Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bonking, Labor Power, and Sexy H 2 0

I'm not familiar enough with a wide variety of sports to know if the term is somewhat universal, but "bonking" is nonetheless a concept that more people need to become familiar with.

Cyclists are familiar with the sensations behind the term "bonking;" you've been riding out, have not returned, and are exhausted... but you need to ride back. You're trying, but it's really, really tough. Essentially, you're exhausted. But it's more psychological than that. You have some energy. You're just really, really tired, really, really hungry, and really, really thirsty. Those country-road inclines and head-winds are Lucifer incarnate. You think about how peaceful death must be. Car exhaust and plantlife smell delicious. You become delerious.

For me, bonking is very important. It's the best way for me to rapidly increase my endurance. In a matter of six rides, I can increase my morning / afternoon distance capacity from 30 miles to 100 miles.

Though there's no other bonking like cycling bonking-- it would not be reasonable to allow U.S. citizen workers become extremely hungry and dehydrated-- the concept still works (no pun intended). How about some philosophical analysis? All meaningful "work" results in material (physical) product / change such as mining raw materials, producing consumer goods, or rebuilding homes. Work is a measure of labor output. The quality of a worker's labor output is measured in the quantity of labor a worker issues out to the world, divided by the time over which the worker did the labor.

Labor over time => Labor Power (which most workers exchange for wages)

Workers should work to their physical / psychological limit, especially yuppies. Perhaps after six sessions of such work, volunteers will see their stamina, output, impact, and physical and psychological health increase.

I know what you're thinking, but I assure you that there are greater ironies in the world.

Okay, so if you're working, you need to drink lots of water, perhaps as many as six quarts/ liters in a day. You know someone's not working if they're not drinking a lot of water. Anyway, what about those strange canned waters? Actually, I've come to love them. I take them quite seriously, seriously enough for a comparative taste analysis.

Anheuser-Busch water comes in blue logo/text-on-white cans. Aesthetically, the can design is interesting at best, though it's not necessarily ugly. Conversely, Miller canned water comes in the sexiest cans I've ever seen-- a two-toned blue on blue. You know a company that hires Errol Morris to direct a series of television commercials has their act way together in terms of aesthetics.

Anyway, the short story is that Miller water has a bit of a shocking presence as it travels past the lips. Conversely, "Bud Water," as it is called, glides its way in, if it's chilled. Bud water, however, has a curious, very light but lingering after-taste. Miller water has none. Further, Miller water's 'shocking presence' is immediately lost as it glides down the tongue.

I have to say, Bud water is good, but Miller water is better. Many generic plastic-bottled waters taste awful. Especially Van Andel Propane company water, which boasts that it's "Award Winning!." Beer-company waters also come in 40 oz glass bottles. These are in extremely short supply, however, and I've never actually seen one.

Marco X (Utica, NY; utica@riseup.net; http://hamilton.facebook.com/photos.php?id=4501815&l=27880 )

Join the "Hands On Gulf Coast Biloxi" group on Facebook!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hello, Alex...

This blog entry is a free association covering several important issues.

According to the FCC, broadcast media is supposed to be a public service. Though people do tend to think of commercial broadcast media as a public service, as Noam Chomsky points out, commercial media has only narrow-minded objectives-- the propagandization of consumption and seclusion. Hugo Chavez learned the hard way about the dangers of private media when, after he was democratically elected, the Venezuelan media people, smiling-- almost innocently-- broadcast on the media networks that they owned, that they would, "for the good of the country," rewrite the constitution and ignore the election.

Some of the motor vehicles we just bought came equipped with XM radio, free for a year. This actually turns out to be a rather large burden-- every car ride, be it 15 or 45 minutes, is permeated with an incessant barrage of 2-3 second sounds of various XM radio stations as the [edited, plural, negative connotation] in the front seats can't content themselves on a single station for more than a single note.

Anyway, I thought I'd take control of the new film night here at Hands On. I made a few rules: all films must be in the English language (not dubbed), all films must be under 120 minutes runtime, no documentaries, all films will be from an open request list, the films will be shown in the order that is objectively guaranteed greatest audience satisfaction (showing what critical, lay audiences consider the “best” films), all films will be shown in their original widescreen format, no documentaries, and nothing more than abstractly political.

I love documentaries and all but don't watch English language films that are not documentaries. It seems rather sad to have to exclude Terry Gilliam's Brazil, one of the best films of all times (a film I wrote a sixteen page analysis of using Herbert Marcuse's Eros and Civilization-- hands down the most important book of all time) because of its 150-minute runtime. Someone even requested it. I would've had to say no. The rules aren't just the rules that I felt like making one morning, they're more of an Aristotelian epiphany, a revelation of the way things should be-- many people confuse the way they'd like things to be and the way they are, desires with reality; in this case, the heavenly film night.

There's only one heaven and one heavenly film night-- that's my model.

A community should take into consideration the desires of all of its members. Though I'd like to show everyone some awesome German, French, Slavic, Japanese, or Chinese-language films, I know the net aesthetic effect would be greater with an English-language film, something-- sadly-- most Americans desire.

Dubbing is the most terrible phenomenon to strike the film industry. I don't care about your attention issues. If you're too disinterested to read the subtitles, look at a plot synopsis. I mean, I don't speak Italian but I still listen to Italian operas. I don't care about tastes. In the John Stewart Mill sense, I'm an elitist-- Mozart is better music than Britney Spears, it simply cannot be phrased as a subjective question. There's a reason that no people seriously interested in film will watch a film that is dubbed or not in it's original aspect ratio (if there's a reasonable alternative [look at Turner Classic Movies on basic cable and see how they defy, 100 percent of the time, the standard 1:1 “formatted to fit your screen” ratio]), it's because they're not stupid. Similarly, most people interested in film do not restrict themselves to English-language films.

Anyway, there was this rumor that Aramando said that the food at the Salvation Army was no good. When this rumor was found out to be false, it was changed so that Arman said that the food was no good. I'm going to bring an end to this rumor once and for all: Arman has the same appreciation for the Salvation Army-- hell yeah!, breezy football field, ginger ale, and seven mayonnaise packets!-- as me and has volunteered his luncheon services many times. Thank you Arman.

Also, the official title of the Hands On Gulf Coast warehouse / cafeteria / sleeping quarters / indoor “base” is the “Beauvoir United Methodist Fellowship and Family Life Building”. As of this blog entry, it's known as “Alex” for short. Yes... Alex... As in: “Alex is air-conditioned, well-lit, and spacious, but has it's drawbacks; no natural light, electric elements in the kitchen, the noxious grey interior colour and totally unsexy exterior, and moldy discharges from the ceiling.”

The last open mic was 'quite rather good.' And that's an understatement. Again, I apologize about the usual, low technical quality of the recording. Download it at the link below. The link is only good for a week. You have to cut and paste it, people.


Marco X (Utica, NY; utica@riseup.net; http://hamilton.facebook.com/photos.php?id=4501815&l=27880 )

Join the "Hands On Gulf Coast Biloxi" group on Facebook!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Free Entertainment

Starting immediately, I'm going to gather "crews" to "go out for a night at the casino." We're all going to carry wallets empty of everything but our ID's. Essentially it's going to be a contest with rules so that it's sustainable.

The objective: to make as big an anti-gambling scene as possible without getting kicked out. With the abundance of casinos in the area, this game could last a long time, especially if the confederate onlookers don't enter the casino with the scene-makers and observe from as much a distance as possible. "Oh my God! I just lost all my FEMA reconstruction money! What am I going to do?! I can't even afford a gun!" [Loud, nearly incessant balling interspersed with choked coughs and some inaudible words, then] "I'll have to use a rope!"

How about after we get kicked out of all of the casinos, we try things like public expressions of "Yeah, so maybe I am sleeping with your wife!" That would work great almost anywhere.

I went to download.com and downloaded "soulseek." Prokofiev's first symphony was relatively easy to find. A few days ago I was stumped as to how to go about downloading music now that major search engines block certain searches, such as those relating to the free, clean, bootleg version of Kazaa. Anyway, problem solved.

Now that I've actually listened to Prokofiev's first symphony, I don't really like it. I guess he just was trying to make something that wasn't as scandalous some of his former work-- work that was much, much better.

There was this troupe that came to my college before I went there. They pose nude on stage, covered with chocolate. Imagine if that's not what you were expecting. I suppose early Prokofiev was the same way.

I went to this concert titled "Bang on a Can"once, expecting to hear some twangy goodness. Instead, it was all these people from Juliard and such-caliber institutions playing this refined stuff. I heard they have this other troupe that makes enormous instruments with industrial materials from the Home Depot. Home Depot and Music. I don't see the connection.... ( It was a joke about Hurricane Camp, folks).

I love vanilla ice cream. For anyone who doesn't know, vanilla ice cream caused the downfall of the Soviet Union. The logic is as follows: alcohol was suddenly banned in the Soviet Union, so the masses stopped going to work-- as they could still go out onto the streets and eat ice cream. The ban was then lifted, but people really didn't feel like going back to work.

Ice cream: the sweetest fruit of industry. I'll have to make a Squincher-vanilla float. For those of you who don't know, Squincher advertises itself as "the Beverage of Industry," supplying an essential 1/50th RDA of potassium.

I wish there was a conditioner that you put on your house that would work the way hair conditioner is supposed to work. Maybe it works on trees, or wounds or something. This needs to be researched. Anyway, exibit A: hair that's almost totally destroyed. Exibit B: hair that's treated with conditioner, totally not destroyed. Next hurricane, hair conditioner is going to become liquid gold. Exibit A: Destroyed home. Exibit B: home treated with Hair Conditioner, totally not destroyed.

I decided to make this entry as an excuse to add the link to the music tournament (available for 100 downloads, but only for the next 7 days). With a Windows "download accelerator" (download.com) you can download it significantly faster. You can even search for it, install it, and download the file faster that you would have been able to simply download it.

Anyway (cut and paste, or tell me how to hyperlink):


Marco X (Utica, NY; utica@riseup.net; http://hamilton.facebook.com/photos.php?id=4501815&l=27880 )

Join the "Hands On Gulf Coast Biloxi" group on Facebook!

Friday, August 04, 2006

When a Puppy Becomes a Dog...

How do they decide when a "tropical depression" becomes a cyclone / hurricane?

Some fundamentalists argue that a hurricane is a hurricane from the first moments of it's development. Others argue that the attainment of a certain, arbitrarily-set windspeed is required. Both definitions are problematic. In the first case, how can one know, in the early stages, if a the original storm will develop into a hurricane at all? In the latter case, suppose a tropical depression becomes a hurricane, and then becomes a tropical depression, and then again a hurricane-- it seems like these could be considered two hurricanes. Also, suppose the windspeed happens to be fluctuating right near the arbitrarily-set windspeed category boundry, a hurricane could become a tropical depression an vice versa thousands of times.

In any event, the "Chris" storm is, well... disappointing. I mean, I want to see some ravaging. I can't help it; we spend all this time being pitted against hurricanes, it's sad to see our foes turn out to be so fragile, so "almost human."

I recorded the last open mic. I anticipate adding a link to it below, but was slapped with technical difficulties resulting in the file being 3-6 times too large, meaning upload time would have been increased by the same ratio. Similiarly, I made the sweet Brad Pitt Portable Home-- the solution to protecting one's homes from a hurricane (patent pending)-- image but accidentally shrunk it. Anyway, the idea was that one could bring their house with them; escaping with only the clothes on your back won't necessarily be the cause for need of disaster relief in the future.

So, apparently the Rolling Stones are more musically talented than Prokofiev; lyricly, getting not what one wants but trying sometimes and finding that needs are met is lightyears beyond-- intellectually speaking-- the aesthetics of Prokofiev's most well-known work, one of the best known symphonies of all times.....

Right.... I suppose maybe Britney Spears is about on par with Mozart....

I wonder if the new movie night is going to yield the conclusion that In the Army Now is better than Kurosawa's Ran. Some-- perhaps, in fact, many-- people are just not so bright. My life struggle is to not let this fact make me bitterly upset.

I don't know how to hyperlink, but cut and paste the link below into your browser address bar for a detailed analysis of the piece I nominated for Dr G's music tourney.


Marco X (Utica, NY; utica@riseup.net; http://hamilton.facebook.com/photos.php?id=4501815&l=27880 )

Join the "Hands On Gulf Coast Biloxi" group on Facebook!

Music Tourney Predictions

The way the tournament is set-up this time revolves around four brackets representing different geographic areas, same as the NCAA. The North Bracket, West Seneca. The East Bracket, Perry Point. The South Bracket, Charleston. The West Bracket, Sacramento. The Final Four will be played in Biloxi.

West Seneca

(1) Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival vs. (8) Man vs. Machine by Razel and Kenny Muhammed the Human Orchestra
(4) Mississippi Queen by Mountain vs. (5) Poison by Bel Biv Divoe
(3) Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley vs. (6) I Just Called To Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder
(2) Lovin' In My Baby's Eyes by Taj Mahal vs. (7) Storm Coming by Gnarls Barkley

Alright, start it off in the North. This bracket is my least favorite- while there are some good ones in here, I just can't get excited about some of these matchups.

  • Lovin' In My Baby's Eyes has already defeated Storm Coming, which in my opinion is sort of just a frantic electronica that makes me throw up in my mouth a little. Experimental music is one thing, and it has a catchy bridge, but the first 45 seconds just kinda ruin it. Taj, on the other hand, succeeds well here with a soft bluesy feel. Kuklinski is getting us the version she intended of the song, which includes some banjo or some thing, so that'll be interesting to see in the Sweet 16.
  • CCR will take down the beatboxing of Rahzel & Kenny Muhammed. Good, creative entry and I give Rahzel a lot of credit for being featured here on his own, with no instruments. However, this isn't even really a song, just some noise with beat, and will falter as such. Bad Moon Rising is a contender.
  • It's a good thing Superstition was Stevie's representative song in the first tourney, because that victory afforded him the respect that he will lose a bit marching into the second tourney with I Just Called To Say I Love You. However, these things are demographics games at best. Is the audience going to buy into this song enough to push it over the soul in voice life whispers of Jeff Buckley and Hallelujah? I say no. Hallelujah sends Stevie packing in the first round.
  • Mississippi Queen. There's always a Mississippi type song in here. This is a good one though, short and strong and sweet. However, there's something to be said about Bel Biv Divoe, especially considering the Funky Cold Medina upset (which I'll get to in a second). I'm giving the Oakland boys the nod. Poison will advance.


(1) You Can't Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones vs. (8) Symphony No. 1 by Prokofiev
(4) Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole vs. (5) I'm Ready To Love by India.Arie
(3) Freebird by Lynard Skynard vs. (6) Funky Cold Medina by Tone Loc
(2) More Than A Feeling by Boston vs. (7) Breakdown by Jack Johnson

  • In the same fashion that Stevie falters with his new entry, the Stones surge into the Hands On Music Tourney riding a much stronger song than Dead Flowers. However, in as strong a bracket as Sacramento, who knows what will happen. I will say this though: Marco's forcing of classical music upon us is sort of the Ralph Nader of this whole thing. It's very nice to hear, and those sorts of very basic aspects of the whole point of the system are always going to be there, but it's still not going to really be anything but there. The Stones advance after we endure 22 minutes of background.
  • There's this scene in Finding Forrester. And another scene in ER. Whichever you see keys you in instantly to how goddamn beautiful the ukelele version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow is that accompanies that scene. You can't not think happy sad thoughts about some happy sad thing in one's past when you listen to this song. I'm Ready To Love is a nice song, and India.Arie's voice is incredible but I think Israel smoothly glides into the Sweet 16.
  • Freebird. FREEBIRD! What would Freebird be if it weren't made a mockery of in pop culture constantly. "Dude, play Freebird. FREEEBIRRRRDDDD!!!" Regardless, Freebird is a good little ballad. It lost to Funky Cold Medina in the first round, 26 to 25. Such things happen. Tone Loc, musical genius. Seriously though, I think the old school rap might do well for itself here. It already has.
  • More Than A Feeling has resonating power. It's the first song I ever downloaded off of something called The Internet, when as a junior in high school my friends convinced me to look into a little thing called Napster. Combined with ITunes' amazing ability to order your songs in the order that they were created on a hard drive, I can prove that this fact is true (as well as that the second and third songs I ever downloaded are Soul To Squeeze by RHCP and Rosa Parks by Outkast.) But MTAF...this song is a power ballad, and a windows down one at that. Jack Johnson rolls over on this one, and by roll over I mean like rolls over, and then starts rolling down some sort of large hill that one might glide down with strips of wood attached to one's feet, if there were snow and a way to access the top of the mountain.

Perry Point

(1) Tiny Dancer by Elton John vs. (8) With My Own Two Hands by Ben Harper
(4) Uncle John's Band by Grateful Dead vs. (5) Da Ya Think I'm Sexy by Rod Stewart
(3) Happiness Is A Warm Gun by The Beatles vs. (6) Concrete Schoolyard by Jurassic 5
(2) Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay by Otis Redding vs. (7) Blessed by Brett Dennen

  • Alright, time to start up my college basketball team comparisons again. I see Tiny Dancer as the Florida of the tournament. Strong seed, strong song, good swingman, gets stronger throughout, a song one can't necessarily play at the Pub unless one is significantly intoxicated. Or, you put on the jukebox at 8:56 at some yuppie bar outside Washington DC that would shut off the song halfway thru so they could play whatever squalorous crunk flavor of the week is deemed most sketch fostering. And I would hate this bar, this bar would make me so disappointed in my peers, and I'd watch the tide of gelled hair and tank tops and say to myself "I really wish I'd heard the last 2 minutes of Tiny Dancer. That would be much better than this awkward awful awful." Hands On is not that bar. Tiny Dancer advances. Ben Harper, no comment, as the person that nominated you not only failed to realize that you sang this song and not Jack Johnson, but also wanted to make sure I knew that this person meant the version on the "Curious George" soundtrack. No no, no comment at all.
  • Last night, Da Ya Think I'm Sexy beat Uncle John's Band, and I was sad. I do have a thing for that Rod Stewart synthesizer though.
  • Happiness Is A Warm Gun rounds up against the strongest song of the rap genre in the tournament, Jurassic 5. Concrete Playground is a wonderful song, good rhymes, a beat that doesn’t miss hit from the second the Bill Cosby vocal clip begins the song. However, HIAWG has staying power, and there are going to be a lot of people with allegiance to Mother Superior and that whole warm guns thing. This’ll be a close one, and hard to call, but I’m gonna go with the underdog and call Jurassic 5 on pulling through this upset
  • This folky Brett Dennen “Blessed” song is not a song that’s going to upset Otis Redding. I did some research on Dennen, as I was unfamiliar with his music; “his 6'5" stature and thick shock of red hair gives him a larger-than-life appearance, and his baby face lends him an innocence and vulnerability that also comes across in his music.” That’s great, and this song sounds really promising at the start, but I lose interest very quickly- the lyrics don’t really catch me the way that a man who left his home in Georgia and headed to the Frisco Bay does. Otis, my man, you’re on your way to the Sweet 16


(1) Under Pressure by Queen & David Bowie vs. (8) Ms. New Booty by Bubba Sparxx

(4) Rock & Roll by The Velvet Underground vs. (5) Hey Ya! By Outkast

(3) Breakdown by Tom Petty vs. (6) Where Is My Mind by The Pixies

(2) Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye vs. (7) Mr. Roboto by STYX

  • Under Pressure defeated Bubba Sparxx soundly. Ms. New Booty would have done well in that bar I mentioned earlier- perfect replacement for Under Pressure mid-song. Just not here. Under Pressure advances
  • The Velvet Underground-Outkast matchup is a really close call as well, and will depend on who shows ready to go on fight night. Will it be the swaying energy of 50’s decked out Andre 3000 inviting screaming fans to shake it like a Polaroid picture? Will it be Lou Reed sweating into a microphone the lust of rock and roll as salvation? Both? Neither? Too close to call, I’m going to go with the overt energy of Hey Ya on this one though.
  • The second Breakdown, much better than the first, has stiff competition in the name of the Pixies, who would be formidable with most any Doolittle selection. Where Is My Mind additionally succeeds in inciting that memory of Project Mayhem’s demolition fruition at the conclusion of Fight Club helping that one along. However, Tom Petty has something to say in his song, with his rhythm twang and the rise and fall of the lead. I’ll probably vote Pixies here, but I think the audience is going to go with the Heartbreakers.
  • DOMO ARIGATO, MR. ROBOTO! For those of you that don’t know Japanese, that means Thank You, Mr. Roboto! This song is awful. Like seriously awful. The only time I might like this song would be if I was stoned or something and someone made a video of like a half alligator half panda bear all robot that played chess against the sun or something. Anyways, it loses to Let’s Get It On.

Vegas Odds

More Than A Feeling: 8 to 1

You Can’t Always Get What You Want: 10 to 1

Under Pressure: 4 to 1

Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay: 20 to 1

I Just Called To Say I Love You: 100,000 to 1

Dark Horse: Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Overrated: Happiness Is A Warm Gun

That's all for now. I'll check in with Sweet 16 predictions in a couple weeks when we get there. For now, vote with your heart and good luck to all the songs.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

How To Make A Music Tournament

Recap of the end of the last one: Superstition defeats Bohemian Rhapsody in the Final Four. Don't Stop Believing defeats Piano Man in the Final Four. In the Hands On Music Tournament Final, Don't Stop Believing loses to Stevie Wonder's Superstition. Well played.

Fresh off the week hiatus, we've contructed a brand-spanking new music tournament. Part II. The fresh style.

In case you in the future want to hold a music tournament and are wondering how to go about collecting nominations and seeding, this is my suggested protocol:

1) Allow everyone to nominate one song. Dissuade double voting, as you will remove such votes and ensure everyone's song gets as much of a chance against the aggregate group as any one others.

2) Do not fall prey to the idea of an elitist secret music committee to pick songs before the fact. There was a time when committees turned a perfect ideal upside down and terrible, and there is no reason to ignore the sufferings of Alexander Romanov and Chiang Kai-Shek. Plus, while this may in fact be a good idea in theory, there is no objective music analyst. You'll just end up nominating your own songs.

3) Hold a public music drawing out of a bucket in front of the whole group and select 32 songs for consideration. At this point you'll have to exclude explicit lyric type songs if you can't find a clean version.

4) OK, now that you have the whole group of songs in the tourney, then recruit some of your friends to put all the songs on a table and group them into four tiers. Tier 1 includes the 8 strongest songs in the group's opinion, 2, 3, and down to 4. Write the Tier Number on the back of the song and put them back in the bucket

5) Bracket filling time. Four brackets, each looking like this:





Pull songs from the bucket. The first Tier 1 song goes into spot 1. The second Tier 1 song goes into spot 2. First Tier 2 song goes into spot 3. Second, spot 4. So on and so forth, pulling randomly to fill up the bracket and creating matchups that reflect the seedings. If you pull a third song from one tier (which will inevitably happen), just put it back in the bucket and keep pulling until you've filled up.

6) Once you've got your four brackets, randomly assign them quadrants of the tourney board somehow.

7) Then, single elimination tournament. No holds barred.

And that's how the second Hands On Music Tournament came to be, as it is on the board.

Commentary and songs to come.