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Saturday, July 12, 2003
I'm typing this from a Braum's restaurant (oh, Braum's, how I've missed your crinkle-cut fries) just inside Gainesville, Texas. I'm driving up to Midwest City, Oklahoma, for my 10-year high school reunion. The first half of the reunion was last night. I have no idea what I missed, but the "official" reunion is tonight. I'm driving.
Driving six hours up I-35 alone for six hours isn't a lot of fun. After the thrill of Crankin' The Tunes the first two hours, I settled into driver's haze and then I got a little headache, probably from The Tunes, and my body started cramping and getting all achey from sitting on one place too long.
I meant to stop and eat in Ft. Worth and then I went right past it without seeing anything I like. I saw the signs for Denton up ahead and though I'd at least see an Arby's, but Denton is just one bit outlet mall and then you're back in the No Culture Zone. So I made it all the way to Gainesville, which sits right near the border of Texas and Oklahoma, near all the Porn Barns.
I keep meaning to ask people here why they live here. The guy who sold me my combo meal has bright red dyed hair and looks like he probably takes drama. I meant to ask why he lived her and whether he planned to stay after he got out of school. I always have lots of questions for the people I see on the road, but stopping to ask them would make me late, and it seems I'm always late.
So what am I doing at the Braum's typing this? Good question. I gotta get back on the road. More later...
Friday, July 11, 2003
Pay my auto-mo-bills
I decided to be really good about getting rid of my credit card debt, so I sent a huge automatic payment online to the card company in a number that approached, dangerously, four figures.
Now, a few weeks later, I'm like, "Oh, shit! But I haven't paid my mortgage!" The number in my checking account is not a very big number. In fact, it's frighteningly close to what I owe for the mortgage payment.
Which is fine because I have a little bit of savings, but there's always that moment in your head where you're adding up numbers and examing dates on the calendar for when things are due and you suddenly go, "OH CRAP!" It's not that you're broke, necessarily, it's just that the numbers in column A attached to date B don't quite match up to happy financial face C. So you have to decide which payment won't land you a $50 late fee if you "forget" to pay it promptly and which credit card you can use to make a payment on another credit card. With the Internet, it's just pushing numbers from one place to another. It feels like a game of Tetris, squaring off financial lines in the hopes of clearing one more month.
At the place where Michael Savage fears to go:
You probably don't need me to link this since it's, even now, hurtling across the Internet at warp speed, but I still think it's funny and worth a look:
Bush and Blair AT THE GAY BAR!
If that doesn't work for you, try this Quicktime link. Warning: I couldn't find indirect links, so if you're in a work situation, you may want to turn your volume down first.
Thursday, July 10, 2003
I have an e-mail pen pal I've never met physically, Vivian, who writes a beautiful Web site called Blackbough. I used to have it on my Links page and it was a kind of garden on the Web for me. I'd go there when I was feeling low or uninspired and, much in the way that you might go to a pond or a wishing well or a goldfish bowl and feel somehow transformed on your way back, I always felt more serene, a little more complete, whenever I left Blackbough.
For too long, the site was gone. Vivian and I sent a few scattered e-mail. Some of them bounced, others arrived. She moved from one city to another. Her site was gone, but the archives were put back up at another address.
I'm happy to report that the Blackbough is back up at its original domain. The older entries aren't around anymore (or if they are, I haven't found them), but the site still pulls at me in my most frazzled moments and when I arrive there, it has the most amazingly instant calming effect upon me.
When I look at my site, with it's hundreds and thousands or words, many times about absolutely nothing, I sometimes think of it as a buffet for readers; there's a lot here and maybe there's something tasty you'll want to come back for again and again.
Some Web sites (a very, very few number of them) are a perfect, soothing cup of tea. I love Blackbough for that.
Movies this week...
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl: First of all, I want to thank this film for finally ingraining the spelling of the word "Caribbean" into my brain because I had to type it about 20 times this week. The movie is getting far better than expected reviews, many praising Johnny Depp's loopy performance and the scenery gnashing machine that is Geoffrey Rush. Some females in my life would pay good money to stare at anything featuring Orlando Bloom for two-to-eight hours at a time, so the movie's got that going for it. And, best of all, it's about pirates, which is just a great time as far as I'm concerned. (And no, I never saw Cutthroat Island.) It also opens up the opportunity for pirate jokes, the best of which I read on Penny Arcade and which goes like this: A pirate walks into a bar. The bartender yells at him, "Hey, you've got a steering wheel on your crotch!" The pirate says, "Aye. It's drivin' me nuts!" Good times. Think I'll check it out.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Feh, ugh, grrr, gnash, ptooie. Another Alan Moore classic done in by inept moviemaking. I have no hopes whatsoever for a decent film adaptation of Watchmen.
The Cremaster Cycle: This is a five-part film series by a very avant garde artist and I would sooner watch five back-to-back Judith Light movies on the Lifetime network. Sorry, but in my life at least, there's a finite amount of time in which to do things and these are 10-12 hours you're not sucking out of me.
The Hard Word: Guy Pearce, good. Rachel Griffiths, good. This movie? Sounds terrible. Didn't somebody tell the filmmaker that post-Pulp Fiction neo-crime "cool" movies stopped being interesting, oh, around... well, they were never that interesting, were they?
Finally saw The Hours which was slighter than I expected. I thought it was going to be three hours of very intellectual heaviness and it was a lot fleeter on its feet than I thought it would be. And yeah, Nicole Kidman was pretty great. Still needing to see 25th Hour and Spider, which are glaring at me from on top of the DVD player.
Tonight, The New TNN (er, Spike TV) is scheduled to air the infamous "Man's Best Friend" episode of Ren & Stimpy. This was an episode that never aired on the show's original Nickeloedeon run, reportedly because it was too violent.
The new incarnation of the show (called Ren & Stimpy's Adult Party Cartoon) has in its first two episodes shown that it's certainly willing to cross the line on scatalogical and sexual humor. The first one, for me at least, was a huge turnoff -- a half-hour collection of booger jokes and over-the-top references to the two characters' pitching/catching habits. (Near the end of that episode, Stimpy turns around, revealing a catcher's mitt on his anus.)
The biggest mistake TNN/Spike TV made on that debut was airing perhaps the best "Classic" episode of Ren & Stimpy, "Space Madness" a few hours later. If you watched both, it was easy to see that "Space Madness" was funnier, more creative and less blatantly "adult." Just because you're allowed to use cuss words and push the limits on grossness doesn't make it any funnier.
Last week's episode, "Ren Seeks Help," was a lot better. Ren goes to see "Dr. Mr. Horse," supposedly a psychiatrist, after doing some unmentionably wicked thing to Stimpy. The episode relied on flashbacks to Ren's childhood (Ren's dad was a priest!), and in particular his torture of a frog who keeps begging Ren to finish the job. This episode was a lot better in terms of making the humor twisted and funny without always resorting for the cheap gag. In the Dr. Mr. Horse scenes, it also was a refreshing return to creator John Kricfalusi's habit of paying homage to '40s and '50s-era films.
So far it's a mixed bag. If the show lasts, it'll be interesting to see if Spumco, John K.'s animation company, can temper its urge to break free of the TV constraints its had in the past with its undeniable creative streak. I loved "Ripping Friends" on Cartoon Network in its short run — it was a funny take on superheroes that was as hilarious random as the original Ren & Stimpy was. It also had some great voice work. John K. has obvious fetishes -- the '50s art design motifs, the marginalization of female characters (they're either matronly monsters or perky-chested pin-ups), and of course, the toilet humor. What his stuff used to lack was an open playing field to do whatever he and his artists wanted. Now that he has it, let's see if it ruins the product or forces Spumco to go back to its roots and figure out if it wants to keep breaking taboos or just make funny, entertaining cartoons. Very few animated shows (South Park, obviously, Simpsons to a much lesser degree in recent years) have managed to pull that off.
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
My new and future girlfriend: Dish PVR 921
This is probably the geekiest, insidery-est thing I'll ever link to here, but I don't care. There are probably about two or three of you who will be as excited as I am about it.
Check it out. Dish PVR 921. This whole page is about a Dish Network summit where they showed a bunch of new technology that probably won't even be out until late this year. But, damn! A high-definition receiver and PVR recorder in one box? With multiple tuners? And you can record not only standard TV, but high-definition as well? So what if it looks like a tank?
I've sung the praises of Dish in these pages, but I have admittedly felt stymied by their (albeit excellent) current PVR box. For one thing, it's got one tuner, so if you want to record Dinner For Five while your girlfriend wants to record American Juniors, you're kind of fucked. You can go watch it in the other room on the second dish receiver, but what's the fun in that? You can't pause it and rewind to hear what Bonnie Hunt told the waiter or the thing that Sarah Silverman said that cracked everyone up. Meanwhile, my TiVo brethren have long joined the Two Tuners for Recording fold and couldn't be happier about it.
I've resisted the urge to get a high-definition receiver even though I have an HD-ready set. I just can't justify spending $500 for any kind of cable box when I'm used to the cable/dish company just giving the box over as part of their service. Plus it's still sketchy whether you can watch local HD broadcasts over Dish. (More likely, you'll still have to put an antenna on your roof and run it through the receiver.) And you'll also have to have TWO satellite dishes on your roof. It'll begin to look like you're trying to contact extra-terrestrial life up there.
If all goes well and Dish doesn't screw the high definition pooch on this one, I'm hoping to watch the Super Bowl in high definition at home next January.
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
And the Most Spineless Homophobe in the World Award Goes To...
Michael Savage! Who, after losing his MSNBC show because of his stupid, bigoted attack on a caller, went on to apologize, sort of, by explaining that what he said wasn't meant for broadcast. It wasn't even so much an apology as a limp-dicked backing away from the mess he'd made on the floor. Because as long as he's attacking someone and wishing AIDS on them on his own time, for what he thought was an off-the-air moment, it doesn't really count, right?
I understand that there are still people like this out there. I understand that some of these people even have their own radio or TV shows. What I don't understand is how they think they can say something like that, then back away and pretend that an outburst like that doesn't at all reflect what they really believe about gays or AIDS. My favorite part is when he apologizes to his huge gay audience, all two of those people who suddenly lost faith in him. What are all the gay conservatives going to do now without their brave leader?
So you get the award, Michael. I hope it can sit on your mantle next to all the fan letters and awards from all your homosexual supporters.
It's one site
The always entertaining (and endearingly dial-up connected at the moment) AB Chao has designed a Web site for Master V.'s band, Hardlucy. I've seen these guys live and they do indeed groove the roof.
The occasion for this completely and totally unsolicited (ahem) pimp? Their album is finally coming out! Go visit their site, listen to the song samples, and buy the CD. I mean, what else were you going to buy this week? Monica? Ashanti? Give me a fucking break.
The album cover amuses me in that it reminds me of Rushmore. Doesn't that kid look like a Max? You can just tell he's saying something really precocious and quirky that that older guy and the older guy is all, "I'm an older man unaccustomed to your teen whimsy! But I'm not made of stone, either."
Monday, July 07, 2003
Name that baby
I'm not having a baby or anything like that, but if I was, I'd be obsessively looking up names at this government site, where I just found out that the name Omar has dropped in popularity from the 134th most popular name for boys to 144.
The URL came from this very good New York Times Magazine story. Parents of future babies needing naming, you have my sympathies.
Girl: Is that a fallacy?
Boy: I don't know. Check my phallus.
Target is a fine place to buy cheap CDs right when they go on sale, and since I was already there stocking up on birthday supplies, I picked up the new Liz Phair.
I've liked Liz Phair for an awfully long time, right around the time Whip Smart came out. I missed the train completely on Exlie in Guyville (I was probably trying to cut my hair like Bono's and wearing out my Joshua Tree cassette at the time), but caught up on it later. I loved whitechocolatespaceegg and I got to see her at Stubb's a few years back. She's solid and I like her.
I'm not quite sure what to make of the new disc, Liz Phair. I don't buy the whole, "She sold out, she sounds like Avril" crap. If somebody has created a body of work and they get divorced and want to write an accessible album that's going to get them laid more often, more power to them. (Or you could go the opposite route like Suzanne Vega and write a really sad album that's going to keep potential mates away like Ass Cancer.)
But then I listened to the new CD. And it does sound like Avril Lavigne. Which is not a terrible thing as these things go, but I do miss the texture and offbeat feel of the songs on whitechocolate. This CD probably needs a few listens, and it's still nice to hear Liz's plaintive voice, even over glossy pop. But it's been a struggle giving the CD a full listen -- I keep switching to the radio or resisting the urge to pop in The White Stripe's Elephant.
Sunday, July 06, 2003
Cat hair and clubbin'
If you have cats and you have carpet, you probably know what I'm going to say next: Fucking EWWW! I shampoo'd the carpet in the house for the first time in months and the result was huge gobs of nasty, wet feline hair clumps. I have friends with cat allergies who are loath to come to my house because their sinuses flare up and now I see why. Hidden in the seemingly clean carpet was an entire Don King fro worth of nasty old hair. (And no, I'm not gonna auction it off on Ebay.)
The rest of the weekend, apart from my holiday gross-out, was spent reading Order of the Phoenix (I'm about 500 pages in), doing some work on a new writing project I'm excited about (though at the same time feeling guilty about the writing project that I'm neglecting), playing a few video games (Midtown Madness 3: not bad! Elite Force II for PC: even better!) and going to a few parties: one a birthday shindig and another a fireworks/board games extravaganza that ended in a furious match of Cranium. Well it was furious until the game went past midnight and everyone started getting sleepy.
The other party led to a club crawl that began at Spiro's, which was absolutely dead, and ended at El Matador, which was, as the song says, Jumpin' Jumpin'. Ladies were leaving their men at home and the club was full of ballers with they pockets full grown. I ran into my friend and former LCP'er Elizabeth and she was having a very Irish time of it, in the drunkest sense of the word.
I ran across the street to catch a few minutes of Martha Kelly at the Velveeta Room. (While regretting that I hadn't been able to catch Michelle Biloon the night before.)
It's the weird thing about going out: It's like going to the gym. You convince yourself that you're too tired and don't have the energy, but once you're out, dancing or drinking, you forget all that and decide you're going to do this every weekend. It never lasts, but for a few hours, you're a club kid again, enjoying the throb of the music and the stamps on your hand.
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