Friday, July 29, 2005

Clean Up Your Links

A good afternoon to you hepcats, and a Happy Friday. Not much going on over here other than the typical jazz... gorgeous day, hardly anyone doing any work, but the eyestrain is heavy anyway due to the constant surfing and clock watching, etc.. I'd like to start today's post off with some really exciting news but quite frankly, I'm feeling too lethargic to think of anything and I don't know that I could muster the effort needed to type it anyway. So...... *sigh*......... what say you to a few Friday links?

Because my house is in desperate need of a cleaning, and I've been doing a little research on how to remove nasty stains (ground in dirt, grape juice, goat's blood, etc...) today's links will have a decidedly "Heliose's Helpful Hints" type of feel to them. Some of these I found on other blogs, some I found while using Google. Either way - let's get started, shall we?

I'm not exactly sure what this says about me, but I am ALWAYS having to tie my shoes. Seriously, they never stay tied regardless of the particular pair I'm wearing. You name it - size 8 Chuck T's, size 8 1/2 Skechers, single knot, double knot, short laces, long laces.. the friggin' things WON'T... STAY... TIED. I was therefore very grateful to stumble (literally) upon this link here. So - not only can I keep the damn laces in place, but I can look cool as hell doing it.

So - I wouldn't consider myself poor, but I'm not wealthy either. My apartment has furniture. Granted, 90% of it belongs to my roommate and was already in place when I moved in, but if I needed too, I could certainly buy a couch or a bed. This gentleman apparently can't. But, did that stop him from furnishing his apartment? Hell no!! He did the next best thing and made his own using supplies available for free from Fed Ex. Now - it does look as if has a few legal issues to resolve, and he has promised to post them at a later date. But in the meantime, we can enjoy his innovation.

As part of the house cleaning process this weekend I'll be changing my sheets. This process involves putting a new set on the bed as well as washing the old set and storing them away for future use. Unfortunately however, I paid little attention during 7th grade Home Economics (yet still got a B+) and am an unmitigated disaster when it comes to folding sheets. And yes, as you probably just guessed it's that friggin' fitted sheet that screws me all up. After about 30 minutes of messing around with the damn thing I usually wrap all the sheets into a ball and disgustedly throw them into the closet. No longer. Now I'm fully qualified to work at Bed & Bath. So go ahead and fire me! I'm multi-talented, dammit.

Dad - this one is for you. Hell, even the instructions sound like something you wrote. "Arrange the vertices such that no edges overlap." Math was never my forte. I was able to do the first one, spent about 10 minutes on the 2nd before chastising myself for not doing any work. We see now how effective that was... Still - I'm intrigued enough that I'll try again after I finish typing up this post.

I'm not much of a cook. I can cook a few things really really well (like chili), but the spectrum is not a broad one. For the most part my definition of cooking is, "Pour powder into water. Stir briskly." This generally does me fine. I eat a lot of prepared, canned and frozen foods, and healthy ones at that (God bless Whole Foods and Trader Joes.) I am good at cooking eggs though, in all their different permutations - except poached. I never really had much use for a poached egg, largely because I never knew what one was. I corrected that today. But, if I'm seriously going to learn how to poach an egg via the Internet, the instructions better provide some amusement. Those do.

Speaking of food. The fact that I can't cook doesn't mean that I don't make the attempt. I do - fairly often as it turns out, but I'm always buying shit only to wonder if it's gone bad on me. I'm always having to ask my roommate (a vegan who's always cooking up something interesting) whether or not he thinks this lettuce has gone bad, or that gallon of milk (cruel and sadistic, I know. Alas, he's never fooled.) Thankfully though, someone had the good sense to compile all the expiration dates for items you normally wouldn't think expire and post them all in one place. Now, my roommate need not worry about me asking him to "have a little taste of this fried bloody stump" to see if he thinks it's still OK.

I'm almost at the point where I'm going to stop getting my car washed. As I was mentioning to a group of friends yesterday, everytime I get my car washed, a bird will come along and take a dump on it the next day - WITHOUT FAIL. You think I'm exaggerating. No no. Always and literally the VERY NEXT DAY. Hell, it's even gotten to the point where the birds are saying, "Screw the car. Let's go after the guy!" I had a bird flying around my office yesterday (my office is in a basement... in the corner of the building.) I managed to get it out, but not before it launched a few kamikaze attacks at my face and took a crap on my monitor. No, I'm not kidding...... So, I'm about to say screw it. At this point, I don't care if I contract Legionnaires disease, I'll at least die with some money in my pocket. You know what I'm saying? If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Care to practice your writing skills? I do. God knows I could use some. So, I'm heading over to Mass Fiction - a nifty little website which allows anyone who wants to add a paragraph to the previously written story - also written by people who wanted to practice their writing skills. Neat stuff.

Let's stick with the creativity theme. This is one of my new favorite sites. It lets you draw... well, whatever you want to draw. Create anything - and then watch as they spring to life before your eyes. Not artistic? Then mess around with someone else's drawing. Have fun.

Lastly, for those who are too lazy to surf around to different sites and see what the current headlines are, Linkwatcher does it for you. Now, back to work slackers.... or change your sheets or something.... Hell, at least go and enjoy the day. You heard me! Go away. Shoo.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Redemption Song

You remember several months ago when I was bitching about how I called in as a contestant for a game on WFNX radio and ended up taking a nosedive?

Well - three words:
Victory is mine!!!

Told you it wouldn't be long, folks. Granted, I had to build up an obsession with the contest first and then draw up a flow chart and infiltration map diagramming exactly how my call would get through, but sure as eggs is eggs, I am the big weener today.

It went down like this. The contest is a daily thing called "Keith's Stupid Game" (Keith being the name of the DJ), which airs every day at some point between 5:00 and 5:15 - a time which often coincides with my drive home from work. Every day they have a different... well, stupid game (hence the name), usually involving trivia questions about pop culture. As it happened, I had just parked outside my house when the contest began, leaving my hands free to call into the station and have another crack at this ego-killing little contest. (Preachy time, folks. Please don't drive and talk on the phone at the same time. I almost got my clock cleaned by an oncoming motorist today who was swerving while talking on the phone. No one is that important. Trust me - it makes you very stupid and very oblivious.... so DON'T DO IT, lest I kick your ass. Moving on.)

Three things were going in my favor. 1) The fact that I watched waaay too much TV as a child and therefore am somewhat of a pop culture junkie. 2) General karma. I lost last time due to what was legitimately the wrong answer, but what I consider to have been a technicality anyway because... well, because. 3) Having previously worked in radio, I knew EXACTLY when to call to get through. Before almost any radio contest which requires listeners to call in, it is standard practice for the DJ to clear all the phone lines (usually done by answering each line and then immediately hanging up on whoever is on the other end without so much as a hello) and then placing the line on hold so any future calls to the line will ring busy. Then, just before going on air to announce the contest, the DJ clears all the lines making them eligible again for potential contestants to call in. The main reason this is done is so that you ensure the people calling in are actually doing so for the contest and not some obscure request (Freebird!!!!) The trick, in this case, is to call the MOMENT the contest is announced but before the DJ announces the phone number, which is when the calls from the rest of the suckers come flooding through. You're thinking, "Well, that sounds pretty stupid, retardo-man! How the hell am I going to know what number to call if he hasn't announced it yet?" Couple reasons - any faithful listener to a radio station usually knows the number to the contest/request line because the DJ's are constantly rattling it off. Also, if you were as obsessive as I was about winning this damn thing, you'd have called the number just a few times before and it would still be stored in your cell phone's "Recent Calls" list. So there. Because this particular contest has a little 10 second jingle before it, essentially announcing, "It's contest time!!", I knew to place the call the moment I heard the jingle. Sure enough, I was the first contestant waiting when the DJ started taking calls.

The game itself was surprisingly easy. I forget exactly what the name was, but basically the DJ would name three television shows and the contestant would have to sing him part of each show's theme song - on live radio. The following is a transcript:

DJ: 'FNX. You ready to play Keith's Stupid Game?

Me: Hells yeah! Hells yeah!

DJ: Alright, here's TV show #1: Mr. Ed

Me: Ooooooooh - A horse is a horse, of course of course.

DJ (laughing): Alright, alright, enough. Batman.

(Is he kidding? Surely it can't be this easy....)

Me: BATMAN!!!!! Duh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh. Duh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh. BATMAN!!!!

DJ: Good!! Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

(Oh, crap)

Me: (five second pause) Oh yeah!! West Philadelphia, born and raised! On the playground is where I spent most of my days!!!!

DJ: DUDE!!! You just ran the table!!!! And you watch too much TV.........

Holla! I'd won. And the prizes? Two tickets to the WFNX "
Off the Radar" concert featuring the bands OK Go and The Shout Out Louds - two bands which I've only vaguely heard of, but having listened to a good bit of both today, I can safely say are both absolutely woeful. Off the radar, indeed. Oh - and the other prize:

Drum roll please!!!

A Wendy's combo meal. Um... yay. I sort of chuckled when the DJ announced this, and when he asked, "What, you don't like Wendy's?", I responded with, "No, they're alright. I was just wondering whether the free meal comes with or without the human finger." Talk about beggars being choosers. Needless to say, I didn't earn any bonus prizes.

However, I sit here today a new man. One with pride restored and the spoils to show for it. Nevermind the fact the tickets will be auctioned off on eBay and the combo meal coupon... well, I'll probably use that. They do make a decent Spicy Chicken sandwich, I suppose. I'll just make sure to stay well away from the chili. But thanks to Mr. Ed, Batman, and Will Smith I'm a happy man today. Next contest, please! I'm gonna try for Britney Spears and a Happy Meal!!!

(P.S. Speaking of concerts, I saw a fantastic one last night. Liz Phair kicked off an all acoustic tour at the Paradise with a simply phenomenal performance. She played all of the favorites (except the really racy, slutty songs) as well as lots of obscure B- sides and stuff from a new, soon to be released album. A fine job from Fair Ms. Phair. I've made the first track off her excellent first album, Exile in Guyville, available for download in the sidebar to the right. Enjoy.)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Cluttah Bug

I opened up the door to my hall closet the other day, and a milk crate fell on my head. Not a full sized milk crate thankfully, but one of those mini ones used for... well, I'm not sure. In my case, it was used to store old A/V wires, floppy disks, wireless cards and other computer oriented junk which I never use but decided to store anyway - provided, of course, that the items were large enough not to fall through the holes on the side of the crate (which hardly mattered anyway, as they all spilled out when the crate made contact with my skull.) All hail run-on sentences.

For a moment, I was stunned. I just sort of stared into the closet, mouth agape, and wondered where exactly the closet elf, who had clearly pushed the crate onto my head as a cruel joke, had hidden. Then the throb started in, and I started muttering all sorts of expletives while picking up the crate's scattered contents. Clearly, I had too much shit stored in the closet, and clearly whoever said "A clean home makes for a clean mind" was fucking-A right.

I'd like to say this is the first time this has happened to me, but alas, this sort of thing happens all the time. Unfortunately (or thankfully), it took a wallop on the head to make me start thinking, "Hey, you know what? I'm a packrat." At first glance, it's rather hard to tell because I keep all the stuff in plain view fairly neat. But, hidden away in closets and corners is just tons of old "stuff" which I can't really explain why I keep.

Here - a sample of the inventory along with the best explanation I could come up with for keeping each item (by no means a complete list):

Hall Closet
  • The previously mentioned milk crate: Explanation already provided
  • Two Beach Towels: Kept in the closet because I don't have enough room in my towel drawer in my bedroom dresser. I've yet to use these towels since moving into this apartment.
  • Condom Hat: A rubber (no pun intended) hat shaped like the reservoir tip of a condom. I have used this hat for my Halloween costume the past two years (another story, another time - but the costume was a hit even though some people mistakenly thought I was dressed as a baby's bottle.) It was this that the milk crate had originally been sitting on top of, and the reason why I now have a lump on my head. The milk crate was pushed off the shelf once its contents shifted slightly, thus allowing the condom hat to um.... spring up.
  • 13" Broken Computer Monitor (stolen from work): A useless monitor (seriously - worth nothing) that was sitting in storage at work and which I let a friend borrow when his monitor died. On his way to return it to me, he dropped it while transporting it to the car. Now, it too is broken, but he has a nice flat screen monitor which he bought upon breaking mine (er... my employers.) It is still in the closet because I don't know what to do with it. You can't throw them out and I don't know anywhere I can bring it to be recycled.
  • My laundry basket (used frequently, thank you)
  • All my fall and winter jackets: Because it gets damn cold in New England.

Under my bed
  • Cassette Tapes (Case of 100 and plastic bag filled with singles, mixes, and dubs): I can't bear to part with them - even though I have no cassette decks hooked up anymore. You all know how much of a music freak I am. There are some gems in here - among them Young M.C., Stray Cats, Flesh For Lulu (yes Eleanor, I know that one is actually yours) and Arrested Development.
  • Boston Herald and Boston Globe from Thursday October 28, 2004: One headline reads "Top Of The World!" The other, simply "YES!!" With it is the 2004 Boston Red Sox Official Yearbook. 'Nuff said. These will be worth money some day - but even more in sentimental value. Oh - why are they under the bed? Because I once read the best way to store old newspapers is laid flat and in the dark so they don't get yellow and the acid doesn't collect in the folds and disintegrate the paper. Unfortunately, however it looks as though they're curling up.
  • Mouse turds: Helloooooooo Mr. Mouse!!! Howdy doo?
Everywhere Else
  • Books and CD's: Lining every available shelf space in my bedroom. Many of the books are old and should just go.. but still, I hang on.... I hang on....
How did I get like this? I blame television. When I was 10 or so there used to be a show on T.V. called 'Amazing Stories.' It was sort of a modern day 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents" but much, much worse. In fact, it pretty well sucked. I do remember one episode though in which a little boy is told by a leprechaun, "Kid! Save everything!" He did. The rest of the episode pretty much shows him getting teased throughout his life until the very end, when he's 90 and auctioning off everything he's saved and thus, making a fortune and living happily every after, blah, blah, blah.. Whatever - I bought into it, and the idea has only been reinforced further by seeing all these stupid antique shows now popping up all over in which some rednecks bring in a chipped mug for expert appraisal and find out it's worth a cool million.

So, where's my dough? Well, I have to wait for the items to accumulate in value, you see. I'm only 30 years old. That's not nearly enough time for anything I own to be considered antique. But, just you wait -50 years from now people will say, "Flesh For Lulu?!? On cassette? Dear God........ how much, man, HOW MUCH???"

Still, there's another show on television. This one is called "The Life Laundry" and shows some crackpot "clutter expert" going to people's homes and helping them rid their lives of their hoard. These are extreme cases and the "clients" are often total fruit loops, but the way the show portrays it, their clutter collection is often the result of a deep psychological trauma. About two thirds of the way through every episode, almost without fail, the client falls sobbing into the expert's arms and starts uttering nonsense like, "I miss him sooo much" (usually referring to the family dog), or "It's so hard to let go....." I always avert my eyes at such unpleasantness, but you can't argue with the results. In most cases, the clients stop their cluttering ways and move on with their lives. So..... where do I sign up? I'm ready! I can picture it now. The host calmly asks me, "Can you let it go?" whereupon I look with watering eyes into the camera and say, "I got hit in the head with a milk crate....."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Sing Two Sgt. Peppers and a Stairway

A couple of posts ago, I dared utter the name 'Neneh Cherry' on this blog. Aside from appear as a backup musician on the new Gorillaz disc, I have no idea what she's doing these days (other than perform with her brother Eagle Eye, of 'Save Tonight' fame. I kid you not - that's his real name.) The mere mention of her, however, got me thinking... we all have a few CD's in our collection that we're embarassed about. At the very least, there's probably a group or musician out there we're ashamed to admit that we like. I actually have a few of both. (For the record, I DO NOT own the Neneh Cherry CD, although I could have told you it was called 'Raw Like Sushi' (Heh. Just ridiculous.) I must, however, confess to downloading the 'Buffalo Stance' MP3 from iTunes - and yes, it was free.)

But getting back, the two things mentioned above are actually pretty different when you think about it. For example, I still own some CD's that I'm ashamed of, and wouldn't listen to now because they're simply horrendous. Nevertheless, I've kept them for various illogical reasons. On the flipside, there are certain artists out there now who I'd be too ashamed to be found browsing for and buying at a record store, yet when I hear them on the radio I inevitably turn the volume up.

Then today, rather coincidentally, I stumbled across this thread on in which readers were asked to share their musical guilty pleasures. Many of the answers were surprising. There was lots of Styx and Air Supply to be found, which I wouldn't necessarily consider embarassing at all..... alright, well maybe Air Supply is... but not Styx if you ignore the 'Mr. Roboto' phase. I didn't post an answer because I felt it would have just gotten drowned in the infinite number that were already posted, and no one reading who actually did pay attention would have any idea who I was.

This space though... weeellll Mr. Pickford, that's a horse of a diferent color. Virtually everyone reading this right now has some idea who I am (except those who got here by searching Google for the 'M'nah M'nah' video - sorry, I had to take it down.) Quite frankly, I've been living with this guilt for too long. I am TIRED, brothers and sisters, of rolling up my car window on a 90 degree day because House of Pain's 'Jump Around' is coming out of my speakers. (Uh Huh.) I am TIRED, brothers and sisters, of turning down the VOLUME..... when others approach because I'm listening to MILLI VANILLI! (Go 'head, child. That's right.) And I am TIRED, brothers and sisters, of tiptoeing around YOU, just because I can rap along with 'RUMPSHAKER!' (Say it.)

Yeeeesssss-uh! It's time to clean house and 'fess up. It's time to stand before my fellows and admit my guilt. The question is, are you? Yes, indeed. I invite those present to cast your sins into the comments. Once done, I, Father Eric, High Priest of the Church of the Musical Sepulchre, will look to the heavens and ask forgiveness from Keith Moon, Tupac Shakur, Jeff Buckley & Jimi Hendrix. For only then, will we see true salvation.

And no, I didn't just write that.

Without further ado......

Artists I'm embarrassed to admit I like:
  • Culture Club
  • New Edition (and their offshoot Bel Biv Devoe)
  • Pink
  • Metallica
  • P.M. Dawn
  • Chris Isaak
  • Janet Jackson (Miss Jackson if you're nasty.)
  • Vangelis
  • Ice-T
  • Sugar Ray
  • Nu Shooz
  • Geggy Tah
  • Duran Duran
CD's I'm ashamed to admit I own:
And there it is, folks. I'm absolved of sin and free of guilt. I offer you the chance to do the same. Later.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Spinning Right Round

"More baseball!" said the man who was bored at work.

"And so it shall be!" said....... someone else.

Here I sit, listening to my beloved Red Sox put a pasting on the hapless Tampa Bay Devil Rays (what's the opposite of 'hapless?' hap? hapful?), and I'm feeling very content indeed. Why? Well, not only do I experience the joy of listening to the Red Sox at work (and radio is the only way to experience play-by-play. Turn the TV down, yo. Radio UP!) but I get to leave work in about 15 minutes, pick up some friends and head on up to Lowell (the only downside) to catch the Sox' Single-A affiliate Lowell Spinners kick some Batavia Muckdog ass. As you may know I'm a big fan of minor league baseball, and this trip to Lowell will be a special one for two reasons. Once concluded, both me and my friend Andrew (who will be in attendance as well) can say we've been to a game at every single level of the Red Sox organization. Yep A, AA, AAA, and big leagues. Now that's some dedication! Ladies and gentleman, put your hands together. And, as an added bonus, playing with the Spinners on a rehab assignment is newly (re)signed Red Sox journeyman Gabe Kapler. Yes folks, he's back from Japan and will be ready to join the big boys as soon as he irons out the kinks in Lowell. Should be interesting to see how well he does against the young'ns on the farm team.

Because I have to leave here soon however, I'm rather pressed for time and thus have no more of that precious commodity to write. So, I'm going to sign off here with promises to chat later this week - probably tomorrow. Have a good one folks.

P.S. Oh yeah, I didn't win the iPod. I'm not pleased, but I have only myself to blame. Jinxed myself by writing about it in the first place.

Monday, July 18, 2005

I'll Have The iPod, Please.

I'm pathetic. I've spent an inordinate amount of time today checking my e-mail to see if I'm the lucky winner of an iPod Photo. There are numerous reasons for thinking I have a decent chance of winning:
  1. I entered the raffle through my credit union, which let people know about it via a small flyer included as part of a much larger mass mailing letting customers know about their home equity loans. There was nothing about the flyer that screamed "Free iPod!!!!" and to actually enter the raffle you had to follow a very deliberate set of instructions which involved going on a scavenger hunt through their website in search of obscure information. Once found, you had to send it to them in a secure e-mail and then, provided your answers were even correct, you'd be entered. I'm assuming most people didn't even see the raffle flyer and those that did couldn't be bothered with all the effort required to enter it.
  2. There are ten iPods being raffled off. I think my credit union has thirteen total customers. If my math is correct, that gives me slightly better than average odds. Of those thirteen customers, I think I've seen seven or so, having popped into the credit union's in-house (and only) branch to do some banking. Although I hate to be judgmental, I'm going to anyway and say that these folks were almost certainly not the type to be well-versed on iPods. Also, the credit union's headquarters (and in-house branch!!) are located in Needham, MA (a town that screams 'Leave It To Beaver' if ever there was one) lending further credence to the idea that the number of total entries must be small as the town's citizenry consists mostly of shuffling seniors and troubled youth - the latter of which are too busy looking tough on the town common to be bothered.
Still, here it is 5:30 and I've yet to get an e-mail or a phone call letting me know that I've won. This is getting very disturbing. What if they don't pick my name? What the hell are those other ne'er-do-wells going to do with the thing? Sell it on eBay? Give it to their three year old grandson who'll crash into it with toy firetrucks? Screw that. C'mon folks - give it to someone who'll get good use out of it. Me Me Me Me Me.

Some of you are asking, "Why does he want to win an iPod? Doesn't he already have one?" The answer is yes, I do - but it's now both outdated and insufficient. The outdated I don't mind so much - the thing still works after all - but it only holds 10 gigabytes worth of MP3 files, which isn't even half my CD collection. I know, I'm not garnering much sympathy..... from any of you, but look at it this way. If I were to win this raffle, I'd have an extra iPod and nothing to do with it. I might as well... oh, I don't know... give it away to someone deserving, wouldn't you say? Like someone who reads this blog. Maybe even you. So there - you should all be rooting for me.

In the meantime, because my outdated and insufficient iPod has run out of battery charge, I'm forced to listen to an old-fashioned CD. Dude, my life just SUCKS right now..... Anyway, the CD in question is over there to the right, downloadable track and all. Yes, I know when I bought this CD several months ago I promised a review of it...... but how the hell do you write a serious review of a disc which features Dennis Hopper providing narration for a track called 'Fire Coming Out of a Monkey's Head?' It's good? Well... yeah. It's good. Take a listen. (Incidentally, the track I made available for download features (very) background vocals by Neneh Cherry. Remember Neneh Cherry? "Looking good! Hanging with a wild bunch! Lookin' good in a Buffalo Stance!" Was there a more ridiculous song than 'Buffalo Stance?' And can anyone, even now, tell me what the hell a Buffalo Stance is? *sigh*) Anyway, enjoy.... and keep your fingers crossed.

(Sidenote: If there's anyone out there who subscribes to Rhapsody, Yahoo! Music Unlimited, or both and would care to share their thoughts about either service in the comments, I'd appreciate it. I'm looking to see how much the two differ, and specifically, which has the better catalog. Gracias.)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Adventures of Link

Alright - I'm in quite a mood. I just typed up an entire post, went to save it when it promptly disappeared. All this after my site inexplicably went down for a couple of hours yesterday. Infuriating. Anyway, some random thoughts before we get to the links:

  • Watching the Red Sox lose in stomach-punch fashion to the Yankees isn't nearly as excruciating as it was last year. Winning the World Series after performing the greatest comeback in the history of professional sport (against the very same Yankees), will do that.
  • You can pick your friends. You can pick your nose. But you can't pick your friend's nose.
  • Um... Gwen? It's O.K. We know you ain't no Hollaback Girl. Still, it's an ironic statement coming from someone who won't shut the hell up.
  • It is indeed possible to overdose on tea.
  • I'm out of thoughts, and the ones I just mentioned suck. On to the links.

Note to self. Next time I decide to transport a corpse on a gurney using a pickup truck, I'll either lock the wheels on the gurney or lock the actual pickup truck. Some classic lines in that there news story y'all.

Speaking of classic lines in a news story. I'm not a big fan of Fox News, but parts of this story sounded like a South Park sketch. For the record, I've been to both Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA. The mayor's actions are completely unfounded.

For you physics minded folks. Doom Funnel Chasers!!!! A lot less menacing than it sounds. Think "video put-put golf" but in outer space.

These people really don't want you to push the button. I'd be careful if I were you.

I placed an order from Amazon the other day - something I do every so often - but before I made the purchase I made sure to read the user reviews of the product to make sure I wasn't buying crap. I don't know why I bothered. There are a lot of stupid people out there. There are also a lot of very funny people, too. The Amazon user comments can easily break up the monotony of the day with a few laughs (David Hasslehoff comes to mind immediately.) The trouble is knowing where to look. Thankfully however, someone has set up a blog which does all the dirty work for us. Check out Amazon World and laugh 'till your silly.

Thursday's post saw me blabbing about IQ tests. I couldn't find a decent one to take online (plus they all take way too long) so here's the senses challenge from the BBC. Haven't finished it myself, but I'm in for an "F' if the first two questions are any indication.

Tetris - 'Nuff said.

Good weekend, folks. Go Sox.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Now.....Repeat After Me.

A good friend of mine is in the midst of some rather intensive study in the hopes that he'll receive a Doctorate of Psychology degree a few years down the road. He's also trying to understand the whole blogging phenomenon, but that's another story for another time. Last winter, he called me up and asked for a little help with one of his assignments..... OK, a lot of help actually - could he steal a few hours from me one Saturday to have me take an IQ test?

Sure. Why the hell not? My Saturday's tend to be rather blasé affairs anyway, and I'd never taken an IQ test before. So that weekend, he came over with his IQ test kit filled to the brim with puzzles and cardboard pieces scrawled with bad artwork etc., and proceeded to tests ma' shit and see how intelleegent I am, dog. The test itself was made up of many different sections, each designed to test a different area. In one, I was shown pictures of various geometric shapes which I then had to recreate in 30 seconds using blocks I had been given. Another test had him asking me questions much like you'd hear in high school math (i.e. If six machines can make eight pieces of candy in 3 days, how many days would it take two machines to make 64 pieces?) Some tests simply tested my knowledge of current events. In otherwords, the tests really ran the gamut.

Some tests I did very well on. Others, not so good. There was one test however, which I aced with flying colors. Yeah - that's right.. 100% Mmm Hmm. It was a very simple test in which my friend verbally presented strings of numbers which I then had to repeat back to him. To start off, I only had to repeat back two numbers. Then three, then four, etc.. all the way up to nine. Once that was done the process was repeated a 2nd time, but this time I had to spit back the numbers in reverse. So he would say, "1, 4,2,5,9" and I'd have to say "9,5,2,4,1" Again, start off with two numbers and slowly work our way up to nine. Three quarters of the way through it struck me that I was doing pretty darn well, and the thought crept into my mind that perhaps I was autistic. I felt like what's his name there, in the movie 'Rain Man.' My friend would present a string of numbers and I'd have to restrain myself so as not to say, "Sally Dibbs, Dibbs Sally. 461-0192." When that portion of the test was finished and I'd answered all the questions correctly my friend just sighed and said, "I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it." He would later say to me that if recitation of numbers were a professional sport, I would without question be one of it's star athletes.

As you're no doubt thinking after reading that last paragaph, all of this made me feel rather smug. Star athlete, huh? I'll be Manny Ramirez, please. "Watch out, ladies. Here comes The Recitator. I got looks. I got style. And, I can sure as hell remember YOUR phone number." For the next few months, I walked around with an inflated air of self-importance when I could remember to do so. But then a couple of days ago, my roommate (who, God bless him, certainly knows how to burst a bubble) forwarded me this news story about a Japanese psychiatrist who recited pi to 83,431 decimal places... from memory. 83,431!!! To make matters worse he broke his own previously held record of 54,000 digits, and did so after reciting the first 16,000 before stumbling and having to start over from the beginning. Jesus.

Heart-stricken, I forwarded the article to my friend and conceded defeat. What else was there to do? I had to abdicate my throne. How could I compete with 83,431 numbers? My only option was to tuck tail and run. A few moments later I received this reply:

"That reminds me, someone in my class had a husband who used to remember pi up to hundreds of digits, too... It's a completely different skill than rote memorization of orally presented strings of numbers, but impressive nonetheless."

Translation: This is not the same exercise, dumbass. Your status as king is still intact. Yep - you rule the school.

Heh Heh. What else can I say? The Recitator returns! Back come the looks! Back comes the style! Oh, and I'm an excellent driver.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Here Comes Adventure!

At around 5:00 AM this morning I figured I was doomed. That's about when the wheels started spinning, you see. The scenario was not atypical. I was lying in my bed having just awoken because.... why? Not sure, actually. Just damn good fortune, I guess, but anyway I was lying in bed cursing my internal alarm clock (which three nights out of seven rings its bells well before its electronic counterpart) and trying to relax enough so that blissful slumber would once again unknowingly wash over me. Didn't work - at least not immediately. No, there was something about this morning's bout of insomnia that differed from the standard fare I've become accustomed to. Namely, the back of my throat was sore - right at the point where it stops becoming my mouth and starts becoming my throat. You know, right where the uvula, that teardrop shaped thingy that hangs down in the back of your mouth lives (the dictionary defines it as a "fleshy lobe", but to THIS cat, "fleshy lobe" sounds unnecessarily disgusting. In any case, score one for me knowing the proper medical term for an obscure body part.)

I can't say I didn't see it coming. My roommate had been sneezing up a storm all last week. But let's be clear about something. There are sneezes and then there are SNEEZES. My roommate tends to steer towards the latter. The anatomy of a sneeze, while sometimes complex, can be boiled down to it's two basic phases. There's the "ah-", which is the sharp intake of breath that indicates the sneeze has begun, followed by what I think is inappropriately labeled as the "choo", which is the quick, forceful exhalation of said breath, accompanied by a spewing forth of mucous and spittle. Were the "choo" to be called by either what it truly sounded like or what it accomplished, I suspect it would vary greatly by individual. In my case, it would be called the "blank" since I often hold the "choo" in. In my roommates case, it would be called the "PLEWSFTFSFSFFSTS!" since it's loud and shit sprays everywhere. Imagine the sound Mr. Ed made when he was disappointed with Wilbur, and then multiply it by ten. I think that'll give you a good idea.

Living under such harsh conditions, it's understandable that I was infected with this damned rhinovirus, however I was not without my defenses. I immediately got up and popped an echinacia pill (which, in my youth, my mother lovingly reminded me to take - along with blueberries - every 2.45 seconds) and started up my Cold-Eeze regimen (side note: I discovered Cold-Eeze two colds ago while browsing the aisles of CVS for a shotgun. I cannot overstate how fantastic this product is. In my case at least, it makes the cold MUCH more bearable and, combined with the echinacia, significantly shortens it's length. I don't care if it's really a placebo and the effect is largely psychosomatic, damnit, it works.) But by now you're probably thinking, "Wait a minute. Didn't he mention something about wheels spinning and doom?" Why yes I did, as a matter of fact. It's just that I had to describe the circumstances leading up to it. So, for the third time, there I was lying in bed, sucking on a Cold-Eeze lozenge and waiting for it to dissolve so I could attempt to go to sleep again. I had to wait, you see. Everyone knows it's dangerous to consume anything while lying down. You run the risk of falling asleep, having the consumable inadvertently fall into your throat, where it will then stubbornly lodge itself, cut off your air supply, and insure you die a horrible death should no one come along to do a finger sweep. Given my familiarity with insomnia though, I wasn't too worried about falling asleep right there and then. So I started thinking, which in the morning (particularly that hour) is something I try not to do on purpose. I tend to be rather grim.

My first thought was that I could call in sick to work. Although at that moment I was able-bodied enough to have gone in, I reasoned that I would be much more tired and perhaps a lot more sick by the time 7:00 rolled around and I had to crawl out of bed. I quickly talked myself out of it, though. After all, I'll need that sick day when the next job interview comes along.

My second thought was "Holy Shit. What's the matter with me? I've just recently celebrated my 30th birthday, my life has no direction, I can't start thinking about a new direction because I don't make enough money to do so, I'm bored as hell with the monotony that is my existence and now, I have a fucking cold to boot." Or something along those lines. Like I said, I tend to be rather grim in the morning - to the point where I perceive a bunch of nonexistent problems and exacerbate them by dwelling on them. How did I get over this batch? Like any good Borders self-help section devotee would. Told myself to shut the fuck up, and remember the many things I have to be grateful for - which becomes easier to do when you try to make a habit out of it. Still - there's no place like the pity pot when you're actually sitting on it and taking a crap. It can be a hard place to leave sometimes. Thankfully, I was able to wipe away the worries and move on.

I didn't have time for a third thought because number two ate up so much, and when it was done the Cold-Eeze had completely dissolved, giving me the informal OK to make another attempt at sleep - which I was actually able to do after about 15 more minutes. Shortly afterwards I entered dreamland, which involved me discovering I was in a prison yard just as the prisoners were entering for their morning stroll. I wont go into details, but suffice it to say it involved me getting a gut punch from a prisoner and then playing catch with a football with the very same prisoner a moment later. Weird stuff (and yes, you may remember I posted a dream on here once before and had it anonymously analyzed by a passerby. Lesson learned the second time around? I was both punching myself and playing catch with myself at the same time. Sound similar to something I wrote maybe one paragraph ago?)

The (real) alarm awoke me in rather violent fashion a short time later and I ALMOST called in. In the end, I couldn't bring myself to do it because, well you know..... I'm happy to report though, that my decision to go into work appears to have been the correct one. As I was sifting through the newspaper during lunch, I stumbled across my horoscope which read:

"CANCER (June 22-July 22). It's nice to cozy down at home and shut the world out, but today is not the day. Adventure awaits -- you might find it around the corner at your local minimart, or it might take the form of an unexpected trip."

See? The astrologer knew. I still have the cold. I'm still very tired. But damnit, I've got adventure in store. Now let's see... It is now 7:27 in the P.M. I had to make a trip to the airport today (which wasn't unexpected) and the minimart down the street is scary and only sells Dominican produce, of which I have no need. Clearly this adventure is going to come from elsewhere.... Any ideas, folks? 7:29, now... I'm taking applications. You have about 3 1/2 hours. After that, I go back to bed to play insomniac, suck on Cold-Eeze and do it all over again. Help me out.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Unexcused Absences

I'm slackin' folks. Several days without a post. Normally I'd utter a one word sentence here like, "Unacceptable" or "Inexcusable" but I really don't feel bad enough about it.... so there. You might look at my absence as being in some way indicative of my having found a life, but rest assured amigos, I'm still the same old me. Besides, judging by the amount of people who downloaded the previously posted Smiths tracks, and the still posted "Mnah Mnah" song, no one misses the text much anyway. For those people looking for a Friday links post today, allow me to apologize ahead of time. Slow week this week as far as interesting and random web stuff... although I'll have one for you towards the end of the post.

As you may have guessed, judging from my lack of posts during the week, ideas aren't exactly my strong suit. If I am struck with an idea or find a topic that interests me I can write about it for eons (how well I write about it is another story entirely), but I often struggle getting to that point - particularly with this blog. I often read news stories that I think might be blog worthy, but then I think "Why bother? Why not just read the news story?" Ditto for porn sites.

(Just making sure you were paying attention, folks. Really.)

Whenever I get into this state of mind though, I often remember a quote in an interview I once read from Robert B. Parker (author of the Spencer detective series.) The interviewer, rather typically, asked him "What or who do you look to for your inspiration?" to which Parker responded, "Inspiration?! Please! I can't wait for that. I have to do this for a living!" Undoubtedly many of you are now saying to yourselves, "Well, that goes a long way in explaining his books then, doesn't it?" Say what you will about his stories (I happen to like them, and the simple yet effective manner in which he writes), but that quote is a gem.

I do not have to write this blog for a living (thank Christ.) In fact, it probably hinders what I actually do for a living, in that I've been guilty of writing posts during down time here and there at work, but the thought still remains. I can't wait for inspiration to strike before I start writing my posts, otherwise this thing would never get updated. So, in the future, I'm just going to pick a topic and run with it - regardless of how boring or redundant I may think it is. Does this start right now? Of course not. It's Friday, and I'm on my way out the door. I guess all I'm saying is this - in the future, you can look for more posts on mundane topics rather than just nothing.

And oh yes - it's Friday and you need a link to play around with. Fine. Here:

Behind The Name

I was playing around with this for a bit the other day. It gives you the etymology and meaning behind your (and everyone else's) name. Have fun.

Lastly - feeling sorry for Londoners today. I've had the pleasure of visiting London several times and I can say without hesitancy that it's one of my Top 5 favorite cities. I was therefore, like everyone else, saddened by the news of the cowardly and despicable terror attacks. Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Strappin' On My Chuck T's And Headin' To The Library

I'm sitting here at my desk doing busy work, because that's what you do on your first day back from a four day weekend and you don't want to address the real work that needs to be done. To my right, a large mug of very black tea. To my left, a walkie-talkie which will not stop belting out my call sign (which, in case you were wondering is "T1." I have been deemed an important enough individual here at the workplace where I have to carry this stupid little squawk box around because I'm often not at my desk and people occasionally have trouble getting in touch with me. Apparently voice mail - or even a simple phone call for that matter - is just SO passe. Whatever.) In front of me, the monitor which I'm currently staring at, and a set of Harman/Kardon speakers to either side. It's what's coming out of said speakers which has inspired today's post actually, so don't be too disappointed when I tell you that this entire paragraph was nothing but meaningless filler.

I'm currently listening to the latest edition of Open Source via podcast (I've blogged about this show ad nauseum, so I feel no need to recap here. If you're unfamiliar with it, check out this post) and they've got a bunch of authors I've never heard of talking about their summer reading lists. Many of the books sound intriguing. My curiosity is certainly piqued, thank you, but it doesn't manage to drown out the shame that I currently feel. Yes - sorry folks. It's confession time. You see that book over there to the right? The ridiculously trendy one? Yes, well... it's a library book. A seriously overdue library book. Normally, I wouldn't be so concerned. You see, this has happened before. I am, unfortunately, rather notorious for not returning my books on time. Several years ago I had Caleb Carr's The Angel of Darkness out for about a year and a half. It was simply sitting on my bookshelf before both my mother and sister, avid library users themselves, broke into my room, grabbed it, and shamefacedly returned it while insisting they didn't know me. Total cost: $5.00 (Apparently the fines can only go so high.)

So why is this book different? Because it has a waiting list a mile long, apparently. I tried to renew the book - I really did. But when I logged onto my account and clicked renew it spit back "Renew Unsuccesful. Another patron has requested the title." So instead of returning the book on time, I kept it well past the due date until I had finished it, making the people behind me (all 23 of them) wait even longer for the coveted trendy tome. So I guess this time, there's a little bit of guilt involved - whereas there was none before because I was younger, much more oblivious to everything around me, and much less impressionable. Not only that, but after I return it this evening, I'll be out a few bucks as well (but don't worry - the next book I'm going to (re)read is Personal Finance for Dummies, Fourth Edition. No, I'm not kidding.) I half expect to walk into the Copley Main Branch and have the clerk say, "Thank you, sir. Now please move to the room to your left where a gentleman is waiting with a cattle prod." God knows I deserve it. So if you're one of the ultra-trendy people waiting for this ultra-trendy book, I apologize, but rest assured I'll be staying away from the library for awhile. I have plenty of other stolen books to read at home.

P.S. Speaking of trendy, I was feeling pretty blah being back at work today so I decided to throw on some Smiths. I made two tracks available for download over to your right. Bigmouth Strikes Again - because it's one of my favorites, and How Soon Is Now because it's everyone else's (if there is a more quintessential late 80's/early 90's track that makes me regress back to summertime at age seventeen, I've yet to hear it.) Enjoy.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Me and My Links

Ten minutes ago I was bored, so I surfed around a little and stumbled across this link. Not at all sure what to make of it, I forwarded it to Sean via Instant Messenger, who promptly gave it a small virtual chuckle (i.e. 'hehe') before then saying, "That could be the most retarded thing I've seen on the web." This coming from a developer. The conversation continued from there. Here - allow me to share some of it with you:

Sean: You didn't post today

Eric: I'm trying to figure out what to post about.

Sean: Fireworks, and how they can go off in your hand.

Eric: You think?

Sean: Yes. That would be topical. Maybe title it 'Me and My Nub.'

Needless to say, I did not follow his advice. I don't have a nub for a hand - nor does Sean as far as I know so the title, while charming, isn't necessarily apropos.

Mercifully however, I remembered what day it was (Friday!!! Before a long weekend!!!!) You remember what we do on Friday's, don't you bees and gulls? Of course! Links! So with a little further ado let's unveil today's list shall we? We already got a glimpse with floppy girl at the top of the post, there.

(Before I forget, here's the further ado: I make no promises to have new and unusual links EVERY SINGLE FRIDAY. There are days when I simply don't have the time to post, and weeks when I don't have any new links. I might make it a monthly event, rather than weekly but we shall see. Don't like it? Bitch in the comments... that's what they're there for... sort of.)

One Ring to Rule Them All - This is old news to many of you but Russian President Vladimir Putin filched a Patriots Super Bowl ring - directly from the owner. As an added bonus we get a rather enjoyable "correction" notice at the beginning of the article, and some great description as to how it was stolen. Of course Patriots owner Bob Kraft, in order to avoid an international incident, later scoffed at the media reports and claimed he did, in fact, give the Russian President a Super Bowl ring (with the word 'Kraft' written on the side. Yeah, sure Bob.) Let this be a valuable lesson in international relations to you all. "Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got. I'm still Vlad from the Eastern bloc."

CLEWS - My brother is fanatic when it comes to the "true crime" genre so I sent him this link earlier. Then, as I was perusing it and saw how well done it was, didn't I say to myself, "Damn! This 'un got to go on the links post." If you're a fan of historic true crime, check it out. Darn good read.

Antville - Another blog. This one points out links to music videos. Lots of 'em.

Who's On First - I remember the first time I heard this. I was eight. My Dad and I happened to catch it on the radio while we were driving somewhere. Can't remember why they were playing it, but we busted a gut laughing. Almost got into an accident as I recall. Still as funny today.

Blogger - Many people have asked me what's necessary to start up their own blog, and if it's easy. Yes - very. This is simply a link to the service I use to get this thing off the ground. Very very simple stuff, and if you think you'd like to start your own blog up, check it out.

Boxes - The links wouldn't be complete without a game to play, would they?

Major Ripoff - An example of Nike blatantly ripping off the logo and cover art from one of the better punk bands from the 80's. A pretty funny apology was later issued by the corporate giant, but of course I can't find it now. I'll update the page later if I do.

4th of July - And for those of you in the Boston area who are thinking of heading in town for the weekends festivities, here's a link to get you started. It has most of the information you're probably looking for. I might also add that, having staked out a spot on the esplanade for the past five years or so, the fireworks are first rate... Finger snappin' good time.

And there you have it, folks. I'll probably update over the weekend, but if I don't do it - or you're not reading, allow me to wish you all a Happy 4th of July. Have fun and be safe. Later.