Duck on wheels.
I'm sort of a thrift shop junkie, and although it's hard for me to find things I really enjoy, sometimes I stumble across things that are great. Over the course of the past three weeks, I've found a whole batch of great books (listed below, with priced paid).
Where The Sidewalk Ends HB by Shel Silverstein ($5.00)
Falling Up HB by Shel Silverstein ($5.00)
A Light In The Attic HB by Shel Silverstein ($5.00)
The New New Thing HB (1st Edition) by Michael Lewis ($3.00)
Purple America HB (1st Edition) by Rick Moody ($1.00)
Girl With Curious Hair paperback by David Foster Wallace ($.25)
Oh, and Tubcat Rulez!
The story of a true fix-up story from hell in the San Franciso Gate. The lucky owner got it all for the bargain price of only 200,000 (plus well over that amount again in remodeling).
In other news, the weather 2 days ago was 65 and sunny. Today, the temperature was 7 degrees with the wind chill. Oh yeah, I biked to work too.
Also, I finally put up some links to other sites I read (to the right). Enjoy.
The Canonical List of Weird Band Names contains over 1500 peculiar, profane and/or downright offensive names that are beautiful in their own absurd ways. There are a ton to sort through, but some of my favorites include:
·Admiral Poopy Pants and His Dancing Teeth
·The Dancing French Liberals of 1848
·Fresh Water For the Horses and A Round of Buttermilk For the Men
·Once I Killed a Gopher With a Stick
·The Well I'm Sure I Left It There Yesterday Band
In more serious music news, I'm uber excited today because Constellation Records announced both a new Do Make Say Think album and a Fly Pan Am one as well. Along with upcoming releases from Clinic, DJ Shadow, and Boards Of Canada, the next couple months are looking pretty darn good in terms of new music.
I went to see In The Bedroom last night with some friends and quite enjoyed it. Based on a short story by Andre Dubus (who wrote one of my favorite short stories ever with "The Doctor"), it's a slow burner of a movie that will probably bore some people, but I found it amazing. Almost every single character in the movie hit the perfect note in the movie; Conversations felt real, and even the seemingly mundane details all added up to create something quite good. Everyone is raving about Sissy Spacek (and she was quite good in her role), but I felt that Tom Wilkinson was even better. Although I don't always agree with Roger Ebert, he summed up a lot of the thoughts I had about the movie in his review of it here. Quite a strong debut film for actor (and now director) Todd Field.
Oh, and just in case you thought that seeing Kung Pow: Enter The Fist might be a good idea for irreverent fun, Bubbie warns against it (in his usual, expletive-laden way).
Yesterday was the first day of the year that I drove my car to work (had to, because of a doctor appointment), and it made me kind of sad in doing so.
I don't know if it's a sign of poor management, or that people are eating less fast food, but reading things like this don't upset me.
However, I don't think that you have to even be a conspiracy theorist to find something like this a little bit suspect. Even if it is a suicide as has been reported, it only makes the Enron case look messier and messier.
My favorite quote of the week comes from Dr John Cowden, a consultant epidemiologist in Glasgow. In this article (which is full of unintentionally funny quotes) he says;
"We are not talking about feeling a bit dicky and chucking up in the toilet bowl - people can vomit straight out for about a yard."
Who says British humor isn't funny?
Although I don't download a lot of album MP3s anymore (I spoiled one too many releases for myself that way), I do enjoy downloading MP3s of live performances and mixes still. In anticipation of the upcoming Greg Davis release Arbor on Carpark Records, I found a live set of his available for download here (scroll down to the date 9.22.01). I'd never heard his music before, and although it's probably not entirely representative of his new sound, it's an interesting release. In addition to the Arbor set, there's an decent set by Marumari (05.12.01) and several other fun things. I have a feeling the page will keep me busy finding new things for awhile.
Oh, and who didn't see this coming a mile away?
While logging into my website tonight to upload some things, I got to thinking about how many different passwords I have for computer-related items. After making out my list, I was a bit staggered by it all. I have passwords for both home and work email accounts, as well as a hotmail account. I have a username and password for my website, three other freelance sites I do work for, and two work sites I have access to. I have username and password for both ebay, paypal and my amazon associates program, as well as login names and passwords for four different messageboards that I post on. I also have windows login username and passwords on my home machine, as well as a network login username and password for my work computer. In addition, I have usernames and passwords for an AIM account, Yahoo Chat, and an old geocities site that I let my mom use now. As if that weren't bad enough, I have a username and password for online banking, and there are probably a couple I'm not thinking of right now.
Out of all of the above, almost none are the same (sharing usernames or passwords) and the surprising part is that I only have a couple of them written down anywhere. If I were to get some sort of password amnesia, I'd be screwed. I've always sort of laughed at the idea of password-management programs (you can really buy such a thing), but looking at the above makes me think they're not so outlandish anymore.
In my dream last night, I was sitting in on a planning meeting for the new Snoop Doggy Dogg album. I was sitting by Snoop and he was trying to decide who he wanted to produce the album. I said to him, "Snoop, you should really look into Scott Herron. He recently did some work as Prefuse 73 that is excellent, cut-up deconstructed hip-hop." Aside from the strange notion that I was on a first name basis with Snoop Doggy Dogg (and aside from the fact that everyone in the board meeting was speaking in freestyle flow but me), he looked right at me and said, "Nah man, I'm not havin' that next-level abstract bullshit."
In other news, a famous actor or actress wearing something fancy has no bearing on anyone elses lives (except for maybe fashion designers), and I find it silly that the media seems to think that it does. As if my life will suddenly become much easier now that I know what the stars of Sex In The City were wearing at an awards show.
TG and I ordered some meatless Valentino's (a local Italian chain that I have an ocassional weakness for), and once we got it home and cut it open, discovered that it indeed had meat in it. Since I got a ooky stomach the last time I ate a small amount of meat, I called them back and explained things and they were super friendly. Had the second (meatless, this time) batch of lasagna fixed in 15 minutes, and even gave me some free root beer for the mess up.
It was just about a year ago that I found an almost-new pair of Merrell trail running shoes at a thrift store here in town for 5 dollars. Amazingly, they were in my size, and since then I've worn them nearly every day. They're one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes that I've ever owned, and now I'm a convert. Since I'm personally boycotting (and urging others to, if asked) big shoe makers like Nike and Reebok, it gives me another excellent option. They have super solid contruction (I'm pretty rough on shoes, and they've taken what I dish out) and they're also nice looking, so I'm going to order another pair this week.
Saw Waking Life tonight with some friends, and although it was very visually innovative, I wished that it would have taken itself a little less serious in places. At points, I thought that interesting points were raised, yet at other times I felt like I was listening to the pretentious, drunken ramblings of two people across from me in a bar (which is one of the reasons I don't really go to bars in the first place). It's a film that runs about 100 minutes, but it feels like a lot longer since it's so visually involving. Almost everything is moving on-screen in nearly all moments, and with about 20 different animators and individual styles, it literally drains you watching it.
Although The Onion is mainly known for their humor, they also have some really good people working in their AV Club (aka the entertainment section). Yesterday, they put up their 2001 Film Year In Review, and although I haven't seen quite a few of the films mentioned (that's what I get for living in Nebraska), I also agree with many of their points. I'm one of those people who think that Shrek is highly overrated (when did fart jokes get elevated to high art?), and I also think that the Coen Brothers film The Man Who Wasn't There was one of the better films of the year, despite what many other critics say. Once I've seen a few more things that (technically) came out last year, I'll write up my own list.
The movie Blackhawk Down opens this Friday, and it's starting to get quite a bit of hype, partially I'm sure due to the rah-rah patriotism going on in the country right now. Although I don't remember the incident clearly (in 1993, I was just getting ready to go off to college for my first year, and I also wasn't as interested in world events as I am now), I've done a lot of reading on the whole event lately. The event was the largest firefight that the United States had experienced since Vietnam, with 18 men dying and nearly 100 injured (on the other side of things, by some accounts over 1000 Somalians were killed). If you don't want to plunge clear into reading the book by the same title that the movie is based on, the series of articles written by Mark Bowden (who also penned the book) here that are quite good, and quite visceral. Having read them, I probably won't see the movie, simply because in historical cases like this, Hollywood almost always gets things wrong.
I've said it in other places on this site before, but Brainwashed has been an influence of mine for a long time now. The site has always been minimal in design, but never lacks in information (and is growing all the time). I've been reading that site now for nearly 5 years and I can honestly say that my musical tastes would be much different without it. If you've never been there and enjoy electronic music or drone/post/avant/indie rock, please go check it out now. Plus, the fellow that runs the site (Jon Whitney) is a nice fellow and one of the big champions of independent music on the internet. This essay of his (scroll to the bottom and read "comment") sums up a lot of the current feelings I have about music right now. Also, the 2001 winners as picked by readers of the site are excellent as well if you're into list things.
Okay, I just said yesterday that I would know by the end of the week, but the deposit went down tonight and all the paperwork got signed. I'm officially going to be moving in a little over a month, and I'm just sort of giddy about it all right now. I'm already thinking how things are going to be arranged and happy for all the little things that it offers (like a dishwasher, nice windows, and room for a garden, among other things). At any rate, pictures will still be forthcoming, as well as much packing.
The _only_ thing that I'm wondering about with the new place is the distance that I am from work. Right now, I'm pretty much a hardcore biker, only driving to work when it's raining or snowing (I've even been toughing it out in sub-freezing degree weather). My current commute each way is exactly 3.5 miles, which takes me about 13-18 minutes, depending on traffic and wind. The new house is approximately (I'm guessing, as I haven't figured it exactly) 6 miles each way, but I think I'm going to try to stick with the biking. I'll probably have to get up earlier, but I think I'll be able to find a route that works well for me.
Rejected Martha Stuart Projects #1 (in a possible series). Cut out the knees from one side of a Land O Lakes butter carton, then paste them behind the bosom of the other side and cut the butter container so that it flips up. Viola! The flashing Land O Lakes maiden! Make one for someone you love today.
Back in 1997, I got my first job out of college and moved into an apartment in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1998, I moved into a bigger apartment within the same building, and then again in March of last year I did the same thing. With my move last year, I arrived in the biggest apartment in the place, one with about 800 square feet and a deck off the back where I grew plants and sat for breakfast on warm spring and summer days. It was a good apartment for the most part, but I always wanted a space of my own, where I could turn up my music sometimes without worrying about people getting pissed at me, and where I didn't hear parties going and doors slamming sometimes until 2am or later.
Today, TG and I made steps to move into our own place. We scoured through the houses for rent section of the paper and after driving by 20 different ones in our price range, we called around and made appointments to visit a couple. Upon viewing the first house, though, we were sold. It's a great little place, square brick 40s style that you could use either the word "cute" or "elegant" to describe and neither would be wrong. We'll know by midweek whether we're going to get it for sure, and I'm super excited about it all. Pictures will be forthcoming, count on it.
Watched How To Get Ahead In Advertising tonight with TG and my friend Aaron (who is also coincidentally very tall and wears size 13 shoes). Holy crap! I'd never heard of this British satire from 1989, but it's absolutely hilarious. While it might be a bit over-the-top, the fact that the target it aims at (advertising) is so prevailent makes it even more relevant today than when it was made. Actor Richard E. Grant is completely possessed in the lead role of Dennis Bagley and I was laughing very hard at many points in the film (which is more than I can say for most things I see that are supposed 'comedies'). The humor is very biting, and the ending isn't upbeat, but it's quite enjoyable. Adbusters, eat your heart out.
I know I said I'd quit ranting on it, but I found a couple more interesting links today on Enron and Bush. First off, comes a detail of the Bush family record. Granted, at this point I'm ready to assume that almost all politicians are corrupt, but considering all of his talk about integrity, GW is just as guilty as the worst of them.
Although I've been ranting quite a bit about Enron lately, Oliver Willis has compiled a massive list of links on the Enron case (which he fittingly has titled Enrongate). Even while Bush enjoys some of his highest approval ratings ever, I've started hearing slight whispers of inpeachment different places (and not even coming from hardcore lefties). I guess we'll all just have to see what happens.
I started out this year with the book Sick Puppy by Carl Hiassen, and recently finished it up. It was a good, semi-kooky book (think along the lines of Mark Leyner) with an undercurrent of actual global concern. The hero/antihero main character is an unhinged environmental nut who explodes into rage at someone flicking a cigarette butt onto the roadway or tossing fast-food waste out the window of their automobile (it's sort of like he has the feelings I do when first seeing someone do the same things, but then builds on them into something crazy). His responses range from tailgating and cursing someone to filling cars with dung beetles. Some tense moments, as well as a lot of hilarity, so I'll probably read more by the author. For now, though, I'm on to a non-fiction work to balance things out.
I'll try to stop ranting about it at some point, but for now I'm sort of hyped on the Enron thing. Two more developments today in the case. One is that John Ashcroft removed himself from the justice department investigation, and the second is that a key auditor says many important documents are missing. Neither of these things surprise me, but they're interesting because it's amazing how much is already coming out in the short amount of time the investigation has been going on. Like I said yesterday, things could get pretty interesting.
In other news, there are now 16 different countries represented on my year end readers lists.
Also, below is a picture I took of Torrey, and a picture Torrey took of me. :)
I've already talked with friends about it, and we've agreed that it's best just not to think about it, but once again the current administration is pissing me off with their tactics. Honestly, it seems like every week now they're doing something. First, they said they had an important video of Bin Laden admitting guilt, but delayed release almost a week, until it perfectly timed up with Bush telling Russia that we were withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. Guess which one got the most coverage by the media?
Next, I found out that the United States had created propaganda leaflets featuring a very, very poorly photoshopped picture of Bin Laden in a fancy suit in order to try to sway his followers to leave him. As someone who questioned the aformentioned video a bit already, I thought this newest piece of propaganda would make our country look pretty silly (most interviews I've read with people in the Middle East had even less kind words than I did about it).
Finally, in another attempt to sneak things past the public, the current administration announced today that they were going to put 1.5 billion dollars into research of hydrogen based fuel cells. Sure, this might look fine-and-dandy (like it perhaps wasn't a palm-greased deal with big oil), but at the same time, the administration announced that they would shelve fuel-efficiency plan. So, after 15 years of absolutely no changes in fuel-efficiency standards, there will be another 10 (unless someone decides that this should chance). Meanwhile, the average fuel-efficiency of automobiles being produced today has fallen to a 25 year low because of the rise in popularity of SUVs and large trucks.
One step forward, and two steps back, I guess. At least the justice department has officially started and Enron probe. If they dig deep enough (like they should), I think it could get really ugly.
The temperature today where I live (Lincoln, Nebraska) was over 60 degrees. We're in the first week of January and we've gotten a total of less than an inch of snow this year and at lunch today I was biking around in a t-shirt. This is all a bit crazy, as I remember times when I was young (and even not so far back, when I was in college) when we had temperatures of -10 degrees (fahrenheit) and wind chills of -40. Today we were 100 degrees above that, and although I had fun taking off from work early and rollerblading, I was wondering if something's wrong with the climate here. Meanwhile, halfway across the world in Jordan, they were blanketed with snow.
I'm a member of Metafilter (which isn't interesting in and of itself), and sometimes discussions get going at that site that really set me off. An example of one of those threads happened today, when a rather inflammatory article was posted by an author who happened to be vegetarian (and used a rather extreme example in order to try to make a point). In the ensuing discussion, people seemed to forget that one person doesn't represent the thinking of an entire group, and name-calling, general juvenile comments, and worse broke out. As a vegetarian who doesn't push my agenda or ideas on anyone (other than occassionally mentioning a fact I've retained), I found it interesting in the degree to which many meat-eating posters found the need to attack others. It annoys me to no end when a loud minority of a group somehow becomes the identity of the group in the minds of some people.
In keeping with Top 10 lists, check out this Ten Worst Corporations of 2001 list (via Kottke). It's a long article, but during a time when corporations are taking more and more control in this country, it's something that everyone needs to read (especially the section right before the list actually starts proposing a Corporate Character Commission to help regulate large companies). I've been reading a lot lately (including the book Culture Jam by Kalle Lasn, who also suggests that) about corporate control in this country, and it simply boggles my mind. Laws that are and aren't passed, people dying, even goddamn presidential elections all come down to big corporations swinging money around in order to keep the most amount of money rolling in to the few people in control. Sure, making money is what everyone's in business for, but the distribution of profit (and loss, see below) is more and more skewed each day.
Although the entire list boggled my mind with some of what corporations got away with, there were a couple things in particular that stood out. One of them is the Enron case, which nearly everyone has heard about by now, but which still shouldn't be swept under the rug. I personally know two people who were greatly effected by this fiasco in management (with ties to the current president/vice president). One guy that I work with lost his entire savings when he was locked out of selling his retirement stock, so he's now sitting at age 50 and living paycheck to paycheck. My step-uncle also lost a huge amount of money when the company went down, and that's just two of the thousands of people who saw 30+ years of work and money disappear over the course of 3 months or less. Meanwhile (as the article states), a couple hundred of the companies highest-paid employees were able to cash out over 500 million for themselves. The emphasis is mine, but it's something that I feel should be highlighted. It's unlikely that even with the class action lawsuit, most of the thousands who lost money will get anything back, but hopefully this isn't something that's forgotten.
In some ways, I see sort of a parallel going on between now and what happened in the early 1900s in regards to a few, large corporations having so much control over the country. At that time, people unionized and fought back for some progress, but it seems like things have ramped up again in terms of corporate control. I think one of the big reasons there still hasn't been a huge stir by people to demand change is that the economy still hasn't come to a complete standstill. Granted, unemployment is steadily going up (partially due to the events of Sept. 11th) and there have been some fairly major ups and downs, but nothing to lead anyone to believe that things aren't safe without some major shakeup of corporation policies. Hopefully it doesn't take more Enrons or another event like October 24th, 1929 for things to turn around.
On a completely different note, unwanted porn seems to be a reoccurring theme lately (TG has told me that her email accounts have been bombarded lately with spam, and I've heard the complaint from others as well), and it's happened once again. Hopefully, too many people didn't actually click on the movie link I posted (The Royal Tenenbaums) two days ago, because for the one day that it was up, it linked to a porn portal. Without checking, I'd accidentally included the word "the" in the URL name before the title of the movie without looking it up first. It's fixed now, but my first week (and first outside link) I already a big blunder. Sorry if anyone stumbled onto it, I'll be sure to check things closer from now on.
I've sort of resigned myself to getting slightly out-of-shape this winter. The main reason is that my normal winter exercise activity is playing racquetball, and my brother graduated from college (and can no longer get a membership to the club that would be cheapest for me, which is through the university where I work). It's hard for me to meet people at random to play with, so I've sort of resigned myself to writing and reading and grabbing a short run when I have the time. Normally, it would bother me, but for some reason it feels better to me this winter to put that extra time I'd be exercising into something else. When things thaw, I'll again be rollerblading hardcore, but for now I'm taking it a bit easy and trying to notice any difference when I get out of the bath at night.
I saw The Royal Tenenbaums last night and quite enjoyed it. It wasn't quite as pretentious as I was expecting it to be (given the reports I'd heard) and reminded me a lot of the Glass family from J.D. Salingers Franny And Zooey and Raise High The Roofbeams, Carpenters (which is a good thing, most of the time). Sure, there were quirks in characters often times with the only purpose to make them just a little bit more weird, but like some big, strange puzzle, it mostly fell into place.
As a sidenote, I think I would have enjoyed the film a lot more if it weren't for the people sitting directly behind us. This group of three people were not only the large, heavy-breathing type (TG said that she could feel a warm breath on the back of her neck far too often), but they reacted to _everything_ in the movie. Granted, it's a funny movie in parts, but it's also quite touching in other moments. They'd laugh (and it wasn't even really a laugh, it was more like a loud, cackling guffaw) about every 3 minutes, and say "ah, how cute" whenever a dog or small animal was on the screen. It almost ruined my movie experience entirely (I would have moved to a different seat if the theater hadn't been packed), and I left the theatre talking about the idiots behind me instead of the movie. People need to realize that when they're at the movies, they need to act differently then when they're at home huffing popcorn and slobbing out on their own couches.
Going back to the numbers once again (see the entry for the 1st), I mentioned that I'd written 248 reviews over the course of 2001. I've been writing music reviews on the web now since 1997 (and for 3 years before that in a college newspaper), so it's interesting for me to look at my progression of taste over that course of time. I'll be the first to admit that I'm hardly the arbiter of taste, but the traffic to the section has slowly grown over the years and I've exchanged some good emails with people about music (and life in general). It's probably the most popular section of this site, and in addition to writing up my own year end list, I've posted year end readers lists. While the lists themselves are interesting, what's even more cool to me is the variety of locations that they're coming from. Belgium, Poland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Italy, and several others are represented, and it makes me happy.
In other news, I'm still biking to work in early January, even though it's 20 degrees out.
I mentioned yesterday the number of pages that I read in the last year (3950), but I wanted to expand a bit more on the specific titles. In order, the complete list is:
Carl Sagan - Demon Haunted World
Richard Feynman - Surely You Must Be Joking/What Do You Care...
Richard Matheson - I Am Legend
Chris Ware - Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth
Howard Zinn - People's History Of The United States
Michael Moore - Downsize This
Eric Schlosser - Fast Food Nation
Peter Singer - Animal Liberation
James Gleick - Faster
Malcolm Gladwell - The Tipping Point
Various Authors - Flash Fiction
Jon Krakauer - Into Thin Air
Kurt Vonnegut - Bluebeard
Kalle Lasn - Culture Jam
Out of everything I read, I probably enjoyed the Eric Schlosser book the most and would highly recommend it to anyone. If you want to know what goes on behind the scenes (marketing, wages, ingredients) of fast food, it's an amazing and engrossing read. I'll be curious to see what he follows up with, since the book has made some ripples. The Chris Ware book was also quite amazing, and was one that will hopefully bring more awareness/respect to work that has traditionally been looked at as comic book art. I also really enjoyed the Jon Krakauer book. I'm not sure if it was the human element that was involved that absorbed me so (or knowing that the unfortunate outcome), but it was a book that I literally had to force myself to put down.
As usual, the Sagan book was great, and the Feynman book was great to offset things with a touch of humor. I enjoyed both the Zinn, Singer, and Lasn books, although I found each a bit preachy at times. I expected it with each, though, so I wasn't turned off by it too much. Was a rare year in that everything I read was enjoyable to some degree, and I'd recommend anything above (although some obviously higher than others). Once again this last year, I tried to read much more non-fiction, and I think it's a trend I'll continue. If you want to recommend something, drop me an email (click on the 'glob' logo to send one).
I decided a couple months ago that I would put an end to the Come To My Senses section, with the thought in mind that I wanted to continue doing daily writing, but I wasn't sure what. Instead of limiting myself to any particular style or events, I decided that the best thing would be to simply jump on the bandwagon and start a daily section where I can talk about anything I want.
With that in mind, I present "Glob" (a not-so-witty anagram of 'blog'). As I mentioned above, it's going to be a section that I'm going to try to update on a daily basis, but I'm going to be writing about whatever strikes my fancy. I might include book reviews, movie reviews, thoughts on my life, links that I found interesting, or other random nonsense. It's still not going to be a completely open journal where I spill all my thoughts for the world to see (I still want to try to retain some privacy), but it will probably be a little less elusive than some of my rather cryptic entries in my previous daily section.
With all of the above said, today marks the one year anniversary (easy to remember, eh?) of an amazing relationship that I've had the pleasure to be in for the past 365 days. Because she values her online privacy much more than I do, she'll from here forward be known as TG.
I'm one of those people who tends to keep lists of things in my head and on paper. In my own way, I have a weird obsession with numbers and keeping track of things, if only to help keep my mind sharp. Here are some numbers from the last year of my life;
Miles biked: 1080.7
Miles rollerbladed: 918 (approx.)
Reviews written: 248
Pages read (in book form): 3950 (more on this tomorrow)
Flash pieces created (at work): 253
Oh, and I had some people over to my house last night for a New Years get-together. Here's the group shot: