Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Have you ever read Flowers for Algernon? It's about a man who goes through treatment for his mental problems and turns into a genius, but the effects are short lived. He decides to chronical his demise via journal. I've decided that this blog is turning into a chronical of my own personal demise. It's true -- I'm no longer a scavaging college student living on ramen noodles and corndogs. The past six times I've purchased alcohol it's been in a form other than a $2.99 Natural Light six-pack. And that includes a couple of bottles of wine! Yesterday, though, I broke the dam. The Wife decided that we needed an internet connection of our own. Something about she couldn't check her email, I wasn't listening. Then she complained a lot. So I broke down and did it. We called Time Warner and as of Friday afternoon we will be subscribers of Earthlink. I told her that if she got the internet, I'll be damned if I'm sitting around watching her check her email all day long, so tonight we will be ordering a new computer so that I can kick her off the internet to play Counterstrike. Oh, but wait! Remember how, in college, you duct taped the cat-5 wires down on the molding across rooms and hallways just to have broadband? No more! We'll also be investing in a wireless router (which I'll be securing better than our neighbors, you can be sure). And since Brian sent me a copy of Burn Hollywood, Burn (which, ironically, arrived with a spot that appears to have been burned in transit) this evening I'll be purchasing an honest-to-god DVD player.

What has happened to me? I used to be so strong.

Monday, August 29, 2005

What do you think?

It's still a few years off. But why not get my hopes up now?

Friday, August 26, 2005

This morning riding the train into work, I took a huge step in my life. While listening to my iPod and taking sips of Vitamin Water to quell the crushing Friday morning hangover, I was flipping through the Weekend Journal section and I realized it: I've finally crossed the line from "maybe growing up a little" into "full blown corporate tool." Next on the list? Dockers and a riding mower! Lets all move to the suburbs!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I've said before that I try not to do this, but today it can't be helped. This week I've read two articles that made the little debate-junkie inside of me wake up. The articles are linked below, and I hope that they cause some kind of reaction in you, too.

Until about six months ago I thought I knew what was going on. I knew that, although we never agreed on everything, I was a Democrat. My parents voted Democratic their entire lives. My mother wore a pin on her jacket that read "Make the Pro-Lifers adopt all the orphans." My mother's family still spoke fondly about JFK and my father's family were Missouri-born southern Democrats. We grew up with little religious influence and far away from the country clubs where Republicans joked about the performance of their stock portfolios. Growing up we were never expressly told that there was some kind of moral dichotomy, or that we were fighting the good fight; It was always just assumed. When I told my mother that I was trying to decide whether or not to vote for Perot the first time I was legally eligible, I thought she was going to hang up on me. But, like a good parent, she never imposed her will on any of her children purposely. She told me that it was my decision, and that it was something I would have to make my own mind up on.

I'm a far cry from calling myself proficient regarding the current political environment, but the past few months have been trying on my personal ideologies. Mostly, I try not to think about it, because abandoning something that you considered absolute for the greater part of your life is incredibly difficult. It feels like you're committing the ultimate hypocrisy. About ten months ago I was trying to convince The Wife to abandon Bush and come to the Light Side. I still think that Bush is a terrible, terrible president, but what would Kerry have done differently? For sure, we'd have different nominees for the SCOTUS and the energy bill would have been vetoed. But surely we'd still be Iraq, right? Would Cindy Sheehan be whining outside of Kerry's house, because the evil President killed her baby?

Yesterday I read two articles that made me question my allegiance to the Democratic Party as it currently stands. Scott Randolph wrote a post entitled "Cindy Sealed the Deal" on his blog, that is well written, thought out, and perfectly fair to progressives. The only real problem I can see is that he doesn't really have anywhere to turn *cough* if he is fleeing from fanatics. That is, unless we start talking about new parties or massive ideology shifts. This is far from unheard of. The Party of Lincoln, remember, was formed because Southern Democrats wanted to keep their slaves. Talk about a massive ideology shift.

The second article I read was on Murdoc Online. It's a response to a professor's comments criticizing Steven Vincent, a man who was working to secure a single Iraqi woman's flight to the U.K. He was not a soldier. He was not fighting in a war. He just wanted to help his interpreter in Iraq flee the country, and he was killed for it, as was she. So a professor in Michigan implied, in a public forum, that he was murdered because, clearly, he was cheating on his wife with this Iraqi woman. The response is from the dead man's wife. Please, please read it.

The only thing that I know for sure right now is that something is broken. Scott Randolph didn't jump ship because of one crazy woman. But ole Cindy sure isn't helping anybody, and she certainly isn't going to be the reason we pull out of Iraq. One professor doesn't speak for a political party, either, but he reinforces the idea that liberals can be, at heart, just as wicked as conservatives. I've recently read somewhere that people are beginning to believe that liberals want the U.s. to lose the war. I couldn't agree more. But I feel like Pat Robertson's comments yesterday (or two days ago, by the time I get this up) are part of the reason that many are staying loyal to the Party of the Working Man.

So, I guess my point is this: If you want me to choose between bat-shit crazy liberals who want to reintroduce lions to Oklahoma and restrict free trade, and bat-shit crazy conservatives who would like us to have mandatory flag-pole prayer sessions before school, then I say fuck it. Fuck both of you. Neither of you really get it right, anyway. Democrats want high personal freedoms and low economic freedoms, and Republicans want high economic freedoms and low personal freedoms. How about you both put on your big boy pants and let the people run their own lives. I'm sick of it. And if either Hillary or Condi run in '08, I'm moving to the Bahamas.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Summer stories

You think you're done with wildlife when you move out of the wilderness of the Southeasten United States, only to be attacked by giant mutant bugs who apparently have a strange attraction to two naked people trying to go to sleep. Last night while I was settling down with my two-weeks-late copy of Details, something hit the bedroom window with such force I thought it must have been a bird. Seconds later, something the size of a small child's fist careened through the window and into the back of the computer monitor. Aside from the low-frequency buzzing, he wasn't going anywhere, so I ignored him until I was finished with my pint. When I got up to shoo the thing back outside, I encountered something not unlike a cicada, except massive and possibly asleep. I covered him with my pint glass and discovered that he was anything but asleep. He pounded the walls of the glass as I slid a take-out menu under him. We checked him out for a minute, decided that it was in fact a cicada (they have bulgy eyes. He was actually quite interesting looking), and went to chuck him out of the window. As soon as I had unleashed him, however, he decided that he liked our home better than the hole in the tree he had previously lived in. I captured him again, slightly annoyed, and threw him out again. My efforts to slam the screen shut before he could reenter went unsuccessful and he hid in The Wife's backpack until I caught him again. This happened another two or three times, at which point he found a nook behind the wardrobe and decided to camp out and call it a night. He must have been more than a little woozy, running into so many walls. The cicada won our game of "How far can I stick the tennis racket behind the wardrobe" and I accepted defeat and went to sleep. Today's helpful household tip: Don't leave the damn screen open.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Wife is like Lenin in our house. It's her way or the gallows. One of these days the proletariat will rise up against her tyranny, but right now we are biding our time, growing strong on potatoes and vodka. For now, however, the Number One Rule is No Smoking In The House. When she goes out of town I feel like a kid in high school, throwing his first keg party. I fire up the VCR and put in High Fidelity, open a bottle of JD and get out the ashtrays. That one moment when the fire touches the white, virgin paper of my Parliament Light is like heaven. Sinking into the couch and inhaling is better than sex. When she is in town I am confined to the front stoop, four whole flights downstairs. And Brooklyn is hot in the summer. Really hot.

I have, however, found that smoking in front of our building is not only culturally enriching (like the time I helped a very drunk Russian guy parallel park, receiving as my reward a kung-fu grip handshake and some very loud commendations in Ringlish), it's also a nice way to make friends in the building. There are two old men who I regularly speak to--one who "works in construction in New Jersey," and who has lived in the neighborhood his whole life, and one guy who has never exactly said what he does. I've been invited to come to their bar a number of times, but deep down inside, I'm an old man too, and I'm very stuck in my ways, so I keep going to the bar where I'm a regular. Saturday afternoon around one o'clock I was standing outside the laundromat (because you can't smoke in there, either) minding my own business and they both walk by. They started giving me a hard time about doing laundry and we started talking.

"Come on! We're on our way to O'Sullivan's. Come have a drink."

"No guys, I have to do laundry. See. She's in there. I can't go."

"Come on! She's supposed to be doing laundry."

"(nervous laugh) I drink at Grattan's, anyway. That's why I never see you guys."

And with one of the most serious looks I've ever seen the taller guy leans over and says: "That bar ain't really Irish."

And we part ways. Jovial, but a little nervous.

Later that evening before going out I was downstairs again. The tall guy walks up and says "Hello" and we talked about the weather or something equally meaningless. All of a sudden, he asks me, "Do you like cigars?"

"Not usually," I say. "I mean, now and again, but not regularly."

"Well, my son, he works up at the cigar shop around the corner. Tell him I said you was okay if you want some cigars. He's a good kid." "Great," I said. "But, watch yourself in there. That's the most dangerous store in Brooklyn. Just watch your P's and Q's, and you'll be alright."

And then he said "good night" and walked inside.

I haven't gone to see his son about getting any cigars yet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

KEXP announced a few of the bands playing at the Museum of Radio and Television the week of CMJ for a select audience. There are only a few bands up so far, but Brooklyn Vegan likes Cloud Cult and I've signed up to take the morning off work and go see The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers. Keep checking the page for updates.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Strange days

Last night sitting in bed re-reading Franny and Zooey was punctuated by sharp cracks of thunder. I couldn’t concentrate, so we took a walk around the block just before midnight and it was gorgeous. Today is dark but we aren't getting any rain quite yet. Just a nice breeze and temps in the 80's. Can't complain.

I've been in a weird mood recently. I think that it's not completely unrelated to our move to the city with the highest per capita income in the country. But it's unlike me to worry about money. Or, at least it was, before I moved. Browsing Google News this morning I found a story that only served to justify my fears that the Joneses are contributing my problem, but that's taking the easy way out, isn't it? No, no, no. There's much more to this equation, and blaming problems on money is simply out of the question. Forget the fact that I really want to go to Milk & Honey tonight (we have guests!) but I'm still on a Cellar budget, I still think most of the problem might be the lack of sweet tea in our collective diets.

Or maybe it's just the world fucking with me.

The cloud cover has moved slowly inland during the four hours that I've been sporadically writing this post (work really is getting obnoxiously more like "work") but the rain will serve as a welcome reprieve, now, from the heat and the thick city air. Today the rain doesn't bring with it the ominous connotation that it usually does for me. Even though I'm still not quite sure what's been bugging me, I have confidence that it is not permanent. Because nothing ever is. Even if we thought it was for so long.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

This Old House didn't teach me anything

Things to do/procure, now that we are calling the house a home:

1) Get the rest of the house painted. Kitchen: Yellow. Bathroom: Peach? Bedroom: Taupe? Light blue?

2) Put up a pot rack. Because I like hanging things.

3) Rack-Sack.

4) Lose one couch, add a bench and a bookshelf.

5) Cabinets over the toilet, maybe. We clearly need more storage in the bathroom. Suggestions that don't involve plastic?

6) Plants.

Side project: get a digital camera so I can document the evolution of our beautiful Love Shack.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Six degrees to Meatloaf

Crazy coincidence: I was thinking this morning how the guy from The Hold Steady reminds me of the singer for Meices, the band that played Billy Idol's "Ready Steady Go" in the movie Empire Records, so I checked Allmusic just to make sure they weren't the same people. It appears that they aren't related, but Jim Steinman is listed as one of The Hold Steady's influences.

When it rains it pours.

Speaking of "Six degrees," does anybody remember the failed Microsoft project called Six Degrees? It was like MSN Messenger mixed with Napster. The point was a streaming music station within a small network of buddies. I thought it had potential...

Friday, August 05, 2005

Things that make you go "hm"

Do you ever get the feeling that people on the internet are full of shit?

No, serioulsy. There are places on the internet that I expect people to be full of shit. Messageboards attract a lot of stupid people. They also attract a lot of people who have nothing better to do than make fun of people all day. There is a long tradition of harassment on the internet, and I'm willing to wager that it began on Usenet. Craigslist has become a cesspool of shady real estate brokers, horny old men and, well, more horny old men. But I didn't expect the Craigslist job boards to get bad. Today browsing the Finance listings I found two posts that, aside from pretty blatant flaws, look like good opportunities.

The first one is an entry level position at a hedge fund, something that I've been looking for since I started working a year ago. The message is not in all caps, doesn't say anything about filing papers or getting coffee, and appears to have been typed in Word and copied over because I don't see any spelling errors. And no ridiculously inflated salary, so it might not be a boiler room! $40,000 is about what I would expect for an entry level position! Son of a bitch, wait, it's posted from a Yahoo account.

The second one looks good, too. They even used bullets. They mention Great Plains, use some finance terms (including one that drives my inner lit-major crazy: "due diligence"). The obvious next step is to find out what "plus1recruitment" is and why the have a dot co dot uk address. Oh. Dammit.

So what's a boy to do? I could shoot off my resume to somebody who is either a) gathering contact information for god knows what or b) working for shady recruiting firms or c) technology illiterate. Or I could gather my pride and buy some more cheap beer, because it's going to be a long couple of years til that fancy Wall Street desk job jumps in my lap. But in the meantime at least I've got a view of the water and a job title that sounds important.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Boobies, free concerts, and not so free concerts

Since the beginning of this year I've worked in a building in Midtown, one block west of Penn Station. I work on the 12th floor, which, while it sounds kind of cool, sucks because we only have two elevators servicing the top few floors of the building. If you go down for a cigarette it takes ten minutes to get down, five to smoke, and ten more to get back up. My cubicle, however, is positioned on the south side of the building looking over 32nd Street all the way to the Statue of Liberty. So the trade off is a great view of the harbor. Additionally, across the street on 32nd there is a building that is all open floors. Most of it appears to be photography studios. The penthouse is a big open room with glass windows all around. Occasionally they use the penthouse, and the roof of the penthouse, for photo shoots, which occupies my time well enough. Today, at approximately 2:30 in the afternoon, the thing that I have been waiting seven months for has finally happened: There's a naked chick on the roof.

Here is some music news:

Meatloaf is in NYC this weekend playing three dates at the Beacon. Unfortunately, tickets range between $100 and $350. That sucks.

I also missed Ted Leo playing a CBGB benefit show Monday night. He didn't go on until 12:15, though, and that's way past my bedtime. There are still a couple of more chances to catch him (like he ever stops touring, anyway). August 26th he'll be playing a free show at the South Street Seaport.

While we're milking the free shows, Clap Your Hands will also have a free show at the Seaport a week from today, August 10th.

More free shows! August 13th at a wearhouse in Dumbo, you can catch The Mobius Band's CD Release party with Charles Bissel of the Wrens and Elkland. Plus free Red Stripe and SoCo. RSVP for directions. Via Brooklyn Vegan.

The Hot Snakes is still sold out. If you know anybody with an extra ticket...

Last, but certainly not least, the new Nada Surf record The Weight is a Gift leaked. It is due out September 10th, on Barsuk. I had forgotten how great these guys were. Let Go was a phenomenal record, and I have to wonder what happened to make me forget it. After checking out the new album, I dug out Let Go and put that sucker on the iPod, too. If the only song you are familiar with is "Popular," do yourself a favor and listen to "Blizzard of '77." In fact, I'll help you out.

Blizzard of '77 from Let Go
Your Legs Grow from The Weight is a Gift
Imaginary Friends from The Weight is a Gift

Tuesday, August 02, 2005