Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Small Fish

I'm sitting at my desk, taking in some morning comics and scanning the headlines, when a realization hits: I don't fit in here.

This isn't all bad. It's good to experience new people, new things; you can't always be in a comfort zone. One part is bad, however. In fact, when I actually put words to why I was feeling a little out of place, it wasn't just bad, it was eye-openingly awful. A shiver ran down my body, my spine twisted and contorted when I thought: Everyone here is so young.

What. The. Fuck. I'm young. 28 is still young isn't it? Sure, I wasn't 10 when the Spice Girls first toured like the girl who sits two spots away. I didn't graduate college in 2006 like some members of my team(or in 1993, like some there's still time). I mean, it's not like I'm wearing a Mission Of Burma or Ramones t-shirt that I actually bought at a Ramones or Burma concert. Now that guy is...older.

And there are plenty of other people older than me, too, but now I'm closer to the middle range than the younger range. I've always, always, been the youngest person at work, excluding my first job at a Loews Theater. Now for the first time, I'm not. And that's just really, really fucking weird.

The other part is how, well, rich everyone else is. Or at least their background is rich. I think the best word is "international". Globe trotters, they went to private or boarding schools, have friends in Australia, France, England, and California. They have "taste". They follow - but also start - "trends". In fact, everything about them should be in quotes, because it always seems so strange to me that it needs to be held up and examined at arms length. Like a strange artifact or a crying, crapping newborn.

Of course, not everyone is like this. Just enough to let me know I'm not the norm anymore. In DC/Maryland, no one was like this.

I'm not sure if the next part comes with the rich part, but everyone here is very, very used to success. High profile clients, huge projects, big names; all the norm. Apparently, I just lucked out getting this job - whereas I was just pulled out of a random resume pile from Monster, everyone else I've talked to had to get a recommendation. Was a mistake made? Do I really, seriously belong here? I wonder.

It'll all work out though. I keep this line close these days:

"This is New York City/If you can make it here you can make it anywhere" - NY Weather Report, Talib Kweli - Ear Drum

Monday, October 01, 2007

The End?

The big, long project is over. We've had some positive press, a good reception from the client, and only some minor browser bugs(Safari and IE6, I'm looking at you...). Go check it out, and buy some books, for god's sake :)

So will I be returning to regular blogging? Maybe. Or, more accurately, yes and no. I'll be posting more regularly, that's for sure, but I'll also be taking time to work on the site that will eventually replace this one. It will be my own creation, and should go live in early 2008. It will be part blog, part music writing, part photos, part resume, etc.

In the mean time, though, it's good to be back.

Monday, September 24, 2007

White Devil White Devil

Here are some choice quotes, heard while walking with my girlfriend, in our new neighborhood:

"Look at that! White boy hit the jackpot! You know what..we don't want you! We don't want you!"


"Aww, look at this integration shit...she's thinking that all white boys ain't bad, some are good...but the Devil is the Devil!"

In all seriousness, this is not a real issue; there are always idiots. 99% of people in Harlem give less than a shit that I live here, or whom I'm dating. It's more amusing than anything else. Still...I can't helped but be bothered a little. After all, I am going to be living here for at least a year...of course, it's also understandable; it's not like white people have a great reputation to bank on when it comes to moving to new places.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hey There...

I promise I'll be back some day. Probably after 10/01, when the huge project I'm working on finally rolls out. Then, back to semi-regular posting and ranting...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Career Choices

As a child I wanted to be many, many things. My first choice of career, that I can remember, was Jesus Christ. More accurately, I wanted to be the first guy to never sin since Jesus. Sadly, I realized I had ruined that, already, while still stuck in the single digits. I briefly considered being a missionary, but shortly after being told my best friend was going to hell for being Jewish, I stopped being Catholic. So that was out.

After my religious falling out, I wanted to be a video game counselor. It seemed reasonable: I loved video games, I was good at video games, and according to The Wizard1, you could sit in a cubicle and assist autistic kids over the phone. What kid doesn't want to do that? Then, I wanted to be a comic book artist. Then a lawyer. Environmental Lawyer. Movie Critic. Journalist. Screenwriter. Sports Journalist. Then when I realized I would need money(and what was wrong with having lots of it), corporate lawyer.

As it turns out, I am none of those things; I am a web monkey. Which isn't a bad thing, really. Do video game counselors even exist anymore? Did they ever? Not that it wouldn't be cool to be a comic book artist, movie critic or ESPN talking head. Or a professional basketball player. But I strayed. What I should have done was get the lead in a romantic comedy or sitcom. I should have been an actor. Then I could be anything I wanted.

I keep seeing previews for The Bill Engvall Show, where Engvall gets to be a therapist. Alan Thicke played a psychiatrist, Bill Cosby an MD(he did serve at a Navy Hospital, though); in fact, doctor seems to be a very popular fake career. Lawyer is well represented, though it's hard to find too many that look like Calista Flockhart or Laura Flynn Boyle. Or Dylan McDermott, for that matter. Sarah Jessica Parker was a journalist. Cirroc Lofton(Jake Sisko) was a basketball player.

It must be awesome to pretend to be something really cool. In his movie career, Adam Sandler has been a singer, professional golfer, college football player, legal genius, a marine veterinarian, pizzeria owner, professional football player, architect, and a firefighter. What will he be next? What else did he want to be when he was a boy?

John Cusack has been an amateur kick boxer (he actively trains to this day), professional baseball player (a role he somehow managed to play before being a high school kid in Say Anything), a physicist working on the Manhattan Project, a professional hitman, a US Marshall, an air traffic controlle r(eh?), a record store owner, and even a freaking cowboy.

Why, why didn't I study drama?

Just Need Some Sleep

Why do people peer down subway tunnels like they have fucking night vision goggles on? Back away from the platform, you perching little-shits. The train will get here when it gets here.

OK, I'm a little pissed. I had another late night at work. If it wasn't for the fact that I'm moving in with my girlfriend, I'd never see her. Or anyone, for that matter. My sole human interaction would be with my co-workers, fellow commuters, and my good friends at TBS and Adult Swim(basic cable only).

In some ways, working late feels like part of the NYC initiation. You walk faster, get a tiny apartment, eat a lot of Chinese take out, and you work until your fingers bleed.

In other ways, it makes me want to break my keyboard over my knee and shove the head of the annoying woman who sits behind me through my monitor. She has this voice, this annoying, spine-stiffening, gravelly white-bread voice and she speaks with almost no inflection, just a mild, rising tone throughout every asinine utterance.

Sigh, again, late night.

So, yeah, we have an apartment. That's good news. The bad news is I still get mail with my ex-wife's name on it. My girlfriend can be very understanding, but getting a routine reminder of my ex is not something that I think she will tolerate. Thing is, the ex-wife's name still appears on some mail that comes from my bank. Hopefully, after some paperwork I've filled out and mailed, it will end before the end of the month.

In less personal news, it's been a good year for music. I've been listening to the new Spoon, Ryan Adams, Silverchair (seriously), Battles, Common, Art Brut, Stars, and Paul McCartney albums. I'll be writing in more detail about some of these later, but I recommend all of them. The Live From The Paradiso EP from the Cold War Kids is also worth picking up and includes a great cover of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come".

Well, I'd better get to bed. Another long day(probably) awaits.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On My Way Up

I've been doing a lot of work at a client downtown in a huge multi-story office building, working on the ninth floor. Every day on the elevator ride up, I pass heaven. Or at least the closest thing in the Internet world, Google.

Google has offices on the fourth floor, and they are hard to miss. The elevator doors open and you're bathed in a warm, soft light, a choir of beautiful blond angels sing the Hamster song, and you see the only page with info on your ex is some stupid college alumni page. Oh, and there's a huge Google logo over the desk. There's an abacus near the receptionist for some reason. One of those multi-colored expanding plastic balls sits on the floor, as if to say, hey bitches, we're Google and we have so much money nothing has to make sense.

Beyond that, I have no idea what it's like. Only the lucky people who work for Google do. They all look pretty happy. They all have iPhones. I'll bet they have unicorns, ambrosia, and free snacks, too. Must be nice.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Shallow and Pedantic

There is something that I hate that I often do. I hate being the person who, when conversing or arguing, can only repeat what he's read. Whether it's from a book, a newspaper, or an online article, all of it is just a prop, filling in for true insight and understanding.

Worse, if you can fool people well enough, it's a crutch. Why bother digging deeper and learning if you can convince people you are a knowledgeable, well-informed person anyway? Besides, if your really good at faking it, you get to have sex1. But, props only hold for so long; eventually, someone will know you're just reading the Times to them. Worst of all, they won't call you out for it -- rather, they'll just file you away in a folder marked "Uninteresting, Unoriginal, But Still Attractive Individuals".

To wrap this up in the most unoriginal way possible, here is a video that clearly state my point:

1It should be noted, that after talking to my girlfriend and learning the actual reasons I and other men get to have sex, I feel like one of Pavlov's dogs.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Thank God It's Sunday. Oh Wait...

What a week. As the entire world knows(because anything that happens in New York is very, very important), flooding brought the Subways in Manhattan to a standstill. Torrential rain the night before -- three inches in an hour, apparently -- caused the severe, unexpected flooding. I slept through that, and awoke to a sunny, albeit damp, morning. Finding my Subway stop ridiculously crowded, I was perplexed.

I tried buses. I tried other Subway lines. I considered taking a cab, then remembered that they would all be taken and it would take forever to get downtown. So I walked to work. About 30 city streets/blocks, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I had some good tunes from the iPod("Free Bird" is great walking music), and New York is always scenic. Sometimes the scenery smells, curses, elbows or runs you over, but it's scenic nonetheless.

The rest of the week wasn't nearly as entertaining. I did have to work Saturday, but at least it was quiet.

This week, however, should be very, very interesting. My girlfriend and I have to find an apartment. I have deadlines piling up. I'm already planning on buying some comfort booze for when I slip into my apartment, concluding each grueling, stressful day. This is the worst time of the year to look for an apartment.

Monday, August 06, 2007

An Adult Moment

Recently, while at the grocery store, I thought:

You're an adult now. You can buy whatever you want. Remember how you always wanted some Chocolate Eclairs? Those delicious, chocolate ice cream treats that you could only buy from the Good Humor Man because your mother would never buy them when she went grocery shopping? As a child your freezer was empty and useless, and only the rapid chime of that blessed ice cream man's bell gave you hope during those hot summer months. That's the only time you saw an Eclair. Well, there they are Mr. Adult, behind the glass doors of the frozen food section. And your mother is not here to stop you. Go ahead, champ, ring that bell.

So I bought some.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Music & Movies

I think "Ms. Robinson" is the best example, that I can think of right now, of a song so intimately connected to a movie that you can't hear it and not think of a certain scene. Or at least it was. We are generations past "The Graduate", and I'll bet a fair number of people -- all younger than me, thank you -- associate the song with Stifler's mom and "American Pie". Some probably just think "Simon and Garfunkel sure were great", or possibly "My high school algebra teacher sure taught me a lot about...the quadratic equation".

Anyway, here are some more songs that, to me(and that part is important, because I'm sure some of these will make you question my taste and memory), can never be separated from their celluloid companions.

"What A Wonderful World", Louis Armstrong, from Good Morning Vietnam. DJ Adrian Cronauer, played perfectly by Robin Williams(perfectly meaning absolutely nothing like the actual Cronauer), dedicates this song to a bunch of GIs that inspire him to get back on the air after a bureaucratic shit-storm. It plays over scenes of a chaotic, war-torn country -- rice fields being napalmed, suspected VCs being rounded up and executed -- and ends with Williams echoing Armstrong's wonderful "ohhhhhh yeahhhhhhh...". Other memorable songs from Vietnam in include "Sugar and Spice" by the Searchers and "I Got You (I Feel Good)" by James Brown(the first song Williams plays).

"Something In The Air", Thunderclap Newman - from Kingpin. This song plays during the bowling competition in Reno. Woody Harrelson, in possibly his best performance ever(and I'm being serious), plays Roy Munson, a down on his luck, one-handed bowler. He gradually gets his stride back to a song that most people as old as my parents probably remember from "Easy Rider". Before the final match, Urge Overkill does a great rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner". Other good songs from this movie include "A Beautiful Morning" by The Young Rascals and "The Sound Of Silence", played after Harrelson succumbs to a really indecent proposal from his landlady, played by Lin Shaye("What is it about great sex that always make me have to take a crap. You really jarred something loose there tiger!"). And of course, who could forget the final duel between Munson and Ernie 'Big Ern' McCracken (Bill Murray), set to ELO's "Showdown":

"You Can't Always Get What You Want", The Rolling stones, from The Big Chill. You knew this was coming. Even though it was immediately disqualified from the Top 5 Songs About Death in High Fidelity for it's association with this movie, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" is still great, in my opinion. Another song that the crew from Championship Vinyl may disregard in future discussions is "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" by The Temptations, for its use in the whitest dance scene in music history.

"One More Night", Phil Collins, from The Color Of Money. This can only be me. I was am a pool nut, so of course I watched The Hustler and it's sequel obsessively as a teenager. Paul Newman, in his thanks-for-everything-here's-an-Oscar reprisal as "Fast" Eddie Feslon, first notices Vincent(in, and I'm serious, Tom Cruise's finest performance) as Collins softly plays from the bar jukebox. The other winner is, of course, Warren Zevon's "Werewolves Of London", the soundtrack to Vincent's manic, cue-as-a-sword escapades, complete with Karate yells. Also memorable is "It's In The Way That You Use It", by Eric Clapton.

"Where Is My Mind", The Pixies, from Fight Club. The never-named narrator tells Marla "Trust me, everythings gonna be fine. You've met me at a very strange time in my life", the explosives go off, the buildings come down, and in comes the unforgettable screeching guitar notes that start this song. Perfect.

"Rebel-'Rouse", Duane Eddy, from Forrest Gump. There are lot of songs from this nugget of Americana -- "Everybody's Talking At Me", "Blowing In The Wind" (performed by the luscious Bobbi Dylan), "Fortunate Sun"(playing alongside the chop-chop-chop of an army helicopter), "All Along The Watchtower", "For What It's Worth (Stop, Hey What's That Sound)", "Break On Through (To The Other Side)", "Volunteers", "Love Her Madly", "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head", "Free Bird"(played during Jenny's almost-suicide) -- but it's the lonely twang that begins "Rebel-'Rouse" and the speedy, energetic instrumental that follows that gets us and Gump's football career started.

"New Slang", The Shins, from Garden State. Zach Braff really, really owes Natalie Portman for this one(and The Shins too, for that matter). Face it, even the most ironic hipster melted in his vintage t-shirt and Chuck all-stars when Portman flashes that incredible smile as this song comes in strong("Gold teeth and a curse for this town/ were all in my mouth/ Only, i don't know how they got out, dear.").

"Good Enough", Cyndi Lauper, The Goonies. This video for this song, as seen in the film, plays right before Sean Astin and company tie Astin's older brother to a chair with his own exercise band. In the real video, producer Steven Spielberg makes a cameo. God bless DVD extras. And God bless the Truffle Shuffle:

"Cruel Summer", Bananarama, from The Karate Kid. A perfect fit for Daniel LaRusso's first day of school in sunny California, exiled from his native New Jersey. And of course, who could forget the classic fighting montage song, "You're The Best (Around!)" by Joe Esposito. A true 80s piece of art.

"Mandy", by Barry Manilow, from Can't Hardly Wait. For most people Can't Hardly Wait is a very forgettable late 90s teen-comedy, but it met me at the perfect time: heartbroken and barely out of high school. My heart was broken by a girl named Amanda, the same name of Jennifer Love Hewitt's character, who pulls Ethan Embry's heart strings. It doesn't hurt that it's named after a Replacements song either(which of course appears on the soundtrack as well). But it's this Barry Manilow song, that convinces Embry that destiny is going to bring him and Amanda(Mandy) together, that stands out. His best friend dissuades him, telling him it's about Manilow's dog. Later, crestfallen about his failure to win Amanda, Embry wonders: "Wasn't that song Mandy a sign? What if it was about a dog...was I supposed to buy a dog? No, no, it had to be a sign! How often do you hear Mandy on the radio? I haven't heard that song in years!" before learning it's Manilow's birthday and the radio station is playing "Mandy" every hour on the hour. Another interesting thing about this movie, besides a pre-fame appearance by Seth Green, is how many people from it went on to star in the series "Six Feet Under": Lauren Ambrose, Peter Facinelli, Freddy Rodriguez, and Eric Balfour.

The best part, though, was the impromptu performance of "Paradise City" by Hook's Charlie Korsmo(an MIT alumni):

"Dry The Rain", The Beta Band, from High Fidelity. Rob Gordon(John Cusack) plays this song at his record store after boasting "I will now sell five copies of the The Three EPs by The Beta Band". Sure enough, it gets his weekend crowd hooked. A patron asks who it is, then tells Rob that the song is good. And Rob replies with every music snob's favorite line: "I know,".

"Bad Days", The Flaming Lips, from Batman Forever. Sure, there's "Kiss From A Rose" and the U2 song "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me", but this song became seared into my brain when I heard the lyrics "And you hate your boss at your job/Well in your dreams you can blow his head off/in your dreams/show no mercy". A perfect introduction to the just fired, about to become the Riddler Edward Nygma, played by Jim Carrey.

"Summer In The City", The Lovin' Spoonful, from Die Hard 3. As it stands, I think me, my brother, and my father are the only people who believe the third Die Hard movie is brilliant. Maybe this is because we first watched it at four in the morning. Either way, this song opens the movie, and "Die" and "Hard" come together right in sync with the opening drum line and keyboards, as does the subtitle "With A Vengeance". I just really like that, because I'm a dork.


"Stuck In The Middle With You", by Stealer's Wheel, from Reservoir Dogs.

"Let's Stay Together", Al Green, "Son Of A Preacher Man", Dusty Springfield, "You Never Can Tell", Chuck Berry, "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon", Neil Diamond(performed by Urge Overkill), and of course "Misirlou" by Dick Dale and his Deftones(it's the surf-sounding title theme).

"I'm Shipping Up To Boston", the Dropkick Murphys, from The Departed. This is my new Irish Pride song. A great song to get pumped up for a night of drinking. Which is really what an Irish Pride song should be.

"It's The End Of The World A We Know It (And I Feel Fine)", by REM, from Tommy Boy. Face it, you can't sing along any better than David Spade and Chris Farely could.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fanboys Unite

So I'm reading this article about fanboys a friend twittered(typing that made me feel dirty) about fanboys, when I come to this quote from Matt Damon:

...[Fanboy's] tastes can be obscure. "You know the movie they quote me most often?" says Matt Damon. "Not the Bourne movies. Not Oceans. But Rounders. I can't figure it out."

I'll tell you why Matt: because Rounders is fucking awesome.

Mike McDermott: "I feel like Buckner walking back into Shea. "

Worm: "Hey! If you want to see this seventh card you're gonna stop speakin' fuckin' Sputnick. "

Worm: "I guess the sayings' true. In the poker game of life, women are the rake man. They are the fuckin' rake."
Mike McDermott: "What the fuck are you talkin' about. What saying?"
Worm: "I-I don't know. There ought to be one though. "

Mike McDermott: "I want him to think that I am pondering a call, but all I'm really thinkin about it Vegas and the fuckin' Mirage. "

Taki: "What did you think he had? Does he look like a man beaten by jacks?"

Teddy KGB: "In my club, I will splash the pot whenever the fuck I please. "

Teddy KGB: "Nyet! Nyet! No More! No! Not tonight! This son of bitch, all night he, 'Check. Check. Check.' He trap me! "

Worm: "Now, what did I ever do to that guy?"
Mike McDermott: "You fucked his mother."

and my personal favorite:

Mike McDermott: "You comin' up? "
Lester 'Worm' Murphy: "No, I've been standin' out here all this time just to say hi."
Mike McDermott: "All right, listen, things haven't been that smooth on the homefront so, you know, tone it down a little, all right?"
Lester 'Worm' Murphy: "Tone done what, motherfucker?"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Have No Shame

How y'all feel? I have a question. How many people like to buy digital music? You always need something to get you through the workday...there's gotta be some people out there who like to use BitTorrent? Oh yeah...I was talking to my little brother the other day, and he said the kids these days really enjoy that MySpace...but I tell you something, when you're down in the dumps, and you need something to bring you up, there's only one thing that's gonna do it the way you want it!

iTunes binge!

What's that?


Oh yeah. Instant gratification.

My apologies to KISS.

Anyway, I've gone on a couple of iTunes binges lately. There's something about that instant gratification, coupled with the spell Steve Jobs has cast upon me via my iPod, that compels me to drop dolla bills at two in the morning on songs from my formative years, or at least songs I think were from my formative years. It gets fuzzy.

You see, there was a time when all I had was the radio. I didn't have much money for CDs, so I listened to rock and Top 40 radio. And hearing some radio last weekend in DC, I realized, I miss some of those songs. So I started downloading tracks from Sublime, System Of A Down, Weezer, Pearl Jam, Coolio, Sum 41, Jimmy Eat World, Mudhoney, Audioslave, Incubus, Bush, Rage Against The Machine and god help me, Hoobastank. Live, Foo Fighters, Korn, Nine Inch Nails, Staind, Linkin Park, Fuel, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Good fucking Charlotte. It's a little disturbing that half of these songs are available on the TV compilation "Buzz Ballads", but damn it, this is what I had to work with. Then I remembered what I would heard, at the age of twelve, booming from my best friend's older brother's stereo. So down comes some Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Megadeth, Scorpions, Rush and Twisted Sister.

Yeah, Hoobastank. What of it?? "The Reason" is insanely catchy.

What was popular when I was a college freshmen? What did I hum in the car while I was running late to eight am journalism classes? Down comes some Fastball, Matchbox 20, Semisonic, New Radicals, Eve 6, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Three Doors Down, Shawn Mullins(he sings "Lullaby" know, it goes "Every-thing's gonna be alright..."...he speaks in a real gravely voice in between the chorus about some drunk crying chick at a dive bar he's performing at...I just assume he nailed her that night), and just for the hell of it, Alice Cooper. It makes no sense, but it's iTunes, alright? It doesn't have to. While I'm here, I'll subscribe to the "Flight Of The Concords" podcast. Why not? It's fucking funny. "Two Princes", almost forgot that. And since it takes about 24 hours for my bank to process an iTunes transaction, much like a drinking binge, I won't pay for this until tomorrow!

I may have to go some kind of addicts meeting. Or just go to seeqpod from now on.

Now playing: Matchbox Twenty - 3 AM
posted with FoxyTunes

Monday, July 23, 2007

I Weep For The Past

So I'm sitting here, tweaking a design at work, while surfing the web at the same time(it's called multitasking) when I came across this story about the Beatles' part in the "first live trans-Atlantic satellite transmission". Apparently, it was widely panned in Britain at the time:

"Have we nothing better to offer? Surely this isn't the image of what we are like. What a dreadful impression they must have given the rest of the world," one comment read, the newspaper reported.

Another viewer, impressed by contributions from elsewhere, said "after all the culture ... shown by the other countries, the Beatles were the absolute dregs," the newspaper claimed.

"We did not do ourselves justice," another viewer commented.

I wonder, what would these British adults of the 1960s preferred? Shakespeare? I just wish Monty Python had existed, they could have beamed the entire world the Dead Parrot Sketch.

The best part of this is, as I was reading that the song "All You Need Is Love" was written for the performance, it starts playing on my iPod. Awesome.

You know I'll be seeing Across The Universe on opening night.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Night Lights

I'm trying something new today. I'm going to post a weekend re-cap on a Friday. Why? It's the kind of outside-the-box thinking that I've been doing lately. That, and I haven't made the time to write it until now.

Anyway, last weekend was great. It didn't get off to a great start. I had to work late Friday, and I barely made the ten o'clock bus to DC. The cut-off was about two people behind me. Those unfortunates had to wait until 12:30 am for the next DC bus. I was lucky. I had a psychic in front of me.

Of course it wasn't his amazing extra-ordinary mind powers that helped(after all, he didn't anticipate Port Authority, of all places, being crowded). No, what helped was he was going to Baltimore to "unhaunt" (I assume that was a technical tearm) an old motel. So when a separate bus to Baltimore became available, off he went, and up the DC line I went. Before he left, he did give me a nugget of paranormal knowledge I feel I should pass on: usually (but not always, mind you), if there is a ghost doing some haunting, it's because that person died possessed. Before you ridicule, keep in mind this man was financed by the Sci-Fi channel and wore a t-shirt from his TV show. That's credibility, folks.

So I got into DC around three in the morning. Luckily, my father and my youngest brother(who is 19, wow) were waiting for me. I was all prepared to get my geek on the next day. Considering the festivities started at noon, I went to bed right away.

Hahaha, I'm just kidding. I hardly ever do the reasonable thing when it comes to sleep. So, after getting lit up with two of my brothers, we went outside and I spent a good half hour watching them attempting to hit one their cars with a football. It's not as dumb as it sounds. The car was parked in the street, across the yard, underneath one huge tree with another standing between them and the car. So bullet passes were out; they had to launch the ball like an artillery shell so it would clear the first tree and arc through the branches of the second. In the dark.

OK, it is as stupid as it sounds, but after ten or twelve misses(we decided halfway in that 'off a bounce' didn't count) I was really invested. Someone had to hit it. Sadly, neither one did. Oh, and during this entire spectacle, a hot waitress from the restaurant all of my brothers work at watched the entire thing. That just made it more surreal.

Eventually, I made it to bed and somehow, I manage to get up in time.

The Magic festivities were fun. My father did the best in the tournament, finishing in the money, with the rest of us scrubbing out by round five. In fact, everything was going pretty smoothly until I unleashed the "six degrees" monster.

You see, Friday night, while I was working late, my co-workers and I started playing "six degrees" with various actors. For example:

Elvis Presley to Naomi Watts
Elvis > It Happened at the World's Fair < Kurt Russell > Bird on a Wire < Goldie Hawn > Everyone Say I Love You < Julia Roberts > Closer < Jude Law > I Heart Huckabees < Naomi Watts

So we start playing this game Saturday, and everything else took a back seat. All we did was name actors and movies while our bodies kept doing other activities like eating, driving, and playing other games. At one point, in attempting to like Robin Williams to Jack Black, we kept circling back to Robin Williams. The game can get confusing.

So Sunday, I'm on my way to my brothers' baseball game, when I bring the game up. Everything is going great until my youngest brother suggests Meg Ryan to Drew Barrymore, which we don't solve before arriving at the ball field. Long story short, I place all the blame for my brother's error on a fly ball to left field on "six degrees" and his mind wondering: so wait, Meg Ryan was in...with whats her name, who was in...oh fuck the ball! They won, despite Meg Ryan.

The game was like no other I've ever been to. This was my first time at a non-high school, non-college game that didn't involve being at Camden Yards or RFK. You see, my brothers are playing in a semi-semi-pro league that has existed since 1886. There are teams in cities throughout Maryland, and these people take their baseball seriously. Lining the chain-link fences along the base-paths were throngs of old men talking trash. Serious trash:

"What the hell is wrong with you boys? You're bunch of sissy girls, the bunch of you! I'll fuck you up if you don't play some god-damned ball! I'm fifty years old and I ain't afraid of any one of ya!"

Yikes. A far cry from the -- relatively -- quiet stands of a Little League game. These guys would grind on you, and they wouldn't let up. One error, and they'd be on you the entire game. And it wasn't limited to players; umpires, coaches, opposing fans, and even the damned PA guy.

"That guy says 'last-call for lottery tickets' one more time I'll go over there and stab him! It's fixed anyway - someone from Charles County always wins! I was born on a farm, you can't put that shit over on me!"

The other weird interesting part of the league was that it was all ages. I saw a 46 year old hit a home run off of a twenty-something, and it didn't involve Julio Franco.

I was sad when the weekend had to end, and I had to get on another damn bus back to NYC. I need to find another way to travel.

The Times They Are A-Changin'

In the last two weeks, I've gone from this:

(the Nike 500 miles run club) to this:

I can't claim any real innocence; after all, I asked for this job, and I really want to do well. I've been staying late of my own volition.

Still, it's kind of striking. I haven't been to the gym in over a week; I haven't seen my girlfriend in almost two weeks; I've been putting in ten and twelve hour days(or more) - it gives pause, to say the least.

After dinner with a close friend -- who warned me of his similar experiences at his last job -- I've decided I need to set some better boundaries at work. There has to be a balance. If I learned anything from The Karate Kid, it's the need for balance. If you have no balance, you end up in a freezing lake. A very important lesson, second only to "if you do Karate 'I guess so', squish! - just like grape!".

I do love my new work. It's stimulating, creative, and for the most part, fun. I'm still getting used to this new, strange city - and it's success-driven work culture.

"If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere". That's what they say about New York. Maybe, just maybe, if I get the balance right, I will make it. Then this will be me:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

All I Do Is Post Videos Now

But this one is hilarious:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Don't Look Him In The Eye...

...or he'll steal your soul:

I May Have Spoken Too Soon

Ugh, I feel sick. I've been eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking water, and exercising in a vain effort to prevent any illness. Maybe I can still win, but today feels like it could be the tipping point towards failure. Sheesh.

I bought some cold medicine from a nearby Duane Reade, took some, and left the box at work. So, soon I'll rest and forget about all the work that still has to be done. At least, when it's finished, I'll have something great to show for it.


I'm watching the World Series of Pop Culture, and I have to route for Westerberg High, in honor of The Replacements' lead singer Paul Westerbeg. Great name for a trivia team. Of course, Carlton Banks dance academy isn't too bad either. Appropriately, Westerberg High won the music category. Also, I find it not only hilarious that "sugartits" was an answer, but that VH1 had to bleep "tits".

This weekend I'll be visiting the family and taking part in Magic: The Gathering World Wide Game Day. Yep, I'll be waving my freak nerd flag high. Should be a relaxing, fun time.

Tomorrow is the photo shoot,; hopefully I'll feel better by then. Until then, here are...

The De-Stressing From Work Hits Of 7/11

1. "Stars and Sons", Broken Social Scene
2. "Life Of Pain", Black Flag
3. "Seen Your Video", The Replacements
4. "Strawberry Fields", Ben Harper
5. "Bartering Lines", Ryan Adams
6. "Fly That Know", Talib Kweli (feat. MF Doom)
7. "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy", Queen
8. "Stay Positive", The Streets
9. "Little Cream Soda", The White Stripes
10. "The House That Guilt Built", The Wrens
11. "Rolling Back", My Morning Jacket
12. "What's Going On", Marvin Gaye
13. "Time Of The Season", The Zombies

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I'm Not Dead Yet

The subway stops in NYC aren't air conditioned. That's important to note, because I'm from DC, where they -- for the most part -- are. Or their at least cool. So, when I emerged from the Times Square station I was already pretty miserable, suffering from swamp crotch(thanks UB) and longing to get to the office water cooler as quickly as possible. Then, in the bright New York sunlight, there was nothing. But the stench.

I felt cliche thinking that it smelled like shit, until I saw a truck that read NYC Free Waste Control. So, it was literally shit, being pumped out of the street. Or into the street, who knows. Anyway, the smell made me think of my blog.

I've been gone for a few weeks, and like many things left unattended, this blog has started to reek. My apologies to all six readers. If you still remain.

Anyway, I know I promised pictures from my high school reunion. And I would have them, if not for the fact that I started drinking and socializing first, and completely forgot I had a camera.

The reunion was fun. I had people tell me I looked exactly the same, and others tell me I looked completely different. Most people looked the same to me, and hardly anyone looked like they had put on a few. Well, maybe a couple. I hung out, reminisced, and drank. Afterwards, I ended up at an after party with all the cool people who wouldn't have been caught dead with me ten years ago. And what was I missing out on all those years ago? Drinking, hanging out, and reminiscing, though ten years ago I'll bet there was more sex than reminiscing.

What else has happened since then? Oh, this Thursday I will have my first professional photo shoot. The ad agency I work for decided to go in-house for a sunglasses campaign, and against all odds, I was picked along with four other guys to take part in the photo shoot. Doesn't guarantee I'll be used in the campaign, but I get a free pair of sunglasses and some professional head shots. Not a bad deal.

I'll try not to go AWOL for this long ever again, though the way work has been going, I can't promise anything, My team is up against an arguably impossible deadline, and we've all been putting in extra hours.

Hopefully things will let up soon.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Temporarily Blind

I'm hideously vain, it seems. Or maybe just a little. You decide:

My ten year high school reunion is this weekend, and for reasons I can't really explain, I'm very excited. Part of it is, after a month or so in New York, this will be my first trip home and I will get to see my family, friends, etc. And I'll get to drink with some of them. The other part is, like most nerds, I want to show everyone I went to high school with how much I've changes. There, I said it. I can explain it, it's just embarrassing.

One very noticeable change is I no longer wear glasses. In high school, I not only wore glasses, I wore huge, thick glasses. The kind that Buddy Holly would refuse to wear because they were too geeky(this was true of every year except my senior year, I think, when I adopted more sensible frames). So I'm excited to show up sans-two of my four eyes. Then, yesterday, disaster struck.

I'm down to my last pair of lenses before I need to order new ones. I thought, for some reason, they would last until the reunion. Having just moved, I hadn't found a new optometrist and my vision insurance card hadn't -- and still hasn't -- arrived in the mail. A long-winded way to excuse myself for not having a back-up pair of lenses. So yesterday, my left lens develops a tear, and promptly disintegrates in my hands.

Oh-fucking-no...what am I going to do? I thought. I am NOT wearing glasses to this thing...think...think...eye exam? lenses? in two days??

The thought of going to that reunion wearing glasses flat-lined my excitement. I don't want people to see me as I was; I want them to see me as I am now!

Sure, my hair is a lot longer, scraggly, I'm not as helplessly skinny, and I'm not as socially inept as I was -- but goddammit -- I don't wear glasses anymore! That's the important thing that everyone should see.

Everyone being an entity that has yet to be defined. I have no idea who will come, who I will remember and who will remember me. It could all be an empty exercise, like doing squats while eating a Big Mac.

So, I had an eye exam this morning, and luckily -- despite astigmatism in my right eye -- they had a pair of lenses in stock I could wear while waiting for my prescription to come in. Disaster averted.

Someone better notice. I'll try and post some pictures of the hopefully splendid event.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Secret At Subway

I'm a big fan of Subway. That is, I eat there semi-regularly. That's right, I moved to New York only to grab lunch at a chain restaurant. Does it remind me of home? Is a six inch club comfort food, keeping me anchored in a strange new world? Or am I just lazy? Who knows.

During one of my recent jaunts to a Subway, I spied something peculiar behind the counter. Not a rat, a cockroach, rotting veggies or a snotty rag. Something much more vile: a copy of Rhonda Byrne's The Secret.

Much has been written already debunking this book, so I won't get into the ridiculousness of the "law of attraction" and the re-cycled, re-hashed version Byrne springs on the world. To me, though, this book is blatantly immoral. It preys on human insecurities, and it teaches people to blame themselves for things beyond their control. This book advocates the idea that thinking poor, makes you poor. Can I get a big, Steve Tyler bellowing sized WHAT THE FUCK?

It also says, at one point, that to lose weight, you should simply avoid looking at fat people. You read that correctly. Don't change your eating habits, don't exercise, just avert your eyes when Fatty Fatty Fat Fats walks by. That's fucking brilliant.

Send positive vibes out into the universe, and it will respond. Wish for things. Fine. I wish for the utter and complete failure of Rhonda Byrne. Give me that, you stupid fucking secret.

Oh wait, that's not a positive vibe. So it won't work. There are always loop holes; easy ways to explain why whatever new-age hooey won't work for you. For example, you can't just wish to be out of debt, you have to wish for it by just imagining yourself with lots of money. The Secret teaches that if you dwell on your debt, the universe will interpret this as negative feelings toward money, and won't send you any. Kind of like an emotional ATM.

This is easy to see in the real world, people with money are happy. Happy people get money. Hahahaahaha, why didn't I see that before? I must have been running in circles.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Runner Who The Race Outran...

AndHereComeThePretzels (an impossibly great name for a sports blog) has a great piece on Lavar Arrington, who was recently in a motorcycle accident on the Capital Beltway. Once the face of the franchise, it was unthinkable that his career would end the way Big Ben celebrates Super Bowls.

Lavar had it rough as a Skin. Every year, it seemed, he had a new coach and a new defensive scheme. The Skins had Marvin Lewis for one year, and everyone hoped -- as AHCTP points out -- that Lavar would turn into Ray Lewis + LT(honored by his number, 56). Never really happened. Spurrier, then Gibbs, then injuries, then Synder; it was all too much. He should have stayed here. Snyder and Lavar should have put their differences and egos aside and gotten a deal done.

Didn't happen. Still, we had some good times. Lavar ended Troy Aikman's career with one of the most vicious hits I've ever seen. He triggered the winning streak that saved Marty Schottenheimer's only season in Washington from being a losing one, with an interception return for a touchdown against Carolina. Those hilarious Eastern Motor commercials.

Did you know he was named in honor of Levar Burton? Neither did I; thanks Wikipedia. For some reason, that's comforting.

In other Redskin related news, our overlord Dan Snyder bought the American Bandstand franchise today. Which means he owns the New Year's Rockin' Eve broadcast, the Golden Globes, the American Music Awards, and the Academy of Country Music Awards. This means Tom Cruise should be a shoe-in for a Golden Globe next year(Snyder is invested in Cruise's production company), Mark Brunell will have a front row seat at the ACMAs, and Jason Campbell will be a presenter at the AMAs. Unless Campell gets injured, then Brunell will present.

I can't help but think Snyder is brutalizing the world of business to make up for the lack of on-field success the Skins are having; almost like he has to make up for one part of his empire's incompetence by conquering even more territory in the world of business. It's not enough that the Redskins are one of the most profitable sports franchises in the world, no, he has to own more, more, and more. I can't understand why everything he buys -- theme parks, Bandstand, Johnny Rockets, etc. -- has a 1950s feel to it, though. The Skins were horrible then. You would think he'd be buying 80s-era businesses: investing in arcades, producing the next Rambo and Rocky movies, or giving away vintage boom boxes at every home game.

Now I have no real basis for this, and I'm not saying he wouldn't have bought American Bandstand if the Redskins had won the Super Bowl, but...well no, that is what I'm saying.

Shooting Hoops

I try to take in a lot of advice, on a variety of things, and then go Bruce Lee on it: discard what doesn't work(for me), and stick with what does. Sometimes, the source affects how well I listen. When a former artillery office of the Israeli Army gives me advice to up the arc on my jump shot, I listen.

Saturday evening I was shooting solo at the courts at Riverside Park, when an older Jewish man rode up on his bicycle and asked if he could shoot with me. I said of course, a little wary because -- this being New York -- I still believe anyone is capable of being a serial killer.

After warming up a bit, he was out shooting me. His shot motion was old school, the way you'll see jump shots taken in the WNBA or NBA archival footage: the jump and the shot are all one motion. Eventually, I started matching his consistency. Then he made about ten 17-18 footers in a row, from all around the court. The only thing I had on him at that point was my three-point range; still, it wasn't a competition or anything, just friendly shooting around.

Amazingly, basketball was not his game. When the group of four young kids behind us let their ball get away from them, my shooting companion cradled the errant ball with his foot than launched the ball 60ft with one swift kick, bending it right into the hands(ok, the gut) of the nearest kid. Damn.

He told about watching the then world champion Washington Bullets play the Israeli National team in 1978, and lose, by four points. He told me about being a sky marshal on Israeli airplanes, traveling to New York in the seventies and seeing the great Knick teams play.

It was a good afternoon.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Courtesy Of The Make A Wish Foundation

I'm blatantly aping a great writer when I say, I am not qualified to live here.1

Here not being the city of New York, but rather the Upper West Side, or UWS2 for short. This is a place for blue-blooded WASPS, not a guy whose Prince George's County accent routinely comes up("I ain't got no cash, shiiit..."). The streets are lined with the upper-middle class, their stores, strollers and dogs. The nearest grocery store is more expensive than anywhere I shopped in DC, and I used to live near the Watergate Safeway. Sure, it carries frozen pizza, but only in personal size. It also carries brick oven frozen pizza, which defies explanation. The McDonald's downstairs delivers, and it has to, because no one who lives here goes in for anything other than a McFlurry, and those they eye with delight the way they might sample an exotic treat while on some far off safari sabbatical.

Finding myself here, I wonder; I ponder; I ask did I get here?

Even at work, it seems, I find myself in another world. If I overheard a conversation at my old job, it was about babies, television, current events, and pop culture. Now, if I overhear a conversation, I don't know what it's about, because it's in French. Which is great, but still makes me feel like JoJo the idiot circus boy, who won a contest and gets to work at an ad agency and shack up in Miff and Buffy's neighborhood.

1Chuck Kolsterman.

2I only know this because my GF pointed it out when Craigslist apartment ads began to confuse me.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday, Thank God

What a long week it's been. Work has been draining, but ultimately rewarding. I've finally been moved away from all the floor-ripping and empty desks, and now I sit among actual human beings. The only bad part is I'm in the section of the building that is having it's bathrooms remodeled, so I have to go down a floor to use the facilities. That, and now I sit within a few arms lengths of the producer of my current project. My boss, basically, but it seems weird to call him that since I potentially have many, many bosses. Not that he is a bad guy or a slave-driver or anything, it's just...not my style.

I've discovered, much to my delight, that I live within a few blocks of both a Loews Theater and a Barnes & Noble. I'll be spending a lot of time at both this summer. I already paid the B&N a visit, buying a couple of books on New York, some titles for work as well as a new Nirvana biography. Summer reading at it's best(except for the work books).

Speaking of my neighborhood, it amazes me how relatively crowded the streets are after nine. It always looks like a party just let out somewhere. One more thing to get used to. Along with the fact that I somehow didn't realize that my new apartment does not have a microwave. Instead of instant oatmeal, I have three to five minute oatmeal. Which is just as good, except for the additional cleaning.

One thing I'm very glad my apartment has, is a working air conditioner. The New York sun isn't at Heat-Death-Ray readiness yet, but it's getting there. With only one room to serve, my AC unit will have no problem keeping me cool all summer. Hopefully.

One thing I thought about, late last night before I fell asleep, was the movie Big. I'm sure someone else has said this before, but don't you think it really weirded out the Josh's mother when her son grew up to look just like the guy she thought kidnapped him? Or did Josh go out of his way to grow a beard/mustache? Also, could you convict Elizabeth Perkins character of statutory rape? Or would the illusion of age be enough to dodge the charges?

I need to sleep more.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The View

The view from my new apartment. I'll have to enjoy this, since it's only for the summer. I had to work late tonight, but at least it's rewarding work. Plus, the week is half over. Come on weekend!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I Wish Mr. Brooks Would Visit Mr. Happy Fun

That was a two day weekend, right? It felt like three. Come Sunday, it felt like I had been away from work for a long time. I guess that means I had a good weekend. It didn't start out good, it started out with over-priced, over-cooked fillet mignon.

My girlfriend and I had dinner in Little Italy Friday night. We stopped at the first place that served bread and appeared air conditioned. After being seated, the waiter asked us if we needed to see the wine list. I said no, since I wasn't in the mood and my girlfriend doesn't drink...usually. Looking down at the menu, I didn't see his reaction, but my girlfriend said he seemed pissed. Great, it's going to be one of those nights, I thought.

Don't get me wrong, I mean, I get it. Wine, appetizers - they all add up, which to a waiter usually means a bigger tip. Don't be visibly pissed though. It's not my duty to order over-priced wine. Okay, mister waiter? No hard feelings, right?

So, naturally, we received no bread. Other tables, that were seated after us? Oh they got bread. I, however, had to ask for it. So that's how it is, mister waiter? Mister happy fun? Got it.

My fillet mignon -- which I had never actually had before, I just enjoyed saying fillet mignon -- was decent. I may be a complete philistine, but I prefer steaks at Outback to what this restaurant was serving. And whoever fixed my girlfriend's spaghettia alla carbonara went nuts with the garlic and salt, pushing the limits of edible. We will not be going back there, despite the ringing endorsement from Time Out, circa 1999, quoted on their website.

After having missed one showing of "Mr. Brooks" downtown, we opted for a late showing at the 86th street Loews. The show was at 12:15, and they let us in the theater at...12:15. We waited in a, albeit short, line for about a half hour. For the first twenty minutes of that wait, the line was three people deep: me, my girlfriend, and a baseball-cap wearing, sweaty loner. "Mr. Brooks" was surprisingly good; Costner and Hurt had moments together that were very creepy. They should patent that joint laughter act and go on the road, creeping people out. Dane Cook was serviceable, and Demi Moore can now say she owns the most realistic portrayal of a millionaire cop ever filmed. Wil Smith in Bad Boys has nothing on her. So, a good ending that salvaged an otherwise horrible Friday night.

Saturday, things were much better. We went to Ooki, a Sushi/Japanese restaurant on the Upper East Side. Easily the best Japanese place I've been to in New York. The service was friendly and quick. The atmosphere was chill; the open-air dining room felt fantastic on a warm summer night. The drinks, especially the plum wine, were delicious. Ooki earns special praise for pacing the salads, appetizers, and entrees so we never felt rushed or neglected. The duck spring rolls, the shrimp tempura, and the best chicken teriyaki I've ever had make Ooki my new favorite dining spot. My girlfriend, not one to hand out praise, said the sushi was the best she'd ever had.

We went to see "Knocked Up", which -- thought not has laugh out loud hilarious as "The 40 Year-Old Virgin" -- was still hilarious and heartfelt. If you haven't seen it yet, well, too bad. People applauded at the end of the film, though these days I find that happening a lot more than I remember it. I mean, people applauded at the end of the third Pirates movie as well. And while, yes, I can appreciate some of the non-blockbuster sequences Verbinski sneaked into the movie -- the sand crabs, multiple Jack Sparrows were very surreal and effective -- I don't think the overloaded, under-plotted film deserved applause. A thoughtful "hmmm"? Sure.

Sunday was spent moving the rest of my stuff over to my new apartment, shopping, and then finally, relaxing.

Which is good, because it looks to be a long week.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Music From The Motion Picture

Romantic comedies, unless they are based on Nick Hornsby novels and star John Cusack, don't usually inspire me to buy music. Throw in Jennifer Aniston, and the chances go from slim to Ritchie.

So it's with some surprise that I sit here listening to Wreck Your Life by The Old 97's after watching The Break-Up. The movie was hilarious. I never tire of Vince Vaughn, and Aniston is always great as the girl who is just a little too hot for you(so maybe your hilarious personality can make up for it). Justin Long makes a disturbing cameo, however, that will make your stomach churn and your brow bunch up in revulsion. And I like Justin Long.

Wreck Your Life is a great mix of rock and country. "Victoria" is a great, sad story-telling opener. "W-I-F-E", an ode to leaving your better-half rather than just cheating, is as pure country as you can get. The fact that the song insists on spelling "wife", talking in code, is fantastic. "Dressing Room Walls" paints a vivid picture of dying on the road, and the album ends -- appropriately -- with "Goin', Goin', Gone" which is surprisingly not an ode to the long ball. Check this band out. None of the songs performed in the movie appear on Wreck Your Life; the album(from 1995 and their second album) just seemed to be a good starting point. There is a best of from Rhino that looks pretty good.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's Really Big...No, Bigger Than That...It Was Big

Time to get my geek on. Ever wonder how big the Starship Enterprise D was? Well, take a look how it stacks up to various Seattle landmarks(click through to

Neat. Interestingly, "Starship" is not recognized by the Blogger spell checker. It wants to change it to the "Steamship" Enterprise D, and I have to admit, a steam-punk Enterprise would be kind of cool.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Above Ground, Where The Warlocks Really Are

At my old gym, in the heart of DC's Chinatown, the facility was buried in the bowels of the complex of buildings that had sprung up around the Phone Booth(the erstwhile MCI Center, now going by Verizon). It was the official gym of the Washington Nationals, which is a lot like the Washington Generals sponsoring a basketball court(I kid, I kid...the boys in Federal Red are actually playing well lately, almost .500 ball since a 1-8 start). Being twenty feet underground brought one very appreciated blessing: cell phones were useless.

At my new gym, near Times Square in NYC, the gym floor and locker rooms are actually two stories above ground. Now no one is dumb enough (yet) to bring a cellphone onto the gym floor -- though I have seen some crackberries -- but the locker room is apparently a no-holds-barred zone. Conversations with colleagues, friends, and significant others abound.

The topic is usually mundane: business, errands, what to TiVo, etc. What's interesting, at least to me, is that no one is the least embarrassed to say where they are calling from, or what they are doing. I often hear:

"Yeah, I'm in the gym locker room...toweling off, putting on my pants...anyway..."

It's very nonchalant. Since modesty is not an issue, I think they should go a step further:

"Yeah, I'm in the gym locker room...toweling off my testicles, spread-eagle...putting on my pants, sans underwear, doing a nice tilt-a-whirl impression as I'm trying to balance the phone while getting dressed, mooning three or four people in the process..."

Why leave out any details?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Another Empty Room

My new job in NYC has been great, for the most part. As with any new endeavor, there was -- or rather there still is -- a period of adjustment. For one thing, hardly anyone comes in before ten. Happily, jeans and a t-shirt are accepted as a web developer's standard uniform; just as it should be.

Of course there are the standard NYC/DC differences. Sometimes I still reach for my MetroCard when I'm about to exit a subway station, forgetting that it's not necessary here. Seeing promos for the Yankees and Mets, instead of my usual summer stalwarts the Orioles(and now the Nationals), is a little weird. Office-wide e-mails seek takers for extra Red Sox/Yankee tickets, not Redskins/Cowboys. PathMark replaces Giant. Overall, though, it's been a smooth transition, aided by my many visits over the last two ears.

Some things have remained the same. For one, I'm still in the middle of an office move. Apparently, my new employers are transitioning a lot of people to a new building(thankfully, it's just across the street). I was seated among the people slated to move, because apparently, no one had any idea what to do with me.

My first day, everything was normal. People seated all around, working, talking, etc. My desk-neighbor shared the same name as me, which led to some hilarious instances of me whipping my head up when people called for him. Well, it was funny to me.

By the end of the first week, four people, their computers, desks, and phones were gone. The following Monday, everyone but four people(of about twenty) had been moved. My doppelganger desk-neighbor was gone, as was his desk, and my chair. I borrowed an errant one from the empty expanse of the once populated room.

Now, there is no one here except me and a woman whose job it is to, as far as I can tell, sit behind me at a desk -- sans computer -- and periodically tell me about doughnuts and juice available in the kitchen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

New Songs I've Listened To Lately

"Believe", The Bravery - If there is a Killers/The Bravery feud, this is a mightier weapon than "When You Were Young". Instead of xeroxing Springsteen into tonelessness1, the NYC group kept the 80s new-wave pop sound, tightly wrapping it around this song. Every bit as catchy as "An Honest Mistake".

"The Next Untouchable", Cajun Dance Party - From the start, this song kicks. It has a dark, sinister sound anchored by fuzzy guitar riffs and barely-there keyboard/synth accompaniment. Garage dance music, if there is such a thing. I'll have to pick up their debut album when it comes out later in the year.

and finally, the best for last...

The White Stripes - Icky Thump
"Icky Thump", The White Stripes - I make it rule -- despite being a music nerd -- to avoid singles off of albums I know I'm going to buy anyway. The logic being I'd like to listen to the album in it's entirety, fresh, with no pre-conceptions. Actually, maybe this makes me a bigger music nerd. "Icky Thump", though, I couldn't resist. And I think it's ruined the upcoming Stripes album of the same name for me.

The White Stripes are proof rock will never die, at least not in my lifetime. Hard, crunchy guitars, pounding bass drums; this is what hard rock should sound like. It's epic without being bombastic. They've taken the best of 70s rock and made it their own.

How can the rest of the album live up to this? Why, why did I give in to temptation?

1Who would The Bravery have to copy to truly mirror The Killers? Tom Petty? Waits? Hopefully, we'll never know.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Things You See On The Subway

Far be it from me to criticize the work of others -- especially work I haven't even read -- but I find this hilarious:

"Flip" Flippen? How can I take anything the man writes seriously? I find hard to believe that a man whose first name is "Flip" -- a sitcom wacky neighbor name if I've ever heard one -- has anything pertinent to say on what's holding me back. If I wanted advice on how to handle dating problems or my arch-nemesis down the hall, then I'll call Flip.

OK, I'm done being an asshole. Maybe his book makes some important points. Next time I'm at a Borders, I'll flip through it a bit.

I've Got Two Weeks In Me

I should have my own place in a couple weeks; the first of June to be precise. Which is good, because my girlfriend's roommate is back. Over G-Mail chat, my girlfriend let me know she would be back Saturday, and "She Fucking Hates Me" comes on. Fitting.

Never mind why I have Puddle Of Mudd on my iPod(because that song kicks ass), let's just focus on the hellish existence I will be living for the next two weeks. I'm not exaggerating when I say I'd rather pop the puss-filled pimples on Satan's ass then spend more than five minutes in the same room with that woman. Negative energy surrounds and radiates from the woman.

I'll just have to lay low for a while. My stuff has been regulated to a corner of the apartment to be "out of the way" and I'm going to wait until she's done in the morning before I even emerge from the bedroom.

Not that it's easy to have a third, new person your place; but I've tried to make friends many times, and to dispense with modesty, I'm quiet, I wash, dry and clean all of my dishes -- and hers. Oh well...June 1st. Come quick.

Friday, May 18, 2007

My Desk Without Me In It

Before I left for New York, I had a glimpse of what my life could have been.

On a whim, Brian and I visited DOT's new building. It was my last day, so I figured why not; I could see what I'd be missing.

The old building sat right atop the L'Enfant stop and was, in every way, a typical Federal building: rooms full of cubicles and offices saturated in boring tones of gray and taupe. The new building was only two more stops down the Green Line, at the Navy Yards stop. After a loud ride full of freshly released school kids, we climbed out onto New Jersey Avenue and found, much to our surprise, a very modern facility waiting for us. A circular bay of huge glass doors; a giant DOT seal on the lobby floor; actual Security turnstiles; two huge atriums(one of which houses much improved cafeteria and snack shop facilities); and huge, clean, talking elevators. Was I missing out?

Apparently not. Cubicles had made way for a honeycomb of workstations, clustered together with no thought given to privacy or headaches. People had been grumbling about this since the workstations had been revealed almost a year ago, and they've been vindicated. I don't know how good vindication feels when you

At that moment, though, we were hopefully optimistic. Or at least Brian was, since it was probably my first and final time there.

The web team had been prepping to move for the past two weeks. Crates were packed, computers, monitors, keyboards and mice labeled. Here, names were taped to every one's new assigned desk. Including, curiously, mine.

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A strange site, considering I'd never work at this desk. I thought about everything I was leaving behind. This would have been security -- for the most part -- and stability. This could have been my life. I sat in it, just so I could say I did it once. It was comfortable...perhaps too much.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Summertime In The City

The New City, New Job Hits of 5/16/07

"Fireball", The Slats
"New York, New York", Ryan Adams
"My Little Brother", Art Brut
"Juicebox", The Strokes
"Rotten Hell", Menomena ("all those opposed can rot in hell...")
"Ordinary People", John Legend
"On Broadway", The Drifters
"Out On The Weekend", Girls In Hawaii
"This House Is A Circus", The Arctic Monkeys
"Hang Me Up To Dry", Cold War Kids
"Fashion", Earl Greyhound
"Riding On The Subway", Jesse Malin
"New York Apartment", Bill Hicks
"Changes", David Bowie
"Over The Hills And Far Away", Led Zeppelin
"Train Under Water", Bright Eyes
"In Transit", Albert Hammond Jr.
"Every Single Line Means Something", Marnie Stern
"She Will Only Bring You Happiness", Mclusky
"New Slang", The Shins

Sunday, May 13, 2007

So Far...

Last week, I moved the rest of my stuff out of my old apartment and cleaned it top to bottom. I only lived in Columbia Heights a year(actually, a little less), and it showed. There wasn't much stuff to move. The only big furniture item was my bed; other than that there were just boxes of books, DVDs, bags of clothes, and my laptop. So it didn't take long to get from this:

To this:

Most of my stuff is still back in DC; I brought my clothes and my computer. The essentials.

It's so far, so good. I've seen two places, and I want them booth. I have a good vibe about one. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Happy Mothers Day, and to everyone back in DC/Maryland, I miss you already.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Almost Time

What appeared on Yahoo's front page this afternoon:

A thoughtful story on toxins found in the common American kitchen.

What straight men saw:

Er...what? Yeah, toxins. Gotta have your toxins.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Start Spreading The News...

Today, I leave for my last visit to New York. In two weeks I will become a permanent resident. Yes, I'm leaving DC - the city of class presidents - for the city that never sleeps, to become an insomniac. I'm taking a job there with a great ad agency; I'll be a front-end web developer for them. So, excitement abounds in my small corner of the world.

I've had a good job with great people the last two years, and I will miss them and my friends and family here in the DC/Maryland area. There will be much visiting. But as a wise man once said, wherever you go, there you are.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Two Months Late

King For A Day » Bobby Conn

Website: || Running Time: 52:00 || Label: Thrilljockey

Bobby Conn used to fancy himself the Anti-Christ. He ended the charade after the 2000 election, apparently realizing it's no fun to play at evil when there are real false prophets and deceivers running the country. His last album -- 2004's Homeland -- mocked and satirized Bush's America with genre-hopping indie rock. His new album King For A Day is lighter fare: instead of the Washington Post he turns to US! Weekly, and uses the fantasy world of his dreams, rather than the nightmare of reality, for inspiration.

An attempt at rock opera(though absent any real narrative, the album is the soundtrack to a planned companion movie), the record delves into the cult of celebrity and the power of delusion. With nary a heavy, depressing issue in sight Conn is free to channel Freddie Mercury and David Bowie and create some dramatic soundscapes and witty pop songs. Backed by most of his old band The Glass Gypsies, Conn touches on glam rock, psychedelia, a little disco and pop filtered through experimental indie rock.

The album opens with an eight minute instrumental(something the Anti-Christ might do, I grant you), "Vanitas". Sparse acoustic guitars and lonely drums join an ominous Latin chorus -- ominous being the token role for dead languages -- before an onslaught of electric guitars and violins hits. The pyrotechnics feel cathartic, clearing away the dreariness of past records and current times for truly diversionary material.

The lazy, dreamy title track "King For A Day" sails right along through Conn's night job of worshiped, entourage toting rock star whose toes are sucked by adoring European fans before crashing under hammered power chords, pounding drumming and the realization he still has to be back at his day job Monday morning.

Which raises the obvious question, what kind of day job could a man who dresses like Eddie Izzard and gets shrimped in the basements of English rock clubs possibly have? I imagine him fronting the revived Queen instead of Paul Rodgers, not backing a Dell workstation. "Love Let Me Down", a hazy look at love from a star's stage, could find a place on Jazz. "Twenty One" delves into some disco pop, though Conn's falsetto sounds disturbingly like the creepy senior-citizen pedophile from Family Guy. On "(I'm Through With) My Ego" he delivers an over the top, lounge worthy vocal performance.

You never know where he'll go next, and he mixes it up with mesmerizing instrumentals: the mystical, marching "A Glimpse Of Paradise" and the frantic, driven "Sinking Ship". You know those moments when everything clicks and a note or a voice resonates with something in you and that oh hell yes feeling takes over? "Mr. Lucky" has one, now a favorite of mine. After Monica BouBou's soft voice fades out at the three minute mark, Conn belts out a passionate, swaggering "I wanna live!" over a blazing blues-rock guitar. And if I told you it was a time-traveling Mick Jagger, you would believe me.

Bobby Conn may tire being socially conscious, but he never tires of putting out original, great sounding records.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ten New Messages - The Rakes

Ten New Messages » The Rakes

Website: || Running Time: 43:37 || Label: V2

2007 is the year of the sophomore album. Bloc Party, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and the Arcade Fire have already released theirs; soon, the Arctic Monkeys will follow. One offering, though, has slipped under the radar: Ten New Messages, from the UK band The Rakes. Which is a shame, because it's the best so far.

Like their 2005 debut Capture/Release, this album is effortlessly cool and deceivingly simple. There's nothing here you or your friend's band couldn't play after a few listens, but -- and this is an important but -- no one else could put it together quite like The Rakes: the sharp, energetic post-punk hooks and Alan Donohue's everyman, escapist lyrics are a perfect fit. His slightly detached vocal style is perfect for the chugging guitars surrounding him. Intelligent, Donohue writes lyrics that are witty ("on the subject of my love life/ I've been left behind") but don't bash you over the head with conceited English-Lit-speak attempts to show you how clever he is.

Ten New Messages largely sticks to themes of it's predecessor: everyday life and drudgery, but adds a dash of social commentary. Besides "Terror!", Capture/Release left the world outside the office and the bar to itself; this record gets right into it with "The World Was Mess But His Hair Was Perfect". Instead of a Bright Eyes style metaphorical Bush ass-reaming, though, Donohue views things through the eyes of a guy just trying to a have a good night out while the world goes mad: "You slag off America in the pub/ Saying the war was shite/ Then in the club/ Drink some Buds and smoke some Marlboro Lights...". The channeled commentary continues on "Suspicious Eyes", a commuting tale told from several different perspectives: the person who suspects a suicide bomber is on the train, and the guy with a beard and a bag wondering why they're "all acting like they've never seen a brown person before". "When Tom Cruise Cries" deals with the horror of a real terror attack contrasted with the fake drama of celebrity rags, as Donahue narrates us through his experiences trying to call someone during the 2005 London bombings.

The constant presence of fear makes the record feel like a darker addendum to Capture/Release, still, it offers some careless fun with "We Danced Together", a song that will keep all those skinny, beautiful girls who want to dance(but want "credibility", not "Fergalicious") from abandoning the hipster venues where no one but them ever dances for real dance clubs(that play "Fergalicious", or at least a re-mix). Just for that, this should be every skinny-jean and tie wearing boy's song of the year. "Little Superstitions" is The Rakes first stab at a "love" song, layering a little sweetness on top of their ultra-catchy sound. The album ends with "Leave The City And Come Home", a slow, bittersweet summary of all the urban "perks" that sound ridiculous and empty when spelled out(yes, I live in the city; no, I'm not moving -- I've mastered the phrase "well, that isn't talking about me.")

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