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27 December, 2007

Is speling and grammer something to break up with over?

That's a question I put forth to you, my audience. If you're typing back and forth with someone who is a prospective date - how important is it to use proper grammar and to spell correctly, and to not do things like end a sentence with a preposition? (Ending a sentence with a PROPOSITION, on the other hand, is quite a different thing, and not discouraged!)

So, here is an excerpt from a recent email I received:

"No I stay up late but it effects my work the next day if I am up to late. It's easy for me to sleep in because I am working out of my home right now. I have always been the one who would keep my friends out late. I did allot of after hours clubs and what not back in the day. I'm part of the owl family."

Okay. Let me point out a few things...

1. Affect is the verb she wants to use here.
2. Too should be used with "late" unless there is a pub called "Late" and that is where she is going - in which case, it should be capitalized (I won't even start on the number of people who type Capital Hill - yes, the hill where there are many large letters - actually - Hollywood sign could be said to be on a Capital Hill!)
3. Allot is not the word she meant to use.
4. And that sentence was a "two-for" because I'm pretty sure she meant to say "whatnot", ignoring entirely the paucity of commas in the entire message.

So, you can give me shit for not using capital letters in half of my emails and posts, but that is because they are superfluous and everyone knows it. But how many flat-out "logic errors" can one tolerate before drawing the conclusion that the composer is not that brilliant?

I contend that I am able to distinguish between typos and laziness, and true lack of understanding. And if you're trying to "court" someone, it seems to me that this would be the time to PROOFREAD your emails.

Since, as I am now becoming so fond of saying, "You only get one chance to get it right the first time!" (That's my new saying - and I think maybe I created it myself, so I'm taking credit).

26 December, 2007

Get ready to wish me farewell... because we're gonna make it BIG!

This is the START of my story about how I am on the verge of making it BIG!

This band, Grim Smiley, is on the verge of making it BIG. I say this 3 times because the more times you say something, the more true it becomes. Did you hear me? The more times you say something, the more true it becomes.

So, about us making it BIG...

We're really just a few small breaks away from the bigtime. We're in the studio now, recording some demo tracks. We are not going about this all wrong though - I swear. We are doing things EXACTLY right. We are using a studio that:

a) just opened,
b) has never recorded a band before,
c) the engineer, nice guy that he is, does not know how to use his equipment yet,
d) he does not own good microphones or preamps or compressors, which are typically considered to be "somewhat important" to getting a good recording.

But this is EXACTLY the way all the big bands do it!

In fact, I am considering giving my notice at work right after the holidays - as soon as we figure out whether or not the drums sound more like drums or like water-logged straw containers full of chocolate pudding and sand.

But why labor over the details?

We have already had one BIG show in Moscow, Idaho - which is EXACTLY where I would want to book shows, if my goal is to make it BIG. All of the big bands started out in Idaho. For instance, Rabbi Kevorkian and the Hassidic Death Tribe was HUGE in the Idaho Underground from like 1996 to 1997, and they went on to be one of the biggest selling bands that Croatia has ever seen.

So, why am I playing with Grim Smiley? Well, the simple reason is that they meet my 2 main criteria for being in a band.

1. They're really good musicians, all of them
2. They're really nice guys.

If you've played with enough people, you realize eventually that this is what matters most. A little bit of unrealistic dreaming aside, this is a fun ride. And it's much more fun to play with people who are TOO into it, rather than people who are NOT into it.

More to come...

20 September, 2007

Can you tell me something about chivalry?

First off, it bothers me that this word "chivalry" closely resembles the word "cavalry" but that's really not relevant at all. I believe that the man should hold the door for a woman. I believe the man should help the woman carry heavy stuff, and take on a larger (or total) share of the burden (though plenty of my previous female hiking partners will probably call me on that one - but remember, I just said "I believe..." not "I require...").

I also believe that a man should treat a woman on the first date. And I realize this is probably some type of sexism, and probably also only meaningful in some historical sense when women didn't actually have jobs, and the man was trying to prove that he intended to support her by buying her a fucking cheeseburger and fries at Arnold's Diner.

What I disapprove is when a woman doesn't even lift a finger toward the bill, and doesn't say thank you, and doesn't even offer anything. On the first date... on the second date... and guess what? There may be no fucking third date, because I don't get it. I will pay for every meal you eat for the rest of your life if you always offer to take turns, or split, or if you seem genuinely flattered or appreciative. It's not about the money. Believe me. It's about some bizarre backwards sense of entitlement. And it does not show the type of character that impresses me.

Of course, this whole rant was completely hypothetical and not based on any sort of real-life events ;)

(that was a RARE occasion where I felt the winky face was necessary, though I generally despise all emotes other than the generic smiley and unsmiley)

08 September, 2007

It's all fucking good

Yes. This is my favorite expression:

"It's all good!"

No, it fucking isn't. If you say that to me, I will scratch your face. The thing about IAG (as i will refer to it, because the mere seeing of those words causes me rage), is that people say it in a few particular contexts, and it is applicable/honest/tolerable in none of them.

For example. Scenario 1. I just drank 6 24-ounce cans of Foster's and then I backed over my neighbor's pitbull. My neighbor, Earl, is sitting on lawn furniture on his FRONT lawn - and by "lawn furniture" I mean a plaid polyester sofa that has a squirrel's nest in the back of it. Earl, seeing his dog's cerebrospinal fluid running down the gravel driveway (he doesn't think "CSF" when he sees this fluid - he thinks "Dog Juice"), and Earl says to me "Man, you really got him! Well, IT'S ALL GOOD. Buster was getting old anyway, and I done didn't want to take him to the vet for that head of cauliflower he had growing out of his shoulder anyway.

In that case, I don't know if the use of IAG is ironic, wistful, or just completely recited by the pullstrings of evil aliens who enjoy manipulating the minds of the vapid.

Scenario 2. Chad played tight end for the Washington State Cougars in 1994, and is now only 100 pounds heavier than the 235 that he weighed in his senior year during which he set the school record for catching 57 passes for 1120 yards. He is at the Jack in the Box drive-thru in Fife, where he now lives with his wife (Steffy) and their 3 kids (Zach, Zack, and Kortneigh). (please note that they do not LIVE at the Jack in the Box - I realize the sentence was a bit stilted, but that would just be SILLY). So he orders his 3 Bacon Deluxes, and an order of fries. The headset princess on the other end of the line, Katelynne, says "do you want regular fries, or curly fries"? Chad says, "Oh, I don't know. Curly, I guess... IT'S ALL GOOD".

Grrr... at least in this case, there is the slight possiblity that he means, "I don't mind, I like both". But for some reason, I still think the evil aliens have concocted this IAG phrase to take the place of the simpler, more 80's, more edgy "Whatever" that worked well for so long.

I don't really have anything else to say about the IAG. You probably thought I was going somewhere with it. But I just needed to get it off my chest, after seeing it posted on someone's MySpace profile.

07 September, 2007

Not ready for the NFL

Well, last night I had my first tryout for the NFL. And I will not be making the team.

The story starts 3 days ago when my good friend, who will go unnamed, lets a giant fucking moth into my house. I said "Get it out". But it went under the washing machine, and the conclusion (of which I was not confident) was that it would die under there.

A day goes by, and no moth. So I figure it's dead. But then 2 days ago, I am sitting at the computer and I hear a fluttering noise. And this thing is like a fucking bat, it's so large. Large moths like this really creep me out, because I do not like things that move in pseudorandom directions. Because the law of averages says that something pseudorandom will occasionally move directly at you. So I pick up a book to try to hit it, and the book accidentally goes flying out of my hand and smashes into the wall, but no moth. Then it flutters toward my computer, and by the time I come back with "the broom" it has disappeared. I know it is near my computer, but it is not revealing itself, and I am freaked out.

You're wondering what this has to do with the NFL. Just wait.

So I figure, okay, the moth has died behind the computer monitor. Another day goes by. No moth. Then last night, I go to bed in my (new) bedroom, and I turn out the lights and lay down.

Then I hear the fluttering noise. What the holy fuck?

I turn on the light, and I see the moth high up on the vaulted ceiling near the window. I get the broom. My first swing misses, and the thing is now flying around the room. I am flailing about with the broom trying to hit it. And missing because its motherfucking pseudorandom path, much like the "serpentine" that Alan Arkin's character does in "The In Laws", is doing a good job of messing up my aim. Then it's flying towards me, and I briefly turn to run toward the doorway of my room to get away from it and regroup for another attack.

And suddenly, I am on the floor, face down, and in a phenomenal amount of pain. Suffice it to say, I now know what a wide receiver feels like when he's running for a pass and gets his legs taken out from under him. In my "sprint" to escape the moth, I did not see my 80 pound guitar amplifier that was directly in my path. And as a result of not seeing it, the corner of said amplifier got me just above my right knee, on the tendon, and sent me airborne.

When I hit the ground, I was in such pain that I did not know if I had caused serious injury, but fracture seemed like a distinct possibility, which was further supported by the fact that I felt slightly nauseous and was completely out of breath for several minutes after. After a few minutes, I felt around down there and realized that I hit it just above the kneecap. I think if I had hit 1 centimeter lower, I would have done serious damage.I finally get up, and I see the moth lying dead on the floor. I don't know how this happened. Perhaps the moth also flew into the amplifier and was merely stunned. But for good measure, I whacked it a few more times with the broom and then got rid of it. Think Woody Allen with the spider in the bathtub in the movie "Annie Hall".



When I went to bed, I had a very hard time relaxing at first because the knee was still throbbing and today it is very swollen and has slightly limited range of motion. So, from now on, I will ask that if you let a moth into my house, YOU get rid of it before you leave. Because I'm getting too old for this shit.

05 September, 2007

Here we go with the Dad dreams again...

I'm starting to get used to this. It isn't surprising, or upsetting anymore. We all know that my "Dad" is "me" in the dream, so let's have a look-see and figure out what this one means...

So this time, my Mom and Dad are both in the dream, but of course my Dad is receiving the brunt of the attention. I'm very angry and yelling, as usual. And there are two main issues.

1. I'm yelling at my Dad and asking him why they never give a hard time to my brother or sister, only to me. Why do they not expect anything from them? Why do they not yell at them? It's always me. And I'm swearing at him, and you know. I am even sort of being physically violent with him in the dream.

2. Additionally, in my dream, I remember yelling "How can you say that I'm weak!?" And I go on and on about how he has a fucking nerve calling me weak, etc. So... nothing new here. My Dad is me. I'm feeling like I need to measure up to a certain standard that my brother and sister are not meeting, and I feel pressure to achieve this. Probably fear that I can't keep achieving it. How exciting.

Then the weak part... I guess that's probably a follow-on from my "Goodbye Corolla" blog that I wrote last night. I think I feel weak right now because I am still not over anything from anything. Every wound I've ever felt, and every loss I've ever experienced is always just a thought away, or a movie away, or a song away, from being brought back up to the emotional surface to recur like it was yesterday. And I guess I'm beating myself up for being weak. There's this struggle inside between accepting myself and judging myself. And I've created my Dad as the judger in the dreams.

04 September, 2007

Bittersweet goodbyes

What a weird week of transitions. Tonight I sold my car. To the first person who saw it. Lucky for me, because it didn't take much effort to unload it. And all things considered, I received a fair payment for the age and condition of the car. It's just strange saying goodbye to it. It was mine, and now it's not. Three days ago, it was my means of transportation, and now it's someone else's. Someone named Anthony.

What a wangled teb we teave.

I remember buying it. I was living in Edgewater Hills, a gigantic apartment complex along the Framingham Reservoir overlooking Route 9 in Massachusetts. My Jetta was getting old, and unreliable, and I had started working at Raytheon in June of 1993, and I guess this was a year later - funny, I didn't think it was that long. Now I'm confused. Hm... I know my car was purchased by me at the end of the model year, not the beginning, so it had to be 1994. Anyway, this is what happens when you get old.

Maybe I did buy it in 1993? Hmph. It would make more sense with the other history surrounding it. So, I got the car, and I think I remember feeling weird that time too. I ended up driving out to Amherst to give Luisa my old car, which actually was sold to me by Luisa's sister, Wanda, back in 1991 (the 1985 Jetta). There was this continual musical cars routine that went on in that family. Wanda sold me the Jetta, bought herself a Hyundai. I gave Luisa my Tercel. Then the Tercel died, and she bought herself another Tercel that was even older than mine. Then I think she had the Hyundai. And when I bought my Corolla, she got the Jetta. Then she married some architect whose name was Cheney, long before that was a swear word. I don't really remember any of this as well as I thought. I think Luisa drove to Framingham, and we drove separate cars so that she could get the Jetta from me, and then she gave me a ride back? I don't know. This isn't making any sense to me. I just remember, I think, that this might have been the last time I actually *saw* Luisa. I have never told you anything about Luisa. Bet you're curious, huh?

So the acquisition of the Corolla is sort of tied up in the same memory as the end of Luisa.

The Corolla took me from Boston to Seattle in 1999, when my life went from Engineer to Biologist. It took me away from family, friends, relationships (but not Ozone), into the Great Unknown. It was a scary time, and for those 8 days, the Corolla was my only home. I spent many days in downtown Boston in the late 90's, when I was dating Sarah (another one you haven't heard about), waiting in the car on Beacon Hill for her to get ready. In fact, one vivid memory is of the night that we got in a car accident in Central Square in a torrential downpour. There was this road that was 2 lanes in one direction, and 1 lane in the other direction, and I was in the left lane, and got into a (minor) head on collision with an out-of-state driver who couldn't see the lane markers and thought she was on her own side of the road. Didn't total my Corolla. But Sarah and I got into a huge fight. We had already been arguing, and the rain was somehow messing up our plans, and then the crash, and like a big asshole, I think I blamed her. I had (and maybe still have, though I'd like to think, less so) a tendency to get really angry at myself when I do something wrong, and to "address" this problem by being fucking nasty to everyone around me - especially loved ones. Ask any loved one, and they'll attest.

I really have become much better - it's one way in which I have evolved, I am happy to say.

But that night, the big fight, and poor Sarah (who wasn't particularly nice, or smart, herself) didn't know what to do. All she knew how to do was stonewall when I got like that. She didn't yell, she didn't usually initiate battles herself, she was just the master stonewaller. So the Corolla has lots of memories from that era.

I don't know why I am mentioning that. Maybe the accident.

I don't feel like talking about the rest of the history right now. I'm just feeling a bit strange having said goodbye to that car, because along with it went pieces of my life. Memories that are now replaced with a shiny new black car that has no personality of its own, and means nothing to me.

But the interesting thing about just how fast we humans adapt is that when I got in my Corolla to drive it over to where I was making the sale, it already felt foreign. The clutch felt really stiff. The seat was strange. The shift was in a weird position. It felt tight and small and old. And it's only been 3 days. My Mazda is my car now. And my brain already knows it, even if my mind doesn't.

This was another weird week for me in general. I realize I'm lumping things into one blog here, but either you're gonna read it as one blog, or you probably wouldn't read it if it were 6 blogs, so there you go.

I have this tendency in my life to keep having major things happening in clusters. Maybe that happens to everyone, but it feels much harder when it happens to me, because when it happens to me, it's me.

Back in 2006, I ended a long-term relationship, finished my Ph.D., took a trip to Europe, moved to a new residence, and started a postdoc, all in the span of a few short months. In 1999, I quit a job, did 2 internships in areas completely unfamiliar to me, moved across the country, started graduate school, and made a whole new set of friends, in a span of a few short months. In 2007, I ended an engagement, moved, and started a new job all in the same month. And now, again in 2007 (much less significantly), I ended another (short) relationship, bought a new car, said goodbye to an old car, and (more significantly) started dealing (poorly) with news of my mother being unwell back in Boston. Every time another round of changes occurs, I feel like I become more and more adept at dealing with them. But I am not sure that I am emotionally processing them better, or if I am just not processing them at all. Probably the latter.

I'm not asking anyone for sympathy or advice, honestly. That's not why I am writing this. I am writing this for me. And you get to see it because you're here. Part of this is my own processing machinery, and part of it is that I guess everyone has their issues, and maybe if I write about some of mine, good or bad, then it makes everyone else feel a little more connected? I probably shouldn't give myself that much credit. I don't think it comes down to voyeurism as to why people read it. Not even necessarily entertainment either.

Okay. Enough for now. I feel like Dumbledore with the pensieve. It's getting late, Harry, and that is all that I am going to show you tonight.

01 September, 2007

Bumbershoot 2007... my way

I really don't want to write a blog about Bumbershoot, because it feels like a blog that 800,000 other people are probably posting right now as we speak. So I'll at least try to make mine different.

My day began today by picking up my new car. I think I already told you about this earlier. But it is still surreal. I haven't unloaded my old car yet, but I took a deposit from someone this morning, and it looks like I've made a sale. The thing is, because I still have my old car, I am thinking "Maybe I should just drive the Corolla tomorrow"? What's wrong with me?

By the way, I'm putting the fucking quotes inside the punctuation from now on. But that's another story.

So, my day... everything was a little behind schedule, and for some reason, today did once again feel like the first day of the rest of my life. I am not sure why. I should be getting used to this by now. But I'm not.

There was a guy who was going to come and look at the car this morning, to purchase it. And it turns out that it is a kid who looks like he's 17, along with his Dad. And they drove here from Bremerton. And they were late. By about 30 minutes. And it was messing up my Bumbershoot plans, which really consisted of seeing one band that I really wanted to see, and that band went on at 2:15pm.

So this is an interesting story. The Dad, I kid you not, weighed at least 500 pounds. And from previous history, I know that people tend to underestimate the weight of morbidly obese people, if anything. I talk to them for a bit, and the Dad informs me that they thought that banks would be open today, but they're not, and would I be willing to take a check. My first inclination was sort of, no and yes. Yes and no. I am willing, but it's just not prudent, so in spite of trusting him, I hesitate. At that point, I decide that I am almost wanting to talk him out of purchasing the car. I tell them about every problem I know with the car, and I state the exact severity of the suspected CV joint issue, blah blah blah. And they're still interested.

Then they want to take it for a test drive. But that presents a problem, because the kid doesn't know how to drive a manual transmission yet. Which means Dad needs to drive it.

With my seat moved ALL THE WAY BACK, this guy got into the car with about as much difficulty as I would have getting inside a filing cabinet. And I am not exaggerating. I was worried that either a) the car would tip over to the left, or b) the wilting suspension would completely collapse and I would have no car to sell. But they did their drive (I couldn't bear to go along), and came back happy enough. They never heard the CV joint problem, which surprised and concerned me. I still am not sure I should sell this car to these people. But they said they already called a mechanic for an estimate. I can't overthink their decision for them.

He asks me what it would take for me to hold the car for him until they can come back over with cash... I said give me a deposit. So he gave me $100 cash, and we're done. I probably would have just taken the check on the spot, but at this point, everything is happening so late, and there is a 1:30pm bus coming in 10 minutes to take me to Bumbershoot. I decide that if we try to do the title and registration transfer and all that shit, I will probably miss Honeycut. So I say to come back with cash. They leave. I park my car just around the corner (we met at the Shell station near my place). Then I go to the bus. And of course, every fucking person in the world is going on this same bus through Capitol Hill. I realize, it's 2:00pm and we're just crossing I-5 on Pine. If I stay on this bus, I will miss the show. So, I look out the window, and I think "the Space Needle can't be more than a mile away... if that". I exit the bus at 9th and Pine. And I run. In hiking boots and jeans.

And I got there and located Dan and Tina (and Sue and Andy, with whom I played music [along with Mark] last night) while the announcer was introducing Honeycut. Any later, and I miss the first song.

Success.

Bart Davenport (of Honeycut) and the band put on a great show, as expected. There was a decent crowd but they competed with The Shins (who I could care a rat's ass about), so it was not as many people as one might hope.

But I'm not talking about the show, remember? Because that's what everyone else is probably doing.

After the Honeycut, I was hungry. I watched Dan jump around like a kid in the giant fountain, and then we saw some belly-dancer types who were moderately entertaining, but it was a tough call as to whether the limiting factor was their dancing skill or their beauty, but something was limiting my viewing enjoyment. Maybe it was that I was hungry. And I knew what I wanted. And I found it.

Piecora's, you are my Mecca.

Not only was it great, but it was also CHEAP!!! Yes, affordable festival food! In fact, I would assert that the price was probably cheaper than if you bought it at the restaurant. All slices were $3.00. I am sure cheese is cheaper, but I bet slices with toppings are more than $3.00. This is proof that though there are few good things left in the world, there are not zero good things left in this world.

(brief pause as i google talk with rebekah... and I'm BACK!)

After the pizza, Dan and Tina had to go and locate their son, who was loaded up with quarters and happily indulging at the arcade. I elected to stick around and watch the next band. Magically, I ran into second group of friends - Jenn and Vijay. They had made their way over to see the second band with me (coming from the Shins show). None of us liked The Saturday Knights. For some reason, I remembered this band as being better than they are. I think it had something to do with the fact that I saw them at the Fremont Oktoberfest 2 years ago, and had a large amount to drink. But they were not interesting to me, and it was packed because people were all out of the Shins show now. Blah blah blah again.

So Jenn and Vijay went away to go stand in line for some comedy thing, which at the time did not sound that compelling to me. I decided to wait for/meet Dan and Tina after they collected Sawyer. But 10 minutes turned out to be an hour. I went into the Center House to get the hell out of the sun, and get a beverage. That turned out to be a Snapple Lemonade AND a Vitamin Water Citrus. I think I was very thirsty. I only had to pee once after that, and you'd think that not to be the case, so I must have been very dehydrated. I bet you're glad I told you that? See, I told you I wouldn't write a typical Bumbershoot blog!

Then, in the Center House, I realized they were playing music that sounded familiar. First I heard the song "Breaking Free". Then I heard the song "I Got Nerve [sic]". You might say, "what the hell are those songs"? And to that, I say, "Aha! I know something you do not know"! (now I confess I am spitefully putting the punctuation outside the quotes, because I wouldn't normally have done that - call it being a rebel! What can I say?). Anyway. Why do I know those songs? And why do I know where they are from? Well, because I lived in the same house as a 10 year old girl for a year! "I Got Nerve" is by Hannah Montana! And "Breaking Free" is the big hit song from the Disney movie "High School Musical". I have seen the Hannah Montana show, and I have seen the High School Musical movie! I am culturally literate in ways you ain't even begun to imagine!

And the sad part is... I like both of those songs. They're catchy. What can I say. I should note that this was a recording, not the actual artist performing the songs. If you want to see Hannah Montana, you need to pay a LOT of money so you can watch her lip-sync with no band (I know this too, because we did just that! Like $45/ticket to see her at the Key Arena last year). It was not my favorite show ever. But I did feel lucky to be a part of that experience. So it definitely had a plus side to be the "chaperone" for kids having their first real-live concert.

Anyway, back on track. Am I ever on track here? Would you want me to be?

I am pretty disgruntled with Dan and Tina at this point for taking so long, and this is no secret, so I don't feel bad writing it - but I certainly didn't let on that I was bummed - I just didn't really feel like being at Bumbershoot by myself! I could be at home by myself and it would be the same, but with fewer people! (And, better music!)

So I decided to go see what Jenn and Vijay ended up doing. And it turns out they are doing something quite cool. This guy Greg Proops (?) who is apparently famous to anyone who is culturally literate at a level beyond 5th grade, was the comedy act they were in line to see. And they let me join them at the beginning of a VERY LONG line. Only about 2/3 of the people in line were able to get a seat. So Greg Proops did his talk show, and you will be surprised to know who his guests were for this Bumbershoot talk show. You'd be very surprised, as I was.

Janeanne Garofalo
Colin Hay
Whitney Pastorak

Now, I'm sure you all know who Janeanne Garofalo is. And I had always heard she was short. And indeed she is very short. maybe 5' if not less than that! But do you know who Colin Hay is? I did, but neither Jenn nor Vijay knew until I told them.

Hm... let me think... Who can it be now?

I'll give you a hint...

It's someone from... a land... Down Under?

I realize that all of these hints are probably a bit of... Overkill?

I know I am making to big of a deal out of this... I realize... It's a Mistake?

Okay. Are you getting it yet?

C'mon. Someone post a comment here and tell us who this mystery guy is!

So yes, this was quite a treat. Actually sort of gave me the opportunity to check off another one of those boxes in the "Things I Would Like To Do or See Before I Die". Incidentally, I will be checking off another of those items later this month when I go to see DEVO at the Puyallup Fair. I should note that right now I have one extra ticket for this, and since previous-prime-candidate-to-be-invited is now seemingly out of contention, I invite you to express your interest.

As for Whitney Pastorak. She runs some type of literary magazine, and she acknowledged herself that it was a rather hard follow coming behind those two very well-known individuals. But she was fine.

So, then we wander around. Get some wine at the "Wine Garden" because apparently there's a difference between a "Beer Garden" and a "Wine Garden". The difference is simple. The "Beer Garden" has 9235 people in line to get inside. The "Wine Garden" has 8 people in line.

I have a paper cut on the first knuckle of my left middle finger, and it hurts (I'm just trying to keep you in the moment here with me).

This is really going to be a quite a fucking project for you to even read this blog. Ha! You're addicted. Admit it. I knew that it wasn't all robots reading this shit. I did remove my "hit counter" which isn't really a hit counter at all. Someone told me about this tool that would tell you what IP address or state or country is accessing a page - though technically it didn't pick up blog hits, just page hits. Plus, I decided that I don't really need to know about this, and also don't want to scare away shy or anonymous viewers. So your anonymity is safe with me now. Actually not with me. It's safe with Rupert Murdoch. Doesn't that make you feel better?

Back to the show.

I gave Jenn my flannel shirt to wear because she was cold. I am not sure why I just told you that. I could delete it, since it seems like a non sequitur, but it is really quite sequitur, nothing non about it, since I was telling you about the "Wine Garden" (I'm gonna put quotes around that every time, since it was really not a "Garden" at all, but just a fucking metal fence on a plot of grass, with trash cans, drunk people, and obnoxious moronic security guards protecting us from ourselves).

My favorite thing about the "Beer" and "Wine" "Gardens" at these festivals is the "fence moat" that they always construct. It's like a special buffer zone. There's a fence. And then a gap. And then another fence. I wonder, is this so that people cannot jump one fence to get in? Is it so the security can patrol a well-defined perimeter? Is it so you cannot reach far enough to hand beverages over the fence to minors? Or is it just to fuck with us and insult us so we feel like cattle? I think they should dig a moat and fill it with burning tar and pitch, and possibly have the guards equipped with pitchforks. Actually, that raises an interesting question. Were pitchforks originally used for pitch? And if so, how would that work? Because it would seem to me that having a pronged implement would be far less useful for pitch than say a shovel or, even better, some type of giant ladle.

Actually, now I am not even really sure I know what pitch is.

But back to the show.

I want to know who's reading this, so I'm gonna ask you a question, and I want you to tell me the answer. If you have a MySpace account, you can comment here. If you don't, just email me.

Here's my question:

Which band name do you prefer?

a) Open Casket Wedding

b) Carpal Tunnel Vision

I have another one, but I am not including it in the multiple choice because I *know* you'll all pick it as your favorite if I give you the choice. So, to be clear, the choice is between the two listed above. Do not choose the next one that I am going to tell you. So, the other band name I have stored for future use is "Sonic Hitler Youth". But you can't pick that one.

If you want extra credit, you can tell me what style of music you would think is appropriate for a band with each of those three names. Maybe I will buy you animal crackers if you amuse me. Or maybe I will buy myself animal crackers, and bite the heads off of each and every cracker, and then put them back in the box and give THOSE to you.

Why do they call them "crackers"? That fucking pisses me off. They are cookies. And they always have been. Saltines are crackers. If you had to group animal "crackers" with either Saltines or Oreos, which would you group them with? That's a rhetorical question. You do not need to send a response to that one.

Are you with me?

So...

Finally, back to the show.

After the "Wine Garden" we decide promptly that Bert Jansch is boring (sorry Andrew). And we move onward. I should mention that right before the Saturday Knights, I ran into my friend George for about 15 seconds, and we vowed to meet later. Did we? Keep reading.

So from "Wine Garden" we decide to meet Dan and Tina at an indoor theater (Children's Theater?) to see something called Rude Mechanicals. This was a group of 5 people armed with business clothes, 5 overhead projectors, and the entire catalog of "Get Your War On" comic strips. They did a multimedia agit-prop (as they named it themselves) extravaganza that largely was based on the comic strip, and used much of the dialog from the strip verbatim. It was good, but fairly intense, and maybe 20 minutes longer than it needed to be. I had a good time, and Dan and Tina definitely liked it. Jenn and Vijay not as much, and this was based on it being a bit over the top. It was interesting because it wasn't an issue of it being in opposition to their beliefs. More it was about the style and the manner of the delivery. It made me think, actually.

I am an angry liberal, and I like to get together with other angry liberals and rant. But not everyone is like that. And just because they aren't, doesn't necessarily mean that they think the opposite of me. They raised a point that it's one thing to have constructive useful commentary or to try to effect a change, whereas it's another thing to just be angry and bitter and aggressive and bitch about things. And I realized that maybe we liberals do tend to get together and act mighty proud of how much better we are, and how much smarter we are, and about how the system is so fucked. And while I might believe all those things, and personally enjoy being a part of those ranting sessions, is it really serving any purpose?

How many people have had their ideas converted by listening to the rant of someone else?

I don't know.

So the Rude Mechanicals were rude, but entertaining for the most part. But I'm a ranting angry liberal, so don't ask me.

After this point, the night started to fall apart, and I potentially fell into no-man's land. But it worked out okay I will tell you in advance.

Dan and Tina went to get Sawyer from the arcade (again!) and to go watch Devotchka. Having learned more than zero Russian, it irks me that everyone calls this band "Devotchka" just like it's spelled. That is NOT the way it is supposed to be pronounced. It should be pronounced as if it were written D'yeh-Vahtch-Ka. And when I tell people this, they say to me "Oh, I've always heard it as devotchka". So apparently, living with 2 Russians for a year doesn't give me any sort of say on whether it's De or D'yeh. Oh well. I tried. I can lead Lashadka to water, but I can't make it drink, if you get my meaning.

Jenn/Vijay/I go to Sky Church at EMP because George and Heidi are supposed to be there. And they are. The band sucks. I don't even remember which band it was, and I am going to look it up right now, so I can bitch about them to you. Okay. They were called "Grand Archives". This is what the website had to say about them:

"Recording in Seattle this summer, Grand Archives plans to release their first album in early 2008. Mat Brooke, Jeff Montano, Curtis Hall, Ron Lewis, and Thomas Wright have made a name for themselves with their thrilling stage presence and their impeccable harmonizing."

Okay. Let me translate that for you. They were boring as all hell, and they had HORRIBLE vocals. I think it's just a typo. It wasn't supposed to say "impeccable harmonizing". I think it was original "pestilent harmonizing" or maybe "imperfect harmonizing". Nobody in that band had a good voice, and they all sang. If that's what they mean, then okay. You know a band is not great vocally when they need 5 people to sing 2 part harmony. But the fans LOVED them. Somehow, people were singing along with the songs, even though the band supposedly formed this morning at like 11:15am.

Jenn and Vijay bailed, and I hung out with George and Heidi for a little bit. They filled me in with the goings on of our various acquaintances. And then there was a debate as to whether we go to 6 Arms, or if they take a ride home. The verdict was take a ride home. I leave with them, thinking that I will walk home. This is not a great idea. Probably 4 miles. I already passed up taking a cab with Jenn and Vijay because I was not ready for the night to be over. So now I am outside, and alone, and without transportation. I call Dan and Tina, and they say they are still at D'yevatchka (I'm sorry, I can't help myself), and I decide I should better go find them and a) have my night not be over yet, and b) potentially beg them for a ride home). Miraculously, after much trial and error, I get back into Bumbershoot and I do find them! And quite easily, even though it's dark and there are still thousands of drunk people. In fact, earlier we saw a girl completely comatose on the pavement with people attempting to pick her ass up off the ground. We watch the last 2 songs, and then Dan and Tina save my ass, and give me a ride home.

Thus ends my Bumbershoot for 2007.

Funny, I keep thinking it's 2008 now because I just bought a 2008 car that I'm afraid to drive. But that will be another blog.

I'll leave you with a final haiku:

Fuck this Bumbershoot
It's just a whole lot of hype
Won't go back next year

Or maybe I will... we shall see.

In case you're curious, you just read 3789 words. Including this.

20 August, 2007

The problem with eating healthy

I almost stabbed a guy in the neck with a fork today at the salad bar. at the very least, i wanted to make sarcastic remarks, or ask him what his goddamn problem was.

it was a fucking nightmare.

this guy, like 5'6" with blondish hair and a beard, looking about 26 years old, is making his salad. i'm right behind him in line. he starts by putting romaine lettuce on his plate. then he gets one of the other artsy types of lettuce, i don't know what it was. and then, he decides to remove the romaine lettuce from his plate and start putting it back in the salad bar again! and i need to wait for him to remove one bite of lettuce, as if this is important enough to hold up the process.

next stop, he's getting some carrots or other nonsense. i want to skip past him but i want cucumbers (behind him) and carrots (where he's standing). so i wait, while he fusses around with the carrots. this part is annoying, but just a precursor to the point at which i almost confronted him. the first major pitstop occurs at the green peppers where he's just rearranging the peppers in the salad bar for like 30 seconds before he even begins putting them on his plate.

finally, blah blah, we turn the corner to the home stretch. i want to pass him but i can't because he's still occupying every stop that i want, and taking way too long. he pitches a tent inside the cheddar cheese, takes 2 pieces of hard boiled egg, then moves on to the seafood salad. the fact that he takes the seafood salad makes me angry because of the mere fact that he eats that shit, but i'm happy because he's moved on past my area. yay.

but no! wait!

he changes his mind, and comes BACK and practically fucking pushes me out of the way so that he can put about 3 grams of tuna on top. the tuna was before the cheddar! and as far as i'm concerned, the window for tuna had long since closed. we exchanged brief eye contact at this point, him detecting my impatience, and me detecting his self-righteousness. i forgot to mention that as meticulous as he seems to be, he keeps dropping items off the plate and then picking them back up and putting them on his plate again, which seems a little unsanitary even to me, though i probably do all sorts of shit worse than that. he dropped the same fucking piece of broccoli like 3 times, and each time lovingly patted it back into its home in a nest of non-romaine lettuce.

after these various rescue missions, he takes chicken, and moves on to start staring at the salad dressings. at this point, if i don't get away from him, i am going to murder him. while he's pondering the options, i quickly grab the balsamic italian whatever dressing spoon and start putting it on my salad. clearly this is what he decided he wanted, because he moves back into my personal space again and then glares at me for "going out of turn" with the dressing.

that fucker. i don't have all day!

anyway, i got my dressing and escaped. i should have taken a spoon full of dressing and flung it at him and said - "here! here! is this what you want! do you want the fucking dressing! let me help you! or wait! maybe you want 5 more milligrams of tuna! i will go sit in that chair over there and pick my nose while you contemplate whether there's anything you missed! would you like me to cut up your salad for you into bite-sized pieces? i would do it for you! you ignorant fuck!"

but then i remembered... it's just salad.

19 August, 2007

PG-13 blog entry: Why do guys pee standing up?

I don't know why I said that this blog entry is PG-13. Oh, I know why. Because I'm talking about peeing! And that's clearly a mature topic. So anyway, I have a question that I will pose to both the men and women reading my blog. I realize that consists of 1 man and 3 women, but let's for a moment pretend it's a whole bunch of people and I'll try to be self-important.

The question: Why do guys need to pee standing up when they visit your house?

So I have a confession to make. If I come to your house, I'm going to sit down when I pee. You may not need to know this. Or you might think I'm really strange for even noting this to you. But there really is a point here that goes WAY beyond me over-sharing. Though I admit freely that there's a usual element of over-share. After all, what the else do you expect to find in my blog.

There are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, if your bathroom and house are extremely nasty and/or I am extremely drunk. In either of those circumstances the rules may be different. But here's the thing. The reason men pee standing up is because they can. And in a public bathroom, makes perfect sense - there is even a special wonderful apparatus that was designed specially to enable men to exercise our god-given ability to pee upright. I was hoping I could tell you something interesting about when the urinal was invented, and I checked Wikipedia but they don't seem to have an invention date. So I guess they've always existed. Before the urinal as we know it, there was something called a tree which worked well for about 30 million years. There's a little more history about bathroom facilities on this completely exciting site. But still no hard data. Somewhere it said something about a Roman guy inventing it during the empire, but I think the site was a joke because they called the inventor "Ureacles". That sounds fishy.

Back to my original subject. If you ask any woman about what she thinks about a guy using her bathroom, I guarantee you she will have some comments about it. These will include reference to things like "bad aim", "spattering", "puddles", and "leaving the seat up". And there's not a woman who won't say this. Because it's true. Guys don't know this because guys don't ever clean their bathrooms :)

Anyway, because this appears to be a universal problem, I think that peeing standing up is a form of disrespect to others, particularly women, who do clean their bathrooms. Just because you can pee standing up does not mean that you must pee standing up. In fact, I would say that this should be an opportunity to relax, sit down, take a load off, and contemplate the meaning of the universe. And this refers purely to the case of visiting someone's home. I'm not telling you to sit in public to pee - because there are urinals there.

So here's an action item. If you're a guy, and you read this... sit down when you pee at people's houses!!

And if you're a woman, and you read this... tell your significant other and your male friends that they should show some respect and sit down!

And tell your woman friends to tell their guys too...

And all across Seattle, and America, and eventually the entire world, there will be clean toilet seats, unspattered tanks, and puddleless tile floors.

This has been a public service announcement.

16 August, 2007

Sorry to keep you waiting

Oh, yes. My faithful audience of 3 awaits my every keystroke. And at last, or alas, I abide. Okay, I am feeling like being morbid, so now you must endure it.

Sorry in advance. For those of you who know me well, don't be alarmed - I am not depressed or on any sort of a downward swing. Just feeling pensive for reasons that I will not explain or broadcast here, but am happy to discuss offline with anyone I know well.

So... without further ado... the topic is death.

Well, I guess everyone dies, yes... and we never know who is going to die next. People even create silly gambling pools in the workplace about which famous people will die in the next year. And of course everyone puts Keith Richards and Dick Cheney on the list, because you know eventually you'll be earning points on those two. But they live on. And there's such a fascination with it. People who are completely uninteresting suddenly become legendary. We all saw it in the media in the past year. Somehow, Anna Nicole Smith became more important to the fabric of our history than Richard Nixon.

But that's not what is on my mind right now. I'm getting around to the serious part by way of the rambling part.

This entire blog is being disrupted by the fact that I am also engaged in Google Talk and I also have to pee really badly.

Back to death...

Setting aside famous people... we all still are going to die. And nobody knows when. I can get myself all paranoid about how thick the irony would be if this were my last entry because of some terrible accident. People would talk about it, and it would be like "Wow... that's so weird how he was just talking about it." It would suck, is what it would be.

I've been very fortunate in this life. I have never lost anyone that is incredibly dear to me, and there are people out there, myself included, who feel a little bit like that's a really jinxy thing to say. But what can I do. Typing words on this page is not going to bring about ill fate. If I resist typing it, then I believe in fate. And I am not sure I do. Not in the figurative sense, anyway. Literally, I sort of believe in fate, because to me it just means that whatever actually occurs was bound to occur, because it did. And once it does occur, it cannot unoccur, thus it was fated to occur. But me typng this paragraph will not make anything occur. Unless, of course, you read this blog, and then you're driving down the highway, and you're so deep in thought about the brilliance of my words that you drive off the road into a lake. But let's set that special case aside, and say that there's no way I can make bad things happen by typing, so let's not worry about it.

Nonetheless... nobody likes to talk about it.

So, a lot of people I know have had people close to them die. In fact, some people I know have had many people close to them die. And I feel terribly sad for them, but cannot empathize, nor do I really ever want to have the opportunity to empathize. But I will. Inevitably. Unless I go first.

Even within my family... my grandparents either died when I was too young, or I wasn't close enough to them to feel it the way I could have felt it. But I know that I'll see members of my family die (again, with the footnote of unless I go first). And it will suck. Living across the country makes me really think about how many more times I will see my parents. Maybe 20. Maybe 2. Maybe 0. And I don't really yet have an appreciation for what it means to "not be able to talk to someone ever again". There are people who are not in my life anymore for other reasons. And I have a hard time letting them go. Even people from 20 years ago. I can think about it and realize again that it would be nice if it were different.

What can you do?

It's scary. Very scary.

15 August, 2007

Some lessons in 3rd grade grammar

I'm really sorry to have to do this, but for some reason, you people out there are really unable to demonstrate the ability to pass a WASL test. And apparently, even having a PhD doesn't seem to make a damn bit of difference. So here are a couple of pointers for you. Take them or leave them. But if you're not going to "take them," then perhaps you should leave me alone!

1. There is no expression "on accident." You cannot say "I did it on accident." You can do things "on purpose" but you do them "by accident." Perhaps you're only saying it by accident, but just in case, I figured I should mention it. And if you think that I am wrong, let's consult the oracle known as the internet:

http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/onaccident.html

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=on+accident

There. That proves it. Stop doing it please. You're making us all dumber.

2. Improper use of "except for." This is another one that I will simply not tolerate. Let me illustrate proper use by example:

"I would have been to your house earlier, except that I received a gunshot wound to my abdomen and needed to clean up intestines and fecal matter from the wall of my living room."

versus

"Everybody threw stones and unripened fruit at the children, except for Little Suzie, who is in a wheelchair."

That is the proper use of these two phrases. Yet, all too often, I hear people using "for" when they should be using "that."

For example:

"I would have kissed him, except for his herpes had come out of remission."

Do you see the distinction? Yes, I thought you would see it when I politely pointed it out with relevant examples. I have a helping hint for you, if you're incapable of learning these "difficult" rules of grammar. Leave off "that" and "for" and you'll be okay most of the time. "Except" doesn't require the extra word following it. Except for sometimes, when it does.

3. Unless you are from Pennsylvania, you are not allowed to start a sentence with the word "Anymore." I make this exception because there is apparently some dialect, perhaps related to the Amish, that involves starting sentences that way. Let me give you an example, since if you haven't met anyone from Pennsylvania, you might not have heard this.

"Anymore, I think I'm just going to order vanilla."

What the fuck is that all about? Huh? After observing this in countless people, 95% of whom are from Pennsylvania, what I figured out is that for these people "Anymore" = "From now on." And that's just silly. Stop doing it. Or face further ridicule from me.

End of Lesson 1.

14 August, 2007

More bad dreams

I don't even know what the hell these were about and am not sure it's even worth trying to explain them... but I will anyway.

First I am in the car with a friend of mine and we are going to try to visit some friends of ours - a couple. I know who, but I won't say - let's just refer to them as "the singer from my band, and his wife". We get there, and drive up the alley behind the house - and actually the house is my house, but in the dream, it's their house. As we drive up, I notice through the window that they have company, so we drive past into a neighbor's driveway and discuss whether it's appropriate to go in if they have company. We initially decide not. Then we drive around to the other side of the house, and somehow come to the conclusion that they must have finished dinner, so we park and go up to the door. Sure enough, they are not completely finished, and we are both embarrassed to have intruded on their dinner. The guests are all friends of ours - 2 couples. We sort of wonder why we weren't invited but figure that it's just one of those things where they wanted to devote their attention to these people. Who knows. Maybe they didn't want the conversation to sidetrack to music, or maybe they've just seen enough of me. Whatever.
So I'm trying to get some glasses out of the cabinet so that we can have water, or something. Someone else is washing dishes. Then I almost knock over a vase, but I save it at the last second and it doesn't break - and I think that it's a relief because that would be even more embarrassing if we broke something. Didn't feel welcome there at all.

Then the dream fades, and I am in another place.

I am on a beach, in some type of summery place, but it's like a town that is residing on a beach. Not sure if it's Cape Cod or somewhere else. But I'm alone now, though there are other people around whom I don't know. Someone gets in their car to leave and starts driving perpendicularly to the beach. I notice that their car is not going straight - it's sort of weaving back and forth, and I think that the person must either be distracted, or drunk, or sick or something. But they keep weaving as if they cannot control the vehicle. I am in my car too, but not driving yet. Then I see other cars driving down that street meeting the same problem - can't drive straight. I ask someone out of my window what is happening. And they reply "wind storm". Which is strange, since I don't see or feel the wind. Yet.

A minute later, it is not only windy but there is heavy precipitation in the form of hail or ice - in the middle of the summer. And my car is being blown all over the place. I realize that the trunk of my car is open, and I wait for a brief lull to run out and close the trunk. Then back in my car, but the car gets blown down onto the beach and toward the water, and I am worried because I cannot control it. Eventually I abandon the car, though things are starting to subside now. I pick up a strewn motorbike and try to ride that up the beach, until I reach the road, and then I ditch it near some people. After I ditch it, though, the motorbike is now a dog. A big black dog sleeping on the sidewalk. And its owners take note of the dog and say hello to me. I don't know where my car is. Though the car started off being "my car", at some point in the dream, my mental model of the car became a large dark brown station wagon. I can't find it anywhere. I want to leave by some means, and maybe I have a car, I am not sure. But before I can leave, people are all standing and watching as runners from a road race start making the corner onto the main street coming toward the finish of a race they must have been running. This will prevent me from driving out, since the race is using the same road, which surely means the road will be closed.

Then my alarm sounds, and I am awake.

What the hell do those dreams mean?

08 August, 2007

Candlepin bowling for idiots

If you are not from New England, you probably have no clue what candlepin bowling is. And that's a shame. Much like the way French Bread in Paris is just called "bread", candlepin bowling in Massachusetts is just called "bowling". Hard to believe a sport so simple and retrofittable is so localized. But it is.

here is a picture of the pins that are used in candlepin bowling:



Pretty wild, huh? It's the same lanes used for "regular" (or as we used to call it, 10-pin bowling, which is in itself another strange misnomer since both versions of the game use 10 pins).

If you want to know everything about candlepin bowling, you can check out this Wikipedia entry on the topic.

I grew up playing candlepin bowling. Went almost every weekend with my Dad, and it is one of the clearest memories I have of a regular activity we would do together. And it was fun. The major difference in this game is four-fold:

1. The pins (see image above).

2. The ball (smaller balls... see image of menacing looking individual below)



3. You get to bowl 3 balls instead of only 2 per "box", probably because the smaller balls don't take out as much as the big ones do.

4. This is the BIG ONE. After each ball, the pins are NOT reorganized, and the things that have fallen over are NOT cleared from the lane. This means that there can be LOTS of strategy and that every single time you bowl the ball, it is a completely unique and different target, with lots of options for achieving your goal. The pins that are knocked over, which are called "wood" (Beavis and Butthead would love that), remain, and can be used as part of the game (see image below - a crappy image, but gives you the general idea).



It is much harder to bowl a "perfect" game, and in fact, the highest score ever recorded in a "sanctioned" game was 245 out of a possible 300 (whereas plenty of 300's have been bowled in 10-pin bowling). The average scores for professionals in candlepin bowling are only in the 140-170 range, whereas in 10-pin, scores well over 200 are typical among professionals.

Why am I telling you about this? Because it is another little way in which we New Englanders are better than the rest of all y'all!

:)

07 August, 2007

Learning more about more

Well, I can't really remember if I had mentioned here in the blog that I almost freaked out and deleted a bunch of the things that I'd posted up here. I guess I had a momentary lapse of insanity. But happy to say I didn't edit or delete anything.

So, I invited my sister to read the blog... I was interested to hear her opinion about the "Dad Blog". I won't share much of what she said since that was between the two of us. But I learned a bit more about some of the places that my story was incomplete or slightly inaccurate. I wasn't completely inaccurate on any account. But there were some details that I messed up, and also she told me a bit more about my father's family history which helped me understand where he came from. Some of it, I knew already, but there was a bit more color and detail. I'm not really giving you much here, I realize. If you invested the energy in reading that ridiculously long blog, you probably would like to hear what I left out. But... I have that code about not directly sharing those things that are given to me by another person.

So what's the point here?

Well, I guess what I really want to get at is that we are all a product of upbringings that are products of other upbringings, and it's almost like recycling. Every time you rebake the ingredients, the result evolves a little bit from where it was. My parents grew up during the depression. My parents raised their kids in the 1960's and 1970's. And each generation brings to the table not only what their parents instilled in them, but also all of the fucked up shit of the culture and generation of the time.

One thing that has always been interesting to me is that my sister and brother were pretty much a different generation from me - 15 and 18 years older, respectively. They grew up with The Beatles, JFK, Nixon, Vietnam, Watergate. I grew up with... I don't know? What? The Bicentennial? The Ayatollah? Anwar Sadat's assassination? The end of the Cold War? The Reagan era? Disco? New Wave? Hair bands? Talk about different generations! Was there even anything worth reporting or remembering from my generation? Compared to my siblings, it seems kind of pathetic. Not that I would want to have partaken of all that disillusionment. My brother and sister had to see their first cousin (my Dad's sister's son) die in Vietnam. I didn't see it. I wasn't alive until 2 more months or so passed. My brother and sister grew up in a generation where drugs, alcohol, free love (not that I know of this first hand from them) were the way.

I grew up in a different generation.

Reagan became president in 1980. I went to college in 1986. When I went to UMass-Amherst, it was still carrying the name "Zoo-Mass" because of its reputation as a party school. But this was a sad misnomer, wherein the school still had the name, but the environment that earned it that name was being shed year-by-year. Not that I regret this. But it was just ironic. They had really cracked down on dormitory madness during the years I was there. And I guess it was probably that big conservative movement related to Reagan, Bush, family values, etcetera.

Times had changed.

I am jealous in some ways that I didn't grow up with The Beatles. But I was also fortunate, as I suggested, to miss the mass disillusionment from so many great people dying, and so many tragic historical events.

Actually, Lennon was assassinated when I was 12. And the strange thing about this is that it was almost my generation. But still not quite. I vaguely remember the news. But I was not yet a consumer of the news. And it didn't really impact me. If I had been 3 years older it might have impacted me more. On one hand I regret it because that horrible event never really touched me until years later when I began to understand it. But on the other hand, I am glad that I didn't suffer from it at the time. In fact, one thing about our generation - my generation - is sort of an utter lack of suffering related specifically to a culture or the times. We are a lost generation. Nothing earth-shattering happened to fuck us up. No war that we were forced to fight. No disasters of mass scales. And yet there was this whole goth movement of people considering "being depressive" as being "in style", and self-mutilation via piercings, tattoos, etcetera, became more and more commonplace. What is it about kids these days? Huh? I guess some of that happened after my generation. I don't even know when my generation stopped, but I know it isn't now. I'm 38. Soon to be 39. My generation ended a good 15 years ago. When was that? 1992. When Clinton was elected. I guess I sort of feel like that was my generation too. But it was the generation of grunge music, and the backlash against all the conservative style and behavior and attitude that had dominated the 1980's. I'm rambling.
But where I wanted to get with this was that maybe because nothing bad happened to us... to my generation... we have a sort of emptiness. We never really had to bond together over anything. Or feel a pain associated with a bigger issue. It was a time for selfishness. I could go on and on about this. I guess I'll read it over and add more later...

So what's most strange about all of this is that despite the generation-gap, I turned out quite a bit like my brother and sister. We share a lot. I won't go into the details in this context of exactly what we share (other than our parents), but it's a lot. And I am sure I will discuss those very traits in myself at some other point.

So was it genetics? Or was it the common home environment? Who knows. I still wish there were a way to travel in time back to the 60's and see my brother and sister growing up. Or to travel back to the 30's and 40's and see my parents growing up. You can't touch it. No photograph will ever bring to life who these people were when they were young like I remember myself once being.

But never mind not being able to go back in time.

We can't even go across the dinner table and see the world from the perspective of the person with whom we share our meal. We see them. We see the meal. We experience it. But we only get to experience our half. We never get to experience their half. This subject I will continue...

05 August, 2007

wine tasting and hallucinations

Walla Walla is a very nice place. Staying here for the weekend with friends of mine, and from what I see of it, there are a lot of things that resemble some type of American ideal that one could envision. College town. Lots of character. A real altstadt (old part of downtown, as they would say in Germany). Many charming homes. And believe it or not, it's sort of affordable!

My friends just bought an amazing home on a corner, with a beautiful yard, full of vegetables, fruits, trees, shade, white picket fence, and an 1800 square foot beautiful house built in 1904. And what they paid for it is 25% less than what you would pay for a complete piece of trash shack in the worst part of Seattle. True, they live in Walla Walla, and not Seattle. But this is the trade-off that needs to be made now in this country. Unless you have a massive income, you cannot have this in Seattle. In fact, you probably cannot have this in Seattle regardless of income because it's sitting on a half-acre lot. Anyway, it's been a great visit out here, and it's nice to see that people can still find something worth having, in a place that is worth living.

The big "activity" yesterday was wine-tasting. As you probably know, Walla Walla is one of the up-and-coming wine regions in the country. And there are so many wineries, you couldn't possibly visit all of them. I think we visited 5 of them. And there was some good wine. Wine tasting is a bit of a strange physiological experience because you are never drinking more than about an ounce of any one thing, but it is easy to drink like 15-20 of these one-ounce glasses and after 3 hours, you find yourself feeling "not 100% right". It is different than going "drinking". Partly because the dose is so evenly distributed, and perhaps because the varieties of different wine might affect the way you absorb it? I have no idea. I am probably imagining reasons that don't exist. But when you combine 95 degree heat, with wine and not a whole lot of other liquid, it makes for a strange feeling.

Felt sluggish and kind of out of it for the remainder of the day, though we had a really good day. And once again, there was a night of bizarre dreaming. But this time it's even too bizarre to talk about here in this blog! If you can believe that! Not sure why the weird dreams this weekend at Walla Walla... but probably has something to do with sleeping on an air mattress in a new place. Messes with my equilibrium. Or maybe it was the wine...

Today ends the Walla Walla getaway, and it's back to Seattle through 4.75 hours of solo speeding. I'm not a big fan of it, and I don't know if I feel better about the long drive to get back home, or the long drive that takes me away. There's a very different emotional element to the trips that take you toward versus away from home. One direction is anxiety, excitement, anticipation, apprehension, curiosity. The other direction (for me) is usually fatigue, reflection, and maybe a bit of a let-down. I don't know why, but the end of a trip always leaves me feeling a bit empty. Because it always implies going back to something. Work, a house that isn't completely organized, the same situations or worries that we decided to put on hold when we departed. A lot of times, of course, we are going back to something good - something that we miss. So there's an extra few emotions that I forgot... anticipation, excitement, relief, on the way home too. There's just something about the traveling that feels very reflective for me. And I tend to get even further lost in the depths of my own thoughts than usual. We'll see what today's drive brings.

02 August, 2007

Nightmare revisited

I did some more thinking about my interpretation of the dream... I am not sure if it is that I am my father. I think it's that I can't let go of that judging, warning voice that is my father. It was with me for so many years, that it took on a life of its own. And now whenever I do anything remotely risky, or different, or excessive, I hear that voice criticizing and warning, and making helpful suggestions. And sometimes you just can't listen to that voice anymore. So maybe my interpretation is that for some reason or other that voice inside must be very loud right now. But what is it warning me about? I don't even know. I have an idea. But I really can't say. Actually, I am pretty sure I know what it is (there I go again!). Haven't talked much in my blog about my past, and I am not sure if I will do it or not, out of respect for those who are a part of it, who might not want their or my story spread all over the internet. But let's just say that elements of my past might have resulted in my Dad's voice (or my voice, as the case may be) having lots of loud warnings to issue about spiderwebs and dangers and risks and disasters that could lie ahead. But it's really irrational. I am thinking about taking a canoe out on Green Lake, and the voice is giving me the report about 14 foot squalls on the open sea. Maybe you see where I'm going with it. Maybe you don't. But I guess it just sort of makes sense. And maybe my screaming in the dreaming was just having reached a point where I want it to stop because it's stressing me out. But what if I'm supposed to listen? Because remember I said that my Dad (and also I) get most angry when our ideals or actions are being challenged or questioned. So maybe the more wrong I am, the louder I yell? Or maybe the more right I am, the louder I yell? I don't know. Maybe there's no rules.

Recurring nightmare

I've been having this dream since at least when I was a teenager, and maybe even longer. It's the one where I am screaming at my father. I'll tell you about the dream, but before I do, I should tell you about my Dad, so that there's at least a little context.

My Dad is probably the most responsible person to have ever lived. He's prudent, methodical, organized, and reserved. He never believed in excess, and he never made any choice or purchase or decision to fulfill his own urges or whims. He had a remarkable career. He served in the Navy at the very end of WWII (in the middle of his engineering degree at Northeastern). While in the Navy, he learned about electronics, to complement his education in Mechanical Engineering. Then he finished college, got married to my mother (I think that was 1948, but maybe it was 1949). My brother was born in 1950. He worked from around 1948 (plus or minus a year) up to around 1973 as an engineer, at a few different companies. As I understand it, he achieved mid-to-upper management levels, though I don't really understand it well, and it is difficult to get him to discuss it because a combination of modesty and convenient "loss" of memory (i.e. modesty) usually prevents you from gleaning too much about his past. His career as an engineer probably cost him the significant hearing loss that he has suffered from for many years, because the product they made at one of his companies was high-speed printing machines, and I gather that it was very loud.

So, in 1973 (again plus or minus a year), I was 5 years old, and my Dad finds out his company is moving to upstate New York. He doesn't want to uproot the family. The job market is horrible, too, because of the recession at that time. So my Dad makes a rather bold transition. He decides to go to work for Prudential Insurance. And from 1973 until well past his late-60's (he turned 65 in 1990) he worked full-time as an insurance agent, focusing mostly on life insurance and home-owners' insurance, and something called "mortgage-life" where your family will own the house free-and-clear if something happens to the bread winner. My Dad, who did not come from a business or sales background, was one of the most successful agents in his office for a long string of years, and won many sales awards. And when you think about what those products are that he was selling, it really kind of fits his personality - prudence, caution, planning for the future. It was a difficult job. His typical week would involve several processes: 1)reading a trade newspaper called the "Banker & Tradesman", which contained listings of all the houses that have been bought - this is the launch point for making phone calls, because these are the people who need the insurance. I don't know if that method works anymore since I know in some states like Washington you need to have your insurance lined up before you even pass papers - but maybe it's different in Massachusetts, or maybe times have changed. So that would be a chunk of his time. 2) Cold calling massive numbers of potential clients. I remember sitting outside his office (he also had an office at home) and listening to his calls, and it got to the point that I had memorized his entire call monolog... "god forbid something should happen to you or your family...". Of course, I never heard the other side of those calls. I don't know if people hung up, or were rude, or didn't know what he was talking about. It was actually quite remarkable that he had enough successful calls to have a very booked appointment schedule! Actually, about his home office... it wasn't until 1979 (6 or 7 years into the career) that he had a "real" home office. When we lived in Mattapan, his office consisted of the wooden workbench that used to be his toolbench, tucked up on a small concrete "shelf" that extended along one entire wall of the basement of our house, among hundreds of boxes and crap that were stored in the basement and had been there for many years. It wasn't much of an office. But then they had a room made into an office when we moved to Stoughton (I was 10 at the time). I guess I wonder if I was listening to my Dad's calls, and someone hung up on him, would he keep going with his monolog so that it wasn't obvious? I really don't know that about him. 3) After the calls, comes the appointments. On most weeks, he would have 1-3 appointments a day to meet new or existing clients. He would drive all over the place in evening traffic, because you need to visit people when they're home from work - so 4pm to 8pm was a busy time for him. There were a lot of days where I saw little of him.

In spite of his success, he never branched off and started his own office, or a private business. It wasn't the "cautious" thing to do. It wasn't "necessary". For my Dad, "necessary" and "sufficient" and "adequate" were always big terms used when explaining why we weren't doing something, or why I wasn't allowed to do or have something.

He could have had quite the affair with those hours and no one would have been the wiser! But that wouldn't have been necessary or prudent! If it were me, then look out!

My Dad continued to follow-up with his existing customers well into his 70's and I think only now, at 82, he probably doesn't see any clients anymore. Though I bet I'm wrong about that. I bet he goes to see the long-time clients even still. It might only amount to one appointment every 6 months, but he probably does it!

So... where are we...

Throughout my life, from say, junior high-school onward, my Dad's career was a source of shame and embarrassment for me. People always made fun of the profession of insurance sales, and I never wanted to tell anyone that's what he did. It wasn't high-paying, though it could have been if he took the risks. It wasn't glamorous. I always felt the need to give a long explanation to anyone who asked what he did. I would always say "he used to be an engineer, but...". I am now a bit ashamed that I was ashamed. And I guess I am ashamed that I can still feel that same shame if I really think about it.

But you just know when you meet a new girlfriend and she or her parents want to know what your parents did for a living, that "insurance salesman" garners a different intellectual response than "doctor" or even "police officer" or even "chef". He was never embarrassed about what he did - at least outwardly. I actually am not sure if embarrassment is an emotion that my father displays. He is quite stoic. He has a couple of emotions: happiness, nervousness, and anger. And his anger is usually not "rage" or violence or anything like that. My Dad's anger comes about when he feels threatened or challenged, or when someone questions his motives or ideals.

Gee, doesn't that sound familiar?

There were a lot of things I wanted to do, or wanted to have, that we didn't do, and I didn't have. Because of that attitude of no-excess. I don't think we were hurting for money. But we didn't go away on extravagant vacations, probably because neither my mother nor father liked to travel. We didn't dine out, probably because neither my mother nor father really cared to do so. We didn't buy a lot of new stuff, but the house was always decorated and updated appropriately and always looked fresh and clean in a very Jewish uncluttered way. You see some people's houses strewn with shelves of books and photographs and you get a strong sense of the character of the individuals based on these piles of their existence. But our house was more like an air-conditioned museum with wall-to-wall plush carpeting in cadet blue and mauve.

So... there's some background on my Dad. I can say just a little bit more about him though. One of the most striking windows through which I have ever had the opportunity to view his personality were the photo albums from his Navy days that still exist intact. He was young - probably 21-23 years old. And he was very good-looking. Much more so than either of his sons, lucky for him. And in all the pictures, he is happy. And he seems carefree, and life of the party, and it is so obvious that everyone liked him and that he was a lot of fun. There's pictures of him with Filipino women, posing for photographs. There's pictures of him on the boat he served. There are also pieces of artwork that he drew when he was in the Navy. Very entertaining. There are also some photo albums of him at parties back home before he met my Mom, where he's on dates with at least one other girl who came before her. And it's so strange to see him at these parties with his dates. I always have that absurd, and completely biologically irrational thought of "that could have been my mother!". And I wonder if he married her, would his life have been different? Better? Worse? Would he have been less prudent? Less reserved? Who knows. So that's a tidbit.

Another tidbit, final one, is that when my Dad was around 62 or so, he had a very severe illness - appendicitis, that went undiagnosed for so long that he should have probably died from it. The appendix ruptured and when they finally brought him to the hospital, the doctors were iffy on what was wrong and not incredibly optimistic at first as to what the outcome would be. But he survived. And that "near death" episode caused my father to undergo a huge change in lifestyle. He was never an unhealthy person anyway, but I think he realized his mortality at that point and decided he was having none of it. He began eating right (in his opinion... my opinion is that eating frozen "Healthy Choice" meals 3 times a day is not "eating right" but that's another story), and he began exercising like a complete fanatic. Seven days a week. Treadmill for 90 minutes, and some light weights. Occasionally the rowing machine or some other ridiculous piece of equipment he has.

Okay, one more final final thing... as he got older, he became much mellower, and compared with the years I lived there, he and my Mom now do many things together. They shop together. He cleans for her. They go out to eat all the time. She's not that well, though not suffering a particular "disease". Just having a hard time as she gets older. And he is so incredibly supportive and caring of her. And it's strange because it evolved into that closeness. I never saw that growing up, and I am not sure it was there. He was too stressed and busy to be "present". So they got lucky to have it evolve like that.

So... to the dream.

Ever since I was a teen, I would have periodic dreams where I would be having some type of debate with my Dad, and he would probably be telling me I was not allowed to do something, or explaining to me how something was not necessary - and I would lose it in my dream. I would scream at him. And this happened quite often. Every year, at least a couple of times. In waking life, I would say that I have only "screamed" at my Dad a few times, and it was mostly (strangely) in the last 10 years, I think, where I finally couldn't deal with it anymore. Maybe not. I don't remember if I've screamed at him. I know I have screamed at my Mom! But that's a different story. And I never have dreams about screaming at her.

So it has been quite a long time. But last night, in my dream, I was in the garage in Stoughton. And it was night. And the garage door was open. And I was doing something on the computer which was there (though there is no computer in the garage). And I hear a car coming down the street and turning into the driveway. And for whatever reason, I am frantically trying to close the windows on the computer, and it's hard to click on them. And I don't even know what's on them, but I know I don't want him seeing it. And he pulls into the garage and gets out of the car, and I don't remember the exchange we had, but he didn't even say much. It was all me. I completely go off, and I am screaming at him at the top of my lungs, and swearing, and calling him all sorts of things that I have never, and would never call him. I don't remember ever insulting him before in the scream-dreams. I usually yell objectively at him. This time it was direct verbal assault. And it goes on for quite some time. And it ends with me telling him in no uncertain terms, that I am "out of here", and I go storming upstairs past my mother, who didn't say anything to me.

Then I wake up, feeling very agitated. It's 6:47am. And I am immediately trying to understand what it was all about. I thought about writing the blog on the subject right away, but decided to wait until I woke up properly. Now I am making myself a little late for work writing this, but it seems important to me.

So what the hell is this dream about. I am not sure the dream means the same thing every time. But for some reason, I think it does. Just like when you lose all your teeth and it means fear of losing control. So what does it mean? I kind of think that my Dad is me. That's what I kind of think. And I don't like it. And I'm pretty sure I'm right because of the way it makes me feel when I write that. In fact, I know I am right. So why am I screaming at myself? I think it's because I am doing to myself what I always felt my Dad was doing to me? Repressing? Overprotecting? Being too cautious? Too reserved? Only doing what's necessary? I am not my Dad. But part of me is. I used to make fun of him, no ridicule him because he was driving his piece of shit 1969 Chevy Nova in 1983. After 14 years. Hm... so what year is my Corolla? Um... 1994... I am my Dad. I could talk about how I am also my Mom... but I'll save that for another blog.

So the question is why that dream now?

And the answer is, "I don't know".

Being afraid

There's a lot to be afraid of in this world.

We could be sick, or killed by accident, or our loved ones could leave us, or they could be sick or killed by accident. We could fail miserably at everything we try - or maybe even worse - we could be successful for quite some time, such that we expect that life will keep bringing us roses, only to one day be blindsided by a complete and utter trouncing from the elusive powers-that-be. And maybe it's justified, or maybe it's not. For instance, maybe you get escorted out of your building at work one day, after having worked there for years and performed admirably. You don't have the faintest clue why. And then it turns out it is because all these years they have been keeping track of all the time that every employee spends on the internet doing non-work-related activity, and it turned out that you topped the list. And there's some new security regime at the company that decides to make an example out of you. So all this time that you thought "that shit doesn't matter as long as you're getting your job done", you were actually wrong.

So there's a ton of stuff to be afraid of in this world.

What if it turns out that none of your "friends" actually like you, and that they've been gathering in secret, every Wednesday, behind your back, to discuss how they can finally be done dealing with you? If all this time that you thought you were clever and funny, but you were actually the most annoying and obnoxious person to ever walk the earth.

But there's more. Tons of things.

What if Homeland Security has been tapping your phone and when you made that joke about "Wouldn't it be funny if Homeland Security was tapping my phone and I said 'I'm gonna do this, this, and that, on such and such a date, and hurt oh-so-many people'", they were actually recording it all, and they don't think you're so funny. In fact, they know you voted against the administration that created them, so maybe just to teach you a lesson, they will send YOU to Guantanamo Bay for a few years without a lawyer or a trial, or an accusation.

What if a piece of an airplane, or "blue ice", or other random space junk, or a wild goose that just died of a coronary falls on you when you're out for a morning run? Maybe it doesn't injure you real bad. Maybe you just need stitches, or some Advil. But the fact is, now that shit has fallen from the sky and hit you, how confident are you gonna be about going out again? Huh? And of course if you told anyone about it, they're gonna pretend to have empathy for you, and then bring it up at the Wednesday meeting.

I don't know. But there's a lot to be afraid of in this world.

I worry if no one is reading this. I worry if someone is reading this. I worry will you think that I am deranged, or depressive, or dangerous, or pessimistic, or hopeless, or desperate, or boring. I worry if you will tell other people about it whom I don't really want reading it. I worry you won't tell anybody about it, and that it's just writing to myself. Because I'm totally scared of that. This is a blog. Not a fucking diary. And if no one is reading, it's sort of a diary. And honestly, if you were writing in your diary, would you then photocopy the pages and post them on the internet?

If you were me... probably.

I don't know. Maybe I'm not really afraid.

Maybe I don't really care what people think. Maybe I just put it out there because I want to say it for myself and maybe it entertains someone else. Maybe just one person. Maybe only the first half of it, and then the rest got boring and they started skimming it. Maybe I do care what people think, but am more interested in at least giving them the opportunity to think something, rather than know nothing. I don't know which is more intriguing to me. The idea of a stranger reading my thoughts, or a friend, or my sister. I wasn't thrilled when my sister read about my home surgery, I'll tell you that much. I think she told her husband about it too, and she reassured me that he's never gonna bother to look at it. But still. They all think I'm crazy, and this doesn't help any. Ironically, they're all crazy, and it doesn't help any. I think that's ironic, but to an outsider, it probably appears correlated. I don't know... DNA or something like that.

I think I am okay with you reading this.

And I'm not really afraid of all those things. I am not even so much afraid of things that I didn't mention. It's just interesting to note all the shit that we COULD be afraid of, as we walk down the street every day. And the fact that we aren't is kind of interesting. We have a lot of faith in the world functioning as we expect it to function. There are a massive number of unwritten rules by which we abide, or by which we assume the world abides. And the good news is that usually it does.

It would be quite tragic if this is my last blog because I am struck by blue ice tomorrow.

30 July, 2007

ADD (or ADHD) is a bunch of rubbish... but I think I suffer from it

Of course this is one of the most diagnosed disorders both in children and adults. Actually I have no data to back that up, and I am way too fucking lazy (due to my short attention span, no doubt) to go to Wikipedia and provide you with some real data. So I'm just going to trudge forward completely full of shit. Also, I am thinking that maybe I will put a "y" on the end of everythingy that I write today. Or not everything, but a bunch of randomy kinds of stuff because I seem to be inadvertently doing it anyway, so might as well makey the most of it.

So why do I have the least self-discipline of anyone I know? I say I'm gonna eat better, but then I get the pepperoni pizza. I say I am going to focus at work, but now here I am writing my blog. At least I am using proper capitalization for my blog entry - I deserve at least some credit for that. But what the fuck?

I am starting to wonder if maybe it is because I only sleep 5-6 hours a night... because I slept 8 hours on Thursday night, and I was quite productive on Friday. Go figure. But that would require some discipline if I wanted to test that theory out over a longer period of time.
I don't even have the concentration to finish this blog entry. I am right in the middle of something that is probably very important and

29 July, 2007

Rain, bees, or both?

This morning I woke up to the sound of bees again. And my first thought was "That's it! I am out of here!". The landlord clearly didn't do the spraying, and the bees are still fucking around eating through my walls, getting ready to start coming in from every orifice available, and I will be devoured by them. And I decided that I would immediately get up and start looking for a place to live.

Then I looked out the window, and noticed that it is raining. So it's rain and not bees this time. Or maybe it's rain AND bees. Who the fuck knows.

But either way, I looked around on Craigslist a bit because this once again got me feeling like $7499 a month is too much to be paying for rent. Don't you think? So there's not a whole lot out there that looked interesting to me, sadly. I then looked at roommate options since the other possibility is to have someone move in with me. That would be good because I would not have to move, and could stay in this cool location - but I would give something up.

For example, I would not be sitting and writing this blog while completely naked.

27 July, 2007

My worst nightmare

I am trying to think about how to write this one. I could create suspense and then give you the big story. Or I could do it like Jeopardy, and say something like:

A: Red Beans and Rice

Q: What is the staple food of indiginous people living in villages outside of Machupichu?
I'm gonna just tell the story chronologically, while leaving out some details that will ruin my story.

So, the other day, not really sure which day it was, I went to bed, or maybe I woke up, I don't know. But it was when I was in bed. I heard rain. And I thought, "Hm... I guess it's raining". This happened a couple of times. Then this morning, or maybe yesterday morning, I heard rain again. It was strange because when I left for work, the ground was not wet, so it seemed peculiar. But it is one of those things you forget.

This morning, I wake up and I hear rain. And I get out of bed, and open the blinds, and see that it is sunny outside. Okay. I'm half asleep so it doesn't really register and I go about my morning business. It's a beautiful day outside I can see. As I am getting dressed, I come back to my bedroom, and I am putting away some laundry in my sock drawer.

And I hear rain.

And then I realize...

(get ready for Bob's Worst Nightmare... it's coming right now)

(are you ready for it?)

It's not rain.

It's bees.

Yellow jackets.

Probably thousands of them.

In the wall.

How do I know this?

Because last week, I had a friend over. I don't even remember who it was, but we went out on the back porch and noticed that there were a large number of yellow jackets flying to a nest that looked like it was up against the side of the house - though we didn't really inspect because we didn't want to get too close. I mentioned it to the landlord and he was supposed to deal with it. But he forgot. Because he "has a one track mind" (he used those words).

So it is looking, or should I say, sounding like they are not ON the house, but IN the house. This is a serious issue. He says he's gonna spray the hole where they enter, and then block it up. But what I want to know is will this kill them, or will they retreat further into the house. And start coming out of places like plug outlets, ceiling lights, air vents. Because if that happens, I will be sleeping on someone's couch right up until the moment that I find a new place to live.

See, I have beephobia. Yes it is true. I have an irrational fear of bees. Actually, it has improved in the past 5 years or so, as have a lot of things in my life. I used to be terrified to the point of breaking a sweat if there was a bee in the room. Now I just moan and complain a little bit, so I think it is improvement. But I am not sure what I will do if this HIVE of yellow jackets begins egressing into my living space (and as a footnote, I will acknowledge that yellow jackets are NOT bees, they are wasps, and they are actually far more dangerous and tenacious than any bee).

Mark, the landlord, doesn't seem too worried. And I guess this does not surprise me since the bees will not be in HIS living space.

What are they doing in there anyway that sounds like rain? Are they eating the wood? Are they moving around little pebbles? Are they mating? I have no fucking clue. And I don't like it one bit.

26 July, 2007

My thoughts about pizza

The subtitle of this blog should be "50 Ways to Avoid Working on the Report I Need To Write". But we can forget about that for a moment.

So I've rambled about this quite a bit here and there, but I don't think I've blogged about it ever, so here we go.

The pizza in Seattle sucks (*). The asterisk, as employed here, indicates that there exceptions to that statement which I will reveal in a few moments after I bitch and complain first. So, first of all, I think the the problem in Seattle is that pizza chains seem to carry a lot of weight. There are a lot of them. Domino's, Pizza Slut, Round Table, Romio's, Jet City, Papa Murphy's, Pagliacci's, and the list probably goes on. And everyone seems to love them. They are not good. The only exception, and it doesn't even deserve an asterisk, hence maybe I should just give it a "&" or a "$" as some type of sub-special case, is Pagliacci, which, if you need to go to a chain, go there.

That's issue 1.

Then comes the infusion of California pseudo-pizza rubbish and artsy cuisine that deserves a name other than pizza. Here, I refer to such places as California Pizza Kitchen, and then all the Faux Italian places like Tutta Bella and the place at U-Village that I can't remember. So these places are not bad pizza. But they are not really pizza. And also they serve tiny, thin pizzas at high prices. And they focus around obnoxious toppings like artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomato, pulvarized wolf spleen, and various other shit that doesn't belong on pizza. Like gorgonzola cheese. It's almost like they are saying "What shit can we throw on this so that people who really like pizza will be offended". I think I am going to make my own fancy-schmancy pizza restaurant, and here will be the toppings I will offer to all the yuppified California, health-infused, new-age, scum:

petrified shaved larynx, dandelion, earwax ringlets, mackerel, soup (yes, just pour an entire can of your favorite soup on the pizza), fungal toenail, yeti scrotum, maple leaf, and my favorite "drainiculus" (**). Note the use of the asterisk again. In this case, the double asterisk indicates that there will be a definition of the term immediately below.

** drainiculus is the various soppy, aged, rotting, organic matter that accumulates in the drain catch of your kitchen sink if you keep piling up and semi-rinsing dirty dishes for, say, 3-5 weeks. it is unclear at this time whether this topping will be offered as vegetarian or not, since theoretically speaking, EVERYTHING becomes vegetarian if left to degrade long enough.

Back on task, though. So for me, you see, pizza is not about "seeing, and being seen". It's not a trendy thing where I go and pick at one or two slivers of kalamata and pomegranate with white sauce. For me, being from Boston, pizza is a STAPLE food. You people from Seattle must know what staple foods are, right? I think examples for you would be salmon. But that's another story that I'll save. Back to pizza. Staple foods have certain properties. 1) they are good. 2) they are inexpensive. 3) you can find them everywhere. 4) people eat large amounts of them. 5) there is no 5.

So, having come from Boston, where every town has it's own "House of Pizza" which is usually either Greek or Italian, and every one of these places is great in its own special way, I am rather annoyed with the offerings here in Seattle.

Here comes the time where I will get back to my first asterisk. As a footnote, I should mention that I dated a girl in college, who was not only 4 foot 11 inches tall, which is odd enough, but she referred to an asterisk as an "askee". I don't even know what she meant. Maybe she meant ASCII like the character code? She could have called it the "star" and I would have forgiven that. But what the fuck is "Askee"? How do you even get that? And she wasn't saying it to be cute either. We won't mention her name here. She had some other funny things like that which I cannot remember. (apparently this was important enough to me that I felt the need to blog about it again in spring of 2008... hm).

Anyway here comes the second asterisk - the moment you've been waiting for!

* There IS good pizza in Seattle. But you need to really look hard for it!

1. The best pizza place I have found in Seattle, of course, is Piecora's at Madison and Pike. This is authentic New York style pizza. They have authentic New York decor. The atmosphere is slightly New York, in that the people who work there are a bit more aggro than you would normally find in a Seattle establishment. But it's great pizza, and it's not insanely priced. And they are very CONSISTENTLY GOOD, which is another thing that cannot possibly be overrated.

2. The second best pizza place deserves a few asterisks next to its name because I am not sure I can really give it this status anymore. It is called "A New York Pizza Place". I am certain that the "A" in front of the name is to get it at the front of the Yellow Pages listing for pizza. Pretty clever, but a little foofy. So when I moved to Seattle in 1999, this was my favorite pizza place. It had completely authentic and extremely valuable New York sports memorabilia, and it was owned by a completely authentic New Yorker. Prices were not bad, and quality was consistent. Unfortunately, something happened. In maybe 2002 or so, owner decided to sell the business and move to Europe. Good for him. Bad for New York Pizza place. He sold it to a guy from Arizona. And the prices went up. And the quality control went down. And all the authentic memorabilia is replaced by shit you could by in the posters section of Fred Meyer. Cheesy, no pun intended, and ironic since their pizza is now often not so much. They still have the *capacity* to make a top-rate pizza. But they don't always assemble with proper amount of cheese (i.e. cost cutting) and they almost ALWAYS undercook their pizza, which is mind-boggling to me - how can you do this? How fucking difficult is it to look at the pizza, and say "It's ALMOST done. I better leave it in there another minute or two so that it will be perfect and my customer will be happy". But no. Furthermore, they reduced their hours so that they're not open every day and NEVER open for lunch. If you're still reading this then you're about to hear the best part - so if you read this part, send me a message and give me a kudo for having mucho cojones. I almost got in a FIGHT with the Arizonan owner like 4 years ago! It was great!. I had been getting angrier and angrier because first their large cheese was 11 dollars. Then 12 dollars. Then 14 dollars. And I think it's like fucking 16 dollars now or something. So I asked the guy "how come your prices have gone up so much?". So he starts telling me this whole story about how the best cheese is on the East Coast, and he needs to have it shipped out here, and that it is so expensive. Then he tells me that the entire cost of the pizza is the cheese. Dough, negligible. Sauce, nada. The cost is the cheese. So, then, genius that he is, he says "cheese has gone up like 75 cents a pound in the last year or so". And I, having worked at a pizza place, know that a large cheese pizza probably gets between 0.5 to 0.75 pounds of cheese. That, doing the math, is between 35-50 cents, approximately. And I say to him (because I am smart), if cheese went up like 50 cents a pizza, why did you increase your prices by 2-3 dollars? At this point, he says "listen, do you have a problem?". And it sort of started to escalate from there, and my friend I was with at the time had to tell me to drop it.

I take my pizza VERY seriously.

The Arizonan sweetheart also apparently owns the Fremont Classic now as well, so you might want to avoid that place too :)

3. Talarico's in West Seattle is not bad. They have karaoke, which can be amusing, and they serve VERY LARGE, reasonably priced, New York Style pizza until late at night. Not a bad idea if you're in West Seattle, or if you are in the mood to sing karaoke.

4. I forget the name for sure, but Mamma's or Mama something's on Pike or Pine in Capitol Hill is also decent.

Beyond that. Fuck Seattle and your fucking shitty ass overpriced pizza. And that's all I've got to say about that shit! If you want good pizza for free, come over my house and bring me an offering of appreciation and I will abide.