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Cake City : the uneventful saga of Hape Shapley, part 4

Nicholas DiBiase
Poster: Nicholas DiBiase @ Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:41 pm

Hape cracked open his portfolio to reveal a sleek laptop, which he opened to Danny’s dismay and started the presentation. This was his ace in the hole. He’d helped put this thing together, and it not only briskly revealed the technological superiority of the FlexTelligence E line, but broke the news that Head had bought no less than three super-high-profile endorsers away from rivals : Gil Fisher, Ainsley Chong, and the apparently unbeatable Ricky Phil Stiller. Stiller was widely expected to sweep the Grand Slam this year on the strength of his terrifying serve and shrewdly evil baseline play. It was commonly speculated that his endorsement of the “Claymore” model racket had been the only thing keeping the Prince corporation alive.

The presentation video was fast-paced, well-produced, and hard-hitting, saving the Stiller endorsement for last and introducing a flashy new model co-designed with Stiller – the “Big Brain”. That epithet was one commonly applied to Stiller early in his career, when his primary method of winning matches was making fools out of aggressive opponents by exploiting their positions with his surgical shots from the baseline. Since, he had developed a high-velocity first service to match his better opponents, but the name stuck. Hape could never shake a vague unease with this title and Head’s adoption thereof, however – he felt that it was mildly anti-Jewish. There were plenty of cerebral players out there – wasn’t this sobriquet a way to shove Stiller into that old “Jews are smart but lack brawn” box?

Danny, who generally loathed presentations, found himself quite engaged by this one, and the news of new endorsements softened his heart a bit toward Head. Hape, who was watching Dracula’s face like a poker player throughout the presentation, began to notice the details of Danny’s appearance. His close-cropped blond hair amplified his ruddy complexion to an almost alarming degree, and his left ear had no lobe to speak of. The faint shininess of skin around his neck suggested corrected scarring and made Hape suspect that Danny had been in a bad auto or industrial accident. His white Ping golf shirt was pressed, but had a small red stain on the left shoulder blade that Hape surmised Danny had missed, given the meticulous condition of Danny’s Nikes and the impeccably creased pleated khakis he sported. Hape imagined how the stain might have gotten there unnoticed : did the offspring of Dracula sneak up with a Crayola marker? Unintentional dribble of Kool-Aid from a hoisted toddler’s lip? Shirt taken from irregular stock? Hape realized with a twinge of regret that he would never know the answer.

(86,988)
Keywords: Hape  Tennis   Story  Vampires  Dracula  Head  Fiction  Narrative  Machiavelli  Lies  Creativity  Bees  Alcohol  America 
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The Hideous Evil of Snake Bebat : Part 1

Nicholas DiBiase
Poster: Nicholas DiBiase @ Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:10 pm



Ch. 1

The icy October wind lashed at Sue’s cheeks as she made her way across the parking lot to her car. An unseasonably cold evening in which was planted the spore of an unseasonably hot romance. She had caught a glimpse of him from the coffee shop and tried to go out to him, but by the time she’d reached the threshold, he was already gone – evaporated into the gloaming.

In the brief magnetic instant that she’d seen him, he appeared loping purposefully down the sidewalk, his head turning slightly from side to side as he observed everything. His eyes were concealed behind a big black pair of sunglasses, but she imagined them to be green and intense. The collar was turned up on his leather bomber. The swing of his arms was a counterrhythm to his long stride. She could see even from a distance that he had a tattoo on his right hand.

She felt her heart crumple as she stepped out into the crisp afternoon air and craned her neck in vain to catch a glimpse of this man. She’d been harpooned with the most powerful of feelings, like this man would write the next chapter in her life, could shape her sadness into something towering and worthwhile. He was gone, though – slipped away like the lifesaving rope from a doomed mountaineer.


--

Ch. 2

All the heartbreak of years past came galloping, trampling back all of a sudden. Sue’s mouth turned down like a baby’s does when it’s about to wail. She could not prevent the single hard sob that escaped her throat. A terrible wave of loss settled through her body like poison.

She bumbled heavily back to her chair and gripped the paper cappuccino cup for support. That man in the sunglasses was receding ever further from the possibility of togetherness, and dragging, unravelling along behind him a feeble thread of her hope. She could feel it pulling out of her, like the stringy guts of a bee after it’s stung you.

Sue sat in the chair for another half-hour, bruised. Then she forced herself to get up and leave the coffee shop, moping on down the street in her car, back to her apartment. She flopped onto her huge couch and stared at her blank computer screen on the coffee table. She didn’t move for two hours. Then, the leaden blanket of sleep slipped over her. It was a fitful slumber.

(76,404)
Keywords: Aging  Alcohol  Coffee   Caffeine  Lonliness  Suicide  Love  Lust  Horror  Writing  Story  Narrative  Depression  Snappier 
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Goth poetry contest part III

Hank
Poster: Hank @ Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:30 pm



Goth poetry contest part III !!!! !!1!

OK, here we go, my soggy mopesters. In it to win it this time, so do your wurst! +10 oblivion points to anyone who correctly guesses th' inspiration for this one.


__


My feet are tired and my hands are sticky
Don't think I'll ever make it home
The name of forgiveness freezes in my throat
So many nights with just the stars as my coat

Am I gone?

A wretched close to this benighted year
I don't think I can do any more
The soreness crawls like a spider up my back
The remorse won't stop gnawing; don't think I'm intact

Am I gone?

Maybe they asked a favor
And maybe I said "OK"
And maybe now I'm feeling
I'm in a place with no escape

This has been such a tough year
This has been such a tough year
[maybe you can't take any more]
This has been such a tough year
This has been such a tough year
[you just can't take any more]
This has been such a tough year
[you just can't take any more]
This has been such a tough year
[you just can't take any more]
This has been such a tough year
I just can't take any more
This has been such a tough year
I just can't take any more
This has been such a tough year
I JUST CAN’T TAKE ANY MORE
This has been such a tough year
I JUST CAN’T TAKE IT


_____

(102,255)
Keywords: Alcohol  Bears  Bees  Bad  Biblical  Suicide  Goth  Poetry  Trve Kvlt  Torture  Thermonuclear War  Rejected  Kurt 
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Movie Review : "Heat" : complete and utter rubbish

Hank
Poster: Hank @ Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:03 pm




"Heat" is one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Brimful not of Asha but of pointless shots, horrific acting, and flaccid stabs at emotional depth, this three-hour unintentional parody of the crime thriller drama is almost as criminal as "Magnolia."

It never achieves the "so bad it's brilliant" effect of "Point Break," but instead just wallows along in its own smelly muck of "serious adult themes" all the long way until its groanworthy ending.

How did this forced, clunking script attract actors like Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, and Jon Voight? Simple : those actors need money to feed their coke / stripper habits. Each turns in a wrenchingly bad performance, choking out some of the most leaden, unnatural dialogue ever heard in a major flick. Pacino especially -- he was good in "Godfather" and great in "Scarface," but his pseudo-hard-boiled persona is so stupid and fake that he makes gangsta rap look like a "NOVA" documentary. Kilmer looks like a complete idiot reject elf nazi or something. He should have called it quits at "Tombstone."

Here's something : De Niro's mopey love interest is played by some woman with a bobo look and immense shag of curly hair, and as soon as I saw here, I was like "Hey look, it's Edie Brickell!" Well wouldn't you know it? De Niro's next line was "What's your name?" to which flopmop replies "Eady." !!!!! I'm not kidding, and there is no way this was a coincidence. She's not aware of too many things, including the fact that the movie in which she's supporting actress is a rank stack of fetid herring bowels.

There are some scenes in here that are particularly worthy of mention for their very risibility. Chief among these is the big shootout scene -- you know, the one that directly inspired the real-life 1997 "North Hollywood Shootout" wherein a couple of guys with assault rifles went ape after a bank robbery and injured ten cops. Those guys got shot a whole heck of a lot. In the world of "Heat," however, a few guys with AR-15s can take on about two dozen cars full of well-armed cops, and not only live to tell the tale, but win! As we saw in 1997, there is no @#$%ing way that a few guys could hold off, much less defeat, dozens of cops, but I guess it helps that De Niro and Co. only have to reload their rifles every 500 rounds or so. There's this ludicrous shot toward the scene's end of all these bullet-riddled cop cars (some with what look like shell holes in them) and incapacitated cops lying about as De Niro saunters out the side of the frame through a parking lot with Kilmer in tow. Unbelievable. Equally noisome during that scene is where Pacino takes a shot that no cop would ever take : from an unsupported shoulder position and with his assault rifle, he shoots junkie swine Tom Sizemore in the cabeza while Sizemore is holding up a toddler in his arms. I don't @#$%ing think so. You'd think that it would be impossible to make a huge machine gun battle boring, but these clowns somehow manage it -- I kept getting distracted and had to rewind a bunch of times to see how they "escaped." Heinous.

Another scene that's dumber than a bag of dead snakes is where the cops lay a trap for Kilmer at his wife's place. Kilmer pulls up in his car, wifey goes out on the balcony to lure him into the trap at the behest of coppers. She warns Kilmer away with a facial expression and he gets back in his product-placement Camaro and starts to leave. Wifey says to copper "It wasn't him." Copper radios his buddy downstairs to stop Kilmer and check him out; Kilmer produces a fake ID. Cop buddy radios back saying "Oh, this isn't Kilmer, it's G. Phil Wizzleteats! Says here on his license. And the car's plates are clear and registered to a totally different person! Everything looks kosher." Copeer radios back "OK, let him go." WHAT THE @#$% I'm so sure that cops on a manhunt haven't, say, looked at a photo of th' guy for whom they're lying in wait! Complete and utter unmitigated BAD WRITING.

In summation, "Heat" is hot garbage. I suffered through it so that you don't have to.

New rule of wrist : if any movie shows up as being longer than 2 hours when you pull it up in Netflix instant, TURN IT OFF RIGHT AWAY. You can save yourself a lot of heartbreak.

(82,546)
Keywords: Movies  Pacino  Lazy  Writing  Bad  Magnolia  Worthless  Seppuku  Heat  Reviews  Pundits  Alcohol  Bugs 
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Burial > Other Musical Artists (but Bodyrox is still good)

Hank
Poster: Hank @ Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:48 pm



This is a public service announcement to let all Latewire readers know that English producer Burial is the best music artist of the milennium.

On Burial's two records, "Burial" and "Untrue," switchblade trebles and gut-shifting bass duke it out in a spare reverberating mix, while plaintive samples moan and wail. The musical style is often called "dubstep," a direct descendent of another non-crummy UK music genre, drum + bass. But where drum + bass is rapid and and cerebral, Burial and the best dubstep are wobbly, 140-bpm lacerations that are at least as suited to solo-dolo sulking about as they are dancefloors. The tunes are simultaneously soothing and jarring, and their gloomy crispness makes any day feel like a March rain. Like, imagine if drum + bass had a kid with early Massive Attack, and you're getting there.




SPACEAPE



Burial's music has more feeling and creativity in one phrase than all th' garbage emo-metal and faceless Starbucks drug-casualty music put together. Chill them #$%^&* out and listen to this music now. It will help.




Here's another tune that saves lives in a very different way -- 2006's "Yeah Yeah" by Bodyrox. Beware prudes! Sex and nudity within, also amplifier desecration.






STOP DYING IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO GET YOUR SHAPE BACK

(80,693)
Keywords: Dubstep  Video  Council House  Snakes  Psychedelia  Hank  Handicapped Hottie  Tinnitis  Alcohol  Attitude  Nicotine  Music  Reviews 
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Foul realm of the Hate Goat

Hank
Poster: Hank @ Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:32 am



So this is what it's come to. We've spent all and now are compelled to face the true reality of the situation we've chiseled out for ourselves. All these years trying to get more, get more, and get more independent have really all been spent mortaring ourselves tightly inside the chamber of the Hate Goat.

The Hate Goat sows confusion and harvests the gutted husks of dreams from within the foul Abbatoir of Hope. He rejoices that we've invested so much of our blood and effort, only to finally join him in his vile abode.





YOU LIED TO ME
YOU SAID YOU'D NEVER TURN FROM ME
YOU LIED TO ME
YOU LIED TO ME

(83,188)
Keywords: Alcohol  Doom  Fail  Fascism  Nicotine  Tyranny  Torture  Poison  Cardboard  Hate Goat  Lies 
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Music review : Massive Attack's "Heligoland"

Nicholas DiBiase
Poster: Nicholas DiBiase @ Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:19 am

Massive Attack - "Heligoland"



The pop-critic establishment is already busy disparaging th' new release from Massive Attack, the English group responsible for welding R+B, dub, and pure burning hopeless doom into a mesmeric sound that rips lives out of living humans. The previous release under the Massive Attack name, "100th Window" was a grody platter of hot sleep garbage, so my hopes weren't all that high for this record, th' geographically-named "Heligoland." However, after listening to this joint on repeat for the past week, I can say with confidence that the critics hating on it either haven't listened to it (I'm looking at you, Pitchfork) or have no idea what Massive Attack are supposed to be about (hey bloggers!). The raw fact is that this record is exactly what a Massive Attack record is supposed to be : adventurous, unpredictable, and capable of sending the listener into a melancholic reverie.


Pitchfork's review goon intones that Massive Attack fail to 'engage current music' with this release, rattling off a list of recent genres like 'dubstep' and 'UK funky' in an attempt to sound hip and asking why th' band doesn't do something in relation to those styles. This is silly. Massive Attack has never been interested in following or 'engaging' current music trends, they are in the business of creating fresh music styles. Suggesting that the band should have incorporated obvious dubstep references into this album is like saying that "Blue Lines" should have had acid house splashed all over it.

While it wouldn't be fair to say that this is a retro album, the 90s do creep up pretty big here. The vocal spots by Blur's Damon Albarn and Tricky's Martina Topley-Bird, th' recklessly unpolished beats, th' wild assemblage of genres. In fact, th' record that sounds most like "Heligoland" is Tricky's own "Nearly God," wherein th' mush-mouthed master of paranoia explored all kinds of new craggy musical forms in underproduced, rough, and totally enveloping tunes. That same kind of punchy excitement is here on "Heligoland" as well.

It kicks off with "Pray for Rain," a number sung by that guy from TV On The Radio. This tune is strongly reminiscent of "Remain in Light" era Talking Heads or classic Peter Gabriel. A vaguely witch-doctor midtempo loop prods Tunde Adebimpe along in his lyrics which evoke some kind of weird tribal ritual. The climax of this tune has a cache of lyrical gems like "Drops on rocks fall fast and fleeting… hidden laws unleash their meaning." The vibe is tense and anticipatory, rather than tense and paranoid. Some complain that this tune is overlong, but in fact, it's just right for sending you zoning into a harsh rude daydream.

Th' next cut, "Babel" is a little jarring with its fast straight drum-and-bass loop and more Talking Heads guitars, but then Topley-Bird's sly, streetworn voice floats in and recalls in tempo and knowing authority her performance of "Black Steel in The Hour of Chaos" from 1995. The skittering drums might be distracting for some (they're certainly quicker than anything else Massive Attack has done), but it's no cookie-cutter Metalheadz beat, and the twitchy speed creates an ill mood.

The sole vocal appearance by much-needed Daddy G follows, on posse mope "Splitting the Atom." This is a crypto-rocksteady tune that is just glum enough while also grooving steadily. Horace Andy thankfully reappears for the first time on this track.

No lead-in could prepare the listener for "Girl I Love You," a generically-titled song that is by any measure, the equal of any other Massive Attack tune. With Horace Andy's plaintive voice floating over an urgent-sounding rock bass and terrifying horn chart, this tune immediately ensnarls you like a barbed wire tumbleweed. Th' uncertianty and fear in Andy's voice is almost unbearable, and this tune has the kind of dynamics that are bound to blow an addled mind.

Next up is th' unfairly-maligned "Psyche," a tune so minimalist that it borders on Minimalism. Again, Topley-Bird mics it here, with good lyrics and her characteristic after-hours tone. Some folks find this jam overly simplistic or boring, but if you ask me, it's kind of fresh and has a deep structure that really sneaks up on you.

The "Flat of the Blade" is next, wherein some guy from a band called Elbow proceeds to maximally creep out over a very Bjorky percussion and drone track. I'm not a fan of this individual's singing, but the track gets gold (or is it grey?) stars for spooky atmosphere.

Two of th' remaining tracks, "Rush Minute" and "Atlas Air" are showcases for Robert "3D" Del Naja, who as on "100th Window" abandons rapping for a strange kind of flat-toned singing. The difference between these tracks and the mess that is "100th Window" is that the actual music here has a lot more ideas to offer and is not pandering. Both of these cuts are heavy on synth elements and have a kind of weary New Wave feel. The fact is that 3D sounds better rapping after all and is kind of stiff and unswinging in his production, but the tunes are still worth listening to.

The other two tracks, "Paradise Circus" and "Saturday Come Slow" are stone brilliant. The former is a ghostly exercise in chills featuring Goth poster girl Hope Sandoval. This jam has the kind of shifting, spare, slow beat that really gets those mope juices flowing. "Saturday Come Slow" is a love dirge right at the cusp of bleak sentiment like "Dissolved Girl." Damon Albarn lets loose some of the most sorrowful wails he's done since "Tender" dropped; this limey is hurting! People tend to associate Albarn with puckish Britpop pogoing and general punkitude, but anyone who's seen him do "This is a Low" or "No Distance Left to Run" will know that he can really tear up that sad mic thing. His ragged voice telegraphs profound heartbreak better than nearly anyone else.

I think that the bitter mistake all these reviewers make is in trying to compare this joint to "Mezzanine." "Mezzanine" isn't an album, it's a giant shard of volcanic glass that plunges straight into the soul of anyone who dares to listen to it. It's monolithic, oppressive, and non-reproducible. Comparing anything to "Mezzanine" is like saying "Oh well this roadside ditch isn't as cool as th' Marianas Trench." Stupid. "Mezzanine" is an artifact of its time that could not be any other way or from another time; any attempt to recreate or follow it now would result in abject self-parody. People tend to forget now, but Massive Attack's other two classic albums -- "Blue Lines" from 1991 and "Protection" from 1994 -- were totally different from each other and from "Mezzanine," and took a lot of getting used to. i remember how people would talk smack about "Protection" when they bought it after having loved and crumbled to th' narcobludgeon of "Mezzanine," only to come back two months later and crow about how brilliant it was when they finally 'got' it. So, like those other two classic albums, give this one some time and repeat listens late at night, and I think then that all th' irrelevant comparisons will drop away and you'll be able to soak in this record properly. It's funny, just today I was rapping with my pal and CERN inhabitant monster -- he said "I've listened to 'Mezzanine' hundreds of times, but can't really name a favorite song." It's just not possible to cleave up that LP -- it's a complete and matchless monument of psychedelia.

"Heligoland" is something different but equally needed : a collection of diverse fresh tunes, fearlessly chosen and correctly sung. Massive Attack have refused to try to replicate the hazy druglike syrup of of 1998 and instead are exploring a quicker-stepping, more raw style that demonstrates how unsettling sounds don't always come at plodding molasses tempos. I strongly recommend that all freaks, goths, and sad pandas obtain a copy of this; it's adventuresome, worth your brainspace, and an antidote to the stale. Wait until 2 or 3am, sit back with spooky lights on, and devolve to th' destructive sounds of this joint. Now, if only it came with a reason to get out of bed th' next day..

(94,561)
Keywords: Alcohol  Goth  Poison  Piracy  Nerds  Music  Reviews  Downbeat  Drugs  Psychedelia  Massive Attack  Heligoland  Mezzanine 
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The ice weasels cometh / the end / metal music saves people

Hank
Poster: Hank @ Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:51 pm



There's a thundering hailstorm in Phoenix today, sending drops of frozen hate clattering across the skylight and beating the life out of weak trees. On the outskirts of my peripheral vision, I caught a glimpse of something white and jagged -- the future.

Life as a human right now is akin to having woken up inside the chute of a woodchipper. We may not even recall how we got inside the woodchipper in the first place. The one thing that is clear : the inevitability of the blades.

A feeling like saws chewing into my neck. The sounds of weeping just outside my door. And a cold light knife into my pupil reminds me : This is a world divorced from hope.

When facing a suffocated reality of nonexistent future, what do you do? Here are some options :

1) Lie down and wait quietly for the ice weasels to come.
2) Cry until you're too tired to cry any longer, then die.
3) Fight until death.
4) Put on heavy metal records and rock out for as long as possible.

Now, I don't know which of these sounds most attractive, or which you, the reader, may already be doing. I choose option #4. Here's why :

* Metal music is brain floss.
* Metal music improves blood flow to the face.
* Metal music is not a norm.
* Metal music has no sympathy for your suffering.
* Metal music remembers when you were only an animal.
* Metal music hasn't heard about your regrets, but it can drench them in molten @#$%^&
* Metal music will survive long after the Universe is toast.
* Metal music recognizes your true form and can restore it if lost.
* Metal music connects you with that aspect of youself that you forgot about.
* Metal music is truth erupting from a sea of lies.

There's no future. But with metal music, the present can be made to rock. In these bleak and doomed days, everybody looks for help. Some go to shrinks, some watch TV, and some try in futility to numb the pain with drugs. Well, you all are welcome to your 'cheese' heroin, 'lean,' and amphetamines. I'm an Earache man myself.

(100,088)
Keywords: Alcohol  Andrew Wk  Antichrist  Bailouts  Bees  Bernanke  Biblical  Chemical Warfare  Corn Syrup  Cthulhu  Doom  Economics  Education  Fail  Evil Government  Food Security  Freedom  Futurism  Goth  Goth Poetry  Great Depression  Hank  Hope  Idiocy  Lsd  Music  Poison  Roy Orbison  Slavery  Snakes  Taxes  Terminator  Terrorism  Thermonuclear War  Torture  Vegans  Whales 
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Best Of Latewire Governing Crazy: Broken Minds & Alcohol

Daniel Roe
Poster: Daniel Roe @ Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:43 pm

In the 1980's, Ronald Reagan eliminated federally-funded asylums for the insane in the United States. Before that, most of the patients in these facilities didn't develop their condition from some genetic predisposition or unfortunate roll of the dice. Most of the occupants of these asylums actually acquired their condition from drinking too much alcohol.

Obviously we're not talking about some weekend benders here, we're talking men and women who drank far more than they ate for several years or even decades.

Apart from the obvious, the biggest problem with this particular lifestyle choice is not just that the person is deprived of nutrients, it's that alcohol actively destroys several important vitamins. Such vitamins include folic acid, vitamin C, B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), and most important in this case: vitamin B1 (thiamin).

When a person with a history of alcohol abuse enters the ER, one of the first things given is an injection of B1. Thiamin, among other things, is necessary for proper metabolism. Your body has energy, but it can't use it because one of the many linchpins of the complicated chemical pathway is missing. In some cases, a man in a near comatose state will be miraculously revived only a few minutes after repletion of thiamin.

Thiamin does many other things as well. Scarily, many of them have to do with the brain. When that alcoholic woke up on the table in the ER, he woke up with a few less marbles than he had before.

Memory is what separates animal from insect. When a person's memory centers of the brain melt away, so with it goes their humanity. Thiamin, for reasons we don't understand, is essential to those parts of the brain. Having deficiency for any length of time will permanently cripple the capacity to form new memories. Old memories are polluted and cannot be recalled properly. Fantastic but meaningless gibberish replaces what used to be a human's mental voice. This is called Korsakoff syndrome, and unfortunately it is common.

All this is well known. What is not well known is why it is that alcohol manufacturers don't fortify their beverages with thiamin. It would not affect flavor, and the cost would be miniscule. As with any obvious idea, someone's already thought of it. In this case, it was the alcohol manufacturers.

At one point, many alcohol makers were actually considering adding thiamin to their products. This would have a benign effect on sales and costs, but could save tens of thousands from debilitating illness. What they decided--or rather what was decided for them--is that they couldn't afford to do so.

It was posited that adding thiamin to alcoholic beverages could potentially lead to alcohol being taken out from under the umbrella of the relatively impotent Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and it being placed under the jurisdiction of the FDA. This would mean alcohol would have to be treated and regulated as if it were a food (or worse: a drug), which carries with it expensive and pointless changes to facilities, licensing, marketing, and retail sales.

There is a small island of unregulated anarchy the alcohol industry lives on, and they can't afford to swim away to better land for fear of the sharks.

It's sick and wrong, but nonetheless it is less discomforting to know that a man is dying based on the path he has chosen for himself rather than the cards he's been dealt. However, when his pain and suffering (and that of his family) could have been averted so easily, it still makes sense to want to find out why it wasn't.

(135,931)
Keywords: Thiamin  Alcohol  Fda  Libertarian  Snakes  Andrew Wk 
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On Pizza : Review of Pizza Fusion and a brief how-to for DIY

Nicholas DiBiase
Poster: Nicholas DiBiase @ Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:31 pm

Today, I wrapped up a weekend of Italian food adventure with a trip to Pizza Fusion in Mesa to check out their organic pies and general vibe. It's very hard to find restaurants that serve organic chow in Phoenix, and I'm a stone-cold pizza fanatic, so I was uber stoked to experience this joint.

Now, when I mention my pizza fanaticism affliction, I'm not kidding around. I was a regular haunter of Bianco's before it blew up and turned into a day trip instead of a date, and I've pored over every word of Jeff Varsano's blog like it was Henry Jones' Grail diary. Pizza gets created from scratch weekly in the DiBiase haus, and if there's a pizza on a menu, I order it. The way that some guys treat wine, I treat my ancestral home's gift to the universe.

Pizza Fusion is a small multi-state chain that started in 2006, but I never heard of it until local cool person K. Van Slyke (@KrysVS) mentioned it today. They sling organic flatbreads, pizzas, salads, and beer. We hit the joint at 3pm for Happy Hour, when drinks and certain appetizers are half-price.

First off, I'll express appreciation for Pizza Fusion's choice of brand in my preferred libation, soda water : they offer Boylan's, which even for a greaseball like me is a welcome change from the ubiquitous San Pellegrino. Boylan's comes in 12-ounce bottles with nice 50s-style graphics that please the lamp. My co-diners K.J. Van Slyke, W. Nash, and T. Trainor filled their 'Lil Jon' chalices with Lost Coast Great White and New Belgium Blue Paddle. The draft beers were $2 per pint -- unbeatable pricing, especially on a Sunday. There was a significant selection of organic beers on tap, including an $11 pint whose label insisted that the beer was free of crustaceans!



Notes on atmosphere : the whole place is slathered in strangely-attractive green paint, with digital prints everywhere that are emblazoned with green slogans. The prints are a little hokey, but nothing really bothered me until I got to the bathroom, the mirror inside which has the words "This person is changing the world" written on the bottom BAAARF . Some points were won back, though, after I tried the hand dryer, which appears to be a reclaimed jet engine from a downed MIG or something -- it's one powerful blower! My hands were drier than a boozehound in Bridgewater, Connecticut after about ten seconds. One thing that was really great was the countertop of the bar, which was made of concrete mixed with recycled glass and high-polished; a cool touch. The manger told us that everything -- building materials, paint, chairs, etc, are totally green'd out, made from reclaimed stuff when possible, and LEED-certified. It's a nice gesture for sure.

Van Slyke ordered up and graciously shared the flatbread appetizer with marinara, which was pretty good. The flatbread had good texture and wasn't too heavily-seasoned (the latter being a common pitfall of wack flatbread); the marinara was tangy and not bitter or overly-sweet.

There was no pizza Margherita on the menu (what the hoot!?), so we strong-armed our host into making us one, with a multigrain crust. In reality, the guy was more than happy to make us the requested pie -- super nice fellow with fresh ink on his arm that offered us excellent service and didn't complain as we proceeded to nerdily occupy his bar for the next three hours.

A chicken -topped salad was ordered as well. The chow was served with good speed. The manager informed us that 75% of the ingredients are certified organic with the balance 25% being non-certified but 'all-natural,' pesticide-free.

[This last point is worth mentioning -- I've been speaking about the iffiness of the "organic" certification for a while, as it still allows a fair number of chemicals both natural and synthetic, and foods only need to be 95% organic to meet certificate standards. Places that eschew bad chemicals completely but don't jump through the government hoops to get certified, like Desert Roots Farm for example, are more desirable to deal with than mass-produced "certified organic" producers (many of which have lately been rocked with scandal).]

The pizza verdict :



The oblong pie was good, though the most crucial aspect, the crust, didn't have a lot to do with my concept of what pizza crust is about. It was very dense and totally flat. The denseness is probably partially attributable to the heavy multigrain dough; as an amateur pizzaiolo myself, I can attest that whole-grain doughs don't rise as much as white doughs do. Still, there were no air pockets or structure at all -- weird. So I asked the nice manager guy if they rolled the dough out; it happens that they feed it through some kind of flattening robot before loading it into the fancy rotary oven. I'd have much preferred a nicely structured hand-shaped crust. These issues aside, the crust had very good flavor; not too salty and with plenty of interesting grain flavors. The outside was well-charred after a nine-minute cook time. I asked what the oven temperature was set at, expecting it to be in the 700 Fahrenheit degree range; it turned out to be 525, just 25 degrees more than a standard residential oven (which never char well) can get. Props to the oven designers for getting great results at low heat. The crust was also confirmed made in-house, which is a philosophically important point. [Note : they do offer gluten-free crust, but it's not made on-site]

The crust was very crunchy and satisfying to eat; i enjoyed it. It had a real hearty texture that complemented the riot of grain flavors.

The sauce had good flavor and excellent color, though I suspect that it may have been pre-made and bottled rather than made that day from whole tomatoes; it didn't have that fresh kick that just-made sauce has. It wasn't bitter, grainy, over-sugared, or flavorless though; instead, it was a mild, soft-textured sauce.

The fresh mozzarella was undoubtedly the real deal, judging from the characteristic uneven melt pattern. It had a pretty firm texture and wasn't too salty -- nice choice. Mozzarella is probably th' least important ingredient in a pie, but it's much appreciated when they don't skimp on it.

The chicken salad thing was big enough to feed MC Hammer's posse circa 1992. Massive, it was like a huge platter of vibrant greens topped by about a pound of diced chicken breast and accompanied by two vessels of Chelten House Raspberry Vinaigrette. I don't eat birds, so I can't attest to the flavor of the salad directly, but my compatriots seemed very well pleased and scarfed it down like a college kid with an overdue assignment and a bag of Chee-Tos [Am i projecting too much here?] I did sample the vinaigrette, which ranks with my favorite flavored dressings -- specifically, it's not overly sweetened. Nice choice.


The bottom line : Pizza Fusion has good food, though it's not in tune with my preferences for "pizza proper." Tasty and not your average pie, though; a welcome new flavor in flatbread. The beverages and pricing were outstanding. The atmosphere, while a little overwrought, was sufficiently inviting. And the recycled-glass-n-concrete countertop and the hi-power hand dryer were nifty bonuses. the fact that they use strictly organic and pesticide-free ingredients alone makes it a must-visit for Phoenicians who like to avoid poison.

Nicholas' EatHouse Rating : B+


---

A window into the DiBiase pizza method and results :



Above you'll see my preferred sauce ingredients : very fresh local pesticide-free Roma and little yellow tomatoes and fresh garlic, all from Desert Roots Farm. The tomatoes are de-seeded and crushed with a hand blender; never cooked. It takes less than ten minutes to make the raw sauce, including washing time. The cheese on this pie was Trader Joe's very good organic shredded mozzarella; the knife of choice is a Wusthof Classic. Not shown in this shot : fresh basil, also from Desert Roots; organic olive oil; true Pecorino Romano cheese, which I apply liberally (even though it voids the 'true Margherita' status, it's hella tasty).

This dough has lots of structure; it's prepped the night before using only flour (one-third whole wheat, two-thirds unbleached white; all organic), water, yeast, and salt. I knead it by hand (even though I should probably start using the pictured KitchenAid mixer for efficiency's sake) and it ferments in the fridge overnight for best flavor. The dough is at just about 50% hydration before cooking; very wet indeed. I prefer it like this to promote structure. In defiance of the Neapolitan rules, I coat my hands with olive oil before hand-shaping in the air. The entire dough process from mixing to shaping only takes about 5 minutes, fermentation time excluded.



The results : Delicious pizza. The crust is thicker and puffier than the Neapolitain rules alllow, but that's just how I've come to like it. The 500-degree maximum heat on my oven precludes good charring, sadly. The sauce tastes incredibly fresh, yummy, and flavorful, with a strong hint of garlic kick. I like my pizzas that use shredded mozzarella to be very cheesy [I use fresh mozz more sparingly]. The basil is put on the pie about 5 minutes into an 11-minute cook time. I used to cook for only 8 minutes, but have come to value a more-cooked crust with cheese at the edge.

Scratch-made organic pizza is a taste revolution! Once you start taking command of your pizza supply chain, you'll be rocketed into unexplored realms of deliciousness. Give it a shot and demand better pizza from your local pizza joint!

(632,187)
Keywords: Diet  Food  Organic Bread  Organic Bread Recipe  Urban Farming  Dancing  Alcohol 
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Cake City : Th' meaning-free saga of Hape Shapley, pt 2

Hank
Poster: Hank @ Fri Jul 24, 2009 11:25 pm



Chapter 2
“Names and Naming”


On a brilliant, natural morning in the spring, Hape Shapley set down his enormous green coffee cup, languidly browsed his email, and checked his calendar. Today’s regimen of tasks, uncharacteristically, held one that promised a glimmer of amusement.
The job at hand was to successfully woo the franchisee of three Sports Authority retail establishments; this sort of thing was totally usual. The spark of fun flickered behind the name of Hape’s quarry : Danny U. Dracula. Well, Hape thought, I’ve closed deals with bloodsuckers before. At least Danny’s upfront about it.


Hape pulled his Toyota into the parking lot and parked in the barely-crooked fashion that he had subconsciously perfected. The sky was a Martian azure as he stepped out to survey the terrain and push the button on his keyless lock device until it beeped. The Sports Authority location where he was to meet Dracula was in a cement vega of a high-falutin’ strip mall, and Hape could feel the heat that the structural columns radiated as he passed them. The cruelly-designed parking lot was brimful of Infinitis, Land Rovers, and other symbols of middle-class prosperity, though, so Hape felt that this meeting would not be a complete waste.
Now, Hape thought, what sort of guy calls himself Danny U. Dracula? As he strode businesslike toward the gargantuan glass doors, he boiled the probabilities down to three, ranked by likelihood:
1) This man is some stripe of mutant jock-goth goofball with enough money, charisma, or brutality to maintain a business
2) This man is a normal and successful person of Eastern European extraction. Hape wondered what the accent would sound like –Romanian? Czech? He struggled to hear the sounds in his head. He chased away invading images of Gary Oldman in purple shades only to have them replaced by a shaveling Klaus Kinski. Presumably, such a fellow would be aware of the strangeness of his name and use some kind of alterative pronunciation to keep the chuckles at bay.
3) This man is called Dulraca, or Drakler, or perhaps Gacula, and Hape’s assistant Kim Deely had puckishly typoed the name.

It was ten-thirty-four by Hape’s Timex when he first grasped the hand of Danny U. Dracula. The walk across the store had given Hape just enough time to develop a wrenching curiosity regarding the man’s name. Had he thought it through, however, he would have realized that the instant camaraderie of modern business etiquette had made moot this question.

“Danny? Hape. Pleased to meet you; how you doing?”
“Great to meet you, Hape –- wanna have a look around?”

No! First of all, Hape had been inside three dozen Sports Authorities within the past two years – he didn’t need to have a look around. Second, what about the name? The name! Now that the initial confrontation had been completed, would there even be another opportunity to speak Danny’s last name? Dracula, for his part, did not seem likely to volunteer. Now, so far, the evidence was pointing to possibility number 3), as Danny had zero sartorial matches for “goth” and no discernable accent, and features that looked more Gallic than anything. Hape had little hope now but to make Danny sign the contract compelling him to buy 670 total units from Head’s putatively-groundbreaking “FlexTelligence E” product line plus the full apparel complement. Then, he could at least see the name properly spelled out and, if he could muster the pluck, Hape would inquire about it should it turn out to be the real vampiric deal.

As Danny led Hape around the store, Hape noticed that as usual, most of the store’s patrons looked like they hadn’t played sports in quite a while. It seemed to be a nearly universal phenomenon : these big athletic chains attract dilettantes who will buy the most costly gear and have it gather dust in their closet, or, in the case of high-tech clothing, will wear it to any occasion save that for which it was designed. Folks who are serious about a sport, Hape found, would usually seek out a small specialty store like Runner’s Galaxy or Lacrosse Barn, where the employees tended to give something resembling a hoot about the sport in question, and the owner was often on premises. Hape himself looked to Advantage when he needed to get himself re-shod (which, for a notorious toe-dragger like him, was at least six times yearly). However, it was much better for Hape to sell to the bigger chains like Sports Authority, as the corporate buyers tended to be less discriminating (they only cared about the bottom line, not about a somewhat negative performance review they’d read online) and the customers at the stores were much more likely to buy high-end items with frequency – it was a known fact that Escalade-pushing neophytes buy the most expensive gear possible, with the hope that it’ll improve their play and give them something to talk about with their buddies (“What stick you got there, Bill?... Oh, the Frightanium 6? I heard that’s a real cannon – let me give it a whack?”).
Hape wasn’t really listening to Danny as the latter prattled on about which lines had been moving for him, overall foot traffic versus sales volume, the primacy of his location, and other banal details. Hape was instead looking at the girls in the store, taking inventory of the local stock. Hape had decided a few days ago that he was going to seek for himself a steady girlfriend.
Danny managed to snap Hape out of his lecherous reverie with a brisk
“Hey! You hungry? Let’s go over to Hattie’s and get down to brass tacks.”
Hape hated that expression, but he was indeed hungry. Hattie’s was a standard-issue 1950s-themed diner, awash in chrome and tufted vinyl. The two padded over there, sweating slightly in the morning sun.
Settled into a cavernous booth, Hape perused the sticky menu. Standard fare : burgers, shakes…. He came across a club sandwich that sounded good, and decided to order it sans fries. The placed their order with the perky, tattooed waitron and descended to the alloy fasteners.

“Hape, I gotta be straight with you. The Head stuff just isn’t moving like it used to. Last cycle, the Wilson product was outselling you guys almost two to one.”
“That’s interesting; nationally, we’re seeing the reverse trend,” Hape fibbed. “Think that display placement could be a factor?” Hape was already thrashing in the waves. Maybe this guy was in fact a vampire.
“You’re joking, right? Your stuff is right in there with everybody else’s. I think that what we’re really looking at is that Wilson has better endorsements, better graphics, and better advertising. It seems to me that since Agassi retired, you guys have been , ah, scrambling to connect with the consumer.”
“I don’t know if that’s true,” Hape hemmed (he’d had to filed this question before, but for some reason felt a lot of pressure now). “What about the Rotundi endorsement? Greaper? Sarkozi? These guys are huge with the kids. And the new stuff we’re gonna give you…”
“And look at what’s happening with Babolat and Yonex – they’re both strong in the consumer market now, not like years ago. It’s not just between you, Wilson, and Prince anymore. The kids are seeing that big guys play these funny rackets, and they’ll pay for that. And there’s something else.”
“What’s that?” Hape hated it when these goons did their homework.
“You’re not supposed to know this, but Nike is going to make a big push into tennis hardware next quarter. I’ve seen the product. It’s good. And they’re going to get Greaper away from you guys.”
This sounded like rubbish to Hape. “We’ll see about that. We’ve known about their goals for months – they haven’t got a candle to hold against our technology, racket-wise. Maybe in clothing, which is traditionally more their domain.”
“Maybe. But if they do to tennis like they did to golf, some people are going to get squeezed out. They have R+D up the wazoo, and enough ad sense to really exploit the brand…”
“Well, Head will worry about Nike when something really starts happening – right now, it’s all vapor, and like I said, our new stuff is going to blow everybody else away. Look at what we’ve got going on.”
Hape cracked open his portfolio to reveal a sleek laptop, which he opened to Danny’s dismay and started the presentation. This was his ace in the hole. He’d helped put this thing together, and it not only briskly revealed the technological superiority of the FlexTelligence E line, but broke the news that Head had bought no less than three super-high-profile endorsers away from rivals : Gil Fisher, Ainsley Chong, and the apparently unbeatable Ricky Phil Stiller. Stiller was widely expected to sweep the Grand Slam this year on the strength of his terrifying serve and shrewdly evil baseline play. It was commonly speculated that his endorsement of the “Claymore” model racket had been the only thing keeping the Prince corporation alive.

The presentation video was fast-paced, well-produced, and hard-hitting, saving the Stiller endorsement for last and introducing a flashy new model co-designed with Stiller – the “Big Brain”. That epithet was one commonly applied to Stiller early in his career, when his primary method of winning matches was making fools out of aggressive opponents by exploiting their positions with his surgical shots from the baseline. Since, he had developed a high-velocity first service to match his better opponents, but the name stuck. Hape could never shake a vague unease with this title and Head’s adoption thereof, however – he felt that it was mildly anti-Jewish. There were plenty of cerebral players out there – wasn’t this sobriquet a way to shove Stiller into that old “Jews are smart but lack brawn” box?

Danny, who generally loathed presentations, found himself quite engaged by this one, and the news of new endorsements softened his heart a bit toward Head. Hape, who was watching Dracula’s face like a poker player throughout the presentation, began to notice the details of Danny’s appearance. His close-cropped blond hair amplified his ruddy complexion to an almost alarming degree, and his left ear had no lobe to speak of. The faint shininess of skin around his neck suggested corrected scarring and made Hape suspect that Danny had been in a bad auto or industrial accident. His white Ping golf shirt was pressed, but had a small red stain on the left shoulder blade that Hape surmised Danny had missed, given the meticulous condition of Danny’s Nikes and the impeccably creased pleated khakis he sported. Hape imagined how the stain might have gotten there unnoticed : did the offspring of Dracula sneak up with a Crayola marker? Unintentional dribble of Kool-Aid from a hoisted toddler’s lip? Shirt taken from irregular stock? Hape realized with a twinge of regret that he would never know the answer.
In the end, Hape’s presentation won Danny over. After some price haggling (Hape, as was his wont, budged only two percent, saying that “cost is through the roof on carbon fiber”), it was agreed that Danny’s Sports Authorities would carry the presented Head product, minus most of the apparel, which Hape conceded after Danny showed him a spreadsheet indicating that 70% of the previous year’s line had been sold at clearance prices due to lack of demand. Hape printed out the contract that they had edited together on Hape’s computer, and Danny signed it. Danny had made no correction to his name before printing. Hape had to know :
“Thanks, Danny; we really appreciate it. How’s your last name pronounced?”
Danny fixed Hape with the look that women give to people who ask if they’re pregnant when they’re not :
“It’s ‘Dracula.’ Like the vampire.”
And that was that. Hape could tell that he had best ask no more.



Hape had teetered a little during his encounter with Dracula, and he knew it. That kind of psychological stutter is the kind that breaks deals. Danny had really clocked Hape with no problem, and here was Hape, driving down the road tormenting himself with the mysteries of Dracula. As Hape dwelled on the meeting, his thirst for details took a firmer hold. What was the deal with the earlobe? The stained shirt? How much of that -


-= = = = = = = = = = = = = =

When Hape was twenty-three, he quit his marketing internship at Scoop Systems to go explore the rough-cut northern towns of Arizona and see if there was any significant tennis-industry jobs out there. The hot buzz of Cake City had grown wearisome to Hape during his last few months of school and he wanted to know whether the vague romantic notions of the reduced-instruction West might be reflected in these parts of his home state.
He checked his bank balance ($3,089.04), packed his rackets along several days’ worth of casual and athletic clothes along with his one good suit into his fairly beat-up Rav4, and motored on up the I-10 toward Flagstaff. He had scoped out a few likely targets and identified some worthless backwaters to be avoided. He’d start in Prescott and work his way up toward Payson until he either found something worth doing or gave up.

In Cottonwood, he found a small quasi-resort hotel with a tennis court on premises. He decided to check it out. It turned out that the hotel didn’t have a tennis pro and was considering bringing one on. Hape knew in his heart that he was far from pro material, but a deep geographical prejudice planted in his mind the idea that these faux-cowpokes might not be able to tell the difference. In a spurt of risk, he offered his services, and the recreation director, a trim blonde called Amy Grumman, agreed. The pay negotiated was meager, but this was a chance for Hape to see how far his knowledge and bravado could take him.
Hape needed to find lodging.

(86,875)
Keywords: Alcohol  Goth  Idiocy  Poetry  Snakes  Torture 
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Best Of Latewire Best Long Island Iced Tea EVER

Daniel Roe
Poster: Daniel Roe @ Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:47 am

Truth be told, I'm probably not one to differentiate between alcoholic beverages. Most beers taste the same to me, and for some reason I hate holding a beverage at parties. Routinely, I am introduced to the bottom of the glass of whatever drink is in my hand well before I have had a chance to actually "taste" it (or breathe, for that matter). That's not to say I'm an alcoholic, I'm just very single-minded. Sipping on a scotch while talking to someone is a very classy pursuit, but it's also multitasking, and multitasking is gay. Talking and drinking are two wholly different tasks, and I choose to attempt to do both well--goals which often conflict because talking makes it difficult to swallow [insert yo mamma joke here], and liquor can make conversation far more difficult.

It's no surprise then, that the Long Island Iced Tea is said by many to be the greatest 'party' drink of all time. Anybody can chug them, and they carry enough liquor in them to sedate a moose. Just two or three is, as we medical-types say, a good "loading dose." Also, starting the night out with a LIIT is in accordance with the law of "liquor before beer." Moreover, the insidious nature of the beverage can reduce the psychosomatic effects of the alcohol, hopefully lessening slurred speech and reducing the tendency to forgive yourself after sleeping with 'the ugly chick' or 'the creepy dude'--because you don't actually believe you're that drunk. [Pro-tip: Follow it up with some whiskey if you want to have a clear conscience in the morning when you wake up next to Rosie O'Donnell's less-attractive cousin.]

Being as how LIIT's are a "mutt" of a beverage--likely invented when there was just a finger or two of liquids left in a variety of liquor bottles--LIIT's have a wide variation in how they can be prepared. The hard liquors are generally always mixed in equal parts, but the mixers are the thing that pulls it all together, and are the subject of controversy.

So, without further adieu, I give you how I got drunk last night:

1 part Gin
1 part Vodka
1 part Tequila *
1 part Rum
1 part Triplesec
1 part Sweet & Sour mix
1/2 - 1 part Lime Juice

* Note, all the other liquors in this beverage can [SHOULD] be cheap, but it may behoove you to go a little bit more expensive with the tequila.

If you can chill it, you're golden, but dilution is just going to cause problems, so make sure you keep everything cold BEFORE you put it over ice... or just do what I do and inhale it before it melts.

(122,925)
Keywords: Alcohol 
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