Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Belated Notes from a Weekend

Note the First
Occasionally I have a thought that honestly embarrasses me, as in I think it and then feel ashamed in my own eyes.

The preface to this note is that I get a couple of magazine subscriptions, partly because of my public radio membership and partly because I paid for a couple subscriptions about a year ago with rewards points from my corporate credit card from my last job, which would have lapsed otherwise. (Actually they wouldn't have, since I just had to call the creditor to cancel a $75 Annual Reward Points Service Fee because my old company never terminated the card. But I digress.) I get Rolling Stone, Newsweek, and Wired, which I usually just leaf through once if I do anything with them at all before filing them with the rest of the junk mail (which some weeks means putting them in the garbage and some weeks means dumping them on the futon).

Anyway, sometime last week I was reading the Internet and saw some promotional blurb about how there is a saucy photo of The Office's Jenna Fischer on the cover of Wired this week. This is a magazine I haven't actually read while having it delivered to my door for the better part of a year; I mean, I kept the one with Stephen Colbert on the cover for a couple of weeks thinking I'd at least read the Stephen Colbert story but eventually threw it away anyway. And my first thought is, "oh man, I hope I'm still getting Wired". And my second, slightly squirmy thought is, "I can't believe this is the first use I've had for three magazine subscriptions in eleven months".

My third thought is the Simpsons joke where Lisa's reading Wired and Homer, misreading the cover, does this whole riff about an alleged, Mad-like magazine called Weird before he catches himself and asks, kind of self-effacingly, "There's no such thing as Weird Magazine, is there, Lisa?" But that's usually my first thought about any given issue of Wired.

Note the Second
There's a lunch-type restaurant a little bit south of the Dupont Circle Metro station in D.C. called "Kozy Korner Carry-Out". My friend John pointed out the sign to me as we walked past it on Saturday night. The name, or more specifically the potential abbreviation of the name, is funnier to me every time I think about it. From the owner's perspective, it must be either just a little too racist or not quite racist enough.

Note the Third
My iPod went missing from my backpack sometime Saturday night, I believe while I accidentally left it unattended in a bar with, seriously, about twelve people in it. This is not cool. However, Jack's copy of The Paradox of Choice, which I am belatedly finishing, was left unstolen, so on the train ride home I read some more of its general-readership economic arguments and mused morosely on whether various, financially equivalent losses would make me feel better or worse.

One tangential point Barry Schwartz makes in the book is that "downward comparisons" to others -- comparing ourselves to people who are worse off than ourselves -- often make us feel better about our own situations. So after confirming that Apple doesn't track the serial numbers of stolen iPods I googled something like "stolen iPod" and read a few message board posts by mildly sub-literate teenagers about how their iPods went missing from their lockers and they couldn't afford new ones. And to some extent I was like, ha ha, yeah, that does make me feel better. If Schwartz intended a self-help aspect to his book I'm pretty sure that wasn't it.

Also, as John somewhat humorously consoled me as we left the bar, "At least you beat me at darts four times in a row". It's true that that's a particularly unlikely circumstance due to my being terrible at darts.

Note the Nth
More words to live by from Futurama's Bender, since I seem to be watching through that again in between chunks of Grigori Kozintsev Shakespeare adaptations: "Bodies are for hookers and fat people! All I need is a wad of cash with a head wrapped around it."

Like most things I find unaccountably hilarious, I feel like I can read a lot of my own existential condition into this if I try hard enough. It's probably a lot less hilarious out of context.

Note the Last
While writing the first half of the first sentence of this post I managed to misspell both "occasionally" and "embarrasses". Thanks, Blogger spellcheck.


Blogger Jack said...

I don't think you need to feel shame for wanting to look at sexy magazine pictures. Even Jimmy Carter would let you off the hook for that.

I'm not sure anyone uses the word "saucy" like that anymore, though.

PATRON: Sir, I purchased these two magazines this morning in hopes of finding saucy photographs of popular television actresses, and I have been most disappointed. I'm afraid that I must ask you for a refund.

CLERK: Oh, yeah, well, Wired is more of a technology magazine, right? So there's just that one, uh, picture on the cover. Mostly on the inside it's technology articles. . . . And your other one there, that's the Atlantic Monthly.

PATRON: Oh. I see. [dejected pause] Well, bollocks, I've gone and done this again.

. . . In any case, I'm sorry to hear about your stolen iPod. I hope whatever a-hole took it has at least kept your Mambo Kings tracks on it.

3/27/2007 7:07 PM  
Anonymous danblim said...

Ah, yes the Krusty's Komedy/Kharity Klassic syndrome.

Spellchecker is good, but I wonder how long until we get a subtextchecker. That might prove even more useful.

3/30/2007 4:03 PM  
Blogger Nate said...

"Warning! Your message contains passive-aggressive putdowns. Send anyway?"

Which of {Hofstadter | Dennett | Pinker} said that any computer program able to process language's semantic context with anything we'd recognize as competence would probably have to have recognizably human intelligence? Any of them at all? My point is, I don't want MS Word to actually understand what I'm writing.

3/30/2007 7:12 PM  

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