Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Fire Drill

I read a blog written by a guy named Dan that also likes Gilmore Girls and lives in Minneapolis, my former home. He recently wrote about the items he would rescue from his burning home. ATC breached a similar topic this evening, interviewing a Mississippi resident who couldn't save anything from her home (including her husband's journals, which he had written EVERY DAY since he was a child) before it was destroyed by the hurricane.

It's a topic I've thought about often, dating back to my dorm days in college - the fire alarm there was set off every other week or so, depending on when the rowdy kids decided to set the trash chutes ablaze. In those days, I'd grab my wallet and checkbook, put on a pair of jeans, socks, and shoes before leaving the room.

By the time I was in Minneapolis, the procedure became more complex. This was an apartment building that had honest-to-God fires, not just silly, nuisance pranks. Every time the fire alarm - and old-school, loud-as-hell bell - went off, I really had to rush outside.

I messed up the first time. I took my laptop, wallet, and because it was right in front of me, sitting on the coffee table, my autographed copy of Dave Eggers' You Shall Know Our Velocity.

By the next time the alarm rang, I had decided to save some photos, too. Laptop, wallet, my small photo album...and the autographed book. Hey, it's a good book.

I haven't thought about what to save since I moved into this house and surrounded myself with more possessions. Clearly, I don't have to save this piece of shit laptop anymore, because its new hard drive is blank. I guess I need to get one of those fireproof lockboxes, and throw all my backup disks in there. Do you get the feeling I'm just posting my to-do lists on the internet now? Do you get the feeling I should have saved this as a draft and not posted it? Do you ever wonder why you keep coming back to this website? Or any website? What are you looking for, anyway? Do you think I'm going to have something witty to say? Do you think I'm going to reveal something? Do you hate yourself? Do I hate myself? What am I doing with my life?

I guess I have to save the unique things. The autographed book is unique. My photos are unique - I have two albums now I need to save. There's an assload of notes from old girlfriends in a shoebox in my room, but I'm not going out of my way to save those, just like I'm not going out of my way to get rid of them.

Is that it? I own 3 things that can't be replaced?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Casting Crowe's

I'm a Cameron Crowe fan. How can you not be? He's goofy looking, he's married to one of the chicks from Heart, and he makes great films, from Say Anything to Almost Famous...quality stuff. His latest, Elizabethtown, will be out soon, and I'm worried.

(Quick tangent - "Only in theaters"? Really, Paramount Pictures? We still need to remind the moviegoing public that this film will NOT be a straight to DVD release? It's not an off-broadway show that's making its way across the country on the state fair circuit?)

OK. I've only seen the trailer, and there isn't much to be gleaned from it. Orlando Bloom's father dies, he goes home for the funeral, and meets flight attendant Kirsten Dunst in the process.

Now, I'm not the most frequent flyer around, but I have seen my fair share of flight attendants. Sometimes, when my aircraft isn't being serviced by gay males, the job is done by nice ladies. I can say without hesitation that none have been, or will ever be, confused with Kirsten Dunst.

[Dunst photo taken from Use My Computer]

Has it been so long since you've flown coach, Mr. Crowe? It has? Oh, right, the successful filmmaking and the corresponding income. Right. Fair play. Well, I hope the new movie is good. I'm just saying - Ione Skye was a little more believeable.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Wedding Party

Two parties last night - one was a theme party. An "ordained minister" (she entered her email address into a website) was on hand to "marry" couples every 30 minutes...or at least that's what was supposed to happen. In the end, it was just a party. Most people didn't dress the part, and I only saw about 3 vows exchanged. Pure chaos over at the housing cooperative. Great idea, though.

By the end of the night, back at party #1, we were discussing sex. With sandwiches.

ME: "If you were going to have sex with a sandwich, what sandwich would you choose?"

NICK: "If it's got carmelized onions, I'm going to screw it."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

My Life In Song: Fiona Apple - Tidal

[I couldn't sleep last night. Before I finally made it to dreamland (dream: rain had caused the ground around my house to shift around, and my dad was there, saying we should move the dirt one way, and I wanted to do it a different way, and Ali was going to take a job in Chicago, and I was hosting some sort of family reunion...), I had a thought. What if I connected every song to a memory? Like Nick Hornby's Songbook, but different. How long would that take? Even if it's possible, would that suck? I decided to give it a shot, starting with the first slot on my alphabetically arranged CD tower.]

Fiona Apple - Tidal

*Fiona Apple in general*
When I think of Fiona, I think about an article I read in Spin magazine. She was raped when she was young, and she altered her memory of it - in her mind, the rapist was Jimi Hendrix.

*The album as a whole*
In my sophomore year of college, as I was making out with Jenny in my dorm room, I became very aware of the silence. I can't recall why I was concerned about it. Either I was didn't want others on the floor to hear us, or I didn't want to hear them. Especially Ross. "Bennett! That's money, dude! Money!" he'd say. I decided to play Tidal in my Aiwa three-disc stereo system.

*Sleep to Dream*
Dad always planted potatoes. Or, more exactly, wanted potatoes planted. My brother and I helped, hoed the rows as they grew, and finally dug them up in the summer. One summer, my brother and I were again assigned the task of harvesting the potatoes.

At that time in his life, my brother's routine was:
1:00 p.m. - Wake up, walk upstairs.
1:30 p.m. - Lay towel on living room floor, a few yards from the TV. Place lunch plate on towel. Eat while lying on stomach.
2:00 p.m. - Shower.
2:30 - 5:00 p.m. - Watch TV, read, other low-impact activities.
5:15 p.m. - Leave the house before Dad got home from work.
3:00 a.m. or so - Return home, retreat to basement, sleep.

As you can clearly see, potatoes were not his thing. Even if I was able to convince him to help me bring in the crop, he wasn't available until the scorching heat of mid-afternoon. I chose to dig potatoes myself, in the morning, alone. For several consecutive mornings, I clipped my Memorex personal cassette player to my waist and listened to Tidal play through the headphones. I was careful not to push the shovel too near the plant, keeping the number of accidentally injured potatoes to a minimum. After the initial plunge into the earth, I pushed down on the shovel's handle slightly, then plunged again, then lifted it all out of the ground. Grasping the stem with one hand, I shook it to remove the large clumps of dirt still attached. The individual potatoes were then plucked from the roots, brushed briefly by hand, and tossed into a cardboard box. When I was young, separate bushel baskets were used for small, medium, and large sized potatoes. Working alone, by my own rules, every potato met the same fate, red or white, big or small.

*Sullen Girl*
Shawn and I were roommates for our first semester of college. His CD player loaded from the top, and we had to place a book over the lid to keep it shut. Sometimes, we listened to soft music as we fell asleep (I had the bottom bunk). When we'd choose Fiona, we had to program the CD player to only play the soothing songs. As a result, "Sullen Girl" would play first.

Shawn's high school girlfriend Lori loved this song. I think.

Any connection I had to "Criminal" was immediately and forever replaced when I saw the video on MTV. I didn't have MTV at the time, so my first glimpse was at Brian's house one afternoon. I'll bet I haven't seen this video from start to finish more than three times in my life; from the way it's etched in my memory, it may as well be the Zapruder film.

*Never is a Promise*
One night in 1998, I tricked Anastasia into liking this song. She liked the song - she hated Fiona, and was devastated to find to two were linked. She studied in Prague years later, and I put "Never is a Promise" on her bon voyage CD. In a letter home, she admitted to skipping over the "Fiona Crapple" song.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Ice Cream and Oatmeal

We've just finished our lunch. The topic of conversation is the strawberry jam Deb used on her rye toast. The diner waitress is explaining a unique breakfast dish she sometimes enjoys - it's not on the menu.

"It's a scoop of ice cream, oatmeal, and strawberry jam."

"Is this cooked oatmeal?" I ask, imagining some kind of granola/yogurt pairing.

"No," she laughs, "That's a man question! It's okay, my husband doesn't cook, either."

"Yeah, I guess I'm the freak here. Silly me, trying to clarify your receipe for a rare, ungodly breakfast trifecta (breakfesta?). You're old. Just die already," I don't retort, leaving her tip behind as I walk to the register, pay, and exit.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Bears in Mind

Cuter bear: panda or koala?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Keyed Up

Whenever I'm on a sidewalk and walk by/over a grate, I think, "Uh oh. My keys could fall in there."

Even if they're in my pocket, safe.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Working for the Bleak End

I get one point for every year I work for my current employer. Those points are added to my age to determine if I'm eligible to retire. The total number must be 85 or higher if I want to receive a regular retirement check.

If I work for my current employer for 29 more years, I'll have 86 points, meaning I can retire at age 55.

Retiring at 55 sounds excellent, especially for those co-workers who have already passed that age. What sounds less excellent is the other number, 29. Really? Twenty-nine more years? I haven't even been alive that long - it will take another lifetime PLUS three years of work before I can retire.

Of course, there are other things that could happen. I could take a lump sum payment from work's retirement program, getting some money but not the full benefit. And there are other investments to make outside of work, IRAs and funds and such, that could further shrink the retirement age.

We've got it all wrong, though. We need some way to switch the workers and the retired. When I'm old, I won't have much to do, so why not work? I'll be up at 5 in the morning and in bed by dark anyway. Isn't there some way I could take 10 years off now? I'll take 10 years off, spend my days irresponsibly, then work an extra ten years when I'm old, when I'm desperate to get out of the house, away from the wife, etc etc etc.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Back when I was a young undergraduate, I was walking from my car to the movie theater. One teenage girl pointed at me and screeched, "You look just like Shades from That Thing You Do!" Then she and her little friend went on their way. That fall, two freshmen girls that lived in my dorm also decided that I looked like Tom Everett Scott, and even drew a representation of me - a brain wearing sunglasses. I couldn't find a photo of Tom from the movie, but here's a photo of him not wearing a shirt for some reason:

Had Mr. Scott's career gone differently after TTYD (it wasn't that bad of a flick...why was he banished to poorly received television shows, anyway?), I might have been known only as his body double. His C-level status allowed others to think of me as looking similar to other celebrities, such as:

That's right, Mr. Foreman himself, Topher Grace. If I had the personality of say, a '89 Buick Regal, people probably wouldn't have mentioned a resemblance. But, the Foreman kid is sarcastic and funny, and I am too (even moreso on both accounts, truth be told).

It's been some time now since I've heard a Foreman reference. I didn't really like it while it was occurring, but the last two people I was compared to makes me long for those days of Shades and Topher.

Heather recently said I reminded her of the Hank guy from the Starbucks commercial.

Last Friday night in Manhattan, Shawn's friend (black) said I looked like Adam Corolla. "In this light," she qualified. Well, it was dark in Auntie Mae's, but dark enough to transform me into Captain Crank Yankers himself?

Be sure to visit my blog in 2026, when little girls scream at the sight of me and orthodox Jews rip their shirts after catching a glimpse.

"Aaaaaah! It's the very elderly and very ugly Steve Buscemi!"

Monday, August 15, 2005

It's Such a Perfect Day - Part Three

I had a hard time writing part 2 of this "perfect day" story. Why? Because if the beginning of the day was anything like part 1, I wouldn't care what happened the rest of the day. If my morning was like that, I could peel potatoes for the rest of the day and be fine. Still, I wrote the icing on the cake, and that was part 2. Part three seems especially greedy—not only that, but seeing as how there is zero chance of living to see 99% percent of this perfect day, this has been an entirely unhealthy mental exercise.

If I were to write a part 3, I'd go to a concert. It would be held in an indoor, intimate setting that holds about 400 people and lacks seats. All attendees would be cool; nobody would take 800 digital photos, no one would sing really loud in my ear, everybody would jump up and down during the appropriate songs and sing backup and cheer loudly when the lead singer cursed or mentioned our hometown. After the show, my friends and I would go get drinks, and the band would show up and have a few with us, and everyone would ask them intelligent questions about music and they'd share thoughtful answers. (Today, the band would be The Shins, but U2 or Foo Fighters or Tom Petty or etc etc etc would all be somewhat perfect.) They'd give us their private numbers, and the band would play at my wedding or birthday or anytime really, whenever they could swing it, whenever we felt like hanging out again.

I wouldn't get sleepy or look to see what time it was, and I'd feel good but not so good that I get sick or stupid. Leaving the bar at close with the woman I love, we'd run into God at the crosswalk. There'd be a little small talk at first—turns out He absolutely hates that "Footprints in the Sand" poem-thingy—and then we'd get into a little deeper conversation, how He pulled off X, Y, and Z, what were actually miracles and what actually weren't. Eventually, I wonder how to bring up the subject, and I finally just say, "Hey, what the fuck, man?" as I gesture toward our surroundings.

The Almighty then gives a shrug of His shoulders, shakes His head and says, "Yeah, man. I don't know what to tell you. I'm sorry about all this. But you worry too much, you know? You worry you're using too much water to wash a couple of pots! You're trying to save everything, and hold on to everything, and it's just not feasible. I'm telling you, and I would know, that it's not feasible. What, on Earth, have you seen that would make you thing you could keep things in order, in a nice little package? You can't even write a story about one perfect day, and you expect every day to be perfect?"

"You're a really decent guy, and you mean well, and you're trying. That headbutt you dropped on that dude today? Totally justified. Stop worrying. Living with this woman? Having sex with her? I mean, aren't you 26 years old? You don’t even know how to womanize! Do you really think I'm going to bust your balls for your actions within a committed relationship? You need to relax, Jack!"

We say our goodbyes and walk home, and the woman I love laughs at an inside joke of ours, and we watch some TV and we make love, and we’re both really pleased with the effort. She falls asleep, and then I do.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


[Part 3 will have to wait until Sunday or Monday.]

Today, on I-70 just east of downtown Topeka, I was in the right lane behind a cop. While we drove west at the posted speed limit of 65 miles per hour, Captain Tough Ass In A Black SUV decided to pass us. The Captain didn't zoom by - he was probably going 70 - but I thought it was a questionable move.

The cop moved into the left lane, behind The Captain. Lights on. The Captain moved to back to the right lane, maybe sweating it a little, figuring the cop wouldn't bust his balls for going 5 over, thinking the cop just got an emergency call on the radio and he's got to haul ass.

The cop followed The Captain into the right lane. Captain Tough Ass In A Black SUV had a shitty morning. I, on the other hand, felt great.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

It's Such a Perfect Day - Part Two

Back at our residence, the woman I love brews coffee while I start to read the newspaper I picked up on the walk home. Sports: all of my teams won, athletes are grateful and giving, NASCAR is defunct, hockey is exciting. Entertainment: all of the films showing are worth seeing, my favorite bands are coming to town. Business: health care solved, everyone has become is sitcom wealthy—comfortable, able to take nice vacations, unable to pimp rides or sport bling. Oh, there's tons of good stuff in the paper, but my favorite article discusses how scientists have developed, perfected, and implemented public teleportation.

"I thought traffic was light this morning!" I quip as she finishes her second mug of coffee. She smiles involuntarily, realizes that the joke is lame, and stops. I say something genuinely funny and we're both in stitches. We feel really good right now, after the nice breakfast and the good news and the laughing—so good that we make love again. This effort equals the earlier one, and we're both really pleased.

There's a knock at the door.

"Hey, we just teleported over," my friends say. "Let's go!"

We decide to go to Berlin first. Then we see some of Rome's ancient landmarks, and Greece, and we stop in to equatorial Africa to check out some elephants. After we've spent a few hours on a beach in New Zealand, we head back stateside.

The public teleportation station is near the park; inside, five guys are looking for a basketball game. Four of my friends and I accept their challenge, and a small crowd gathers as we begin. The teams match up well, with one exception. The guy I'm guarding can't seem to drive past me, nor shoot over me. He's totally helpless against me, but the same cannot be said for my offense. I am a triple threat. The game ends with backboard-shattering gorilla dunk—my gorilla dunk. The crowd, now somewhat large, cheers.

"In all my years of coming to this park, I've never seen that squad beaten!" an enthused fan says.

The defeated are angry. They refuse to shake our hands. One, the man I was guarding, is especially mouthy.

"Good game, guys," we say. "No hard feelings?"

The man responds by degrading the woman I love. I assure him that his behavior is unacceptable; his furor only escalates. We are now eye to eye, like boxers at a weigh-in.

He stumbles backward, stunned by my headbutt. His nose is bleeding, but not broken, and he will not require medical care, even after I dodge his punch and land one of my own. It's a square shot, beautiful in its way—it even makes the sound that John Wayne's punches made. Like the Duke, I lay him flat with this minimal effort. He apologizes and changes his life.

Everyone heads to the other side of the park, where an ice cream social is being held. I select a flavor containing real brownies. I eat my treat with a spoon and watch the puppies. Did I mention there were friendly puppies running around, unleashed? There are puppies. Lots and lots of puppies.

Monday, August 08, 2005

It's Such a Perfect Day - Part One

I wake up on my own, without an alarm, at 9:30 a.m. I am well rested, but I haven't slept in too long; a full day is ahead of me. The woman I love—the woman with whom I share a committed, passionate, and meaningful relationship, free of uncertainty and lacking overly adult obligations (i.e. children)—lies beside me, still asleep. I relax on my back, hands behind my head, and look at the ceiling as I remember the high points from my dream. The dream featured myself, an unlikely group of my friends, my grandfather, and two celebrities I admire. The plot didn't make any sense. The dream was full of impossible, fantastic events that cannot occur in normal time and space. It unfolded at a steady pace and felt long, making modest amount of sleep seem even longer. The dream made me happy—characters within did not upset me or taunt me, so I did not wake up angry or regretful or sad.

The woman I love wakes up on her own, not because I shift or make noise. She tells me what happened in her odd dream, I tell her what happened in mine, and we speculate about what the dreams symbolize. We do this because it's fun and neat, not because either of us puts much stock in that sort of thing.

We make love. We are both really pleased with the effort, which included one thing that I did on a whim, not knowing exactly how it would go, but I was “in the zone”, so to speak, and she truly enjoyed it. (Two days later, when it occurs to me that the woman I love may have just said that she liked it, I am unsure of myself. She directs me to a entry in her journal that lists all of the things she likes, and I see that the thing has been added to the list—it’s dated correctly and everything.) We take overlapping showers; she enters and exits first, and we are dressed and ready at the same time.

Outside, the weather is finally nice. It's been cold, but today is sunny, and I feel like a cat sitting in a bright window. We walk a few blocks to our neighborhood diner/bakery that's named after the owner (he's an older fellow, and doesn't work in the kitchen most days now—he leaves most of the café's day-to-day operations to his two sons, and his daughter does the accounting). It's active, but not crowded, and we're seated easily, in a window booth. We watch people walk by on the sidewalk and speak softly. We each tell one personal anecdote about elementary school before our food arrives. My meal is split into three courses:

Four cubes of cantaloupe, two of which are lightly sprinkled with salt.
One half of one small clementine.
One small glass grapefruit juice.

Two slices of french toast under warm maple syrup and powdered sugar.
One sausage link.
Two very crisp bacon strips.
One small glass orange juice.

One cinnamon scone.
One small mug of cocoa, layered with normal-sized marshmallows—not the tiny kind, not the big kind used for s'mores.

Friday, August 05, 2005

And Pretty Much Everything Freddie Mercury Did

Underrated moments in lyric improvisation:

You make me feel like, uh......feel like saying..."Foxy"

---Jimi Hendrix, "Foxy Lady"

di bip BIP di bip BIP bah dip bah di bo dobahdobahdobahdobahdobahdobah

---Spin Doctors, "Two Princes"

Can I hit it and quit it?

---James Brown, "Sex Machine"

Thursday, August 04, 2005


The media referred to two events as "miracles" this week:

1. Plane crashes in Toronto, all aboard survive.

2. A premature but (all things considered) healthy child was born to a braindead mother.

Converting water into wine at a wedding reception is a miracle - 100% great, 0% sad, unless you're an unlucky Caananite teetotaler. Raising a man from the dead is a miracle - sure, you'd probably prefer the man never died in the first place, but his life's complete restoration is the definition of "no harm, no foul".

Clearly, these two news items do not meet miracle status. How can you call these miracles when they're at least 50% sad? It's great that no one died when the jet crashed, but wouldn't it have been even greater if the plane started to struggle, almost hit the ground, but recovered before any damage was done? Or if the braindead woman recovered from her terminal state? Wouldn't that be the miracle?

It may be time for another moratorium, this time on bestowing "miracle" status to only somewhat fortunate events.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Sweet Texts

I'd like the say losing my hard drive was no big deal, especially since I had 95% of my documents backed up, but the truth is it kills me. I died a little bit when those documents were lost, because I'm sentimental when it comes to that kind of thing.

I have to make sure the same thing does not happen to my cell phone and the precious text messages saved therein. Here they are, for posterity - the ones I've saved in my phone since 2004. One featured the phrase "sweet tits", and was therefore excluded from the list. In chronological order:

10:48 p.m.

so horny!

11:21 p.m.

I like the way my boner feels in the palm of your hand.

11:55 p.m.


12:42 a.m.

Matt has a raging boner

12:50 a.m.


9:16 p.m.

I miss your touch

8:36 p.m.

Damon really got that in his wheelhouse

12:53 p.m.

My son needs a humidifier to live

7:08 p.m.

I want your boner

10:52 p.m.


1:14 a.m.

My heart says no but my boner says yes

8:51 a.m.


12:43 p.m.

pertussis or poliomyelitis eradication?

3:19 p.m.

What is your favorite dessert? pie? brownies?

9:44 p.m.

So horny?

9:32 p.m.


8:00 p.m.

You boys like pussy?

7:32 p.m.

Cool. Need know act, new rm pic

9:45 p.m.

What's Rory's problem?

9:53 p.m.

yeah, learn something from her mom, slut

10:45 p.m.

Jerk that camel off so we can get out of hear

10:12 p.m.

Is the meat from outback steakhouse actually from australia

10:21 p.m.

Is the idea of odd and even a mathematical concept or a philosophical illusion

11:59 p.m.

My boner just ripped thru denim

12:26 a.m.

hey dick

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Word Moratorium

Watching an episode of Room Raiders this weekend, the word "diva" came up. Bobby, Sarah, and I discussed how the word has become overused, and should be abolished. I'd also like to nominate "random", in almost all non-statistical forms of usage. This includes someone being described as "A Random" (n), as well as 74% of all weblogs titled "My Random Thoughts" (adj).

Monday, August 01, 2005

Nothing I Do Is Magic

Lunch today:

DEB (describing old boyfriend): I'd never met someone with such egocentricity!

ME: Funny you bring that up, because Egocentricity is my favorite Police album!

EVERYONE: (silence)