Too Darn Whiny

19 July, 2006 at 1:27 am (dear diary)

It was really, really hot for a while, and it’s still quite warm in some places. The National Weather Service issued warnings and people dehydrated to the point of death in their close, inhumane apartments.

The heat has produced record electricity use and enormous air conditioner sales and it becomes apparent that a culture that uses “the lifestyle to which I am accustomed” as a legal measure is never, ever, ever going to learn how to conserve, no matter how unexpectedly charming and urbane Al Gore is, nor how amazing one finds his PowerPoint presentation.

I was going to write about the heat and the humidity and the awful disgustingness of it all, but the weather has actually been quite variable and marvelously comfortable at times. And last year at this time I couldn’t do anything except sit and my apartment and drip with perspiration… This year, it hasn’t been nearly as oppressive. So while I’m still going to encourage you to listen to a marvelous rendition of Ella Fitzgerald singing the sexy standard “It’s Too Darn Hot“, it really isn’t.

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Not a Jot Nor Tittle

12 June, 2006 at 4:55 pm (benjamin, dear diary, literary)

Jottings and small thoughts:

+ I had occasion to go to a florist a few weeks ago, and it had been a considerable amount of time — at least a few years — since I had had occasion to visit a florists’, and so I may have looked a little out of sorts as I stood patiently at the counter. However, despite any sense of experience I may have felt I possessed, the proprietor of the shop seemed to think I looked sufficiently at sea that I must be a teenager buying a corsage for the prom. You know how women will say they like getting carded because it makes them feel young? I can’t actually imagine wanting to be a teenager again, except for the marvelous metabolism, but I decided to take the comment in the same spirit: as a twisted, misguided compliment.

+ Went to a Chuck Palahniuk signing in Boston at the Brookline Booksmith. I’d never read anything by Chuck, but he was giving out free gelt to people who stood in line: bunny-ear headbands and stuffed rats. I got a plush snake, which he signed, “Chucky P.”

Vienna Teng's DREAMING THROUGH THE NOISE+ Hem and Vienna Teng, who I saw play a gig together at the Iron Horse last year, are both coming out with new albums this summer. This is Hem’s fourth album in three years, so I’m a little worried about quality control, but Ms. Teng is releasing her first album with Rounder Records, so I hope that it combines her excellent songwriting and technical expertise with their stripped-down, schmaltz-resistant sensibilities. I like her music, but it’s a guilty pleasure, as she does tend to have records produced with that extra dose of cheese. I found out about the releases on NPR’s All Songs Considered, which is darling enough to have RealMedia full-length previews of a track from each album. We’d prefer MP3, but we’ll make do with what we have. The Hem track is called “Not California“, and the Vienna Teng is quite good and titled “Blue Caravan“. Hem also has a zipped MP3 available from their website, a live recording of “Reservoir“.

+ Superman Returns is due out soon, and I’m all aflutter for its eventual release. However, for some unknown reason, Warner Brothers marketing people are trying to get in the way of my peaceful coexistence with commercialism as brokered by the fine folks at Universal Studios and as recorded in the previous post. Listen, WB: if you’re going to get Superman plastered all over the cereal aisle, at least contract out with General Mills or with Kelloggs… those guys are whores, and they will make sure that their cereals contain crappy toys. Crappy toys that I will lust after and buy cereal in order to acquire. You, however, have decided to go with Quaker, who are more wholesome, and are content to offer coupons and “Memory”-stylee matching games on the back of their boxes. This is insufficient. I require more crass commercialism with my blockbuster DC Comics movies, and you are not giving it to me. Admittedly, it is pretty damn cool that there’s a red cereal that turns the milk blue, but that’s not technology that I can place around my computer monitor and shoot at my students.

Superman: SPACE+ Lastly, on the cereal front: the “Memory” game? It comes on packages of Life, with a different set of eight cards on each flavour. Of the four pairs of cards, the first three are different pictures of Superman, Lois, and Lex Luthor. The fourth pair of cards is a location. And on the plain box of Life, that location is “SPACE”. Look, guys… I know you’re already lame, because you’re trying to pass off cut-up pieces of recyclable pressboard as a toy. But you couldn’t come up with three locations from the film that didn’t include “SPACE”? You have the entirety of the Warner Bros. press machine to provide you with material for this sham of a promotional item, whereas I’ve only watched the trailer. However, I can come up with three locations from that limited footage. Actually, more: Metropolis, Smallville, The Daily Planet, the Fortress of Solitude. Even allowing for the fact that the use of “Smallville” might involve sticky trademark issues, that’s still three better “Memory” cards than “SPACE”. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

+ I have more free disc space on my e-mail account than I do on my computer. How did that happen? Gmail really has caused a paradigm shift in the base expectations of what webmail should and can provide. That and the fact that my harddrive is only considered “sufficient” by pre-BitTorrent and DVD-burner standards. Ah, the quaint days of 1999.

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Chickens by the Car, Bizarre

25 March, 2006 at 5:06 pm (dear diary)

I’m not one to delight in other people’s misery. Not ordinary people anyway. CEOs of corporations, politicians… for these people who have thrust themselves into the capitalist limelight, I have nothing but schadenfreude, and I am so hot right now for Tom DeLay to go to prison. But decent, ordinary folk get a variety of sufferings thrust upon them, and I wish it otherwise. Chris MacLaren’s blog entry about a neighbor’s burning house reminded me vividly of driving through Saratoga on my way to 9 Derby Drive and passing a house on fire. It was beautiful. The flames were spilling out of the front door and pouring along the roof of the porch. There the air currents caught them and pulled them back into the second story window, creating a swooping column of fire that curved and roared and pulsed like the most dangerous crazy straw imaginable. But even as I was awestruck by the spectacle, I knew that this was someone’s everything that was being destroyed, and I couldn’t, in good conscience, rubberneck just for the breathtaking physics and colors.

The other day, the house that is diagonally across the street from my window had emptied its contents out onto the lawn. I don’t know if the property was foreclosed or condemned or the tenants evicted… I can but speculate, but it didn’t look like the occupants were simply moving, and so it’s likely that the circumstances were unhappy.

So, um, why did the, um...However, as a result of the evacuation of this property, there is now a pair of vagabond chickens wandering the yard. And because they are feeling the liberty of suddenly being free range, they often leave the yard and explore the adjacent street and parking lot and the yards of the neighboring houses. I have long held the philosophy that any movie that has a shot of chickens running amok in a dusty road is going to be awesome, or at least that moment will make me more predisposed to ignore other glaring flaws. In any case, the occasional view of chickens nonchalantly meandering through traffic has increased the joy I feel while idly gazing out of my tiny kitchen. And while this probably doesn’t improve the circumstances of the previous owners of these chickens any, it feels good take some irrational, cackling cheerfulness out of the results of their misfortune. That probably makes me a terrible person.

(I have subsequently communed with and photographed these chickens, and I was hoping to have the photos developed and up for this post, but the likelihood of me actually getting this film to the pharmacy or even to SnapFish with any due speed is heartily unlikely. Don’t “stay tuned” or anything, but I will edit this post to include visual documentation at some point. EDIT: Which has, clearly, been done.)

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Free Pancakes on National Pancake Day!

28 February, 2006 at 10:31 pm (comics, dear diary)

Free Pancakes on National Pancake Day!

On February 28, 2006 from 7 AM to 2 PM IHOPs across the country will celebrate National Pancake Day (also known as Shrove Tuesday) by offering our guests a free short stack of pancakes*. This is going to be our biggest one day celebration in our history.

National Pancake Day has a rich history that stretches back centuries and has always been a time of celebration. National Pancake Day always falls on Fat Tuesday and this year it will be a celebration at IHOP.

* Limit one free short stack per guest. Valid for dine-in only, no to go orders. Not valid with any other offer, special, coupon, or discount. Valid at participating restaurants only, while supplies last.


However, a) I only just found out about this, and b) there are an insufficient number of local IHOPs in my vicinity.

So I cannot have IHOP pancakes, and shall have to make my own. Because since I leanred about this, I have to have pancakes for dinner. Which means that I have to do the dishes. Damncakes.

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Perhaps, but the Plasma Rifle is Mightier than the Pen

23 October, 2005 at 2:38 am (dear diary)

The following totally sums up my feelings about myself: no matter how stylish the haircut, how well-cut the suit, how menacing the glower, my inner nerd places a pen behind my ear and crumples any prospective menace or cool like a foil cupcake liner.

By the way… there’s no way that a man with a pen in his ear can look cool, even with a big gun.
Literally, I just sit looking like this…

Holster that in your pocket protector.

Even if I press [the trigger] all it would do is your taxes.

I think I may need to be Jon Stewart with a Big Fucking Gun and a pen for Hallowe’en.

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13 October, 2005 at 3:14 am (clerical, dear diary)

This is my 100th post on this blog. I’m within spitting distance of having been a member of Blogger for five whole years, and yet I’ve only just accumulated my hundredth post. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong.

Or perhaps not. Steven M Cohen, over at Library Stuff (also in its fifth year, coincidentally) quotes Michael McGorty on the longevity of weblogs: “Weblogs that last, (whether their content has significance or no) will doubtless be those whose authors are possessed by that need which makes otherwise normal people sit down and write with the regularity that other folks eat dinner. In other words, writers will continue to be writers…” I have never bought into the LiveJournal concept. I have an actual journal, various non-internet journal software packages, and a DelphiForum for my petty personal recollections of Stuff What I Done Today. I think of a weblog as a column, as a venue for presenting organized thoughts or pointed observations in order to further reflection and discourse. Granted, my audience is slim and there is not much in the way of external contirbution to the dialogue. However, as Stephen Fry points out on Quite Interesting, “dialogue” should not be thought of as mutally exclusive to monologue. It is a common mistake to think that “dia” is synonymous with “duo”, which is most certainly is not.

For today, however, I present to you no organized point, but a series of random-ass thoughts:

  • I purchased a new printer, with scanning and photocopying capability. It cost me only $99 before taxes, a service plan, and a special extra ink catridge for printing photos. It was purchased, despite the fact that I am striving to restrict myself to only essential purchases, because I assumed I might need to print out papers for class and my previous printer was not living up to its name. Went ’round to the local Used Computer store and offered it and my scanner to them, and they turned me down, saying peripherals were too expensive to repair. Still, I dug around for the manuals and install discs in case I can offer them to someone, and stumbled upon the receipts. In 2001, when I bought them, the printer and scanner cost me a total of $597.95. Even after working well for four years, it’s tough to sit here, feeling incredibly broke, and think that it’s effectively $500 wasted.
  • Speaking of money woes, I had a crazy dream where a former co-worker of mine was doing some part-time extra work out of her office where she processed the personnel forms for the recently dead. I don’t know if I died in her district, or if I as assigned to her jurisdiction because of our professional connection, but allow e to say: Kato, you were very good at your job, and I don’t begrudge you trying to pick up some extra cash for your family, but I expected a little bit mor of a personal touch or some remorse, and not just more paperwork.
  • I’m pretty sure I’m the last person on Earth without a cell phone. Is this why I’m the only person I know who wanted the ViPod to have a little camera built into it? Since it got a color screen and started synching with iPhoto, you’d think the next step would be that they’d build in a version of the iSight for integrated use with iPhoto as well as portable video podcasting or something. Apprently not.
  • In the introduction to A Briefcase Full of Blues, Elwood Blues goes on the following rant: “By the year 2006, the music know today as the blues will exist only in the classical records department of your local public library.” I may end up giving some version of that speech in concert this weekend — it’s supposed to be the “We would especially like to welcome all the representatives of Illinois’ law enforcement community who have chosen to join us here in the Palace Hotel Ballroom at this time…” from The Blues Brothers feature film, but I frequently get them mixed up in the moment. And once I get started on the wrong one, I can’t stop; the sheer velocity of each speech demands no deviation — but the sheer proximity of the date makes the point meaningless. We can’t preserve the blues now if 2006 is the dealine and only eighty days away. I hate changing classic scripts for a contemporary audience, but I just might. If the momentum will let me.
  • Right, so I really will start getting Pan~Theisms drawn and up. I have not yet been able to successfully establish the disciplined weekly schedule that I’ve been aiming for in order to complete all my various projects. Stay tuned.

And on that note… here’s to another five years.

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Virtual Doubt

17 August, 2005 at 12:29 pm (dear diary)

So… I may well be paranoid or seeing connections where there are none, but I’m reasonably certain that an innocent but unexpected visit to a friend may have caused her to switch her IM username and close her ‘blog. It is at least certain that she did these things within a few hours of seeing me, and I couldn’t help but connect the dots. Otherwise I’d have said that the conversation between us was short and innocuous.

Anyway, with no non-confrontational way to communicate with her, it’s a little difficult to confirm or deny any suspicions on my part. Which leaves my suspicions as, well, suspicious… questionable. Not exactly sure how I should feel about that. Ah, well, just one more thing to bury.

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