January 31, 2005
I tried to leave work early because of the feeling like the crap...but somehow that never quite panned out. I had to talk to people, lead meetings, act vaguely competent. Then I had to construct elaborate budgets and estimates for future work. All that crap I did with numbers? Let me tell ya what a house of cards that is! Then try telling someone that fourteen is eight. Really. Fourteen. Is eight. It made complete sense and was entirely logical in the context of aforementioned house of cards. But walking someone though that when you barely understand it yourself makes for a nice big headache.
Anyway, despite my best intentions, I ended up there just as long as I always do. And I've got a big meeting first thing in the morning so there's no rest for the weary or wicked or whatever. If you have extra healthy, good sleep vibes, could you send me some? I needs me some of those.
Bee Movie (and Bee Facts)
Yesterday, Beth and I watched Spellbound, a documentary that follows eight kids to the National Spelling Bee here in Washington, DC. Sounds boaring, right? Well, it wasnt. There's a hole subculture of spelers out there I've never really given any thought to. So, without further adeaux, here are some spelling bee facts:
The National Spelling Bee is in its 78th year. The Louisville Courier-Journal started the event in 1925 however their were no bees during World Warr II. Instead, young spellers were sent into the trenches with guns and really good vocabularies.
National Spelling Bee championships are allmost evenly devided by sex - 42 girls have won compared with 38 male victories. One was unknown (can you spell ambiguous?).
Words to Win By:
- The first winer, Frank Neuhauser, won by correctly spelling gladiolus which has something to do with flowers despite the fact that it sounds dirty.
- Ward Randall won in 1931 with the word foulard, meaning a French idiot.
- Waneeta Beckley was briefly victorious in 1937 after spelling promiscuous. Following her victory, her mother sought a definition of the word from her daughter. A prostitute at the time, Lucy "Luscious" Beckley, attacked and killed three judges and two bee officials using the bee trophy. This is known as the infamous Bee Massacre of '37 and was coincedentally the last year trophies with pointy things were used.
- Sandra Sloss took home the 1955 trophey following her correct spelling of crustaceology, the study and production of crutons.
- Enamored with his victorious word, Scott Isaacs who successfully speeled spoilator (a machine that speeds the putrification of food), developed and subsequently published the world's first spelling comic book superhero, The Beealator.
The use of the word bee to describe social gatheringz remains a mystery. It was first used in 1875.
In an effort to keep up with the times, National Spelling Bee organizers have recently updated their word lists to include more contemporary terms. These include fo shizzle, poontang, tah-poozie and padonkadonk.
Haiku For Monday #65
Think I'm kinda sick
but here I am at work, like
a big ol' dumb-ass.
January 30, 2005
January 29, 2005
Music Meme: It's Goin' Around
Random 10 (from a random iPod shuffle):
1. Alice In Chains - Down In A Hole
2. Guns N Roses - Perfect Crime
3. Keane - Bedshaped
4. Radiohead - Electioneering
5. The Police - Man in a Suitcase
6. Belle & Sebastian - Dirty Dream Number Two
7. The Fire Theft - Chain
8. Gomez - Get Myself Arrested
9. Our Lady Peace - Is Anybody Home?
10. Robyn Hitchcock - The President (demo)
What is the total amount of music files on your computer?
7,360. But I haven't ripped as many CDs as I'd like to have. I've got stacks to go.
The last CD you bought is (I'll give you the last few, since I can't be sure):
Low - The Great Destroyer
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead - Worlds Apart
Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake Its Morning
Deathcab For Cutie - The Photo Album
Grandaddy - Sumday
What is the song you last listened to before this message?
Aimee Mann - The Scientist (live Coldplay cover that, coincidentally, I mentioned to Gweny yesterday)
Write down five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.
Led Zeppelin - Thank You
Aimee Mann - Invisible Ink
Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah
Joe Satriani - Rubina's Blue Sky Happiness
The Fire Theft - Rubber Band
Gweny's addition, which is like the hardest question ever: Name three artists/bands you adore:
Genesis - I'm being honest here, okay? When I was 12 years old I saw them and they blew me away. Their pre-1980, pre-top 40 stuff is singularly responsible for getting me into music. And while they have a high, lasting cheese-factor, I still dig their music for what it gave to me.
Joe Satriani - Wow, a standard guitarist's answer. But Satriani was a pioneer and did a lot for the popularity of instrumental, guitar-based music and musicians. Plus, the dude's a wicked guitarist.
Pearl Jam - I was big into the Seattle scene...Mother Love Bone, Green River, Temple of the Dog not to mention Alice In Chains, Nirvana, Mudhoney and others. When Pearl Jam released Ten, it was the perfect album. And sure, they never made another one like it but they've been brave enough to abandon the formula and try new things. Excellent band.
Who are you gonna pass this stick to (three persons and why)?
Anne because she's got great and ecclectic taste in music and she's always steering me towards something new and different.
Supine because I'm trying to get a handle on the kind of stuff she digs...and I have the feeling she's got great taste in music.
RockStar Mommy...well, duh, she's a rock star! And? She's got awesome taste!
January 28, 2005
Regardless of your political views, you can all agree with me that this is just plain disrespectful, right?
Read the story, why dontcha.
First off, can I get a do-over on this morning post thing? As I was telling Gweny mere moments ago, I'm not really clear on what I wrote this morning.
I rolled into the office about an hour ago, opened my trusty Gmail account and started looking at the email in my inbox. I started thinking, why are there all these comments from a post I didn't write? I'd never call a post 'Hey, Let's All Skip Work' would I? What kinda dumb-ass would use that as a title?. Hi, I'm that kinda dumb-ass. You see, it was early, I was tired...I have almost no memory of writing that. If I emailed you before 9:00 this morning, I will gladly re-respond if my first response proved unresponsive. I'm somewhat more awake...and I'm even beginning to reconsider my decision not to do my Friday happy dance.
By the way, are you at all curious where yesterday's question came from? Its been a long-running "discussion" this week around the house. We threw down via email yesterday while the battle was raging on the site. Check it out. Yeah, she called dibs. Damnit!
Hey, Let's All Skip Work!
Unlike last week, I don't think I'll be doing the Friday dance today. I'm just too tired. Heck, I haven't even left for work yet...and I don't wanna! I haven't felt all that hot, work's gotten me down and I'm just plain tired. But? I've got meetings and other stuff to do, so I'll be headed out soon.
Oh, by the way...have you bought some Rude Cactus Swag? Take a picture of yourself with/wearing the goods and send them my way! Only if you wanna, of course.
January 27, 2005
Perhaps I'm taking this prep work for the baby just a bit too far...
Maybe I haven't properly explained this. The evening we broke the news to our folks, we had them over for dinner. Before we ate - when we could hold the secret absolutely no longer - we popped the cork on a bottle of champagne. As a sly way of telling them, we hooked pacifiers to the stems of the champagne flutes. Apparently that was also my cue to accessorize.
Good morning and happy Thursday! I need your opinions on something...
Pat just got home from work and is thirsty after a long day of breaking up underground crime syndicates and preventing the destruction of the Earth as we know it by supernatural forces only Pat can combat as a super-secret agent. Pat heads into the kitchen and opens the fridge. Low and behold, there's Pat's favorite beverage, in a half-gallon sized container. Now, Pat's the only person who enjoys this particular beverage so instead of getting a glass, Pat opens the bottle and drinks right from the container. Regardless of Pat's status as a hip, stealthy spy, this is:
a. acceptable anytime (well, not in front of guests or the Queen or anything)
b. completely unacceptable anytime
c. acceptable only if Pat is alone
d. acceptable only if Pat has just emerged from the Mojave Desert after months undercover crime-fighting.
January 26, 2005
Be Like Caelyn: Just Do It!
A friendly reminder to all, Rude Cactus Swag is still available and still benefits victims of the December 26th tsunami.
Disclaimer: No babies we harmed during the making of this blog entry; stunt babies and incredibly small people wearing very realistic and lifelike costumes were used on a closed course in a climate controlled environment. Please do not try this at home. Caelyn courtesy of her mommy, Stacey at nonpromqueen.com...swing by and say hello! Then go buy something because you'll feel better and you'll end up with really cool stuff. Most sizes available, including "extra teensy" (as shown).
Date From Hell
The wind-up is simple - I dug a girl we'll call Kelly and she apparently dug me. We decided to go out on a Friday night. Dinner and a movie, we agreed. I showed up at six to pick her up and the rest is just a bad memory burned into my consciousness for the rest of my natural life.
Dinner was a non-event. I don't have any recollection of the specifics but I distinctly recall that she didn't eat a damn thing except fruit. And we were at an Italian place. And she was acting strange. And went to the bathroom about 37 times. Then it was off to the movie...
If you haven't seen She Devil, starring the ever-talented Rosanne Barr and Meryl Streep, I urge you - drop what you're doing and go get your hands on a copy. And then destroy it. Please, in the name of all that is good and cinematically holy, destroy every copy of this movie you can find. We must be united in our campaign to erase this movie from contemporary society. Anyway, that's what she'd picked to see. And we sat through it. But something odd started happning about 20 minutes into the film. She Devil became, to Kelly at least, the funniest movie evah. The. Funniest. Movie. Evah. I knew something was wrong because this wasn't a funny movie. At all. And no one else in the theater even seemed marginally amused. But for Kelly? It was a fucking laugh riot.
Kelly wasn't so much giggling as having fits of hysterical laughter. I'm all for people having a good time but this was a little rediculous. People started looking at me with a bizarre mixture of disdain, sorrow and annoyance. Like, "I'm sure we all think its really nice that you brought your retarded sister to see a movie but she's really fucking annoying." I even turned to her once and asked, "what the hell's so funny?" She said she didn't know.
But don't you worry - we made it through the whole movie and didn't miss out on the spectacular ending. In fact it was right as the credits started to roll that Kelly decided to puke on the floor. Had anyone not noticed us before, we had their attention now! Oh, and just to top it off, she then promptly passed out.
Yes, there I am stuck in a rapidly emptying theater with a passed out psycho girl. Sure, people kindly offered to help me with her but I figured they'd really been put through enough. I gathered up her coat, purse, and the empty flask that had fallen on the floor when she passed out, picked her up and carried her out to the car. I got her in the passenger seat where she promptly woke up...to puke again. Then she passed out for the duration of the ride home.
Needless to say, Kelly and I never really went out again. Instead my best friend fell for her and they had an odd, somewhat destructive relationship for another couple of years. Kelly later told me that she had really liked me and was just really nervous so she got plastered. I was both flattered and disturbed.
January 25, 2005
Prior to Sunday, we had two rooms almost solely dedicated to book storage. In one corner, "the blue room" with four bookshelves full of books. In the other corner? "The red room" which contains the other four shelves of books. Hi. Read much? On Sunday, we cleared out what will soon become the nursery (for future reference this was "the blue room").
For the record, carrying books and bookcases down two flights of stairs? Not fun, not that I'm complaining. Backbreaking stuff, this nursery-making. Although I still prefer it over the carrying of the child for nine months.
Tell Me Something I Don't Know
Hi. Its morning. I didn't sleep all that well and I don't feel so hot...and my computer's not back yet. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm feeling about as creative as my stapler. But I've also grown curious about you again, dear readers. So...tell me a deep, dark, juicy or merely odd secret - something no one knows. Comment and free yourselves of your burdens. For instance? I was a kleptomaniac in first grade. Yep...stole anything I could get my hands on. Being in first grade, this usually consisted of art supplies from my school.
Your turn. I want to learn something new about everyone! Don't let me down.
January 24, 2005
Update: Monday Morning Blues(creen)
Keri just informed me that I shouldn't be surprised that today has sucked with such ferocity. It is officially the worst day of the year after all. And it has to be accurate...I mean, there's math and complex equations behind it.
As for the laptop? Well, a group of five burly guys dressed in all-black led by a large man with a small mustache, an eye-patch and a slow-burning cigar, just came in and forcefully removed it from my office. If I had to guess, I'd say right about now its strapped into an uncomfortable docking station in a dark, humid room under a bare lighbulb being taunted with magnets and cans of spray air. I hope it gives up my information before they start with the bamboo shoots under the keys and the dreaded Chinese floppy torture (you don't want to know *shudder*).
Monday Morning Blues(creen)
Ahh, I love the smell of a blue screen in the morning! Maybe I'm being just a little sarcastic or slightly bitter but, campers, I booted up my work laptop last night and got the Microsoft blue screen of death. Now, in a former life, I ran a help-desk and had some mad troubleshooting skillz. I tried dusting them off but to no avail. It degraded to name calling and enthusiastic hand-gestures.
So this morning, I braved the 2000-below-zero windchill to scrape the sheets of ice and snow from my windshield and come into work, called our help-desk and booted up my spare desktop machine. Of course, I couldn't remember the password for the spare so I almost immediately locked myself out. Luckily that problem's been solved so I at least have some connectivity action going on...but otherwise, I'm just kinda here. For the love of god, restore my precious files Mr. Help Desk Guy!
The weekend? That was much better! We got about six or so inches of snow on Saturday, which was nice. I could have stood about a foot and a half more though. We were supposed to head out to a party on Saturday night but decided to skip it - the roads still sucked a bit and people around here completely forget how to drive in the snow. Yesterday, after clearing out what will eventually become the nursery (lesson - books are heavy and repeated trips with said books up and down two flights of stairs don't have a positive impact on one's back), we headed out to dinner with family. So, yeah, nothing much to report there but it was nice, relaxing and quiet.
And what kinds of wonderfully exciting things did you do over the weekend?
Haiku For Monday #64
Temps below zero
and a dead work laptop. Don't
get better than this.
January 22, 2005
The Capade Plan
We were at a bar for happy hour (yes, me the non-drinker and my pregnant wife) with a few friends, one of whom's a complete and utter hockey addict. Since there's no season this year, he's in pain. I think we came up with a good alternative.
Me: How are you holding up without hockey?
Him: Sucks. Withdrawl. Football is an okay substitute but it doesn't quite do it.
Me: That does suck.
Him: I went to a local non-professional game but it didn't work.
Me: See, what you need to do is get tickets for a capade. You know, like, Disney On Ice or something like that. Then go and just pretend you're at a hockey game.
Him: Like, throw my beer at one of the characters? I like it.
Me: Yeah and get up to the glass and scream horribly inappropriate things. "You won't find Nemo that way, bitch!" You know, like that.
Him: Its a plan.
Me: Okay....can I come too, because I'd really like to see that?
Him: Of course!
Me: We'd be the first people to ever get thrown out of a capade. And I'm really okay with that.
Um yeah..get me, the future father. Scary.
January 21, 2005
Music For Friday
I keep forgetting about the whole Friday music thing so I figured now that I've remembered I'd better give you something good. I was thinking about the whole grunge thing a little while ago and remembered an old Todd Snider song that I love. Just push play...
TGIF Happy Dance
Its Friday. I'll be working from home much of the day. Needless to say, there's been some Friday happy-dancing going on this morning. But only a little because I'm tired. And? There's supposedly snow headed our way. I wouldn't mind having a nice snowed-in weekend. Of course, it would be better if it decided to snow on, say, a Wednesday. But I'm from the south. Any snow will do.
Happy Friday...do that dance, okay?
January 20, 2005
Disclaimer: Before the flamethrowers are broken out and cries of “you filthy liberal” fill the air, I’d like you to know that I’d be writing the same words if a Democratic president was being sworn in today. This isn’t about the president or a party but the system itself. All numbers were obtained from The Washington Post, MSNBC, The Wall Street Journal as well as publicly available information online.
Sniff the air. Yep, its inauguration season in the District, one of the last remaining opportunities for the political wheeler-dealers to grease the skids, shake hands and influence policy. Today George W. Bush will raise his right hand and take the oath of office, guaranteeing more of the same for another four years. No matter how much I disagree with that, no matter how offensive I happen to find it, the real problem in this is the amount of money being spent in this town over the next day.
I’m a fun guy. I don’t want you to think otherwise. I like to have a good time. I love good food and you know how I feel about good music. I like meeting people, learning new things and generally hanging out. But I’m not sure I see the sense in paying so much to do it when so many have so little elsewhere in the world. Hell, elsewhere in our country. For that matter, a couple blocks from the White House. If you’re in or close to a city, you’ve seen homeless people. Washington is no exception – as much as you’d think it really should be, being the nation’s capital and all. This time of year, its not at all uncommon to see groups of homeless men clustered around steam grates, fighting for a little chunk of warm real estate. The shelters – the ones that are still open, that the city hasn’t shut down – are full as are the park benches. All in the shadow of the White House, the Capital and all those monuments, those symbols of prosperity and compassion.
Back to the inauguration…here are some cold hard facts:
-The Presidential Inauguration Committee expects private contributions to exceed $40 million for the inauguration and related events.
-Security for the inauguration is expected to cost over $20 million and will be provided by both the Federal government and the District.
-The District estimates its out-of-pocket expenses to run in excess of $17.3 million. The Department of Homeland Security will reimburse $11.9 million, leaving the District to pay the balance. The District will spend $5.3 million for overtime expenses and $2.9 for logistics support.
-The Federal Office of Personnel Management expects the cost to taxpayers to exceed $66 million.
When Beth and I were in college, we lived in a reasonably inexpensive but nice apartment. It was in a college town, so the cost of living was lower than it was in the immediate DC area. The cost of living is still probably a little higher than lots of places but I’d expect its reasonably close to the national average. I went to their Website a few minutes ago just to see what it would cost for a one-bedroom place. Looks like it would run about $9,384 per year.
Plugging the figures from the Presidential Inaugural Committee into my trusty calculator, I was amazed to discover that 4,263 people could be housed, in my old apartment complex, for an entire year based on the privately raised inaugural donations alone. If I pop in the OPM figures, another 7,033 people could have a roof over their heads for a year. Can you believe it? Between private and taxpayer funding for the inaugural festivities, 11,296 people could be housed for a year. All with cash that’ll be blown in a day. Sure, I’m aware that this doesn’t include living expenses and utilities but still. Can you imagine?
Don’t get me wrong – a certain amount of pomp and circumstance is expected and, most likely, necessary. But the sheer amount of money spent on what basically boils down to a big party is, to me, unconscionable. People are dying in the streets, dying in deserts overseas, dying in Asia…and we’re worried about a party.
January 19, 2005
Taken mere seconds after finding out...
...what, you think I didn't have a camera handy?
You all astound me...and I mean that in a very positive way. More than 130 comments on that last post? Amazing! Thank you all for the kind words and good wishes. I need to think of a new way to say this because its getting so damn repetitive...but you rock mightily.
I've gotta say, it really felt good to share that bit of news. We've been keeping it top-secret since late November and its been killing me!! I'll be returning to normal post-announcement blogging goodness soon, with light to intermittent talk of babies and pre-fatherhood freakouts. So just hold tight.
January 18, 2005
Play Along, It's Worth It
Beth and Chris: Guess what?
Beth and Chris: No, guess.
Internet: Ok. You’re both following your childhood dreams and abandoning your seemingly normal life to join the circus. We’ve always thought you were “circus people.”
Beth and Chris: Um…no. Try again. It’s a secret.
Internet: You’re not actually two people. All this time you’ve been stringing us along you’re really one talented yet highly disturbed person. Right?
Beth and Chris: Come on. Get real. I’m, uh, we’re two real people. Give it another shot.
Internet: This seems to be a one-sided relationship. Its all give, no get from us.
Beth and Chris: Hey, play along or we are taking our blogs and going home. We’re getting something. Now, what could it be?
Internet: Fine. A puppy?
Beth and Chris: Yes! One of those little ones you can carry around in your purse!
Beth and Chris: Are you on crack? No.
Beth and Chris: Try again.
Internet: A new car?
Beth and Chris: Yes!
Internet: That was totally not worth playing this stupid game.
Beth and Chris: Well, we are getting a new car, but that’s not what we want you to guess.
Internet: This is getting old.
Beth and Chris: Come on.
Internet: A new house?
Beth and Chris: No.
Beth and Chris: Ha-ha. No.
Beth and Chris: Fine, we’ll give you another clue. It’s something we’re getting in August.
Internet: Why should we care now, then? Post about it in August!
Beth and Chris: It involves new clothes.
Internet: Someone gave you a cruise?
Beth and Chris: No. It involves new furniture.
Internet: A new house?
Beth and Chris: No, you guessed that already. It involves screaming.
Internet: Um, unless someone’s passing a kidney stone at a costume party, I don’t think I get it. I give up.
Beth and Chris: Fine, one more clue, but this really gives it away...
Internet: You’re on X!!
Beth and Chris: Of course not! Why would we be doing drugs when we’re knocked up?
In case you're new around these parts, Beth, future mommy, can be found here.
January 17, 2005
Rude Cactus Versus...
When I rolled through the front door this evening, Beth was watching a movie (she had the day off...I didn't). From the sound of it, there was drama, general turmoil and British accents. I went on about my business, changed clothes and sat down with a book to decompress.
Me: What the hell were you watching?
Beth: You'd have hated it.
Me: It just sounded horrible. Not, like, a bad movie but like bad things were happening to people. What was it about?
Me: Loud, screaming nuns?
Beth: Evil nuns...the bitches.
Me: Ooh...evil nuns with ninja skills?
Beth: No, but evil zombie nuns.
Me: Ahhh, cool! The Nundead.
Can't you see the comic books, action figures and, eventually, feature film now? My idea! Don't steal! And no, I have no idea what the movie was called or what it was really about.
A Historical Week
Today's going to be slow. Why? Well, its a holiday. But do I get the day off? Nooooo. And its going to be an odd week too.
First, today's Martin Luther King day, a national holiday. I know many folks aren't exactly clear on Martin Luther King day and its importance to our nation's history. Here's a little refresher. Many years ago on today's date, Martin Luther King wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. Famously signed by John Hancock, Paul Revere, Richard Nixon and Oprah Winfrey, the proclamation is housed in a super-secret room in the National Archives. Upon its completion, Martin Luther King took this document and nailed it to the doors of the White House which was then located in Philadelphia (Little know fact - for its relocation, the White House was placed on wheels and hitched to 500 horses for its move to Washington. This earned it the moniker "the nation's first mobile home.") Today, Martin Luther King day is celebrated by parades in many cities as well as a reenactment of his famous "Can I have some cream?" speech in the actual diner on 14th and K street where it occurred. The spirit of the day is also captured by the many white sales going on in department stores across the country.
On the heels of Martin Luther King Day comes the Presidential inauguration. Every four years, the duly elected (or just most obnoxious) president turns up in Washington to get a good swearin' in. He's also fitted for the First Flack Jacket and given the keys to the First Restroom. Starting on Wednesday at noon, your government will be closed. Don't worry - normal lackluster service will be restored by Friday morning. Should you have an emergency during this time, please leave your name, your phone number and a brief message. Someone will get back to you eventually.
One hundred city blocks will be cleared and roped off for Thursday's event for "security reasons." This ensures no pesky homeless people or people with dissenting opinions are allowed within shouting distance. Thursday brings many events to the city, the first of which is a gigantic parade featuring all your favorite Disney characters. This is your cabinet. (Please note: due to the loss of a friendly wager, Condy Rice will be filling the role of Pluto this year.) Following the parade, the official ceremony begins, during which George "Scooter" Bush places his left hand on a copy of Fun With Dick and Jane and swears his allegiance to Satan, part of bizarre Faustian bargain made long ago. Following the ceremony, the president is whisked through the streets of DC, waved at and cheered on by the American people while he, following age-old tradition, makes out with the First Hookers and fires up the First Crack Pipe in the back of the limo.
As if the day wasn't quite full enough, you can't forget about the balls! Yes, there's many a political gala held on inauguration night. This year, there's quite a long list of balls including the Please Remember Me For A Pardon Ball, the We Gave You A Shit-Load of Money Ball, the Political Swingers Ball (no single men, please), the Let's Blow Some More Third World Countries Up Ball and the always popular Drunk and Horny First Daughters' Ball (single men and college football teams encouraged). Fortunately, as the Democrats did not prevail, there will be no blue balls this year.
As you can see, those of us living in the DC area sure have our hands full this week.
Yes, parts of this post were possibly insensitive. As you know, I'm not an insensitive guy so that should tell you that I meant it all in fun.
Haiku For Monday #63
While most are asleep
On this, a holiday, I'm
here barely awake.
January 16, 2005
January 15, 2005
We're prepping to have parents and in-laws and other assorted family in this evening...so the place is clean! What better time to snap a few pictures? Of course, that's not to imply its filthy all the time. We're pretty neat (as in clean) people. Hopefully we're neat in the other way too...
January 14, 2005
Heavy Weather (and Pimpage)
Overnight a monsoon moved into the area and managed to keep me up half the night. I'm pretty glad I've got the day off! I promise to try not to rub it in...too much. Instead? I'll pimp.
Contrary to all logic, I unleashed my Rude Cactus swag on you without actually sampling my own goods. And you really should sample your own stuff...unless you're a drug dealer. That's what I've always read anyway. My lovely wife ordered one of my shirts for me (how odd a sentence is that?) and it came yesterday. I've gotta say, I think it looks pretty good. So, in an effort to convince you that I wouldn't ask you to buy anything I wouldn't wear myself...
So far, you Rude Cactus readers and I have pulled together $61 for tsunami aid - the current total will always be kept updated over there on the right. I'd dig topping $100 for the month...although it would make me even happier to raise more.
I hope you all have a wonderful Friday! I'll be around...wearing a really kick-ass shirt...
January 13, 2005
A Once and Future Dumbass
Wow...I've got nothin' tonight except a very bizarre conversation with my wife about a misplaced camera that I don't care to repeat.
Well, no. I take that back. I didn't think it possible that you could be so privileged, so educated and so "refined" yet this stupid. Initially, I thought calls to force him to visit Auschwitz were a little harsh...but I think I'm actually starting to agree. He fucked up...royally.
Barely Coherent Thoughts For Thursday
Two extremely large cups of coffee into the day and I'm starting to feel slightly more alive. Apologies if you didn't see me around or hear from me yesterday...you see, it was a shitty day plagued with utterly frustrating meetings and email issues.
I won't bore you with work stuff but have you ever had one of those days after which you feel completely and utterly defeated? That was my day yesterday. Oh, and it was another one of those 11-12 hour ones too. Regardless, that's done and, since I've pulled so many epic days recently, I think I'm taking tomorrow off.
For those in the DC area, one last, sad note...in case you haven't heard, the legendary 99.1 FM WHFS has gone off the air. For over 30 years, WHFS was one of the most progressive rock radio stations around. If you tuned in for an hour and it wouldn't have been a surprise if you heard indie, emo, alternative, metal, folk, and classic rock. And the HFStival, an annual day-long concert featuring an incredible lineup of musicians, became an institution. At 12:00 PM yesterday, after playing Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye," WHFS left the airwaves to be replaced by an all-Latin format. Sad days...especially when good music is sacrificed for advertising dollars.
January 12, 2005
On Music: Five Kinds of Albums
People say that, for a music lover, I don't write about music nearly enough. I think I'll try to remedy that in 2005 (RockStar Mommy and I have kinda made this a low-key resolution for the year). In keeping with that, I'll share a theory with you.
The Theory: There are really only five categories of albums.
The Outperformers. The Outperformers are the albums you fall in love with the instant you hear the first song. You're breathless by the end. It only takes one play and you're hooked. The most important quality about an Outperformer is that the album stays as good as it was on that first play. Its a rare thing.
The Deflators. A Deflator can be magical. Every song can be wonderous and astounding with highly saturated musical goodness. Yet, after a couple listens it gets tired. Some of the polish wears off, there are a few cracks and the luster is gone. It becomes predictable, so you just scratch your head and wonder what you found so appealing to begin with.
The Lukewarms. Maybe you liked one song and bought the whole album. Maybe you expected more. Regardless, you bought it, the album's just okay, it certainly doesn't suck. But you're stuck with it so move on.
The Sleepers. Sleepers are interesting beasts. You really looked forward to getting them home, to ripping off the plastic wrapping. But once you actually push play, these albums leave something to be desired. So you shelve them for six or nine months and eventually get around to pulling them out of whatever CD wasteland they've been relegated to and give them another spin - out of curiosity or because you heard something good about it. And what you discover is sheer brilliance. These albums become some of your favorites.
The Suckage. Raw sewage...no matter how you slice it.
Now...practical applications of the Five Category Theory...
The Theory In Action: U2
The Outperformer. The U2 Outperformer has to be The Joshua Tree. I could easily make a case for it being one of the finest albums ever made. Perhaps, most impressive, is that fact that 17 years later, it still holds up and sounds every bit as good as it did when I first heard it. The Joshua Tree is nearly flawless and shows a band at the height of its creativity and passion.
The Deflator. How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb initially had me praising the self-proclaimed 'greatest band in the world' but the novelty wore off. Some songs are excellent, some are good, others merely hint at the talent the band has. While I always questioned the momentum of the album - I never really thought it flowed all that well - the album's stalled for me, and I'm kind of upset about that. I want to like it more. I want to keep liking it as much as I did.
The Lukewarm. October. The songs are good, sure, but it just didn't do anything for me. I neither love it nor hate it. It serves to complete my U2 collection, nothing more. Its inconsequential.
The Sleeper. Perhaps the best example of a U2 Sleeper is Achtung Baby. After the success of The Joshua Tree and the hit-and-miss Rattle and Hum, Achtung Baby sounded nothing like anything the band had previously unleashed. And people were pissed. I know - I was one of them. It didn't take too long for me to shelve my copy. I just wasn't impressed. Bands shouldn't be stagnant with their sound but why change a good thing? Of course, I pulled it off the shelf later and realized I'd been somewhat selfishly missing a perfectly good album.
The Suckage. Pop. A lot of bands "try something new" and some end up making a painful bellyflop into the pool of popular music. While Achtung Baby represented "trying something new," Pop represented "trying something sucky." Its really an embarrassing album. Like Yo Yo Ma deciding to release an entire album of variations on Mary Had A Little Lamb..and rapping. I just wanted to slap Bono around and say, "look laddie, you know you can do better than this shite."
Can I tell you how many times I had to go back and correct the spelling and grammar in this post? I shouldn't be anywhere near a keyboard tonight!
Balancing...And Reader Participation
This shouldn't shock anyone but I'm going to be stuck in boring meetings half the day. Sucks, huh? Traffic was pretty crappy too. But I bought myself an extra donut this morning (hey, I'm not smoking...cut me some slack) so that helped. And? I've put in so many hours over the last two weeks I'll probably just take Friday off. So really, its good and bad news for Hump Day.
While I'm in and out and unreliable for entertainment much of the day, entertain yourselves and make me laugh. Here's the first line of a story. Continue it in the comments section.
There was a great rumble in the sky yet the day was relatively clear. Biff, dressed in his green and pink argyle cardigan, turned his head, gazed at the sky and saw...
January 11, 2005
The Face Sleeper
The first time she did this, it kinda freaked me out...
...then we just figured she like to sleep on her face. To complete the mental picture, throw in a little (okay, a lot) snoring. One of the many hazards of working from home...the snoring, face-sleeping cat.
Good news part one: I'm working from home today!
Good news part two: I managed to get some sleep!
So, both of those are good things, except that I'm pretty much slammed with work and have asked a bunch of people to get stuff to me by COB today. Which means I'll be working late to compile and evaluate it all. But I did have a cool Fast Times at Ridgemont High dream. Basically Mr. Hand went all crouching tiger and put the beat down on Jeff Spicoli after graduation. Sadly Pheobe Cates didn't make an appearance.
January 10, 2005
Just because I'm curious, lets say you could pick your own superpower alter-ego. Who'd you be and what kinda power would you have?
Me? I'd be ChronoCactus...or something. I'd stop time and fix stuff. But I couldn't go back in time because that would screw with the continuum and we'd end up with George Bush as president and...oh...crap!
Coffee...and No Cigarettes
I haven't been able to sleep worth a damn for the past week and a half. I try. I eventually fall asleep but I invariably lurk in that dreamy zone between full-fledged snoozing and toss-and-turn frustrated napping. I'm awake every morning by 3:00- slightly less than ideal. Yet I do manage to fall soundly, blissfully asleep about 20 minutes before the alarm goes off. Because of that, I've been irritable, lethargic and one of the single largest supporters of the coffee industry in the Washington, DC metro area. I was really wondering why all this was going down until I realized this weekend that its been a week and a half since I had a cigarette. I'm not losing my mind after all...well, at least no more than usual.
You guys have been really supportive and full of questions. To those who've asked, this is not the first time I've quit. Ready for a shocker? I started smoking when I was 12. Yes. 12. And I continued to smoke until I was 26 when, one morning, I woke up and decided I didn't really want to smoke anymore. So I quit and I managed to stay that way for five years. Then Beth and I decided to head to France. I don't like to fly (really, that's quite an understatement) and everyone knows smoking doesn't count when you're in another country anyway right? Then I quit. Until the emotional upheaval of the summer at which point I found myself purchasing another pack.
I really do have a love/hate relationship with cigarettes. I love smoking them and hate not smoking them. Its different now though. When I was younger (so much younger than today), I didn't really think about the consequences. Now I pretty much know that if I keep it up, I'll die because of it. And I'm thinking that would kinda suck.
Before I forget we caught a couple of movies this weekend.
It was good as long as you didn't mind the DaVinci Code rip-off or actually think too much. Nicholas Cage wasn't all that good - he's proved great in quirkly roles like those in Adaptation and Matchstick Men but he's just not convincing in anything really straightforward.
Pleasant movie. No, not really. Matter of fact, not at all. But its still excellent. But damn, if I ever have a daughter I'm just locking her in her room until she's 20...no 30.
Pieces of April:
A seriously excellent film. I have no idea why it didn't get a greater amount of press. Perhaps it was too nice.
Haiku For Monday #62
Even in oldest
known records, laborers wrote:
weekends are too short.
January 09, 2005
I almost forgot...I'm guestblogging at Chepooka. Check out her site - it rocks.
January 08, 2005
Small World (After All)
Did I mention that I correctly identified a fellow local blogger on the way to work yesterday morning? As in, I saw her in her car, made a guess and I was right. Small world, huh?
Hope you all are having wonderful weekends. Highlights so far?
January 07, 2005
If you're new here, I think there are a few things you should know. Know that I'm a flaming liberal, of the bleeding heart variety. Know that I'm open minded as well. I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions, to worship their own god, express their own opinions and determine their own values. Far be it from me to impose my values on others. I don't agree with the war in Iraq - not one stinkin' bit. And I don't appreciate the current political climate which seems to call into question one's patriotism if they don't support the administration or the war. What disturbs me more is the implication that those of us who don't support the war don't support the troops. I remain a patriotic person and my support for those in uniform remains steadfast and unwavering. You can disagree with my politics but please don't question my patriotism. What am I getting at with all this? My thoughts on an old friend who I just found out joined the Army.
you stupid bastard what the fuck do you think you're doing because this isn't like the time you just wanted to go out and buy a motorcycle and then got bored with it and wished you hadn't I know that you've never found a career, anything you really loved and I know you've got some motivational issues I remember all the times we skipped class in college because we'd just had too fucking much to drink or really couldn't be bothered to get up on time and go but what the hell made you think this was a good idea you're going to be flown over water and dropped in a desert and shot at and you can't really blame them for shooting at us can you because we really just came in and started blowing shit up for no apparent reason and I realize that I'm being really fucking selfish here and insinuating my political beliefs through every consonant and vowel that spins its way through my idealistic brain but you're going to get shot at and I don't want any of my friends to die not for this not for something that I have so little respect for not for anything so you better fucking learn to shoot and let me know where to send some armor plating because I know you're not going to have enough of that and just...well just keep your damn head down...just keep your fucking head down cos this is real and this is life and the alternative ain't great and just keep your fucking head down because I can think of better ways to go than bleeding in the desert...for what?
Rarely do I talk about silly news stories but here's a good one for your Friday:
CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) -- A viewer is suing NBC for $2.5 million, contending that he threw up because of a "Fear Factor" episode in which contestants ate rats mixed in a blender...
The intrepid viewer, Austin Aitken continued by expressing his love of the show and his frequent viewership however he stated that perhaps eating rats was crossing some sort of line. The best part? His lawsuit was handwritten. And as you know, all good legal documents are done by hand. Mr. Aitken - you've stared stupidity in the eye and clearly intelligence is not a factor for you!
In other news...ITS FRIDAY!! Rejoice, hither and yon, for it is almost the weekend! Any good plans?
P.S. Yes, I'm aware that this was a very lame entry. But its Friday, I'm really somewhat braindead. I'm tired. And I don't have a hell of a lot to do today. So, cut me some slack?
January 06, 2005
Stayin' Alive...With Swag
Oh dear friends, I missed you today. I got trapped - trapped I tell you - in two ginormous meetings and ended up pulling another 11 hour day. At least tomorrow's Friday.
In other news, sales from the Rude Cactus Swag Store have raised $22 for charity!! I promise I will not continue with the hard sell, but, as impressive as that total is, I hope that more of you will take advantage of this way to help some folks out. And I understand that some of you can't...so at least help me spread the word! Remember, I make nothing from this...and I'd like to send in some impressive checks in care of Rude Cactus readers.
Have a swingin' evening, cats. Cactus out!
Shock, Awe...and Meetings
Before I embark on whatever it is I'll end up posting today (see, even I don't know yet), let me first say that I'm amazed by the turnout for Delurking Day. That's frickin' amazing, people. I am, as always, awed and humbled. Special thanks to Sheryl for the fantastic idea. Of course, I wasn't able to fully participate since I had meetings all day long...
Meetings are really horrible things in general. These specific meetings though? You haven't lived until you've sat through one of these. I actually started to take some personal notes, figuring that all this would make for a good blog entry (it won't).
3:30 PM: Ok. We're all here. Lets get this mutha on!
3:32 PM: Oh good lord. Obligatory weekend/holiday talk. Hate. Small. Talk.
3:45 PM: Yay! Substance!
3:46 PM: Things must sound better if you tack the words 'center' or 'system' to the end.
3:58 PM: I enjoy talking about flowcharts. I'm not bored at all. Nope. Not at all.
4:02 PM: I was wondering when we were going to start talking about fishing.
4:06 PM: Why, precisely, do I have Yellow Submarine running through my head? Better yet, why was Ringo Starr in a dream of mine last night?
4:08 PM: Nod...nod like you agree. Don't forget to nod every once in a while.
4:15 PM: I need to shine my shoes.
4:16 PM: Wow...he needs to shine his shoes too.
4:17 PM: It would be so cool to see the look on everyone's faces if I could make my head rotate 360 degrees right now.
4:30 PM: We all live in a yellow submarine...a yellow submarine...
I stopped there. I was just boring myself much like I've just bored you. Just imagine if you had to sit through an hour and a half more of that.
So, if I didn't visit you on Delurking Day, I'll be around soon, I promise. As you can see I had other, much more pointless things to do.
January 05, 2005
What's today? Well, okay, yes, its Wednesday. And Hump Day - you're right about that. Its also a rainy day...and I'm stuck in meetings all day so its a sucky day. But really, the answer I'm going for is De-lurking Day!
Today is the day bloggers would like everyone to come out of hiding for a couple minutes to comment and say hello. And for all of you who quite regularly comment here? I want to hear from you today too.
So come on! What are you waiting for? Comment already. Need something to comment on? Okay...here are some topics for you:
1. The decline of the Hollywood studio system and its impact on the modern box office.
2. Lost is back tonight. What's gonna happen?
3. Mao Tse-Tung's rule and its lasting impact on Chinese communism.
4. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Round to the nearest cubic foot.
5. What would you like to see more of here on Rude Cactus?
6. Explain the appeal of Ron Jeremy in 500 words or less.
P.S. - like I said, I'm in meetings all damn day so if I'm quiet, that's why...
January 04, 2005
Really, I'm Not A Girl
Okay, fill in the blank time!
The new haircut is __________________ .
b) Herman Melville
d) can't tell that you changed a thing
I'm uncomfortable with change. Especially on my head.
I just plugged my iPod in to get some tunes going this morning (Mogwai, in case you're wondering) and I looked over the music I ripped and loaded last night. Now, how insane is it that, in the same evening, I ripped Phil Collins, Iron Maiden, Flaming Lips, Deathcab for Cutie and Whitesnake? There's ecclectic then there are multiple personalities...
Also, how insane is it that I woke up with "Eep Op Ork" running through my head? Yes, the song from the Jetsons...as performed by the Violent Femmes. And I hate the Violent Femmes.
One last thing...how insane is it that I've managed to make it, um, three full days without a cigarette? And no one's died...yet...
January 03, 2005
Clocks, Self Doubt, Beef Tenderloin
I hesitate to post anything else today because I don't want anyone to forget about The Big Idea so please just whore me out to your friends when you can and don't let me lapse into self-doubt thinking its a horrible idea.
Its Monday. I'm at work. And despite working three days last week, it feels like something I haven't done for, oh, months. It doesn't help that the day started off all wrong...
You see, I'm punctual to a fault. I'm compulsively early and I hate (HATE) being late anywhere. Hell, I was right on time coming into this world...my mom ran up four flights of stairs because she couldn't wait for the elevator and had me in 20 minutes. Back to the punctuality...I had the following conversation with myself (don't be afraid...really) last night:
Me: Oh, what time's the alarm set for?
Me: Good question. I'll check!
Me: Seems to be set for 8 something.
Me: That won't do. Gotta get up and go to work in the morning.
Me: Well then, I'll change it. Hmmm....5.....30....5:30 will do it.
Me: Great! Thanks!
Me: No problem!
Then I took a shower, brushed my teeth and generally got ready for bed. Just before I climbed between the sheets, I had another little heart-to-heart with myself.
Me: Are you sure the alarm is set for the right time?
Me: Pshaw! I just did it a few minutes ago.
Me: But you know how you and I hate to be late.
Me: Yeah...but at some point you just have to trust yourself and stop obsessing about this kind of crap.
Me: You're right. I trust you...uh, me. Good night.
Me: Sweet dreams.
Me: Don't let the bed bugs bite.
Me: Shut up!
Me: No reason to be an asshole about it...
Guess what. I set the alarm for the wrong time. And, psychologically, set myself back about five years. Regardless, I got to work but I'm sure not happy about it.
And I'm hearing about the fucking beef tenderloin again. I kid you not.
The Big Idea
In the last week and a half, we've all seen the need for and power in raising money online. As the death toll in the areas surrounding the Indian Ocean continues to rise past 150,000 - a number almost impossible for me to fathom - donations from countries around the world continue to rise as well. But there are still very real and very immediate needs.
Over the weekend (and with some help and suggestions from Beth and Alektra), I did some design work and set up a new Cafe Press store. There, you'll find shirts, mugs - all sorts of swag. Where do you come in? That's easy - buy something. Here's how it works:
- Cafe Press sets base prices. Store "owners" like me increase the prices of each item over the base price in order to make a profit.
- When an item is purchased, all proceeds over base price will be donated to charity. This means that I will pocket no money whatsoever.
- Both the designs of items in the store and charities to which the proceeds will be donated will rotate on a regular basis.
- In order to ensure sensitivity to all beliefs/persuasions/ideologies, charities chosen will be non-religious and will not represent any potentially "controversial" causes (for example, I wouldn't dream of giving cash to Communists for Full Frontal Lobotomies...but I would consider giving to nation-wide homelessness or HIV/AIDS charities). Your recommendations are always welcome.
- Following each donation, I will happily furnish a copy of my Cafe Press invoice as well as a copy of the check sent to charity to those concerned about the allocation of money. Remember, I'm not pocketing a cent. I've got a nice, happy life filled with everything I could possibly want.
My hope from all this is that I can write some fairly large checks on a very regular basis. In order to make that happen, I need everyone's cooperation. Not just in buying stuff but in spreading the word. If you think its worthwhile, please let some other folks know. As cheesy as it may sound, this isn't about me making a difference...its about us making one. And we can.
Now go, visit the store: www.cafepress.com/rudecactus
Haiku For Monday #61
First Monday, new year.
Real world beckons. "Bite me, world!"
I say, futilely.
January 02, 2005
2004 In Books
I read quite a few books in 2004. Looking back over the list now – I write down everything I read and when – I notice its not as many as the previous year, but still impressive all the same. But what did I enjoy the most? Ah, that’s a tough one. These are all radically different from one another so it would be unfair to rank them. Therefore, in no particular order, I give you the best of 2004...
The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh
Since I read this back in February, I’ve wondered how to classify it. Is it straight literature? Is it a mystery? Somehow calling it mystery just lumps it in with Grisham or Patterson and its truly not at all like those. Welsh, in this, her debut novel, presents us with an odd mystery and an even odder hero – Rilke, a gay and promiscuous auctioneer. The reader doesn’t just enter a mystery; we’re allowed entry into the strange world of Scottish antiques dealing and the lives (albeit fictional) of those who do such things for a living. So yes, if you’re reading this and thinking that it sounds much like an Antiques Roadshow episode watched while on hallucinogens, maybe that’s about right. Sure it sounds odd, but after reading its understandable why Welsh has been awarded so many literary prizes for The Cutting Room.
A Box Of Matches by Nicholson Baker
Baker received a lot of attention this year for Checkpoint, a politically motivated novel considered by many critics as the worst book of the year. It would be a tragedy if Checkpoint were remembered for its sensationalism more than A Box of Matches for its simple meditations on life. Everyday, Emmett, father, husband and textbook editor wakes up early, lights a fire and writes down his thoughts. Its not exciting; there’s no good sex or action. Perhaps it’s the ability of everyone to identify with Emmett’s thoughts that makes this short novel compelling and so meaningful.
Man Walks Into A Room by Nichole Krauss
In Krauss’ debut, Columbia professor Samson Greene is found in the desert outside of Las Vegas. His memories of life after the age of 12 are gone, including those of his wife, friends and profession. Krauss does throw in some unnecessary curveballs, including scientific experiments on Samson that never really evolve into much, yet these don’t detract from the overall experience that is this wonderful story.
Shutter Island by Denis Lehane
Lehane is, perhaps, a victim of his own success. His previous effort, Mystic River, received well-deserved praise yet that praise and the subsequent movie based on the book eclipsed the release of Shutter Island. Which is too bad because it might just be the best thing Lehane’s written. Two US Marshalls, a mental institution isolated on an island in Boston Harbor, an escaped patient running loose and an approaching hurricane – how could it not be good? Lehane handles the story deftly, adding twists and turns the reader never saw coming. I think the sign of a good book is that it somehow alters you or the way you think. And this story proves difficult to forget; I read Shutter Island in May and still find my mind wandering back.
Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It by Geoff Dyer
Dyer’s words summarize this collection of essays better than I ever could. He states, “This book is a ripped, by no means reliable map of some of the landscapes that make up a particular phase of my life. It’s about places where things happened or didn’t happen, places where I stayed and things that have stayed with me, places I’d wanted to see or places I passed through or just ended up…Everything in this book really happened, but some of the things that happened only happened in my head; by the same token, all the things that didn’t happen didn’t happen there too.” Exotic places, unique perspectives and a keen sense of humor make Yoga an essential read.
Crawling At Night by Nani Power
Dark and hypnotic, in an almost Lost In Translation sort of way, Power paints a raw, uncompromising portrait of life in Manhattan. Its about Ito, a sushi chef, Marianne, a waitress, loneliness, displacement, alcoholism and love. Its bleak, yes, but its strength is in its honesty, its no-holds-barred style. Raw. Uncompromising.
Politics by Adam Thrilwell
Possibly the most entertaining read of 2004, Politics is ambitious and singularly unique. Its about sex, relationships, emotions, the Queen Mother, shopping, Bollywood and threesomes. More important, how all these things impact Moshe and Nana, Thirlwell’s main characters. Yet the action of the book is complimented by commentary from Thrilwell or the narrator himself. Take for example one of the asides, “This chapter is in two halves. They are not equal halves. The first half was unhappy. It described an awkward complication. Whereas the second half is much shorter and is happier. It is a pastoral scene. It is a contemplation of the animal kingdom.” Politics involves the narrator in a way I’ve never before experienced. Have I mentioned its unique? A general warning to potential readers – the novel is very graphic. If you’re not up to very specific descriptions of sex, you might want to steer clear.