Capn Design

November 2003

This month I posted 27 entries, watched 4 videos.

Bush's State of the Union Address: Remixed

This is essentially how I felt when he gave his speech. Brilliant.

It's 5 O'Clock, Forever

Posted November 29, 2003

I'm not really a watch person. I've had watches before but I'm not really a fan of jewelry and I have trouble picking out a watch I like. Despite this fact, I got a watch today at the MoMA Design Store in Soho while shopping with my parents (who were kind enough to get me the watch as an early Hannukah present). I knew it was a good purchase because I was not looking for a watch. When I look for something like that I either end up taking months to find it or I buy something I only kinda enjoy. I really like this one.

The watch is designed by Tibor Kalman (an obit from Salon) of M&Co. It is a beautifully simple design that features only one major graphic -- the number five.

While looking for links about the watch's designer I came across all of this wonderful information about Tibor. He seems to be a very interesting designer who has bucked the trend in a lot of ways. If you'd like to read more about him you can check out a great interview with Adbusters or this article at, a site devoted to the thoughts of Tibor Kalman.

Now, I have both a wonderful watch and a person worthy of researching. I will truly enjoy wearing it.

My New Watch

Ash Are In the Studio

Watch them recording one of their new songs, "Orpheus." Click on "In the studio with Ash." (via Silent Uproar)

Things I've Been Thinking

Posted November 25, 2003

  • Snack Packs chocolate pudding and Nilla Wafers may be the best combination of foods, ever.
  • I just realized that after one viewing of Average Joe I really want to keep watching to make sure Adam beats out those other losers. I blame Jori and Beth for this desire.
  • Although the cold air can be shocking, you really do get used to it after only a couple minutes.
  • Going through a box of clementines in 48 hours is completely possible.
  • Fortress of Solitude was a little slow-going at first, but now I can't put it down.
  • Since Thanksgiving is not at home this year, I'm praying that the food will tasty and delicious this year. As discussed earlier, I love the Thanksgiving meal.
  • For some reason I get nervous before general doctor's appointments, but no other doctor-related activity. Odd.
iPod's Dirty Secret

Great movie and guerilla campaign against the iPod's weak battery life.

Gays Are Cool, But Not Gay Marriage

Posted November 24, 2003

I pulled up the New York Times homepage and noticed an article entitled, "Amid Acceptance of Gays, a Split on Marriage Issue." Hmm. What does the dek say?

Judging from interviews with people in the swing suburbs of Philadelphia, many voters sharply differ on gay marriage but share a high degree of tolerance toward gay people.

Woh. How can you be tolerant of a gay lifestyle but be opposed to the concept of gay marriage? That doesn't make much sense to me. I made my way into the article to see what's really going on. Right away I come upon the following quote that shed a little bit of light:

As Ms. Hall, 55, listened, her eyes widened. "I just don't agree," she said. "You marry to procreate. You can't procreate if you marry someone from the same sex. As a Catholic, I feel very strongly about this. My religion doesn't permit me to agree with that kind of lifestyle."

But she made it clear that beyond the question of marriage, she would not want to interfere with private behavior. "If you choose to be with a female partner," she told her friend, "I wouldn't tell you what to do."

Okay, I get it. You are viewing marriage as a religious bond between two people and therefore there is no room for gay marriages. This statement is quasi-logical. The problem is that this woman claims that homosexuality is fine so long as she can't see it. Maybe the phrase "private behavior" was a creation of the author, but the quote suggests that Ms. Hall is not okay with this idea.

It seems to me that many people are becoming less homophobic, but there is still not a general acceptance for gay people unless they are amusing, hair stylists, or helping to refurnish your apartment on a cable television show. I am happy that there is progress being made in the minds of Americans, but I am frustrated by this assumed tolerance. This last quote really illustrates the point:

"I'm not against anybody living that way," said Mr. McConaghy, a Roman Catholic. "It's just the way I was brought up. Gay marriage is taking it way too far."

The bottomline is that you cannot be "okay" with gay relationships if you are against gay marriage. In fact, relationships should be more egregious if you believe the purpose of marriage is for procreation. I would be much happier if the quotes went like this, "I am homophobic to the point where it is socially acceptable."

For a moment, let's assume that you are comfortable accepting this opinion. At this point you must consider the state of marriage in this country. Aside from the majority of marriages ending in divorce, it has become less a of a religious institution for many people. It allows you a number of political and social rights that single people are not privy to (hospital visits, tax breaks, etc.). At the very least dissentors of gay marriage should be willing to accept a gay union of some kind in order to create a nation that is truly for us all.

A discussion for another time might be the concern over the government regulating a religious institution. Isn't one of our founding principles the seperation of church and state? Sometimes the backwards logic our government and people drive me to the brink of insanity. If I didn't drown myself in movies, popular culture and the few tolerable people on this planet then I would probably be crying a lot more often.

Also: Aaron linked to this OP-ED piece in Saturday's Times. It is an excellent piece. Here's what Aaron thought about it.

Posted November 24, 2003

The past couple months I have been helping my pal Jeremy get his music career going. The first step, and the one where I was the most helpful, was to build him a website. We did that and it's at

The whole site is managed with Movable Type so that Jeremy can update everything on his own without knowing too much HTML. The site uses Hiveware's Image Rotator to provide random images below the nav bar, which adds some fun to the mix. I think my favorite bit of everything is the use of an MT plugin called SomeDays, which lets me only show entries -- concerts in this case -- that take place in the future. Yes, I am aware my favorite bit is possibly the most nerdy one.

Of course the page (only the front one for the moment), validates in both CSS and XHTML. More importantly, Jeremy has really started to enjoy blogging his daily adventures as a San Franciscan musician. Welcome to the cult. Head over, check him out, and tell me what you think.

Cost to get Bush to London: $2.3 Million

Thanksgiving Rules!

Posted November 22, 2003

Oh man, I love this holiday. It's the only holiday that makes me forget about the event it is recongnizing. That's how damn good it is. In fact, I think this is the reason I enjoy it so much -- it's just a time for my family to get together and stuff their faces.

This year my family will be making their way out to New York. We're going to eat out on Long Island with my Grandfather and his wife's family for Thanksgiving and then head over to my uncles' new house in Staten Island for dinner on Friday. The choice of location was a bit of an issue, but I'm happy with how it worked out. It means twice as much eating.

Even though I do enjoy being with the family and all of the relaxation time, it is the menu of the meal that gets me. I think it may be my favorite combination of foods. My favorites, in order, are as follows: cranberries, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, turkey, and gravy. Actually, I would survive with just a big plate of cranberries and half a pumpkin pie.

Enough about that. Now I'm going to see Ani Difranco with the lady. I'm excited as I've only seen her once before, four years ago. Enjoy your weekend.

How Not to Get Fired Beacause of Your Blog

(From the folks at Blogger)

Former High School Classmate, Aaron Moorehead, Makes the Front Page of ESPN's NFL Section Cleans Up

Posted November 18, 2003

Jason has posted an entry on the details of his newest design. The biggest change is that he has taken all of the disparate elements of his site (movie reviews, links, etc.) and combined them into one stream of information. This makes a lot of sense to me and has crossed my mind more than once.

I offten wonder how often people actually click on my reviews or head to the calendar page or whatever. I've thought about ways to bring attention to "non-weblog" content and it seems that putting everything in one place is probably the best bet. I know this is especially a problem with a site like mine when there are a million and a half things to click on. It's pretty likely that the only thing that will really get combined with the main weblog is the mini-reviews, but I think this will cut down on problems considerably.

As long as I'm on the subject, I've added a bunch of new content to the calendar and I've changed the mni-reviews from pop-ups to regular windows. Enjoy.

Lunch in New York

Posted November 18, 2003

I have found that the most cost-effective meal of the day is lunch. Assuming that you purchase all of your meals, and don't make them yourself, you can find amazing deals around lunchtime.

I almost never eat out for breakfast, but if I did it would be around ten dollars, which is more than I can afford to spend for that meal. If I do "eat out" it means a muffin or bagel and an orange juice for the breakfast cart near work. Even this can get up to three dollars, which is money better spent on buying a box of cereal.

A tasty dinner is always going to cost you more than ten dollars and probably closer to twenty. If you like to cook, eating at home is far more cost effective.

The beauty of lunch is that you get good sized portions at lower rates because the restaurants need the business. So if you are only going to eat out once a day, this is the meal to do it. Here are two great deals in my neighborhood.

Kami Sushi (2nd and 55th): When I order from here I get the Roll Lunch Special. It comes with two rolls, soup and salad for only eight bucks. That's way cheap for sushi and it has been consistently good. They also do a bento box lunch for seven dollars that comes with shumai, salad, soup, white rice and either a california roll, three pieces of sushi or four pieces of sashimi.

Turquoise (Lex and 70th): This is a brand new Mediterranean restaurant that is pretty much just a lunch place. That doesn't stop them from having the best four dollar falafel I have ever eaten. The sandwich is huge and busting with falafel, hummus, and a bunch of veggies (that probably are a part of some named dish, but I don't know what). It is very filling. On top of that, they have root beer in a bottle (IBC), which makes me happy.

As far as your own neighborhood, check out the Chinese restaurants. You can often get a lunch special for $4.50 that will have enough food for two meals. Granted it's mostly rice, but that doesn't stop it from being tasty.

War is Messing Up My Sister's Life

Posted November 15, 2003

My sister's boyfriend, Mike, is in the reserves. Like most young people, he joined the reserves so he could afford to go to college. I'm sure he's a fan of America, but I'm also fairly sure he didn't join to protect our country.* A few weeks ago he got the word that he would probably get called up and my sister was not happy. Yesterday he got the call. He was told he was being activated for a top secret mission, but wasn't told when or where he would go. Everyone, including myself, was visibly upset.

This stinks because we thought he was going to end up somewhere in the States, but the phrase "top secret" apparently means that he'll almost definitely be overseas. As my sister put it, "there definitely aren't any top secret missions here in the U.S."

The fact that he's being called up now, six months after the "end" of the war, makes me so angry. My sister is going to be without her boyfriend for a year because the United States got into something they couldn't finish for reasons they could never back up. I was always pissed about the way we have handled the situation, but when I heard my sister crying over the phone to me, I realized just how absurd it all is.

I urge all of you to check out and do whatever you can to put an end to this war. Show the government that you don't want young people, who oftentimes only wanted to pay for college, to go overseas and risk their lives because of a political and military blunder. Thanks.

*I probably shouldn't put words in his mouth, but I'm being optimistic. on Queer Eye

Very well put, but I wish he talked a bit more about the general stereotyping that goes on in all television program.

Flak Mag Goes Print

Posted November 13, 2003

I've been reading Flak Mag for the last three years and have always enjoyed the writing style and the editing choices. For whatever reason, it fell off my radar in the last few months. There was no reason I stopped visiting as I still really enjoy the writing, but I stopped nonetheless.

Today, on the way home from work, I stopped by Soft Skull Press to check out the new books and magazines. I eyed some of the books longingly and then focused my attention on the magazine rack. Right in front of me was a bright pink 'zine that said "Flak" in big letters. I thought, "It couldn't be." It was. Flak Mag has gone print.

The print edition is 104 pages, eight dollars, and filled with good stories and cartoons that I have not yet read. You can order it online or go to their page to see the ten or so stores across the country carrying the print edition. I highly recommend it and will give you a review when I'm finished.

The Issue with Panel Discussions

Posted November 12, 2003

Last night I went to a seminar hosted by Center for Communications entitled, "Photojournalism: Tragedy in Focus." Like most seminars, I was expecting a hearty discussion of the issue at hand and hopefully there would be some worthwhile insights and possibly answers to a few difficult questions. Of course, this did not happen. Last night I came to the realization that a panel discussion is often created with good intentions but usually ends up being four people looking to plug their latest book or agenda.

The description of last night's event is as follows:

Those whose job it is to photograph the horrors of war abroad and violence on the home front talk about the enormous challenge of capturing images of pain and suffering and not succumbing to the overwhelming emotions caused by witnessing heart-wrenching human trauma and tragedy.

Naturally, I thought that the panelists would discuss how they manage to survive while taking these photos. I wanted the group as a whole to get to the core of what makes a person do war photography for thirty years. Instead, each of the panelists ended up talking at us instead of creating a fruitful discussion. I did write down a number of poignant observations, but half of the time alotted was taken up by slideshows promoting their books or websites.

Realistically, I should have accepted that this isn't some kind of think tank and these are normal people who probably aren't ready to share intimate feelings with an audience of 200 people. Still, this has happened at many panels and ends up making the event not nearly as satisfying as it could have been.

All of that being said, there were some interesting quotes that came out of the "discussion." Here are a few:

  • "When a car bomb goes off, the first thing you think is not 'What are the ethical and moral issues [with taking a photograph] here.'" -Peter Howe
  • In regards to the way a camera effects or escalates the violence you're capturing, Joe Rodriguez said, "After a drive-by, the kids in East LA were saying, 'Where's Joe! Where's Joe! He needs to get a picture of this!' and the kid was laying on the ground bleeding."
  • "People keep coming back going back [to violent locations] because it's easier. Coming back to 'normal life' is very tough." -Peter Howe

So the panel wasn't a complete loss, but I wish that those in the audience and those on stage pushed themselves a little harder so that we could all grow a little wiser.

Who's Imitating What?

Posted November 11, 2003

A few weeks back I noticed a lovers' spat at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn stop. It was your typical fight. He promised he would do something and didn't, but says he never promised. She disagrees. Back. Forth.

As they fought, scenes from movies and tv shows flashed through my brain. It all seemed very similar -- it was difficult to figure out which events were real and which were fake.

This brings me to the question at hand -- is life imitating art or is art imitating life? It's fair to guess that in the early days of different television genres the writers were looking to gather real experiences from life, but as the development of a genre progresses we begin to cut out anything that isn't entertaining. Usually this means focusing on the highest highs and the lowest lows of people's lives. This is true for both writing, scenery and performers. The lack of beautiful people and beautiful scenery is part of the reason why The Office feels so fresh. Most programs rely on creating what the writers believe is our vision of a wonderful, or at the very least interesting, life.

By this point, people have grown to wonder why their lives aren't as exciting as those portrayed in tv or film. On top of that, the concept of immersing yourself in a program nearly every day makes your show feel a little real -- it makes it tough to distinguish it from real life.* So, you start to bring pieces of the show or the writing style into your daily life. You quote movies or you pick up ways of speaking or even mimic argument styles. You are becoming Will and Grace or Ryan and Marissa.

Now comes the tricky part. As people start to mimic their shows and movies, writers pick up on what works and begin to give it more emphasis. It has become a horribly evil feedback loop. Life and "art" are joined at the hip and no one can argue with their significant other without subconciously referencing the last Hugh Grant movie.

This concept seems to tie into the greater concept of globalization and international economy, which has led to the lack of any true individuality. There is a McDonald's in 62% of the countries in the world and movies open up in up to eighty countries at a time. Yes, there are obvious differences between cultures and even neighborhoods, but it is getting tougher and tougher to find a clothing store outside of a major city that isn't owned by a publicly traded company.

For those who were hoping for an answer to the question I posed early in the post, you have likely figured out that it was rhetorical and my true intention was to point out how society is deeply affected by its media intake and it is leading us into a world where everyone is impersonating someone else. I don't know how to avoid this, but it is certainly an issue worth pondering

*Nurse Betty is a great example of complete confusion between real life and a tv show.

NYC Events Lists

Posted November 10, 2003

Today Gothamist launched their events calendar. It seems to be similar to mine in scope, but with less of a focus on music (also, their's is stocked with events by "professionals"). The biggest difference is they are using in conjunction with Movable Type to manage the page, while I am just using MT.

When I first created my events page there was no such thing as, so I didn't use it. When it was launched I was a little bitter because I had a similar idea at one point and never implemented it. Now, after seeing Gothamist's page and reading Kottke's talk on cooperative web services, I think I will also move my events to It is good for everyone.

In the meantime you can check out the stuff I do have up on my calendar and see what Gothamist has to offer. If you want to do this yourself, follow Matt's instructions.

Also, if you would like to contribute to my calendar is some way, you are more than welcome. Just shoot me an email (available in the sidebar).

The Friendster Photo

Posted November 7, 2003

After reading through this funny friendster photo interpretation piece, I decided I needed to take some of my own Friendster photos. I just needed to let my inner-hipster loose. And so, here is my alter-ego, Matty Billsburg.

Fake Friendster Photo #1: 718, Reprazent!

Fake Friendster Photo #2: Canted Angle, Glasses, Hat = Perfect

These photos were taken by the lovely and talented Jori. Thank you Jori.

Can You Be A Porn Star?

A new reality show...with pr0n. Is it wrong that I want to watch this?

Studs Terkel

Posted November 5, 2003

Studs Terkel Tonight I went to see Studs Terkel speak at the Union Square Barnes & Noble. He is on a small book tour for his newest book, Hope Dies Last. It was easily the best book reading I've ever been to, and only a few paragraphs were read and none of them by Studs himself.

I am no expert on Terkel, but I can tell you that he is a brilliant author, orator, thinker, and human being. His work focuses on, in his own words, "celebrating the non-celebrated." His most famous book, Working, is a shining example of this, as he looks at how people feel about their jobs.

Throughout the talk, he had some wonderful moments. A few of the funniest had to do with his incredibly poor hearing, which he considers a strength at some points. When Bush had just declared that the U.S. was victorious in Iraq there was some mention of embedded journalists. Studs heard him say "in bed with journalists." The other bit happened throughout the night. Due to his poor hearing he had another man on stage with him helping out. An audience member would ask a question and the helper would yell it in his ear. Studs was always overjoyed when he heard the question, even if he had no plans on answering it. "Oh boy, I'm glad you asked that question!"

The most poignant thing he spoke about was the evil of banality. This is when we accept the status quo because it is the status quo. His example was Arnold Shwarzenegger (whom he referred to as "the musclehead who became governor) on the Oprah Winfrey show. On most programs we expect competing candidates to get equal time, but since Arnold is a celebrity we let it gloss over. We're used to seeing him on tv so we don't think much about it. To me, this idea, the evil of banality, is at the core of what's wrong with society. It's nice to know that a man of ninety-one years agrees.

I am so happy I was able to see him speak and I plan to pick up my copy of Working and starting reading it again. If you'd like to know more, there's plenty to read on the internet.

This one has gone around a number of times, but I know him now. He is a good friend of my uncles' and he is really cool. Check out some of the funny crap on his website.

My Eggs Are Awesome

Posted November 3, 2003

Seriously, I make amazing eggs. I just made an omelette for lunch (simple, just a little jarlsberg cheese in the middle) and it was delicious. I know everyone claims that eggs are an easy thing to perfect but I really do believe that my eggs are superior to most other eggs in the world. I specialize in scrambled but I've been known to make a mean over-easy as well.

If you'd ever like to sample my eggs, I'd be happy to make them for you. They go best with a piece or two of wheat toast and a tall glass of OJ. You won't be disappointed.

May or May Not

Steve and Zaid are my friends. This is their newest musical project. Listen to "Summer Heat" first, then peruse the rest of the songs.

Halloween Recap

Posted November 1, 2003

Bling Kong: Well, the clip on their website is much more interesting than their performance. On the other hand, Les Sans Culottes was excellent. They are French and opened up for the Kong. Highly recommended for a fun night out.

Motherfucker Ball: Incredibly fun. We danced and gawked and then ate and rested. Not what I'm used to on Halloween, but still a lot of fun.

The two best costumes I saw last night were as follows (in no particular order): Barf, from Spaceballs, and sushi. The sushi was a technically better costume, but I was able to better connect with the Barf costume.

Tonight is phase two of the Halloween celebration. My uncles are having a housecooling/birthday party. They are moving into a new house next week and it also happens to be four days after Uncle Ted's birthday. So, party. The food will be tasty and the company is likely to be tasty as well. Now, I am going to load the CD player for them.

In conclusion, good luck to the 446 tonight.

Zulkey Interviews Klosterman

Two entertaining writers, one entertaining interview.


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