Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Man, do I hate squirrels.

Anyone who maintains a bird feeder will tell you the same thing.

It's a gorgeous day outside. I'm working from home today, so I decided to fill the bird feeder, which has been empty since last October because the squirrels go apeshit for fresh seeds. We get the special, gourmet birdseed with dried fruit and nuts, which apparently attract cardinals. So far, we've attracted a single cardinal and every species of squirrel within a ten block radius.

They jump from the fire escape to the feeder, swinging it violently back and forth and smacking it against the window, scaring the crap out of the birds and driving me insane. J forbade any refilling of the feeder back in November after I started looking at ads for BB guns. For Christmas, as an act of good will and peace on earth, I asked for a Super Soaker. She said no.

So today, I decided to calm down, enjoy the day, restrain myself, and refill the feeder, knowing the neighborhood finches were getting upset with me for being such a baby. It took awhile for our urban woodland creatures to get over their shock of finding it filled with delicious stale seed from last year, but they found it. And I've never seen anything like it.

It was a bird feeding frenzy, an orgy of aviary gluttony which glued me to the back window, transfixed, for a good twenty minutes. They numbered in the dozens, covering the fire escape, the deck, the feeder, and the surrounding trees. They dove in and swooped and pecked and threw seeds everywhere, sometimes six different birds on the feeder at a time, and it made me feel great about making them fall off their winter wagon and keeping the scene alive.

You have to put something out there for the benefit of those who really need it before the bastards take advantage. You can draw parallels with this theory to a lot of things in life: Government programs, real estate, laws, pharmaceuticals, the music industry.

And in the grand tradition of the lawless working the system for their own benefit, the squirrels arrived at our feeder to feast. Four of them, then six. Grey ones, brown ones, even a black one. They started to do their dance. They knocked the remaining seed out of the feeder. They smashed it against the window. And they made their snivelling squirrel noises, and they fought, and they gorged themselves, and they drove me over the edge. And I gently took the feeder down. But it was good while it lasted.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


First off, I have to apologize because this I used this little San Diego trip as a handy excuse to blow off the blog for awhile. 'Cause, you know, writing a paragraph or two a day is damn near impossible when you're as lazy and distracted as I am.

California was nice. It was a drag actually doing the convention part of it, but then we rented a baby blue Mustang and drove up the coast on the hairpin curves of Rte. 1, which might be the most stunning drive in America.

Here's the car:

And here's a shot of a mountain pass on the road to San Luis Obispo:

And my buddy Kevin near the Bixby Creek Bridge:

So the gestalt should give you a sense of the experience. We ended up in San Francisco,

where I had a hot fudge sundae at the Ghirardelli chocolate factory and Kevin suggested we ask especially homophobic-looking people to take our picture as we held each other's hands in front of the scenery.

A trip like that, where you're constantly in awe of everything, kind of puts the fear of God into you. How is this stuff created? How did it become so beautiful? How long did it take to form it into these perfect shapes, with the perfect plants and trees existing in perfect temperatures in order to provide enough sweet-smelling oxygen to keep us going? How long will we be around to enjoy it? Seeing these enormous mountains eaten away by the waves, we were shocked into silence. That's as close to a sense of eternity as most people get. Looking at the ocean for an entire day will do that to you.

Lyrics from a Built to Spill song called "Randy Describes Eternity":

every thousand years / this metal sphere / ten times the size of Jupiter / floats just a few yards past the earth / you climb on your roof / and take a swipe at it / with a single feather / hit it once every thousand years / `til you've worn it down / to the size of a pea / yeah I'd say that's a long time / but it's only half a blink / in the place you're gonna be / where you gonna be / where will you spend eternity? / I'm gonna be perfect from now on / I'm gonna be perfect starting now...

Something that beautiful makes you want to prepare for the afterlife, even if you're not 100% sure there is one.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Home of the Padres

At a conference in San Diego which, as Ron Burgundy knows, originates from the German term "San Diago", meaning "whale's vagina".

Learning how to surf today, then maybe I'll go to the zoo.

Friday, February 9, 2007


At work. Should be working, but all I can think about is everything going on outside of this building. Hopefully my boss doesn't know I have a blog.

Fame is such a strange, stupid, twisted thing. People were all over the place last night telling each other that Anna Nicole Smith had died. Her story is so woeful, so ridiculous, and so illustrative of the corrosive effects of fame in our weird era, but what strikes me is how far-reaching her fame was. There's not one person I can think of who wasn't aware of her life story, or at least the critical elements of it.

Yes, she was a caricature of a beautiful woman gone wrong, and she was certainly losing herself as a result of losing those she loved. But I always thought she'd turn out okay despite the lawsuits and the money problems and the paternity tests and the adverse health and the deaths and the drugs. After awhile, her well-being was something I cared about. You can't watch someone go through the kind of crap she went through without caring for them a little bit. She seemed like a living refutation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's idea that there are no second acts in American lives. She had a second, a third, a fourth, and a fifth.

Why was she famous in the first place? She was Playmate of the Year, a Guess Jeans spokesmodel, she came from humble beginnings, but more likely it was because she was a televised trainwreck: a drug addict, a moron, a likeable lover of pomeranians, and a disputed heiress whose case made it to the Supreme Court.

It's clear by now that fame runs on a perpetual cycle of beauty, talent, money, and fascination. We're fascinated because we can read about famous people making money off of us simply because we're fascinated by them. As long as they stay fascinating, they'll probably stay famous. And that explains Anna Nicole's fame to a T.

As an avid reader of US Weekly, I feel somewhat responsible for my own contribution to this unfortunate cycle. And I'll miss Anna and her amazing life -- I hope she was happier than she appeared to be on TV.

But life goes on, I suppose, and we'll always have Paris.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Wimpy post

It's late, I'm tired, and I had no idea what a pain in the ass this daily blogging thing was going to be. I'll leave you with this thought, borrowed from Dick Van Dyke (and Buddhists):

"Buddhists say you need three things in life: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. Isn't that great?"

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Just watched Bodysong last night. It’s a documentary about human lifecycles, and it put me through the ringer. It was so intense I had to draw the shades and light some candles; J got home after her night shift and asked me if I’d enjoyed a romantic night at home with myself.

Imagine watching – closely - millions of sperm invading an egg, that egg dividing into cells, then morphing into a fleshy blob with fingers and eventually toes and hands and eyes and ears, and seeing fetuses in utero doing everything regular babies do. Then you get to watch dozens and dozens of women giving birth. This is the point at which I elected to draw the shades. There’s nothing quite like glancing at the apartment across the street and watching your neighbor enjoying an endless, slow motion parade of birth scenes.

How amazing and utterly horrific it is watching women give birth. Maybe it’s because I’ve never witnessed it in person, but I’m glad I’ve braced myself for the real thing because I’d surely be having a heart attack in that situation wondering if that entire process is normal. For such a natural, beautiful, miraculous process, why is it so godawful to watch? Apologies and well wishes to Tina, Sara, J, and anyone else who is anticipating motherhood at some point. Jenny, hats off.

Then you see these little blobs grasp fingers and smile and move around, then hitch and crawl along, then toddle. And so on and so on, all the way through the entire lifecycle. There are sections devoted to love, sex, violence, speech, action, death, and dreaming, and it’s all underscored by a brain-melting soundtrack by Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead.

The movie is along the lines of the Qatsi Trilogy by Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass in that it’ll be riveting for some and sheer torture for others. Personally, it wore me out so much that I slept better than I had in weeks. Is that a recommendation? I'm not really sure.

Monday, February 5, 2007

The goddam Oscars

Ah, the Oscars. It's that time of year when we all hold our breaths to find out which movie had the biggest marketing budget for an intensive solicitation of Academy Member consideration. Last year, it was Crash. A decent, socially responsible, made-for-tv Magnolia ripoff. I can't even remember who won the acting awards. Can you?

The Oscars used to be tolerable, but we've plumbed the depths of insufferable vanity to such a degree as to make them a hollow shell of their former grandeur. There are so many awards shows catering to the self-congratulatory these days that it really doesn't seem to matter who wins what.

There is one kooky thing about the Oscars. With the exception of last year's winner (Crash), the Best Original Screenplay winner is usually the one I remember the most from that year. None of the following Best Original Screenplay winners won Best Picture:

Citizen Kane
Sunset Boulevard
The Red Balloon
The Defiant Ones
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Breaking Away
Dead Poet's Society
Pulp Fiction
The Usual Suspects
Good Will Hunting
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Of course I say all this now but I'll be sitting in front of the boob tube soaking it all in on Oscar night, just like last year and every year before that.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Bickersons

My Aunt Jean used to call my family "The Bickersons" because my sister and I were always at each other and my parents were either mediating or bickering about something else. That isn't to say we didn't have an excellent childhood or that Mom and Dad didn't get along -- my sister and I are buddies and my parents just celebrated their 40th anniversary.

As long as it doesn't veer into resentment or violence, there's nothing wrong with bickering. I'm a big believer in it. It keeps things fresh, it lets people know you know them well enough to push their buttons, and as long as things get resolved and there's no major ongoing problem that makes you hate the other person, it can be a healthy way to exorcise/exercise your agression.

For example: I was asking J what I should write about last night, and to get a prompt reaction, I stuck my finger in her armpit. This led to a poking match, then an elbowing match. Sometimes - and J does this to me also - I'll provoke her just because I'm bored. This probably doesn't qualify as bickering, but I'll let you know how this theory holds up over time.

The mysterious blue light.

There's a guy who lives directly across the street from us on the second floor who has this pulsating blue light in his dark room, and it's on all the time. The room is always dark, and the light is always on. We didn't know it pulsated (pulsed?) until we stared at it for 10 minutes straight trying to figure out what it was. Then we noticed a slow, steady pulse. As far as we know, the room exists solely to make people wonder what the hell goes on in there.

It could be one of those lights on the CPU of a computer, but it's too bright. It could be the clock on his microwave oven, but it pulsates. It could be that the guy has an E.T. living in his apartment, only its heart glows blue instead of red and it stands incredibly still for four months at a time. We just don't know. But we see it when we go to bed and we see it when we wake up. We see it when we're going on our sixth straight hour of watching the second season DVD boxed set of Lost, and we feel its glow when we cook dinner and trim our fingernails.

But we're at peace with it. It means us no harm. It is a calm, soothing mystery. And maybe it wants to lull us into a false sense of security.

Here's a picture:

Any ideas, let me know.