and crunch away my tubby gut; instead I'm developing pillowy man-boobs while my flab-to-ab ratio stays as high as ever. But I have a good sense of humor; that makes me sexy, right? I mean, Louis Anderson and Carrot Top are sexy, right? Okay, bad examples.

Just be yourself, he writes, as he spits out a lump of pad thai because he's afraid he accidentally got a scallion in his mouth. I'm contemplating — only half-jokingly — plastic surgery or a diet of carbo-load and steroids — but only so women will want to fuck me at first sight. Hey, I could be creepier: my goal could be to get women to give me their credit card numbers at first sight.

It's not like I chose to live in a world where juries are more likely to acquit attractive defendants or kindergarten classes are more likely to pay attention to an attractive teacher, but I'd like to take advantage of that just as much as the next handsome guy. Which is why the misogyny starts to swell whenever I'm not nominated for homecoming king or named sexiest man alive by a vapid magazine for people waiting on the supermarket checkout line. I shouldn't really complain, since I've got the same urges to procreate with the most fecund (read: pulchritudinous) members of the opposite gender and I'm only half-ashamed of my superficiality.

Still, fact is, People — and women — are wrong. I am sexier than Jude Law, if for no other reason than Jude Law will never sleep with you, but, if you play your cards right, I just may.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

I'm becoming a bit of a political animal, ever since Kerry was defeated by a man with the IQ of a donut. Ever since the Supreme Court stole the election for Bush four years ago, I've been pissed at the government, but I never did anything about it besides curse at the network news whenever a Republican talking head was on. But now I'm writing semi-coherent letters to my elected representatives, complaining about the insane, extremist Bush agenda and simultaneously telling them how I doubt they're man enough to do anything about it.

First, a few days after he had the election bullied away from him, I wrote to John Kerry calling him names and urging him to do everything I could possibly think of to curb Bush's "political capital" spending, starting with launching some investigations regarding voter fraud and illegal campaign spending. I got a response from the Kerry campaign that began: "Dear Mr. Harris, Thank you for writing to John Kerry. John Kerry and John Edwards appreciate all the support they've received over these past months...."

You know, I don't even think John Kerry read my letter.

Which sort of makes me wonder what's the point of writing to my elected representatives if they're not going to read their mail?

So today I wrote to my senators — my Democratic senators — regarding Bush minion and new CIA chief Porter Goss, who sent a memo to his employees warning them to make sure their reports support the administration of evil. The New York Times, which I can no longer read because every damn thing the Dubyas do pisses me off till I can't see straight, reports that the memo read, in part, "As agency employees, we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies." So, while Al-Qaeda is busy trying to kill us, this jerk is playing politics.

Boy, who didn't see that one coming?

The Democrats in the Senate who confirmed him, that's who. Morons.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I might say I'm pretty pleased with myself today at work. Before I could even set my backpack down, the powers-that-be threw a computer problem at me: two computers in the office could connect to the local network, but couldn't connect to the internet. The pressure was on.

Now, whenever someone comes to me with a computer problem, I always try my best to be helpful. It's just that, well, I have this theory about people and their computer skill. I believe that people who are content with the world, people who are slobs, who will just let things be — those people suck when it comes to using computers. It's the anal retentive people, the micromanagers, the people who want to change every possible thing who are good with computers. They want — no — they need their Dell or Gateway or iMac to look, feel, and behave a particular way, exactly, so they check out every menu option, click on every icon to find all the combinations and permutations in which they can customize their machines. That's how I learned to use a computer. And it's a phlegmatic way to learn, except that you look like a moron when someone asks you to solve a problem you've never seen before.

So, I knew there was some sort of network problem, and I know there's a Network Connections control panel. That seems like a good place to start. Right-click on "Local Area Connection," select Properties, choose the thing that says "TCP/IP something something" from the dialog box that comes up, click Properties, and hmm...

I've never needed to manually set the DNS server address before. I wonder why they manually set theirs. Let's compare this setting to that of a working computer.... They don't match. The working computer has DHCP assigning it a DNS address, so maybe there's a DNS problem. Let's change that setting. It works!

I'm so proud of myself. Of course, then they asked to debug some print server problem that left me stymied.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Watch "House" on FOX tonight, or I swear I will feed your sorry ass to a herd of rabid wildebeest.

I've tried to be nice, pleasantly offering my TV suggestions. But you ignore them, and then "Wonderfalls" gets ignominously dumped, which I'm still bitter about. So now I'm gonna try making threats.

You and your bad taste drove me to this...

I received the following from somebody who calls herself Melissa:

I have a job interview on Wed and I am interviewing at Hampton Inn which is owned by Hilton. I'm freakin about what to wear. I'm not even sure what position I am hiring for. I wonder if I could wear Khaki's, cuz I have no dress pants or skirts that look professional. I do have corduroy with a nice professional looking top. UG u gu gug ug ugug :)
Here's my response to Melissa, if that is her real name (or even if it isn't):
Hi Melissa,

Here's what I'd do, if it were me. I'd stop freaking out about what to wear, and start freaking out about the fact that you don't know what position you're interviewing for. Imagine your mortification, "...and that is why, Mister Human Resources Executive, I would make a great assistant manager." "That's all very nice, Melissa, but we're actually looking for a valet. Nice pants, though."

Also, your computer appears to be having a seizure. You might want to get that checked out before you print out your resume.

God, I'm an ass. No wonder no one replies to my instant messages.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Another Political Post

Gee, thanks a lot Mr. President and you 59 million-plus morons: now Mom's bummed out. She's listening to Air America and watching C-SPAN all the time; the day after the election, she and Dad went to see Shall We Dance, because they needed some lighthearted fare. Just what the Republicans wanted: a trend towards mediocrity.

So, I have to say that I believe that, once again, the Republicans stole the election thanks to the miracle of voter fraud. Of course, no one's gonna investigate — not the Democrats because they're wusses, and not the Republicans because they're evil, not the media because they're lazy — and democracy is screwed. Somehow the bastards managed to co-opt the word "patriot" while they simultaneously subvert the very democracy this nation is built upon. Not to mention the Bill of Rights, free speech, freedom of religion... subverting pretty much everything American except for Halliburton.

Still three more days to challenge the vote count in Florida and Ohio!

Friday, November 5, 2004

You know, I'm sooooo morose about Dubya: The Sequel, but there is always a chance that he'll screw up in a way that even the red states and their supposed "values voters" won't be able to overlook: a Paris Hilton/Dick Cheney sex tape surfaces on the internet or Dubya calls Wayne Brady the n-word or something. I mean, compared to sending young Americans to die on false pretenses, shit like that's stuff you really get knocked around for.

The problem is with these values voters and Dubya's whole "born-again" nonsense. First of all, born-again Christians are just sinners who traded in their blatant sins like anger and gluttony for more subtle sins like avarice (that's greed, for those of you with a red-state education), pride, and lust. Jesus would be rolling over in His heavenly grave if he saw some of the jackasses who are calling themselves born-again, starting with our prez. Personally, I don't think that giving tax breaks to the ultra-super-wealthy is something Our Lord and Savior, who once said something relevant here about camels passing through needles, would approve of. And about Dubya's lust for power, mobilizing those crusading "armies of compassion," trying to turn the whole planet into a giant Wal-Mart with Dick Cheney as its assistant manager. I don't think Jesus was too into that kind of stuff either.

But by far, far, far, the worst that we get from those goddamned born-again asswads is their fucking self-righteousness, as if God, in His infinite wisdom, would choose racist truck-driver Backwoods Earl to spread His message of glory. Okay people, that feeling's not God, it's what happens when you mix Jack Daniels with your medication. Believing that you're so special that God would actually want you to rub your specialness in and lord it over the unchosen is the most obnoxious, arrogant kind of hypocritical pride there is.

But what about my own pride, you might ask. Well, you see, Backwoods Earl, you're allowed to be proud if you use it constructively and if you actually are better than the slack-jawed cousin-marrying name-on-your-shirt yokels that you're holding it over. As for the latter, the fact that I can not only read and write, but also think for myself and see through Karl Rove's ruses makes me a better person than the red-staters who can't. And as for using it constructively.... well, if you can think of a better way to use the gifts God (who has forsaken us) gave me than to rally the values of tolerance, wisdom, and compassion and decry the red-state vices of intolerance, ignorance, and arrogance, then you tell me.

So anyway, here's another problem with those red-state nutjobs, which I've already alluded to. I'm here in New York, and as a non-tourist, I am so fucking fed up with all the tourists around here. Why? Because they want to turn every place that isn't their podunk shithole hometown into their podunk shithole hometown. Like with crossing the street. Real New Yorkers will cross against the light, but if there's, say, a taxi barrelling towards us, we'll speed up so we don't get clobbered. Tourists — they expect the taxi to stop for them because that's what friendly midwestern folk do. And like with Iraq, and how they just assume that the Iraqis want their country to be like Akron. Hell, I don't even want my country to be like Akron.

Well, maybe Dubya will choke on another pretzel.

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Dear John Kerry:

Normally, I don't write to presidential candidates. You see, I'm a shy person, not comfortable expressing myself publicly for fear I'll be mocked and ridiculed, but since you're such a huge pussy loser, I figure there's no way you can rattle me. Now, during the campaign, you made a promise. You promised that you would fight for average Americans, and don't you dare think for a second that you've been absolved from that promise just because you conceded the election. We need you more than ever to fight for us, and hopefully find some way to kick Bush's ass out of the White House and back to Texas where it belongs.

How about you start by investigating his campaign practices during the past year or so. For instance, weren't some of his top advisors also working with the Swift Vote liars? And isn't that illegal? Are you gonna take that from a bitch like Bush? If this were Clinton, your sanctimonious redneck extremist colleagues in Congress would be on him like flies on a turd. And what about Bush's Olympic commercial? Also illegal. Okay, it's not like he had his minions break into the Democratic National Headquarters — and, by the way, are you sure his minions didn't break into your headquarters — but are you gonna cower behind your desk or are you going to fight for an America where no one, not even the president and his puppeteers, is above the law?

Teresa wouldn't put up with this crap. She'd tear him a new one. But who wears the pants in your family? Evidently, not you.

Now, let's talk about voter fraud. I'm not saying that Georgie and his minions tampered with the elections, but I wouldn't put it past them. It's not like they're above spreading lies regarding your service in Vietnam. Didn't some poll worker find stacks of Democratic voter registrations torn up in the trash? The Ohio Secretary of State is a Republican working directly for the Bush campaign, and that doesn't strike you as a little suspicious? And those damn electronic voting machines down in Florida. The company that builds them is a major donor to the Bush administration, their president publicly said he'd "deliver Ohio" to the GOP, and there's no paper trail. Do you have any idea how easy it is to randomly switch one of every ten-thousand Kerry votes to Bush. They could've pre-programmed the results they wanted back in 2001.

Okay, I'm done, John. Protect us from those nefarious Republican nutjobs.


Your friend,

Jay Harris

America is FUCKED

I don't think I'm alone with the above sentiments. So glad that redneck hillbillies in the south and midwest are deciding policy for those of us here in New York, where we've actually got real national security issues, as if the terrorists are gonna bomb Cleveland or Tampa of all places. What is this, payback for the Civil War? Fucking cracker hicks.

Not that John Kerry ran any sort of Clintonesque stupendous campaign, either. He was, and dear God it nauseates me, optimistic. No! No! No, asshole! Capitalize on the Democrats rage, you fucking moron! I wanted Kerry to say what I thought about our commander-in-chimp: that he's got the brains of a box of rocks, that he hates freedom more than Saddam, that he goes down on the Saudi crown prince on the first full moon of every month, that he let 9/11 happen, that he'd sell your children to Halliburton if it would get him an extra vote. But instead, Kerry (and Edwards, what a little douche) didn't say any of that. They talked about hope. Well, where's your hope now?

I mean, what has Dubya actually done for anybody in this person who isn't a Halliburton executive or a born-again mental case? He didn't want to help the 9/11 Commission protect us cause he might look — uh — incompetent; he raised taxes on everybody except the most decadent Americans; he let criminals like the Enron execs shit on the stock market, on pension plans, and on investments; people are coming home from Iraq missing arms, legs, and heads cause he didn't have an exit strategy; he censors the press and free speech.... I could go on for, well, for four years, to be precise.

Part of me is actually happy, since the red states are getting the lying, cheating, stealing, blaspheming hypocrite they deserve. But a larger part of me isn't looking forward to America getting ass-raped by our leaders for another four years.

Anybody know how I can secede?