Throbert's Theatre of Thinkologizing main page


28 September 2002

It appears that I've acquired a protégé! Some months ago I placed a personal ad on one of those websites designed to facilitate... er... masculine bonding, specifically the type of masculine bonding that involves kisses, erections, and plans to go away together for a weekend of splashing in the surf while dodging seagull guano.

One of the few responses I got was from an incoming freshman at a local college -- extraordinarily bright, giddy with love for the soaring architecture of New York City (he talks exactly as though he'd been standing nearby at the very moment when an Objectivist mujahid, having leapt into a crowd of logic-denying altruists, did then brandish a leatherbound copy of The Fountainhead, and next -- with an ululating cry of al-Ayn-u akhbar! -- detonated a suicide-belt consisting of C4 packed with Rearden Metal ball bearings, thereby driving a fragment of the aforementioned novel into the poor kid's brain, where it lodged and began leeching out into his bloodstream), and irresistibly nerd-handsome with his moptop dark hair and intense blue eyes behind thumbprint-smudged glasses.

Mind you, I'm not really attracted to guys his age -- even when I was his age, my yearning teen fantasies invariably featured men in their thirties, which means that only now am I finally catching up with the very demographic that I've lusted for all these years. (I'll be 31 this November.) But -- Jiminy Christmas! -- did it make me feel like a slab of prime Grade-A beefcake when I realized this kid had the hots for me. I indulged him with a few minutes of smoochin' an older man on the couch of a bar in the East Village, and that was that.

With that one little dalliance out of the way, we have continued to correspond, at any rate, and last night he persuaded me to critique an essay he'd written for a Freshman Comp class. Extremely disorganized as a writer, but orderly transitions are a skill that can be taught, and I hope to teach him.

Hot damn, but this mentor stuff gives you a sense of your purpose...

posted by Throbert | 9/28/2002 10:05:00 AM | (0) responses

Here's a rehash from my archives, for them what missed it the first time around:

Attention all frazzled parents! Remember when turning your son into a kielbasa-slurping homosexual meant long, exhausting years of smotherly love and paternal indifference and piano lessons and Catholic school? Well, say "HELLO!" to the Atomic Age, mom and dad, 'cause the technological marvel that is the Design Your Own Barbie® page will have Junior "playing the triangle" in just minutes a day! Here, check out the customized doll that I made for my pretend life partner, hunky Scott Bakula of Quantum Leap.

posted by Throbert | 9/28/2002 03:19:00 AM | (0) responses

27 September 2002

Hello, loyal patrons of the Blinkin' Blog! I've got errands to run this afternoon before the weekend, so no major updates today. Instead, treat yourself to a small sample of comic genius from humorist Max Shulman. Those of you old enough to remember The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis either in its original TV run or (like me) from its Nick at Nite rebroadcasts may recognize Shulman's name. If you've never heard of him -- and, sadly, most of his books are long out of print -- you're in for some fun. The man wrote in an irresistible wiseguy tone, full of mid-century slang, absurd overlapping dialogue, and hilarious observations about the consuming power of the masculine sexual urge, though in terms that are G-rated by today's standards. See Dobie's remarks on the hypnotic properties of girls' bosoms, for example. (While I favor a solid set of hairy pecs over big round boobies, I have no trouble whatever relating to Dobie's frustration...)

posted by Throbert | 9/27/2002 12:54:00 PM | (0) responses

26 September 2002

Tee-hee! Forbes presents the fifteen richest imaginary persons in the world. (The accuracy of their valuations is up for debate, though -- how the fuck could Willie Wonka rank below Richie Rich? Yes, yes, Rich had the mansion with the giant robotic arm that extended from the roof to nab burglars, but the transluminary acceleration and Knid-proof shielding of Wonka's Great Glass Elevator would've given him monopolistic access to the distant planet Vermes and its vast mineral wealth...)

posted by Throbert | 9/26/2002 09:18:00 PM | (0) responses

Attention, readers in flyover country: If you've always wanted to trade your dusty, sepia-tinted environs for the Gershwin-scored bustle of America's Most Exciting Metropolis, and you're independently wealthy, now is the perfect time for relocating to NYC! There are no jobs to be had, but the sluggish economy means that you can get some great deals on real estate. Yes, gone are the days of the dot-com gold rush when you had to pay a month-and-a-half rent to a broker just to find a decent apartment, and on top of that the first month's rent and security deposit to the company that actually manages the building.

If you end up looking for a place in one of New York's charming brownstone neighborhoods, though, make a point of finding a building in which the ground-floor apartments are occupied by old ladies of extremely advanced years -- it's so worth the trouble.

To be sure, there are disadvantages to having elderly neighbors downstairs:

* Their apartments exude a disagreeable cabbage-sock-Lysol odor if they have their doors open when you go by.
* They don't really like one another as friends, even though they're forced to keep together for company, so they'll get all cranky behind each other's backs: ''Watch out for her, young man -- she's a crazy old bitch, that one is.''
* And once in a while they'll beckon you into their fetid, newspaper-strewn quarters to change a lightbulb in the ceiling fixture, and you can see the accumulated decades of grime on the worn, burnt-orange and avocado linoleum. Not linoleum from the '70s, mind, when flooring was made in those colors and actually marketed under the names ''burnt orange'' and ''avocado'' -- these tiles predate WWII and were once several shades brighter.

But old ladies are almost always there to receive UPS packages, since the chalky crumbliness of their hipbones makes it impossible for them to leave the premises without first going through an extraordinary checklist of logistical arrangements, such as securing the assistance of a younger neighbor in hoisting an aluminum walker down the sheer clifflike face of the front stoop to the sidewalk below. They're there, too, with the key to the basement utility area when you've blown a fuse and the super is... possibly he's off touring the Galápagos, observing speciation in finches as Darwin did, for all I know, because he's certainly never home. And the best part about having old-lady neighbors is that they sometimes dispense free cash!

Take my downstairs neighbor Maude, for instance. In her girlhood, she was an artist's model for the Willendorf Venus, and has lived in her current apartment since the Spanish-American War. She also talks in this grating Brooklyn quack like an enraged mallard trying to shoo rival males away from his chosen consort. But she's always very kind to my dog Poochy, is never without ribbon candy for my adopted child Throbert Jr. (or Throbertina Jr.), and like I said, she sometimes throws money at me as I pass her door on my way from the stairwell to the building's foyer:

MAUDE: Lissin, you goin' out? Wouldja take deeze lettahs an' mail 'em fwarmmy? Quack! I fuhgott to do it when da Seen-yah Ambulette soy-viss took me to da park dis smawning so I cud spuh-lash aroun' in da reeds by da lake.

ME: Suuuuure, I'd be more than happy. Naaaah, it's no trouble -- I was on my way to the drugstore anyway to get some fresh batteries for my Johnson & Johnson Baby Taser, and the mailbox is right there at the entrance...

MAUDE: How is the liddle one, anyway? I seen ya wi' fim oilier! Sutcha liddle rascal, you should be so prowda him. Wait, heeyuhz two dollahs fwarya, all shiny from tha earl glands dat I use to preen my glossy wing feathahs with. Quack!

ME: Aw, I can't take this, really...

MAUDE: Go 'head, take it! Quack! I ain't got time ter awg-yah witcha, quack!. I gotta go root around in some mud wit' my broad, sensitive bill, to scoop up a cuppla duh-lish-us insect larvae fuh dinnah!

ME: Really, Maude, dear heart, you don't have to pay me. No, keep it -- I'm always going for strolls around the block anyway, to get some fresh air and exercise my legs... See?

MAUDE: Here, take the two dollahs fwahya trouble, stoopit! Yer doin' me a fay-vuh, quack! I can't get downta da may-yuhl box like I yoosta, what with da arthur-right-us indies flat, webbed feet. Just take the damn money! And get my gahbidge and recyclin' to da coib, too. Quack!

...and so on, until I take the two dollars and mail her letters. I always feel bad about accepting it, though I know that with rent control she probably pays something like 67 cents a month on her lease. Oh, well, two bucks buys a 40 of Olde English malt liquor at the corner bodega.

posted by Throbert | 9/26/2002 02:59:00 PM | (0) responses

25 September 2002

Gracious sakes! After that two pots in every chicken story from a couple days ago, there's more poultry-related malfeasance -- and it's (gulp!) in my own backyard this time. The NY Sun reports that Crown Fried Chicken, an Afghani-owned Brooklyn company that distributes ingredients and restaurant supplies to mom-and-pop chicken franchises throughout the city, has been busted by the G-men for heroin smuggling and money laundering -- with funds allegedly being funneled to... dunh-dunh-DUNH!... Al Qa'eda.

The only obvious reason for skepticism about the terrorist-link detail, I suppose, is this:

By February, the FBI had obtained enough information to include both Crown Fried Chicken and Afghan Food and Paper Products on a list circulated around the world of people, companies and organizations whose finances were being examined as part of an investigation into Al Qaeda’s finances.
One official cautioned there is a low threshold for making that list. [Emphasis added]

''Low threshold'' could simply mean, of course, ''owned and operated by Arabs and/or Muslims,'' which in fact describes a staggering majority of Brooklyn's mom-and-pop fried chicken joints, in my experience. (Not to mention corner groceries, which are also generally run by Middle Easterners -- specifically Yemenites, in my neighborhood -- unless they happen to have a large selection of high-quality fresh produce out front, in which case they're run by Asians.)

posted by Throbert | 9/25/2002 05:58:00 PM | (0) responses

Update: In response to the overwhelming flood of actual questions from actual Blinkin' Blog readers, I've added a FAQ -- see sidebar to the right. I'm not sure if I'll be blogging for the rest of the day, as I have fallen a teensy bit behind on a review deadline for Popular Photography, and the rent must be paid. So tide yourselves over with the FAQ and check back tomorrow for more of what you come here for.

posted by Throbert | 9/25/2002 12:41:00 PM | (0) responses

24 September 2002

New Yorkers like to brag that you can get just about any meal you might want delivered to your door in this city, and it's true -- the kitchens in many NYC studio apartments have less open space than your typical bathyscaphe, creating a huge market of people who rarely feel like cooking. While pizza and Chinese delivery are standard in any city, here in New York you can drop into most restaurants, from Thai to BBQ Rib joints to greasy-spoon diners, and pick up a delivery menu for future dining-in options.

But a KFC employee in California recently took the home-delivery concept to an innovative level previously undreamt even in the Big Apple, substituting two baggies of pot for the extra biscuits that a phone-in customer had requested with his meal. Sadly, what sounds like an ingenious way to drum up repeat business 30-45 minutes later ("Dude, I'd... eh-heh-heh... oh man. Eh-heh-heh-heh. Lemme get fifteen orders of popcorn chicken for delivery. Eh-heh-heh-heh. What?") instead turned into an arrest for narco-entrepreneur Carlos Ayala -- when the customer inexplicably traded in the free weed for the side of biscuits originally ordered, and then called the cops.

(Thanks to my pal Terry C. for the link!)

posted by Throbert | 9/24/2002 01:18:00 PM | (0) responses

Aaaagh... I was all set to do some writing this morning, but now I've first got to make a run to the hardware store to buy... er, a new flush-lever whatsit for the john. Sometimes, if I forget to pull the bathroom door all the way shut, my adopted child and heir to my empire Throbert Jr. (or Throbertina Jr.) likes to go in there, heave the lid off the toilet tank, and play Poseidon Adventure, with Surf's Up! Barbie pinch-hitting the Shelley Winters role.


posted by Throbert | 9/24/2002 11:58:00 AM | (0) responses

23 September 2002

Makeover time! A buddy of mine gently suggested that the glowering Green Svengali logo might be a little off-putting; nobody wants to feel like they're being scrutinized. So I've whipped up some new title art, which should do until Sanrio's attorneys slap a trademark-infringement lawsuit on my ass for inappropriate use of everybody's lucky best enchantment favorite bunny, My Melody®! Hello!

posted by Throbert | 9/23/2002 09:50:00 PM | (0) responses

Great 'Bating Bunyips! Australian journalist Tim Blair opens up the op-ed page of the Sydney Morning Herald and finds a few Yank-bashing shrimps to toss on the barbie. Good on you, mate!

Blair missed just a couple of points in his sassy commentary. First, one of his countrymen writes in a letter to the SMH editorial page:

[Bush] views the world through the prism of a Wild West comic book. There are good guys and outlaws, "injuns" and the seventh cavalry.

Okay, the closest I've ever been to Australia is getting stoned and putting the Xanadu DVD in a continuous playback loop, so help me out, people -- does the Coriolis effect slow down time in the Southern Hemisphere, or something, so that it's still 1957 from Perth to Canberra? Do Aussie kids still gallop into the living room astride their wooden hobby horses, pull on their Wonderful World of Disney®-branded coonskin caps and plop down in front of the 9-inch black-and-white RCA console to watch kinescoped Republic serial westerns with Randolph Scott and stock footage of Apaches going Woooo-wooo-woooo!? 'Cause, trust me, no one up here fantasizes about cowboys, rustlers, and <airquote> injuns </airquote> anymore, wombat shagger -- those one-liners about Bush as a Rootin'-Tootin' Bronco Buster are so stale you could slice 'em up and make croutons.

The other thing that Blair took insufficient issue with was the original portrayal of the U.S. as a schoolyard bully, by that fatuous Yale Law hack-writer:

The world faces a single man armed with weapons of mass destruction, manifesting an aggressive, bullying attitude

Genius, if the U.S. is playing any role, it's taking inspiration from Adam Baldwin's pecs-tacular performance in the 1980 nerd wish-fulfillment pic My Bodyguard -- the muscular galoot with the heart of gold who doesn't like to see his skinny, asthmatic, frequently-perceived-as-gay classmates (i.e., Western Europe) get shoved into a gym locker by a petty-thief chainsmoking dirtball (i.e., Jihadism). Got it? America isn't the bully; America is the cool jock friend you always wished would come along to kick the bullies' asses. Or, if you like, America is the cute teenage girl who roundhouse-kicks monsters into quivering submission and saves Sunnydale.

posted by Throbert | 9/23/2002 03:30:00 PM | (0) responses

Okay, and now the for the chilling conclusion of Zeitgeist: The Legacy, in which spectral child Heather O'Rourke wafts gossamer-like across the ectoplasmic membrane separating this world from the hereafter, spells out P-E-N-I-S with the Ouija planchette, and beckons us to come play with her -- for ever and ever and ever...

Part of the reason it took me so long to post this, incidentally, is that on Friday the bluecollar-beefcake UPS guy delivered a new digital camera from for me to review. It's -- Dear God -- totally fly, possibly the nicest piece of loan equipment I've ever been entrusted with. (I've handled higher-end cameras in a former incarnation as a consumer electronics editor, but only for as long as it took me to pass the loan model on to a freelance writer who actually grokked photography inside and out, like the guy who's now Managing Editor at Pop Photo.)

Anyway. I've got this mofo on my desk right now and it just makes me want to burst out into song like Maxene, Patty, and Laverne: ''Bei mir bist du Schön, it's such an old refrain so once again I'll explain -- 'Bei mir bist du Schön' means you're grand...'' -- it's a Sony, 5-megapixel, 10x optical zoom, manual everything, 32MB Memory stick... ooof, I'm touching myself. Plus, as an added bonus, it's shaped like something a West Village novelties store would be selling in a cardboard box with a naked man on the front.

Anyway, I got distracted by this camera, and was having trouble staying focused on my writing. Comedy's easy -- particularly the sort of derivative lowbrow comedy we serve by the pint here at the Badda Blink. But trenchant socio-political analysis? Not so easy.

So, this is from the NY Times, but to give credit where it's due, it was brought to my attention by Andrew Sullivan. (I really should reciprocate by tipping him off to the Chest Hair Renaissance, a story that also broke this weekend in the Times.)

Harvard president Lawrence H. Summers is drawing attention to the plague of anti-Semitism now spreading at the university in the form of a movement to divest school funds from Israel. Now, as a goy I might be less attuned to these things, but I really don't think that anti-Semitism is the right label for what's going on here.

There's no question that authentic Der Ewige Jude blood-hatred soils much of the discourse on the Israel/Palestine conflict -- parts of Europe are said to be awash in it, whether it's courtesy of doddering Catholic nationalists or immigrant hayseeds from Arabia's illiterate backcountry. And I realize that anti-Semitism occurs in varying degress of hotness, from the habañero salsa of the bomb-happy Palestinian basketcases to the salad bar bell pepper of restricted country clubs. But anti-Semitism, in whatever form it may take, is by definition a hostility towards the Jew as Other.

And what's happening in liberal Harvard, I'm suspecting, is something entirely separate. Not hatred of some despicable other, but a blind, promiscuous affection for the other -- for the outsider, the foreign, the voiceless, at the expense of those who are seen as comfortably similar and able to take care of their own ass. The rule in telling ethnic jokes, according to Miss Manners, is that it's acceptable if you're poking fun at your own people: blacks can make nigger jokes, Asians can do the ''Me put pee-pee in your Coke!'' routine, women can define themselves as life-support systems for pussies. And at Harvard, Jews are assumed to be safe targets for hectoring and glib generalizations precisely because they've long been accepted as full-ranking members in Clubhouse U.S.A.

So: if there's no Jew-bashing motive behind it, why are all these folks at Harvard reflexively siding with the Palestinians and calling for divestment from Israel? It's not like the Israelis haven't suffered at least a little in this endless dispute.

But, geez, anyone can rise up to champion the rights of the strong, handsome, self-confident Nice Guy. Where's the courage -- where's the meaning -- where's the distinction in that? On the other hand, it would take Sister Helen Prejean quantities of moral righteousness to stand in solidarity with a screamy, self-obsessed, belligerent dickhead. And wouldn't we all want to be thought of as having that kind of Oscar-worthy dedication to an ethical ideal?

Thus, several hundred academics at Harvard contemplate a boycott of Israel and sign a petition...

posted by Throbert | 9/23/2002 05:23:00 AM | (0) responses

22 September 2002


You know, some things just brighten your day more than a wheelbarrow full of gumdrops and puppies. Witnesses in Amman report that a young woman tore off her traditional robe and administered Drunken Monkey Style comeuppance to a trio of dick-compensating fratboys who'd made a practice of greeting her with the Arabic version of "Hey, sweet thing, how 'bout givin' us a nature walk through Beaver Valley?" Holy hellcats in hijab... (Link courtesy of LGF.)

posted by Throbert | 9/22/2002 05:31:00 PM | (0) responses

Hey, hey, hey -- feedback! Friday I was wondering whether there were such a thing as IQ tests for infants, on account of the fact that my adopted founding child Throbert Jr. (or Throbertina Jr.) has displayed signs of truly precocious spatial-mapping ability and physical coordination. Well, a reader has just informed me by email that, yes, I can shell out $500-$1000 to a child psychologist to confirm what I already suspect.

Unfortunately, my correspondent also notes that testing protocols require the child to have relatively well-developed language skills -- an area in which, as I've already noted, Throbert Jr. (or Throbertina Jr.) may be slightly behind the curve for his (or her) age. Plus, of course, with new people there's always a non-negligible mauling risk, but knock wood, he (or she) will grow out of that little quirk any month now.

posted by Throbert | 9/22/2002 12:49:00 AM | (0) responses
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