Saturday, February 28, 2004
Whatever You Do, Don't Let Me Near the TiVo!
I've thought of yet another reason why I should be a writer when I grow up. I'm a technoboob.
(And no, that's got nothing to do with robot breasts. Nor virtual hooters, pixelated nipples, or motorized mammaries. It's nothing nearly so exciting as that.)
What it means is that 'computers' -- and its filthy, unwashed cousin, 'electronics' -- and I rarely get along. And that's unfortunate, since my job involves programming. Okay, so my job is programming. You can see where being a technoboob would get in the way.
Don't get me wrong, now. I'm not clueless when it comes to 'puters and tuners and speakers, oh my. Actually, it's worse. You know how some people 'know just enough to be dangerous'? Well, I know more than that -- I know enough to be lethal. I get past those first few merely 'dangerous' defenses that a funked-up printer or cranky video card might have, and soon find myself doing suicidal shit like poking at live wires with a screwdriver, or jamming my finger in some random port-hole.
(No, not the porthole on a ship.)
(And no, not some person's 'port-hole', either, all right? Fer chrissakes, keep your mind out of crotches for ten freaking seconds, would you?)
Anyway, I get myself in a lot of trouble, electronic-wise. The latest episode came today -- I finally got off my ass and bought the cable I need to connect my stereo to my computer, the better to -- someday -- record some old vinyl records of mine to MP3s. Fine. I got the cable, hooked it up, fiddled for a while, and finally got it working the way I wanted. Peachy.
Now, I don't actually have a turntable, so I couidn't work on the LPs. However, my old stereo does have a nifty casette player, and I do have a few old tapes that I'd like to hear at work, or in the car, or on the can, perhaps, so I started in on those. I popped in a tape, and got to work. Song one, check. Song two, no problem. Song three, done and done.
Song four... well, then there was song four. I made it through about two minutes of song four, when the music suddenly sloooooowed down, and the tape player made a charming, teeny little noise. It sounded a little like this:
No, no, that doesn't really do it justice. Try to imagine a high-pitched jet engine whine, as imitated by a cow going around and around in a clothes dryer. That's something like it. I'm not sure I can really get you closer than that.
So, of course, I stopped the player right away, well-aware of the irony of wearing this tape out for years, and then not playing it for years, only to have the damned casette player eat it the one time I wanted to record it digitally, so I'd never have to risk playing it again. Maybe that's not technically 'irony'; I don't know. Maybe it's just unfortunate, or unexpected. All I know is that it sucks ass.
Only, the tape wasn't being eaten. Screeched at, perhaps, but I was able to pull the tape out, intact. I tried the song a few more times, and the same thing happened, never in exactly the same place. Other songs, same thing. Other casettes, ditto. It gradually became obvious that the player was likely to blame. 'Maybe,' I said to myself, 'I should have a look at it.'
Nice. What kind of dumbass talk is that?
Four hours, three Q-tips, two screwdrivers, a can of compressed air, and some WD-40 later... and now the damned thing doesn't play at all. It rewinds like a gem -- and much more quietly, if I do say so myself. It fast-forwards like a dream. But play? No. Not so much. It groans a little, and some of the list moving parts twirl around the way they're supposed to, but no actual sound comes out of it. I suppose the good news is that it doesn't make the clothesdryer-cow-engine noise, either. But that's small comfort. How the hell am I gonna record the rest of my Royal Court of China tape? Or my old dB's stuff?
Eh, screw it. The thing wasn't working right, anyway. Now I'll just have to find a place that can rent me a nice turntable and a component cassette player for a week or two. The world's all CDs and MP3s now, anyway. I didn't need the thing, right? Um, right? Hello?
Bleh. Cut me some slack. Everybody gets one technical brain fart, right? I'm not so bad, really.
Oh, in other news, I've also got to call Office Depot on Monday to cancel the order I made online today. I wanted to buy a printer to replace our current one -- which I can't fix, thank you very little, dammit -- and ended up purchasing a scanner, instead. In my defense, the Yahoo shopping site listed it as an inkjet printer. Of course, in my prosecution, I didn't read the fine print, and realize that their half-brained, barely-trained intern screwed up the data input. And also, to add to the shame, if I could fix the stupid fricking printer we have now, I wouldn't be in this boobered mess in the first place.
Dammit, I hate technology. If it wasn't for my freaking TiVo, the occassional game of Madden, and my Soul Coughing CDs, I'd junk every piece of 'tronics in the damned house, and go back to living like a damned Pilgrim. Well, okay, so a Pilgrim with central heat, a cool car, and an oversized refrigerator. You know what I meant, dammit!
Man, I've got to get away from this computerized crap. Anybody got a nice, comfy job that involves only a typewriter, some pencils, and maybe the occasional bottle of tequila? Anyone?
Friday, February 27, 2004
A Bit of Idolatry... at the Movies
All right. Thanks again to everyone who made this week's Punchline Fever another rousing success. Next week we go for twenty comments -- woo hoo!
(Or this week. You're still free to hop on over to the main Punchline Fever page and add your two hilarious cents. Go on -- nobody's watching. It's all right.)
Okay, then. On to frying other fish. It's time for this week's 'Top Five' in the Blogger Idol dealie. Let's do eet!
That's all for now. Click the icon to read all of this week's Blogger Idol posts. Toodles for now!
(Yes, goddammit, I said 'toodles'. It's Friday night, and I'm depressingly sober, which I'm just about to go fix. Maybe when I'm all lubed up, I'll stop saying stupid shit like 'toodles'. I'll keep you posted.)
I'm A-Feelin' Me a Fever
Happy Friday, everybody! It's time once again for Punchline Fever! For those of you who missed last week's inaugural run, here are the rules of the game, as quoted from that post:
1) I'll sit around, day and night, thinking of a short but flexible setup for a joke.
B) I'll post the best setup I can think of, but with a blank where the punchline should go.
iii) Then it's up to you to come up with your best line, and leave it in the comments, for all to snicker over.
I've also signed up to get the festivities started with a punchline of my own, just to grease your naughty little wheels. So without further ado, let's get to this week's festivities!
Punchline Fever #2:
'Why yes, Mr. Finley, that is quite a rash you've got there. But frankly, you have to expect such things if you allow your wife to ___________________'
Oh my goodness, the fun we'll have!
So dig in, folks. No lines, no waiting. And be sure to check out all the Fevers -- currently only two, but there'll be a new one every week! It's never too late to chime in, you know. This is one fever that's fun to catch! Woot!
Well, Shit -- It Was Supposed to Be a Short Post
I'm not here for any real purpose tonight. Just a quick thanks, and a bit of news, and a thought I've been kicking around, all of them centered around blogging. Pretty boring, when you get right down to it.
(Hey, look, they can't all be gems, people. Besides, I've got to get my rest tonight -- I'm supposed to be at work at a quarter after ten in the morning... I know, I know -- 'Slavedrivers!' And I've got to get up before that if I want to post this week's Punchline Fever before going to work. Gotta have the fever, right?
So as you can see, I don't have all night to hang out chatting with you. Part of the night, sure, but all night? Sorry, can't do it. Gotta get some shuteye, sooner or later.)
So, on to the bidness at hand. First, the thanks. I received an email today from the World Star Gazette, saying that I had been chosen as a 'regular' humor site on their blog. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical at first -- would this turn out to be some site selling dildos, or popping up forty-seven ads with every click, or -- worse still -- backing some political candidate or other?
Well, as far as I can tell -- no. The World News Gazette seems to be a place where folks can submit their favorite, most meaningful posts as though they were news items, adding to the scrum of topics inexorably scrolling along the site's main 'update' columns. Along the left side are a few dozen 'permanent' links in a variety of categories -- these seem to be on the up-and-up, and there are even a few friends and favorites of my own (Ms. Frizzle, Pickle Juice, and Witt and Wisdom among them).
Given that sort of lofty company, I have to say that I'm honored to be included in the mix, and want to send out a hearty thanks to the folks at World Star Gazette for putting together an interesting and eclectic site. And if any of you are interested in adding your own verbiage to the 'online newspaper', I encourage you to go check it out. Contrary to my initial suspicions (what can I say; I've been burned before), I think it's a very interesting concept, and I'll be watching with interest to see how it progresses. Soon, you'll find a link to the site on my sidebar. Thanks again, Gazetteers!
Now, on to the news portion of the program. I've decided to apply to become a reviewer for The Weblog Review. They're seeking new blood, and I think judging others' work after a short perusal is just the sort of thing that's right up my alley. 'She rocks!' 'He's crap' 'Off with 'is head!' -- oh yeah, I am so there.
Seriously, I've kept an eye on 'da Review' since my own judging, and I think I can make a contribution. I think I'll be able to do a thorough and fair job, remaining objective about all but the most personally offensive sites. (Which means pretty much anything that doesn't physically show Roseanne Barr naked.)
Coincidentally -- or perhaps not -- I've also applied for a re-review of the site you're reading right now. (You're soaking in it!) Not that I'll get to review my own site if my reviewer application is accepted, of course, but I'm sure the two are related somehow. Certainly, I'm hoping for a 'fair and balanced' treatment my second time around. We'll see in a few weeks. In the meantime, wish me luck as a reviewer. I'm a little strapped for time right this minute, as I mentioned, but I've perused the application form, and I'll be working on that sometime tomorrow. I just hope they don't fill all their slots by then.
Okay, two down, one to go. I've been mulling over the idea of starting a blog contest recently, based on my experiences with a couple of the ongoing tournaments and such. Now, everybody's got their own ideas about how these things should work, and they're all a little different. But I haven't seen one yet that really, really emphasizes the writing, which is what I care most about in a weblog. Bells and whistles, and popularity, and impressing a bunch of judges -- those are all nice, but to me, blogging is about finding something that's close to your heart, and spilling yourself into it until you've accomplished something unique. That's the crux of baring your soul online, I think, and I've yet to find a contest that really gets down to that nitty-gritty.
So far, Blog Madness has come closest to what I think a blog contest should look like, but there are still some things I'd change, if I could. The head-to-head format is okay, but it feels a little bit limiting to me to follow that format start to finish. If some of the stronger competition goes up against each other in the early or middle rounds, then they may be kicked aside, while potentially weaker entries move on.
(By way of disclaimer, let me emphatically say that I'm not suggesting this is the case with the current competition. I honestly only paid much attention to my own bracket while in the game myself, and thoroughly enjoyed most of the posts in my group, and those I went up against in the rounds I was in.
I haven't had a lot of time lately to keep a close eye on it, but I'll be very interested to see what's left when the tourney gets down to eight or sixteen posts. I have no doubt that they'll all be very strong, and very entertaining. My only point is that the format seems to leave itself open for possible problems, and I think there may be ways of avoiding that issue.)
Another concern that I've had about all of the contests and competitions I've seen is that it's very difficult to normalize for the popularity of sites, and the rabid nature of certain sites' followers. Certainly, it's possible to 'game' just about any system, but in straight-out 'rate from the following list' types of competitions, like the Bloggies or the Wizbang Awards, it seems awfully easy for bloggers to make impassioned pleas for votes on their sites, and use their less-than-impartial readership to their great advantage.
(Again, please don't get me wrong. I have great respect for the competitions I just mentioned, participated in both, and really enjoyed checking up on results, finding new blogs, and making new friends as a result. I don't personally feel that my place in either of them was adversely affected by anyone 'vote-spamming' their readers, scrupulously or otherwise. Certainly, I made mention of every contest I've entered on my site, and encouraged anyone reading my blog to come and join in the fun, however they choose to do so.
I'm simply pointing out, again, the potential for the support for better-known sites to 'drown out' any positive response to deserving, but less popular, weblogs. It's tough for a fairly new, or esoteric, blog to get noticed, even if it's penned by an expert wordsmith with considerable expertise, vast experience, or exciting new ideas. Unless the blogger also has a nice rack, of course, and is willing to show it off. Those sorts of blogs always get attention.
Just another reason to begin cultivating my man-boobs, folks. But that's a story for another time. Let's get back to the contest thingamajig and leave my 'thingamajugs' alone for now.)
Anyway, I don't have all the pieces worked out quite yet for what I'd like to do. I just know that I'd like to give bloggers from every walk of life and subject matter a chance to compete on as level a playing field as possible. That suggests to me that there should be, at least for part of the competiation, a grouping of entries, where the top few 'survive', and the others go home. Sets of winners from multiple groups could then be pooled for subsequent rounds, until finally there's one group (or a very few) left, and the head-to-head battles begin.
(Or maybe they don't -- maybe the final battle is played the same way, and folks in the 'win', 'place', and 'show' slots are all recognized. Maybe that argues for the top three to advance from every group of... I don't know, eight? Ten, tops, I would think.)
The other thing I'd like to do, insofar as it's possible, is to anonymize the field, to ensure that voters (I'm envisioning the audience at large voting in this enterprise) are paying attention to what's being said, not who's doing the saying. What if all of the contestants were randomly placed into the groups, and noone was told which was where? And then the posts weren't attributed to their authors until the judging was done? Sure, the big guys could still send hordes of people to vote -- and, if you don't watch them carefully, 'cheat' by giving hints about which posts are theirs -- but there's no guarantee that the people flocking over to run up the numbers would see the group their hero is in, much less know for sure which post to vote for.
This is where the idea gets a little dicey, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on the concept as a whole, and specific suggestions as to how to make it work. I like what The Weblog Review has done recently, in asking viewers to log in to vote, but I'm not sure it works well for an open competition like the one I have in mind. While it does discourage 'overvoting' for an entry, it also might drive away people who don't want the hassle of another username and password to remember and enter each time.
I do like the random grouping idea, though, and the idea that more than one person per group would advance. To further level the playing field, I've been toying with the idea of borrowing from Blogger Idol by setting a 'topic' for each round of the competition. That way, all the (hopefully) 'anonymous' bloggers have the same thing to write about -- the way to win is to stand out from the crowd by being passionate, entertaining, convincing, or different. I worry that reading too many similar posts might get a bit tough for the voters, though -- maybe there's a better solution here, or maybe the 'singular topic' idea is overkill. I don't know.
I think anonymity is key, though -- single topic or not, I think participation in the contest should be with a single post per round per contestant, and with a post that is not on the contestant's blog, at least until that round is over. I can see where this might disincentify (man, that doesn't look like a real word) some people by not bringing them any more hits to their site during the judging, but I think that the interest generated once the results -- with links from each person to both their entry and their blog -- are released would more than make up for it, assuming the competition gains any sort of popularlity.
Frankly, if this isn't one of those ideas that only I think would be cool -- and if you've been reading me very long, you know that I have a lot of those -- then there's nothing in the logistics that appears to be a dealbreaker. I'd like to give the mechanics of a judging round some more thought; for instance --
Is it necessary for voters to see every post in a group, and possibly rank them first through last as their 'judging'?
Would it be better to pull in completely random votes, a la Blog Hot or Not, and simply end a round when enough total votes among the members of a group have been accumulated?
Should voters select, or be 'assigned', a group to judge; does it make sense to limit voting to the members of one group per day per voter?
But I don't think any of these are insurmountable. And I'd love to hear what you think, both about the logistics and the whole ball of wax. Does anyone really want another competition? Is anyone interested in joining a contest that's anonymous for most of the duration? How could people 'beat the system'? Is the writing really what's important to you in blogging, anyway?
Sheesh. As usual, I got pretty carried away there, didn't I? Well, now it's well into the wee hours of the morning, so I'm gonna hit the sack and sleep on these questions for a while. Maybe it'll all come to me in a dream. Or maybe I'll just wake up in six hours or so, sleepy and cranky, and the whole freaking idea will just annoy the piss out of me. Damn my late-night creative juices!
Thursday, February 26, 2004
No, Goddammit, I Did Not Say, 'Cheezit'!
As a follow-up to last night's post about Law and Order, I thought of something else that's missing in my life.
I need a 'street name'.
(Okay, so the fact that I put 'street name' in quotes probably means that I don't deserve a 'street name'. Well, big fat tough noogies. I want one, anyway. Fuck da po-lice.
Yeah, that oughta make up for the quotes. Hell yeah, bee-yatch.)
Anyway, the primary perp last night was a young gentleman known as 'Slug' on the streets. He has a real name, which nobody cared about and I can't remember right now, but everybody in the 'hood knew him as 'Slug'. And that's cool.
(What's not cool, of course, as Chasmyn commented, is that the good guys didn't end up getting their man.
[Sorry if you've TiVoed it and not watched it yet. Hey, don't look at me -- Chasmyn said it first!]
That's okay, though -- I think the folks at Law and Order know what they're doing. If they got the bad guy absolutely every time, it would eventually get old. As it is, their ninety-plus percent success rate at locking guilty bastards away has got to be wildly unrealistic.
And that's what really sucks. Sure, the cops can plant a pissant parking prick beside my car to write out a ticket the millisecond that meter expires, yet O.J. continues to walk the streets. In Armani suits. And Rolex watches. Dammit.)
Anyway, back to more important things. Just like 'Slug' on the show last night, I, too have a name which nobody cares about and I often can't remember. And so, I've determines that I need a street name. Now I've just got to decide what it should be.
So, let's see... well, 'Slug' is already taken, I suppose, so that's out. Maybe I should look to famous people with street names for inspiration.
How about 'Ghostface Killah' from the Wu-Tang Clan? Remember him? Of course, I don't have quite as much street cred as Ghostface, so I'd have to change it up a bit. 'Sleepyface Gangsta', maybe? How about 'Paleface Jokah'? No? 'Clownface Goobah'? All right, never mind. This one's not working out.
How about 'Biggie Smalls'? I could always be 'Largey Littles'. Or 'Pudgy Shorts'. 'Fatty Arbuckle'? Damn.
Maybe I shouldn't look to famous people with street names for inspiration. *sigh*
I can still pull this together, though. I can have a street name based on my real name. You know, like J-Lo, or K-Mart, or P Diddy (which is a 'real-name play' off his last street name, Puff Daddy, which came from his original street name, Puffy; dude's got more names than Anna Nicole got Twinkies -- oooh, snap, yo!).
Okay, so that helps a little. I suppose I could be 'C-Dog', or 'C Diddy'. Or... um, I dunno, 'Chucky Cheese'? Oh, dammit.
Okay, here we go -- I got it, I got it -- I'll be 'da Chizzit'. How's that? Or, if you prefer, 'da Chiznit'. Yeah, that'll work. I can totally see myself livin' large and pimpin' da hos as 'da Chiznit'. Aw, hell yeah.
Okay, wow, I'm glad we got that cleared up. It was touch and go there for a while (I really thought I was gonna get stuck with 'Clowngface Goobah' in the end), but I think we've put together a plan we can all live with. So now, when you see me on the street, don't just walk up and say,
'Hey, Charlie, how's it going today?'
Naw. We ain't playin' that way no more. From here on out, you see me in the 'hood, I wanna hear,
'Yo, yo, Chiznit -- what's the fo' one one, dog?'
I think we'll have much more fun that way, don't you? Word. You know, to your mother, and all. Peace out.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Now If I Can Just Get Someone to Walk Around With Me and Make the 'Dun Dun' Noise
Ah, Law and Order. It's been a while since I've caught an episode, and I'd almost forgotten how much I missed it.
As a matter of fact, I think I'm gonna start trying to live my life like a Law and Order episode. You know, without all the shootings, and criminal trials, and seedy hookers.
(Well, okay, maybe we can keep a few seedy hookers. Gotta keep it real, dog!)
Anyway, it's not the subject matter that enthralls me about this show. It's that the entire story is told in these little two-minute vignettes. It's not so forcibly rapid-fire as West Wing, nor quite so schizophrenic and phrenetic as Family Guy.
(Yes, folks, I just spelled out for you that Law and Order is somewhere on the entertainment continuum between West Wing and Family Guy. You just don't get that kind of in-depth, comprehensive analysis on other blogs, folks. We've got something special going on here, that's for certain.)
Anyway, I think living life 'da Order'-style would be pretty damned cool. (Yeah, we peeps get to call it 'da Order' -- see what I said? That's 'keepin' it real', G. Word.) See, all I've got to do is just get through all the boring shit, like meetings and sleeping and braiding my chest hair, and pretend all that happens off-camera. No problem there.
(Hey, as an aside, the show just went to a commercial break. And I'm sure other people have talked about this before, especially because the ad looked awfully familiar, but I've just gotta ask:
'Love for Life'? Iggy Pop? Pitching Royal fricking Caribbean cruises? What the fuck?
Is there anyone, anywhere, this side of Johnny 'jackboots and projectile vomit' Rotten, who's less likely to be found on a sappy, cornball, fat-pasty-old-white-men sea voyage than Iggy Pop? Forget for a moment that he's getting up there himself, and he was always a pasty-white punker type himself. Do you really think he'd bop onto a boat with a few hundred suburbanite slugs like... like... well, me, for one, and spend a whole week of his life sipping coladas and playing shuffleboard? Come on.
Seriously, when there are amps to be smashed and angry punk anthems to be screamed? I don't see it. And frankly, I can't envision the 'Royal C' folks making our icky Iggy their poster boy, either. I certainly didn't see his tattooed, sweaty ass in this commercial. This has got 'match made in hell' written all over it. I'm just saying.
And now the commercial's over. I forget what I was so upset about. Shit.)
Okay, where the hell was I, then? Oh, right, the off-camera stuff. Sweet.
So, no changes for ninety percent of my time or so. But what I've got to concentrate on is those little chance meetings and short conversations that happen during the day. That's where the important stuff happens. So I'm gonna have to put together little snippets of witty repartee and seemingly off-the-cuff comments that will reveal themselves to be nearly impossibly prescient and significant later on in the show. Er, day. Later in the day.
And at the end of every week, I'll win the case... or, um, something. And I'll get to make one more clever little comment, probably something on the 'crime doesn't pay' tip. Seriously, what's wrong with that? I think it's the coolest. It certainly beats the boxers off my current life -- right now, I seem to be basing it off something on PBS, or UPN, maybe. Meaning long, boring, and narrated by some old British dude. Bitches.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Movie Memories and Celluloid Nightmares
All righty, folks -- time once again for Blogger Idol. So let's get naked, throw down the Twister board, and spin that wheel, whaddaya say?
(Um, purely metaphorically speaking, of course. You know what I'm sayin'. Look, let's just get on with this.)
(Click icon to see all Week Six posts)
Week Six Topic: 'Movies'
Hmmm, movies, eh?
Well, I've got to admit, I really don't get out to see a lot of movies. On cable, sure. On the internet, all the time.
(Of course, those are just clips of movies. And I have to turn the sound way down, so nobody can hear. But really, those aren't the kinds of movies that are really 'about' sound in the first place. Moving on.)
I'll tell you what -- I'll prove my tragic uncoolness in the movie-going category by reminiscing about the movies that I have ventured out to see over the past few years. Have a seat for this one, folks -- it just might shock you.
Movie Watched, Number Last: The Matrix: Revolutions (2003)
I saw this one in IMAX Surround-O-Vision, or whatever the hell it's officially called. My office organized an event -- first dinner, than the Matrix finale. That was, I don't know, four or five months ago or something. I mean, I guess it was okay and everything, for a sequel. I liked it and all, but let's face it -- I haven't watched another movie since. What does that tell you?
Movie Watched, Number Next-to-Last: The Matrix: Reloaded (2003)
Another Matrixy IMAX wowfest, or IMAXy Matrix blowout, or something. Basically, a big fat long car chase at twelve times life size. Still, pretty visually damned impressive. Particularly 'plotty'? No. 'Thinky'? Not like the original. But I did have an awfully interesting -- and quick -- ride home that night. Sweet!
Movie Watched, Number... Uh, Next on the List: Chicago (2002)
Okay, look. I got roped into watching this somehow. My wife was involved, and possibly other estrogen-laden individuals. The details are sketchy, frankly -- I've tried my best to suppress them entirely, with limited success. On the other hand, there was an awful lot of cleavage running around in this flick, and any time half-naked jailbird chicks break into song, it can't be a bad thing.
(Okay, so that probably only applies to female inmates in movies, I suspect. Still, let me have my dreams, dammit!)
Movie Watched, Number Whatever We're Up To: The Matrix (1999)
All right -- on the good side, I really dig this movie. The science fiction, the 'brains in a vat' angle, the special effects... it's right up my alley. On the bad side, I honestly can't remember actually watching it. I don't remember where I was, who I was with, or what the hell I was doing there. So it's quite possible that I was horribly, head-lollingly drunk. Was there an enormous cartoon pig in this movie, right in the middle? That would answer a lot of questions, I'm thinking.
Movie Watched, Next-to-Last That I Can Remember Clearly: The English Patient (1999, second run theater)
Oh, jeebus, don't ask. My wife and I were out with another couple, and somebody -- *cough* the girls *cough kaff* -- got it in their head that this would make a good 'date' movie. Right. 'Date' flick. Hardly.
First of all, it was a damned depressing movie. There was crying, and dying, and war, and all sorts of unrequited, um, things-or-other. I wasn't really paying attention for a lot of it. But most of the people around us looked pretty damned sad. And the shit went on forever -- this movie was, like, three, three-and-a-half years long. We could have gotten it on, had a kid, and sold the damned thing on the black market in the time it took this movie to play out. I'm almost snoring just thinking about it. Ugh.
Movie Watched, Last That I Can Remember Clearly: The Mummy (1999, second-run theater)
I actually saw two or three movies in the theater where I watched The Mummy, but this is the only one I remember. Perhaps that's because the other movies sucked; maybe it's because it's the only one where I wasn't running to the bathroom every twenty minutes. But probably it's because the theater had a bar upstairs, and Long Island iced tea specials on movie nights. (Hence the bathroom-going, as well as the memory loss. Oh, LITs, how do I love thee?)
Anyway, it was a damned silly movie, frankly. I remember my wife remarking later that she was surprised, a few days after watching it, to find out that it wasn't meant to be a completely comedic send-up of the Indiana Jones genre. She's got pretty high standards for movies, you see.
(And a pretty low tolerance for alcohol -- after a couple of those cocktails, she'd have probably found The English Patient hilarious, too. Maybe I should have tried that. Double ugh.)
So there you have it, folks -- six in-theater movies in six years. And in the meantime, I've probably seen Major League, The Princess Bride, and Cool Hand Luke nine dozen times apiece on cable. Jeez, I've really got to get out more.
An Ode to Ade
Ah, lemonade. It's my very most favoritest of all the ades. It's better than lime, better than orange, even better than Gator. Lemonade kicks ade ass!
I just made a big pitcher of lemonade. My wife hates it when I do that. Not that she's got anything against lemonade, per se; it's just that she doesn't like it quite as strong as I make it. She's a delicate flower, after all. Beautiful, but fragile. Tender. And not so much into the puckery stuff.
(Hey, this is lemonade we're talking about here. Don't get all personal and shit. Focus, dude.)
Anyway, let's just say that we have 'creative differences' over how our favorite lemony beverage should be prepared. Around our house, we 'make da ade' using that synthetic lemony-scented powdered crap that a lot of people use. My wife uses two scoops of the stuff per pitcher. Or, as she told me tonight, 'really, one and a half'. Isn't that just adorable?
Me, I ain't goin' down like that. Scoops, schmoops. When I want lemonade, I don't play around with that little plastic thingy in the can. I get out the bathroom scale, and dump that shit in by the pound. I don't make 'lemonade', really -- instead, I stir up a lemon sludge, muddy and murky and full of tart puckery goodness. If it's not gritty and pasty, then it's just not good ade. I want my lips puckered up so far that I can taste my own uvula, dammit.
(What? Oh, like you've never tasted your uvula before. Don't give me that look, dammit.)
Anyway, I'm a happy man right now. This is some damned good ade I've got going on. I won't be able to yodel for a week. (Nor for several dozen years after that, if we're at all lucky.) My wife's decided to enjoy some, too. I'm having mine in a tall glass, 'neat'; she's going to dilute hers just a bit before she digs in. It looks like she's got an eyedropper full of lemonade, and she's heading for the bathtub upstairs with some ice cubes and a straw. Well, more power to her. And lemonade all 'round! Drink up, people -- this is good shit!
A Battle of Two Half-Wits
I had some time to kill tonight (technically last night now, but who's clock-watching at this hour, anyway?), so I decided to read a bit.
Unfortunately, the book closest to me at the time was the one that one of my (several) bosses at work gave me a couple of weeks ago. It has something to do with business, I think, and possibly management philosophy, or team-building, or some other such thing. Some part of my brain told me that if I was going to read tonight, I should really conquer a few pages in this book, so I could get it back to her soon.
That same part of my brain tucked the book under my arm, and walked me upstairs, intent on tucking me into bed with said book to peruse a few chapters before sleepytime. This was at around eleven thirty, soon after I'd finished my last post.
This was also the point at which the rest of my brain finally broke through the barricade and overpowered the part of my brain that had been doing all this 'responsible thinking' crap. Just at the last moment, my newly-empowered neurons detoured me to the office, where instead of reading, I read blogs, and made a few comments, and uploaded two standup clips.
Unfortunately, that rogue 'responsible' part of my brain was still kicking and screaming, fighting for control. Several times, I even looked at the book on my desk, wondering whether I shouldn't take it to bed -- or at least the bathroom -- and try out a few pages. Each time, the rest of my brain intervened, and I went back, grinning and drooling, to my online entertainment.
Eventually, my in-charge brain told me, the 'other' half would be subdued, beaten into submission through inertia and the inexorable passage of time. It would return eventually, of course, but there was nothing that said I had to succumb to its sober realities and soul-rending obligations tonight. If we just stick together, my half-brain told me, we can beat this thing. Sooner or later, the will to start that book tonight will fade, if we just distract ourselves into exhaustion.
Well, I'm happy to say that three hours later, I've finally lost that urge. It may be two-thirty in the morning, and I may have to get up way before I'm ready to in the morning, but dammit, I hung tight with my half a brain, and I beat this thing. No book, no reading, and now I'm off to bed. Victory is mine! Well, half mine, anyway. And pretty soon, my boss is gonna ask about that damned book, too. Shit.
Man, my other half a brain is gonna kill me tomorrow when it wakes up!
Monday, February 23, 2004
Oh, They're Just Friggin' Insoles -- Put the Damned Things In and Shut Up, Already!
All right, I've had it. I need somebody out there to help me, dammit.
I need one of you to find the person, or people, who are coming up with words to rhyme with gellin' for those damned Dr. Scholl's commercials.
I want you to find them, and beat them -- mercilessly, mind you, with a big club, or fireplace poker, or something -- and then drop them from a very great height into a big quicksand trap, or a tar pit, or a blockful of hardening cement, maybe. Something deep, and sticky, and exceptionally unpleasant. Some alligators might be nice, too. Or crocodiles. Whichever's easier.
Seriously, though, this shit has got to stop, people. The first commercial was cute, for about the first thirty damned times I saw it. Then it was just annoying, and then maddening, and finally just stupid. Sure, I'll give 'em props for the 'Magellan' line. It took a little while before 'Want a melon' made my eyelids twitch with rage.
But it's over now, dammit. I'm calling it right now -- time of death, about six seconds after I saw the new freaking commercial today, with three 'gellin' morons in a stock trading pit, bantering that nonsense back and forth.
'Are you gellin'?'
'Oh, I'm gellin'! And I'm sellin'!'
'That guy's not gellin'. He's repellin'!'
Look, I've got news for you douchebags -- you can all go straight to hellin'. Just stop this goddamned nonsense!
Seriously, for the love of kicky Doc Martens, just stop it. Stop making the commercials, and stop devoting websites to this ridiculous marketing nightmare. I'm begging you here. And the rest of you, stop encouraging these asspackets by playing their little game on your own sites, and on TV, and -- most especially, please -- anywhere near me, anywhere in the world that I happen to be. It's not cute, it's not cool, and you're not a 'felon'. But keep this shit up, and I will be, when I pull off your 'gellin' shoes and beat you to a bloody broken pulp with them!
Okay, sorry, I got a little carried away there. It's not your fault, really, out there in the real world. Fads come along, and it's sometimes hard to tell which ones are cool, and which are asinine, and which ones start out vaguely acceptable and then spiral into a pit of moronic craptacular nonsense.
(Yeah, um... no need to apply those same sorts of judgement to this blog, all right? Nobody likes a big ironic poopyhead, all right?)
Anyway, whaddaya say we just band together on this one, and form some sort of riotous, unruly mob and go kick the crap out of whoever's responsible for those commercials? You with me? You in? Or are you mentally unwellin'?
(Oh fer chrissakes... they got me, too. Let's roll some Scholl's heads, people!)
I Think What I Meant to Say Was, 'Thank You!'
I went onstage last night at the Comedy Vault in downtown Boston. It was a packed house, full of college kids mostly -- a fun crowd, and it was great to play to a full house.
I actually thought I wouldn't be allowed to go on -- Sundays at 'da Vault' are 'bringer shows', where you have to show up with two paying guests to get stage time. This week, my friends were pretty busy, and weren't able to stop by to watch.
(Or are sick of being badgered and cajoled to come see the same jokes they've been hearing for four months now. Tomato, tomahto... whatever.)
Anyway, I headed down there with my wife, and hoped for the best. I had a couple of 'maybe's, but I held no delusions that anyone was actually going to be able to make it. A few minutes before showtime, I checked in with the organizer, and let her know that it was just me and the missus, so I supposed I'd just pay for the two of us and spectate for the evening. The organizer let me know that if anyone else came in for me, she'd let me know. I thought that was it, and settled down with a beer to watch the other comics.
Little did I realize that by paying the cover for myself, I became my second person. She left me on the list, and -- about halfway through the show -- I heard the emcee for the night asking around among the comics, 'Charlie? Who's Charlie? Is Charlie here?' Luckily, I was sitting near the comics area (hey, it never hurts to be close to the action), heard him, and stepped back to sort it all out.
'I thought I was off the list,' I told him.
'You're on the list,' he told me.
'I only brought one person tonight; I thought she marked me off.'
'Okay, I'll check with her.'
So he checked, she told him I'd paid for two, and -- just like that, with only a minute or so of realizing I'd go onstage -- there I was, mic in hand, blathering to a crowd of fifty or more. Fantabulous.
I thought it went pretty well -- you'll be able to see for yourself soon, when I post the clip. (And I'll finally post the horrible, embarrassing, 'shit, I forgot my material' clip from last Sunday at the All Asia, too; at least now it won't be the last active link on the list. Pee-fricking-yew.)
But none of that's really the point, exactly. The point is what happened after the show, as my wife and I were waiting to pay at the parking garage. We were standing in line, when two vaguely familiar-looking women walked past. And one of them, wondrous benevolent siren that she was, looked right at me and said,
'Hey, there's that comedian guy!'
Wow. Nobody's ever said that to me before.
I smiled, mainly to buy a little time to find the appropriate witty response. I'm a 'comedian guy', after all, right? Eventually, I came up with, wittily enough:
'Wow. Nobody's ever said that to me before.'
Fricking genius, I am. George Carlin, eat your heart out. I am the king of witty repartee.
Not wanting to leave it at just that, I decided to add:
'Well, except maybe my mom, when I was trying to get away with shit.'
No, that's not particularly witty, either. I do think I deserve a few points for the image of a mother, tsking and scolding a young boy with, 'What are you, some kind of comedian?'
But I also lose a few dozen points for the confused look that put on the woman's face. She was still smiling, sort of, but I'm not sure what I said made any particular bit of sense. Nor am I completely certain that the woman -- who looked to be a couple, but not many, years older than I -- wasn't thinking that I'd just suggested she could be my mother. Or something. I don't know. I'm no good at actually talking to people; why the hell would I write this crap and do standup if I knew how to act in real social situations, anyway?
So, I'll say now what I should have said then:
'Wow, thanks! That's pretty cool, actually being called a comedian!'
And no, that's not witty, either, but goddammit, it doesn't have to be. Even if the lady was just saying it to be nice -- and that's almost certainly the case -- it was pretty damned cool. We comics congratulate each other all the time, but none of us really mean it. And my wife tells me, 'Good job!' after each show, but really, it's in the contract -- she has to. For a perfect stranger to take the time to say something, anything nice like that -- well, it's times like those that I wish I didn't put my foot in my damned mouth every time I open my yapper.
But I do, and I did, more or less, and so here we are. I doubt that the woman who walked past me last night will ever read this, but if she does, I just wanted her to know that she made my night. And my day so far, and probably most of the rest of the week, as well. Maybe someday now I'll earn that compliment, and actually become the kind of comedian who gets recognized after a show once in a while.
And maybe by that point, I'll have figured out what the hell to say when it happens. Meh.
Sunday, February 22, 2004
Thank the Gods Fran Drescher Wasn't Around Back Then
I was watching 'About a Boy' at a friend's house last night when an odd thought struck me.
(No, it wasn't:
'Hey, I really liked the 'before' Hugh Grant character much better than the 'after'; all those psychos and kids are really turning him into a pantywaist.'
'I wonder if it would be worth shoving this beer bottle up my left nostril and into my brain so I don't have to watch the rest of this movie.'
Not to say that those thoughts didn't strike me. I just wouldn't call them 'odd'.)
(Oh, I'm kidding. Hugh Grant is just the dreamiest, and I love kids in movies. The more, and the sacchariny-cuter, the better. Oh, my word, yes.
Why, if I could have just been soaking naked in a tubful of bleach and having paper clips shoved under my toenails, then it would have been the bestest movie ever!
Wait. That didn't really help convince you I was 'kidding', did it? Eh, screw it. I gave it a shot.)
Anyway, the thought that struck me was this: the sirens on British ambulances sound remarkably like those here in the States. And I'm guessing -- which is all I'm gonna do, because I don't want to have to watch a bunch of artsy films from France and Egypt and Indonesia to find out -- that ambulance and police sirens all over the world sound remarkably similar. Which begs the question, who came up with that noise, and who decided that it was just the right mix of annoying, insistent, and recognizable enough to signal a dire emergency? Because that's a job that I wouldn't want to have.
I imagine that they put together a panel of people, actually. Probably, they seated them all in a drab room somewhere, institutional green paint peeling from the walls. Most likely, they sat at desks, with a scoresheet of some kind, and a pencil to rate each noise on various scales. I can almost see a thin, severe man walking through the windowless door of the room, closing it firmly behind him, and administering the test:
Proctor: You will now be played a series of sounds. It is imperative that you listen closely to each of these sounds, and rate each one based on how effective an emergency signal you feel it would be. You have also been hooked to monitors for an objective analysis of your heart rate, blood pressure, and state of panic.
There will be no talking during this evaluation. The sounds will be played for ten seconds each at thirty second intervals. We will begin... now!
Gigantic Speakers: WEEEEEEEEEEH! WEEEEEEEEEEEEH! WEEEEEEEEEEEH! WEEEEEEEEEEEEH!
Subject One: Holy crapping Christ, I think my ears are bleeding!
Proctor: No talking! Make your evaluations now.
Subject One: What? Oh hell, my hearing's gone, too.
Proctor: Pencils down! The next sound begins... now!
Gigantic Speakers: BOOP! BOOP! BOOP! SSSSKKRRRREEEEEE! SSSSKKRRRREEEEE! BOOP! BOOP! BOOP! SSSKRRREE-!
Proctor: Evaluate! Now!
Subject Two: I... I think I just wet myself. Where's the box for that?
Proctor: No talking! The next sound will play...
Subject Four: Holy father, please have mercy on --
Gigantic Speakers: GGGGGRRRRUUUUUUUUNNNNNNHHHHHH! WHOOOOOO! GGGRRRRUUUUUUUUNNNNNHHHH!
Subject Three: Um, wasn't that just somebody snoring really loud?
Proctor: Talk less! Evaluate more!
Subject Three: But how could that possibly --
Subject Two: Hey, look, I wet myself on that one, too, okay? Just let it go.
Proctor: Infidels! No talking! The next sound begins... now!
Gigantic Speakers: AAAUUGH! HELP! WAAAAAH!! HELP! HELP! GAAAWAAAUUUGH! MERCY! HAVE MERCY! SOMEBODY HEEE-
Subject One: That was... staged, right? That guy was just an actor?
Proctor: No talking!
Subject One: Yeah, I know, I know... but that was really disturbing. Just tell me --
Proctor: That man... was in the last group of evaluators. And he wouldn't. Stop. Talking. Got it?
Subject One: *nod* *nod* *nod*
Proctor: Excellent. Next noise now!
Gigantic Speaker *sung* TIPTOE THROUGH THE TULIPS... WITH ME... OH, TIPTOE FROM THE GARDEN --
Proctor: Evaluate! Stop it -- get back in your chairs! Stop convulsing, all of you -- evaluate, damn it!
No picnic, eh? I'd say we're lucky to have ended up with that loud whiny siren we have today, frankly. It could have been much worse. I'm just glad I wasn't there to help choose it -- I do plenty of convulsing and bleeding from ears as it is. Who needs a siren when reruns of The Nanny are still on TV?