30 September 2008

Twice, seriously?

Last week the water main broke so the theater was closed.

This week, at a totally different theater, there were problems with the film so the showing I wanted to see (and the one after that) were cancelled.

Third time's a charm?

27 September 2008

McCain's treatment of POW/MIA issues

If you're concerned about the treatment of our country's men and women in military service, please read Dave2 of Blogography's excellent post on the subject and check out the information source links he provides.


A year ago on TTaT: My feed reader is already out of control

26 September 2008

Life's soundtrack

I try to say goodbye and I choke
I try to walk away and I stumble
Though I try to hide it it's clear
My world crumbles when you are not near
When I belted this out as I left LA for the first time, I poured all my frustration into it making my voice hoarse.

It took longer to pack my car than I'd expected, so I got a late start, hitting afternoon rush hour. To make matters worse, it was raining which stops most everything in LA. I'd planned to drive the 379 miles to Phoenix, but in 5 hours I hadn't even made it halfway. At the end of the night, I didn't even make it out of California, surrendering in Indio, a mere 132 miles away.

However, about an hour into my slow slow journey out of LA, I saw a rainbow ahead. And beyond that, clear skies. The drive would be long, but I was free.

That was 8 1/2 years ago, but when I heard that song again yesterday, it brought that day back in detail.


A year ago on TTaT: My missing appendage

24 September 2008

bowling, bowling, bowling

When we walked into the bowling alley, all the pins across the entire long room were dark because no one was bowling. It didn't even seem like they were open. All of the scoreboard screens within view of the counter displayed a golf tournament. An even ubiquitous male voice stated the conditions of the course and the rankings of the competitors.

Once my eyes adjusted to the dim hall, I saw the guy behind the counter. Getting shoes wasn't a problem; he even had 9.5s for me albeit with velcro closures. Lane 10 was about 2/3 of the way down. Instead of the typical curved banquette, there were just oblong tables and chairs on a slightly raised, carpeted area. We put on our shoes and started looking for balls. The pins in our lane lit up in invitation.

The last time I actually bowled was 5 or 6 six years ago. In those days, I used an 11 or 12 pound ball and my second game was typically better than my first. The closest thing I've done since is Wii bowling. In the video game, I've broken 200 both right and left-handed, and I regularly break 170. We typed in our Mii names for inspiration.

Since I hadn't been lifting all that much lately, I found a suitable 10 pound ball and stood at the back diamonds on the floor trying to remember how many steps to take. My form wasn't too bad for my first throw until BAM! It was the loudest bowling-ball-meets-alley crash I'd ever heard. It was so loud that I thought it was going to leave a dent. The sound reverberated across the whole room, and I looked nervously over at the counter. I didn't see anyone giving me the evil eye, so I threw my next ball, attempting to be more gentle without much success. I turned around and said, "I'm going to find a lighter ball."

"The ones down at the end are lighter weights," Gina said.

About halfway down I heard another crash. At least I wasn't the only one bowling loudly.

I spun a couple balls around on the rack, so I could see if my fingers would fit until I found a suitable fluorescent orange 8 pound ball. When I got back to our lane, it was my turn again. I stood just behind the marks and tried to remember between which two arrows I should aim on the lane. I rolled my shoulders back and straightened up. It wouldn't be until halfway through the game that I'd notice I was bringing my posture into perfect alignment while semi-consciously visualizing my throw.

After knocking down a few pins, I'd jog back to watch the animated bowling tip for making the spare. It was the first time I'd ever seen that. So very cool. After my second throw, I'd watch the silly animations on the screen and look for how fast I'd thrown the ball (~12.5 mph).

A kid's birthday party showed up, taking over the bar with balloons and decorations as well as the far end of the lanes. When they arrived, the golf tournament went off and the music came on. "...Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears.

Though I was aiming for the 1-3 pocket, I hit the 1-2 pocket, making the strike that always seemed so improbable in Wii bowling. "Yes!" I held my arms up in celebration. In the next frame, of course, I only knocked down a total of 3 pins.

A cute bearded guy took a lane a few down from us on our right. He didn't walk much, or at all sometimes, but he held the ball so far up behind himself it created a huge arc enabling him to hurl the ball very fast. I tried lifting the ball back higher for a bigger arc but had nowhere near the strength or flexibility he had.

Then a couple young guys took a lane over to our left. They were just messing around, but one made sure we heard, "That's why we practice."

Shortly after their arrival, the overhead lights went off and flashing, rotating colored lights came up. I had long wanted to try disco bowling, but in the actual moment, I didn't really care because I was focused on trying to bowl better, enough so that I didn't find it distracting. (It'd probably be cooler if the pins and balls glowed in the dark.)

I finished the first game with two strikes and a total of 96. In the old days, I would've at least broken a hundred, but my abysmal score was still enough to put me in first place by 20 points.

My arm was getting tired, but we were having fun, so I punched '2' on the keyboard to start a second game.

This time, my second game was much worse and I came in dead last with around 74. However, I made two spares which I was actually more proud of than my strikes. With every first throw, you're trying to hit the 1-3 pocket for a strike (if you're right-handed), so you're practicing that motion at least once every frame, but spares are often different each time. I understood what I needed my body to do for the most part, I just need to be stronger to have more control.

I was sore the next day, but it was so worth it. It won't be another five years before I go back.


A year ago on TTaT: Oh sacrilege, how you make me laugh

23 September 2008

I'm not for public spitting, but...

"Here's your Cabernet, your Michelob Ultra, and your ginger ale." Ashley the waitress placed a straw in front of me and then rapidly rambled, "I should warn you the ginger ale is disgusting. Pepsi sent us a new batch and we've tried different packages of the mix, but it's still awful. Everyone hates it. I guess I shouldn't have said that." I laughed, and she concluded, "You might like it, but if you don't, I'll bring you something else."

I unwrapped the straw, slid it in the drink, and took a sip.

And did not swallow.

She wasn't kidding. It was horrible, tasting nothing like ginger ale. I glanced around, considered the straw and my very full glass, and then spit it back into the glass as discreetly as possible. "Sorry," I said to my dinner companions and Ashley. "That's awful. It tastes like club soda."

"Tonic water," Ashley offered.

"Yeah." I wasn't sure what the difference was between those but knew I hated both. "I'll take a Dr Pepper."

"I'll bring it right out."

"Thanks."


Two years ago on TTaT: Tyler plus one

22 September 2008

Nap time

sleeping piglets WSsleeping piglets MCUsleeping piglets WS

Two years ago on TTaT: The Next 15

21 September 2008

playlist: BIRTHDAy, part 2

Part 1 of the list

Part 2:

Shelter From The Storm – Cassandra Wilson

Mama Told Me Not To Come – Three Dog Night

Shake Your Groove Thing – Peaches & Herb

Our Lips Are Sealed – The Go-Go's

Laid – Matt Nathanson

This Love – Maroon 5

Lovely Day – Bill Withers

Cry Me a River – The Cliks

Be My Yoko Ono – Matthew's Minstrels

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones

Not Enough Time – INXS

Oh Yeah – The Cliks

Tangerine Speedo (Album / Explicit Version) – Caviar

We Are Family – Sister Sledge

Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles

Flagpole Sitta – Harvey Danger

Breathe Me (Four Tet Remix) – Sia

I Can't Take My Eyes Off You – Melanie Doane

Feel Good Time – Pink & William Orbit

Boom Boom Ba – Metisse

Start The Commotion – Wiseguys Feat. Greg Nice

Glycerine – Bush

Cobrastyle (Featuring Mad Cobra) – Teddybears

Four Leaf Clover (Live) – Abra Moore

Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve

Speed of Sound – Coldplay

Song For The Lonely – Cher

Thank You – Home Made Kazoku

Whip It – Devo

Everybody Got Their Something – Nikka Costa

I Melt With You – Modern English

Crazy – Alanis Morissette

Blush (Only You) – Plumb

Smile (Radio Edit) – Lily Allen

Birthday – The Beatles

Let's Groove – Earth, Wind & Fire

Good Thing – Fine Young Cannibals

20 September 2008

playlist: BIRTHDAy, part 1

In no particular order because when I tried to pick up where I left off yesterday, it shuffled the songs into a new order. D'oh! The first song was the first though.

Tunes I selected for rocking out on my birthday yesterday (and beyond since the playlist is almost 5 hours):

Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Pat Benatar

You Keep Me Hangin' On (Almighty Mix Edit) – Diana Ross & The Supremes

Lola – The Kinks

Tempted 1994 – Squeeze

Love Song – Sara Bareilles

Back On The Chain Gang (2007 Remastered LP Version) – The Pretenders

Never Can Say Goodbye – Communards with Sarah Jane Morris

Just Like Heaven – Matthew's Minstrels

Spinning Wheel – Blood, Sweat & Tears

God Is a DJ – P!nk

Alphabet Street – The Accidentals

Into Dust – Mazzy Star

Everybody Dance Now – Joseph LoDuca

Brighter Than Sunshine – Aqualung

Let's Dance to Joy Division – The Wombats

Wonderful – Adam Ant

In Your Eyes – Peter Gabriel

Porcelain – Moby

My Number – Tegan & Sara

Mercy – Duffy

Hometown Glory (Radio Edit) – ADELE

Where Does The Good Go? – Tegan & Sara

Betterman – Pearl Jam

September – Earth, Wind & Fire

Pinball Wizard – The Who

Digital Love – Daft Punk

Saving Grace (Theme) – Everlast

Baby Love Child – Pizzicato Five

Never Got Off the Ground – Alison Krauss

Tears & Laughter – Tall Tree 6ft Man

Diplo Rhythm – Diplo, Pantera Os Danadinhos, Sandra Melody & Vybz Cartel

Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys

She Wants to Move – N.E.R.D.

Happy Together – The Turtles

Love Will Come Through (Album Version) – Travis

Don't You Forget About Me – Simple Minds

Edge of the Ocean – Ivy

One Line – PJ Harvey

Tonight's the Night – P!nk


Two years ago on TTaT: 33 Things

19 September 2008

In the middle of a decade

First off, Mom really enjoyed her birthday. It was a warm, beautiful day for wandering around the state fair. I smuggled in a candle and some matches to light up her dessert. The woman sitting across from us at the picnic table looked at us like we were crazy while I sang 'Happy Birthday.' Hilarious. Mom also liked my gift of various small things. Yea!

Today is mine. Cool but sunny and clear. Ooh, just fired up my birthday playlist.
You come on with a come on, you don't fight fair
But that's O.K., see if I care!
Knock me down, it's all in vain
I'll get right back on my feet again!
Damn straight. I used to think I'd be all crazed and depressed if I hadn't figured out work and other stuff by the time I became 35, but now that I'm here, not so much. Looks like a beautiful day to me.
Ever since I was a young boy,
I've played the silver ball.
From Soho down to Brighton
I must have played them all.

A year ago on TTaT: One year left

18 September 2008

Money, Integrity, Practicality, and Self-Sabotage

About two weeks ago, I got an email from someone saying that if we could agree on a price, she'd be willing to pre-pay for a year of advertising on my blog. It was personalized enough that I could tell it wasn't generic spam. I flagged it to consider later.

The first thing I did was google her name. Nothing much came up besides private facebook pages, captions for photos with friends. I emailed to ask what the ad would be for and what it would look like: a beauty product review site, a line of text with a couple of links within it. So far, so good... sort of.

A few days later, I checked out the links she'd sent. The site had several pages of links to reviews, all for wrinkle creams. I wondered what about my site made it apt for such a placement but dismissed it since the site had a clean design, free of ads. Each review seemed pretty thorough, citing pros and cons, listing ingredients and their effectiveness. Though their product of choice was the only one to have a link to its website (that I saw), it didn't strike me as a blatant ad for it since there were probably 100 other products reviewed.

So far, I hadn't encountered anything I was certain was a deal-breaker. Since she offered to pre-pay for a year, I figured that was because the monthly payments would be minimal. It'd be very cool to make some money off my writing; I could cross another item off my List before my birthday, I thought to myself. Still, I didn't feel like it'd be worth doing unless it was for a certain amount which I figured would likely be a deal-breaker for her. I wasn't sure how to proceed and over the next couple of days tried to remember everything I'd learned about negotiating over the years. I asked her what price she was looking for, figuring I'd see my deal-breaker.

Even the low end of her price range was more than I'd expected; I was seduced by money. Not sure how I'd justify myself, I emailed her that the top of her price range would be acceptable.

She agreed without hesitation which made me think that I'd sold myself short even more than I'd thought possible. Still, it'd be a nice chunk of change, and I could certainly use it. The catch was PayPal. I've read enough horror stories that I've never had any desire to open an account with them. But even that wasn't a catch because she was willing to mail me a check.

The big mull was on. A check would mean revealing my name and address to a complete stranger whereas if I signed up for PayPal, I could anonymously get paid the same day. It had not escaped my notice, however, that I was dragging my feet. 'Too good to be true.' I couldn't figure out how identity theft would be the end result, but that I would end up with more hassle and/or expense than I'd earned crossed my mind.

Then I saw The Women: "This is my face, deal with it." (Kinda love Annette Bening right now.) I'd seen her perform that line in the trailer, but considering the deal I was about to make, this time it really sunk in. I don't believe that women should be obsessed with wrinkles, feeling the need to have surgery or to spend large amounts on expensive treatments, even though I'm not immune to considering such products myself. Linking to wrinkle cream reviews would endorse their existence.

Practically speaking, who really looks at the ads on websites anyway? The ad would just be a line of text in my sidebar which anyone reading my posts via a feed reader wouldn't see anyway. Also, I could use the money; I believe most of my readers would understand pragmatism.

An ad is not payment for my writing. As soon as I consciously made that distinction, the money didn't mean I could cross something off my List. Ad money buys ad space, and this would be a year-long commitment. Even if no one ever read or clicked on it, I didn't want to see links to wrinkle cream reviews on my site every day for a year.

Also, I really didn't want to open a PayPal account or to give out my name and address, so I backed out. Looks like I found the deal-breaker for which I was looking all along.


Two years ago on TTaT: The Right Track, There are limits to my Dad's knowledge

15 September 2008

Twos

Despite two zits blossoming on my face the week I turn 35 (WTF?!), and all the other attendant gloomy thoughts attached to this impending milestone, I discovered two good things this past weekend.

1. A store in town full of stocking stuffer worthy items as well as just about every liberal magnet, postcard, button, etc. you could imagine. Nothing conservative. They don't play both sides for profit there.
Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved
Everything up to that point had been left unresolved.
Try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

The female shopkeeper, about my age, hummed along to Bob Dylan's nasal croonings. I thought of mentioning Cassandra Wilson's great cover of "Shelter from the Storm" but decided against it: Dylan suited the store.

2. Conditioner works quite well in lieu of shaving gel/cream. I'd read that somewhere online ages ago but only today ran out of shaving gel after finishing one leg.


Ooh, and I finally found a rendition of "Lola" that's not a live recording:
3. Lola versus Powerman and The Moneygoround, Part 1, by The Kinks.

And though it's not a discovery, I may as well make it
4. I started making myself a birthday playlist because the idea of it just pleases me. If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments. I'll make my final choices on the day before, Thursday. No particular theme, just pleasantly upbeat for the most part: songs that make you want to sing &/or dance.


A year ago on TTaT: retrovlog one: A Taste of the Jam

14 September 2008

Feeling calmer today

My frustration with my mom over what to get her for her birthday was seeping ever more aggressively into all our interactions. To explain would've made her say she didn't care if she got anything in a tearful huff, so instead I've just seemed like a moody jerk.

I was still annoyed with her today but offered to help move a writing desk up and a tall shelving unit down 2 flights of stairs with my dad; I knew she wouldn't be able to easily manage them. Once we'd finished, she offered me my choice of where to have dinner. She was still very appreciative, so I parlayed my furniture moving into another birthday gift suggestion: knee socks from Target (on sale, natch). Not much but something at least.

With a few other things, I think I've finally got it. Tomorrow will tell...


A year ago on TTaT: Only so much patience

13 September 2008

Nothing she wants

Among other things driving me a bit crazy now is the fact I have no idea what to get my Mom for her birthday, two days before mine next week.

The only thing she suggested to me was a $5 bath accessory which she has since bought. Granted, I said she could buy it, but still, it's not like that was a great suggestion and I'd thought she'd add more to her list.

All my brother has to do on the other hand is mail her a disc of various photos of my niece that he's been saying he would email or send since last February! So... by not doing what he said he would as photo worthy occasions cropped up throughout this year, he now has something he can send her for her birthday. Fuck that.

I get not wanting anything... I do, but it's damned inconvenient and crazy-making for me. I'm almost to the point of scratch tickets and gold peak iced teas. The problem is that I'd like to give her something tangible that she could use or hang onto. However, her house is overwhelmed with stuff; she doesn't need more jewelry or another tzotzche, and anything she actually wants, she buys.

I thought I was onto something the other day when I thought of Land's End, but then she happened to walk through one and said there was nothing she wanted. Bah.

For all the times I've asked her what she'd like or if she'd like specific things, all to no avail, she's never said she didn't want anything but rather that she'd like to be surprised. Hence the crazy-making.


Two years ago on TTaT: Come, meet Augusten

10 September 2008

Damn

I'd been keeping my dark side well in check until my friend who's never depressed told me he was depressed (and in Paris). It's not his fault, a mere catalyst to my hair-trigger depression come this time of year. Just look at my post from last year, to the very day. Here I am again, compelled to write.

But what? It's the same story over and over again. My stubbornness prevents it from changing.

Ambivalence: the paths to potentially fulfilling ...whatever... all are paved with that which I dislike or loathe to varying degrees. Though this pre-birthday depression belies the idea of my current life as perfection, parsed it contains many elements I want which would be hard for me to achieve otherwise.

Is the occasional bout with depression worth the upheaval required for significant change? The past few years--bolstered by a lifetime of existentialism-- say no, and yet I know that I'm capable of so much more. Still, there's naught I want so much that would make me willing to force myself to extroversion. Networking, promoting myself, writing calculated cover letters: so very draining.

Temporary, you say.

True, but my introversion runs deep. There's always phone calls and bargaining and arrangements to be made.

Excuses.

Perhaps. However, without a single, driving passion, I've no compelling motivation to tackle the obstacles.

How could you? You're depressed.

Right. Catch-22.


A year ago on TTaT: Defining Hell and The List

08 September 2008

Habibeh

"What?" As usual there was a lot of background noise when I called his cell, so I didn't understand what he'd just said.

He repeated, "I'm in Paris."

"Paris?" When we'd exchanged e-mails/texts a week earlier, he'd been on his way to Palm Springs for the weekend.

When I didn't hear from him after I expected him to be home, I was worried that I'd upset my unflappable friend with my last round of aggressive story notes, but now he assured me that wasn't the case. He's in Paris. Outside at a cafe perhaps. I can picture that.

Though I wasn't the cause, I was right to sense that something was amiss. He was feeling down and decided to go home for a while via Paris. Even his depression is cosmopolitan.

If I'm ever going to ...
Well, I need to renew my passport.


A year ago on TTaT: $20.20 on rocks

04 September 2008

First bad picture to date

That's pretty impressive considering this is probably my sixth license across three states. At least I didn't have to take the written this time; they charge extra for that here. An eye test, proof of residency, and ninety bucks later, I was sitting in the chair for my photo.

"Look here. Are you ready?"

I found the lens and though I don't recall saying, "Ok," I think I did. I was expecting that to be followed by the "one-two-three" click. It wasn't. There on a screen before me was the picture she'd just taken. I looked awful.

"How's this?"

"Could we try one more?"

"Sure. Are you ready?"

I wiped the back of my hand over my forehead to make it less shiny. I felt her urgency even though they weren't really busy.

"Ok."

Again, there was no count but there did seem to be a longer pause. No flash. Had she tried and it hadn't gone off? I started to raise an eyebrow. FLASH.

Now both pictures were on the screen side by side. The new one actually looked worse. Neither looked like me.

"How's that?"

"Sure." Which in this case should be interpreted as "whatever."

The moral of this story is that you should not go to get a new license when you're not feeling well because you didn't sleep well even if the website indicates there is no wait time for registration [there wasn't] and only a 3-4 minute wait for licensing [also true]. Having spent hours in DMVs across the country, the opportunity was too hard to pass up.

She printed out my temp ID including a black and white version of my photo. It could be worse; the color version probably will be now that I think about it. Oh well, I was due. The last five weren't just not bad, they were quite good.


A year ago on TTaT: Ruins where I can get them, Vol. 1

03 September 2008

AKA, The Venereal Game

36. An Exaltation of Larks or, The Venereal Game by James Lipton (4/5)

In this case, "venereal" refers to terms of venery, or the hunt. Though the author was not my reason for picking up the book, it does seem to be the very same James Lipton of Inside the Actors' Studio.

An Exaltation of Larks is a book of collective nouns with many lovely and entertaining engravings as illustrations. A skim of the introduction will suffice unless you're really interested in the history of such terms.

It's a good book for flipping through at random. In addition to the title, you'll encounter such gems as:
a murmuration of starlings
an incredulity of cuckolds
a murder of crows
a leap of leopards
a riffraff of knaves
a bale of turtles
a bale of turtles
a rafter of turkeys
a rafter of turkeys
The first two sections of the book, "The Known" and "The Unknown," are comprised of terms that are as correct and legit today as "a school of fish" or "a pride of lions." So if you do not want to seem a churl at court, I recommend you pick up the book and learn a few more of these poetic collective nouns.


Two years ago on TTaT: Keep your eye on the penguin

02 September 2008

Llamas, they won't just spit in your eye

Driving past the local farm by the river, I'm always on the lookout for what animals might be in their pen or grazing in the field across the road. On any given day, you might see some, none, or all of the following: sheep, chickens, a couple of llamas, a horse, a cow, and some dogs. More than once, I even thought I saw a pig, but I'm fairly convinced now that I was just glimpsing an odd bit of rounded pink plastic hanging on the pen's fence.

Tonight as I drove past, the flock of sheep were confined by portable fencing in the field a ways down the road. I saw the white llama first, its eyes covered with a mask of black, peering at me over the tall weeds between the makeshift pen and the pavement. If it's possible to get the evil eye from an animal, this one was giving it to me. The brown llama kept watch in the other direction at the far diagonal of the pen while the sheep grazed in between them, oblivious.

I don't know how llamas get trained to become shepherds, but I think it's very cool. They are so effective, in fact, that I doubt I will venture close enough for a post-worthy photo any time soon, if ever.


A year ago on TTaT: Fresh view

01 September 2008

Cookie Monster: just can't get enough

Sesame Street just keeps up with the cool. They've got clips online which are easy to search with categories and tags.

Watch some Monsterpiece Theatre,
Cookie Monster escapades,
or Classic clips.

Don't miss Anderson Cooper filling in for Oscar the Grouch on GNN,
or Neil Patrick Harris in some entertaining clips. The man has some pipes!

Feist performs 1 2 3 4 in Sesame Street fashion,
while other celebrity appearances can be found here. They have quite a variety up.

I think it would totally rock to be in a bit on Sesame Street with someone furry, a fuzzy blue monster with a penchant for cookies if I had my druthers. Or someone who likes to count. Or even Elmo, he's a nice fuzzy red.

Did you see that episode of West Wing where some characters from Sesame Street come to the White House? How excited the staff was, that'd be me.

Having Big Bird sit next to C.J. was brilliant!


A year ago on TTaT: Fresh view