Wednesday, September 28  
"...sports is the ultimate cultural equalizer: i can't think of any subject that so many people know so much about. i feel like i personally know at least 100 guys who have a 'near expert' understanding of the nfl. if you watch the games each week (and especially if you grew up watching the games each week), you can easily have a 90-minute conversation about pro football with a total stranger in any airport bar (assuming said stranger has had a similar experience).

there is a shared knowledge of sports in america that is unlike our shared knowledge of anything else. whenever i have to hang out with someone i've never met before, i always find myself secretly thinking, 'i hope this dude knows about sports. i hope this dude knows about sports. i hope this dude knows about sports.' because if he does, i know the rest of the conversation will be easy."
-chuck klosterman-
as big a fan as i am of sports, i don't think i've ever had a ninety minute conversation about it. most of my sports conversations -- especially with strangers -- have lasted approximately ninety-seconds.
"oh, so you like basketball hunh? what's your team?"
"i'm a celtics fan."
"how about that larry bird? he was pretty good"
"yeah, he wasn't bad."
the problem with talking to people about sports is that you're never really listening to what the other guy has to say. it's kind of a polite give and take of opinions without any actual conversation being exchanged. everyone has their minds made up about who they think is good or bad, which teams they like, which ones they don't. there's nothing enlightening going on during a sports conversation. nobody is going to suddenly be like "wow, i didn't know that, thank you for telling me." sports conversations usually just lead towards a dull ending with some sort of "well, player-a better do good tomorrow otherwise they're fucked." then the other guy goes "i hear ya, let's hope he does well."

despite all this, i still feel a tremendous sense of relief when someone i just met likes sports. the problem is, i'm usually never sure if a guy is a true fanatic or just mildly interested in sports and uses it as chitchat. i hate people who use sports as chitchat. guys who sit at the bar and keep on bringing up football topics just so they can hear themselves talk. "yeah, so, john elway... better than montana?" i've had this happen to me once, and it was fun for about five seconds, before i realized that everything he had to say was canned and anything i had to say he wanted to refute. so really, why are we talking again?

i need to know right off the bat if someone can talk sports all day long or if they're just talking about it because that's one of the first things two guys might connect on. sports is really better as an argumentative piece, as opposed to a conversation topic. you can argue sports for a long time, or play it, but you really can't conversate about it.

on the other hand, shopping, that you can conversate about. if shopping is to females what sports is to males, then i'd say that i'd prefer feminine shopping based conversations. when girls get together to talk shopping, they're showing their fellow females where to find the best deals, when to buy things, and what kind of excursions they can plan for the future. this is useful information. i wonder if girls get that sense of relief when they find out another girl likes shopping. "ah, here we have something to talk about and connect on (besides boys)." or maybe shopping conversations are actually just as boring to girls as sports conversations can be to boys?

i'm starting to suspect that almost all conversations with strangers are pretty boring, regardless of gender or topic. i'm gonna go engage some people in shopping and sports conversations to see which one is more capable of being drawn out should the occasion call for it. i'll be sure to report back.

[ pen name | 3:00 PM | ]


Friday, September 23  
the etiquette of dating. as composed by people who are really in the know. follow these simple rules to a fulfilling, and less irritating, dating life.

(1) the gordon-ghahremani law of mutual confusion
"dates are defined as this: if there is doubt (mutual or not) about where this is going after tonight, and you're wondering if you'll see that person again, that's probably a date. so really, mutual confusion will be the tell all of a date.

the most important plus factor, in my opinion, is uncertainty. when people just hang out, you have a general idea of what that evening, the following month, the following year will look like. a date implies the opposite.

and this uncertainty, leads to strategy. 'if he does this, then i'll do this . . .' if you have contingency plans, you're probably on a date. (and if you have a chart, it might be love.)"

(2) post-it no bills (PiNB)
dates cannot be requested via text message/email/post-it notes or anything that might be lost in translation. dates should be planned via phone calls or in person if possible. step up to the plate, don't hide behind inferior means of communication to mask the fact that you're not man enough to nut up and verbalize a request.
(2b) urata's amendment - aka "point blank"
the same rule applies to declarations of feeling. you cannot declare how you feel about a person except through the telephone or in person. lengthy well composed letters (not emails) are the exception.

also if you need alcohol or text messages to declare your undying love for someone, your message will be disregarded. additionally, you cannot have a full on "DTR - define the relationship" over email/text/post-it note. you can maybe initiate a DTR through these means, but at least pick up the phone once the DTR conversation is engaged in full. don't be surfing the web and DTR-ing at the same time. that's just poor manners. and not really efficient web surfing either.
(3) (stop being a shady motherfucker) rule - the yang
within three dates (or times hanging out alone), full disclosure of current people you're seeing or semi-current ex-significant others is required. "semi-current" is defined as within the past three months. "seeing someone" is defined as romantic interest on your end.

there is no leeway on this rule. keep in mind that three dates is the maximum time allowed for full disclosure. it's best to aim high and reveal before date three; since that's apparently when some people (according to "sex and the city" enthusiasts) are comfortable sleeping with their dates.

this is also the time to reveal past lives, ex-wives, illegitimate children, overbearing mothers, and if you've had any cosmetic surgical procedures done to you. or if you have any major disabilities -- physical, not emotional. emotional disabilities always reveal themselves in due, usually inopportune, time.

date three is also the time to fess up to any lies or exaggerations made during dates one and two. if you're not really "dr smith," then stop the charade now.

(4) surprise!
do not, repeat, do not plan or execute a stealth date. if a girl expects hang out time at the cafe and you show up with flowers and chocolates, you're not being romantic, you're just personifying shady. plus you're spineless. and possibly ugly.

"if a guy doesnt have the balls to just ask me out on an official 'let's see if we want to make out or possibly get together again by the end of this night's outing, than i say forget it. call me unromantic, but i just find it too reminiscient of middle school to be wavering too long. a week, max. after that, i just get annoyed."

(5) two strikes and you're out
if, after a date, there is no return phone call/email (text messages don't count) after two attempts by one party, the dating period is over. ignoring phone calls and other forms of communication is a valid form of dating negation. it may be immature, but what isn't nowadays? avoiding phone calls/emails minimizes unwanted communication and reduces the need to create excuses for not wanting to date someone.

if a verbal negation of dating status does occur, the dumped has no right to initiate a "wait, what went wrong? why aren't we dating?" conversation. should this occur, a hang up is not only acceptable, but almost mandatory.

re-dating can occur if extenuating circumstances prevented a reply (within a reasonable period of three months). extenuating circumstances are limited to: illness, death in the family, loss of phone/computer, and abduction by aliens. cold feet, flakiness, and general craziness will not be acceptable reasons for a non-reply. exceptions to the extenuating circumstances rule will be governed by a committee composed of the "victim's" friends and/or guardians.

we welcome suggestions, comments, or questions. in the meantime, date at your own risk.

[ pen name | 12:07 AM | ]


Wednesday, September 21  
math libs. final jeopardy answer from last night, under the category "by the numbers."
"how i want a drink, alcoholic of course."
and the stunning answer is here.

so what the hell does that mean? well, the full quote would be "how i want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics. one is yes, adequate even enough to induce some fun and pleasure for an instant miserably brief." it's a mnemonic for the first thirty one digits of pi. who knew these types of things existed? i mean, how many digits of pi does one need to know? and the phrase seems a bit unwieldy, i'd prefer something easier to remember, nevermind one that makes more sense. there are apparently quite a few mnemonics for pi, so i'm gonna have to make up my own, and i challenge you to do the same.

the guy who got this question right came from negative points to the winning score within the last three questions, it was incredible.

[ pen name | 1:48 PM | ]


Monday, September 19  
do you see, what i see. let's play the "whose fault is it" game (again). the situation shapes up like this: girl meets guy, girl hangs out with guy. feelings or non-feelings are observed and eventually, mentioned. girl tells guy "i think i like you." guy tells girl "oh, um, i have and have had a girlfriend." whoops.

is the guy being ridiculously shady? to be hanging out with a member of the opposite sex without informing them that he's taken? do valid reasons/excuses exist for a guy to be "withholding" that type of information? of course, if the guy is doing it consciously, trying to avoid the "do you have a girlfriend" question so that he can have his cake and eat it too, then the fault lies squarely with him. but say the subject of significant others never comes up in conversations-- impossible i know, since that should really be in the top six questions to be asked right off the bat -- then who's fault is it? does the fault lie with the girl who never directly asked (perhaps not wanting to know the answer)? or does the blame fall on the guy, for not slipping in a " and my girlfriend, yada yada yada."

married people have been known to surreptitiously flash the ring to ward off unwelcome advances (i'd imagine welcomed advances involve a lot of gesturing with primarily the right hand), but how do you flash the "i have a serious girlfriend" sign? is there a badge you should be showing? are there universally recognized hand signals that are meant to ward off potential suitors? maybe fraternities and sororities had it right with the whole pinning idea.

i mean, should an ambiguous "i'm not single" attitude really be counted on to be the fail-safe deterrent nowadays? all that "i'm not single attitude" gets you is "man, what an unfriendly bitch."

i don't see why people aren't full on endorsing the whole hawaiian flower thing. you know, flower positioned over the right ear of a girl equals "i'm single (tonight)," while a flower positioned over the left ear hints at "this will take more effort." is this not an ingenious idea that all cultures should adopt? there's probably some color coding going on with those flowers too; like yellow flower equals "happy," pink flower equals "happy but flirtatious," and orange-red flower equals "i'm taken but ready to be swept off my feet after two drinks."

i don't have any hawaiian friends to confirm this theory with, but i'd like to pretend that they've got a whole color coded system figured out. i mean, what other reason could account for hawaiians being so perpetually happy and laid back? because they've got that girl-guy communication shit figured out, that's why. we don't. i mean really, should we mainlanders be forced to revert to friendster stalking to determine if someone is single or "in a relationship?"
on a semi-side note, do you realize how important that one little "status" section on friendster is? "single, in a relationship, domestic partner, married, it's complicated." i've heard about fights breaking out because one party in a relationship didn't change their dating status quickly enough. "what are you trying to do? are we not going out? we've been dating for fifty five minutes asshole. go change that shit right now or it's over!" or even the ever popular "what do you mean 'it's complicated!' what're you trying to say about us? fuck you!" and no, these moments have not been culled from personal experiences, although they might as well have been. friendster's status section has taken on epochal meaning for our times. seriously, what do you look at first on the profile after the pictures? books and movies someone likes? please, that's so shallow.

also, note how this status section can indicate if a friend is in denial about a relationship they are obviously still in despite their protests. "see, right here on friendster, it says i'm single! we're really not going out anymore!" or it can indicate that they're holding onto a relationship that's already clearly over. it's so sad when one half of the couple has marked "single" and the other person is still "in a relationship." what's left of my heart really goes out to these delusional still in denial ones. and then there are those who are in a relationship but are afraid to commit to the officialness of it, so they mark "single" instead of "in a relationship."

i really just need to blog separately about all the things that the status section of friendster can tell you about a person. so, moving on.
is it the job of a boyfriend to pointedly, and seriously, tell all females in his vicinity that he's taken? i mean, isn't that a bit rude? to meet someone, hang out with them, and then out of the blue announce "oh right, i have a serious girlfriend, just thought you should know in case you were wondering. sorry, what time did you say it was?"

don't you think part of the responsibility for knowing something like this about someone else lies with the seeker? i mean, sure "you didn't ask" is the fallback excuse for all kinds of scum/males when trapped into a corner, but really, in this instance, it's legit. if someone's gonna like you enough to want to date you and hasn't thought to ask "so, is there anybody special i should know about?" then the onus is on them for not doing a thorough background check.

relationships are always a whodunit caper, but let's eliminate some of the obvious suspects shall we? don't be afraid to pry a little, there's nothing wrong with a bit of prying. or the occassional glance through the friendster profile. i mean, that's what the internet is here for right? to facilitate relationships?

[ pen name | 2:52 AM | ]


Friday, September 16  
fool me once, shame on you. fool me twice... has a friend's newly discovered past ever bothered you? like you've become good friends with someone and then you find out about something that they've done and you realize that you really can't be friends with them anymore? i mean, nothing as serious as say "i used to be an axe murderer" or anything. but maybe if they got caught stealing something big, maybe credit card fraud, maybe cheating on significant others, that kind of stuff. are things like that ever big enough to dissuade you from your current path of positive friendship? will the fact that a friend has done something that violated your moral code, is that enough for you to write them off?

rehabilitation is great, but if they've done it before, couldn't they do it again?

[ pen name | 1:24 AM | ]


Tuesday, September 13  
"yes, but you're aware that there's an invention called television, and on that invention they show shows?... well, the way they pick the shows on tv is they make one show, and that show's called a pilot. and they show that one show to the people who pick the shows, and on the strength of that one show, they decide if they want to make more shows. some get accepted and become tv programs, and some don't, and become nothing. she starred in one of the ones that became nothing."
-pulp fiction-
the rejection hotline. i haven't had the pleasure of being rejected all that much. i mean, any more than the next person. colleges rejected me, the undergraduate business school at michigan rejected me, unseen potential employers have rejected me, girls have rejected me, but for the most part, rejection has reached me only after the point when i've already decided that rejection is not only possible, but inevitable. by preparing for an eventual rejection, it doesn't feel like rejection at all.

while this defeatist mindset is no way to attack life, it sure minimizes disappointments and sadness.

which is why i really have to give my heart out to creative folks who are forced to flesh out an entire idea before they're even given the chance to step up to the guillotine. tv producers for example, have to find writers, a director, a crew, and a cast to create an entire world. just for the honor of getting dumped by a studio. some writers have to write a whole damn book and shop it around, just to receive a chance at getting rejected. the same high effort / high risk process applies to businesses which must secure outside funding. you better come in with a solid five year projection or that money will be in someone else's bank account.

it takes amazing perseverance to take the politely worded "fuck you's" from other people who think your best work, your blood and toil, is (still) not good enough.

think about if this system were applied to other aspects of life. imagine having to plan out your entire relationship with someone, to have to think about every holiday, anniversary, friday night and special event for the next year, just for them to give you a chance to step up to the dating plate.

actually wait, that's not a terrible idea is it? if you could see a piece of paper that would detail the other person's action plan to "honeymoon period in month one, big fight in month three, holiday on tropical island in month seven, denouement in month nine, so over it in month nine and a half." wouldn't that make it that much easier to choose among potential suitors? sure it would. at least then you couldn't complain about not knowing what you got yourself into. and you'd never have to ask "so, where is this going?" just check the proposal, you'll know exactly where things are going.

action plans are the wave of the dating future.

[ pen name | 3:15 AM | ]


Wednesday, September 7  
livin' la vida moca. i was talking with a friend today, and i got berated for not knowing what lacma was. she told me that she was "going to king tut tonight." i asked, "you're going out on a weekday? king tut? where is that?" when she responded with "lacma," i was at a loss. "lacma? is that somewhere in hollywood?" my so-called friend pretty much exploded at that point. typing in complete caps, she threw unconscionable labels at me, directing words synonymous with stupid, idiotic, imbecile, moron, retard, obtuse, etc, at me.

for the other dumb ass people out there, "l.a.c.m.a." equals "los angeles county museum of art." well, sooorry.

really, when did museums get so cool and hip that they all got acronyms? does anybody else feel me on this one? museums aren't cool, museums aren't -- for the most part -- cutting edge. why do they all get acronymed? i went to the amnh, i went to the moma, the mopa, the sfmoma, the soma, the met. that last one isn't an acronym. and soma's not one either. whoops. stupid is as stupid does.

did you know that "amnh" stood for the "american museum of natural history?" i sure didn't, and it's probably my favorite museum in the world. what happened to just calling museums by their real names, or just assigning acronyms to a select few? i didn't go to the museum of tolerance, i went to the mot. are you fucking kidding me? has (p)diddy and j-lo's publicists hit the museum scene?

yesterday i went to the sdnhm, the rhfsc, and almost went to the sdmrm, but it was closed. see what i'm getting at here? do you have any idea what i'm talking about?

please, let's stop this acronym madness. leave acronyms available for those organizations that really need to shorten their names, lest there be worldwide confusion. organizations like the "horses and ponies protection agency," recognized universally as "happa." not to be confused with "hapa," which is not an acronym at all.
"hapa comes from the hawaiian term 'hapa haole' which means half-foreigner/white. once derogatory, it is now used to describe anyone who is of mixed asian heritage. whether you're multi-ethnic, such as a person who is a mix of filipino and indian, or multiracial, such as a person who is a mix of vietnamese and caucasian."
and while i'm at it, let's stop this "g.o.a.t." thing. you hear that LL? jerry rice? while it may stand for "greatest of all time," it still spells "goat." and nothing is more stupid than being referred to as "goat." would you willingly desire to be labeled "d.i.p.s.h.i.t." even if it stood for something cool? didn't think so.

acronyms: use them wisely and sparringly. they really should have made a sesame street episode about this.

[ pen name | 3:08 PM | ]


Tuesday, September 6  
love the way you activate your hips and push your ass out. is the statement of taste really just a thinly veiled attack on the judgements of others? if you think someone has "good taste," are they subliminally placed into the "people i like" pile?

taste is, by it's very nature, a vague and subjective term; even though to people who care about such things, taste is highly objective. these people are probably/definitely snobs in one way or another, and are willing to dismiss you based on your preferences for foods, clothing, music, home decor, entertainment outlets and the like. being snobby may sound bad but really, aren't there some things that really are in bad taste? kitschy items like black velvet paintings? there can be no doubt that finding one of these on a wall in an otherwise tastefully appointed home would be in poor taste. this is similar to the "ugh, that's a beautiful girl, but why would she wear that?" line of observation.

so once you establish that you have a certain type of taste, you start to use this taste to pass judgement on others don't you? if someone appreciates the same movies and books as you do, wouldn't you think to yourself, "so-and-so has really great taste in movies." the unsaid portion of that sentence is "...just like me." by approving of someone's similar good taste in movies and books, you're patting yourself on the back.

on the other hand, if someone has tastes dissimilar to yours, you're ready to dismiss them, sight unseen. i mean, isn't that the whole premise behind listing your favorite books/movies/music/whatevers on friendster? if i see an auto-fail book or movie under "favorites" in friendster, i'm pretty much ready to throw in the towel on our potential friendship. i mean, we could still be friends, but it'll be a shallow friendship based on things unrelated to good movie and book recommendations. and really, who needs that type of friendship nowadays? many a budding friendship has been crushed by the listing of one of my top five auto-fail books. sad but true.
and sometimes i wonder how i can be friends with such people, people whom i readily declare "close friends," but then find out that they have three-fourths of my auto-fail list on their friendster favorites. a more logical person would take this situation and deduce that tastes in entertainment have nothing to do with the quality of the friendship, but i'd rather turn this sort of problem into one underpinned by religious logic. everyone sins, nobody is perfect, all can be forgiven, and if not, there will be punishment meted out at the end of the ride. all you can do in this lifetime is to try evangelizing to those heading down the wrong path. here, take my copy of "reality bites," please, just take it.
i believe with all my heart that people's tastes have a lot to say about them. if we can't judge someone based on the cover, at least let me judge them by the index. if two people can share a common love for a tv series or an obscure book, then they're destined to get along, because chances are, they see things the same way. the caveat here is that both of you have to appreciate the same thing about the shared favorite. if one person loves "armageddon" for its realistic portrayal of earth's potential fate and the other person loves armaggedon for its deep emotional impact, it's not exactly a shared bond. so even if two people declare similar loves for armageddon, the two of them really should dig deeper to make sure that they're on the same page.

one of my favorite comments that a person has ever made to me was, "i don't think i can trust someone who doesn't like hip hop." yes, you, you can be my friend. that statement and the motivation behind it pretty much epitomizes my entire attitude on friendship.

[ pen name | 2:18 PM | ]


Sunday, September 4  
"quivering vibrato, curlicued melisma, notes held past the vanishing point: the favourite technical tricks of idol contestants are often like screams divorced from the pain or ecstasy that inspired them' ... this separation of 'authentic' emotion from its performed facsimile links these two ubiquitous phenomena in contemporary singing - the breathy child and the gymnastic vocaliser ... ben brantley argued that the influence of american idol had infiltrated musical theatre voice production, provoking a fascinating debate about singing styles and the ways that they've changed.

he suggests a way forward: 'we must cherish such performers. good, well-trained voices that can carry a tune and turn up the volume come cheap. what does not is the voice that identifies a character as specifically and individually as handwriting.'"
-why are pop singers so samey and sexless?-

[ pen name | 9:41 AM | ]


Friday, September 2  
disclosure / remorse. how often can you truly be open with your friends? a popular game to play is to ask your friends how much they think they know you, or vice versa. often, the percentage quoted is around sixty or seventy. some people go as high as ninety, leaving little to no room for surprises. which isn't a bad thing, because what do you have to hide from true friends? best friends? but i find that sometimes, people aren't ready or willing to talk about what they really think. the literally millions of little thoughts that they bury because they don't want to face ridicule, judgement, or just general grapevine-ness. i mean, for me personally, do you have any idea how many little things i don't bother to say just because i don't want people to know that this is what i really think? and this doesn't encompass "mean" things or "bad" things. but things that will really change the perception of someone towards you/me.

is it fear that holds people back from full disclosure? does anybody need to know another person that well? should we hold nothing back? there is a certain freedom to letting someone hear your every thought, i'd imagine. i can name maybe two people that i'd -- at times hesitatingly -- even consider letting know certain things. and these aren't deep dark secrets, but maybe motivations, plans, insecurities, or general schemerisms. of course, nobody is as clever as they think they are. so friends who've known you for a long time have already generally figured you out and know more about you than you'd like to think they do. but still.

i've always, maybe subconsciously, kept a policy of telling more to the people who are further away from my normal group of friends. don't mix business with pleasure they say. and staying honestly expressive is a business, if you are inclined to hold back as much as i am.

and oftentimes, in expressing something, you're already diluting or twisting it, thus making what you're saying not match up to what you're actually thinking. which makes it all sort of pointless.

and who can keep up with all of those little thoughts anyway? it's a struggle to document it yourself, much less document it and share it with any sort of efficiency or clarity.

[ pen name | 4:26 AM | ]