daily preciousness

Friday, June 26, 2009

call me Ishmael

"You are an idiot," I typed. "Oscar Wilde was put on trial -- that's obviously what the song 'DJ Culture' is all about!"

It was spring of 1993. I was debating Ish, a guy I just met online, on a computer bulletin board, an early electronic discussion group.

We were parsing out the lyrics of the Pet Shop Boys, the pop group from the 1980s who sang about "West End Girls" back in the day. When Ish and I scrutinized their music lyrics, it was the early days of bits and bytes. The internet was just a bunch of boxy beige boxes with glowing green screens and text-only communication. This was the place where I met my first virtual friend, Ish, the great debater, who wrote, "I don't know about no 'Oscar Wilde,' but I do know it's a great song because it sticks in my head and stays in my heart."

Ish and I didn't always agree on the intricacies of the music canon, but we did have one thing in common: a deep, abiding appreciation for Pet Shop lyrics and music. Their music spoke to us. Plus, we were simply thrilled to have a virtual community of friends to discuss our favorite artists.

The latest buzz on the bulletin board was that the duo would be appearing where Ish lived, in Mexico City, for a huge concert! On the spur of the moment, I'd bought a ticket. Not just to the concert, but to Mexico! I decided to go see it, and maybe even upgrade my first virtual friend into a real friend.

Believe me, I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing. In the early 90s, people rarely drove across town to meet a virtual companion, let alone to another country. I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing. As for me, I'd never traveled very far from home by myself. Certainly not to another country. Keep in mind: there was absolutely no safety net. There were no cell phones back then and long distance calls were expensive. On top of that, my Spanish really sucked. But I wanted to go, despite the fact that I didn't really know much about Ish.

Here is what I did know: he was a university student and we had great chemistry online, but we hadn't even swapped pics. I guess it was weird, but, I wasn't nervous... at least not until I was on the plane.

At 35,000 feet, I began to feel anxious. When a stewardess with a thick accent asked, "Do hugh wan peenas?" I bolted upright in my seat. A thought struck me, like a bat to a piñata: "What the hell am I doing, jetting off to another country? What if we don't get along? What if our debates turn into arguments?! What if he's a psycho killer?!?"

"No, no -- It's ISH -- everything will be OK," I thought. Sitting there, consoling myself, munching on a little bag of roasted penas. Still, I had a knot in my stomach, even hours later, in the airport terminal of Mexico City.

There I stood, surveying the crowd. In this mass of humanity, thick with foreign smells, I tried to pick out Ish. Was he the weird soccer jersey guy, knee-dribbling a half-inflated ball? Hope not. Was he the creepy mustache guy in cut-offs? Dios Mio, I hope not! Was he the good-looking college type, holding a sign with my name? It was Ish!

"Call me Ishmael," he said, quoting the first line of his favorite book. "So, how is it, your trip from New Orleans, Mississippi?" His geography wasn't so great, but our conversation flowed quickly.

Before I knew it, I'd hopped into his dirty orange Datsun hatchback and we were careening through suburbia, outside of Mexico City. "Jeffrey, now I show you 'Mexico Mágico' -- I show you my favorite things." His voice cracked a bit when he said the word "favorite." It was endearing, as if his favorite things got him choked up. At the same moment that it was endearing, it was terrifying, because he turned and faced me in the passenger seat, taking his hazel eyes off the road for a good 5 seconds. And, over the next few days, he showed me his Mexico Mágico.

He showed me the flying men, los voladores, four guys hanging upside down, spinning from a pole high above our heads. We raced into the countryside for a rave party, hidden deep within a cave near the pyramids of Teotehuacan. We partied for eight hours. Then, we stepped out into the sunlight, where we witnessed a glorious sunrise over the pyramids. Napping in the front seats of the car, his head fell on my shoulder. I drifted off to sleep, inhaling his spicy, salty scent.

Zooming into town, we skidded into a parking space at el Auditorio Nacional. We walked in, just in time for the actual concert. There we stood, side by side, cigarette lighters swaying to the slow songs. We threw our hands up, hopped and gyrated to "It's a Sin." I nudged Ish playfully, pointing to the dancers acting out Oscar Wilde's trial ("See? I was right," I teased him, feeling validated.)

A few days later, while hotfooting it to the airport, Ish was quiet, glum. "Introspective?" I asked. He told me that he'd had a great time during my visit and he was going to miss me. "Don't worry," I reassured him. "Why don't you visit me and I'll show you around New Orleans?"

"Yes -- this summer, we make Mississippi Mágico!" Yes, I would like that, I told my new, real, friend, not bothering to correct his geography. After the trip, we swapped e-mails for months, thrilled that our friendship was budding.

Then it all stopped. No e-mail, no online forum postings. Nothing! Ish had vanished.

"What does this mean?" I wondered. What happened to my new friend?

Then a single e-mail, with the subject line "sad news." I sat there, staring at the glowing green screen, reading an e-mail that changed everything.

I remember it in flashes, A car accident. Instantaneous. Just thought you should know," his sister wrote. It was the worst e-mail ever.

I pictured that beat-up orange Datson, always in motion, suddenly still. I recalled Mexico, his "Mexico Mágico" that he showed me, the pyramids and the concert.

At that moment, I felt like I was hanging upside down and spinning. I'd lost a wonderful person, somebody who could've grown into a great friend.

But after more than a decade, I can look back, reflect and be truly thankful for knowing Ish. I guess that's why, even today, I sometimes just smile quietly to myself when people question online relationships, but I know that they can be kind of like great Pet Shop Boys songs that sticks in your head and stays in your heart.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

kawaii nation

Talk about a great gig for Japan. CUTE is their new weapon of choice. They have designated these kawaii (Japanese for "cute") grrls as the ambassadors of cuteness for their entire country.

Trendy harajuku girls have always cornered the market on stylish and hyper-crazy. That's their thing. Whether they're wearing a cowgirl outfit made of human skin or popularizing the harelip, they're busy with trying something new and coo-coo. So why not recruit them to be ambassadors of a country???

It only makes sense to be aggressive (like a cheerleader on crack) and upstage China in the coming Asian culture wars. They've got to put their best size 3 foot forward and make things happen. Otherwise, China is going to elbow them out for all the attention.

So you go, grrls.

via Reuters

Saturday, October 25, 2008

can you exterminate stairs?

Originally uploaded by docpop
You've got to love this cartoon.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I had a baby with Elvis

Have you ever played the pass-the-time game, which celebrity would you like to hook up with most? Well, I have done it once or twice. There have been a few genetically gifted folks that I wouldn't mind mingling the ol' DNA with. First on my list has always been a tried-and-true classic. You really can't go wrong with wishing for THE KING. Sadly, our Jailhouse Rock romance must've hit rock bottom. Why? Well, I'm not really happy with my Presley lovechild. Luckily, I'm much better than Bristol Palin; I can make this little problem simply go away. She's going to have to deal with it for much longer. Bless her little Alaskan heart.

So, after seeing that Elvis and I wouldn't have the MOST BEAUTIFUL BABY EVER, I decided to give it a go with Nick Lachey. (Such pretty lips!) Sadly, it went even worse....

So, of course, this time, I decided to go "old-fashioned" and mix it up with a girl. Which one to choose? The Material One, of course. Madge was a natural pick. And I've always loved the color of her hair, no matter the year. Our baby looked very Downs Syndromey, though. I suppose that's what happens when Mom is over 45....

After enduring the concept of having knowledge of a woman, I had to get back on the wagon, so I leaped onto Ryan Reynolds. Why? Because he's one of those cute, funny actors that I fall for, despite the occasional sucky movie....

Not bad. I'm really happy that our baby got Ryan's eyes, which I always thought were very twinkly.

As a finale, I've saved my absolute favorite. I decided to scare the living daylights out of my grandparents and create another life with somebody of a different racial group. (Yes, yes, I know that the races are nothing more than a ridiculous social construct, but it's more fun to say it in a dramatic fashion.) So I chose, arguably, one of the most powerful African American that I consider interesting. I chose her mainly because I like her bookclub and her commitment to pleasure reading.

Say hello to little baby Okra....

Fun stuff. Who would you like to mate with? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

recent aquisition

Great pic, huh? It's not mine. It's a customer homage pic. Great set up -- like a little worship area. Something about this tenugui (the pink one on the left) just spoke to me. I've always been a fan of cherry blossoms. Plus, I love my 'bots. So I had to get it at thinkgeek. wonderful stuff there.

Now playing on iTunes: Snow Patrol - Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars (Dj Mario Remix)

hmmm. not a big fan!

Overheard at Japanese grocery store:

Daughter: Daddy, do you like herpes?
Dad: Um... Herpes?
Daughter: Yeah, Herpes.
Dad: Herpes?
Daughter: Yes, do you like him?
Dad: Him?
Daughter: Yes, Herpes. The swimmer. In the Olympics.
Dad: Herpes in the Olympics?
Daughter: For America.
Dad: Oh. You mean Phelps?!
Daughter: Herpes.
Dad: Yeah, Herpes is a great swimmer.

In Japanese, "Phelps" is pronounced "Ferupusu" (フェルプス). And "herpes" is "Herupesu"(ヘルペス).

You've got to love it when the most famous athlete in the world's name is almost a homonym for an STD.

Now playing on iTunes: Snow Patrol - Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars (Dj Mario Remix)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Toyotas: what the Final Five drive?

Originally uploaded by dspain
My first thought was: is that a frackin' Cylon car?

But nope; it's just the Google Maps car getting a ticket. Maybe the poor driver inadvertently snapped a pic of the officer picking his nose or something. Or maybe the cop's blog has a sucky page ranking.... Who knows?

Now playing on iTunes: Télépopmusik - Brighton Beach (Feat.Angela MC Clusey)

Monday, January 28, 2008

F & I

Once, not that long ago, there was a little bull and his name was Ferdinand. Ferdinand loved, of all things, the beach. He only knew it because Florinda, the farmer's daughter spoke so lovingly of the beach on her cell phone when she fed them hay every afternoon. Pretending to focus only on his salt lick, he would listen intently to her rave about the South Pacific's beautiful islands and their perfect beaches. And he adored these stories. He longed to stroll along these beaches. Not just any beach, though. The one he longed to see the most was the famed midnight blue sands of the South Pacific island of Calovella. Oddly enough, Ferdinand's lover was Isabella. Both of them had grand plans to sail to the island, claim it as their own and make it a cattle-only island (no humans allowed). They managed to escape their small rural village of Basque country. An unguarded pleasure yacht (and Ferdinand's ability to unfasten nautical knots with his hooves) was the key to their escape. Isabella had a way with machines and managed to sail them to Calovella in only 9 hours. (Ferdinand had figured it would take them 12 and had even carried some hay and a little wine for their journey.) When they arrived, the first thing Isabella wanted to do was tan on the beach. So they did. They lolled around languidly, until Ferdinand asked Isabella for a milkshake. After she produced some, he smiled and put his hoof in hers. They smiled at their accomplishment -- no cattle had ever devised such a cunning escape. And they had even pulled it off! The sunset before them was astounding -- red and gold fire on the calm but mercurial South Pacific waters. F & I were happy.

Note: This story is based on an Exquisite Corpse from Busboys and Poets.

Monday, December 10, 2007


What a pleasant surprise to see Wakayama mentioned online! I love the fact that their yummy mushrooms are getting some love from the blogworld. Roll it out and eat it up -- those glow-in-the-dark 'shrooms look so delicious.

I recall talking about mushrooms with my students and they told me, "Oh, yeah, my family owns a mushroom mountain. That's where we go mushroom picking." Their parents jobs were mushroom agriculture. Amazing.

So can you eat these super mushrooms? I have no idea. But it takes me back to a happy time, in a tiny village, with wonderful people and delicious mushrooms.

Now playing on iTunes: Andy Williams - It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (A Shrift Remix)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This is Umerica

Worlds Most Lazy Lawn Mower
Originally uploaded by B-S
I thought I was lazy until I saw this. Yeah, she can walk. She just can't be bothered. After all, this is Umerica. Bless her heart!