Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Today's post is brought to you by the letter R, the number 9, and Mitch Hedberg, the greatest comic to be taken too soon because of an addiction.

If you don't know his stuff, find it and hear it. There isn't nearly enough, as he died young and left a footprint in the collective consciousness that wasn't as big as his heart and spirit deserved to leave behind. So it is some times. I watched part of his DVD of his Comedy Central special tonight, and it felt so different to me knowing that he was gone from our midst so soon thereafter, and it hurts to think about the loss that the continuum of laughter and meaning suffered as a result.

So for now, go out and laugh at and/or about something. That would be some kind of fitting tribute.

"So it goes." --Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Narcissism. I has it.

So I signed up for google analytics.

I have a few questions, for all you hypotheticals...

Hey there, Hamtramck, Michigan... we had something special on your one visit, it was a whole lifetime led in two minutes. What happened? Where've you been? I hope the kids are okay.

Jeez, Czech Republic, 0:00 visit time? How is that even possible? Were you that mad, that fast?

Same goes for you, Somerset Kentucky. You just actually aren't as exciting as the Czech Republic rejecting me. It's like having a fling with someone on a summer exchange program.

I cry myself to sleep at night with the supposition that google analytics does not always accurately reflect time on site. It's a bit like a narcissistic "Hey, don't worry, it happens to everyone sometimes" consolation, but don't take that last bit of dignity away from me.

I suppose I was curious.

I shouldn't have been.

So, Tigger and I looked at another apartment, and had our differing reactions to it. I think it seems we are staying put for the moment, and while the differential in rent is not large, I'm disproportionately terrified about potential layoffs coming up in the next few months and can envision a time of (to my mind) paucity and freaking out. I know it may be excessive, my apprehension, but it is there all the same.

The place was alright, and had a spare bedroom, and allowed dogs, which I've wanted since I was about twelve. I feel as if I'm giving something long-held up that I've never actively denied myself by denying this idea, but it just didn't seem like the right apartment. I think it may now be decided to forgo the move, and while I'm fraught, it is what felt right (while right at the moment it may seem wrong to me in a month, I had to say how I felt in a matter of a few days) to back away. There were certain things that any sweat equity I could imagine didn't seem to be able to eliminate.

In the meanwhile, I look at perhaps scratching the itch of wanting a dog of my own by walking the dogs at the local shelter that just opened (though I do ask how much prescience and wisdom comes from naming a shelter dog Brooklyn who happens live in, well, Brooklyn) and giving them some times of joy while I figure out what stupid things I need to come to terms with in my life.

I'm terrified of losing my livelihood, and have had a hard time looking at what other venues and opportunities I may conceivably be suitable for, but there it is.

I wonder at the moment, as New Year's draws close, where I'll be and how I'll be in a year, and whether I will have finally given up smoking, or palliative care in the form of distilled and fermented medications. I guess we all find crutches that give us some succor in times of peril, but I don't know that my time of perceived peril has not been artificially extended by means of certain bad habits of denial (both chemical and behavioral.) It's a dark realization, but then again most Realizations are dark in some way or another.

I hope I've lost some weight. The pictures from the office Christmas party made me feel like Jabba the Hutt in the few candids I allowed myself in whose firing line I allowed myself to remain visible.

We aren't all monks. Our moments of Aha are not always blissful and perfect.

So here is the underbelly laid bare.

And there is a thought for a cold evening. Perhaps "some thoughts."

Hamtramck. Come back to me. I miss you endlessly.

"Why not? Surely, in a work that will never be performed, all things are permitted?" --J.M. Coetzee (Disgrace)

Monday, December 17, 2007

In Which I'm a Snarky Leather-Elbow Padded Tool

At a party the other night:

M: Is Jessica Simpson known for anything? Other than, you know, pop music?

Pantaloonfan: Yeah, I think she won the Booker Prize a couple of years ago.

B: ...?

Pantaloonfan: I think she also wrote the screenplay for The Departed.

B: What?

Pantaloonfan: The Departed. I think she wrote the screenplay.

M: What?

Pantaloonfan: Not really. Just the pop music thing.

Friday, December 7, 2007

They Begat No One, Nor Moved They Any Furniture

Went out this evening to the event of a friend of my sister's, who has a one-man consulting freelance deal. He incorporated a while ago, for tax reasons, and is a one-man consulting firm. He has an annual company Christmas party, with eagerly awaited announcement of the employee of the year at some point along the way.

It was held in a very Wall Street equivalent part of London, at a bar where loads of folks were clearly on their way home from work, and had decided that they would get home drunk.

Also, it was fancy. Woo hoo. Nothing like showing up in convertible outdoor pants, with a t-shirt from a lobster shack in Maine on your torso when everyone around you is banking/consulting/litigating and generally earning the pants off of life.

The libations for the evening were "Methuselahs" of Veuve Clicquot champagne. Yes, I didn't know there was a name for those stonking novelty bottles in the front windows of liquor stores either, but there is apparently a very specific Old Testament system for naming bottles of champers that happen to be larger than magnums. I myself won't in the near future need to know said names for any order at the local liquor emporium, but for all of you, here they are:

Split – 187 ml (Quarter bottle)
Half Bottle – 375 ml
Bottle – 750 ml
Magnum – 1.5 litres (Two bottles)
Jereboam – 3 litres (Four bottles)
Rehoboam – 4.5 litres (Six bottles)
Methuselah – 6 litres (Eight bottles)
Salmanazar – 9 litres (Twelve bottles)
Balthazar – 12 litres (Sixteen bottles)
Nebuchadnezzar – 15 litres (Twenty bottles)

In addition to these standard sizes, bottles of other sizes and shapes are sometimes created for special occasions, special cuvées or special customers. For example, Pol Roger used to make an imperial pint exclusively for Sir Winston Churchill, who found a half bottle not quite enough, and a whole bottle a little too much, for his purposes. His manservant would bring him his pint every morning at 11 a.m. Two other sizes are occasionally made: the 18-litre, 24-bottle Solomon (Salomon in French) and the gigantic 27-litre, 36-bottle Primat, which weighs 65 kilos.

(The above text is courtesy of These lovely folks though they don't know it)

I especially love the detail about the commissioning of a special bottle size for Winston Churchill, and kudos to a man who happened to want to have 19 ounces (roughly, as memory serves) of champagne with his breakfast. Winston knew how to live, without a doubt.

Another thing that has really struck me since I've been across the ocean (pond is a stupid phrase, and deserves to be dragged out and shot while whining mightily) is the state of automotive existence for our European brethren (I'm including the UK here, though they are at most grumblingly accepting that they are a part of this whole continentalism, though for the rest of the world we can't see what a few miles of Channel water actually means in real terms... do you folks want to be part of the South Pacific confederation of conquered islands instead? I'm sure you could make some calls... for the rest of us American barbarians you are just Europeans who speak our language in a way that still lets you hate us, I suppose.)

I qualify this by saying that I love cars, and love driving. I relish the fact that I rode home from the Christening in a beautiful, brand new Maserati GT, with FOUR WAY BOOK MATCHED WOOD IN THE DASH. I know the capital letters mean that I am yelling. I meant to. It had the paddle-shifters for a real manual transmission and everything. ("Hey pantaloonfan, why do you drive a gutless Subaru at home, then??" "Shut up. I need to take stuff places, both musically and camping-wise and I like putting things in the trunk/back of the wagon*. I have my reasons.")

Europeans have an array of amazingly small cars at their fingertips that we lack over in the US, and I wanted you all to know that there are options that you never even considered:

Hey fellow citizens of the liberated colonies... are you tired of people asking you to move large piles of furniture in your massive 3 series BMW? Well, fear not! You can move on down to the 1 Series! which is described as having pretty much no rear seats at all, compared to the vast tracts of space in the 328s that we already know and love to settle into in the luxurious back seats! Does your agoraphobia happen to want German luxury with all wheel drive Audi weirdness! A4 too big? How about the much more svelte A3?

Or perhaps these massive barges are still far too commodious for you?

Have no fear...

Do you feel lost in your gigantic, echoing Honda Civic? There's always the Nissan Micra...

Still too big? Well, I have good news. The good people at FoMoCo have something that will make Focus owners drool at your sprightly acrobatic mini-ness... The Ford Ka! For times when small means you don't even have time to use all three letters of the word car!

14 inch alloy wheels? CHECK!

1.3 liter fire breathing engine? CHECK!

Swank gray colored wheel wells? CHECK PLUS!!


You're totally going to make all those Daihatsu Charade and Suzuki Swift owners go crying home to their mommies, at 5,000 rpms and 50 miles per hour. Let your aggro flag fly!

Yet, for those times when you really want to bring all the clowns in your myspace circle with you, nothing quite tops the G-Wiz that one can see roaring silently around London and perhaps some other Oh So Fortunate cities...

Hey fellas... you KNOW the ladies love a guy who plugs his car in at night, and can also fit two double amputees in the back seat!

On top of that, you can fit a bottle of milk in the trunk!

(For god's sake, please note that this almost commodious trunk is shown with the seats folded down. I think that says it all...)

You may need to carry the half dozen pack of eggs in your lap in the event that you have those amputees with you, but can you really put a price on finding a parking space? I didn't think so.

Of course, if this is still too worrisome, you can always go with the original pocketmobile, if you have a weird kink for parking sideways in spaces on sidestreets...

The SmartCar is the final answer in all of this. There is nothing more to even be contemplated.

I was going to post something meaningful on the order of advice for my growing (and consistently horking) nephew, and now godson, but I'm too bitter and flippant. It may come later, along with finally bitching about tie knotting and haircuts... just don't know when. Leave me to complain, yell and point fingers for now.

* Have you ever watched "Pimp My Ride" on MTV? I never can help but notice that no one escapes that experience with ANY capacity to put anything in the back of the car. Any hobby or interest is played out in the form of a gigantic object crammed with monitors and speakers that takes the place of storage space in their vehicle. I think if I ever was offered a chance to have a car redone by them, and they asked what I was into, I would simply tell then "My biggest hobby is... putting things in my trunk. I just love putting things in my car and moving them from place to place. That's what I care about more than anything. And I'm deaf. And blind. Leave the fucking monitors and four hundred pounds of speakers on the shop floor."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Idle Hands.

I made it in to London last night, after a two hour train ride through central Western Germany.

There was a kid on the train, sitting right over from me, who I was pretty convinced was developmentally challenged from the way that he was talking... somehow I started to wonder whether he was actually "tetched" or just playing. It took me forty-five minutes to figure that he wasn't retarded, he was just an idiot. An idiot who didn't know that "taking a joke too far" happens in less than five minutes, generally. That, and the local accent in German can have flavors that make people sound a little like their minds are not in mint condition exactly.

Short flight, blah blah blah. There was a gentleman waiting next to me at the airport who did have the strangest named office staff I can imagine, he was on the phone, and kept referring to two employees, Aryan and Loy. What do I know, but they seemed like peculiar choices for the bouncing baby with which you've just been presented.

I do know that if Aryan fucks up the travel arrangements again, he's going to get fired. Just saying pal, if you're ever one of my hypothetical readers... consider yourself lucky you shaped up, or barring that just know that I would have contacted you directly if I had only known how. Sorry, or congratulations depending on how you played that one.

Got to London, got of the Underground, humped my bags over here, and no one answered the door at my sister's place. Puzzled, I dragged my stuff back over to the local main drag, but not before doing a credible impression of a canny burglar, casing the place for future robbing/burgling. The people at the bus stop down the road seemed to take note as I casually rang the bell a few times, then backed up into the street, smoking and cautiously looking in all the windows I could. Upon arrival, I dialed the cell number for my sister, and had her pick up and not hear me, a good three or four times. Friendly Local Dude informed me that it takes "At least two quid to get a call through to a cell phone from a call box."

Now, I don't expect everyone to be an FX trader here, but that's right about FOUR BUCKS for a few moments of blissful communication.

Got back to the phone, and it was ringing (thank's UK, for not trying to put old-school pager wearing drug dealers out of business! Good job, and I do appreciate it), which turned out to be my sister, who was home, but had a doorbell even more lamentable for the conditions at hand than Tigger and I have at home. We've finally reverted to installing a wireless, plug in jobbie, but it does us no good when the battery runs out, as it recently has.

Part of why I'm up, despite my sister and my brother-in-law already having been abed a good three hours ago, is that I'm waiting to give Tigger a ring, she's had a really rough day today, and is tired out from having been immersed in gutting and hacking away at our kitchen, which has risen resplendent from the dead in vibrant color and with magnificent new door pulls. The thanks of a grateful nation goes out to you, sweetie, thanks...

I spent the day helping out with nephew, who I feel has led me to believe that not necessarily all children will inevitably be terrified of me, even if that only leaves the ones related to me by blood it's a pretty damn nice feeling of relief.

I've changed more than two and less than ten diapers, and while it's not exactly a picnic in the park with all of your long-dead literary and musical heroes on a beautiful day, it's not the end of the world either. He just seems to enjoy any excuse to air out the dirty bits, and is relatively happy while I swipe away with moist towelettes at the nast that he seems determined to swipe his heels through a few times for good measure, and then roll over onto his stomach...

Then, forgive me for saying it, but there come the moments that arrived later, where he lay on his mat, with things to engage his developing mind strewn around him, not quite crying (as I've been told, I haven't seen nothing yet, so to speak, and he's only been a little peeved at the very worst) racking my brain for what he might be needing or missing. I was literally reduced to lightly banging my forehead on the kitchen table a few times to clear the fog before just deciding that it was all for the best, and nothing seemed amiss.

I'm reminded of something a friend of the family said over the weekend:
"When I had my first kid, whenever they cried I thought something terrible had happened. With the second, I just figured 'The kid's crying, the kid's still alive.'"

As a second child myself, I find this idea is slightly chilling. As a person who spent an hour sitting with a baby who was just "losing the plot" as my sister puts it, it seemed like the most understandable and measured way of approaching things possible.

So, I'm killing time, internetting myself furiously, and tragically as always happens when I'm mindlessly tapping away at the interweb with no specific direction in mind, I'm shopping for bikes. I doubt I'll buy one, and Tigger will no doubt have a minor attack of hyperventilation at the idea of another metal stack of disorganization in the apartment... so rest assured, it's just the same dumb window shopping as always happens.

Why is it that the more expensive the item, the more "awesome" any discount seems? (Hey! These wheels were originally $1400! They're on sale for $779, AND there's another 20% off!) I am perfectly aware that it's stupid, and wheels that cost more than I paid for my current nicer bike are certainly silly.

But they do weigh like a whole pound less than the alternative, and they have a fancy single red spoke to tell the rest of the world what an over-moneyed tool you are! Right ON!

Tomorrow, I have the whole morning to take care of the little nephew while meetings are attended, and whatever else is going which now requires my attention to this matter. I'm not worrying about not seeing much of the city on this trip, I've been enough before that it's the whole family members new and old bonding thing that I'm happy about.

I will however probably be in the pub tomorrow night.

The pub, one of the singular, wonderful things about England... not the down-at-the-heels thing that you get in the kind of rotten bars I like at home, but you can still relax in peace and quiet with a book, get a few fantastic hand-pulled pints for the closest thing to a bargain there still is for an American in the UK (2.90 UK Pounds for a great beer is a decent shake, to my mind... maybe it's just being a routinely ripped off New Yorker or whatever.) It's a great pleasure, and one I indulged in after everyone here went to sleep early last night as well.

So, it's about the time to sign off and make a call home to see what's what in stunningly cold New York with the things and people I miss most of all.

I also miss Tivo. Sorry... I should be happy and full of life at not having watched television since last Wednesday, but I'm just not. Shameful it is, but there you have it. I will flab my ass down on the couch and start catching up on ALL the guilty pleasures of a missed almost two weeks the moment I get home. I think I may conceivably suffer an overdose... but that's what it takes to keep up with the culture sometimes.

"The letter with the foreign postmark that tells of good weather, pleasant food and comfortable accomodation isn't nearly as much fun to read, or to write, as the letter that tells of rotting chalets, dysentery and drizzle." --Martin Amis (London Fields)

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Greetings from sunless Germany!

I´m in an internet-cafe in the fatherland, which is as close to heaven as I can imagine... smoking permitted, beers available for a whopping €0.80, and it´s €1.50 per hour to let all you wonderful semi-hypothetical folks know what´s doing.

Aside from the fact that they feel the need to put the z and y in alternate places on the keyboard, and shuffle around the rest of the symbols, all is just swell.

After a seventeen hour total travel time, I got here, but not before many things swam past the porthole, so to speak.

Checking into security at JFK, I got through the metal detector with no trouble, and was then waved into a strange bulletproof box, where my arm sling was carefully examined by hand. For about five minutes, this innocuous piece of fabric was examined... I have to ask, what would I have had of a non-metallic nature hidden in there that would not have just as easily been hidden in my jacket? Could not any able-bodied passenger also bring, say, a dangerous plastic spork or bendable knife in with them and evade the vaunted metal detection? No matter, though...

So I get on the plane, and the Italian couple next to me feverishly watches for whole empty rows. They find one! Right on, thinks I, I´m going to have the whole three seater to myself! Slide over to the window to watch the takeoff, and when I turn back to move back to the aisle, someone has taken up residence. I asked whether he planned on staying, and the answer was a definite yes. He immediately fell asleep, and did not stop an earth-shaking snoring for the whole flight. Except for meals. Joy. (I did end up talking to him for a bit on the approach to London Heathrow, and he was actually quite nice, so I am a total asshole for thinking awful thoughts about him the whole time, but I didn´t know that at the time, so leave me alone.

Why, WHY do people feel the need to sit down, ram their seat all the way back, and then build a nest of pillows on planes? Why not, I don´t know... just leave the seat up, as you have about the same position? Can someone who happens to be an idiot write me and let me know, as I´m completely goddamned baffled.

Seat-pillow-nest-builder also was in the habit of sitting forward and violently ramming backward every few seconds, which would have been less of a problem but for the fact that the nice people at British Airways put lovely individual monitors in the seatbacks for us all to sit and stare at. So, the picture would grow larger and smaller, jolting up and down every few moments as I tried to watch...

VOD. Yes, Video on Demand has come to airplanes, and while the rest of you globetrotting, walking business class ads may be totally desensitized to it, I was like a child in a puppies, ice-cream and plush toys stuffed with fireworks store.

I want VOD on my toaster.

I want VOD installed in my shoes.

VOD has come, and it is good. It is what we do with it that makes us good or evil.

Which brings me to:

Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer

For one, it´s always awesome watching a scene of unbelievable destruction that happens to take place somewhere you´re about to go... "Wow! Is that the London Eye? Being blown up? Is that the Thames? Being drained into the core of the Earth? Awesome!"

For another, it´s a total piece of crap. Angry Comic Book People hated the first one, which I thought was lamentable, but moderately adequate "I saw it on cable without paying for it" fare. If you hated the first one, really really, do not go near this thing.

It´s got more to do with "humorous" issues surrounding the marriage between the stretching one and the invisible chick. Drollness!

At least the first one tried to be mainly a superhero movie, which isn´t saying that much, but it´s still more than deserves to be said for this one.

As an aside: ladies, you are all wonderful, and are all god´s gift etc. etc., but mark my words... if even Jessica Alba looks dopey with color contact lenses, how on earth do you think the rest of you might be getting away with it??

Speaking of which, are we really supposed to believe that a character who looks like Jessica Alba is really going to get involved with a dude who is (to my heterosexual male mind) not to confused with Brad Pitt? Is it perhaps that he spices things up by being completely distant, and the relationship is fuelled by a complete lack of chemistry? Am I overthinking? Probably.

Also, anytime anyone says "It´s not a game." in a movie, you are in for a world of suffering, pain and eyeball clawing.

Jesus, Andre "Frank Pembleton" Braugher, did you really need the money THAT badly? You can actually act. What did your parents not do for you as a child that made you run with a bad crowd like this?

If you disregard all the warnings I´m trying to give you, and you do end up sitting down to this "experience", take note of the fact that the super-duper spaceship that shows up at a certain point, is a Dodge. The spectacularly unobvious product placement is demonstrated and affirmed by the following exchange:
Human Torch: "Hemi?"
Mr. Incredible: "Of course!"

Now, let´s leave aside that the stretching dude supposedly "invented" this thing... as in, why the nameplate... did he get seed money from Dodge?

On the order of an analysis of the physics of the Death Star, what good would a V8 do in a lifting body sort of air travel vehicle? It operates stupidly on so many levels!

Guys, take a tip from überwhore George Lucas: keep the product placement subtle, don´t talk about it, and make your dirty money outside the theater, not inside. Thanks.

Also, when crashing into Times Square in said airship, how is it possible that the only things hurt are a few bicycles and the inevitable cardboard box type paraphernalia? Does Hollywood think that destruction is only acceptable when no one gets hurt aside from people with speaking parts? I´d personally have a lot of respect for popcorn-movie mavens if they had a couple of innocent victims stumble burning from the wreckage in a situation that calls for it out loud, plaintively.

Then again, who am I to criticize... they all got paid to make the movie. I watched this piece of shit for free. I want my two hours back.

Also saw "The Flying Scotsman". Now kids, I love cycling, and I admire the records of Mr. Graeme Obree, as the Hour Record is nothing to sneeze at, but I also recognize that the kind of suffering cycling entails doesn´t really work that well on screen. I watch the Tour de France and all, but even severely condensed I get as much satisfaction from just reading the summary of the daz´s ride. It´s really mind-bending how rough the sport is, but it just doesn´t make great TV. Too much happens, it´s too spread out, and profound suffering doesn´t look that much different that somewhat profound suffering. That, and it´s impossible to see how steep the grade is without perspective, from a motorcycle or helicopter shot.

So, upon arrival, I ended up waiting for my connecting flight at London´s lovely Heathrow Airport.

I have one question: why is it that every other airport can tell you what gate you need to get to when you check in, but at Heathrow, you stand around, get into a three-point stance in the terminal center, and wait until at most fifteen minutes before departure to find out where you need to be? It´s insanely stressful, people.

Perhaps it´s to encourage impulse purchases of such necessities as $7,000 pens (Cartier, naturally) or perhaps a lovely $11,600 watch (Porsche Design, naturally)? I can dig on impulse purchases, but someone for whom either of those figures counts as an impulse purchase is probably flying in a jet that they own personally, and doesn´t spend too much time waiting around in terminals smelling like ass and unbrushed teeth (I put my toothbrush in my checked baggage, as I am very VERY smart.)

Then, arriving at the gate, we found that the jetway was busted, and we weren´t leaving anywhere near on time anyhow, so SETTLE IN, PEOPLE! Why is it that the English not only seem positively gleeful when they have to wait on meaningless lines, but seem tremendously relaxed and happy when they are working for an organization that is soundly ballsing up whatever it is it´s supposed to do?

Speaking of which, when you think of a Ham and Cheese sandwich, what condiments come to mind? Perhaps I´m being the absolute Ugly American, but what I do not think of is ham, on a roll, with little fragments of cheese embedded in a veritable dike of butter. Ack. Yes, I know it was airline food, but I don´t blame that for it, I just can´t help but blame the general culinary culture. Mustard, people, you have the technology, it´s not dangerous to utilize it. I like a little mayo, personally, but that can be a polarizing condiment. How about a packet of each, and we can each make our own little personalized Ham N Cheese?

Got into Düsseldorf, and couldn´t use my credit card in the train ticket machine. Got cash, went back up to the airtrain station, couldn´t use a €50 bill, went back down, went to the FX kiosk and got change. The gentleman there roundly told me he was sick of making change for people who used the ATM. I offered to go elsewhere, but he said no, he would make me change, but was just really tired of doing it.

One final thought, from taking the train: Germans, if any of the world´s peoples could be, are very happy imposing the collective will on the individual and letting it be imposed upon them, yet even they are okay with having a smoking area on a train platform. It may be twice the size of my couch, but it´s there, with a yellow border painted around it. Hey America, what´s so bad about that? Not judging, and as a smoker I can dig on being polite, but nothing makes a train come faster like a lit cigarette that one has barely started working on. Would that be so hard?

Just saying. Or "just sazing" as this kezboard would have me write it.

More soon on Phamily Phun, the strangely yogurt-like smell of infant feces, aging, Schrebergärten, mulled wine, and prodigious rain.

It´s good to be back...

Oh, and the dioxins have been cleaned up at the playround! Time marches on...

"I got in a car accident on the way home from work. I rear-ended someone. Guy gets out of his car; I get out of mine. He's a dwarf. We're sitting there waiting for the police to arrive and he goes, `I'm not happy.´ I said, `so which one are you?´" --Someone Who Goes By @Hemi (since I don´t know them that´s all the attribution they´re going to get...)