Monthly Archives: May 2008

The 135-word autobiography

Apparently this exercise is going around, where you write your autobiography in three-word sentences. I gave it a shot last night, here's what I came up with.

Born March 6. Parents: ‘You’re late.’ Brother: ‘Ugh, competition.’ 

Seattle-est childhood ever. Arts and crafts. Granola school lunch. Hypercolor fanny pack. Family therapist, M.D.

Puberty like Dresden. First casualty: Sweatpants. Am I popular? Classmates: ‘Ha; no.’

I attended college? Diploma indicates so. Mostly remember racquetball.

Landed in Sydney. Begin de-Americanizing process. Steadily getting gayer. Somehow avoided lisp.

Home, then London. Fuck, it’s expensive. Bad teeth: Yep. Sexy accents: Nope. Styrofoam pellet friendships. Typical first boyfriend. The messy kind. Did I study?

Seattle, with master’s. Scene: Thai restaurant. Fiddling with chopsticks. Parents look expectant. ‘Um, I’m gay.’ Silence, then appetizers. Mom, Dad: ‘Seriously?’ Didn’t order dessert.

Mono interrupts unemployment. Job, instant restlessness. ‘I’m moving again.’ Sigh, ‘Where now?’

Aarhus, then Copenhagen. Another Goddamn master’s. Meget forfærdeligt dansk. Got a job. Waiting for restlessness. Wearing sweatpants again.

 

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“‘Legend’ is petite and diamond-hard man with dreadlocks and a Tyson-esque lisp…”

This is the best thing I have seen in months. It starts out

I got another cryptic text from a friend last Friday afternoon: “Fight Club in Union Square. GET HERE.”

And just gets better from there.

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If you’re going to make a memorial to gay victims of the Holocaust

Can it not look like a nudie booth, please?


A visitor peeks into the window of the newly-inaugurated memorial to homosexual victims of the Nazis on May 27, 2008 in Berlin. The memorial, a large stone with a window that looks onto an image of two men kissing, commemorates the tens of thousands of gays imprisoned by the Nazis, including the estimated 15,000 sent to concentration camps.

 

The picture inside shows two guys kissing? Yeah, because the reason discrimination against gays is wrong is because it, like, totally keeps us from making out and stuff. 

Considering this is in Berlin, I guess I should just be happy the picture doesn't show dudes peeing on each other. 

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I just noticed

That 'tyranny' and 'tranny' are only one fucking letter apart. I love it when there is only one tiny conso-vowel separating philosophy and freakitude. It reminds me of my favorite bathroom graffiti ever, someone who turned 'I hate fags' into 'I hate flags' with a post-facto Sharpie. From one end of the political spectrum to the other, in just one letter. 

Anyway, I'm amazed and appalled that this hasn't been capitalized on more. Is there a drag queen named Trannysaurus Rex? If not: Travesty.

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29 things that seem more and more obsolete as I get older

  1. Ironic T-shirts
  2. Briefs
  3. DVD collections
  4. Voice-overs
  5. The political opinions of stupid people
  6. The 90s
  7. Concerts where the artist stands in front of a laptop
  8. Heroes
  9. Lettuce
  10. Celebrity/musician interviews
  11. TV news
  12. The previous two generations' marriages
  13. Abs
  14. Nicholas Cage
  15. 'Write a caption' contests
  16. Circumcision
  17. Yoga
  18. Good grammar
  19. Stand-up comedy
  20. People that still bitch about 'unrealistic beauty standards'
  21. Bottle openers
  22. Weed
  23. Theater
  24. Gawker
  25. The use of the phrase 'it wouldn't surprise me' as evidence of a conspiracy
  26. The semicolon
  27. Shame
  28. The 'http://' at the beginning of web addresses
  29. Christmas

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The amazing racist

 

 

I saw a woman in full blackface on the way to work today.

 

I have to admit, when I saw her from across the street, my first thought was, ‘wow, that’s a weird-looking black lady’. It was only when I got closer, and I saw that she was wearing a wig and brown facepaint, fraying around the jawline and lips like an old toothbrush, that I figured out what was going on.

 

This is actually not that uncommon here, to dress up as A Black Person for a costume or theme party. I’ve always thought of blackface as one of those things that is offensive mainly for how it originated, and everything that symbolizes, but biking past this woman this morning, I think I finally get why it’s so repugnant, even without the American context.

 

This woman wasn’t dressed up as a ‘70s pimp, or a rapper, or a particular celebrity, or any other group that is usually associated with black people. She was simply dressed up as a black person. That’s it. Black people are so utterly comical to her that it’s appropriate to just put on a kinky wig and paint her face black. No further costume required.

 

It’s like going to a party dressed as Jew or something. ‘Oh, are you supposed to be a particular Jewish person? Is this a Jerry Seinfeld impression?’ ‘Nope, I’m just a random Jew. That’s enough, right? A demographic group I don’t belong to?’

 

It’s particularly offensive in the context of Denmark, where most black people are incredibly marginalized, not to mention refugees, meaning they don’t exactly need the extra insult of being openly mocked by a tactless member of the majority. You would only attempt a costume like that if you were absolutely certain there would be no black people at the party.  Or, for that matter, anyone who would be offended.

 

Denmark needs to establish a task force of black people to be dispatched to costume parties, so they can stand in front of Danes wearing blackface and raise their eyebrows, just a little. The ensuing silence would be miles more educational than any speech or billboard campaign.

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How working out in Denmark got me kicked in the face by a little girl

Copenhagen is freckled with what are called ‘training pavilions’.

 

 

You can do something like 25 exercises on these things, all in the comfort of a waterproof, semi-public panopticon. I started using the one on the way to work last year as a way of staying in gay-shape (big arms, chicken legs) to avoid the gym, which is subjectively boring and objectively expensive.

 

So I do my little turn on the pavilion a few times a week. One of the charmingest features of this routine is that the Pav sits in the middle of Copenhagen’s ghettoest (i.e. most full of teenagers) neighborhood, and I am verbally accosted by youths roughly every other time I stop to work out.

 

Usually this consists of low-caliber stuff, pointing and giggling and whatnot. There are three girls, though, who seem to hang out at the pavilion every afternoon, and have taken to shout-counting while I’m doing pullups or whatever (“..Three! Four! Weak! Weaker! Homo!”). I used to find this discouraging, but recently it’s become just another cut on the soundtrack of my out-of-shapeness.

 

Yesterday, for some reason, the girls watched me silently for a few minutes as I went through my little Sisyphus routine, and walked over to me when I was done.

 

‘You’re pretty strong,’ the shortest one said. Up close, she looked about 14, or at least her clothes did. Black tights, billowy shirt, and a fluorescent cacophony of belts, ropes, shoelaces and bangles cinching the parts of her she wanted to show off. ‘Watch’, she said.

 

She then performed a few wobbly dips, while her friends giggled ‘you’re stupid, Anna!’ I, in full Terminanish, said something instructional about maintaining balance. This continued for several minutes: A grown man amidst three vaguely criminal tweens, instructing them on outdoor exercise.

 

Each pavilion has an inclined row of monkey bars, each one higher than the last. I never attempt these, since it feels like a terrorist training video, but the Leotard Queen wanted instruction and an audience for her attempt at the summit.

 

‘What should I do?’ she asked, hanging from the lowest bar.

 

‘Swing,’ I said helpfully. ‘And go up, I guess’.

 

She was about three bars up now, and gaining momentum.

 

‘Good,’ I said. ‘Now make sure you—OW SHIT!’

 

In a wild swing from the fifth bar, her rock-hard little Converse swung around and nailed me in the chin.

 

‘What the FUCK, little girl!’ I said in English, holding my jaw.

 

She fell to the ground, folded over with laughter.

 

‘You guys suck,’ I said, reverting to both Danish and elementary school. They were laughing too hard to notice my scorching rage, and I was too lightheaded to fight them, so I wobbled over to my bike.

 

‘I’m not going to come here anymore!’ I shouted through the good half of my mandible and rode out of ridicule range.

 

This morning I woke up with a sore jaw, nothing to do in the afternoon and an appetite for ruining a teenager’s day. This must be what it’s like to be middle-aged.

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Keep on rockin in the Third World

A friend of mine is doing fieldwork in Nigeria:

I am sitting on a small stool, the table is two overturned paint buckets with a piece of card board on top. This is the rather simple, but non the less functional work station i've carefully “constructed”. Sometimes I even have electricity. Today the Nigerian power supplier, NEPA (Never Expect Power Again), has generously let the electrical current run for several hours. This very moment, as I am writing, power is out again. If NEPA sticks to their habit of  supplying power for 10% of the day, we will by now have exceeded our power quota by many hours and cannot reasonably expect to have power again until Friday. Today's Tuesday.

 

Friday, we were invited to a party by some young French expats whom I met earlier last week. They lived behind a 4 meter high wall topped with barbed wire and broken glass, the gate was guarded by security personnel 24 hours around the clock. Security is always an issue in Lagos also for ordinary  people. One of the good things about living far out in the suburbs is that crime is less of a problem.  In the evening we can stroll down to the local bar, and later we can stroll safely back. As most of the stalls in the dusty (just as often muddy) main street, the bar is constructed with scrab wood and has  a rusty corrugated iron roof. It has 12 white plastic chairs, 4 inside and 8 outside, where you can sit and drink cold beer, have a pepper soup and listen to loud high life music.  

 

In my head, both of these paragraphs consist entirely of 'you are a pussy for living in Copenhagen.'

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Why does Yahoo hate journalism?

Maybe the real plague on journalism isn't political bias, or corporate ownership, or irrelevance. Maybe it's just that they think you're a fucking retard.

'What handwriting reveals', are you fucking kidding me? The analyses of graphologists are only slightly more respected than those of the urine-dripper sitting next to you on the bus. Are Agence France-Press and Yahoo really the last ones to figure this out?

So what revelations have the candidates' signatures provided us with?

Hillary Clinton is smart and forceful, John McCain is proud but has a volatile temper, and Barack Obama is a diplomat who deals well with different people and situations

Wow, you could tell all that just from their signatures? And the last nine months of campaigning, in which those precise facts have become conventional wisdom? That's incredible!

"Handwriting is a reflection of the inner personality. It shows a person's ego strength, how good they feel about themselves, their intellectual, communication and working styles," graphologist Sheila Lowe, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Handwriting Analysis", told AFP.

You know, people who depend on complete idiots as their constituents should probably consider other book titles. 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to Handwriting Analysis' is like 'Evolution Denial for Dummies' or 'The Fun-Hater's Guide to Puritanism'.

Just the signatures of the candidates are revelatory — at least to the eye of an expert. […]

The fluidity of Obama's signature is a sign of high intelligence, while its illegibility shows he is protecting his privacy. […]

Clinton's legible, balanced signature shows a woman of great intelligence. […]

The capital J is the largest letter, which shows his strong belief in his own ego. […]

Wow, someone running to be the leader of the world's most powerful nation has an ego?! Such insight!

Far more fucktrocious than the dollar-store gypsy graphologists, though, is that AFP and Yahoo thought this story was remotely newsworthy, entertaining or, let's face it, worthy on any dimension whatsoever. You know that Gandhi quote, 'Be the change you want to see in the world'? These guys clearly took it as 'Be the problem that is crippling your industry and making the world incrementally more irritating to live in.'

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Things that struck me while reading ‘Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA’ by Tim Weiner

 

  • You gotta love the Corruption, Ineptitude & Alcoholism bureau. It’s seriously amazing how careless and shitty the CIA was during the Cold War. I’m pretty close to concluding that U.S. covert ops had about as much to do with the fall of the Soviet Union as improper dental hygiene.

 

  • If you ignore all the torture stuff, all the failure adds up to something pretty funny. I’ve shamelessly giggled through the first three chapters, which reconstruct the hubristical plans to ‘roll back’ the Soviet Union to its pre-WWII borders. Officially, this was done by empowering Eastern European resistance leaders, but according to the book, it was really more of a ‘Let’s pay this weird Ukranian dude and see what happens’ approach. Hundreds of people died after being literally dropped into enemy territory and instructed to ‘find a nearby village and plant seeds of revolution.’ My favorite fubar so far was the two Polish expats who convinced the CIA to fund an underground movement within Poland. After five years and 10 million 1952-dollars, the leadership finally figured out that the movement didn’t actually exist. It was just a Polish address and a handful of Russian double-agents. Oh, the Trumanity.

 

  • But you know what? Of course all the covert ops were failures. Think about how shitty you would be at your job if you performed it entirely in secret. Your boss would ask ‘So, what projects have you been working on this quarter?’ and you’d go ‘Shhhhh.’

 

  • We kind of assume that competition is the only motivator of hard work and competence. In the private sector, the theory is that people at Nike work harder so they don’t lose market share to those cocksuckers at Reebok. In the public sector, though, the only proxy for competition is transparency. The only way that our government is going to work for us is if every single bureaucrat knows we’re watching them. You were on Facebook at work, Chertoff? I want my money back. Yet the only calls for government oversight consist of ‘starve the beast’, an ethos that just encourages the kind of secrecy and self-perpetuative scheming that the CIA pretty much invented.

 

  • This quote, from former agent Bill Coffin, is great, and possibly even better devoid of context: ‘The ends don’t always justify the means, but they are the only thing that can.’

 

  • This book might be the best possible argument against 9-11 conspiracy theories. Government twatocrats have shown themselves to be sloppy, impulsive and incompetent pretty much from Coolidge up to the current bunch of DCtards. Yet they managed to blow up the World Trade Center, shoot missiles at the Pentagon and down a passenger jet without fucking up or leaving a paper trail? I dunno, Rosie O’Donnell, that’s a little out there.

 

  • I did like this passage, on a longstanding CIA chief.

Angleton was promoted to chief of counterintelligence when it was over. He held the job for twenty years. Drunk after lunch, his mind an impenetrable maze, his inbox a black hole, he passed judgment on every operation and every officer that the CIA aimed against the Soviets. He came to believe that a Soviet master plot controlled American perceptions of the world, and that he and he alone understood the depths of the deception. He took the CIA’s missions against Moscow down into a dark labyrinth.

 

  • Is Torpid DrunkBoss one of those workplace archetypes that doesn’t exist in the real world anymore? These guys seem so grandpa to me now. I feel like there’s an unmarked grave somewhere, where TDB is lying peacefully next to Slutty Secretary, Teacher Who Cares and Nurturing Priest.

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