Monday, August 30, 2004

New Haven Police Blotter

We're told that a few weeks ago a house was robbed pretty close to ours. Naturally this is very disturbing news. We feel pretty vulnerable in general because we're new to this place and while it looks green and suburbyish, there's urban blight oozing out of the streets every few feet. Nice well kept houses next to disgusting decrepit embarrassments.

Update: Note, since then, there have been a few drug busts on our corner. The Police sergeant says it was only heroin, so I'm not too worried about it. That and I am told that it's worse in other areas of New Haven.

Backpost finished 2/16/05 from an incomplete post

Saw You At Sinai

On Friday, I was accepted to be a matchmaker on Saw You At Sinai. It's a very good resource that emphasizes the privacy of the members (it's matchmaker driven). It needs more men on the network (the female-male ratio is insanely skewed) - so tell your friends to join!

If they are reluctant, then tell them to choose one matchmaker that they feel they can trust (like, uh, me) and then exclude the option of having other matchmakers see the information. This way the trusted shadchan can work closely with them and not waste their time.

If you know someone who is single and you get so frustrated at seeing them in distress and they seem to ignore you (I'll explain why they do that later), then this is a good option. We need to get the word out.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Movie Review: Paycheck (2003)

The worst thing about Paycheck (2003) is the title - it means nothing; has no traction in yer brain; and does not inform you that this is a really good film. The most watchable John Woo film for the population at large. You know I love the Woo - but "a thousand bullets" works for only certain mentalities. Moreover, he has a poor ability to choose his American actors. While still in Hong Kong, Woo's finest work was with Chow Yun-Fat (called the "Chinese John Wayne"). Fat (Chow?) was strong, funny, emotive, smart - a great leading man and perfect for the Woo heroic model.

In America, Woo has used: Jean Claude Van-Damme, Christian Slater, Nick Cage, John Travolta, and Tom Cruise. Yuccch. Not one of those bozos can act nor think their way out of a paper bag. In "Paycheck" we get the dullest of them all, Ben Affleck (which naturally is the second worst thing about the film).

But the movie's smart, quick, fun, and not extremely violent (even by regular movie standards) and only one dove appears. In fact, I was wondering when the doves would arrive (which are the equivalent of Woo making a cameo) and when it finally flew into view it was actually appropriate and exciting.

Backpost finished on 2/16/05, from an incomplete movie review]

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Bushism of the Day

By Jacob Weisberg. Aug. 25, 2004:
"So community colleges are accessible, they're available, they're affordable, and their curriculums don't get stuck. In other words, if there's a need for a certain kind of worker, I presume your curriculums evolved over time."—Niceville, Fla., Aug. 10, 2004
{2009 update: pic from here.}

Happy Birthday Sean

The Official Website of Sir Sean Connery

Further in the Fischer Saga

I've gotten more responses to the Fischer comments than I have on any other topic (second place is the Mr. Inky tefillin question).

According to this piece today (Bobby Fischer's deportation not imminent):
The 61-year-old chess master has been wanted by the United States since 1992 for earning over three million dollars in a chess match staged in the former Yugoslavia in defiance of an international embargo.
I have to admit it, that is a strange crime.

New Haven Updates

1. The dirt on the roads is gone... not sure why, I saw no road crews. Maybe dirt evaporates in Connecticut to be made into Acid Mud.

2. The garbage people did a nice thing - they fell for my little ploy. I have two entrances to the house: the front (shared with the first floor neighbor; two doors needing two separate keys; internal door to our house badly made so glass rumbles inside antique doorframe such that guests are afraid the 20 pound pane will wrench loose and bounce off their skulls), or the side (accessible only to us, has outside screen door with no discernible value and a lock with no key). The side door's stairway goes straight up to our kitchen area - where we produce most of our garbage. Basically, I'd like to leave the garbage outside the side door rather than shlep our bags half-a-block to the front entrance. I called the sanitation department, which is populated by the cranky receptionists - who should wake up every day realizing they are in the glamour end of the trash business - and they were confused by my request to change my garbage pick up location. After a few futile conversations, they directed me to the superintendent of Waste (how would you like that on your resume?) who was on vacation... three weeks ago... still no call back. Taking matters into my own perfumed hands like the sanitation vigilante society has forced me to be, I left one bag of experimental garbage on the alternate curb... and they picked it up! We'll see if I can keep this up.

3. Red Light Alert. I forget if I mentioned the stunning fact that in Connecticut you can make a right on red! Unless they don't want you to, which can be a random occurrence. But it beats the NY law which allowed rights on red only if you had a gun.

4. Starbucks vs. Dunkin Donuts. I don't know when it happened, but it appears that Dunkin Donuts won a war and kicked out Starbucks from New Haven. There is one lone 'Buck, I'm told, near campus, that stays alive solely on the padded pocketbooks of dewy freshmen. The rest of this, the newest of Havens, is donutland. And I think it's a good thing. Here's a comparison:

  • DD: The Big Double D, Dunkizzle Donizzle, Dunkin' Ho-nuts
  • SB: Sloshbucks, Star-too-many-bucks, The Green Diuretic
  • DD: rows and rows of glorious donuts; all items in store dedicated to food, pure white color scheme offset by rainbow-sprinkle colors; food titles are down-to-earth (e.g. Donut, Big Donut; Chocolate Donut)
  • SB: green faux-grunge aesthetic, frou-frou sentimentalities with food hermetically wrapped and given bourgeois titles (e.g. Dillweed Camembert on bagette with honey-pork marinade)
Coffee Names:
  • DD: small, medium, large, x-large (24 oz!)
  • SB: tall, grande, venti (whoever invented these asinine titles should be whacked)
  • DD: largest coffee is $2.50
  • SB: smallest coffee is just under $2.00
Store Name:
  • DD: startlingly functional - the donuts are made to be dunked in coffee
  • SB: named after strange fictional character in horrible book
As you can see, I'm glad the Donizzle won the war.

Israel Wins First-Ever Olympic Gold


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Pinguthalon!

Awright! The makers of the Pingu penguin slap game have created a series of 5 yeti-penguin sports events to play: YETI SPORTS by chris hilgert powered by edelweiss

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Excellent Anti-Bush Ad

The 2004 Election is clearly between the Love Bush vs. Hate Bush crowd. Kerry is a convenient empty suit who was lucky enough to have his turn this year. The attacks on Kerry's heroism are craven and disgusting and anyone who supports the president should be condemning them. Kerry has plenty of weaknesses; he is not much of a leader; attack those traits.

The Kerry campaign has put out a powerful ad against Bush's tactics (Old Tricks) which has the line "you should be ashamed" from the 2000 primary debate between McCain and Bush.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Worthwhile Campaign Analysis

I am starting to read Knight-Ridder news more often recently because a American Journalism Review article showed they were the ONLY news source willing to question the government about the build-up to the Iraq war. They were and still are being punished for the temerity of doubting Lord George.

Anyhoo, for you politics watchers who like to know strategic minutia, here's a good KR piece on the Democrats campaign strategy: Saturation coverage greets Kerry's tour through 82 small media markets

Friday, August 13, 2004

Presidential Debate Schedule Announced

These should be fun!

Quick breakdown:
  1. First presidential debate: Thursday, September 30
  2. Vice presidential debate: Tuesday, October 5
  3. Second presidential debate: Friday, October 8
  4. Third presidential debate: Wednesday, October 13
Each debate shall begin at 9:00 p.m. EDT.

New Haven Dirt Update

Nothing to update; the dirt is still there.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

New Haven Customs, Part 3

Another in the continuing series of quaint tidbits of my new hometown. For those keeping score: #1: people give directions by removing one detail, #2: garbage rules make no sense.

#3: August is Road Dirt Month. I think. Ya see, on August 1st or thereabouts, a road crew came by and squirted motor oil on the street followed by major shovelfuls of dirt from a dump truck. Then they left. It's been 10 days and there's still just piles and piles of dirt on the road. We think it could have to do with roadwork or repaving but 2 weeks seems like a long time to leave oil and dirt on the road. My theory is that it's just "Road Dirt Month." Could also be a Yale thing for all I know.

Movie Review: Searching for Bobby Fischer

Finally saw Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) about chess poobah Josh Waitzkin. Great film; it reminds me of the book "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" because both are about the difficulties of genius and the moral questions of extraordinary achievement. I wanted to find the truth behind the assertions, specifically about the cute, ethical hero Josh and the steely irritating Bobby Fischer.

Turns out (according to Wikpidia), Fischer is a huge shkutz. To quote:
Fischer has had some deeply controversial political views, including a rabid and unapologetic anti-semitism. In 1984, Fischer wrote to the editors of the Encyclopaedia Judaica asking for his name to be removed from the publication on account of him not being Jewish [3]. By Jewish Law standards he would be considered Jewish since his mother was. In recent years he has given interviews ... in which he has confirmed his fanatical anti-Semitism - among other things, he has spoken of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy, and has denied the Holocaust happened.... In another Philippine broadcast, he applauded the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. In 2003, Fischer's United States Chess Federation membership was revoked following his criticism of US foreign policy and anti-Zionist comments.
Other quotes:
  • [About 9/11]"This is all wonderful news. It's time ... to finish off the U.S. once and for all."
  • "The United States is a farce controlled by dirty, hook-nosed circumcised Jew bastards."
Aaand, according to the Bobby Fischer website, as of TODAY (Aug 10) he has renounced his U.S. citizenship. Thank God.

Waitzkin, on the other hand, seems to have grown up as a cool guy. Check out his website and the pictures. First of all, he's a hunk. Second of all these pictures show that the movie was pretty accurate in the child actor (although his parents look nothing like Joe "Fat Tony" Mantenga or Joan "WASP Queen" Allen). Josh is also the reigning Tai Chi champion and raises money to cure Muscular Dystrophy.

Hey, the movie was right!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Terror Alert Levels

In compliance with the president's paternal watch over the homeland's welfare, I have decided to put the, albeit fictional, terror alerts on the blog.

(2009 Update: this was removed after the flash/Java weirdness kept slowing the page down; I've included a picture of the alert as nostalgia, though).