Friday, August 27, 2010

Movie Review: Salt

Salt is an entertaining film about running. I believe the working title was Chariots of Fire II, but in the end there was some issue with copyright.

In the film, Angelina Jolie is a very fast runner. There are other actors, like Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor, who are less fast runners. They try to run as fast as Angelina, but they can't. They even try to cheat by using cars and helicopters but she just runs and runs and they can't catch her.

Even though Angelina is clearly the fastest runner, she likes to keep things interesting. So sometimes she slows to a brisk walk or a jog, to give Liev and Chiwetel time to catch up before running again. This helps build dramatic tension and keeps the viewer engaged in all the running.

Angelina is also a tricky runner. She not only runs on semis and buildings, she also changes running clothes and hair and eye color frequently, just to keep the other runners guessing. She even changes into a man briefly, although I found this mostly distracting because I kept wondering where her boobs went.

It's easy to root for Angelina, because she is so passionate about running. At the beginning of the film, Kim Jong Il has locked her up so she can't run. It is very hard on her because she misses running so much. At another point, she tries to take her dog for a walk, but the dog is too slow for her so she stuffs it in her backpack instead.

In a surprising twist, you find out that Angelina is part of a large group of specially trained Russian runners sent to America to run and show how Russian runners are better than American runners. Angelina runs to try and impress the Russian president, but these days Russians don't care about running like they used to, so she runs to impress the U.S. president instead. Unfortunately he falls asleep during the best part of her running, so she ends up running for herself instead.

I highly recommend this film for anyone who loves running or who wants to see Angelina Jolie dress up as a man. You will not be disappointed.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Have Arrived!

I officially declare this blog "up and running" since my last post pushed my very first post off the visible spectrum into the oft-neglected land of "Older Posts."

It's been an entertaining, if pointless, endeavor. I'd like to thank all five of my readers for sticking with me thus far, especially the ones who aren't obligated to be here due to friendship, blood relations, or bribery. Since that leaves none of you, I really don't have to thank anyone, which is how I like it so ha!

Here's to a future full of futile frustration. L'chaim!

Love and kisses,

S. Misanthrope

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Your Apartment Is Not a Condo

It really, really irks me to hear people talk about their condo. "Oh yes, my condo in the city has great views." “My condo comes with two parking spaces, so you can drive over anytime.” "Hey baby, why don't you come back to my condo?" It irks me because what these people have are not condos. They are fucking apartments.

When I was very young, we lived in a condo. It was basically a house that had been glued to another house. My grandma also has a condo. It is a house glued to two other houses, one on each side.

This is what a condo is. A condo is not a little box carved out of an even bigger box with other little boxes in front, behind, above, below and alongside. That is an apartment. A-part-ment. They are “a part” of the “ment.”

The only reason anyone says “condo” when they should say “apartment” is that they are trying to communicate the fact that they own their apartment. They want to bask in the prestige of owning real estate Well, whoopdeedoo, you send an outlandish check to a bank instead of a landlord each month, in addition to putting a bunch of money down on a shitty investment that won’t give you anything like the return you expect. Well done, you.

When you buy an orange at the grocer, does it magically transform into something other than an orange? No, it’s still a fucking orange. We even have this handy grammatical way to indicate that change of ownership: the possessive. Now it’s “your orange,” but it’s still a fucking orange. It’s not a “condo.” The English language, including slang, has about 50 synonyms for “car,” but none of them differentiate between the car you lease and the car you own. It’s “your car,” “your orange,” and “your apartment.”

By the way, you can totally rent a condo, which my parents did with ours after we moved to a house. Were we renting our condo whilst our tenants were renting an apartment? No. No, no, no. Besides, *someone* owns your apartment, even if it isn’t you. If the landlord moved into the apartment himself, would it suddenly become a condo? No! It would be just what it always was: an apartment.

Granted there are gray areas. It’s not totally insane to consider my current home a condo, but I still refer to it as “my apartment” because I don’t want to be a pretentious douche.

Here’s a pretty reliable test to determine whether your “residence that shares one or more sides with another residence” is an apartment or a condo:

Question: Do you have your own front door? That is, do you have your own, private, individual door that leads from the street to your residence?

If yes, congratulations! You are the proud resident of a condo.

If no, you live in a fucking apartment. Deal with it.

With love,

S. Misanthrope

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Three Simple Proofs that Babies are Gross

Take your pick.

Proof #1:
A. Things that are covered in viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and other microbes are gross.
B. Babies are covered in viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and other microbes.
--> Babies are gross.

Proof #2:
A. Things that lack bowel control are gross.
B. Things that lack bladder control are gross.
C. Babies lack bowel and bladder control.
--> Babies are gross.

Proof #3:
A. Vaginas are gross.
B. Babies come from vaginas.
--> Babies are gross.

You're welcome.

S. Misanthrope

Stupid of the Week #2: Yoga

Welcome to our second installment of Stupid of the Week.

There are certain things in the world, such as low fat granola, that everyone agrees are good for you. Predictably enough, these things turn out to be universally bad for you at worst, and a waste of time and resources at best. One of the worst offenders in this regard is yoga, the anti-exercise exercise.

I'm not even going to waste one paragraph writing about the stupidity of the spiritual aspects of yoga. Suffice it to say that no, you are not God, none of you are God, but I do wish you were all God because then you wouldn't exist and I wouldn't have to deal with your stupid chanting. Damn, I wasted a paragraph.

I used to think yoga was the answer. I looked at the skinny girls in yoga class and thought "They are skinny because they do yoga." Now I realize I reversed causality. They are not skinny because they do yoga, they do yoga because they are skinny. Their emaciated forearms don't have the capacity to lift a dumbbell; their spindly legs couldn't run a mile; their abs aren't so much flat as deflated. All they can do is stretch and say "look at me, I'm skinny!"

Granted yoga, like walking, standing, even chewing, is eventually exercise, if you do it for long enough. If you spend 6 hours a day in the warrior pose, I'm sure you'll develop significant calf strength. In fact, this is the supposed point of yoga, to be able to hold a position nearly indefinitely. That's very useful if you are a ninja or if you cannot move because you stepped on a pressure-sensitive bomb. But if you're a normal person with a semblance of a life, you don't have time to lie on the floor for an hour. You won't work off the calories in a stick of Carefree gum that way. You have better things to do. You need a get-in, get-out workout that's actually a workout.

Yes, skinny girls do yoga. What other qualities do these girls have besides skinniness? Here is a complete list of ALL the serious yoga practitioners I've met:
-A girl who also practices raki, the form of Japanese "medicine" where you cure disease by waving your hands around the patient's head to manipulate their aura.
-A woman who also believes that you should eat only rotting foods to ease digestion.
-A girl who is also in a sex cult.
-A boy who is also in a sex cult.
-A woman who is also prostitute.
-A man who thinks that all external sense-data are lies to trick you and keep you from seeing the truth (attainable only through your yoga practice, of course).

Did I forget to mention that these are not mere practitioners, but full, certified, went-on-a-spiritual-retreat-in-India yoga instructors? These people, the people teaching your yoga class and telling you about their heightened awareness from their "practice" or whatever, are all fucking insane. Yet every career power-woman thinks she "needs" yoga to manage her stress, like the best way to manage stress is to waste an hour sitting on the floor. I don't think I know any successful woman who doesn't have a yoga mat collecting dust in a closet somewhere, and yet the entire purpose of yoga directly contradicts everything that makes her successful.

We already spend about a third of our lives asleep. If you want to spend another third of your life in downward dog position (someone please make the obvious joke here), be my guest. That leaves you 8 hours for making money, romantic happiness, sex, procreation, dining, TV watching, shopping, reading, travel, singing, dancing, keeping house, laundry, etc. Really that's about 8 hours for making money.

Or you could dedicate 1 or 2 hours to actual exercise and spend the rest of your life doing better things. Just a thought.

With love,

S. Misanthrope

Monday, August 9, 2010

Nelson Mandela was American?

There is an epistemological epidemic of epic proportions ravaging the minds of Americans. It stems from a particular form of sloppy concept-formation in which one fails to properly attach all essentials to a definition. It manifests in both infuriating and amusing ways when the concept is then misapplied in practice.

Perhaps the most common case is the term "African-American." This is a legitimate concept with a specific and applicable meaning. It refers to people of African descent who are Americans. Should be easy enough, right? Wrong.

Due to our (and here I mean Americans, broadly) desperate concern to never offend anybody ever, we tip-toe around issues of race as though they were a sulfuric acid spitting hydra with PMS. We will do almost anything to avoid the subject, but sometimes you are forced to call a sulfuric acid spitting hydra a sulfuric acid spitting hydra. The resulting side stepping, back pedaling, and other forms of evasive footwork are often downright hilarious to observe.

Enter My Boss. At the time of the 2008 presidential election (again this is America, people), My Boss decided it was good management strategy to tally everyone's vote (he probably got this from a management book in the 90s, which is no doubt also where he got his tie). I'm pretty sure he regrets attempting to collect mine.

My Boss: I think it's pathetic that South Africa had a bla- uh, er, mm, I mean, African-American president before we did.

Me: South Africa had an African-American president?

My Boss: Yeah, Nelson Mandela.

Me: Nelson Mandela was American?

My Boss: Well, African-American.

Me: Um, I don't think he was American.

My Boss: Well, uh, erm, I mean, you know what I mean. He was African-American.

Me: I'm pretty sure he was South African, just like all the other South African presidents.

My Boss: No, no, he wasn't American, but he was African-American.

Me: Well, anyhow, Obama's mostly Arab, so...

I must admit, I enjoyed watching him struggle. The man just could not bring himself to say the word "black." That was probably a taboo in his 90s management books, too.

Nelson Mandela: a great man, a great American.

News flash, everyone: using the word "black" to describe someone's race is not offensive. But you know what probably is offensive? Calling a Brit, or Aussie, or Canuck, or South African American. Or calling someone with no ties to Africa whatsoever since homo erectus African (by the way, am I the only one getting a homoerotic vibe from that species?).

Would you call Mao Asian-American? Or Che Mexican-American? Well, that would actually be really funny, so maybe you should, but when it comes to the guy with ebony skin and a limey accent, tell the hydra to go fuck itself. That man is not African-American. He's black, just black. Say it with me: buh-lack. And you know what? He probably knows it and is cool with it and doesn't want you to shit yourself over it. Come to think of it, he's probably lots of other cool things, too. You should go ask him. I promise he won't be offended.

Assuming of course you don't ask him how it feels to be the first in his family to walk upright, and whether Obama still has his support in 2012.

With love,

S. Misanthrope

Adventures in Roommating: Part I

No, this segment is not about rooms having sex. This is about the many strange, frustrating, disconcerting, infuriating, ridiculous, obnoxious, irrational, absurd, insane, and sometimes criminal things that I have suffered at the hands of roommates.

My first tale of toil and trouble takes place in San Francisco, where the eviction laws are tight and landlord rights effectively nonexistent. San Francisco is also the birth place of Craig's List, that wonderful medium that has connected countless total psychopaths with sweet, unsuspecting young virgins like myself.

Christmas was coming and fat geese were all over the place, honking, eating bread and doing whatever else geese do. Having lost my previous roommate to a horrific car accident (not kidding, but that's a story for another day), I was in the market for a replacement, hopefully one willing to pay $400 more a month so that I could buy Christmas presents and pay off my school loans. I put a hopeful ad up on Craig's List and waited with naive optimism for a responsible, respectful adult with a reliable paycheck to respond to my offer.

Enter the man I will call Harmonic Disconvergence*. After a brief email exchange and tour of the apartment, he accepted my asking price. He seemed normal enough despite bearing a strange resemblance to Billy Idol and, being desperate for cash, I figured that if the check cleared, that was good enough. Background check, shmackground check, people should trust each other, and besides, those things cost like twenty bucks. So we signed the sublease. I regretted it before he even moved in.

The next day, I received from my new roommate Harm the following text message, which I believe he sent to his entire address book. I am not making this up.

--Txt from XXX-XXX-XXXX sent 8:52pm 12/21/2008--


--End txt--

Yup, this was definitely going to be an adventure.

*This is the name I got by plugging this jerk's real name into the Goth Name Generator. The shortened name "Harm" is particularly apt for this individual, though perhaps he would have preferred another 4-letter "H" name.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Stupid of the Week #1: The Paleo Diet

Welcome to the first installment of our new series: Stupid of the Week. In this series, we will dive head first into the depths of stupidity and really check out that horse's mouth. But before we get started, my friend Bob has asked me share something he wrote.

Bob has struggled with his weight for a long time, but he recently found a diet that really works for him. Maybe it will work for you, too. Here's Bob's story:

Hello, my name is Bob, and I'd like to tell you about my success on the "Paleo" or "Caveman" diet. I've tried every diet ever mentioned in Good Housekeeping. Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, South Beach; I even tried a diet where you eat only pineapple and another where you eat only ice cream. I did Atkins in the late 90s, and while I got thin and fit at first, the weight came right back as soon as I started eating Krispy Kreme again.

My spirit broken, I gave up on life (looking back, I realize that what I *thought* was a broken spirit and lack of will was really just the insidious effect of vegetable oils and nitrates, but more on that later.) When a friend of the family suggested "going Paleo" I thought: well alright, I'll give this one more go.

 Let me tell you, the results were amazing. Within a month I had lost 20 lbs., just like on Atkins. I had energy all the time with no crash, just like on Atkins. I ate bacon, cheese, vegetables and nuts, just like on Atkins, except this time they were organic/unpasteurized/hormone free vegetables/cheese/bacon purchased at Whole Foods for approximately 3/4 the GDP of Burma.

The best thing about Paleo dieting is that it's easy to stick with because it's natural. Even though I ate the same foods on Atkins and experienced the same weight loss and energy results, I couldn't stick with Atkins because Atkins just didn't make sense to me. I tried to read Dr. Atkins's book, but it had too many words like "gluconeogenesis" and "tricarboxylic acid cycle." What am I, some sort of scientist-wizard? I don't have a PhD in pronouncing long words, thank you very much.

Paleo is much more consumer-friendly than Atkins. It doesn't try to confuse you with big words, it just appeals to your intuition (and really, isn't that what science is all about?) Dr. Weston A. Price, the founder of the Paleo diet, wasn't even a real doctor, he was a dentist who went around taking pictures of young, supple native boys from indigenous cultures around the world. While fondling and photographing, he noticed how nice these boys' teeth were. "You sure have a pretty mouth," he commented to one. "Ah ha!" he said, "I have discovered the secret to eternal life!" He died 5 years later, but his discoveries live on in the Super Adventure Club and Weston A. Price Foundation.

As the Foundation website explains, certain dietary elements are common to all native boys with nice teeth. They all eat: fish, animal organs, raw meats, sprouted/fermented vegetables, etc. They don't eat: processed foods, wheat, cane sugar, etc. The Foundation then turns this into dietary recommendations for we unfortunate modern humans burdened by civilization.

All of this made a lot of sense to me, and the results were clear (so similar to Atkins), but I thought "Couldn't we take this a step further? Aren't there other things we could do more like cavemen? Cave men didn't have soap, or sunscreen, or..." I quickly discovered I wasn't the only one heading down this intellectual road. Mark Sisson was already leading the way.

Mark points out that not only did cavemen avoid processed foods, they also didn't drive cars or work at computers. They walked for miles and miles every day, ran from cave bears, and often picked up large rocks. He then suggests that modern humans spend more time on their feet and lift heavy things.

This just blew me away. Where other diets recommend an exercise routine that includes both cardio conditioning and resistance training, Mark recommends being on your feet a lot and lifting heavy things. He is truly visionary.

Inspired by Mark's wise words, I resolved to start lifting heavy things right away. I decided to start with my car, because it is approximately the size of the rocks cavemen used to crush cave bears to death according to this drawing I saw when I was a kid. I ended up dislocating my lumbar vertebrae and crushing a disc. My body must have been even more damaged by processed foods and Crisco than I ever suspected!

As I writhed and howled in pain on my driveway, my neighbor ran outside and started dialing 911. "No, no, no!" I said, "Cavemen got by just fine without ambulances, and so will I! It's evolution!" My neighbor slowly nodded and walked away muttering something about "natural selection."

Not knowing of any caves nearby, I dragged myself under my porch (in only 3 hours!) As I settled in, I heard a strange hissing sound. I'm not too clear on what happened next, but when I woke up it was the next day and I was in the hospital with bandages all over my body. Apparently my cave was also home to a nest of vipers and the doctors had completely depleted the hospital's supply of antivenom trying to revive me.

Needless to say, I was furious at having been taken into a modern hospital and fed artificial substances against my will. I refused my Jell-O and after a few days the so-called doctors had no choice but to release me back into the wild.

Now I am free, as man was meant to be. Humans evolved over millions of years, and during those millions of years did we have feed lots and hormones and pasteurized milk? Did we have shampoo and antibiotics? Did we have cars and houses? No we did not! So why should we have them now? Just eat and live like a caveman and evolution will take care of the rest. It worked for me!

Yours in Nature,

I regret to have to inform everyone that Bob is dead. We're not sure if it was the snake bites, the fungal infection, the trichinosis, the E. Coli, the 3rd degree sunburn, the athlete's foot, or the fact that he was mauled by a mountain lion. His body, when found, weighed only 71 lbs., so we can at least say that his diet was a success.

Either way, there's one less stupid in the world.


S. Misanthrope

On the Animal that Blushes

So here's the thing: I actually really, really like people. No, really. I'm super, super cereal.

But then here's the other thing: I'm a total masochist.

Humans are basically the most awesome thing ever. Quick, list the first 5 awesome things that come into your head. You probably thought something like: rocketships, robots, velociraptors, quantum mechanics, and gum. Well, you can thank humans for all of these. Good job, humanity. Muchas gracias.

Maybe you thought something stupid like: sunsets, pandas, forests, pearls, Mt. Everest; and are like "Hey, humans aren't responsible for these awesome things!" Well yeah, you picked the wrong things, dumbass. Sunsets? We could blow up the fucking sun if we wanted. Haven't you seen Armageddon? And pandas are just evolution's biggest fail. That other stuff is crap, too. Seriously, what's cooler than *robots*? I rest my case.

Some amazonian frog may sweat the cure for cancer from his eyeballs, but that's just coincidence. The biologist who studies the frog and the pharmacologist who invents the drug actually *create* something amazing. Humans are cool because we actually choose to do the cool shit we do. That means we get credit for it. Props. Kudos. Unfortunately, it also means we get the blame when we choose to do fucking retarded shit. That's where I come in.

You know those scare-tactic statistics we always hear, like "Every minute a cigarette leaps out of a smoker's mouth and strangles a baby?" Well here's a much scarier one for you: every second, no, every *millisecond*, someone does something amazingly stupid.

This is nothing new, of course. We can assume there were a lot of fuckups on the way to discovering fire ("Well Urg, our offspring didn't make good kindling. Let's try these small rocks!")  What is new is the internets. The internets has made it possible not only to rise to new levels of stupid ("Hey honey, I just sent our account number to this Nigerian guy. We're gonna be rich!"), but to document all the traditional stupid meticulously and publicly, preserving it for all time. This blog will be one small part of that great effort.

When stupid pops up on my radar, I will call it out. When the driver of an electric car boasts that he consumes no fossil fuels, I will lash him with scathing prose. When something that isn't a penis looks like a penis, I will lead the pointing and laughing. When I spend an hour searching for my sunglasses only to discover they are on top of my head, well, I probably won't write about that because it's not that funny, but you get the idea.

I'm lucky in that I'm better than everyone else, and I've managed to find friends who are better than everyone else too. We hang around, being better and smarter than everyone else, happily ensconced in our bubble of superiority. But every so often, stupid intrudes, whether from without or within. When that happens, I will record it here. You know, for the children.

With love,

S. Misanthrope

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How to Tell if You Are Fat

My whole life I have wondered how people *really* see me. Sure you can check yourself out in a mirror, or on the television at Sears, or take Polaroids like Cher. You can ask your friends, but they will lie to you. How could you ever really *know* what you look like to others?

After more than a decade of pondering, the answer came to me in a flash of brilliant insight. The method is flawless, simply stunning in its simplicity, cunning, and scientific accuracy. Here is how to find out what you look like in 3 easy steps:

Step 1: Do something that will get someone to call the cops on you. This may be a challenge if you are in a place like New York or San Francisco where defecating in public is standard fare. If you're in Iran, try removing your burqa or holding hands with someone of the same sex (the latter works well in Utah, as well.)

Step 2: Hide from the police. Letting yourself get arrested will probably work too, but it isn't necessary.

Step 3: Obtain the transcript from the 911 call and see how the caller described you.

It's that easy! No more wondering whether you are a medium height, medium build brunette male or a short, slightly heavy-set dark blond female. The truth is out there, waiting for you.

Other tips: Wish you could stop asking "does this make me look fat?" Run multiple experiments in different outfits, and you won't have to blindly trust your friends and mirrors any longer! Remember to change locations (preferably at the county or state level) between tests to keep the fuzz off your back.

With love,

S. Misanthrope