June 30, 2005
This week has been rough. On Monday I led meetings, put together assessments for employees, worked with my boss on my own assessment, and negotiated for new work with an existing client. On Tuesday I briefed 15 uber-bosses about my employee's progress (which was much more stressful than I'd imagined). On Wednesday I sat in front of spreadsheets with too many numbers trying to finalize the deal with said client (which I finally finished at 9:00 last night), all the while knowing that my boss was telling that same group of uber-bosses why I should get promoted this year. So, like I said, its been a rough week. Which is why I've officially kicked off my Double Happy Fun Bonus Weekend this morning. Yep, that's right. Starting today, I've got five consecutive days off.
Now, it won't all be fun and games. Today, for instance, we've got contractors who showed up at 7:00 AM to replace our old crappy sliding glass doors with nice new French doors. But hey, sitting around with them is better than dragging my fried self to work.
So, happy Thursday do all of you!
June 29, 2005
Ghost In The Machine
The world is a complex place and there are some things in life that will forever remain mysteries. Like…
The meaning of the life, the universe and everything; Jimmy Hoffa; square eggs from fast food joints; Kenny G; Jerry Lewis’ popularity in France; US presidential elections of 2000 and 2004; why, when we can launch people into space and put them on the moon, the majority of us can’t seem to figure out tough concepts like toll booths and turn signals and red means stop; the existence of higher powers and their influences on the peace and tranquility of mankind; disappearing socks lost forever to dryers everywhere; why a bird actually flew into my car on the way to work; Air Supply; Ron Jeremy; why New Jersey is the only state in the United States in which you can’t pump gas yourself; war; Michael Jackson; whether Robert Johnson actually sold his soul to the devil; plotlines on Lost; what we’re going to name our daughter…
That’s all well and good but I was really thinking of something more specific this morning. In our living room, we have a VCR/DVD combo. Because we’re lazy, we’ve never taken the time to set the clock. Yet a few weeks ago, we noticed that, somehow, it was displaying the correct time. Beth and I quizzed each other. I figured she’d set it and she was pretty convinced that I had. Needless to say, we hadn’t. After a few days, the correct time disappeared, to be replaced by the familiar green LED dashes. We went about our business and I’d really forgotten about it. One weekend, I replaced several of the light fixtures. I had to cut the power to the living room to do it. Power was restored, as were the green dashes on the clock and then, two days later, the correct time reappeared. Again, we quizzed each other but it became apparent that neither of us had set it. Last week, we had the living room painted. The television and DVD player were disconnected and moved to the center of the room. A few days later they were hooked up again and, again, the display showed only green dashes. Until last night. When the correct time reappeared.
Do you think our place is haunted? We certainly haven’t noticed anything else. And what a lame-ass job for a ghost, just resetting a DVD clock at random.
June 28, 2005
Well, At Least That's Over
Thanks for all the encouragement today. What happened? Well, it all went okay. I'd be enthusiastic and say "fucking great" but I'm just going to stick with "okay" for now. Picture this though - you walk into a room and there are 15 people staring back at you. They're so senior, you're pretty sure that they can't even see your particular rung on the corporate ladder. Yet you have to talk to them, tell them why they should promote one of your employees. I talked for five minutes and hopefully didn't ramble. Then they asked me questions. Hard ones. I guess I didn't walk into it thinking it was going to be all that trying. But I walked out of there shellshocked. But it went okay...probably better than I think...and I'm cool with that.
Since you asked, here's the suit. And as much as I like the new suit, I think I'm really more of a jeans and t-shirt kinda guy. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll allow my brain to recover a bit. Live to fight another day, and all that crap.
All Professional and Junk
Today? I shall be busy. Doing all kinds of professional consulting-like things. Oh, and there's new added wrinkle. I have to get in front of a board of uber-bosses and make a convincing case for the promotion of one of my employees. I haven't had to do that before. So, that should be, uh, interesting. I hope he appreciates this. I'm wearing a new suit and even new shoes.
Wish me luck.
June 27, 2005
Inquiring Minds...Don't Want The Frigging Piano, They Want an Audioblog!
Fucking-a! Okay...I'm seriously trying to post an audioblog. One in which I answer questions, not play the frigging piano (is it wrong to use a form of "to frig" after you've already dropped the f-bomb?). Perhaps you heard the wrong one? Sheesh. Here. Listen to this. I swear its the right one. And if its not, just listen to me play the damn piano (I'm slightly embarrassed, okay?)
Since I've gotten my shit together, I did want to mention that these kind people provided the material. Thanks. I'm totally sorry I mangled the entry.
Inquiring Minds...Want Answers (Part IV)
Ahh, yes. There are still many more questions requiring many more answers. Hopefully this satisfies your curiosity for a Monday morning. Don't worry, I'm still plowing through them...
Indigo asked...did you ever finish your landscaping?
Indeed, I did. For the most part. The front yard now has significantly less grass that can die and a much smaller amount of square footage for weeds. There are still other things I'd like to do but I only see a limited number of things happening over the few remaining pre-baby weeks. After the baby comes, who knows what'll happen. I doubt the yard will be a priority.
I'm a Photoshop user. Its a fantastic piece of software and despite using it for several years, I have the feeling I've only scratched the surface of what it can actually do. Thanks to a very kind reader for hooking me up with the very latest version. You know who you are!
Etherian inquired...Your brief bio says you wannabe a rock star. What's your instrument and how close have you gotten to this goal?
My instrument of choice is the guitar. Although I also play bass and piano. I own three electric guitars, my favorite of which is my 1968 Fender Stratocaster. I've got a bass and piano as well. Oh, and an acoustic guitar. How close have I gotten? Not very. But that's okay. I have fun with it and that's what counts. If I turned it into a job I think I'd just get disillusioned and start hating it. I've been in bands, played for people, recorded a bit but never really moved beyond that. Plus I think being a rockstar is a little overrated. I'm much more comfortable traveling around in Zippy The Jetta Wagon than some ratty tour bus. I love my wife and don't need groupies. And I don't need a bunch of screaming fans to feel good - my audience usually consists of my cats and I'm okay with that.
Beautiful Face inquired...how do you find the time?
Be kind of cool if I could cop to something like my name is Zoltar from the planet Feeblix where my race manufacturers time like your Keebler elves make cookies but, alas, that isn't the case at all. I'm bound by the same short 24-hours in a day by which you, and Keiffer Southerland, are constrained. Somehow it all works out. Admittedly, I haven't had as much time in the past couple of months to visit everyone's blogs as often as I'd like. And I feel bad about that. You keep coming by so I guess you're not too offended.
Alison wanted to know...what's your favorite food?
Um, Alison. That's hard. I like anything Italian. And most anything with sugar. I have a passion for ice cream - I bow down to the gods Ben and Jerry. The only thing I don't eat is meat. And that's really just a personal decision.
Nina wanted to know...if you were stranded on a desert Island, and only had one thing with you besides a person, what would that one thing be?
I'm going to have to go with a set of encyclopedias. Is that lame? Everything I want to say actually requires something else. My iPod would run out of juice. A flare gun wouldn't be all that entertaining. And a regular book would most likely become very boring after several reads. So, yeah, encyclopedias. How lame.
Mary Jo put me on the spot with...I know your a reader, but do you have a favorite book?
That's tough. There are several books that have stayed with me and remained important to me for a long time. The first is Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Say what you want about science fiction but this is an excellent book. Similarly, I have a special place for The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. If I could pick one book to recommend to everyone, it would be that one. Of course, there's The Bridge by Iain Banks which was truly mind-blowing. Some recent reads - like Zafon's Shadow of the Wind and Foer's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - will probably make the list. But its too early to tell.
Jen asked, in reference to an earlier post...I want to know why the FBI taught you to fire a gun.
Okay, I have to be a little delicate here. Let's say, hypothetically, some crazed nut started threatening members of your family. Members with marginally important jobs. To make it more interesting, let's say that this person made those threats against your entire family. The only thing to do, of course, is to take measures to protect yourself. Like hiring a security team with bodyguards. Like waiting 50 feet away while these kind soles swept your car before each start. Like learning evasive driving tactics. Like posting men with shotguns in the woods outside your house. Like learning how to shoot anything that might do you harm. Like having this go on for a year.
It sounds worse than it was. It was scary, sure. But the people were nice and I'm pretty positive I've never been safer in my life. As for the asshat making the threats? They caught him after a year. The FBI never exactly felt like telling us what they'd done with him either. We didn't push too hard to find out.
GranolaSpice pondered...Are you going to try the breast milk?
Huh. Hadn't really thought that one through. Interesting. Well, I don't have any real issue with it. That's somewhat dependent on Beth's willingness to share. Or, rather, the Bean's. It's a little weird though...thinking about it...and while its completely natural for the Bean, it seems a little different from my perspective, since I'm 32. So, all that said, I guess you can just say that the jury's still out.
Boitchick pondered...Do you pay any attention to local artists, including local bands?
I'd love to issue an emphatic yes. But I can't. I'm sure there are some great local bands (and you could argue that Foo Fighters and Dave Matthews Bands are local, along with quite a few more) but I don't honestly pay that much attention. Thing is, there isn't generally enough emphasis on local music scenes anywhere in the country. That's starting to change but it has a long way to go. When I was in a band, the only way to get the word out was to play a show or record a demo. And you couldn't burn CDs. At least now, with the ease of the Internet, there's more exposure. I am lucky enough to live very close to a music school. Students and alumni play local bookstores and restaurants and they're usually quite good.
Sashinka asked...I really want to know if y'all volunteer anywhere?? If not, what charities get your hard earned $$?
I was very active for ten years in local homelessness causes. I worked at a local shelter, started a homelessness education program targeting local senior citizens and elementary school kids. The curriculum was eventually adopted by a local school district. I even did a live television show (and man, was that an anxiety-ridden experience) and won a fancy award in the state. Sadly, I haven't had much involvement since, well, life started to break out everywhere. Beth and I do donate money however. The Red Cross gets some cash, as do various other foundations and charities. We usually send a couple checks a year to NPR and PBS too. When I'm feeling particularly inspired, I'll send a few bucks to the Democratic National Committee. Lot of good it did us last year.
SpaceCase wanted to know...You were a haberdasher? Really? What was that like?
It sucked! I got a gig with a local, independent hat maker when I was still living in Texas. Cowboy hats, fancy hats, top hats...they made them all. While it sounds interesting, the job was terrible. I was generally either fitting hats or making them. Making them was the more interesting of the two tasks but the store was in a very old, wood-framed warehouse in downtown Houston. With no air conditioning outside the actual "showroom." And remember, please, that you shape hats with steam. So, it was a little warm. When I wasn't doing that, I was fitting hats and gee, there sure isn't anything like measuring men's sweaty heads.
Amy wanted a lot of info. She started with...What is your favorite color?
Green. That's kinda rare isn't it? Usually people say blue or red. Me? I'm a green person. Its not easy being green.
What made you start a blog?
No clue. As I mentioned in an earlier phase of question-answering, I just liked the idea of sharing something of myself with the world. I mean, unless you're an artist or designer or something, how often do you really get to work your personality into something? This seemed like a good opportunity. I thought I'd last a week, two tops. Luckily, I was wrong.
How many bad pictures do you take before you get a good one?
A lot. But I'm overly critical. Some days I can use pretty much whatever I snap. But most days, I've got to keep snapping. Luckily, a lot can be done with Photoshop.
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck had no teeth?
Supposing a lack of woodchuck dentures, none. A woodchuck with no teeth is a sorry-ass woodchuck indeed.
Yet a different yet no less captivating Amy asked...how tall are you?
I'm an average 5'8". I'm no Towering Cactus.
Then she wanted to know...and what did you first notice about Mrs. Cactus?
Her smile. And the fact that she was dating another guy. The first thing I liked very much. The second? Not so much.
Rosemarie asked several questions as well, starting off with...Coke or Pepsi?
Coke. Although I'm not opposed to Pepsi. I just tend to end up with Coke.
What do you think of singer/musican Ani DiFranco?
I love Ani. Beth and I have seen her several times when she hits the DC area. She always puts on an awesome show. While I'd much rather see her live, I do own all her stuff...except her latest one. Hmmm...I'll be hitting iTunes shorly.
If you had to predict at this moment, which candidates do you think will headline the 2008 Presidential Election?
I'm just guessing here. I think we'll see Biden - frankly I like the guy and think he'd be fantastic. I hope we see McCain. I know, I know - I'm a hardcore, bleeding-heart liberal Democrat but at least McCain seems honest and real. He might actually rise above politics and level with us. I don't believe we'll see too many hold-overs from the 2004 race. I doubt Kerry will try again. I think Dean shot his wad. Edwards would be a long-shot. I also doubt we'll see Hillary or Cheney.
What are you most looking forward to about being a dad? What are you most anxious about?
Its uncharted territory so, again, I'm guessing. I'm looking forward to the kid. Just having her and holding her and bringing her home and starting life with her. Have you ever been on, say, a car dealer's lot and saw The Car? The one you just had to own? Its like that only about a billion times as strong. Of course, I'm anxious about being a good father - can you believe the moment I typed that, I stepped on a cat? I mean, she was lying under my chair and I put my foot down and it clipped her butt. See why I'm worried about being a good father? Of course, I doubt the kid will be sleeping under my chair.
Do you think you are as honest and forthcoming as you can be in your blog knowing your wife reads it?
Yeah, I think so. Sure, there are some things I'm not going to discuss for many reasons - because they're ultimately very private or because they in some way impact my wife. Rarely does it come up but I have, from time to time, had to really think about what I'm saying. But that doesn't mean I'm less-than-honest here.
Wavy Brains wanted to know...I've noticed that you and Ms. Fish always respond to posts--even short little one liner comments. I'm wondering if this was conscious choice on your part or just evolved over time??
I can't speak for Beth, but I started responding to comments individually from day one and I've been doing it ever since. Only on rare occasions won't you get an answer from me. If you've called me a dumb-ass for instance. And even then I'm inclned to discuss my dumb-assness with you. My theory is this - I'm sharing a part of me with you and you've taken the time to stop by, read what I have to say and tell me what you think. That's extremely kind of you and I should take the time to acknowledge that.
My buddy Autumn shook me down for some answers starting with..What has been your most embarassing blogging experience?
Come on! I embarrass myself on a fairly regular basis. I'm the guy who posts pictures of myself wearing bizarre headgear. I post stories about how I embarrass myself at work and in public. I admit to singing songs about cheese (cheddar, in partucular) and being discovered singing said songs by my wife. I don't think I'm going to cop to anymore than what I've let you see :-)
What's your favorite coffee?
The black kind. I'll drink just about any coffee exept the really bad shit in my office. I think its really used brake fluid or something. Right now I'm hooked on the Senseo pot thingies that fuel the coffee-maker my wife bought for me for father's day.
And most important, what is the cutest thing about Beth?
Better question - what's not the cutest thing about Beth? I could just run down the list but that might bore you. She's the cutest person on the planet, and especially cute carrying our child, what with the glow and all. I hope our child gets her cuteness genes.
Haiku For Monday #85
Seen: Bearded lady
on the way to work. That's got
to be a sign, right?
(Of what, I have no clue...)
June 25, 2005
A Cup Of Coffee
It's a little early. I'm sitting here, armed against the morning with a cup of strong coffee. Beth's hopefully asleep again, after a fitful night. The cats are fed - one is in my lap. My eyes are moderately open. The house is quiet but for the purring of said cat in lap, the hum of the air conditioner and the rattle of the keyboard.
Minutes ago, hands on my wife's growing belly, I was repeatedly kicked by my child. I wondered how is it possible my wife is asleep while she has something moving, kicking inside of her? But then I remembered a conversation she and I had a few nights ago, the thrust of which was this - being pregnant, or having kids in general, involves some suspension of disbelief. Or maybe its belief in this case.
Think about it. First you have to decide you want to bring a kid into the world. Despite the awful stuff going on, despite the temptation to become overwhelmed by war and poverty and sickness and the general apathy that seems to run through our society like blood coursing through veins. Perhaps I'm over-dramatic. You have to find the positives and believe me there are plenty of them. There's the love between two people and the kindness of strangers, there are mountains and sunsets and great Russian novels. There's music and ice cream and, well, cats purring in your lap and strong coffee early on a Saturday morning.
Second, there's the actual carrying of the kid inside of you. As much as you try, I don't think you can ever completely get the scene from Alien out of your head. Of course, its cuter and it needs you and one day it'll pop out and be completely and utterly dependent on you. Sure, getting it out will be akin to shoving a potroast up a nostril but somehow it gets done. You paint rooms for this kid. You succumb to cute clothes with soft little bunnies and bears, you secretly pay attention to the TLC baby shows your wife has TiVoed and you really do tear up whenever you see a baby come into the world, get wrapped up and handed to the parents. Yet you freak the fuck out when you realize that that's happening to you, and soon. And you'll be sent home with exactly one baby and zero clues how to handle it. Then, you start thinking that, at some point after the baby has evolved past the exclusive crying/napping/pooping stage, you'll be expected to actually be a parent, stop dropping the F-bomb, dispense wisdom and not cave to this gorgeous creature's every whim.
The house is still quiet. Callie's still purring on my lap. What remains of my coffee is cold. There are five weeks left until I can reasonably expect the silence to be broken by cries from the nursery. And - suspension of disbelief, belief or whatever aside - despite what all that means, the sheer weight of the responsibility, I want nothing more.
June 24, 2005
Friday Question Break
I just wanted to take a break from all the mad question-answering action to wish you a wonderfully happy Friday!
The concept of summer has started sinking in here around the office. There's no one around. That's why I'm declaring it Shirtless Friday! Okay, maybe that's not such a good idea.
June 23, 2005
Inquiring Minds...Want Answers (Part III)
Mike asked...what do you think of the new Foo Fighters CD set? What CD coming out soon are you most anticipating?
Ah! A sneaky two-parter. The new Foo is good. But not great. And here's why - Dave and company are talented as hell. They write great songs with great hooks, full of energy and melody. But they might have been just a little too ambitious with In Your Honor. The first CD contains some great songs but also a few throwaways. Many sound like they could have been culled from b-sides from their two previous albums. Not that they're not good - they're just not all gems. The acoustic CD, while also excellent, is very strident. The songs are good but there's no punch, no bite. I'm all about bloat. I grew up listening to progressive rock, full of 30 minute songs. So, its odd that this is one time I advocate pruning an album. Combine the best of the two discs and the Foo Fighters have made an excellent album. Taken as a whole, there are too many weak spots. Don't get me wrong - its good stuff and much better than 95% of the other crap out there. Its just not fundamentally excellent.
Upcoming releases...hmmm...let me see what's coming out. Fountains of Wayne comes out with a new one but I've never been all that excited by them. They write smart, clever songs but they just fall into the "nice to listen to" category for me. The Posies have a new one coming out too - that might be nice. Otherwise, I'm sitting here scrolling through the new release lists for the next couple weeks and its looking kinda dry.
Lucy asked...shampoo first or last?
First. Always first.
Monkey Typist asked...do you also take non-digital photos?
What's this non-digital thing of which you speak? Are you speaking the language of The Ancients? Okay, I'll stop being a smart-ass. No, I like the immediacy of digital and haven't picked up a regular film camera in, well, a damn long time.
JuJu's Mom asked...I must ask how you proposed to Mrs. Cactus.
Beth and I had been dating and living in sin for seven years by the time I got around to proposing. I wasn't reluctant but we were in college, then out of college, moving, getting jobs...you know - Major Life Events and such. I got the ring in early December and contemplated literally hundreds of ways of popping the question. I went with none of them. Instead, I tied a gold ribbon around the ring and hung it from the Christmas tree we'd put up. When Beth got home, I calmly (well, as calm as I could be) told her that I bought her a new ornament. Of course, she eventually (after a thorough search for what seemed like hours) found the ring and I asked her to marry me. The rest, as they say, is history.
Spring asked...what's your middle name?
Funny story. My middle name is Mathew. Yes, only one T. Why, you ask? Well, I was born in Argentina while my dad was working for a company down there. According to law, even foreign parents had to give kids born in Argentina a name that was translatable into Spanish. Matthew in Spanish is Mateo. My dad, in his excitement over having a kid in the first place, neglected to spell it correctly after doing a quick translation in his head. What can I say - I always inspired awe and confusion in my parents.
Carrster asked...did you have a pet when you were growing up?
Not until I was at 12 or so. My parents got a call from my grandmother who lives in California one afternoon. She said she'd found something we had to have and it would be coming on an airplane the next day. It was a cat. Have I mentioned lately that my grandmother's a little quirky? We named her Mandy. Sadly, Mandy is no longer with us but she made it a good long time.
Lizabetty asked...do you wear shoes?
You know what they say - no shirt, no shoes, no service. So, yeah, I do wear shoes. Come to think of it, I rarely go barefoot. I wonder why that is.
Mrsmogul asked...what's your favorite veggie meal to cook?
I'll preface by saying this - my favorite meal to have cooked for me is the mean stuffed pepper my wife makes. That's probably my favorite. But my favorite meal to cook is probably the wild mushroom risotto we make occasionally. Risotto is tough to get just right but we've managed to get it down. Really, the recipe is one of the better tasting things on earth.
Kate asked...I'd like to know how you and Beth met...was it love at first sight?
(Great Kate...if I screw this one up, I'm in deep, deep trouble!) Beth and I met early on during our freshman year in college. It wasn't until the beginning of the second semester that we started dating. I'm not sure it was love at first site but it was something that happened very quickly once it started. We dated for, oh, a couple of days and then she moved in with me. I'm not speaking figuratively either. Literally days.
Ava asked...would you ever consider having a dog? if not, why don't you? if so, what kind?
That would be a negative, ghost rider. The reason is simple. Were I to bring home a dog, I would end up with a red, puffy, irritated wife. Again, I'm not speaking figuratively. Beth is terribly allergic to dogs. I don't know about you, but I prefer my spouses to be un-swollen and phlegm-free.
Raybelle said...ok, I want to know how you and Beth met.
I might have already filled in the blanks on this one. I mentioned college...freshman year...right? Well, we were each dating other people, doing the long distance thing. And that wasn't working out too well for either of us. So, one weekend we went home and ended things. Of course, I felt bad so I un-ended things but re-ended things the next weekend. Regardless, we broke up with our significant others and I moved out of the dorm. Beth helped me move. And pretty much never left. I was quite alright with that.
MooAlex asked...what song was playing when you had your first "real" kiss?
This might sound like a complete and utter cop-out but I have no idea. Honestly. I can't even guess when that was. Worse than that, I can't tell you who it was with. Apparently my memory sucks.
Jen chimed in with one of the more serious topics I'll take on - toilet paper...over or under?
Without doubt, over. Definitely over.
Speaking of over...over and out.
Inquiring Minds...Want Answers (Part II)
Well, you kept asking so I'll keep answering. Here's the latest round of answers. And if you don't see your question answered yet, I'm getting there!
My lovely wife asked...what are you going to name the baby?
Gee, I was hoping you'd thought of something! Just so the rest of you know, we're really not holding out on you. We have a short list...that keeps getting longer, then drastically shorter, then much longer again. But we just don't know yet.
Amy asked...where did you get your flair for photography?
Wow, I'm clueless this morning. First I don't have an answer about the Bean's name and now I have no idea where my flair comes from! I really didn't have much of an interest in photography. I've always enjoyed a good photograph but never saw myself actually taking them. I still think they're just about average. Only occasionally will I come up with something I really like. Perhaps I'm a little hard on myself. Regardless, I snap lots of pictures and occasionally come up with something I think looks decent. I think that's the key - take lots of pictures. Oh, and have some good editing software. Special shout out to Jodi in that department.
Minnow asked...if you have cracks in your walls, whats the best method to cover them over so potential house buyers dont see them?
Have you considered wallpaper? If that's not an option, remember spackle is your best friend. Grab some spackle, a putty knife and some sandpaper and go to town. If you're trying to get rid of the place, chances are it'll hold until you're long gone. Fail that, paint a pentagram on the floor, fill the room with candles and get a sacrificial alter. Prospective buyers will never notice the cracks in the walls. Granted, they might run screaming but still...
Rockchild came up with a bunch of questions. First...does your feet smell, or wifes? Who’s feet smells the worst?
Yes. Our feet both smell like roses wafting on a warm summer breeze after a cool rain.
If you had three wishes, but couldn’t ask for money, couldn’t ask for a house or car, move somewhere else, or stop someone’s feet from smelling, what would you ask for?
Well, first you missed the wish-for-a-wish loophole. So I'd ask for a few more wishes. Next wish? Tolerance. When you think about it, most of the world's problems stem from a startling lack of tolerance. Whether its religion, race or politics, we've all got a lot to learn. I wish my daughter was coming into a world that was just a tad more tolerant. The third wish, similar to the second, would be the sudden dissappearance of poverty. We are a rich nation and there's absolutely no excuse for people living in the streets, no reason for working mothers to live below the poverty line, and no reason we shouldn't help not only the less fortunate in our own country but those around the world as well.
Was you ever told a secret that you was suppose to keep secret, but you couldn’t keep a secret, so you told someone this secret so it was not secret anymore?
Of course. Hasn't everyone done that? Or am I the only lame secret-teller in the crowd?
What was the secret?
Well, I can't tell everybody but I'll give you a hint. Jimmy Hoffa? Not so much a mystery. To me, at least. Nor is the appeal of Jerry Lewis to the French.
Did you ever get hit by a car and lived to tell about it?
Yes! I have indeed been hit by a car. I used to be a cyclist. I was pretty serious about it for a while, building my own bikes and stuff. I'd ride 20 miles a day during the height of this craze and, on three separate occasions, I got hit by cars. Luckily, none of them were too serious but I still don't exactly recommend it. Cars? Bigger than bikes. Humans? Softer than cars.
Which one of these Superhero’s would you like to be and why? Wonder Woman, Cat Woman, Spiderman, the Hulk, or Kama Sutra?
Kama Sutra. I wasn't aware that was a superhero. I can only guess as to his or her superpowers. I'll automatically rule out the female superheroes. I'd rather be a superhero who can pee standing up. Of the remaining ones, I'll go with Spidey. The Hulk always freaked me out and I don't think I'd look good in green.
Did you ever tell a joke that was not funny which made your big brother give you a hard newgy to your head?
No. No big brother. Sorry.
Are your teeth white, yellow, brown, or gone?
White. Despite years of smoking (which are now behind me) and an addiction to coffee, they're white.
What does petulant succulent mean?
Loosely translated - rude cactus.
Amanda asked...is Rude Cactus your first blog/journal/etc.?
Yes! This is the first and only (aside from The Bean's site). Can you believe it's been two years? Sheesh!
Romy asked...have you ever had feelings (romantic or platonic) for a fictional character?
Hmmmm. I mean, I've certainly had a certain amount of sympathy or empathy for fictional characters. But I don't think I've ever really gotten into a fictional character like that.
Alfredsmom asked...how did you get a job that makes living so easy for you and Beth?
To be fair, both Beth and I have pretty good jobs and we do alright for ourselves. Its not like I'm the only one bringing in the bling. There's a trade-off though. Neither of our jobs are all that easy. Both demand a lot of time and generate a lot of stress. We're comfortable though. We pay the bills, we don't really need anything and, more importantly, we have a wonderful family and a great support system. And that's really the most you can hope for.
Michelle, after inquiring about the garden which I posted a picture of last night, asked...if you were a woodchuck, how much wood would and could you chuck?
If I were a well-off woodchuck, I think I'd farm my chucking duties out. But, if that wasn't an option, I've estimated that I'd be able to comfortably chuck approximately 7.11 cubic feet of wood per day resulting in 1 cord of wood every 18 days.
Don't worry...I'll keep the answers coming. In the mean time, have a wonderful Thursday. Getting closer to Friday, everyone!
June 22, 2005
Inquiring Minds...Want Answers (Part I)
You asked so here's the first round of answers!
Ms. Q asked...boxers or briefs?
Boxers. Other methods of, well, you know, feel too, uh, invasive? And that's all I have to say about that.
Lori asked...when Beanette gets here, are we going to get to see pictures of her? Or will they be cute little shots of her in which her face will never show? Or will there be no pics of her for us?
Me, pass up the opportunity to take a few pictures? I don't see that happening. And despite the fact that she will be a minor, I don't think pixelating her face is necessary. I mean, how would you then be able to partake of the extreme baby cuteness? Pictures will abound, Lori. You'll actually be begging me to stop.
Lori then asked...Another question, do you and Beth ever discuss your blog readers?
Of course we do. I've often said it - blogging is weird. It's like you have all these friends but you occasionally realize, hey, I've never even met most of these people. There's quite an overlap in readership between our blogs so we have some folks in common. We definitely talk about you guys. But its all good, I swear.
Vicki asked...How's the garden doing? Still haven't seen a picture. I'm always interested in other people's gardens. I have no interest in your underwear.
I'm only slightly offended that you don't care about my underwear. But thanks for asking about the garden! The shots of the garden I've got so far are less than satisfactory (in my humble opinion). But here is the least sucky shot. Boxwood and holly in the back row, juniper up front then the winding, curvy garden framing the whole thing. I planted eight azeleas, tons of ivy as groundcover and a bunch of crap I can't remember the name of.
Stacey asked...Where did the name Rude Cactus come from?
Rude Cactus was the name of my first band. If you want to know what inspired it, you're going to be let down. I have absolutely no recollection how it was spawned but it stuck. Rude Cactus wasn't around that long and we weren't all that good (actually, we sucked), but it was my first band experience. Good times.
Angelia asked (after delivering a compliment that made me blush)...Where does your inspiration come from?
I turn my head to the left, turn it to the right and look straight ahead. There's inspiration everywhere. I mean, not all of it is blogworthy (that hasn't stopped me from writing about it though). A writer I really admire is Nicholson Baker. He wrote a book called The Mezzanine which was astounding in its detail. Yet it was incredibly readable. It took me a little while to realize why it was so readable, then it dawned on me. The detail, the descriptions of the mundane, he was writing about things we've all noticed, experiences we all, to some degree, share. I think that's some of the attraction about blogging. Saying hey, look what happened to me and realizing there are other people out there who know exactly what you're talking about. There's also a certain amount of validation in that I enjoy. In short, there's inspiration everywhere. Sometimes if you try too hard to look for it, it'll pass you by. But if you relax, you an catch it.
Angelia then asked...Have you ever had a dry spell writing?
Everyday. It's rare that I actually have a topic in mind. Sometimes I bank posts. You know, you have five ideas in one day so you just start writing then post them over the next couple days when, inevitably, you find the only topic that comes to mind is the mystery of lint and you realize that, perhaps, you're the only person who cares and even you're not all that interested. Dry spells? Yup. That's one of the reasons I never thought I'd last more than a couple weeks at this. That was two years ago.
Then...whose blog inspired you to blog?
I have no earthly idea. One day I stumbled upon the whole blogging thing and the more I read, the more I enjoyed. I'm insanely gratified that the majority of the bloggers with whom I first started trading email with still stop by and (hopefully) find some of the things I say interesting after two years. I think what really inspired me was the concept of saying hello out there, here I am and seeing what happens.
Finally, Angelina said...we must know if you have a innie or a outie.
Outie. I was born in a foreign country and, for some reason, they didn't value the innie the way we silly Americans do. That's part of the reason at least. Don't laugh but I have this nervous habit of playing with my bellybutton . Not in public or anything. I mean, I don't get nervous during a meeting and whip it out. I'm not sure why I do that but I always have. Its not a tremendous outie or anything. Actually, let me reconsider. Its more flush than anything. Its neither an innie nor an outie. Its just there.
I've possibly shared too much in one shot. I'm spent. I'm going to go hide behind something while you all point and laugh. Tune in tomorrow for more. If you've got more, feel free to ask!
The Painting Whistler
When I arrived home yesterday, the painters were there, well, painting. Normally, I'd do it but we have a very large area running from the basement up to the second floor that I have neither the time nor the inclination to do. Also? Some of its really high and I don't want to break my neck. Beth barracaded herself and the cats in our bedroom to stay out of their way. I joined them when I got home. Sitting there talking with Beth, I quickly got used to all the normal painting noises - ladders being extended, hammering of paint can lids, tearing of masking tape, rolling of wet rollers. But out of all that confusion came this sound, a sound that resonated throughout the house. It was a whistle but a whistle like no other I'd heard before. It was almost operatic. The melodies were unfamiliar but gorgeous. After a while, I poked my head out of the bedroom door and found that the sounds were eminating from a tiny, old Hispanic guy. Boy could he whistle.
Okay, ask questions.
June 21, 2005
Blogging is weird. Sometimes I kick back and wonder what kinda picture do people have of me? Since I'm, well, me, I might miss explaining some stuff occasionally. Of course, since, as we discussed, I am me, I might not recognize that. So, are you curious about something? Wanna know the answer to the mysteries of Rude Cactus (like, why does a grown man refer to himself in the third person as a petulant succulent)? Now's your chance. If you've got a question, ask it! I'll post the answers here in a couple of days. So, don't be shy!
Wow! I've really got nothing this morning. Am I losing my edge? Am I teetering on the brink of the dreaded blogger's block? Uh, probably not.
Click for more pics (I'm a poet and don't know it)!
It's the first day of summer. How the hell did that happen? Wasn't it just, like, March or something? Before you know it, we'll have a kid. A kid we're supposed to feed and take care of and educate in the ways of the force...or something like that. How scary is that? And since time is passing so quickly, Beth and I are starting to knock out the last items on our Really Long List of Shit That Must Get Done Prior To The Bean's Arrival In The World. Or, rather, we're paying other people to take care of these things. On the list this week? Getting a large portion of the house painted (such a large portion, I'm not willing to do it), having a front door replaced, getting carpets cleaned and having two sets of French doors installed.
A while back we briefly considered moving. Briefly. The house next to us sold for a gagillion dollars more than we paid for ours (perhaps that's an overstatement) and it was tempting. But last night, we took all the curtains down, pulled paintings off the walls and moved all the knick-knacks to safe places. Parts of the house looked really bare. And, not that I didn't realize it before, I discovered that our place is home. Its not the fanciest place, but its so us. It'll be nice to have a third human to share it with. Even if she won't exactly appreciate the new paint job and fine new lighting I've hooked us up with.
June 20, 2005
About A Guy, And A Stick
I might be stepping on her toes, but she didn't call dibs on this one (of course neither did I). Beth came to my office this afternoon because my coworkers wanted to throw us a little baby shower. (An aside: As much as I often bitch about work, the people I work with are awesome. And none of them read this so its not like I'm sucking up here either.) So, we're sitting there and people are filing into the conference room. Its kinda awkward and I'm not the most comfortable person being in the spotlight. And I'm aware of the fact that Beth doesn't really know most of these people. I start getting a little anxious for her. So, yeah, a little nervous energy sparked some quiet nervous conversation between the two of us.
Her: So, when do they start the limbo?
Me: Oh, consultants really get crazy. Anytime now.
Her: I'm sure they wouldn't miss a chance to see a pregnant girl limbo.
Me: Nope. Never.
Her: And look! That guy even brought a stick!
Me: Uh...that's the blind guy who works on our floor. That's his cane.
The funniest thing is, she really was completely oblivious for a couple seconds there. Of course, no one ever figured out what we were laughing about and the whole thing turned out just fine.
Obligatory Weekend Recap
I had a nice three-day weekend. But I don't really count it as a three-day weekend since I was hacking up a lung on Friday. It was a day of rest. Two days...three days...whichever, it went by too fast. There were Father's Day brunches, dinners and gifts. Beth bought me one of those cool pod coffee makers so I can stay highly caffeinated when The Bean decides I need to stay awake for an extended period of time starting around, say, three in the morning. There were cute cats, puppies (my brother-in-law's) and plenty of Washington Nationals gear. And there are pictures of all of these things. Of course, my home computer isn't playing nice and I haven't had time to beat it into submission.
Now, there was also some coughing complimented by liberal Nyquil usage. Oh, and Nyquil dreams, of course.
I was backstage. Someone thrust a microphone into my hands and I was immediately ushered out on stage. The arena was a lot like the senate chamber in Star Wars. Well, except there were real seats, not floaty things. No aliens either, just real people. And it was very sunny and bright. So, all in all, really not much like the senate thing in Star Wars but you get my drift. The place was nice and loud. People were excited and cheering...for me. You see, I was apparently one of the final four contestants in some American Idol-like competition. The music started and everyone shut up and looked at me. And I had no earthly idea what to do. A teleprompter sparked into life and there were the words - words to a song I'd never heard before. But I started singing, miserably, and made it through the song. Luckily, they gave me a second chance and, damnit, I blew them away! Then I got the boot.
So, what were your weekends all about?
Haiku For Monday #84
Nice day, feeling fine
But I'm trapped in this office!
Help! Let me out! Help!
June 19, 2005
Puppies, And Dads
It doesn't get much cuter than puppies, does it? Especially other people's puppies.
Happy Father's day to all the dads out there!
June 17, 2005
Clearly, Its All About Music Today
Laura tagged me a while back and its about time I get around to this. It was a long week. That's my only excuse.
List your current six favorite songs, then pick six other people that have to do the same.
1. "Fix You" by Coldplay (from X&Y)
2. "I Love" by Athlete (from Tourist)
3. "Speed Of Light" by Joseph Arthur (from Come To Where I'm From)
4. "Come In Out Of The Rain" by Engineers (from Engineers)
5. "Landed" by Ben Folds (from Songs For Silverman)
6. "In Your Honor" by Foo Fighters (from In Your Honor)
I'm not going to put anyone on the spot but I'd love to hear what you're listening to. So, think about it and post some answers.
Haughty Melodic Friday Tunage
Happy Friday, everyone! Good news part one: I actually got some sleep last night and I'm feeling a little better. Good news part two: I'm home today and trying my best not to work all that much! So, to celebrate, here's a little upbeat Friday Tunage.
Looking At The World From the Bottom of a Well
by Mike Doughty
June 16, 2005
Hell, I Can Barely Type Much Less Think Of A Clever Title
Apparently, my wife had some lurid dreams about Johnny Depp. This is actually good news as far as I'm concerned. I figured I kept her awake most of the night with my random fits of coughing. It wasn't a pleasant evening. At all. I also seem to recall getting up and walking downstairs. I think I was trying to turn up the AC but that doesn't explain why I also remember being in the kitchen. Now that I'm thinking about it, I also remember ending up in the other upstairs bathroom. Maybe Beth was using the one in the master bedroom. I mean, she does pee a lot.
I guess what I'm really concerned about is that I limited my roaming to my house. You didn't see a naked blogger running through your neighborhoods last night or anything, did you?
Now that I'm all hopped up on generic drugs from our medicine cabinet at work, like Non-Asprin and Cough Drop, I need to find some extra strength Meeting-Away. That's right. I'm only 0.192% here (mentally) yet I've got a big important meeting this afternoon. But after that? My week is ovah. My ass is calling in sick tomorrow. So is the rest of me.
June 15, 2005
Coughing (And The F-Bomb)
Jeez...10:00 and I'm just getting around to posting. Why? Well, I'm busy. And I'm still a little bit sick. I think it's allergies. But whatever it is, it needs to go the hell away toot-sweet! [Aside: Dictionary.com should not direct you to 'toot sweet' as an alternative to 'tootsweet' and then tell you that 'toot sweet' isn't a word found in their vast databases. Nor should it then refer you to 'toot-sweet' because that, apparently, is also not a word, thus causing you to chase your own morphological tail. So, its toot-fucking-sweet, okay?]
Over the past couple of days, I've been coughing like a champ. Each time, I seem to feel the need to follow it up with a few of my own feelings on the whole coughing thing. The process usually goes a bit like this:
*cough cough* Fuck!
*cough cough* Fuck!
*cough cough* Fuck!
In moments of extreme frustration, it gets worse, which is somewhat of a problem since I've noticed that I express myself aloud at times. Yesterday, I pulled into a local 7-11 for a fine beverage and, after a coughing fit, exclaimed "Oh fucking fuck!" Sadly for me, my car window was down. Sadly for the passenger in the car next to me, so was his.
June 14, 2005
The Only Fun Thing About Meetings...
...in DC is that, if you have a little time, you can snap some pictures. This time, sadly, I only snapped one that was anywhere near decent.
Oh, you probably already knew this but something for future reference - when you're walking around DC between meetings, make sure it isn't 98 degrees with 98% humidity. This causes one to sweat. And one's shirt can get blotchy. And one might not smell so hot in subsequent meetings. For what its worth, I didn't smell. But it was touch and go for a minute there.
Have I mentioned I have a crazy day today? No? Well, just for your information, my day, she will be insane. I've got to fight traffic to get into the District this morning and lead a meeting I wasn't expecting to lead. Which is fine - having the higher ups there just adds pressure anyway. Then I have to present to a crowd of important people this afternoon. Then I have to spend the rest of the day coordinating stuff with a team I sent out west to work this week. Yet, how cool is it that I have the power to send people out west? I shall try to use this power for good.
Anyway, mere moments ago I walked into the lobby of my building and a middle-aged, nicely dressed woman who clearly worked for my company was right behind me waiting for the elevator. I have on a suit, tie, and company badge. Hardly an intimidating look. Not one GQ has described as "unapproachable and potentially homocidal." Yet, when the elevator arrived, she looked me up and down and said "I think I'll wait for the next one, if you don't mind."
What's up with that? I've checked and I don't smell. I don't think I look like an axe murderer but I guess I could be wrong.
June 13, 2005
Apparently, should you be interested in committing a crime and subsequently getting away with it, you should move to California.
(No offense to my friends in California, but your state looks kinda wacky.)
Simile and the World Similies With You
This weekend was a hodgepodge of illness and home improvement. I mentioned earlier that I had a cold. Sadly, I still do but its better. I’m at work partially because I’m an idiot and partially because, after today, I have a truly hellish week. But, despite the whole illness thing, Beth and I actually got a few things done. For instance, all the cheap, builder’s basic light fixtures in our house have now been replaced. I also augmented my existing suit supply with a couple of others – and I hate suit shopping. Oh, and we bought a Sonicare electric toothbrush thingy. The only reason I mention that last thing, is because it came into play in a discussion Beth and I had last night.
First off, calling a Sonicare thingy an “electric toothbrush” is like calling a Ferrari “transportation.” To paraphrase Sonicare’s own literature…
Sonicare is a doctor-approved dental care system which harnesses the power of a billion suns and your hyperactive mother in order to focus twenty-second century sonic technology on the elimination of plaque and tartar. While it knocks dogs and some species of birds unconscious within a half-mile radius, Sonicare’s tiny nuclear reactor targets the molecules comprising dental bacteria and beams them to the star system Ceti Alpha 3...Obviously, impressive technology. Beth and I were talking about it, and my past dental negligence, over dinner last night.
Her: So, maybe this will keep you from having any more cavities.
Me: I haven’t had any for four straight visits. Mind you, I had, like, a hundred before that. Oh, and the root canal thing.
Her: That was because of your extended dentist vacation.
Me: It was more like Spring Break. Teeth Gone Wild. You know, it was like they went to the beach, got really drunk and flashed unsuspecting tourists.
Her: Yes. What I said. An extended dentist vacation.
Me: Yes, but that’s the literal truth. I was striving for a metaphor that conveyed the wild abandon I felt flaunting my freedom in the face of good dental sense.
Her: So, like a bender with rocky road and a spoon?
Me: Yeah, but I still like the spring break thing.
Her: But its really more like the part when you deal with the consequences of spring break.
Me: Okay. So, my break from the dentist…my teeth were like coeds on spring break, binge drinking, participating in vast orgies. And all that transcended time until spring break had lasted, what, six years, at which time they realized they needed to get their shit together, fly home and arrange to get tested for a number of rampant STDs.
Haiku For Monday #83
Dear Monday, we don't
want your kind round here no more.
Shoo, pesky varmint!
June 12, 2005
Two Quick Things
1. Callie did not appreciate her new job as baby product tester.
Oh, and don't blame me for this, by the way. Its my wife's fault.
2. After a good night's sleep, the phever is gone and I'm pheeling better.
June 11, 2005
I Doubt Its Phatal
So, remember the phlegm? It's been joined by its partner in crime, phever. I guess it could be worse. I mean, it could have been accompanied by excessive phlatulence. Still? Not phun.
June 10, 2005
Everything You Didn't Want To Know...And More
Today, apparently, is Phlegm Phriday. I've been literally coughing my ass off since I woke up this morning. Well, okay, not literally literally. No actual posterior separation is taking place. But you get my point.
And while I'm into bodily functions, I think I'm suffering from a rare case of cranial mitosis...or is it meiosis...or mayaangelou? You see, last week, I ended up with this enormous bump on my nose (and since I can be a narcissistic bastard, enormous to me translates into barely visible to the rest of the universe). It hurt like a bitch but its mission was clear - This is your mission should you choose to accept it. The target is one Rude Cactus. Your mission is to grow another fully formed second nose. This cellular directive will self destruct in...poof! Yes, unbeknownst to me I was clearly attempting to grow another nose. Then, as soon as the bump began to fade, another one cropped up on the other side. Just what I needed - a third nose. Persistent bastards. Then? I seemed to start growing an additional forehead. Taken together, all this evidence leads me to the conclusion that I am, indeed, attempting to grow another head. Should my body actually be successful, I shall forever be known as The Man With the Spare Head. And I'm not sure I want to be that guy.
And since we've clearly taken the on-ramp to TMI Highway (next stop, Emotional Demons Junction!), has anyone ever heard of sympathy peeing? My wife, bless her, is up
several million a couple times a night. But there is a baby in side her, one that seems to enjoy using her bladder as a trampoline. Me? Liver, spleen, appendix, kidneys...check! All the normal stuff is present and accounted for. But no baby. So explain to me why I have to pee several times a night. Please.
Friday Phriday everyone. If you need me, I'll be over here coughing my ass off and measuring the growth of my new head. And if I'm not here, I'm probably peeing.
June 9, 2005
"Its all very well and good to adopt a stance of fierce dismay and register sympathy for thousands of strangers you can't do anything to help. But all that does is depress you, or make you feel superior. Or justify passivity. Here's what I think. What is needed in a cruel and terrifying reality isn't heroic virtue - how often do we get that chance? What's needed is heroic courtesy. A personal response to the world we bitch in and cut people off in, and curse and snub and cheat and gossip in. It's our responsibility. It's up to us. And I believe with all my heart that the bottom line ought to be somethng smaller than kindness even. Courtesy. Courtesy lubricates and sustains our society, leavens the world from the inside out."
-Patrick O'Leary, The Impossible Bird
Nothing (And Blog-Noir)
Good morning, Internetwebosphere. What do I have in store for you today? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I'm like a washed up two bit hooker running from a pimp with a Greyhound ticket to the next dingy street corner in the next run down town. Nothing.
Excuse me. Where the hell did that come from?
I've got so much of nothing, I can't even seem to form coherent sentences. At a very early morning conference call today? Stringing words to form actual, real-life sentences was beyond my power. So I tried meaningful glances and animated gesturing instead. Until I realized one essential truth of conference calling - no one can see you.
A mental holiday would make me happy right about now. What would do it for you today? If you could wish one thing into being, what would it be?
June 8, 2005
You Know Its A Good Day When...
...you and your Very Senior Level Boss go to a meeting and your client tells you what a wonderful job you're doing...so good a job that he might as well figure out a way to give you more money so you can expand the scope of the project you're leading...
...your Very Senior Level Boss decides to hijack you and take you to another meeting so that you may mentor a co-worker...who happens to have been around much longer and is a bit more senior...
...your other, often difficult client stands up in a meeting, walks over to you, shakes your hand and proclaims that the job you did was fantastic, so much so you deserve a raise, a promotion and a statue in your honor...then he repeats this process again after your Extremely Senior Boss walks into the room...
...then you realize you're extremely tired, so much so that Dancing With The Stars even seems appealing in a pathetic, mindless, partially lobotomized kinda way...
First Impressions: X&Y
Ever looked through Amazon reviews and seen those song-by-song reviews? I hate that. So...here's mine! If you're interested in the new Coldplay album, I grabbed a pen and wrote down some quick thoughts as I was listening. I've saved you the trouble of deciphering my bad handwriting and reproduced my notes verbatim.
-Electronic sound without actually being electronic; drums and bass in sync
-Airy, sonically very open, atmospheric
-Closing bit w/acoustic guitars=brilliant
-"Classic" Coldplay sound
-First impression - just a throwaway but must reconsider
-No good hook except for the bass groove throughout
-Beatles "Day In The Life" ending (strings)
-80s feel on opening; continued throughout
-Odd buried acoustic guitars (mainly right channel)
-Great synth ending segment
-Perfect for dance/club remix
-Second song with long synth/string intro behind vox
-Aside from cliched lyrics, great, great song
-Great guitar-heavy segue from first half to second
-Everything they're capable of doing...smiling now
-Does more in 5 minutes than most are capable of in an album
-Another 80s new wave feel on intro with U2 Edge-like guitars
-Reminded of Big Country by Big Country
-Maybe too much of a polished throwback to really get into
-Inconsequential to album as a whole
-Odd start - orchestral with great cellos
-Keys, drums, bass, synth all doing their own things (this is a good thing)
-Trippy Pink Floyd-like chorus almost
-Hybrid of Brit Pop and Progressive Rock
Speed of Sound
-Insanely catchy and upbeat
-Piano really hooks despite derivation from Clocks
-Simple acoustic guitar strummed opening; continues throughout
-Little boring but picks up intensity after guitar break and closing chorus
-Closes nicely similar to the way it began
-Serious driven by hard beat and minor chords
-Hey, different adventurous percussion!
-Interesting turn four minutes in to close
The Hardest Part
-About face from previous Low
-Straight forward, simple sound
-Organ and faux slide guitar and piano fills lend to country feel
-Summer blue sky feel
-Nice but largely inconsequential were it not for great guitar work
Swallowed In The Sea
-Excellent lyrics ("song 100 miles long...")
-Straight-forward, mid-tempo brooding yet hopeful and almost anthematic in parts
-First minute its hard to see where the song is headed
-Not the traditional Coldplay closer like Everything's Not Lost or Amsterdam
-Cross between a little bit of Zeppelin's Kashmir sound and late Beatles
-Raw and simple yet compelling and genuine
-Name it, close the album with this officially.
-Album has more synth; they let Chris Martin have a field day
-Worried about slick production but not a problem
-Sound is really layered; great headphone album with all kinds of stuff buried
-Not sure where it falls into their catalog; time will tell.
June 7, 2005
I Know, I'm A Left-Wing Nut
You probably know, I'm a bleeding heart liberal. If you had doubts, well, this should quell them. But I've been annoyed by some things lately.
You're Free...No You're Not
I was cooking dinner last night and I flipped on the news. Yes, that's always a bad idea. The first story I saw concerned me a little. It detailed the offerings of a new company who had fused mobile notification technology and sex offender databases in order to send alerts to concerned parents about sex offenders' movements in their area. I realize this is merely a case of capitalism run amok, one of the inevitabilities of Megan's Law, signed in 1996. And, while I assure you I'm very sensitive to the desire to protect loved ones from all the dangers out there in the world, this bothered me for some reason. In the U.S., we operate under the assumptions and beliefs (correct or not) that, when someone's broken the law, they pay a price for it. And when that price is paid, its over. Hopefully they've learned their lessons, been rehabilitated or just scared enough by what they've been through that they wouldn't contemplate repeating their crime. The one exception to this line of thinking, however, is the sex offender.
Statistics show that sex offenders are likely to re-offend. What isn't always made clear is that recidivism rates for crimes involving narcotics and simple robbery are almost as high. Yet, in what we claim is a fair, binary system - one of guilty and not guilty - we're holding different people to different standards. By registering and tracking, we're subjecting these people to a special form of harassment. I realize I'm comparing apples to oranges but you don't release a bank robber and require him to register with all the local banks or require that all gasoline and lighter purchases from serial arsonists be tracked.
I guess what I'm saying is this - if we can make so strong a case that sex offenders will so often re-offend to the point at which they're monitored constantly and unable to lead normal lives after they've served their time, isn't that indicative of the fact that the punishment never fit the crime? That the consequences of their offences aren't proportionate to the crimes they committed? That two years of jail time isn't quite enough for a rapist?
Yesterday, the black-robed legal superheroes known as the Supreme Court reasserted that the Federal laws governing the use of marijuana trumped those at the state level. So, I got to hear some nut claim that medical marijuana is single-handedly responsible for the 180,000 kids in drug rehab across the United States. Look, I don't like drugs. I don't even drink anymore. But come on! Congress passes laws that effect 300 million people. Will there be exceptions to each and every one of them? You betcha. What I'd like to know from the Federal government - who are you to deny a cancer patient the one thing that makes life a little more bearable, that eases a bit of the pain? Who are you to tell AIDS patients they should die just a little bit earlier because their appetites are gone and the only thing that helps is illegal?
Cold Dead Hands
When I was 18, I learned how to handle a gun. There was some scary shit going on in my life and I received the finest training from former FBI agents, Navy Seals and Special Forces guys. Would I own a gun now? Nope. Should you? Well, that's really your call. The second amendment says you can so knock yourself out. But, don't be an asshole about it, okay?
In this post-911 culture, it seems we've gotten even more belligerent than we already were. And we're more than happy to flaunt it. I don't live in Hicksville, USA yet I'm constantly bombarded with oddly shaped bumper stickers that say "Terrorist Hunting Permit" or those that depict the Founding Fathers captioned by "The Original Right-Wing Extremists." Its natural that we want a certain amount of retribution. Its even natural that we want to solve problems through violence. But rarely do violence and retribution end with anything positive.
June 6, 2005
Ramblings From The Weekend
Ahh, the weekend. Now just a memory. In case you need to catch up, there were lots of coincidences, talk of a registry for the Bean, and an Extreme Makeover: Bathroom Edition. Understandable that I'm a little tired, right? Other than that, you didn't miss a whole lot. Beth and I did figure out how we're going to make enough money to retire early though...
Her: We're not going to work tomorrow, are we?
Me: Nope. Work on a Monday? Crazy talk.
Her: So, what are we going to do instead of work.
Me: Ooh! Drive to West Virginia and play the slots!
Her: And bet on the ponies?
Her: They should race weiner dogs.
Me: That would be awesome!
Her: Finding jockeys would be tough though.
Me: Ferrets. Use ferret jockeys.
Her: Those might be a little big.
Me: True. Hamsters?
Me: Nice. Weiner dogs and chinchilla jockeys! We should get it sponsored by Oscar Meyer. That way it'd be, like, the Oscar Meyer Weiner Weiner Dog Championship. Better with two weiners.
Her: That's perfect.
Me: Yep, I'd put my money on a good weiner.
Haiku For Monday #82
Mondays blow big donkey wangs.
Now that's eloquent.
June 5, 2005
Another Weekend, Another Project
Last weekend's project? The garden. This week? The spare upstairs bathroom.
Yes, those are ducks on the shower curtain. Beth finally got the duck in the tub she's always wanted.
June 4, 2005
During the course of the last six or so months, Beth and I have received quite a few emails about baby gifts. While Beth's addressed it, I haven't. Because I'm just lazy sometimes. Or I forgot. Before we proceed, there are some things you should know.
First, Beth and I do pretty well for ourselves. I'm not trying to sound snotty but we make pretty decent money. We have a nice, comfortable house. It might not be the biggest in the neighborhood but its perfect of us. And its home. We drive decent cars, our bills get paid and I'm able to keep a book and CD library that, like our cats, require constant feeding. I guess what I'm trying to say is that we don't need anything.
Second, there are these miraculous inventions we've just started learning about. They're called grandparents. They look somewhat like Beth and I only they've aged a bit. And they seem to be able to dispense baby gifts at will. Its amazing.
We've received some wonderful gifts from a few of you and I can't tell you how much that means to me. Its only fair to let everyone in on it however I ask that you consider the two factors above and consider some of the folks out there who might really need your help more than Beth, the Bean and I.
I've always been a little scared of bringing a child into a world like the one we've got. A world in which it sometimes seems that intolerance, terror, indecision and war are just normal. But you help remind me of the good stuff. I don't know how a world in which perfect strangers open their hearts to a child that hasn't even been born could be a bad place. But then, you're not strangers. You're friends. Its an amazing concept to me and I thank you for reinforcing my sometimes-shaky faith in the goodness of the world and the people in it. I'd like to think that Bean will be the luckiest kid in the world. She's got a heck of a head start. And I'm pretty damn lucky too.
June 3, 2005
Not to be outdone, another coincidence. Having finished one book, I just started another. Page 35 of Patrick O'Leary's The Impossible Bird uses the phrase a happy accident. Common? Sure. But still...interesting, no?
(Confused? Look at the title and content of my last post!)
I like to pretend that I don't believe in coincidences. But I really do. I don't think everything happens for a reason and I'm not altogether convinced about that whole fate thing. But sometimes little things happen that seem like happy accidents and cause me to wonder.
The other day, I noticed a paperclip by the dresser in the bedroom. Then I accidentally kicked it into the gap between the bottom drawer and the carpet. I'll need that some day and I'll know where to find it I thought. Yesterday afternoon, I couldn't get a CD out of my home computer. I had to find something to manually pop the CD tray. Of course, I knew right where to look for a paperclip.
One of the decisions we, as pre-parents, have to make revolves around the idea of cord blood banking. For the unaware, blood containing stem cells can be removed from the umbilical cord and stored in the hope that, if needed, these cells can be used to combat various diseases your child may encounter. Now, this costs real cash money, around $1500 up front and $100 a year. The literature from these companies consists of slick brochures with celebrity endorsements and convincing reports from physicians. And lists of diseases you wouldn't even dare mention in front of your child much less willingly expose them to. I was thinking about this while I was cooking dinner. I flipped on the news just as a story about cord blood banking started. We would have gone ahead and done it anyway but the little karmic shove didn't hurt.
Last night I finished an amazing book - Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. A small portion of it revolves around the lives of the main character's grandparents who witnessed and survived the bombing of Dresden in World War II. I was cleaning out my spam folder in my Gmail account this morning and, while I usually just delete everything without a second glance, something caught my eye. An email with a very odd, unique subject line - Dresden Bombing Is To Be Regretted Enormously.
June 2, 2005
I pretty much talk about anything and everything here. Surprisingly, what I don't discuss all that much is music. How do I know? You told me a couple months back. Its that much more surprising since I have so much useless musical knowledge stuck in my head. I used to be able to link any two bands in a Kevin Bacon kind of way. It was like some Rainman skill only I can't count thousands of dropped toothpics and I don't freak out about underwear. Let's take, for instance, heavy metal icons Iron Maiden and adult contemporary wunderdrummer Phil Collins.
Iron Maiden features guitarist Janik Gers...
Gers played on Fish's debut solo album Vigil In A Wilderness of Mirrors...
Fish sang on Tony Banks solo album Still...
Tony Banks was the keyboardist for Genesis...
Phil Collins was the band's drummer and lead singer.
Its true - I don't remember how old I am or how much my annual salary is but I remember crap like this. Scary. In an effort to use this power for good, I'm going to try to do a music brain dump every so often. Here's what's high on my list right now...
Mercury Rev: The Secret Migration
Mercury Rev is an odd band. But in a good way. They first came to major label attention with the release of Deserter's Songs which was a fantastic album. Although it featured bizarre, epic length songs featuring saw solos. I'm not making that up. Saw solos. The album was quiet, eerie and had an orchestral feel to it. Their followup, All Is Dream was even more grandiose but featured their best work, including the haunting Nite and Fog and Lincoln's Eyes. The Secret Migration finds Mercury Rev abandoning the saws and other construction equipment to focus on a more stripped-down approach. The lyrics remain potent and introspective yet there's a lighter, more approachable feel to it. And it might just be their best work to date. And I defy you to listen to the brief Down Poured The Heavens and not get chills. That 90 seconds alone might be worth the price of the album. Jonathan Donahue's vocals might be a little off-putting but give him a chance. There's something very honest and sincere about his voice.
Robert Plant & The Strange Sensations: Mighty Rearranger
I went back and listened to Plant's back catalog recently. I grew up loving Led Zeppelin and ended up seeing Plant a few times while he was supporting Now & Zen and Manic Nirvana. As much as I love those albums, they do sound a bit dated. Note to self: If you ever start a band, refuse to use cheesy synthesizers. They'll sound really stupid in 20 years. Plant's last solo effort, Dreamland, however, was timeless genius. I've kept it in heavy rotation since I bought it several years ago. I had high expectations of Mighty Rearranger. And they were, for the most part, met. Perhaps more impressive is the exclusive set he recorded recently for iTunes. Recorded live, it features a few newer numbers as well as reworkings of Zeppelin classics When The Levee Breaks and Black Dog. Sure, he's getting old and looks like, well, someone tried to inflate his head like a basketball, but his voice still sounds incredible.
How often do you run across an album on which you can't find a bad song? Practically never. Kudos to the generally unreliable Rolling Stone for highlighting, albeit briefly, Tourist. I've seen lots of comparisons to early Radiohead. Truthfully, Athlete's blend of alternative Britpop might actually be a little better. What's refreshing is the fact that they don't fall into the trap of trying to sound like Coldplay, like everyone else landing record deals. Coldplay's good, don't get me wrong. We just don't need 40 of them.
What Else I'm Digging:
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead's Worlds Apart is fantastic (and if you can find it, one of their singles contains a bad-ass version of Genesis' 1974 song Back In NYC. There. Two Genesis references in one post. My work here is done) as is Eels' double disc concept album Blinking Lights And Other Revelations. I'm still relatively hung up on Elbow's Cast Of Thousands and I'm warming up to Ben Fold's Songs For Silverman. Mike Doughty's Haughty Melodic also refuses to get old. Last but not least, if you don't know who Barrett Martin is, he's the former drummer for Seattle grunge outfits Screaming Trees and Mad Season. He's got a great solo album out (The Painted Desert)which is, surprisingly, a jazz effort.
What I'm Not Digging:
I really want to like the new Dave Matthews Band album, Stand Up. I feel like I should. Yet, really? I can't seem to get into it. Maybe I'm just not in a very Dave Matthews place right now. Maybe I need to break out my bass and start playing through it. Or maybe its just not that great an album. After reading even more positive press on Jem's Finally Woken (which, yes, I realize has been out forever), I feel like I should enjoy it more too. I don't. And I'm insanely tired of Maroon 5.
Coldplay drops X&Y on next week. This will be, mark my words, the biggest release of the summer. I also predict it will be worthy of the praise that will invariably be lavished upon it. For those of you progressive rock fans, Dream Theater will be releasing Octavarium next week as well. Gomez is also releasing the live set, Out West, and Teenage Fanclub is back with Man-Made. The following week, Foo Fighters will release what I predict will be the second biggest release of the summer, In Your Honor.
June 1, 2005
20,000 Strong And Growing
For the first time in a month, I checked my site stats. 20,000 unique visitors in May? Sheesh. That's amazing. Once again, I was drawn to the search strings that brought people here. And once again, I was astonished. Here are some of the better ones.
happy birthday misery is in the air people dying everywhere. Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to Bob, Bob Optomist. Nice to have you here Bob, if only for a minute before everything goes straight to hell.
How to tell if cactus is dead. Poke me with something sharp. If I punch you in the face? Not so much dead.
rude infant apparel. Like I hadn't thought of that. I'll soon be revealing my new line of infant-wear beginning with the patented Is That Your Face or Is Your Diaper On The Wrong End onesie.
suspension of belief. That's my approach to dealing with the world. Highly recommended.
fanny magnets. Run out of room on the fridge? Decorate your ass with your kids artwork with your very own fanny magnets. Call now and you'll receive a bonus pack at no extra charge. That's right, four fanny magnets for the price...
purse capade. May favorite part of the Accessory Circus. Well, aside from the side show freaks. You know, where you sit and stare at all the poor knock-offs someone picked up in the back alleys of New York.
Lindsay Lohan/books local. I'm shocked. She can read?
Lindsay Lohan cocaine. See, that's more believable.
I have a big ass. I'm so sorry. Do you, perhaps, need some extra magnets?
I'm not depressed, I'm just deep. Common misunderstanding. Have you met Bob Optomist?
seafood porn. Talk about showing off your muscles.
pencil test boobs see if is holds. Ahhh, the old perverted cop sobriety test.
little people porn. Yes, because if you're going to search for midget porn, its important to remain politically correct. God forbid you offend someone in your porn quest.
pass the fucking potatoes. Eat the fucking salad first.
how to make a sex machine. We're born, baby, not made.