Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The weirdest concert I've ever been to

All right, I'm going to have to work harder to make sure that I post more often. I promised myself at least three days a week, and it's been more than a week since something went up (this entry is pre-dated).

So last night was the like the 13th show of the year. Setting: Troubadour. Artist: Nellie McKay

The show was supposed to start promptly at 9 p.m. with no opener, so Dave and I decide to get there about 8:30 p.m. We walk through the security and ticket line and are given "Lost passes" to the upstairs bar and balcony seats (which are already full). I'm pretty psyched, since I've never been granted access to the secret seats (which have housed Morrissey and Jim Belushi at shows coincident with me). Dave says it's b/c we're early, but i've been really early before and been shut out, so this is pretty cool.

Nellie McKay, whose first album was released as double CD at her insistence over her record company's wishes (can you say artiste?), comes out at about 9:20 and immediately says that she has just met her band this evening. the crowd doesn't seem to care, b/c she's here right in front of them and doesn't appear ailing. her last appearance in Los Angeles had been at a radio station festival show in the spring and she was so sick that she played just a couple songs. Unfortunately, the first two songs, while played pretty well with her brand new backing band, are riddled with an important sound level problem--the vocals are way too quiet compared to the band's mics. the audience complains about it, especially b/c many of her arrangements are piano only so the backing band is kinda weird (weirder still watching them sift through sheet music). at other shows i've been to a little complaint about the sound levels usually ain't nothing, but i can already sense a weird defensive vibe about this. Both sides seem at fault, the complainers seem to have a tone of you-better-fucking-fix-this-or-i'm-gonna-be-an-asshole-audience-member and she seems like to be taking this personally (when in fact people love her and just want to be able to hear her voice better).

But the next couple songs are performed with a louder and a bit clearer vocals so the crowd seems appeased and the vibe seems to be disappearing. People in the crowd were laughing along with her ironically jokey lyrics and feeling the vibe of her playful piano tickling.

Nellie then says she wants to do a new song called "Columbia is bleeding" about animal testing at Columbia University in her now-hometown of New York City. She plays the song, which no one knows and if the fans are at all like me didn't really "get" the lyrics hearing it the first time in a club, and it's received what seemed to be pretty favorably. People clapped and cheered and some laughed, though not necessarily apparently at that song per se. But about one minute into her next song she stops.

And then she rails against the audience for laughing, saying that "animal cruelty isn't funny. would you laugh if i sang about slavery? slavery isn't funny. rape isn't funny, unless you're sarah silverman. not all of my songs are funny." in my head all i can think to myself is nice job of criticizing the crowd for laughing at you by making a joke about someone else. She continues with this holier-than-thou criticism of the audience (keep in mind this is someone who makes jokes in her music, has a little girl voice sometimes and plays piano mostly with spritely paced major chords and keys) and a woman from the upstairs seats yells: "SHUT UP AND SING."

" ... [unintelligible response], you bitch!"

OK, gloves are off (or other applicable cliché). This leads to a GIANT FUCKING MELTDOWN. Nellie starts non-sequiturizing into complaints about her record label, Sony, for fighting her on the length of her upcoming album. She wants to do a 23-song, 75-minute CD, while Sony wants 16 songs and 48 minutes. She asks the crowd if any of us would NOT buy her CD b/c it was 75 minutes long. Of course we all agree with her and relatively onboardish with her rant, even if it does seem a bit vitriolic. But rather than be rallied by our support and agreement, she keeps going. So someone encourages her to start her own label. She says she'd like to but Sony controls her contract and that she has offered them a "quarter million" to get out of her contract, even though she doesn't have it and now she's hysterically crying and trembling, and if she cannot get out of her contract and cannot record her music the way she wants to she may never sing again, which would break her heart, b/c she cares so much about the music and that's all that matters to her and blahblabhblah and at this point the audience is stunned. I'm speechless and almost sweating b/c tghe audience is that uncomfortable. She's crying hysterically now and tears and snot are flying into the audience. people who had totally backed her on the record length thing, like me, are now really put off. dave is mouthing "one of the weirdest shows ever" to me and taking a pic with his camera phone. the band is just frozen more or less, with the bass player throwing her occasional smiles of support.

After about 10 minutes, the histrionics end. And she then goes right into her next song and plays it fine. The audience response to this and the next few songs is timid, except for the ass lickers who say that they love her. It's like she's the dynamite on the season finale of Lost on stage and we don't want to disturb it by clapping inapproriately or anything.
honestly, i;m thinking the whole thing might be staged, given her history of deceit about her career. I'm 19, no 22, no i'm not saying. My grandfather was a murdered, except he wasn't. My dad's a lech, except accding to dad he supported her for years and her mom. The buffalo news did an amazing article on all this a few years ago. now this doesn't detract from my loving her music, but perhaps i don't love the artist.

Eventually the vibe blows over, the show kicks ass and oh yeah, she comes into the audience to hand a photocopy of an article that appeared in a magazine about animals that were left behind or mistreated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She has only about 20 copies and (luckily) for dave and i we each get one. We were actually like first and third to get one. She was very nice about handing them out, too. the show ends two hours after it starts and it was great for the most part, but still ...

So that;s it. the weirdest concert i've ever been to.

A couple other things for this posting check out -- a novel about horrible pharmaceutical companies, that ironically was commissioned by the pharmas initially to portray them as the goodguys.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

George W. Bush and co. are so smart about global warming

This is from the Los Angeles Times ...

Antarctic Ice Shows Long Period of Lower Greenhouse Gas Levels
A nearly two-mile-long core of ice -- the oldest frozen sample ever drilled from the underbelly of Antarctica -- shows that levels of two greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, have not been as high as they are today for 650,000 years.

By Usha Lee McFarling
Times Staff Writer

A nearly two-mile-long core of ice -- the oldest frozen sample ever drilled from the underbelly of Antarctica -- shows that levels of two greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, have not been as high as they are today for 650,000 years.

The new research, published in Friday's issue of the journal Science, describes the content of the greenhouse gases within the core and shows that carbon dioxide levels today are 27% higher than they have been in the past 650,000 years and levels of methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas, are 130% higher, said Thomas Stocker, a climate researcher at the University of Bern and senior member of the European ice coring team that wrote two new papers based on the core.

The work provides more evidence that human activity since the industrial revolution has dramatically altered the planet's climate system, scientists said. "This is saying, 'Yeah, we had it right.' We can pound on the table harder and say, 'This is real,'" said Richard Alley, a Penn State University geophysicist and expert on ice cores who was not involved with the new analysis.

--And of course the best way to respond to this is to give tax breaks for buying a full-size SUV. I love gasoline!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy thanksgiving. Let's all remember to thank someone with an American flag pin on their lapels.

Raise a glass to drinking JimJonesJuice


see Capote and Goblet of Fire!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

If this weren't real it might be funny in a really sick way

Instead, this is just ghastly.

I came across this reading today.

The Washinngton Post notices a recent e-mail from the Department of Homeland Security celebrating some of its great achievements in 2005:

DHS Today will highlight FY05 Accomplishments in this column over the next several weeks. This week's focus is on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The top FY05 FEMA accomplishments included:

Hurricane Katrina: The response to Hurricane Katrina was FEMA's largest response in its history.

Be thankful you're not that deluded this holiday season. A real entry coming soon.


Monday, November 14, 2005

Avoiding slopes and the importance of Bon Jovi songs

So I've made it my goal to not become the guy who starts something with enthusiasm and then fades fast and easy. And yet, I've started posting less frequently already. I think part of that is because I don't want this to become a strictly political blog and lately, that's where I felt I was being pulled. In an effort to be more multi-faceted with this blog, I am going to try and keep the political stuff to just two days a week, unless something huge happens. But this is me and I give myself just a 30 percent chance of adhering to that. Quick belated props to Condoleeza Rice for helping broker a compromise between the Palestinians and Israelis. Engaging in the international community through hard work and diplomacy works. whothefuckwouldathunkthat?

Now on to today's entry ...

As I've said before (at least I hope have), moving to Los Angeles is one of the two best decisions of my life (along with joining the Pride of Arizona in college). I've found a job that I truly love going to every morning--a purrfect combination of journalism, computer geekiness and most importantly teaching (without being a certificated teacher and with it dealing with all the attendant rules and regs), as well as been able to indulge my music jones by finally becoming someone who goes to concerts and introduces his friends to great music (yeah, the former intellectual snob, now gets to be a practicing music snob, who also listens to def leppard and deborah gibson), inline skate for 10+ miles every weekend and most importantly i've met some truly amazing people.

I was able to rediscover my best friend from high school, walk along as he met, dated and fell in love with his now wife (one of the few Republicans that I truly love--gotta get behind anyone who loves Rent, Harry Potter and watching the Oscar pre-show), one of the two funniest people I've ever met and so many others--especially my own kids. But perhaps my favorite person that I've met out here, our designer at L.A. Youth, might be pulling the Garden State and heading back to her Midwestern place of origin.

From Amy I've rethought my conceptions of friendship, family, love, music snobbery, parenting, pop culture, karakoe, abortion, xmas and art. not bad, eh? Soon we're going to journey with some of our fave people as they confront the difference between doing what is good and what is easy. Perhaps we can learn something from them. I know at least to never say goodbye, even if we do end up 1,200 miles apart.


Gross, goofy coda to today's posting

On my way to buy Goblet of Fire tickets Thursday night (for a Friday show), I had a most unfortunate adventure. was walking along 3rd Street, which is a pretty standard street in Los Angeles street, curb, grassy strip, sidewalk, more grass/trees then buildings. Well, I had walked about two blocks when and was about to cross the street when I noticed that most unmistakeable smell of animal shit. I looked down to make sure that I hadn't stepped in anything, and thankfully I hadn't. I kept walking assuming that I'd escape in a few steps. But instead it's getting worse and 10 steps after that even worse. I look down at my shoes again and i'm clean on the soles of my shoes, but at this point not in my lungs. As I'm looking down I notice that the grass between the sidewalk and the curb has been replanted. So i'm assuming that they're fertilizing. What makes this short junior highesque story even better is that I got to repeat it when I came back.

In closing I'm gonna pimp for USA Network on Thanksgiving and burning off tryptothan -- Bring It On, Coyote Ugly, Meet the Parents, American Pie 2 (and unfortunately, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days). But except for the unfortunate pairing of Penny Lane and nakedbongopothead is like 10 hours of comedic bliss.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

I don't know if this apocalyptic but ...

Care Bears are back. What the fuck is up with that?

And right now I'm watching this commercial featuring the always cute Kristen Davis touting the benefits of a Maybeline make-up with "caffiene" in it.

Um, uh, wtf?

Why newspapers still matter, and why the Net makes them better

So the Los Angeles Times today had the beginnings of an amazing investigative series on conservators, people who are appointed by the courts in california to oversee and manage (and control) the lives of the elderly placed in their charge. they make tons of money and seem to do in a nearly unregulated environment. best thing, gov. schwarzenegger vetoed legislation that would have added more regulation. So if you've got $385 lying around, get certified and then you, too, can file papers in court to control someone's life that you've never met.

And the New York Times featured a great Op-Ed from Frank Rich (Times select subscription required) about the Bush administrations culture of lying. Here are some of the most salient tidbits ...

... The power of these lies was considerable. In a CBS News/New York Times poll released on Sept. 25, 2001, 60 percent of Americans thought Osama bin Laden had been the culprit in the attacks of two weeks earlier, either alone or in league with unnamed "others" or with the Taliban; only 6 percent thought bin Laden had collaborated with Saddam; and only 2 percent thought Saddam had been the sole instigator. By the time we invaded Iraq in 2003, however, CBS News found that 53 percent believed Saddam had been "personally involved" in 9/11; other polls showed that a similar percentage of Americans had even convinced themselves that the hijackers were Iraqis.
--[this one is terrifying]

There is still much more to learn about our government's duplicity in the run-up to the war, just as there is much more to learn about what has gone on since, whether with torture or billions of Iraq reconstruction dollars. That is why the White House and its allies, having failed to discredit the Fitzgerald investigation, are now so desperate to slow or block every other inquiry. Exhibit A is the Senate Intelligence Committee, whose Republican chairman, Pat Roberts, is proving a major farceur with his efforts to sidestep any serious investigation of White House prewar subterfuge. Last Sunday, the same day that newspapers reported Carl Levin's revelation about the "intentionally misleading" Qaeda informant, Senator Roberts could be found on "Face the Nation" saying he had found no evidence of "political manipulation or pressure" in the use of prewar intelligence.

His brazenness is not anomalous. After more than two years of looking into the forged documents used by the White House to help support its bogus claims of Saddam's Niger uranium, the F.B.I. ended its investigation without resolving the identity of the forgers. Last week, Jane Mayer of The New Yorker reported that an investigation into the November 2003 death of an Abu Ghraib detainee, labeled a homicide by the U.S. government, has been, in the words of a lawyer familiar with the case, "lying kind of fallow." The Wall Street Journal similarly reported that 17 months after Condoleezza Rice promised a full investigation into Ahmad Chalabi's alleged leaking of American intelligence to Iran, F.B.I. investigators had yet to interview Mr. Chalabi - who was being welcomed in Washington last week as an honored guest by none other than Ms. Rice.

[i believe what you may be feeling is Yikes!]

So basically, yay newspapers! THERE IS NO WAY THAT WE'D BE GETTING THIS INFORMATION WITHOUT THEM. And more importantly than converted liberals like me getting this information, hopefully more questioning people will also be getting this information.

What else today? it's been a mixed, but mostly shitty, weekend for sports. My fantasy football team lost even though they actually didn't eat it for once. For Fuck's Sake ... I got three touchdowns from Roy Williams thrown by Joey Harrington!!! and I still LOST. The Sabres disappeared against the Senators and Arizona started to believe its hype in college football. DOUBLE YIKES! But the Bills won and Losman played well in the victory. Will they have the sack to let him keep playing?

I didn't get to watch the game, but I can imagine Jerry Sullivan's Monday column already: Leave Losman in. Leave Losman in. Leave Losman in. The defense still sucks, but London Fletcher played half as well as he talks for once.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

more vegetable reading

This is a truth-test of Bush's and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley's speeches earlier this week, in which they claimed that the administration did not manipulate or exaggerate intel about Saddam's non-existent weapons of mass destruction and that Congress was on board.

Asterisks Dot White House's Iraq Argument

By Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, November 12, 2005; Page A01

President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence.

Group Trains Air Force Cadets to Proselytize

By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 12, 2005; Page A06

A private missionary group has assigned a pair of full-time Christian ministers to the U.S. Air Force Academy, where they are training cadets to evangelize among their peers, according to a confidential letter to supporters.

Shame on us: Apparently it is about who they are ...

Senate to Gitmo enemy combatants: DROP Your Appeals DEAD!!

The NYTimes reports today that five "moderate" Democratic Senators voted to support "moderate" Republican Senator Lindsey Graham's proposal to deny of enemy combatants held at Gitmo the the right to appeal their incarcerations in the United States Court System.

"A foreign national who is captured and determined to be an enemy combatant in the world war on terrorism has no more right to a habeas corpus appeal to our courts than did a captured soldier of the Axis powers during World War II," Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, said in a statement. [With Democrats defending civil liberties like that, who needs Dick Cheney?]

Spokesman for Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) as quoted in the NYTimes: "He thinks they should stay in the military tribunal system, and if that system is broken, we should fix it, not move them out of it," said David DiMartino, a spokesman for Senator Nelson. [Buck stops where?]

Let know one say that this is solely a pro-Democratic blog.

More coming later today, because dammit this is a news-filled Saturday

Friday, November 11, 2005

Funniest things about sports this week ...

It's a tie:

"If they let the cheerleaders date the players, then they wouldn't have to go make out with each other." -- Cris Carter trying to make sense of the Carolina cheerleaders scandal--two of them caught in a ladies' restroom stall--on HBO's "Inside the NFL"


Rich Rys, writer extraordinaire and philly sports fan myopic apologist, bought a T.O. jersey last season. That's a shame.

Go Sabres!

I want again to be proud of who WE are

Sometimes this blog will be about politics, b/c that's very much a part of who I am since I've moved to California.

So earlier today, President Bush confused questioning the intergrity of the reason why we went to war with not supporting the troops.

"As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them," the president said. "Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that, whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united and we will settle for nothing less than victory."

I fail to understand why the President continues to impugn the concept of freedom as his default response to any criticism levlled at his reasoning (lying) about going to war. Are we not fighting to bring freedom to the Iraqis, who were previously unable to criticize, let alone question, their "elected" leader?

How can this be the same man who said this: "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe -- because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo... The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom -- the freedom we prize -- is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind. -- George W. Bush

... I guess as long as it's not the liberty to ask why we lied our way into killing 2,050 American soliders and a "conveniently" uncounted thousands of Iraqis.


This was published on today:

"It's not about who they are. It's about who we are."

So said Sen. John McCain, in defending his amendment to a defense appropriations bill that would bar U.S. officials from inflicting "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" on detainees in the war on terror. But while Sen. McCain is surely right that how we treat those in our custody ultimately reflects back on us, this debate is also very much about who "they" are. That's because the Bush administration's justification for employing "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" against certain individuals expressly turns on the fact that these individuals are foreign nationals held abroad. The coercive-interrogation policy is predicated on a double standard: According to the administration, we can do it to "them" because "they" are different from "us."

ME AGAIN: Color me ignorant, but I fail to understand how torture jives with liberty.


But maybe this does:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says he is more concerned about the leak of information regarding secret CIA detention centers than activity in the prisons themselves. [Reported in an amazing story in the Washington Post early this month.]

Frist told reporters Thursday that while he believed illegal activity should not take place at detention centers, he believes the leak itself poses a greater threat to national security and is "not concerned about what goes on" behind the prison walls.

"My concern is with leaks of information that jeopardize your safety and security -- period," Frist said. "That is a legitimate concern."


So in closing I'd say it's OK for your blood to be boiling. If it's not, make sure you're still alive and that you haven't grown a tail. But to ensure that your boiling blood doesn't melt your intellect and turn you into a former Dover, PA school board member, check out these two sites. The first is 3 reasons for liberals to be happy, that aren't related to Lewis Libby getting a new nickname.

and this one is a blog from Barack Obama. Wisdom from the Land of Lincoln.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Existential Car Problems

First off, I have to thank or blame Scott Thompson, Sweet Home Class of 93, for that blog title today. He coined the term for that which you're about to read.

So continuing yesterday's story of Gulliver's Travels 90232, I got up at 6 a.m. today (which really ate it, b/c i was up until 1 a.m. writing yesterday's chapter FFS). I sleptwalk to my car and started my car and yay! my "service engine soon" light was still on. Luckily, I made it the 16 miles to the Saturn dealership and I left my car for the day in the caring hands of my friendly Saturn service tech/rep. She said that they'd hook up my car's computer to their femputer and find out why my light stayed on and why the ride was unsmooth.

Since I was carless, my esteemed colleague and fellow Arizona Wildcat Amanda Riddle picked me up at Saturn and drove me to work. Yay! AMANDA!

So we get to work and start editing pages for our next issue. Thankfully we were überbusy today, so I didn't paralyzingly lock onto my cell phone, even though I did prove that a watched cell phone never rings. WHERE ARE YOU SATURN PEOPLE?

At 2 p.m. (6.5 hours after leaving my car, at what was supposed to be near the front of the line), I finally get a hold of them and ...

"So, we tested your car and the codes that came up were a problem with your oxygen sensor." Incidentally, that's what my roommate Andrew and my old college roommate Bill specualted.

"OK," I said, wondering why they didn't quote me a price or say that I should replace it.

"But," tech says. I had a bad feeling about the but. "we're not sure what the problem is because the light has gone off."

"excuse me?"

"Yeah, we know that you had a problem with it, but the light is off now and it seems to be going fine. What I need to do is have someone drive it around for like 10-15 miles to see if it comes back and then we can more correctly diagnose the problem."

"OK, thanks, well call me when you learn more."

In the interests of brevity (too late), I'm gonna jump ahead here. Basically, they drove it around and still nothing, which left me here. It would cost $115 to fix the oxygen sensor ($75 for the part and $45 for the labor--not bad as car repairs go). But there's a chance that replacing the oxygen sensor won't fix the problem with my car. It's possible, though unlikely, that the oxygen sensor problem is just symptomatic of a bigger problem. So they don't me to spend money on a repair that might be unnecessary and then have me come back in a few more days and pay for another repair that was the real problem all along. They were very nice and waived $90 diagnostic fee. Last thing they tell me is to call them when the light comes on again. yay!

So in the end, I got a ride to work from one co-worker, a ride back to the dealer from my boss, stared a lot at my phone, lost a lot of sleep, a got a free car wash all to do this over again in the next few days most likely, because this light problem is going to come back.

Sorry to anyone who comes aross this entry. It really wasn't entertaining or amusing. I suck.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Why being an adult is the same as being Gulliver

Back when I was younger and my family went on vacations to Disney World, I was always kind of amazed how smoothly the trips went. We went to the airport and bam, we had reservations confirmed on a flight. Then we flew and changed planes and landed right on time. And when we went to the rental car counter, we'd have a midsize car waiting for us and sometimes even got an upgrade, b/c my parents knew enough to use the free upgrade coupon. (rhymes with poopon not, qupon.) And during our weeklong stay we followed our schedule of going to the Magic Kingdom, Sea World, EPCOT, MGM and whatever else. And we always were able to sightsee random things, buy souvenirs and then get on our flight back to Buffalo and get back to our lives. It was always lots of fun and just seemed like there was soooo much that we did. How in the hell did my parents ever manage to orchestrate that? I always figured that I'd learn the magic answer when I "became an adult."

This past week, I realized how turning 30 and "becoming an adult" are not necessarily mutual progressions of time.

On Monday, Oct. 31 (two days after my 30th birthday) I got a call in the late morning from my boss telling me that my new Apple iBook G4 (on which I am typing right now) had been delievered at my office. Yay! I tell her that I'll be in the later afternoon to pick it up, after I run a bunch of errands. While I'm running the errands I noticed a thing with my car. I was sitting at a traffic light and when it turned green my car wasn't quite as responsive as normal. I pressed on the gas and my usually very sensitive pedal required me to push down further before my car started moving. I had been listening to the radio and sort of blew it off thinking that I might have imagined it. However, on the drive home from the grocery store it definitely happened again. I figure that I need to call Saturn to have my newly used car (I bought it a few months ago, it's a 2002 SL2) looked at.

I drop off my groceries and head to the office and the car does it's weird unresponsive gas pedal thing again. I'm not particularly happy, and I'm in fact scared in the way Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanze were scared about going to the mechanic way. If he tells me I need a new "Johnson rod" who am I to disagree? But when I get to the office and pick up my computer and see its image on the box, any fears of a tempermental car are swept away, at least until I start driving again. About one mile into my 6-mile drive home, the "service engine soon" light comes on. YIKES!

The car is still doing the pedal thing sporadically at stop lights, but fortunately is exhibiting no other problems with its operation. I get home and immediately call Saturn, before even opening my new computer. It's a Monday remember and they tell me that the soonest diagnostic appointment they can schedule for me is not until Thursday. (Side note: in a place the size of Los Angeles, you can't just drop off you car when you get an oil change and say, "Btw, I noticed a noise can you take a look?" that makes me miss Albany. you have to schedule diagnostic appointments, which are all-day affairs). So now I have to play the "umm, uhhh ..." game on the phone as I think out loud about whether I can afford to drive me car for two days with the light on. The woman on the phone says that there are like 1,000 reasons that light can go, 900 of which are totally OK to drive with for a few days, especially with my short commute. So i go ahead and schedule for Thursday and arrange the relay of rides to get me to and fro the dealership, which is like 15 miles away.

So I get back to playing with my computer and it's grand! I'm even having so much fun that the fact I just spent $1,400 on it and have an ???? amount coming on my car (at least a few hundred i suspect) isn't even a thought in my mind. I do take a quick break to read my car's owner's manual hoping for a magic bullet. It says that one reason the "service engine soon" light comes on is when the car is low on fuel and an air bubble sneaks in. I know I've got just a quarter tank, not really low, but certainly not high. I take a quick spin to the gas station to fill up, hoping against hope that well it'll be fixed, right? Well, I fill up but of course no dice. the Light stays on.

The next morning I am very wary when I start my car, but of course it's fine. And I notice that on my drive the car is driving smoothly, even at stop lights and stop signs. That's a good sign. About two miles into my drive, the light turns OFF!!! Perhaps i've been blessed by a miracle of magic bullet car repair. Should I start questioning my atheism? This should give you some idea as to how vulnerable I feel about my car. This is definitely one of the least manly moments of my life, confessing my extreme car wussness for the world to see.

So I resolve that if my car remains good to go for the rest of Tuesday and on the way into work Wednesday, I will call Saturn to cancel the diagnostic appointment and perhaps reschedule for a couple weeks later when I am due for an oil change. We're on deadline at work, so the idea of throwing this into my daily stress is just too much. Wednesday rolls around and things are peachy and I am now basking just in the glow of my new computer, which has a really nice monitor, which I look at a lot late at night when I would have usually been in bed before the new computer. And I'm not watching porn or downloading porn. I'm just staring at my desktop wallpaper.

Fast forward (though if you've read this far, you'll realize that nothing moves fast when I write) to Friday evening. I'm driving to my colleague's opening at an art gallery and my car feels a little shakey. Like the drive is just not smooth and at one light the gas pedal thing feels like it might have just come back. Well, a friend calls me and after the quick conversation, I look at my dashboard and tada "Service Engine Soon." It's back. I call Saturn immediately since it's 6:45 and they're open until 7 p.m. But since it's Friday everyone in the service dept. has knocked off early and I'm cheerily invited to call back at 8 a.m. Saturday. The three miles to the gallery, my car exhibits the shakiestness of all in the past week. I'd provide a link to fear here, but they don't really have one that I have time to find.

Well, the gallery opening is fantastic. Cool art.

But on the way back to my apartment, well, more scariness. The car keeps being unsmooth. That's the scientific way to say "I'm afraid that I'm going to be told I need a new Johnson Rod and that said Johnson Rod will be very expensive."

[for those wondering when the fuck the gulliver reference will make sense, it's coming up. keep your shirts on]

So I get home from the art opening and decide to once again turn my attention to my computer. I love denial! Well, i figure that it's finally time to hook up my printer and test out Pages (Apple's version of MS Office, b/c I won't patronize Microsoft if I can help it. And there's no better way to stick it to the man than by buying software from another multi-billion-dollar corporation. Well, on this night I discover that I cannot print from the Internet, unless what you mean by print is getting all blank pages for every page you intend to print from say, ( I really wanted to print out Steve Lopez's series on homelessness in downtown Los Angeles.,1,7834819.special

And Pages, it's awesome, so as long as you never want to send a Pages document to anyone via e-mail. I spend several hours trying to fix these problems, but no dice. Then Sunday night I spend many more hours trying to fix all these things--printer and Pages. I download drivers (I even find the updated drivers for my three-year-old printer), uninstall software, reinstall new software, read manuals (well, skim them), pore through discussion groups.

Eventually the phone rings. It's my friend, Jon, from the 716. He asks how things are going and seems to be able to detect that I'm in a non-purrfect state of mind. I hit him with the litany: the car (which actually is worse b/c it was bad, then miraculously good, then stomach-punching worse), the computer, being on deadline at work, the money associated with the car and the computer, needing a haircut. blech. Any one of those things independently, no big deal. Even two of them, like just the computer and deadline, fine. But the car and the computer and the deadlines and everything else in life was just too much. I told my roommate that I felt like Gulliver being stabbed by the Lilliputians (well, the car was actually was like being stabbed by a lilliputian weilding a Cutco knife--i bought two of them and they're spectacular.)

Well, I can say that there was a mild resolution. I fixed the pages problem. I figured out how to export files into forms that can be attached to emails. Yay!

It's funny, as I dealt with all this I remembered a time I talked to my parents about the vacation planning thing and how at my age, they were already raising two kids. And they basically said that you draw on your past experiences and try to emulate your successful models and avoid the missteps of those you've seen who suck it. But basically, you're never prepared. Them parents sure is smarts.