A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Friday, March 31, 2006

Just the first post is classic.

And dude's book is #2 on Amazon's bestseller list. True man of genius, I say.


Inspiration comes in waves

Sometimes, we all need a little kick in the ass. A little whisper that says, "You go big boy. Get out of bed. Eat that Thomas's 6-pack bagel with some nice Philly cream cheese. You can do it. Don't forget your belt though: only tools don't wear belts when they tuck in their shirts. There you go. Good. You're ready to go to another day."

Well, my kick in the ass came from this nugget of goodness: Billy Ocean's "When the Going Gets Tough." It says many things to me: it talks of innocence, faith, and the human spirit. But maybe most of all it says to me: "You, big guy, you can do it too. Go out and get 'em tiger. And don't let nothin' stand in your damn way."

Thank you, Billy Ocean. You, sir, have given me pause. I salute you.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Goddamn I love these Google mash-ups.

I don't know why, but there's just something so cool about those Google maps mash-ups. I just found a cool one for census stuff/demographics for your area. Apparantly in a 1 mile radius of my current digs, it's about 50% whitey and 50% minority. Go progressive Tejas! Then again, this is from the 2000 census which is most definitely outdated...median home value is like $77K, and I know it's higher than that now.
Google, bitches!


After getting multiple postings about how the author of this web comic was coming to my graduate school to give an up-close and personal look into the genesis of his unique brand of hackneyed, cloying and predictable humor, I was stricken by inspiration.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It's Money For People.

Give to The Human Fund today.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Okay, Okay, One More

Did You Know: that A) the urban legend surrounding "sex bracelets" may not be a total myth, and B) that within the (IMHO retarded) communities using them, that there're still a few slight quirks about how they're interpreted? Here's one of those comical screw-ups:

Yellow: hug (alternate meaning: analingus)
"Guys? Uh.. h-hey, guys? I thought this was just going to be a cuddle party!"

Chris Rock: We don't need police officers in our schools! We just need the Tossed Salad Man!

Anonymity Kills

Living in a town with its very own CraigsList is a unfailing badge of hipster honor, an opportunity and an onerous responsibility. Key opportunities include being able to tap an almost limitless supply of clothes-hangers and cheap furniture; major responsibilites include knowing that somebody in your department is making cash on the side by selling realtime footage of his unit (which I swear to God is a true story, but it's been removed; I think maybe offering free sex is kosher, but not pay-for voyeurism. That's understandable, I guess).

Another major responsibility is having to be ready and able to shampoo your brain on command. The latest offender is a poster who wants to organize a "Cuddle Party," wherein you show up somewhere in your pajamas and... cuddle? Everything about the website-- which I had to Google for, because the original CL poster was wrong in assuming that I'm a regular Tyra Banks viewer-- is amazingly no-frills. The essential argument is that (single) adults don't get hugged enough, and so we should all get together and, well, cuddle. It sounds like Fight Club except with an arrested sexuality rather than a throbbingly homoerotic one.

The fundamental question: would you want to be hugged by anybody who would go to a Cuddle Party? I know for a fact that my penis can flop its way out through the fly on my boxers and pajama pants during the night, depending on how much I toss and turn in my sleep, relative humidity and whether I remembered to rebutton the fly during the semiconscious trip to the head. This is why I keep my cuddling to a bare minimum, in my own house and with certain invited guests, like a fucking Man.

Social Science for the Win

Thursday, March 23, 2006

How fucked up would it be...

...to just buy a video game for the soundtrack???

(actually the game looks pretty sweet from those hi-tech advertisements they keep puttin' on the Tee-Vee.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I Don't Want to Be A Soldier...Mama. I Don't Want to Die.

I was watching the movie Jarhead the other night, when I got to thinking: If we want to stop wars we must stop glorifying the warriors. The film based on the novel of the same name depicts a group of young Marines as they prepare to go to Iraq during the first Gulf War. They are a ragtag crew of undereducated, jingoistic, sometimes homoerotic men so disillusioned by testosterone and exaggerated ideas of patriotism that they appear to be mindless brutes. Watching them run about shirtless, branding each other whilst cursing made me appreciate the hell that the military must be. It also got me questioning, what kind of person signs up for this type of work? These are the troops we are asked to support? These are the few, the proud, the Marines.

Now before you start disagreeing that not all military men and women are like these caricatures, and that there must be educated sensitive soldiers, let me say that I am sure you are right. Although, I am not sure if there can be a better example of an oxymoron than educated sensitive soldiers. I think it is safe to assume that a movie based on a novel written by a Marine, one that follows the patterns we have seen many times in movies that depict military life, should be considered somewhat accurate. I mean how many times have we seen films or read books about military life where a group[ of diverse young men try and figure out why they are so angry. I would also like to submit my own personal interaction with a few military people I have met. In college I lived with a guy in the Navy, and watching the people he dealt with on a daily basis made me count my blessings that I was not under the same sentence as he. The people I met from his ship reaffirmed every stereotype I have ever heard about military personnel.

But this has been an inaccurate introduction. I am not here to declare that the military is made up of a violent breed of idiots, even if that may be the case. I am here to question why, we as a society honor such men. Why do we take people from our poorest neighborhoods, who are young, impressionable, lacking low-self esteem, out of options, ignorant of world affairs and history, and fill them with hatred and violence. And then when they murder fellow human beings, or are killed themselves do we award them with badges and salute them. It seems absurd.

I can already see flag waving fists pumping as their owners curse me for my blasphemy. Shouting slogans like, They are fighting for your freedom. You little faggot.(Super patriotic people have a very highly charged homophobia, that leads one to believe that maybe the inability to come to terms with ones sexuality, may lead to violent behavior and the need to be around many other strong and violent men sharing stories about who is the least gay and who is the most.) But back to our flag wavers who say that without our soldiers we would be exposed to the wrath of Nazis, terrorists or worse communists. My idea, however, goes beyond that logic. I am asking why we honor soldiers of any nation? Have we, as a species, not evolved from the Vikings or the Knights of the Round Table? Are we still so enthralled with violent victories that we must debase our sensitivities and ourselves every time a man in uniform spills blood on some battlefield. Why not simply criminalize violent behavior and make being a soldier close to a criminal act. Again I don’t mean only the US, but all nations that have armies or soldiers will be considered unlawful. I am not to naïve to believe that we can start to disarm the world today, but can we not simply start to devalue violent behavior. Can’t we stop idolizing the soldiers? Can’t we find something else for small boys to want to be?

Before you accuse me of being unrealistic or worse idealistic. Think about it. I am simply saying imagine a world where we don’t buy toy guns for our kids, we don’t play war games, we don’t salute men who kill other men, we don’t applaud violence, the fact that three generations of men have died defending a nation could be considered sad not honorable. How about a nation that gives young men who lack opportunity, opportunity, we give men who lack self-esteem, confidence, not by becoming mindless rage filled drones, but by understanding themselves and making better choices. We do not support the troops-any of them, any where in the world, we tear down barracks, fire drill-instructors and rip apart uniforms, flags, and discard badges. We cancel parades and disassemble tanks. We stop making guns and destroy the ones we have. Okay, okay I am entering fairyland, where we all run around wearing only leaves and eating fresh fruit.

I am trying to be realistic. After watching Jarhead, I felt such pity for people in the military. It seems like such a cop-out. Here are men who are so weak that they find strength through violence. They are so scared that they hide behind walls of false unity. They actually look forward to killing other men they know nothing about. I see no honor in this type of behavior. There is no honor in teaching a man to become a killing machine, no matter what the cause. I am not blaming the individual men; I am blaming the type of society that demands men sacrifice themselves as cannon fodder. I am criticizing a society that stands up at sporting events to watch jets fly over stadiums, the same jets that rain death and destruction miles across the sea. I am criticizing a society that sells military clothing in children’s sizes. I am criticizing a society that loves to fight, even when it has no idea who it is fighting or why. I am criticizing a society that is obsessed with winning, with violence. I am criticizing a society that is not evolving.

This is not a critique of the Untied States. This is a comment on all our societies. Isn’t it time that we disarm the warriors and stop treating them with reverence. Isn’t it time that we help cure our warriors, help them to curb their violence not reward it? Isn’t it time that we move passed a system of warfare that has done nothing but fail since it’s outset. So what is my suggestion? This is often the ultimatum given us idealist by the realists of the world. Yeah well what are we gonna do? Everything is so fucked up. My answer is a simple one; do not support violence, in any form. If you want to support the troops support them before they become troops.

Yes. I too feel the violence in my words.
I am also trying to rid myself of this menace.

(I am not sure how many people read this blog or who you are if you do stop by, but I would love some comments, especially from any military personnel. Please try and be original and don’t send a slew of expletive filled diatribes. If you were insulted by anything I said, please try and prove me wrong.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

La la

Hey this is gonna be quick because I am about to go home from work:

I just got an invite to La la. It's a service where you trade CDs with other members.

I haven't yet tried it but it looks pretty cool. The only bummer, in my opinion, is that you're only supposed to trade the CD, not including the liner notes.

Oh and the first swap is free; thereafter, it costs $1.49 ($1 service fee , of which $0.20 goes to the artist supposedly, and $0.49 postage).

To get an invite I just gave 'em my email address. When I start trading, I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, March 20, 2006


I've been living here for 8 months and have been trying to comprehend "Texas." I came up with two categories: things I don't understand about Texas and things I like about Texas. I know I should also make a category things I don't like about Texas but many fall into the category of things I don't understand about Texas.

Things I don't understand about Texas
1) The amount of U-Turns one is obligated to make during the course of normal driving.

2) The types of weather considered good and bad. If the temperature drops below 50, don't even think about stepping outside. It's freezing out there! But 82 F and so sunny and humid that you sweat like a greased pig? Idyllic.

3) Average pick-up size. The first thing I noticed when coming to Texas and driving on the interstates was the sheer quantity of huge, double-cabbed, 6-wheeled pick-up trucks. Now, Texas has taught me the value of a pick-up. Let's just face it: every so often, you come across a situation where having a pick-up would solve many problems and lessen much back pain. Texas has not, however, taught me the necessity of driving a Ford F-350 V-10 double-wide double-cab (and gets 10 MPG) mostly on I-610 to and from the office.

4) Kolaches. Now, don't get all up in arms about this one. I like the damn things. But I can't really justify the extreme amount of devotion to which some people down here show them. And some kolaches are definitely a little sketchy.

5) The very visible signs of Jesus. You've never seen a big church until you have seen the megaplexes down here, with parking lots able to fit 1,000 cars.

6) The liquor laws. So, you can pick up a handy, convenient Bud Light tall boy at the gas station, just perfect for drinking on the drive home. But you want Vodka? Or wine? Well, make sure you find a liquor store, and make sure it's not after 9 pm or God forbid it's a Sunday. Then you'll be SOL. Oh, and hopefully the bar or restaurant you are eating at has a license for spirits or wine. Cuz many don't.

7) The large number of gun shows/shops. Although people don't exactly saunter around town with their peacemakers on their hips, surely everybody and their sister has one within reach should an intruder intrude. Because we all know: you have to be able to protect yourself. From heavily armed, desperate, experienced thugs. Who are probably waking you up from a deep slumber, just hoping you'll reach for your revolver.

Things I like about Texas
1) Winter. 3 months of 70 F high and 58 F low temperatures with day after day of sunny skies does not make me miss Illinois or New Haven winters at all. And I even like the snow. The wind-chill factor, sleet, and salty, dirt-strewn streets: not so much.

2) Overall 'live-and-let-live' attitude. Nobody hassles you for just going about your daily business. It's quite refreshing after being in the Northeast where everyone is all up in your shit all the time.

3) Cost of Living. Relatively (!!!) cheap, even for a slightly "more expensive" area.

4) Y'all. It really does make sense and once you get over that initial reservation about using it, it just rolls off the tounge. Plus it's much less sexist than "you guys."

5) James Coney Island. Apparantly, this really only applies to the Houston area. But it really should be a nationwide chain. Though Portillo's, perhaps JCI's older, slightly more sophisticated brother attempts to compete, it cannot truly hold a candle to JCI's perfection. It is exactly as you would think a fast-food/50s dinner to be. Imagine Steak-n-shake but without the chain-smoking college Portuguese professors and with chili-cheese dog and fry scarfing goodness to be had by all. Additionally, if you don't know about the mysterious but addicting "Delaware Punch," you must learn. Somehow, it just ties everything together, in its own special way. Oh, and I almost forgot: the cheese is administered through what can only be called a "cheese gun." How could I make this stuff up?

6) St. Arnold's Brewery. Again, a Houston thing but it's great. It's a Texas microbrewery. Great beer without the snobbery. What else could you ask for? The tour is recommended highly, the beer also great. If you do go there, make sure you buy a sixer of their root beer. You can't buy it in stores.

7) Now I vacillate on this one, but I'm gonna stick it in the "like" category for now: the Texas flag. I like that it is flown high and proud, usually side-by-side with a huge-ass U.S. flag. Kinda cool to see a state pretend to exercise its sovereignty.

8) The drinking. People do that 'round here. I think it's good for drinking to be done every so often. Numbs the senses.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

And Absolutely NO AIR-BANDING

What: My Mom's Big Ol' Surgery Extravaganza
Where: University of Chicago Hospitals, Hyde Park, Chicago IL

Transportation: D+
The trip got off to an awfully rocky start, as I tried to move my roommate's boyfriend's car out from behind mine in the driveway only to find out that A) I can't drive a stick and B) Learning how to drive a stick is a longer-than-ten-minute investment. And the ongoing crackdown by Michigan State Patrol on anyone driving faster than 74 mph meant that the trip from A2 was quite a bit longer than I'd like. I didn't get to Chicago until almost 10 cst, which is insane. It was also long enough for the part of the Shamrock Shake I didn't finish to start melting into my car's carpeting.

Staff: B-
Despite the fact that I had to wake up at 4:30 am, on about 5 hrs sleep, to go with the entourage to the hospital and get mom checked in, the edge got taken off by the security guard on duty at the front desk. He was appropriately disarming and kind--the sort of person you kinda want to see when a family member's going in for major surgery--and also sounded and looked like Morgan Freeman. "You're Ann? You look too healthy to be here, go on home!" sounds trite in print, but is actually reassuring on some level in person. Unfortunately for Sorta-Morgan, his efforts got washed out by the woman in charge of the waiting room. She was a total battleaxe, and didn't seem to be able to keep track of the few people who, like myself, were pulling a 5 am - 4 pm shift in the waiting room.

Other highlights: the cute girl working the checkout line in the cafeteria, who offered to hold the line for me to return the chicken sandwich I accidentally picked up in favor of the cheeseburger I truly, deeply, madly wanted; the woman working the front desk of the LSD Ramada who got totally confused when I asked if there was any nearby place that I could find wifi internet.

Accomodations: C+
The U of C hospital is one of the best in the country, and (as far as I know) is the best in the Midwest behind the Mayo Clinic. However, you wouldn't know that from the way they run their actual facility. Wifi was around, but only accessible if you were a student or faculty member. Magazine selection was spotty and the chairs, while not uncomfortable, weren't the sort of quality that lends itself to long-term stakeouts. Given that the room was labelled "Surgery Family Waiting," you'd like to think that they would have taken that into account. Vending machines were accessible, but according to signage you couldn't eat or drink out of respect to patients who might be waiting for surgery. Totally, completely understandable, but in that case why the fuck are the machines there to begin with? Are we making up for the fact that the surgerees can't eat by taunting the healthy and then making them not eat too?

Teaching Hospitals: B
And on that note--the advantage of teaching hospitals is that they attract the best and brightest. The disadvantage is that you have a bunch of students wandering around and trying to answer pop quiz questions from the faculty. As a fake-scientist-in-training, I found myself on more than one occasion trying to figure out what the analog to some strangers joking about "You remember the one time that that guy had that terrible disease?" would be; I suppose it'd be sort of like talking about one entry in a militarized interstate dispute dataset. Sure, on the one hand you have a clinical interest in what determines escalation rates across issue areas, but on the other you're talking about real conflicts where real people died and real people are a bit upset about that fact. The intellectual understanding that you've done that sort of thing yourself doesn't deaden the impact of hearing medical students do it in a hospital setting, though.

Atmosphere: D+
My incredibly cursory knowledge of string theory leads me to believe that there's an alternative universe out there somewhere in which Mel Gibson was born in the US rather than adopting this, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, as his permament home as an adult. In such an alternate universe, Mad Max 2: Road Warrior was filmed in Hyde Park rather than the Australian Outback. It's a hellish, bombed-out moonscape to challenge the main drag in Detroit. I do have to give props to the good people at the Checkerboard Lounge though, who were good enough to sell me an 8 dollar Manhattan on a emptied-out Monday night to some smooth blues jams--and without carding me and risking the embarrassment of trying to figure out the Michigan speeding ticket and UMich card I would have offered as ID.

I also respect the high schoolers who were playing Magic at the Borders on the corner of 53rd and Lake Park. I thought that shit went out years ago.

Living Wills: F+
I understand the motivation. I don't understand the construct. They give the patient a couple of different options-- do you want to be kept on life support indefinitely, do you want to be kept on life support only so long as a recovery / other tactics are possible, and a write-in candidate. It's not clear, then, why you need somebody to be granted power of attorney in the event that the will needs to be executed. I suppose you could say that someone needs to be empowered to make the determination of what constitutes "reasonable measures" of treatment that justify extending life support, etc; but in that case, why am I, as a fake scientist (as dutifully referenced above) at all in a position of making that determination? Shouldn't someone with a medical degree be appointed, in the same way that they'd have a court-appointed defense attorney show up to represent a Farmington district gangbanger?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Discover Banksy

If you have never heard the name Banksy, have some fun at his site

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Indomitable Human Spirit

CV Harry S. Truman
Displacement: 10000+ Lego
Complement: 36 F-14; 6 Huey; one prodigous lack of sexual congress

The Creation

I hate to link and run, especially since I feel like the whole point of this communal blog thing is to generate some value-added content, but... who the fuck does this? Who creates a perfect replica of a goddamn aircraft carrier out of Lego? Who has the time? I make 15,000 dollars a year and I don't even have the time to do something like this.

...and now some poems.

it is worrisome to consider

we are no more than these words.
beyond their meanings
animated flesh
evaporating dusk
becoming night

within this verse
we smolder
ready to burn

"overweight and unhappy Ronaldo poses problems for Brazil"

He *does* look pretty overweight and unhappy.

Testes--1, 2... 3?

If I never, in the rest of my life, have to see a band set up and get ready for an act I will die a happy man. Watching them fumble around on stage for 30 minutes getting all their equipment *just* right, walking back and forth on stage and beside the stage over and over. The endless mic checks. Tuning the guitar. The constant minute adjustments of the levels to get it just right. "Up up up up up... down down... too low, up up up..." My favorite is DURING a song... "song song song... piano monitor up... song song song... too high now... song song song." The excrutiatingly long swigs of water and beer before they can start, combined with quick looks and knowing smiles to people they know in the audience.

And usually, it's just for a mediocre local band. It's not like it's REM going up there to play a set.

I think this all plays into my overall annoyance at the fetishistic way that musicians treat their craft. You know, because it's *art*.

Friday, March 10, 2006

My new career choices

I have decided, after careful study of Bureau of Labor statistics, that I am going to focus on a new career. Here's what the hottest jobs will be in the next 20 years, according to them:

1. Sewing machine operator
2. Typesetter
3. Steeplejack
4. Switchboard operator
5. Textile machine operator
6. Asbestos delivery man
7. Door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman
8. Horse whip repairman
8. Brine taster
9. Fish gutter
10. Ventriloquist dummy string cutter/tier

Oh, wat. I just realized that I was looking at the 1948 edition of the Occupational Outlook handbook. Disregard.

And another thing...

Oh and another one to check out: Okkervil River's Black Sheep Boy. Again, I'm behind the times (they were on plenty of year-end best-of lists) but after finally picking it up, they are impressive indeed. One of those albums that grows on you, in that it's (for me at least) subtle at first, but it crescendos with subsequent listens. Really good stuff.

In other news, the 'rents are coming this weekend which should be nice. Good weather here...70s everyday. I think it's been in the 50s near Chi-town. Definitely going to be doing some BBQing (shrimp and scallop skewers, here we come) as well as try to take them to the enchanting St. Arnold's Brewery in H-Town. Our dogs are also getting along better now which is good news. I guess it's just a learning curve: once they realize they don't have to play (read: bite each other's necks and limbs) constantly, they coexist much better. It's pretty cool having them, though our house and yard are much the worse for it. Muddy paw prints marr our floors and the lot is quickly becoming a virtual sandbox. Oh well. The yard wasn't exactly a verdant medow to begin with.

Modest Mouse

I guess I am just way behind the times, but I recently discovered two absolutely amazing albums by Modest Mouse: Lonesome Crowded West and Building Something Out of Nothing. I just can't recommend these albums highly enough. I think I had their most recent one and the remixed/remastered Moon and Antarctica. While both good, the former two (Lonesome/ Building) are truly spectacular. Go out and buy 'em!!!

(BTW: Thank you Nate for Building Something Out of Nothing!!!)

Hon Ron

Goddamn, I love baseball.

It's sorta sad. I never thought I would really get to this point: salivating over Oliver Perez pitching in the World's Baseball Classic, lustily eyeing the Rocket's future in the MLB (go to the Rangers, I say), and thinking about the myriad ways in which the Cubs will yet again flounder. But, so it is.

I have been trying to identify what caused this switch. Is it that, as I become less and less athletically inclined, I relate more and more to the Matt Stairs, Dimitri Youngs, and David Wells of this world? Is it that finally some of these ridiculously inflated steroid caricatures have finally been outed as fucking phonies? Or is it that Basketball totally sucks nowadays (for me to watch, anyway), Tackle football is cool but lacks the flow of the MLB, or is it that it's damn hard to catch a Hockey game and near impossible to hope to see anybody playing perhaps the most intriguing game of all, Soccer/Football?

Of course, it's all of the above, with probably an emphasis on the first cause. But I figure, why not try to spell out why baseball is interesting, at least to me. In no particular order, here are the reasons I have come up with (I'm doing this on the fly so don't think I've really pondered this all night or anything)

1) I like that Baseball plays 162 games to determine who gets into the playoffs. I like that the season is long and arduous. All the more sweet are the spoils to the victors. I also like that the amount of teams that actually get into the playoffs is fairly low, unlike, say, the NBA. You have to be truly good to make it to the post-season in baseball. Cons of this: okay, Tampa Bay will be playing meaningless games past the All-Star break because they will already be essentially out of the hunt. But that doesn't mean they can't play spoilers (see last season's demolishing of the Yankees late in the season, though the Yanks still made 1st place regardless). Also, the wildcard still allows for a lot of competition in the final games of the season.

2) Statistics. They're cool. Ask any Poli-Sci major. They'll tell ya: t-tests make the world go round. No but really, leading the league in batting average, steals, WHIP, FUBAR, etc. It's a cool thing in my book. When I was doing my Masters, my roommate (Nuge!) owned the bible of statistical books for baseball (it's exact name escapes me right now). We would thumb through that motherfucker for hours. Not only did they have the nicknames of all players pre 1988 or something, the stats for some of the earlier years were really mindblowing.

3) Fat players. Excepting offensive lineman, that QB from Kentucky, the Round Mound of Rebound, and Shawn Kemp in the twilight of his career, baseball players in general just kill other sports in terms of BMI numbers. Sort of keeps the whole, "I'm not an athlete, I'm a baseball player" mystique.

4) The history of the game. Dude: they played this shit in the 1800s. That's cool. Honus Wagner, Cy Young (check out his stats sometime), Ty Cobb. You can't make legends like these up.

5) Along with the history, the stadiums. The fact that every field is different in some way is really a unique aspect of the game. I mean, not just the fact that some are indoors, some artificial grass, some with rowdy crowds, etc. The actually physical dimensions of the parks are different. How sweet is that? I guess I am biased...Wrigley is just such a great place to watch a game (save the huge iron pillars obstructing many a view and the impossibility of scoring a ticket without losing your shirt).

6) The flow of the game. One of the few sports/games that doesn't actually have a clock or timer of some sort. This unique aspect really lends itself to the game having its own metronome.

7) The fact that honor and integrity still mean something to some people. See: Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa. I know it's steroid fall-out, but I think it says something.

8) Managers have to wear the uniforms. I know this is contentious. I still love seeing Bobby Cox, Lou Pinela, and Dusty Baker have to fit their guts into those uniforms. I don't like that they can wear pullovers and whatnot to hide their overflow guttage. But maybe it's better for us all, in the end.

9) Imagining how fucking hard it is to hit a 95 mph fastball and seeing these guys do it with ease (have you been to a batting cage lately? Get ready for some humility).

10) Imagining how fucking hard it is to throw a 95 mph fastball and seeing these guys do it with ease.

That's all I got. I'm just really excited for the upcoming season to start. Can you name who wore the above uniform in his first year in the league? Hint: 1976.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Stretch Out Your Legs and Dance With Me

Since concert reviews so often lack discipline and methodological rigor:

Who: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Where: The Blind Pig, Ann Arbor MI

Transportation: C+
The Econ Lady and I set out from my Kerrytown shithole under cover of darkness; it was chilly and drizzly, but we both decided to ditch our coats in order to foster maximum rocking once we got to the club. Capillary action in my jeans meant that things got a little damp, even after making it to the venue. While it wasn't much better on the walk back, it was a bit warmer and the hearing loss took the edge of the moisture issue.

Venue: A-
Moe: Oh, everybody is going to family restaurants these days, tsk.
Seems nobody wants to hang out in a dank pit no more.
Carl: You ain't thinking of getting rid of the dank, are you, Moe?
Moe: Ehh, maybe I am.
Carl: Oh, but Moe: the dank. The dank!

Crowd: C-
Although some area rockers tried to make a go of it--some girl presented Ted with a tray of cupcakes halfway through the set--most of the people in attendance were rich, frat-looking and painfully trendy. Not a whole lot of energy, and way too many goddamn M-for-minors marker-ed on the outstretched hands of the attending.

Banter: A
It turns out that even rock stars are into "Project Runway," and there was a lively debate over who would emerge victorious from the season finale (which was airing opposite the concert itself).

Opening Act(s): B-
We missed the first of the two openers, who were allegedly Catalan ("our friends from Barth-a-lona" got a couple of plugs). The second had a couple of moments, but their frontlady was trapped in tough-rock-chick mode. She had the skank stripe going in her hair, but I didn't think the tambourine was that intimidating.

The Alcohol: Incomplete
While they eventually did recognize my speeding ticket at the door and gave me a bracelet, between the two of us we had a grand total of three dollars. I figured that it wasn't worth the bother to try muscling to the bar, given the probability I'd be short. A bummer all told, but what are you gonna do?

The Actual Goddamn Music: A+
I have to admit that I'm a sucker for fast, catchy pop rock with a lot of guitar and hooks. Ted Leo's the man. The drummer's good, though the bassist is a little sloppy (but earns points back for looking like my Australian housemate, complete with huge hair). And any time the act opens with a traditional rendition of "Whiskey in the Jar," you know you're in good hands.

The Final Verdict: A, although if the ringing in my ears doesn't stop at some point this may have to be revisited. Then again, at least it'll have been for a good cause.

Houston, this is STS-141. Preparing to shave.

I saw this streamlined little number on amazon.com. By the looks of it, we’re to believe that it greatly enhances the entire shaving experience- from lather to Old Spice - because it is made of space age material designed by MIT engineers and used by NASA astronauts.

Me, I prefer to use the rusty, patina-ed straightrazor I bought in an antique shop in Wichita, Kansas. My own layer of face protection is a lather made from cold well water and Ivory soap. Afterhave? Two words: Witch hazel. It may burn like hell, but that’s what the leather strap is for: Thorough biting, during which I mutter “Son-uva-bitch!”

Do you think this example of American decadence is a good reason that many other countries hate us?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief

I saw Capote this evening. Great movie, I strongly suggest it to anyone. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is incredible. Man, that's now TWO, count em' TWO academy award type movies I've seen in a row after a long, long dry spell from critically acclaimed dramatic films.

And is it wrong that I could immediately summarize the main theme I felt coming out of the movie with an incredibly trite U2 lyric?

Belle & Sebastian on Conan

Just thought I'd try the old embeded youtube on this one. You know, for all the years I've been listening to them, I think this is the first time I have ever actually seen the band playing in a live setting. I guess it goes along with the whole aura of mystery that they cultivated in their early days, even if it was unintentional at the time.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A man can dream, can't he?

I was Arizona Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign manager.

One of the events I scheduled for him was a speaking engagement at a high school about environmental issues. I was passing out color glossy handouts to the students in the bleachers. As I ascended the stairs to pass them out to each row, the students became impatient about receiving their handout and I became flustered about giving out the correct number of handouts to each row.

About halfway up (the bleachers were as large as a major league football stadium’s), I realized that I had run out of the glossy handouts and had been passing out photocopied papers on an unrelated subject.

Before McCain’s speech, a woman I hired to provide entertainment was singing into a microphone that wasn’t turned on. Yet it seemed as though everyone could hear her, and when the microphone was finally turned on, the crowd erupted into applause at the sound of her amplified voice. I worried that her performance would overshadow McCain’s.

McCain insisted on getting a photograph with me in which we both displayed our identical military lapel pins side-by-side. I realized with shame as the photo was being taken that his was real and mine was not.

After the speech, I arranged for McCain to stay overnight at a family’s house. The next morning, concerned that McCain had overslept, I rode a bike to the family’s home (which I intended to use to give McCain a ride to the airport). While crossing the muddy front yard, I heard an alarm clock inside the house and though, “Good. He remembered to set his alarm” and stood on their porch as I looked through the screen door, not wanting to walk in on McCain as he was getting dressed.

I called through the screen door, “Senator?” and walked in, discovering McCain having breakfast with six members of the family.

Then I woke up, and realized the whole thing was a dream. Or was it?