Friday, October 26, 2007

I will not pretend that it was all fine; Dinner last night sucked

Seeing old friends is nice. Especially when said nice friends are low-key, go with the flow types. However this worked to the disadvantage of Croftie and Myself last evening. My friend, let's call him Bradbury for perfectly unnecessary anonymity's sake, is in town for three days. Bradbury lives and works in Jolly Old, and his stateside adventures have mostly been in the NYC. His girlfriend has friends (family?) here in town and as such I was happy to receive a tangential visit. To catch up. All that. It's been a while. etc.

Dinner plans were made, actually made (as opposed to imagined--see previous post) for Thursday evening. When i got out of work I was told Bradbury would call me when they were going to have dinner, that it was going to be at "some Spanish restaurant in River North." Almost immediately I knew which place this was. I shall keep it un-named since I am not in the business of (openly) defaming people or places (but if you read between the lines the disguise is flimsy at best). Needless to say I'd been there before and had very mixed experiences. A mutual friend of us Crofts with a penchant for planning big dinner get-togethers (and whose target restaurants have reliably stunk) once led us all here and it was fine. rather expensive, for a college kid, but fine.

Last night however...

First off, we had to wait. and wait and wait. for. ever. For seemingly no better reason than to make the place in question appear more in demand that it should be. Waiting around late at night can make one cranky, but that was not the case with all of us, well, most of us. Bradbury, and us Crofts are all laid-back types, and i was busy catching up, and even Croftie, thrown to the wolves (while i was catching up with my friend), didn't seem to be fairing too badly. Later I learned this wasn't quite true, but all in all the evening was still salvageable.

Yet the restaurant was really loud. Think elementary school cafeteria with stereo speakers mounted in the corners focusing all the rambunctious kids to holler even louder). The food was meh. and kinda greasy. The waitress was trying very hard to push drinks over and over. And sketchy things like not telling us that when we asked for water, we were going to get bottled water, until one of our party astutely looked around and saw you had to ASK for tap water if you didn't want to pay for it.

The worst part was that when we got the check and collected the money and gave the bill to the waitress we were told we had put in a $20 too little. This was an absolute impossibility. The check split equally between all of us amounted to a $20 each. We all watched everyone put down a $20. And Bradbury counted the total before closing the billfold. Impossible. And yet... Now I suppose it was possible that a bill fell out on the way to the register, and that somebody saw it and snatched it. But there is as much proof for this as there is simple disingenuousness from the waitress. It made me quite angry. But we all re-upped and hurriedly walked out.

Part of the problem of the evening was Bradbury (and by extension, us Crofts) are so willing to go with whatever dominant personality is organizing things. The friends he was staying with are new to Chicago. But very... strong willed and opinionated. This restaurant was simply the best tapas in the city, even though every online review site disagrees, and so do most of us Chicagoans (no problem giving shout outs tho, go to Cafe Ba Ba Reeba! Bates and dacon!). This place is newbie/tourist/hipster hell. But we simply had to go there.

It quickly became clear that the organizer behind all this (the Demander) was a particularly... difficult person. Over the evening's conversation I learned his thoughts on eating meat, buying diamonds, dubya, the us economy, american's erroneous assumptions of everything asian, why NYC sucks (there i happen to agree), contemporary architecture, on and on. So i did what any sensible Pirate would do. Ate a bunch of pork. Discussed my engagement ring hunting. and defended (defended!?) a few of the president's policies (such as not pulling out of Iraq right away). To sum things up (and this is horrible, just horrible, and I am a horrible person for doing this) you can get a good first impression of this guy from his dazzling well-crafted facial hair which looks like Robert Downey Jr's in the upcoming Iron Man film (minus some of the beard, but retaining 'stache and soul-patch).

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

where is my mind?

I'm losing it. It's gone.

The little moments that used to be 'ha-ha, isn't that funny' are now becoming 'maybe I actually do have some form of memory loss/dementia. A few days ago I attempted to do something as benign as clip my fingernails. Job accomplished, or so i presumed, I moved on to other things. Two days later i realize that I only did 60% of the job, leaving the fingernails of my right hand unclipped. 60% is telling, seeing as I actually made the mental jump and started to complete the other side of the job. I could see 50%. Maybe i just got confused and thought I'd already done righty. fine. But to stop after just beginning him? the very fingers I am typing this with are mocking me right now.

Second example. I have a friend coming in from out of town. Way out of town. England out of town. Granted, he's been stateside for a week now, and he and his girlfriend are not staying with me or anything. But I was all set to go out to eat with them both tonight. As if I'd made definitive plans to do so. But in reality I'm not even sure when he gets in. Might be 11pm for all I know. Looking back over our email correspondence there is absolutely no reference to dinner. Just which days he'd be in town and an exchange of cell phone numbers. Where did the phantom dinner plans come from? I mean, it was to the point where I was about to call and ask him where we had planned on meeting and at which time. That would have been an embarrassing phone call. But it makes for an even embarassing-er memory. Because friends can giggle and laugh it off. When I laugh to myself it just kinda dies out he he, ha ugh with a sheepish eye-roll for closure.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Back on Topic (Finally)

Lest you nay-sayers out there in the peanut-gallery start calling foul, here's a post ruminating (tangentially) on one this blog's three titular heads. Above is a video link for as long as youtube supports it, NBC is tenacious about protecting their dear intellectual property which is asinine in and of itself. These videos function as free advertising! The more times I laugh at some dude punching another dude just before the second dude eats something the more likely I am to tune in to SNL some night. Okay, so that last bit won't actually ever happen, but still. This is the first time I've even thought about that "Great Saturday Evening Institution" in like, long times.

The premise. As detailed above, the video is mostly a sequence of shots of everyday folks, who might be SNL regulars (*shrugs shoulders*), just about to bite into a slice of pizza, an apple, a french fry, etc. And then just before they hit pay-dirt Andy Sandberg lunges into frame and delivers a punch right in the face complete with a big yellow 'Punched!' description on the screen before Sandberg dances giddily. Equally effective is the music which deedle-deedles along until the big actions where it swells right along with the punches.

Very simple = kinda brilliant.

Why is this brilliant? Perhaps a better question would be, why is it not? You have random, senseless violence which is somehow augmented by the fact that the people being hit are just about to eat. Random punches would be funny--hitting unsuspecting diners is hilarious. Unrefined, maybe. But hilarious. And the dances that follow could easily be mortally stupid. But Sandberg enlivens them with more than enough dumb enthusiasm. And i don't mean dumb in the negative sense. This is dumb in the most positive sense.

One of the parts of me that finds this the most funny is the part that wants to simulate it. How fun would it be to run down the street and do everything normal behavior warrants one should not? Punches to the face occupy the high end of this spectrum because not only are you doing something unwritten behavioral codes forbid, like laying down in the middle of a busy sidewalk or peeing on a shop window, but you are interrupting the normal behavior of others, right at the precise moment where a person expects it least. Not to get all philosophical or anything but this is a Althusserian's dream come true. These actions are funny because they are fundamentally ideologically unexplainable.

And that is why, I would argue, that children, and those of us with very child-like sense of humor (er, guilty) will find this immensely funny. because everything adults do, everything in the real world that is so straight-laced and boring and horribly mundane is deflated. Children haven't been 'hailed' into the system yet, to go back to Althusser for a moment, and thus either don't know the codes or haven't bought into them yet. The only thing they know is that adults are boring and deeply unfunny. Adults punching each other in the face for no reason just before they eat, however...

And the punches make a fairly logical progression from least absurd to most. We go from one random man being struck to several in succession to a pair of foo-folks seated together in a cafeteria being 'double' punched to a punch-out and 'full recovery' by Mr Jon Bon Jovi to a man who temporarily escapes his punch-doom by answering a call on his cell phone. That last bit perfectly shows all that philosophical nonsense i was blathering on about above to be true. This isn't just random violence, but violence instrumented through a very child-like field of logic. It makes sense that Andy cannot punch the cell phone talking guy because that would violate the very basic child-logic rules. Cell-phone dude isn't just about to eat, therefore no punch. The same set of rules that make Andy murder the guy who 'figures things out' and tries to defend himself. If that guy had only just got punched and played along, everything would be fine. But instead his disruption escalates the violence.

Likewise, when Andy is forced to up the ante, the world reacts in turn. Just how boring are adults/regular life the world over? So much so that they are mindless zombies. And Andy must now flee from them across the globe through various stock footage shots of Paris, etc. Yet Andy has a trump card, he knows that he simply has to reverse things back to his own set of rules. How do you stop a marauding pack of killer zombies from eating you? You do the zombie dance, naturally.

Believe in your dreams, indeed.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I am Delicious (at Night)

Let me explain.

Midnight snack. The impulse is sometimes maddening, overpowering. Which is all well and good if you have some sesame chicken in the fridge or a slice of cold pizza. It is not okay when you yourself are the one being snacked. For the past two weeks I have been a late night buffet table for beasties everywhere.

I loathe mosquitoes more than most things. I think my hatred was really ramped up in Italy where our second floor apartment had these gigantic floor to ceiling windows and no screens. It being hotter'n'hell most nights the windows remained wide open, my room-mate and i would be feasted upon and end up walking to class with red welts all over our faces, necks and arms. It got so bad that I would feign sleep, wait for the inevitable "szzz....szhsZZSSXZSSHHSsss" of a mosquito passing by my ear and flail about at it like I was deranged, which I very nearly became.

The past week I have been visited by 3 mosquitoes, all of whom now no longer can count themselves among the living. All of which tasted my blood and thought it delicious enough to not even bother with Croftie. But last night, last night I don't know what happened, nor do i want to know. But this morning i woke up with a middle finger swollen up enough to make it slightly hard to bend at the knuckle. it is red and itches.

I want this madness to stop.

I want to feel safe and secure that when i turn out my lamp and go to sleep that i won't be eaten alive and stung/bitten by ornery denizens of the older and more primitive species.

Leave me alone!


Monday, October 15, 2007

adding another jewel to yee olde bookcase

It officially goes on sale tomorrow. I've had it in some form since March (via an advanced reader's paperback galley edition). Today, the 'real' books arrived at the store and one was damaged. So I'll be taking him home tonight, to sleep amongst friends on my bookcase. He's enormous and hardcover and wonderful and normally $37 and promises to be a phenomenal translation of an even phenomenaler work (which i read in a different translation a few years back in my great books in world lit kick). His flaws, his I'm not fit to be sold in a bookstore flaws, were easily fixed with a razor (for a few of his pages were over long, all he needed was some love and a haircut). God i love working in a bookstore.


Friday, October 12, 2007

things i find aesthetically pleasing (but probably shouldn't)

1. the smell of rotting leaves (that crunchy Fall smell which gets really augmented after a good rain).
2. mustaches. Sam Elliot, Tom Selleck, Eugene Hutz... who would not want to be enlisted in ranks such as these? Or, I suppose, if you are a member of the fair sex, who wouldn't want to woo and wed these mans?
3. comic books. print-media's red-headed step-child. getting fashionable now, in Criticism and in Academia, but those don't really count and are a double-edged sword. Its sorta like being an American voter in a state doomed by the electoral college to perpetually be red or blue. It's like saying "See, we pay attention to you and value your interest in comic books/vote but in reality we don't really think you as individuals/comics) are to be taken seriously, not really, but you can't complain because technically, technically you are being represented. And long-winded analogy of the year goes to...
4. that i-tunes nano comercial with the lady-girl-crooner Feist. 1, 2, 3, 4...
5. and according to Croftie and most fans of sports other than Baseball, the national pastime.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Barry and the PoltergESPN

Early in the wee hours of this morning I was awakened by Barry freaking the fuck out over an imaginary spot on the wall above my night-table. My night-table is populated by an unfortunate stratification of very heavy hardcover books (i.e. the Shelby Foote) and comics books. Most of the comic books are in plastic sleeves which are very slippery. Thus a book which is very heavy and should be secure in its own dense gravity becomes free to slide straight off my night-table when an insane cat is inspired to get up on them and frantically scrabble at the upper portion of the bedroom wall.

After the loud thud of various 800+ page books (and, occasionally, a very stocky cat, mind you) I rolled over to see Barry once more make his way up off the increasingly scattered pile of fallen books and comics and onto the table for further out-of-his-head scrabbling.

The thing is... there was nothing there. absolutely. nothing. With my lamp turned on I inspected the entire wall, and the adjacent wall for good measure. I flicked the curtain back and forth to dislodge any hidden winged or 8 legged beasties. nothing. Yet when I turned off the lamp and lay down, there goes Barry once more trying so hard to climb up the wall.

Part of the other reason why I came to the conclusion that there was nothing there was that Pickle would have nothing to do with all of this. She sat calmly at the foot of the bed and alternately slept or looked up with her alarmed expression (one of her two expressions) when something loud hit the ground. Earlier the previous evening a buggy had been frolicking in the window-sill just outside our apartment. She enjoyed this thoroughly, and she and Barry had spent a fruitless 10 minutes attempting to bend space and time and somehow scoop the bug up through the glass and screen.

Point is, she can see buggies. She LOVES them. Barry is the one who ultimately mushes and eats them (minus a few legs, usually), but Pickle the Hunter is no slouch. And her mighty powers of observation where not deceived. There was no bug on the wall, just a retarded cat hurling himself at imagined bugs on the wall.

Awake enough now so as to answer nature's call, I walked to the bathroom and back again. As i re-entered the bedroom I took inventory unconsciously. One Croftie (sleeping). One Pickle (sleeping). One Barry... (sleeping... in the exact, warm spot I'd recently vacated. His plan all along I'm sure. But here comes the scary part. From the living room came an incredibly loud noise. My computer had not only 'woken' itself up, but was playing a video feature from ESPN dot com with the volume on my speaker turned all the way up. And yet, the screen was dark.

Needless to say i jumped, ran into the living room and turned off the computer. My brain was still mostly asleep but i could not figure out how the particular video on a particular site had somehow began playing for no reason many hours after anyone had used the internet without having woken up the monitor in the process. For example, if something bumps the table the computer is sitting on and the monitor 'wakes up', then whatever is on the screen might 're-animate', a video might play, an ad might do its wiggly dance. But the screen was dark.

So my only conclusion was that something supernatural was behind all of this. And since animals can supposedly 'sense' ghosts, i imagine this specter was a ghost buggy. who began the evening by teasing the fat cat and ignoring the stupid one. who likes ESPN. he had better not like the Red Sox. otherwise I won't be so quick next time to stop Barry from flaying his ghost ass and eating him up.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Series of Thoughtlings

lately, this blog has been more dinosaur (i.e. 'extinct') than zombie (unstoppably ravenous but brain-dead) or robot (super-helpful but destined to try, unsuccessfully, to take over the world). So time to harness my inner undead and walk/blog the land of the living once more, even if only to feast on the brains of the unwashed masses. Because I'm not up to taking over the world just yet.

Yesterday my beloved Cleveland Indians proved their mortality and teased me for 4 innings before imploding and losing game three of the American League Divisional Series. Previously charmed or at least impervious to Yankee mystique (a sort of musk that screams Bronx, bandwagon, 27 World Series Titles, unimaginable arrogance, and massive salary expenditure all at the same time), the Indians had delighted me twice over by winning the first two games.

Tonight the teams play game 4 in NY and the Yankees are once again favorites. I am nervous because momentum appears to swinging back NY's way, the game is being held on their home field, they are coming off a very strong performance, and the Indians pitcher this evening, a guy by the name of Paul Byrd, is one of those wily veterans who don't inspire fear in opposing batters. The worst part is that if NY wins this evening it is as if the first 4 games never happened. The series becomes a best of one. Granted, that One will be played in Cleveland with their ace on the mound, but the yankees will have at that point won two in a row. It seems like tonight is almost a must win for the Tribe.

How did this happen?

In other news, the new radiohead album 'comes out' on Wednesday. Released via download, the password issued in an email and good for one person only. And as well debated and documented in the media, you can pay whatever you like for the songs. I paid the 'full' price, which will net me a bunch of crazy art and vinyl I can't actual listen to, but also cds and pretty packaging etc. All for 40 pounds. thats British slang for 80-something bucks. Silly amount for music, but its not like i'm lining the pocket of some record label goon. This will actually go to the artists in question and hopefully contribute to more cool music down the road. Way to be a team player, Thom Yorke says to me in my imaginarium.

having been on a strict diet of coca-cola zero and diet pepsi, this morning's lack of either and subsequent purchasing/imbibement of a full fledged Mt Dew is like a shot of heroin. I feel incredibly good and kinda sick all at the same time. How on earth did i have one of these every day?

Later this month a huge X-men crossover event begins. For the lay-person (i.e someone who isn't 'rad' and doesn't read comic-books--the dorks) this means that all the different comic series involving X-men characters align and tell one big story, one that will (obligatory movie trailer over-statement) "change their world forever." I already read most of these series and I am pretty excited about this. Its like all of your favorite tv show characters being involved in the same story. But not really since Dwight Schrute (sp?) from the Office would never hang out with Sawyer and that Japanese guy on Heroes. At least not voluntarily.

The best part about getting to work early is getting a parking space. The second best thing is getting to LEAVE early, and beating all of the traffic home. Getting up certainly does have its sucking points (blech, gross phrase) but its all worth it in the end.

This post was written with Spoon's Series of Sneaks playing in the background.

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