Wednesday, December 31, 2008

At Long Last, Lover

So, I didn't die.

The year has been a frenzy of complex experiences.

So, Happy New Year, and stay tuned for new things here and in a new space as well.

I used to always apologize to my journals when I was a kid for not writing often enough. I told myself I would never do that here, so I won't.

It helps with the guilt to know that no one is out there, so YAY!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Play Ball! (alternately: "Taking our Ball[s] (Off) and Going Home")

Gojira is now a happy, bouncing, 85 pound puppy. He just hit seven months, and due to scheduling issues with the veterinary clinic, he's off to get himself surgically Stepfordized tomorrow. I'll be chauffeuring him on the long ride into biological oblivion.

I'm so very pleased to be doing my part.

I know I'm turning him into a person, or at least putting my own feelings into his fuzzy little (huge) head, which thinks and processes in ways that I can't begin to really see clearly. I doubt he'll have any idea that anything has happened, other than his Pop having taken him somewhere remote, that smelled weird, where he got really really high on something and then got carried back to the car. That said, I hope he doesn't hold this against me.

In reading a discussion on crate training of dogs (they were all anti-), the refrain was "...I wouldn't want to be locked up all the time..." &c &c, to which one commenter (bless their hearts) added "Well, no one asked him how he felt about being forcibly sterilized, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be crazy about that, personally."

Yeah, that does pretty much sum it up.

No matter how much we all know it's the right thing, and the healthy thing etc., no guy wants to talk about this, and I wager that none of us feel all that awesome about being a part to it. We as a society talk about our neutered and spayed animals having "girlfriends" and "boyfriends" (I'm not the only one who has heard these tossed around) when in fact it's about as sexual as a Manchu dynasty slapfight between eunuchs. They may like each other, but that stuff is pretty far from their minds, folks. Don't try and make yourselves feel that your dog still has the capacity for romantic love in them, because they didn't even if you had let them keep their full complement of original equipment.

So, to assuage my misplaced and absurd guilt, I'm just hanging out with my enormous puppy, who's been resting his head on my lap and leaning on me for the past twenty minutes and has now passed out splayed across the floor.

With his height at around 26" at the shoulder, and a length from the base of his neck to the base his tail of about the same number, splayed out makes for substantial real estate.

He is now, at seven months, the biggest dog I or any friend of mine owns. It's a slightly more substantial roommate than I thought I was signing on for, and the vet seemed to think 175 pounds was in the realm of the reasonable.

Luckily, Bernese Mountain Dog owners we've spoken to have indicated that 150 is certainly the high end of what we might expect. At least I'll still be able to pick him up in that case, which would be more of a stretch for a 175 pound dead lift and carry to the car in the event of something awful happening...

Something about a dog completely erases cynicism, and it's a part of myself I've always been very attached to. He's a tremendous little/big guy, and we're lucky for him.

Other than that, and spending a good chunk of the weekend at work (with faltering, and eventually doomed air conditioning), and sweltering through this lovely heat wave that has finally come to a merciful close, I'm fully in the midst of getting ready for a wedding.

I never knew all the things that would have to come to pass to make this happen, and I'm just hoping everything comes together.

Ladies, if you are trying to shepherd a prospective groom through this process, be aware that they may very well not have a strong opinion about something which is vital to everyone else. It's not that they don't care, it's that it never even occurred to them to consider the question. We care, but sometimes find out that there's a new surprise to care about that we didn't even have on our radar.

We love you, and that's the important thing to remember.

Go and wander over and take a look at Tigger's blog ( and get a sense of her wedding dress experience. It is roaringly funny...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

At Least Being Morbidly Obese Is Still Free

Oh, hello there New York State government!

Didn't see you come in.

So, I know I'm part of an Elephant Man-esque minority, and am still a filthy filthy smoker, and it's terrible, and I should stop, and you just really want what's best for me with your new cigarette tax, but really, $4.25 per pack for New York City residents? You really have the gall to demand over 100% tax on anything?

Fuck you. Seriously.

Don't pretend that this is to keep people from smoking, because if you look at the numbers from this study which advocates cigarette taxes as a means to get people to quit, you'll notice that with a minor decrease in smoking comes a HUGE increase in revenues! I'm really happy for you! The claim that this is all related to covering health costs for smokers is plenty cute, and I respect the Rasputinian level of bullshit and dissembling that goes into it, but the fact is that as with speeding, local and state governments need people to keep on smoking, and fact need more people to smoke more.

As of 2005, the state of New York (including local government excise taxes) alone took in several billion dollars from tobacco.

It's a really nice dodge to cut income taxes on high tax brackets, and dump the responsibility on the largely less well off population of smokers, who are now paying for the entitlement under SCHIP which provides their own kids with health insurance. So, wouldn't they be better off not paying the tax and avoiding the overhead of a major government bureaucracy and simply paying to take their own kids to the doctor?

It's even more abhorrent because if these taxes were to have the stated effect, taxpayers would be seriously on the hook for entitlement programs.

No, I guess that would make too much sense.

If you had really wanted me to quit, the best way would have been to raise the price from $2.75 per pack all the way up to $8 when I was still a college student, or immediately afterwards. No, you instead chose to raise the taxes in the opposite way: we are all frogs in your slowly heating pot of water. Too complacent to react to another little change in price, we shell out the extra ten cents here, twenty cents there until we are staring down the reality of a ten dollar pack of cigarettes.

I've cut down, and I want to quit, don't get me wrong on that point... I am down from my long-standing pack a day to a ballpark of about four or five on any given day. However, I am going to make my decision when I am good and ready.

In the meantime?

I'm driving out to the reservation this weekend, where for less than half the price here in the city I will buy as many cartons of cigarettes as I can carry, because at least then I'll be supporting a business that isn't taking advantage of me and insulting my intelligence.

They need us badly, and we don't need this mooch riding along and cadging a couple of bucks every time we want to have a cigarette. The fact is, you can only flog the goose to a certain point before it will just die, and quit laying golden eggs.

I think I've gotten to that point.

Join me, fellow consumers. If there's a reservation in Mastic on Long Island, I'm pretty sure you can find one near you. Caravan with friends! Being cheap can be construed as a political statement, and isn't that just the best news ever?

"If there are no cigars in heaven, I shall not go." -- Mark Twain

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Diff'rent Strokes

If you only had one leg, what kind of footwear would you put on the end of it if you were planning on being on a train?

Yeah, I wouldn't have thought "a rollerblade" either, but there's someone out there who disagrees with both of us...

Two canes and one rollerblade, punting down the L train platform at 1st Avenue.

Personally, I would have just gone with the idea that with nothing to brace, or brake, myself and with the "ground" moving as if an earthquake were in the offing, traction is something to which I would ascribe a lot of importance.

I can only assume there's a pretty steep learning curve involved in that decision.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Never Loved Your (Hypothetical) Mother...

Sorry I've been gone so long.

I've been involved in wedding planning, I was away in San Francisco last weekend.

The reason I couldn't check in is really because of the above title.

I'm sure you've been apoplectic with worry.

In the meanwhile, as I prepare for other obligations, let me leave you with the following thought that occurred to me in Sausalito, where my very lovely cousin was kind enough to take us:
Rich people.

They're like us, but they know how to live.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Pinch of This, a Pinch of That

I grew up helping my mother cook, from chopping parsley with a cleaver as big as my arm at five years onwards and upwards. Somehow, since we've moved I've been cooking a good deal more than I had before, and trying to work on some new dishes outside of the vital four or five that I've always done (steaks, salmon with a yogurt sauce vert, gruyere stuffed portobello mushrooms, sherry-ginger teriyaki grilled chicken and a couple of others aside from the standard omelette etc. regimen.)

For what it's worth, I will pass this along to any male folks who fear the kitchen: women love to have a guy cook for them, and you'll get a pretty big handicap for trying, even if it comes out terribly. If you dive in and try to do it, just get ready to look up what the terms mean, (julienne is just a way to cut tiny slivers of a vegetable... you can do that, right?) and never forget the rule that (I believe) Julia Child was fond of reciting: if it doesn't come out "right", it's just a New Recipe!

Eventually, you can just work out your own ideas, but when you are trying to get a little more flexible, and learn some new flavors, work from a recipe. Every guy (gentle lady readers, I don't mean to assume that you all love to cook, but odds are generally that men are less likely to feel compelled to do any of this, so you are free to listen to this marginally informed voice as you wish) should know how to cook two or three different things for dinner without having to have a heart attack about it. It will never harm you, and almost definitely help...

That being said, in the past week or two, I've run through the following that can not be recommended enough:

Miso Glazed Salmon
Tigger loved this one, and was trying to sneak the unused marinade out behind my back while waiting for the fish to cook outside. You can do this on the barbecue grill, with or without Alder or Cedar planks, though they do make it a lot easier to work with the fish, and produce a fantastic flavor if you have the time to find them. Alder-, Apple- or Cherrywood chips on the fire are a great addition, but not essential. They will certainly make you feel more rugged... and there's something to be said for that.

Almost any version of Moroccan lentil soup you can find is to be done and is just tremendous. Just remember to add lemon juice at the end, and give yourself more time to let the soup cook, you can just let it simmer away until you are ready to eat... while you're not required to puree the soup down in a blender, I am not crazy about the texture of lentils or beans, so running it through a blender means not having to go wild with mincing down all the ingredients to microscopic sizes. I let ours bubble away for about two to three hours and it's just spectacular. Not hard, just really good cold weather comfort food.

Last weekend I tried a slow smoked rib recipe, using a pretty standard KC style dry rub, and while I wasn't perfectly happy with the results, consider the following: a full rack of ribs at a restaurant is going to cost you $20 at least. That cut of meat is probably the cheapest thing you can find at the butcher, and there's something really satisfying about standing around a barbecue, indirectly cooking ribs and fiddling with the vents to keep the fire low and slow, while drinking with a good friend for two or three hours waiting for lunch.

The rub needs some working out, and the technique is in development, and it won't impress a date to have you stinking of hickory wood and drunk by the time dinner rolls around, but the next selection is pretty spot on for that purpose...

It's a bit more work, and I wouldn't call it exactly healthy* (note the butter, cream, and of course the cholesterol from shrimp as well) but this version of Shrimp Bisque will not disappoint. You can make it easier on yourself by getting shelled shrimp or another kind of fish and using fish bouillon, but the process of making stock is part of the fun, and having a pot of boiling shrimp heads on the stove has a certain morbid appeal. It won't be a quick process, but it will be like heave when you're finished. For that recipe, I did also add a cup of sherry, which I like the flavor of, and used Old Bay instead of "Creole Seasoning", because the local store was not cooperative with any concept of Creole anything. Worked out just fine. Don't let the soup boil again once you add the cream, or ugly things will happen! Again, this one I like pureed down to make a smooth consistency with all the flavors blending together, but you don't have to if you aren't feeling like it. Again, you'll save yourself a lot of knifework to get the vegetables slaughtered to sufficiently miniscule pieces, but it's your call. I also switched the green peppers for a few tomatoes with the seeds removed, as Tigger loathes peppers. I'm working on that, though.

There have been others, but these were something to write home about. Or, for that matter, randomly stand on a virtual street corner shouting about. Enjoy good eating and beautiful weather if you are blessed with it, and be well.

*It is all well and good to be aware of counting calories and being healthy, but there are times where it is best to remember these words:
"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart that looks at her watch." --James Beard
That being said, you'll find that the other recipes indicated here are not only cheap and satisfying, but remarkably healthy. Maybe a little heavy on the salt for the salmon, but that's about it.

Friday, May 9, 2008

I Know, Never Talk About Politics or Religion, But...

I've already screwed up the religion bit, so why not?

I am a lifelong Democratic voter, and I live in New York.

I voted for Hillary Clinton in the primary here, and really wanted her to win. Had I had my druthers, I would have loved to see Bill Richardson run the table, but he had left the race when he got here, and I made a choice I still feel was the right one.

Barack Obama doesn't seem to have what it takes (to my mind) to win in the Rustbelt must win states that every Democrat needs to get themselves settled into a big leather chair in the Oval Office in late January. Something about being smart, thin, and not having a Southern accent just combines to a terrifyingly bad combination for the general election... I firmly believe that having a Southern accent is the one and only way for a Democrat to become president (Clinton, Carter, LBJ, need I say more for the modern era?) At least try and eat some gravy when it's offered to you.

All that being said: Hillary has started to turn into Democratic Party's Real Life Version of Monty Python's Black Knight.

While I have no doubt that getting one's legs bitten off is no fun at all, that's pretty much the only remaining recourse. I think we're about where it's time to pack the tents up and call off the invasion... okay? For the love of all that's holy, even George McGovern, for whom you were a campaign volunteer is telling you to let this one go.

It's the junction of the Black Knight, and an old SNL sketch of "The Superfans" that I recall vaguely, with a phrase to the effect of "...though the Bears are mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs, Ditka will bring them to the Super Bowl."

Dear "Reader, kindly forgive any inaccuracies in that "quote".

I believe, after watching photos of her working her way through every diner and bar in Indiana, that she (win or lose) just kind of loves the horror of being on the campaign trail, and I only worry that she has now worn out every Dairy Queen in the nation... she seemed tremendously happy sharing small talk over a Blizzard in AP wire photos printed today.

It's time to put this race to bed, and... Mrs. C.? Try and remember: Rocky lost in the first movie.

James Carville reportedly said that if Hillary gave one of her balls to Obama, they'd both wind up with two. No one is questioning that you've got moxie, kid. It takes a wise general to know when to concede the field, and the time has come to do just that, or risk having Grandpa Abe McCain as President.

Have a lovely night, folks.

And, since I'm totally making a whore out of myself: drop on by if you have a minute. I've listed myself there, for reasons of proving to myself that someone out there cares, or doesn't.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Someone Must Be Pretty Excited About Summering at the Vineyard

Went for a walk today through Murray Hill in Manhattan, and saw what may be the whitest person ever:

A British Racing Green Mini Cooper rolled by, with the vanity plate "CHUKKA 6" on it.

A rich, white, mini driver in Manhattan who was a polo fan.

I can only speculate on whether he picked "6" because he was behind five clamoring people on line who wanted to shout their love of polo, or whether they are even more awesomely riche and like Magnum P.I.'s boss have tagged all their cars with CHUKKA [#].*

*To be fair, Robin Masters didn't initally have the cars festooned with personalized, serialized license plates, but the episodes that I remember from my occasional dabblings in my youth sure were marked "Robin 1"

Monday, May 5, 2008

Can't Comment

I just had a really rough day.

I have some things about Gojira, and the wedding event planning weekend we all just endured, ad all kinds of other stuff.

I also just got in touch with an old friend's mom, to find out about inviting my oldest and best friend to this here wedding, and I just found out that his dad passed away. I feel really awful right now, and I feel especially awful that I let myself get so separated from someone I have this much love for, and I have no funny to bring.

His father was in his sixties, as are my parents.

More stuff will follow, but I have nothing at the moment. Thanks for understanding.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Addenda and Further Evidence of Being Doomed

I think I might need to apologize for making light of the papacy.

God seems to have something he (or she) is trying to tell me.

I arrived home filled with the giddy joys of spring, walked Gojira, returned and found myself in dire need of a trip to the bathroom.

I went in, chipper and prepared to do the unmentionable, and was assaulted by the stippled, translucent plastic panel over the light in our lovely suspended ceiling in the bathroom (large, wobbly, and fragile) which decided to run free and tumble out of its moorings onto my head.  It may have been trying to commit suicide after the loss of its companion light transmitting panel several months before our arrival here in this land of milk and honey.  I can't speculate on the motives of inanimate objects.

After rescuing the wayward guardian of the cavity in our bathroom ceiling, I realized: there was no toilet paper.

I, resourceful man that I am, decided to grab a reusable grocery bag and run to the local store.  Arrived there, reached up to grab a few rolls (after an eagle-eyed analysis of price and square footage of paper per roll) and was greeted with a deluge.  The toilet paper is stocked in the case cartons on top of the produce cases, and the entire top box of Four-Mega-Roll packs of Cottonelle came tumbling down onto my head.

As I was gathering myself from the assault of two cartons of toilet paper rolls, I looked over, and an elderly woman who had been likewise pummeled from above, holding a gigantic radish, shrugged her shoulders and said:

"At least they were soft..."


No employee of the store seemed interested in my plight, so in a wonderful deluge of embarrassment I gathered up the four thousand rolls of toilet paper, gently stacked them back in their cartons and put them up on tiptoe back in their aeirie, where they could again survey the land of broccoli and lettuce.

I was the lucky recipient of a corrugated cardboard paper cut on my knuckle for the trouble.

Dashing home, I had some time with Tigger before yoga, in the span of which, our wonderful Gojira laid a trail of urine across the kitchen floor.  He does this while walking, and I dare say that if it had been a straight line, instead of his trademark swaying zigzag it would have been a good twenty-plus feet.

We discovered we were pretty much out of paper towels.

Have Gojira, Will Travel

It’s been a frustrating couple of days.

I lost my Moleskine* notebook yesterday, which is where I write down all the random thoughts that end up keeping me organized and giving me recall of the things which irritated me enough to want to whinge out my irrelevant disdain about them to whatever part of the internet feels like paying attention.  (Wow.  Heck of a run-on sentence there... but, precocious lad that I was, I wrote those at an advanced grade level when I was already quite young.)

I know.  It’s not really a problem, but it bothered me.

So I have nothing that strikes me as being particularly interesting to say anymore. That is based, naturally, on the pompous premise that I had anything interesting to say to start with. (Should that read “…with which to start”?  Possibly, but that’s just a little too awkward, so we’re finishin’ with the danglin' preposition on the end of the sentence, because I’m that much of a rebel, Dottie.)

Tigger and I, as well as Tigger’s parents, are going through the Adirondacks to look for places to make an honest woman out of her, and hopefully not get dragged bodily into the pit of jackals that is the American Wedding Juggernaut.  Apparently one needs to have welcome gifts and party favors.  I hold that if I’m a party to feeding people, and doing grievous damage to their livers, they don’t need a party favor, they just need alka seltzer and possibly some sunglasses, or a blood transfusion.  I am learning to accommodate in these matters.

However, that’s not how it’s done, and I am willing to work with that.

Gojira is coming as well, hopefully not to any kind of ill effect for him or us.  We’re having to bring his crate with us, which is a mammoth affair.

When you read this, or when you get home (oh wonderful hypothetical folkses) do me a favor:

Take out a tape measure and pace out a space somewhere in your house which measures 48 inches long, by 30 inches wide, by 32 inches high (if you aren’t able to pace vertically, just try and imagine it).  Here's what we have... just look for the BIGGEST one they have, and you’ll have an image of what contains all the lolloping, smelly love we are blessed with.

That’s what we have in our kitchen currently.   It makes our rolling, full-size dishwasher look like a twee little breadbox, and while Gojira has a divider to shrink off where he can giddily pee all over his bedding, he still takes up a gargantuan piece of real estate.  Oh, he does still enjoy a good old-fashioned crate-pissing sesh’, but his indulging of that hobby has become markedly less common.**

This wire behemoth is making its way to the Northwoods with us, and we are optimistic that we will have some room to put a toothbrush and perhaps a change of underwear for each of us somewhere in the car.  The other option is that we bung him into the thing for the trip with the seats folded down.  Not sure whether that that would even fit in the Subaru, but I’m seriously considering it.  Perhaps we could strap him, in the crate, to the roofrack?  Would that cause problems with the authorities?  I can only assume that having that much wind in one’s furry face would be the dog equivalent of freebase, nose-wise, but there are no doubt other stodgy folks who would consider it irresponsible.  Fine then.  Rob my dog of a spectacularly intense experience if you’re going to be that way.  Jerks.

We’re getting the wind in our noses, the three of us, and will “see” you all back here in a few days.

*“Moleskine – the only tiny little notebook pretentious enough to think that you need to read it’s history, which we put in every damn one we sell.”  They do, however, have a tremendously easy feel especially when writing with a fountain pen, so if I’m going to roll with pretentious, I… could… go… ALL. THE. WAY.

**Once recently I can’t blame him for, though it was pretty spectacular to come home to: the dog walker had her sister come “slightly later” to take him out (as she had National Guard Reserve training), and she must not have noticed that he had burst a seal in the crate (euphemism for: “peeing all over the plot”), and put him back in after a walk and feeding, to the joys of a soaking wet dog bed.  He responded by attempting to dig through the dog bed to find clean bedding (tearing the zipper and seam) and then nosing up through the top bars of the crate to grab the uncovered cushion for his larger, nicer dog bed, teasing it down to wrap around the foot of the crate, and then tearing off postage-stamp sized pieces of bed cover until there was a snowy wonderland all over him and the kitchen.  He may also have eaten a fair bit of stuffing.  That’s my boy!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Popin' (and Antipopin') Ain't Easy

So, I'm not really religious.

At all, really.

However, New York City has been All Pope All The Time for the past few days, given his Holiness's visit... but there's a newsflash!

I know it seems hard to believe, but Benedict XVI is not the real pope.

("No WAY!!" "WAY.")

I wanted you hypothetical readers to be the first to know, because I care that much. I should say by way of full disclosure that even if I were loyal to the religion of my family history, the Pope still isn't someone who is in close, tight touch with my particular brand of Jesus, but all the same, I felt you should "all" know about this.

The real pope lives in his parents' house in Kansas. I know this is totally for reals because he even has a blog! If there's anything we've learned from the internets (and the periodic pandering of the mainstream media) it's that having a blog is the real sign of being authentic!

He's even been written up in the local newspaper! We all know how being discussed in the local rag is the real sign of meaning in this world, so all hail Michael I!

It's not quite that simple, though.

This guy also says he's the pope, as do the guy in charge of these folks, and Mirko Krav Fabris (Krav I), and Amit Katwala (Errol I), and this guy who actually made an abusive cult out of the whole "I'm the Pope" thing, and someone else who might live next door to you for all I know. These are all super crazy versions of the Traditional Catholics (pre-Vatican II) who are exemplified by Mel Gibson's dad, who believe that current Catholicism is bankrupt.

If you read up a little further, though, you will find that there's a Special Land Beyond Weird called sedevancantism where not only is the current Catholic church heretical, but all the Popes since Pius XII are also heretics, and as such there are no living Cardinals to ordain a non-heretic Pope, and as such a conclave apparently can be called by (in the case of now His Holiness Michael I) six whole people who happen to be formerly Catholic who can name a new Pope.

By the way, I'm the Emperor of Brooklyn.

But totally seriously, you guys: Michael I not only is the Pope, but he's also a real estate agent! Just in case anyone was looking for ranch-land in Colorado, who's more trustworthy than God's representative on earth? He also is proximate to anyone living near his parents' house, where he lives.

I've always been interested in cult life experiences, and this kind of falls into that category to my mind... as such, as a reader of Richard Feynman, I was really excited to find some information on Cargo Cults, which Feynman talks about in some ways in his writings (in terms of "cargo cult science"). Reading about the Cargo Cults (and specifically the John Frum group in Vanuatu) was an interesting analog to my random perusal of crazy cracker popisms... there's a lesson there, though:

at the end of the article in the Smithsonian Magazine, Chief Isaac (the leader of the John Frum group) says when asked "John promised you much cargo more than 60 years ago, and none has come. So why do you keep faith with him? Why do you still believe in him?":

"You Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for Jesus to return to earth,” he says, “and you haven’t given up hope."

With that, this borderline atheist (who studied Latin for a good bit of high school) says "Quo vadis" and good night.

(No offense intended to any Catholic hypothetical readers, this faithless author doesn't know what to believe and has all the respect for any beliefs you folks might have, but wanted to inject some awareness of how completely transcendently weird some things actually get in the realm of religious faith. It's why I just scratch my head, sleep in on Sundays, and don't know what to make of what any potential G_d wants me to do. Just sayin', really.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

This Post Has Been Slow Cooked in Hot Water in a Plastic Bag in a Vacuum for Tenderness and Pretension

So, here we are again. I’m going to talk about current television, which in the near future will make this post seem about as current and relevant as a briefcase sized cell phone in an ‘80’s movie, but there are things that have to be said. Or not, really, but you can always find something else to keep you entertained while you wait for the dryer to finish running so you can get dressed and go outside.

It would have seemed impossible to me that I would find Top Chef as compelling as I do, but I have to admit that it gets me right in the wheelhouse. Project Runway (I say with a bit more shame) is equally irresistible.

While I care a good deal less about clothes than I do about food, and in fact avoid buying and looking for things to wear as if it might kill me, there’s something almost redemptive about giving people the opportunity to win something based on actual talent. Anyone with half a brain (and it might actually be required that you have exactly that quantity) could manage performing a sack race on a beach, sexual acts on a has been celebrity (yes, I’m looking at Flavor Flav and Bret Michaels), or eating insects, all for a chance at a pile of cash or a giant novelty check.

Ask someone to make a ball-gown out of trash?

How about making hors d’oeuvres from what you find in a snack machine?

Prepare dishes for a lavish banquet with a budget of $200/$300/$500?

These are actually tasks requiring some thought, ability and talent.

While I never would have thought that watching people make and eat food and spout off about it would make for good visual entertainment, it actually does in a strange way, and we both sit here and have intense opinions about it. I would have thought it would have played out more like the experience of watching a slide show (the real kind without clip-art and without sound) of a symphonic concert, but strangely, it works.

I worry that it builds an appreciation for the aspects of food and eating which have little to do with the actual joy of food, and merely makes us respect foolishness involving complicated titles, and preposterous forms of “presentation”, but I am hooked absolutely.

The personal drama, the storylines of mutual loathing and irritability seem to be a fundamental part of Top Chef in a way which they are not on Runway. I don’t know exactly why this is, perhaps people who are all about the schmattes* have a greater sense that taste is always at least a little bit subjective, and if I don’t love what you do… eh, whatever. Competitive, but aggression is definitely of the passive, slightly (very) bitchy type.

In the midst of this ramble, coming to the actual point any minute now.

A lesson in life to take for yourselves is this: If you ever use the phrase “…the [my name] [positive characteristic]…” be assured that you lack that quality thoroughly. Witness Richard Blais on the most recent episode of Top Chef, who had been doing a veritable shuck-and-jibe soft shoe for Tom Colicchio, mentioning in his post-mortem interview that “…I guess the Richard Blais charm just wasn’t working on him…” Talented he may be (although hearing anyone squawk away with obsessive love or negativity about sous-vide’ing things gives me a little bit of a headache, and the thought of pretty much any kind of meat being cooked in a plastic bag in warm water just really doesn’t do the trick for me, in all honesty), but he’s never struck me as being charming in any particular way.

The final thought is this: Spike, how many goddamn stupid looking hats did you bring with you? What the heck is up with that misshapen woven rattan baseball cap? When you go by “Spike”, you’ve pretty much got your gimmick covered. You really don’t need to be The Guy Who Always Wears Ridiculous Haberdashery. I can’t imagine what it must be like to leave your house on a trip, and have to seriously contemplate exactly how many fedoras you need to bring with you to get through a week at the beach. I understand that someone can easily be nudged through their own insecurity to look for an identity in some outward physical manifestation: “I’m the guy who carries a basketball everywhere!” “I’m the guy who wears lots of rings!” “I’m yet another wildly unique emo kid dressed entirely in black!” “I’m the girl who always has her pet rat with her!”**

In this case it just happens to be "I'm the guy who's always wearing a wacky-ass hat!"

These are things we abandon when we grow past a certain age, okay? Even if you’re balding with an ursine ferocity***, it’s still all going to be fine. Put the hat down, and back away.

*Looking at Yiddish phrases, two things struck me as remarkable: first, the number of Yiddish words that have become OED accepted in English use (I never knew that “maven” came from Yiddish, for example), and secondly that “shlimazl” is the second most difficult word, out of the most difficult non-English words to translate. It’s one of those things that you understand, but can’t exactly express in a clean phrase. Oh, also that “schlong” came from Yiddish too… just wanted to keep it clean and classy in here.****

**This last, chilling option is from a real-life example that I can recall from my own tender high school years, and a particular person who was the most metal girl left, in a period where it was no longer such a big thing, and had a rat that rode around in her shirt, and drank out of her mouth when the opportunity presented itself. I thought she had the whole identity thing ankled even without the addition of a rat in the shirt, but to each their own. Wherever she is, I hope things are going well.

***Come to think of it, baldness up top would make the scraggly beard make more sense…

****So, how much would you hypothetical readers love it if I could figure out how to do HTML jumps back and forth to and from the asterisks? SO WOULD I!! I just haven't gotten that high tech yet. Me and my suitcase cellphone will have to place some calls to People In The Know.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Koans (Pretty Much) of a Spring Evening

How big can purses actually get?

Why do women, by wearing Uggs or pointy-toed shoes, seem to want to convince us all that their feet are a completely unnatural size and shape?

Why do cyclists of any sort adhere so slavishly to the exact aesthetic standards of their particular sub-sect?

Why do soccer fans show their devotion with scarves specifically?

How early in a company's existence is the decision made to buy very nice or very cheap pens?

And, now more a Taoist thought:

Describe the smell of concrete or asphalt under a warm rain without referring to memory.

While we're at it, do you remember the particular smell on your palms as a child after running up and squeaking down an old school metal playground slide what seemed like a million times?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Is There Concealed Carry in the Afterlife?

Charlton Heston has passed to the great ape rodeo beyond.

I guess we can take his guns away now.

Does his successor have to do the prying, I wonder?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Another Grab Bag of Assorted Fragments

I will refrain from any large scale reference to the industry of wedding hyping, but reserve the right to return to that subject if it becomes necessary. Fair warning has been given...

That being said, Tigger and I were on the train this morning, and she had some of the glossy bricks of bridal planning periodicals that are de rigeur for the process in which we have gotten ourselves involved. That being the endless logistical complexities of getting a bunch of people (with whom we're already acquainted, so that shouldn't be too hard for the team) to show up somewhere of our choosing, eat food that we provide (again, biological necessity takes care of the "why" they might be feeling), and drink themselves silly (see above), and watch us have a gorgeous, fun day of committing ourselves to a life together.

I know, it seems like it should be easy, right?

It may well just be, but dispatches are still coming from reporters in the field, so the specifics are somewhat hazy.


She's reading through the magazines, and looks over to me...

T: It's funny. All the women in the ads in here just look like they're in a very bad mood. That's like a ten thousand dollar wedding dress.

Me: God, you're right... maybe they really wanted the fifteen thousand dollar dress they tried on right before?

I wonder whether the subtext here is to inculcate the idea that nothing can actually satisfy the discriminating reader, or the waxed and preened bride sample presented. I don't have answers.

I was on the train today, F train to Brooklyn, and a real fixture on the subways came through the car. I remember him from years ago, seeling Street News (the homeless published weekly paper they had as an "opportunity" a while ago,) and later from selling batteries.

He walks through the car, selling real Duracells at a buck a pair. I was always happy to see him, as I was inevitably shelling out significantly more at convenience stores to keep the discman humming at the time. I would stock up, he would say thanks, and announce "I'm a businessman! Double-A, triple-A duracells ONE dollar-one-dollar!" Then he was gone, having announced the time before leaving the train car...

I have for a while now been using an iPod for my mindless distraction on the train, and since then haven't had to buy batteries anymore. I wonder whether the battery guy realizes the reasons behind a fall-off in business, and whether he has a burning hatred for Apple, iPods and rechargeable implements generally. I wouldn't hold it against him, it's a tough road to try and re-engineer a business model...

More to follow tomorrow, specifically about futurists... look for it in this space!

Finally, for anyone out there planning on getting a dog, let me share one vital tidbit:

We all want to believe that our dogs will do what we want because they dote on us, and because our praise is the next best thing to ambrosia of which their fuzzy little heads can conceive. Having now been working with a bare dog larder for a few days, and having fallen into that mistaken belief... AND having just resorted to chopping up a whole pound of cheddar into teeny little cubelets and tried some obedience exercises, let it be known that... a dog with no treats in play is quite a lot like traveling across third world countries without a sack of gifts and/or cash for bribes. You may get through, but you're just making things a lot harder on yourself.

You may think you are getting by on your charm and good looks, but they will run out eventually, and whether it's a guard post on a muddy jungle road in territory held by the Karen People's Army in Burma's back country, or a particularly interesting bird on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, you will eventually be humbled.

Take care of yourselves. You're beautiful. Don't go changing.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Some Rilly Rilly Big News

Yes, news of a personal nature is being included here:

Tigger and I got engaged on Friday!

Not that any of you hypothetical readers ever leave comments anyhow, but if you have bitter stories to share, here and now are not the place, and not the time for them respectively.

I figured doing this on the day before we had half the world coming to our house for brunch/housewarming/meet Gojira etc., would really be just the best idea evar.

Clearly I am getting high on something, but don't know just what, given how well I conceived of all of these logistics. That said, I'm happy to have a more interesting story to tell. Maybe you'll end up hearing it, if you in fact exist.

All the details are going to follow, if I get around to deciding how much to expose my soft underbelly to (albeit hypothetical) strangers... we'll see.

Meanwhile, hope you are all just as happy as I am at the moment.

Also hope you are less tired, and didn't have a hangover for at least a solid day, and at the moment today felt a bit like it too. Woo!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Little Help?

You know, hypotheticals, I work my fingers to the bone over here...

I'd like everyone to send this address to at least seven people, with a threatening chain letter. I want to get to where I can start BLEGGING.

Not actually serious, here. I'm just blegging in my own way, but just for attention, not a splashy new pair of sunglasses. The difference being I'm blegging hoarsely into the void, which makes it less acquisitive, and more just a little bit desparate, I suppose. Were I to be serious, that is.

Isn't that why we all come ride the tubes though, kids?

Anyway, in all seriousness, if you haven't read it, go check out fatty's blog, but you probably have since after all, he's a bloggie winner, and a celeb in his own right. There's an old saying in German: "What does the moon care if a dog barks at it?"

Well, "woof woof" and all that.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

We Are Experiencing Technical Complexities

Two things.
One: when I got my current iPod as a gift from Tigger, I thought they were excessively large and I would never need the space for everything.

Fast forward two plus years, and my 30 gig iPod (or in this case the one I got Tigger for her Birthday) has blown a seam trying to just keep up with all the music we've been adding to iTunes for the purpose of getting rid of our brick and mortar CDs.

The day has arrived, and we now have too much stuff to put on the pods.  I didn't think it would come to this and it has, and suddenly with all the photos I shoot (Nikon D70, gigs at a time after a trip get ripped to the iPhoto and stored, always nice to have those along for showing people our waterfalls/puppy/selves) I'm looking at the 160 GB iPod and thinking "Yeah, that might hold us for a while."

We've gotten completely accustomed to such mammoth amounts of data being flung around, it's kind of hard to really grip, mentally.

My college Mac held (I think) 80 MB on the hard drive, and it was the uprated model, yet still black and white.  I'm not even that old, at least as far as I'm concerned.  That is one tenth of a CD-R.  Don't even get me started on how much of a CF card it is, or how much of a DVD-R or whatever.

Second point: I bought a "terrestrial" phone for the first time in about ten years today.  We both have cell phones ("Gee REALLY???"  "Yes, really, along with the rest of the developed and developing world, we do.  Can the sarcasm.") so it has never really been necessary, but suddenly we have cable service that was practically doing backflips to get us to agree to have a phone line through the modem, and it would be LESS than just getting cable and internet, so FINE.  We did it.  Well there's that, and there's the fact that our turn of the century electrical system basically gave my cell phone a surge-induced ice-pick lobotomy, causing it to lose all my contacts, forget all my text messages, and stop making or receiving calls, and I need to be reachable on a day off of work tomorrow... 

The good news, in our image infatuated society is: don't worry, my cell still turns on very nicely, and looks perfectly fine.  It just won't do anything, and its memory is putting it in the category of a hobo found at a Phoenix strip mall not knowing its own name and gibbering about un-nameable awfulness while scratching its face incessantly.

So I went ahead and went to get a phone to plug in to our cable modem, since we're paying for it anyway.

The first cordless I brought home, with an answering machine attached  (which makes me think that maybe we'll do up a novelty type message, for old times sake... possibly including Gojira making some contribution, 'cause why not, eh? (which in turn makes me lament the end of the attempted amusing outgoing message, which was oddly killed by the cell phone, perhaps because the culture was all about phones for "business" people just didn't feel like impersonating Peter Lorre or whatever, go figure, right?)) it didn't work, at least in terms of charging.

Want to apologize for the nested parentheses.  I learned German growing up, so I am immune to any confusion due to endless subclauses, and I think in those terms.  You hypothetical readers will just have to get accustomed, or just cease to exist in my fertile imagination, which is where I think you reside anyhow... fame and fortune are around the corner!


It wouldn't charge the handset, and I had to try and pack it up and return it to the local store where I bought it.  It sucked.  Hard.  Trying to get that thing back in the box was like trying to put an octopus to bed, to take a phrase from addiction counseling... there were about 600 plastic baggies, forty-five twist-ties, and sixty-seven folded pieces of cardboard to get this thing packed the hell up.

I went back, with a slightly misformed and bulging box of phones (it had the now common two handsets, with a spare charging base to keep at the other end of your cavernous suburban estate, though you can get them with up to FOUR handsets.)  Ended up getting another phone, from Panasonic, which had one handset only, but allows for additional handsets when we hit the lottery (if we ever bought tickets) and buy our hideous mafia palace on Long Island.
I want to tell you how much I love the good folks at Panasonic, and I'll tell you why:

First off, here's the top of the box.  You'll note that it's hazardous chemical free in production.  The first phone was from another company, and had cadmium batteries.  This one, has NiMH batteries, and even better... they are normal AAAs, so you can replace them when they start losing the plot.  I could make an iPod related comment here, but I'm a nice guy (bear with me... play along, alright?) so I won't do that.  Regular AA NiMH batteries.  How easy was that, industry???

And now, the "piece de resistance", this is what you see right away when you open the box, on the flap right below the lid:

Look carefully.

That there is a diagram showing you how to re-pack the box. That's right, folks. Someone wants to prepare us for the possibility that we have to put the jigsaw puzzle of death back together and return the product!

If you have any friends who are designers, I want you to print out this photo, and glue it onto the bottom of a frying pan. Wrap your friend in a blanket featuring images of Fallingwater, Guggenhem Bilbao, and anything by Alvar Aalto, and hit them in the face with said pan until they understand how simple and liberating good design actually can be for all of us.

Have a great day, and a wonderful tomorrow, folks.

Sidenote: the new phone works, too.  Which is wonderfully ironic given that returning it would have been so much easier than the other one...

Telemarketers, here I come!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Reporting From the Smoking Rubble of a Battered Tokyo

Gojira is doing well, while sometimes "bad" and sometimes "good" he is adapting well to this strange cavalcade of newness that is Brooklyn.
We got up (Tigger and I) this morning, after I had had my pre-getting up awakening of taking G. out for his morning emergency #1's (we were up a little bit later than typical infant parents last night, so paid the price as dog caretakers) and I had been towed around the neighborhood by what is definitely a draft dog.
T: Do you want to make some breakfast?
P-Fan: What, make something other than dog food in this kitchen?
Yeah, hypothetical people... the dog has had about ten times the number of meals I've had come out of that kitchen, if not more.  It just seems like there's no time to do anything else.
The thing about it is: every person with (or without, which is somehow more insulting and absurd) when we speak about "little" Gojira's habits of jumping up on strangers or whatever else, always says "Well he's just a puppy!"

Here's the thing: we weighed him earlier this evening, before giving him a bath ('coz we know how to rock a rockin' Saturday night party up in this place!) and he's 60 pounds.

60 pounds.

Less than 5 months old.

For context: 

Maybe you can't read that, or do the conversion on what 60 pounds actually IS, but he would be in the 95th percentile in body weight for a six year old human child.  Name me one kid in the first grade who is at severe risk for knocking over strangers or peeing on the floor if he isn't in control.

Didn't think you could.

So, all the people who want to tell me that G. is just a puppy, let me say here: yeah.  I get that.  The rest of you with puppies don't have a giant breed/giant dog on your hands (if you do, scratch that, and let's all start a club or something... seriously.  Write me, one of you two hypotheticals, though the odds are slim) and unless you do, cut that advice off at the pass, okay?

It's a whole different world from a fluffy 20 pound dog that just wants to pee saucer sized puddles of "error" on the floor, or jump up to nuzzle and lick someone's calf.  We had the ENTIRE KITCHEN FLOOR spattered with an "accident" this evening when we had our timing and crate training off by a bit.  Hell, G. can knock over three year olds if he's too exuberant without even realizing anything has happened.

He's loving, and enjoys baths, bible study, and long walks on the beach... he just doesn't know his own strength.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes that I just can't take as advice or all will be lost:

"If at first you don't succeed, try again.  Then give up.  No use being a fool about it."
--W.C. Fields

We will carry on being fools at the casa, and hope in all the important ways in your lives that you do the same.

For the children, or something.

At some point, I may have some words about our errant, whoremongering governor (who I voted for and was a big supporter of, so again... don't take me to the dog track and expect good advice or anything, alright?)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Joys of Spring

So, I awoke to a reasonably stout and hearty rain this morning, and no sooner than I could rub the sleep from my eyes, was out with the dog into the abyss of morning.  He didn't seem overeager about it either, and accomplished the mission at hand (codpiece free, thankfully not taking a page from our soon to be cashiered Commander In Chief) in short order.

This was followed by a long day at work, standing on the battlements bearing ongoing witness to the bloodshed and debacle, metaphorically smoking a cigarette and hoping that the city walls hold under this renewed onslaught from without.

Home again, getting my hand brutalized by a subway door, and with a sharply aching shoulder where my clavicle broke at the beginning of our odyssey together, gentle hypothetical readers (first pain I've had in months, so a little disappointing) I had opportunity to reflect on how  awesome it is to have pain that arrives when the weather changes.

It makes me feel all strapping and puissant from the very base of feet to the ends of my disheveled hair.  It's a vibrant feeling, really.  It just happens to have an old man-ish sharp pain in my back and shoulder doing a tap routine on stage left... and we all know that tap is God's way of saying that progress is good and vaudeville should stay well and dead.

We had planned on doing laundry, but we have pretty much bagged that concept for this evening, as it involves a drive, and it's late already.

For the joy of a bit of time recovering, I'll happily do some creative accounting as to what I consider "clean enough" for tomorrow to get me through work.

So, in the meantime (as I am telling myself this is a short post, gentle hypotheticals, which it never looks to be when I "publish" my inevitable tomes) there's someone who you just have to read:

She biked the iditarod, and describes the experience in detail... if you come upon this in the future, when it languishes in the dusty back rooms of the Old Internet, start in March of 2008, it is a tremendous accomplishment, and while there are those who are doing an 1100 mile version, 350 miles for a mortal human is almost inconceivable.

Look, read, and leave some love in the comments... some things are just infinitely resistant to cynicism.

And be well... 

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Really Bearish

So I haven't mentioned this before, but I work for a bank.  I'm nothing high-flown, just a spreadsheet monkey with a couple of flat panel displays.  (FOUR OF 'EM!  They give me the worst feeling of dryness in my eyes, so don't be jealous.)  So it's not my brilliance that makes the money, or my bad luck or stupidity that loses it when that happens to be how it goes.

That said, times right now are as dark as anyone with lots of experience seems to be able to recall, and while no one is outside on bread lines or selling apples, it's not as farfetched as you might think, somehow.  Bear Stearns was a veritable 800 pound gorilla in New York (and global) finance, and the sudden collapse is pretty much unprecedented.

The fact is that while we look at this as the comeuppance of greedy and wealthy people, there is something that has been mentioned but bears reiterating: one third of the company was owned by the employees.  The $240 million dollar purchase price for JP Morgan was one tenth of the value that was in the marketplace on Friday ($2/share, down from $30/share) and just over an eightieth of the prices that were prevalent a number of months ago.


Let's do the math:

Roughly 14,000 employees held a third of the company, 120 million shares.  That, at the 52 week high of $159 per share comes to just over $19,000,000,000.00

That is a value in employee hands of over $6,000,000,000.00, which has turned into an $80 million value in a matter of two days.

That's an average of almost half a million dollars in savings lost per employee.

Oh yeah, and half the staff is going to get fired.

I've talked to colleagues who have friends who've lost pretty much everything overnight, and are now unsure of how to pay for their mortgages, which is (to say the least) a touch more ironic than I even need to comment on... the unaffordable mortgage, the teaser rate, and the overengineered nature of the Mortgage Backed Securities marketplace are the source of the pain, and to see perfectly honest and hardworking people lose a lifetime of work is pretty grim.

Even if they were among the highest paid Americans, it is still hard to imagine going through three days with that much of a drawn out punch in the stomach.

People are quick to judge the industry, quick to lay blame for the structuring of transactions that allowed ratings to be synthetically created (legitimately, especially given that the ratings agencies played along...)

The fact is that we don't want to spread the blame evenly, and justly:

-People wanted houses that were more expensive than they could afford.  

-Realtors wanted the biggest commissions they could get, no matter what the cost.  

-Local mortgage issuers wanted to get people the biggest loan they could sell to a lender. 

-Issuers wanted to sell highly rated securities built on mortgages paid by people with lousy credit.  


Blame everyone you feel you need to, but don't forget where that chain started.

Tigger and I looked at buying, looked at vacation houses, and didn't go ahead with the plan, because prices were inflated, the market was overheated, we would have gotten a fishy tweaked out adjustable rate, and...


Read that five times, slowly.  If you can't pay your bills, it's your damn fault too.

And now?  Now we all pay for your stupid house as taxpayers.

Your goddamn welcome.

I'd just like to keep my job, okay?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Up, up and Away

The last of the moving is done.  It's a strange feeling having given the keys back today, and knowing I won't unlock that door anymore.  As much as I knew it was coming and we'd been sleeping in the new place already, it just didn't seem real that we were leaving the old behind.

I feel a bit like Larry Walters at the moment.  You sit in the yard, inflating the balloons, filling ballast jugs, lifting off while tethered to the ground, all the while flying.  When the moment comes to release the rope that anchors you, and spring upwards into the sky it is unsettling.  However much the dream may be to fly your chair off into the blue, when the reality arrives it cannot be easy to process.

We've cut the tether, and are on our way (hopefully not into any commercial flight paths.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

No Mas

I'm ready to be done now.

All those anxiety and stress evaluations where they talk about moving as being one of the greatest sources of tension one can experience... I get that now.

I just want to have all my stuff in one place, and I want to feel like I can just live normally again.  We've slowly put things into place, and with the addition of the training/housebreaking/integrating a dog into life it's just been really extraordinarily draining.  I just want it to be a good, normal day to day for a little bit before something else intrudes.  I'm stressed enough about recession, and layoffs, and who knows what else, and this is just putting me at a point of exhaustion that I'm getting a bit tired of altogether.

There's no pithy here tonight folks.  I just have run out of whale oil for the week.

48 hours from now it will be finished, and I will be relieved.  I think I may be planning on:

-A trip to the beach this weekend
-Drinking myself into some sort of stupor on some evening

I dream big, kids.  That's how you make it to the big leagues, right?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In Which I Am [Easily] Distracted

So, I know the two of you hypothetical readers have been fretting day and night about where I've been, but fret no more!  I did not fall down a well.  I have merely been tumbling through and down the rabbit hole of moving, stress, job insecurity, and a newly acquired relatively Hairy Roommate.

He had a rough first twenty-four hours.  If you were to ask the kitchen floor it would tell you that it does not even have hopes to ever regain its innocence.  But then, you know how much kitchen floors are all about hyperbole, so don't take it too seriously.  I, on the other hand, could do with not wiping up diarrhoeic leavings again any time soon.

Ah, hope springs eternal.

So, for all of you legions of imaginary friends out there, be of good cheer, for soon I will either leave a bunch of things and dust bunnies in our old apartment, or be fully moved into this one.

Or I will be fetal and completely immobilized on Thorazine in a lovely white facility somewhere.  I'm waiting for the Vegas odds to come in, but it's pretty much anyone's race at this point.

Tune in for updates!

(And be glad, at least I only talked about fecal matter briefly with you good, hypothetically slavering hypothetical readers.  We've been talking about it at Casa de Fan y Tigger pretty much incessantly for more than 36 hours!  It's a damn PARTY!)

Go with G__.

Pray for Mojo.

Monday, March 3, 2008

For a Banana, I'll Tell You Your Fortune

I forget from whom the quote came, but some sage once said that anything is funnier when you add a monkey.

I seriously need someone to add a monkey to my life at the moment.

We have been moving our assorted crap for two straight days, going in on day three, and it seems endlessly awesome at the moment (sarcasm smiley omitted because they don't exist.)  Even better, we have a small mildew "situation" at the new apartment that is hopefully going to be corrected by the landlord's guy by this evening.

Further: I had the singular pleasure of having "Movin' Out" by Billy Joel, and the first few riffs of "Bad Moon Rising" running through my head all day yesterday as a result of them being on the radio during on of what seemed like endless trips back and forth in the Lesbomobile (Subaru Outback wagon) to move boxes.

I am here to tell you that both of the artists in question (Mssrs. Billy Joel and Creedence Clearwater Revival) can sort of DIAF on my grand toteboard of life's people for me right now.  If I never hear "heart attack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack" again, I will die a slightly happier man.

Wherever you are, stay there.  Help may not be on the way, but make sure there's a compelling reason to even go outside for coffee.  Seriously.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Really Simple, Really



Buy yourselves (hypothetical pair of readers) a couple of Clifton Chenier records.


I'm up, way too late of course... trying to sleep waiting for the move.  I am up, and listening to Clifton and his Red Hot Louisiana Band (their real name) just ripping the hell out of God's atmosphere.

You should be doing likewise.

If you have doubts, just know that this guy toured 300 plus dates a year, even while receiving kidney dialysis at the tail end of his career.  They had a big station wagon (the same kind of vehicle that I hope to hell will get us moved in tomorrow and Sunday) and a trailer, and they unleashed unholy hell all over this great land.

Buy his stuff.  No other people will understand why,  but trust me.  

It's that good.

When have I ever used bold and italics before?

Friday, February 29, 2008

A Little Friday Filler


The apartment looks like the inside of C-130 delivering a humanitarian relief shipment.  Even better?  Sure, I'll go there.  We were thinking we were going to be in the new place tonight at least to paint.  Tigger wants to paint stuff (mainly because the departing tenant worked with a lovely dark mustard shade in the living room with the blue carpeting), and we picked a color.  Painting is something that I, and most guy friends of mine have confirmed this, give little thought to, and would generally roll with white all day long... but all's well.

We are not in the new place right now.  You can tell because I wouldn't have an internet connection.  Or furniture.  Or whatever.  Former tenant drags feet, we wait in the staging area.


Instead of all that, I am freshly showered and in a bathrobe, with a cocktail in hand, sneaking in a February 29th post because it just had to be done.

I am, however, not in the best of shape after sleeping poorly and insufficiently for days now, and spending some time being absolutely in a panic about the next two days, so there's that as well.

So in the meanwhile, go read (while both of you hypothetical readers certainly know about it already, I wanted to share it as I crawled out from under my rock, ran across it today, and divebombed* a couple of years of the posts.)  I guess when a late-forties suburban dad in the office sees it and says how much he loves it... it's not exactly like I'm setting up the first flash mob here or something like that.

The remarkable thing: 

-It's a web comic.

-It's funny.

I know you don't believe me, I wouldn't either.  It is, however, true.

In other news: Moose (according to numerous sources in the know) is likely to be around 150 pounds when fully grown.

In other, other news: I know no one wanted to endlessly hear me waste their time talking ad nauseam about a dog.  I will make an effort to be irritated at other things again, instead of just marveling about this one thing in particular.  Ire fuels the litter box... that and poorly spelled, inarticulate opinions.

So to be in line with the form...  YOUR LOOSERS PWNT!!!@#  1110100111

Is that better?  Does it make this feel like the internet again?  I guess I could also post more pictures of the dog and fit a different corner of things.

One final random thought in the Grab Bag: on the subway posters for the new pick 5 lottery campaign, it has a little tag on the bottom of the advertising that says (in text smaller than what's on your screen, dear hypothetical readers): "Play Responsibly."  Right.

Be well.  Pray for Mojo, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow are going to be pretty nuts.  We have to move, paint, AND we have to go to a wedding tomorrow afternoon.  Sweet!  Maybe I'll write that novel on Saturday while I'm at it.

Nothing quite like a bit of cohesive writing with a beginning, middle, and an

*The act of finding a source of writing or other material, and methodically roaring through mountains of archive.  It's fantastic, and it's a good reason to keep on sifting through the kitty litter that is the internet and looking for the impossible diamond as you work your way through.  I made this phrase up and I am telling you this here.  It's like an even more slack Slacker Copyright... I don't even need to buy a stamp!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Today's Post Brought to you by the Color Red (String)!

As you may know, or not, the great folks at the web presence for kabala will do you--or anyone with access to the wonders of the wondrous "Internet"--the honor of analyzing your first name according to the principles of Kabala!  For FREE!!*

So I went ahead and did the analysis for Moose (FHR) and here's the verdict:

"Although the name Moose creates executive ambitions, we emphasize that it limits your versatility and scope, tuning you to technical details."

Damn.  That name is what's going to keep our dog from having a well-compensated career as a shallow, unfulfilled executive.  Also, something to consider, given that this is intended to be a resource for people: how many engineers do you know named Moose?

"This name, when combined with the last name, can frustrate happiness, contentment and success, as well as cause health weaknesses in the reproductive organs, and elimination system."

AH!  Here's the hard sell on that whole thirty bones thing!**  Well, I definitely want to be happy, content, and successful at his engineering career... and (until we take them out surgically in just about two months***) I do totally want him to have the strength of TEN dogs in his reproductive organs.

"Your name of Moose has made you practical, systematic, and thorough."

No birdseed would have been left when he remained, if he had been just given the TIME to work on his technical project of sifting systematically, and thoroughly through the entire yard of dirt, so no argument there.

"The name encourages the expression of leadership and organizational skills, shrewdness and analytical ability."

I have to take some exception to this, given that he seems pretty disorganized with his reams of blueprints.  He also takes direction from anyone with thumbs, so that's a bit off the mark, but his analytical ability may have instructed him to take this path of least resistance, so who knows?

"You are mathematically adept and have great patience with work of a detailed nature such as bookkeeping, accounting, or technical research."

How ironic is that?  I hated math as a young boy, and now work with numbers for a living.  Like father like substitute son!  He might provide the good example that gets me to balance my checkbook for the first time in my life.  Fair trade for picking up his leavings for the next ten years... it's all about the personal growth.

"Particular about your material possessions, you keep everything you own in a good state of repair, and you budget your personal finances very carefully."

I hope he does take good care of them, since Tigger and I just spend more than 350 clams on a full dog trousseau.  The china pattern is really quite lovely, though.

"Because of its matter-of-fact influence, this name limits, to some degree, your ability to be flexible and spontaneous."

Again, not sure on this one.  From what I hear, he will sleep almost anywhere you put him, inside or out.

"You tend to treat new and unfamiliar ideas with skepticism."

I hate to keep on coming back to the birdseed, but I would definitely call that a new idea that was approached with a dearth of skepticism if anything.

"Because of the serious, responsible qualities of your name, you must recognize the importance of a sense of humour and optimistic perspective of life."

Can't argue here.  Though, like with any good cold reading technique, it is good advice for just about all of us.  I suppose the kabala approach to dog naming is fraught with trouble, since finding a good "balanced" name is also not part of the free service.  Want a set of "good" names?  That'll make the full name analysis seem like hack work... a mere $245.00 will get you a Balanced Name Recommendation!****

I need to remind myself to take this all with a grain of salt, as there are certain analyses that I can't agree with at all...

Taking "Douchebag" as an example:

"As Douchebag, you have a natural interest in the welfare of your fellow man, and a desire to help and serve others in a humanitarian way."

Now, gentle hypothetical readers, I've met more than my share of Douchebags in my life, and this description doesn't really jive with any of them I can remember.  I will readily concede that it wasn't their officially Given Name, but if it's what everyone calls you (a "nickname" so to speak) isn't that pretty much the same thing?

N.B. Hey Kabalarians!  Just kidding around, okay?  Don't do some kind of Kabalarian thing that would make me seriously regret this, right?  Just send me an email... K?  I mean, I think it's a Kreepy Kultish Kavalcade kind of thing you all have going on, but live and let live, right?

*Note that if you want the full-tilt analysis of both first and last names in conjunction, and giving you the interplay that they represent, you will have to pony up 30 bones.  However, since I don't believe in Kabala, and am cheap, I stuck with the first name free analysis.  I hope you aren't too disappointed.  If so, then tough.

**It must be his LAST name that's giving him the diarrhea.

***Tigger has a disturbing command of the exact date ("May 2nd, 2008!") that the snipping is going to happen, and seems also filled with anticipation about it.  I don't know what more to say about this.

****Though I do have to give some full disclosure in that your minor outlay of two Franklins, two Jacksons, and a Lincoln will also give you the $30 name analysis for one parent, and a recommendation for a parent as well as a pending child, so I guess we have to call it absolutely bargain-tastic!  If you are appallingly cheap, you can just get the individual recommendation for $195, but I say just go ahead and get the analysis and a spare name for your eventual child.  You do want them to be happy and healthy with well functioning sexual organs, don't you?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Think Good Thoughts...

Tigger's sister's dog either was lost, or it seems may have been stolen. It is hitting her family very hard especially having lost a dog who was hit by a car last year. Anyone who reads this, please send out good thoughts for the return of a wonderful, and happy little guy. Check tigger's blog for the information and pictures of the missing friend.

Sorry to be serious here, but it's very hard to see someone going through this. I'm upset as well at the thought.

Our Future Hairy Roommate (or FHR) had some issues of his own with his digestion this week, and while it didn't make the Seattle Post Intelligencer, it was a source of concern for us ordinary folk in the small mountain hamlet of Brooklyn.

To wit: he had diarrhea, and at 50 pounds Gross Dog Vehicle Weight, he had what I can only assume was a lot of it.

Knowing that you fine pair of hypothetical readers come here for classy material, I feel guilty giving you something SO awesome to think about and I suppose I'm apologizing. Just feel lucky while thinking about how wonderful it was for Tigger's folks who were being woken by the big/little guy howling/barking at one in the morning and again at 5 to be released that he might relieve himself.

Food changes were made, rice was added, and no improvement. The "medical team" (i.e. all of us) began to grow concerned. I'm sure you "all" are as well.

The answer?

He was eating discard bird seed. Sneaking it, and sneaking just loads of it every time he was outside; and since it was off the ground under the bird feeders it also included a healthy sprinkling of bird crap.

We collectively buy this dog human grade food with natural preservatives omega-3 oils and probiotics, to give him the best start possible, and he... wants to eat bird shit. I don't have the right words, but for the time being he is at least sleeping through the night again, and that's more than a small relief.

We're in the midst of moving, and all is hell, darkness and chaos. You know the drill. So, since I have no funny on that subject as I as of yet lack perspective on the amusing nature of the situation, here is where you should be reading about moving being engaged in by people way way way more noble than I am:

Well, I'll be moving with my car, thanks.

That, and movers for the first time in my life as I'm sick of having crisis moments involving elevators and couches. That can go and DIAF.*

In the meantime, stay beautiful just the way you are, and tip your servers out there.

*Little "throwback asterisk", and a "shout out" to my most favorite recently contemplated internet acronym.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

There's Something Fishy about this Rocket Fuel...

There’s been a lot of talk in the press recently about doping in sports, and in baseball in particular. I watched Andy Pettite give his press conference of endless mea culpas over the weekend, and saw a guy who seemed genuine and remorseful. As everyone has certainly said already, he did it once he got caught, and the integrity of that is not the same as what it takes to confess of your own accord etc. etc.

To this I have to ask when anyone has ever simply stepped forward to admit doping, or almost any other transgression.

So let’s just put that aside.

I have to confess that I have never been much of a fan of Roger Clemens, and while I understand that he is trying desperately to salvage his chances of making the hall of fame, and keeping his legacy intact, there is a sense of implausibility that is hard to shake. I’ve tried to believe before, and I suppose I am just low on capacity for that at the moment, I suppose.

The cynical take here is that the sports that actually succeed at catching doping violators are branded as nests of dopers and treated with suspicion. As Hank Steinbrenner put it the other day, the NFL quite probably has as big a problem as anyone with steroids and HGH, but they make it look like an effort is being made, and catch a few small fry without anyone seeming to care too much.

I come back to the Tour de France in 2006, and remember how it felt to watch Floyd Landis’ travails. I wanted to believe him then, and through it all hope that he will be proven not guilty, though it is hard to imagine it now.

I was pulling for Landis, for his sense of weirdness and his tremendous backstory… a former Mennonite kid who had ridden at night to avoid parental judgment, a mountain biker turned road racer with an utterly demolished, rotting hip and the kind of panache that the French talk about, and that makes the Tour at its best a spectacular thing to witness.

I remember watching the events of Stage 15, where Landis rode away from the yellow jersey to retake the lead and feeling a level of excitement at a dog fight of a Tour for the first time in a few years at least.

I remember the disaster of Stage 16, watching Landis collapse, crack completely on the final climb into La Toussuire, a man with nothing left in him. Left for dead, crawling into the finish and leaving ten minutes on the mountain. By all accounts, he was left with an insurmountable barrier between himself and victory in Paris. He traded his yellow jersey for a six pack of beer, a gesture that makes you simply shake your head and laugh at the sense of humor and absurdity in a man who would do that after a day of immolation.

Eddy Merckx believed, and bet on Floyd winning. Having a guy like Merckx believe in you is a powerful sign, and the next stage delivered the Panache in spades. At the start of the day, he showed his cards and told the peloton that he was going to attack… “We’re going on the first climb, so get a Coke and get ready if you want to come with us.”

I was at work, watching the coverage online, dispatches coming through every few minutes, and couldn’t believe my eyes… Landis made good his word and delivered a truly remarkable thing… he rode the field off his wheel, and tore an inconceivable amount of time that no one could recover before the day ended. 120 kilometers nearly alone, and thoroughly alone at the very end, coming up the final climb on the Col de Joux Plane and into Morzine. I was near tears, and was again when I reviewed the coverage from Versus that evening. No one could stay with him, and no one could catch him.

As Phil Liggett said about another man a year later, Landis was indeed riding like a man with four legs…

Then the testosterone test was made known, and the rest is history, to say the least.

I was tremendously let down, and had a hard time watching the Tour the next year, where I happened to make the wonderful decision to pull for Rasmussen. Good job, fan. At this point you’ve both learned that you shouldn’t take me to the track and take my suggestions, okay?

Funny thing, though: I had the recording of Stage 17 on my DVR, and months later when Landis had basically been stripped of the win I watched it again.

And it was still incredible the second time around. Still awe inspiring, and still basically superhuman. Even knowing what I knew, even with the later realities in my memory, I was still blown away.

Not because he won the stage.

Not because any number of other riders could have been doping (which I do believe.)

Just because of the pure act when it counted, and because we never can really know how much difference a minimal application of testosterone even might have.

Maybe Floyd could have done it without the drug. Maybe it would have just been one of the greatest days any cyclist had had in some of our lifetimes. Maybe we would be thinking back on it with wonder and joy ten years, twenty years later.

Pettite said that he didn’t feel like the HGH helped him. Maybe it didn’t help Clemens either, and maybe he would have won all the games, and all the Cy Young Awards without any unnatural means.

The one sad thing is that now we just won’t ever know, and we won’t ever have that day in France as part of our lore for the sport, and that’s the biggest disappointment and shame of all.

That’s where I feel robbed, and you should too.

That, and at the end of the long discussion there's the inescapable fact that after these last two years I don’t think I can bear to watch the Tour this time around, and it’s something I will miss.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gojira! Gojira!

We went out to PA last weekend, to meet the new roommate. He's got remarkably good social skills, seems to play well with people and dogs (both strangers and the familiar ones), and doesn't void on the floor, unless of course you don't listen to him howl at 5-6 AM when he has a bad moment.


FYI: We've been enjoying endless jokes about the idea of referring to the little Moose as "The Roommate"... "Jeez, our roommate just sits on the floor licking his genitals all the time"... "The roommate just leaves his body hair all over the couch whenever we leave him alone..."

You get the joke. I'm not proud, but I've gotten a lot of entertainment out of it, and I have no apologies for that. Go somewhere else for apologetic commentary on foolish humor. I won't go there, and you'll just have to learn to be okay with that.

Here's a photo of our little Moose:

Aaaand, for scale, here's a front paw, held in Tigger's hand.

He's twelve plus weeks old, and tips the Toledos at a lean forty-five pounds as of Saturday afternoon. I had a sudden moment standing in the living room with Tigger when we got home, where I couldn't help but wonder aloud as to what we were doing. She seemed unfazed, and all I could say was that when he destroys Tokyo, I just can not be held accountable.

Monday, February 11, 2008

We're Number One!

Lest I be accused of being tasteful...

We have a bathroom in our office where I work, with two urinals that have no barrier wall-ette between them. There are three toilet stalls along the wall. Now, men's rooms are profoundly unnatural environments when you consider the realities for any period of time. We stand around, exchanging bits of conversation if we know people, or completely ignoring them if we don't, all the while just vigorously blocking out the reality that we all have our cocks out, in what is at least a semi-public place (quite accurately "semi" actually, as it is half public, off limits to half of the world by gender at least) with sightlines to dudes who are total strangers (or at least they are invariably someone we wouldn't generally just stand around with, shooting the breeze or not, with penises in hand and all that, not to be too vulgar about it.)*

We block it out. We carry on! There's work to be done here!

What is even stranger than the fundamental fact of it is the people who come in and go directly to the stalls, and stand in their little box urinating. It just feels tremendously odd, and even leaves you feeling like they suspect you're just loitering around in the bathroom waiting to get a good ogle at their tackle.

We arent, okay? Really, really, really, really not at all. I'd wager that even gay or bisexual guys don't really (except for folks with some very specific fixations) have any desire to peruse the goods on display, so you can come on down and join the rest of us in our Heterosexual Hootenanny of Awkwardness and Denial. It's totally okay! It's SO TOTALLY NORMAL!

I'd rather not be sharing the moment with anyone, but it's just one of those things you have to deal with... weird, but so normal that the weirdness seems to fade in about a couple thirty years. It's not that hard. There are tribes with customs that seem normal to them (something recently about Amazon tribes that need to have their hands stung for ten minute stretches by gloves full of ants with the most painful neurotoxic sting in the world, and they have to do it twenty or thirty times. I don't remember the exact total, but if they can get used to that, we can all get used to our nerf padded American life in all its peculiarities.

*Ladies, complain to your heart's content about the quality of women's restrooms, and endlessly about the endless lines that block the way to them, but at least you get a private suite once you get inside. Yes, there may be no roof, but imagine a lack of walls... aaaaaand just let that settle in, for a moment.