Thursday, April 26, 2007

At the Party

At The Party

If you don't see the comic strip, here's the link.

Link to Toondoo via Arunn at NonoScience.

If you didn't find it even the least bit funny, make sure you read the blurbs top to bottom. If that still didn't work, read again while tickling your underarms. Or get someone else to tickle you. Or read it while watching Seinfeld. Come on, surely there must be something that makes you giggle? Read this while doing that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I kicked off biking season on saturday with the Schuylkill Trail. The day was bright and sunny and mild. I was a bit apprehensive of starting out the season with a 30 mile trail but I threw caution to the wind and the wind threw it back at me. But it turned out that it wasn't that bad really. At least the first 25 miles to Center City.

At Conshohocken, which is about halfway along the trail, I stumbled across a newly constructed branch of the Cross-County Trail. I asked a guy with a bike standing in front of a sign saying "Cross County Trail to Plymouth Meeting - 3 miles" the question, "Do you know where this trail goes to and how far"? To be fair to me, I hadn't seen the sign when I asked him, but let's not be fair to me. To be fair to him, he probably thought I was an idiot and let's not be fair to him either. So we jawed back and forth about the trail, speculating on its length and if it was beautiful in a strictly platonic way till we both realized that if information had been paint, our faces would have been covered with the stuff due to all the signpost drippings. And then we laughed heartily in the manner of people glad to be in the presence of someone stupider than themselves.

Someday I should do the Cross County Trail. But not today. On to Philly. Philly was nice and bright and sunny and very crowded. A book fair was happening downtown. The book lover in me wanted to jump into the crowd and browse some french fries in a food stand I could vaguely see through all that mess. But the beer lover in me wanted to get to the Independence Brew Pub, my destination for the day.

Independence Brew Pub next to the Market East Station. They have a great oatmeal stout. One might say what is the point of biking all this way, burning up all these calories and then replenishing those same calories through beer? But if one were to ask such a question, one would be an idiot.

So after drinking a couple of beers and dining on fish and chips, I took the train back to Norristown, which is on the trail about five miles from the trail head. An Indian couple sat in the seat opposite to me. I wish I had more to say about the couple but I don't. They were just a normal couple. My bike fell on them twice.

The final five miles from Norristown to Valley Forge were excruciating. To demonstrate just how excruciating, just say the word excruciating and stretch the "cru" part for about a minute. Usually I love to push my body to the limit and usually it doesn't fight back but that day it did. The final mile was agony. But all good things have to end and finally, I was left with a raw behind and screaming legs. Not a bad season-opener, all in all.

Next week it'll either be the Conewago Trail, deep in the PA Christian belt or the D&R Trail, deep in the badlands of Princeton, New Jersey.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Boring. Spent most of the hour and fifteen minutes checking the time. Are we there yet, are we there yet? I'll be honest, I don't get the hype. I didn't see any clever political commentary. All I saw was a guy deliberately acting like a jerk to ordinary people. In fact, the movie was so bad that I had more respect for Sacha Baron Cohen before I actually knew what he did for a living.

Secondly, he spends most of the movie trying to play the fool for us. But wasn't the movie all about wink wink, look how I'm gonna get these people, you know who I am but these people don't? Then what was with the nude wrestling scene when there were no "other people" around? Was it for us? But we already know he isn't actually Borat. Who was it for, then? The moment the nude wrestling began, I knew it would probably end up in a public place with gratuitous goofery. Forward. On to the next scene. Only to be disappointed again.

The only humorous scene in the movie was when Bob Barr is informed that the cheese he just consumed was a product of Borat's maternal teat. For the minimalistic reaction. It wasn't very obvious, but it was there.

Are we supposed to feel shock over the fraternity boys incident? Oh please. Break into the mind of any teenaged boy anywhere in the world and you'll find an oversexed hyper-hormonic sexist beast.

Most of the movie Sacha Baron Cohen just plain grates on the nerves. Okay, we get it, falling over things and breaking them is funny. People arguing in a foreign language you don't understand is funny. Wrestling nude with a fat fuck is funny. But only if you weren't expecting "clever political commentary" or "social satire". It is funny only if you were expecting to be fed lowbrow slapstick off-the-shelf pre-packaged swill of the likes of, say, a Martin Lawrence or the Wayans clan.

Also, most of the movie involves trapping people into saying or doing things they might usually not have said or done. For example, the Chevy dealer who wanted to sell Borat a vehicle that could run over Gypsies. Or the gun dealer who showed Borat a gun for shooting Jews. Does it make the Chevy dealer anti-Gypsy or the gun dealer anti-semitic? More likely, they were just humoring the poor hapless shit-for-brains foreigner who looked clueless enough to warrant some extra patience. Or maybe they just wanted to sell guns and Hummers. Don't they say that the customer is always right? Even if he is a bigoted asshole? Was there any kind of point made through all this? I don't think so. In fact, more than anything else, this movie speaks volumes about Americans' superhuman patience and ability to tolerate a lot of asinine bullshit from someone who is clearly a registered fuckwit.

However, the biggest reason for hating this movie is because of the way it bullies the underdogs. The Kazakhs. A nation without a representative voice. Imagine if Borat were to have impersonated, say, an Indian and if he had performed the same antics. Would the Indian community in the US have taken it lying down? Hell no. Imagine the uproar it would have caused in the blogosphere, in Congress, in India. Which is why his choice of being a Kazakh looks more like a coward's way out. It is best to incur the wrath of a community no one has heard about and no one is friends with.

In conclusion, Borat didn't work for me. At all. And on an intellectual level, it was on par with reality teevee footage of people eating a writhing mass of worms. Yes, it is that bad.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Herd Instinct

Two women walking side by side. Not friends, mind you, nor acquaintances, no whispering, no laughing, just two women walking silently next to each other. Walking from the parking lot to the train station. The train had already arrived at the platform on the other side.

The women were slow, lethargic, they were positively crawling. The train was already there and I began to worry. Come on ladies, I said to myself, if you want to make that train, you've got to giddy up. Run ladies, run like the wind, no, run faster than the wind because to tell you the truth, the wind wasn't making very good time that day.

But they didn't. They continued on with their leisurely pace. Still side by side, step for step. Moss grew on their backs. Birds mated on their shoulders. Turtles won the 100 meter dash in direct competition and were felicitated by the rabbit judge. My heart ached in anticipation of the departure of the train. Until.

Until one of the women made a sharp left onto the platform on this side. She had no use for that train. She was here for a different train that would travel in a different direction from a different platform.

It was then that someone applied a horsewhip to the other woman. It could have been a regular whip but it sounded the same. Look at her go. High heels clicking like sewing machines, she clacked down the stairway that crossed over to the other platform, her hair trying to keep up with her purse.

See, this woman, she had been following her herd instinct. As long as she believed that the other woman was going to board the same train and knew what she was doing, she was willing to follow her at the same pace. If there had been a cliff nearby and the other woman had jumped off it, she would have jumped in after her, saying to herself that this was probably a newer shorter route to the platform that she hadn't known about.

We trust the decision-making abilities of perfect strangers for no other reason than we trust other people to make better decisions than we do. We know we are stupid. Surely other people know better than us. We would follow other people to the ends of the earth till other people turn to us and ask us, hey, do you know where this road goes?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Morbid monday

For those of you who were not able to discern the connection between an Indian driving license and the fatness of a wallet, an Indian driving license, unlike an American one, is a pamphlet of sorts, containing as many pages as, say, the Bible, without all those sections on sodomy and bestiality. Or, to be fair to the Christians, as thick as the Bhagvad Gita with sodomy and bestiality thrown in. Or the Koran with ... I forgot what I was going to say.

Speaking of Christianity, there are a few drawbacks to not being a follower of this religion in this country. For example, if you've asked your boss for a day off on Good Friday and work piles up through the week leading up to Friday and your boss wishes she hadn't given you the day off, the fact that you are not a Christian works against you. Because when your boss calls you on thursday and says, you know what gawker, can you work tomorrow, she is able to do so, being armed with the knowledge that you definitely did not have any Crucifixion re-enactments scheduled for that day. And you, being a non-Christian, cannot provide any valid rationale for taking the day off despite the request.

And so, I postponed my Good Friday vacation to be consummated on Morbid Monday. That is, today. But when I woke up this morning, I knew it was not going to be a nice relaxing morbid day for me. First of all, when I looked outside, expecting to see grass and flowers and pregnant trees, I saw snow instead. Snow in April. As a rule I like solid precipitation but having snow in April is like going Bigfoot hunting and finding the Abominable Snowman instead. Sure the Snowman is nice and hairy and as terrifying but you were really in the mood for some Big Feet.

Ok, so snow it was. And not only was there snow, there were train cancellations and downed power lines. So the assignment of dropping Mrs Gawker off at the train station ultimately turned into a project to drive her to her workplace, an hour's drive one-way. Actually, the drive wasn't too bad. The Amish have maintained this part of the country really well, God bless their horse-drawn souls.

Anyways, I have decided to spend the day drinking home made car bombs. When I went to buy the ingredients, I decided to get this Irish whiskey one of my office colleagues had recommended me, saying it doesn't give you hangovers or drunk weeping fits. So I went to the liquor store and asked the guy, do you have tellamordor?

He looked at me like I was a hobbit.

Uh...I said, uncertainty creeping in... telemurder?

Do you mean Tullamore Dew, the clerk asked me with the gentleness one usually reserves for the mentally incapacitated.

Yes, that's it, I said. Give.

So anyways, now the power is back on and I checked my freezer and none of my ice cubes appear to have melted. It's probably because I made them from Deer Park spring water from Maine and Maine water is the best. It's got something to do with the deer urine.

And now, on with the car bombs.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Face Off

So me and the wife were standing on the 11th Street Subway Station in Philadelphia, waiting for the Market-Frankford Line to take us to to 2nd Street, where the angels lay in waiting with food and drink (the Spice Cafe and the Triumph Brewing Company ). I was standing as close to the yellow line as I could, looking out for the train, as close to the subway tracks as was possible, without being one with them.

The Market Frankford line is the second seediest subway line in Philadelphia, the first being the Broad Street Line, there being only two Subway lines in the Philadelphia subway system. So as we were standing there in broad daylight, the daylight being obscured by the roof over our heads, us being below ground, two black punks entered the station from the left wing of the stage.

There was happiness all around as these two punks entered, them being happy and cracking jokes and laughing and all. And as we stood there, waiting for our transportation to appear, they started a-rappin', rap-a-tap-a-tappin', gettin' down wit' it dawg, crackin' out those rhymes with the world a-watchin'.

And I was watching and enjoying the rapping and they were going "wit an empty pocket" as the chorus to their rap song, and they were laughing and rapping and I was enjoying with them and then they called out, hey you, with the empty pocket.

And the station contained only four people out of which I was the only one with the empty pocket, but it couldn't be me because my pocket was full of my wallet and it was a big huge wallet and it was so big that it was showing through my pants and it couldn't possibly be an empty pocket, but wait a minute, maybe those punks were being satirical and making fun of my full pocket by calling it an empty pocket.

So the black punk called out, yes, you there with the empty pocket, do you have change for a 100 dollars?

I had 20 dollars in my full pocket but that was not the point, so I looked at the punk, and it seemed like he was, in fact, looking at me, and although I still had not come to terms with the fact that I had a satirically empty pocket, I knew he was talking to me.

Hey man, do you have change for a fifty dollars?

Ok, I get it, I have a fat wallet, but trust me, it is mostly full of health insurance cards and stamps and Indian driving licenses and no, I do not have change for fifty dollars, that wallet-fatness, that is but an illusion, and I wish I could have slipped an arm over his shoulder and walked with him to a park bench to explain that to him but he was with punk accompaniment and I was with wife so I had very little recourse.

And because he was black and I was brown and I was with wife and with very little humanity on the station, I pretended that he was speaking to someone else on the other platform, on the other side of the tracks, directly collinear with me. I smiled at him because he was not speaking to me. He was speaking to the guy on the other platform collinear with me.

Mrs Gawker said to me, let us go stand with the rest of the civilized world to our left. The civilized world consisted of a woman speaking on a cellphone. But I was defiant. I had worked out in the fucking gym for the past three months and in the absence of a pistol-shaped bulge in those pants, I was going to defend my turf. No, I said, If we move, they win. And fuck it, I do not have an empty pocket or a full pocket.

I kept my ground. With my empty / fat wallet. And soon, the punks quit making fun of my pocket and moved on. And there was a lesson there for all you punks. Do not mess with a married Indian. He will beat your ass. He will beat your ass with his Indian driving license if need be. Do not mess with him. And please forgive his massive wallet. It is an Indian thing. Where else can he keep his Indian driving license?

Friday, April 13, 2007


This is a public service announcement. Today is Friday the 13th.

I hope you got out of your bed today left foot first. Now go walk under a ladder while wearing your shirt inside out and throw a mirror at the black cat that crosses your path. If you cut yourself, spill salt on the wound. Don't be distracted by the moon shining over your left shoulder or the insomniac rooster who insists on crowing at night.

Thank you.

Also, just so I can finally get this out of the way, two saturdays ago, I went to Jim Thorpe with Mrs Gawker, Zambezi and Mrs Zambezi where we had wings and beer in an Irish bar. The wings were too hot for a South Indian and zambezi started sweating like a pig on a spit in summer with the air conditioning turned off. The concerned waitress asked him if he was having problems, if the wings were too spicy and he said yes, also assuring her that the considerable spice content of the wings would soon necessitate a sprint into the high hills for defecatory purposes. The waitress accepted his scatological confidences politely, in the proper spirit, with an ambivalent "ah".

And that was that.

Speaking of Jim Thorpe, here's a picture of the Switchback trail we "trekked" on, if you can call walking on a flat surface trekking. It's called the Five Mile Tree.


The interesting thing about this particular picture is that it used to be a place where railroad cars going in opposite directions used to pass each other. It looked like this.

Spitting on the car underneath was out of bounds for everyone except the very highest of high society. Also notice how there is virtually no forestation in the old picture as compared to the new one. Immigration of trees to the US began in earnest only after the rain forests of the world began to face persecution in the early 20th century for their wood, their land and their bark, oh that sweet sweet bark.

I guess that's all for now. I had something else to say but I don't remember what it was.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I finally reached home yesterday late in the evening following a two hour journey by train because as I said earlier, the train follows a route from my workplace to my home that goes through Mexico (God how I love that joke as do you, I hope, because I promise to use it often). I had to use the train because my car was in the dealership.

And when I reached home I saw that I had a voicemail from Discovercard, asking me to give them a call because my recent credit card activity showed that there might be a strong possibility of fraud. I called up immediately because the voicemail was left by someone who sounded as if his dog had just died after swallowing a fraudulently used credit card.

I was connected to a guy who seemed remarkably chirpy for someone whose job was to inform people that somewhere in the world, their credit cards were being used to purchase silk underwear for somebody else's wife. My heart was atwitter and I desperately needed to know how much money I had lost and if I could get it back. After answering numerous questions in order to prove my identity such as name, social security number, home phone number, work phone number, date of birth, mother's maiden name, name father lovingly called mother when he wanted an omlet for breakfast and sister's favorite Johnny Depp movie, the topic finally turned to credit card fraud.

"Would you like to receive future notifications of fraud on your cell phone in text message form?" asked the tech support guy, obviously tickled by his role as Unveiler of Text Messaging Technology to the heathen masses.

"Fuck future text notifications, why don't you first give me my current notification of fraud in human voice form", is what I would have liked to tell him but instead, I just said "Sure" and regretted it in the next instant.

"Who is your cellphone provider", asked the TSG.

"Yargh Cingular", I said. Get on with it already, I said to myself. I could picture fake gawker ordering filet mignons and a round of beers for his criminal associates. "Hey everybody, drinks are on me", he was probably yelling at this very moment, waving my card in the air and getting a round of applause from the drunk freeloaders at the bar.

"Hmm let's see....Ceeeeengular......C e e e e e ngular", sang the tech support guy in a low melodious baritone, I couldn't help thinking, despite my predicament. "Ok here we go, Cingular, yes you're all set for receiving text messages now", said TSG.

Okay, maybe we could talk about the fraudulent charges now?

"Would you like to purchase fraud protection for only 2.99 a month?", continued the TSG.

"No, thank you, I already have fraud protection. Speaking of fraud ...."

"So did you receive a call from us regarding possible fraudulent activity on your credit card?", asked the TSG finally coming to the point.

"Yes, yes."

"Our records show a charge for $ 1780.00 at a Volkswagen dealership. Is that correct?"

Good Lord it sounded even worse from the TSG's mouth. An acute twinge of pain passed through my nose in remembrance.

"Yes, that was me", I said with sadness. Nothing fraudulent about that. At least nothing I could do anything about. But on the bright side, at least I wasn't paying for someone else's silk underwear and filet mignon.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Oil Change : $ 65

Wheel alignment : $ 60

Inspection and Emissions test : $ 75

Front Brake Rotors replacement : $ 350

Front Shocks replacement : $ 450

Front Shocks bearings replacement : $ 550

Ability to breathe through the mouth while paying through the nose : Priceless