Wednesday, May 31, 2006

DaVinci & Galileo 4 EVA!!!

Well, it took me a little under a month but I finally did it... and now I feel like I need to take a shower. As promised earlier, I ventured into the precarious (how's that for a vocabulary word? Wynne? Andrew? Is it O.K?) territory of today's dime store novel and read the two 'Robert Langdon' novels written by Dan Brown: Angels and Demons & The DaVinci Code. And I... well, I... (Father, forgive me for I... eh - never mind) I actually kind of liked them.

Now, stop right there. Yes, you, my "culturally elite" friend who's frowning right now thinking, "Eric actually READ that refuse? My goodness gracious. How... how utterly bourgeois!" Whatever, Reginald. Go back to your Khaled Hosseini and Yann Martel and then wax philosophical about the underlying motif's. I'll be here playing trailer trash to your Yale pedigree seeing absolutely no reason to explain myself... but I'm going to anyway.

A couple of things pointed me towards these books actually, but the main one was The DaVinci Code film. It was one of those films I knew I was going to see... not because I particularly wanted to but because it seemed interesting enough. Tom Hanks and yon chiquita from Amelie whose name I forget? Good cast. Oh, and don't forget about that guy who plays the assassin with a good heart in The Professional and Magneto from X-Men. To top it all off, Opie from Mayberry directed it so it had all the makings of a winner. But first, I had to read the books.

I'm kind of anal like that. If there's a soon to be released blockbuster and it's based on a best selling (or even marginally good selling) book, I feel some obsessive need to read it first before ever seeing the film. This is a relatively new development actually, and I can't quite explain where it came from. Among some of the films I've done this with: The Lord of the Rings (whoa... huge ass read with lots of big words and flowery Auld Englishy type descriptions), all the Harry Potter films (the 5th one of which I'm currently rereading. Yes, RE-reading. I started on the latest one - the 6th - and got twenty pages into it before realizing that I had completely forgotten everything that happened in the 5th. I mean COMPLETELY. I remember reading it, but the plot seems all new to me. Honestly, it's astounding. I mean, how the frig do you forget a whole book? An 870 page one at that. I must have had a stroke somewhere along the line and nobody told me), The Shawshank Redemption (based on a Stephen King novella - both were superb), Mystic River, and Beach Blanket Bondage (that book sucked - nothing but random dialogue consisting of a bunch of vowels thrown together. I didn't get it.) You get the point. The list is a long one, and The DaVinci Code is now a part of it.

It took some self-convincing though. Having bought the books for $.50 each at a used book sale where I work (spoiled rotten British school children doing their part to help Tsunami victims), they sat on my bookcase for close to a year until I picked them up again at the beginning of this month. As I mentioned, I'm sort of anal when it comes to these things, so it wouldn't do to have simply read The DaVinci Code. No, no - the book before it - Angels and Demons - might be filled with interesting and relevant back story, so it had to be read first. As it turns out, it really didn't matter all that much. Both books followed almost EXACTLY the same formula, you'd think they were written using Mad Libs. Without giving too much away...

Both books involve our hero, Robert Langdon, getting woken up in the middle of the night by some random important person who has just stumbled upon a murder scene, and could Mr. Robert come and help? But of course, monsieur. Investigating the scene he is met by the female protagonist (different one in each book) who ends up being instrumental in both plots and helps him weave his way through the maze he is about to enter. Oh, and he also wouldn't mind banging either one of them, but he's too polite a guy, and he really really relishes his bachelor lifestyle. Whatever... like the chair of Harvard's "Religious Symbology" department has a choice in the matter. He's a capital T, that rhymes with D, and that stands for Dork. Anyway, moving on...

The aforementioned "maze" he enters in both books is pretty much a scavenger hunt in both cases. In Angels and Demons, he and the lovely Vittoria Vetra (I swear, I'm not making that name up) go traipsing across Rome trying to find a bomb made of antimatter (yes, antimatter - like Captain Picard and Data discussed ad nauseum on Star Trek: The Next Generation) placed somewhere in Vatican City by the Illuminati - a centuries old secret society determined to bring about the fall of the Catholic Church. Actually, sorry - my mistake, they are not looking for the bomb. They're trying to determine the location of four Illuminati churches because every hour for the four hours preceding the bomb's explosion, an influential Cardinal will be killed at each one of them. If in fact they happen to find the bomb along the way, so much the better. They try to determine the locations of the churches using ancient clues provided in writings by Galileo and sculptures by Bernini, both of whom were Mac Daddy Pimp Illuminati members back in the day. Along the way they are hindered by an assassin who receives his orders from some unknown power figure, the identity of whom we are not supposed to find out until the very end of the book.

As it turns out, The DaVinci code is pretty much the exact same thing with some key differences. In this book, the Catholics are the bad guys. The antagonists are an albino monk named Silas who flogs himself with a barbed whip, the sucker (He's your assassin, by the way, who, yes, gets his orders from some unknown power figure, the identity of whom... yeah, yeah you already read that sentence once. Get the picture?), a well-meaning but ultimately misguided Catholic bishop, and the police who this time around actually want to arrest Robert Langdon for the murder that takes place in the beginning. Rather than try to stop the Vatican from blowing up this time around, Langdon and new female companion Sophie Neveu go in a mad dash around Europe looking for the Holy Grail. I know, I know - another Holy Grail story, but in this one the grail is not at all what you think it is. It's something completely different, which is why the Catholic Church is in such a hurry to keep the secret hidden. The secret society this time around is the Priory of Sion (the keepers of the Grail) and the ancient scholar providing the clues is... couldn't be Leonardo DaVinci, could it? Yeah, it could.

Both books really require stretching your imagination quite a bit. Both books have endings that are borderline laughable. Both books are just a little too long, and both books are very very cleverly written. I'll admit it. I got sucked in. They were definite page turners. Easy to read, and not much thought required, but hey, give Dan Brown credit. He can tell a story. Even though reading one story makes the other one fairly predictable (and these were both fairly predictable to begin with), they still held my interest long enough for me to see through to the end. Grade: B for both books.

Oh yeah, the film. The film, the film, the film. I tried to put off writing about it for as long as I could, but... Alright, I'll just say this. Don't bother. It had the potential to be excellent but it just fell far, far short of the mark. Part of that is the story they were trying to tell. So much of what's written in the book are thoughts running around in people's heads. You read what they're thinking as they try to piece the puzzle together. It works in the book, to fairly good effect actually, even if the pieces do come together just a little too easily. Unfortunately, it doesn't translate over into the film at all. You can't film a thought process... well, you can, I suppose, but then you start looking all Kubrick-like and fucked up. That wouldn't do for a DaVinci Code audience. Instead, you just see the pieces fall together nicely without any clear knowledge of how they came to be that way. It's all very muddled, kind of like this post. The acting was subpar, even for such a stellar cast as this one. You get the feeling that the actors realized how badly it sucked while they were filming it, that they just decided to say, "Screw it" and mail it in. And the story, simplistic as it is at it's core, involved enough tangential twists and turns that you'd need half a day to tell it correctly. The filmmakers stuck to a whopping two and a half hours and it still didn't get the job done. They cut too many corners where they really shouldn't have, and they took too many liberties with the plot that were both unnecessary and served to denigrate the story. So, if you're a Tom Hanks junkie, pining for a return to form a la Bosom Buddies, I'd say avoid it at all costs. The rest of you, wait for a rental... or better yet, read the book. You may not like it, but it's the best version out there. So sayeth Reginald. Ta.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Murky Words Music Mix #2: Yokels

Shame on me. A good friend of mine, who is stuck at home recovering from knee surgery, has been asking me to send "email forwards and other neat stuff" in an effort to help alleviate the boredom. At last count, I've provided a whopping TWO "email forwards" (which were nothing but links to various clips from Google Video. Which ones, you ask? Oh... fine. If I must. They're here and here. Happy now? Not exactly clips of the highest quality, I know. Particularly the last one. If it makes you feel any better, I'm not sure how I should feel about it. Should I laugh or be shocked? Or both? Maybe I shouldn't have sent them at all. I'm a sick man.) I've provided no posts either. So, to M'Lady of the Ace Bandage I offer an apology. More updates a'comin. Hope you're faring well during your indisposition.

Messing around with iTunes this evening and I see that they've updated their "Essentials" section (basically themed music mixes) to include a section called Travel Tunes and Road Songs. You'd expect a bunch of lame travel songs like Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane (not a WORD out of you, Ace Bandage) and the Grateful Dead's Truckin' but in fact they've created a number of different themed mixes revolving around various cities. Surprisingly enough, they've created a Boston themed playlist (you'll need iTunes to open that link, by the way.) Even more surprising is that it's good. Damn good, actually. I was expecting a few generous helpings of New Kids on the Block followed by some Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch but damn if they didn't dig a little deeper and select some excellent artists and tracks. In fact, what the hell... here's the list. 75 total songs separated into three categories rather ridiculously labeled The Basics, Next Steps and Deep Cuts. Those tracks that are highlighted as a link are available for download courtesy of moi (for a VERY limited time. I don't want either Apple or these artists suing my ass - even though I didn't download any of them. I own them all.) You're welcome.

(Oh yeah. It has also been brought to my attention by a few people that when they click on the music link, they're merely redirected to a blank page and the song plays within a media player embedded in that page. Booo!! I hate that feature. If you would rather download the file and save it to your computer for later use right click on the link and choose "Save Target As" (in Internet Explorer) or right click on the link and choose "Save Link As" (in Firefox) and then choose the location where you'd like the file. You're good to go. Any questions? Ask away.)

The Basics
(Song Title - Artist)

More Than A Feeling - Boston
Dream On (Live) - Aerosmith
Centerfold - The J. Geils Band
Good Times Roll - The Cars
Please Come to Boston - David Allan Coe (whoever that is)
Where Everybody Knows Your Name (Cheers Theme) - Gary Portnoy
The Impression That I Get - The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Voices Carry - 'Til Tuesday (Aimee Mann in disguise before she was Aimee Mann. Spikey punk hair! Oh - by the way, he said shutup.)
Here Comes Your Man - The Pixies (Proud to say this is the first band I ever saw live. This song, while good, is almost certainly NOT the song I would've chosen as a good representation of their work, however.)
Fire and Rain - James Taylor
Roadrunner - Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
That's When I Reach For My Revolver - Mission of Burma
Cool It Now - New Edition (Oh Dear... must have been a mistake.)
Step by Step - New Kids on the Block (Nope. No mistake.)
Last Dance (single) - Donna Summer
It Hurt So Bad - Susan Tedeschi
Start Choppin' - Dinosaur Jr. (Side note: Back in high school I owned a Dinosaur Jr. T-Shirt which featured this image on the front. My mother, when she first saw it was absolutely appalled and said, "Holy Mutha, that's disgusting! Cigarettes are gross. Take off that shirt, Eric. I can smell it from all the way over here." God bless mothers.)
That's Just What You Are - Aimee Mann
My Drug Buddy - The Lemonheads (Oh.. sweet high school memories!!)
Cape God Girls - Dan Zanes & Festival Five Folk (huh? This is a "basic" track? Who the hell is Dan Zanes? Who are the Festival Five Folk?)
Why Do I Cry - Barry & The Remains (perhaps the best band name ever.. and it's surf type rock. Go figure.)
Bright Yellow Gun - Throwing Muses
Spain - Chick Corea
Buena - Morphine
Twilight in Boston - Jonathan Richman (Great Boston summertimey tune.)

Next Steps (This also doubles as the tortured female singer/songwriter section)

Rollin & Tumblin' - Peter Wolf
The Weakest Shade of Blue - The Pernice Brothers
I Heard Ramona Sing - Frank Black
Downtime - Blake Babies
Sunflower Suit - Buffalo Tom
The Road - Patty Larkin
Gotta Go Now - Melissa Ferrick
Far Off Mother Earth - Chris Harford
Something Beautiful - Tracy Bonham
Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste - Galaxie 500
High Tide - The Zulu's
Your Ghost - Kristin Hersh
Choose Drugs - Juliana Hatfield
On Fire - Sebadoh
How Come? - Dumptruck
Where I Find My Heaven - Gigolo Aunts
Narragansett Bay - Cordelia's Dad (Duh... that's like... in Rhode Island. Dumbass.)
The Bright Light - Tanya Donelly
Boston's Daily Temperature - Damon & Naomi
Go! - Letters to Cleo
I Hate Everything - Charlie Chesterman
Comet No. 9 - Helium
King of Everything - The Gravel Pit
Faith - Moving Targets
M.T.A - The Kingston Trio (Now THIS should a "basic" track. It's a local institution for God's sake. It should be our national anthem. I feel very strongly about this.)

Deep Cuts (Now this is where it gets obscure. Even I haven't heard of half of these people. And what the hell is Bell Biv Devoe doing in here?)

Long John - Tom Rush
Jug Band Music - Jim Kweskin
The Boston Rag - Steely Dan
Speeding Motorcycle - Mary Lou Lord
Everybody Wants You - Billy Squier (HA!!)
Before the Streets Were Paved - Peter Rowan
Nite and Day - Al B. Sure! (Way to spell, Al. Way to spell.)
More Than Words - Extreme (Are you kidding me? What? Did you need filler?)
Summer - Flying Nuns
Fenway Sunday - Aztec Two-Step
Leave Me Alone - The Cavedogs
For Boston - Dropkick Murphy's (I'm not sold on these guys yet... Yeah, I know they redid the Tessie song that supposedly helped the Red Sox win the World Series but still... all their songs... eh - nevermind.)
Fenway - Phil Coley
Poison - Bell Biv Devoe
Boston - The Dream Syndicate
Don't Say Goodnight - Jon Butcher Axis
Slow Dancin' Don't Turn Me On - The Addrisi Brothers
It Only Takes A Minute Girl - Tavares
Come Back - Treat Her Right
Boston - Peter Ostroushko
Song For The Boys - Pat Metheney (Phenomenal Instrumental Guitar)
Au Contraire - They Might Be Giants
Gathering Flowers For The Master's Bouquet - Blood Oranges
Boston Boy - David Grisman
Who's The Greatest Red Sox Fan? - Phil Coley (Ol' Phil's back again. You are, Phil! You are!)

So... as you can see we have quite the smorgasbord of tunes on this list. Notable omissions? A few come to mind, the most obvious being Dirty Water by The Standells. How you could not include that is beyond me, but maybe it's because the Red Sox (who now play that after every victory) decided to not bother actually playing their recent contests and dropped two out of three to a Yankee team virtually living on the disabled list. Nice job, guys. Grrr... Well - at least we have a vibrant enough music scene to have an iTunes mix, whereas New York has nothing. Not surprising.

Anyway, the quality of the Boston music scene tends to be rather cyclical. We have a few years of some top notch local bands followed by one or two decades of subpar blah (although many would argue - I among them... sometimes - that it simply a matter of you listening to the wrong music) and although this list certainly provides it's fair share of "what the hell?" entries, it does a decent job of getting some great tunes from some great moments in the local scene. And... well, looking at it again... what do you know? I got so consumed with some of these tracks that I inadvertently created the 2nd ever Murky Words Music Mix. How's that for productivity? Enjoy folks, and always remember.... you NEVER trust a big butt and a smile.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Dirty Work

There's a tiny clause in my rental agreement that states something to the effect of, "Tenant is responsible for cleaning the bathroom on a biweekly basis."

I'm about two weeks too late. In fact, I'm often tardy when it comes to this particular household chore. Consider the following: there are two men living in the same apartment, both of whom make regular use of the bathroom, and both of whom are equally as responsible for dirtying it up. One of us owns an electric clipper which he regularly uses to trim his own hair, thus scattering little hair clippings all about the tiny lavatory. One of us has one o' dem new-fangled eee - lec- tronic toothbrushin' thingamajiggers that, while doing a wonderful job on one's teeth, also make one prone to... well... drip, shall we say, and cause mirror splatter. Both of us are fairly physically active and work out on a regular basis - that is, when one of us hasn't wrenched his back (my fault - was being stupid at the gym) or gotten some mysterious calf or knee injury (roommate is a marathoner/triathlete/six million dollar man with a sinus problem - comes with the territory) and we use the shower often enough. Shall I move on to our various toilet habits?

O.K. Well, one of us eats...

Actually, never mind. You get the point. Suffice to say, you wouldn't be in any hurry to clean my bathroom either, obscure lease clause or no.

(Note: And yes, while it IS an obscure clause, you must also remember that my landlord is also my roommate, as mentioned in the previous post. He has to live here too, hence the "cleaning clause." It's not nearly as dictatorial as it sounds. The lease also states that he's responsible for cleaning the kitchen. I'm not playing Little Orphan Annie here and having to scrub everything in sight. So yeah, I'm a bad tenant for not living up to the letter of the law and cleaning the bathroom every two weeks. So far, Marty has yet to throw me out on my ear, although he's well within his rights to do so - for that, and various other indiscretions. See? He's, like, wicked reasonable.)

But "clean" is what it specifically states in the lease, and "clean" is what I shall do. Yes indeed, tomorrow is bathroom cleanup day. Yuck. But, much like television violence, you tend to get desensitized to it after awhile. Having been the sole bathroom cleaner upper for the past 3 1/2 years now, I've got the ritual down pat. I don't even bother to wear one of those surgical mask thingies... Nope - it's easy. You can even do it in your own home. Just follow the instructions below:
  1. Swiffer the bathroom floor, picking up all loose hair and other nasties. Swiffers rule the school. They pick up everything. Sometimes too well. Anyway, it's important to do this first, before you get the floor all wet from your cleaning. Otherwise, you get wet dust on a bathroom floor that's impossible to pick up and it just sticks there and looks like wet dog hair and you don't want to pick it up, but you have to and it almost makes you want to vomit because you know what's really in there and you think about getting rubber gloves, but you're not sure where they are so you wrap up about twenty paper towels and just sort of gently pick up the yuck and hold it away from you as you run for the trash can. THAT is why you Swiffer the dry floor first, mon frere.
  2. Spray mildew remover on the shower tiles and let sit for 5-10 minutes. During this time feel free to surf the Internet, trade some stocks, catch up on some OPS statistics, maybe make some soup... whatever. This is YOUR time, friend. Enjoy it. Once time has elapsed, scrub grout if necessary, or just rinse off with water and sponge.
  3. Spray soam scum remover inside the tub coating entire surface. Again, let sit for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing with a heavy duty sponge. Keep scrubbing until arm falls off or eyes go blind - whichever comes first. If the suds turn grey and vomit brown, you know you're a top notch tub scrubber. Give yourself a pat on the back. Run the shower and rinse away all the suds.
  4. Spray that Scrubbing Bubbles stuff in the tub, again coating the entire surface. Sing along to Rhapsody in Blue, which is surely running through your head as you envision cartoon bubbles scrubbing your tub clean and flinging their way down the drain, just like in the commercial. Again, briefly run the shower and rinse away the suds - after scrubbing, of course. The bubbles themselves are union and will either take a designated smoke break after two minutes or stop working altogether and dare you to take disciplinary action so's they can get both the shop steward and a nice fat lawsuit dumped on yo ass.
  5. We're done with the tub/shower. Smile the big smile, because you've surely fought the good fight. Greg? Peter? Bobby? What do you say we move on to the toilet? Sure thing, Dad.
  6. Now, you have to be careful here because the toilet is a most unsanitary place. While a relatively easy device to clean, it can cause serious harm if done improperly. You'd be well advised to take a huge breath and hold it for as long as possible while performing this task. Unless of course you're suffering from a Vitamin B12 deficiency, in which case you can breathe away (Just a quick side note here for those of you that are confused. Vitamin B12 is produced naturally in one's intestinal tract as part of the digestion process, but it isn't absorbed by the body during that time. In order to make use of THAT B12, you'd have to consume it again. NOOOO thank you, you say, right? Not so fast. You know where one of the biggest sources of B12 comes from for many people? That's right. Improper hand washing. Scrub up.) Anyway, do this one like you did the tub. Spray the scrubbing bubbles all over the outside of the toilet, let shit... um, I mean, sit.., and then wipe off. Then - very important - spray toilet bowl cleaner (and only toilet bowl cleaner - Ajax, while it does the job on the first go-round doesn't keep it clean for flushes to come) under the rim and let it slink down into the toilet water, covering the inside of the bowl. Let shit.. er, sit then scrub the hell out of it using a toilet brush. Flush. Twice if necessary (good advice for any situation.) Put one of those solid toilet bowl bleach cake thingies in the tank so it can further deodorize your toilet bowl with every flush! Oh, and don't use the blue kind. That's like so 80's. Way passé. This lavatory is in your home, not an aircraft. Honestly...
  7. Sink time! Luckily, this one's easy. Scrubbing bubbles again. You know the drill. Good for the whole house. It cleans and disinfects. Smells vile. Blah, blah, blah. Make sure you get the aforementioned dried toothpaste drip too.
  8. Mop the floor. Make sure to get all the little bits of dried blood, dirty footprints, etc..
  9. Hey yo, one last thing. Spray some o' dat Windex on the muthafuckin' mirror. Hell yeah. Then dry it up with a paper towel. Yeeeah boy!
Follow all these steps and voila! You now have an immaculately clean bathroom, just waiting to be soiled once again. If you want extra credit, disinfect the door handles and empty the trash. In fact, screw the extra credit and just do it. You'll thank me later.


I can't believe I just wrote a post about cleaning my bathroom. And I'm sure you're thinking, "What the hell? Is he in trouble?" What can I tell you? It was high time for a post and, as is abundantly clear, I haven't been getting out much lately. Just seemed like the natural thing to do. All I can say is, be thankful there are no clauses in my lease that say, "Tenant will do his laundry every week making sure to separate whites from darks." In fact, just be thankful I'm ending this post now, won't you? I've done enough damage for one day. As for you, I don't know... check back tomorrow, maybe. I might be more interesting then. Or, go take a shower.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Shiver In My Bones

Today (Mothers Day, so don't forget to call or pay a visit to that wonderful woman and tell her how awesome she is. Gifts work well too) marks the eleventy millionth day in a row that Boston has had overcast skies and torrential rains. Areas in northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire are up to their eyeballs in water. Alright, a slight exagerration, but in some towns like Peabody (Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to any fucking day when there was actual sunshine) it is waist deep in places.

Closer to home - as in "in my bedroom" - there's a steady drip coming from the ceiling and into a kitchen size Tupperware(tm) waste basket. After a quick glance, I'd estimate there's probably about four inches or so collected in there over a period of two days, with a good bit more on the way if our fair meteorologists are to be believed. This is unfortunate, but not altogether unexpected. My bedroom ceiling has been dripping for the past three years. My roommate/landlord recently spent a goodly amount to get it fixed. Up the contractors came, slapped down some tar, and down they went. No dice. One storm later and my bedroom was still a shrine to Poseidon. So roommate/landlord guy (who shall heretofore be known as "Marty" - because, you know, that's his name) made a follow-up phone call. Up the contractors (who shall heretofore be known as "hacks" - because, you know, that's what they appear to be) came, slapped down even more tar, covering the entire roof this time, and down they went. After attempt #2 it looked as if the problem was fixed. Several Nor'Easters came depositing large amounts of water, yet there was nary a drop to be seen inside my palace of love and slumber. Hooray! Problem solved, right? Nope. Those earlier storms were merely the PSAT's to this weekends SAT, and my ceiling appears to have done poorly on the mathematics portion of the test.


Forgive me. That has to be one of the worst analogies EVER written. Really. I'm not quite sure where it came from, either, but please accept my most humble apologies. If you feel you must stop reading at this point, I won't blame you, but I assure you I'll work tirelessly to prevent such horrific prose in the future.


Anyway, not only did this mother of a storm bring water to my bedroom ceiling, but there is a slightly less frequent drip coming in through the kitchen ceiling as well. Right through the light fixture. Yikes. I suspect Marty will be calling up hack central a 3rd time to see if they still have any tricks up their sleeve. In the meantime, plenty of buckets are in use, with still more at the ready.

You might expect me to be pissed. After all, three years of my own personal bedroom spigot is enough to enrage any man. But thankfully no, I'm fairly even-keeled about the whole thing. Chalk it up as one of those "these things happen" moments. In fact, this type of shit happens everywhere. It's one of the reasons Home Depot does so well. Every place I've ever lived in has had its' issues and a leaky roof just happens to be the issue here. And really, this is one WHOPPER of a storm. I mean, it's certainly no Katrina or anything, but I'm sure I'm not the only person with a leaky apartment. It will get fixed... eventually. In the meantime, we've got buckets on the floor collecting leaks that are thankfully in relatively out of the way areas... Alright, so the center of the kitchen isn't exactly out of the way, but it's easily walked around. This apartment is a nice one, and I don't mind the slight inconvenience.

It has been rainy as hell though, and for lots of people, that means staying cooped up inside the apartment and going a little stir crazy. Thankfully, we are not without diversions. We can:
See? Liquid sunshine. Or not. But if you're still bored, I presume it's because you have no soul. I, on the other hand, am trying to wrestle mine back from hell, so you're lucky enough to get this post and a smile. Now that it's done, and I'm at a loss for a witty ending, it's back to sopping up puddles on the kitchen floor. Bye!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Stop. Hammer Time

Are you one of those self-conscious dancers? You know, like at weddings and stuff, when everyone starts to boogie down, do you go to the bathroom every ten minutes to avoid being dragged onto the dance floor by some well meaning friend? Or do you go to the way back corner table and strike up a conversation with your widowed Aunt Ethel (whom you would almost never speak to under normal circumstances) in order to avoid looking like an ass on the dance floor, yet not look like a wallflower doing it?

I'm beginning to see some rather shame-faced nods of approval out there. I'm with you. In my younger years, I tried everything... EVERYTHING... to keep from embarrassing myself by actually dancing at these types of events. On the rare occasion when it was unavoidable (like the wedding in Santa Barbara where I was literally dragged to the dance floor by the BRIDE, whom you can't say no to) my nervousness only made me more self-conscious and I threw down some moves that would make Elaine from Seinfeld look like a bit player in Lord of the Dance. The bride was appalled.

Thing is, I'm not a bad dancer. I wouldn't say I'm good, but I'm certainly no worse than most of the people out there shakin' their thang. (Note: I can do the centipede like no one's business. Really. I'd put you all to shame. Don't mess with me, sucka.) But for the longest time, I thought I was terrible and that became a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. In recent years though, I've stopped caring. In fact, it's almost to the point where I don't give a shit. Why? Two big reasons. First, as I've gotten a little older I'm not nearly as self-conscious as I used to be. The second is that... well... a LOT of people look like idiots when they dance. Better yet, they're even aware of it but they still go out there, shake some booty, and have a great time doing it. True, alcohol consumption helps, but not a huge amount. Mostly, it's just about going out there and having a good time. Once you get that down, you're golden. Plus, even if you are a superb dancer - I mean like Saturday Night Fever level here - you still kind of look stupid. Seriously. Some of those great dance moves that have stood the test of time? They were invented by people waiting in line for the bathroom. Don't believe me? Check out the white boy comedian showing us the "evolution of dance" in the video below. Starts out a little slow, but it starts turning into comedy gold about the time he gets to the Brady Bunch. Now this guy can dance.

Happy Friday. Let's boogie.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Free Books, Yo.

Just one class left, folks. It ends tonight when I turn in the final project and wrap up all manner of loose code, database tables, etc... Then it's back to Netflix, occasional blogging and reading actual BOOK books, as opposed to textbooks or technical manuals. Bleccch... although I have learned a ton taking this class and it can only help me down the line, even if it ends up simply being resume filler.

But back to the book books. Let it be known, here and now, that for the next two weeks or so, I will unashamedly and unapologetically turn trendy and jump on the trash lit bandwagon. Yes, that's right - I'm venturing into Dan Brown territory. In anticipation (or lack thereof) of this whole DaVinci Code movie, I plan on reading both Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code to see what all the hubbub is about. Then the plan is to follow that up with the film when it is finally released. Granted, I'm not all that excited to see it but I figure what the hell... I'm in the mood for something that doesn't require a whole lot of thought. Plus, it features Tom Hanks who is a likeable enough actor, and that chick from Amelie who I always thought was kind of cute. Besides, I'd rather give my money to those two as opposed to that reprehensible dumbass Tom Cruise and his third installment of the "M.I." series.

But first, I want to read the books. I always want to read the books. I'm like that with every big movie adaptation whether it be Harry Potter or The Outsiders. Sometimes I end up disappointed... sometimes not, but I enjoy the process... whatever that means. It also means I end up with lots of books. Now, I don't have a whole huge amount of books by most people's standards (I'm a big believer in libraries) but I have enough that I won't read again, and are doing nothing but taking up space. Thankfully though, I now have a way to get rid of them.

I was flipping through a magazine this weekend when I came across an ad for the website which advertised a karmically gratifying way to get rid of some old books and pick up some new ones - all for free. It works much the same way Where's George and other sites of that ilk do... You login to the website and enter the name of a book you own. It will spit back a "book id" which you write on the inside cover or wherever along with the URL for the Bookcrossing website. Then you just go out and leave the book somewhere. Anywhere you want. With any luck someone will pick up the book, see the URL and message inside, log it and then either keep it or release it again (hopefully after reading it first.) Also, when you release a book you can indicate on the site where/when you have done so, so that someone else who's looking for that particular book can go get it. It's not as confusing as it sounds. Here's a link to a book released in Boston. You can see the relatively small path it's taken thus far.

Sound crazy? It kind of is, but I think I'm going to sign up anyway. Maybe someone else can get some use out of those books that I'm done with. If they eventually end up in the trash, well then it won't be on my conscience. At the very least, it will make my bookcase look more like a bookcase should, and less like a dumping ground. Now let's just hope someone wants to read up on Oracle 9i database structure...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Ten Seconds On Puree

I'm not a big fan of Blender magazine, or many other music publications for that matter (although I've apparently got the never-ending subscription to Rolling Stone. What was supposed to be five free issues with the purchase of some Garbage tickets way back when has morphed into something else entirely. They won't stop showing up in my mailbox. I'm starting to get a little ashamed. Think of all the wasted trees. Oh yeah... the post... sorry) but their recent list of The 50 Worst Things Ever To Happen To Music has got some absolute delights. I know - I did enough ranting about music a few posts ago, but the timing of this lists' publication was just impeccable. It would have been a sin not to include it (Read: I'm still pretending to be busy and this provides as good an excuse as any to post something designed to divert your attention elsewhere.) Among my favorites:

#21) Nearly Every Hip Hop Video: We get it. Your ride is pimped, your crib is a castle and at the drop of an ice-encrusted hat, you can have tons of scantily clad ho's pouring bottles of Cristal down your gullet while you kick it in the hot tub. Congratulations to a generation of hip-hop video directors for making decadence seem so … boring.

#11) "You Really Have To See Them Live": First heard muttered by a proselytizing GRATEFUL DEAD fan sometime around minute 13 of the studio version of 'Terrapin Station, Pt. 1,' this reflexive, defensive cry has long been used as an excuse for the existence of reams of irretrievably dull PHISH, WIDESPREAD PANIC and MOE. records. If your studio albums feel limp compared with your live show, don't put them out.


#49) The Dude That Yells "Freebird" At Every Concert: No explanation needed.

Nothing is sacred either. Take a look at what landed at #50.

So yeah, the list was obviously made in jest, but if you ask me they said some things that desperately needed to be said. Holla!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I'll Have The Chicken... Preferably Cooked

Quick check-in while I work on my final project for class (create your own database) and rehab my aching back (went a little overboard at the gym. Did a little too many of those lower back exercises and now it's been screaming in protest for the last couple of days. Oh well.) Anyway, this is going to be one of those cop-out "follow-up" posts which will suffice until I have enough time to write a real one.

Many of you may remember my post from three months ago regarding the trials and tribulations of Joe Waiter. In it I mentioned how crazy a job it can be at times, how one often has to deal with patrons who are both rude and stupid, how it's demanding both physically and mentally, etc... What I didn't say much of was how one should act as a paying customer. Basically, it amounted to, "People are too rude to their servers too often. Stop being fresh. Play nice." You would think most people know how to do that, but it's easy to find yourself wandering astray, even when you have the best of intentions. Thankfully, the Weekly Dig (one of Boston's alterna-newspapers - you know, the kind that only qualified hipsters are allowed to read) has as their feature story a guide of sorts. They went around to lots of restaurants and asked a whole bunch of waiters what kind of things made both a good and bad customer, and why it's beneficial to you to be the former. Since I'm in a good mood today, and all about being nice, I thought I'd pass it along.

(Oh, and about this nice thing... although this doesn't tie in with the post - at all - I'll just mention that I thought last night's booing of Johnny Damon was a disgrace. It made me embarrassed to be a Red Sox fan. That guy worked his ass off for the four years he was here, and was ABSOLUTELY instrumental in bringing a World Series to Boston, yet we couldn't see fit to give him just one (ONE!) standing ovation to thank him for his years here.

"Yeah, but it's the YANKEES!!" you say.

Yeah, but nothing. Is it too much to ask to show a little love just once? Then, we'd have been free to let him go, and boo the shit out of him. But no, we HAD to play the victim once again. We HAD to let him know that we were, as always, severely wronged. Whatever. That was a semi-cute shtick when we were in the middle of an 86 year World Championship drought. Now, it just makes us look like spoiled children and tells the rest of the baseball watching world that we are, indeed, a bunch of assholes for a fan base. Grow up and show some class, Red Sox Nation. I'd write an entire post about this if I had the time but... arggh... Fine. Back to being nice.)

Yeah, so check out that "good customer" guide and remember to act accordingly the next time you go out to a restaurant. It'll make everyone happy and you'll be less likely to get your food tampered with. Now, back to work for me. I'll check in again soon.