A couple of years ago, when a terrible break-up left me desperate to fill up all of my newfound free time with social interaction, I went over to a friend's house and watched him play Grand Theft Auto. After I saw him drive through a bunch of beautifully-designed streets, rob some girls with digits-in-all-the-right-places, and shoot a rocket launcher at a fleet of cop cars, I went home. I learned a valuable lesson that mind-numbing night: No matter how perfectly-orchestrated the sound, no matter how artistically-chiseled the graphics, no matter how hair-trigger the gameplay, watching someone else play a video game is boring.
That is exactly what watching Alfonso [...]
I. On The Battle
Brett Weiner (WHY-ner), director/writer/producer: WEE-ner is a much more make-funable name than WHY-ner. WHY-ner is also not great. Because any time you complain, you get it used against you. But WEE-ner's like… it's a dick. So, your last name means “a dick.”
Scott Wiener (WEE-ner), politician: When people pronounce it WHY-ner, that drives me nuts. Whatever challenges there are around WEE-ner, WHY-ner is worse.
David Weiner (WEE-ner), creative and editorial director: I did a piece a bunch of years ago that was picked up by some right-wing blog. And that Fox News show Red Eye, with the host Greg I-forget-his-last-name, he did this [...]
If you're a man driving alone on a certain stretch of Archer Avenue on Chicago's South Side, you may see a teenage girl on the side of the road, thumb out, trying to hitch a ride. If you stop for her—which, being a concerned citizen, you'll consider—you'll notice her outfit's a bit dated: a white formal dress and the kind of dancing shoes you might find in the back of your grandma's closet. There's something a little bit off about her, but you can't quite place what it is.
She'll say her name is Mary and she'll ask for a ride home, just up the road. When you approach [...]
In my opinion, this is the most beautiful sequence ever aired on television:
This essay is part of a series about our favorite TV shows past.
Previously: You, Me And "Star Trek: The Next Generation"
It's the opening scene for episode two of "Carnivàle." I've probably watched it 100 times. I know every motion, piece of furniture, item of clothing, dialogue snippet, and character backstory. I know the song playing is Ruth Etting's 1929 hit "Love Me or Leave Me."
And yet still, I have absolutely no idea what's going on.
That was kind of the experience of watching the show. Trying to [...]
The toughest part of writing about San Francisco's Jejune Institute "thing" was trying to describe it, something I attempted to do for this site twice. In a first piece about the citywide game, which was put on by a group called Nonchalance, I went with "[p]art public-art installation, part scavenger hunt, part multimedia experiment, part narrative story." For the follow-up, I added "underground alternate reality game" to the mix. Both summaries missed the mark, partly because of my own inadequacies as a writer, but also a symptom of the project's sprawling originality—it wasn't like anything else out there, and that was part of what made it [...]
151. “French Movie Theme” 150. “Annie-Dog” 149. “Pastachio Medley” 148. “The Boy” 147. “Bugg Superstar 146. “Spaced” 145. “Pulseczar” 144. “A Night Like This” 143. “Take Me Down” 142. “Shame” 141. “Glass and the Ghost Children” 140. “Medellia of the Gray Skies” 139. “Rotten Apples” 138. “La Dolly Vita” 137. “Meladori Magpie” 136. “The Bells” 135. “17” 134. “Tonite Reprise” 133. “Blank” 132. “Pennies”
Of the 17,808 players (and counting) who’ve run up the dugout steps and onto a Major League field, only 974 have had one-game careers. In baseball parlance, these single-gamers are known as "Cup of Coffee" players. The number fluctuates slightly throughout each season as new prospects get called up to fill in for injured veterans, or when roster size expands in September. (Last year, for example, Braves rookie Julio Teheran was a Cup of Coffee player for the eleven days between his MLB debut and a spot start.) But staying on the list for an extended period of time is generally not a good sign. It's an ominous [...]
Description: “My 5 year old created this egg using a Tie Dye Egg kit. This is better than the Jesus grilled cheese, better than the Jesus cheeto, and definitely better than the George Washington chicken nugget. And I'm sure that a 5 year old girl in the Midwest could use a little more money in her college account. Sale is final.”
Starting Bid: None, although there is a “reserve” that is not specified.
Current Bid: $.99, which is not yet enough to reach said reserve.
Item Location: Mason, MI
Does a beekeeper dream about her bees? What does a porn star dream about when she's not at work? How about teachers, lawyers and people with office jobs—are they stuck with the same boring work-dream loops as the rest of us, or do their dreams reveal something unexpected about how they spend their days? To find out, we asked eleven people of various occupations, including, yes, a beekeeper and a porn actress, as well as a farmer, a forensic scientist, a waitress, a screenwriter and a live-tv captioner, to tell us about the very best and worst dreams they've had about their jobs.
Once again: For this particular annual death pool (now in its fourth year!), points are awarded for each “correctly” chosen person at a rate of 100 minus age at death. This may account for some skewing youthward. There were 31 entries this year.
Last year, the pool correctly predicted the deaths of Kim Jong-il (13 lists), Elizabeth Taylor (13 lists), Amy Winehouse (10 lists), Steve Jobs (6 lists), Christopher Hitchens (5 lists) and Gerry Rafferty (4 lists). It was wrong in the cases of Michael Douglas (37 lists), Aretha Franklin (32 lists), Lindsay Lohan (17 lists) and a whole bunch more. So then, who will “mark” this year? [...]
It was never easy being a Pearl Jam fan. The explosion of hype and overexposure that came with Ten and Vs. fueled an instant mainstream backlash by the "cool indie kids." If you were going to listen to grunge, Nirvana was the band you were supposed to like. The experimental, less radio-friendly Vitalogy and No Code—as well as the annoying rise of Eddie Vedder sound-alikes—slashed the fan base even further. In terms of popularity then, they occupy a strange, contradictory place in music: They’ve been one of the biggest bands in the world for two decades but comparatively little is known about them. Which is why the Cameron Crowe-directed love [...]
There’s some great baseball-related abstract art available on eBay, but it’s gonna cost you. Each of these original oil-on-canvas paintings (16-by-20 inches) by the artist Tommervik have a Buy It Now price of $1 million. (Not to mention another $9.99 for standard shipping.) According to his website, the artist “has developed a personal vein of Pop Cubism to produce his very own reading of American iconography. All-American icons are thus deconstructed and rebuilt to emphasize a given attribute.”
If a cool million isn’t in your art budget this month, you can make him a below-asking-price offer and see if he takes the bait. All auctions end over the next [...]
Jotham Sederstrom, 34, freelance reporter: On September 10th, my friends took me out for birthday drinks in Chicago. I was out until three or four, I think, at a place called "The Hideout." Among other places. I didn’t wake up until about noon, at which point everything had changed.
George Spyros, 44, executive producer: I got married the weekend before. We had a bunch of friends and family from out of town, and went out Monday night for dinner. My wife and I were supposed to fly out on September 11th for our honeymoon. On top of that, it’s my birthday.
Michael Wright, 44, editorial director: September 11th has always [...]
This is how the Freelancer’s Panic works: Checks that are supposed to have arrived get lost in the jaws of payroll processing, leaving you without any money and, worse yet, a sense that no money will find its way into your mailbox, ever. Days are spent alternating between considering the poor life decisions that have led to this point and sending out mass emails to friends and strangers looking for any leads. Which is how, one day last week, I found myself responding to an ad on the “Writing Gigs” section of the Los Angeles Craigslist that was, most likely, a scam. I mean, it definitely was a scam. Completely. [...]
1. Would you rather die right now, painlessly, or live another 30 years with an increasingly debilitating ailment, with the last 10 years of your life spent entirely bedridden and in extreme physical pain?
On The One Hand: You won't have to experience the physical pain, which—as anyone who’s been in pain before can attest to—sucks. You also don’t have to experience the mental anguish that comes with growing old, i.e., friends dying; relationships ending; the realization creeping upon you that you can’t trust anyone or anything; the inevitable mark in time when you understand that the time you spent advancing your career goals was only a glorified diversion [...]
The email came with the subject line "SEMINAR ((nfltr8))." It purported to be from a group called the EPWA, a grassroots guerrilla group dedicated to overthrowing the Jejune Institute, an evil group of free-love pseudo-scientists who’ve been vying for control of San Franciscan minds since 1972. The email told me to report to the Institute's temporary offices in the Hyatt at the Embarcadero. There I was to swipe some mysterious objects called “BIOTIC-4CE GLOBES,” which I would find in a screening room. This task, the email said, was of the utmost importance. It was time to take down the horrific Jejune Institute once and for all.
So began [...]
There was a slight chance we were being indoctrinated into a cult.
The night before, during a tough trivia night at the Pig and Whistle, my friend Michelle had scribbled a name and address on a cocktail napkin. “Go to 580 California Street, head up to the 16th floor and ask for the Jejune Institute.”1
“What is it?” I asked.
“I can’t tell you anything but that. Trust me, you’ll like it.” She saw me wavering. “It’ll take fifteen minutes. If you want to stop after that, you don’t have to do anything else.” And so with a few hours to kill on a rainy Saturday, my [...]
N.B. For this particular annual death pool, points are awarded for each "correctly" chosen person at a rate of 100 minus age at death. This may account for some youngward skew. 51 total entries were received.
Randy Quaid: 4 lists Stephen Hawking: 4 lists Larry King: 4 lists Mel Gibson: 4 lists Jimmy Carter: 4 lists Gerry Rafferty: 4 lists Peter Tork: 4 lists Keith Richards: 4 lists Ronnie Biggs: 4 lists George H. W. Bush: 4 lists Ariel Sharon: 4 lists
I am a "Lost" apologist. Best to get that out of the way first. The show came to me at an important part in my life. I had just moved across the country and into my cousin's guest bedroom about 40 miles north of Los Angeles proper. I knew no one. ABC premiered the show two days after I settled in. I spent the first year of my West Coast existence logging onto every "Lost" message board on the Internet. You know those people who were obsessively dissecting the Blast Door map in season two? That was me.