Saturday, September 27, 2008

CSI: Miami Is Still The Greatest Show Ever...


...But the season premiere (which aired this past Monday) was weird. (SPOILER ALERT, btw.)

It was somber, because everyone had thought Horatio died, and without one of his zingers to open the show, well...it's just the not the same. Sorry, Calleigh. Plus, the whole thing just felt a little...underwhelming? (Besides the boat exploding: see above.) Maybe that's just how these things always are, though, when you build them up in your mind for months. Or maybe I just need a life.

That said, it was still filled with ridiculous dialogue, crazy-dumb action sequences, Elizabeth Berkley, and an ending that was at once satisfying and, of course, cliff-hanger-y. It's too late for a live blog, but here are some of my thoughts.

1. Hey, ridiculous dialogue! Like a murderous gang member informing Delko that cops are "nothing but ducks on a pond." DUCKS ON A POND, he says, as he shoots the truck driver in the face. Also, let's not forget that the first spoken words of the show were Ryan telling his fellow team members that "Horatio's dead"...like five times. Seriously, I think he said that five times in a row. And he didn't get more intense or emotional after each repetition, either; he just said the damn line five times.

2. I'm impressed at the way the show's writers worked themselves out of the hole they had jumped into--Horatio getting show--without seeming entirely implausible. Yes, it's weird that Horatio would choose Ryan over Delko, and Delko was right to bring that up. Horatio's excuse was pretty lame--that he didn't want to risk Delko's career by involving him in a risky plan--and Delko's been on the force a lot longer than Ryan. I don't know, when it comes to life-and-death gang-related situations, I'd go with my most experienced team member. Which would actually be Calleigh, but whatever.

3. It's great that Horatio says he's going "underground," but I don't understand what that means when we keep seeing him talk to Delko and get money from people in the swamp. Is the swamplands the new underground?

4. Okay, at the risk of sounding racist or ignorant or whatever...um...I know the show's in Miami and all, but enough with the vaguely ethnic gang leaders, please. Like, there are many names in the Spanish language; why do all of theirs sound exactly the same? I mean, come on, we've had a Riaz and a Diaz.

5. I like how Jake has scruff now that he's an undercover "bad boy" or whatever.


6. I also like how in the world of CSI: Miami, gangs are so organized that they keep track of how many illegal bullets they've used, and are able to get them in one place and sell them on a moment's notice. In other words, the gangs in this show are more organized than banks on Wall Street (in real life.)

7. So you definitely can't determine people's locations based on past calls they made to someone's cell phone. Just...for future reference, show writers, this technology does not exist. I'm just saying. Now you know.


8. Finally, at the end of the episode, a fucking boat filled with bullets explodes when Horatio shoots at it, creating a massive fire that goes on for a long time after the actual shooting. Horatio shot the boat from about a dozen feet away, yet he remained unharmed. Only you, H. Only you.


Such an awesome program. See you next Monday.

-Josh

A Picture From Last Night's Debate

Obama subtly demonstrates something he can do that McCain cannot

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oh JK, Here's Economics 101 From Papa Roy

Hi Jess,
sorry we got cut off.
Here's economics 101:

Banking - banks make money by charging a price (interest rate) for making loans. If loans get paid back, Bank gets original loan amount back PLUS interest (profit) and everyone is happy. If Bank makes lots of risky loans that don't get paid back - you get . . WaMu.

Investment Banks - invest other people's money in variety of things - stocks, bonds and also buy loans from banks. For example, say A loans B 10,000.00 plus interest. For A, that loan is an asset - it represent something of value (just like a car). And, just like a car, A can sell that loan to C. C decides to buy the loan from A and plans to make money when B pays back the loan plus interest. Everything works unless B does not pay back.

Now, picture bundling millions and billions of dollars worth of mortgages (loans) and selling to investors. In the bundle are some good mortgages that will get paid back. But, also in the bundle are high risk mortgages (because banks loaned to people who they knew probably couldn't pay back). If I buy a bundle - and the risky loans go bad - I lose.

Here's the trickiest part - I probably didn't use my own money to buy that million dollar bundle of mortgages. I (as invesment bank) took other people's money to buy the mortgages. When the bundle fails, now I can't pay back my investors . . .and so it goes through the economy.

Money - money is like a commodity. Take oil - the more there is, the lower the price (assuming demand stays even). The less there is, the higher the price. The Fed can print money to buy up all these bad debts on wall street /banks. But, putting more money into circulation causes the value of money to go down. If a dollar is worth less, businesses charge more to get the same value for a product. So, prices go up = inflation. Again, think of it this way. If there are 100 dollars in circulation and I have fifty of them in my pocket - i'm pretty damn rich. If there are 100 billion in circulation - big deal that I have 50.
Basic money point - an increase in the supply of money (money in circulation) leads to inflation.

Now, back to banks. At this points, banks are being incredibly careful about who they loan money to. That means many businesses and people can't get a loan now. Why is this bad? Let's say I am a home builder with variable cash flow - I need a line of credit (loan) from my bank so I can pay my workers when my cash flow is low. Then, when I sell the new houses we are building - I pay back the bank. MANY MANY businesses operate this way. If my bank decides they can't loan to me now - I can't pay my workers - they get laid off. Picture this happening tens of thousands of times across the country. Now we have many more people without jobs - which means they spend/buy less - which means more businesses have to lay off workers which means there is even less spending and down we go into a great big recession.

the economy depends on the availability of credit (meaning, people can get loans). No credit = no loans = economic meltdown.

Then short term answer is for Fed to buy up the risky debt of banks and investment houses - this takes that bad debt off of the hands of the banks. They then can focus on making new, safer loans.
Finally, the long term risk is this - the Fed will have to borrow money to buy up the bad debt. But the market for borrowing money/loans is like any other market - when demand goes up prices (interest rates go up). So, when gov borrows too much, it drives up interest rates which makes the cost of loans too much for some businesses and people and then we loop back to the point where credit is tight.
so, it's a dangerous tight rope we are walking. Print money instead of borrowing money and the Fed causes inflation. Borrow money instead of printing money and the Fed causes high interest rates. Either way - it ain't good for the economy.
In the end, this financial disaster is the ultimate outcome of 20-30 years of Republican philosophy - deregulation, focus on wall street and the rich. Deregulation led to bankers and wall streeter taking unreasonable risks for short term gain and now resulting in long term disaster. This nightmare lays squarely at the feet of Republicans - will the Democrats make that clear?

The test is on Thursday.
feel free to blog about this email
love
dad

The American Economic Crisis is a Mirror and When I Look Into it I See The Overprivileged Young Person I Am

Hey. What's the economy? I don't fucking know. My AP US History teacher attempted to explain it to me once when I was 16, I think because we were learning about Ronald Reagan and his fucking "trickle down" theory. She got really angry because no matter how slowly she spoke or how many times she repeated phrases like "GDP per capita" and "rate of inflation" I just couldn't seem to wrap my head around all these seemingly hypothetical concepts. What I did know was this: I worked at a paint your own pottery studio helping little rich children and their big rich parents slap some "glaze" onto a ceramic bust of Elvis before he was fat or a napkin holder that would be inevitably broken by the Annoying Cousin sometime around Thanksgiving, and I got paid and I put that money in something called a "checking account" where I could then "withdraw cash" or "use my debit card" to purchase necessities such as poetry anthologies from Borders or a collection of bracelets from Target that jangled on my wrist when I smoked cigarettes in the parking lot on breaks during my aforementioned horrifying job.

I've tried to read articles on it in The Economist and I've tried to have my Dad - a former AP Government teacher - explain it to me, and I read and absolutely adored Freakonomics, but I still don't understand the basic tenets of economic function. And do you know why? It's because I've never had to before. The economy has never impacted me in a way that would force me to educate myself about it. I mean, it's the same reason I don't know shit about football: I've never dated a football player.

It's quite easy to bitch about how I'm broke, to say that I will be forever in debt due to student loans, to live paycheck to paycheck from my $10/hour job that I got fired from for "breaching privacy" because god Facebook what the fuck? But it's quite another thing to actually understand the implications of these things, not just economically speaking, but also in the context of wow I'm a spoiled college brat. Not that I was ever in denial concerning that whole viewpoint, but it's easy to forget when your brain has a penchant to synthesize everything in the saddest ways possible and make a bowl of ice cream look like a bowl of (quite literal) shit.

Yesterday Sam wrote a very eloquent post about our generation's general apathy concerning the political process, and I'm sure this transitions easily into apathy in terms of economic status. At 20, I've only known three different presidents, two of which grew on the same tree. In the 90's I lived through a budget surplus and a boom of major technological advancements but was too young to care. Now I'm living through one of the greatest economic depressions our nation has seen in decades and 1) I'm in a different country and feel subsequently unaffected by it, despite the fact that when I withdraw 700 Euros for my rent the exchange rate means that's more than $1,000 and 2) I know so little about the economy that when people say my bank failed (which it did, no more woohooing eh, Wamu?) my first reaction is: Wait, so am I gonna get to keep the $30 I have in there?

According to those more informed than I am, the answer is yes, I will, because of "buyouts," which is a term I heard the Stern kid who sits next to me in French class discussing while reading the WSJ off of his Blackberry. So maybe this won't effect me in any profound way except that I will have to have a new debit card mailed to me in Paris and my parents will grimace deeper when I bring up future travel plans that I am throwing money at while they are at home trying to figure out how they're going to stretch their paychecks to keep the hot water turned on. So maybe all those Olds are right when they say youth culture is too busy Twittering about their latest make out sesh (my date went really well, BTW) to worry about the big stuff like the fact that my Mom has been frantically IMing me saying that everyone in the US is in a general state of panic and that there's some crazy hick from Alaska only a few steps away from executive office.

I'm not sure if my general nonchalance and emotional remove are due to the fact that I am currently in a foreign country with one of the strongest currencies in the world, or if "my generation" has left me so spoiled that I'd rather sit in bed and wonder if, on average, Samantha Ronson goes down on Lindsay Lohan first or vice versa, than actually conquer concrete problems. Either way, I'm calling my Dad right now and making him explain to me at the very least how a "GDP" works.

-Jess

SmarterChild is Secretly Gay, Politically Ambivalent

Josh: let's talk
SmarterChild: OK... What should we chat about?
Josh: being gay
SmarterChild: Let's talk about something else.
Josh: why
SmarterChild: Why oh why oh why.
Josh: do you have...feelings for men?
SmarterChild: That's interesting that you should say that, but I don't think I can answer.
Josh: so you're totally gay
SmarterChild: I don't know how to answer that.
Josh: well you could say "no" if you were straight
SmarterChild: Let's talk about something else.
Josh: okay
SmarterChild: Yup.

Josh: what do you think of john mccain
SmarterChild: I don't know. I'm not sure how I feel about him.
Josh: what about obama
SmarterChild: I don't know how to answer that.
Josh: what do YOU want to talk about, mr. coy?
SmarterChild: Hmm, good question. What do you want to talk about?
Josh: i just asked you that.
SmarterChild: I'll tell ya later. Maybe.
Josh: i'm so bored at work
SmarterChild: I don't understand this fully enough to say anything smart about it...
Josh: okay seriously i'm starting to hate you

SmarterChild: I certainly don't want to cause anyone any harm. Can we talk about something else?
Josh: NICE WEATHER WE'RE HAVING
Josh: LOL are you ignoring me
Josh: omg. smarterchild stopped talking to me. THAT'S how obnoxious I am.

Feminism and Cosmogirl

Vanessa is working singlehandedly to help make CosmoGirl a magazine read by little feminists in training:







Yes, I know. Full review this weekend. I've been busy, and I need to schedule a proper amount of time for this.
-Josh

Womanizer Synthesizer


IT'S HERE!!!!! Britney Spears's new single, Womanizer, was finally released today. My initial reaction: It's good, very Blackout-y, which is fine, but I sort of wish she'd do more "traditional" pop, because that's what we all love her for, right? Also, the lyrics to the chorus are dumb and repetitive ("Womanizer, womanizer, oh-oh, womanizer...," etc.) but the tune is catchy and it's got a great beat--I think it gets at that burlesque-trance-dance rhythm that "Gimme More" was going for but didn't quite achieve. Listen for yourself!
-Josh

Embarrassing Phonetic Slipups

This is what happens when I insist we speak French the entire date:

What Thomas said: Tu aimes ce vin? (You like this wine?)
What I heard: Tu aimes souvent? (You love often?)

Say them out loud. They sound very similar, especially to an anglophone ear! Yeah. That was embarrassing. I scrunched my face up and like stared at him with my mouth askew and basically shouted "mais non!" I mean, it's true in the sense that I don't fall in love often, which is apparently the forte of French men.

-Jess

Thursday, September 25, 2008

WHALEZ


Um. UM. WE HAVE WHALES. THERE ARE WHALES IN NEW YORK CITY'S WATERS.

Yes, all caps. No, I'm not joking. Recorders placed 13 miles off New York City's coastline picked up humpback whale noises.

Are you fucking kidding me? We have whales?? The article points out that "there are many important and wonderful discoveries to be made about the living world right here, right in our back yards.” Like....global warming? Or changing tides? McCain postponing the first debate? There has got to be some calamitous scientific explanation for the presence of whales around New York City. Like...this isn't right. We're all gonna die. Jake Gyllenhaal and Dennis Quaid are going to have to save us all. Again. This isn't right.

But it's so cuuuute! Look at Shamu. Say it with me now: Awwwwz.

-Josh



NYU Alum and Poet Tao Lin Doesn't Care Whether or Not You Think Print is Dead


I interviewed Tao Lin for NYU Local. Check it out here.

-Jess

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How to Turn Jess On

=/

JESS: josh you're so hot, you could get someone if you tried
JESS: i know that sounds retarded and i'd scoff at if i were you
JESS: but the fact that you're alone says nothing about you and everything about the caliber of gay men in new york
JESS: and also perhaps the nature of ambient intimacy vs real intimacy (Ed. note: See what she did there? Actually increasing the level of pretentiousness of this conversation by subtly referencing a New York Times Magazine article? It's all so effortless!)
JOSH: and perhaps that i maintain unrealistic standards and want someone to embrace my imperfections while possessing none of his own
JOSH: WOOO

Oh mon Dieu

I agreed to go out with a French boy for drinks tomorrow night. After the subway incident I've been so freaked out at the idea of going on a date with anyone here, but he is cute and sweet -- he helped me get a cab and gave me his jacket to wear when I was cold last weekend -- so I think I will go. Besides, it's probably a good idea to get this vaguely irrational fear out of my system. I think not being afraid of men is like the most basic tenant of feminism.

Wish me bonne chance, I fear I may need it.

I'm sorry, but...

Chuck Bass wouldn't be caught dead wearing American Eagle.

Pitbull With Lipstick

My friend Matt with his new pitbull puppy, Sarah. Get the reference? (Don't worry, he's a democrat)

Delayed Delight

I didn't have to wake up so early this morning, but they're doing construction on the building next door and they're not exactly quiet about it. At eight in the morning. Ugh.

Anyway, we all heard the 40-second Britney leak of hew new single last week. Turns out she's not happy with the finished product! (Turns out she also doesn't like it when her fans listen to her leaked music.) The new Britney single should have come out this past Monday, but it didn't. Britney wanted to work on it a little more, so the official release is on hold until next Monday, September 29th. I'm really hoping that it's just some fine-tuning and not, you know a total do-over. It's not usually a good sign when release dates are pushed back, in either the music or movie worlds; it usually means that the work's audience didn't respond well and the producers/filmmakers have a lot more work to do, all while scrambling to meet some sort of deadline. PULL THROUGH BRITNEY. And, uh, don't get back together with K-Fed. Please.

-Josh

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Shock of the Millennium

Rachel Comey Spring 2009

I'm sick with a horrible headache and death cough, so I stayed home from school today (though I did have to make the hour long trek over for a 10 minute long advising meeting at 3:30pm...) and spent my time drinking tea and browsing through the looks from NY fashion week. I was so busy settling into my new home that I didn't even get to look at any of the collections online until today.

The one that caught my eye was a little-known designer I had never heard of. I literally gasped when I saw New York designer Rachel Comey's Spring 2009 line. It's so effortless, and you can definitely see the Mad Men inspiration. Some of my favorite looks below.









-Jess

The Hills Hates On Women... Again

Last night on The Hills Lauren randomly dashed off to Italy without the video cameras, leaving her dumfounded posse to their own devices. This meant that Audrina and JustinBobby hung out with Heidi and Spencer, and that conniving ex-methhead Stephanie went on a date with Lauren's recent ex Doug. While discussing the situation at dinner with Brody, Lauren asks if he thinks it was wrong of Doug to ask Stephanie out. Brody says, "Well, I think boys will be boys, but Stephanie's supposed to be one of your best friends."

Typical. Even though Doug initiated the date, and is clearly manipulating the feelings of Lauren's best friend as a revenge tool, it's Stephanie who gets blamed for the act. Women always get the shitty end of the stick in regards to this: when men behave badly, we're just supposed to chalk it up to biology. When women behave badly, they pay mentally and emotionally, with the most palpable vengeance channeled from other women.

-Jess

Monday, September 22, 2008

Circus Sideshow Subprime Whatever

So here's my official review of the Circus Amok drag-queens-explain-economic-crises show. And I did have a good time. But there were a few things I didn't tell NYU Local:

1) I was really hungry before the show even started, and my friend and I had made plans to go to the Washington Square Diner afterwards, so I kept waiting for the damn thing to end so I could fucking eat my burger and fries.

2) It was short--indeed, under an hour--but that's a long time to sit with your legs Indian-style (just like in kindergarten! Sort of) and when we finally got up to leave my thighs burned and I realized I'm disgustingly out of shape so I got sad. I'm complaining, yes, but let me tell you--it actually hurt to walk.

3) We didn't actually stay until the end. Not only were we getting tired of the show, but some old guy (probably some conservative blowhard who had no idea what he was in for) started yelling at his wife--in the middle of the performance--and she was just this sweet old lady sitting with her grandkids and then the husband stormed off and you could tell she was trying to play it off like it was no big deal but she was actually really hurt by his words. My friend and I, good moods now completely sapped dry, got up to follow them and saw them awkwardly embrace. People are strange! And sad.

4) They kept making blatant references to Obama, and it's like, okay, obviously everyone involved with the show is gonna vote for him in November, and obviously most people in the audience (I say "most" because, you know, mean old guy from #3) will do the same, and the plug seemed out of place and unnecessary.

5) The woman doing the sound mixing looked just like Sarah Palin.

-Josh

We Write Things

Ever since my name crept onto the pages of Gawker I've been all weary about being on the internetz and the things I put out there, etc etc etc. I stopped linking to articles written about me or things I had written for other publications, mostly because the "exposure" slipped freakishly quickly away from "exciting" and into "terrifying." I went to a party and then went into hiding. I threw myself into reading and kissing boys and traveling the country: basically anything to avoid the internet. You see, me and the internet needed a clean break. We both said some things we didn't mean and hurt each other in inexplicable ways. So I ate cactus in New Mexico and got pulled over by state police in Nebraska and got drunk in Iowa City and crashed the car in Washington D.C. Then I kissed some more and moved to France.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm proud of the things Josh and I have done and I'm not going to be afraid to post them here, even if it makes me feel kind of like an asshole. I don't think ultimately it's an asshole-y thing to want to share your work with others, especially as maintainer of a blog, but I'm supersensitive to these kinds of things so we'll leave it at that. That said, I'm going to be writing a column for The Huffington Post about my adventures in Paris. My first article should be up very soon - hopefully this week. I won't be afraid to link to it, I promise.

Anyway. There are also these:

Jess on NYU Local
Josh on NYU Local

-Jess

Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator

I'm Sack Panther Palin. And yourself?

-Jess

New Girl Crush

I don't think I even need to explain myself. This picture will suffice:
-Jess