Monthly Archives: March 2009

Tuesday Filler: Why Must I Cry?

Pax Arcana

As the warm spring breezes begin to blow and the evergreens shake off their winter coats, I think it’s important that we don’t get too high on our good fortune. Let’s remember that there are good people out there who will befriend ghetto children, only to see those ghetto children return time and again to a life of crime. There are also people out there who father twins with women they do not love.

Then there’s Reh Dogg, who combines those themes into a homemade music video that might be the magnum opus of the new American century:

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Someone’s been a bad girl

Pax Arcana

spankingThe foundation of a long and happy relationship is built from equal parts honesty and compassion.

Oh, and spanking.

Turns out those weirdos who lurk in chat rooms in dark corners of the Internet trading fantasies about Catholic school, Taiwanese prison, and the Mitt Romney presidential campaign may be on to something. According to the New Scientist, couples that flay together stay together:

SPANKING is stressful at first, but it could bring consenting couples closer together. That’s the implication of two studies of hormonal changes associated with sadomasochistic (S&M) activities including spanking, bondage and flogging.

Brad Sagarin at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and colleagues measured levels of the stress hormone cortisol in 13 men and women at an S&M party in Arizona, before, during and after participating in activities. During S&M scenes, cortisol rose significantly in those receiving stimulation, but dropped back to normal within 40 minutes if the scene went well. There was no change in those inflicting the activity.

Basically that means that as long as you’re not, like, actually beating on each other, spanking and bondage and stuff can actually boost the bond between couples.

Of course there are always the haters that try to take a good, sexy science news story and tie it up with saddle leather and whip it into submission:

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, UK, adds that almost any shared activity is likely to promote interpersonal closeness. “It doesn’t have to be tying up your partner or placing clamps on their nipples, it could be something as simple as cooking a meal together or even doing the housework as a duo,” he says.

Frankly I don’t see why all of these activities can’t be combined into one. Oh yeah, you love the way I beat those eggs, don’t you girl? Yeah…. they’ve been naughty…. wait what are you doing with the vacuum cleaner? You’re gonna break it. No seriously, stop — you’re gonna…. Oh great. Nice job. Now how are we going to get all this parsley out of the carpet?

Spanking ‘brings couples together’ [New Scientist]

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Watch out for Russian junk

Pax Arcana

russian_rocketLate on Sunday evening, people from Maryland to North Carolina reported a fiery streak overhead that illuminated the sky, then disappeared, followed by at least one large explosion.

But don’t worry, everybody — it wasn’t a meteor or anything scary like that. Just a discarded Russian rocket, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory:

Geoff Chester, an astronomer with the observatory, said the projected reentry path of the booster for a Soyuz rocket matched up with the timing and location of eyewitness reports from Hampton Roads.

“The final orbit for this thing took it smack over you guys when all the fun was happening,” Chester said.

I’m glad someone thinks that being confronted with fiery Russian junk is “fun.” I’m guessing Geoff Chester was never invited backstage at the Bolshoi Ballet like I was. Trust me, you do not want to see Vladimir the contortionist’s version of Uncle Vanya.

Rocket trash? Meteor? Explosion cause may never be known [PilotOnline]

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British people giving us fewer reasons to love them

Pax Arcana

While their empire disappeared faster than a plate of bubble and squeak at an RAF reunion, the British have always provided the world with a surfeit of  awesomely giggletastic surnames for us to mock.

Who hasn’t chortled at the thought of boarding the tube at Piccadilly and running into old Eton chums like Phineas T. Ramsbottom and Nigel Hornblower?

bernard_nipplestamp1
Bernard Nipplestamp, my old headmaster at the St. Hubbins School for Spry Young Vicars

But unfortunately the age of silly British last names is quickly coming to an end, as some change their names and others run for the border:

A study found the number of people with the name Cock shrank to 785 last year from 3,211 in 1881, those called Balls fell to 1,299 from 2,904 and the number of Deaths were reduced to 605 from 1,133.

People named Smellie decreased by 70 percent, Dafts by 51 percent, Gotobeds by 42 percent, Shufflebottoms by 40 percent, and Cockshotts by 34 percent, said Richard Webber, visiting professor of geography at King’s College, London.

Comparing the popularity of names in Britain from the 1881 census to today, researchers found that the top 6 surnames were exactly the same — Smith, Jones, Williams, Brown, Taylor, and Davies. Asian names like Wang have grown preciptiously during the past few decades.

Oh well. At least we still have the Dutch to make fun of. Isn’t that right, Countess von Fingerplunk?

Britain running out of Cocks [Metro UK]

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Breaking News: People Argue Over Shit

Pax Arcana

Living the life of an reclusive eccentric billionaire has its advantages, to be sure. But spending my days secure in a (extradition-free) mountain redoubt also leaves me regrettably isolated from the rest of society.

That’s why I turn to the Fashion & Style section of the New York Times to keep me abreast of how the lesser classes (that would be you) spend their days. For example, yesterday I learned that the high tech movie rental service Netflix is driving a wedge betwixt married people everywhere.

No, really. That’s what it says:

leonardBut for many couples, the queue — the computer list of which films will arrive next in the mail, after those at home are returned — is as important as everything else that spouses and other varieties of significant others share, from pet names to closet space to the bathroom. For some, this is fine. For others, the queue is the new toilet seat that somebody left up.

The article then quotes a gentleman whose wife refused to watch The English Patient for a full six months. The couple — by now almost certainly on the verge of divorce — finally returned the DVD unwatched.

And somewhere in heaven, an cherub was born with AIDS.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned rift is not the only one. According to the article, acrimony over the Netflix queue is in a giant tie for first place on the list of stupid ass shit husbands and wives argue over:

Mr. Marino and Ms. Miller are not alone. Far from it. Men and women from perfectly happy partnerships report their own dysfunctional cohabitation within the confines of the queue. Once upon a time, these sorts of disagreements were sorted out in the aisles of a video store, before a movie was selected. Now, when the conversation begins, it’s already too late.

WILL NO ONE STOP NETFLIX BEFORE IT DRIVES THE ENTIRE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE INTO RUIN?

This is why I simply trade from my DVD collection with Kim Jong Il. His taste is surprisingly girlish, but at least he returns things on time.

Hey, Who Ordered ‘Gigli’? [NYT]

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The New York Dolls will bring us together

Pax Arcana

The New York Dolls are one of the most influential bands of the rock and roll era — arguably the earliest progenitors of both punk and glam rock.

new_york_dolls

They are also the bridge that brings far flung enemies together.

Consider the case of Anthony Bourdain — irrascible travel show host and member in good standing of the Pax Arcana pantheon of greatness — and squawky dog food peddler and sloppy joe connoisseur Rachael Ray. For years, Ray has been the preeminent receiver of Bourdain’s sour scorn for all things dumbed-down in the food world.

(Basically, Bourdain is pissed that smart, sophisticated food shows like Molto Mario were unceremoniously dropped from the Food Network in favor of saccharine lightweight fare like Ray’s 30 Minute Meals and the abysmal Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee, who we have previously described as a “witless cyborg swamp monster.” Ray catches most of the shit from Bourdain in part because she has been a breakout success, but also because her relentlessly chipper personality is the perfect foil for Bourdain’s gloomy demeanor.)

But then Bourdain heard that Ray — who is apparently a huge music fan — was hosting yet another SXSW party this year. And that her guest list included the New York Dolls. On his Facebook page, Bourdain lamented that Ray also loved a band he considers central to his musical sensibilities:

“This development … following hot on the heels of Rachael saying nice things about me on ‘Nightline’ [she told interviewer Cynthia McFadden that she “absolutely loves” Bourdain and has “an enormous amount of respect” for him] has caused me no small amount of confusion, panic and misery. I don’t know whether to go out and shoot a puppy, or send Rachael a fruit basket. It just does me no good at all to think of Rachael as a Dolls fan. It’s really only a matter of time now until my daughter looks up from her grilled cheese and says ‘Yummo!!’”

Ray responded by sending Bourdain an actual fruit basket. Bourdain then posted a sincere note on his Travel Channel blog thanking her, and edging ever closer toward rapprochement:

My daughter quickly tore into the grapes, saving me from the humiliating business of doing an impromptu “Dancy Dance” from Yo Gabba Gabba (a strategy that has been known to work in situations of similar extremis). I thank you for your kindness to someone who has shown you no good reason for such a thing, your good humor — and for appreciating the New York Dolls.

Now, I’ve never hated Rachael Ray as much as Bourdain (or half of the other people I’ve known), but frankly I don’t know whether to feel joy or remorse at this development. As much as I love to see old enemies bury the hatchet, very few have ever wielded that hatchet quite as well as Bourdain. It was a joy to watch.

At least we still Guy Fieri to shit on. Man, fuck that guy.

Dear Rachael [Bourdain Blog]
Anthony Bourdain stirs up trouble with Rachael Ray [Daily News]

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Saturday filler: A combination of two of my favorite things

Father Scott

I love The Dugout. I love Wilco.

Go here.

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Friday Random 10: My Own Personal Hell Edition

Pax Arcana

hellThe subject of this week’s random 10 is appropriate, since my absence from posting lately is the direct result of one of the key indicators that I am, at the workplace anyway, inside of my own personal hell right now. It’s like I can never make enough chocolate mousse to satisfy all these gorgeous women!

Anyway, Paste writer Steve LaBate has posted a list of the seven songs that would be playing in his own personal hell. While only one of his would also be on my list, it’s safe to say I can see where he’s coming from. Here are mine. Commenters are welcome to blah blah blah you’re going to do it anyway, aren’t you?

1. Bittersweet Symphony — The Verve

It’s not that they stole the music from the Rolling Stones. It’s that this song is so obnoxiously repetitive, whiny, and boring I would rather stuff bowling balls in my nostrils than hear it one more time.

2. Semi-Charmed Life — Third Eye Blind

I’m tempted to toss the entire fetid Third Eye Blind oeuvre in a tie for second, but this… this is the song that made me want to burn down the entire earth.

3. Smooth — Santana and the fat guy from Matchbox 20

As if everything about Matchbox 20 wasn’t already annoying enough, this retarded homunculus had to stick his fat face on every TV in the universe from roughly 1999 to 2004 with this awful, awful song.

4. Hero — Enrique Iglesias

I swear to God if I ever see him in the street I will tear that mole off and stuff it down his throat.

5. Fields of Gold — Sting

Really, this list could be all Sting songs — but I chose this one because it is the best example of Gordon Sumner’s unparalleled ability to create lyrics and music that are at the same time pretentious and complete fucking bullshit. Witness:

“So she took her love/For to gaze awhile/Upon the fields of barley/In his arms she fell as her hair came down/Among the fields of gold.”

WTF?

6. My Sacrifice — Creed

No, you’re not Jesus.

7. My Humps — Black Eyed Peas

Because it has hastened the apocalypse. I can’t prove that, but you know I’m right.

Now let’s cleanse that palate.

The songs:

Knotty Pine — Dirty Projectors + David Byrne
Deer Crossing — Elk City
The Great Skua — British Sea Power
Famous Last Words — Faces on Film
Springer Show — The Asskickers
Damn, Sam — Ryan Adams
Gouge Away — The Pixies
Reckoner — Radiohead
Remember When (Side A) — The Black Keys
Against Pollution — The Mountain Goats

Bonus video:

You’re Only Lonely — Micah P. Hinson (LIVE at SXSW 2009)

The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.

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Icelandic elves may just be the thing we need

Pax Arcana

A few weeks ago I linked to a Vanity Fair article about the collapse of the Icelandic economy. There was so much awesome in that article that I apparently read right past the most important section.

It turns out the people of Iceland believe in elves.

Like, they really, really believe in elves:

Alcoa, the biggest aluminum company in the country, encountered two problems peculiar to Iceland when, in 2004, it set about erecting its giant smelting plant. The first was the so-called “hidden people”—or, to put it more plainly, elves—in whom some large number of Icelanders, steeped long and thoroughly in their rich folkloric culture, sincerely believe. Before Alcoa could build its smelter it had to defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it. It was a delicate corporate situation, an Alcoa spokesman told me, because they had to pay hard cash to declare the site elf-free but, as he put it, “we couldn’t as a company be in a position of acknowledging the existence of hidden people.”

elf_house

According to Slate, a 2007 poll found that 57 percent of Icelanders do not deny the existence of elves, and another 8 percent profess to believe in them outright. Also they’re maybe invisible, which conveniently explains the doubts of the non-believers:

The huldufólk are thought to live in another dimension, invisible to most. They build their homes inside rocks and on craggy hillsides, and they seem to favor lava formations. The port town of Hafnarfjördur, near Reykjavík, is thought to have a particularly large settlement of elves—as well as other mystical beings like dwarves (who also fit under the broad category of huldufólk). According to local clairvoyants, the huldufólk royal family lives at the base of a cliff in that town.

Companies like Alcoa naturally complain about paying the government to certify that a building site is elf-free. But here’s a little statistical information for your dumb ass, straight from the record books:

There has never been a certified zombie attack in the nation of Iceland. Not one.

I think you see where I’m going with this. Just a few minutes ago I dispatched a scout team of my foot soldiers in the Global War on Zombies to Iceland to negotiate with the royal family of the huldufolk. They have been given strict orders to recruit these elves no matter what the expense.

How much fermented shark meat do you think an elf king can eat?

Elf Detection 101 [Slate]
Wall Street on the Tundra [Vanity Fair]

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I will deposit my twits in your eye-holes

pax_twitter

Pax Arcana

Last month I asked my Hungarian manservant to explain why the entire world was aflutter over something called “Twitter.” Unfortunately the English lessons I am paying so dearly for have not yet taken purchase, because his answer was an unintelligible jumble of fake words like tweet, tweeple, tweetard, twike, twode, and twouche.

Really, he sounded like a retard.

Anyway, after consulting the roughly 700,000 mainstream media stories on the so-called Twitter boom, I have decided to dump my own twits into the twitterscape. For the latest microthoughts on whatever threats drift through the greater Pax Arcana transom, simply click the “Pax on Twitter” link on the widget to the right, or go to twitter.com/paxarcana.

You shall be rewarded for your loyalty.

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