Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Expecting expectorations

So, I'm getting into going-on-tour mode, and I'm thinking of other activities in which we might engage along the way. So far, with the help of Bailee, I have Tourism on Tour. We're going to try to visit something noteworthy (one hopes, many a ball o' twine) at each stop along the way. I'm open to suggestions.

Also, we took a trip to Norfolk over the weekend, a sort of test run of the logistics of five humans and a metric shit-ton of gear in a Ford Windstar™. Verdict: cramped. But fun.

Finally, many of my co-travelers are opting for a "get-sick now, not later" strategy, the thinking being that if one gets sick now, one won't be sick while on the road. I struggle to see the logic in this, and yet, alas, I've gotten sick. More of the sinus-cough-hating-life-but-not-that-much that seems to have afflicted many a co-worker and friend. I'll let you know of the plan works.

Friday, February 23, 2007

su alma en su palma

It was only three days ago when everything was still very, very low on the farenheight scale, which I know firsthand because the third thing I do everyday is walk outside to a thermometer and see how cold and warm it got the night before; and, as a sad result of all this chilliness (the sadness being, I admit, only partly due the weather; partly also due to my resolution not to buy a winter coat this year (which I held steadfast!)), I found myself wearing many layers (T-shirt, long sleeve T-shirt, sweater, polo shirt (just like those JMU kids), vest (just like any respectable dipshit), bright red hoodie sweatshirt, et cetera, et cetera, don't forget to double up on those socks (which, you should know, my friend, is a good way to rip holes in your socks - the inner sock rubs fabric off the outer sock, thereby killing the outer sock - still, though, it is very comfortable, like walking on pillows, or being heavily medicated)).

ANYWAY, for those of you who live in the greater American area, or, really, for all I know, many other wonderful places, you know that it has been cold. Blame Global Warming, blame Al Gore, blame winter, blame whomsoever you please. Your blame does not change the fact that I have been very cold for the past month. Not just cold on my face, or cold on my arms, or legs, or any single section of my body. Nay, I have been chilled to the very marrow of my soul. And that is a cold you don't want, friend of friends.

It was only three days ago when everything was still very, very cold. Then it was two days ago, and suddenly things weren't cold anymore. (Again, I encourage you to place the blame of this temperature shift on a culture, or a person, and not, my friend, on the tilting of our earth in respect to the direct rays of our great mistress, the Sun.) And I just wanted to mention that the newfound not-coldness, or, as one might say, the newfound relative warmness, reached into the deep, somewhat tar-ridden, very small abyss that is my cold soul marrow, and I was warmed. And all day I smiled.

Lo bueno, lo cómico

I got a bit of possibly really good news tonight. I'm not going to say much about it, but it makes me very happy, so that I share.

I also played a gig with the cover band. Not much of a crowd, this being mid-term week 'round these college parts. But the girls who came up afterwards and exhorted us, "YOU'RE NOT UNDERSTANDING. DO. YOU. WANT. TO. GET. HIGH. AN HOUR FROM NOW?"

Ah, life.

(We said, "No thanks," lest you people malign my good character/arrest me.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Clink

Today I encountered the phrase "paw camp" used to describe a prison. And based on the search results, I find "paw camp" far superior to the word choice of my colleague who quite infelicitously referred to jail as "the pokey."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

People, Places

So, I've been feeling a bit down. Not sure entirely why, but here's where I'll be in March and April. I accept consolation and couches to sleep on:

16 Mar 2007 20:00
Tea Bazaar Charlottesville, Virginia

17 Mar 2007 8:00
MacRock Benefit Harisonburg, Virginia

18 Mar 2007 20:00
TBA Washington, Washington DC

19 Mar 2007 20:00
TBA Baltimore, Maryland

20 Mar 2007 20:00
TBA Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

21 Mar 2007 20:00
Goodbye Blue Monday New York, New York

22 Mar 2007 20:00
TBA Boston, Massachusetts

23 Mar 2007 20:00
TBA New Haven, Connecticut

24 Mar 2007 20:00
Bennington College Bennington, Vermont

25 Mar 2007 20:00
TBA North Hampton, Massachusetts

26 Mar 2007 20:00
TBA Buffalo, New York

27 Mar 2007 8:00
Mac's Bar Lansing, Michigan

28 Mar 2007 20:00
TBA Bloomington, Indiana

29 Mar 2007 20:00
Davey's Uptown Rambler's Club Kansas City, Missouri

30 Mar 2007 20:00
Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center St. Louis, Missouri

31 Mar 2007 20:00
Jack Rabbit Lounge Shreveport, Louisiana

1 Apr 2007 20:00
TBA Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas

2 Apr 2007 8:00
Super Happy Fun Land Houston, Texas

3 Apr 2007 20:00
TBA New Orleans, Louisiana

4 Apr 2007 20:00
TBA Atlanta, Georgia

5 Apr 2007 8:00
Sean's mysterious venue Savannah, Georgia

6 Apr 2007 20:00
TBA Charleston, South Carolina

7 Apr 2007 20:00
TBA Raleigh, North Carolina

8 Apr 2007 20:00
Relative Theory Norfolk, Virginia

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mein Gott

At first glance, this news story about a guy claiming to be God sort of seemed like your run-of-mill dude-claims-he's-God story. Then I read this:

But Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is not your typical minister. De Jesus, or "Daddy" as his thousands of followers call him, does not merely pray to God: He says he is God.

I wondered how they were rendering that "Daddy" in Spanish, so I clicked over to his website and found this video, in which multiple children refer to the minister as "Papi."

Ick-factor raised.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I don't own a TV, but when I watch, it's on a flat screen 65"

I recently watched Good Night, and Good Luck, which is a pretty good movie chronicaling Edward Murrow's on-air fight against Joseph McCarthy and his sometimes blatantly unfair persecution of the "communists" in America in the 50s. The movie was pretty good, as I said, but what I was struck with was how well-spoken Murrow was concerning the state of TV and TV news (and how many cigarettes they all smoked). A particularly good speech I found is RTNDA Convention, Chicago, October 15, 1958. You can google it if you want. Here are some parts:

"I have no technical advice or counsel to offer those of you who labor in this vineyard that produces words and pictures. You will forgive me for not telling you that instruments with which you work are miraculous, that your responsibility is unprecedented or that your aspirations are frequently frustrated. It is not necessary to remind you that the fact that your voice is amplified to the degree where it reaches from one end of the country to the other does not confer upon you greater wisdom or understanding than you possessed when your voice reached only from one end of the bar to the other. All of these things you know . . .

"Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. I invite your attention to the television schedules of all networks between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m., Eastern Time. Here you will find only fleeting and spasmodic reference to the fact that this nation is in mortal danger. There are, it is true, occasional informative programs presented in that intellectual ghetto on Sunday afternoons. But during the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: LOOK NOW, PAY LATER . . .

"Let us have a little competition. Not only in selling soap, cigarettes and automobiles, but in informing a troubled, apprehensive but receptive public. Why should not each of the 20 or 30 big corporations which dominate radio and television decide that they will give up one or two of their regularly scheduled programs each year, turn the time over to the networks and say in effect: "This is a tiny tithe, just a little bit of our profits. On this particular night we aren't going to try to sell cigarettes or automobiles; this is merely a gesture to indicate our belief in the importance of ideas." The networks should, and I think would, pay for the cost of producing the program. The advertiser, the sponsor, would get name credit but would have nothing to do with the content of the program. Would this blemish the corporate image? Would the stockholders object? I think not. For if the premise upon which our pluralistic society rests, which as I understand it is that if the people are given sufficient undiluted information, they will then somehow, even after long, sober second thoughts, reach the right decision--if that premise is wrong, then not only the corporate image but the corporations are done for."


I got on my bike on the west side of town. I had to ride on the sidewalk for a bit, going slowly, waiting for an opportunity to cross Main Street and get in the bike lane. I noticed some flurries.

Halfway home, I was riding through a full-on snowstorm, with flakes coating my pants and jacket.

As I rounded the corner towards my house, it was back to a few stray flurries. I really like winter sometimes.

Friday, February 16, 2007


My first voicemail of the day was from my mom, who sang in-full "Cumpleaños Feliz," and I thought, man, my mom's great.

When I spoke with her a bit later, she informed me that, upon my entrance into this world, I got stuck for forty minutes, which seems like a really long time. Sorry, Mom. And thanks.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

heart cake

Mexico journal snippet:

" . . . Monterrey, where, as luck would have it, Jose-Luis was waiting for us just outside of customs (which is astonishingly simple and I don't think they checked our passports), with a friend in tow. Jose-Luis says his car broke down at the bus station (maybe this is what he said?), so we were taking this other guy's car, whom [Jose-Luis] didn't know - a friend of a friend of somebody he met at the bus station, I think - and we drive around Monterrey. It is dark and we are digging it bigtime. All the walls are painted with advertisements. The buildings are tall and rich. People outside. I don't understand the traffic rules. Eventually, we park outside of a taco/hamburger stand connected to a house. They invite us in. This is where we're staying, they say. At the house connected to the taco/hamburger stand.

"Everybody meets us. There are lots of people to meet us and they all do. They offer us food and laugh when we want hamburgers and fries. They give us lots of beer in small glass bottles. They apologize for the beer not being good (in their opinion (I don't know if this is really what they said)). They make us try menudo, which is a hangover soup that has, I beleive, bull pancreas and hoof in it, although I could be wrong here as well. One of the people there, Augosto, is having a birthday party. He is also a fantastic painter, with abstract, dark paintings hanging up all around us. LC loves the paintings. They talk at length about this. Augusto is turning 49 and has, in one hand, a bottle of whiskey, and whenever I make eye contact with Augusto he points at me and smiles and yells, "WHISKEY!" and fills his glass up. A few women dance to music playing from a boom box. Everybody drinks. They sing along. They are wonderful singers. It is cold. I dance with a woman who I think is one person's wife, then another person's, then another. LC and I both keep drinking. Jose-Luis sits in the corner and does not say much, which doesn't help us, because we aren't speaking Spanish well, because we're not used to it yet (and don't know Spanish that well anyway), but we still talk, and people still talk to us, and they couldn't be more nice. This goes on until 4 in the morning, with bottles breaking, dancing and singing, little children staying up later than me.

"In the morning, Augusto takes LC and I to meet his sister, then his mother. Then he gives us each a painting to take back to America."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lock it Up

The 2001 Honda Civic is designed to make it nearly impossible to lock your key inside the running vehicle. Nearly impossible.

Here's how to spend an extra $50 on a snowy Wednesday morning:
  1. Unlock your car; start the ignition; turn on the heater and the rear defroster.
  2. Exit the vehicle, and, using a duplicate key, lock the driver's side door, which will in turn lock all the car's doors. {Note: this is a key step. Simply using the automatic locks and exiting the vehicle will not, in fact, lock the driver's side door, because then you might lock your key in the car, see?}
  3. Return inside; finish preparing yourself for another day of toil and trouble.
  4. Return outside; unlock your car's passenger's side to deposit your work-related items in the vehicle; include among these items your duplicate key; lock the passenger's side door manually. {Note: the passenger's side door will allow you to do this.}
  5. Brush and scrape your car to free it from the icy death grip of the previous evening's winter storm.
  6. Curse and swear and throw things.
  7. Call a locksmith.
  8. Be late to work.

It's that easy! Try it today. I promise your morning will be at least as good as mine has been.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Say, for example, there were a cap from a bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide, a cap that fell, through grievous miscare, into a toilet bowl full of clean water. The cap, pertaining to a bottle of disinfectant liquid, would happily return to said bottle, yes? At least, if one gave it a bath in said disinfectant liquid, then everything would be copasetic, right?

Okay. I thought so. (But I still threw out the bottle, because it was empty anyway.)

Monday, February 12, 2007


Despite this blog's failure as of yet to provide me with a sustainable income, health care, and worldwide notoriety, I am on occasion asked to be in a professional photoshoot. Today was a very special photoshoot day, because we did it at my house and with my cat*.

In case you were wondering, cats do not like photoshoots. If you make a cat do a photoshoot, it will run away and make the saddest sounds you've ever heard. And then it will try to kill you, sort of like this:

*roommate's cat; whatever.

Our Intern Jon Blogs Again

Jonny Blaze, in the Philippines as reported here, attended Lovapalooza this weekend. He says:
This weekend marked the special time of year where thousands of Filippinos get together at the Mall of Asia(the second largest mall in Asia) and make-out simultaneously so they can break the record for most people smooching at the same time. They call it Lovapalooza, and it's part of what's known as the "Love Season" because their valentine's celebrations can't last just one day. Oh yeah, did I mention that after they break the world record, they all simultaneously blow their fucking brains out? Stupid fucking love season...

So I just finished reading the Grapes of Wrath and realized that in the week it took me to read it, the characters in the novel took more hot showers than I did. Now that I've read it, I'll have to join the ranks of people(namely Nate Jenkins' dad) who consider it the greatest. book. ever. written.

I fly back to Manila tomarrow and am excited to actually be able to go around places unescorted(and hopefully find some more English speakers to hang with, cuz barely talking everyday is fucking isolating). But before I go, I promised my guide/bodyguard, Kevin "Willem Defoe" McHale, that I would eat "balut" with him, which is apparently an unborn chick(roughly 17 days old) still in it's egg -- and to think I was at one point a vegetarian...ha.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

No, really!

I came up with a wonderful new thing this weekend. You say something really nice to someone, but you slip in a quick "dishonestly" right beforehand. Hence:

No, dishonestly, you smell great. Really! I mean it.

Brilliant, right? I know. Not that I'm encouraging you to say mean things to people. I would never do such a dickish thing.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Drink sangria in the park

I only have two coworkers. And as I work in a series of caves and tanks connected to a warehouse and the outdoors, we all three spend a lot of time alone, not talking to each other, doing what we do, what we were born to do, what we will die doing. So we listen to a lot of music.

It's always either my music or my boss, John's, music, because we both really like music. He listens to a lot of weird music. I listen to a lot of weird music. Together, we cover quite a nice spectrum of Kronos Quartet and Pavement and Hungarian folk music. Sometimes we even listen to Hall & Oates. Once or twice its been Jackson Five.

Today, though, was a new day. For as I was doing what I do, what I was born to do, what I will die doing, I saw John queing up the boombox, pulling out the old CD and replacing it with something new from the case. And as he came over to me, he said, "I've never heard this one before, but it's in your case, and it's a 'Greatest Hits' CD." "Whose?" I said. "Death Row," he said.

"I should warn you," I said, "that if anybody comes down here, you'll have to turn it off, because this is the most offensive CD we've ever played, as far as lyrics are concerned, not to say anything one way or the other about the quality." "Oh?" John said, and he stood by the boombox with his eyes closed and listened to the first three tracks, by Snoop, Dre, and Snoop, respectively. Then he went back to work, saying nothing more all day. Today was a new day.


As noted in this comment at unfogged, I once learned not to call myself Irish:

Not an analogy, of course, but I have a twenty-something Irish cousin who immigrated to the US in the last couple of years. We get on well, and one night after a couple of beers, I said something to the effect of "Yeah, I'm 70% Irish and 20% Polish..." Her face became immediately stern. "You are not Irish," she scolded.

She also thought it was weird that so many people here readily identify themselves via some pie-chart of background heritage percentages. "You're American*," she said.

I stammered about the diverse backgrounds of the people in this country, adding some bitterness about the term "American" for all its exclusions, and then I felt like an ass. It was a surprising and interesting conversation.

(Comity: we drank beer in my parents' garage, which was cross-culturally considered good**.)

*She meant USian, yes, I know. I currently prefer "Gringo" in describing my heritage.

**No, not because all Irish people are drunks, you prejudiced bastard.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Assent, Accent

Well, it got me sort of right. I'm a transplanted Chicagoan, now in Charlottesville, VA, via Richmond, VA. You?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

[A Buncha] Years of Solitude

I watched Down by Law tonight. It reminded me of the people I've known who've ended up in prison. I owe at least one of them a letter, and I feel a selfish bastard for not having written sooner. As boring as my letters are—stories from work, from the band, from life—they seem incredibly important when replied to. I promise I will write tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Bird

Last night, I dreamt I had stopped at a Sheetz™ while on a business-related road trip. For some reason I was delayed, and so I hung around outside. Suddenly a large group of high schoolers shows up, hootin' and hollerin' and just generally having a good time. Later, they're up on the roof, the high part over the gas pumps. They've removed some of the circular sewer-cover-ish things that dot the ground, revealing a large tank of water (rather than gas as one might expect). They jump off the roof through the tiny opening, splash! into the water tank below. Then they have to stop, because one of them has discovered a dead turkey in the bottom of the water tank. Which is, of course, very disappointing to everyone.

Friday, February 02, 2007

It's only going to make me mad when you tell me what to blog about

I have been contacted by T(h)om via Stanley, with the message, "Let's forward this to Ryan so he can not blog about it. Because he never blogs about anything. Ever."
And because all American males will, without fail, fall for the "dare" or even "double dare" or, as in the flagpole scene in A Christmas Story, the "triple dog dare," I have fallen for this one, and here I am blogging about it:

This is not the first time such a wine-related robbery has occured, and, to me, it's not particularly all that exciting, because the wine bottle in question, a 1959 Petrus, should not be worth $11,000, nor should the whole shebang really be that big of a deal. Someone with a $3,000,000 wine cellar lost a big special bottle? Boo-hoo. Worse wine robberies happen to me, in the comfort of my home, when I leave nice bottles mixed in with the everyday ones, and My Roomate takes one at random when he's going to a dinner party or something, and inevitably it's the nice one, and it makes me sad, but then I realize, T(h)om and Stanley, that while I'm staring at the hole where my $50 bottle used to be, scores of poor and unfortunate peoples are being walked upon, just because you, say, want to buy "exotic" coffee, or plantains, or nice chocolate. And this is the crap you're reading about?

It only fascinates us because we're not used to a bottle of wine being the sole piece of property in a robber's scopes. It's no different that art, though. Or people stealing Beatles demo tapes or original, 1947, unopened packets of cherry Pez.
This line is fucking ridiculous:
“Like chocolate was to the Aztecs, wine has become the ultimate currency,” said Daphne Derven.
This line is spot on:
"An 18-year-old girl was shot point-blank in the head and I received no calls about it,” Sergeant Wade said. “The wine theft? A gazillion. It kind of shows you where people’s values lie."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Foreign Climes

Johnny Blaze (who sometimes comments here as "existence beacon") currently finds himself in the Philippines, and he's posting about it occasionally on his myspace blog. Despite his stalwart resistance against the standard spellings of modern American English, Johnny's posts are an interesting mix of the light-hearted and the grave. Here's an excerpt:

"May our ventures be not bubbles..."

This is probly the coolest thing I've heard in a while. My uncle Jaunito said this to me as he was praying for me and my upcoming endeavors. In a few hours I will be getting on a flight to Bicol, which is the southeastern area of Luzon. It is here where I will begin my work here photographing and gathering the stories of the victems of Typhoon Durian. Now seeing as how the Philippines is a country with 90% of its population being Catholic, there isn't exactly a shortage of charity work being done.. but there's always someone not being helped. In this case it would be the poorest of the poor of the area: the rural farmers, the mountain people, etc. I like to refer to them as the "indie rockers" of typhoon victems.

Which brings me to why I'm a little concerned about the next couple of weeks: a group of jungle gangsters known as the N.P.A.) You might have seen them on the cover of the most recent issue of Time Magazine. I'm basically gonna be all up in their business for the majority of the time I'm there. Their bread and butter are the poor de la poor. Now I don't really know why these guys would wanna fuck with a harlmess dude like me, but it's a little scarywhen I'm told "To not speak English loudly(so no one knows I'm a foreigner)", to "travel only during daylight" and "do what you need to get done as quick as you can and leave". Hopefully my guide, who I will to refer as "Panther Cobra Cheetah Komodo Dragon Blade"(just in case if the N.P.A. are myspacers), will be able to protect me so I can get back home safely to my lonely squatter life.

Oh, and when I'm not fearing for my life because of communist rebels, I can always have the Mayon Volcano to worry about. It's the most active volcano in the Philippines which scientists are expecting to blow any second. At every stop I'm making, I will be able to see this fucker smoking.

I'm really glad he's over there doing what he's doing, but I worry about him. Stay safe, Mr. Blaze! (And try not to sleep with your cousin, ahem.)

Mice Pace

I was just checking in on my band's tour preparations, which are made mostly through myspace messages. It occurs to me that (a) this myspace is a godsend; o, how lucky we are to have it, what with the discovery of good-sounding bands in the needed zip codes; but, (b) someone really needs to adapt the ideas in catherine's post to the lack of a unifying web tool for bands. Myspace is okay. Purevolume was what it was. Someone make it easy for bands to talk to other bands, specifically in other towns. Okay? Go.

UPON re-reading this, I see that I was unclear. What's frustrating is the speed at which information gets exchanged and dispersed among the band members. I think myspace could fix this by having some sort of sub-log-in for bands, meaning I would log in as Stanley-Member-of-Band-X, rather than logging in as Band-X and trying to figure out who's emailed with whom, etc. So maybe a new tool isn't needed, and a myspace update would suffice. Myspace? Go.