Thursday, January 28, 2010

Random Fact: Boy Choy Makes Your Pee Stink

The phenomenon of smelly pee is well known as relates to the consumption of asparagus. But the other day, I noticed I was producing some strong-smelling stuff and hadn't had any asparagus. The night before, however, I had some delicious stir-fry that heavily featured the chinese cabbage known as bok choy.

As a member of the cruciferous or brassicaceae family of vegetables, it is kin to asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and others that have the ability to by-produce odoriferous urine. It was strong, pungent, and distinctly different than asparagus pee, but bok choy was the culprit. It wore off after about a day.

There's not much authoritative stuff out there on the Interwebs on this topic, so I thought I'd weigh in just in case you haven't eaten asparagus and are producing smelly pee. If you haven't eaten bok choy either, one other culprit is sexually-transmitted disease (STD), in which case you should probably get your junk checked out by someone who went to medical school.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Hampshire, No Longer the Windiest

Uh, I think we're gonna need a new sign. (Not that it was exactly accurate anyway, was the wind really recorded in the building?)

I have some good history with New Hampshire and heartily endorse the gritty spirit that produced the most awesome state motto of all: Live Free or Die. So it saddens me to see the Granite State lose another of it's iconic claims to fame (having first lost the Old Man of the Mountain in 2003) now that Mount Washington is no longer Earth's windiest place.

Leave it to the Australians and their criminal tendencies to steal the record. Yep, Australia's Barrow Island recored a 253 mph gust during Cyclone Olivia back in 1996. Weird that it took that long for the data to emerge, but you can imagine the scale of that data-analysis problem if each puff of gust recorded anywhere around the world must be examined.

Anyway, I still love you New Hampshire. You'll always be windiest in my book.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Immaturity Loves Company

Now that I'm trying my hand at serious art dealing, it made sense this past Friday to kick-start my weekend with a little lofty culture and get edified on the subject. Luckily the Philadelphia Art Museum runs a little program called Art After 5 on Fridays which brilliantly dovetails the taking in of culture with weekend-going activities like drinking until you can't feel your face.

This past Friday, it was Jeff Antoniuk (who does '80s-vintage Daryl Hall justice with his own, out-of-this-world mullet) and the Jazz Update turning everyone on with their mellow musical stylings while the 1st floor galleries were open for browsing.

At first the high-minded intent of the evening was carried-out faithfully. Ben and I took in the scene, listened to jazz, noshed on light Mediterranean tapas and drank European beer called 'Amstel Light.' We browsed one wing of galleries housing famous paintings by the important likes of Picasso, Monet, Manet and Van Gogh. It was dignified.

Moving on to the modern galleries, we encountered some of our familiar American geniuses: Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Jackson Pollack. I had never seen a Jackson Pollack painting in person and I have to say it's much more powerful up close when you can see the texture of his madness. Printed reproductions or full-color productions in text books just aren't the same. As for Jasper, if that American Flag painting we saw is the Jasper Johns American Flag painting, boy is it tiny. Sort of like the Mona Lisa or Mount Rushmore in its ability to disappoint with its actual, corporeal tininess.

The really modern (or is that post-modern?) stuff ranged from eye-opening (gunpowder on Japanese paper by Cai Guo-Ciang) to ear-popping (Bruce Nauman's sonic-installation Days and Giorni) and broadened my horizons considerably. I hadn't considered the artistic possibilities of flammables before, but that's a good one by the Chinese fellow, though he should be careful negotiating the fine line where his explosive art crosses over into terrorism.

It was in the sculpture exhibit where the wheels came off. Amid the earnest works of Rodin and Matisse was the flamboyant Princess X by Romanian-born, French sculptor Constantin Brancusi, sitting there, daring us to take it seriously as a sculpture. Despite our best efforts to stay in character (studious aficionados of art), the 3 foot bronze dildo broke down our facades and brought on a fit of Beavis and Butthead style chuckles, which in turn incurred scornful looks from the procrustean high-brows in the area who couldn't believe we'd indulge the baser interpretation of this art.

But as it turns out, this interpretation was randy-old Brancusi's intention all along. This from the Wikipedia page:
In 1920 he developed a notorious reputation with the entry of "Princess X" in the Salon. The phallic shape of the piece scandalized the Salon, and despite Brâncuşi's explanation that it was an anonymous portrait, removed it from the exhibition. "Princess X" was revealed to be Princess Marie Bonaparte, direct descendant of Napoleon Bonaparte. Brâncuşi represented or caricatured her life as a large gleaming bronze phallus. This phallus symbolizes the model's obsession with the penis and her lifelong quest to achieve vaginal orgasm, with the help of Sigmund Freud. Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, condemned orgasm by clitoral stimulation and praised vaginal orgasm with a penis as the superior and only legitimate type. His condemnation echoed the social mores of his era which condemned masturbation as both morally harmful and as a cause of mental disorders. Her search for the elusive vaginal orgasm led her to have two unsuccessful surgeries and numerous affairs throughout her life with wealthy and famous men.
So there you have it. If it looks like a duck...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

One of a Kind, Neo-Flemish Painting 'Daring Mix' is On Sale

And now the moment you've all been waiting for... 'Daring Mix,' the miraculously acquired painting that must be shared with the World is being sold on eBay!

"I will hate to part with 'Daring Mix,'" says Nate. "But this painting is simply too important not to share with the global arts community."

"'Daring Mix' is an absolute feast for the senses," says Ben, with lust in his eyes. "I will forever envy the collector who brightens her home with its brutality, truth and boldness."

Most Awesome Dream Ever?

After a restless sleep last night I woke up at 4am to wander around my apartment for a little bit and drink a cool glass of water.

Returning to bed, I hit the pillow for a few more hours of sleep and delved into a star-studded trip of a dream. I was at a party in Sun Valley at Jamie Lee-Curtis' house and as things wrapped up I somehow found myself and my trusty but unglamorous Subaru playing the role of designated-driver for Mick Jagger, Robert Plant (who rode shotgun together) and the Black-Eyed Peas in the back seat.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Revenge of University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks Hockey Hype-Video

Because the original was so awesome, lighting the Internets on fire, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Hockey hype machine went back to the Hollywood formula of franchise and dug deep for a sequel to their first space-borne anger bear dominates the solar system plot line and took it up a notch to unleash Nanook at an inter-galactic level. Unlike Hollywood sequels, it does not disappoint.

And yet, part two is still under the radar with less than 1,000 YouTube views as of this writing, but it won't stay so for long. Early chatter is drawing comparisons to a Scientology scripture or the continuing story arc of Battlestar Galactica. This one's for you MMCY.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Giving For Haiti

Looking around at the news cycles lately there's been plenty of bad news to get down about. I don't have to enumerate the various stories, but collectively it was starting to feel like nobody cares about the general wellbeing of each other - the whole humanity idea.

Then this earthquake in Haiti happened and this news is so bad, so devastating, it's off the scale as far as anything else we're dealing with that makes for 'tough times' in the United States. To put it in perspective, just 2,500 people died or went permanently missing after Hurricane Katrina. Early estimates from Port Au Prince are saying 100,000. This is unfathomably worse.

It's hard to be optimistic after so much destruction, but what's hopeful and encouraging about this is the growing sense of the international response. I gave money yesterday (Google makes it quite easy if you've got a Google Checkout account) to UNICEF and am anticipating the stories that reveal the scale of the international response. I hope to be pleasantly surprised by the scale of our empathy.

Pat Robertson was spouting off some nonsense yesterday about this earthquake being the Devil's collection on the deal the Haitians struck for freedom from slavery. While a sick and hateful thought, his initial observation is irrefutable, Haiti has had an incredibly tragic history.

Discovery posts an article with an insightful discourse on Haiti's overwhelming poverty as provided by University of Miami anthropology professor Bryan Page. This article had some illuminating points rooted in the colonial history of Haiti and it made me think (in light of Robertson's poison) that if anyone should be paying back Haiti for their suffering it should be the collective of the Western Tradition and not the Devil.

Here's our chance.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Year's Revolutions

Man, just like that it's 2010 and I'm wondering where another decade went and how fast this one will go. When it's 2020 how wistful will I feel then when I'm all grown up?

But what a year 2009 turned out to be. I feel better off, after a little examination, and want to share highlights (for lack of a better word, these aren't uniformly the best things that happened all year, but just what somehow simmered up to top of mind) in a blog-friendly list format:

* I realized that there are three men vying for influence in my wife's life. Though I can't quite peg the ranked order, I think it goes something like this: her dad, me, Jonathan Adler. Nearly everything Jill's trying to persuade me to do is somehow (and I suspect subversively) put there by Mr. Adler.

* Once elected, President Obama took pains to express that everybody should get more education. If we're all smarter, it's better for the country. This seems intuitive and I like the general anti-laziness attitude. So I did my part by enrolling in business classes at Penn this fall. It's good for the overall perspective to have serious goals outside of work and my marriage. 

* Skiing and scuba diving are becoming increasingly important to me in terms of feeling like I'm maximizing my free time. 

* Still haven't felt the urgency of the spirituality bug, outside of communing with nature in it's grandest places.

* People think Seth Godin is smart because he's got a large, naked head which would seem to indicate cranial capacity. His ideas are actually stuff we've all thought already.

* SnagIt is worth $50.

* I'm mostly converted to black coffee after hearing from my brother Pete that it speeds up your metabolism. We were on vacation in Palau and having good conversations over regular breakfasts of the sweetest fresh fruit you could hope for served with strong, dark coffee from Indonesia. This is a vivid memory.

* Then in the Dominican Republic the coffee was served with heated cream every morning and I cheated on black coffee for a week. This was also delicious.

* Pearl Jam still rocks in concert. Maybe harder than ever. The show in Philadelphia was sensational.

* The beach in Delaware is more beautiful with nobody on it, which is another way of saying that timing is everything.

* I can't drink like I used to. Hangovers lurk in the single-digit quantities of drinks and this is probably a good thing so long as my path to moderation continues. I occasionally forget this increasing truth and the results are predictably disastrous.

* I'm still amazed by people with 'green thumbs.' I'd like to add gardening to my repertoire.

* I'm also committed to seeing more live music this year and watching less TV.

Avatar Blues

CNN's hosting an article about 'Avatar Blues' - a pop culture fringe movement of people with feelings of longing, nostalgia and depression for their inability to experience first hand the fictional world of 'Pandora' as depicted in the film Avatar. In extreme cases, some nerds are reporting suicidal tendencies.

I'm told you can't invalidate peoples feelings, or whatever, but come on. What a bunch of sad sacks this group must be.

What CNN missed, and something infinitely more encouraging, is this man in the picture of the audience at Avatar who has clearly optimized the art of movie-going by treating himself to his own large pizza. Amidst the most breathtaking 3D cinema experience ever offered, this guy has discovered the 4th Dimension that takes it to the next level.  I've heard of smuggling in your own cokes, Junior Mints or even popcorn, but this is an altogether new class of slight of hand combined with extreme American gluttony.

 But once more it supports the broader, lurking point about the hollowness of consumerism. We're all trying to fill in something missing in our souls - is pizza and Pandora escapism the way to do it?  Is Avatar Pizza Man one of the Avatar Depressives? Does he hate himself because he eats, or does he eat because he hates himself?