How to win your Seder

Hey guys! Last night I attended a seder with a whole bunch of friendly strangers, which is probably the best way to do it. (If you’re going to meet your relatives, it means enduring their politics and talk about their thigh ailments. This is an unwinnable situation, so suck it up and be prepared to hear about “Millenials”. You have my sympathy).

Now, what is a Seder? A seder is a hebrew word which means “goat foot man”.

No, that’s just an example of a comedic misunderstanding that will serve you well at your Seder. (A goat footed man is really a Satan.)

But you don’t care about me[1]. You want to win your Seder, which means getting just drunk enough that you have fun, but not so drunk you can’t find the Afikomen.

Because if you don’t find the Afikomen (basically a mystery saltine), you don’t get a $10 iTunes gift card, and then how are you gonna catch Lorde’s greatest hits?

YOU WON’T.

Now, how do you win the Seder? Especially if you’re a Goyim, brought along to meet people in the entertainment industry?[2]

First: Sit next to someone who looks solicitous. If they’re already drinking before the thing starts, they’re going to find your jokes hilarious. The seder takes about 40 minutes, most of which is spent talking about God’s war crimes and singing Dayenu.

Second: Sing along. Hebrew songs are mostly in the key of D minor, the dirge-tune of perpetual expulsion. Maybe if Jews had happier tunes they wouldn’t have been kicked out of Prague so many times, but don’t mention this.

It’s easy to sing along to these songs because they’re really, really redundant. But what did you expect from a festival of something that happened 3000 years ago and didn’t really happen anyway[3]?

Third: Don’t praise the Egyptians as “doing the best they could”. Avoid talk about Slavery as a usual social policy in Civilization 4. Avoid giggling at the term “Bondage”, even though its meaning has gone from “soul destroying toil” to “restraints and possible bum-play.” Instead, drink.

Four: The Afikomen isn’t in grandma’s jewelry drawer. But if the pearls went missing, c’mon, who would believe her? She’s so forgetful!

Five: Of course the kids are lazy! When I was a kid, I’d had five jobs before I graduated high school, and I didn’t get no college!



[1] A weird attribute to hold on the 100+ update of AdamUltraberg.com, but there’s the potential, however remote, that another website might have linked you here. If so, let me summarize: I really disliked OWS!  

[2] If you don’t know what Goy is, you’re a goy. Sorry!

[3] Which is only to say there’s no proof it happened. BUT, that would mean that God wasn’t a d-bag who softened and rehardened Pharoah’s heart to show off awesome plagues, so +/- on that.

My stuff

Hey guys. Did you buy my stuff at the Harmontown auction for 628? Someone did. Someone bought that weird cut up sweater from the Jarrethtown ep, some nametags, and some exclusive (not to be commercially released!) Community swag. Holler at me if you bought something because it edifies me on a social/moral level. 

If not, enjoy a free observation:

Proctology is a great job if you like hearing the same 3 jokes over and over and “Big Bang” just staffed.

Welcome Back Dr. Burke

Saw “Welcome Back Dr. Burke” trending on twitter, which made me think. When I was in elementary school, my principal was a woman named Dr. Burke.

Haven’t thought of her in a while…maybe 15 years? I’m not old, but it was way toward the beginning of my sentience.

One of the school’s campaigns was to raise a donation of a million buttons. Clothing buttons were stored in a gigantic tank, maybe 8’ by 9’, maybe larger; the thing was massive and stood horizontally across a wall. This was the deal: everyone badgers their family into donating buttons, she’d dress up like a character from literature. We held up our end of the bargain, logging our button donations at a chart outside the tank.

One day, she called an assembly and told us we’d donated 999,999 buttons.

(My friend Andrew, at that time cute and sandy blonde, now virulently anti-authoritarian, leaned over to tell me that we must be 10 short of the million.) 

Dr. Burke revealed from behind her back a yellow button the size of a hubcap, dropping it into the tank. Applause. The votes were in; she would dress as new literary sensation, Harry Potter.

Weeks later, they repositioned the tank from horizontal to vertical. A few buttons slid out on the floor and I took them as I passed by. The tank no longer contained a million, and only I knew. Museum goers who were eager to see what a million looked like would be very, very slightly incorrect.  

For this deviance, fate punished me in two ways.

One, the fifth grade field trip was during a day when Dr. Burke dressed up. I have never seen this respected educator dressed as a British boy-wizard.

Second, my mother began to collect buttons, filling rooms of the house with them. Her regional button presidencies and administrative roles are a reminder of the casual disinformation children are of. The way messing with the unobserved is a kind of magic.

 

Every writer has this happen

ACTOR: Actually…I’ve been doing some writing too.
WRITER: OK, let’s see.
[Actor turns over a script.]
WRITER: This is written in internal prose. This is unfilmable, but…thanks for trying? It is…a start, I guess.
[Actor smiles.]
ACTOR: Actually…I did this.
WRITER: That’s a bag of wet leaves.
ACTOR: Well, it’s a rough draft.
WRITER: Of what, dry leaves?
ACTOR: Look, I don’t critique your acting.
WRITER: My acting is fine.
[It ISN’T.]

In Silverlake, Echo, Culver or Santa Monica, add:
PRODUCER: Want to get high?
[EVERYONE GOES TO GET HIGH]

A Valentine’s day story.

Just after college, I splurged on $50 worth of Prix-faire dinner in Boston. Dinner goes great, I cover the check, all is well.
Me and my GF get back to her car…$50 parking ticket.

She took care of it. (The $50 had taken out me out). We went back to her place, and I was single by March.

My Parks and Rec Spec, “Park Sand Shrek”

EXT: Pawnee City Hall.

LESLIE and DONKEY sit on a bench.

LESLIE
Donkey, I have definitive proof that 9/11 was an inside job.

Shrek, TOTALLY PISSED, emerges from the front doors. (Pissed as in drunk, but also angry).

SHREK
(Badassly)
I said…
Get ogre it.

A scene I want to happen

Dark Ultra:  We could’ve been friends, you and I! We could have ruled the worlds together!

Me: Probably not. I mean, you’re my opposite.

Dark Ultra: But that makes us perfect allies!

Me: Why?

Dark Ultra: Because…well, what I’m getting at, if you look at it from a Hegelian…

Me: Your only exposure to Hegel was Fallout New Vegas.

Dark Ultra: Well, but…

Me: You just want to borrow my shirts. We’re opposites, dude! Even if I wanted to rule the multiverse, you wouldn’t want to. It’d be like, J/O central. Me me me. Me.

Dark Ultra: J/O central? We don’t call it that on Nega Earth.

Me: Look, you got two options. One is I kill you. The other is you try some mystic bullshaft or something, and I absorb your evil essence.

Dark Ultra: I’m not evil! Don’t associate Dark and evil!

Me: You’re calling me racist?

Dark Ultra: Seems so.

Me: Fine. OK. There’s this old chalice I got from this Arthurian gift shop in Encino. Spill your blood in the chalice, and think about all the things you hate about me.

Dark Ultra: The fact you keep referring to me as…

When he turns around, I slit my dark double’s throat.

Me: Eat it, asshole! You am NOT good double!

I look around the room, examining the very similar body of Dark Ultra. Hmmm.

Me: Let’s see Sallie Mae get money from a dead man.

Worth

Sometimes, a kind of nausea will hit you, like a wave of “No” in the quiet ocean of your life.

This isn’t the loud, flashy wave of your bank account gaining length, a stranger coming home with you from the bar, the new recipe coming out better than you expected—

This isn’t even the opposite of that.

Read More

Thank you for a great 2013

2013 was the year I finally got more tumblr followers than posts. I know I endanger that balance every time I post, but it’s worth it to thank you. Merry everything.

My Podcasts of 2013

Why not. No numbers.

  • The Flophouse - Comedy about bad movies
  • Harmontown - Comedy about being tall, short, and/or Fat. Worth attending live.
  • Scriptnotes - Honesty about writin’. Will attend live.
  • My Brother, My Brother And Me - Comedy about advice, ghost, and horses.
  • KCRW’s Money Shot:  - 3 minute comedy about the tv making industry. You can probably clear the backlog while cleaning your apt one time.
  • Getting on with James Urbaniak: Monthly drama. I intend to write for it  in 2014 because it is fascinatingly produced, emotional, and clever.
  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History: Drama, but a bit slower. I’d like it more if my phone’s browser didn’t crap out often at the :40 minute mark. Also a bit explanation heavy, but I like DC’s metaphors and explanations.
  • Garrison Keillor The Writer’s Almanac: At 5 minutes per ep, a perfect dose of Keillor and poetry.

On Bitcoins and other fictive currencies

One of my friends was posting on FB yesterday. His web company’s doing well, and he wanted to invest in bitcoin.

Basically, I knew this was a badidea, but the wonderful “Leperflesh” of SA (his name)
said it better than I ever could. All non-bolded text is his.

The TLDR is that gambling on bitcoin would be reasonable, if the markets were regulated; but there’s proof that Mt. Magic Cards or Bitstrump or Bitlump will steal your money, and since they’re based in Delphi or Kujiristan, there’s not a thing you can do about it.

Cue Leperflesh:

The issue is similar to that faced by daytraders who make dozens of trades on small fluctuations in price of some security per day; predicting floors and ceilings. There are all sorts of “technical analysis” techniques for doing this, most of which work just often enough for millions of people to rely on them, but break just often enough that millions of other people are quite sure they’re useless (I’m one of the latter).

The thing is, though, real securities (stocks, bonds, etc.), and real commodities (soybeans, gold), and real currencies (euros, yen) all move in response to actual real-world events which affect the underlying thing (companies, crops, supply of metals, the financial condition of a government). So you can watch the news and make trades based on headlines, and you can watch other traders who watch the news and make trades based on what other traders do, and you can watch the overall market and make trades on individual securities which have prices that tend to respond to the overall market, and so forth.

But bitcoins are different because there is no underlying thing. The number of new bitcoins per hour is relatively fixed, so there’s no surprises there for the market to respond to. That means the main events that bitcoin prices can respond to are things like “mount gox broken into again: ten bazillion bitcoins may be stolen”, “silk road being investigated by Interpol”, and “a famous blogger mentioned Bitcoins in his article in a way possibly interpretable as positive”. These news items do move the price, of course, but since there’s no real thing behind bitcoins, there’s no natural floor in price set by that real thing. Soybean futures may rise or crash, but the chances we’ll suddenly stop producing soybeans altogether - or produce so many soybeans that they’re now totally free - are pretty much zero. Whereas the chances that at some point absolutely nobody on Earth will still use a bitcoin for anything are somewhat greater than zero. And the natural ceiling on bitcoin prices is essentially equivalent to the greatest potential of fools and money to be parted.

So I think it’d be fair to say it’s harder to predict ceilings and floors with bitcoin, and thus, more difficult to make money daytrading bitcoin in the long term.

But forget about all of that. Really, forget it, it’s all irrelevant. All you need to know is that there does not exist a single way to trade bitcoins that is regulated. Every option for buying and selling bitcoins relies on unregulated intermediaries who, demonstrably, have a terrible record of reliability. You could be 100% certain that the price of bitcoin is about to go up for the next 30 minutes, buy into a position, and then see all your bitcoins locked up inside a shitty website for three hours while it’s “down due to another DDOS” or whatever excuse. You could sell all your bitcoins at a huge profit, and then never get your money because the bullshit website run by amateurs that you have your money in finds its Polish bank account seized by authorities. There are several exchanges for bitcoins and they each have listed exchange rates that are utterly out of sync with each other. The fact that arbitrageurs do not very, very quickly resolve those differences demonstrates that they are fucked up; it means the costs, in terms of transactional fees but even more especially in terms of time, are so huge and problematic that people are not able to efficiently exploit a ten dollar difference in BTC price across two exchanges which persists for hours or even days.

Real securities, real commodities, real currencies are traded on incredibly reliable, government-regulated exchanges run by professionals with actual knowledge and experience, whose organizations are able to handle billions of dollars per day of other people’s money entirely due to having established impeccable reputations for reliability and safety. Huge corporations and the world’s richest individuals trust their wealth to these agencies because these agencies have proved themselves to be trustworthy again and again.

If you want to dabble in technical trading or whatever, do it someplace where your money isn’t quite so likely to disappear into a black hole overnight due to gross incompetence or illegal activity or both, on the part of the unaccountable and often anonymous people running the exchange.

Adam Ultraberg: Programmed to Annoy Ep 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMkFU1Ktu98

I got annoy people in LA, as they deserve it.

If you’re reposting that GIRLS DO SCIENCE TO THE BEASTIE BOYS link, you lost.

By saying an Advertisement is Awesome, Cool, or Progressive, we tacitly acknowledge that advertisements have the right to determine how we think. Even ads that progress social agendas are still selling you something. Is there a reason you saw this ad? It’s because you’re in the demographic.

As the saying goes, if you don’t know what the cost is, you’re what’s being sold.

The five article suffix that changed everything. This is a must read.

theultrablog:

  • This is a much needed lesson.
  • A wakeup call.
  • Think you overuse these cliches?
  • I totally agree.
  • You will too.
  • (You read that right.)
  • It will inspire you.
  • You MUST click this.
  • Life was ordinary…
  • Then this happened.
  • If you only click one link today…
  • This. Just this.

The five article suffix that changed everything. This is a must read.

  • This is a much needed lesson.
  • A wakeup call.
  • Think you overuse these cliches?
  • I totally agree.
  • You will too.
  • (You read that right.)
  • It will inspire you.
  • You MUST click this.
  • Life was ordinary…
  • Then this happened.
  • If you only click one link today…
  • This. Just this.