Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Boxing Day

To celebrate, some kung fu.

This is footage from Taiwan, sometime in the 60's, of kung fu masters who had fled mainland China. This is one of the most amazing videos I have seen in a long time.

You know these guys are bad: they don't even have to take off their ties to do Praying Mantis style. I think this video would work very well as an ad for the Mike Gravel campaign as we go into this final week before the Iowa caucuses. That would definitely stir sh*t up.

Anyhow, this settles it: my first New Year's resolution for 2008 is to learn kung fu.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The delirious edge of the year

Our Christmas night was a slight variation on the tried and true Chinese food and a movie Christmas tradition. (This tradition was an old standby for my family back in Connecticut.) An Indian restaurant we like in Silverlake, Agra, was open. Afterwards, we went to see "No Country for Old Men" in Pasadena. The theater was packed with others spending their day off like us, out at the movies, celebrating the holiday in a determinedly non-religious manner.

I was a little ambivalent about the movie. It was definitely beautifully shot, excellently executed, well acted (Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin were all fantastic), but I was left unsatisfied. It's all well and good to show a lot of empty, barren landscapes, to produce feelings of emptiness and senselessness, but so what? A.O. Scott, in his review, wrote:
And the minutes fly by, leaving behind some unsettling notions about the bloody, absurd intransigence of fate and the noble futility of human efforts to master it. Mostly, though, “No Country for Old Men” leaves behind the jangled, stunned sensation of having witnessed a ruthless application of craft.
Yes, psychopathic killers are intransigent, and the results of their work bloody, and often absurd. Who cares? But as Scott notes, that's not the point of the film. It's meticulously, superbly crafted, producing an atmosphere of almost unbearable suspense and tension. That's what it does. So much so that I was too jangled to pay attention to the rambling soliloquy that comes at the ending. I was too worried that someone would be suddenly blown away.

This last week of the year is more about a mood for me than anything else. It's a slow, often boring, time of the year -- if you're not off on a trip to somewhere exotic. Everything's closed, most people are out of town visiting family -- there's not much to do. You wake up, with nothing on your schedule, drink your coffee, do the crossword puzzle, look out the window at the cars pulling up at neighbors' houses, and think back on another year that's passed, behind you forever.

Monday, December 24, 2007

He knows when you've been bad or good....

Washington Post

Good news! The FBI is spending more than a billion dollars to create a database to collect information on peoples' individual characteristics (e.g., gait, eye color, faces, etc.). Don't worry, these guys are good. You can rest easy that the Feds will use this information for only proper purposes and that this technology won't be abused to, say, target political dissidents or opponents. No -- they create things like robot spy dragonflies for only positive and useful purposes. (Remember: Anti-war protesters are a threat to the nation.)

Feliz Navidad de Los Ángeles

Navidad en Los Ángeles es muy extraña, para mí. Estoy acostumbrado a mucha nieve y de las chimeneas calientes, no árboles de palma adornados con las luces. Pero no puedo quejarme: la vida en Los Ángeles es buena.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hip Hop Meets Anime (via French house music)

I don't really watch music videos much these days, and I'm like thirtysomething, so I totally missed Kanye West's homage to Akira in his video for "Stronger" (below). This makes me want to go back to Tokyo.

Let's Chat

If you want to know why the Hillary Clinton for President campaign is ultimately doomed, you need look no further than this video, Hillary's initial announcement that she would be forming a presidential exploratory committee. The video perfectly encapsulates the fatal flaws of the candidate and her campaign: note the awkward panning, left to right, in an effort to create a natural, cinema verite, or handheld effect; but also note how the panning is mechanical, as if programmed and controlled by a computer. There is no tilt or movement vertically, but only a carefully controlled, if somewhat jarring, haphazard, and meaningless, panning back and forth. Also note Clinton's cringe-inducing, off-putting tone: I knew this campaign was over when she said "Let's chat."

More cringe-inducement from the Clinton campaign. Clinton looks like she might be checking her Blackberry on the couch as she pretends to go through the motions of being enthusiastic about a holiday ad. Also, little details reveal the continuing bad choices of the Clinton campaign. Notice the silly, goofy-looking comic sans-type font used on the dumb present labels. Also, someone apparently decided it would be good to have the candidate do a holiday ad where she does not (a) wish anyone in Iowa a Merry Christmas (putting aside what we may think about the political correctness of doing so), or (b) look into the camera even once. Also, this is a holiday ad; why not have her surrounded by her family, in front of a roaring fireplace, a glowing Christmas tree, etc? The setting of this ad makes it look like it might be for Celebrex or estate planning. Finally, the little hand gesture of triumph the candidate makes with her right hand after finding the "Universal Pre-K" present she was looking for is truly one of the saddest and most pathetic political gestures to be captured on video since Al Gore did the macarena at the 1996 Democratic National Convention. This is a candidate who is clutching at straws, wanting to look relaxed and at ease, but desperate to tear down her chief rival, and who likely approved further scurrilous and disgusting attacks on Obama to be carried out by her minions and toadies just before and after sitting down to do this ad.

Now this -- this is how you do a holiday ad in Iowa. First step, marry Michelle Obama, a strong, attractive, intelligent woman who everyone loves. This is what drives the Clinton campaign so crazy: Obama looks comfortable in his own skin. He doesn't sound like a robot or someone crazed with ambition, jacked up on eight cups of coffee, or driven with the urge to dominate every contest and destroy all competitors. And he doesn't say things like "Let's chat." And even if he did, it would probably sound cool, like he knew it was corny, but thought it was sort of funny to say, and would say anyway, because he knew he could get away with it.

Look, I fully recognize that this post is part of the problem of elevating style and image over substance, but, for better or worse (mostly worse) it is simply unavoidable that the way the candidates present themselves, especially on television, is of almost paramount importance in the modern American political process. Clinton is not a candidate made for television. Obama, like another former Democratic television star, is. Take that for what it's worth.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Octopus Book Notes: Like A Piece Of Lead With Wings On It

As happens from time to time, I find myself reading three or four books at once -- and not completing any of them. As I mentioned the other day, I'm in the middle of Richard Ford's The Lay of the Land. I'm continuing to plug through that, but not with a ton of enthusiasm.

Carl Spitzweg (1808-85), Der Bücherwurm (1850) [public domain]

I'm also in the middle of Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels, which I am loving. I just keep putting it down and picking up something else. He's relatively sober so far in this book, which is different -- it's a different tone than in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or The Great Shark Hunt -- more akin to the attempts at something like legitimate reportage in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. The more I go back to Thompson, the more I am convinced that he really was one the great American writers of the twentieth century. I will try to finish it this weekend.

The other day I picked up Paul Barrett's recent book, American Islam. I had seen references to this book popping up everywhere, and Barrett quoted and interviewed in various places, and was curious. I just started the book, but it's excellent so far. It doesn't romanticize Muslims in America, or demonize them. So far, Barrett strikes a very fair balance: I find myself agreeing with the dark sides or problematic aspects of Islam in America that Barrett highlights in his chapters on various types of American Muslims (a publisher, a feminist, an activist, an Imam, etc.). And I find much that is hopeful in what Barrett points out about American Muslims: we love this country, we work hard to succeed, we believe in the freedoms enshrined in our Constitution, we cherish the opportunities we have been given here, and we want to play our part in the great American experiment. I highly recommend it.

I'd never read any Henry Miller before picking up Tropic of Cancer the other week at Read Books, our one an only used bookstore here in Eagle Rock (unrelatedly, I really want to talk to Read Books' marketing people and whoever advised them on trademark issues). I've been dipping in and out of it, but mostly find it to be an unholy mess so far. One great bit has stayed with me -- Miller's description of an erection: "it feels light and heavy at the same time, like a piece of lead with wings on it." I think I had come across that phrase many times before, but it was slightly thrilling to be surprised by it when reading the book. Oh, almost forgot: when I was paying for the book at the register, the owner of the store, a very nice middle-aged bookish-looking (!) woman whose kids are often at the store with her, reading on the couch, doing their homework at the front desk, asked me if I wanted a bag for the book. I don't know what came over me, but I was a total ham: I made a a funny face and said, "You mean, like a brown paper bag?" She apparently thought that was sort of funny -- she laughed -- but probably a little creepy (the laugh was a little nervous). I got into the Intrepid and sped off into the Eagle Rock night to be alone with my shamelessly uncovered work of obscenity/great literature.

Finally, the other day, the slightly insane but apparently very well-read Ron Paul, in criticizing Mike Huckabee's Christmas ad (with floating cross over his shoulder) quoted Sinclair Lewis about fascism coming to America wrapped in religion. I felt a little guilty not knowing much about Sinclair Lewis, so I went to the library and checked out Babbitt, of which I've only read the first three pages, laying out the setting in Zenith, Ohio. Those are some awesome three pages.

I wish I had some more time.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Time's Arrow

A sixteenth century engraving featuring Time, who "revealeth all thynges." He's the winged bearded dude guiding the naked woman (Truth, the daughter of Time) out from the darkness and away from the fat, vomiting demon guy with the tail (Hypocrisy) who's trying to puke on her.

Still life of an empty paper bag in shadow. This is the bag that my toasted poppy bagel with lowfat cream cheese, tomatoes, and onions from Java City came in. I usually read political news on MSNBC's First Read, ABC News's The Note (which is incredibly annoying), or Wonkette as I eat my bagel in the morning. I was struggling again with some thoughts of whether Edwards might be the best candidate before I settled my mind by recalling that he, like Hillary, had voted for the war, and had tried to convince Kerry during the 2004 campaign not to apologize or retract his support for the war. The issue on the Iraq invasion -- to me and to many, many, many other people -- was a very clear and simple one: we were absolutely wrong to invade and had no justification for it. It was clear-cut to anyone who listened, paid any attention, knew about the Office of Special Plans, Wolfowitz's, Perle's, Feith's, and Cheney's and Co.'s long-standing ambitions to invade Iraq that we were being sold a bill of goods. Obama saw this. Edwards did not. And then he tried to convince Kerry not to retract his support and vote for the war -- when that was obviously the best thing he could have done in 2004 to make clear the choice that the voters had. Now that the war is unpopular, Edwards has stuck his finger in the wind and has determined that his best chance is to recalibrate his position and move to the left of Hillary on Iraq, and to loudly disown his vote for the war. I applaud him for this, and his rhetoric on the war, on the neocon's attempts to push us into an attack on Iran, Hillary's shameless vote on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, etc.

But in picking between Obama and Edwards, it just sticks in my craw that Edwards was so wrong on Iraq. It highlights the things I fear about him: that he's a lightweight, especially on foreign policy, and that his judgment can't be trusted. Obama was dead right about Iraq: it was an unmitigated disaster, and we were wrong from the very beginning to go in there with no cause whatsoever. I trust the judgment of someone like Obama, over the judgment of Edwards, who voted expediently in 2002, and who appears to be positioning himself expediently in 2007.

A green space on the Angels Flight hill. It is a nice little park, looking out over Hill Street and Broadway to the southeast. Lots of homeless people hang out there during the day, lying around on the grass, napping, sitting on benches reading free copies of LA Weekly. It's pretty peaceful. It's only a matter of time before the corporate people from the corporate plaza just above this park make their way down, to sip their frappuccinos, check their Blackberries, and read Anthony Lane's film reviews in the New Yorker magazines they have delivered to their houses in South Pasadena or their apartments in Santa Monica.

A standpipe in front of a building on Broadway. It looks like if you could blow through it hard enough, you could get some fine music.

Another picture of the parking garage on 4th and Hill. I think I like the way the garage is built into the hill, the vegetation climbing the featureless exterior, and the obstinate solidity of the thing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Trouble With Hillary

A cartoon by Tom Tomorrow.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Slow Learner

Images from the past few days of my life. Note that the Obama train chugs along. I know that once an endorsement is made, I'm meant to be 100%, rah-rah, true believer, etc. And I basically am. I meant it: Obama can (and will) win. I just want to say that I don't think Edwards would be a terrible candidate either, although he does seem like a bit of a lightweight opportunist. To be clear, Hillary would be a disaster in the general election.

On Friday, we dropped everything and took a flight to Florida for a funeral on Saturday.

This year, I've read Richard Ford's The Sportswriter and Independence Day. I'm in the middle of The Lay of the Land. I like Ford -- he appeals to my sweet spot of hyper-realist fiction by middle-aged white men about middle-aged white men dealing with dysfunctional marriages (or divorce, and sometimes cancer or heart disease) in Northeastern suburbs in the late twentieth century -- but one particular tic of his that I noticed early on is driving me crazy. Ford has apparently never gotten over where he went to college. He went to Michigan, so did the main character of The Sportswriter trilogy. Almost all the characters that appear in the books are defined by where they went to college. Some typical examples from The Lay of the Land: About a potential real-estate deal partner: "My guess is Montclair State, marketing B.A., a tour with Uncle Sam, then home to work for the old man in the wholesale nursery bidnus in West Amwell." About an annoying acquaintance: "Haddam used to be full of schmoes like Bud Sloat, yipping little Princetonians who never missed New Year's Eve at the Princeton Club, showed up for every P-rade, smoker, ball game and fund raiser, and wore their orange-and-black porkpie hats and tiger pajamas to bed." About the town undertaker: "Lloyd's as big, tall, sweet and bulky as Bud is fat, weasly and lewd -- a great, potato-schnozzed, coat hanger-shouldered galoot who years ago played defensive end for the Scarlet Knights . . . ." About the undertaker's assistant: "Lawrence, I happen to know, went to Bucknell on a track scholarship but didn't last . . . ." About his doctor: "His Michigan and Kenyon diplomas hung above his Navy discharge . . . ." His ex's second husband is a "Yale guy". And on and on.

This tic is disappointing in such a gifted writer. It's a crutch he goes to again and again. No adult character is introduced without some comment about where he or she went to school. It gets tiresome very quickly. Especially because it's continually thrust out there in this self-satisfied, superior, knowing manner: I've got you all figured out, and I can sum you all up by reciting your CVs. Perhaps it seems so annoying because it seems so juvenile -- more appropriate in a sophomore-year creative writing seminar at Swarthmore [ha!] -- and Ford seems to be ramping up his endless reliance on colleges as defining traits as he moves into late middle age.

That, and his weird use of terms like "boink" when he's referring to sex. Otherwise, I do like Ford quite a bit.

That weird Jetsons-looking restaurant at LAX is under construction.

I wanted to have a picture of phone taken from a phone. Plus, pictures of payphones at night always produce a feeling of vague melancholy and worry -- especially with miserable parking lots in the background. The feeling produced is something along the lines of that section in the early story by Pynchon about how hard it would actually be to find a person out there, if you had to or needed to, to locate the one number in the huge, sprawling grid of the nation, in the darkness of the American night.

A wonderland of decorative lettuce in a corporate plaza downtown. It's actually sort of trippy. It looks like something from the set of a 60's movie starring Gene Wilder, designed by someone who went to Reed -- no, Middlebury [ha again].

A rainbow on the stairs of the Citibank building downtown at about 1:17 p.m. on the afternoon of Thursday, December 13, 2007. Goodbye, year. Goodbye, this time in my life. Goodbye.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Next President the United States of America

From today's final debate before the January 3rd Iowa caucuses. Watch through to Obama's comment at the end of this clip. This is an extraordinary moment of grace from Obama; and he's no dummy: Iowans reward this type of generosity of spirit.

Barack Obama can win. The Republicans, who have been geared up to battle the Clintons one more time in '08, won't be as geared up to fight Obama.

It's true that Obama is green. It's true that he's no master of foreign policy. It's true that he's just a junior senator. It's true that his middle name is Hussein and his stepfather was a Muslim.

None of that matters. Obama can win. People who wouldn't vote for him because he is black or because of his middle name would probably vote Republican anyway. Obama speaks to our better natures, he reminds us all of the hopes we still harbor for our country, for what it can stand for, for the message we can send to the rest of the world. People will want to vote for him. They will not feel as if they must, or that they have to, or that this is the only way to oppose the Republicans (think Kerry, think Hillary Clinton).

Andrew Sullivan, with whom I rarely agree, put it best:
Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.
The Atlantic.

That's undoubtedly too simplistic and crude, but there's a great deal of truth in what Sullivan says.

I'm saddened that Al Gore did not run for President this year. It is a tragedy of historic proportions for America that Gore did not take office as President in January 2001. But we have a candidate for now, someone who will help take America to a new place, of engagement with the world. It's time to turn the page on the Bush and Clinton years. Bill Clinton was a great idol of mine at one time. But his recent comments, especially about supposedly opposing the Iraq war from the very start -- he clearly did not -- have started to bring back the memories of the failures and disappointments, the selling out, the pandering, and the triangulations of Bill and Hillary Clinton, round one. We don't need to go back to that again. And the Clinton campaign's recent despicable tactics of alluding to Obama's kindergarten ambitions and speculating about his teenage drug use, just confirm that Camp Clinton is very much playing the same old bullshit game again and trying to drag us all down with them.

The face of America to the world, for nearly eight years now, has been George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Imagine the pride we will all feel, how much taller we will stand, on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009, when Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.

Barack Obama in 2008.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Day for Night

Someday, I will return to simply writing out posts. I can't keep up the photo posts forever, as fun as they are for me. By the way, has anyone tried to read Errol Morris's unreadable posts on his New York Times blog, "Zoom"? I really like Errol Morris, but his posts are just way too pretentious, rambling, and self-indulgent for me.

But I shouldn't throw stones. They are constantly filming sh*t under my office building. This was a blue screen some film crew was about to deploy during their shooting.

A shot of Bunker Hill, looming Oz-like in all of its shiny, paranoid, locked-down, surveillance-camera-patrolled majesty -- taken from Main and 4th.

Things keep on popping up on Broadway downtown. One of my favorite places on Broadway is Metropolis Books, a newish independent bookstore run by a super-friendly couple. I go by there about once or twice a month and always want to buy something to help keep it going. I think they're doing okay, but it seems like such a bold thing to do, to open up an independent bookstore downtown on Broadway.

A shot of the Vietnamese place, Blossom, also on Broadway. The restaurant appears to have expanded into the corner store-front attached to its original location. The restaurant is pretty good. I've only been there once. It seems pretty popular. Is Vietnamese food still in? The roving eye of Sauron of hip food left Japanese long ago, descended on Thai for a while, maybe Indian, maybe Korean, and seemed to rest on Vietnamese for a bit recently -- I don't know where that eye is resting now. Mongolian? Some super-specific type of Chinese food, perhaps?

Another building on Broadway.

Parking garage ramp on Olive.

From an entrance to yet another parking garage downtown. It makes getting hit on the head with the gate look kind of fun.

At night, Bunker Hill is especially ominous and soul-sucking. This is a view of Wells Fargo Plaza from Grand.

Ditto. A shot of the Gas Building from California Plaza.

The losing typeface for the new blog header.

There have been numerous signs declaring the triumphant reopening of Angels Flight in the Summer of 2006, the Fall of 2006, the Spring of 2007, the Fall of 2007, etc. We should all just accept that it may never reopen. The lights on the arch on Hill look nice at night, though.

I took the bus back to Eagle Rock, stopped in at the local library, picked up a book I had on hold by Richard Russo, and then walked the 3/4 of a mile or so back to the house and posted this.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Photo Essay: A trip to Vietnamese class

Admittedly, the cell phone photography thing has gotten a little out of hand. I bought my current cell phone nearly four years ago. I had wanted to get a camera phone: I had all sorts of plans to take photos everywhere and immediately post them to a blog. It was going to be awesome.

I never quite got that going -- until just recently. My cell phone's camera has only 1.3 MP, but I kind of like the images it picks up. Night shots are especially ominous.

This is not even slightly related, but I highly recommend the new album from Burial, "Untrue". I heard it for the first time today driving around as I took these shots, and it totally sucked me in. I won't pretend to know what "dubstep" is -- Burial's music apparently falls under that rubric -- but whatever it is, it's awesome. The sound is something like Plastikman or Pole, post dot-com boom, combined with D'Angelo, if D'Angelo were trapped in one of those two-dimensional prisons (sometimes referred to as the flying record album) they put the bad guys from the planet Krypton into in Superman II, and Plastikman had just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, and someone slipped Pole heroin instead of mushrooms or X.

The Intrepid grinds forward toward one hundred thousand miles. Everything is running perfectly, it seems. I'm very emotionally attached to this car at this point -- I think I would feel a bit lost without it. I'm in no rush to replace the Intrepid, and I'm surprised that it's holding up so well. Perhaps if I keep up the regular service it'll last for a while longer. We're thinking about holding out for VW's to go diesel in California.

I've been good about getting to Vietnamese class for the last couple months. I think I'm improving, and I have learned a bit, but I'm still frustrated by my lack of vocabulary. I can now say the most basic things in present and past tense, and have a (relatively) detailed ability to discuss the weather and times of day -- this makes me an exceptionally tedious conversationalist in Vietnamese. I get the feeling that Mrs. Octopus's parents sometimes wish that I would hurry up and learn how to speak Vietnamese already. I'm probably just imagining that, but I feel that way, too.

Perhaps to compensate for the Sisyphean difficulties of trying to learn Vietnamese, I picked up, on a whim, a book and CD Teach-Yourself-Italian set from the library last week. Because I've studied Spanish (although I could definitely stand to brush up), Italian seems like a cakewalk compared to Vietnamese. One potential downfall: whenever I say anything in Italian, I sound like Mario or Luigi from the Nintendo games or a very bad impersonation of the Italy scenes from "Godfather". I do really like saying things in Italian, though. Mostly, saying anything in Italian makes me really hungry. And now I really want to go to Italy (I've never been).

We just finished the first season of "The Wire". Apparently it gets even better in the later seasons, but right now, I can't think of anything I've ever seen on television that tops it. "The Wire" makes "Lost" look like a story a bunch of fourth graders at recess hopped up on juiceboxes might have come up with. I think I'd be fine if ABC just sort of forgot to bring "Lost" back in February. I could spend the time I would have wasted watching "Lost" catching up on "The Wire". Omar Little may be the greatest character ever to appear on television.

Also highly recommended: the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Game, in groups of six or more. Once people get going, it's totally hilarious. We had a Game Night on Sunday -- everyone was a bit hesitant about trying the Cartoon game, but once we started, people were pretty hooked.

I almost bought a Mets satin jacket online today, but decided against it. I was especially tempted because it had a patch of Mr. Met running on the left sleeve. I wouldn't really have too many opportunities to wear it out here.

We may go to Vietnam next year.

There's like 23 days left until the Iowa primary. I will begin my political coverage in earnest this week, including my endorsement. I know the campaigns are waiting with bated breath.

I kind of miss jury duty.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Giant Octopus Attacks Mini-Sub

A giant octopus welcomes a Canadian mini-sub to its neighborhood.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Day in Pictures: Downtown L.A. (Bunker Hill)

Shots from lunchtime during jury duty this week.

Disney Hall, from Grand Avenue. I generally am not crazy about this building, but in the right light, from the right angle, it can be quite amazing.

Artwork in the plaza of the MOCA. (No, I have not yet seen the Murakami exhibit.) It's a full-size statue of a man -- though it sort of looks like a miniature in this shot.

Another piece in the MOCA plaza. It's apparently a fighter jet that was chainsawed into pieces and then pieced back together in this jumble. I'm sure whoever made it was exposed to various bad chemicals.

A bust of our 16th President outside the Los Angeles Superior Courthouse. This statue is located in a quiet corner of the grounds of the courthouse, on a shady patch of grass underneath a tree, surrounded by bushes. It makes one feel quiet and introspective.

Disney Hall from Grand Avenue and First Street. Ground zero for the promised Los Angeles of tomorrow.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Jury Duty

Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here . . . .

I kept on putting it off, but now it's here: jury duty. I'm cooling my heels in the general jury assembly room with the other poor souls that have been tagged from the DMV and voter registration rolls.

Welcome to the Central Jury Assembly Room. Get comfortable. You're not going anywhere for eight hours.

The courthouse is a very depressing place. As I walked down what had to be the world's longest corridor on the way to the jury assembly room, I passed various plastic signs (including the one above) posted on the outside of closed courtroom doors sternly warning of various proscriptions and prohibitions in a government-issue sans-serif font (looks like Helvetica). Whoever wrote out the request for the sign above clearly had gone over the deep end.

I'm here all day. I brought a lot to read. I forgot to bring my hat, sunglasses, and Bubble Yum.