June 29, 2007

Though not entirely Pheonix-like in its comeback, elcid over at hb&t has a very good post about the AFI 100 movies list. I’m pretty much as shocked as he is at some of the movies that were included in the new list, almost to the point of writing a letter to the editor of the International Herald-Tribune (Given the slowness of transatlantic shipping, it seems advisable to send my complaint to the European version of the American paper of record. And speaking of The Times, today’s paper featured a rather troubling Britishism: “Perhaps a few of the people queuing on the street or online for this new device really do need a new cellphone or digital music player.” And speaking of today, did you know that today is both Camera day and National Ducks and Wetlands Day? I wonder how often these holidays collide, and whether or not flickr will see a surge of duck photos tomorrow. But I digress…). But with scarcely any time to write a decent bit of correspondence before the American Express closes, I’ll focus my frustrations on another list, the Modern Library’s 100 greatest English novels of the 20th century.

In general, the list is a pretty good survey of English literature, albeit a bit staid and outdated. The Jazz age is overrepresented and postmodernism underrepresented. In particular, Gravity’s Rainbow and Waiting for the Barbarians should be included while any number of books could easily be dropped. Other than that, my problem with the list is more autobiographical. I’ve easily read over half of the books on the list, but very few within the last 8 years–the time when I’ve been best equipped to understand them. If anything, my readings for many of the earlier books are probably completely invalid. As a lover of lists, I almost feel compelled to reread all the ones I read during the follies of my youth. Sadly, I fear it will be you, my dear readers, who suffer.

Totally unjustified reassessment of the day: Brideshead Revisited which has now jumped from my least favorite Evelyn Waugh to my most. Though not as funny as Scoop, Waugh’s subtlety of language is beautiful, and BR easily his most assured book.

One last note on the AFI: I cannot express my delight that “Yankee Doodle Dandy” is still on the list, and is in fact now ranked higher. I was worried this fine musical would fall away completely. Although the AFI voters make a lot of mistakes, this wasn’t one of them.

No matter how helpful  the MTA’s been, I can’t see them allowing this on the Subway any time soon.

It’s gonna be hard topping a dinner party on the Tube, although rumour has it that ibiteyoureyes will be throwing his nuptials on the Miami Metro Mover. Consider yourselves invited.

A Train a-coming?

June 26, 2007

From Curbed comes actual, tangible, proof that the 2nd Avenue Subway is coming to a town, er, 2nd avenue near you. I am 100% behind the construction of the 2nd avenue line, and I’ve been terribly disheartened by its delays. For their part, the MTA seems to be doing whatever they can to help riders or at least keep them in the loop. In fact, MTA spokesman Johan van Rimsdyk sent me this bit of news to share with you, o wise and greenhouse-gas conscious readers.

“Dear Dash-

Can you please send this along to your readers? We’re doing whatever we can to get the word out about our new services. Thnx.

P.S. Je prefere “La Salad d’hiers” de loin aux “Pommes de terre rissolees….et pain grille,” et j’adore la royaume des gros seins, Brandy Taylor.

Due to ongoing congestion on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line (4-5-6), and continuing delays in building the 2nd Avenue Subway, the MTA is proud to announce an exciting new service for East Side commuters. As of Monday, the completed sections of the 2nd Avenue Subway, running from 99th to 105th street, and 110th to 120th street, will be open and made available to all licensed NYC Pedicabs, rickshaw operators, and eight-year-old children pulling Radio Flyers. Commuters wishing to take advantage of this new service should enter the tunnels through temporary access points located in the middle of most major streets. These TAPS are small circular holes covered by removable lids. Once riders have entered these access points they will still need to descend a 100 foot ladder in order to reach the subway. While there is no charge for accessing the tunnels, riders should be advised that their rickshaw/pedicab driver is most likely a starving Brooklyn/Lower East Side “artiste”, and failure to renumerate the driver will result in scathing criticism of the passenger in at least two of the following formats: blogs, unpublished poetry, rejected submissions to literary journals, indie rock songs, and negative comments on said passenger’s myspace page.

The MTA is also proud to announce that it has partnered with the Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) to create the New York City “Mining Experience.” For a limited time only, patrons will be sent on a magical journey to the Appalachia of Yesteryear. Starting at 105th and 2nd Avenue, patrons will be given a pickax, a flashlight, a helmet, a canary, and detailed instructions on mining technique. They will then have the opportunity to practice these new skills in a “Simulated Mining Environment” under the supervision of animatronic foremen, lovingly crafted by Disney Imagineers. Although Disney does not expect any accidents or injuries to occur, in the unlikely event of a sudden mine collapse or gas leak, customers are expected to provide for their own health care costs. Should any customers threaten legal action, the Walt Disney Company will shut the mine and devastate the local economy. While no specific end-date for the ride has been set, the ride will close once the mission has been accomplished and a tunnel has been dug from 105th to 110th and 2nd avenue. Should the ME meet commercial expectations, the MTA has plans to partner with United Artists on a “Great Escape” ride, wherein riders will dig tunnels from 99th to 96th street while fleeing from Nazis.

Finally, as part of its ongoing commitment to rebuilding the Gulf Coast, and its core mission of improving the lives of its customers, the MTA is proud to announce that the Staten Island Ferry will be replaced by casino gambling. In place of the current fleet of unattractive ferry boats, the MTA will purchase authentic Mississippi riverboats to be staffed by authentic Gulf Coast refugees. In anticipation of increased ridership demands, the MTA will double the number of ferries currently serving the route. Staten Island commuters should be advised that speeds on the new service will be slower than on the older ferries, so as to provide optimal time for tourists and residents of real boroughs to gamble. The MTA recommends commuters allow an additional 45 minutes to an hour during rush hour, and an additional two hours during off-peak hours. Proceeds from Hudson River gambling will be divided between various Katrina relief organization, the Republican National Committee, and the 2nd Avenue Subway capital campaign.

Customers should visit for updated information on these services. 

’round about, oh 1996, a little gem of a game called Tomb Raider was released. Featuring immersive 3-D graphics (at least, for its time), Tomb Raider was a challenging mix of adventure and puzzle-solving. The puzzles themselves had many layers of difficulty, as players not only had to figure out how to get from one very precarious point to another, but how to do so using only their character’s acrobatic repertoire (which contained feats of varying difficulty), all the while avoiding the myriad traps and beasties that could reduce their lovely little character to giblets.

And what a character! In the media blitz surrounding the game’s release, Lara Croft, the game’s buoyant buxom protagonist, ran the gamut from sex symbol to stereotype to riot grrl to spokeswoman/icon for Timberland boots. While this hullabaloo certainly drove sales of the game up into the stratosphere, it also set the stage for the franchise’s downfall, or at least, the rapid decline of its future titles.*

Thanks to the genius of marketing, Lara Croft went from being a wee English crumpet (with big breasts) who explores mysterious (and dangerous) ruins filled with captivating (and deadly) creatures and deadly (really deadly) traps, to a bad-ass wee English crumpet (with bigger breasts) who shoots bad people (who also have huge guns) and blows shit up left and right (yep).

In sum:

+Cup sizes

+Automatic weapons



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There is no product in the world with a better slogan than Carlsberg beer: Probably the best Beer in the World. It’s instantly memorable, and totally irrefutable. One can challenge whether or not Gilette is the best a man can get, but how can one ever disagree with Carlsberg’s non-declarative ad campaign? They’ve couched their bets against all criticism. The beer itself is decidedly cheap and average, available in 500ml cans for 11 sheqels, but that doesn’t stop them from proclaiming their likely superiority to American microbrews and Guinness (whose ad campaign is self-defeating. “Guinness is Good For You.” Other than carrots, has anything good for you really lived up to the hype?), nor does it stop American bars from charging upwards of 6 dollars in Gold bullion, or 500 billion Yugoslavian Dinars for a pint.


Carlsberg is something that I miss when I leave European or Israel. Despite its averageness I find myself willing to pay whatever bars want to charge for it back in the states. It’s something small that I can hold onto when I get back home, something that reminds me of travel and the idea of travel. Languages slip away from you; your breezy chatter with the sweep whilst ordering drinks fades, but the beer is still there. Maybe that’s why, 60 years after the end of colonialism, IPAs are still as popular as ever. We may not need Beers strong enough to serve the long sea journey to India anymore, but we can still drink them.

Presumably there will be posts about good European beers in the future; as Grover says in “Kicking and Screaming”, there’s the going abroad, “… now I know how bad American beer is thing.” But today seemed like the right time to focus on the things you miss without missing. Going abroad you may realize American coffee is terrible, but sometimes you just want to sit at a diner with a bottomless cup.


Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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