Friday, December 21, 2007

Fuck Hugh

Someone has angered Don Paco.

As you may recall, I supplement my vast financial holdings with occasional translation work. It keeps the mind limber and the spirit of industry alive. Lately, I have been using a website where people post translation projects, people bid on them, and translations are then exchanged for money.

A guy named Hugh seems to have conveniently forgotten the last part of that equation. I translated a portion of an interview for him. It didn’t take long because the language was conversational, and I finished the project in just under two hours. Applying the rate we had agreed upon, the total came to $278.

Hugh has been ducking me ever since. He has not paid, and will not return my emails, nor those that I am having Paypal send him. At some point, after various attempts at contacting him, I realized that this guy was simply going to screw me out of this money. It made me realize that when dealing with an individual through this website, greater precautions—payment demanded at least partially up-front, translations sent encoded with passwords to be disclosed only upon payment—will need to be employed. I realize that this Hugh may not even really be called Hugh, and I have no other vitals for him.

But I have his email address, time, and vast reserves of pettiness and vengefulness.

On Wednesday, Hugh signed up to receive daily newsletters from several e-marketing firms. He also expressed interest in getting weekly, daily, and monthly emails from on just about every genre of literature that they sell, as well as updates on the latest from the kid who wrote Eragon, and anything Harry Potter related.

Yesterday, Hugh developed a curiosity about important social issues, and signed himself up to receive emails from, specifying that he would like to plan Meet-ups in his area, and take action by calling his Congressional representatives about important issues. Hugh also signed up to receive emails from Bono’s One Campaign, Amnesty International, and UNICEF. He also signed up to get the 15 emails a day that you get from even having heard about the Puerto Rico chapter of the Sierra Club.

And today, Hugh made a ton of friends. Friends named Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Joe Biden, John Edwards, and Mitt Romney, the types of friends who pepper you with updates about what they’re up to, what they care about, and what YOU can do to help THEM help YOU to help AMERICA. These are also the types of people that are not shy to email you asking for money. Hugh will also soon be getting up close and personal with Ron Paul, Alan Keyes (apparently he is running?), Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, Mike Gravel, Mike Huckabee, the Republican National Committee, and several groups that are very, very concerned about the relative lack of security of America’s southern borders. Hugh, wherever possible, elected to get updates from these people on every issue from gun control, activist judges, tax and tort reform, abortion, and the gold standard. And, perhaps confused by all the partisan rancor he saw at all of these people’s websites, he seems to have made a stop at a little website named

Now, is it possible that even the email he gave me was fake, and set to be abandoned soon thereafter? Sure. Probably, even. But you know what? Fuck Hugh, and fuck his fake email address.

Now I am off to buy a lotto ticket, because with nine million dollars, Hugh could get dealt with in the way he so richly deserves.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Internet Just Had An Orgasm

There were many ideas for what to post today, ladies and gentlemen. Those things may still get posted, because many of them are important. Big things are happening, and Don Paco thinks that you would want to know about them. The Bush administration is trying to set up a Puerto Rican to take the fall for destroying those tapes of other people torturing the shit out of terrorists. Astronomers have come up with some amazing composite pictures of one galaxy beating the hell out of another one. Roger Clemens expects us to believe that he is not a steroid user, convincingly waiting almost a week to issue a vehement denial through his lawyer. Because that is the way that you deny things that are patently untrue and are circulated about you by the entire spectrum of media for days and days: by waiting a week to issue a denial through your lawyer. These things may get written about soon, news of vastly greater import require our attention at this moment in our troubled times.

None of these things ultimately matter because New Line has stopped trying to screw Peter Jackson out of a well-deserved $40 million and now things are moving forward with the production of a movie version of The Hobbit.

(Please wait three minutes while the Internet smokes a post-coital cigarette. Like in the movies.)

Now, this news is not as great as it could have been for a few reasons. First, keep in mind that it seems like Jackson will not be directing the movie.

(The Internet has just jumped out of bed at the news of this unexpected revelation. The Internet is gathering up its belongings and looks to be planning to make as quick an exit as possible.)

Indeed, because New Line has spent the last few years trying to screw Jackson out of a ton of money connected with the profits of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (at the mention of The Lord of the Rings, the Internet hesitates and reconsiders what it is doing), Jackson (a man the people of New Zealand need to be reprimanded for not already having declared President-for-life of their austral island nation. Seriously what are you people waiting for.) is now apparently committed to making movie versions of The Lovely Bones (about a dead, raped ghost; sounds like a blast) and Tintin (about a cartoon dog. What? Seriously? When people talk about this they always mention that Steven Spielberg is involved. Uh, who cares? Does this dog even talk. Peter Jackson can't possibly need the money this badly.). Because of these commitments, Jackson will neither direct nor write the new movie (his wife and their other writing partner will also not be working on the screenplay). However, they apparently have final approval over all elements of the film.

(The Internet is still on its way out the door, and wondering where the closest free clinic is, and when they open.)

But there is a consolation prize that makes up for absence of The Jackson: this Hobbit project will be not one, but TWO movies.

(The Internet has dropped all of its belongings back onto the floor and has not so much climbed as leaped back into the bed.)

The first film will apparently be an adaptation of The Hobbit, while the second film will tackle the 60-year period between the end of the events in that book and the stuff in The Lord of the Rings. Immediate concerns come to mind. Do we want Peter Jackson-sanctioned flunkies just outright making up stuff left and right about this time period? Hell no! But as anybody who has ever read the Appendices (and who among us hasn't?) at the end of The Return of the King knows, there's a ton of material ready for use in there.

(By the way, it's about to get real geeky up in here, let me warn you.)

You have a young Aragorn (remember, he is in his 80's at the time of The Lord of the Rings--you have to keep in mind that he is the scion of the longer-lived Men of Nümenor) kicking ass and taking names as a Ranger of Eriador, or, as Thorongil, earning the envy of a young Denethor by catching the eye of Ecthelion II, leading in a sense to Denethor's own later tragically skewed view of his own sons Boromir and Faramir; you have Gandalf riding all hither and yonder as he tries to keep the Necromancer (and you know who that is) in check and figure out what's going on with that ring that Bilbo "found" somewhere in the roots of the Misty Mountains (keep in mind that some of this material will probably be incorporated into the first film, as The Hobbit is full of spots where Gandalf just up and abandons Thorin's company and goes off on his own independent frolics, which could include things like the meeting of the White Council--who's going to play Radagast the Brown?--the assault by said body on Dol Goldur, the corruption of Saruman, etc); the reawakening of the Nazgûl, assault on Minas Ithil and the emptying of Ithilien; and Gandalf and Aragorn's hunt for Gollum. (And if they're going to make anything up out of whole cloth, I demand to know why the hell Aragorn was ever in Rhûn, and what the fuck happened to the two Blue Wizards, the latter having bugged me since I was 12.)

(And if you think I even had to glance at any source materials to come up with any of that stuff, you are sadly, sadly mistaken. The only thing I had to look up was how to do umlauts and how the hell to get that thing over the u in Rhûn, which I don't even know the name of, and just wound up copy-pasting.)

(The Internet is now sleeping very deeply, and will wake up many hours later, very hungry, a little sore, but very happy.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Apparently, I Have Aged Tremendously Overnight

(Dear Readers: Sorry for not posting anything all of last week. It was not a very funny week, and also I scored some new translations from the people that sent me the Argentine tax document translations, for which I initially thanked them, but now I am cursing their name. They now have me translating treaties on avoidance of double taxation. It is as fun as it sounds. In any case, I promise several postings this week. I hope I haven't inconvenienced either of you in any way.)

It is now mid-December, and that means Year's Best lists.

I have yet to see many of these, aside from a few book lists I have taken a look at. And then the other day I was looking at and saw that they have a little roundtable going on the year's best music. I checked it out.

It was horrifying. I hadn't even heard of 80% of the artists listed. Here's the list of the author's top singles:

1. M.I.A., "Bird Flu"
2. Lil Wayne, "I Feel Like Dying"
3. Sophie-Ellis Bextor, "Catch You"
4. Usher featuring Ludacris, "Dat Girl Right There"
5. Eve, "Tambourine"
6. Ciara, "Like a Boy"
7. Jennifer Lopez, "Qué Hiciste"
8. Rihanna featuring Jay-Z, "Umbrella"
9. Aventura, "Mi Corazoncito"
10. Miranda Lambert, "Famous in a Small Town"
11. Hector El Father, "Pa' La Tumba"
12. Amy Winehouse, "Back to Black"
13. Robin Thicke, "Lost Without U"
14. Eric Church, "Guys Like Me"
15. The Pierces, "Boring"
16. Sugababes, "About You Now"
17. Gwen Stefani featuring Akon, "The Sweet Escape"
18. Kanye West, "Can't Tell Me Nothing"
19. Mika, "Grace Kelly"
20. The Fratellis, "Flathead"
21. Natasha Bedingfield, "I Wanna Have Your Babies"
22. The-Dream, "Falsetto"
23. Mickey Avalon, "Jane Fonda"
24. The Cribs, "Our Bovine Public"
25. Katherine McPhee, "Over It"

Out of those 25 songs, the only ones I have heard are "Umbrella" and "Flathead" (that Fratellis album is worth checking out). Those aren't even the two songs by the Puerto Ricans! I don't even want to get into how many of these artists I've never heard of.

I was less horrified by the list of the top 10 albums:

1. M.I.A., Kala
2. Miranda Lambert, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
3. Brad Paisley, 5th Gear
4. Lil Wayne, The Carter 3 Mixtape
5. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
6. Kanye West, Graduation
7. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
8. Feist, The Reminder
9. R. Kelly, Double Up
10. The Pierces, Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge

Left: Amy Winehouse: You can expand the picture by clicking on it (if you want your Christmas ruined).

Here I have at least heard of half the artists. M.I.A. is some sort of Indonesian hip-hop Manu Chao, LCD Soundsystem is a band my brother likes because they have robot singers, Kanye West is an indie artist who I think may make it big someday, Amy Winehouse is some sort of drunken British witch, and R. Kelly likes to micturate on the underaged. As for Melissa Lambert? I guess it would be cool if she turned out to be Christopher Lambert's daughter. Maybe the whole album is songs like "MacLeod's Lament" and "There Can Be Only One." But somehow I doubt it. Lil Wayne I presume is some sort of child rapper. Or an obese rapper. I will probably never hear that album, whatever the case may be. Feist means "a small mongrel dog," mainly in the American South. Perhaps the Pierces have something to do with Niles Crane. And I have to say that Brad Paisley's "5th Gear" sounds like some sort of Sammy Hagar album. No thanks.

The reason why all this is so horrifying is that at one point in the not too distant past I recall at least being aware of what was going on in popular music. At some point in the early 90's, Prepubescent Paco suddenly decided that he was going to know all about every band that showed up on MTV. A video would come on and I could immediately name the artist, song, and album title (these were the days before they started showing the name of the video director, which, by the way, was almost immediately followed by the current "we don't actually play videos anymore" era of Beach Houses and TRL; perhaps showing the directors' names somehow killed videos--somebody should investigate this. Maybe Michael Mukasey, as it is now clear that he won't be investigating anything relevant for the next 13 months), all before these were displayed on the screen.

All of a sudden it's 2007 and I'm finding out from fucking Slate of all things that Alan Thicke, the dad from "Growing Pains," had a kid (the are-you-kiddingly-named Robin Thicke) who is now a famous recording artist who gets to grope hot ladies all day even though his last name is synonymous with stupidity, and he shares his first name with a) a pretty little bird and b) Batman's boyfriend, while I have somehow turned into Andy Rooney.

Left: Robin Thicke: Wrong for America.

I may have to kill myself soon.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Aftermath

It was a grim weekend.

After the indicent with my car window, I understandably withdrew into a cocoon of shock and grief, drowning my sorrows in glass after glass of Lactaid with Ovaltine—it dissolves so much better than Nesquik, and instead of being the color of chocolate it’s more like the purple of A-Rod’s lips, and who wouldn’t want a little $300+ million in their mouth? (I don’t know what my price is, but let’s be honest, it would fit cozily into that budget)—all while my special ladyfriend traipsed around New York city, torrential downpours swamped the island, and my fantasy basketball team continued to have an atrocious free throw percentage; the days were long, and the resultant sentences apparently even longer.

(That last sentence brought to you by Commas, Dashes, Parentheses, and Semi-Colons: making long sentences interminable since English was called ‘Engliscgereorde’! Oh snap, did I just bust out the Old English on your ass? You bet your assa, modorforliger! )

But the car’s broken window was eventually fixed—by my ruthlessly efficient grandfather, Don Cheo, who can somehow arrange for a car window to be fixed, pick up the car to go take it to be fixed, have it fixed, and then call you seventeen times to tell you that it’s fixed… all before the sun comes up… on a Saturday—and with it, my will to live, or at least to look elsewhere for a copy of John Carpenter’s The Thing, that holiest of grails in my lamest of quests. So I drove the newly-repaired car over to my local Blockbuster video, where I hadn’t been in years, and which, after falling on such hard times that I forsook it completely (what finally made me so mad as hell that I refused to take it anymore was, ironically, the fact that they did not have a copy of Network in stock, which, believe it or not, is completely true), has made a truly miraculous recovery. Indeed, the Hato Rey Blockbuster was so well-stocked and rejuvenated that I will tentatively put forward the opinion that this particular Blockbuster is at its own personal (as it were) apogee, offering an even greater selection than it did in the halcyon days of its grand opening in the early 90’s, when it replaced the previous occupant of its locale, the inadvertently hilariously-named S & M supermarket (seriously).

After parking my car in the brightest parking spot on the lot—parking inside the store itself being unreasonably frowned upon, in my opinion—I took a lap around the interior of the store, finding not one but TWO copies of The Thing, a very good selection of older films overall, and a Transformers edition of Monopoly on sale (just sitting there, basking in the celestial glow of God’s love and favor).

Feeling the hot, tearing bite of a good thing on my ass, I secured a membership immediately, rented The Thing, and immediately hauled ass to my now ex-video place, where I essentially flung my last rental (the first disc of Season 1 of Prison Break, which I got for my grandfather, whose enthusiasm for window replacement vastly outstripped his interest in Prison Break) out of my car window so that I could continue to have a car window at the end of the transaction. And so, to follow is a brief list of things that I will not miss about my old video store, the Video Avenue on Muñoz Rivera Ave.:

1. Persons unknown breaking my car window.

2. The big “Video Drop” box outside the store, which for years has been locked and not open for eponymous video drops therein, which I shudder to think what prompted that inexplicable decision, and I’m thinking bodily fluids of some sort.

3. Speaking of bodily fluids, the fact that the parking lot, in addition to being a place where people break your car windows and yet don’t have the decency to rid you of Il Divo and Andrea Bocelli, always smelled like a sewer line somewhere had been busted, most likely because of the sewer line that was busted in said parking lot, which as far as I can tell has been busted for a good two years.

4. The taunting presence of four separate cash registers, no more than one of which was ever in use at any given moment, even though the line was often so long that people were simply lined up right through the middle of the Action section and thus had to pass by the entire Jean Claude Van Damme ouvre, from Bloodsport to Universal Soldier: The Return (the original Universal Soldier being inexplicably absent from the collection, although several copies of Legionnaire always seem to be on hand).

Although I am excited to be back to frequenting the Blockbuster, today’s visit was not without ominous portents. For example, as I left the Blockbuster, I was asked for money by a guy named Michael, who just needs a little cash because he lost his construction job the other day. Thing is, Michael has been losing this same construction job for about 15 years now, and though he seems mostly to split his time between that Blockbuster and the Pueblo down the street, it is not outside the realm of possibility that he was the one that busted my window at the other place, given that it’s only a few blocks away. Perhaps I should have asked him for my mother’s IPod, which was taken, as so many other young IPods of its generation, before its time, at the Hato Rey Video Avenue.