Tuesday, May 31, 2005



cleft chin ("The Ladykiller")
unmanageable, wavy hair
very straight nose
practically hairless back
uncallused, borderline metrosexual hands
soft, brown eyes
wiry strength


consistent mid-range jumper
occasionally disarming
broad, occasionally deep knowledge of current events
neat handwriting (print, not cursive)
high career winning percentage for board and bar games
enjoyable and/or memorable letter-writing
good at being quiet, esp. as others sleep


surround sound (except for center speaker)
attractive neckties
ceiling fan above bed
purple Tomy Sunshine Buddy
copper-bottomed tea kettle

Monday, May 30, 2005

Better Dead Than Red

Where better to spend Memorial Day Weekend than the great outdoors? Who better to spend it with than drunken hillbillies?

Floyd and I woke before dawn Saturday, drove to southwest Missouri's Shady Beach Campground. After meeting our friends at the campsite, we headed upstream, grabbed a canoe, and began our eight-mile trek down the Elk River. After a grueling afternoon journey alongside tattooed, white males begging for tattooed, white females to expose their breasts, we made it back to camp. Unfortunately, we weren't the only ones to survive the float trip. Our neighboring campers - the ones that blared 38 Special from their truck, the ones that had a confederate flag flying from a pole, the ones that made the talking "Get Er Done" lighter a bestseller at the camp's general store - managed to avoid drowning and sun stroke, too. Amazingly, through liberal, frequent application of SPF 30, I managed to completely avoid sunburn.

I'm happy to announce we had a great time among the yokels. The highlight of the night came after sunset, as our friends shot the breeze around a crackling fire:

DRUNK CAMPER #1: "Did you hear they buried Tupac next to Elvis?"
DRUNK CAMPER #2: "Doesn't Elvis own everything, like, miles around his grave?"
DRUNK CAMPER #3: "If I was Elvis, I would have bought everything--"
DRUNK CAMPER #4: "If I was Elvis, I wouldn't have been such a douchebag."

Friday, May 27, 2005

Shuffle Up and Deal Me Out

I noticed a Gizmodo headline announcing more advanced Ipod Shuffles - Apple's going to make Shuffles with 4 gigs of memory. For those of you that don't know, the Shuffle is like a normal Ipod, only smaller. How do they make a smaller Ipod? They remove your ability to choose which song to play. The Shuffle chooses tracks randomly.

When the Shuffle was first announced, I thought it was a stupid idea. Now that they're expanding production, the Shuffle has peaked my rage.

I'm incredulous because I can't identify with Shuffle consumers. I understand that the device is smaller and cheaper than a conventional mp3 player, but why would you want to pay for something you can't control? How can you satisfied with whatever song the machine chooses?

Thursday morning, I had a dream that I was listening to The Decemberists' "Engine Driver". (In said dream, I explained to someone that I used to think The Decemberists suck, but the song had grown on me. It has, in fact, grown on me, despite the fact that by Wednesday night I had committed only 2 of the song's lines to memory - those lines just looped in my dream, but I somehow still enjoyed the tune. You can download the .mp3 at Amazon for free.) Later that morning, I had to hear "Engine Driver". Listening to a song that supernaturally arrived in your subconscious is not only good karma, it's the only way to get closure, to free your mind from its "everybody was Kung Fu fighting" grip. Could I appease my brain or the music gods with a Shuffle? I think not.

And Thursday night, when I was folding laundry and needed to hear Led Zeppelin's "The Ocean" - a need as real and demanding as a slice of pie after dinner - I walked up to the stereo and made it happen. Again, the Shuffle would have been powerless to help me.

Yet, the Shuffle sells, and it's out there - it's in a window seat passenger's shirt pocket. He's trying to finish this Grisham chapter before landing in Chicago and changing planes. The direct flight was $50 more expensive.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


There is a 40% chance that I'll be leaving for vacation tomorrow. This may be the last post, then, until Monday or Tuesday. As usual, I will try to leave you with something to comment about.

What are the worst songs on otherwise good/great albums?

My votes go to:

"Oh Daddy", Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors"
"Dance Hall", Modest Mouse's "Good News for People Who Love Bad News"
Inside Game's "Royal Trux", The High Fidelity Soundtrack
"The Crunge", Led Zeppelin's "Houses of the Holy"
"Caged Rat", Soul Asylum's "Let Your Dim Light Shine"

Comment away! And this Memorial Day, try not to think about the old version of Private Ryan crying over a grave in Normandy (was that in Normandy?). Ah, fuck it. It's best not to think about it. Go get a sunburn.

The Talent Shows

I neglected to watch the finale of "American Idol" last night, but this morning's news informed me that Carrie Underwood, a plucky blonde from Oklahoma, was elected Grand Champion. Bo Bice, the least rebellious Skynyrd wannabe ever, was the runner-up.

I don't think too much of either contestant, simply because of their association with American Idol. I do think it's interesting - unsurprising, but interesting - that "America" voted against the more raw, the more human of the two. I immediately thought of the January 1999 Spin magazine article on Elliott Smith. (I guess I'm really good at remembering magazine articles. I read books, too - I swear.) Only the last bit of the article is relevant to the Bice/Underwood debate, but I love Elliott Smith - dead or alive - and it's my website, so I'm posting it all:


Elliott Smith recovers nicely. Just one hour ago he was sitting in a tiny backstage room, enjoying a postshow libation and breathing in a blue cloud of smoke courtesy of a gang of well-wishers. Soon, the crowd diminishes, enough for one dogged follower to claim Smith's attention. "You must be a Cat Stevens fan, the kind of music you play," this young man with opossum eyes says. Having commandeered the singer's attention, he bangs on about how fame drove sensitive strummer Cat Stevens nuts, drove him into the hands of Islam, drove him to call for the head of Salman Rushdie. Other fans back away; band members stick their head in the room and quickly withdraw. All but Smith, who politely listens with nary a squirm. Until finally he can't take it any longer. He graciously excuses himself and waits until he's across the room before muttering, "The last thing I need right now is somebody telling me how fame can make you crazy."

But morning has broken here in London, and nothing can bring Smith down. He heads back to the Columbia, the rock-star haunt that's the British version of the Chelsea Hotel, where friends and road crew and fellow traveling Northwesterners Sleater-Kinney are lining up at the bar, ordering drinks, and when the bartender of this private club room explains that they have to be staying at the hotel to order a drink, every one of them says the same thing: Their friend Elliott is the man, Elliott is coming soon, Elliott really, really is staying at the hotel. Finally, Smith arrives, in his T-shirt from Value Village, his bargain-bin green suede shoes, his knit cap, and frayed, flared green pants. "Trying to look good just gets on my nerves," he says. Smith flashes his room key, and confirms that all these people actually are his friends. Massaging a glass of beer, he seems happy, truly happy, which is not something a singer/songwriter so often linked with words such as "gloom" and "Garfunkel" is supposed to be. Happier than someone who sings about the need to "bottle up and explode," and happier than someone who last year tried to kill himself. A pair of Dutch dowagers try chatting him up from their bar stools, and they have a conversation neither party understands before Smith repairs to his table. "It's all okay," he says with a fraction of a smile. "I'm doing fine now."

"I'M NOT INTERESTED IN MAKING `ELLIOTT SMITH RECORDS' OVER AND OVER again. I'd be really happy if I could write a song as universal and accessible as `I Second That Emotion,'" he says. "It's a big game to play, trying to make something that's mainstream enough and still human." Elliott Smith just may prove up to the task. For everything it can mean this year, he is the songwriter to beat, a waltz-loving, George Harrison-quoting, profane craftsman who gets fan letters from Courtney Love and still beats up on himself. He likes songs so much that, on his nights off, Smith rounds up friends and rocks the karaoke machine with versions of Scorpions and Don McLean hits. Maybe he likes songs too much: His keep gagging on pieces of the past. "I'm so glad that my memory's remote / 'Cause I'm doing just fine hour-to-hour, note-to-note," he sings on his fourth album, XO. But no matter how much his songs reveal an urge to burn all the photo books, there's a bone-tired weariness in his singing that can't let go of old business. However calm his songs sound, they still roar like a car crash echoing in a seashell.

"Some beautiful songs try to make you think that, for a moment, there's no crap in the world, that it's just a beautiful place," says Slim Moon, founder of Kill Rock Stars, the Olympia, Washington, label that released Smith's second and third albums (1995's Elliott Smith and 1997's Either/Or). "But Elliott's songs admit that the world's fucked up, and this is just a beautiful moment we get to have."

Some of the dark imagery came when Smith returned to Portland, Oregon, after graduating from Massachusetts's Hampshire College in 1991. "I was reading all this heavy-duty feminist theory, and Catharine MacKinnon in particular," he says. "If you're a straight white man, she made it seem impossible to live your life without constantly doing something shitty. It kind of drained all my energy away. I didn't want to do anything." Casting about for a career, he settled on being a fireman, because a fireman is an indisputably essential guy, right? "Someone has to put out fires, while it's not particularly essential for me to play songs to people. It's important that somebody play songs, but...." He signals for another round of double espressos in a London café overlooking a canal. You couldn't get much more bohemian than the music playing in this room of tiny round tables, first French crooner Serge Gainsbourg and then cabaret freak Scott Walker wailing of their obelisk-size pain. It's almost as if a tractor beam has been turned on, and brought the moody, beautifully broken Smith home.

Everywhere he goes, it is the same beautiful brokenness, the same rawness that reaches out and brings you forward. He played "Miss Misery," his Oscar-nominated song from the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, at the awards show -- in a white suit! -- and for a few minutes made the Hollywood pageant seem bizarrely intimate. When he performs, Smith comes across both worried and unintimidated, like he knows he's going to have to fight his way out of this one, and like it's nothing he hasn't done before. "Bottle Up and Explode!" is more than a song title, it's a way of dealing, or not dealing, with the world. Some of the people who most care about Smith have noticed. Two friends in Portland -- where Smith lived until he moved to Brooklyn two years ago -- are Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss. Coomes was in Heatmiser, a grungy Portland band Smith formed after he was a fireman; Weiss plays drums in Sleater-Kinney. Both are also in the band Quasi, who back Smith live and whose recent album, Featuring "Birds", included "The Poisoned Well," an angry song aimed at Smith: "You won't live long / But you may write the perfect song." "I don't feel any sadder than anybody else I know," Smith says. "I'm happy some of the time, and some of the time I'm not." One of the times when he was not came in 1997, when the singer tried to kill himself. He won't say why this happened, though a piece in the Los Angeles Times suggests it had to do with a breakup from his girlfriend.

"I don't like when people talk about all the bad things that have happened to them as if that makes them unique. Because I don't think I've had a harder time than other people. "But, um, yeah -- I, uh, jumped off a cliff. But it didn't work. It was in North Carolina or somewhere. It wasn't like I made up my mind to throw myself off a cliff. I got freaked out and started running, it was totally dark, and I ran off the edge of a cliff. I saw it coming up, and it wasn't like, `I'm gonna throw myself off this cliff and die.' It was just, `Ground's coming up. Who cares, whatever.' I landed on a little tree, punctured my, you know, body. It just made a really ugly wound."

Around this time some of Smith's friends were so worried about Smith's drinking and talk of obliteration they arranged a substance-abuse intervention. They surprised him with a counselor in a room in Chicago, and pressured him to check into an Arizona detox facility. A few days later Smith walked out, afraid he was about to be trapped. Kill Rock Stars' Slim Moon, who helped plan the intervention and who also recorded Nirvana early on, sees similarities between Kurt Cobain and Smith. "Kurt was the most talented songwriter I'd ever met. But he was the same way [as Elliott]: He appeared really fragile, in a lot of ways was really stubborn, and he internalized everything. He would go on and on in his songs about how nothing was going to relieve his pain. But at the same time he was searching hard for something to relieve it." Since he walked out of the clinic, Smith hasn't spoken to Moon. And he says part of XO's anger came out of the intervention. "A lot of songs on the record had to do with being amazed at how quickly people will invade your space just because you don't deal with things like they do. They think that you drink too much, or they think that you're too -- I just don't think being scared is a good enough reason to take over somebody's life."

IT'S EASY TO GET THE WRONG IDEA ABOUT THAT FACE. AT FIRST, the skin's waxy softness, the three-days' growth, the brawler's nose, is all you notice. He looks uncared for and unconcerned. But look closely, and what slowly reveals itself is something gentle and exhausted. This might be why, after Good Will Hunting's Minnie Driver and Matt Damon broke up, rumors circulated that Driver and Smith were an item. (He denies that they were anything but friends.) In a dressing room backstage of a big club in Portland, the Smith profile takes a sip from a microbrew. It becomes apparent how Gary Smith, Elliott's father, lent a lot of his features to his son, along with a precise way of speaking that holds each word out an even beat. Gary Smith is a psychiatrist; he speaks this way for a living. He and Elliott's mother divorced when Elliott was one year old. Elliott stayed with his mom in Dallas until he was 14, and then moved with his father and stepmom to Portland.

"He was always into music," says the father, strumming one of Elliott's guitars. Right then in walks Elliott, who's just rehearsed a George Harrison cover he'll perform with Quasi that night. "When he was three," says Gary, smiling at Elliott, "I brought him over to my apartment. I put the White Album on a lot. He loved `Rocky Raccoon.' I just tried to get it off before `Why Don't We Do It in the Road' came on." With that, the son sings a line from the song. "Do you remember when you were involved with Junior Achievement?" asks Gary.

When Elliott was 14, he entered a talent contest held by the farm team of capitalism. For weeks, the sound of Elliott practicing Beatles songs on his guitar wafted from his bedroom. "The talent show was in a big church filled with people," says Gary, "and there were all these different acts, and one of them was a tap dancer, tap-dancing to `Yankee Doodle Dandy,' all dressed in red, white, and blue. And Elliott played `Blackbird' and I was stunned, and I thought maybe it was just me, but after he finished playing there was a hush, and then this warm applause filled the hall. It was the first time I knew, whoa, this is where he's going." He puts down a bottle of beer. "The end of the story" -- and by now Elliott starts giggling -- "is, they chose somebody to go on a national talent show, and the person they chose was the tap dancer, tap-dancing to `Yankee Doodle Dandy.' It was the beginning of that sort of...." He doesn't finish the sentence, because the father and son are both laughing out loud, giddy as goats, at what is so obvious it doesn't need to be said: It was the beginning of not quite getting the prize, of not quite knowing if you want all the yankee-doodle-doo up the road. "Elliott may take turns here and there, and run into dead ends," says Dad, strumming again on his son's guitar. "But he has a way of maintaining himself and his integrity. He's quiet, but potent."

Wednesday, May 25, 2005



Perianal fistula (now celebrating one year!)
Chickenpox scar near left eye
Hairless spots on shins
Weird thingy (like a wart but not) on thumb side of left palm
Mole on right shoulder and the black hairs that sprout from it
Overactive facial hair
Acne scarring on chest
Loose left ankle (sprained twice)
Occasional unprovoked nosebleeds
Unmanageable, wavy hair
Dry skin
Persistent, nonproductive cough
Seasonal allergies


Can't read numbers well when speaking aloud
Very slow swimmer
Cannot slam dunk
Rudimentary handyman skills
Ineffective anecdote teller
Very slow when performing math
Can't hold liquor without getting hiccups, vomiting
Emotionally unavailable
Can't snap fingers


Lack of matching outfits, esp. for new pants
No digital camera
Laptop runs Windows ME, USB 1.0
PS2 lacks online adapter, will not play some DVDs
No portable mp3 player
Imperfect landscaping

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

"You can't drink on a wagon it would be too bumpy."

As has been documented here, I have been sober since Friday, April 1. That is, until last Sunday, when I drank a Miller Lite with no ill consequences (literally). So, for education's sake, I will answer your questions about the experience.

"Dude, I'll bet you saved some fucking bank!"

Correct. Take the first weekend of sobriety:

Friday - $3.00 (tall mocha + tip)
Saturday - $1.00 (Coke), $2.00 (7 jukebox selections)

Those tracks powered my roommate and myself to dart superiority over bitter our rivals. The soundtrack to greatness was:

Beck - Lord Only Knows
Jackson Browne - Doctor My Eyes
David Bowie - Suffragette City
Pixies - Where is my Mind
The Who - Pinball Wizard
Son Volt - Drown
Rolling Stones - You Can't Always Get What You Want

I think that's even the order in which the songs were played - pretty good considering I wrote that list the Monday after. Which leads us to…

"Dude, I'll bet your memory improved!"

Well, it may have - it certainly improved my odds of remembering what music played, how bad Harbour Lights smelled, how loud my table was, and other bar goings-on, but I have no way to prove any change in my mental capacity. I guess I should have done crossword puzzles before and during the experience.

"Dude, I'll bet you felt better!"

There was no discernable difference in my physical health during my sobriety. This was mildly disappointing; even though I don't get drunk very often, I still hoped that deleting alcohol entirely would give me scary new energies.

"Dude, I'll bet that sucked raw!"

Yeah, kind of. Drinking or not, the nights at the bar usually drag for me - I'm usually ready to leave before bar close. For the first several weekends, I didn't fidget any more than usual. Toward the end of the experiment, not coincidentally, I was pretty bored. My return to the bottle isn't going to solve the boredom issue, but it isn't going to hurt, either.

"Dude, so you can drink again now?!"

Indeed. Last Sunday, I woke up, ate a slice of cold pizza, and enjoyed a can of Miller Lite at 10:30 a.m. I stayed around the house the rest of the day, preparing the garden for tomatoes, waiting to note any adverse reactions. Happily, the generic Flagyl mixed with booze did not cause me any problems. For the record, the only side effect I've noted with the drug is the gross-ass taste, and as the package insert says, "A sharp, unpleasant metallic taste is not unusual."


Other stuff for today:

1.> Conan O'Brien wrote a funny thingy:
Televisions will eventually grow so large that families will be forced to watch TV from outside their homes, peering in through the window. Random wolf attacks will make viewing more dangerous.

2.> If, with any of my girlfriends, I ever, EVER, made anyone as queasy as this Tom Cruise / Katie Holmes thing is making me...well, I am really, really, really sorry.

Monday, May 23, 2005

In The Morning When You Don't Know What To Do

Phil likes Oasis more than any person I know. He is also the only person I know that reads Q magazine. I was in his room at the frat house one day when he showed me the February 1999 issue about the greatest singles of all time - it featured an interview with Noel Gallagher of Oasis:
How experimental can Oasis be?

People aren't gonna get Sgt Pepper, 'cos it's not in there [taps head]. Who's experimental anyway? Not The Prodigy. They're bound by the restrictions of the big electronics companies - it's Mr Yamamoto building the new sampler who's doing the experimenting, not them. The only really experimental band of the last five years have been Stereolab and who gives a f*** about them? I mean, I like them, but who really gives a f***? Y'know, I like honesty and balls-out rock'n'rillness. I like a f*****g tune. If "Smells Like Teen Spirit" had sounded like "Wonderwall" or vice versa they would still have been brilliant singles. Does it want to make you get out of your bed in the morning? Does it make you want to shag your bird? Does it make you want to take drugs? Does it make you want to have a fight? Does it make you want to put your arm round your mate and say I love you? That's what counts.
I haven't read that interview since that day with Phil in 1999, but I was able to find it via Google (my search was "Q magazine" "shag your bird"). The last part of that quote affected me. I thought about it in the days after I first read it, and it's stayed with me all these years - "Does it want to make you get out of bed in the morning?"

I was a sophomore in college, and I wasn't all that sure why I got out of bed in the morning. I asked myself why, but came up blank. I asked others on my floor - students who were similarly foolish enough to spend a second year in the dorms - but they were stumped.

I was alone in my room one night at 11:40 p.m. CST, going through my routine. The stereo was on at low volume, broadcasting "Loveline". The ten-inch color television was on - Conan's monologue was ending. As usual, I was trying to enjoy both programs at once. It struck me that this was not normal behavior; perhaps I got out of bed in the morning to laugh.

Laughter! Amusement! Happiness! This was so obvious - why hadn't I thought of it before? And I had proof! My actions proved my intentions. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to wake up, have some Cracklin' Oat Bran (the dorm perk of all dorm perks), and be entertained by the wacky situations that would arise each day. To pass the time, I'd also be educated and earn my degree.

Then I graduated. To pass the time, I earned my graduate degree.

A strange thing happened next. I planned to move away and begin my new job, but the start date was months in the future. I got out of bed to pass the time - to waste time until I could start the next stage of my life. It's an awkward, disconnected situation - you're a designated driver every night, half-participating in the fun, waiting for the opportunity to be a part of the full experience again.

It's been two years since I began my career. At first, the novelty of work, a new city, and a home caused time to pass quickly. Things are different now - the disconnect has returned. Why do I get out of bed in the morning? No wacky situations arise from the time I wake up to when I return home from the office; the worknight's remaining four hours are worthless - equivalent to the garbage minutes backup athletes get at the end of a blowout. It isn't enough to look forward to.

Dating Ali, I could look forward to simple things - a call on my cell or at my office, a weeknight of takeout and The Office. Looking forward to a solo viewing of The Daily Show isn't the same.

I'm going to try to set up my schedule so that there is always something to look forward to, to get out of bed for. I haven't got much so far. Unlike some, I don't have the desire to join the Peace Corps or run a marathon, so the list may appear a little trivial until a burning aspiration reveals itself.:

May 23 - Get out of work a few hours early for my doctor's appointment
May 27-30 - Relaxing Memorial Day weekend somewhere or another doing something or other
June 4-8 - Depart for Albuquerque conference, celebrate birthday with marginally liked co-workers

It's not much, but it's a start.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Famine Has Never Been This Fun

A few months ago I e-mailed Floyd:

I know you and I have had a longstanding disagreement regarding our comparitive skills as a United Nations aid worker. Here's our chance to settle the score - we'll each play one game and post our scores. Winner gets mucho Honor, loser is Ronin.

The game is at www.food-force.com
Let's have this done by Monday.
I am serious.
His computer froze before he got to complete the game, which makes me the winner. I scored as follows:

Mission 1 - Pilot a helicopter over the famine-ridden country to determine the locations of the hungry - 09608860

Mission 2 - Create a balanced diet for the hungry that also falls within your budget - 05211218

Mission 3 - Push food out of the back of a plane - 05850632

Mission 4 - Buy food from other countries and transport it to the country in need - 09327328

Mission 5 - Drive a convoy full of supplies through the country's warzone:

This was my favorite mission. 07006582

Mission 6 - Sim-Cityesque teaching agriculture, AIDS prevention, and so on to the now slightly less hungry countrymen - 07081628

Total score: 044086248. I have nothing more to say about this game.

T-Birds Clinch Class C "White" Title

The T-Birds split the final doubleheader of the season, clinching the division pennant in the process. I went 1/5 because I was swinging too hard. Final spring stats:

17/30 (.568 OBP)
9 runs

Summer league starts in two weeks.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

5,000 Visitors Old

I'd like to say that I've reached 5,000 hits through hilarity and insight.

The truth is that most of those hits were due to poor internet research skills. To those people, I say, "Get a fucking clue."

To the rest, I am trying to make this thing worthwhile. Please be patient.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Fermented Grapes of Wrath

Yesterday, the Supreme Court opened the door to state-to-state, internet wine sales. In Kansas, in-state and out-of-state sales are prohibited. Will things change?
Whether legislators will be quick in rallying to the wine producers' cause remains to be seen.

"This is not a slam dunk in terms of whether we need to anything or, if we do, what that would be," said Rep. John Edmonds, R-Great Bend and chairman of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee.

Edmonds said he wouldn't be leading the charge.

"There are a lot of issues that would to be dealt with, not the least of which would be opening the door for a 14-year-old with dad's credit card to buy wine," he said. "We don't let them buy guns that way. Do we want to let them by wine that way?"
The representative from Barton County makes an excellent point - why can't the citizens of this great state buy pistols online? He also makes a standard point about internet wine sales, one I've heard from several other sources since SCOTUS made their ruling. What about the children? How can we keep their disgusting little hands off the carafe? How do we keep their lips pink, not purple? We need answers, because this Supreme Court ruling is the moment that adolescents have been waiting for. Screenings of Sideways were crowded not with married couples and aging grad students, but busload upon busload of cheering minors. Handfuls upon handfuls of teens ache to sample pricey, vintage pinots and cabernets from tiny vineyards across the land.

The activist judges have again valued "The Constitution" ahead of family values. Chaos is afoot! Little Timmy's birthday parties are at stake! Pre 5/16, he and his pals from junior high celebrated with a rowdy game of laser tag infused with a Now That's What I Call Music Volume 12 soundtrack. What's left for Timmy and the gang in this post-5/16 world - a semi-formal affair, an array of semi-soft cheeses upon the elegantly set table, the virtuoso sylings of Itzhak Perlman emanating from the gramophone, polite but muted dialog among the guests?

Is there anything left to stop them from abusing mail-order wine?

Off the top of my head, I can think of one way to prevent catastrophe - Dad keeps his credit card number to himself. Maybe he could store it in a safe place, like the liquor cabinet.


Bonus link:

Johnny America has commented on this very website - those curious about KU's new logo should read his exhaustive post.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Boob Tube To Get Saggier

Currently, I make time for "Arrested Development", "The Simpsons" (still), "Family Guy", "Gilmore Girls", "The Office", and "Scrubs". If I have nothing better to do and if PBS is not airing a program on the lemurs of Madagascar, I'll watch "The Apprentice", "The OC", or "ER". "Grey's Anatomy" has held my attention the two times I've tuned in.

While writing those sentences, I racked my brain trying to think of any other network TV shows that I watch, because the number I came up with seemed so small. The more I think about it, though, if you take away the various reality shows that I'm not into, add them to the 3 or 4 "Law and Order"s, take into account the 3 "CSI"s and the various newsmagazines - well, when you add it all up, you're left with a couple family sitcoms that are of no interest to me. So this is network television, 2005. Nice work, everyone. Let's see what the networks, save for CBS, have in store for me next season:

"Earl" is described as an offbeat vehicle starring Jason Lee as a low-rent crook who decides to make amends with his victims after he wins the lottery. "Thick and Thin" stars Jessica Capshaw as a woman who struggles to grow into her new svelte lifestyle after losing a lot of weight. "Four Kings," from "Will & Grace" creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick revolves around four men in New York who have been friends since childhood.

On the comedy front, ABC likes "Hot Properties," about four women who work in a real estate office; "Freddie," which stars Freddie Prinze Jr. as a man who finds himself unexpectedly living with the women who raised him; "Crumbs," which stars Fred Savage and Eddie McClintock as brothers who are forced to work together; "Emily's Reasons Why Not," starring Heather Graham as a professional woman who's unlucky in her love life; and "Sons and Daughters," about grown siblings and their families.

At the WB, new dramas on tap include "Pepper Dennis," a midseason offering starring Rebecca Romijn; "Supernatural," about two brothers who travel the country looking for other-worldly beings; "The Bedford Diaries," about students and teachers at a small Manhattan college; "Related," about four sisters; and "Just Legal," starring Jay Baruchel as the protege of a jaded defense attorney played by Don Johnson.

Comedies getting the nod include "Misconception," starring Jane Leeves; and "Twins," about sisters from "Will & Grace" creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. At Fox, the pickup picture was still a little fuzzy, but sources said the Pamela Anderson midseason entry "Stacked" has been picked up for next season.

Among this year's comedy pilot crop at Fox -- which just underwent a management shift as former FX chief Peter Liguori took the entertainment division reins from five-year Fox veteran Gail Berman, who moved across town to Paramount Pictures -- sources said the green light has been given to the domestic comedy "The War at Home" and to "Kitchen Confidential" about a hip chef.

Making the cut on the drama side were "Bones," about a forensic anthropologist; "Head Cases," about an odd-couple pairing of lawyers; the ensemble "Reunion," which follows six close friends from high school through their 20-year reunion; and the crime procedural "Deviant Behavior."

Can you guess the one show I, the choice demographic networks go nuts for, am mildly interested in?

There is a brief point of good news from that last link:
...[Fox] was closing in on a deal to bring back its Emmy-winning "Arrested Development" for a third season, sources said.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Rilo Kiley Concert, May 11, The Granada, Lawrence, KS

I found Rilo Kiley by accident - their lead singer, Jenny Lewis, was featured on the Postal Service album, and the band was mentioned on a few websites I read. I downloaded some songs out of curiosity, and that was that. Last December, I put together a CD with all of the music I discovered during 2004, and "Science vs. Romance" made the cut. Here's what I wrote in the liner notes (yes, I write liner notes, and yes, that is kind of weird):
Rilo Kiley - Science vs Romance
Best word = robots
I might like the title more than the song; I just looked up a photo of the female voice...40% less hot than I hoped.
Wednesday night, Rilo Kiley played a cheap show at the Granada. Having finally bought their latest CD (used), I felt qualified enough to attend.

I owe Jenny Lewis an apology. Just look at her that night, in a dress she bought second hand earlier in the day in Mass. Street's Arizona Trading Company (a store Floyd calls "Nothing Fits"):

[photo via rilokiley.net]

The show was good, if a bit pale in the wake of The Shins concert a few days prior. I'd definitely pay to see them again. You can download a few of their songs, including a rocker they performed in Lawrence, "The Execution of All Things" here for free.

On an unrelated note, Spoon will be featured on my 2005 mix CD. "I Turn My Camera On" will move you, literally.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

I'm a Lot Like You

Greetings to those of you who've arrived courtesy of the CBS program "48 Hours". The post here describes how I, like you, was curious as to what happens when you type "how to murder someone and not get caught" into an internet search engine.

Enjoy your visit and feel free to leave comments about the professor's trial.

Mute Model

Back in January, I e-mailed one of the KU Calendar girls, and she wrote me back. "If you have any more questions, let me know," she said. I had more questions, so I let her know:
Thanks for the reply. And, since you indicated you haven't received anything "too strange", allow me to be the first.

1. Your pictures look great, but some of the scenes were odd. Is there a house that photographers keep in an adequate state of disrepair for photo shoots?

2. The (abandoned?) house and its yard appears to be an excellent place to contract hookworm and/or tetanus, especially if you were barefoot during all or part of the shoot. Now, if this location was north of the Mason/Dixon line, I'm not too concerned about your risk for hookworm; however, tetanus knows no boundaries. I trust you avoided any rusty nails and the resulting health risk.

3. Finally, since Bill Snead was involved -- did his National Geographic credentials ever factor into the shoot? Was it ever like, "I need you to look sad...how about pouty...ok, you've got a large lion behind you and he is mad...you're scared..."

Terribly curious,
After months of waiting, I think it's safe to say Katie is not going to enlighten me on these issues. I really thought we had something - did she think I was insincere? Is it because she knows I like Shannon more?

Goodbye, Katie, wherever you are.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Onion Braces For Lemons

The Onion AV Club reviews the upcoming summer movie season - here's some samples:
Herbie: Fully Loaded

Director: Angela Robinson

Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Michael Keaton, Matt Dillon

Causes for excitement: Herbie: Fully Loaded screenwriters Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon are reliably funny on Reno 911! Also, Herbie's subtitle takes on all manner of cheeky double meanings in light of the hard-partying Lohan's tabloid travails. Besides, Herbie: Fully Loaded is attempting to satiate the public's bottomless hunger for anthropomorphic automobile-themed humor, a need that hasn't been adequately filled since Herbie tragically "went bananas" in 1980.

Probable cause for disappointment: Can Lohan truly be said to possess the raw sexual charisma of a young Dean Jones? Also, Lennon and Garant's other screenplay credits include The Pacifier and Taxi.

The Pink Panther

Director: Shawn Levy

Cast: Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Beyoncé Knowles

Causes for excitement: There is no law forcing anyone to see it.

Probable cause for disappointment: It exists.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Smoking the Referrals

Not everyone bookmarks this site, as unbelievable as that may seem. Some folks have to find Tornado Slide through a search engine. Here are some keywords that resulted in a hit:

Sports-Guy Seal Lupus (Google)
anti boner (Google)
I told you it was a good idea!

blog floyd.jpg (Google Netherlands)
"guinness book of me" church (Google)
diet cherry vanilla dr pepper is the satire (Yahoo)
What flavor should we create next?
How about something ironical?
Great! It should taste like cherries!

lead singer of the killers (Blogpulse)
oberst winona rider (Google Italy)
costume mantel (Yahoo)
stormtrooper chicks (Yahoo)
I don't think I'd want to see a chick that was cloned from Boba Fett's dad, but I'm sure there are people out there that do. Especially on the internet.

"how to murder someone and not get caught." (Google)
Good to know the professor and I are not the only ones who've tried this.

gigantic hamburgers (Yahoo)
"eleanor friedberger" + blogspot (Google)
"what time is it, game time" song (Yahoo)
Tapdancing (Yahoo Singapore)
btk duckett (Google)
photos of white bumps in lupus (Google)
Hantas disease (Google)
is the eye of a tornado is calm (Yahoo)
Elias Sports Bureaus (Google Canada)
Jesse's 54 bel air (Google)
"bob casey + twins" (Google)
"1 in 12 wins free coke" (Google)
Derek Jeter's romances (Yahoo)
disgusting thickburger commercial (Yahoo)
videos of "homerun celebrations" (Google)
wet "her pants" site:blogspot.com (Google)
jacque jones jerk (Google)
Not as big a jerk as the people that refuse to trade him.

pissed off silverback gorilla video clip (Google)
humorous cards to mail about colonoscopy (Yahoo)
I'm sure they'll love your humorous cards. Laughter is the best medicine for those whose medicine is causing them distress.

laughing "peed in her pants" blogspot (Google)
that jerk jj redick (Google)
An unsatisfied hoops fan? An unsatisfied partygoer?

self inflicted stab wounds (Yahoo)
"modest mouse + setlist" (Google)
Ausgezeitnet (Yahoo)
sebacious bumps pictures (Google Canada)
jj redick girlfriend (Yahoo)
Jalapeno penis (Google)
I've gotta say, I can't make fun of this. I would also love to read about anything including this phrase.

emeril's expletive (MSN)
sigmoid colon dildo pics (Google)
"Flagyl package insert" (Yahoo)
tractor lifts adrenaline woman (Google Portugal)
steps of making a bottle tornado (Yahoo)
formication pictures images (Google)
prospector wore 49er picture (Google)
how to survive a tornado (Yahoo)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Other Archives - Steak Knifing

I wrote this in an e-mail about one year ago:
I'm watching a Bond movie right now (Diamonds are Forever) on the first network for me, Spike. It's an especially good part, where Sean Connery is attacked by two goons disguised as cruise ship waiters. One guy tries to strangle him with a chain while the other guy lights 2 kabobs (filled with meats, peppers, etc) on fire and trudges toward 007, assumably to kill him with flavor. Hot flavor.
I guess I'm still wondering - did he plan to burn Bond or stab him to death?

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Other Archives - It's Oh So Quiet

It's been a few months shy of a year since Pick convinced me to rent him a room. This is a selection from an e-mail he sent, wherein he explained his desirable characteristics - he cleaned up after himself, he wouldn't throw parties without permission, and he's quiet...usually:
Also, I will let you know that I like to bang hot chicks. I hope that if I were to bang a hot chick, it wouldn't be too loud for you, but hey... I am that good in bed.

The Shins Play Liberty Hall, Continued

My thoughts, in chronological order, during last night's opening performance by The Brunettes:
I've never seen hand choreography at a rock show before.

If these people weren't from New Zealand, we probably wouldn't think this was so cute.

If that chick wasn't so cute, we probably wouldn't think this was so cute.

That saxophone player doesn't look like she's enjoying herself. Then again, sax players rarely do.

Do they really need the glockenspiel in every song?

Yeah, they probably need the glockenspiel in every song.

That was nice.

The Shins, Liberty Hall, Lawrence, May 8th, 2005

My uncle Dennis died last winter, shortly after I was diagnosed with the same disease that afflicts his son. I had no relationship with Dennis or his wife and kids, so his death was sad only in a general sense. I went back home for the rosary and the funeral; although his family lives in Philadelphia, he was buried just west of Wichita.

My mother had bought a new car earlier that season. I had seen it the first time when she drove me to my fistula surgery; I drove it for the first time when she accompanied me to my colonoscopy. My mom relaxed in the passenger's seat as I drove to the rosary the night before Dennis' funeral.

This was the first car my mother owned that had a CD player, and I put it The Shins' first album, Oh Inverted World. The CD lasted exactly as long as the drive, and it played through once more on the return trip.

That was the first time I realized why I liked The Shins as much as I did. That record was as appropriate for that night as it is for a summer road trip - it can make you feel happy and sad all at once, like looking at a yearbook.

Tonight, in live at Liberty Hall, it was no different than chauffeuring my mother down dark county roads. The Shins ended their set with "Kissing the Lipless", a song that begins with six claps and a "Whoo!" - almost enough to make you forget the song's message:
It's hard to leave all these moments behind.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

T-Birds Are On Fire, Much Like The Mythical Phoenix

The big slugger's got the details. Batting in the 2 spot, I went 7/10 with 5 runs and 1 RBI. I had 2 errors, because the ball was hit my way exactly twice.

It's 2:30 in the Morning

I don't know how old I was - I was probably in high school - and I'm not sure what event preceded it. I was thinking about the question we always ask ourselves when things go wrong: "Why did this have to happen?"

I decided then that the hardest thing in life is accepting a complete lack of explanations, reasons, or logic. Now, I'll catch myself wondering "Why?", and I stop. There is no satisfactory "because", so "Why?" is worthless.

We think that answers can bring us comfort. All we have are questions - if we could somehow get the answers, things would be right. The truth is, the answers are just as worthless as the questions.

When we ask "Why?", we're really speaking in code. Translated, the question looks something like this:
"This is totally fucked, and it fucks up all my shit. Fuck this."
The answers we're searching for?
"It's fucked because everything's fucked. Chin up."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Caring Is Not Creepy

Websites like Facebook and Friendster have made it easier than ever to gather information about those you barely know. Floyd, like many of us, is squeamish about using these utilities, about "cyber-stalking".

First, any time you add "cyber" to a word, it's going to have a negative connotation. Just think about it. "Hey, Jerry - I'll be back in a few hours. I'm off to do some cyber-charity." See? Sounds seedy, doesn't it? In this case, it doesn't help matters that "stalking" is on the other half of the hyphen. Assuredly, if browsing Facebook was called "cyber-curiosity-satisfying", everyone would be on board, happily clicking and reading and learning about other members of the world wide web.

Let's take a step back and examine the act in question:

1.> Person A has put his or her "information" - usually something as earth shattering as favorite music and movies - onto a website such as Facebook.

2.> Person B is searching online for information about Person A, comes across A's profile, and reads it.

Does that seem creepy to you? I'm not seeing it. No one is going through someone's garbage, no one is peeping from a behind a row of bushes. This is not the invasion of a tight community, and nothing is being hacked - it's the freaking internet. Person A has put information into the public view - ostensibly so that the public will look at their proverbial electronic cleavage.

Let's say Person B is impressed by A's big, perky profile. Would it be creepy to send A an e-mail? It would not. Person A signed up for the same reason we go out to the pub - to have fun and to put yourself "out there". The only difference is that the internet has only been around for 20 years or so, while the pub was invented on chilly April night in 1066 - coincidentally, the same year the British enjoyed the Battle of Hastings. If Person A places their e-mail address on the public record, they shouldn't be offended or weirded out when Person B uses it. If it's too inconvenient to delete one or two e-mails from an admirer, that's Person A shouldn't have enrolled in the first place.

Floyd, everyone, hear me now. This is not a big deal. In fact, if someone was interested in me and didn't bother to Google my name, I would be emotionally and intellectually offended. Use Google, use Facebook, and do your homework so you know the kind of person you're attempting to meet.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Sour Notes

I heard Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me" while treating my mother to Applebee's today; Fatboy Slim's "Praise You" played while I shopped at HyVee tonight. I assume that the respective songwriters did not anticipate exposure in those environments - as opposed to, say, Yanni.


The Killers - I'm not on board. I was on the fence with "Somebody Told Me", and "Mr. Brightside" puts me squarely against them. Maybe it's that I don't like the lead singer. He dresses well and wears the right amount of makeup, but his tone offends me. When your inflection is less robust than, say, Radiohead's "Fitter Happier" robot (Windows Media Player required), you might want to rethink the "constant staccato shouting" technique. I can't be the only one who finds him annoying - would anyone really want Mr. Brightside stuck in one's head for the day? Check out this portion of the lyrics:

Now I'm falling asleep,
And she's calling a cab
While he's having a smoke,
And she's taking a drag

Then they go into bed
And my stomach is sick
And it's all in my head,
But she's touching his chest now
He takes off her dress now

Now, and I don't know what you think of this song, now, but I don't think it's good, and I wonder if you're thinking the same things now, and maybe now he should think, now, about using less conjuctions, now.

For me, their music also leaves something to be desired. It's a wall of sound that hits you with all the subtlety of a brick through a windshield - where's the foreplay? If you want semi-glam rock that makes you work for it, in a good way, try The Golden Republic's "You Almost Had It" (Realplayer required).


Congrats to Jack Johnson, who, after years of releasing the same song again and again, has finally made a single that sounds slightly different than his previous efforts. I had always expected more from the guy behind G Love's "Rodeo Clowns". "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing" (Windows Media again) is the first song of his that I can stand since "Flake". Hell, it's almost enough to make me forget all about "Bubble Toes".


The new Dave Matthews Band "American Baby" song blows pretty hard.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Not With A Bang But A Quiver

Last night, in my dreams, the end of the world was nigh. Because, like, there was some sort of earthquake that affected whole world or something.

It was strange, because some municipalities must have been more devastated than others. The one I was living in - I assume it was somewhere in Minnesota - was relatively unharmed; still, we all had a feeling of dread.

With dread in my heart, I was trying to back out of a driveway in a gigantic SUV. The driveway sat to the right of a large house that Jeff, his sister, some other dude, potentially others, and myself were either living or squatting in. It was dark, and I accidentally hit a garbage can with the back bumper.

The police were there immediately, asking me questions about "my house" on the porch. See, they weren't there because I knocked over the trashcan with poor driving - they were there because a neighbor had complained about the smell of rotting eggs coming from the backyard. I explained to them that it was not my house, that I was from Kansas, went to graduate school in Minnesota, and it was somebody else's house. That seemed to be enough information to excuse me entirely from the matter. I suppose it's a good sign that, in a time of impending doom, law enforcement had enough resources available to send out a pair of officers to deal with a smell complaint. It's somewhat of an indictment against the system, though, that these two didn't see anything wrong with a group of youngsters squatting in a house that was actually owned by some dude who left eggs to rot in his backyard. I mean, for all those cops knew, we had the homeowner's dead body locked in the pantry. I suppose the more seasoned policemen were busy responding to the earthquake disaster thingy.

How would we get water? Oh, nevermind, I just turned on the tap and there was water. But what about food? Yes, we seemed troubled about our food supply - especially concerned was Some Other Dude, who suggested we go hunt for food. Naturally, we made our way to some sort of public hunting area. As I suspected, we were too late - the place was all out of animals to hunt. The trip wasn't a total bust, though - there was a dog track next door. The track was odd. Most tracks are shaped like…tracks - they've got long, straight stretches connected by gradual curves. [I just wrote a sentence explaining what a track looks like. Jesus.] This track was barely oblong, so the dogs had to slow down a lot to make the turns; when they slowed down, they stood on their hind legs, carefully walking around the bend as if the aforementioned men in blue had ordered them to complete a sobriety test. Run. Decelerate. Walk on hind legs. Dash. Decelerate. Walk on hind legs. The dog that was dyed pinkish purple won. Its owner was ecstatic - perhaps the victory meant the owner could afford to buy food now, or perhaps a victory meant the dog would be not be eaten. In any case, I thought it was odd that people would throw money away gambling in the post-earthquake world.

Oh yeah - a few doors down from our place lived a preacher that looked and talked precisely like a Sandlot era James Earl Jones.

That's the only part of the dream that makes sense - I watched the first 30 minutes of Star Wars right before bed.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Rinconian Measures

This post is mostly an excuse to pat myself on the back for another fine, punny title.

I met Juan Rincon once. Right before my friend went dancing with him and Luis Rivas. Now that he's been suspended for taking performance-enhancing drugs, I wish I had an amusing anecdote to justify this post. I don't.

Penultimate E-Mail

I've received stupid e-mails from others in my building before, but today was special. This new message beats out the old champion, which informed everyone with a company e-mail account that one of the women's bathrooms was out of paper towels. The subject line was something like "Sanford black ball point pen":
...I lost my pen a week or two ago somewhere here.

Not a big deal I guess, but you know how it is when you loose [sic] a pen...
Yeah, buddy. We've all been there, and we're all praying for its safe return.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

T-Birds Split

The dream of an undefeated season was defeated on Friday evening when the T-Birds were defeated in the second half of the doubleheader. My performance was poor:

OBP: 3/7
Runs: 2
RBI: 0 (batting leadoff)
possible errors: 1 (ground ball to left)

Thanks to Floyd for digging one of my shitty throws, preventing another error.