Thursday, May 27, 2004

There IS justice in the world!!

Kelly Clarkson apparently fired her old hair and makeup person!

Oh, yeah, and someone with actual talent won American Idol!

I have nothing witty to say, as I was only half paying attention anyway, and then I lost patience and started fast forwarding during "The Impossible Dream." Seriously, guys? "The Impossible Dream?"

Always nice to see Kelly and Tamyra, and while I didn't really watch the scary medley, I was happy to see Amy Adams and JPL (dancing hideously as usual) back for a moment.

Maybe I won't get sucked in next season. Maybe...

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

In Defense of Clay

On this, the eve of what has the potential to be the most upsetting conclusion to any reality show ever (though I wasn't a Ruben fan, either), I want to take a moment to defend Clay Aiken. When I included him on last month's Fun With Playlists, I got some flak for it. Now first of all, anyone who's been following my music entries knows that along with the Beatles, Ani DiFranco, Sondheim and Bernstein, I have a real taste for vapid pop music. That's sometimes sprinkled with irony but, I actually like Clay Aiken, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Yes, I think he's cute (though I actually thought he was much cuter before they Seacrested him) and say what you will, the boy can sing.

Let's remember that American Idol is first and foremost a singing competition. It is, secondarily (or maybe primarily, even if they won't admit it) a looks, charisma, and popularity contest. But at no point does it pretend to be a writing competition. So yes, Clay's album is dull as dirt, but that's not his fault and I look forward to seeing what else he comes up with when he's free from his iron-clad AI contract and can hire his own handlers.

There was an article in Entertainment Weekly recently about Justin Guarini and his disastrous album release. In short, it said that Guarini had no control over the songs that were chosen, and he generally felt that the selection did not suit his voice or his personality, but he was forced to make this bomb record anyway. It's hard to feel a ton of sympathy for Justin, since even the audition release for American Idol is a terrifying document that should have given him (or his parents) some clue of what he was getting into, but based on what I've heard (granted, only two full songs and a bunch of 30-second clips on iTunes), I'm surprised Clay didn't suffer a similar fate.

When I put "Invisible" on my playlist, m.e. commented, "How can you not find 'Invisible' horribly creepy? Not to mention insipid, grating, boring, etc..."

I DO find "Invisible" horribly creepy, and that's why I love it. More on that in a bit. As for insipid, etc., I disagree; I think it's an almost perfect pop song. Now, keep in mind that "a perfect pop song" is not the same as "good music." A perfect pop song is catchy, hooky, easily-accessible, and simple enough for the for the listener to project his own meaning onto while still conveying some kind of emotion. For a low-brow example, see "I Want It That Way." For a high-brow on, check "Yesterday." (And please, no hate mail for invoking the Backstreet Boys and the Beatles in the same breath. They are clearly worlds apart, but both serve my point.)

Anyway, one of the things that makes "Invisible" work so well is its seemingly perfect marriage of song and singer. There's something sexy about Clay, but also something awkward and a little bit creepy. I completely buy him as (in my interpretation of the lyrics Clay didn't write) the shy nerd in the corner, stalking the popular girl and dreaming of superpowers: "If I was invisible / then I could just watch you in your room / if I was invincible / I'd make you mine tonight... / If I was invisible / Wait, I already am."

Wait, wait, wait. "If I was invincible, I'd make you mine tonight?" Dude, he's talking about raping her! How can you not love that? Not that I love rape, of course, but I love the idea of something so fucked up and subversive coming out of American Idol. Yeah, I said it, "Invisible" is subversive. And this, to me, is another hallmark of a great pop song -- Make it catchy enough so that no one, at first glance, will realize just how twisted and fucked up your lyrics are. Think back to some 80s classics. "99 Red Balloons" is about nuclear holocaust. "Turning Japanese" and "She Bop" are about masturbation. The entire Culture Club catalog is about the toxic relationship between Boy George and Jon Moss. Sure, it's catchy and peppy, but can any song called "Church of the Poison Mind" be about a healthy love affair? I refer you also to my very first Fun With Playlists: Songs About Stalking.

Anyway, this is why I love "Invisible."

Getting back to Justin's failure, I'm less convinced by Clay's delivery of these lyrics: "Heaven starts here / tonight in your arms / wanna drown in your body / get lost in your charms... / All I want is your touch / all I want is your heaven right here by my side / every night / girl 'cause your touch is so right." Even putting aside that pesky "girl," I'm just not buying it. He sings the song well, and if I didn't know what he looked like, it'd be fine. Not that I doubt that Clay is a sexual being, but I wonder how the same people who came up with his safe whitebread image (though how much more could they do with him?) thought that it would be a good idea for him to sing "wanna drown in your body?" This is why I don't understand the music industry in general, and the Idol phenomenon in particular.

It's also why I'll cut Clay some slack, and can't wait to see what Clay does next, be it a more appropriate album, or a (more appropriate still) stint as Mark in Rent. And if it turns out Mr. Aiken is a flash-in-the-pan who we never hear from again, then I'll always cherish him for the greatest stalker anthem ever.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Fun With Playlists #7 (TV Themes That Don't Suck)

Okay, so I was far enough behind in my TV, that the promised spring TV wrap-up is still in progress. But it's also time for a new Fun With Playlists, so here's TV-themed one about...TV themes.

While suckage is all a matter of taste, of course, I'm really pleased with the relatively recent trend of using hip or obscure pop songs for TV themes instead of the once obligatory cheesy original music. It makes the credits more enjoyable, and gives good exposure and cash to artists who need it (of course, then it often backfires and makes those artists horribly overexposed -- Paula Cole anyone? -- but I guess they can cry their way to the bank). It also seems to have raised the bar for shows that do use original music to be a little more creative than Alan Thicke. The WB didn't make up the idea (as a couple of 80s classics below will attest), but their mega-corporation cross-marketing certainly made it what it is today. I'm not sure what started me thinking about this (probably my recent download of the theme from Kingdom Hospital, which was written up in Entertainment Weekly) but I started flipping through iTunes and realized I had an awful lot of songs that have been used on TV recently (and a few not so recently). I don't even watch all the shows, but I've come to associate the tunes with them anyway. So here's my list of...

TV Theme Songs That Don't Suck

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Theme – Nerf Herder
California – Phantom Planet (The O.C.)
I Don't Want To Wait – Paula Cole (Dawson's Creek)
Worry About You – Ivy (Kingdom Hospital)
I'll Be There For You – The Rembrandts (Friends)
Somebody Help Me – Full Blown Rose (Tru Calling)
Fame – Irene Cara (Fame)
Here With Me – Dido (Roswell)
With A Little Help From My Friends – Joe Cocker (The Wonder Years)
Excess – Tricky (Glory Days)
Searchin' My Soul – Vonda Shepard (Ally McBeal)
All Things (Just Keep Getting Better) – Widelife feat. Simone (Queer Eye)
My Life – Billy Joel (Bosom Buddies)
How Soon Is Now? – The Smiths (Charmed) [They use a different version on the show, but nothing beats Morrisey's tortured vocals on the original!]
Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps – Doris Day (Coupling (UK))
Save Me – Remy Zero (Smallville)
Superman – Lazlo Bane (Scrubs)

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Nothing like a Dame

I met Judi Dench tonight!!

I have nothing clever to say about it, but I met Judi Dench tonight!!

(And I don't get star-struck easily.)

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Let's see how many times I can use the word blog in a single post. Blog.

I started Judgment Call primarily to entertain myself, and a small handful of friends who I knew would read it. Don't get me wrong, I'm as narcissistic and attention-seeking as the next blogger, but my blog-view has always been pretty limited. I've had the occasional e-mail or IM exchange with new people through the blog, but the only other bloggers I know offline are people I already knew, and I've never considered myself part of any kind of blogging "community."

There's a group of gay bloggers (we need a good word for that...maybe "floggers?" "blags?") that includes my real-life friend, MAK, that does a pretty regular happy hour at a bar in Midtown. I've never gone because my schedule doesn't typically fit with everyone else's happy hour, because gay bars generally make me uncomfortable (they make me feel fat, hairy, and poorly-dressed), but mostly because (ahem) I've never been invited.

Last night that little happy hour turned into a terrifyingly large blogger event, to which the entire Internet was invited, and I decided to check it out on my way to work. I don't know why exactly the idea creeped me out so much, but I really didn't know what to expect. I guess it's like going to any party where you don't know anyone; what if no one liked me? What if I didn't like them? I don't actually read that many blogs regularly (though there are apparently some lovely people who've linked to me who I haven't had a chance to check out yet), so what if I had to make small talk with someone who was boring online and even more so in person?

Turned out none of that was a problem, though it was decidedly weird. I panicked briefly when I didn't see MAK (the fact that someone had thoughtfully made nametags for everyone didn't make me feel any less self-conscious about just introducing myself to strangers), but then I spotted him and made my way over. Here's how the introductions went...

"This is Adam."
Blank stare.
"Judgment Call."

It was like that for everyone, so I didn't feel bad about it, but it was definitely an odd sign of our Internety times. I was actually quite surprised by how many people there did know me from my blog. Granted, I didn't stay long and only met a select few people, most of whom I read, but it was nice to meet those other 15 people who show up on my Sitemeter stats who I couldn't account for before. And they were all very complimentary, which was a lovely ego boost. I met Charlie (and, free from the shackles of not talking about work online, discovered that we know all the same people...which is why I don't talk about work online!), Mark, Crash, and our lovely token females, Zenchick, and MzOuiser (who I'd never read before, but we had such a nice chat that I surely will now). There were a couple other people who've fallen victim to my terribleness with names, including a lovely boy with a stack of nametags who repeatedly said I was cute (blush), who may have been Steven (though BoiFromTroy was the one who did the logo, so the nametag thing confused me), and someone else with whom MAK and I had a brief conversation about how jealous of his metabolism we are.

There were many, many other people there, and the whole thing was a little surreal. (I suspect it would have been less so if I'd been drinking!) But it was lovely to meet you all and put faces and voices to web pages. I hope you'll keep reading! (Next post to be a massive TV wrap-up, I promise!)

Update: The skinny boy was Accidental New Yorker, nametag boy was in fact Steven, and I guess that means I didn't actually meet BoiFromTroy. Thanks to MAK for the clarification.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Silly yet important

John Kerry is a Douche Bag but I'm Voting for Him Anyway

Behold the Power of the Kitten

Okay, I admit it. I am absolutely, positively one of those pet owners. So I get it now, Faustus and David. Not that Radish will be blogging for me anytime soon (though the day he so friendly explored the desk happy, he did manage to walk across the keyboard in just such a way to send an instant message along the lines of "wrh55555555"), but we do spoil him rotten (I can't walk by a pet store without going in and looking at toys now) and it's only been a week. I will talk about him and show his picture to anyone and everyone I see, and refer to him as "our baby." Within ten minutes of having him at home I already had a screen saver set up (ah, the joys of iPhoto and a digital camera!). I will punch anyone who doesn't agree that he is the cutest and most well-behaved kitten ever in the history of kitten-kind.

I'm not sure how I thought I could get a cat (especially one as perfect as Radish) and somehow avoid becoming one of those pet owners. I clearly hadn't thought it through. No matter. I am completely under Radish's control, with no regrets. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have this sudden uncontrollable urge to play with string....

Enemies of Youth

I went to the Y this morning to work out, and there's a big banner outside asking people to contribute to their "Friends of Youth Campaign." Okay, first of all, I hate when institutions I already pay to be affiliated with have the nerve to ask me to give them more money, just because I like them so much. Though I suppose it's more forgivable when it's my $37/month gym, and not my $25,000/year university.

But my first thought when I saw the sign was, I am not a friend of youth. I really don't like youth. I generally want youth to shut the hell up and get out of my way.

Of course, by "youth," they mean "children," but my next thought was, wait, aren't I "youth?" I certainly don't feel old. I don't really feel much like an adult at all. I mean, sure, I've supported myself (more or less) for years, I have a career, an IRA, health insurance, a pet. I'm buying an apartment with my boyfriend, with whom I have fabulous sex. I'm clearly a grown-up. But I don't feel like I imagined grown-ups felt when I was a kid. I don't think I, or anyone else my age, looks as old as I thought 28-year-olds looked when I was a youth. Maybe it has something to do with all the 30-year-olds playing teenagers on TV?

Anyway, at the gym, there were these two children (real ones) running around unsupervised, and one of them got on the Stretch Trainer next to mine, and of course wasn't really using it and almost fell off a couple of times before giving up, and I thought, I hope he hurts himself. Damn kids.

Clearly, I've skipped "grown-up" and gone straight to "crotchety old man."

Thursday, May 13, 2004

radish-kitten at home desk so friendly exploring happy!!!

For anyone who may have been traumatized by yesterday's post, here are some more pictures of the kitten.

(Thanks to m.e. for the Japanese-inspired title.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Definitely not about the kitten

Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write: I had my first colonic today.

There was an article in Time Out New York recently about detoxing for Spring, and they shared the lovely statistic that the average American carries five to twenty-five pounds of fecal waste in his body. That grossed me out far more than anything about the procedure itself, and I've been having some weird digestive problems lately (stress-induced, I thought), so I decided to call the place mentioned in the article, the Natural Alternative Center.

They told me the first appointment would take two hours, to include an orientation and a meeting with the doctor who runs the center. They gave instructions on how to prepare, which included eating salad with lunch and dinner the day before, and to make sure that salad had corn -- so they can track the rate at which food is moving through your body. Ew. They also told me that the first appointment could be paid by cash only, but they took a credit card number as a deposit. I guess people bail a lot. I resolved to be strong and brave and not cancel.

Colonic Ironic #1: The NAC has the least comfortable chairs in the world. I got intimately acquainted with them as I waited a full hour before anything happened. Another patient was watching an orientation video with headphones, and I asked at the desk if I should be watching it too. "Oh, well she's already started it, so you should wait." Hm. Maybe if the receptionist had looked at me during the five minutes I'd been trying to get her attention, I wouldn't have missed so much.

An hour past my appointment time, the doctor who runs the place came out, looked at my name on the list and another woman's who'd just come in, and asked if we'd watched the video yet. As I was getting settled in, I said, "You know, I could have been watching this during the hour I've been sitting here doing nothing."

"Well," said, Dr. Trisha, "no one told you to come early."

That did it. "Excuse me? I didn't come early, I had a one o'clock appointment."

"Oh. Well did you tell anyone you were here?" This bitch was desperate to make this my fault, wasn't she?

"Yes, I signed in, I filled out my paperwork, and then I sat here for an hour."

"Oh. I'm sorry about that. If I'd realized that was happening I would have done something about it."

Okay, I was placated. But the woman next to me looked nervous and asked, "Am I going to have to wait for an hour too?"

The doctor looked at her like she was an idiot and said "No."

My new partner in snark looked at me and loudly said, "That wasn't an unreasonable question, was it?" Dr. Trish walked away looking pissed.

I was glad to have a companion for the video, which was entitled Death Begins in the Colon, and showed, in fairly graphic detail, all the things that can possibly go wrong with your colon if it's not properly cleansed. The best part had to be the section on parasites. We were appropriately grossed-out together. Then, when the tape moved on to plugging products (ranging from herbal supplements to a footstool to help you squat "properly" on the toilet), we appropriately rolled our eyes together. Finally, there were testimonials from happy patients, including the moron at the front desk. Apparently a proper cleansing doesn't make you any smarter or better at your job.

Of course, once the video was over, there wasn't a whole lot of conversation, considering what we both knew we were there to do. And there was more waiting.

Colonic Ironic #2: There are no bathrooms. Of course this isn't actually true, but apparently no one thought it would be a good idea to have one or two outside of an examination room. So when I asked at the desk, about 45 minutes into my stay, for a rest room, I was told that none were "available." Seriously poor planning, people.

I met with the doctor, and decided that no matter how many degrees she has (and according to the video, there are many, at least one of them medical), she is an absolute flake. Of course, one of her degrees in "juicing," so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised. She asked me questions I'd already answered on the forms, told me facts I'd already seen in the video, then sent me back out to the waiting room.

Fifteen minutes later, she came out, chatted with the front desk staff, and then told me it would be "two more minutes." It was now 3. Two hours after my appointment time. So I threw a little fit. I was kind of over the whole anger thing by this point, and it's not like I was going to leave, but I felt like throwing a little fit. "These things happen in doctors' offices," I was told.

"For two hours?? On these uncomfortable chairs with no bathrooms?"

That got her. She practically dragged me to a bathroom. She was mad at me. I was suddenly happy she wouldn't be the one actually doing the colonic. She tried to get out of it by explaining that there must not have been an available bathroom at the time that I asked. I pointed out that someone might have told me when one became available. "When I was told it was a two hour appointment," I said, "I assumed that meant the procedure would actually take two hours, not that I'd be sitting around. And now I have to cancel something else I had scheduled." She was unrepentant. I only wanted an acknowledgement that her staff was bad, or even a half-hearted apology. Nothing. Not so much as a free juice.

But then I went into the little room with a very nice man who has chosen a very odd profession. That he's a former opera singer should frighten some of you. He put me at ease and apologized quite genuinely for all the confusion outside. In the course of events he mentioned that he had given a colonic to Stockard Channing. I guess doctor-patient confidentiality doesn't apply when you're not actually a doctor. But hey, Stockard Channing! We LOVE her! And also...ew.

Don't worry, I'll spare you the gory details. Or any details. As with most of my rants, this is really about customer service. But I will say this: The strangest thing about that first sentence up there has got to be my use of the word "first." Because even after all the drama, I'm totally going back. The procedure wasn't nearly as unpleasant as I expected. Not like it was fun or anything; it was decidedly strange and a little bit gross, but it really wasn't bad at all. And lemme tell ya: there was a lot of stuff up there. There's just something comforting about knowing I'm not carrying so much garbage around.

In my colon.

Okay, yeah: ew.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Okay, just one more...

Uh Oh

Okay, that's two posts in a row about our kitten. What if I turn into one of those people who pretends his pet writes posts for him, and knits little dinosaur costumes?

That's it, no more posts about Radish.

"Dust Bunnies" are not as cute as they sound

I like to imagine that I keep a pretty clean house. Radish, with his itty bittyness and general fear of the gigantic new world around him, proved in his first two hours here that I was, in fact, just imagining.

Our little boy has decided he's very fond of wandering around behind and under the furniture. We briefly considered renaming him Pigpen. Watching him emerge covered in dust-bunnies and sneezing was cute; watching his white belly turn grey, not so much. He still doesn't have the best grasp on the whole cleaning himself thing, and apparently neither do I.

It's not like I never move things around and do a thorough sweep, but most of one wall of my living room is taken up by those Ikea shelving units where you buy each shelf and post individually and make your own configuration; they're tall and a little cheap, and my floors are kind of uneven, so before I put anything on them, I got some big brackets and attached them to the wall, so I couldn't move them even if I wanted to. And now that I think about it, it's probably been about nine months since I moved the couch. And I don't remember ever moving the video cabinets by the window.... So okay, it's exactly like I never move things around and do a thorough sweep. Fine. Quit judging me!

Anyway, last night I locked our little boy in the bathroom and cleaned for four hours. I moved everything I could, dusted many a videotape, managed to get under and behind those damn shelves, sneezed a great deal, and became thoroughly disgusted with myself. It's not like there was anything odd back there, no lost bits of food or dead rodents or anything. But the piles of hair and dust I swept up were bigger than my head (to say nothing of Radish's!).

When it was all done, I gave Radish a quick bath so he could fully enjoy the new cleanliness of his world. It went as smoothly as bathing a cat could ever be expected to go, with no mess and only a little squirming on his end.

I realized that the sad truth is that I shed more than my cat does.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Proud Papa!

Please welcome the newest addition to the Adam875/Boy family...Radish:

Thursday, May 06, 2004

When did TV Land start showing total crap?

I mean, okay, Three's Company isn't high art, but there's a kitsch factor and some classic comic acting. But Ferris Beuller and Just The Ten Of Us???

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


How sad is it that my lamest post in weeks has also generated the most comments I've had in weeks?

Maybe I need to rethink the posts I thought weren't lame.

Anyway, for those of you who can't find them in your aea, I discovered while writing it that you can order ginger Altoids (and licorice, though ew) through their website.

An astonishingly boring tech-week filler post

I haven't bought Altoids in a while, 'cause of the way I try to avoid sugar (falling off the wagon for ice cream, fruit juice, or alcohol is one thing, doing it for a breath mint hardly seems worth it), but I couldn't resist when I saw the new Ginger flavor. And damn, they're good! They're not at all what I expected: they're not very sweet at all and actually seem stronger/hotter than the other flavors. Kind of like ginger beer. Good stuff! I wonder if they're good for settling the stomach too?