October 28, 2001
October 27, 2001
From the extremely bizarre Infectious Awareables.
October 25, 2001
Fossil of Monster Crocodile Found
WASHINGTON (AP)--A crocodile longer than a school bus and weighing about 10 tons was the top predator in an African river 110 million years ago, routinely dining on large dinosaurs that came within range of its toothy jaws.
Sereno said that the elongated skull of the Sarcosuchus (pronounced SARK-oh-SOOK-us) is about six feet in length and dominated by narrow jaws studded with more than 100 teeth. The upper jaw, tipped with large, sharp and powerful incisors, overlaps the lower jaw, an ideal design to lock and hold onto flesh.
Pentagon Seeks a Few Good Ideas to Fight Terrorism
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon appealed to Americans on Thursday to send in bright ideas on thwarting terrorism, announcing an unusual, open competition to speed the winners into use.
Laying out a streamlined three-step application process, the Pentagon called for one-page idea descriptions by Dec. 23. Those retained will be asked to provide up to 12 pages of details. The department then will invite those with the most promising ideas to submit full proposals in a third phase ``that may form the basis for a contract,'' a statement said.
October 23, 2001
We had timed our visit to coincide with the annual Everett Soiree at Southern Vermont College in Bennington. We had first come across the Everett Soiree last year, during a similar trip to Vermont. The ride up to Vermont hadn't gone that well, I was bored and cranky, and we were checking the local handout papers for something to do that evening. We saw a description of the soiree, and for want of anything better to do we went to check it out. It turned out to be a terrific and unique party held in a great old mansions in the hills of Southern Vermont, and we had an absolute blast.
For whatever reason, this year I didn't have as good a time as I did last year. We ended up getting there a bit late, I was worn out from waking up early and the long drive, and some of the surprise element was obviously gone. I did have fun, though, and enjoyed closing out the evening by dancing with Rachel. The fireworks against the clear, starry sky were also spectacular.
Some other highlights from the trip:
The traditional Sunday brunch was had at the wonderful Blue Benn Diner, a Rachel tradition for years. We enjoyed pumpkin pecan pancakes, cornbread french toast, turkey hash, and some nice cups of coffee.
A nice little surprise stop for me was the Norman Rockwell Exhibit in Arlington. While driving around the area, Rachel and I took a little detour over a covered bridge in order to stop by a yard sale. There was nothing much at the sale, but it turns out that a large, white house near the covered bridge was Rockwell's home from 1939-1953 (the bridge and the house can both be seen on the linked-to site). The Exhibit is located in an old church, and is devoted to Rockwell's years in Arlington. Rockwell used local residents and locations as models in hundreds of his paintings, and the Exhibit focuses on the history and memories of those models.
The Exhibit hosts are all former Rockwel models, and I spoke for a few minutes with Paul W. Adams, who was nine when he posed for Rockwell's "Do Unto Others" painting in 1961 (Paul is the African boy in the middle of the painting; his sister is at the lower-left of the painting. Paul didn't live in Arlington, but his mother was friends with Grandma Moses, who was friends with Rockwell. Rockwell was looking for a variety of model subjects for his multicultural work, and was connected with the Adamses. I bought a reproduction of the painting and had Paul sign it.
Unfortunately the Everett Soiree came a bit late in the foliage season, so we didn't get to see too much in the way of spectacular colors, though the mountain views were often amazing. We headed up towards Killington, which was right in the middle of its slow season, between the busy fall foliage and winter ski seasons. That was probably a good thing for us, as we were able to find comfortable, affordable lodging at the Inn at Long Trail. The Inn seems like it would be a great place to spend a few days all by itself, with an Irish pub, restaurant, a huge den with great wooden furniture. Rachel and I stayed in a suite with a fireplace, a first for both of us.
We splurged on dinner that night at Hemingway's Restaurant, a nationally recognized restaurant (named one of the Top 25 in America by Food & Wine in 1992; one of the Top 50 by Conde Nast Traveler) located a few miles down the road from the inn. I had an amazing meal, starting off with a goat cheese soufflé with endive, having the vermont quail stuffed with wild rice and duck liver as the main course, and finishing with an incredible warm apple tart with maple sauce for dessert. Rachel had less luck with her choices (ravioli of duck, pork tenderloin, poached pear), but I was completely satisfied.
The next day we began a winding path back to New Jersey. My favorite part of the day was our visit to the Sugarbush Farm, a busy (okay Rachel, somewhat mercenary) dairy and maple farm with lots and lots of cows. We went on a maple walk, yelled MOO at cows, dipped cheese in wax for retail sale, and enjoyed a cheese tasting. I bought a bunch to bring back, including some razor-sharp five-year-old aged cheddar.
Our last bit of luck was finding a terrific Thai restaurant for dinner in the middle of Nowheresville (also known as Catskill, NY). Wasanas Thai Restaurant is lcoated on Main Street in Catskill, and is might be the only Thai restaurant for 20 miles in any direction. We enjoyed some fine food served by the owners, who had started the place 3 1/2 years ago and had kept it going in various locations in a town more attuned to pizza and fried chicken places. If I lived anywhere near there I'd be a regular, but I could only wish them luck as we left.
Well, that's the travelogue; I'll try and fill in some gaps if I get a chance tomorrow.
October 19, 2001
Wishful rumors aside, the ultimate "haunted house" attraction of all time was the Halloweenified home of Richard Garriott (better known as "Lord British," the creator of the Ultima series of computer games) of Austin, Texas. Garriott's 4,500-square-foot mansion and its three surrounding acres were reputedly something to see even at normal times, what with their dungeon, hidden library, indoor tropical rain forest, trap doors, secret passageways, rooftop observatory and private island. (He's moved since then to larger, scarier quarters.) But every second Halloween between 1988 and 1994, Garriott would go all out, investing more than $100,000 to turn his mansion into an interactive theme park where guests were led through a real-life sword-and-sorcery adventure, complete with monsters and mayhem. The renovations were so extensive that he'd have to move out for the three months leading up to the event to allow workmen sufficient rein to do what they needed.
Anyway, a week ago I offered fabulous prizes to the first person (who I didn't already know) to write to me in response to this blog, and the winner was Andrew, a grad student attending school in Texas....AND WHO WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH MY GIRLFRIEND! How crazy is that? Answer: very. They weren't friends or anything, but apparently his friend's younger sister was good friends with my girlfriend.
Anyway, the contest is still open, so the next person who writes to me at firstname.lastname@example.org will also receive fabulous random prizes. Winners need not know my girlfriend.
The event takes place at Southern Vermont College, a tiny little school in the southwesternmost corner of Vermont located on the former estate of Edward Everett, "the glass and bottle magnate of the American Industrial Revolution" (before the Crash, that is). Anyway, it's a very classic campus, and the Soiree takes its attendees on a trip back to Everett's heyday with flappers, classic cars, tarot and palm readings, a backroom speakeasy with gambling [last year Rachel and I hit it big and won....local gift certificates we couldn't use], a big band with swing dancing, fireworks, and much more!
Anyway, the Soiree is tomorrow, and Rachel and I will be there with bells on. I'll let you know how it goes.
October 16, 2001
It was the most electric experience I've had at a baseball game. From the first pitch to the end the crowd was completely into it, with about half the game spent standing, screaming, chanting, etc. Every two-strike pitch by a Yankee pitcher was met with raucous cheering, and Soriano's second-inning two-run single was met with a crowd explosion. I can't see me ever sitting anywhere other than the bleachers for a big game. I appreciated my fellow bleacherites tremendously last night; I'm really going to feel bad for them when the Mariners kick some Yankee ass in the ALCS.
October 14, 2001
I've been to four other playoff games, including the 15-inning, Leyritz-homer-ending Game 2 of the Yankees/Mariners 1995 ALDS series, still the greatest game I've ever seen. I also was at the two Kingdome games for the 1997 ALDS series (probably the two worst games I've ever seen; the seats were lousy, and the Mariners lost both games 9-3). I also was at Game 1 of the Yankee's/A's on Wednesday, a fairly uniteresting event.
The weird thing is that I won't know who I'm rooting for until about gametime. If my Mariners can beat the Indians, then I'd love to see a Yankees/Mariners matchup, if only for the week of trashtalking between me and my dad. If the Indians win, then the Yankees can lose by 20 for all I care. I'm sick of dem bastards.
On Wednesday, I actually saw a few guys wearing A's hats in the bleachers. And here's the shocking part: they weren't beaten to a bloody pulp! Probably a post-9/11 sensitivity, especially with all the NYPD/FD salutes and patriotic songs. I still wouldn't wear the Green and Gold tomorrow, though.
Frankenstein’s Fortress is a unique and remarkable creation, a permanent exhibition (though only open on weekend in October) located in an old industrial building in Stanford, New York. The fact that the Fortress site is permanent gives them incredible leeway into what they do with props and architecture, and the Fortress currently includes rusted-out cars, shaky bridges, dusty rooms, winding passages, and even the engine car from an old train. We traveled through at least a dozen tableaus —including a mad scientist’s lab, Vietnam, a dentist’s office, a train wreck — each incredibly detailed and populated with some of the creepiest-looking children I’ve seen. It’s not incredibly scary and there might be a pretty long line, but I still highly recommend it.
October 12, 2001
I'm not that familiar with the Nobel committee's S.O.P., but doesn't there seem to be something a little strange about the Peace Prize this year? (And I'm not talking about giving the award to an organization whose Commission on Human Rights this year voted out The United States while still somehow finding room for China, Cuba, Libya, Sudan, and Syria.) I'm referring to the following:
OSLO, Norway, Oct. 12 — The United Nations and its Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for "their work for a better organized and more peaceful world." The Nobel committee said the United Nations and Annan would share the $943,000 award in equal parts.
It seems a little strange that Annan would get to split the monetary award equally with the organization as a whole. Is the Nobel committee saying that his contributions have been equal to the entire organization of which he is the head? I'm assuming that the Nobel people can pretty much do whatever they want, but is this normal? I had always thought that the prize money was meant to further the winner's cause and help them/it continue, but I'm not sure how handing Annan a big check does that. If anybody knows more about how this works, please let me know.
October 11, 2001
My friends and I were huge fans of the animated series Home Movies during its extremely short (five or six episodes) UPN run a couple of years ago. The show is done by Tom Snyder Productions, the folks behind Dr. Katz and Squigglevision, and was a really hilarious, occasionally gross, cartoon about Brendan Small, an eight-year old filmmaker, and his friends. We were disappointed but not surprised when the low-rated show was cancelled, and then I pretty much forgot about it.
Well, it turns out that the Cartoon Network (which I do not get) picked up the show and has been showing new episodes for some time now. Can anybody out there tell me anything about these shows? Is anybody, miracle of miracles, taping these shows? Please let me know.
Peace camp at University of Wisconsin attacked
STEVENS POINT — Peace supporters have moved a camp from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s Sundial, an open area between the Fine Arts building and the library, in response to violence against them.
“As a group, I think it’s getting too dangerous,” coalition member Matt Filipiak said. “It seems like we’re risking our lives, and our lives are worth more than the movement of peace. We need to be realistic with what we can do with everything else we have in our lives.”
[Not that I'm for stupidity like attacking "peace camps" with Drano bombs, but don't you find the above comment a bit too perfectly ironic, since that's exactly what those who favor military action are saying?]
What makes the film so refreshing and enjoyable is the care with which Writer/Director Lukas Moodysson treats his subjects. Moodysson avoids looking down on them, and instead gives them a purpose and dignity, allowing me to identify with characters with whom I would almost certainly have little in common (if not an outright dislike). In the hands of a less-skilled filmmaker this material could have still made for a watchable movie, though definitely more condescending and less illuminating. As it is, Together is an extremely funny and enjoyable look at what happens when human nature clashes with ideology, and how we are still feeling some of the effects from a seemingly failed revolution.
As for Moodysson, I'm not counting on the Academy to invite him onstage to accept the Best Foreign Film award this year, based on his behavior at Sweden's Guldbagge awards:
"Unfortunately, his anti-elitist streak showed through at the wrong time - namely at Sweden's Guldbagge film awards, where Show Me Love [Moodysson's first film] won all the major prizes. "They were expecting me to fall on my knees and thank everybody, but I couldn't do it," he recalls. "I get extremely childish in situations where people are pretending to be something they're not. So I made a long acceptance speech where I was voicing different opinions. One was that you shouldn't eat meat, and one was that you should pay your taxes. Oh yes, and I said that films shouldn't be in a place like this. It was in the opera house and everyone was wearing tuxedos."
The audience began to boo, and Moodysson ended his oration by raising his middle finger to them and storming offstage. It was all over the next day's papers, and he spent a couple of weeks as Sweden's most hated person, which he describes as a "really interesting experience". Together won no prizes at this year's Guldbagge awards. But Moodysson found himself on the front pages again after walking out."
October 10, 2001
On that note, since I'm curious to know if it's even possible to find this blog, the first reader with no direct personal connection to me to write to email@example.com will receive a special prize that will not be $100. It could be a CD, or maybe a book, or something entirely unexpected. Good luck to all.
October 09, 2001
From a spam I received as I was putting together the below, already pretty much outdated, anthrax summary. Antrax (sic) antiobiotics and Viagra in one store?! It's a brave new world after all!
Protect yourself and your family!! GAS MASK AND ANTRAX ANTIBIOTICS AVAILABLE.
Available = GAS MASK and antibiotics FOR ANTRAX
Xenical® - Viagra® - Propecia® - Celebrex® - Renova® - Zyban®
Get a prescription and order securely online...
GO HERE TO ORDER:
There are two leads being announced by officials. The first involved what at first appeared to be a Jennifer Lopez fan letter that received by the office in early September. The letter is said to have been handled by Stevens and Ernesto Blanco, the second infected man (Blanco works in the mailroom). The letter was coated with a "soapy, powdery substance" and contained a Star of David charm.
This news comes at the same time that news of two similar Florida incidents was announced. This past weekend, two Hialeah households received mysterious envelopes containing a white powder. Though four people in the households felt ill (complaints and symptoms included fever, difficulty breathing, and a burning sensation in the throat) and were taken to a hospital for observation, tests of the powder have as yet revealed no chemical or biological toxins. [Thanks to Mike Whybark for passing along these articles, which were originally sent by Rev. Spencer Sundell.]
The second lead involves a Middle Eastern man who interned for American Media this past summer:
NEWSWEEK has learned that the FBI is aggressively trying to locate a summer intern from nearby Florida Atlantic University in connection with the investigation. The intern, who sources said came from a Middle Eastern country, had sent an e-mail to all employees that a top American Media official described as "peculiar." The e-mail thanked company employees for the help he gave them, but then contained language suggesting that he wasn't saying goodbye. Another company official recalled the email as having a sense of "foreboding" and referring to a "surprise" or "something that he left behind."
Significantly, the timing of the incidents means that at the very least the contamination took place some time before Sunday's US/UK retaliation in Afghanistan, and quite possibly even before September 11, if either of the above is, in fact, the true source. And though I'm not sure I agree with all of his assumptions (those being that the origin was the admittedly more likely letter, and that the hijackers were also the mailers), Glenn Reynolds of the indispensable InstaPundit.com believes that the attacks might actually be "good news" (see the 10/8 10:00 p.m. posting).
October 08, 2001
Baseball fans out there will understand a little about my personality when I say that by Sunday I was completely sick of hearing about Gwynn and Ripken, the two most overrated players of my lifetime, and that I stayed up until 1:30 a lot of nights in August and September checking Rickey Henderson's line in the box scores, counting the runs until he broke Ty Cobb's record.
The "Past Perspectives" section of the Lost Museum's Archive might be my favorite, with its selection of newspaper articles filled with writing that displays the sheer exuberance and joy of the new nation. I'm linking to this New York Times article article that appeared the day after fire destroyed the museum in 1865. It's a wonderful read as well as a fairly remarkable piece of deadline writing. I've excerpted the headline and numerous subheads (and for my money you can never have too many subheads), but the whole article is definitely worth reading.
Total Destruction of Barnum’s American Museum.
Nine Other Buildings Burned to the Ground.
LOSS ESTIMATED AT $1,000,000.
A History of the Museum and Brief Sketch of its Curiosities.
Scenes Exciting, Serious, and Comic at the Fire.
The Police Prompt and Vigilant---The Firemen Earnest and Active.
GREAT EXCITEMENT IN THE CITY.
Thirty Thousand People in the Streets — Pickpockets in the Crowd — Accidents and Incidents.
The fire which yesterday destroyed BARNUM’S American Museum, while greatly injuring and materially impoverishing its enterprising and public-spirited proprietor, did a damage to this and the adjacent communities, which neither time nor money can replace. Granting the innumerable sensations with which the intelligent public were disgusted and the innocent public deluded, and the ever patent humbuggery with which the adroit manager still deserved and honorable place in the front rank of the rare and curious collections of the world.
The Barnum Museum is housed in a gorgeous vintage building that was once the home to The Barnum Institute of Science and History. The museum does a fairly good job showcasing Barnum's life and work, focusing on his life in Bridgeport and his career exhibition highlights, with the most attention paid to Jenny Lind ("The Swedish Nightingale") and Tom Thumb, along with a nice large-scale model of a three-ring circus. The Jenny Lind room was the most detailed and engaging, with a fine assortment of memorabilia and historical documents about this interesting figure. (Perhaps I'm too prejudiced towards the modern, but I'm rather amazed that a singer could have achieved such worldwide renown in an era before mass communications or sound recordings.)
Though normally a museum like this will try to cover up the darker aspects of its subject's personal life, I imagine there's more leeway when you're dealing with a figure like Barnum. Plus, if you're going to mention his family history, I'm not sure how you would work around this:
"Charity Barnum's chronic illnesses and complaints lingered for several years until, in 1873, after 44 years of marriage, she died of heart disease.
At the time of his wife's death, the 63-year-old Barnum was in Europe, ostensibly on business, but also meeting with an old friend, John Fish, and Fish's 22-year-old daughter, Nancy, with whom Barnum had been corresponding for more than two years.
Rather than return home for Charity's funeral, Barnum remained in England to be consoled by Nancy.
P. T. Barnum and Nancy Fish were secretly married Feb. 14, 1874, in London, just 13 weeks and two days after Charity's death. He returned to the United States in April and soon sent for Nancy to join him. They were married at a public ceremony in New York City in September 1874."
"…remained in England to be consoled by Nancy." I suppose that's about as delicate as you could put the situation.
Anyway, I spent about an hour-and-a-half in the museum, and I would recommend it in an "if you're interested in the subject and happen to be in the Bridgeport area anyway" sort of way, which I understand is not much of a rave.
October 05, 2001
Actually, I've come across this guy a few times before when Googling myself. He's a writer, both of short stories and political commentary, and one of the many fine Ken Goldsteins in this great land of ours. Others include...um...Ken Goldstein, the Executive VP of Disney Online and former bigwig at Broderbund software (which resulted in some very amusing mistaken identity phonecalls back when I worked for Multimedia 2000 Software) and Ken Goldstein, a well-respected figure in folk music.
But, dammit, none of them got the coveted firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address, did they?! (Okay, the folk singer guy died in 1995, but still!)
Greetings, and welcome to the world’s one-billionth blog. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to start this thing, especially since it’s existed for about 30 seconds and there’s no audience out there to direct these comments to. But I guess you gotta start somewhere, so let’s get this party started right:
The Illuminated Donkey FAQ (assuming there was some question-asking audience with enough inquiries to be able to rank certain questions as being more frequent than others):
1. Okay, what the hell does that mean? The Illuminated Donkey is both a delightful object (specifically, a white, plastic, hollow, light-up donkey from a outdoor Christmas display that brightened the dark streets of Capitol Hill, Seattle for four years) and a less-delightful state of mind (illuminated donkey = smart ass; pun eventually intended).
2. And you are? My name is Ken Goldstein. I guess I’ll get more into this as this progresses, but I suppose the thing most on my mind now is that on Friday, September 7, I turned 30. The event was celebrated with a wonderful surprise dinner (organized by my wonderfully sweet girlfriend Rachel) held at Ruby Foo’s in Times Square. This turned out to be the last time I saw New York before September 11, the events and aftermath of which have dominated my thoughts ever since.
I live in New Jersey, where I’ve lived for 25 of my 30 years, and am currently working as a copywriter for an electronic goods and toys company, and am also doing some marketing and technical writing work for a shipping company. My favorite authors are Tom Wolfe, Joseph Conrad, Stanley Elkin, and an obscure but highly regarded experimental author included here merely to impress passers-by. I like baseball a lot. I’m deceptively quick.
3. Anything else? Just to reiterate that part about Rachel being wonderful and sweet, as well as quite the looker. Trust me, I don’t deserve her.
4. So what the heck is this thing? I’m not planning to reinvent the form here. I’ll be posting my thoughts on the day, stuff that’s happening to me, and links that I find interesting.
And just to get things off on the right foot: the first link is, of course....MONKEYS!!!!!
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