May 31, 2005
Not Just A Porn Title...
Are you aware that one of the single greatest American mysteries may have been solved?
Help! I've Gardened and I Can't Get Up
major excavation work gardening I did on Sunday? So do I. Worse, so does my body. Picture me, a relatively healthy, vibrant 32 year old. Now, imagine how'd I'd be getting around if I were, say, a 90 year old. With two artificial legs. And severe back issues. Throw in a painful hernia or something for good measure. That's me today. Sexy, huh?
Let's see...you know about the birthing classes. You're caught up on that whole gardening thing. (Oh man! I just tried to stand up...I don't, repeat do not, recommend that!) I think you're pretty much caught up. Oh, we did venture out yesterday to catch up with Western civilization and saw the latest Star Wars movie. The verdict? It didn't suck. It wasn't the greatest thing since sliced bread, or even muffins, but it was far better than the first two.
So that's it. My boring update for the morning. Now, who has morphine? I needs me some of that.
May 30, 2005
Haiku For Monday #81
Oops! Forgot the 'ku!
Happy Memorial Day!
Or elsewhere, Monday.
May 29, 2005
Birthing Class, Part II (And The Dirty Boy)
This morning, Beth and I attended the second and final installment of the birthing class, held at the hospital where the Bean will be born. It was fine. Uneventful. We did, however, get the chance to review the myriad of stuff we must somehow convey to the hospital. Unfortunately, they don't actually employ sherpas. So, we talked about the normal stuff and then I added some stuff. Only the necessities, of course.
Beer, beer bong
Cigars (large for grandfathers, small for baby)
Crack, crackpipe, lighter
$1s for strippers
Baby bling (necklace, watch, ring, gold false tooth)
Valium for grandmothers (alternate: stun gun)
Torches, sacrificial alter, dagger, goat
Switching gears...just a curiousity question - have you ever grabbed a shovel and decided to uproot your entire front yard? No? I have. Just this afternoon.
As Beth and I were sitting in class, I sketched out plans for a garden in the front yard. Please read this as "I sketched out plans for a garden that would be our front yard." We don't have a huge yard and grass has never done well. So, armed with a shovel, new plants and a certain devil may care attitude (also called stupidity), I set about destroying the front yard. About an hour in I started to feel that I'd made a bad decision. About three hours in I was wondering how fast a landscaper could get here. Four hours in I'd pretty much said to hell with it and decided that my yard mayvery well kill me but my daughter would stroll through the admittedly tiny yard and gaze in wonder at the creation brought about by her father's green thumb while her mother said something stoic like, "your father left his soul in this garden, Bean." About five hours in I was pretty fucking tired and started having visions. Luckily, half an hour later and I was done.
The soil in these here parts is composed mainly of clay. Red clay. Clay that's hard to dig through and even harder to wash off your body once you've wallowed in it. I just got out of the shower. It looked like I'd reinacted the shower scene from Psycho. I'm pretty sure I'm marginally clean now but it was made harder by the fact that about five minutes into the shower, I lost the ability to hold soap. But its good enough for now.
Know what I'm doing tomorrow? Sweet, blissful, orgasmic nuthin'. Zip. Zero. Nada. You get the picture.
May 28, 2005
Birthing Class, Part I
Beth and I woke up bright and early to head to our first morning of birthing class. As I suspected, this was primarily an opportunity for me to nod and look interested. Not that I wasn't interested...there just wasn't all that much discussed that I didn't already know. But we did get a tour of the hospital where, in a little over two months, our daughter will be born.
The side-effect of this morning's little session, combined with a TiVoed episode of some TLC baby show that I happened to catch last night, is sheer panic. If I don't think about it too hard, I'm alright. Otherwise, my brain get stuck in this endless fear loop: holy fuck I'm going to be a father and something massive is going to come out of my wife and she expects me to have my shit together whereas I'm just worried about avoiding fainting and somehow not, over the course of the next 18 years, fucking the kid up.
I fully realize there are two emotional extremes here - sheer panic on one end of the spectrum and complete denial on the other. I'm sure I'll find the happy medium. Eventually.
May 27, 2005
Musical Friday Meme
Its Friday (yay!) but I've got a conference call nice and early followed by meetings in DC (boo!). So, no better time for a meme, huh?
1. Total volume of music files on your computer?
Right around 56 GB. Yes, I have my own separate hard drive just for music. Because I'm just that obsessive compulsive.
2. The last CD you bought was?
I bought a couple - I can't remember exactly which came first. I've picked up Mercury Rev's followup to All Is Dream, The Secret Migration. Athlete's Tourist is proving to be one of the better albums I've picked up in the last few months. Ben Folds' Songs for Silverman isn't bad either. Blinking Lights and Other Revelations by Eels is also excellent as is Mighty Rearranger, Robert Plant's latest effort.
3. Song playing right now:
I Love - Athlete
4. Five songs you listen to a lot or that mean a lot to you (in no particular order):
Invisible Ink by Aimee Mann
Ten Years Gone by Led Zeppelin
Rubina's Blue Sky Happiness by Joe Satriani
Signal To Noise by Peter Gabriel
Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
5. Which 5 people are you passing this baton to, and why?
How bout this...if you're interested, post your own answers. No pressure. But come on. You know you wanna!
Happy Friday everyone!!
May 26, 2005
The Cactus and the Land Yacht
Its Thursday and, therefore, time for a good embarrassing story about myself. There are plenty and I feel the need to share the bounty.
By the time I turned 13 (remember this age, please...its important), I'd already started smoking. Some call that precocious, others stupid. That, however, is beside the point. One evening my parents went out to a dinner party at a friend's house and I found myself with a surprising lack of cigarettes. What to do...what to do...why, hop in the car and go by myself some, of course. (Do I need to remind you that I was 13?)
This was 1985 or 1986 and my dad had a big-ass Buick Land Yacht. And when I say "big ass" I need you to interpret this as "fucking huge" okay? I found the keys, started the Land Yacht's massive V-38 engine and headed to the local 7-11. The closest one was not all that far from my house and the easiest way to get there was by taking a shortcut through my junior high school parking lot (because I was 13...we've established that, right?). I was just cruising through the parking lot, 7-11 and nicotine in sight. No problems whatsoever. None. Nada. Until I crashed head on into a two foot cement post, that is.
The good thing about the Land Yacht is that t takes a direct hit from an intercontinental ballistic missile with a 10 kiloton nuclear warhead to cause any significant damage or harm the occupants. I was fine. Shaken up but fine. The front fender? Not so much. But priorities are priorities. My mission was clear. I had to get smokes. Then I drove home carefully, parked the car exactly as it had been and, for the first time in my life, became an extremely devout Christian and welcomed Jesus into my heart. It was a short-lived thing but I thought it might help.
My parents came home and found me, on a Friday night, doing homework, something that didn't happen often even under the best of circumstances. Of course, they asked about the car. They'd been at the grocery store earlier so I implied that it was quite possible someone hit the car while it was parked in the lot. My mom fell for it. My dad? He acted like he believed for my mom's benefit. Then he shot me an odd smile and said, sure it was hit in the parking lot.
I can't be sure but I think that still remains our little secret.
May 25, 2005
Yesterday, my wife copped to having leaky boobs...and I put my future mad parenting skillz on display once again. So, I think its safe to talk about the OB. Really, I promise I'm not going with an "all baby all the time" format but it does seem like I've uncorked some font of prenatal blogging goodness. I expect the well to run dry any day now. Anyway, the OB...
See, I'm trying to be a supportive husband and I'm trying to manage to go to all the OB appointments I can manage. Its a bonus if Beth is actually there. Otherwise, I just tag along with random women and they look at me funny. Right now, we're headed there every couple of weeks. You may think this is a nice gesture on my part but really its Beth who's being very patient with me.
First, she puts up with me taking pictures...
Yes...I break out the camera phone whenever I see the stirrups. I can't explain it. It just happens. (Please note the model of the uterus. This is not just entertainment, folks. This is educational!)
Then there's the pillaging. I have this habit of breaking open the drawers and cabinets to see what's in them. I also have to admit that I came this close (I'm putting my thumb and index finger really damn close to one another right now) to stealing some scrubs and a six pack of that glucose beverage stuff Beth had to drink that one time. And a stethoscope. But I didn't. And sure, yesterday I looked at all the testing forms in the office because there were drawings of boobies on them. So shoot me.
And also the times I turn into Really Dense Husband.
Me: Hey, why's there a microphone hooked up to the table?
Beth: A microphone? That's not a microphone. Its a light.
Me: Why would the need a light?
Beth: Think about it.
Beth and I also have some of our finest conversations in the OB's office. Yesterday, for instance.
Beth: I wonder who invented the speculum.
Me: Yes. Bob Speculum. Named it after himself.
Beth: Dr. Speculum!
Me: Who said anything about Bob being a doctor?
Okay, I'm applying the brakes. I don't think there's any good resolution to a post after you've played the "speculum card" so, with that, happy hump day. Oh, and remember, taking hump day too literally is what can get you too in this kind of situation.
May 24, 2005
The Great Parental Cover-up
Its early but I feel that I need to clear something up. You might have seen this and thought to yourselves, oh sweet lord, what kind of parent is he going to make if he makes a habit of stuffing cats into his shirt and really, I wouldn't blame you. Because honestly? I have no idea what kind of parent I'm going to make. I could very well adopt the habit of stuffing our daughter into my t-shirts. I'm sure I'll do countless other things that will amuse me but horrify other parents - and myself in retrospect. Just because I'll be brand spanking new at this. I mean, I'm not going to let her juggle hatchets or wear trashbags as hats. But I'll probably do some strange shit that will make absolutely no sense in a parental Monday morning quarterbacking kinda way. That said, fair is fair.
You see, I didn't put the cat in my shirt. That? Was all my lovely bride's idea. I just stood there and tried to avoid a) dropping the cat on her head (which is something I'll also try to avoid with the baby) and b) getting my belly button pierced by Callie's rather sharp claws (something I sincerely hope I don't have to worry about with the baby) while she ran and got the camera.
This strange turn of events doesn't bode well for the Beanette. I'm sure she'll be the subject of many odd experiments which will be photographed. And then hidden. I know at some point, maybe fifteen years from this very day, she'll turn to me in a fit of anger because I wouldn't let her go hang out at the mall or juggle hatchets and say like, god dad, you totally fucked up my life. I just don't want her to have access to too much proof. I know I'll fuck her up. I just want to minimize the amount of evidence she can produce to prove the theory.
May 23, 2005
Time Differences and Genetic Lunacy
Warning: It may, at first, sound as if I'm talking about several, unrelated events. I assure you that, by the end of this post, they'll all be neatly tied together. Trust me, I'm a professional.
Fact One: On Thursday, while at the beach, I had a rather insane thought. Before I was able to process the ramifications of said thought, I ran with it. I wonder if my dad knows how to text message? There. I said it. Scary, huh?
Fact Two: My parents? They're in Paris. Because that's one of the things they do lately - go to Paris. A lot.
Fact Three: My mom's birthday was on Saturday.
Moving right along, I shot my dad a text message on Thursday.
Me: Just thinking. You get text messages? If so, well, hi from the beach!
Several hours later, a reply came.
Dad: Yes, I do! Hope the beach is great.
See, I was caught up in the miracle of modern technology. Here I was standing on the edge of the continent, gazing out at the mighty Atlantic. How insanely easy had it been to send a simple message over the sea to my parents! Of course, that bubble of technological romanticism burst the next day when, alas, there was another message from my dad. I did a bad thing, didn't I? I thought.
Dad: Paris is great. Don't forget your mom's birthday.
Me: Right. I'll call. Just tell me when.
Dad: Call on the 21st. 9:30 PM your time.
I noodled that through. I'm not real good with time and its fluctuation across expanses of land and sea. But I did finally realize that Paris is something like six hours ahead of Washington.
Me: Confirm. 9:30 OUR time?
I decided I needed to cover my ass.
Me: That'll be the middle of the night.
Dad: Not for us.
Further ass covering required. I showed the whole conversation to Beth.
Me: My dad's on crack. French crack.
Me: He wants us to call at, like, 3:30 in the morning to say happy birthday to my mom.
Beth: Maybe they'll be up all night doing something.
Me: Fuck. Don't say shit like that. I don't need to think about that.
Beth: True. Sorry.
Because my brain is only able to retain about two pressing matters at any given time, I set the alarm on my phone to go off at 9:30. Then, in a third attempt to cover my ass, resulting in thoroughly iron-clad buttocks...
Me: You 100% sure - 9:30 OUR time?
Dad: Yes. In 15 minutes, right?
It was not 9:30. In fact, it was 3:30. A little math (for my brain is able to process fewer simultaneous math functions than it is remember scheduled events) clued me in to the fact that we had a pronoun issue going on. So I called. My mom answered. She was drunk.
Me: Happy Birthday!
Mom: Oh, thank you! We're having the best time ever and we were out until midnight last night walking around the city and this is just the best time ever. Remember the bridge? You know, the bridge? The, uh, Pontes des Artes? There are people doing cocaine right on the bridge. They're just drinking wine and lining up cocaine on little mirrors. Right there! Of course, no one's doing anything about it. And we're not doing cocaine. Its just so cool. And I'm sitting here on the bridge and there's a guy right next to me with a big orange top hat. Its hysterical and so cool. Would you call my mother because I know she's not happy about us being in France while she's not feeling so well and I think she's a little lonely even though she is really confused but don't worry she'll remember who you are and Paris is just so great this time of year with all the people and the cocaine. Not that we're taking cocaine. I think we only even tried pot that one time in Argentina so we're not about to start taking cocaine on a bridge in Paris. And Alexis called. Twice. She's really happy about her car. Okay, your father seems to be making some kind of weird hand gesture so I should probably get off the phone. Oh! Alexis called. Twice, I think. Okay, so, thanks for calling and wishing me a happy birthday. We love you!
Me: I love you too mom. Bye.
I'm destined to be crazy. Well, crazier.
Haiku For Monday #80
Hi ho, hi ho...oh
fuck that. I'm here. At work. Are
you all satisfied?
(Personally, I'm of the mind that there needs to be some incremental "return to work" system whereby, following a nice vacation, you spend two hours in the office the first day back, four the next, and so on. This will help alleviate the feeling, halfway through the first day back, that you've metaphorically blown a tire while doing 95 on the highway. Just a thought.)
May 22, 2005
The Vacation Novel Conspiracy
Whilst searching through the beach house, I discovered many fine (and many crappy) works of fiction. To be interactive and shit, I asked you which author was best represented. Despite the fact that there were three copies of Clancy's The Sum of All Fears and somewhere around 3,947 copies of Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow, not to mention multiple works by Clive Cussler and Stephen King, only Christina and Vicki guessed correctly. That's right - Robert Ludlum was the big winner.
Christina and Vicki, let me show you what you've won! You'll be receiving a handmade, one of a kind compilation of groovy music, tailored to your individual tastes (unless you only like gangsta rap or country in which case you're shit outta luck). Drop me a line with your address and an idea of what you'd like to hear!
May 21, 2005
We've just gotten back from the beach! The weather was iffy today so we decided to head back a day early...and I'm glad we did because its gorgeous around here!
Also, I'll be closing comments for the little Vacation Book Abandonment contest tomorrow and I'll let you know who wins! So, stay tuned!
May 20, 2005
Insert Witty Title Here
You know, it doesn't get much better than a warm sunny beach, good food and little to do but relax. Of course, I know in the back of my mind that I have to eventually return to work. I'm not happy about that. But we've still got a couple of days.
What have we been up to? We'll, there's the obligatory beach walking, the lying in the sun, the reading of many books. I brought a bunch of books with me and we still had to go out and buy more. There's the eating and around here it isn't exactly difficult to find a good meal. There's the sleeping, which is aided by the ever-present sound of the ocean. We've checked out lighthouses, shopped, visited islands, watched the dolphins and I've gotten my ass kicked playing pool one too many times. Sadly, its supposed to rain throughout the rest of our time here. Oh well...its still vacation.
One thing before I sign off, drink the rest of my coffee and figure out what we're doing for the rest of the day. You know, beach houses are a haven for left behind books. I'm not talking about the Christian series. I'm talking paperbacks people bring to the beach and leave once they're done. Same goes for hardbacks apparently. I've done a quick survey of the books left in this house. If anyone can tell me the most author who's work shows up the most, I'll burn you a CD of vacation tunes. Hints: its fiction, its a male author and its not John Grisham.
May 18, 2005
Lack of vacation updates? Blame the iffy Internet connection...but its still better than the connection I thought I'd have from here...which isn't hard since I didn't expect any.
Yesterday and today we've been blessed with sun. It is absolutely spectacular, so much so that we decided to take the CRV off-roading a bit. You see, all the roads on the Outer Banks end if you go far enough north. We'd never been so we thought we'd give it a shot. It was gorgeous although it felt incredibly isolated...because it is. We're not sure we'd ever stay up there but it was nice to drive through.
May 17, 2005
Remember all those meetings last week? Well, you know what I have to do today? Nothing. Not a single meeting or deadline or conference call. We've got dinner reservations at 7:00 but between now and then? Nothing.
The weather was iffy yesterday morning so we hung out and read for a while, just camped out and listened to the rain and the waves. The sun came out and we walked for a while on the beach. Beth napped. I read. Like an idiot, I let my knees get burned. Then we went in search of dinner and ended up at a great place we visited last year.
This morning? Well, its a little cloudy but its supposed to burn off soon. Guess I'll finish off my coffee, put a little sunscreen on and head out to the beach. Much better than meetings and conference calls. Much.
May 16, 2005
Arrived safe. Weather, fine. Check out the view from our house. Wish you were here. Hope all's well.
May 14, 2005
"The problem with driving is that you have no reason to edit."
- My Wife
Its true. When you're just going to load everything into the car and drive for a day, there's no good reason not to take half the clothes you own...including 18 pairs of shoes or some horrifying number like that. Which is why it looks like we'll end up with, oh, about 7 bags for two people.
May 13, 2005
My friends, this hellish excuse for a work week is ovah! So I give you a springy Saturday and Sunday!
So, its 5:45 and I'm in the office, getting ready to head out to the last important client meeting of the week. After that? I'm free. Or relatively free. I still have to come back here, organize stuff and make sure no one freaks out while I'm out of the office next week.
May 12, 2005
Chant With Me, Everybody!
Three down, two to go...three down, two to go...three down, two to go...
That's the mantra I'm repeating over and over in some bizarre zen-like thing I've got going on to try and keep myself reasonably centered throughout the last two days of the week. Each and every day this week I've had, and will continue to have, Big Important Meetings. Meetings in which there is an assumption that I can speak the English language and that, having learned to pronounce the words correctly, I correctly bring these words together in some logical fashion and use them to speak authoritatively about something. And I've learned already this week if I start consciously thinking about what I'm saying as its coming out of my mouth, I'll just get really lost and wonder what the hell I'm talking about. So, essentially, I'm just running off at the mouth this week and hoping that I don't promise clients that I'll come clean their houses or wash their cars.
But there is an end in sight. You see, after this week? Vacation. Vay.Cay.Shun. Three syllables that make a world of difference. In the mean time, miles to go before I sleep and all that jazz...
I do have to mention, I picked up Mike Doughty's new album Haughty Melodic and I've been blaring it in my office this morning. Its early. There's no one around. If you want some music that'll make you happy? Get this album. Really. I mean it. Would I steer you wrong?
May 11, 2005
Taking It To The Max
The other day, I posted about my love of office supplies. Getting that off my chest felt good. But I never would have known so many people shared my passion. In looking through the comments (thank you all!), I noticed an interesting trackback. Sadly, it didn't take me anywhere good. In fact, what I found really just pissed me off. So I commented on, essentially, my own entry. I have no idea if it'll ever acutually be posted (I doubt it) so here it is:
Hi there. I've been reading your site for, oh, about 0.947 seconds and I've gotta say, I love what I see so far...because its mine. Not only is it mine but my readers as well. You didn't even differentiate between the original post and some of the many fine comments from my readers. That makes you about as smart as your average head of lettuce as well as an asshat. I take this blogging thing fairly serious so I was less than pleased when I found the trackback yoursorryspammingass left linked to this clusterfuck of a site. Now, if your parents were cruel enough to grace you with the unfortunate moniker of Office Max, and you have, quite understandably, ended up with such a massive fixation on office supplies that you felt the need to share this condition with the world in blog form, well, for that I'm sorry on so many different levels. If, however, you're just a tool for the corporate man, then please - and I mean this with all due respect - fuck yourself and the shopping cart and color toner cartriges you rode in on.
You see, Max, I, like many of my fellow bloggers, have had, over the last couple years, to turn myself into a one man, spam fighting machine with powers usually reserved for superheroes. Granted, that would make for a really lame comic book but its the truth. I am battling the forces of spam on all sides. So, on that level, what you're doing here really just flat-out pisses me off. But there's a whole other level, my little penthouse of pissedoffitude. How does one reach that level? Well, you take someone's work and attempt to make it your own. That's just wrong, like a 500 pound transgendered hooker. There's no way there's anything right about that.
I'd suggest you remove my entry from your site. Although I'm willing to make compromise. You leave my comment up here and you can hang onto my little ride through the amusement park of my personal neuroses I posted about your precious office supplies.
May 10, 2005
No Shirt, No Shoes...
Can I ask a simple question? What's up with shirtless old guys?
Yesterday was a lovely day here in the Greater Washington DC area. The sun was out, nice warm breezes were blowing and the birds were chirping. And every other guy I saw on my way home from work was shirtless. And old. Like the guy walking down the street with a couple bags of groceries - jeans, cell phone, hat, tennis shoes...but no shirt! And the guy I let merge into the lane in front of me? Dodge Neon, talking his cell phone...but no shirt. The several runners I passed, I can understand. But the guy out walking his dog? Black dress socks, sandals, bermuda shorts...but no shirt! And - not that I particularly care one way or the other - we're not talking hot young studs here. We're talking old dudes with saggy man-boobs.
So, I ask again - what's up with the shirtless men? Maybe its the same law that governs locker rooms - those who should be the most modest aren't. I'm all for shirtless women though.
On a different note, if you saw my calendar for the day (hell, the rest of the week), you'd run screaming. I have several things to accomplish today including delivering a speech. Before you suggest it, I refuse to picture anyone naked...or shirtless.
May 09, 2005
Stunt Double, Please?
Would someone please find my stunt double? This week is just going to be too damn dangerous for me.
If anyone doubted it, it truly is a Monday. I illustrate my Monday thusly...
I was in a meeting, in a conference room. I forgot a copy of something so I headed over to my office to pick it up. I was exiting the conference room when I reached for my badge and tried to swipe it against a non-existent magnetic card scanner. Why was it non-existent? Because they don't put card readers inside conference rooms! Only one of the five people noticed and that should have been humiliation enough. But no. I turned to the group and announced hey, I just tried to badge myself out of the conference room! As if my stupidity needed to be highlighted. And why isn't it highlit?
Mom's The Word
I was just here (work), right? I mean, there's no way that was a full, forty-eight our weekend, right? It was some kinda bizarre weekend-lite...half the calories...none of the fat. Had to be something like that.
We began the weekend by taking an old friend (well, the friendship itself is old, she's actually rather young) out to dinner on Friday evening. She's a very close friend of Beth's and her husband is a great old (again, time not age) friend of mine. They didn't run into each other (since he's Canadian, eh) until they met at our wedding. The rest? History, as they say. They now have a wonderfully adorable two year old daughter who we got to see and hang out with a bit on Friday evening. There was lots of hiding and seeking. Only there was actually more giggling than hiding. And after all the hiding, seeking and giggling, there was a wonderful meal at our favorite Indian place. Good times.
Saturday was somewhat low-key...or would have been without all the errands and Mother's Day shopping. The Bean's furniture for her new room (the crib for her crib), not due for delivery for another seven weeks, showed up and was assembled (daddy did not have to assemble it which he thought was a big plus). Then it was moved around the room (this time by daddy) in many configurations. We're still not sure how it'll turn out.
Sunday? Mother's Day. In our family, this involves a lot of food. Especially since we had brunch with one half of the family followed by dinner a couple hours later with the other half. I'm still full.
So, how did you all spend Mother's Day?
Haiku For Monday #79
With a long week in the way.
Where's my time machine?
May 08, 2005
Mother's (And Mothers-To-Be) Day
To all you mothers out there, happy Mother's Day. And a special shout-out to the mothers-to-be. Especially the hippest, hottest mom-to-be in the world...
The dad-to-be loves you very much. Even if he is a little silly sometimes...
May 07, 2005
Lying In The Sun
Sometimes you just have to find a patch of sun and fall asleep on your face...
May 06, 2005
Great Weight Lifting
At long last, its Friday. If yours has been anything like mine, its been an insane week. Luckily, I'm working from home today and might actually be able to get some stuff done without too much interruption and frantic calls from clients. That? Would be nice.
No matter what happens today, remember its Friday. I hope you feel a great weight lifting...
Weightlifting by Trashcan Sinatras
May 05, 2005
On Books: March & April
I don’t have many regular features around here. I’ve never been able to pull that off or have thoughts consistent enough to bring to you on any regular basis. One thing I do try and do is, at the beginning of each month, write a bit about what I’ve read the previous month. Remember March? I didn’t either. I forgot all about it. So I bring you a combined March/April review.
I like to save the best for last so I’ll start with the mainstream fiction that all ends up running together for me. There was, in no particular order, Colin Harrison’s Havana Room, John Case’s The Eighth Day, The Mark of the Assassin by Daniel Silva, Paranoia by Joseph Finder and, resting square on the grey line between cheap mass market fiction and quality, original writing, Anthony Bourdain’s Bone In The Throat.
An aside. I just reread this paragraph and realized that I could be coming off as quite the lit-snob. Not so. We are human and humans have an innate need to categorize. In my mind there are different kinds of fiction. There’s mass-market thriller/mystery/horror, then there’s still fairly mainstream but more painstaking fiction followed by “literature.” And by “literature” I’m kinda thinking of all those books you think you should read but never seem to feel like expending the energy upon. I’m talking Graham Greene, Hemingway, Steinbeck and Bellow. “Literature” has stood the test of time and, somehow, lives up to its reputation. Most of the time at least. Anyway, where was I?
Havana Room turned out to be intriguing at the start then crumbled miserably into an insipid plot with a sappy resolution. Its not worth your time. The Eighth Day, however, takes readers on a jaunt around the world and is vastly entertaining. As is The Mark of the Assassin, although based on Silva’s reputation, I was expecting a bit more. It was average. Finder’s Paranoia was entertaining as well and well worth the read. The reason I lump Bourdain’s Bone In The Throat into this category is simple – if you take all the fancy food-speak (the author is a renowned chef) out of the equation, it’s a funny yet average mob-style thriller. Granted, it is pretty funny and the food element adds a lot. Its worth reading. Just not worth going out of your way for.
George Pelecanos is local author who’s gradually become better known in crime fiction circles. Deservedly so. Pelecanos writes about the District of Columbia with a passion and knowledge few of his contemporaries display. He’s also a great story teller. Both A Firing Offense and Down By The River Where The Dead Men Go follow anti-hero Nick Stefanos, an alcoholic former marketing exec turned private eye. Odd, I know. But it works. Although it is often hard to sympathize with Nick. He makes some bad choices and, in the final analysis, his good only slightly outweighs his bad.
Faithful by Davitt Sigerson is a brief novel about fidelity. Or rather, that’s what the back of the book would have you believe. Instead its about two people making crappy decisions and putting a kid in the middle of it. As I mentioned, its mercifully brief, refuses to ever make a point and I was never really able to connect with any of it. I finished the last page, closed the book and thought “oh.” I doubt that’s what the author was going for.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal might be an unfamiliar name but I first found her online several years ago. Her weekly columns were hilarious. Her Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life is no different. And its exactly what it sounds like. Its even interactive in a very wonderfully unusual kind of way. Its worth checking out. She’s talented, incredibly funny and very insightful. Just like you since you’re here reading this stuff.
A few years back Tony Parsons wrote a novel called Man And Boy. It was like Terms of Endearment in book form. Not for the content but because its one of the truly great funny and sappy books written. Like, if you didn’t shed a tear by the end someone should be shoving pins in your fingertips to make sure you’re still alive and kicking. Otherwise, you’re on the wrong side of the dirt. One For My Baby proved just as sappy but didn’t seem quite as heartfelt. It seemed more formulaic, like he found something that worked, switched character names and situations a bit and sent it off to his editor. Not that its bad. No, Parsons can write. Maybe its like Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti – after its brilliance even the decent follow-up, Presence, couldn’t compete. I think I just gave Parsons a little too much credit with the Zeppelin comparison, mind you. He’s more Styx or Kansas on the musical spectrum.
Alex Garland is kinda fucked up. There. How’s that for literary criticism? First he wrote The Beach, which was brilliant. Then The Tesseract, followed by the screenplay for 28 Days Later and eventually the novella/mind-fuck, The Coma. I’d read everything of his except for The Tesseract. I really can’t describe it, except to say that its strange yet very much worth reading. Sure, there’s part of it that feels more like a novelty than a well thought out novel but its still worth the $14.
I close with two books by Jonathan Tropper – The Book of Joe and Everything Changes. Both books are most excellent, and I’d even go so far as to say that you should go ahead and spend the $20 for the modestly priced hardback of Everything Changes, his latest. Sure, The Book of Joe is better but still, its worth it. Yes, Tropper writes light, Hornby-esque stuff. Yes, it seems like they’re ready-made for the big screen. In fact, they’ve both been optioned. But, they’re funny and, in a quirky way, wise. I will say no more. You have your marching orders.
So there you have it. March and April in books. And while I’m thinking of it, let me know if you do have ideas for some more regular stuff you’d like to see here. I can’t make any guarantees but I’ll do what I can.
That's The Ticket
This should come as no surprise - I was a quirky kid. Hell, I'm a quirky adult. When I was around 11 or 12, while most kids were entertaining themselves by collecting baseball cards or playing video games (although truth be told, I spent a lot of time in the local arcades), I developed a love of office supplies.
Its unclear where my affinity for office supplies came from. I managed to have a best friend who was similarly interested. So, while kids were playing football and falling off skateboards (both of which I did - I was quirky but not a total freak) my best friend and I were usually checking out office supplies in a mom-and-pop store down the street from my neighborhood.
I owned more damn pens than any 12 year old should. Not to mention a couple great staplers, a nice little briefcase and a couple kick-ass mechanical pencils. But what I really enjoyed were some of those great bulk items. Like a 50-count pack of those little erasers you put on the end of pencils. And ink stamps. Remember those? The ones with dates and times and other things that you rotated around the stamp with those little plastic wheels? Those rocked. I think I managed to hide much of my obsession from my parents but I was found out when they happened upon my secret stash during the process of moving from Texas to Virginia.
We were cleaning out my room when they stumbled on it. They seemed slightly troubled and mildly amused. They probably scratched their heads in wonder. Where did we go wrong they might have mused. Yes, I too was astonished when they uncovered my big-ass roll of 2,500 tickets. You know, like the ones that you get for drawings and door prizes? Yep. I had a couple thousand of them. Its unclear why. Just blame my compulsive love of office supplies.
Damn, I was a dork.
May 04, 2005
The Nursery: First Draft
Remember the day off I took on Friday? The one during which I wasn't going to do anything but kick back and relax? Surprise! I didn't really take it as easy as I'd intended. Or the weekend for that matter. I give you, The Nursery: The Rough Mix.
Its nowhere close to being done but at least you'll have an idea of the colors we used. The furniture should be on its way and I have some stenciling to do. So, more pictures soon. And seriously, what's with me and the decorating lately?
A Brief Outline of My Tuesday
??:00 AM Alarm goes off. Mistake it for baying of the hell hounds. Realize mistake. Get up. Think I've gone blind. Remember to open eyes.
5:45 AM Arrive at work. Deserted. Begin drinking coffee. Contemplate which office supplies needed to open a vein and introduce coffee directly into bloodstream. Too tired. Give up. Blankly stare at computer instead.
6:00 AM Doze off. Crack head against monitor in forward-falling motion. Wake up. Headache. Post "Delurking Day" as a cheap excuse to keep everyone entertained during my absence and generate many comments because, at heart, I'm a total comment whore.
6:45 AM Pile into car with coworkers and head to meeting. Express dread. Consider high speed vehicle exit onto I-95. Think twice. Stay in car. Instead make fun of odd people in lanes next to us. Wonder if people just think they're invisible when they're behind the wheel of a car. I can see you when you're a couple knuckles deep picking your nose, you know.
8:00 AM Arrive at client site. Go through security. Consider talking shit to guard to get ejected from facility. Think twice. Notice large handguns. Become confident the correct choice was made.
8:15 AM Enter a conference room with 25 people. Wish I'd harassed security guard. Try to act professional instead.
9:00 AM Come to the acute realization that this is what Dante was talking about when describing the fifth circle of hell. Internal dialogue involves crass comments about people with whom we're meeting. Try to make sure my lips aren't moving as I think.
10:00 AM Think of worse ways to spend time. Can't think of any. Runners up, however, include full mouth root canals, reincarnation as one of Michael Jackson's children, a 24-hour colonoscopy, waking up with the ability to communicate only in morse code, and being one of those people who consume cat food for a living since it has to be fit for human consumption.
11:00 AM Stomach rumbles. Headache continues. Begin to wonder if we'll actually ever see true daylight again or feel the breeze of a cool spring day on our faces. Doubt it.
12:00 PM Lunch. Salad. Everything else? Greasy meat.
1:00 PM A bit of down time. Discuss irrational fears with coworkers. My favorite? Mashed potatoes (not mine).
2:00 PM Pretty sure the world could have come to an end around us and we'd never know. Realize I would consume cat food to get out of there. But not the colonoscopy thing. Yet.
3:00 PM Looks like its a wrap. But not. Tease.
4:00 PM Freedom! Indeed the cool breezes of spring are still blowing and the earth is still revolving as it was earlier. Head to dinner. Get lost. In a bad neighborhood. Get directions from a passerby. Expect to be mugged. Don't get mugged.
5:00 PM Eat. Compare notes about meeting and make fun of everyone we met with. Then share inappropriate drunk stories. Laugh. A lot.
6:30 PM The drive home. Worry about traffic. Surprised that there is none. Think its a cruel joke and we'll get stuck a mile away from the office.
7:30 PM Arrive at office. Realize the effort to get back into the building to pick up my stuff is just too great. Get in my car. Go home.
8:00 PM Arrive home. Enjoy being surrounded by my wonderful wife, unborn child and cats. Watch American Idol. Become reasonably impressed that they all did so well. Except for that Anthony guy. He? Sucks.
9:00 PM Go to bed. Try and read.
9:02 PM Fall asleep.
May 03, 2005
Inspired by Sheryl's awesome idea a few months back, I hereby declare it to be Delurking Day once again!! Of course, this could somehow have something to do with the fact that I'm tied up in an all day meeting for which I have to get in the car and fight traffic, like, now, and can't really come up with anything brilliant on such short notice. Or it could be because I've been sucked off the face of the earth by alien forces in an effort to harness my brain power to solve the mysteries of humanity. Or someone could have blown my cover in the witness protection program and I've had to make a quick exit. Regardless, drop by and say hi. Share a story or two, make some new friends. It'll be like Woodstock only without the rain and mud...or Jimi Hendrix...or the acid. Oh, hell, just delurk!
May 02, 2005
The Mysterious Drip (No, I'm Not Talking About Myself)
Picture, if you will, a quiet Sunday morning. In keeping with the cliche, the sun is shining and the birds are, indeed, chirping. Donuts have been consumed, coffee is being savored and your fine emails are being answered. Yet the peace was interrupted when Beth discovered a dreaded and mysterious leak flowing from the ceiling in the basement. Like a good husband, I immediately responded.
Her: Where do you think its coming from?
Me: Well, the bathroom's kinda above us. It could be the plumbing from there.
Her: The toilet's been making a funny noise. Like dripping.
Me: Yeah, but that's just a problem with the toilet. This? Well...there's something else strange about it.
Me: Whatever's dripping is yellow.
Her: I noticed that.
Me: That can't be good.
Her: No. I only know of one yellow thing that would be dripping from plumbing.
I jumped on top of the washing machine and inspected the i-beams and floorboards around the leak.
Me: I think I have the answer!
Her: What? Why are you smiling at me like that?
Her: What the hell...
Me: You cleaned out the fridge this morning, right?
Me: Did you throw out a jar of pickles?
Me: Are you positive?
Me: PICKLES! Smell the puddle of yellow stuff.
Sure enough, we headed upstairs and discovered, directly above the mysterious drip, a leaking trashbag complete with puddle of pickle juice.