The House of Random Crap
A clearinghouse for my crazed, deviant, trivial, irreverant & occasionally reflective thoughts.


Sunday, September 26, 2004  

Another bye week for the now #9 California Golden Bears. Just as well. I need the weekend to catch up on some sleep and do a lot of reading. I've managed to rip through some fantastic books lately, including Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal" (about fast food, of course!) and Jon Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith" (about Mormon Fundamentalism). I'm simultaneously deep in the middle of "The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It" by Marcia Angell and "Sore Winners: (And the Rest of Us) in George Bush's America" by John Powers (both very good reads), and am desperate to finish one of them soon so I can dive into "The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group" by Dan Briody. My reading schedule ebbs & flows, but when I get into a flow, I devour books like Halloween candies. What I really need to do is find someplace to squeeze in some work-related reading, and learn about the retail industry. I've never been able to bring the same level of passion and enthuisiasm to reading equity research and consulting reports though.

On top of all these books, I just got a half-dozen new DVDs (pirated, of course!). After a tiring week, I appreciated spending a Friday night with some good buds, knocking back a pint of Guinness, and scarfing down a lot of deep fried foods and a plate of chicken liver pate. Afterwards, we spilled onto Silom Road and sauntered over to the first pirated DVD vendor table we could find, where I picked up a copy of Spiderman 2, Super Size Me, Dogville, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Elf, and Wonderland. Now I just need to find the time to goof off again, like when I was working freelance. I guess the grass really was greener on the other side. Just kidding; I love the new job.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 1:21 AM |


Saturday, September 25, 2004  

How's my new job, you ask? Awesome, I reply. Astounding, fantastic, kick ass, fabulous...pick a superlative, any superlative.

There's always the standard trials & tribulations that always come from being in a new office: now having a computer, not remembering people's names, scrounging around for office supplies, leeching off of other people's passcards to go the the loo, trying to find friends who will have lunch with me. Typical new job crap; I'm used to it by now. The daunting part is trying to get into the flow of things as quickly as possible. In my case, as part of the corporate strategy team, it's a matter of getting as comprehensive an understanding of my new company as possible: who we are, what we do, and most importantly, what we want to do and how I'm supposed to make it happen.

For those of you not in my neck of the woods, the Central Group is the country's largest retail group, with its tendrils in department stores, shopping malls, supermarkets, hypermarkets, specialty stores, and category killers. As far as Thai, family-owned companies go, you don't get much more well-known, professionally-run, and dominant-in-its-class than the Central Group. It is also a company looking to go from a leading Thai brand to a leading regional brand, whether its through export of its brands, or through joint ventures, alliances, and acquisitions. And that's where I come in.

Over the last few years, the next generation of family managers have taken the reins, full of energy and ideas. The Big Kahuna has been tapping outside help, bringing on a crack squad of former consultants and marketers to take his family's companies to the next level. The next step is to expand the group's influence regionally, and for that, I'm bringing the whole mergers & acquistions experience to the company's corporate strategy team (which is really just 3 of us). My job: help the top brass decide which countries to go into, which brands to take with us, which companies to acquire or join forces with, and how to actually go about doing all of this. The cool part: hanging out in shopping malls in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and Singapore. I could use the frequent flyer miles. Finally, a corporate job I can really be jazzed about.

I relish the possibility of shaping strategy and leading the deal process, instead of being the grunt boy doing the nitty gritty research & analytical work. In theory, that is. As I said, with only 3 of us on the corporate strategy team, I'm left to fend for myself in terms of analytical support. I can try to delegate a lot of work to the finance team, but they are all pretty busy, and report to the CFO anyways, so I can expect a big brush off for a lot of the initiatives I want to pursue. My other alternative is to quickly recruit an analyst. In the meantime, I'm doing all my own scut work (no big change from what I've been doing since I left Salomon). Anyone out there who knows to manipulate spreadsheets?

Right now, my big challenge is to understand retail. My first thought: how hard can it be? You buy, you stock, you sell. Nuttin' to it, eh? Yeah, right. I'm trying to get a handle on the whole logistical process, the different areas of retail operation, and the whole new management and financial lingo that comes with every new industry in which I find myself working. The hardest part: learning about brands. There are frickin' dozens of brands for ladies shoes alone! And then there's the young miss, the infants, the men's, the kids, the appliances, the foods, and so on and so on and so on. I'm severely challenged when it comes to any sort of consumer brand knowledge, so I'm left to asking Nicha questions constantly: What kind of brand is that? What kind of person buys that? Is that targeted at your demographic? Yada yada yada. I ought to hire her as my personal consultant.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:29 PM |


Friday, September 24, 2004  

"On the home world, if there had been a contested election between Gore and Bush, the honorable thing would be for Gore to kill Bush." - Khraanik

Guess we know which way the Klingons are leaning politically...


posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:28 PM |


Sunday, September 19, 2004  



My mother-in-law has a school-girl crush on Oscar De La Hoya.

It's quite cute, really. She's this tiny, charming, hilariously jovial woman who doesn't really follow sports (other than Thailand's tennis star Paradorn Srichaipan or our Olympic medallists). She's very tolerant of her husband and sons' football fanaticism, but doesn't really care for sports herself. Except for Oscar. She knows about boxing, she knows the rules, she knows the players, she knows Oscar & his track record. Oscar is on the telly, and all of a sudden she's oblivious to the world around her. As far as May-December romances go, this is actually a pretty good one. If she had been pining away for Neil Diamond or (gag! barf!!) Michael Bolton, I would have been severely disappointed. But tall, dark, handsome Oscar, well, who can blame her? I imagine mom must be wishing hateful death on Bernard Hopkins right about now.

I won't even talk about Nicha, who commanded me to fetch the laundry while she stayed glued to the De La Hoya-Hopkins fight...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:43 AM |


Saturday, September 18, 2004  

Isn't it grand to get back in touch with old friends?

Living a multi-hemisphere nomadic lifestyle hasn't been conducive to me maintaining touch with many of my friends, so I'm always glad to hold on to the friends I've got, and ecstatic to find the ones I've lost through sheer neglect. In advance of my new job, I paid a visit to the alumni pages of my alma maters to update my profile and contact info. While at the Berkeley alumni site, I decided to do a search for the many many classmates I've lost touch with over the years, and managed to come across a few names and e-mail addresses. I've sent out a few notes, hoping to hear from one or two of them over the next few days. Imagine my joy when I heard back just a few minutes ago from one of my closest college buddies/fraternity brothers! Between the opening of the football season and hearing back from my friend, a flood of nostalgia has been sweeping over me like a cherished childhood blanket.

I also just tracked down a childhood friend who I hadn't seen in almost 20 years until a wedding we both attended earlier in the year. We spent most of the reception chatting and catching up, but we failed to exchange contact info (actually, I gave him my e-mail address and that rat bastard never wrote me!). He did manage to get back in touch with my brother Pete, and left his e-mail address on Pete's blog, which I promptly copied down and wrote him. I heard back from him today, and will hopefully be a bit more diligent about keeping in touch with him.

Waiting eagerly for more replies...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 2:01 AM |


Friday, September 17, 2004  

Meet Central Retail Corporation's newest Vice President of Corporate Strategy & Development.

After 3 months of freelance work, I'm back on the clock (or will be, first thing Monday morning). As excited I am to have a new job, especially with a company as highly regarded as this one, I remain apprehensive for several reasons. First, this is my first job with a large corporation since I left Salomon Smith Barney back in late 2001. I've grown accustomed to working in nimble, entrepreneurial, unstructured environments. I'm going to have to re-acclimate myself to the large company mindset.

Also, this will be my second attempt at working in a corporate environment, after spending most of my career as an investment banker and financial advisor. I gave corporate life a chance back in 1999-2000 after business school, but came away disappointed and slightly bitter about the experience. I found the work routine, with my efforts rarely making any impression at the top levels of management, much less making any meaningful impact on the company itself. At Central, I'm part of the management team, with only my direct boss above me as the only management layer between myself and the Big Kahuna (and a fairly youthful, energetic, and aggressive one at that), so I have high hopes that this experience will be much more positive.

My biggest concern however is making the transition back to business wear. I don't mind wearing suits, but it's been 7 years since I've had to wear a suit at work everyday (my last such job being at Deutsche Bank before going back to school in 1997). I've been insanely spoiled by the business casual movement of the tech boom, and these past few months of freelancing have made it even worse, with me stumbing into the office (on the one or two days during the week that I do) wearing shorts & polos. Now I need to go out and get a new wardrobe (I still have one of my very first suits, dating back 12 years, and about half of my ties have been worn thin after 8 or 9 years of use).

One last weekend of freedom, and it's back to the rat race...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 7:20 PM |


Tuesday, September 14, 2004  

Ivan, that bastard

Due to the uncertain path of category 5 Hurricane Ivan, this Thursday's Cal game at Southern Mississippi has been postponed to December. Shit shit shit!!! After their last two blowout victories, the Bears have a ton of momentum, which they must find a way to sustain for another 18 days until their October 2nd game against Oregon State. On top of that, this week's game was going to be nationally televised; ESPN can't guarantee that a rescheduled game will get similar exposure. And above all, I got a major jonesy for my Cal football fix. What the hell am I gonna do until October?!?

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:06 PM |
 

Here's an alternate angle of Jessie's "begging" photo, courtesy of her dad:

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:03 PM |


Monday, September 13, 2004  

I was browsing though some of the photos I took this past year when I stumbled upon one of my favorities. This was taken a few months ago when my brother and his family were visiting Thailand. Due to my niece Jessie's jetlag and fevers, her folks had little opportunity to get out of the apartment and enjoy the city. Near the end of their trip, Nicha and I managed to get them out of the condo for the much of the day and took them to Safari World, Bangkok's wild animal park. While most of the shows received a lukewarm response from Jessie, the koi fish garden proved to be a big hit. We bought her bags of fish food pellets, which she enthusiatically hurled into the water and was subsequently entranced by the thrashing, flopping swirl of white, black, and orange. Here is Jessie begging Nicha for another bag of fish food.













posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 4:18 PM |
 

Yeah, baby!!

Cal Football cracks the top 10 (#10 to be precise) in both national polls! Me soooo happpyyyy!

Article exerpt: Now holding down the 10th slot, the Bears already have jumped five places in the rankings this year and are in the Top 10 for the first time in 13 years. Back in 1991, Cal defeated Clemson, 37-13, in the Citrus Bowl to cap a 10-2 campaign which earned the Bears a No. 8 Associated Press final ranking and a No. 7 rating in the USA Today poll.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 1:14 PM |


Sunday, September 12, 2004  

Nigel Tufnel : The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi : Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel : Exactly.
Marty DiBergi : Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel : Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi : I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel : Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi : Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel : Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi : Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel : [Pause] These go to eleven.


Its 2nd loss puts the Northwestern Wildcats into the cellar of the Big 10. They are number 11 in the Big 10. That's beyond pathetic. But it does give me a cool excuse to spout off one of my favorite quotes from This is Spinal Tap.

Cal fared much much better, defeating the New Mexico State Aggies 41 to 14, giving the team a 2-0 start and a solid chance of earning its third straight winning season, something we haven't seen since 1952. Such a solid win and Michigan's upset loss to Notre Dame is sure to goose our national ranking a bit, possibly as high as #10. Next stop: Southern Mississippi.

Despite my nap, getting up at 5:30 am is really brutalizing my internal clock. Once the kick-offs start up at 3 & 4 am Bangkok stand time, you may as well hook up in IV drip with highly caffeinated drinks. What I put myself through for these games =). But a win is a good thing, so no complaints. To top it all off, a friend is picking me up so we can grab some Mexican food for lunch, somthing I haven't had in years. Yay.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:29 AM |


Saturday, September 11, 2004  

Remembering 9/11

I wasn't sure what kind of words would best convey the maelstrom of thoughts and emotions that preoccupy me whenever I dwell upon the tragic events of 3 years past. But as I recollect and reread though my blog entry one year after 9/11 (reprinted below), I see that the way I feel today has not changed one iota from the way I felt on the first anniversary of 9/11. In light of the impending U.S. elections, it is more critical than ever that peace and reason (and not fear, anger, and greed) are the prevailing themes as America determines the shape of its foreign policy over the next 4 years and beyond. Two years ago, I lamented the crass commercialization of one of the great tragedies of recent history; today, I am galled at the shameless politicization of it. Let's take back 9/11 and make it a day of education and enlightenment. Let's make it a rallying cry of peace and appreciation of global diversity, not one of the wholesale export of unilateral or lopsided American business, cultural, and political self-interests.

Never forget.

________________________________

"I know it's not PC right now to be sick of flag waving and 'God Bless America,' but I really, really am. I just feel like the whole thing has been cheapened by our culture's saturation of patriotism." -- Network news producer, 29, in New York

This quote is probably not a popular sentiment, especially on the first anniverary of the attack on the World Trade Center, but one that I have felt for much of this past year. Like many Americans, I was glued to whatever media source at my disposal that day a year ago. I anxiously sent e-mails to everyone I knew in New York, praying for their well-being, and I cried at the sight of the burning and collapsing towers. I was truly blessed that no one I know was harmed, but felt profound grief for the thousands of strangers who died. I still feel a tug at the heartstrings everytime I read about the many acts of heroism that emerged that day and in the days afterwards.

Which is all the more reason it pains me to see the aftermath a year later. I see September 11 becoming increasingly a commercial event than a memorial one. When I visited Ground Zero back in July, I was dismayed at all the tasteless commerical souvenir crap that the local convenience stores were peddling. All the videos and music compilations and books and t-shirts that have flooded the market sickens me. Yes, this is a capitalist land of opportunity, but it seems that at some point, we Americans ought to check our baser instincts at the door; there are some things in this world too sacred. Yes, we are ardent patriots, and yes, we want to show our support for our country. But wouldn't our money be better spent (and our dignity better preserved) by making a donation to the Red Cross instead of wearing a "Fuck Bin Laden" t-shirt? This is a time of grief and rememberance and respect, not a Hallmark holiday.

I have never been a fan of reactionary, anti-war peaceniks, but it seems that 9-11 has brought out the worst of the patriots as well. I was pleased to see more public displays of the American flag following the attacks. But in many cases, ardent support and solidarity for our nation has devolved into a zealous, intolerant patriotism that is every bit as insidious and venemous as the perverted, twisted, bastardized views of the Islamic terrorists that have declared jihad upon America. In a time when we should be educating ourselves about Afganistan and the suffering of her people, about the religion of Islam, about the grievances of fringe groups who hold the Koran hostage and subverted it to their causes, a large portion of Amercians have cloaked themselves in a shroud of ignorance mistakenly labeled as patriotism, choosing to shout down opposing ideas, or spit on Indians or "ragheads" or anyone else who is brown, without taking the time to understand who we are truly fighting, or why we are fighting them. We defend the right to make an honest buck, but not the right to express a minority opinion, or the right to live in peace if we aren't born a white Christian.

Of course, this is not representative of the 250 million who live in the U.S. (and the many of us who do not), but it is my hope that the majority of Americans who feel a pure and untainted patriotism and love of country are not outshined or outshouted by those few who would sully or tarnish that purity.

God, Buddha, Allah and Jehovah Bless America.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:04 PM |


Friday, September 10, 2004  

I've been procrastinating with my work all week. Not good. I've gotten stuff done, but not nearly as much as I could or should have. I'm being squeezed between the undisciplined routine of being a freelancer on one hand, and the anticipation of starting a new job on the other. I need to get more work done. I'm glad the weekend is here though; I'm looking forward to Cal's next football game.

Here are a couple of extremely amusing diversions, courtesy of Pete and planetdan (via Dave), respectively:

30 second movies, re-enacted by bunnies
Really really bad senior yearbook pictures

Also shamelessly pinched from planetdan:

E-mail Addresses That Would Be Really Annoying to Give Out Over the Phone
BY Michael Ward

• MikeUnderscore2004@yahoo.com
• MikeAtYahooDotCom@hotmail.com
• Mike_WardAllOneWord@yahoo.com
• AAAAAThatsSixAs@yahoo.com
• One1TheFirstJustTheNumberTheSecondSpelledOut@hotmail.com

Hair Salon Names That Would Also Work as Steven Seagal Movies
BY Chris Steck

• Shear Intensity
• Close Cut
• The Mane Objective
• Clip Joint
• A Good Day to Dye
• By a Hair
• A Cut Above
• Permanent Waivers

Have a good one, folks. The wifey I and are going to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant tonight. Yippee.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 5:49 PM |


Wednesday, September 08, 2004  

The All-Berkeley Blog

1. After Cal's spanking of Air Force over the weekend, the football team climbs one spot in the national rankings (to #12 in Associated Press, and #13 in ESPN/USA Today). I'm hoping we crack top 5! Cal is 33-point favorites in this weekend's game against New Mexico State; if we don't get too cocky, we just may register another impressive performance and inch ever closer to the top 10. Also, it seems that a representative from the Fiesta Bowl was on hand to watch Cal's performance in Colorado. I really have my heart set on Cal making it to the Rose Bowl (which would be their 1st in over 50 years), but failing that, and New Year's Day bowl would be a nice feather in the cap.

2. Zachary's is changing hands. Don't know what Zachary's is? Well, let me tell you! It is a 2-store pizza parlour, and a Berkeley institution. This place makes the best stuffed pizza ever. Ever. Yeah yeah, all the New Yorkers and Chicagoans are getting indignant now, but I've lived in both cities and sampled a variety of pizzas (thin crust, thick crust, and stuffed) in both places, and as delicious as they are, nothing holds a candle to Zachary's. The only pizza that comes close to a slice of Zachary's stuffed pizza is a leftover, re-heated slice of Zachary's stuffed pizza. Eating at Zachary's was one of many defining experiences of my college years. To me, Berkeley isn't Berkeley without it (in fact, after catching the Cal vs. Southern Mississippi game during our visit last year, I insisted that Nicha and I meet up with friends for dinner at Zachary's).

Anyways, the owners of Zachary's are retiring, and in true liberal, feel-good, Berkeley fashion, they are transferring ownership to their employees. This is particularly interesting to me (beyond the nostalgia factor) because I'm currently reading a fascinating book on understanding the dynamics of family-owned & managed businesses, and am at this moment making my way through the chapter on succession. This makes for an interesting and rather unique case study.

I'm salivating for a spinach & pepperoni stuffed pizza right about now...

_________________________________

A Slice of the Pie
Zachary’s Pizza Begins Transfer to Employee Ownership

By Betty Yu, Contributing Writer
Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Chunky deep-dish pizza, thick crowds and long lines spilling out the door are hallmarks of two popular East Bay restaurants.
Zachary’s Chicago Pizza has been a growing success since husband-and-wife team Zach Zachowski and Barbara Gabel opened their first store on College Avenue in 1983. Over the span of 21 years, they have tripled the square footage of the restaurant and more than doubled the number of seats. A second store opened on Solano Avenue in Berkeley in 1984.

Now the pair are retiring and giving Zachary’s staff a piece of the pie—making the restaurants employee-owned through a program known as the Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

“We wanted to give our long-term employees a future,” Gabel says. “We wanted to get out, and the ESOP is the best way to accomplish that and carry it on to the next generation. We think our employees deserve that.”

The company is in the early stages of transitioning to the plan. The owners have set up a trust fund that allows employees who work more than 1,000 hours a year to hold shares of the company proportional to their salaries. For example, if an employee makes $40,000 a year, he or she will receive twice as many shares as someone making $20,000 annually.

After seven years of vesting, starting from January 1, 2003, or their first day of work—whichever is earlier—an employee’s allotted share of the business will become theirs to sell or keep.

“For a lot of these people it’s going to pay off for them in the long-term if they stick around,” says General Manager J.P. LaRussa, who began working at Zachary’s at age 17. “It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme for anyone.”

Zachowski and Gabel say they are confident their hard-working and loyal crew of 110 employees will continue their success and carry on their philosophy of friendly service, quality pizza and good employer-employee relations. Much of the staff has worked at the restaurants for more than 15 years, and many support families with their jobs.

“I think we’d have a hard time letting go of it to anyone but our crew,” Gabel says. “We think they, more than anyone, deserve the right to be the next owners—they have the best chance of continuing the success that we’ve had to date.”

The ESOP is the perfect exit strategy, Zachowski says.

“If we sold the business to a corporation, the culture will change and so will the food and the staff,” Zachowski says. “This is the only way for us to keep it like it is without us being there.”

Employees are still ironing out technicalities of the plan, but most reacted enthusiastically about the new business venture.

“This is my first experience being closely related (to an ESOP). It’s really exciting to see how this will all unfold,” says Leandra Schuler, dining room manager at the College Avenue location, who started hosting and waiting tables five years ago. “The future of the company is rested in our hands—so that’s a really big responsibility.”

The plan provides both monetary and moral incentives to employees, Schuler says.

“ESOP has potential to even reinforce day-to-day how each individual employee cares about the work that they do, because their income will be directly tied to the success of the business,” she says.

Schuler says she is grateful to hear employees will preserve the mom-and-pop attitude and integrity of Zachowski and Gabel, who treat their employees with respect.

“People that have been here a long time will really have the possibility to make it a career—in that they’ll have this equity building up both in these cash contributions and in the value of the business,” LaRussa says.

But for customers, the transition should be seamless, he says. Zachary’s does not plan to make any changes to the quality of its pizza and service, or its hiring and training practices once the plan is fully in place.

Zachary’s will continue to operate with a top-down managerial structure, LaRussa says. Once Zachowski and Gabel turn over complete control to employees in the next several years, a board elected by management and confirmed by the owners will head the company.

To date, about 70 employees own shares of the company, making about 25 percent of Zachary’s employee-owned, LaRussa says.

Zachowski and Gabel have stepped back from day-to-day operations over the last 10 years, but serve as senior advisors and remain the guiding visionary force behind the company.

The byproducts of the business decision are better company performance and greater profits for employee owners, Zachowski says.

“A lot of people are watching us to see how this works, because it’s not an everyday thing,” he says. “It’s a lot more work and risk to do it this way, but it can be a win-win situation for both people—the customers will benefit by Zachary’s staying the same and hopefully getting better, and the employees will pay more attention, be more productive, and take pride in their work.”

Zachary’s is part of a small group of 11,000 businesses of every size, both publicly held and privately owned, that participate in ESOPs. In 2002, the plan covered over 8.5 million employees nationwide, according to the National Center for Employee Ownership.

Things have not slowed down for Zachowski and Gabel since they entered their last chapter of involvement with the company. There’s plenty of talk about opening a third restaurant sometime in the next few years, they say.

While the couple say they appreciate the opportunity to work with wonderful, fun people at Zachary’s, they are enjoying having more free time to travel.

“We’re on the brink of giving (Zachary’s) to the next generation,” Gabel says. “It’s very rewarding and very exciting for us.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 10:50 PM |


Monday, September 06, 2004  

Got this amusing tidbit from the Rice Bowl Journals forum courtesy of Leonard.




posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 4:16 PM |


Sunday, September 05, 2004  

Still pretty tired from the late night/early morning football broadcast, and now suffering from some intenstinal malady that is wreaking havok on my supply of toilet paper. I think I need a nap. In the meantime, here is a different sort of chain letter concept I got off of Twisted/Sister's blog which appeals to my love of films.

Italicize the ones you've seen part of, bold the ones you've seen, underline the ones you own. Add three to the end of the list.

01. Trainspotting
02. Shrek
03. M
04. Dogma
05. Strictly Ballroom
06. The Princess Bride
07. Love Actually
08. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
09. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
10. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
11. Reservoir Dogs
12. Desperado
13. Swordfish
14. Kill Bill Vol. 1
15. Donnie Darko
16. Spirited Away
17. Better Than Sex
18. Sleepy Hollow
19. Pirates of the Caribbean
20. The Eye
21. Requiem for a Dream
22. Dawn of the Dead
23. The Pillow Book
24. The Italian Job
25. The Goonies
26. Baseketball
27. The Spice Girls Movie
28. Army of Darkness
29. The Color Purple
30. The Safety of Objects
31. Can't Hardly Wait
32. Mystic Pizza
33. Finding Nemo
34. Monsters Inc.
35. Circle of Friends
36. Mary Poppins
37. The Bourne Identity
38. Forrest Gump
39. A Clockwork Orange
40. Kindergarten Cop
41. On The Line
42. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
43. Final Destination
44. Sorority Boys
45. Urban Legend
46. Cheaper by the Dozen
47. Fierce Creatures
48. Dude, Where's My Car
49. Ladyhawke
50. Ghostbusters
51. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
52. Back to the Future
53. An Affair To Remember
54. Somewhere In Time
55. North By Northwest
56. Moulin Rouge
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
58. The Wizard of Oz
59. Zoolander
60. A Walk to Remember
61. Chicago
62. Vanilla Sky
63. The Sweetest Thing
64. Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead
65. The Nightmare Before Christmas
66. Chasing Amy
67. Edward Scissorhands
68. Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert
69. Muriel's Wedding
70. Croupier
71. Blade Runner
72. Cruel Intentions
73. Ocean's Eleven
74. Magnolia
75. Fight Club
76. Beauty and The Beast
77. Much Ado About Nothing
78. Dirty Dancing
79. Gladiator
80. Ever After
81. Braveheart
82. What Lies Beneath
83. Regarding Henry
84. The Dark Crystal
85. Star Wars
86. The Birds
87. Beaches
88. Cujo
89. Maid In Manhattan
90. Labyrinth
91. Thoroughly Modern Millie
92. His Girl Friday
93. Chocolat
94. Independence Day
95. Singing in the Rain
96. Big Fish
97. The Thomas Crown Affair
98. The Matrix
99. Stargate
100. A Hard Day's Night
101. About A Boy
102. Jurassic Park
103. Life of Brian
104. Dune
105. Help!
106. Grease
107. Newsies
108. Gone With The Wind
109. School of Rock
110. TOMMY
111. Yellow Submarine
112. From Hell
113. Benny & Joon
114. Amelie
115. Bridget Jones' Diary
116. Holy Grail
117. Heavenly Creatures
118. All About Eve
119. The Outsiders
120. Airplane!
121. The Sorcerer
122. The Crying Game
123. Desiree
124. Orlando
125. Sliding Doors
126. Interview with the Vampire
127. Where the Heart Is
128. Stigmata
129. Little Women
130. Bedrooms and Hallways
131. Sense and Sensibility
132. Shakespeare in Love
133. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
134. Troy
135. The Negotiator
136. Henry V
137. Lion in Winter
138. El Mariachi
139. Once Upon A Time In Mexico
140. Once Upon A Time In The West
141. In The Mood For Love
142. Battle Royale
143. God of Cookery
144. Se7en
145. Groundhog Day
146. 12 Monkeys

I spend way too much money on movies.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 1:51 PM |
 

Cal up 35 to Air Force's 14 at the end of the 3rd quarter. Woohoo!!

[Edit at 2:04 am]: Another touchdown puts Cal up 49 to 14 with over nine minutes to go. J.J. Arrington is a god, and Marshawn Lynch is a god-in-the-making. I have a feeling that Cal is going to be the Pac-10 offensive leader for a second season in a row.

[Edit at 2:21 am]: With Cal up 56 to 14 with under 3 minutes to go, I probably ought to go to sleep. They again, it's only another 10 minutes or so. No more edits tonight. Pretty wiped out, but extremely pleased. A very domineering performance that augers well for Cal's season.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 1:40 AM |


Saturday, September 04, 2004  

In just over 22 hours from now, the Calfornia Golden Bears will play their season opener at Air Force, and I am excited beyond words. I generally follow sports with only a passing interest, but once September rolls around, it's all about Cal Football for me. Every pre-dawn Sunday for the past several years, I can be found online, headphones on, glued to the Internet radio channels, either howling in anguish or dancing with joy along with every touchdown scored. And this year, I have all the more reason to be excited. Our #14 pre-season ranking is the highest we've attained in half a century, we have 16 returning starters from last season's stunning run, and though he is a long shot, Cal QB Aaron Rodgers is a Heisman candidate nonetheless. Now I just need to figure out which website links me into the proper radio broadcast...

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 12:31 AM |


Friday, September 03, 2004  

Wednesday evening, I did something I hadn't done in a long time: I was walking the streets of Bangkok at 6 pm on a weekday.

Big fecking deal, you say? Were I anywhere else in the world, I would agree, but I was in Bangkok, more specifically in a part of town with a PA system. At 6 pm, the television stations, radio channels, and public PA systems will play the Thai national anthem. While commuters and home viewers may generally go about their business, those outdoors and within earshot of a PA system will stop in their tracks and stand in silence in honor of the anthem.

I first experienced this ritual/phenomenon back in 1995, when I would walk through Lumpuni Park on my way home from work. With my ear phones on and my Walkman blaring, I was in my own little world. That is, until I noticed that all the joggers, cyclists, and fellow walkers would all stop in unison. I would look around me, very bewildered and a bit freaked out. At least until I removed my ear phones and heard the anthem playing. I was impressed with the patriotism that Thais display, a ritual I had long abandoned after grade school save for the occasional baseball game I attended. The first time I strolled through the park at 6 pm intrigued me much in the same way that I was when I first saw a movie in a theater in Bangkok, about 7 or 8 months earlier. After the commercials and trailer and just before the feature begins, the theater will play an audio/video of the King's anthem, for which theater goers will rise froem their seats in a gesteure of reverence and respect. At first, it was nothing more than a curiosity to me, but over time, it became an almost unconsious ritual, one that I had taken to heart (nowadays, a scowl will cross my face when I see foreigners remain seated and not may the Kind this simple homage).

On Wednesday, as I was descending from the train platform at the National Stadium station (ear phones on, iPod blaring) when I saw everyone on the steps stop walking and the gents playing a pick up game of hoops on the stadium grounds halt their play. I removed my ear phones, and sure enough, there was that familiar tune. A minute later, I was on my way.

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 11:35 PM |


Wednesday, September 01, 2004  

As far as idiotic tabloid twaddle goes, it don't get no funnier than this.
____________________________________

MAN SPEAKS FRENCH OUT OF HIS BUTT
-- And he can't understand a word!

BY D.G. BULGER

LINGUISTS and proctologists from around the world are stunned by a Detroit man's unique gift ... he is able to speak fluent French out of his buttocks.

Jason Jablonski, a 40- year-old furniture salesman, began speaking French out of his butt six months ago and has been unable to stop ever since.

According to medical records, he was awakened one night last January in his bedroom by a strange voice that seemed to be coming from under his sheets.

"I listened, but was afraid to move," explains Jablonski. "I thought an intruder may have gotten into bed with me. I couldn't understand what was being said as it was clearly a foreign speaking voice, and I never took any foreign languages back in school.

"The voice kept saying, 'Vive la France.' Finally I threw off the sheets and turned on a light, only to realize the voice was coming straight out of my rear. I was amused and amazed, if also a bit disgusted" Jablonski then reportedly woke his wife Carol and asked her what she thought of the voice. She was more disgusted and less amused than he was and has subsequently left the country.

Communication experts believe that Jablonski is experiencing Intestinal Linguistic Amplification, or ILA, a rare disorder that allows the afflicted to communicate intestinally with other people.

Dr. Edith Winters, senior fellow at the California Institute of Bowel Abnormalities and an expert in ILA, elaborates, "Most cases of ILA are Type I, or common language, meaning the same language is both spoken and rectally amplified. "The individual will often have conversations with his own buttocks. The most notable example of Type IILA was Edward 'Double- Talk' Peterson who was a successful vaudeville ventriloquist in the 1920s."

"Jablonski's case is quite different. He has Type II ILA, or dual language, which is almost unheard of. It is most astounding that his posterior speaks near perfect French without any formal training, yet he cannot understand a word of what his backdoor voice is saying."

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for ILA, although Jablonski reportedly has not sought help and is actually pleased that he has the disorder. The condition has helped Jablonski occupationally.

He is now the leading salesperson in the furniture department at a popular store in Detroit.

The store draws many French Canadian customers from across the border, which has allowed his buttocks to sharpen its conversational skills.

It also allows Jablonski to aid more than one customer at a time, which helped him earn employee of the month honors for the past three months.

While he is happy with his current job, Jablonski had hoped to use his special gift to launch a new career as a French language schoolteacher.

Unfortunately, that did not work out as he was fired after two substitute-teaching jobs at a local community college.

His state employment record shows that "the students in the classroom were frightened by his unconventional teaching style" and were "unwilling to engage his backside in conversation."

He has subsequently had several interviews at the United Nations and is hoping to gain employment as an interpreter in an embassy in a French speaking country.

"Speaking both for myself and my backside, we would really like to help people with our unique speaking skills," offers Jablonski.

"We would like to make a difference in the world. This gift is a blessing that must be used for a higher purpose."

posted by someone bearing a striking resemblance to Paul | 3:56 PM |
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