Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. opens

Greenwood Space Travel Supply

recently opened in Seattle as the storefront for . Besides the obvious supplies like robot parts, bulk antigravity, and spare air, they also have . How frickin' cool is Dave Eggers and Co. for creating this series of non-profit writing centers for kids?

After a cursory search, it became clear to me that there wasn't a comprehensive list of all the 826 chapters in the country and what their "fake" storefronts are. So I made one:

The Store, San Francisco's only independent pirate supply store
(some pictures here)

, for all your superhero supply needs
I've been to this one. It's awesome. For Halloween, they re-decorated as the Villain Superhero Supply Store.

I don't think they have a storefront, which is too bad. I came across a newspaper story about the planning for 826 LA with this suggestion for the store from Dave Eggers, "A duty-free shop for a time traveler of the future who might be traveling back in time and need to buy, say, a torch and a battle-ax without paying taxes on it."

(Ann Arbor)
The International Monsters Union (opening soon)

The Boring Store, secret agent supplies (opening soon)

, "Space travel is all we do!"

I also saw a mention that there might be chapter opening in Pittsfield, MA, but that hasn't happened yet. Man I'd love to have one in Austin.

Gay jokes on The Daily Show

gay graffiti

Last night on The Daily Show during a segment on New Jersey's attempt to spruce up its image, new contributor Jason Jones interrupted Gov. Richard Codey saying, "So wait. You're not the gay governor? Okay. Umm, these are useless."

Jones was referring to a sheet of paper titled Funny Gay Jokes. I'm fairly certain that the camera shot of the paper was inserted just for freeze-frame fans. Especially since they had to blur a word in the third one. The jokes:

1. Two gay guys were in the shower together when one looked down and saw a puddle of white liquid.
He said to the other man What did I tell you about farting in the shower?

2. Did you hear about the two homosexual judges? They kept trying each other.

3. How can you make a gay man scream twice?
Fuck him real hard. Then wipe your dick off on the his curtains.

4. Why did the Greek boy run away from home?
He didn't like the way he was being reared.

5. Why do so many gays have moustaches?
To hide the stretchmarks.

There was a sixth, but it was cut off from view. The jokes seem like they came right out of an "offensive" joke book popular in the '80s. Especially the fifth one. Moustaches as a stereotypical gay thing went out with pink polo shirts, though they made be making a comeback (really not safe for work). A quick Google search confirms that these jokes have been bouncing around the internets for awhile. Numbers 3, 4, and 5 are almost always together in that order. Is it just me or is the premise of #5 just weird? According to the joke, gay men have substantially thicker dicks than the general population. Huh?

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Monday, November 28, 2005

What I do in biology lab

Someone recently asked me what I do in my anatomy and physiology lab. I brought my camera along tonight and was delighted/horrified that in this lab session we were comparing sheep uteruses with and without lamb fetuses inside. There was a lot of sad girls in my lab. Click the photo for much, much, much more graphic photos.

female reproductive anatomy

Monday, November 21, 2005

A 6ths singers autograph collection

Years ago, in the first blush of my Magnetic Fields/all-things-Stephin Merritt fandom, I started to collect the autographs of the singers on the first 6ths album. The genesis was when singers Barbara Manning and Georgia Hubley were on the same tour, Barbara opening for Yo La Tengo. After that, it was just a matter of going to see the singer when they were touring and asking nicely.

6ths: Barbara Manning, Stephin Merritt, & Mary Timony autographs

6ths: Mac McCaughan and Georgia Hubley autographs

6ths: Lou Barlow autograph

6ths: Chris Knox & Claudia Gonson autographs

I'm still not done, though I've became pretty lazy about it. I only just got Lou Barlow to sign this year, and despite many opportunities I still haven't got Dean Wareham. I figure I have a good shot at getting Jeffrey Underhill and Mark Robinson if they ever tour again, and Mitch Easter if I ever visit his recording studio. I doubt I'll ever get the ones living outside the US, though Amelia Fletcher might be tour again. If I go to new Zealand like I plan, I'll make a stab at tracking down Robert Scott.

I never bothered with the singers on the second 6ths album even though Momus and Sally Timms have come to Austin. A couple years ago I was in DC and went to see Bob Mould DJ at a club. I briefly regretted not having the liner notes with me, but (unintentionally) rubbing up against him on the dancefloor made for a more memorable experience anyway.

In 2000 when Chris Knox came to Austin, he made good on a promise to sign the liner notes made several years before during a phone interview. Per my request, he drew a caricature of Stephin Merritt as well. The depiction and word choice are both inaccurate - Stephin is cuter and doesn't speak New Zealand English - yet it still captures a certain essence of Stephin.

Chris Knox caricature of Stephin Merritt

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Avenging Unicorn Play Set? Don't mind if I do!

Have you ever had the feeling that your prayers had been answered, but you didn't even know that you had been praying? That's how I felt when I saw the Avenging Unicorn Play Set. From the Archie McPhee website:

Avenging Unicorn Play Set
"Everyone wants an imaginary unicorn friend that they can call forth to smite their enemies. The Avenging Unicorn Play Set has everything you need to use the power of the unicorn to rid your life of irritations. Put the posable, 3-3/4" tall, hard vinyl unicorn on a flat surface and then impale one of three 3-1/8" tall, soft vinyl figures included (businessman/boss, new age lady and mime). Also includes four interchangeable horns (classic spiral, chrome, glow and pearlescent)."

In other Archie McPhee new item news, I now know what I'll be keeping my schoolwork in next semester.

Creepy/cool photos

I walked around my nursing school today taking pictures of anatomical models and a display of antique medical equipment. Yay for creepy/cool!

antique brass tracheotomy tube

ether mask

paper anatomical model

baby skulls & momma pelvises

More photos here.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Gut-stabbed guy, a total jerk

One night while I was working at the hospital, a guy comes in by EMS with a stab wound to his gut. The medical staff is tending to him with care and haste, but he decides to be a dick. Every question is met with a smart-alek answer. Every attempt at treating his wound brings on loud and voluminous complaining. He even smacks a tech because "that hurt!"

I realize that he was in pain with a possibly serious wound and that requiring him to be a model of civility under these circumstance may seem out of line. I can only answer by saying that in my admittedly limited experience, people don't act much different when they're ill. If you are normally a strong, resolute person, in all likelihood you're not going to scream at a nurse drawing your blood when you're sick. Conversely, self-centered, whiny people are soooo ugly in the hospital.

Gut-stabbed guy is a picture of douchebaggery. He stubbornly refuses to answer the doctor when asked what he was stabbed with. This might be because a cop is right outside and something illicit preceeded the stabby-stab, but it's still important for the doctor to know if it was a clean, serrated knife or a rusty soda can. When told he needs to go to surgery, Paranoid Von Bitchy accuses the staff of trying to rip him off with unnecessary and expensive procedures. This despite the fact that he doesn't have insurance and, given what I later learned, isn't likely to pay his hospital bill anyway. Exasperated, one of the techs blurts out, "Dude. You got stabbed!" Since he's been whisked off to the operating room immediately, I don't have to interview him for registration. Whew.

The next day I was working the check-in desk when a woman comes in saying that there's a guy outside with no shirt on and an IV port still in his arm. She tried to convince him that he should go back inside, but he told her to mind her own business. A couple of off-duty police officers (they moonlight as security for the ER) go outside and manage to coax the guy inside. Lo and behold it's gut-stabbed guy. He still has a surgical dressing on his wound and, despite the painkillers, the same horrible attitude.

The officers are trying to explain that leaving the hospital the day after getting stabbed is a bad idea, but he's having none of it. "You can't keep me here!" and "I am leaving!" are his responses. Technically, he's right but dude, you got staaaabbed. One of my favorite nurses enters the fray giving her best medical opinion on what will happen if he leaves, to no avail. He demands that she remove his IV port. She explains that he's going to bleed if she doesn't get some gauze and tape on it.

Under cover of getting the supplies, she calls upstairs to check out what the hell is going on. While he's being being escorted outside, I quietly explain how he came to be our patient. The nurse confirms that he left the hospital AMA (against medical advice) and then goes outside to take out the port. Afterwards, practically everyone in the waiting room - medical staff, officers, and patients - is shaking their head in annoyed bewilderment.

Four hours later, he's back. Seems the pain meds wore off and it started to hurt. Really? Funny how that happens. He didn't even have the decency to act contrite. What an asshole. Worst. Patient. Ever.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Meteor showers rock

On the way home tonight I saw a brilliant meteor flash across the sky. Given the amount of light pollution in Austin, it must have been quite impressive to anyone seeing it way out in the country. It broke up as it entered the atmosphere with thin streaks coming off the main one. Really beautiful and it perked me up for a good hour afterward. I checked when I got home (thanks internets!) and we are indeed in the midst of the annual Leonids meteor shower which should peak on Thursday.

Two memories of meteor watching come to mind. When I was 14, my Boy Scout troop (yeah, I am yet another gay Eagle Scout) went to Florida Sea Base in the Keys to earn scuba certification. We happen to be there during the Perseids meteor shower and due to the distance from any cities, the viewing was bound to be good. In my typically spazzy way, I told my troop about it and was answered with a resounding thud of indifference. Looking at meteors was apparently not cool, even for the academic nerds that made up a good portion of my fellow scouts. As the prime viewing time approached, I settled myself on the sand volleyball court to enjoy the show.

Imagine my surprise when a couple guys from the uber-macho Varsity Scout troop that was also diving at Sea Base joined me a few minutes later. Their nickname among the teaching staff was The Airwolves for the way they quickly huffed and puffed their way through airtanks while on dives. Where my buddies and I could stay down around an hour, these guys breathed their tanks dry in 25 minutes. Maybe it was all that muscle. They were intimidating to all of us skinny guys, at least until we whipped them at volleyball. Tall and gawky is preferable to short and pumped on a volleyball court I guess.

Anyway, these guys had heard me passionately describing the wonders of meteor showers to my troop and, perhaps secure in their sense of personal coolness, decided to see it for themselves. We spent the next hour or so staring up at the night sky in relative silence save for the oohs, aahs, and "did you see that?!"s that come inevitably in response to a lively meteor shower.

The other memory I have is of a near-perfect evening I spent with my friends Amy and Carole. The night started with a bracing swim at Barton Springs pool during free hour. As often happens, we were ravenous after swimming and so stopped at Sandy's for burgers and frozen custard. Sandy's food isn't the best, but it's damn cheap and the look of the place is classic. Eating out back at the picnic tables, it was just right. I can't remember what we talked about, but I do remember laughing a lot. We lingered over our food, unwilling to end a great night too soon. Then I remembered the meteor shower.

Knowing we needed a darker sky than we could get in Austin, we decided to head west on 290 towards Manor. We pulled over at some sort of utility installation that lacked floodlights and spread out a blanket on the ground. Shortly after stretching out, we saw our first streak. Once every several minutes we'd see another one. As meteor showers go, it was relatively unimpressive in both number and quality with only a few long, bright streaks. Still, it was a great reason to keep a wonderful night going.

Meteor showers rock. I wish I had the photographic equipment and knowledge to take some pictures on Thursday.

Demetri Martin on The Daily Show

Last night on The Daily Show, Demetri Martin appeared as the new youth correspondent. It doesn't mean he'll stick around - off the top of my head I can think of five who only made a handful of appearances - but I hope he continues with his "Trendspotter" segments. It was funny and very much in the vein of his stand-up work. The show repeats today at 9 AM, 1 PM, and 7 PM (CST), catch it if you can or it might be added to the online archive (if not there, clips are often available elsewhere).

Previous post about Demtri Martin (and where is that comedy album he was taping?)

UPDATE: The Trendspotting segment is available here.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

My favorite song for the past several hours

I have a tendency to get fixated on certain songs. When a song gets under my skin, I'll listen to it on repeat anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours. That time can be spent jubilantly dancing to "Move Your Feet" by Junior Senior or wallowing in depression to The Smiths' "Oscillate Wildly" (that's the two hour one).

Tonight I became entranced again by a song I've loved for years, White Town's "Your Woman". It's the very definition of a one-hit wonder. A fantastically catchy pop song come out of nowhere, zooms up the charts, and then vanishes. Nothing I've else I've heard from Jyoti Mishra (the sole member) comes even close to matching the sheer brilliance of this track.

After listening to it some 30-odd times and riding the gush of endorphins that flowed from my head to suffuse my whole body, it's forever more going to be lodged in my personal top 25 songs of all time. Rationally, I know it objectively can't be that good of a song, but why would I care about objectivity right now? There's a really, really good song playing.

Recorded on an 8-track at home, it's a marvel of ingenious production. The elements make me shiver: a '30s-era horn sample, the stutter-roll synth bass, the Buggles-esque vocals, the Casio-beat breakdown, the relentless handclaps. And then there's the great you-done-me-wrong lyrics with the clever twist of a man singing a "woman's song". Sure Stephin Merritt does that too and is an admitted and obvious influence on Mishra, but Merritt himself cited this song as the best of 1997 in his list of the best recording of each of the past 100 years.

Does anyone understand when I say this song gives my auditory cortex an orgasm?

Listen again: White Town - Your Woman

Here's the lowdown on the horn sample, the meaning of the lyrics, and other explanations straight from Mishra.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bad bandaging

bad bandaging

My roommate dropped a glass lid and cut her foot in two places. This is the terrible job I did bandaging it, though I'm not responsible for the bit of black cat fur stuck to the tape. Hopefully I will learn to do a much better job next semester.


The People's Vending Machine

The People's Vending Machine

The People's Vending Machine

This machine is in the editorial offices of The Daily Texan, student newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin. The "tool of the capitalist pig-dogs" is the regular vending machine a mere four feet away. Compared to The People's Vending Machine, it's a total rip-off. Many are the times a quarter's worth of People's Vending Machine peanut M&Ms has sustained me.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Texas officially enshrines bigotry

graphic respresentation of Texas' homophobia

Even though gay marriages/civil unions were already illegal here, Texas had to make sure that bigotry, ignorance, and fear were enshrined in our state Constitution. I knew this would happen, but it still burns me up. 76% of Texans, fuck you.

Austin/Travis County is an oasis in the political desert of Texas. This graphic is one of the reasons I will never live anywhere in Texas but Austin. At least Mainers rejected discrimination.

Mr. Drop-of-Water's sadness

Mr. Drop-of-Water is sad about the lyrics of "Rapper's Delight" by Sugarhill Gang. I really like this mural.

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Tower Records murals

In addition to the Varsity Theatre murals I posted about earlier, the building also sports a series of new artworks by FE DE RICO that were added to Tower Records not too long before they closed. I couldn't find any info on FE DE RICO, though I'm fairly certain I've seen his work elsewhere.

Johnny Cash mural
Tower Records mural
More photos here.


The Varsity Theatre murals

Lack of posting due to tests and my Mac freaking out. Hopefully the Mac freak-out is behind me.

I took some photos of the facade on the former Tower Records a couple weeks ago. These are examples of the older murals painted in 1980 by Carlos Lowry back when the building was the Varsity Theatre (Tower took over in 1990).

Varsity Theatre mural
Varsity Theatre mural
More photos here.

Also, great photos of the Varsity in 1936, and a theater manager's experience during the Charles Whitman Tower shooting. The manager mistakenly calls the street just West of Guadalupe St. Red River when it's actually San Antonio.

Also a nice set here on the artist Carlos Lowry's site with clickable images that identify the characters and films pictured in the murals (I swear I notated the photos on Flickr before I found this site).

The Austin Chronicle ran a good article about murals in Austin which includes the Varsity murals.

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