Friday, July 30, 2004

My National Pasttime

As a latch-key kid growing up in Manhattan, I was enrolled in several after school programs when I was little to keep me occupied until five or six o'clock. Some were at the YMCA around the corner from school, and some were through some sort of company that picked up kids from various schools in a van and took us to our activities, for which they provided chaperones or instructors. For at least one spring when I was under the age of ten, someone decided I should take softball. My parents were never big on sports, so I can only assume that this was something I wanted to do, although I can't imagine why. Even later, through high school, I wasn't particularly aware of or concerned about my lack of butchness (my other after school activities at the time were roller skating and pottery), and while I'm not entirely inept at all sports (untrue to my demographic, I killed at dodge ball), I have never had any kind of skill at softball, or whiffleball, or anything involving hitting small objects with sticks. The game bores me so much, I can't even cheer people on adequately. But at some point, I must have figured that boys play baseball, and so I should.

I remember nothing about actually playing the game (it wasn't little league or anything, more like an extended gym class). I remember I had a book of some sort, written for kids, of tips on the game. This was dull and I never read it. I remember liking the Mets because I preferred the royal blue of their hats to the navy blue of the Yankees. It's amazing it took me 12 more years to figure out I was gay.

Here's what I remember most though. We played on a field in Central Park just off Fifth Avenue in the 90s, directly across from Mt. Sinai Hospital, and one day we were asked to clear the field in the middle of a game so they could land a helicopter on it. Even at the time I wondered why they didn't land it on the roof, but I guess something was wrong. So down comes this chopper in the middle of the park, dust flying everywhere, surrounded by children. We were hardly Dr. Romano close, but I remember the dust and feeling the wind. By the time they got the patient offloaded and took off again, it was getting dark and our evening activity time was over. I never wanted to go back to softball again unless there were more helicopters.

Is it any wonder I grew into a TV-addicted drama queen?

You talkin' to me?

I was just updating the sidebar and realized I'd forgotten to mention Taxi Driver yesterday (it was on Boy's Netflix queue, not mine, so it wasn't on my list). It's one of those movies that people are always surprised I've never seen. It was interesting. It's not a film I feel can really be enjoyed, but I did like it, even with the slow pace. I thought the voiceovers were a little heavy-handed sometimes, but Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese did a really good job of making it clear who Travis Bickle is and why he behaves the way he does, so that his behavior never felt (to me) arbitrary. That's a problem I have a lot lately, "dramatic" actions that don't feel motivated or realistic. In a movie that's not fun at all, it was fun to see all those actors when they were so young, and kind of remarkable that all the principals are still working and famous today. And also refreshing to see DeNiro before he'd really learned to overdo it.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

A Couple of Movies I Liked and a Whole Bunch That I Didn't

I've failed pretty completely in my goal of seeing more movies (and catching up on my 500-strong Netflix queue) this summer, but since I haven't blogged about films in months and months I have a good bit of catching up to do.

Starting with things I've actually managed to see in theaters, I really enjoyed Spider-Man 2, though not, as many critics did, more than the first one. In general, I'm glad that I never got into comics because I can really enjoy these flicks on their own merits without caring about whatever little details of the mythology they've changed. I don't care if the story is "right," I just care if it's "good." Unfortunately for Spider-Man 2, I'm a New York nerd instead of a comics nerd. When the first film came out, a lot of critics pointed out that Spider-Man had always been set in a fairly real version of New York (as opposed to Metropolis or Gotham or Townsville), and the first film shot a huge amount on location and dealt with the city's geography and landmarks really lovingly, from the top of the Chrysler Building to the corner by the White Castle a block from my local movie theater in Queens. I loved the idea, especially so soon after 9/11 (remember the Twin Towers teaser poster that got scrapped?), of Spider-Man protecting my very real city, and it added to the overall idea of Peter Parker as a superhero Everyman.

Within the first five minutes of the sequel, we're given a pizza place that delivers 40 blocks away (never in a billion years), then Peter rides from Manhattan to Forrest Hills on his little scooter thing at sunset in what appears to be a few minutes. Most egregious, there is NOT an elevated train running through midtown, and if there were the platforms and signage wouldn't look like Chicago's El, it would be highly illogical for it to go anywhere near Bay Ridge (as the sign said it did), and I can't imagine why it would stop short at the river without any kind of station, terminal, or rail yard. Plus, on the plausibility meter, there has got to be a better way for Spider-Man to stop a speeding train. I also found it utterly ridiculous that Peter lost his powers just because he felt like it (there's a fine line bewteen "psychologically complex" and "inane"). And is it ever a good idea to give sinister-looking robots who are smarter than you access to your central nervous system?

That said, I really liked that people finally started recognizing Peter's voice through the mask and putting two and two together (though as MCM so wisely observed (quoting Buffy), "Does the phrase 'secret identity' mean anything to you?") and I enjoyed the way the characters continued to evolve. I especially admired the committed but not-too-serious-for-the-material performances of stage vets Rosemary Harris, Alfred Molina and Donna Murphy. I mean, overall, I really enjoyed the movie, a great, fun superhero flick. Just don't fuck with my hometown (don't even get me started on Men In Black).

The only other film I've seen in a theater in the past few months was also a sequel, but not really: Kill Bill, Vol. 2. I think I liked Volume 1 better, but only because I was so wrapped up in the excitement of it all. Volume 2 wasn't the same kind of adrenaline rush, but it was some damn fine storytelling. As much as the two films are clearly halves of the same whole, I can't imagine watching them as a single piece, because the energy of each is so different. They worked so beautifully for me with that six month break in between. I especially loved the flashbacks to the wedding, and they deserve an Oscar for sound design for the burial scene. I wish the fight in the trailer had been a little less derivative of the fight in the kitchen in Vol. 1, but it was worth it for the climax (I'll be vague 'cause it's a moment worth not ruining if you haven't seen it). I've never really had an opinion about Uma Thurman one way or another, and don't think I've seen Daryl Hannah in anything since Splash, and I thought they both gave excellent, fun performances. Uma especially (and Tarrantino, of course, in the writing and direction) really did an amazing job of making the Bride seem real, avoiding clichés and comic bookiness. Her heartbreak totally rang true along with her rage and violence, and all the elements revealed across the two films made up a real person.

I guess I've been living in a cave for a while, because Kill Bill was my first Tarrantino experience. Since I enjoyed it so much, I figured I should finally see Pulp Fiction. I have to admit, I don't see what all the fuss is about. It's an entertaining film, but it's too damn long and by the end I didn't really care about anything. Scene to scene it was fun, but I wanted more payoff at the end, and more plot in between. A lot of it felt quirky just for the sake of being quirky, and too clever to be believable. Compared to Kill Bill, where every little detail, even some that at first seemed silly, ultimately served the story, I just thought it was bloated and overrated. I guess a lot of that comes from waiting ten years to see it; it could never live up to its hype.

I didn't manage to catch the new Dawn of the Dead, partly because I wanted to rent the original first and then I didn't get around to watching it. I shouldn't have waited. It's another sad case of a classic that just doesn't hold up, something that was undoubtedly shocking and groundbreaking when it was new that just feels tired now. The zombies were cool, and the mall setting was suitably creepy (the zombies-on-the-escalator shtick is one of my favorite things ever) but none of it made very much sense in the end. I had a really hard time following the human characters or understanding what they were doing and why. I know 28 Days Later owes its very life to Dawn, but it improved upon the theme so thoroughly, mostly by making it about realistic people who we care about in peril, instead of boring ciphers you'd like to see eaten. I'm curious to see how the remake holds up when it comes out on video.

For scary creatures of a different sort, there's Party Monster, which I actually found vaguely offensive. Let me just say that I like Macaulay Culkin. I'm not convinced he's the world's greatest actor, but he's grown from a very annoying child into a charming and self-assured young man. He was on The Graham Norton Experience recently and I found him endlessly likeable. Unfortunately, in this movie he and Seth Green (another one of my favorite young actors) are both doing obnoxiously fake fag voices that make Sean Hayes look butch. Seth Green is a good actor who can almost pull it off, but Culkin's stilted, mannered performance is painful to watch. I know they're based on real people, and maybe this is what they really sounded like, but reality alone does not necessarily a good film make! The costumes were fun, but I'd rather see Taboo. That the film is almost completely asexual just adds to the sense that it's some kind of gay minstrel show. Which might be fun if it weren't also so bloody boring. And, back on my New York rant, there's a police car in it at one point that isn't period in the slightest.

Girls Will Be Girls, on the other hand, is the gayest old time I've had watching a movie in a long time. Twisted genius Richard Day took your basic up-and-coming actress meets washed-up legend-in-her-own-mind Hollywood story (already a camp-fest) and cast drag queens in all the major roles. I shouldn't call them drag queens, really, because the whole point is that they're playing these women as women...very ugly, over-the-top women. Actually, that's not fair; Varla Jean Merman, as the ingénue, could pass for "real" in the right light, and has the eager young thing down pat. I know it sounds terrible, but it actually works amazingly well, and it's hysterically funny. I doubt you'll find it in Blockbuster, but this is one worth checking out.

Moving from the campy to the arty, I just don't see what all the fuss was about Whale Rider. The acting and cinematography are indeed beautiful, but I was mostly unmoved by the story. First of all, we know she's going to ride the damn whale, so where's the suspense? And, um, boys are mean and girls rock. It was like Billy Elliot in New Zealand. Oh wait, everyone in the world except me loves that movie too. More to the point, I'm actually very interested in the Maori people, and I didn't learn anything new. I actually felt excluded from the film in a big way, which kept me from caring at all. I don't expect to be welcomed with open arms if I show up in a village, but it would have been nice if the film had enlightened me at all about this beautiful and little-known culture. Nope, just boys are mean, girls rock, and barnacles make good handlebars.

How do you take Susan Sarandon, Dustin Hoffman and Jake Gyllenhall and wind up with a bad movie? I don't know, but Moonlight Mile is it. Maybe I'm just too cynical (ya think?) but I just can't deal with whine-fests like this. Again, great performances by all three leads, but a script that left them out on a limb and made them all (Gyllenhall in particular) into irritating narcissists. I know everyone grieves differently, and the process can be long and painful, but again, realism and entertainment don't always mix. In this case, realism is boring as hell. I also don't understand why the film is set in the 70s, except as an excuse to use some fun period props and Nixon references. There wasn't even much of a soundtrack. Thank god for Sarandon, who brought life to every scene she was in.

Just yesterday I watched Confessions of a Dangerous Mind which, despite at least three appearances of Sam Rockwell's ass also bored me completely. Again, a bunch of terrific actors and a fantastic writer (Charlie Kaufmann), and an utterly dull film. There were some interesting visuals from director George Clooney and I actually loved Julia Roberts (I'm not generally a fan), but on the whole I just didn't care. I had a hard time getting a clear sense of who anyone was or why they were doing whatever they happened to be doing. Though to be fair, I was doing other things while it played and didn't give it my full attention. Far more interesting to me than the idea that Chuck Barris was a professional assassin was the idea that he invented what we now know as reality TV. The Dating Game was the father of Blind Date, and The Newlywed Game and The Gong Show gave us an early glimpse of how much people were willing to humiliate each other for cash and prizes. I thought all of the TV scenes in the movie were great, both in terms of the way they recreated the shows and the glimpse they gave into the business 30 and 40 years ago.

Last but not least, I decided to check out Dirty Dancing again after a friend of mine was quoted in a Salon article about the cult status of the film and its affect on pre-teen girls in the 80s. I liked it, but it's another one where I don't see what all the fuss is about. I have to say, I don't find Patrick Swayze the least bit sexy and never have. He's strangely proportioned (don't get me wrong, I'd take his body over my own any day, but still), and his head is too big. The dancing is pretty dull. Love love love Jennifer Grey though, and I mourn for the loss of her old nose. Jerry Orbach is also terrific, especially after so many years of watching him play the same character on Law and Order.

I have no pithy wrap-up, and this post is long enough. So there. No more movies for now.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Bring on the Strippers!

Okay, okay, two weeks later I'm finally posting about ME's bachelor party, stop clamoring for it already!! What? You say no one's clamoring? You say it sounds pretty dull? Eh, yeah, I suppose you're right. No, no I don't mean the event was dull, it was totally awesome, just not necessarily the kind of awesome that complete strangers will find entertaining. But what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't do that occasionally? If only there had been strippers. I mean, come on, I ask you -- what's a bachelor party without strippers?

Since half of this blog's mission in life is for me to bitch about stupid people, let's start with the trip up to Boston. Because there's nothing like a bus for observing stupidity at its stupidest. You know how there's always one passenger who insists on changing his seat every five minutes, or going to the bathroom repeatedly and whacking everyone in the head on his way? Yeah, unfortunately, this time, that passenger was me.

The bus was very empty and I got a seat to myself by an emergency exit, so there was some extra leg room. Running on two hours of sleep, I promptly curled up for a nap. But once we were underway it got hot and my little air thingies weren't working, so I moved across the aisle and back a few rows to another empty seat...elbowing a man on the aisle in the head as I went. Shortly after I'd curled up much less comfortably there, the bus pulled into a gas station. Seriously? I thought, We're stopping for gas?? The driver made an announcement in such heavily accented English that he might as well have been speaking Esperanto, and got off the bus. He came back and made another announcement, something about a problem not being with the computers and having to wait an hour for another bus. Only when he walked through the aisle opening the emergency hatches in the roof did I piece it all together: The air conditioning wasn't working, and our options were to wait an hour for a new bus, or to open the hatches and ride "tropical style," as he put it.

Always a fan of fresh air, I was actually thrilled, and now that a nice breeze was flowing I headed back to my original, larger seat. I sat down in front of the man I'd clocked in the head and his companion, and tried to get comfortable. The seat wouldn't recline. I realized I was in the wrong seat. I should have been one more ahead. So I moved again, earning shaking heads and nasty looks from the couple behind me. To make matters even worse, they were both hearing impaired, so I couldn't even apologize properly for being an idiot, just mouth "I'm sorry" hugely (like, um, an idiot) and flail my hands a bit just to prove I don't know sign language.

The movie was at a volume where I could sleep through it or listen to it, but if I tried to drown it out with my iPod the music would be too loud to sleep to, and I got scared by all the family-friendly trailers. Then the feature turned out to be Shrek, which made me very happy. Even dozing off for part of it, it's a damn good film. Not bad for a bus. I once saw Breakdown on a bus and have lived in fear of Peter Pan's selection process ever since.

Anyway, I arrived in Springfield, MA in one piece and vaguely rested, and after some sort of directional disaster (Yahoo Maps is the work of the devil), ME and EK picked me up and we joined more of ME's friends (only one of whom I'd ever met) at Six Flags. In the four hours or so we were there, I only went on three rides, but it was a lovely day to wait in line, and I finally managed to get some color, something I've been failing at all summer. Though we mocked him at the time, EK actually had the right idea: terrified of the big coasters, he managed to go on four or five kiddie rides in the time it took us to get to the front of our lines, returning just in time to watch our misfortune.

I always think roller coasters are a great idea until I'm actually on them. That said, the Superman ride is (to put it as the locals would) wicked awesome. I'm pretty okay with speed and height, but absolutely hate jerks and bumps (bumper-cars and -boats notwithstanding), and Superman is an amazingly smooth ride. The main gimmick is the height, but since the seriously terrifying drop is first, everything that comes after it is sort of a blessed relief. At one point, I ducked instinctively, though I knew intellectually that the track we were passing under could not possibly take my head off, and for a while I couldn't get my head back up from the centrifugal force. Oddly enough, this was more cool than terrifying. And a spray near the end that I'd taken for a CO2 fog machine turned out to be a refreshing mist of cool water, fine enough so that it didn't even mess up my glasses. Good call, coaster designer!

Less fun was the Mind Eraser. Really, the name should have been a giveaway. This is the one where the track is above the car and you sit with your legs over thin air. The feet thing didn't bug me so much, but the sides feel oddly exposed too, and there are a lot of twists and loops. In the first couple of seconds I closed my eyes and found myself unable to open them again. This was actually pretty cool, as I could feel the motion and the speed without that terror of seeing what's coming, but it also fucked with my equilibrium and made me queasy and dizzy.

As part of the requisite bachelor party embarrassment, DB (appointed by fiancée MCM to be the master of humiliation...which, wow, sounds like something else entirely) made ME take a picture with Speedy Gonzales (though really I suspect this was more embarrassing for the guy in the Speedy suit than for ME), and get an airbrushed tattoo on his arm that said "Luscious" (in pink, natch).

We got overpriced snacks (and for the record, even in New England, the idea of marinara sauce on fried dough is absolutely revolting), and I finished the afternoon with EK and J on the flume ride. Thankfully, the creepy old man only showed up on a couple of billboards near the entrance to the park, so we hardly had to deal with him at all, and I never heard the terrible song except in my head.

I slept some more in the car to Cambridge, and made some phone calls as I started to freak out properly about being away from my show that evening. There had been a series of mix-ups at the hotel which resulted in EK (the best man, btw, who did a phenomenal job of organizing the weekend's festivities) scoring a great suite for the four of us who weren't local. There weren't actually enough beds, but there was more than enough space to make up for that. We all showered (um, separately, gross) and headed into Harvard Square for dinner, where I met even more new people.

Now, ME had said that this would be the "gayest bachelor party ever," and I have to say I was kinda disappointed. There were three of us there, out of the ten or twelve guys I met over the course of the weekend. KED claims to be a gay man, but I think her vagina ultimately disqualifies her. That said, I think I was the only one there who really regretted the lack of strippers. Come on, people, where's your sense of ironic kitsch? Oh, well, I guess that explains it.

Dinner was lovely, at a fancy-but-not-too-fancy restaurant I hope to go to again next time I'm in town. We mostly ordered different things, and JH was kind enough to let me try his shark, which was quite good. Someone, I forget who, had the brilliant idea of ordering every dessert on the menu and passing them all around the table. Best. Ginger. Ice cream. EVER.

I slipped out to the street twice to call work, checking in at the beginning of the "day," and then right before the show. Everything seemed to be well in hand, though my star hadn't known exactly why I wasn't there and teased, "You left us for a bachelor party? Oh, I am going to give you so much shit next week." Suddenly I was grateful for the absence of strippers, as I didn't have to lie when I explained that it wasn't "that kind of bachelor party," or I wouldn't have missed work.

We moved on to a bar in Harvard Square where any possible illusions of this being the gayest bachelor party ever were completely shattered. I was surrounded by straight people, and while I don't consider myself hip in any way at all, I couldn't help thinking Fucking bridge and tunnel crowd over and over again. Then I remembered that I was in Boston and there was no such thing; it was all bridge-and-tunnel. Terrifying. Still, I entertained myself making nefarious plans to take over the world with KED, and watching DB try (successfully, but with great effort) to get ME to dance with some women who were about ready to fall down drunk at 11 pm (I try not to do my falling down until after midnight, but then, I don't have Massachusetts' blue laws to deal with at home).

When we decided we were done and ME had been photographed with the skanky drunk girls, we moved on to a brewery across the square, where we were largely alone and able to converse in peace...until the bartender very rudely threw us out a little after one. Most of us retired to the hotel, where I still held out hope that DB might have a stripper waiting in the closet, but alas it was just quiet conversation and much drunken laughter.

I slept on a couch that was comfy but too small, but since I'd been running on empty all weekend I fell quickly into a virtual coma. When I woke up my feet were asleep from having been elevated on the sofa's arm. We went to brunch, where there were still more new people (including more women, all fully clothed), and I nearly got into a fight with someone whose name escapes me about why I hate Boston (lovely to visit but I could never live there again) and why he hates New York.

EK's parents met us (he'd been driving their car all weekend) and took us on a drive to South Station that was far more harrowing than any of the rides at Six Flags. I've always found EK's parents endlessly amusing, and even more so now that we're a little older and I can see clearly that EK is destined to turn into a perfect blend of the two of them. We got on a thoroughly disgusting Greyhound bus (don't be fooled into thinking that Peter Pan, Bonanza and Greyhound are they same now, the Greyhound people don't know how to clean), where I slept some more, and soon we were happily home in New York again.

It was really a wonderful weekend, most of all because of all the lovely people I got to meet. I haven't lived in the same city as ME and MCM in 7 years, so we've all had these sort of separate but intersecting lives since then. I think it's rare for those intersections to get wider, and rarer still for it to be so successful. That I really really liked everyone I met wasn't shocking, considering how much I like our mutual friends, but it was certainly exciting and in some way, a little bit inspiring. Plus, now I'll have more people to talk to at the actual wedding.

Still, I'd trade in all the new friends for a stripper.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Radish the Model

I really don't want to become one of those cat people, or one of those bloggers, but I just had to post this ridiculous photo of my ridiculous kitten. I swear I didn't pose him in any way, just walked into the bedroom to find him like this, doing his best person imitation. (There's another similar one, and if I can figure out how to make flickr put two in one post I'll add that too.)

Originally uploaded by Adam875.

Monday, July 26, 2004

The coup continues

Yep, the machines have completely turned against me.

The broadband has been cutting in and out. I had a service call scheduled for Friday and they never showed up (they claim they did, which may actually be possible since we learned too late that the buzzer was broken, but they also claim they called, which I suppose is also possible but no one ever left a message, so how were we supposed to deal with that?), but by then it was working again so I didn't really care. Then yesterday it crapped out again, came back for several hours this afternoon, then died once more (I'm at the theater now). They're coming to look at it tomorrow, supposedly. I'll spare you the tale off customer service woe, as it's boring at this point. I will rant briefly that I think Time Warner deliberately makes it as difficult as they can to get anything done. It's literally impossible to speak to the same service rep twice, and good luck getting a supervisor (even if you do there's no telling if they are who they say they are -- a trick I pulled once or twice back in the box office days). Navigating the phone menus and being on hold, even briefly (there's no way to skip the "helpful" announcement even after you've memorized which buttons to push) is maddening to the point where I decided to hold off on calling today first until after I'd had lunch, and then until after I'd napped. I thought about making a big stink about how I had to take work off on Friday and it was unreasonable to expect me to do it again on Tuesday, but it would have been a big fat lie and I don't think anyone would have cared anyway.

Meanwhile, my GameCube has bit the dust (bitten?). Not really a big deal since I should be doing more productive things than playing video games right now, and it's fairly cheap to replace (with a trade-in) but annoying nevertheless. And because it's annoying, I will almost certainly deal with it today or tomorrow, and I will almost certainly buy some used games while I'm at the store, and that will almost certainly throw a wrench into the shockingly productive works I've set up over the last couple of days (that would be the good news buried in all my bitching). Knowing this and knowing it's theoretically avoidable does nothing to make me feel like I actually have the power to stop it. Sigh.

Thank god I got rid of the LitterMaid. I shudder to think of what part in this little revolution it might have played.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Adventures in Audience Participation

On Wednesday we went to see two shows. They were both quite good (remarkable in and of itself), but at the matinee there were several camp groups in attendance. I don't mean groups of gay men in flamboyant outfits (it was a Broadway musical, that's a given), I mean a couple hundred children under age 12. And Boy and I, with our cheap rear mezzanine seats, wound up sitting in their midst. I was terrified -- especially when some sort of seating drama (purely internal among the kids and their not-much-older-than-them counselors, nothing to do with the theater) had them running back and forth, in and out of our row and over my sandaled feet -- but I have to confess that they were shockingly well-behaved once the show started. The only time I felt any murderous rage at all was when, for about fifteen minutes, the amazingly loud sound of crinkling cellophane shot up from a few rows in front of us. I couldn't figure out exactly where it was coming from, but it was constant, like a nervous habit instead of just someone unwrapping something. I couldn't believe no one closer to the source noticed this and stopped it, but of course it was a child sitting amongst children, so who would? It was maddening. Or so I thought. Turns out I didn't know the meaning of the word.

The mezzanine was fairly empty, despite the large groups, so at intermission we moved down a few rows into better seats. At the same time, apparently, every single child in the camp groups went to the bar for candy. Cellophane wrapped candy. For the first part of the second act, it was all I could do to hear the show at all, as dozens of little hands futzed with dozens of plastic-wrapped boxes, and a sound like a thousand angry insects filled the upper level of the theater. It was maddening. I'm used to popcorn noises and the like at movies, and can tune them out, but for some reason it drove me utterly insane here. It actually made me angry. I'm not a big theater snob; I rarely dress up, since I don't see the point just to sit in the dark, and I actually love the fact that all these kids in their camp t-shirts were being exposed to a classic musical in a casual way, perhaps shaking the idea that Broadway is elitist and forming a new generation of theater-goers. But there are just some basic things that people seem not to get about the experience, starting with the fact that the actors who are working so hard to entertain you can see and hear you! You're not watching a video in the privacy of your own home, or even a movie in a theater, this is live, and the noise you make is distracting to absolutely everyone.

We've all heard those pre-show announcements, a fairly recent innovation, asking people to turn off their cell phones. Well, okay, cell phones are relatively new thing in our lives, and we've come to take them for granted and may need a little reminder to turn them off. But lately those announcements also include the request to unwrap your candy before the show. My mother has actually done this for as long as I can remember. She lines up a row of Tic Tacs along the top of her purse before the show begins (or, if she has a cold, she'll open a few Ricolas). Individually wrapped hard candies, and the senior citizens who chain-suck them, are not a recent innovation. Why do we suddenly have to be reminded not to make noise at the theater?

One recent night at my show, someone was crinkling a wrapper so constantly that one of the actors was distracted to the point where his performance suffered. Not entirely professional of the actor, perhaps, but frankly he shouldn't have to put up with that. It's a small space, with seats on two sides of the stage, which means that people in the front couple of rows are often fully lit, and can be seen the actors, as well as by patrons in the other section. You'd think, then, that they would be a little self-conscious about, say, wildly swinging their legs, or, as has actually happened, falling asleep. (A woman did fall down once, and that was entertaining.) I'm not saying you have to pretend to like the show if you don't, but have some respect for the people who are onstage working their asses off, not to mention the other patrons who paid god knows how much for a ticket, all of whom can clearly see and hear you!

Okay, sorry, got off on a bit of a rant there, and I did say I had two shows to discuss. And it's a good note to end on because the second weird audience experience of the day was weird in the best possible way.

In the evening we went to Shakespeare in the Park (really no getting around anonymity on this one, since the venue is relevant to the story). About halfway through the second act, we heard a voice coming from the house to our left. It sounded like someone saying numbers into a cell phone. I was appalled. Had someone answered her phone? Was she trying to leave a message with a phone number? It didn't actually make much sense. Other people started turning around to look, especially in the section in front of the talker.

Maybe a minute later, the scene onstage ended, but the transition into the next one didn't complete. The stage manager's voice came over the speakers, and informed us that the show had to be stopped so they could attend to a sick patron, and asked us for our patience. The house lights came up and it became clear that the voice on the phone belonged to a member of the house staff, and from the sound of it they were having a hard time getting an ambulance to us in the middle of the park (which made me wonder, with a 2000-seat venue in a relatively hard to reach (by car) spot, you'd think they'd just have one on call). We couldn't really see what was going on, but several people were huddled around something in the aisle. A few patrons, presumably doctors, came over and either helped or saw they weren't needed and left. Eventually, in the definition of overkill, two EMTs, three firefighters and a cop arrived, and an elderly man was carried out on a chair-stretcher, followed by two women whom I assumed had come to the show with him.

Here's the amazing thing: For the ten minutes or so this was all going on, the house was almost completely silent. Eventually people started to stir and talk, but very quietly, nothing like the sound of 2000 people talking at once usually makes. There was some rubbernecking, but I didn't see anyone stand up except the handful of people who were trying to help. We all just sat there, patiently, waiting for the show to begin again. As the man was carried out, there was a bit of applause (intended, I believe, for the emergency crew, but it felt a little like we were clapping for the poor old guy's departure!), and within seconds the show picked up right where it had left off, as if nothing had happened.

Even writing about it now, after my rant, I find the experience refreshing. As it was happening I thought it was weird, though of course also good, and now I'm feeling sort of proud about it. 2000 New Yorkers, and not one of us got annoyed at the show being stopped, or overly curious about what was going on, just sat patiently and showed a huge amount of respect for the theater staff, as well as the sick man and his companions.

If only I could get all their names, I'd try to get a group together and only see shows with them from now on.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Does anal retentive have a hyphen? No, because it's gramatically incorrect anyway.

Today I did possibly the most anally retentive thing I've ever done, and that's really saying something. Putting the fabulous drawer unit I got yesterday (I got the grey one, linked at the bottom of that page) to good use, I sorted my coin wrappers, separated by type into neat little rows. They have their own drawer. How sad is that?

Since moving into my current apartment, I've had a rolly cart that's really meant for a kitchen or bathroom in a corner by my desk. I use it for all sorts of miscellaneous things (like coin wrappers), and after three years it suddenly dawned on me the other day (in a particularly irritating dig for a dime wrap) that this was both impractical, as the little items got jumbled and buried, and an incredibly inefficient use of space, since so much vertical space between the shelves was empty. Plus, with the new arrival of all sorts of cat food and toys in the house, the old rack can now be put to better use in the kitchen.

So yesterday's trip to the Container Store had a purpose beyond making me feel better, and in classic CS form, they had exactly what I didn't know I needed: wide, shallow drawers so that everything could be separate; empty file folders in one, greeting cards in another, cables, and coin wrappers. I was terribly excited setting them up this morning, with only a small pang of regret that I hadn't bought the taller unit with four more drawers.

Then the sorting began, the most curious part of which being that I'm not sure why I even had so many empty coin wrappers in the first place. Did I go too far?

Geeks in good company

In case anyone still cares, Erik just made the same argument about Apple that I made the other day, only he did so much more eloquently and briefly. Read it here.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Containment Field of Dreams

So at the end of my thoroughly crappy day (actually, the middle of it, but in the early evening), I went to the Container Store for a little retail therapy. There was a woman at the door handing out flyers, and I was so NOT in the mood for a flyer lady. But it turned out they were catalogs, not flyers, so I took one. I started to ask catalog lady, "Where would I find, like, tall, skinny drawers, shallow drawers, kinda officey..." and as I spoke I flipped open the catalog and on the page was exactly what I was looking for, even though I hadn't known that until I saw it. So instead I pointed and said, like an excited idiot, "That! Where can I find that??" She laughed at me and pointed towards the mountain of plastic storage thingies in the middle of the store. I thanked her and left.

It wasn't there.

Ready to curl myself up in a little ball on the floor (perhaps in the laundry section), I headed towards the office supply corner.

And there they were, but in a different color from the ones in the catalog.

A better color.

It cost more than I'd planned to spend on this particular organizational whim.

But it was on sale.

What, you thought this story was going to end badly?

Rise of the Machines, Part 5?

Technology really is against me today! In the middle of rehearsal, a dimmer started freaking out (I realize that means something to, like, two of you, but trust me it sucks), then the light in my office literally fell apart, and now the sync cable for my Palm that I carry around with me isn't working (either that or both of my USB ports are out, but that's just unthinkable).

I think the obvious solution is to go to the Container Store on my break for a little retail therapy, but if this really is the beginning of the machines' takeover, I'm afraid the Roomba might attack me.

The technology gods are angry with me.

I have no Internet connection at home. This has nothing to do with the AirPort Express, but the irony isn't lost on me. The first time I got a wireless router, Boy's laptop died, and half the reason we'd gotten the thing was so that he could get online at my house. Now, a day after the shiny shiny APX arrives, Time Warner craps out on me.

It died quite suddenly around 1 AM, and I didn't worry because they sometimes do maintenance around "normal" people's schedules. But this morning it still wasn't working right. It's intermittent. I can get on for short bursts, then the indicator light on the modem that says "Cable," will go out or start flashing madly. Obviously, I can get on elsewhere (thank you, wireless, and thank you people all over New York too stupid to password-protect their connections), but it's somewhat disturbingly debilitating. I had only a handful of things on my to-do list before rehearsal this morning, but each of them involved the Internet. I have to transfer some money so a check won't bounce, I have to go on Priceline to try to figure out impending travel plans (you can re-bid on the same thing once every three days), I had to get phone numbers for some businesses I planned to call later in the day. It's incredibly frustrating.

Adding to a conversation that's been going on in the comments, this is actually a big reason why I will never be a big fan of web-based email. I love that I can be online for a few seconds, pull my email down to my laptop, write and reply from wherever, and send it all out in another few seconds when I'm online again. Earthlink has webmail, of course, so I can still get at stuff without my laptop, and it's the best of both worlds.

Still, right now I'm trying to figure out what I've done to anger the technology gods. I wonder if they're punishing me for shopping at CompUSA.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Bad Apples and Good Apples

Dismayed by the realization that my geekiest posts also tend to be my longest (or rather, my most long-winded), I decided to add some handy links for you to jump to whichever parts interest you: I've been annoyed the way Apple lately has rapidly changed their products at the expense of older never used to be like that.... I got a wireless router...then returned it...then had more beef with Apple...but had a surprisingly good experience at CompUSA...and love love love my new AirPort Express. ...Wow, even that abstract sounds really dull and doesn't interest me at all, show me that cute kitten again!

It's not like I'm going to switch or anything, but Apple has really lost a lot of my good will in the last couple of days. The products are still fab, but I'm having corporate issues. The iPod thing was a symptom of a larger problem I have with them lately. Since the initial release of OS X, they've put out a major upgrade of the system software about once a year. Back in the pre-OS X days, this wouldn't have mattered much. But now they've got all these applications sort of built-in to the system, like iCal, Safari, iChat and Address Book, that I love and use constantly. In our wonderful age of constant, high-speed Internet, I can get little software updates to these freebies constantly, fixing bugs and adding features. But when a new operating system comes out, so do the new versions of the system apps, and all support for the old ones go away. Want the new features? Pay for the system upgrade. So goes the iPod -- though the current software still has some bugs (like inaccurate battery level readings), I suspect that I will never again see an update compatible with my barely 6-month-old iPod.

This is actually a common thing in computer-land, of course, but it still surprises me coming from Apple. I remember through most of the 90s, I could still get tech support and accessories for my old Apple IIe if necessary. They sold peripherals for years after discontinuing a PC, because they understood that not everyone actually got all the newest hardware right away, or ever. I just feel like in the rush to bring out new products, they're ignoring the old ones, and the loyal long-time customers.

And speaking of the rush to bring out new products, here comes gripe number two...
Boy and I sort of put the kitten before the horse, getting a pet together before actually moving in together. So since the arrival of Radish, Boy has been spending almost every night at "my" place. This has been great except for the way he can't get online with his laptop. For months we thought the tricksters at Time Warner had somehow set up my cable modem to only work with my laptop, but we recently learned that the simple act of turning it off and then on again when switching machines solves that problem. But we still can't both be online at the same time, and for two geeks like us, that can be problematic. We had planned to get wireless when we move in together officially anyway, so I went down to the Apple Store and impulse-bought an AirPort base station. It was dreamy and perfect...though the very same day Boy's HP laptop died and had to be sent back for repair, so we didn't get to try out the both-online-at-once thing, but it was dreamy for me.

A couple of days later I was tooling around online and I discovered that the brand-spankin' new AirPort Express had features I hadn't thought it had, on top of being tiny and about $70 less than the one I'd just purchased. I checked out the return policy, and even with the restocking fee I'd save 50 bucks. So I packed up the big mushroom and brought it back to the store. I asked a few questions about the new model to confirm that it was what I wanted, then waited on a very short line and took care of my return in about a minute -- and they didn't charge me the restocking fee. I don't know if I'd misread the policy, or if the clerk made a mistake or was just being nice, but any way you slice it, it was a bonus.

From one of the computers in the store, I checked out the online store. The Express was due to ship in "mid-July," and it was already almost the second week of the month, so I ordered it right there, thinking it would be the fastest way to get the thing as soon as it was released. Then I went home and began the horrible pangs of wireless withdrawl.

So, mid-July is here, and the website declares proudly that the AirPort Express is "Shipping Now." Yet for some reason my order is now scheduled to ship in August.

Last night I read on Mac 911 that the same thing is happening with the new iPods. Apple's press release claims that they're "available immediately," and the website exhorts customers to order them online or go to an Apple Store for "instant gratification," but no one actually has them. The article did mention, though, that the Express was in stock, though my order online still said August.

Never big on patience, I decided to run down to the Soho store and buy one today, then cancel the online order. They sold out this morning. Seriously? How many did they order? I know we Mac folks are some freaky geeks, but was there really a rush on wireless routers?? Come on!

So I was all kinds of irritated, more on principal than anything else, since it's not like I needed the thing. But determined to somehow manufacture a happy ending, I called CompUSA, thinking it was futile. I hate CompUSA. It makes me feel dirty and and inevitably pisses me off. But the surprisingly friendly rep on the phone told me they had 20 in stock. Even more surprisingly, in the Apple section I found a very helpful salesman who, based on his conversation with the customer ahead of me, knew his shit when it came to Macs. He asked a colleague to show me where the AirPorts were, and as we walked over he admired my iPod case. At checkout, the original salesman returned, and told me he'd set up his Express last night and it was great. I said I was excited, and told him the Apple Store was sold out. "Oh, so you went there first?"
"Um, yeah."
I told him I was actually shocked to a) find an employee in CompUSA, and b) to find one who knew Macs. It used to be impossible to do either. The guy said that most of the staff now were Mac users themselves, and there was always someone assigned to the Apple corner. Good to know! Considering the clerk at the Apple Store had done everything but actually say "duh" when telling me they were sold out, I may have a new secret toy store.

Good geek that I am, all crankiness was washed away by the sight of a good new toy. The new AirPort is so shiiiiiny. Hell, even the box is well-designed. I plugged it in and Boy and I were both online in about five minutes. From across the room, with no cords attached to my laptop, I can get streaming Internet audio in iTunes and send it back to the speakers across the room. I can't imagine why I would actually need to do that, but I had a little techgasm (tm Boy) when I tried it out. And did I mention that it's pretty? And tiny?

Oh, who am I kidding, Apple, I can't stay mad at you. You had me at "bong."

Monday, July 19, 2004

From tech geek to tech gripe

Okay, so Apple just released a new iPod. And that's fine; I actually like the old design (the recent one, not the old old design) better, though I covet the 12-hour battery a little.

But it looks like they made major improvements to the software too -- little things, like redesigned menus and clicks in the earphones, but things that make using it much faster and simpler -- and I can't get the new software on my iPod that I got seven months ago. Is the hardware really so radically different that it won't run? Or could they not have done a version that makes the cosmetic changes that'll run on the barely slightly older version? More importantly, does this mean I'll never get another software update again, while they continue to upgrade only the new models? 'Cause that doesn't seem fair at all.

Maybe I'll write to them from my Gmail account to complain.

Geeks and Kittens

Well waddaya know? Blogging about my productivity dry spell seems to have broken my productivity dry spell, at least in the blogging department. Though I'm not sure that blogging about blogging quite qualifies as breaking the dry spell, yet here I go.

Lots of Blogger users seem to be migrating to TypePad. Lemming that I am, I checked it out, but it looks like a gigantic rip-off to me. I don't really want to pay for my blog anyway, and the lowest price scale over there is very light on the features.

My little peek at the neighbors' lawn did inspire me to check out the Blogger homepage (which I typically bypass with a bookmark to my "create post" page), where I discovered that they've been adding all sorts of new features to compete. They have a partnership with a new photo site called Flickr, so since people have asked, I've put up some pictures of Radish here.

Blogger (which is owned by Google) is also offering Gmail accounts to all its members. I don't need a Gmail account. I have email with my cable modem, and I use Entourage (ie, Outlook) and have never much cared for web-based email. But I got a Gmail account, because it seems to be the thing to do. I know people who are begging for invitations, and I've had one sitting on my Blogger homepage for who knows how long? So I'm cool. I have a Gmail account. Envy me. Am I still cool if I never actually use it?

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The Continuing Adventures of Radish

Boy was away for three weeks last month, and I went a little nuts buying toys for Radish. Nothing fancy or expensive, but I was working long days and there was no one else to play with him, so I wanted to make sure he had lots of little balls and wobbly things. He seemed pretty content.

Then one day I came home to find that Radish had discovered the feather duster, and managed to get it off its hook in the kitchen.
[click on the picture for a super-cute video in a new window]

Okay, so this entire post was an excuse to put up that video.

The thing is, I find myself a little overwhelmed and bewildered by the insane variety of cat toys, especially given that the typical cat will happy play with balled up paper or bugs. I've been trying to get Radish into catnip, not because I want him drugged up or anything, but because it can be a useful tool. He tends not to scratch things on purpose, but he likes to climb, and he'll often jump halfway up to, say, the couch, or perhaps my lap, then scramble the rest of the way. So we need to keep his claws trimmed, and I got one of these things that you put catnip in, so he'll scratch to try to get at it, and thereby keep his claws dulled. Only he has no interest in it at all.

So I've been looking for toys of the sort we already know he likes, but with catnip in them. And they don't exist. Plenty of feathers, none with catnip. And the one feather toy I got that we both really liked fell apart in two days. Hello, the product is designed so that the cat will try to kill it, could you make it a little sturdier please?

Oh well. Pretty much everything from Petco is under the couch now, and we've gone back to balls of paper. Some with catnip in them if I'm feeling industrious. We've had moderate success at getting him to fetch, but we think it's mostly by accident. Damn cute though -- video to come.

How are we defining "everyone?"

So I've been seeing these Everyone Loves A Jewish Boy t-shirts everywhere lately. Like at least one or two a day on the street. What does it say about me that I've consistently thought the little hearts surrounding the text were dollar signs? I mean, I was offended when I thought they were dollar signs -- that's what this post started out as before I looked at the picture in the link -- but now I'm just disturbed.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Apathy is Not a Flower

I need to get back in shape. Not that I was ever really in shape, but I need to get back to the shape I was in between my current shape and the one before the last one. I haven't really gained much weight, maybe five pounds, but I don't like the way my clothes are fitting or how low my energy is or how stiff my body feels.

Yet as clear and strong as this desire is, I can't seem to motivate myself to actually do anything about it. I can barely muster enthusiasm to go to the gym, let alone to go back on Atkins or South Beach or something, you know, hard.

I'm kind of over the whole low-carb thing. I mean, it was/is really good for me personally -- I lost a lot of weight and kept it off, educating myself and cutting down on the things that were making me fat without cramping my culinary style too much – but I'm right there with the other backlashers at the insane Atkins explosion. Being able to get a meal without a potato side dish at Friday's or a wrap at Subway or sugar-free (and low-fat, thank you very much) ranch so that your dressing doesn't defeat the purpose of your salad are all good things, but the most popular products are just exploiting stupid people who think that if they eat a pint of Carb Karma and a bag of Doritos Edge (or, back in the day, an entire box of Snackwells) they'll lose weight.

But I digress. I could very easily go back on a low carb variant (minus the fake junk food, please), or just up my gym hours, but the fact is I'm just in the middle of a lazy spell. I swore to myself that I'd be "good" yesterday, and I was -- I went to the gym, brought a wrap from home for lunch, had a salad for dinner...and then a coworker made cookies and I ate ten of them. Today we went to the lunch buffet at our favorite Indian place and I gave new meaning to "all you can eat."

It's not just diet and fitness -- I've been lazy about just about everything, and there's no reason for it. I'm in a rare and astonishingly fortunate position right now: I have a job that I love and that's paying me enough money to live on, and I have a relatively large amount of free time, due to that job's unusual (even for me) schedule. So I'm both totally happy in life (Boy and Kitten, nuff said, and soon we'll add Apartment to the list, but that's a tale for later) and in work, and yet I can't seem to get my butt off the couch. I have projects all over the apartment that need to get tackled. I've been meaning to blog about ME's bachelor party all week, and I've been telling myself to do a bunch of movie reviews for over a month now. I made "summer resolutions" to read more and catch up on my Netflix; I've done neither.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not wallowing in self-pity or anything here, just trying to figure things out. Work will get busier soon, which is good, but it brings my extra free time to a close. There are things to be organized! Labels to be made! Boxes to pack! Photos to scan! Masses to entertain! Yoga classes to attend! Um, or, I could curl up with the cat and nap, or play some SSX. Take away the kitten and it's like college all over again, except the only classes I'm cutting are self-designed independent study.

Is it ironic that the first blog post I've mustered real enthusiasm for in weeks was the one about apathy? Oh, well, and making fun of Bride was fun too. I suppose I should ponder all this.

Eh, I'll do it later.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Singing in the rain

I went to a concert last night for the first time in over five years. Boy had asked me if I wanted to see Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright and Guster at Central Park SummerStage. I never would have thought about it on my own -- I like Guster a lot, but haven't purchased an album since their second one; I like what I've heard of Ben Folds, but only own a couple of downloaded tracks; and you know how I feel about Rufus -- but I'm always up for events in the Park and it sounded like fun.

The lineup seemed like a natural fit to me -- all sort of arty and pretentious but easily accessible pop-rock-folk, all artists with a sense of humor, and all with a young, culty fan base -- but the crowd was very easy to break up just by looking around. There was a lot of overlap to be sure, but you could easily tell the cleaned-up ex-frat-boy Ben Folds fan from the scruffier, stoned, sk8er boi Guster fan from the Abercrombie gay Rufus fan (a lot of high school girls seemed to be there for Rufus too, including a pair who went crazy when he started "Gay Messiah.") Despite the first-glance homogeneity (I don't recall seeing a single non-white face), it was kind of a fascinating mix of people.

It was a fascinatingly low-key as well, as if no one really cared about any of it, and not in a bad way. Ben Folds had the feel of a headliner, though he said during his banter that the three acts have been rotating the order throughout the tour, so I think it was just because he went last and was the only one to perform after dark. But even through his set the vibe was more "let's hang out and listen to some tunes" than "wow, kick-ass show." There was lots of wandering around, people everywhere (including us) were talking, and no one (including us) seemed to mind. I guess these aren't exactly artists who put on a big visual show and require anyone's full attention.

Guster was excellent, though not terribly memorable. They didn't do many songs I knew, nor any fun covers like I was hoping for. They played really well though, and you've gotta love a rock band with congas. Well, I do anyway.

I found Rufus' set curiously enjoyable. He may be growing on me. But lord, is he pretentious! Boy referred to him as "gayer than thou." Best banter of the night: "I want to thank God for not raining on us.... And now we're going to do a song by my dad... my dad, God." Ooooookay. Rufus doesn't have a ton of up-tempo songs in his catalog, so to pep things up he covered...Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah," front-runner for the title of Most Depressing Song Ever Written. Good call, Rufus! Interestingly, as grating as I find his voice, it blends with others' sort of beautifully. He brought out some guy I'd never heard of (though he made a point of telling us that he wasn't his boyfriend) for "Complainte de la Butte" (and of course anything from Moulin Rouge makes me happy), and did several numbers with his mother and sister, and it all sounded really pretty. Of course, this also led to the gayest moment of the evening: Rufus singing "Over the Rainbow" with his mother. This was the one time when some of the frat boys seemed to get uncomfortable.

Thank god Ben Folds was relatively ballad-free. I'm not super-familiar with Ben either, but I liked everything he did and promptly downloaded a bunch of songs today. More than anything, he really knows how to work a crowd. He was by far the best at engaging us, getting even those of us being lazy in the back who didn't know the songs to sing along, voice missing instrumental parts, and sing in three-part harmony. He and Rufus did an amazingly heart-felt rendition of "Careless Whisper," and nicely filled the ironic-yet-actually-better-than-the-original cover song quota. After a rainy, mellow night, it was nice to end with some energy and humor. And the crowd singing in three-part harmony was just wicked cool.

"Pods are for single occupancy only."

This is the best thing I've ever seen. I'm totally going.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Educational Television

I had planned to write a nice fun post today about ME's bachelor party (which was both nice and fun). Then it looked like my union was about to go on strike, so you were going to get a rant about that instead. Then, at the eleventh hour, the strike was averted, and while I still have some major issues with the way Equity behaves and the way it treats its members, I'm so relieved and happy at the outcome (and actually impressed by the way they grew some balls on some important issues) that it seems inappropriate to publicly bitch about them at the moment (even though I kinda just did, and probably will more fully once things settle down).

But now I'm sleepy and don't feel coherent enough to go back to Plan A, so instead I give you the following list:

Things Boy and I Learned While Watching The 4400
  1. V remains the standard by which all alien miniseries shall be judged.
  2. Appropriately, V will also be ripped off as long as there are alien miniseries.
  3. You can always tell when something was shot in Canada, because any children in the cast will have incredibly thick accents.
  4. Speaking of children, they are mostly creepy. Mostly.
  5. Telekinesis works exactly the way Stephen King said it would in Carrie.
  6. Teen boys with healing powers are always very cute and vaguely gay (see also, Carnivale).
  7. People who suddenly wake up 60 years in the future will experience no culture shock whatsoever, and immediately know how to use all sorts of technology. Unless they are black. (See also, Song of Susannah.)
  8. Keep your psychic advice to yourself unless you want to stay an orphan.
  9. Always carry a hanky just in case your newfound alien power causes you to spontaneously bleed from the nose, ears or eyes (see also, The X Files.)
  10. If you can magically heal things, chances are you can magically kill them as well.
  11. A good way to cope with the feelings of alienation you experience after your return is to make a move on former lovers' descendants.
  12. If your first name has more than 17 letters, perhaps it is time to consider a professional pseudonym.
  13. If you're a lawyer, you can get a judge to issue a restraining order for no legal reason at all.
  14. Homosexuals are safe from the risk of alien abductions. Either that, or they're not returned.
  15. All white people have names like "Lilly," "Bryan," and "Heidi."
  16. If your big brother suddenly returns after a long absence, keep an eye on your girlfriend.
  17. Pairs of law enforcement officers will always contain one "Mulder" and one "Scully."
  18. If you hear Ivy's "Worry About You" in the background, you're doomed (see also, Kingdom Hospital).
  19. The Department of Homeland Security has jurisdiction over absolutely everything, but they have a very loose dress code and no policy at all about making personal calls.

All snark aside, loving this show.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Six Flags Over Hell

By now I assume everyone has seen the hateful new Six Flags ad campaign. It's on TV, in print, and -- bizarrely, considering it's one big sight gag -- on the radio.

I don't get it. I mean, it's not like a crotchety old man goes to Six Flags and suddenly has fun and turns his life around and cures Tiny Tim. No, he's just some crazy old man, who just goes from shuffly to dancy for no apparent reason except that he's off his meds. I don't care if it's a real old guy, or a young guy in makeup, or a combination of the two, I'm not getting on any bus these guys are driving.

And what's with the song? That song's not fun, it makes me want to scream. Sure, you want a catchy jingle that people will remember, you want it to get stuck in people's heads so they'll remember your product, but do you want your potential customers to shoot themselves and associate that with your product?

So here's the thing: I'm going to Six Flags New England tomorrow. It's my first trip to one of the parks (though I grew up near Great Adventure, my parents, being life-long New Yorkers, didn't drive, and mom hates roller coasters anyway) and I'm very excited. But if I hear that song I may have a seizure. And if I see someone in a "Mister Six" mask, I will probably feel compelled to punch him in his latex-clad face. And if I get thrown out of the park before I get to go on Batman, I'll be unbelievably sad.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Bride Gamera

If the gays do ever get the right to marry, we've got to come up with a less ridiculous website than The Knot. Useful? Extremely. Tacky? Even more so.

I mean, I know a great many brides (and some grooms, probably, let's not be sexist about this) are totally into the little curlicues and pink backgrounds and excessive exclamation points, but for most of my friends it's just way out of character.

So when I went to look up a gift registry today, and saw at the top of the couple's page (which they've made as personal and appropriate as possible, though it's still pretty flowery by nature) a very excited (and presumably automatic) 60 days to go! I knew I had to mock a little bit.

So I IMed the bride (who shall remain nameless, though no doubt she'll take issue with this post and comment, destroying her anonymity)...

Adam875: 60 days to go!
Bride: til what?
Adam875: your wedding, according to
Bride: oh
Bride: crap
Adam875: boy and i are laughing at you, right now
Bride: you're a big help
Bride: both of you
Adam875: hee
Bride: wait, why are you two lurking around the knot web page, anyway?
Adam875: do you not want a gift?
Bride: ah.
Bride: yes, i suppose we might.

I kinda feel like I'm more excited about this wedding than she is.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The Container Store saves the day again!

How did I only just discover these?? So simple and easy...

And I did a really quick and dirty job with it too, just to get things up off the floor...imagine how tidy and organized I could be if I really put in the time!

Plus, the unused ones make excellent cat toys.

Saturday, July 03, 2004


I'm not the biggest dork around!

I'm sitting in the Apple Store waiting for some help at the Genius Bar (pretty dorky), and there's a guy ahead of me on line with an Autobots logo tattooed on the back of one ankle, and a Decepticons logo on the back of the other.

That's not only dorky, that's committed.

Friday, July 02, 2004

On a happier note...

This is damn funny. (It's work-safe, though there's background music so you may want to mute.)

Stinky is bad. Stinky and early is worse.

I came home from work last night around 1:30 am, and found a big brown puddle on my kitchen counter. Dirty water was apparently seeping through the wall. This would have bothered me less had they not been doing some sort of work on the apartment sharing that wall all week, from what I could gather to stop a leak over there, which had involved me having no water in the kitchen yesterday, and no water at all during "business hours" on the two days prior.

Still, it was too late to do anything about it, so I was cranky but relatively Zen. I mopped up the mess as best I could and moved on with my evening. A while later, I went back into the kitchen to find the puddle had re-formed. This time, as I set some towels to hold the blob for the night, I felt something drip down my back. I looked up and saw that the light fixture was filling with brown water. That just can't be safe. Taking the cover off the light so it at least couldn't pool up of course resulted in the water that had already pooled up spilling all over me.

Much less Zen, but still too lazy to go downstairs and pound on his door after 2 in the morning, I paged the super, knowing full well he wouldn't respond, and off to bed I went, imploring the cat not to drink anything brown.

What really stressed me out about all this is what happened last time they did work in my apartment, with the plaster dust everywhere that's still visible when the light hits the living room floor just right. Hassle aside, I didn't have Radish then, and the kitchen has become very much his space, with the food and the litterbox and what-not. I have work basically from 2 to 2 today, and as much as I like my super, I don't trust or care for the other people who work for my landlord, and I was terrified they'd leave the front door open or get debris in the cat's food dish and just leave it there.

At ten to six this morning there was a knock on my door. Relatively soft, which I appreciated, but enough to wake me, which I actually also appreciated. Good lord, my super starts his work day before 7 am?? He asked if I had a leak, and when I said yes he asked if I'd paged him. Since my cell phone didn't show that he'd returned the call, and I doubt that he recognized my number, I became immediately suspicious of how he came by his knowledge, if they'd done something while working yesterday to cause the mess and knew it would attack me overnight.

He looked at my kitchen briefly, then went upstairs, where I heard him clomping around briefly. When he left, I got to thinking about how weirdly intimate the easily-overlooked job of super can be. I'd managed to put pants on before answering the door, but forgot that I'd put a hat on my still-wet hair yesterday and I now look like I stuck my finger in a light socket. Even without my help embarrassing myself, this man has keys to my apartment and could, theoretically, come and poke around whenever he wants. That he doesn't is, of course, one of the things that makes him good at his job.

I'm not really sure what I'm talking about. It's before 8 am, and that's too early for me under any circumstances, let alone on my current schedule. I'd like the super to return with some kind of update, but I guess I should count my blessings that he's not tearing my walls apart and go back to bed. The leak seems to have stopped, but there's also a really unhappy smell coming from the kitchen.

I can't wait til I move.