Posted: April 27th, 2012 | Author: Ben Caro| No Comments »
NUMERAL FRUSTRATION. [GMT-7 LOS ANGELES]
Going back through my Facebook timeline, I’ve noticed there are holes: swathes filled only by the colorless, drab blue permeating the background of every Facebook page. 2009 is heartbreakingly blank. The highlights of 2008 are a friend asking, “I didn’t know you were back on Facebook?” which is not a question, and “Life Events” telling me what I already know: I graduated college, I moved home, I started work. Why is this? Why such a superficial and untelling history? Those were the years I was off Facebook.
Sure, sure, there’s a chance I got more things done. I graduated school, got a job, wrote a play, wrote a feature, drove from DC to Albany and back numerous times, made Skype calls to my long-distance girlfriend, spent a good fourth of my life writing daily emails to her, another fourth painfully watching Bones episodes with her. No matter whether I was on Facebook or not, most of my time was occupied. I didn’t get more done. I simply did more things in private.
And here’s the problem with privacy: most of the time, you need someone to keep your life in check. Most people have friends for this, some people pay therapists. Some people use Facebook as this barometer. The problem with my life from late 2007-2010 is that I had no barometer. I had gone dark. I had lost friends, I had been telling no one what was happening, I had gotten off all social media besides LinkedIn. I understand why there are people out there not on Facebook because they don’t feel like they have time, or because they feel it takes up too much of their time, but I’d make a case for not risking it. When they look at their timeline, they won’t see huge blank spaces where their life should’ve been. If they stayed smart, they’ll see they had people who cared, places they went, conversations shared. Most place a lot of emphasis on not putting your whole life on the internet, but transparency can be an amazing tool. Looking at those lost years makes me realize that I shouldn’t have ignored it, and how important it is to be living in public.
Posted: April 24th, 2012 | Author: Ben Caro| No Comments »
ARROGANCE. [GMT-7 LOS ANGELES]
Earlier this morning, my friend posted this on my wall:
I don't give credence to any signs like these unless they're written in Comic Sans.
As I bit into some GoLean Crunch! at my desk, I wondered about this picture half-heartedly. I chewed a little, and took another bite, then I let myself wonder whole-heartedly. Eventually, I finished the bowl. Here’s why:
How carcinogenic are those pesticides, really? A known carcinogen is red meat, and I still consume a fair amount of that, even if I’m not buying any red groceries. Cancer is serious, and I really shouldn’t have taken another bite even though at that point I was nearly done with the bowl. It’s certainly a first world problem to not be able to finish your bowl of cereal due to some vague health risks. You know what else is a first world problem? Getting cancer. Why I’d rather finish my bowl of cereal than have a lower risk of cancer is not so much a mystery to me.
Let’s look at the other item on the sign: hormone disruption. Which hormones? All of them? There’s a lot of soy protein in that cereal. Maybe the legions of estrogen being pumped into my body from the soy will instead run into a disruption and I’ll be able to carry on looking like a man, so perhaps this hormone disruption is a good thing. Then again, maybe not. I’m wearing pastel today.
The third reason I finished my cereal is after looking at sentences like “when the USDA tested the grains used there were found to be…” I know it’s probably not a good idea to base decisions about my health based on the quality of sentence syntax, but a guy can’t help himself, am I right guys? Hope I’m not being too passive-voice aggressive, here.
I wrote an article about cereal addiction here before. This is more of article about not being interrupted in the morning until you’ve had your coffee, which increases hypertension.
Written by @BenBenCaro
Posted: April 12th, 2012 | Author: Hannah Ross| No Comments »
[MANUFACTURER. GMT-4 WASH DC]
Original Le Corbusier LC-2 chair by Pierre Jeanneret & Charlotte Perriand. Retail: $4,160.
Knock Off Baxton Studios Chair by Target. $509.99
Posted: April 12th, 2012 | Author: Ben Caro| No Comments »
OCEAN. [GMT-7 LOS ANGELES]
Using Google Maps and some slick design, the digital agency/design collective Doejo has created Map of the Dead, a zombie survival map, and has peered into my soul more poignantly than I have ever been able to, asking me what am I doing with my life. Using the map, one may find out whether he or she is living in a “zombie danger zone,” essentially a death sentence, marked by the color red. Most, if not all of L.A. is an ocean of red: death sentence. I look at the little street view man symbolizing the location of my harrowing descent into madness. He’s holding a rifle, but in real life, I don’t own a rifle. Hollywood magic.
A few blocks to the west lies the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which usually serves as an enchanting recreational area for the park-starved Los Angeles. Sigur Ros will be playing there next month. On the zombie survival map, however, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is nothing but a hazard. Zombie survival map doesn’t believe in forever.
Essentially, I am doomed. The only safe zones seem to be the Hollywood hills, miles away. In Runyon Canyon and Griffith Park exercise minions race up and down the hills as if on a track, mindlessly consuming a steady diet of smoothie brain food: strawberries, whey protein, flesh, They get stronger, faster. Zombie survival map tells me that “if I have the skills,” airports may hold a helicopter or airplane to aid my escape. And then, as if proving something I already knew, as if rubbing it in, it doesn’t list LAX. In any case, how could I get there? The cars crawl along the 10 like undead soldiers. There’s no way I could get there in time on any other Wednesday.
During the zombie apocalypse, at least people will start to walk again. The streets will fill up with people whom I used to see inside cars. No longer will they sing to themselves or conduct business over Blutooth, but at least there will be some commotion out there, some life scuffling across the sidewalk.
Here in Southern California, we are anticipating a catastrophic earthquake. The history books tell us it is time that we slide into the sea. What are we doing here still, then? We are doomed. Only masochism can explain why we haven’t moved. So what about when we no longer feel, when our skin turns green, when the night falls and the moon lets us know it is over? Zombie survival map makes me ponder the existential. Zombie survival map makes me think about my rifle.
Posted: April 12th, 2012 | Author: Hannah Ross| No Comments »
I went to a bar in Los Angeles for a party held in honor of a friend who quit his job and required celebration. Essentially an unemployment party. Despite having no replacement job lined up, we all were aligned on the simple concept supporting the pure unadulterated American freedom of unbarring one’s soul from the putrid shackles of rolling calls and re-stocking copiers. Needless to say, drinks were not on him.
A former colleague of his approaches and proceeds with the following bar-game: What 10 countries only have 4 letters? I sort out seven, missing Mali, Oman, and Togo. In all fairness, Mali and Togo are Republics and Oman is a Sultanate state. Plus, I forgot about them.
Next question. What are the 5 oceans? Easy. Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic… Arctic… Mediterranean is a sea. Great lakes are well, lakes. Southern Ocean? What? Whatever the Indian Ocean should be a sea anyway. No I’m not discouraged. It’s just an antarctic convergence zone for Christ sake.
Posted: April 6th, 2012 | Author: Ben Caro| No Comments »
Musical Compositions Consisting Mostly or Entirely of Silence:
Posted: March 28th, 2012 | Author: Ben Caro| No Comments »
March 6th, 2011
A team of researchers in England wasted our time determining which is the catchiest song ever made.
After carrying out “under-cover data collection in night clubs across the North of England,” which is coincidentally what most of the scientists did on their weekends, the scientists “did a musical analysis of a large subset of songs regarding the vocal performance on the recording as well as the structure of the songs.”
After not curing cancer, they concluded that pop songs are catchiest when sung by a male singer, for historically, males led people into battle, so the male vocal register incites the same psychological reaction. Additionally, if he usees his “high chest voice, pronounces the consonants of the lyrics clearly and puts a lot of vocal effort into his performance,” even better. No one wants to try to sing along with someone who makes it look easy, because then who feels like the asshole? An example of a ‘high effort’ male singers included Jon Bon Jovi. The researchers actually determined that.
Miraculously, the scientists found that UK residents were likely to sing along “if it is late at night, if it is a weekend and if the song has been in high up in the UK charts at some point.” What these scientists might discover if applying their brilliance to another field, such as quantum physics or neuroscience, we can only fear.
“We hope that our study will inspire musicians of the future to crack the equation for the textbook tune,” opined musicology expert Dr Daniel Müllensiefen, who was probably really excited to use the phrase ‘textbook tune,’ a term he’d been hard at work refining for months (at night clubs across the North of England).
The Top Ten Catchiest Pop Songs (As Determined by Dr. Müllensiefen’s Team in England)
- We are the Champions – Queen
- YMCA – The Village People
- Fat Lip – Sum 41
- The Final Countdown – Europe
- Monster – The Automatic
- Ruby – The Kaiser Chiefs
- I’m Always Here – Jimi Jamison
- Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
- Teenage Dirtbag – Wheatus
- Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
Posted: March 21st, 2012 | Author: Ben Caro| No Comments »
PATTERN. [GMT-7 LOS ANGELES]
- Design credit: ModernStylographer
After staring at my computer screen for several seconds, I started to panic. I had just checked Gmail, then Facebook, then Twitter successively, with no further plan. To do so again in such a short amount of time would constitute madness, so to throw myself a curve ball and hopefully derail my inevitable typing of the letter “g” into my Firefox URL bar, I found myself Googling “I can’t stop eating cereal” instead. The results were surprising: all 4,910,000 of them.
This post contains a lot of links, only given to display the impressive number of these cereal addiction cases — so no need to click on all or any of them. Google came up with plenty of sources, but cited the UK and US versions of Answers.com as the top two results. There, I found myriads of concerned consumers (consumers in the “I down a whole box in one sitting” sense of the word) who had feelings ranging from mild fear to overwhelming guilt about their breakfast cereal consumption and inability to stop. Most of the voted upon “answers” were of course overwhelmingly unhelpful, both the sympathetic (“When I was pregnant I ate like a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch every day!”) or the, well, assholes (“Well…. that stinks”). Thankfully, there is some actual advice given at more weight-loss oriented sites.
Truth is, like any addiction, the best way to overcome it is to not give yourself the option of relapsing. Do not buy yourself cereal. Do not have milk in the house. If you think that may be too harsh, you can try keeping only one kind of cereal in the house. The lack of variety will help you from going back to it again and again. A third option would be to restrict any sort of eating after a certain time, say, 10pm, or only allow one bowl a day. The more black and white the rules, the easier it will be to follow them. The only danger is yo-yoing. I’ve gone without cereal for a few days only to bring home a box of Cheerios and down 5 in a day.
Yo-yoing can be used for good effect, however, if you are trying to build muscle or doing intense exercise. If you plan on cutting carbs one day, and know that an inevitable flood of CTC (Cinnamon Toast Crunch) will be soon entering your mouth the next, try to plan those bowls after your workout.
Let’s not be too hard on ourselves. Cereal is so amazing. The reason why it’s easy to keep eating is because a) there is huge variety. Sure, it’s basically made from the same stuff, and it all tastes like cereal, but as long as there are puffs, flakes, grains, crunch, pebbles, Charms, wheats, oats, bran, and O’s, there will always be something craveable for the next meal. b) It’s easy. No cooking required, and nothing to heat. c) Few people still believe that cereal is good for you, despite the Lucky Charms boxes that blare “Whole Grains” at you in bright blue, but the truth is, it’s not bad enough that eating it constantly will cause disease. Depending on your poison of choice, there is enough fiber, fortified (artificially added) vitamins, and sometimes protein to poorly mimic a balanced diet. The problem is that excessive use will inhibit any chance at weight loss — the sugar will cause insulin spikes and the carbs may leave you lethargic and increase cravings and hunger later on in the day.
All this aside, I will never stop eating cereal. I will try, I will fail. I will stop trying.
Writing this article has made me hungry. There is a box of Corn Flakes in the cupboard, a half gallon left of skim milk in the fridge, and I went to the gym today. I’ll be in the kitchen.
The Best and Worst Cereals For You by Men’s Health, in case you just want to go crazy with those Grape-Nuts.
Posted: August 30th, 2011 | Author: Ben Caro| 1 Comment »
When I hear a girl talk about how she has dyed and stripped and bleached her hair to the point that she no longer knows what her true hair color is, something in me is alarmed. It’s partly sadness, but mostly, it is fear. It’s the same reason why I’ve been relatively cautious to take drugs for most of my life. During high school, when some kids experiment with marijuana, I made sure to grill them. “Do you feel different afterwards? Do you feel any dumber?” Most kids at that age, of course, remarked that they in fact felt smarter not only after smoking up, but while smoking up.
I must’ve had this great love of my identity at the time. Despite being picked on and probably not the most comprehensible kid, or I guess because of this, I must’ve regarded my intelligence as a large part of my identity. And I most feared losing it.
And that’s still a great fear of mine. Every once and awhile, when I can’t quite wrap my head around something, when I’m in the middle of a conversation and nothing weirdly funny comes to mind to add to it, I start to wonder whether I was smarter just five years ago than I am now. I never used to drink, I say to myself. Maybe I’m killing brain cells. Maybe it’s cause I’m no longer in school, maybe I’m not reading enough. Nearly without causation I am thrust into a small paroxysm of fear, wondering “have I lost what I used to be?”
I think it’s important to realize that I can’t answer this. There’s no way to do a side by side comparison. I can’t even take the SATs I took back then, because they’ve changed too. What I do think is possible is continued change, more change. If I want to be able to think on a certain level, I just need to start thinking on that level. I don’t think there’s anything I ca n do for the circumstances I’m in — I have very little free will in that respect. But over my identity, I can probably grab some giant wheel somewhere, turn it in a certain direction, and ease it on a course. I could either dye my hair some wild color, or I could think hard and attempt a strand for strand replication of the original shade. It may not be a perfect copy. It just needs to look good.
Posted: August 28th, 2011 | Author: Ben Caro| 1 Comment »
Talked to my dad on the phone today. A question entered my mind.
“Do you ever get kind of sad that you can’t ground me or Natalie anymore? Like, do you ever get kind of depressed you no longer have that power?”
There was silence on the phone for a bit, which made me think I had hit a chord. Then he said, “You know, it’s not a big deal, because I can still take you out of inheritance. Not as immediate, I guess. I’d have to wait 40 years or so.”
“And you’d be grounded in your own way.”
“We’d have solidarity in that, at least.”
Posted: August 25th, 2011 | Author: Inês Teles| No Comments »
It’s your choice to move 10 minutes or 2 hours. Just move though.
Posted: August 24th, 2011 | Author: Hannah Ross| 2 Comments »
An earthquake to east coasters is feared equally as west coasters cower to rain.
EVACUATE EVERYTHING AND DRIVE SLOW.
Posted: August 21st, 2011 | Author: Richard Marks| No Comments »
Commentary on the social imbalance in Thailand.
Posted: August 20th, 2011 | Author: Inês Teles| No Comments »
Home is when you go away, and 3 months later someone missed you.
Posted: August 17th, 2011 | Author: Ben Caro| 1 Comment »
“When Cortes and his men reached the California coast in 1535, they recalled Montalvo’s account of a mythical island called California ‘at the right hand of the Indies,’ ruled by beautiful black women.”
-From the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Posted: August 16th, 2011 | Author: Richard Marks| 1 Comment »
If you pick 10 random Thais, according to statistics, nearly 9.5 of them will tell you they are Buddhist. Thai Buddhism is considered to be a branch of Theravada Buddhism, however it incorporates elements of animism, mysticism, and even the belief in earth-dwelling ghosts. To most Thais, the presence of spirits on earth is unquestionable. Although not entirely a cultural faux pas, talking about ghosts and spirits isn’t the most popular topic of conversation. Many people here believe that spirits are everywhere. Every home, school, restaurant, 7/11, girly bar, dance club, and dive shop you walk into in Thailand, you will be able to find a spirit house, or san phra phum. When an individual encroaches on a property to establish a home or business, he is displacing the spirits who have been occupying that land, to which spirit houses serve as a new home. The steps of these mini ghost condos are often adorned with offerings of food, flowers, and drink (often red Fanta™, presumably because no animate being likes red Fanta™). While the notion of ghosts and wandering spirits are generally laughed off and dismissed as crazy-talk in America, the situation is much different here. I have Thai friends and students who tell me, with very serious tone and expression, that they have seen ghosts. When the subject comes to conversation around my university, people often talk of one particular building as being haunted. I lived in this building for about six months and never saw anything that resembled a floating white bed sheet with eyeholes, but I know at least one person who has. The building has a history peppered with stories of tragic suicides—students who had succumbed to the pressure of family, teachers, and society in a culture where “saving face” can sometimes lead to pent-up emotions.
It’s chilling sometimes to consider the topic of ghosts and think about the difference in attitude that Americans and Thais (maybe even Westerners and Asians) hold—someone is right.
Spirit House outside of an apartment building in Bangkok
Image I took of my family's home in Baltimore County, Maryland-- December, 2001
Posted: August 16th, 2011 | Author: Ben Caro| 1 Comment »
that you suck the blackness from
any black person
Posted: August 13th, 2011 | Author: Ben Caro| No Comments »
Issues I’d Like to Address
Today a friend drew my attention to an amazing story in the news about one woman’s face transplant, needed after a chimpanzee attack. This chimp that had torn off her face and hands, torn out her eyes, and blinded her. I just want to known who is still trying to keep these things as pets. How many attacks does to take for someone to realize maybe it isn’t a good idea to coop an extremely smart, strong, and feral creature in a little box and make it use the toilet? Haven’t people heard this before? Every third This American Life seems to be about trying to domesticate a chimpanzee. This is what I don’t understand.
So we’ve heard that nuts and yogurt are good for you, and have been proven to help with weight control and even weight loss over a few years. Both of them help keep your metabolism going overnight if eaten before bedtime, as well, further aiding in weight control. And yet, nuts and some yogurt are full of calories. I mean, packed. You have a handful of peanuts, and bam, 200 calories. How do you reconcile these things? Especially since it’s also been proven that less calories mean weight loss, no matter where those calories are coming from, even twinkies.
Posted: August 12th, 2011 | Author: Hannah Ross| No Comments »
THE ADDRESSES I’VE HAD OVER THE PAST 6 YEARS.
Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
East 25st Street, New York, NY
Third Avenue, New York, NY
East 7th Street, New York, NY
Fishamble Street, Dublin, Ireland.
East 26th Street , New York, NY
South Bryan Flats Road, Jackson, WY
McCadden Street, Hollywood, CA
Wilcox Place, Hollywood, CA
Ivar Avenue, Hollywood Hills, CA
Huddleston Road, London, UK
West Lafayette Avenue, Baltimore, MD
Posted: August 8th, 2011 | Author: Hannah Ross| No Comments »
Craiglistings, Washington DC.