• I’m not kidding about the Washington Post. When the Washington Times – run by Moonies and one step above the New Frontiersman (Watchmen reference, folks! Try to keep up) – is producing equal or better journalistic product, it’s time to fold up shop. The paper was circling the drain once before, in the mid-60s, and was kept afloat almost single-handedly by the brilliant sportswriting of the great Shirley Povich (pray for us). And while there’s all kinds of things you could call the Post columnists in 2008, don’t call them Shirley.
• Speaking of Old Media, let me just say this: the “satire” excuse is the last refuge of somebody whose joke sucked. Every time I criticize Starship Troopers, somebody always comes out of the woodwork to complain that it’s a satire and it’s supposed to be like that. Let me put on my English-minor hat and give you a hint here: “satire” is not a synonym for “shit on a shingle.” If people aren’t laughing at your satire, while it may make you feel smart to say that they just don’t get it, you should at least consider the possibility that in fact your work just blows.
• Shortest joke in the world, stolen without attribution: “Pretentious? Moi?”
• Seriously, I’ve been taking the New Yorker for almost nineteen years now. Nineteen years. Insert incredulous expletive here. Occasionally you do find some good stuff in there, but for the last few years you’re grasping to get three good articles in a month. I think it’s less a reflection on the magazine than on the fact that long-form magazine literature in general is taking a beating when so much content is freely available online, even if you don’t have the most staid and hidebound publication in the country. (Can you believe that the whole uproar about Tina Brown taking over the New Yorker was sixteen years ago? Does anyone even remember who Tina Brown was?)
• It’s amazing to me that I can get to more attractive destinations, faster and more reliably, by taking a heavy-rail commuter train than the VTA light rail. Even on the weekend, I can Caltrain to San Francisco and walk to O’Neills almost as fast as I can take the light rail and walk to O’Flaherty’s. In twenty minutes with Caltrain, I can be downtown in Sunnyvale, Palo Alto or Menlo Park. Twenty minutes on the light rail gets you to something called “Old Ironsides.” Double it and you’re still not close to San Pedro Square. Here we see the catch with public transit: to be effective, it has to go somewhere you want to be. They didn’t run the Orange Line on the Washington Metro out to Clarendon and Ballston; those communities grew huge and significant because the Metro was there, and it took two decades for them to get that way. Ironically, the route the VTA light rail ought to take is the exact route the Caltrain takes: roughly parallel to El Camino Real the length of the Peninsula. Instead, the light rail sets out from downtown Mountain View (a very viable destination, admittedly) and then takes two dozen stops and almost an hour to get downtown. On the way, it manages to miss every single mall, movie theater, downtown high street or other commercial destination that somebody might actually want to get to.
• Now that’s comedy. I just got a message in Friendster, which never happens – how they got lapped by MySpace and then Facebook is astounding to me, frankly, but there it is, and in fairness Orkut (from Google) has been a bigger bust than Dolly Parton’s got – and it’s some sort of spam that purports to be from my sister-in-law. However I sort of doubt that she has a “profiel” on “youare2cute.info”. Just a hunch.
* I do love my car. Zipping around on a cool summer night in a VW with the windows down and moonroof open is exactly what I was hoping for in 2004, and the Rabbit beats the ’04 New Beetle all hollow under the hood. Nevertheless, if I’d known in 2006 what I know now, I would definitely have bought the Vespa for less than a quarter the money and almost quadruple the mileage. It would be long since paid off, I’d be clocking ridonkulous cheap commutes relative to what I was before, I could still get almost anywhere I want that doesn’t require a freeway, and I could basically be one long Eddie Izzard joke.
• Very interested to see if The Dark Knight is better than Iron Man. Can’t fathom that the first Batman was more than half my life ago.
• Is it just me, or does the Stig always give the impression of always being just one more smart remark away from seizing Jeremy Clarkson by the throat and throttling him until his perm un-curls? Seriously, nobody has ever more perfectly conveyed such a perfect blend of frustration, contempt, and supreme talent wasted in an ignominious cause. I think the Stig must have been in tech support once. Actually, that’s ideal – the guy you send to somebody’s office to work on a machine should be clad in a firesuit and full helmet, no identifying marks, never speaks, just fixes and leaves. That way, you can still go to lunch in public without being accosted for help. Why we didn’t think of this in 1998, I have no idea.
• This post has been brought to you by Larsen’s Biscuits.