Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas looms...

I have a question... Does anyone else have a huge problem in wanting to tell your husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, tree/rock what you got them for Christmas? Every single year, I get Le Wif's gift and have the most difficult time not telling her what I got her.

So, don't tell me your secrets, I guess is what I'm saying.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

And still, it continues...

There was another squirrel yesterday--that makes six. I'm completely tired of dipping them in water for extended amounts of time, so we've changed methods--we're now mixing rat poison in with the bait. That way, they'll be trapped, they'll die, and then I'll be able to dump 'em. Less fuss. Less water.

I sincerely hope that this works.

Anyone have any experience w/ rat poison? What can I expect? No, I didn't eat any, and I don't plan on it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

It never ends...

Okay. I'm totally sick of killing squirrels. Got the third on Friday, and we thought that would be it--not so. There was another around noon yesterday, and yet another this morning around eight or so. That's five, count'em, five squirrels. All this just to get a hole in our soffit patched up.

Today's squirrel was kind of a bummer; I've since had to switch to a bigger trap, which doesn't completely fit in the bucket of death. This means that I've had to scour the back yard for sticks to shove through the trap, therefore reducing the area in which the squirrels can move around (i.e., below the water line), so that I can actually kill 'em. The one from this morning spent a lot of time shoving his lil' nose through the spaces between the sticks to get breath. I had to hold them in the trap so that he wouldn't break through.

I haven't really had to watch the others die. This one, I had to keep an eye on the whole thing and it was (a) gross, (b) depressing, and (c) very interesting. A very incremental thing, drowning seems to be. There's the first bite of fear as the water is about waist high, then hope that it'll stop as the little bugger creeps higher and higher toward the top of the cage. Then there's desperation, snatching as much breath as is possible, and finally weakness and submission kicks in. He floats to the bottom of the cage, his eyes open. They were trained on me. The little fucker died staring straight at me.

I hope that this is the last one.

I dumped him in a drainage ditch and re-set the trap. Nothing this afternoon.

On a nicer note, the Bengals stomped the Raiders today.

J

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Two for the show...

I got another one today. Because I got home earlier than usual today, the pictures are easier to see, and therefore more disgusting.

Someone's going to hate me for this, but here's the deal: if you don't dispatch the squirrels, they'll destroy your house, and they'll come back every year to boot. We can't have that, so I'm doing this. These photos aren't necessarily intended to be entertainment alone--there should be some instructional element to this, because people get critters in their houses all the time, and they shouldn't have to pay hundreds of dollars for some company to do something simple enough for someone to do on their own. Without further adieu, here's today's squirrel:

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The bucket of death:
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Trap in bucket:
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The aftermath:
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Final resting place for JayJay, the interloping squirrel:
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If you happen to have squirrels in your house, and have any questions, let me know. I'm quickly becoming an old pro at this, as anyone with this problem would.

Holla.

J

Monday, December 04, 2006

One down...

At least two to go. Here are three pictures from the whole squirrel process. The last one is "dead squirrel," but it was dark, so the picture turned out to be kind of impressionistic. Use your imagination and wait for the next squirrel. It'll get a whole lot worse before this thing is over.

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More to come... Hopefully soon!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I am such a friggin' moron...

We bought a house in September. I'll post pictures at some point, but that's not what this story's about, completely.

We bought a house. There's a spot in one of the eaves that's been partially destroyed, and we knew we'd have to fix it at some point. We were about to borrow a ladder and get it done when I saw a cute lil' squirrel head poking out of the hole in the eave.

"Fuck," I thought, and called Le Wif up to check it out. The little creature bounded out of the hole, on to the roof/overhang above the back door, and hopped onto a branch and made his getaway.

I used to think squirrels were cute. Now, they're vagrant assholes that are living off of me. Anyone familiar with The Punisher? That's kind of how I feel. Except I figured that I'd take a more cerebral approach than making my house blow up.

Le Wif and I did some Internet research and figured the best way to handle the problem would be with some live traps and peanut butter. We'd then take the live trap, fill up a garbage can with water, and presto! Squirrel problem solved.

Easy enough.

So I chummed the trap for a while (for those not familiar with trapping animals, it's a term for baiting but not setting a trap, so that the animal will get used to eating there with no consequence--and that's how you get 'em), noting the squirrels' activities--they were getting to the bait in the morning or early evening. Whatever.

About a week or so later (read: this week), I started setting the trap in the evening, and then leaving it not set while Le Wif and I were at work. No squirrels.

Today, I left the trap set, and as I walked home, I knew there'd be a squirrel in it. And there was. I took off my jacket (I wore a suit to work today--a story barely too long to relate right now), dumped my bag, and went upstairs to retrieve the little fucker.

I untied the rope that I'd secured the trap to the roof with, and took the freeloading a-hole back outside, next to the garbage can. I turned the water on, waited for the can to fill up. When it was finally full, I dropped the trap in.

This is where I went wrong.

The live traps have these little wires that you place a certain way so that the trap will stay shut. I didn't think. Or bother to think. Some shit floats in water, and the rules of physics change a little when stuff gets submerged.

The wires came out of their "locked" position and the bastard hopped out of the trap, out of the garbage can, and exploded into the woods.

"Fuck," I said aloud, and then went back inside, wet, empty trap in hand. All that success for one abject failure.

If at first you don't succeed...

Kill a goddamn squirrel today.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wow...

What an amazing Bengals game yesterday. Enough said about that, really...

I have a major dilemma on Thursday--the Bengals play at the same time The Office is on. We don't have a DVR or Tivo or anything like that... It'll be a bunch of flipping back and forth, I think.

Question: I'm preparing a mix cd for a friend of mine, and I'm wondering what y'all think of this playlist:

Dimension/Wolfmother
Cha Cha Twist/Detroit Cobras
Cake/Going The Distance
Baby Elephant Walk/Henry Mancini
Zig Zag Wanderer/Captain Beefheart
Dear Diary/Masta Ace
Sons And Daughters/The Decemberists
Take This Job And Shove It/Johnny Paycheck
Wagon Wheel/Old Crow Medicine Show
My Favorite Place/J Church
I Put A Spell On You/Screamin' Jay Hawkins
When You Were Mine/Crooked Fingers
Space Oddity/Langley Schools Music Project
Jesus Was Way Cool/King Missle
Scuba Dooba Diver/King Kong
Kanye Mahna/Lenlow (This is a remix/mashup of Kanye West's "Golddigger" over an instrumental "Mahna Mahna" from Sesame Street)
Yah! Yah! Yah!/Detroit Cobras
Rah! Rah! Replica/Bikini Kill
The Misfits/Astro Zombies
Shimmy Shimmy Ya/Ol' Dirty Bastard
Shake It/Tom Waits

This is the order that I have it in right now. Would you change it? Is the Tom Waits song too weak to end with? Let me know.

J

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkey Day! Hopefully, I can get Jill to make the turkey noise...

I'll keep this short... It's Thanksgiving today, and I thought I'd post some things that interested me surrounding the holiday. The first two things are completely disgusting anti-poultry videos (Not for any real political reason, since I don't think PETA is a particularly "good" or "intelligent" organization--you know what? If you want my little rant on PETA, let me know via comments and I'll post it later), and the last thing is one of the many things I'm thankful for this year.

But first, there's some crazy Thanksgiving shit by way of Wikipedia and John Madden: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turducken





Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bank of America meeting...

I saw this on BoingBoing.

Ummm... If this isn't proof that corporate culture can be crass and disturbing in much the same way that it was portrayed in Office Space, I don't know what is...

In other news, I freakin' hate U2. Blecch.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Hey! It's the creepiest thing in the entire world! No, really. I almost peed a little:

Holy Moly.

In other news, it's finally a good day to be a Bengals fan. Go to Cincy Jungle.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's Rube!


There are conceivably hundreds of these on YouTube. Most of them, though, are animations of Rube Goldberg machines, which is totally lame.
Rube Goldberg Machine
Japanese Rube Goldberg Contest
Rube Goldberg Machines

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

As bad as things are for the Bengals...

At least we're not the Lions. And at least we don't have their coaching staff:

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2661708

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wow...

Did anyone see the Office last night? It was hands-down the best episode I've seen. Amazing plot construction, amazing continuation of character arcs, amazing everything. Rock out, Mike Schur.

In other news, the Bengals have a huge, tough home game ahead this weekend. San Diego. Or, more accurately, LaDanian Tomlinson and his cast of amazingly good supporters. The to-do's for the Bengals haven't changed with this game.

I'll post reactions to the game. And maybe something more this weekend. Or something.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

On guilt and animals

I feel horrible. We sent newcat (more commonly known as "Maude," or, as Jill has been calling her of late, "Maudezilla") to the vet's office to get her vagina deactivated. Since she (the cat) tends to be really bad with her claws, we decided to get that taken care of, as well.

We'd done all the research and known how many consider it to be totally inhumane and all that, but we did it anyway. I'm not sure we made the best decision--it doesn't matter. I feel guilty simply because the cat is really loopy from the anaesthesia still.

I feel guilty because she has to wear a cone around her neck and because she's hobbling on her front feet. Which, honestly, is sort of cute, but also sort of sad.

What makes me feel most guilty, though, is the fact that there's blood caking into her paws, where the stitches are. The lesson here? For me--I'm not going to declaw any more cats. For you--if you're human, you shouldn't declaw your cats. If you do, you should feel kinda guilty about it.

Pictures to follow over the next couple/few days.

UPDATE: Here they are... don't puke or yell at me.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Ouch.

This football season is killing me, I swear.

Were it not for the two foibles in the first five minutes, the Bengals have momentum through the whole game and win it in non-dramatic fashion.

That didn't happen at all.

Baltimore looked sharp (until the 4th quarter) and the defense beat the offensive line on just about every play. Not much analysis to do here.

This one hurt, though.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I am the lamest person you know.

Do you know how I know this? Here's how: out of all the cool shit to take photographs of, such as the view we have of the Cincinnati skyline from our front porch, the cool buildings in the city where we live, or the plethora of graffiti all over our cool-ass area:

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Instead of all that cool stuff, I take pictures of my cats. Yes, my cats. It's like I'm a 40 year old spinster or something.

And you know what? I'm going to show them to you. Bask in the too-cuteness:

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Umm... Crap.

I did not expect that. An exciting one, for sure, but the Bengals had these problems:

(a) No intensity until the 4th quarter.
(b) Not nearly as good against the run as they have been with Dexter Jackson in the lineup. Scary.
(c) Vick can actually pass now... who knew? Terrible. The Falcs looked better than they should have; Ron Mexico's definitely a weapon, on three fronts now--passing, running, and in the bedroom, apparently.
(d) The O-Line didn't give enough time for the receivers to get open. That said, Chad (ochenta y cinco) had a pretty good game.
(e) The Falcs' offense kept Ahmad Brooks more or less out of the game. Which is huge, because the kid is, as the Bostoners say, "Wicked awesome."

Plusses:

(a) No picks.
(b) Our boys kept it respectably close (and exciting, for that matter).
(c) Marvin Lewis took a hit on the sidelines and got up laughing.

Other than that, it was depressing. Am looking forward to the Roller Derby tonight to lift the spirits a little bit. Go Full Metal Corsets!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A few Bengals-related YouTube videos...

KK Putting it on ice.
Ahmad Brooks 1st NFL sack
Why haven't I seen this before?

I hope he does this against Atlanta.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Oh, I nearly forgot...

People who steal pumpkins from other people's front porches blow. That's like six bucks down the tube. Friggin' kids. I swear.

The worst part is this: all I can do is complain about it. It is, after all, only a pumpkin.

Feh.

Wow...

The first quarter-and-a-half of the game yesterday had me scared that the Bengals weren't ever going to get back to any kind of form. The whole offense seemed kind of out of sync for a while there--but that probably says an awful lot about the quality of Carolina's defense, in all honesty.

The big stories of the game, though:

Only one sack given up by the O-Line. Palmer wasn't given all that much time in the pocket through the whole game, but the fact that he was only sacked once by Carolina speaks to the decrease in the apparent communications on the line. Our boys are improving here. Nice.

The safety position on defense came up huge. Dexter Jackson came back and split time with Kaesviharn. Carolina ran a decent amount and the defense did a pretty good job of containing him. Dexter Jackson is a huge cog in the defense, and the decrease in the rush yardage is an indication of that.

Which isn't to say that Kaesviharn should be left out of the conversation. One of my brothers-in-law is, how should I say this, not a big fan of KK. But in the Bengals two most important games so far this year (Pittsburgh (for some advantage in the division) and Carolina (to snap a losing streak)), Kaesviharn has come up with two interceptions in the end zone to ice games. Huge. He gets beaten badly by good receivers fairly often, but you can count on him to come up big when you need him.

Finally, there's the play. Big play of the day, and something that the Bengals have been missing for the last couple weeks--a huge play that breaks the game. 31 yarder to 85, in a 4th and 1 situation. Amazing, ballsy call. Bordered a trick play. What it represents, though, is something more important: the offense is returning to form. They're starting to fire on all cylinders. I haven't been this happy about a football game in weeks.

The Pittsburgh victory was sweet, but this one confirms to me that we've got an elite team here in Cincinnati. Marvin, sometimes I question you. I shouldn't.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Ouch!

Two games in a row, the Bengals lose. Here are the two huge things I noticed this time around: horrible refs and an enormous lack of intensity.

Our boys didn't appear to play with the intensity that they needed to win the game. Of course, I'm not on the field or anything, but my general feeling watching at home was that they didn't seem to be too quick off the snap and that they generally got beat in many facets of the game (see TB's first touchdown, where KK got smoked on a short route). Two amazing plays got them about ten points.

There was absolutely no reason that Justin Smith should have gotten called for roughing the passer at the end of the game. If it weren't for that call, the Bengals win. Period.

Which isn't to say that they played well--because they didn't.

The good news? Fewer sacks, which means that the line's starting to play better AND Carson Palmer is finding receivers quicker... If there's one positive to take from the game, it's this.

But how much are we missing Chris Henry right now? Chris Perry? Rich Braham? Dexter Jackson and Brian Simmons? There are more, too, which doesn't bode well for the season.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Huge game this weekend...

The Bengals play Tampa Bay on Sunday, at Raymond James Stadium. I've got a few friends in Tampa--Jeff, Kevin--so, yeah. I would wager bragging rights or something like that, but there's not much of a point.

That said, though, the Bengals ended up with former Buc Dexter Jackson, which has turned out great for us (despite his injury). Here's hoping he'll get to play on Sunday. Otherwise, the ol' gentleman's vehicle (i.e., Cadillac) may have a huge day, given the pattern thus far in the season--last two games (without Dexter), the Bengals have given up something like 4 million rushing yards (it's more like 400). With Dexter, the Bengals are under 100-ish. So, yeah, there's a difference.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Fam

Old cat:
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New cat:
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Wifecat:
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Monday, October 09, 2006

The real and true height of civilization.

Yes.

Better Than Cats!

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Slowly but surely...

I'm learning technology here and there, usually by accident. I found a feature on my cellphone--one where I can send the pictures I take to an online album. I'm sure that every picturephone in existence has this feature, but I just found out that I can do this. Had I known that this feature existed, I would have taken more than two pix with my phone while we were on our honeymoon--and I don't mean adult-oriented ones, either.

At any rate, here's a photo from Hawaii:

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I'm going to use this feature a lot more often.

We did just get another cat, after all.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A New Review Brews...

Soon, I'll be posting a review of the house Jill and I bought. I hope to be able to include pictures, but those might wait until after we paint and crap.

Did anyone see The Office last night? Call of Duty!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

One more chance...

Okay. I like hearing from people who are reading/checking out this little crack in the web that I've occupied. Here and there, friends leave comments and so on, and it warms my heart to see that someone's cared enough to respond to something I've posted. But lately, there have been a couple comments that were advertisements for travel websites that turn out to be dead links.

I'll make this short--if I get too many more of these, I'll be disabling comments from the weblog. Nothing makes me angrier than unsolicited advertising, no matter what it is or where it comes from. It's kind of like someone walking up behind you and putting their finger in your buttcrack--never pleasant, never welcome. Always way too intrusive.

So, yeah. If you loved me, you'd tell me not to disable the comment feature. Am I fishing for comments? Absolutely.

J
Pancake Mountain

A D.C. cable-access children's show. Note the appearance of Brendan Canty, drummer of Fugazi as the man reading the newspaper.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Whoo!

I have an office party today. Rock.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Big Donkey Speaks...

Adam Dunn is hilarious.

Apparently, during the game yesterday @ Dolphin Stadium, the scoreboard picture of the Donkey had him wearing a handlebar mustache. In response to this, he said, "I'm going to grow one. If you're going to play like an ass, you might as well look like one."

Again, Adam Dunn is hilarious.

End of transmission.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bengals Win!

All is right in Cincinnati for at least a week. New England's next, and they're coming off of a loss to Denver. I'm excited to see how it unfolds.

Will we ever get Thurman back? And what are they doing driving around at 5 am? Surely they weren't on their way to practice. I don't know--I haven't read about it yet, and he was apparently arrested only 2 1/2 hours ago. So, there's that.

Anyhow, we beat the Steelers in an ugly one. The Bengals played like crap, and so did the Steelers. Difference: the Steelers played like crap a little more often than the Bengals did, and as a result, Cincinnati came up with a couple huge plays on the offensive side.

The defense, though, won the game for 'em. Five more takeaways (which, I think, makes the Bengals +5 or 6 now for the season) put us on the plus side of the turnover board and that historically has led to Bengals wins.

I can breathe now. It's nice.

Friday, September 22, 2006

It is Steeler Week here in Cincytown...

Following the Steeler game, I'll post some reactions, probably Monday morning. Until, then, though, enjoy:

Bengals Practice 09/16/06
Who Dey.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A little pre-Sunday game preparation for the Bengals...


I don't care about the Broncos--I'm more concerned with the Browns getting beaten.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Guess where I get to go today...

Indian Street Dentist


It's been a long time since I went to the dentist. I know I should go more often, but not having dental insurance will do that...
Home dentistry...
Dentist!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Today is Butt-Rock music videos.

Urgent
The Darkness
Don't Bring Me Down
Apache


Thanks for bringing this one to my attention, Brad.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wow. I never realized I liked gossip so much...

Especially when it has to do with baseball. Bravo!

On The DL.

A weblog about man-whore baseball players and the women (and sometimes men) who know where they hang out before and after the games. They mention wang size, fetishes, and all sorts of nasty, sordid details while never giving up the player's name... They save that for the comments.

Amazing, addictive stuff.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

55David on Youtube

This is the first in a series of user-based entries from Youtube that I've found interesting, for a variety of reasons. 55David's stuff is reasonably simple-story based work. He's clearly a beginner, but there's something in all of it that I like--perhaps the fact that it's clear that he makes the videos at home and involves his family... It's kind of cute, really.


Risk. It's all about getting pounded at games by your children, while not letting them win.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

In celebration of a big, useless win yesterday, it's the Bengals fight song!

Hear that Bengal growlin',
Mean and ang-a-ree,
Here he comes a prowlin',
Lean and hung-a-ree,
An offensive brute,
Run, pass, or boot,
And defensively he's rough! Tough!

Cincinnati Bengals,
That's the team we're gonna cheer to vic-to-ry!

Touchdown Bengals!
Get some points up on that board
and win a game for Cincinnati!

Chad Johnson could be insane. Hasn't he seen Super Size Me?
It's a thing of beauty...

A brief memory of last year's game vs. the Packers...
Who Dey?

The drama, the excitement, the destiny. Or something like that.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Today is Kung Fu.

Instructor of death
Monkey Fu
The Muppet Matrix

Thanks for sending this my way, Brad.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I had no idea there was such a market for He-Man stuff on the Internet...

Life Lessons

Ummm... yeah. It's cute, and I'm sure the person who did it is like seventeen. Rock out, seventeen-year-old.
The He-Man Lebowski

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Today is Rubik's Cube.

Jessica Fridrich

Apparently she invented the current most popular method to speedsolving the Rubik's cube.
Rubik's Cube one-handed
Sunwoo Ban

Five freakin' years old. I feel so dumb, yet so glad that I've devoted my time to other things, like finding videos of five-year-olds solving... wait. I'm an idiot.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Guess what today's obsession is?

Theremin Killed the Radio Star

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I am way too far behind, or something.

So I came across this really intriguing musician (or musicians) going under the name Jandek. Apparently there's quite a fanbase and, as seems to be the pattern over the last couple/few years, I'm just now finding out about him/them.

I must pick up some of his/their music; the little I've heard is very, very strange, but good. If you're into that kind of thing, anyhow.

Check out information about Jandek and Corwood Industries here: http://tisue.net/jandek/

Just... Wow.

Mr. Pacman


This is a band that I should have known about years ago. I really need to start listening to music again...
Anton Maiden
I had no idea that he was no longer with us. Wow. I'm kind of bummed now.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Say no more...


"I am a movie star. I am strong."

Ummm...

Saturday, August 19, 2006


There's nothin' like dancin' piggies. Am I right?

Friday, August 18, 2006

If you haven't seen it, you really need to...

Best. Movie. Ever.


Mike McCabe knows what I'm talking about.

Yowtch.
Umm...

This might be the weirdest thing I've seen in a long, long time.

From a Fantomas movie...

Yup.
Tomahawk - Flashback (Live, 2002 - Heavy Shift)

It's hard to look stylish when you're on the ground, writhing in pain.


I might be the only person that remembers this song...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mike Tyson!

Need a definition for "Not Safe For Work?"

Today's obsession is Mike Tyson.

He's a manimal...
For all the geeks...

If you remember this, like I do, you're saying, "That dude was easy... I want to see Soda Popinski!"

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

You say it's your birthday...


This is completely goofy. It's another "birthday" themed video for Jill.

It's weird and vaguely corporate, but...

Happy birthday, Jill!

Today is my wife's birthday!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More than meets the "Why?"


I can't believe that they're making a friggin' movie. A live action movie. A live action movie with DANE COOK in it.

*Please tell me he's playing Optimus Prime*

All right...

Not sure whether the three of you, whoever you might be, have noticed, but I've been putting youtube videos on this weblog the past few days. I rather like this instead of writing reviews. So, there'll be lots of these, put up as often as I can, with sparing text.

The stuff I'm looking for on youtube has thus far fallen into the following criteria: (1) Stuff that I find interesting; (2) Stuff that I find stupid; and (3) Stuff that I think is gross.

If you can dig up suggestions, send me the link via email and I'll post it. Or something. If you don't feel like sending suggestions, then you'll have to deal w/ the crap that I find.

I don't mind if it rains or freezes...

Cool Hand Luke

Puke like a champion today

Kobayashi!

Dude can shove 'em down, no?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Oh, yes you can drive 55. Here's what happens...

A Meditation On The Speed Limit

Pure genius.

The Bengals beat Washington's 3rd stringers...

It's starting soon...

Who Dey, bitches. If we can't beat you on the field, we'll make you want to die because of our crappy rappy.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Girl, I want to take you to a gay bar.


I love this song. Had no idea there was a video. The video might be better...

Just because.


Yep.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

How to make a realtor crazy

1. Be interested in purchasing a house.
2. Have impossibly high standards and dangerously low limits on what you're willing to spend.
3. Look at five houses. Talk shit about each one and point out every last flaw, as though you're a home inspector.
4. Go home, eat dinner.
5. Look at five more houses a week or so later, find one that's interesting.
6. Make an offer (notice the realtor's excitement) on the house.
7. The offer you've made is accepted by the seller.
8. The deal falls through because of the city (it's a long, old story that I don't want to get into right now).
9. Stop looking for houses for at least seven months.
10. Call realtor back, months later, because you're still interested in looking at houses.
11. Look at five houses, talk shit about each one. Getting better at pointing out flaws yet? Good.
12. Eat dinner. Spaghetti, preferably.
13. A week later, look at five more houses. Repeat part b of step 11. The talking shit part, anyway.
14. Repeat step 12.
15. Repeat step 13.
16. Look at even more houses, find one that you like. When the realtor retrieves information about how much the energy costs are, say, "We can't afford that. Back to the drawing board!"
17. Look at ten more houses. Find one you're interested in.
18. Make an offer $27,000 less than the asking price.
19. Embroil yourself in a bidding war that you walk away from.
20. Tell the realtor you've got a few more you'd like to look at, but after that, you don't want to look as aggressively for a while. Maybe a year.

Note: I think our realtor, who is perhaps the coolest lady in the world, might be at her end with us. What sort of gift should we buy for her?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Okay, so apparently not

It appears that I've accidentally pranked people with the below flier. The room was double booked, and we were the "double" part--so it looks like the show is being moved from July 28 to either August 12 or 19. Stay tuned, or something.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday, June 16, 2006

Holy Crap!

I'm getting married tomorrow. So, I'll be away from computers for a while--but I'll be tan, so there.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Work hours obsession

I'm probably behind everyone else on this, but it's been my new obsession over the past couple weeks. It's Overheard in the Office.

Beautiful stuff here by the OiNY people. It's what has been keeping me going hour-to-hour. No shit.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I'm at work right now...

when, in the past, I've been Charlotte at this time of the year, sleeping in dorm rooms drinking on campus and working my literary behind off. And loving it.

Lucky bums.

Friday, May 19, 2006

KitchenAid Can Opener, Red

So, if you don't know me at all, I'm getting married soon. The bridal showers happened a couple/few weeks ago, and Jill brought home a five-piece kitchen gadget set. There was a can opener--holy shit, there was a can opener.

Perhaps I should include a late preface and state that I'm a poor bastard. I'm also a cheap bastard and have never bought a can opener for more than two dollars--you know the one that I'm talking about. It's made of crappy die-cast metal, of no discernable composition (read: just plain ol' metal), and it kind of pushes into your skin when you turn the knob to open a can. It's not particularly pleasant to use, and with each turn, you're reminded of what you're doing--preparing dinner. It's work, in a small way, to use the two dollar opener, and while you're not winded when through, there's a sense of accomplishment when popping open the can of tuna, or mushroom soup, or maybe corn. All in all--it kind of sucks.

But this opener is a gift from God (or a family member)--the handle feels good in the palm, fills it out in a stately manner. Truly. Just holding it makes me feel like a person of substance. Wow. That's lame. No matter.

Squeezing the handles together, pushing the cutting edge into the tuna can does two things--it cuts through the metal suprisingly easily--just a little pop!--and it causes the cat to charge into the kitchen to paw at the cabinets, mewling for the tuna water. I turn the handle and it slices through the can's lid like--pardon me--a hot knife through butter. I'm done in four seconds. Yes, I counted.

For some reason, I'm satisfied with the can opener more than most anything else that had happened the entire day. I drain the water into a little dish and set it next to Pekar's bowl and watch him suck it down like it's a beer, the KitchenAid still in my hand. It might as well be a damn power tool. I'm reasonably sure it's the best money I've never spent.

Monday, May 15, 2006

It's almost done...

The book, the novel, is almost finished. I've got about 120 pages left to read and revise in this pass before I consider it to be just that. Readers, though, may see it differently. As a result of this, I would absolutely love some experienced eyes to take a look at it, read it as a reader would, and tell me what they think (generally--I'm not looking for a detailed line edit of a 65,000 word novel (yes, I'm aware that that's short for a novel)).

What is an experienced eye? You know who you are. And so do I, for that matter.

Any volunteers?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

And So It Begins...

Okay. Jill and I have decided that Covington sucks ass. The only real advantages are that we can walk to the bar, and that I can walk to work. The neighborhood generally sucks, the neighbors generally suck, and the place is too small for us (and all the crap we own) anyhow.

So we started looking at houses. Sort of. Looking online and doing drive-bys, not actually walking around on the insides of places. Not yet, anyhow. Soon. Within the next month or two, for sure.

There have been a few that we like, and a couple that we like more than that. Our criteria: Under $110k, off-street parking, at least two (decent-sized) bedrooms, and a basement.

And this means: I have two more reviews to write. The first will, as promised, concern the can opener that we got, and the second will concern our real estate person (once we get one).

All right. I should work now.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

It's been a long time...

Since I've posted, I know. I'm trying to finish the book and the wedding looms ever closer. It will be very, very weird to be married, if only because the wedding won't be coming anymore--it's a feeling that I've gotten used to lately and have kind of liked, in all honesty.

Next post might concern the sweet-ass can opener that we got as a shower gift. I'm going to give it a few turns over the next couple days or so and give a full report.

Later.

J

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

More crappy movies reviewed

Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector:

The Onion AV Club's Review.
Peter Sobczynski at www.efilmcritic.com

Surprise--critics are saying that the film is for shit. Who'd have thunk it? Do I plan to see it? Fuck no.


The Shaggy Dog:

Tyler Morning Telegraph
www.chud.com review

I was going to say that I'd rather be boned up the ass with a pitchfork than see this movie, but the last sentence of the chud review sums it up better.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ulillillia

I can’t remember precisely how I came across the website—but the point is, I did, and I’m very pleased. Go here: www.ulillillia.us. Think of this entry as a preparation/primer for it.

Ulillillia is a boy—no, a man—22, from North Dakota. At first glance, the website is utterly stifling, with its plain presentation and often stilted language—somewhat unpleasant, in a way, but intriguing all the same because it’s quite clear that this man is not from the same planet that most come from.

He’s got a thing for numbers. Understatement?

Every detail has a figure attached to it, a quantification and categorization, like an over-analyzed role-playing game—but what’s being discussed is real life here. My first conclusions about Uli? Ill. D&D fan. Whatever. OCD. Too much detail to be able to sift through his thoughts.

True, there’s a lot (read: tons) to get through, but the website, this website, has given me the clearest picture of anyone I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting. In fact, I don’t even have to wonder what he’s doing right now—there’s a handy little formula on his website that one can use to figure out whether he’s likely asleep or not—and if he’s awake, you can bet that he’s either working on a movie script, updating his website, one of two video games, is on How What Why, or is lost in his thoughts—what he calls his “mind game.”

The man’s got more going on than I do, and he doesn’t have a job or own a car. The solution to getting it all done? Don’t leave the house. Ever. This is an overstatement. He gets out, I’m sure, but this is rarely discussed in any measurable detail.

You’ll find a wealth of information about his projects on the site, but the most intriguing, far and away, is the “About Me” section. This’ll give you not a glimpse, but rather an unabashed stare into the mind—yes, the mind—of Uli. All the way in.

Most folks, if you’re anything like me, keep much of themselves to themselves—the little things that you do while you’re walking, like counting your steps or making sure not to stand on a crack or picking up pennies on heads—but not Ulillillia. He’s remarkably candid about who he is, what drives him, and where he comes from. He describes each year of his education in detail, as well as “special events,” the most interesting of which is a story detailing a Shakespearian play he was in (I’m not sure which one—anyone familiar with the line “Hello within,” and then a character runs across the stage?).

The most harrowing and telling sections of the website are, without any doubt, those titled “Video Games” and “Major Fears.” “Video Games” shows us the man’s origins, where his current mode of thought originates from and affords us the opportunity to know him in terms of why—it’s all explained. Why do I keep saying that?

My favorite section of the website, hands down—and I admit that it’s schadenfreude (spelling?) that makes it my favorite—is the “Major Fears” section. Ulillillia lists—and yes, describes, in harrowing robotic detail—each of them. Here’s a taste: "This fear, the fear of mirrors, has been with me for over a decade and a half, since about 1988 or 1989. This fear prevents me from getting too much in the direct path of a mirror. However, I have no problem going in front of mirrors in my mind game or in video games, even seeing one head on as an image on a screen is okay as well. I've got one major example of a case in which I didn't have this fear.
The exact cause is not known."

After some thought, it’s not the fact that I like to indulge in things that aren’t necessarily pleasant, or the fact that the misfortune/weirdness of others intrigues me that I like so much about Ulillillia—it’s the fact that he’s telling the truth in every way. This is the world as he sees it, told through his own foggy lens. These words are him, no question about it.

Aside from the content itself, what’s most striking about Uli is the presentation of the content, its mathematical bent, its extreme detail. He sees everything with a strange equality—no stone is unturned. But most important, he details those things that most of us just skip over, those things that we usually generalize without ever thinking about it—and he twists them, turns them into something new. Something great, something real, and something genuinely fantastic. I love Ulillillia.

UPDATE: 05/12/2006

Ulillillia's come across this weblog and references it on his website. He notes the entry about him as "interesting." I am very pleased, I think. Ain't the web great?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Batman

I know I'm slamming two posts right into one another, but they're both important to me.

I’ve heard a number of stories from various people who had seen, in the early to mid-90’s, a guy dressed up like Batman (the Michael Keaton version) in an assortment of situations around the Clifton/Corryville/University of Cincinnati area. I’m looking for people to relate these stories to me—not for any real reason, other than to maybe post them here.

If you’ve heard any of these stories, or know someone who does, hook me up.

Walking Guy

Many years ago, in Florence, KY, there was a young man of some legend around my circle of friends that everyone called “Walking Guy.” He was (as I remember, anyhow) tall and thin, always wore headphones and had this incredibly long, bouncing stride that might have fit right into the Ministry of Silly Walks. The evidence is overwhelming that the boy was all but functionally retarded.

We’d see him whenever we were out that way, walking down US 42, away from Mall Road towards Industrial, ostensibly listening to music as he made his way somewhere. A Walking Guy sighting was an ordinary occurrence, but it never went without mention. “Walking Guy,” someone would always say with a brief point. We’d all smile, watch for a moment, and go on with whatever business we had. No big deal.

I never gave it much thought until a couple Saturdays ago, when the Mardi Gras parade was going down on Mainstrasse, a half-block from the house. I’d taken pizza and sweet potato fries out of the oven for Jill and her sister and brother-in-law when it started. They were down around sixth street to watch the parade, and I thought it a good idea to head down; I’d never seen the Gras before.

I went to the corner and stood, my hands in my pockets, behind a group of kids bent on catching beads and candy. Pleasant. Nothing less.

A guy walked up to me and we exchanged greetings, just as people in Covington tend to do (whether they live around the Strasse or not)—no big deal. We watched the parade for a moment, and then the guy looked at me.

“I see you all the time,” he said.

I didn’t know what he was talking about and said nothing.

“I see you walking every morning and afternoon.” He smiled at me. For a moment, I was creeped out, but it went away as soon as I rationalized that he wasn’t a stalker or trying to get in my pants.

“Yep,” I said. “That’s me.”

We were silent for the rest of the parade, which was boring save for a couple of fire-eaters that walked between a couple floats.

I walked home without incident or excitement.

Weeks later, the thought came to me that I’d become a variation on Walking Guy. I am Walking Guy, to that fella that came up to me. Maybe I’m Walking Guy to a bunch of people along 7th street, 6th street, Madison, 5th, and Scott. Maybe the same people drive past me every day, point and say “Hey, it’s Walking Guy.” Perhaps they think I might be functionally retarded because of the way that I walk.

Is there an unknown brotherhood that I’m part of? A group of people that lots of people see walking around all of the time?

Do you have a Walking Guy?

UPDATE: March 10, 2006: It has come to my attention that there is another group of folks who know of Walking Guy, only they've given him a different name: Florence Gump. Wow.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Brandon.

Brandon Bird is, without any doubt in my mind, the greatest artist of all time. I could go ahead and write somewhere between 500 and 1000 words explaining why I think that this is true, but I'm not going to. Go: Brandon Bird

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Brief(s)

Two quick things--

Review of Date Movie:

  • It Sucks

    And, more importantly, there's a writing group starting in the Cincinnati area. If you live in NKY/Cincinnati/SE Indiana, join online. The first meeting is supposed to be March 18 @ Kaldi's Downtown. Join at: Cincinnati Writing Project

    That's all for now. More later.
  • Wednesday, February 22, 2006

    Homemade Barbecue Chicken Pizza

    Here’s what we ate for dinner tonight. You should make this—it’s fucking good.

    1 pizza crust
    2 roma tomatoes
    1 small red onion
    1 chicken breast
    1 cup Montgomery Inn Barbecue Sauce (yes, the brand is important)
    sliced jalapeno peppers to taste
    cilantro, fresh
    crushed red pepper
    1 cup low-fat mozzarella or provolone cheese (NOT fat free, as this type of cheese doesn’t like to melt)


    Cook the chicken in a skillet, cutting it as it cooks in the skillet. Add enough crushed red pepper so that it can be faintly smelled on the chicken. Continue cutting the chicken until there are no large chunks.

    Once the chicken is done cooking, stir it (the chicken, that is) into the cup of barbecue sauce and then spread the mixure onto your pizza crust, leaving approximately 1” around the crust.

    Spread the tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos onto the crust, and then spread the cheese.

    Cook for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.

    Sprinkle cilantro over the pizza, slice, and enjoy.

    ****
    We’ve had this twice in the last couple weeks, and it’s my new favorite goddamn food. I like it so much that I have to swear when I’m describing it.

    Jill and I have been cooking 2 or 3 times a week as of late, and we’ve both been discovering quite a bit about ourselves and our tastes lately. What comes immediately to mind is the issue of fish.

    For the last ten years or so, I’ve contended that I greatly dislike fish. This was generally true until we made tuna steaks (see 12/19 post), which I ended up loving. This scared me, but it also opened me up to a new world of food that I’d previously closed myself off to.

    Since the tuna steaks, I’ve been able to determine that tilapia sucks, as does most ‘lighter’ fish. Too flaky for me, not substantial enough. These types of fish are, in my opinion, nothing more than a vehicle for tartar sauce (mmm), which is likely the most artery-clogging substance on the planet, and I don’t want to die of a heart attack before I turn 75 (which means I should quit smoking sometime soon).

    I’ve also determined that I like swordfish as well, but that reheating it makes it taste like dirty buttholes.

    We’re having shark this week, and I hope it’s good. I’m still a little scared of it, but if it’s anything like these other ones, I’ve got nothing to worry about. Tell me I have nothing to worry about.

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Crazy Bus Guy

    Perhaps the name is unfair, but it’s from the first time that I ever saw him. I was on the shuttle.

    Did you ever notice that homeless people handle small objects differently than do the homed? It’s a slower, clunkier way of dealing with things. My hypothesis is that the extremities’ nerves are weather dulled and there’s not much reason to handle much of anything, so they simply stop practicing. I haven’t given this hypothesis much thought, but it’s something that I noticed in CBG right off the bat. That and his wild, blonde caveman hair.

    Speaking of caveman—he actually appears to be the offspring of a deviant relationship between a cavewoman and David Lee Roth. Add years of meth use to the mix and you’ve got our man.

    I’ve never talked to him, but I’ve seen him everywhere. Walking the streets of Covington on a number of occasions, riding the bus, walking the streets of Downtown Cincinnati, and, strangely enough, outside the Barnes and Noble in Florence (which is a good 15 minute drive from Covington with no traffic problems), wandering the parking lot. And only when it’s cold outside.

    Yesterday, I was sitting in the back of the bus on the way home from work and he sauntered onto the bus at the 4th and Race stop. I was reading the latest Tin House (because I’m so goddamn hip) and I saw him get on, walk back, and then sit on the other end of the bench. You could say that he sat next to me, but there were four empty seats between us. But he sat next to me nonetheless.

    I just realized that I’m beginning to sound like one of two things—(a) an asshole who makes fun of homeless people, or (b) a jackoff who is going to patronize his situation with an “ooh that’s so sad” tone. My intent is to do neither of these things—I’m getting to the review part of it.

    Closely behind him followed his smell, which was exactly as one would expect it to be: earthy and unwashed, with a healthy dose of consumed liquor floating around in there somewhere. While not wholly unpleasant, I breathed as little as I could.

    Instead of actually reading as I’d planned to, I used the magazine as subterfuge while I stole glances at him. He looks cognizant, I thought, looking back at the mishmash of words that were, effectively, the wool I was pulling over (apparently) nobody’s eyes. Is he as homeless as I think he is? Maybe he’s pulling some kind of check doing light industrial work and spends his off time walking around the city. I glanced at his hands. Dirty. Disgusting, actually, and the knuckles on his right hand were smashed flat. The skin was grey, unlike the reddish rest of him. He could have gotten that anywhere. I imagined him at work, in front of some machine putting labels on cans or something. It worked. I could totally see it, and I was convinced of it: this guy totally has a job.

    And then he got off the bus between Coco’s and the Justice Center. I watched him unabashedly through the window, as though there were some barrier that might keep him from catching me staring. He picked a cigarette up from the ground and my assertion that he most certainly had a job fell to shit. CBG held the cigarette and looked at it for a moment and the only thing I could think while he did that was I wonder whether he recognizes me when I see him.

    Friday, January 27, 2006

    Mailing it in again...

    Those that know me know that I love reviews of terrible movies. Or, more accurately, terrible movie reviews. So, I'm mailing some more in this morning. Here's one from Slant that was great:

    http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/film_review.asp?ID=2034

    and one from www.themovieboy.com:

    http://themovieboy.com/directlinks/05yoursmineours.htm

    and, finally, one from Dennis Schwartz on Ovus' World:

    http://www.sover.net/~ozus/flightplan.htm

    Rock.

    Thursday, January 26, 2006

    Quaker Quakes Chili Cheese Potato Stix

    It's Nine-ish at the moment and I've just had a handful of these. I can't decide whether they're terrible or just okay. The 'stix' (or, as I prefer, "Styx") look like crinkle-cut fries, which makes them appear to be more fried than they actually are. That said, there is a general taste something like a french fry, only crunchy and completely devoid of grease. I'm torn on this absence--isn't this why I eat fries? Why I would want to?

    Thankfully, Quaker has replaced the grease with chili powder and forced me to forget about the absence of the "fry" in french fry, rendering these Quakes less like a fry and more like a Cheetoh. A more shapely cheetoh, sexier and probably confusing to a three-year-old. But then, three-year-olds don't tend to care for chili powder. None that I've met, anyway.

    Not the point. My mouth is burning a little, and I should get something to drink. There's also a slight potato-chippy taste in my mouth, like I've doused a bag of Lay's in actual taco seasoning. But for some reason, nonetheless, I'd eat more if given the chance.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2006

    Plagiarism...

    Here's a review of *this week's #1 Film* I stole from the Arizona Daily Star:

    Underwhelming ripoff of 'Matrix' movies
    By Phil Villarreal
    ARIZONA DAILY STAR
    Tucson, Arizona Published: 01.21.2006
    advertisement

    Remember those "Matrix" movies? The producers of "Underworld: Evolution" sure do. And by "remember," I mean "copy."
    Seemingly every shot, camera trick and design aspect, right down to the black-leather kung fu with techno music in the background, is ripped off from "The Matrix" and its sequels. At least the "Underworld" people had the imagination to subtitle their film "Evolution" rather than "Revolutions." And, just so absolutely everything wouldn't be a wholesale copy of "The Matrix," the elaborate and grotesque death scenes are cribbed from "Mortal Kombat" video games.
    The theme for "Underworld" is that vampires and werewolves have carried on a discreet rivalry for centuries, battling for supremacy while hiding out from humans.
    In case you haven't seen the first movie, and few have, judging from the paltry $52 million domestic gross, the new movie opens with an extended prologue. The opening, set centuries in the past, proves that even in the year 1202, unnecessarily shaky cameras and stomach-churning rapid-fire editing plagued the Earth. Then comes a CliffsNotes version of the first film, including its best scene, in which the bad guy's head is sliced diagonally in half, causing the top portion to slide off.
    Flash forward to modern times, and death-dealing vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale) has learned that her family has told her a series of lies her whole life, or something. Whatever; anything for an excuse to run around exploding things. Alongside her is Michael (Scott Speedman), the half-human, half-vampire, half-werewolf — that's a lot of halves — who shared a forbidden romance with her in the first film.
    This time around, the romance isn't forbidden, because vampires and werewolves not only don't fight so much, they're the best of friends, protecting each other's hidden castles and pouncing through walls to one another's defense. After all the vitriol between the races in the first film, the friendship seems a little fishy, almost uncomfortably buddy-buddy, in the vein of George Bush and Bill Clinton.
    Most of the fighting in the sequel is vampire-on-vampire violence. Whenever werewolves appear onscreen, they always tear in for the kill, while vampires at least have the decency to taunt their foes with archaic dialogue. It's easy to see why the 'wolves are so angry. There are absolutely no werewolf chicks to hang out with. The vampires have all the ladies, who leap around in tight leather and often partake in wild orgies in dark catacombs.
    The villain, Marcus (Tony Curran), can transform into a bald bat and jab people with spikes that protrude from his wings. He's more powerful than the other vampires, thanks to an infusion of werewolf blood.
    One important question the film never confronts is what to call a vampire-werewolf mix. The term "hybrid" is casually bandied about, but c'mon, that's so Honda Civic. At least go werepire or vampwolf.
    You can always tell who's really a vampire, if not for their protruding fangs, then because they walk around with miserable pouts that resemble Ben Stiller's "blue steel" male model facial pose in "Zoolander."
    Selene, in particular, has the look down cold. She makes passionate love to Michael — blue steel. She learns a grave secret about the origins of her family — blue steel. She learns she won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes — blue steel.
    OK, that last one doesn't happen; they've got to save something for the threequel.
    ● Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or pvillarreal@azstarnet.com.

    Friday, January 20, 2006

    Queens photos







    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    Cue up the Coltrane...

    Instead of a review, I’m going to make a random list of my thirty favorite things. In no particular order.

    1. Jill
    2. walking to work
    3. the first four Black Sabbath albums
    4. Slacking at work
    5. The Pumas I bought on Monday
    6. Harvey Pekar (the comic book guy)
    7. Writing
    8. Listening to music in headphones—it’s like your mind is rocking out
    9. Zippo lighters
    10. Miller High Life
    11. Toni Morrison
    12. Breathing in sync to a cricket outside the window so that I’m briefly scared that smoking is causing adverse lung issues that are just now becoming apparent, but then realizing that it’s only a cricket.
    13. warm Januaries
    14. Queens University of Charlotte
    15. Painting
    16. Harvey Pekar (the cat)
    17. Encouraging people to write
    18. Chewing gum.
    19. Homemade burritos
    20. The Cincinnati skyline
    21. Sundays between August and February
    22. The Roebling Suspension Bridge
    23. Eraserhead
    24. Blaise Weller
    25. Mara, and all the people involved therein
    26. Putting on socks and hats
    27. Cold weather
    28. Knowing that there’s a wedding coming
    29. Playing Pool
    30. Looking at creepy pictures of stuff

    I'm sure to get some more reviews out of this list... stay tuned.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    Fossil FS-2900

    The band is made of metal, which is my primary criterion for liking a watch. My only criteria, actually. And, somehow, I feel bad for having it. It’s because it’s a returned gift. Well, the first watch was returned and traded in for this one, this all-metal, blue-faced replacement for something that I didn’t first care very much for.

    It wasn’t that I didn’t like it—the original one was a nice, thick leather-banded watch. But it was uncomfortable on my wrist—I couldn’t move my hand with it on… it was like wearing a manacle or a nuthouse restraint. So Jill took it back the next day, braving the returns crowd and walking back through the store, the watch section, and selecting a new one.

    She brought it home to me, and I opened the box, her standing in front of me smiling. She asked, “Did I do good?”

    I put the watch on and looked at it, at the band, the shiny metal band, its cold comfort wrapped around my wrist. I thought to myself briefly—Jesus did not get one of these. Ever.

    I sat down with the watch, Jill following me to the couch and I set it to the right time, the face staring back at me, aligned with the world. I grew curious about the three spare hands decidedly not spinning, so I took out the instructions and discovered that I have a stopwatch, too. I pushed the lower button and the second hand sped around the face and stopped at the 12 second mark. I pushed the top button and the stopwatch function sprang into slow action, the tiny minute hand and the tiny hour hand inside the wider circle of the primary clock taking their time, eventually meeting their destinations and continuing to their next.

    I looked at the face, watched its parts move and shine in their newness.

    “Yes,” I said. “You did good.”

    Monday, January 16, 2006

    Abigail Thomas

    Two Januaries ago, I was at Queens University for school, at the residency’s opening reception, standing outside, smoking. I had a small-talk conversation with a woman about what it was that I wrote, who my teacher was that semester, and so on. She was beautiful and worn, and her clothes hung off of her in a strange, elegant way. I mention this—the clothes, that is—like it’s important to me what she wore… I don’t know how important it is, but she has a seemingly stated sense of style—she wears what she wears like it’s hers, though, and it’s striking to me. She owns everything about herself. Especially the eyes. Her eyes tell you she listens, that she has listened in the past, that she’ll continue to listen so long as she can. Abby struck me to the bone. That’s what I’m trying to get at. Right from that first instant, she struck me to the bone.

    Later in the week, she read a particularly painful passage in the auditorium about her husband that, for me anyway, defined love. This isn’t to say that I hadn’t intellectually known it before, but she broke down some wall that I’d had inside, probably for all my life. It’s about caring. That’s all. It sounds simpler than it is, I discovered, to care all of the time. To be sure, there are things that just don’t matter, like what color the toilet happens to be, or how many keys you’ve got on your key ring, but there are things that do matter. Like people. Like family. Like lovers or spouses or things that you like or want to do. And it’s deeply vital to care about all of those things all of the time. There’s a lot of energy to divide, but without doing it, a life will never be fulfilled.

    Abby Thomas is a picture of a fulfilled life. A picture of caring all of the time about all of the things around her. She might not agree with me, but every time I see her, she inspires me to be more like her. And every time I see her, I care a little bit more.

    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    The Penguin--Charlotte, NC

    It's been quite a while since I've posted. The good news is that I've got a few reviews backed up, and I'm also no longer a graduate student. *MFA Hey!*

    Anyhow, here's a review from 1/10:

    I got into Charlotte at around 3:30 on Saturday, and Laura picked me up at the airport. I had agreed to take her to dinner for the favor, so we went to the Penguin, which isn’t far from the South Park/Queens University area, my locale when I’m in the (other) Queen City.

    We got a booth and sat down to a couple Cokes and ordered some fried pickles. Over them, we talked writing and graduation. The conversation was pleasant and it helped me to slide back into the week that is a Queens residency. Mostly, though, it was just good to see Laura, as she’s one of my favorite people in the world. She’s a broad, broad person; wider than anyone can know. Her experience in life is at once common and uncommon; she’s both complex and simple. And she makes me happy and comfortable. Like fried dill pickles.

    That’s what I wanted to get to—the pickles. In my previous experiences with deep-fried dill pickles, they were good and comforting spears, easily identifiable in their shape alone, the surprise inside the batter not a surprise at all, but good all the same. The Penguin, though, is a different experience altogether. The majority of that, to be completely honest, is more in the food and the atmosphere.

    It’s like a neo-1950’s greaser diner. That’s what I presume the intent to be anyway. That guy from Social Distortion would blend in with the staff, who are likely hundreds of times more pleasant than he is. But it makes you feel tough to have that burger in your hand (they’re all named after types of automobile engines, by the way) and to take a bite from it, like you’re saying something akin to “I’m going to eat the fuck out of this hamburger, bitch.”

    The pickles, though, are sort of an anomaly here, because deep-fried dill chips (that’s how they’re aesthetically different from the other ones I’ve had) aren’t necessarily food for a tough guy. A fried boot, maybe, but not a pickle, which, if it were a spear, would perhaps have a strange Freudian air to it. No matter. The point that I want to get to (and, for some reason, I’m making it harder on myself than I should be) is that these dill chips are the real motherfucking deal. Spend five bucks, bring a dear friend (who, hopefully knows some of the rockin’ staffers), and you’ll be in for something you’ll remember—kind conversation, their comfort and warmth and words, and the slight vinegar sting of a pickle slice rising out of the flaky sweet of the batter. Nothing else like it, or as good.