Thursday, January 27, 2005

Alexander pain

Our bosom friend, the brilliant and dapper D.M.S. Shrapnel, sent us a postcard from Barbados, where he is seeking public office, or maybe mostly sitting by the pool. It made us inexplicably happy and so we reproduce some of it here:

"Barbados is a friendly place where the locals don't mind making change for bus fare. At night the air carries the continual chirping of thumbnail-size frogs. They're cute but elusive! . . . Sometimes Barbadian children keep shorthaired black-bellied sheep as pets, which no doubt is the subject of children's stories and school playes. I wanted to go to the movies tonight but the only theater on the island is showing Alexander. The other one burned down the day I flew in. . . . "

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Boba fete

We're in sunny Irvine, California, covering the shooting of Hello Monkey Laundromat 2029, which is being staged entirely in Vietnamese sandwich shops, airport sushi bars, and boba tea parlors. Several dozen locals are appearing as extras. All the Chinese characters are being played by Mexicans, and vice versa. Today, director Miki Katsudon announced that actors above the age of 30 must perform in tennis gear; those under 30 are required to wear Groucho Marx glasses. Clearly Katsudon is losing his grip on reality--and we're only three days into filming!

"It always takes me a while to realize that the word Cyn, which appears on street signs, isn't short for Cynthia, but an abbreviation for canyon," Katsudon told Ought. Then he started imitating a hummingbird.

The weather is beautiful. Yesterday Jojo Katsudon, Miki's stepbrother and second unit director, shot some footage by the ocean. One of the cameramen stepped on a wet rock that turned out to be a frog. We stared at it for a long time until we knew for sure that it was OK.

Yesterday, craft services supplied hoagies, soup dumplings, and Mexican soft drinks, including our new favorite, Sideral Munden. It's an apple soda but it sounds like some grim Latin penance.

This morning, special effects coordinator Yuen Meboath perfected some tricky wirework, which will give the illusion that dozens of grilled pork sandwiches are levitating to the dulcet tones of the Chinese Community Choir's rendition of "In the Wee Small Hours." But Miki has decided that he no longer wants the sandwiches to contain grilled pork but rather barbecue pork, posing extreme logistical difficulties.

"Back to the old drawing board," said Yuen, through an interpreter. He estimates that Miki K.'s decision just added $50,000 to the budget. Will the film ever get made?

Monday, January 17, 2005


Wouldn't it be fun to be a tennis pro? Well, maybe not--but the deep-voiced, extremely mellow-seeming fellow on the court next to us today mocked one of his young charge's sallies with "You're a SpongeBob SquareRacket"—causing said tyke to collapse with laughter.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Job board!

We don't generally post employment opportunities here at Ought—non-Scrabble-related emp. opps, at least—but this one seemed like it might be of interest.

* * *


We are looking to cast the following roles for a short, funny,
web-based video (under two minutes long), which will be streamed on
the website of a well-known technology company. Performers must be
capable of humorously portraying individuals suffering from such
disorders as substance withdrawal, severe paranoia, and delusional
thinking. However, we would prefer if those auditioning are not
actually suffering from these disorders.


If you're interested in auditioning, call Stain NYC at 212.989.0505 on
Friday between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM to reserve an audition
slot. Walk-ins will not be accepted. All performers must bring
headshots and resumes or comp cards.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Poisson sans boisson—c'est poison

"Tsukiji is not only the busiest fish market on our watery planet, but the hub of a world-wide Japanese-controlled collection system, always a source of pride to ambitious Orientals." —Murray Sayle, "Below the Nose," TLS Jan 7 05

Monday, January 10, 2005

Stone Reader

Last night at the New York Film Critics' Circle awards dinner, aka Sideways Lovefest 2005, Sideways star Thomas Haden Church marveled at Sideways screenwriters Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor's ability to create fully formed human beings without having to go through "the typical nine-month gestation period." He had the same amusingly "stoned" demeanor that he had in the film (as Jack, friend to Paul Giamatti's Miles), which led us to wonder: has anyone remarked on the fact that his initials are "THC"?

Sunday, January 09, 2005


"In the 1950s, British philosopher J.L. Austin came to Columbia to present a paper about the close analysis of language. He pointed out that although two negatives make a positive, nowhere is it the case that two positives make a negative. 'Yeah, yeah,' Dr. Morgenbesser said." —The Globe and Mail, 9/04

Oughties want to know: Then what about the Pogues' "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Laugh (Not Laugh)

The joke involving William Carlos Williams, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and Ford Madox Ford (See "Help Finish This Joke," Ought Magazine, Dec. 17, 2004) now has a tantalizing soundtrack: the music of Was (Not Was)!

Our thanks to Mr. Rich Tamale, who mentioned that said combo will be playing live at B.B. King's "House of Blues," after a hiatus of some 358 years. Save us a seat, Rich!

POSTSCRIPT: Attentive Oughties will notice (as your humble editors have *just* noticed) that the name "B.B. King" also fits into the joke's basic format—a name in which two-thirds of the elements are identical!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Preteenage wasteland

Today an obscure newspaper called *The New York Times* reports: "Over the years a bunch of names have been suggested [for the current decade], like the Oughts, the Naughts, the Naughties, the Zips, the Ohs, even the Preteens. Not one has taken root." (Clyde Haberman, "Queasy Feeling About a Decade With No Name")

Someone send this bloke a subscription to Ought Magazine!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Made, dame, mead

We love the platycodon, but we also love the cheese. Carving our way through a hunk this weekend, we were reminded of yet another unfinished joke from the archives (c. 1997), which we will attempt to fill out a little here.

A notorious turophilic miser has a Yuletide change of heart and on Christmas Eve winds up tossing bags of high-grade fromage to his neighbors. Fondue pots bubble over and people learn the meaning of community. All the varieties in his stockroom are represented—save one.

When a small child confronts him with this omission, he replies with a smile, "I don't give Edam."

In more gripping news, we report on our opening sally from last night: JOINTED. That was good for 82 points right out of the gate, a lead we held onto for the rest of the match.

[Cue: Aerosmith, "Back in the Saddle"]

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy 5002!

On the subway this afternoon, we spotted a woman wearing those "2005" spectacles, the ones where your peepers look through the zeros. True fact: Ought magazine gets its name from this decade—the zero-zeros, aka the aughts or naughts or oughts. (Also, the title suggests that you *ought* to be reading this most ornate and blindsiding of publications.)

And with the mental alacrity so often put to use as we hover over *la field de scrabble*, we perceived that the digits 2-0-0-5 read *exactly the same upside down*. How apropos, for a year that's already started out topsy-turvy. We were so besotted by this quasi-palindromic numerical discovery that it wasn't until hours later that we realized, after writing down the numbers in a stick-like "LCD" fashion, that if you turned those feliz nuevo año specs upside down you would get . . . 5002.

So save those glasses for a few centuries, Oughties, and when your cryogenically preserved bodies start up again a couple millennia down the road, you won't have to shell out the extra bucks (or sol-units, as they'll be called then) for a fresh pair of celebratory goggles.