Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Too long without an update, yesyes.


I've been downloading episodes of "Love Hina" recently. Your standard romantic comedy anime featuring your typical shy otaku-type with horny friends surrounded by beautiful women. He and his mismatched love interest won't admit their feelings for each other, and when they're about to, two rivals are trotted out to confuse matters (the rivals each being much more what each mismatched half was looking for... you know the drill.)

In short I'm loving every minute of it. The predictable plot structure tied to the out-of-left-field foreign culture humor, animated slapstick never fails to floor me... plus hey, the unintentional breast grope immediately followed by explosive nosebleed bit really never gets old.

Not Ranma good, not even "Welcome to Greenwood" good, but good fun.

Also Watch

Either the Sox are setting the Nation ("...not really a legion of fans as much as it is a self-help group" --Mike Wise, Washington Post) up for one humdinger of a letdown (the greatest comeback in baseball history immediately followed by an equal but opposite choke? could the baseball Gods truly be that cruel?) or we're about to see something I've waited my entire life for... or at least since I was four. We've already seen what I've been waiting for since I was five (i.e., incontrovertible proof that the Red Sox are just as good as, nay better than, the hated Yankees) and I think it may have saved me four or five years of therapy.

You know how it is when you experience a traumatic event in your life, like someone you love gets seriously ill or dies, or you go through a horrific breakup? How you'll manage to push it to the back of your mind and trudge through your daily routine? How all of a sudden you'll remember and for a moment it's like everything is crashing down around you all over again? The day or three after the Sox won the ALCS were like the exact polar opposite of that. I'd be going about my day, reading or working or playing guitar or watching tv or whatever the hell, and suddenly I'd remember: "The Red Sox just humiliated the New York Yankees by staging the biggest comeback in baseball history, and are now going to the World Series!" And I'd actually start giggling like a fiend, grinning like the cat that ate...

And Speaking Of...

We've been having a mouse problem hereabouts of late. Patching holes, cleaning the kitchen, setting out gluetraps, setting out poison... well, the morning after we set out the poison we find the mice have actually shit all over it. Fuckin' gangsta. Any week now they'll start demanding protection money.

So we've inherited a cat. Said cat has actually moved into the laundry room next door to me. He gets the run of the basement, the Pooch gets the upstairs, and the ground floor serves as a buffer zone. He's an amazing looking cat-- an Oriental Shorthair apparently, which means he looks like a statue that you would find guarding a mummy.

Still getting settled in, he just poked his head around the door to see what I was doing and promptly ran off again when I looked over and said "hi."

Muse Sick

Last Thursday I caught Mouse on Mars and Ratatat at the Black Cat. Ratatat I'd never heard before, so I had no idea what they'd sound like. It took me a while, but I really got into their sound. They were almost reminiscent of Trans Am, in that they seemed interested in taking all the good stuff from late-70s/early-80s hair metal (the transcendently melodic guitar solo here, the soul-stirring bridge there) and stitching it all together, discarding the bad (the pedestrian lyrics -- any lyrics at all, in fact -- or the plodding verse riffs) and leaving only a gooey confection of guitar sounds over danceable preprogrammed beats. Fun stuff, but I won't be buying their album anytime soon.

Mouse on Mars were lots of fun as usual, though I've seen them better a couple of times. Still jubilant in the post-series glow, I danced my skinny ass off. Every now and again it occurs to me to wonder whether or not I'm a good (whatever that may mean) dancer. For the most part I don't care-- dancing is fun, I do it to have a good time. But every now and again I have to wonder if I look cool or like a complete ass. Once again, that's not the point... which may be part of why I've been single for so depressingly long.

Oh, And...

I've been kind of meaning to say something about this, if only to get it all out there. I'll have to slip it in backwards, so first with the hand-waving and excusifying:

I've never thought terribly highly of the entire pop-psychology/self-help movement/thing/whatever. It always seemed to me just so much touchy-feely New-Agey jargon-riddled babble. Plus it's all about being reductivist-- taking complex issues in people's emotional lives and trying to distill everything down to a single root cause; alcoholism, co-dependency, depression, OCD, kleptomania, acne, procrastination, homicidal mania, sex addiction, tea addiction, abstinence, workaholism, inability to love, inability to stop loving, incompetence, incontinence, athlete's foot and halitosis can all be blamed on X, where "x" is whatever drum the particular quack is pounding.

And yeah, in my limited reading of self-help books I've found this to be true. That and the writing is often deplorably opaque, riddled with (of course) obtuse jargon and stymied by (oh, the hypocrisy of this sentence!) overuse of the passive voice. The kind of bad writing that masks lazy thinking. And yet behind this, behind the cluttered arguments and the cringe-inducing verbiage, there seems to be some kind of undeniable and useful Truth. Maybe not all of societies ills can really be laid at the feet of "x," but that doesn't necessarily make rooting it out a useless endeavor.

So yes, I'm currently slogging it through a little tome about defeating one's demons by eradicating one's inner Toxic Shame: the bugbear, the root cause of suffering, the author's chosen drum. And as many problems as I have with the entire exercise, it's made me realize just the extent to which I am (oh crap, here goes) a very shame-based person. And that this has held me back from many things. I'm certainly not in my life where I'd like to be. I'm afraid to do the things I really want to do. I seem content to live my life without making any effort toward tapping... even a significant fraction of my potential.

But I'm not content. I will deny that I'm depressed or any such, but I'm far from satisfied with my lot in life. Hell, at this point it's not even good drama-- if I'm miserable, I want to be at least entertainingly so!

Christ, I've been typing for an hour now. I really should get to sleep-- starting an hour early tomorrow! This was not meant to be such a long entry, not by a long shot. Ahhhh, well. C'est la 'Blog!

Thursday, October 21, 2004





I've been a Red Sox fan since I was about four. More to the point, I've loathed the Yankees since I was five (this has to do with the fact that, growing up in Connecticut, I was one of the few Sox fans in a school full of Yankees fans, combined with the fact that I was unaware of this when I showed up to KINDERGARTEN one day wearing a Red Sox T-shirt, combined with the fact that kids at that age are subhuman savages and I barely escaped with my life). So tonight was a beautiful beautiful beautiful night. Really. History in front of my eyes, and in the form of the Sox SPANKING the hated Yanks!

I won't need any St. John's Wort for at least the next week.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004
New Joke Time!

"How many Bush administration officials does it take to change a light bulb?

None. There’s nothing wrong with that light bulb. There is no need to change anything. We made the right decision and nothing has happened to change our minds. People who criticize this light bulb now, just because it doesn’t work anymore, supported us when we first screwed it in, and when these flip-floppers insist on saying that it is burned out, they are merely giving aid and encouragement to the Forces of Darkness."

-- John Cleese

New Cleese joke courtesy of William Gibson, who has been inspired by the massive idiocy of the Bush regime to start up a 'blog. (File under "cloud {comma} every")

Saturday, October 16, 2004
Well, a thing or three of note lately.

First of these was my being stricken with a flu. So far the cold-like symptoms have been negligible, limited to nasal congestion and some sneezing. The real killer angle has been the achiness, dizziness and fatigue-- in short, just feeling like death.

I had to work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with the increasing weight of this viral infection making them a misery. Worst was getting home, exhausted creaky and wishing for the relief of death (or at the very least its closest neighbor) and finding myself unable to sleep.

So Thursday, my first day off, I slept until 6 PM, sleeping through my alarm, sleeping through my stereo's timed serenade (it wasn't until about 8 that I realized why my dreams were to a Dizzee Rascal soundtrack), sleeping through the initial installation of our new heater in the next room over. I finally got up, relieved some pressures, got some toast and tea, checked my email, and went back to bed for another few hours.

My plan then was to sleep straight on to dawn, but I eventually returned to my original plan for the evening-- two of my top five guitar heroes were sharing a bill and I wasn't about to let any flu keep me from that. Sadly, my own poor timing (opening acts on weeknights do NOT start playing at ten! How many times must I be reminded of this?) meant that I only caught the last three songs from Channels' set. But they were tight. Good enough that I wasn't as disappointed as I probably should have been over missing most of their set. The fact that they closed with "Chivaree" didn't hurt. And did I mention tight? Like a completely different band from the one that opened for Retisonic a few months back.

Then the Burma. Ohhhh the Burma. The crowd was light enough that I was able to get right up to the front of the stage. They of course played the requisite "Academy Fight Song" and "That's When I Reach for my Revolver," they even played all-but-requisites "That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate," "Einstein's Day," "Peking Spring" and "Red," (possibly my favorite Burma song, and I'm one unidentifiable chord away from having it figured out), but the real surprise was how seamlessly the songs from their new album fit in. "OnOffOn" is a very good album, and I enjoy it immensely until I realize that it's from the same band that put out "Versus" and then I'm reminded to find it ever-so-slightly disappointing. But certain songs you need to hear in a live context to really get.

There were also two new songs, proclaimed as world premieres. The first was okay but lacked an ending ("That was a world premiere without an ending" was its epilogue), but the second (called "Spider's Web" from the glance I got at the setlist) was another that fit seamlessly with the classics.

Wow, my second time seeing Mission of Burma. I remember not too many years ago being saddened by the thought I missed them, that I'd never get to see them live. Just seeing them once was a privilege, but they're such a personable band, so friendly with their fans, without the slightest hint of rockstar posturing on stage, that just seeing them a second time felt comfortable-- like seeing a friend's band play a basement show.

And as I left I saw J. Robbins chatting with Bob Weston at the soundboard. I think J. was asking about what software he was using for the tape loop effects...

Today I woke up early. Was awoken early, as per instructions. Due to my sickly hibernation, I only had one day in which to do two day's worth of tasks. First was cleaning out the rest of my stuff from my car. Then the drive to CarMax. On the way up I sat dreading being ripped off. Would they try to offer me $5,000 for a car I knew was worth probably $7,000?

The guy looked around my car and noted where the trunk was misaligned from the bumper -- "Looks like the frame's bent." Then we went around the front and I saw my car's final gesture of complete contempt: The headlight washer cover that I had JUST replaced had fallen off during the drive from NE DC to Laurel.

But it turns out I had no need to worry about $5,000. Because the repair job from being rearended by the huge van had required frame work, CarMax's offer was actually $3,700.

I spent the rest of the day lost in downtown DC pre-post-and-during-rush-hour traffic because nobody had bothered to tell me that the Schwab office had relocated. This was a nice reminder of why I want to sell my car, as driving in DC in heavy (or even moderate) traffic is pretty fucking close to the firey torments of Hell itself.

I spent the rest of the evening contemplating insurance fraud, viz., could I trust the neighborhood kids to keep quiet if I gave them the keys to my car and told them to destroy it? Would they be able to total it effectively, could they even drive stick? Would a lit match into the gastank be a more effective method?

Or possibly just eBay...

Monday, October 11, 2004
Bob's Yr Uncle

And now it can be told. After at least three weeks of keeping it a secret and it can be told. And I'm the one can tell it. Ladies and Grunts, my li'l sis is preggers. I'm gonna be an uncle!

My mom called this afternoon. I'd been asked not to tell anybody until Oct. 7, but for the most part (I told my housemates) I waited until I had the all clear. My sister, through the first trimester, went to her midwife. The midwife couldn't find a heartbeat. One panicked sonogram appointment later, everything's in the clear.

See, that's the kinda thing that would have me on the market for a new midwife...

The mention of midwives and checkups has elicited amazingly different and surprisingly passionate responses from various female friends of mine. Some scoff at the idea of appointments, being of the opinion that a woman's innards are sufficiently self-sustaining as not to need any help from the medical establishment. Others hear midwife and are amazed she isn't seeing a doctor (this, oddly, after accusing me of having three testicles... neither here nor there, but interesting tidbit nonetheless).

And yes, having the ability to plan a pregnancy is a privilege. Me? I'd consider the mere chance at being at risk for instigating an unplanned one a privilege.

Not much else new. The strange noises coming from my computer finally inspired me to crack it open and investigate. My ABIT KT7 motherboard (mobo for those in the know, which I am not so I will continue calling it a motherboard) has a little fan that came attatched to something on it. A bit of research revealed this to be the VIA KT133A Northbridge chipset. I still don't know what that means, but apparently it needs cooling, and the fan was screeching like a banshee.

What I finally ended up doing was just unplugging it and taking a paper towel to it. When your computer is literally a black (or tan, as the case usually be) box, a single monolithic quasi-magical chunk of machinery that spews stuff up on your screen, you don't really think much of all the shit inside it; nor do you really think much how dusty all that stuff gets. I'm talking dust bunnies here, inside the case. Or maybe just dust roaches. But lots of dust.

Dust removed (and for good measure I unplugged the CPU heatsink/fan and gave it a good cleaning too) everything ran nice and quietly... for a while at least... you see, in the middle of my little self-congratulatory spiel here, the damn fan has started whining again.


My backupdating (for those who care or even pretend to) is now done almost through November 2003. Bleh.

Where's that paper towel???

Friday, October 08, 2004
Yesterday at work one of my coworkers was complaining about people who never have anything to say when asked what's new. "Are you really so boring that you haven't done anything in the last three weeks since I last talked to you?" (and the mice chase each other around my ceiling as I type)

It hit a bit close to home, as I'm precisely the type to say something like that. I don't want to bore anybody with the quotidian details of my life, and nothing really big or exciting usually happens to me... the occasional bike crash or flat tire...

The other day my order arrived from Specialized. It included a new inner tube, a new tire, and some gloves. The former two items because of a mishap with my new brake pads. In short, I misadjusted one of them (well, failed to readjust it properly after it got knocked out of line, in my defense) and it rubbed the sidewall of the tire until it actually scraped through and punctured the inner tube. This happened in the middle of Rhode Island Ave, but luckily not a hilly or particularly busy part of it. Some guy riding by on the sidewalk: "Oh no, you musta hit a nail!" Yeah, a nail... that'll be my story!

Specialized doesn't make the Nimbus anymore, it's been replaced with the Nimbus Armadillo. The Armadillo line of tires are reinforced with a strip of teflon, so flat tires shouldn't be a big problem in my future. Even if they are, I've kept my old (four-times-patched) inner tube as a spare.

I've realized, now that I've spent money on them, that bicycle gloves are really meant for road bikes. The Crossroads has such an upright position that not much weight goes on the hands. Money not so well spent.

On the other hand, I also got a vertical bike rack and installed it in the basement. The bike is hanging by the door instead of blocking access to the dryer. 20 dollars well spent, I say.

Not much new that doesn't involve the bike... I changed my car's oil and got it washed in preparation for selling it, even cleaned out the trunk and suchlike. I could go up to Baltimore and see Hot Snakes tonight, but I'm really thinking more heading over to Logan to catch Q and not U. I don't trust my car-- and that's not mechanically so much as karmically. It knows, I suspect, that I plan to sell it (and to CarMax, no less, since I'm too lazy to do it myself) and will take any opportunity to punish me and try to foil my plans.

That doesn't sound paranoid.

Not at all.

I added a few old entries, as mentioned earlier. To find them go back to September and October of 2003. Yes, where I was a year ago. Was I ever really that young?

Sunday, October 03, 2004
So, I'm trying to hold myself to at least one entry a week... ideally two. Writing helps me sort things out, makes me feel like I'm producing something, all in all makes me happier and better adjusted. It also, for some reason, seems to dredge up self-loathing. Often when I try to write every day I become progressively more depressive until I have to give it up. That applies more to fiction writing, however, which I really take much more seriously than is strictly healthy. I need to find a way to make it fun again...

I'm also planning to dig out some older journal entries, mostly to do with things that happened over last winter, that I haven't posted here before. Maybe I'll try to clean them up a bit. They were always intended in some weird way for public display, I just never got around to putting them up. I plan to backdate them, though, so they'll actually appear as if written in real time, as in you'll have to go into the archives to read newly added entries. I'll try to alert you, my (ahem) faithful readers, when I do this... in case you want to hear the full story of my latest misplaced amorous adventures in full squidgy detail.


Random Thought of the Evening

I was reminded of the acronym POTUS for President Of The United States at work tonight. This in turn reminded me of SCOTUS for Supreme Court etc. And I got to thinking about the workings of courtrooms, and of court stenographers. Any given courtroom has a reporter, taking down everything that is said, in case it needs to be reviewed. How are these people distributed? Does one reporter stay with one courtroom, one judge, or do they get shuffled around? Is the judge their immediate superior, or do they have some reporter pimp they all answer to? Is there a single Court Reporter assigned to the Supreme Court? Is this person appointed?

Is this person the SCROTUS?

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