Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

So I'm at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see "Picasso and the Weeping Women," a retrospective of Picasso's work and how it echoed his personal life.

Now, being an engineer-type, I'm not the biggest fan of interpretive art. I tend to favor the realists: Dutch masters, Renaissance artists, Norman Rockwell, that sort of thing. But I can appreciate the emotional content of a painting just as well as anybody, even if I think the painting itself is ugly. And this exhibit has emotional content in spades.

About half-way through the hall, though, I sit down and try to decide what's bothering me about these pictures. A lot of them are ugly, yeah, with contorted faces and angry colors, but there is something else -- something disjoint -- about almost every one of them. Something wrong. Somehow, almost every "Weeping Woman" canvas I come across is deeply, deeply wrong.

The teeth. Most of the paintings have these teeth. Not quiet, sad teeth -- the teeth of someone weeping -- but angry, gnashing, clutching, stabbing teeth. If you cover the mouth, the entire painting is perfect -- eyes spilling tears, a handkerchief held to the cheek, the face open and soft and sad. And if you take your hand away: the teeth. It makes these women look like they're in pain, in physical agony.

They bother me, these teeth.

So on the way home I stop and get a fritter at Randy's, that place on La Cieniga with a giant donut on the roof. That made me feel better.

So I've decided that I'm in a band. I don't actually play any instruments or write any music or gather with other people to practice or perform or anything, but I really like being able to say, "I'm in a band."

The band is called The Scattergods. We love that name. It's got just the right ring of arty coolness. It could be anything from an obscure literary reference to a random bit of forgotten pop culture to something out of any number of Eastern religions. It encourages you to think of disorder and chaos and divinity and omnipotence, all mixed in together in all sorts of different ways.

The name actually comes from a mis-reading of the sign on the side of the Scattergood Steam Plant on Vista Del Mar in El Segundo, but that doesn't quite inspire the images of cynical, literate hipness that we're looking for, so don't go spreadin' it around.

Our first CD is going to be called "Self-Titled Debut Album" and will have lots of tech-savvy nonsense on the higher tracks, including the sound of a 300 baud modem sending a program that will require an old Atari 8-bit to run.

Our style is the kind of U2/Pearl Jam/Dramarama/Who-influenced guitar-driven rock-and-roll that we really like, with occasional odd-ball forays into down-right KLF-ian weirdness.

I'm our singer/songwriter/lead guitarist, because, quite frankly, I have the hair for it. Plus, I've been practicing saying, with one arm raised and my palm toward the audience, "Thank you! G'night!"

I figure that that's pretty much all I have to do, really, to claim I'm in a band, especially since this has nothing to do with artistic or musical accomplishment and everything to do with trying to get women to talk to me.

Now I just need to work on excuses why I can't actually play any songs for them.

So I bought one of those fancy new toothbrushes that you can get these days.

You'd think that it would be hard to keep improving something like a toothbrush. You'd think that toothbrushes have been around for so long that they'd be all improved-out. You'd think that toothbrush companies just invent all this new gimmickry to squeeze a few more bucks out of an increasingly disinterested populace.

But you're a jaded bastard. Me, I love my new toothbrush.

It's got a bigger, rounded handle, making it easier to grip. It's got a groove down the center, making it easier to brush teeth at an angle. It's got separated, raised bristles at the tip, making it easier to get between teeth. It's got an angled head, making it easier to reach the back of my mouth. It's got blue stripe that will wear down as I use it, make it easier to decide when to get a new one.

It's got everything.

My teeth don't feel any cleaner. But that doesn't matter.

I love my new toothbrush.

So I'm in San Diego visiting some friends and I happen across a recent reprint of Nancy Drew #1, "The Secret of the Old Clock." The first few paragraphs read:

Nancy Drew, an attractive girl of eighteen, was driving home along a country road in her new, dark-blue convertible. She had just delivered some legal papers for her father.

"It was sweet of Dad to give me this car for my birthday," she thought. "And it's fun to help him in his work."

Her father, Carson Drew, a well-known lawyer in their home town of River Heights, frequently discussed puzzling aspects of cases with his blonde, blue-eyed daughter.

Smiling, Nancy said to herself, "Dad depends on my intuition."

I think any comment here would be gratuitous.

So I'm out for my run, listening to "Texas Rangers" on the KNX Drama Hour. In tonight's episode, Jas and Leeds are tracking down an escaped killer. Da da!

The Rangers are informed by a guy talking through a tube that the killer has only one known acquaintance, a woman that, ahem, he is not married to. She's not at her last known address and left no forwarding information. So, Jas, knowing the best way to find a woman, gives the order:

"Check any cosmetics mail-order suppliers for her name."

Well, of course.

So they find her and intimidate her into letting them search her apartment. Inside they find candy wrappers, and sweets are a known habit of the killer. Lifesavers were stolen from a nearby gas station.

"It ain't no crime eatin' candy," says the woman.

"Yeah," says Jas, "but you've got a 30-day diet tacked to the wall over there, and from the looks of your figure, you've been followin' it."

The dame folds like a wet paper napkin.

I don't think it was satire.

So I walk into the barber shop and the woman behind the counter is having a conversation with some guy who just got his hair cut.

"You're kidding," she says.

"No, no. It's great."

"You're kidding." She shakes her head.

"Really. I tried a friend's and I loved it. Your barber told me I could get one at Thrifty's."

"Why'd you tell him that?" she says to the barber.

"If the man wants one, he should know where to get one," the barber says back.

"I think I'll stop by there now," the guy says and turns to leave.

"Man," the counter woman says after him.

I walk up to the counter and say, "Hi, I'd like to get a trim."

"Sure. No problem. What's your name?"

"Greg. Ah, hey, what was that guy talking about?"

She grins. "A Flow-Bee."

"A Flow-Bee? That vacuum-cleaner attachment that cuts hair?"


"And he wanted one."


"You're kidding."


So I'm at a Laker game with my dad and I'm waiting in the Will Call line to pick up our tickets. The guy in front of me is wearing the kind of green sweater than only people who own tasseled loafers wear. It's probably not only worth more than everything I'm wearing, but everything I own. He strikes up a conversation.

We chat briefly about how quickly the line is moving, despite the fact that it's long and how it should be a good game.

Arriving at the window, he slides his driver's license through the window, leans over and says, "I've got player tickets. Nick Van Exel left them for me."

"Who?" the woman behind the glass says.

"Nick Van Exel. I represent him."


"He plays on the team."

"Oh." She disappears.

The guy working the other window motions me over and I give him my license. I turn back to Van Exel's agent and say, "So. Why'd he shave his head?"

"What?" he says.

"Why'd Nick shave his head?"

He laughs a little. "He wanted to be more like Barkley."

"Euugh. Nobody should want to be more like Barkley."

The woman reappears behind the window and says, "Are you sure he left them for you?"

"Yes. I'm his agent."

"Who was it again?"

By now, the guy at my window is back with a pair of tickets and he hands them to me with my license. I thank him and start to walk back to where my dad's waiting.

As I pass him, I say to the agent, "That's how you get service around here."

Or at least I wish I had, dammit.

So I'm at the Dodger home opener. It's taken me an hour to get from the off-ramp to my seat, I got scalped hard for the ticket and my car smells like a bar-b-que gone horribly wrong, but the view is nice and a cool breeze is blowing through the shade where I'm sitting. I'm behind the plate, upper deck, just to the right, enough to see the Hollywood sign around the overhang.

It's a good day. Sunny, warm. Chavez Ravine is green and pretty. Fifty-four thousand people took the afternoon off (either today specifically or, heh, months ago in general) to be here and there's a good feeling in the air.

It's the kind of day where the woman two rows in front of me can have ice dumped down her back by the young child one row in front of me and not care too much.

It's the kind of day where the first paper air plane that sails out over the dugout inspires a dozen more, all swooping and lunging crazily, all making batboys scamper and leap.

It's the kind of day that inspires men who should not take their shirts off in private to do so in public and get nasty burns they'll regret in the morning.

It's the kind of day where someone, a few rows back, can get a little too drunk and sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" with lusty exuberance during the 7th inning stretch.

It's the kind of day when you'll see one of just about everything: a homer, a steal, an error, a double-play, a leaping catch.

It's the kind of day where you can hear Vin Scully reassuring you that the fire at the Farmer John warehouse didn't hurt the availability of Dodger Dogs and not only not giggle, but care a little somehow.

It's the kind of day that should happen more often.

Dodgers win, 4 to 3.

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard").

My e-mail address is I'd love to hear from you!

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