Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I love this movie

"as a younger man, I was a sculptor, a painter, and a musician. There was just one problem: I wasn't very good. As a matter of fact, I was dreadful. I finally came to the frustrating conclusion that I had taste and style, but not talent. I knew my limitations. We all have our limitations, Freddy. Fortunately, I discovered that taste and style were commodities that people desired." - Michael Caine as Lawrence Jamieson from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

rule: recognize this.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

If you thought you hated the Christmas season

Try talking to a personal assistant. Don't get me wrong. My job is awesome and my boss is fun. But if you ever happen to hire a personal assistant for yourself some day, here are some rules for the holiday season:

1.) Either you buy all your Christmas presents for people yourself and deal with the consequences. Do not buy a Christmas present, realize the shipping isn't what you thought it was going to be, then make your assistant run all over town finding a popular but specific item the day of.

2.) Please don't make your assistant go to the mall. Please.

3.) Make sure he/she knows in advance. Like advance advance. Advance does not sound like, "Oh I forgot-" or "CRAP! Can you-" or even "Hey, you know I should probably bring something tomorrow."

4.) Please let your assistant know where you are going for the holidays, when, and what level of contact you want to be with him or her.

5.) You know what's better than giving your assistant a physical present? Giving them time off.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Just a couple of short rules

Rule: Don't be a lazy person; update your blog regularly

Rule: If you feel the desire and need to buy an attractive pair of bright, kelly green pants, do so. Please be sure they fit you.

Rule: Watch Legends, starring a pants-less Tom Cruise

Rule: Do not buy a round of shots if you ran into something trying to get to the bar

Rule: If you are playing laser tag, do not run into an area, get shot in your laser, scream, then run away, leaving your back sensor exposed

Rule: Tell your loved ones how you are feeling; they do care.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I heart you, Michael Pollan.

So I'm reading Michael Pollan's second big hit, In Defense of Food. I'm going to resist my impulse to make it a rule to read this book, but it's super thought-provoking and I think well-written and researched. There is a little paranoid, but if you read it in conjunction with Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser - for a non-Pollan perspective and body of research; certainly one could also read Pollan'sOmnivore's Dilemma - then the paranoia seems a little less extreme and might seem more like hyper-(justified)vigilance.

I won't ruin it for anyone, but he quotes Wendell Berry - an accomplished writer and defender of sustainable agriculture practices - quite often, and one of the quotes near the end of the book is going to be a rule I'm going to attempt to follow:

Eating with the fullest pleasure - pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance - is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.

Word, Mr. Berry. Word.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

and then I found five dollars or TMI

So I find that there's a widespread phrase used when someone is telling a story to another person or to a group and then suddenly the storyteller perceives that the climax of the story isn't quite as interesting or funny to the audience as he or she originally though it would be. The phrase is, of course, "...and then I found five dollars." The storyteller says this almost as an apology. The idea being that he or she recognizes that the story isn't so great and is attempting to justify its telling by altering the ending to something more "exciting."

There's also the too-much-information story, where how much is too much is determined by the audience and then expressed with the acronym TMI. Sometimes a storyteller will self-edit or throw out the caveat of TMI.

I've been thinking a lot about stories and snapshots and vignettes recently, as well as the act of storytelling and I've come to the conclusion that the "and then I found five dollars" or "TMI" self or external edit is completely bogus for me much of the time. The only exception to this rule is if you've made it clear that a certain topic or word or something offends you, scares you, or brings up hurtful feelings in some way, and the storyteller proceeds regardless.

Especially in person, the telling of stories is often the most exciting part to hear and watch. Think of puppet shows, or people telling stories to children. Better yet, think of children telling stories. They're so animated and excited. They imitate mannerisms, facial expressions, voices, and they use varied volume. This is sometimes true of adults - however, oftentimes it's muted or subdued. Even if the story is inane to me, I like to share in the excitement or wonderment that other people must've felt to think that the experience warranted storytelling. Furthermore, I often feel privileged to be allowed a peek into the emotions and experiences in other peoples' lives. Like I said, I really like snapshots and vignettes. I feel like these stories are most telling about peoples' personalities and ways of thinking, and that if there were a way to collage them, it would form a crazy, soulful, multi-faceted autobiography. A jewel. What is with autobiographies being linear and narrative anyway?

In my head, I imagine a grade school project: a paper mache orb. Peoples' lives are this balloon, and as they have experiences, these snapshots and stories are glued to this balloon and when their lives end, the balloon is gone, and what is left is a somewhat spherical - after all, whose lives are perfect and symmetrical? - delicate, airy bark or carapace. That is how autobiographies should be presented: crusty orbs, crinkly spheres, crannied globes, smooth eggshells, warped melons, feather-light balls, sonorous hollows on which we knock and hope for an answer.

Anyway. Rule: Try not to self-censor or discourage others from telling their stories.

As a show of faith, here's my tmi/found five dollars story:

When I was little and I was being potty trained, my mom used to have me sit on the toilet and sing a song, most often "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" in order to get me to at least pass the time on the toilet if I wasn't passing anything else. As a result, I have a strange habit of singing while on the toilet at home, or making an effort to resist belting out 80's tunes while poopin' in public restrooms.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And So Can You!

So I don't know if anyone remembers, but there used to be a show on PBS called "Yan Can Cook" hosted by Martin Yan. The tagline was "Yan can cook, and so can you!" And was always shouted at the end of the show call-and-response style with the live studio audience. Of course, I was like seven years old at the time the show was at its peak, so I remember thinking his name was Yan Can Cook (not unrealistic for a Chinese name, but I think it was mostly because I was seven.). The things I remember most from the show are the religious way my mother followed it - she would often tape (I can't believe how rare VHS is nowadays) the shows, and barring that (or in augment), she would copy down the lists of ingredients that would appear on the split-screen occasionally and write down the handy recipe instructions - and Martin Yan's incredible knife skills. Often with a large meat cleaver, he would beat an always-surprising tattoo on his cutting board that would compel a little giggle to escape my mouth because it was hard to believe anyone could be that fast and precise.

I remember giant notebooks filled with her immaculate handwriting as well as pasted-in slips of recipes, causing the whole notebook to crackle and bulge and smell of paste and glue. The pasted pages were always a little wrinkled, and often you could see the pastel pea green lined paper peek through areas that weren't covered with recipes.

I recently thought of Mr. Yan and looked him up on the ever-reliable youtube and discovered that his English has gotten better, that he has a restaurant in the states with a couple locations, and just general knowledge about this man who I always associated with pbs and chopping really fast with a giant cleaver. He is witty, albeit slightly hokey at times, and I would say he has a great stage presence except for the fact that I feel like it's genuine; he's congenial and upbeat all the time. It makes me a little sad that I don't ever get to hear him speak in Chinese; I can only imagine the powerhouse this guy is when speaking in his native tongue. I can't decide if my admiration of him stems more from nostalgia of peaceful and tangible memories of my childhood with my mother or if it's because he's so dang fast with that cleaver.

Anyway, our rule for this post comes from Mr. Yan:
"Cooking is feeling, common sense, and imagination."

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Hey, if you're a person designing some sort of, like, flyer or something or if you're writing a paper or doing something that involves letters that are going to be imprinted on the retinas of people, please choose your typeface carefully. Please make it legible, and not take up a stupid amount of space. Or, OR don't choose a type that smooshes all the characters too close together, like lots of "western, cowboy" fonts do. Lastly, wingdings, webdings, otherdings are not as clever as you think they are.

- Comic Sans
- Impact
- Lucida Console
- Fonts ending in ding
- Arial (it's just ugly and should only be used to legibility on the web if necessary. sorry.)
- Monotype Corsiva (who the hell came up with this font? FUGLY. [edit: found out who came up with this font. Still ugly. Esp. on the computer screen])
- Curlz MT (should only be used if you sell scarves to blue-haired piano teachers or people who wear ratty sweatshirts that have appliques of kitten vignettes)
- Kristen ITC (should only be used if you are retarded)
- Tempus Sans ITC
- Haettenschweiler

You know what? Here:

Try typing "kinetic typography" into youtube for other awesomeness. See also T-Pain's new video "Can't Believe It" for use of this and basically one of the best music videos I've seen in a long time.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Eat edamame.

So when you're alone at home, and you're looking for something to eat for dinner, it's really easy to eat three pieces of toast with pumpkin butter, some All-Bran Strawberry Medley cereal, and call it good. But uh, that's really sugary. And not very well-balanced. And kind of breakfast. So instead, you should look around, not know what to eat, then stir-fry up a big bowl of edamame, chickpeas, and garlic. Because that's better. Sort of.

Rule: Eat edamame because it's better. Sort of. Mostly it's delicious.

Incidental rule: Do not make your kids some delicious edamame and then tell them it's lima beans. It ruins kids for lima beans for the rest of their lives.

ew. lima beans.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

BBQ Winners Are Scary Orange Hue

So apparently the number one song on my birthdate was Van Halen's "Jump." That has nothing to do with any rule whatsoever. But the title is a rule. BBQ winners are a scary orange hue. All other hues of (whatever) are not winners. Sorry.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Seriously comma Ikea question marks

Um, take a look at this:
Sad, ugly Ikea Hatten table

What the hell, Ikea. I thought you were supposed to be the purveyor/arbiter of all things stylish, forward-thinking, design-conscious, and lingonberry. SWEDISH! I mean Swedish.

Why on earth did you create the sad "Hatten" table? Admittedly, yelling, "HATTEN!" as though you've lost a child (with an unfortunate name) or like you are saluting some mad dictator is really amusing. However, it doesn't justify this table.

Rule: Don't ever buy this table. And also, don't ever make something like this again, Ikea. You've suddenly constructed a bunch of walls that we've worked very carefully to gently dismantle. I don't know if I can trust you. Perhaps it's best if I stayed at my sister's for the weekend.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The boy made up a good term

Rule: It's totally okay to lie about blogging about your trip to Ft. Lauderdale later.

Yeeahhh, not many rules there; just the wonderful ocean.

Rule: Karaoke should actually be dominated by the sadly mediocre and blatantly terrible.

Come on, if we wanted to listen to someone sing "Respect," we'd go listen to a CD of Aretha Franklin. The point is to exhibit how bad you are at singing, and how good you are at entertaining. Or getting the audience to sing along.

Rule: Do not read your own poetry publicly unless:

A.) You are invited to read it at an organized reading
B.) You are a douchebag
C.) You are at a poetry slam and your poem is awesome or terrible. That is, no in between.

"Because really," the boy said, "Poetry slams are just poe-oke." (that's poetry + karaoke)

Well said, boy. Well said.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Um, question marks, Daily Plate

Rule: Release helpful features after you have figured out how it will appear to the end user.

Seriously. What's going on, Daily Plate? You're not in beta anymore. Though hilarious, the suggestions for lower-calorie substitutions are not categorized/filtered in any way, and so they're not good substitutions.

I had a Dr. Pepper.

Even though I would've saved 130 calories, I'm not going to drink iced "Praline Mustard Glaze" our of a jelly jar at Cheeburger Cheeburger.


No. Yeah I'm not going to do that.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Please listen

So I just got back from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Sunday evening. We will need to catch up on rules from that trip. I have yet to sit down and list everything I saw that needed a rule. Also, I don't want to bore you with rules you probably already know about/hopefully adhere to ("for pete's sake, put more cloth on that."). In the meantime:

Listen to Saul Williams. Go ahead. Go to seeqpod.com, search Saul Williams, and enjoy some real non-top-40 music.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Don't do it.

Don't read Amy Tan. Why would you do that? Why would you do that to yourself? Emo-researched Asian-American literature. She can put sentences together, but seriously, did we have to exalt literature that half the other Asian-American writers could excrete after a bowl of Asian Bran (it's angsty! Nutrition info: why are you reading this, go practice piano.)?

Please, PLEASE read something better like Bone by
Fae Myenne Ng or Blu's Hanging by Lois-Ann Yamanaka.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I've gone crazy! Two rules at once! WOOO *lifts shirt*

Backlogged rule 3:
Well, actually, it's a series of rules.
In my Gmail news feed this morning [March 18]: "Poetry Contest - DorothyPrizes.org - Prizes of $1000 to $25000. Heartfelt poems due Nov. 6."

Poems that you slapped together without thinking about it just for this contest due Dec. 8.

Angsty poems you wrote in high school and you thought your life was so hard due when your mom comes down to the basement, brings you juice, and reminds you, "Oh honey, wasn't that poetry thing due today?"

Poems that involve dragons due when your testicles descend.

Poems about cancer that you wrote because, "Oh, cancer is just so sad!" are not due. Ever.

Poems written about the first thing you saw out the window are due Oct. 9.

Poems about your favorite pastime or sport that you love so much but can't describe and it just is so great and I'm going to use a lot of words like "passion," "exhilarate," and "soar" must be submitted in the approved format: ashes in an urn crafted from oven-fired ferret feces.

Poems you wrote about world hunger, world peace, true love, and how much you love your yorkshire terrier (and you own a bumper sticker that says, "my yorkie is cuter than your honor student") will all be judged in a separate category. Please coat in egg wash and panko breadcrumbs before entering.

Next rule: Hey comma Brita pitcher. Effing filter my water.

I paid $15 for you to produce deliciously purified water. I did not pay $15 for you to filter so slowly that the catchment turns into a mosquito pond.

Backlogged rule 2

Do not be that girl.

You're hanging out at the bar, having a good time, and you end up needing to pee. So you head to the bathroom, and pushing by you on their way into the bathroom are two girls. Rather pretty, very polished.

One of them says to the other, "An' then-uh, he was like, iunno all like call you or su'thee... An' I was like yah-uh, ih was gradle-like, meechoo. Or wha'ever." (translation: "And then he was like, 'Give me your number for when I'm lonely.' And I was like, 'Sure, I feel like the emptiness in my head must be replaced by a filling of the vagina.'")

Good heavens, woman. Where did your tongue go? DID YOU HAVE A HORRIFYING CHILDHOOD ACCIDENT? No. The answer is no, she did not have a horrifying, childhood, tongue-removing accident. She just doesn't use it in speech. A couple of hypotheses as to why not: she's incredibly lazy. It is just WAY too hard for her to use her tongue to talk. Her tongue is just heavier than everybody else's tongue. Using it for speech would tire the muscle so much she would not be able to perform the important function of eating. In fact, it would tire the rest of her body. She would lie comatose on her bed at her parents' place, drooling onto a quilt, while her mother makes soothing noises and tucks Mr. BunBun into bed with her. How dare you try to make her use her tongue like a mere mortal. For shame.

Second hypothesis: her tongue is just used to being depressed to the bottom of her mouth, so she doesn't use it. This is tangential to the other problem this girl typically has; her mouth is always open. Not in a fly-catching way, but in a - what is to her - seemingly seductive pose of mild surprise and invitation. It is as though with every passing second, she is expecting a penis to fall out of the sky into her mouth. Her annoying tongue-less speech pattern is actually just broadcasting, "Hey, in case you thought anything would get in the way... NOPE! So please, go wild." That's right, your sphincter just got a little more relaxed because that's so sexy. Or maybe it didn't.

Either way. Don't be her. And eat a freaking sandwich, dude.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Backlogged rule 1

Do not write poetry when your current mood is: angst.

Don't ever do it; it can only end in tears.

Spray paint-huffing, emo tears.

You end up with crap like this (a real poem by a person with a religious alias):

Every night laying in bed
Fighting the pain
Fighting the tears
Wanting iit all to end
Oh how i wish that it all could just end
and then I pray when
I wake up I find that it is
All just a dream
And that it never
Really Happened.

Seriously? What the hell.