Monday, September 30, 2002
Went to Maryland this weekend.
Although we had a good time, it felt more like a mission. We flew out of Chicago on Saturday morning and we were back home by Sunday evening. This included about 8 hours worth of airport/flying time and 6 hours of driving time thrown in there.
The raison de etre was that we were visiting our friends Linda and Rob, otherwise and henceforth known as Secondsight. They were having their national record-release party down in Salisbury (home of the steak!), Maryland. The show they gave was excellent, and I'd like to take this time to highly recommend everyone go take a look at their site and buy a CD. Do it to spite me, help them, or just enjoy good music. Pick a reason and go buy a CD :)
I know a lot of people have personal friends who have bands and they plug them all the time ad nauseum and people (much like you) reading these plugs think to themselves that it's not really all that good and it's not even worth the bother. Trust me when I say this: if you're thinking that this time, you're wrong.
I found myself increasingly frustrated that I was listening to them in a smallish church turned concert hall. It feels like they should be opening for Sting or R.E.M. Their sound is amazing. You'll feel like you're listening to the soundtrack of the year's biggest break-out indie movie that never was. I've listened to them grow over the years and I have to say that they seriously deserve to make it big, if not huge or at the very least inordinately large.
And at the very least, you need to do yourself a favor and listen to the way Robert can make the electric guitar sound like a freaking violin. There's guitar artistry going on here that I never even dreamed possible.
But enough of my gushing.
The rest of rural Maryland proved entertaining if only for our riffing amusement. I will post pictures along with said riffage just as soon as we get our camera back that my beloved wife forgot in the rental car.
A quick apology to my friends in the Maryland area: I'm sorry I didn't even mention we were going to be in Maryland this weekend; our schedule was so tightly packed that there wasn't any room for visiting, and I didn't want to dangle that "Hey, we're going to drive right by where you live, but you can't see us!" carrot in front of you. I mean it when I say that we didn't even have 10 minutes to spare.
Friday, September 27, 2002
So How Much for a New Fireplace, Then?
Jesus H. Fucking Christu. The furnace died. I knew something like this was coming. I thought it might be the water heater, which would have been fairly devastating, because since it's mine it would mean that it couldn't fail and just stop working; it would explode and the bottom would drop out of it and water would go everywhere.
But that wasn't the case. The water heater's only five years old, so that may have very well happened to the previous owners just before we bought the house.
What was the case was that the 20 year old furnace that came with the house decided it had had enough. What with all of the heating and blowing of cold air we ask it to do. All things considered, that sucker's on and running 24/7 365 days a year for the most part. There's only about 4 weeks a year where it gets into a temperature range where you can leave your windows open and not be cooling or heating your house back to a comfortable range.
But none of that makes the possible $1,500 to $2,500 range dent in the family savings feel any better. Christ, I could buy a DDR machine for that kind of money.
Unfortunately, DDR machines can't heat my home. Not even DDR Max.
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Linse, Rather, Lepeat
Stupid lousy tires. Somehow, the universe has once again conspired against me and managed to puncture my right rear tire not once but twice in two days. Well, really four days, but considering that it got punctured on a Friday, then sat on Saturday, patched on Sunday, and wasn't really driven again until Monday, when it was punctured again, it's two for two.
The second time, there was a key in the tread. A KEY. How in the hell a housekey is sharp enough to go through the treadwall of a tire is beyond me, or why it would be laying out in the street in a position condusive to tire rupturing, but there it was: jammed in there nice and tight. I felt bad, because I returned the tire to Just Tires assuming that the patch they did had blown out, and the tech came back and showed me the key stuck in it. I hadn't even bothered checking for another foreign object when I changed it the second time. I mean, what are the odds? Two punctures in the same tire in two days?
Sunday, September 22, 2002
Went clothing shopping yesterday, since I've been increasingly disatisfied with my wardrobe as of late. I think I hit one of those "mid-life-crisis" phases last year, and bought a skateboard (which I pretty much never rode), and wore a lot of skater-type clothes.
I've been longing for some nicer, more mature clothes, so I hit Express (for men [and while we're on this topic, what was wrong with Structure, anyway?]), and picked up some really nice long sleeved dress-shirts, and some other short-sleeved collared dress-type shirts.
But the real find was when I decided to check out Dockers pants. I had stayed away from Dockers for a very long time because, well, I hated the idea of wearing khaki pants. Now that's all I wear, ala cargo pants, and I figured I could pick up a couple pairs of dressier pants without the cargo pockets on them.
First, I checked out and decided to buy those Dockers with the hidden zip-pockets in the seams. It's like having cargos without the obvious cargo pocket. I feel like I'm smuggling my wallet when I'm wearing them. Tres Chic.
Then, the real find: Go! Khakis. You know the ones: the guy goes on a bachelor weekend and has everything short of bodily fluids spilled on his pants, and he comes home and the pants still look brand new. They had a "making-of" commercial running at the kiosk that had the Go! Khakis on display. I just didn't see how exactly these pants could resist liquids like they claimed, The director on the video was even commenting on how he thought that they didn't really work that way, and was amazed that no liquids would stick to the pants. Everything just ran right off.
So I grabbed a pair and brought them home. Yes, I even paid for them.
The first thing I did with them when I got home was to hold them under the faucet and just watch the water roll off. I swear, the "40% microfiber" label on the tag should read "40% duck" because the water just beads right up and rolls right off! And the pants don't feel like they're made out of plastic, either. They feel like soft cotton pants! Heck, I don't even think plastic could resist liquids as well as these pants.
So, in the spirit of fair marketing, I've come up with a list of other excellent bullet points they could list on these pants other than resisting stains from spills:
1). Piss yourself, and no one's the wiser!
2). Fashionable wet suits! Now go scuba diving in style!
3). Never wash your clothes again!
4). Singin' in the rain never looked better! Gene Kelly, eat your heart out!
5). Coming soon: Monica Lewinski Docker Go! Dresses! Never get nailed by embarrassing stains again!
Okay, so that last one was uncalled for, but you knew it was coming, right? Pun intended.
I just wanted to say "thank you" to EA for being big honking cocks and publishing a game they knew was unfinished. I bought Battlefield 1942 today, which to be honest really just should have been called Medal of Honor: Battlefield. I see no real designation between how this plays and how any of the umpteen million MoH titles play. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, mind you; I like MoH titles. Unfortunately they're all the same. Oh look, a train level. Here's something innovative: sneak into a submarine level! Haven't seen that one in any other MoH games before. Look, it's Omaha Beach! Feels like I was just there. Oh wait, that's because I was. In the last MoH game I played.
But I digress. I would like to know at what point, exactly, did EA decide that it no longer needed to release games that were finished? And I'm not just talking about Battlefield, either. Sims Vacation actually broke people's Sim games by changing what likes and dislikes Sims had, thereby destroying relationships people had worked on for the better part of a year.
Adding insult to injury, the Battlefield patch is not only a 15M file (making it nearly impossible for me to download in a timely fashion from my pathetic 56.6 modem), EA won't even host it on their own damn site.
Excuse me? Didn't I purchase an EA game? I don't recall purchasing a game from File Planet or File Shack. What's the matter? Can't handle the bandwidth of having that same 15M patch downloaded 200,000+ times? I have the perfect solution to solve your bandwidth needs:
STOP PUBLSIHING BROKEN GAMES.
Thursday, September 19, 2002
This Topic is On Time
I've finally decided what my ultimate pet-peeve is about work: being asked to be more punctual.
Asking someone to be more on time is like saying "Hey, nothing's really wrong, but I really feel the need to somehow criticize you, and I noticed that you're not early every day like the rest of us ass-kissers." I mean, if someone's not getting their work done, it would sound more like "Hey, I noticed you've gotten behind the eight-ball. I think it has something to do with you coming in a half-hour late every day. That's two and a half hours of productivity a week that you're missing out on."
Now, I have nothing against an employer asking an employee to be on time. I have nothing against an employer asking an employee to put in an eight hour day five days a week.
But when an employee comes in and works the entire fucking month of February and half of March (and we're talking working 12-14 hour days, only going home to sleep, and putting in 8 to 10 hour days on the weekend), I don't want to fucking hear the employer complain when I come in five to fifteen minutes late once in awhile.
I'm obvoiusly a team player. I think it's obvious that I get my work done on time and meet or exceed an acceptable level of quality, which is why I was promoted in the first place. If all you have to complain about is that I get snarled up by traffic once or twice a week on my way into work, then how about you concentrate on some real problems, cut me some slack, and let me do my job rather than kill my morale by bringing it up in a team meeting by trying to make an example out of me for the rest of the team? Heaven forbid anyone get as much work done as that late guy who happens to produce a lot of good work! And then how about everyone gets on the same page so that one of my other bosses doesn't make the mistake of sending out a general email about being punctual to the other team I'm a part of after the whole puntuality thing has already been turned into a god damned horse and then summarily beaten to fucking death?!?
Oh wait, this was supposed to be one of those "allegorical" things and not about me.
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
I just thought I'd let you all know that if you were here right now you'd be smelling what I'm smelling.
And that would be Eau du Dead Rat. Two dead rats. Two cat-sized dead freaking rats.
I think I liked the smell better when I could just pretend it was really nasty mildew.
Tuesday, September 17, 2002
Why is it when as soon as I get on a roll and start posting every day, life gets in the way and I can't seem to find the time?
There's no real news to tell in my life, other than my feeling the pain of my unavoidable hip displaysia (sp?). I was wondering why my hips hurt so much lately after playing Soccer, and then my Mother tells me that she has hip displaysia and that it's hereditary.
Keep the jokes about my Mom being part dog to yourself, thank you.
So now along with Scoliosis, Excema, Patch Tongue and I'm afraid of possibly Alzheimers (like, way, way in the future), I can add Hip Displaysia to the mix. When I'm sick and laid up in the hospital when I'm really old, they're just going to bring in a Vet to shoot me.
I've been wondering if I should just stop all high-impact sports, and stick to golf and bike-riding, but then I ask myself how much time I really have before my back blows out, and my hips pop out of their sockets, and I wonder if when that happens if I'd be happier not having played some sports and activities in order to prolong the inevitable, or if I'd appreciate life more knowing that I'd lived it in the time that I was given.
I'm telling myself now I'll be happier having played the sports and getting out and living life, but I might change my mind later after some painful surgeries.
Friday, September 13, 2002
The Case for War
I had a long post about why exactly we should go to war against not only Iraq, but against the entire militant Islamic idea of killing Jews, but in doing so, I realized that I had linked to articles I first read at Little Green Footballs about eight times, and came to the conclusion that I didn't have anything really new to add. I was merely trying to package it into one nice cohesive piece.
I would rather just point you all to read the articles on LGF for yourselves, and make up your own minds. You might have to hit the archives to read about some pieces from last week. It's really worth your time.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
I'm thinking about starting a Driver's Log or something like that for my road adventures. It seems like I have a new one every other day.
Today's was the mini-van in front of me while I was sitting in log-jam traffic on I-88.
It was a "typical" mini-van in that it had the usual Jesus-Fish tm. (this time complete with a cross for an eye!), and it seemed to be bumper-sticker free. Upon closer inspection, I noticed two of those "bullet hole" stickers on the left side of the trunk. I began wondering: why would someone with a Jesus-Fish want to promote contemporary violence issues?
And then I noticed the Dream-Catcher hanging from the rear-view-mirror.
If I had to profile the car, I'd say Mom and Dad put the Jesus-Fish on, Jr. put the bullet-hole stickers on, and the little lady of the house wanted the Dream-Catcher. And while we're on the topic of Dream-Catchers, why would you want one in your car? You know, that place where sleeping would be inherantly a bad idea?
"Ugh, I ran into that tree and totalled my car when I fell asleep, but I remember that cool dream I was having! Yes!"
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
The Red White and Blue
We finally put the flag up last night. In an odd moment of synchronicty last night, Liz's brother Tod gave us a flagpole that works with the old-fashioned kind of flag we have. We'd been looking for one all year unsuccesfully. So we put it up as soon as we got home.
It felt good to fly the flag. It felt even better that it went up last night.
We left a light on for it all night, because that's what you're supposed to do if you're going to fly the flag at night.
I've been building up a big rant about everything regarding 9/11 in the last year, but I'm going to wait to post that 'till tomorrow. Today I just want to be quiet and remember.
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
There's a saying that goes something like "You don't know what kind of shape you're in until you've played a game of Soccer."
I joined a Monday night 8 v 8 rec league, and played in it last night.
I now know what kind of shape I'm in. I think it's somewhere between gelatinous and rotund. Good lord I'm in pain.
Monday, September 09, 2002
Saw M. Night Shyamalan's Signs this weekend. I couldn't decide if I liked it or not afterwards. Well, that isn't actually true. I can safely say that I liked it. In fact I think it's safe to say that I really liked it. But when asked my opinion about the movie, or how I would rate it against my favorite movies, I have a hard time coming up with my own independant feelings about it.
That's because I view it as an instant classic. Classic movies, like Psycho or Casablanca aren't criticizable in my opinion. You aren't allowed to like or dislike them. You watch them to learn, and to appreciate the film-making/entertainment art. For instance, I don't like Psycho, but when I watch it, I start understanding more about how films are supposed to be shot. It's compelling. It's interesting. You can't tear your eyes away from it because it's a directing/cinematography masterpiece. You don't have to like it in order to be able to appreciate the mastery involved.
And that's how I feel about all of Shyamalan's movies. I can't even sort out which one of his movies I like better than the rest. He's a brilliant storyteller and an excellent director. I'd rather watch any of his movies for the fiftieth time rather than watch the Lifetime movie of the week that's in theaters now.
I think I'm beginning to understand why film experts started comparing him to Hitchcock after Sixth Sense. He definitely deserves the nod.
Friday, September 06, 2002
Is anyone else like, sitting on the edge of their seats awaiting the premier for Transporter?
Although I must say, this trumps my show idea for Cut to the Chase, an animated series about a driver (named Chase) who makes deliveries for one town's criminal underworld. Someday, (maybe in the next few months), I need to take those finshed storyboards and make a lycareel to the music I had selected.
At any rate, back to my state of anticipation...
[Edited to say that my loving wife keeps ruining the commercials by singing "The Transporter! More than meets the eye!" to the tune of The Transformers themesong every time the commercial ends. It's like a big ol' kick in the nuts. I might also add that I'm not helping myself any when I looked at the wallpaper I grabbed from the official site and thought it read: "The Trainspotter." I need professional strength help.]
Thursday, September 05, 2002
Controversial My Ass
I finally got around to watching the original airing of the Mtv MVA ceremony on tape. The one that didn't have the footage of Eminem edited out.
For those of you who didn't see it, It all started when Moby was in the process of being interviewed by that annoying yet sometimes funny dog-puppet from Conan O'Brian's show. The dog was asking questions like "Hey, Moby, why did Eminem call you a 36 year old bald white faggot? Eh?"
Moby started looking around in a bit of a sheepish, nervous way, as if he noticed someone was just off camera who would exascerbate this situation. After a couple of different questions, the dog-puppet noticed Eminem was standing right behind him the entire time. So the dog went over to ask Eminem why he called Moby a faggot, presumably, and Eminem pushed the puppet off camera and while waving the camera away, declaring something to the effect of "Naw, naw, I already had my TV time." Whatever that's supposed to mean.
Eminem then won the award for whatever he was nominated for at that time (I think he took home four), and after taking the stage, mentioned that "That Moby-girl threw me out of my zone for a minute" when he missed a step in reading his list and thanking people in his acceptance speech. The "Moby-girl" line got about half the crowd booing, and from Eminem's next statement, we can only presume that Moby was also booing. "That's right, keep booing. Keep booing! I'll hit a man with glasses, you know," or something to that effect. More booing from the audience. The other half of the audience decided that they were going to attempt to cheer over the booing, and tried to give Eminem a standing ovation.
I could really care less about what was said, or who stood up or who booed.
What I think is telling is that the rumor has it that Eminem's management asked Mtv to remove the statements (and the whole dog-puppet-pushing thing), which is why you won't see them in any re-broadcast.
For reference, here's the lyrics from "Without Me," the song which contains the lyrics which started this whole thing:
So the FCC won't let me be
Or let me be me so let me see
They tried to shut me down on MTV
But it feels so empty without me...
I said this looks like a job for me
So everybody just follow me
Cuz we need a little controversy,
Cuz it feels so empty without me ...
And Moby, you can get stomped by Obie,
You 36 year old bald headed fag blow me
You don't know me, you're too old
Let go, it's over, nobody listens to techno
Now lets go, just give me the signal
I will be there with a whole list full of new insults
So his management requested those live anti-Moby comments be taken out of the rebroadcasts? And what about that whole list full of new insults? "Moby-girl?!?" Is that the best you could freaking do?
Look, if you're going to claim to be the most outrageous, controversial rapper on the market, and how Mtv keeps you down, then don't fucking cave when someone puts the pressure on, you twit. Don't censor yourself on the same network you claimed was keeping you down. It tends to make you look like a spineless moron to the rest of us. And speaking of spineless, I thought you showed a complete lack of vertebrae when you waited until you were behind the podium to take jabs at a "thirty-six year old faggot" when you had him dead-to-rights two minutes earlier. If you can't back up your claims on your albums, don't bother making them. You're only proving what a talentless hack you are when you're called on them.
As far as "most controversial" goes, I have to give that award to the dog-puppet for having the set of balls to even bring the subject up in the first place.
I don't know about you, but when a rubber dog is more controversial and has more integrity than you, I think it's time to stop bragging about it on your albums.
I'm just sayin'.
Wednesday, September 04, 2002
I Like Snatch
The Movie Soundtrack, you sicko! Welll, I pretty much like the other kind, too.
But as far as the Soundtrack goes, I like at least the second and third track. If someone asked me right now, "Steve, what two songs typify your taste in music?" I would have to reply "See tracks two and three of The Snatch Soundtrack."
I'm off to go rock out in my car now.
Btw, I put the first sketch up (finally) at Sketch of the Day. I really need to rename that. More sketches tonight, hopefully.
Nike, God of Advertising
I just wanted to make a quick mention that Nike has once again floored me with their advertising. Previously, during the Olympics, they ran an ad which was entirely composed of match cuts between non-related sports. You know the one: The long jumper lands in a pit of sand, and at the point of maximum impact, they cut to a shot of a baby on a bed jumping from a similar position onto the pillows, which cuts to a snowboarder in a similar position to the last one of the baby (laying on its back on a hill of pillows) pushing off from a snowy incline to slide down the hill, which cuts to a skateboarder on a similar incline, etc. etc. etc. I got giddy every time I saw it. Pure brilliance.
They managed to one-up themselves with thier newest one: The Orchestra Warmup. The music is what would normally be considered non-digetic audio of an orchestra warming up for a performance, with clips of atheletes of all kinds and sports warming up for their particular sport of choice. As the "music" builds and more instruments are added to the chorus, so builds the energy and the urgency of the atheletes getting ready in the clips, until we reach the climax as the orchestra individuals' volumes are competing with each other for dominance to be heard as they crescendo and then are cut off abruptly, just as some female swimmers take their mark for the start of a backstroke race. This commercial defines the "pregnant moment." It gives me goosebumps every time I see it.
Nike execs, if you're reading this, I will forever look to buy Nike apparel and sports products whenever possible. Keep up the incredible work.
Tuesday, September 03, 2002
Your Mantis Style is No Match for My Ancient Kung Fu Broom Style!
I nearly jumped out of my fucking skin today at the gas pump. There I was, pumping my gas, letting my eyes wander around in a bored daze-like stupor, and then my brain finally registered what it was that I had been staring at.
A Praying Mantis was just sitting there on the cement curb under the pump hoses in front of the pump. Instant Goosebumps the Size of Mt. Everest. After the initial shock wore off, I immediately called Liz to tell her of the shocking news. I had yet to see a Praying Mantis here in Illinois, and I've lived here for 31 years, mostly.
She told me that they're actually very polite, nice creatures. And she was dead on. I sat there, amazed, as the Mantis watched me walk back and forth in front of it; its arms curled in front of it and head cocked to the side in an almost inquisitive "hey, whatcha doin'?" pose. It looked like it was going to follow me. I guess it's because their head is very large and noticeable, and it's fairly articulated in that it can turn much like a human head can, making it easier for us to identify with.
So I started feeling sorry for it, because it really seriously looked like a lost child there in front of the gas pump like that. Not a whole lot of insects for it to eat, or branches for it to perch on. Luckily for it, my gas purchase seemed to have a problem with it, so I went inside to verify that it was indeed paid for, and to retrieve a receipt.
While inside, I asked the woman behind the counter if they had a broom or some stick-like object with which I could try and move the Mantis with. Thankfully, she didn't think I was a nutjob (Ha! Fooled her!) and gave me a broom from in back.
Back outside, Manty (his new nickname) didn't seem to want to get on the bristles of the broom. I can't say I blame him (actually it was a "her" since she was quite large) as that broom was nasty. The poor thing was showing humanly recognizable signs of panic as I tried presenting the broom for it to crawl on. "Sweet zombie Jesus! What the fuck is this thing and why is it attacking me?!? Why lord, WHY?!?!" So I had to resort to plan B: try and scare the little guy to move toward the bushes.
I learned something new today about Praying Mantises: THE FUCKERS CAN FLY. Twice in ten minutes this guy had gotten me to jump out of my skin now. They never show the damn things flying on the nature documentaries! Screw you, Mutual of Omaha! After it had fallen down onto the ground and was trying to skedaddle away from my Impending Doom Broom, it decided that I was not someone to be trusted (honestly, it kept looking back at me as if to ask me why I was doing this to it), and took flight. Twice. Wow. Just wow. The wings are as long as its rear abdomen section, which made for about a six to eight inch wingspan. So we're talking about the size of a small bird here. Fortunately for my skin (lest it completely leap from my body), it can't really fly so much as it can desperately glide in one direction much like some grasshoppers.
In the end, it finally made it into one of the bushes on the other side of the parking lot. I must have looked like a complete weirdo to everyone else: the guy sweeping some giant rodent of a bug into a bush.
But I just couldn't leave it there. I knew for sure it would have been squashed to smithereens by some panicky mom in a mini-van later that day, and it really was cute, even though it was as big as my hand. When I went to return the broom I looked around to see if it had any friends, because I seemed to remember from my time in North Carolina that whenever I saw one there, there were others. Much like cockroaches; when you see one Mantis, there are usually more nearby.
Sure enough, there was one squished on top of one of the bags of road salt stacked inbetween the gas pumps. So I guess I did the right thing in scaring the little guy to safety.
Monday, September 02, 2002
Hope You Like It
Well, it looks like this will be the look for the time being. Until such time as I deem that I'm unsatisfied with this vanilla CSS style and want to make another. There's been a few changes, starting with putting the blog/news (I'm still calling it Keeping Score) on the main index page.
The big news is that I'm starting a new blog tonight called Sketch of the Day. I know, I know, the name is hardly innovative. After looking at Tim Bland's brilliant Sonnetblog, I asked myself if I had anything that I might be able to play into an interesting and innovative blog like that.
I really couldn't come up with much of anything, so I decided to do what I had to do to kick myself in the ass and get drawing again. A dedicated sketch per day program seemed reasonable. So starting Monday (we hope), I should have SOTD up and running hopefully with a new sketch for you all to look at every single fargin' day, like it or not.
Currently, I think the email and about buttons are functional on the left. The art gallery is going to be last, because I can't figure out a way right now to make it easily work within this format. Soon, hopefully, soon.
Sunday, September 01, 2002
As you can see, I'm trying to make some changes to the website. Unfortunately Blogger's not saving my settings, so this was *supposed* to be the front page. I'll let you know when this blogger.html page will be routed to the index.html page.
For the time being, though, we'll just have to sit tight and enjoy this view. I'm trying to make this site more of a Cascading Style Sheet format, even though I'm unaware of what exactly a CSS is.
None of the links to the left are properly functional, but will hopefully be by the end of the weekend.
Sorry for the mess! :)