Tuesday, May 23, 2006

This is why marketers never fail to inspire loathing: Hope in a Jar. Yes because anyone who could afford this stuff really needs "hope".

MOVING (&@#(&^*%^#*#@!!!!!

Moving is completely taking over my life, and work is wringing out any last ounce of energy I have, but I promise I will be back next week. So come back, especially for updates on my party in August for my favorite author of all time!!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Ranting about crappy landlords

I have finally recovered from the pure sheer hell of what is now becoming last week. What with trying to share a small apartment with two deranged cats, seeing my David graduate, trying to move, dealing with the breathtaking and all-encompassing stupidity of my new landlords, and pulling 9-10 hour days at the office frantically looking for some document that I am quite sure does not exsit, I'm not sure where to start the my ranting.

I think I'll start with my wonderful landlords: UCH. If you live in Philadelphia and have thought about renting from these people; run for the hills, gnaw off your own arm and throw it behind you to avoid pursuit, but run, and don't ever look back. It's not that they are the worst out there, it's just that they think you the tenant are stupid because you are 1) still in college, and don't care that you are being cheated or treated like a retarded farm animal because your rich daddy is paying for everything, or 2) wimpy enough to be pushed around. These 30-something hipster freaks have taken the attitude that they were doing me a favor by cleaning and priming my apartment before I moved in.

So here's what happened; I call ahead and schedule a time for them to clean and paint my apartment. They promise me that it would be done by a certain date. When I try to move in the next day, Friday of last week, I find a couple of dead cockroaches on a dirty, plaster strewn floor, holes in the walls, and exposed plumbing. I patiently call them and ask why my apartment is in a way that makes me feel that they didn't do their jobs. Their response is that they don't know what happened and that I should stop being so outraged because the cleaning and painting crew could have very well have painted my aparment. My response---that in my experience cleaning crews and painters do not leave holes in walls, dust and plaster on the floors and exposed plumbing---was met with patronizing comments that alluded to the fact that I was a bitch.

Later in the day, the head of the place, lets call him Jay, glorious I'm-doing-you-a-favor-when-you-rent-from-me Jay told me that I had to be at my aparment the next day at 1:30 to let in the cleaning lady. He tells me that I better not tell the cleaner what to do because it was a general cleanup and that it wasn't my place. Never mind its also not my place to be letting cleaners into unihabitable apartments, or that I may have plans on the weekend of my boyfriend's graduation other than sitting in a empty apartment because my landlord f*cked up. I let it go. They promise me that they will put a crew in on Monday morning to paint as well. I tell them to please make sure they do because we had to move David out of his place by that night. Monday morning is graduation for David, so I call early to UCH and leave a message begging them to leave me a message if anything goes wrong and they can't get their work done by the afternoon. I didn't get a call, so right after commencement, we begin to move David's stuff in.

We find the apartment exactly as we had left it, no paint on the walls, oh and the plumbing in the bathroom is now missing with broken tile lying around. So I call Jay again. I tell him that I may be loosing my patience with him. He tells me that he may also be loosing his patience with me, since he was doing me a favor by trying to get the crew in on short notice. I mentioned that the reason the crew was in on short notice was due to his own incomptency, and he avoids the issue by asserting that he thought all I needed done was the cleaning and not the priming. Never mind that I had in the past week on 3 seperate occasions held conversations with the guy where I listed painting as something they needed to get done before I moved in. I asked him, what about my message telling him to call me if anything went wrong, he tells me what message?

I gave up on the patience and honey will get your more bees crap, and told him that I would now record all the conversations between UCH and me, take pictures of everything that was wrong with the apartment, and if I had to, make them sign statements as to when they would do work on the apartment. The apartment was painted the very next day.

Of course they took out my commode to exact revenge, but the moral of the story is that if you are in or just out of college, know your rights. And if things don't get done the way you want it, threaten legal repercussions because liability is the only thing that these lazy idiots understand. And document everything: from the way your landlord's jeans are too tight, to how pathetic it is for him to be on a power trip because he rents out to kids.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Justice Being Served in Germany

I got to this article via www.boingboing.net: in Hamburg, Germany, a gang of thieves are dressing up like superheroes and stealing expensive foods from high-end restaurants (a.k.a. haughty asshole magnets) to give to the poor.

The Justice League: Hamburg

I don't care what German authorities say, I can always go for a fresh cup of Kupi Lowak coffee in the morning, and if I really do end up being a professor then stealing the crap will be my only means to drink it.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Longwood Gardens

Today we went on a trip to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. It is 1,050 acres of "horticultural display gardens" and was created by Pierre S. duPont. At this point some pictures will be more expressive than words so please enjoy this small sampling of what we saw:

The Lady or the Tiger?

If you like puzzles and are looking for something more challenging than the daily crossword, I highly recommend The Lady or the Tiger by Raymond Smullyan. The title references the famous short story of the same name, and features a collection of progressively challenging logic puzzles. The first half of the book should be engaging enough for any enthusiastic puzzle lover. Only serious mathmaticians should apply themselves to the second. Sadly the book is out of print, but you can get a used copy easily.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


I have just finished two movies that I highly recommend:

1) Unbreakable directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan. In my opinion, easily the best comic book movie ever made. This is how a comic book should look and play out on screen.

2) Mirrormask, a movie written and scripted by Neil Gaiman. A mixture of live-action, CGI, and line drawings, the movie was visually stunning. Hopefully, this is where animation is headed in the future, because there's a lot more ground to explore here than in CGI alone. I also recommend checking out Gaiman's graphic novels if you like the movie. I will do a review for Mirrormask on the blog later.

Pictured above is the main character of Mirrormask talking to a couple of monkeybirds. Yes monkeybirds...

Free Stuff

Ever had a day where you feel like, gee there isn't enough free stuff in the world. Well today is your lucky day, check out ALL of Cory Doctrow's works on his webpage http://www.craphound.com/. Who is Cory Doctrow? Well he's an award-winning science fiction author who employs the Creative Commons license which means that all of his novels are not only free for download but also that you are given license to rework, reinterpret, remix his work. Cory Doctrow is also one of the editors on the popular webpage boingboing.net. His work is hard to describe, so check out his website for a first-hand experience.

If you were watching the Food Network a couple of years ago, you may have had the pleasure of catching a show called A Cook's Tour, where a sarcastic chef named Anthony Bourdain ate anything and everything in his travels across the world. The show sadly no longer exists as it never quite fit in with the rest of the cookie-cutter, perfectly-packaged, mmmm-everything-is-so-good crowd on the network. But give me a man who spits out haute cusine in a 5-star resturant any day over Rachael ( I have no taste buds, but I make up for it with my annoying trademark giggle) Ray.

Recently, David bought me his book Kitchen Confidential, and while I had my doubts about the writing---the man clearly has a few screws loose---I have been quite surprised and delighted. While incredibly self-indulgent to the point of being distasteful, especially when Bourdain describes his early experiences with food, the book remains highly enjoyable. Snappy, full of sleazy behavior and disturbing facts that you'll wish you didn't know, Anthony Bourdain takes the reader through the world of the Manhattan restaurants and the hellish underbelly that is the kitchen. You'll learn to never order seafood on Monday, and that it's standard industry practice to reuse uneaten bread. It's fun, it's disturbingly educational, it's slighty unsavory, and it'll pack more punch than anything you'll see on the Food Network.


I would really really appreciate this in my life: CitiKitty. But does it really work?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Invisible Library

For those of you who are bibliophiles, check out the Invisible Library. It's a directory of books that only exist within other books. See if your favorite non-existent book is listed.

Shout Out!

Someone has done illustrations for every page of Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pychon. That's 760 drawings...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Favorite Children's Series

So here is the end of my children’s list. The theme this time was series, a story that was more than one book. This is not the complete list, so look for updates or revisions to the post in the upcoming hours/days. It's not in any discernable order.

1) The Dark Is Rising Sequence – Susan Cooper.
There’s a reason this series garnered so many awards. I was obsessed with it as a kid. Based on Celtic and Welsh legends, the plotline was excellent and often unexpected.

2) Prydain Chronicles – Lloyd Alexander.
I would describe this as the Wheel of Time (by Robert Jordan) series for children, except of course it’s not quite as painful and by the fourth book, you don’t have to get a prosthetic hand just so you can support the weight of the book. Oh and it wraps up neatly and the characters are much more likeable.

3) A Wrinkle in Time Series – Madeline L’Engle.
I have to admit, as a kid I didn’t find this series as likeable as some of the others. Maybe it was because the protagonists were so know-it-all, gifted, or maybe the plot was just too confusing for me to grasp at the time. My favorite book of the series (Many Waters) is one that I always feel somewhat guilty admitting to. Anyways, I appreciate L’Engle as an author and believe that this is essential on the list of children’s series. (While doing this post, I found out that they're making a film... I wish Hollywood would stop plundering children's books)

4) His Dark Materials Trilogy – Phillip Pullman.
I didn’t like this series... “duck”. Believe me I tried; I didn’t like the first book, and had a horrible time trying to get through the second. Someday I will try again, and have to eat my words, but for some reason, I was not drawn into these books. I felt the first book was too simple and while the concepts were interesting, they weren’t interesting enough to pull me in. Also I didn’t find any of the characters except the daemons likeable and the writing for some reason, especially the start of the second novel, just irked me. This is surprising because I was obsessed with the other series that Phillip Pullman wrote: the Sally Lockhart trilogy---well the first book, the Ruby in the Smoke, and half of the second. Who knows, anyways it’s on my list because people I trust keep on telling me it’s amazing, and I believe them. Personal preference I guess.

5) Little House on the Prarie – Laura Ingall Wilders
Surprisingly, I love this series. I always thought that Laura Ingall Wilders managed to be incredibly engaging and disarmingly honest in her writing for children.

6) Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
I loved this series as a kid! Stupid movie, and the massive commercialized display of the books, and books on the movie and books on books on the movie and books on religion in the books and books that analyzed the crap out of every word that C. S. Lewis ever wrote at Barnes and Noble almost ruined it for me. All that was missing was tiny talking demonic dolls jumping up and down screaming buy! buy! buy! .

7) Redwall Series – Brian Jacques
Fuzzy animals wielding swords---what’s not to love? Well admittedly the 20th book about fuzzy animals wielding swords needed a little inspiration, but the first couple of hefty volumes were quite good.

8) The Hero and the Crown Duet – Robin McKinley
This left a great impression upon me when I was a kid. I liked the first novel better than the second.


During my lunch hour, I went to kettle bell training session with some of my friends. I have never felt so much pain in my life and now I’m also seeing spots. Still, I recommend it as it is an excellent core/bodybuilding/cardio workout. Now I'm going to crawl back into the woodwork and whimper for a while.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Stephen Colbert

Please visit this link, watch the videos, and thank Stephen Colbert.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Hidden Camera

Hidden Camera by Zoran Zivkovic came in the mail today! I have great expectations for the novel ever since I read a couple of chapters on infinity plus. Hidden Camera is a Borgesian story of an undertaker who is convinced that he has been involved against his will in a twisted reality show. The tale starts with our undertaker receiving a mysterious ticket that invites him to a private viewing of a movie. The invitation becomes a bizarre and paranoid journey, when the movie turns out to be a single shot of the undertaker sitting on a park bench eating a sandwich. Zoran Zivkovic is one of the greatest Serbian writers today. His work often blurs the line between fantasy and reality while making incisive social commentary. I will put up my review once I have finished reading the book.

Ilustrated Favorites

For some reason it's exceptionally hard to post a whole slew of pictures, so the rest of the list will sadly have to be in written form:

The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein, A classic. Everyone should own a copy of this.

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs - Judi Barret, Still the most delightful first time read that I can remember.

Slyvester and the Magic Pebble - William Steig, What really happens when you mess with magic.

BAAA - David Macaulay, This book, while for children, may surprise any adult with its content. Part fable, part political observation, part satire reminiscent of Soylent Green, this is my biggest recommendation on the list.

Tuesday - David Wiesner

Sector 7 - David Wiesner, clearly I'm a big fan of his illustrations.

Many Moons - James Thurber, yes he wrote children's stories too! Spoiled princess wants the moon! What is the court to do?

The Eleventh Hour - Graeme Base, my favorite illustrated mystery/puzzle book. Check out his other stuff too.

Amelia Bedlia - Peggy Parish, I was delighted by these as a kid.

Nate the Great - Majorie Weinman Sharmat. The boy dectective and his love for pancakes. Do you remember these?

I know there are more, so remind me of what I missed!


Here's a tip of my hat to the marketing geniuses who brought us the Super Soaker. Soon to be shooting loads at children near you, I present the Oozinator!

Kids shooting loads at each other