Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Best DO from Vice Magazine

It’s hard to place what is so rad about this girl (Puerto Rican birthday clown not withstanding) but the way she combines haute couture and nerd-at-a-sleepover makes you want to start a TV show where you two travel around the world fucking with people.

(I was going to skip it this month because the new issue has been out for a week, but I really can't go against tradition.)

DC's Black Israelites Are Crazed Racists. Who Knew!

For weeks I've read about David Klavitter's futile struggle to get a gang of manic street preachers on his corner to simply Shut The Fuck Up. And I was amazed that he would devote an entire blog to it (Actually, his blog aims to have them stop using the amplifier, not to stifle free speech). So to get the lowdown for myself, I took a trip to the corner of 8th and H Street in Northeast on Saturday afternoon to meet the fine gentlemen who claim David's block for themselves every Saturday.

After parking my car and taking a look around, I felt like I was in a different city. Remember, I live in Adams Morgan, where the biggest concern is whether a luxury grocery store (Harris Teeter) should open, or the local flower shop will be closed from "gentrification", and have to relocate one block away. These trifling issues are a world apart from 8th and H Street Northeast. Simply put, people down there are really poor, and they're invisible to many of our city's residents. Amidst the swirl of people and cars is a gaggle of hate-mongering "Black Israelites", ranting into a microphone.

David Klavitter has been reluctant to publish what, exactly, these men rant about; instead, he focuses on the issue of amplified speech and the law. But I have no need for diplomacy. Here are some of the things I heard from the sermons on David's corner. Remember, I'm just writing what they said:

All this, and they call everyone around them "the N word" in the most malicious way. And their accurate historical chart was very helpful for me, too:

These men have hatred in their hearts and it blasts out of an amplifier on a corner in our city every week. How is this not hate speech? It's remarkable what goes on in the poorer parts of Your Nation's Capital that few people seem to notice or mention.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

An Honor and Privilege

Tonight, my wife and I helped Frank and his wife select the postsecrets for this week's edition. The four of us began with a large cardboard box of a week's worth of postcards---likely over 600. We sat at a table, separating our favorites from the rest, and went through the highly selective process of choosing the final 23. At one point I asked Frank, "So how often do you have people help you with this?" He responded, "You're the first". I hadn't realized what a privilege it was.

Here are my thoughts, bullet-pointed for short attention spans.
I chose this postcard:

Saturday, January 28, 2006

I'm not running unless someone's chasing me.

On my average walk around the block, I'll be passed by at least five people in tights, t-shirts and ipods---speeding by on foot. I am not one of those people. In fact, I don't plan on doing any running, ever, unless I'm being chased by someone who's trying to hurt me. Sidewalks are meant to be walked upon, not ran upon. Especially in the city.

Runners always look silly to me. I'm sure there was a time in history when jogging was simply not done and would've been considered an oddity. Picture New York City in 1947. The streets, the people going places, the sounds, the smells. Now picture someone just running around amongst the people, merely for the sake of running around. That fool would have been laughed at---fucking running around past all those folks walking to their places of business or pleasure. It would've been a spectacle. I say we return to that: where running around for the sake of running around is subject to public ridicule. That's my kind of society.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Most Expensive T-Shirt I've Ever Owned

I am not a jock. I've never liked sports. I'm usually the quiet one in the room when people are talking about football. I've never been "tailgating"---hell, I didn't even know what it was until about three years ago. But I am absolutely hooked on one sports competition and one only: the Volvo Ocean Race.

Don't believe me? Take a look at the above t-shirt. My lovely wife ordered it for me way back in November---two months ago. It finally arrived yesterday. With shipping and handling and currency conversions (from the Euro) this shirt totals almost $60. And my lady was so proud and happy that she thought of such a wonderful gift for me. Didn't think twice about it. Just plunked down the credit card number and waited, waited.

And here it is. Proof that I may be a jock after all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

In fact, there is no suction caused by a sinking ship.

I've been reading the Rudder Treasury, a collection of the best articles from Rudder magazine, which was in publication from 1890 - 1950. I came across the below article, written in 1900 by the editor, Thomas Fleming Day. It's something I've said before about sinking ships; I'm just happy to see it written by a true salty sea dog.
On Sinking Ships

Another widespread fiction even held by many seamen: that there is a tremendous suction when a vessel sinks. There is nothing of the kind. As a vessel goes under the surface there is an inrush to close up the vacancy, but there is no suction after the sinking body is under the surface. If a vessel was drawn down by force there would be a suction; but a sinking form cannot sink faster than the water is displaced by its weight, and therefore, water being a dense medium the fluid must close in behind simultaneously with its displacement before. I have stood on the deck of a sinking craft and gone under with it, and instead of a suction there is just the opposite---an upward rush that makes it impossible to sink with a vessel unless you cling to her. A lifeboat on the deck of a vessel would float clear if the ship sank under her, so would a cask or a man or anything floatable.

--- Thomas Fleming Day, January 1900
I figured this was useful information for most people. You'll thank me later.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Things in the DC Area That I Could Give Two Shits About

Monday, January 23, 2006

Shark Caught on the Rudder!

This footage is of a shark caught on the rudder of the Volvo Ocean Race yacht, Pirates of the Caribbean. Here is the direct link. If that doesn't work, try the Dutch TV link here---click on the righthand video link that says "Pirates of the Caribbean opnieuw in de problemen". After a few seconds, they show the shark hooked on their rudder.

For all you non-sailors, the rudder is the orange thing used for steering that sticks down into the water from the stern (back) in this diagram. It's the smaller of the two orange things; the big one is called the keel.

Watching the video, I actually feel kind of sorry for the shark. It looks so lifeless and helpless hanging there, dragged along at 30 miles per hour by a multi-million dollar manmade piece of carbon and high-tech metals. Just imagine what happens when they hit a whale; it's happened before.

Welcome to Age 30

I got a text message from a friend who turned 30 on Saturday. It reads:
"I got so drunk I fell asleep in a bathroom at a bar. Woke up at 5:30. I had to hop a fence to get out. How's that for a 30 year old? Older, wiser."
Dear friend who wrote me this text message: I demand some elaboration on this piece of a story. Your 30-year-old ass can manage that, can't it?


Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Mall from the Blues Brothers

Last weekend I met a woman named Angelina who went to art school with my wife. She was telling us about her latest project, in which she painted scenes from the mall used in the movie the Blues Brothers. You know, the one that Jake and Elwood rampaged their car through, crashing into Pier One Imports and finally barreling out of the toy store, engine revving, right after the customer asks, "Do you have a Miss Piggy?"

Apparently, that mall, located just outside Chicago, has been abandoned since the 1970s---a subject of nature's entropy. So Angelina took photos of it, then painted them. Her stuff is amazing.

Here's a link to her online gallery. (BTW, I don't think all her paintings are of that mall.)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Ode to a Favorite Pair of Jeans

Dearest H & M Special denims,

You stuck with me through thick and thin. When no other pair of jeans would help me with a massive house painting job, you were there. Throughout the years, you allowed me to receive numerous compliments from numerous ladies about how good you looked on me. You endured. When I had grease all over my hands and nowhere to wipe them, where did I go? I did not reach for the rag or the paper towel, but for you, my friend.

And when you got your first hole, you and I did not complain; we trudged on. Your downfall were the holes that formed in the crotch. We battled all the jokes and nagging from the wife, but we persisted to this day, crotch holes and all. But those holes grew to an unaccpetable point where my twig or berries pushed through at times. And now we must part ways.

Today is your final day. You will retire to a landfill to have your buttons picked at by birds and your fibers destroyed by worms and time.

I salute you, my Favorite Pair of Jeans.

- LB

Friday, January 20, 2006

My Interview with the Good Doctor

I'm happy to report that I scored an interview with someone I admire very much---Ted Haigh, aka "Dr. Cocktail". Ok, I only asked him six questions, but I think they were good ones. They say it's bad form to reference yourself, but fuggit. Here's the link.

NPR also interviewed him a year ago. Sit back, pour yourself a drink, and listen ...


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Brazilian Coozy Cooze

I was just told that a certain friend of mine was so excited about her recent Brazilian wax job that she dropped trow and showed off her bare lady bits to a bunch of people.

It's nice to have liberated friends who inspire me to live another day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Lad Mag Readers Should Despise Photo Retouching

I admit it. I'm an occasional lad mag reader. In fact, I bet that anyone who's in proximity to a Maxim magazine would not be able to resist picking one up. I had such a chance this past weekend sitting in a restaurant, waiting for a friend to get off work. I flipped through the latest issue while eating two dozen raw oysters and I felt the same disappointment I always do (with the magazine, not the shellfish).

The women in Maxim are like the Thomas Kinkade version of the human female. This fact should be an outrage to the common lad mag reader, but it's obviously not, considering how good sales are. Recently I found a link to an interesting Flash demonstration on the process of magazine photo re-touching. The before and after pictures are striking. The before-woman looks fairly average while the after-woman is the female version of this schlock. Why is the modern guy duped by this crap? While I agree that many men are just a couple of clicks above wielding a club in the woods, most are not---or should not be---so slobberyingly stupid as to think that Ms. Sally Photo-Retouched is sexy.

To further illustrate my point, spend some time on, a website where there is a slew of sexy, real ladies whose images have little to no photo re-touching. There's an occasional shiny forehead, pimple or visible pores, but isn't that what drives us crazy? The sexy imperfections in a woman? That's something to jerk it to---not the insults the poor trod-upon lad mag fan must endure today.

I propose publishing a magazine like Maxim full of females whose beauty has not been insulted by Photoshop. I'd subscribe to it.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Globules of Spit in the Eye of The New York Smoking Ban

Just got back from a bar-and-friend-hopping weekend in New York. I went to about four different bars and at two of them, people were smoking quite a bit, indoors. Not sure of all the details about how they're getting around the ban, but in a certain bar, one block from the East River, every single person (including me) was smoking Marlboros, ashing in a single miniature Dixie cup half full of brown water. (Mmm, tasty!) The rumor is that after a certain time of night, the inspectors stop making their rounds so if the bartender lights up, everyone else follows suit.

There are fissures in the Almighty New York City Smoking Ban. They've now inspired me to wield my tobacco-laced pickax to form some cracks in the DC ban. Watch out, health-fascists!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Cum-on-the-Back Mountain

I've been hesitating writing this post for a week, but now that so many people have weighed in, I should slap down my two cents.

Some disclaimers: I have not seen Brokeback Mountain, nor do I plan to, for reasons I'm about to explain. I'm not a homophobe, if you define that term as someone who's afraid of, or dislikes homosexual people and culture. I have gay friends ... ok, just two, but friends nonetheless. I have no problem with gay-themed TV shows or movies and I think it's wonderful that gay people can openly be gay by holding hands in public and whatnot. And it's a shame that they can't get married like the rest of us. But as a lover of the outdoors, I take issue with this movie.

Brokeback Mountain furthers the shit idea that when men hang out with other men in an outdoor context, there are homosexual implications. This is an idea that did not exist as recent as 20 years ago. Not to sentimentalize the past too much, but it was once thought to be very normal and essential for a man's proper development to venture into the woods outside of a woman's presence, and no man-on-man sex jokes were ever uttered. I firmly believe that's still true and important today.

Regardless of its artistic merits, this is a movie about two young men who go into the wilderness and fall in love. The subtext is that this is just what any two men would do in the woods. It's the spooge-swirled icing on the top of a 20 year shit cake of feminized cultural changes. Will I ever be able to take my yearly sailing-trip-with-the-guys without hearing some inane joke about blowjobs or frigging in the rigging? Not any time soon, thanks to this movie.

Every now and again, men need outdoor time together sans women. Too much hanging out with the ladies turns a man's balls into soft truffles and sets his mind to superficial wanderings. In the outdoors with other guys, the primordial re-emerges and he can feel honest and real. As Thoreau said, "Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea, because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up." When Thoreau wrote that, no gay jokes were ever directed his way, I assure you.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Out-of-Town Losers

Lately, I've been obsessed with a DC blog called "Quest for Quiet", which is solely dedicated to documenting the aural assault made by amplified street preachers who shout their wing-nut rants through a microphone a half block from the blogger's house every Saturday.

The blogger told me in an email that, "The endless hours of amplified noise on a Saturday is quite stressful. Yes, we can hear it even inside our homes with windows closed. What makes it more stressful is the fact that the noisemaking fellows seem to enjoy the fact that they are able to harass the neighborhood like this. The preachers come to the neighborhood from outside DC. [Their leader] lives in northern Maryland. The other fellows, as far as I know, do not live in the neighborhood. Some I talked to said they were from Virginia and another from Pennsylvania."

I have a huge problem with people who come in from the hinterlands and disrespect urban neighborhoods. That type of human garbage rolls through my neighborhood every weekend, shouting and drunkenly breaking shit, but that's nothing compared to the poor Quest-for-Quiet guy. Those behaviors would be 100% verboten in Maryland or Virginia, akin to public sex or lighting cars on fire. Some folks consider the city a dirty, lawless playground, where it's admissible to act like an asshole, as long as they can retire to manicured lawns and strip malls afterwards. (Disclaimer: I grew up in Maryland, but I never did that crap). Maybe when the city has more TGI Fridays and concierge services at high schools people will act civilized.

Halfway Between Africa & Australia

This video (14 MB) is breathtaking. It was taken yesterday on board the sailing yacht, ABN AMRO ONE, in the Volvo round-the-world race. The boat is flying along at about 20 knots (23 MPH)or so and is being pummeled by ice-cold antarctic waves, which at times cover the entire deck.

Their crew of eleven is trying to complete the 6,100 mile distance from Cape Town, South Africa to Melbourne, Australia. Mind you, there is absolutely NOTHING in that god-forsaken part of the earth except a few lonely albatrosses, icy-mean winds, green mountain-like waves and menacing icebergs---some submerged just below the surface.

It's amazing that they can transmit these near-live videos for me to see, while sick, sitting at my computer in my heated apartment. I'm officially having an 'internet-is-so-amazing' moment, while at the same time feeling like a milk-fed pussy. Bear with me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Listen-to-My-Problems Meme

This is inspired by Mr. Happy Pants' list (warning: disturbing image).

As HP said, "I was stunned and saddened to read this morning of a 14 year old girl in Haiti who had a 16 pound tumor growing on her face. It got me to thinking about what my own problems are at the moment. Here are my top ten:"

10. Gave the dogs their heart worm medicine a couple days late this month.
9. Feeling some cabin fever these days.
8. Wanted to book a beach house on Caye Caulker near Belize for February, but nothing's available!
7. The beard is getting a little itchy. Feeling like I should shave soon.
6. Running low of firewood. Gotta get out to Maryland to get some more.
5. The wife keeps getting $25 parking tickets. It's going on two per month!
4. Feeling a little fat these days.
3. Dogs pissed on the comforter. Don't have a large enough washing machine to clean it.
2. Haven't seen the TV remote for a month. Hopefully it wasn't stuck in the couch I just sold.
1. Favorite jeans have holes in the crotch. I'll probably have to toss them out soon.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Strangely, no term for "female douchebag" exists.

(Fig. 1: North American Douchebag)

A douchebag is a guy who doesn't fully qualify as an asshole so he fits into a category that's a few clicks below it. In fact, the douchebag may secretly want to be an asshole but can't squeeze himself out of the light blue collared shirts, khaki pants and unsuccessful hitting on girls to meet the requirements. (Urban Dictionary will give you a better idea).

Which brings me to my point: there is no such term describing a female douchebag. Not that we would call her a name that refers to something designed to flush out a vagina, but no alternate term exists and it's sorely needed. In our lexicon, asshole is equivalent to bitch, but I'm not talking about bitches. I'm talking about fake-ass pretentious fucks who inspire eye-rolling on the part of observers and who do not have a penises.

I propose the word "tryhard" as the female equivalent of a douchebag. A douchebag dude is certainly someone who tries WAY too hard, fails miserably at it, and has no clue. So that's it! I'll be using the term "tryhard" weekly from now on. You'll thank me one day.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Witty Curse-out, Goatse or Zero Response?

I've been trying to sell my couch on Craigslist for a week. It's been hard to coordinate the first-comers and the late-comers, so what I've done is tell the late-comers to call me shortly after the first-comers visit me. But not everyone has been happy about that system. Especially this d-bag:
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2006 17:22:16 -0500
Subject: Re: IKEA pullout couch with cover - $35
To: Lonnie Bruner
From: Manny V

Oh my, I think u are very rude, u asked me to contact u today and now u tell me wait until saturday. I cannot believe that u are very rude. I wonder why woman don't want to buy your couch. Good luck!

Swoosh manny

Yes, he really did write "swoosh manny".

I considered three possible reactions:

1) The Witty Curse-out. For example, I could have responded:
Dearest Swoosh Manny,

By policy, I'm never rude on accident. Therefore, you can suck my sweaty cock. And make sure to control your goddamned gag reflex, bitch.

Kind regards,
Lonnie Bruner
2) Simply send him the URL of a Goatse. No, I'm not going to re-post a goatse on my blog, but it's an image that apparently causes irreversible mental damage.

3) No response. Sometimes the best response to a d-bag is none at all. It's often the best way of saying fuck you.

Such are the dilemmas of the modern age ...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

iPod: Goodbye to Hearing Full Songs

I haven't listened to a full song in a year. 10 seconds of a song? 45 seconds? An amazing minute and a half? Maybe. But a full song has not gone into my eardrums in over one year. No exaggeration.

It's part of the beauties and drawbacks of the iPod: I have all one million songs I've ever owned in one tiny spot, but having that many at the touch of my fingers has done irreparable damage to my attention span. Here's a run-down of tonight's iPod-fueled Metro commute:

- Don't know what to listen to, so put it on shuffle mode.

- First 3 seconds: Spoon song comes on. Too dissonant. NEXT.

- 1.5 seconds: Clip from Family Guy. NEXT.

- 4 seconds: Quiet, building acoustic guitar. Not "taking the train home music". NEXT.

- 38 seconds: Peaches track comes on. Like the album, but not in the mood to hear Fuck the Pain Away for the umpteenth time. Decide to hear Peaches, but not this song. Scroll to whole album.

- 1.7 minutes: Listen to Peaches track 'til it comes to the slow part ... Bored. NEXT.

- 2 minutes: Some Beatles song. Fine ... Need something more upbeat. NEXT.

- 3 minutes: Decide I need to hear The Stooges. Listen to first half of Tight Pants, I Wanna Be Your Dog, and Raw Power ... Ears hurt. NEXT.

Point made.

Listening to music will never be the same; the iPod has changed it permanently. You can have a trillion songs but you'll never have the attention span to hear more than a few seconds of each piece from your collection.

Not to be too nostalgic, but remember when you'd buy a tape of something and listen to every song over and over---even the bad songs? Those days are finished, my friend. FINISHED.

Cigarettes are like Hot Pockets.

For New Year's, I decided to be classy and buy a pack of Dunhill Lights. They're so fancy, that within the box, each set of 10 smokes is foil-wrapped individually so the remaining 10 don't get stale while you're smoking the first 10. Get it? But this doesn't prevent the similar feeling that I get after I smoke a cigarette or eat a Hot Pocket.

After indulging in these two vices, it's extremely rare that I think to myself, "I'm really glad I did that." It's always the same 10-minute feeling like someone magically shoved a small load of garbage into my gut and it needs time to rot and melt away before I feel better.

So that's it. I'm giving up cigarettes and Hot Pockets for good. After every activity I do, I should be able to think to myself, "I'm really glad I did that." That's my new rule.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Orwell's Road to Wigan Pier Relevant Today

In college, I was assigned George Orwell's 1937 book about coal miners called The Road to Wigan Pier. Orwell had lived with the miners in England for a full year and the experience affected him deeply enough to write an entire book on the subject. Reading it was a political awakening for me and has been a powerful undercurrent for most of my political views even today.

I've read the final paragraph a million times:
"It is not long since conditions in the mines were worse than they are now. There are still living a few very old women who in their youth have worked underground, with the harness round their waists, and a chain that passed between their legs, crawling on all fours and dragging tubs of coal. They used to go on doing this even when they were pregnant. And even now, if coal could not be produced without pregnant women dragging it to and fro, I fancy we should let them do it rather than deprive ourselves of coal. But most of the time, of course, we should prefer to forget that they were doing it. It is so with all types of manual work; it keeps us alive, and we are oblivious of its existence. More than anyone else, perhaps, the miner can stand as the type of the manual worker, not only because his work is so exaggeratedly awful, but also because it is so vitally necessary and yet so remote from our experience, so invisible, as it were, that we are capable of forgetting it as we forget the blood in our veins. In a way it is even humiliating to watch coal-miners working. It raises in you a momentary doubt about your own status as an 'intellectual' and a superior person generally. For it is brought home to you, at least while you are watching, that it is only because miners sweat their guts out that superior persons can remain superior. You and I and the editor of the Times Lit. Supp., and the poets and the Archbishop of Canterbury and Comrade X, author of Marxism for Infants--all of us really owe the comparative decency of our lives to poor drudges underground, blackened to the eyes, with their throats full of coal dust, driving their shovels forward with arms and belly muscles of steel." - George Orwell, 1937
I often forget that in 2005 we still get a lot of our energy from coal and the work to extract it is nearly as dangerous as seven decades ago. Hell, the entire DC Metro system would grind to a halt without West Virginia coal miners. All of us really owe the comparative decency of our lives to these poor drudges underground.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Dusty Box of Photos: A Lost Art

Having nothing to do today, I went through my bookshelves to sell some stuff on Amazon. While doing so, I came across the below "book", which is actually a little box full of smelly old black and white photographs.

My wife told me she found it when she was cleaning out her grandfather's house when he died about 10 years ago. There is no explanation of any of the photos contained in the book-box.

Are these twins or is it the same kid? I miss the days when boxing was a normal sport for a young boy to participate in:

I wish this photo were bigger because this woman is absolutely beautiful. I can't tell if she's sad, bored, both or neither:

This old gentleman is stiffly sitting at a table in an elegant-looking backyard garden with a bottle of bourbon (?) on the table. There's only one glass so whoever took this photo was not drinking with him. How sad. Also notable is the garden gnome peaking out of the bushes in the bottom right-hand corner:

These people look like they're enjoying a snow day---just hanging out below a stop sign near some filthy hulking industrial building. This is probably in downtown Detroit. I wonder if that building became a victim of "Devil's Night" in later years:

Finding an old box of unexplainable crusty photos will likely never happen with pictures taken in the future. Photography software just doesn't have the character of a smelly old box that poses as a book.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's Pictures!

(Click to enlarge)

Haaaaaaaaaapy New Year!! At the stroke of midnight ...

Our lovely host ...

DJ Jazzy Jeff ...

Mayor Williams made an appearance with his lady friend in tow ...

DJ Krazy Karl ...

Everyone loves listening to Journey ... especially when sung by amateurs ...

I admit it. I had the best tie in the house ...

The party was so hot that the lights caught fire ...

Pete was the first---and only one---to pass out ...

Oh look at my face ... my name is might have been ...

From the stairs ...

Yes. This man makes crossword puzzles for a living ... and on the side he's a professional karaoker ...

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