Thursday, June 30, 2005

Golden Silence

I've never used The Real World to describe my personality before - I'm not sure it's a good idea, but let's see how this goes...

Tuesday night's episode was another masterpiece. The side plot involved crazy blonde girl, who confessed that she has "learned so much" being away from her boyfriend. After dating him for three years, three (mostly drunken) days in Austin provided perspective. She hasn't had this kind of clarity since she took that weekend trip to visit her grandparents.

The main storyline was the group's work assignment. A large door opened to reveal a man in a craned director's chair. ("When I saw the guy in the director's chair, I knew we'd be doing something related to film," Nehemiah said solemnly.) The director explained that he was a documentarian, and has worked with such notables as Spike Lee and Michael Moore.

"Michael Moore! Plbbbt!" Rachel spat, explaining that she was a combat veteran.

"Uh, yeah, so my point is, I work with directors, and you're going to be doing a 15 minute documentary on the South by Southwest Festival," Mr. Director replied.

First off, their one assignment for the entire season is to produce a 15-minute documentary? Fifteen minutes? If I had their equipment and time, I could make a SXSW doc as long as (and infinitely more watchable than) The Thin Red Line. Given the personnel (see Nehemiah's quote above), I guess 15 minutes would be a miracle.

Secondly, people like Rachel probably refer to themselves as "opinionated" or "spunky", but I refer to them as "windbags". Within minutes of meeting a (famous? established?) director, she gives Michael Moore a big thumbs down - with all the energy of a pre-cancer Ebert.

The source of my disgust is not Rachel's hatred of Michael Moore. I really don't care what she likes. That's why I didn't ask. The director didn't ask, either, but that didn't stop her.

I come across as a quiet, private person - a characteristic that I've had to apologize for more than once. I don't reveal much about myself because I don't want to be seen as a Rachel; I'd rather seem cold or disconnected than an annoying little shit that can't stop talking about my opinions or my life. If you want to know something about me, just ask. Otherwise, I'll keep it to myself. Or write it on this blog.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Birthday obligations (I'm due to put a lampshade over my head, be a one-man conga line, etc.) will prevent a proper post tonight. Until tomorrow, you should know:

1. Stella was excellent last night, and you can watch it online if you missed it.

2. Slate had fun article about an online comic that I'd never seen. Here's a sample of Toothpaste for Dinner:

Tomorrow's post will include Real World commentary. Pins and needles.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Search Terms of Endearment

As the web site continues to grow, people continue to accidentally stumble upon Tornado Slide. You'd be really surprised by how many people search for variations of "'guy berryman' drunk" and end up here.

One individual typed "Naked pics Gustavus swimming angie" into a search engine, and this site emerged as a search result. The person may have been looking for Angela Miller, who is listed on the women's swimming roster at Gustavus Adolphus College

I can't contact Angela Miller - Gustavus doesn't allow the general public to search for their students' email addresses. It's my hope that Minnesota's young Angela Miller is the curious type. Maybe she'll Google herself, see this text, and shed some light on why someone would search for naked pictures of her. Was the person looking for naked pictures of her in the pool? Naked pictures of her somewhere else? Is "swimming angie" Angela Miller or some other student? Perhaps a young co-ed that snuck into the natatorium late one night when she thought no one was looking? Maybe, someday, we'll know.

The most perplexing search was this one:

wheeled luggage sucks

This individual put the above words into a search engine, clicked on my site, and read about my luggage's wheels clicking against the Albuquerque airport floor. This person then took the time to comment on the post:
Don't blame the architect. Wheeled luggage sucks. It's automatically heavier, has less interior space, and is hard to stuff into overhead compartments, because it has to be at least semi-rigid. It just generally slows you down. Think more about what you really need to take with you and save weight. Lighter is better and faster.
I guess it's tough being an unwheeled luggage salesman nowadays - I applaud his novel sales efforts. I do not applaud his advice. Hey jerk - why don't you get off your high horse? Do you think I'm an idiot? That I don't think about what I really need to pack? Do you picture me stuffing four business suits, a bowling ball, a loaf of Panera bread, a dozen Pepsi Big Slams, a bicycle lock, spare tires, a fern, a lamp, a lawn chair, mosquito netting, and toiletries into several gigantic, wheeled pieces of luggage? I picture you lecturing your kids about this every morning before they go off to school.

"Chad," (you named your kid Chad because he was a mistake and you want him to suffer all his life), "Chad, that bookbag is too heavy. You've got to think, son! Lighter is better and faster!"

"Sir," (you're also the kind of prick that makes his son call him "sir"), "I need all of these books for school."

"All the booksmarts in the world won't help you escape my terrible parenting and your terrible childhood."

"Yes, sir."

Sometimes search terms are so unintelligible I can't even guess what they are for:

google you don t know. god created a women out of firth
condoms harmon Wichita
a tornado cough on camera
tornado hilarity

Sometimes I can guess what they're for, and I weep, mouth agape:

Nacho testicle
colonoscopy sketches humor
walgreens pictures of male silverback gorilla
DJ and KIMMY adult fan fiction
receiving handjob hiv risk?
how-to murder stab brain
four locations that tornado can happened at?
how to cleans the bowels
what to do when court in a tornado
flight attendant fuck video
what are the symptoms of a tornado
blowjobs and braces
"cpr and first aid" funny jokes
meth users rocking
Carl's Jr White Supremacist
crystal meth, housecleaning
colin farrell scrotum
slide handjobs
stormtrooper women
lyrics my milkshake brings all the bulls to the yard damn right it's better you’re your
detached vein right side of penis
black fat man slide pictures
jack johnson lyrics - know i'm falling asleep now im calling a cab

Finally, there are a few searches that I respect:

tattooed breasts
using an umlaut in Johannson
how to say "outstanding" in German
pictures of winona rider fucked
shins brunettes lawrence
guinness book of records chicken wings
"the juice is worth the squeeze"
longest makeout
"everything's fucked"
yeah from my head to my toes def lepp
hot chicks yearbook pics

Monday, June 27, 2005


1. Playing "No Woman, No Cry" on bar jukeboxes. It's not an outstanding song, and hearing it all the goddamn time doesn't make it any better. Let's all take a break and rethink things in 5 years. Don't believe me? Ask anyone with an unbelieveably over-the-top pseudonym.

2. In-depth news coverage of wildfires, esp. those occurring in California. I'll allow the mudslide stories, but there are fires every summer. If the fire is taking up half the state, go ahead and let me know. If it's threatening a really large city, OK. Otherwise, push it to the end of the newscast.

3. Disappearing. I don't want to hear about anyone getting lost or kidnapped. I need a break. So, for the next 3 months or so, let's everybody just hang out at home, doors and windows locked, and relax.

4. Hitler comparisons. The Daily Show already covered this last week.

5. Claiming an establishment has "the best hamburgers EVER!" There's a reason a lot of places have great burgers - great burgers are cheap, easy to make, and benefit from low expectations. Billions of people have willingly eaten McDonald's "hamburgers" - it's no surprise that they go nuts when someone serves them a nice, thick, juicy burger made from actual beef. Unless the burger you ate was somehow extraordinary - made from abnormal ingredients, prepared uniquely, cooked by angels - keep your superlative praises to yourself. This goes double for "the best sandwiches EVER!"

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Dreaming my Dreams of Cruise

When did Tom Cruise hit rock bottom? His Oprah appearance? His Today appearance? For me, it was last night, when I dreamt he was at a busy intersection, brandishing a pistol, threatening to kill everyone at the conference hotel. Jamie Foxx and I ran across the street to another building. Jamie had a rifle. "Is that a sniper rifle?" I asked the Oscar winner, planning to ice Maverick from the safety of an upper story window. "Nah, man, this is an assault rifle." Fucking Jamie Foxx - what an idiot.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Keep Those Machines Out of my Wife's Coochie!

I always try to write something original, not just point you to links, but this week's Onion Op/Ed must be seen.

T-Birds Soar to Fourth Straight Victory

The doubleheader last night was a slaughter. We could do no wrong. For example, I reached base safely every time I hit a ground ball to third base.

OBP: 5/6

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Real World: Ausome

Yeah, I watched it last night. And yeah, I'm sucked into another season. I knew this would happen, but how could you not watch? And the premiere episode, no less - the one where they walk into the house and say, "Ahhhh! This is amaaaaaaazing!! I can't belieeeeeve it!!!" Are you fucking kidding me? Did you think the Real World house would be a dump? Did you think this season would be different than the previous 15? Of course the house is dope! It's the fucking Real World, bitches!

The premiere episode was a mountain full of gold. Melinda, the blonde, talked about how hard it was going to be to remain faithful to her boyfriend; she admitted this fact to the kid she wants to bone...on their first day in the house. It's day one, you crazy, hot bitch! What the hell are you doing in a relationship in the first place?

Then there's the black guy, Nehemiah. Welcome to Austin, friend. I've got some bad news - most of your housemates are clearly insane. That's right, I just called the guy who wore a Harriet Tubman T-shirt one of the SANE ones. Where the hell do you buy a Harriet Tubman T-shirt?

The finest moment in last night's episode was not the punch that fractured Danny's facebone. It came when Danny discussed his new buddy, Johnson County Kansas' own Wes. As close as I can recall:
"Wes is like, a total frat guy type. And I love that about him."
Well done, Bunim-Murray productions. Well done.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Don't Call Me Shirley

I'm watching the AFI's Top 100 Movie Quotes on CBS. Why? Because I read the list of nominees months ago - it was a huge .pdf file that I chipped through during work hours. It took so long to read I feel invested in this countdown.

AFI chose an good mix of entertainers for pundit duty. Knowledgeable directors like Cameron Crowe and George Lucas are thrown in with decent comedians. And then there's the actors:

Patrick Swayze has had some work done.
Burt Reynolds has had a lot of work done.
Billy Crystal has no wrinkles.

I'm just saying - would Billy Crystal's career really suffer very much if he refused to get plastic surgery? I'm pretty sure that this nation's grandparents would continue to laugh at his shitty jokes, wrinkles or no wrinkles.

Some of the pundit/fundit choices are really strange. Dennis Miller is one, but at least he's a former comedian who has been in some movies. The choice to include Penn and Teller, however, is baffling. Penn is holding his own tonight, but he's not giving any more insight than I could. I expected more from such a big moviestar.

A side note: Dirty Harry's "You feel lucky, punk?" is on the list, and they showed the climatic clip from that movie. Do yourself a favor and watch the end of Dirty Harry, taking care to listen to the criminal. After Dirty Harry says his line, the scumbag pauses before reaching for his gun. As he reaches, he makes a ridiculous noise. Something like, "Huh hoo huh hee hee!" It's classic. Highly recommended by myself and Jack Serpentine.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Karaoke - A Gay Ol' Time

Frequent readers probably assume that Paul is my only friend. Those readers are wrong. I have a couple other friends. Anyway, back to Paul:
i was actually going to e-mail you about a recent topic of discussion. over the past few months, a karaoke craze has swept through the plains of ohio, or at least among my friends. it's become just about an every other week event, and it's sprung many musical arguments among us. the most recent topic is very strange, but i thought i'd appeal to your encyclopedic knowledge of music anyways. here's the issue: we were debating what song would say (assuming two guys are singing together) "these guys appeared heterosexual but they can't be after choosing to sing that in public" the strongest. this discussion was brought on after a torrid performance of roxette's "joyride" last week by two of my friends after which they were heckled. thus far, here are some of the suggestions:

1. any wham / george michael song but particularly "father figure"

2. melissa ethridge "come to my window"

3. village people "in the navy"

4. duran duran "the reflex"

5. chris isaak "wicked game"

6. reo speedwagon "can't fight this feeling"

7. journey "faithfully"
I've sang some karaoke duets with other dudes before, from Simon and Garfunkel's "Cecilia" to REO's "Keep On Loving You". I've also shared a wall with a homosexual, making me eminently qualified to throw in my two cents.

Gay: Peter Gabriel "In Your Eyes"

Not Gay: Hall and Oates (anything by Hall and Oates)

Gay: Foreigner "Cold as Ice"

Gay: REM "Nightswimming"

Gay but don't know it: Big and Rich "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy"

Surprisingly comfortable in their heterosexuality: George Michael and Elton John "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (the live version)...but only if the first singer does the classic, "Ladies and gentlemen, MISTER ELTON JOHN!!!" before the second verse starts.

(Can you tell I really, really want to give that karaoke performance?)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Best Sex I Never Had

About one year and one week ago, I met a girl who was nice, but odd. The day after I met her, I wrote about it: was probably 2:30 in the morning. If her roommate was to be believed, they started drinking at 7 that night. We probably first met [her] around 11:00. How was she not sober yet? I told her that I should go, because I thought she "might still be feeling the effects of the alcohol." She denied this and, apparently thinking it would support her claim, took her shirt off...[She] had an interesting way of making out. She often raised both eyebrows - twice, rapidly - in Groucho Marx fashion. She winked every now and then. Things that should be done slowly to prevent us bumping heads, etc. -- like when her hair got in the way and she needed to sweep it to one side or tuck it behind her ears -- were not done slowly, but rather in swift, herky-jerky, Dontrelle Willis-esque motions.
I looked her up on recently - her profile shows she's a member of the "I'm not sure what I did last night, and I enjoyed every minute of it" group, as well as the "Franzia/boxed wine is my chosen method of wastedness" club. Sometimes, the internet puts it all in perspective. It all makes sense now. She's a member of a few other red-flag groups: "I love NASCAR", "Anything to do with Jessica Simpson Obssessed", and "Actually, dirty blonds do it better".

She might "do it better" - I wouldn't know because I refused to sleep with her that night, and we never went on a date. Thank God.

Flying High Again

The T-Birds took both games of a doubleheader Friday, upping our record to 2-1. The loss came one week prior, just before thunderstorms cancelled the latter half of the double dip.

Game 1: 3/5 OBP
Game 2 5/7 OBP

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Think Tank

Ideas I thought were original, but weren't:

1. Streetlights that turn on automatically at night and off automatically at dawn.

2. (Ok, this was actually Floyd's idea.)

Ideas that might be original:

1. Domesticate the rhino. (Again, this was actually the idea of some friends.)

2. "The Rude Restaurant". You'd go get a meal there if you didn't want to deal with overly perky wait staff - in fact, you'd just abuse them. Don't like the way your steak is cooked? Just bring the waiter over, "Hey! Tell those assholes in the kitchen that this motherfucker is overdone! I might take shit like this at work, but NOT NOW!" And the kitchen wouldn't spit in your food or anything, because they know they're helping people relieve stress. Gratuity would be included on the bill to further isolate the staff from the customer. No cell phones, no music, loud talkers would be asked to leave. No - they'd be kicked out forcefully. Other diners could participate in pushing Captain Talksalot out of the building if they wanted.

3. Create software program that easily converts e-mail into a Word/Adobe file. A really great version of this program would use all the >>> marks to figure out the chroniological order of the e-mails and place them accordingly in the new file. I would pay $300 for this program. Just think, your life in e-mail...that wouldn't mean much to my mom ("This is the week I sent the inspirational forwards, this is the conversation I had with my sister about a quilt...") but it would be pretty incredible for others.

I don't mind putting my intellectual property out there - I don't care if someone else gets rich off them. I just want them to become a reality.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

There Is No Other Pill To Take

Every day I wake up around 6:00, notice light beaming through the window, and panic. I forgot to set my alarm. I look at the alarm clock and see that the alarm is armed and waiting. I go back to sleep, for the remaining 45 minutes, despite feeling well-rested.

I get out of bed and walk to the master bathroom, where my prescription sits next to the sink, reminding me that I'm sick and can't be cured. I put one of the pills in my mouth and quickly take several gulps of water. The pills have an acute, metallic taste - it's how aspirin tablets would taste after being dropped into an iron smelt and left to spoil.

The taste of metal disappears after my breakfast. It doesn't return in full force; my mouth gradually develops a different flavor, a dull, general unpleasantness. I have no proof it is truly different than my pre-medication mouth - you don't notice what your mouth tastes like when it does not disgust you - and I can't explain why old mouth was so inoffensive. It's beside the point. I can shake it for a brief time if I chew gum, brush my teeth, or eat, but the unpleasantness always returns.

The last thing I do before I go to sleep is take another pill.

Imagine eating a peanut butter sandwich sans refreshing beverage. Can you feel that? Your mouth is sticky and foul. You're sitting in an office chair at your workstation. The when the chair is raised up, your legs barely clear the desktop, and the chair's arms don't. When the chair is lowered, your arms are at an uncomfortable level, and you can't type properly. You can't stand your own taste and you can't get comfortable, even though you've tried different positions. Right leg folded under. Left leg folded under. Left leg raised, left elbow hugging the knee toward your chest, left hand on the appropriate section of the home row. Shoes off, legs crossed Indian-style. Slumping, left leg propped on a different chair, right leg pushing against the cubicle wall. You're miserable.

Now, that peanut butter sandwich that inexplicably lacked jelly or bananas or honey? The one you ate without the benefit of a chaser? It turns out you didn't eat a peanut butter sandwich, but rather two mercury thermometers wedged between a bar of hand soap and a chalkboard eraser. Now punch yourself in the stomach until you get tired. Now think of the thing that you use to distract and relax yourself - let's say that thing is bowling. Break both arms. Watch the PBA on television. Know you'll never be that good, and in all likelihood, your arms will heal in such a manner that it will be impossible for you to pick up a ball again, even those little pink ones with the small holes you can't fit your fingers inside.

That's how I'm feeling lately.

Now Working Even Harder

My workplace has barred me from viewing anything with "blog" or "blogspot" in the URL (Xanga and blogs with their own domains - I'm looking at you, The Rattler - are still viewable, as is ESPN, MTV, Gawker, Wonkette, and any number of other non work-related sites).

But my problem is not yours - lucky you! Be sure to use your internet freedoms to check out the comments on an earlier post, where Paul has shared the infamous Boogie Nights story.

Monday, June 13, 2005

In Concert

Me too:

Pearl Jam / Urge Overkill - Century II, Wichita, 1993
Winger / Blackfish - West Bank Stage, Wichita
Collective Soul - Kansas Coliseum, Wichita
Spin Doctors / Sponge - Sedgwick County Park, Wichita
Green Day - Cotillion Ballroom, Wichita
Foo Fighters - Cotillion Ballroom, Wichita
Bush / Goo Goo Dolls / No Doubt - Kansas Coliseum, Wichita
Smashing Pumpkins - Kansas Coliseum, Wichita
Stone Temple Pilots / Cheap Trick - Kansas Coliseum, Wichita
Smashing Pumpkins / Blues Traveler / Ben Harper / Barenaked Ladies
(H.O.R.D.E. Fest), Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, Oklahoma City
U2 / Smash Mouth - Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis
U2 / Third Eye Blind - TWA Dome, St. Louis
Third Eye Blind / Space Monkeys - Cotillion Ballroom, Wichita
Cake / Ben Folds Five / Jude - Starlight Theater, Kansas City
Weezer - Roy Wilkins Auditorium, Saint Paul
Bob Dylan - Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul
Ben Folds (w/ full band) / Citizen Cope - First Avenue, Minneapolis
Travis / Remy Zero - Historic State Theater, Minneapolis
Ben Folds (solo) / Divine Comedy - First Avenue, Minneapolis
Tom Petty / Jackson Browne - Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul
Ben Folds (solo) / Duncan Sheik - First Avenue, Minneapolis
They Might Be Giants / Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players / Dave Eggers
- Fitzgerald Theater, Saint Paul
Rufus Wainwright / Joan as Policewoman (instead of Shannon McNally) -
Liberty Hall, Lawrence
Guster / Ben Folds (solo) / Gavin DeGraw
Secret Machines / Moving Units / Autolux - Bottleneck, Lawrence
Modest Mouse / Mason Jennings - Uptown Theater, Kansas City
Fiery Furnaces - Bottleneck, Lawrence
The Shins / The Brunettes - Liberty Hall, Lawrence
Rilo Kiley - Granada, Lawrence

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Dry Heat - Part Two


I want to get a nice late breakfast before the conference starts at noon. I walk around downtown - nothing is open. I abandon the morning constitutional and eat at my hotel.

The conference room is crowded. The panel of experts is seated, and their tables form a U, facing the Powerpoint display. Myself and the riff-raff are behind them, squeezed next to one another, chairbacks against the wall. I am among the last to arrive, so I have a poor view of the screen. The woman that is seated to my right has an even worse angle. She compensates by leaning into my personal space whenever she feels like seeing what the speaker is reading. She is the exact opposite of the woman I sat next to on the flight to Albuquerque. She's constantly fidgeting, and preferring both the standard leg bounce and the unconventional lateral knee touch - the latter performed as if there is an invisible Thighmaster in her crotch.

I meet Nathan and Julie in the hotel bar shortly after 5:00. I knew they were inside after seeing their large truck in the parking lot, loaded for their cross-country drive. The bed is packed high, and a blue tarp covers everything but part of a bicycle frame. I think of the Joads.

We enjoy beer as we wait for our food to arrive - we're on a patio off Central Ave, also known as Route 66. I am three feet from the neighboring table, where a bikerish woman is straddling a bikerish man. My boss walks by on the sidewalk, and I say hello. She approaches our table and sits down. Damn. A best friend, his wife, a liter of Sam Adams Summer, a warm evening on the Route 66 patio, my supervisor. One of these things is not like the other. It's over soon, and I show Nathan and Julie the theater's ice cream selection before they drive further west.

The hotel has HBO. Unlike the host cities of my last two conferences, Albuquerque does not sponsor a hotel channel that features local restaurants, museums, and landmarks. I take this as another bad sign.


For the past handful of years, I've tried to surround myself with my favorite things during my birthday. I listen to my all-time favorite albums, I watch my favorite movie, I bathe in my favorite champagne. This year, I battle my peers for complimentary bagels and muffins before sitting through plenary and breakout sessions.

A well-dressed, gray-haired gentleman sits a few seats down from me during the opening presentation. The speaker tells an anecdote involving Senator Robert Dole for some reason - a reporter asks Mr. Dole if it's effeminizing to be second fiddle to his newly elected wife. She pushes him away from the microphone and says, "Move over, cupcake, I'll take this one!" The crowd laughs, starved for something resembling humor.

"Heh heh. Savoir fare..." the man says creepily.

A speaker uses the phrase, "Not sure if the juice is worth the squeeze," and I try to think if I've been previously exposed to that wording.

There is a reception at 6:00 with a cash bar, appetizers, and a mariachi band. Why would a culture that lives in such a warm climate choose to uniform their bands in restrictive suits? Barbara, a friend from grad school that I found earlier that day, tells them it's my birthday. They ask me to stand as they play "Happy Birthday". The pacing of the mariachi version is far superior to our slow, pained, American chorus.

Later that night, Barbara and I try to find alcohol. A hotel shuttle driver takes us to Seven-Eleven, where we purchase two bottles of Yellow Tail. We drink the cabernet and catch up on the past two years of each other's lives. There are about a dozen adult films available for rent through the hotel, including Swallowing Shanks, Cream on my Face, Hot Young Snatch, and Hairless Honeydrippers. $13.99 is greater than our curiosity.


Tuesday lasts forever. Eventually, I am in a hotel bar with Barbara's female peers. The British-sounding one looks at me.

"Why do men ask 'Do you swallow'?"

It is unprovoked and accusatory, but at least we are not talking about risk ratios. The other girls talk about feelings of power/submission/control. I give my opinion, which I adopted from Loveline's Adam Carolla.

"It has little to do with power. It's more flattering. It shows that you're not disgusted. I don't care what you do, just don't seem incredibly disgusted by the process."

I'm sure she doesn't hear any of this.


I am waiting for a cab to the airport. I'm tired of feeling cold in the hotel, especially because it's so warm outside. I stand on the sidewalk by the entrance. There is an abundance of shade, but I want to spend my last minutes in the sun. The dry heat is nice, but it feels like there is something missing.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Dry Heat - Part One


This is the second consecutive trip in which I have been randomly screened by airport security. After passing through successfully, I sit and watch as others are pulled aside. No one is nonchalant. They shoot flabbergasted looks toward their traveling companions.

"Oh my God, me?! Selma, look! They think little old me could be a terrorist!"
"For gosh sakes! That Latino man just went right through!"
"Look! He's making me spread my arms like I might have a weapon!"

One man finishes the screen and walks toward the seats to my left. A woman his age and a teenage girl are waiting for him. He is speaking in a foreign language - East Europe sounding. Maybe they are from Strawberry Hill, across the river. I listen to him speak, wondering if it's profound or useless chatter. If he was speaking English, I would assuredly be mocking his words. Since it is Russian or Croatian or else, I give him the benefit of the doubt.

The mother begins to assemble lunch. Empty paper cups appear from her carry-on bag. Hen House lunchmeat, possibly bologna, definitely smelly. Bread. One half gallon of milk. She builds modest sandwiches and hands one to her daughter and husband; she pours the milk. I consider the logistics required for their rushed meal - I calculate the odds of a resulting foodborne illness. Is there an ice pack in the bag? What are they doing with the leftovers?

The flight is Southwest. I am among the last to board, but get a decent isle seat next to a thin woman with a book - an ideal neighbor. The first short story in my new book is about death. The second is about low self-esteem. The third is about death and guilt. This trip will not be relaxing.

I do not want to stop my session mid-story, so I close the book as the plane descends. Almost by mistake, I catch a glimpse through the window at the earth below. There are mountains, and for a moment I am shocked. I have not seen mountains in more than five years. This is my first trip to New Mexico. I've never been near it. The airport floor is brick, or, more precisely, has been fashioned to look like red brick. Wheeled luggage clicks relentlessly. I want a word with the architect.

It will be hours before my room is available. The clerk stores my luggage, and his associate gives me directions to the old town district. I turn right and walk to Lomas. I turn left and walk for about 15 minutes. It is hot but I don't care - this is what people mean when they say, "It's a dry heat." I picture myself as a local, tanned after a few days in this sun. I am the bassist from Albuquerque's own The Shins.

Hispanics are gathered in the quad of Old Town. A nearby church has something to do with the celebration. Music plays over a PA as a man in the gazebo sings. He looks like bullfighter, minus the cape; he sings different songs in Spanish. They sound the same to me. I sit on a restaurant patio and eat flat chicken enchiladas. I can't see the entertainer from here, but I can see much of the crowd, and I can hear him all too well. He makes very brief conversation with the crowd between each song: he has been here many years in a row, his family has come from Dallas to see him today, he is happy to be here. I pay after sopapillas, looking at photos under the glass at the cashier's stand. John Kerry is in two of them. Gloria Estefan is in one. These should all be on the wall.

I make a lap in Old Town. Some shops sell jewelry. Others sell jewelry. A few even sell jewelry. He is still singing - the man's voice is tireless. This is why they keep asking him back.

The museums are on my way back to the hotel. I choose the natural history museum. It is a mistake.

I walk through neighborhoods on the return trip - the multitude of law offices on Lomas (immigration?) were not nice enough to see twice. The Shins are in my head. I can't relate to their lyrics - I do not smell the engine grease and mint the wind is blending. I don't smell anything. I am suddenly aware that I don't hear anything, either. No dogs bark. No lawnmowers run. Even the breeze can't be bothered to make a sound. It's three o'clock on a Saturday but quiet like a snowstorm. I consider if desert is an insulant, like snow. I reject the hypothesis.

Downtown features a handful of tall office buildings, almost all of which are named for banks. They are squatting, hiding behind the mountains that circle the city, apologetic for their non-adobe abilities, a tall man between yourself and the movie screen.

My hotel room faces south. I can see baseball stadium lights a few miles away. Every time I look at them in the next few days, I will think, "You hear that, folks? He said, 'Go 'Topes!'".

I'm too late to see Crash, so I decide to see Layer Cake. The movie ticket costs $9.25, and my $.75 of change goes to a charity that seems to be supported by a smiling black and white photo of The Rock. I start on two generous scoops of Dreyer's rocky road ice cream - my dinner - as the trailers begin. Later, The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" is used perfectly. If I could show everyone this scene, they would understand why I was disappointed with Garden State's use of "Caring is Creepy".

My walk home takes me past the bus station. A vagrant is yelling at a better-dressed man who wants the bus to take him away from the situation. Two uniformed policemen watch from twenty yards away.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

First Dates with Matt Damon

Tonight I watched Good Will Hunting on A&E - the network managed to stretch it to two and a half hours with poorly timed commercial breaks.

I saw Good Will Hunting for the second time on a first date. Watching it tonight, I considered its efficacy as a first date movie. It's a very good film with a happy ending, but has heavy themes of abuse and more than a little latent homoeroticism. Not the best first date movie.

In my esteemed romantic career, there is a tie for Worst First Date Movie. The honors are split between Amistad (Erin) and Saving Private Ryan (Ginny). Amistad was not my first choice - we were just stuck with it and made the best of things. I recall a scene where one of the slaves talks about killing a lion back in his African village - I leaned over and whispered in Erin's ear: "Did I ever tell you about the time that I killed a lion?" Unsurprisingly, she reached for my hand a short time later.

The Saving Private Ryan debacle was the result of my inexperience; at that point in my life, I thought it was better to see a good, but date-inappropriate movie than a poor, date-appropriate movie. Ginny raised no objection to the idea; when we left the theater, she informed me that it was her second viewing of the Spielberg war epic. My charm in those days was such that the human female would gladly witness the gory aftermath of D-Day (for a second time) just to be near me.

I invite you to share your worst first date movies. Paul, if you're reading this, I'd love to hear your Boogie Nights experience one more time.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


I have little to say today and little time to write a post. See, I'm got to watch Episode III tonight, because I bought Lego Star Wars - The Video Game. The game is exactly what it sounds like, and covers episodes I through III. I don't want to play Episode III before I see Episode III. You know, because I'd hate to spoil the movie for myself - God knows what the plot could be.

Today I read an AP article about killer bees in Oklahoma, inching ever closer to my home state:
They can sense a threat from people or animals 50 feet or more from their nest, sense vibrations from power equipment 100 feet away and may pursue a victim for up to a half a mile
I could make a joke about africanized bees not being Kenyan, because they'd be able to chase you for much longer than a half mile, but I won't, because that joke sucks. Remember back in the early '90s when killer bee talk was everywhere? Made for TV movies about swarms of killer bees? Bagwell with a healthy shoulder? That jokes sucks too. This is what happens when I don't edit a post.

I read this article, too...ok, well, I read the headline. I wonder - how long until everyone has written a children's book? Is anyone not qualified to write one of these things? How do publishers distinguish "good" children's books from "bad" ones? Is someone out there writing children's books with gory plots of revenge and murder? Does anyone stray from the animal-gets-in-an-adventure tale? ... okay, I just read the McCartney article to see what the plot was - lo and behold, a frog and a squirrel get into an adventure. Fantastic. Let's all quit our jobs and write these things.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Smelly Virgins and Other Reasons to Panic

Tonight I finished reading Perfume. I had little choice - I read it riding home from work, and only a few chapters were left by the time we pulled in my driveway. With so few pages left, I couldn't save it for my Saturday flight to Albuquerque, lest I be stuck with nothing more to read before the pretzels are distributed.

I read Perfume expressly because it was Kurt Cobain's inspiration for track two of In Utero, "Scentless Apprentice". It's the dark tale of a bastard born in 18th-century Paris without any scent of his own - the man has no odor. Fantastically, he does possess a remarkable sense of smell, and uses his talents to become a perfumer's apprentice.
Like most babies smell like butter
His smell smelled like no other
He was born scentless and senseless
He was born a scentless apprentice
(See? It all makes sense now, doesn't it? And excellent drums on that track, no?)

The Scentless Apprentice becomes obsessed with bottling the scent of, as the back cover puts it, "a beautiful young virgin". To do so, he would have to kill her. He panics, not because he's adverse to killing virgins, but because he knows the bottle of Virgin Perfume would not last forever:
Grenouille was terrified. What happens, he thought, if the scent, once I possess it...what happens if it runs out? It's not the same as it is in your memory, where all scents are indestructible. The real thing gets used up in this world. It's transient. And by the time it has been used up, the source I took it from will no longer exist. And I will be as naked as before and will have to get along with surrogates, just like before. No, it will be even worse than before! For in the meantime I will have known it and possessed it, my own splendid scent, and I will not be able to forget it, because I never forget a scent. And for the rest of my life I will feed on it in my memory, just as I was feeding right now from the premonition of what I will possess...What do I need it for at all?

This was a most unpleasant thought for Grenouille. It frightened him beyond measure to think that once he did possess the scent that he did not yet possess, he must inevitably lose it. How long could he keep it? A few days? A few weeks? Perhaps a whole month, if he perfumed himself very sparingly with it? And then? He saw himself shaking the last drops from the bottle, rinsing the flacon with alcohol so that the last little bit would not be lost, and then he saw, smelled, how his beloved scent would vanish in the air, irrevocably, forever. It would be like a long slow death, a kind of suffocation in reverse, and agonizing gradual self-evaporation into the wretched world.
Aside from reminding me of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, that passage sums up a panic attack beautifully. My first experience with panic occurred in the "front" bathroom of the house I grew up in. My belt loop got hung up on one of the bathroom cabinet's handles. I was caught in such a manner that I couldn't free myself - my feet couldn't reach the ground, and I was left dangling by my jeans. In the few seconds of panic, I pictured my mother bringing future meals to me there in the bathroom, where I would hang for all of this earthly life. I thought to open my mouth and ask for help; a few seconds later, my brother or my mom freed me with minimal effort.

My first panic attack (which does not meet the clinical definition) occurred a few weeks ago. I was eating at an Indian restaurant when I suddenly couldn't eat any more nan. My heart raced, I could only breathe out of my mouth, and I could only walk with short, deliberate steps. A day or two later, the symptoms repeated as I tried to sleep and was in no way connected to a tandoor or biryani.

Coldplay Are People, Too

I read an excerpt of a Newsweek article on Coldplay at Stereogum:
GUY BERRYMAN: "We're not a cool band anymore like the Strokes or the White Stripes, and sometimes I feel insecure about that."

Martin admits he winced when Radiohead's Thom Yorke, one of his heroes, labeled Coldplay "lifestyle music" - a dig at the band's universality in films, stores, airports and Mom's iPod.

CHRIS MARTIN: "It's like unrequited love. I'm in love with a lot of things. Some of those things love me back. And some of them don't - and one of them is Radiohead."
You don't have to love Coldplay - you can dismiss them like Thom, and that's okay. Others will love them in your place. Ali will love them for "Moses", I will love them for "Shiver" and "The Scientist" - despite overexposure of the latter, and Phil will love them for "God Put a Smile On Your Face". You don't have to love them, but this excerpt should make you respect Coldplay.