Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Then in high school it got worse. The whole sweaty thing during the school day, NOT COOL. In fact, I'm going to retroactively blame that for my lack of high school dating. Not my bad hair, fashion no-sense, sneakers with every outfit (until senior year), and lack of actually liking anyone enough to ask them out.
Well, despite my not being into Phys Ed in high school, I was never the fake being sick guy. I figured this was the easiest class to earn a 97 or better in, so I had to at least show effort. Freshman year the guys had to wrestle. DOUBLE BUBBLE YIKES. Yes, wearing limited clothing and grabbing other guys in tustles. Not my idea of fun. And no, I'm not homophobic, but parts get injured. And that's not cool.
During the wrestling unit of gym class we did one thing that was enjoyable. A takedown faceoff type drill where two people stood in a circle and you had to throw the other person out of the ciricle or to the ground. A sophomore named Jeff (gym included fresh/soph) and I got paired up. Jeff had at least 30 pounds and 6 inches on me (as did most guys). He had that "this is going to be really easy look" on his face, and I'm sure I had the "when is class over" look on mine.
The whistle blows and he charges at me, and somehow I turned into Tito Santana or Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, who WWF legend Bruno Samartino once claimed gave 120 percent, and when Jeff ran at me, I somehow hooked his arm into mine and threw literally six feet out of the circle. The gym teacher was shocked, almost half as much as me (btw) and about 10 percent as shocked as Jeff.
After class, he approaches me asking whether I'd come to the "informational meeting" about wrestling. I'm honestly flattered, since I'm sooooo not the athlete type, but am 150 percent sure that I'm not gonna go. Like I said, the halfnaked sweaty grabbing, not my thing. When he asked why I didn't make it, I said simply that I wasn't interested. I didn't have the heart to defame wrestling to the coach's face (esp. when he was also my phys ed teacher who'd be giving me a grade).
Well, this story would be my defense now.
The Minnesota high school wrestling season has been suspended for a week because of an outbreak of herpes. In the story, one coach talks about how this is the first time he's seen something so widespread (24 cases throughout 10 teams). The same coach noted that in the past there's been ringworm on his team, but never the herp. END OF LINE, EH?
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
First, the time machine that is the deep ocean recently gave humanity a glimpse of ancient life. The rare frilled shark was filmed and photographed and caught just before its death off the coast of Japan. This mysterious creature has rarely been observed, because it lives in depths 2,000 to 3,000 feet below sea level, far deeper than humans venture. It begs the question of what lives at the ocean's deepest reaches (which go farther down that Everest goes high).
Secondly, cue the Revelations music. We've had a virgin birth. Five baby Komodo dragons emerged from their never-fertilizied-by-a-dude eggs. Woo-hoo! Perhaps we can restore this wonderful endangered species.
It's almost dinorific in this blog today.
And I am starting to hate the Best Buy on Pico. I do store pickups there because the one on Overland is often unparkable on new release Tuesdays, but the one on Pico ... well, the "convenient" store pickup tonight took 20 minutes, and 18 minutes of that was standing while a dozen employees walked by, with just three making eye contact, two saying "help would be coming soon" but none doing a goddamned thing. Eventually I got my copy of The Shins' Wincing the Night Away, but it was so late getting this transacted that I didn't listen to it tonight, as I spent most of it moving/packing/othermovingrelated scheit.
And watching two episodes of Battlestar.
One more thing. A while back I got tagged by my friend Janey and she tempted me into writing five goofy things about myself that basically no one knows. Well, I just thought of another.
I name my tech after television faves. My first laptop HD was named in honor of Buffy, though it wasn't named "Buffy." My current laptop HD is "Mountaineer" in honor of Sydney Bristow on Alias. My iPod is "Oracle" in honor of an Alias character. My external HD is "Boomer" in honor of my fave Battlestar character and my flash drive is "Starbuck" also in honor of Battlestar.
I am the biggest geek evuh, eh?
Monday, January 22, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Lyrics to Acid Tongue:
I went to a cobbler
to fix a hole in my shoe
He took one look in my face and said,
'I can fix that hole in you'
I beg your pardon
I'm not lookin' for a cure
seen enough in my friends
in the depths of the god sick blues
you know I am a liar
you know I am a liar
nobody helps a liar
'Cause I've been down to Dixie
And dropped acid on my tongue
Tripped upon the land 'til enough was enough
I was a little bit lighter
with adventure on my sleeve
I was a little bit drunk
and looking for company
so i found myself a sweetheart
with the softest of hands
we were unlucky in love
but I'd do it all again
we built ourselves a fire
we built ourselves a fire
but you know I am a liar
You know I am a liar
And you don't know what I've done
And by the rolling river
is exactly where I was
there is no simple cure
for unlucky in love
To be lonely is a habit
like smoking or taking drugs
and I've quit them both
but man was it rough
and now I am tired
You just made me tired
Let's build ourselves a fire
Let's build ourselves a fire
The only thing I really want to say is that having a packrat mentality is a good thing. I tend to collect and save things. My fave thing to collect is honestly and sincerely people. I love meeting people and staying in touch with them and tracking their lives. If this is some weird compensation for voids in my own life, so be it. But I get so excited when I discover a talented writer emerging from a quiet or outcast or nerdy teen. And I am envious when one of my teens heads off to college (and even more envious when they venture overseas or to other countries to study things like Tango). Tonight (or should I say way too fucking early this morning considering I have to work in less than seven hours), I've been reading some old e-mails (thank you 2 GB Gmail) and receiving further affirmation that collecting is a good thing.
Saving Thanks yous and pictures of friends' babies and vacations and joys and stories of promotions and goofs and complaints, has revealed so much about my own life.
OK, enough of these fucking sappy blog entries. More sports and politics and music.
New Shins comes out Jan. 23!!! yayness.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Bill of Rights
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Thus far the New Year's goals (I refuse to ever make a fucking resolution ever again after last year's abysmal Shakespeare failure), are going OK. I am eating more veggies (carrots sticks as snacks) and less processed food. I'm reading recreationally a little more, but not exercising any more that last year. I suppose I could do a set of pushups now, instead I'm gonna watch an episode of Battlestar Galactica season 3 (and not do any pushups) when instead I should go to bed.
New season starts in beep 19:33:58 beep 19:32:00 beep beep 19:32:09
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Well, here's another ... which appeared in today's NYTimes.
The news last Friday of the death of the ramen noodle guy surprised those of us who had never suspected that there was such an individual. It was easy to assume that instant noodle soup was a team invention, one of those depersonalized corporate miracles, like the Honda Civic, the Sony Walkman and Hello Kitty, that sprang from that ingenious consumer-product collective known as postwar Japan.
But no. Momofuku Ando, who died in Ikeda, near Osaka, at 96, was looking for cheap, decent food for the working class when he invented ramen noodles all by himself in 1958. His product — fried, dried and sold in little plastic-wrapped bricks or foam cups — turned the company he founded, Nissin Foods, into a global giant. According to the company's Web site, instant ramen satisfies more than 100 million people a day. Aggregate servings of the company's signature brand, Cup Noodles, reached 25 billion worldwide in 2006.
There are other versions of fast noodles. There is spaghetti in a can. It is sweetish and gloppy and a first cousin of dog food. Macaroni and cheese in a box is a convenience product requiring several inconvenient steps. You have to boil the macaroni, stir it to prevent sticking and determine through some previously obtained expertise when it is "done." You must separate water from noodles using a specialized tool, a colander, and to complete the dish — such an insult — you have to measure and add the fatty deliciousness yourself, in the form of butter and milk that Kraft assumes you already have on hand. All that effort, plus the cleanup, is hardly worth it.
Ramen noodles, by contrast, are a dish of effortless purity. Like the egg, or tea, they attain a state of grace through a marriage with nothing but hot water. After three minutes in a yellow bath, the noodles soften. The pebbly peas and carrot chips turn practically lifelike. A near-weightless assemblage of plastic and foam is transformed into something any college student will recognize as food, for as little as 20 cents a serving.
There are some imperfections. The fragile cellophane around the ramen brick tends to open in a rush, spilling broken noodle bits around. The silver seasoning packet does not always tear open evenly, and bits of sodium essence can be trapped in the foil hollows, leaving you always to wonder whether the broth, rich and salty as it is, is as rich and salty as it could have been. The aggressively kinked noodles form an aesthetically pleasing nest in cup or bowl, but when slurped, their sharp bends spray droplets of broth that settle uncomfortably about the lips and leave dots on your computer screen.
But those are minor quibbles. Ramen noodles have earned Mr. Ando an eternal place in the pantheon of human progress. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Give him ramen noodles, and you don't have to teach him anything.
Monday, January 08, 2007
She repeats the question, though as she finishes it the look on her face shows that she realizes I have no idea what she's talking about.
"I've never even heard of a wheel lock key," is all I can muster as a reply. I'm "concerned" at this point that this trip to come here will be fruitless and I'll be back in a week.
What annoys me is that when I bought this car they had but a single set of keys for me, and now I'm wondering whether they also shafted me out of my "wheel lock keys."
Friday, January 05, 2007
I know that this thought might seem really weird coming from a well-known snark, who tends to vomit at the thought of sentimentality (like mom blogs, sorry moms I know). But I inadvertantly made someone cry today (nothing intentional or even foot-in-mouthy on my part); it was a student who I was discussing a personal statement with. I asked a question that cascaded into tears as she mined herself for the answer. Nevertheless, I felt pretty horrible.
I sat there feeling powerless armed only with cliches. So I decided to sit there in silence, drop all my irony and just try to be a peaceful and warm vibe in her presence. And when she was done expunging I offered a comforting hand on her shoulder and then gave her a hug when she left.
I hope that I helped.
And I am trying to post more often this year. Nearly daily, if I can.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Fwd: Getting to know you [insert year].
One of the last questions is "Who is the person least likely to respond?" I always e-mail back and tell my friends to answer "Mike" next time they get this thing. But my friend Jane seems to find ways to twist the dance just enough to entice me. She flipped the script on "Getting to know you" by sending the questions and having me try to come up with the answers. That was honestly fun, b/c guessing a friend's middle name and religion and eating habits (when you haven't seen each other in literally 12 years and haven't ever had a real verbal conversation is fucking hard). And I love things that are difficult, hence why I read books about quantum theory and string theory for fun.
Well, this time she has "tagged" me. I have been instructed to write five things about myself that no one knows. She confessed that this might be very hard for her, since she's a blab, and oh man is he (that's about the biggest compliment I could give in this case, Janey). She's, in that way, very much like me. So I am going to try my best, but I tend to keep no secrets: my Debbie Gibson obsession is front and center, along with love of musical theater, marching band, star trek and action figures (OK, maybe not everyone knows that). This might be a little Jane-centric, b/c there's no way I could come up with five things no one knows about me in a blog that my students read.
The only reason I said that I hate Janey for this is because I was on this kick to start sleeping earlier, but now um, yeah, no ... not gonna happen.
1. When I play video games that allow you to choose a character, I always choose a female character. I am not sure why, but given that Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Alias are two of my favorite shows ever and Hermione is my fave Harry Potter character, that seems to track. Maybe it's an unusual manifestation of my feminist ideals? Ironically, I was quite the chauvanist until high school, when the other clarinet players in our band (and in my grade) who were all girls learned me the ways of gender equity.
2. I save jars of Inglehoffer's Mustard and other Inglehoffer's spready products and have them in a row on top of the television in my bedroom. Like most humans, I'm attracted to round shapes. And I harbor the idea that someday I am going to incorporate these into some decorative theme in the first place I live alone.
3. I buy often beers based on names (Shark Bite, Fat Tire, Rasputin). A few people know this though. :(
4. I used to talk to myself A LOT. When I was a paperboy delivering newspapers for the Buffalo News from 6-9th grade I listened to a walkman almost every day. But I also talked to myself, out loud. Very quietly, mind you. Just under my breath, but I carried on conversations about what I was going to do with my life, like become a rock star and open for Guns N Roses and then get recruited to be a secret agent. Man, middle school was beyond the beyond of being fucked in the head?
5. OK, I've been sitting here for the last 25 minutes trying to come up with a fifth. I've entered one and erased it and just about entered probably five or six others. But here goes.
I'm still sorta scared of the dark. Not in a I-need-a-nightlight-to-sleep way. Or everytime-I'm-alone-in-my-apartment-I-must-have-lights-on way, either. But every so often, I'll shut the lights out and head to bed in near pitch blackness and I'll get a sense like something's chasing me. (It was much worse in my old apartment with the long hall that had two turns.) It starts out as a slight sense of unease. And I'll try to calm myself by playing the rational card: No one is in the apartment except people who are asleep in their beds. And I saw them go to bed and the door has been locked .... But, that only works for about .1 seconds. Then the unease grows, as my still-locked-in-childhood-horror-movie mind says "it's the irrational things that can happen that ought to make you scared." Then my bodies internal sensors kick into high-res mode. I notice my breathing has stopped. Or that my heart rate has quickened ever-so-slightly. Then I start to walk faster, even though inside I want so desperately to sprint like it's the Olympic 100m finals. As my walk quickens, the unease becomes dread and if the path is long enough morphs into an almost literal terror. By the time I near the door, I'm usually reaching out in front of me across the threshold flipping the light on before my body enters the room. Immediately, my breathing relaxes and I admonish myself for being so irrational, even as the smallest part of me relishes the tapping into my pre-mammalian brain.
Now, the game goes that I'm supposed to "tag" other people. But I'm not "that guy." However, I invite all four (?) of my readers to try this little experiment. But don't try it before you're thinking of going to bed, b/c it can be quite vexing. Typically, if you're the type of person who would play, you're probably already an open book.
The weirdest/coolest thing in Janey's list: she had five (5) wisdom teeth! That's whack.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Sure, everyone has fave movies, but we're all allowed a bevy of guilty pleasures and no one thinks you're so uncool that they might have to end the friendship because you could have a triple-header of The Core, American Pie and How to Make an American Quilt (yeah, that's me). Mainly, b/c each person knows that s/he also has an embarrassing triple-header inside them.
And sports teams ... well, a friend loving a team you hate can bring you closer.
Also, we keep an objective score in sports so we know who was better in a game or a season and there's always next year. But not in music. Sure there are awards and record sales and tour grosses, but who gives a shit. Music is more localized and personalized. Plus, the people in the media who have such a huge part in creating our heroes and gods, are fans of music by job, but not sportscasters or even columnists who are supposed to not root for individual teams or athletes, but instead the pure essence of fair competition and shit like that. But in music, of course you root for good albums, who wants to be paid to wade through only cliche-ridden drivel.
So when we find others who share our devotion to an indie rock starlet (like Jenny Lewis) or who have Canadian Amp and have been to the Hotel Cafe, it's more than being a member of a secret society. It's like being blood brothers/sisters--sharing a piece of DNA that makes you special.
My Jenny/Rilo obsession has cost me quite a bit of sleep looking for bootlegs and concert reviews and write-ups, especially searching for an mp3 of the Wiltern show in June 2005. It was in another futile effort to find a recording of their cover version of Lost in Your Eyes, featuring Debbie Gibson on guest vocals, that I stumbled upon mollyknight.com. It's now my fave blog. She works and writes for espn.com. Sports fan, check. She met Jenny Lewis and has her picture on her blog, Doublecheck. Went so Stanford, she's smart, triplecheck. Cute, too.
Perhaps, a soulmate?
But then there was her best music of 2006 list ...
1. Gnarls Barkley-"Crazy"
Any man, woman, or indie rock website that did not list this songs (sic) as the number one jam of the year is missing a few screws. Not since "Hey Ya" has a song been played so many times in so many formats that I have no doubt my grandmothers can sing along. And, not since "Hey Ya" have I heard a song enough time in three months to last me three lifetimes. It's strange for me to call a song I never want to hear again the Best of the Year, but that's just the way it is.
After going on a wild goose chase through the Lower East Side to obtain a copy of the Grey Album three years ago, we knew that DJ Danger Mouse had skills. We did not know he would team up with some other skilled dude to create a bizarrely popular record that's genre can only be defined as Outkastian. Is it pop? No. Hip-hop? No. Weird? Yes. It will not be as popular at wedding receptions as anything Andre 3000 does (Yes, I have gotten done to "Roses" post-ceremony), but it will be in the arsenal of every radio station for the next 40 years, and it will be one of the ten songs in rotation on your local oldies station in 50, along with "Hey Ya" and Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful." And by then I will still be so sick of it that I'll turn the dial. If for some reason you've never heard this song before you are probably going to need to return to the rock from under which you came, take the sorrow you gave and all the stakes you claimed. And don't forget the blame.
I never liked this song, even as literally everyone around me seemed to, including some of my fave musicphiles/snobs. I listened to it dozens of times waiting for the rapture, but it never came. I just grew to dislike it more and more. I honestly hate this song now. I actually think it's stupid. No soulmate for me, eh?
Btw, I used to think that if I ever were to create an online personal ad, all I would do is list every concert I've ever been to, with special emphasis on the shows in Los Angeles. If someone hadn't been to or at least like five of them (not counting seeing the same artist multiple times, like Jenny Lewis or Coldplay) or wishes they could've been to see at least a dozen of these shows, I wouldn't even want a response. This is why Kirsten Dunst might have to be my wife. I know she's been to three of my L.A. shows—Rilo Kiley, Sufjan Stevens and Hotel Cafe Tour closing show. All the other celebs I've seen at shows have been dudes: Jim Belushi, Morrissey, John Cusack, Keanu Reeves, Danny Devito, Adrian Grenier, "Jonathan" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, whoops, forgot about Sissy Spacek.
Now, I think that I'll need a negative list as well, like if you enjoy Gnarls Barkely, Keane or The Killers, please don't contact me or something.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Oh yeah ... I was fortunate enough to witness a portion of one of the greatest endings ever in a sporting event tonight. Boise State, an undefeated "mid-major" football team, upset the Oklahoma University Sooners 43-42 in overtime.
When I left my apartment to do an airport run, the score was Boise State 28 -- Oklahoma 17, and Boise State had been dominating 28-10 until a bad-bounce fumble set up Oklahoma for a get-back-in-the-game-maybe touchdown. But even after Oklahoma scored the radio announcers noted that Oklahoma still didn't seem to have caught a spark. Eventually I turned off the radio to listen to Jenny Lewis. Then I picked up Dave. Then we got dinner. I didn't return home until like 90 minutes after I left the house.
When I opened the door the television was off, even though this was a game that Curtis (other roommate) cared about the outcome of. At first I assumed that the game was over and Boise State won. But the look on his face shot that down.
He proceeded to tell me that Oklahoma scored late to make it a two-point game, 28-26. And after three tries, eventually successfully scored a two-point conversion. First one: pass interference. Second: illegal shift. Third: bingo!
Boise State opened the ensuing drive (during which Boise would have needed to get about 50 yards to kick a time-expiring field goal) with a quick interception, which Oklahoma ran back for a TD. One minute left, and Oklahoma was up 7, Curtis said, noting that at this point he was so disgusted that he shut off the television.
I go into my room to put down my keys and such and decide to see what the final score was. I open my laptop, go to espn.com and see that the game is in OVERTIME and Oklahoma is up 42-35, having scored on its first possession.
"Turn on the game, it's in OT," I yell into the living room.
"Will they go for one or go for two?" the announcer asks.
As the screeen reses up, we see that Boise State has also scored a touchdown and the coach is trying to decide whether to kick the virtual-sure-thing extra point and keep playing or to just go for broke. The announcer thinks he's going for broke. In the interim we get a replay of the fourth down trick play used to score the touchdown -- a direct snap to a wide receiver type who threw it to the tight end. CRAZY!
Curtis and the announcer note that every team has a special play for these situations that is an almost-guarantee score if the offense executes it correctly.
After the timeout, Boise elects to go for the win. If they can go 2 yards it's one of the biggest shocks in college football history (and a HUGE argument in favor of a playoff). If they cannot make two yards. Ballgame over. Thanks for playing. Insert condescension here.
They line up with three wide receivers split right and a single back.
Ball is snapped and the QB looks right as he whips his arm toward the receivers, but the ball has been transferred to his left hand surreptitiously and he flips the ball to his left as the running back starts dashing to a W I D E O P E N left side of the field, because most defenders were fooled just long enough and the offensive line is mauling that side and sealing off the linemen and linebackers.
The back goes in untouched. Ball game over.
Wow! Though not a particular fan of either team, it was so cool to see other fans enjoy what is easily their biggest sports moment. I've been courtside of a basketball national championship, which was easily mine, but even still, I don't think my joy matched theirs. Arizona goes to the NCAA basketball tournament every year and usually is a threat for deep advancement. This could seriously be their only shot in their lifetimes.
Eventually we catch the highlights and it gets even better. After falling behind 35-28, Boise State had one minute to go the length of the field. On FOURTH DOWN with about 30 seconds to play they run the best hook and ladder ever, covering 50 yards and bringing the Broncos to within one with 7 seconds left.
I'm elated as can be over a game I had so little invested in.
Fast forward several hours. I get an e-mail from a student asking what's up with the Web site, which I spent the entire week before xmas break repairing along with our amazing, crack programming consultants (they did the work, I just mainly got pissed and did some reloading). I had been so nervous the last 10 days that I'd been checking to make sure the site was still there like every day. I hadn't yet checked Monday. Dammit. Layouth.com was gone again!! Final Fantasy Seven!!!!
So despite witnessing such an amazing college football game, the only thing really on my mind and that has helped me establish a new record for blowing a new year's resolution of reading 30 minutes (at least) for pleasure every day is the site shit.