Posts from July 2002.
People are always sending me email, saying, “Matthew, with your endless barrage of smarm and near incoherence, we never really get to learn anything about you.” Well that ends today, friends! By popular demand:
- My name is Matthew Baldwin!
- I live in Seattle!
- I am 31 years old!
- I am married!
- I have a cat named Louie!
- I spent two years in Bolivia as a Peace Corps Volunteer!
- My favorite movie is “2001: a Space Odyssey”!
- My favorite band is Sleater-Kinney!
- My favorite mixed drink is the margarita!
- My favorite tv show is, uh, actually I don’t watch much tv. Scratch that one.
- Sleater-Kinney isn’t really my favorite band, either. It’s just what I happen to be listening to right now and I kinda blurted it out. Maybe they’re my favorite band, I dunno.
- My favorite punctuation mark is the exclamation point!
- Jesus Christ. 100 things?
- What the hell was I thinking?
- Oh yeah, here’s another one: I’m a programmer!
- I spend my days, you know, programming!
- My favorite ice cream is chocolate!
- All right, how many do I have left? Let’s see, I’ve done 1, 2, 3, mmmmmm, shit! I hafta do, like, 80 more!
- I, uh, I like the Internet!
- I am wearing pants!
- My wife thinks I should have this weird-looking mole on my back checked out by a doctor!
- I have a bus pass!
- Screw this. I’m going to go look at porn.
Very Nice Person Elizabeth Blanco (a.k.a. Butterfly Girl) made a button for me: . You could use it to link to defective yeti! Or you could use it to link to Boobleheaddolls.com, I suppose, although that doesn’t make any sense. Or you could print the button out on a piece of paper and keep it on your desk, and then when you are really busy and that one co-worker comes into your office and starts droning on and on about who he thinks is going to win The Mole 2, you could press the button and pretend that it opens a trapdoor or launches boring-seeking missiles or something. That would be fun.
Thanks Butterfly Girl!
Experts are backing away from their prediction that a massive asteroid will hit the earth, and now claim that the object named "2002 NT7" is actually the newest operating system from Microsoft. "Our instruments indicated that 2002 NT7 was enormous and would devastate the Earth upon arrival," said Peter Bond, spokesman for the Royal Astronomical Society. "We initially assumed that it was an asteroid, but we now the evidence seems to indicate that the threat is, in fact, Microsoft Windows 2002 NT7." Microsoft Spokesman Julie Lin acknowledges that the newest release of Windows is slated for later in the year and will have sufficient destructive force to cause global climate changes, but reminded consumers that it will still feature the immensely popular "mindsweeper" program.
Does anyone have any photos of David Lee Roth wearing those assless leather pants? I need some for a sympathy collage I am making for my Great Aunt Rose. If you have any, could you send them to me? Thanks.
I was listening to the news today and they were talking corporate scandals and Harvey Pitt. (Harvey Pitt, you’ll recall, is the current SEC Chairman, a guy whose future is every bit as bright as the red-shirted unnamed guy on Star Trek who just beamed down to the surface of a planet and is told to look behind that rock.) As usual, every time they said the name “Harvey Pitt” my internal search engine, my pesonal neuroGoogle, began crawling around my synapses trying to figure out why the name “Harvey Pitt” seemed so familiar. This time I finally figured it out: “Harvey Pitt” sounds, to me, like “Harvey Dent” — you know, the Gotham City District Attorney who had acid splashed onto half of his face, who subsequently went insane, and who now harries Batman as the infamous Two-Face.
Then I began thinking about what a great villain Harvey Pitt would make if, you know, some renegade Authur Anderson auditor pushed half of his face into a shredder or something. He could go mad and vow to take he revenge on stockholders everywhere in the guise of “Prospectus: Chairman of the Night”. He could start a gang called “Hostile Takeover” and seek to control of the world’s economy, alongside such evildoers as Bull and Bear, Penny Stock, Liquidity Lad and The Downsizer. And the only thing standing between them and total economic anarchy would be mild-mannered Alan Greenspan, known to corporate criminals everywhere as The Invisible Hand.
Congressman: But Mr. Greenspan, how will this proposal impact rural unemployment?
Greenspan: The stimulus package should be designed to phase out rapidly so that … [Red light on Greenspan’s watch begins to flash] uhhhhhh, if you’ll excuse me, Congressman, I just remembered a very important charity function I have to attend.
I may be a complete geek for thinking all this, but I’m sure you’ll agree: Harvey Pitt and Alan Greenspan, clad in green tights and fist-fighting on Wall Street, would be a helluva lot more interesting than listening to CEOs take the fifth on Lou Dobbs MoneyLine.
After reading a book about death, a book about fraud and a book about the history of mathematics, I figured I was due a little summer reading. So I asked a friend for a recommendation, and he suggested Terry Pratchett. And I replied with a “maybe, maybe,” with no intention of taking his advice.
The truth is that I have always been a wary of Pratchett and his whole “Discworld” series, despite the fact that I had never read any of the books. Back in the day I had been a huge Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fan, but I made the mistake of rereading that book a few years ago and found the humor (or, rather, “the humour”) entirely too obvious for my adult tastes. I therefore concluded that I would not enjoy Pratchett, since I believed “Discworld” to be little more than an amalgamation of Hitchhiker’s Guide and Piers Anthony’s excruciating, pun-ridden Xanth novels.
But the next time I saw this aforementioned friend he handed me The Color of Magic, and since I had yet to scare up any other summer reading I decided to give it a whirl. To my surprise, I found it to be exactly the book I’d been seeking: light, inventive, and (most of the time) funny in all the right ways.
The Color of Magic is the first book about Discworld, a world so-named because it’s, well, a disc — which sits atop four gargantuan elephants, which stand atop a galactic-sized turtle, who trundles through the universe toward some unknown destination. (Yes, I know: you’re already wincing and thinking, as I did, that all this sounds dreadfully absurdist.) The setting is Standard Fantasy — swords and sorcery and everything in between — and the stories revolve around Rincewind, a failed wizard who knows but one spell, and Twoflower, a visitor from a far-away nation on a site-seeing excursion around the world. In following their misadventures, we become tourists ourselves, seeing all the lunacy that Discworld has to offer.
The humor is pretty even-keeled — Pratchett can’t seem to resist the British predilection for puns, but he keeps them to a minimum. What sets The Color of Magic apart from other parodies is the author’s seemingly endless font of ideas. Despite the fact that Discworld is a hodge-podge of themes and archetypes cribbed from the fantasy genre, Pratchett tweaks them enough to make them fresh, interesting, and often quite amusing. Take “Hrun the Barbarian,” for example. While trapped deep in a dungeon, Twoflower asks Hrun what he thinks will happen next:
“Oh,” [Hrun] said, “I expect in a minute the door will be flung back and I’ll be dragged off to some sort of temple arena where I’ll fight maybe a couple of giant spiders and an eight-foot slave from the jungles of Klatch and then I’ll rescue some kind of a princess from the altar and then kill off a few guards or whatever and then this girl will show me the secret passage out of the place and we’ll liberate a couple of horses and escape with the treasure.” Hrun leaned his head back on his hands and looked at the ceiling, whistling tunelessly.
“All that?” said Twoflower.
See? Funny. This whole story, in fact, is a skillful parody of an H. P. Lovecraft story — something I wouldn’t have thought possible.
Anyhow, yeah: if you’ve steering clear of the Discworld series for the reasons I mentioned above — or if you’re just in the mood of a fun little something to devour over bus rides — do what I did and give The Color of Magic a whirl. It ain’t John Irving, but hey: immediately after finishing Magic I went to my library’s website and reserved the next book in the series. That oughtta tell you something right there.