Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What a weird holiday.

It isn't even a holiday. But when everyone expects to do the same thing on a certain day out of the year, it's a holiday, right?

I love Halloween. I don't fit into the two usual Halloween focus groups (kids and cleavage) so I occasionally struggle to come up with a suitable idea for a costume. It usually requires dressing up in drag. Witness:

2006: [can't remember]

2005: Pregnant nun

2004: Random woman with brunette wig and beard.

2003: Roy Horn (of Siegfried & Roy), complete with white bedazzled jumpsuit, tiger, and blood stain.

2002: Frau Unibrau, as part of an Austin Powers theme party.

2001: Mama Cass, post-sandwich.

1996-2000: [can't remember]

1995: Pippi Longstocking

1987-1994: [can't remember]

1986: Housewife with bathrobe and curlers. The date is not a typo.

I'm very sorry to say I have no photographic evidence of any of this.

So what are you wearing? What have you worn? Comment!

My one annual tradition on Halloween is listening to Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens. When I was a kid at Harris Hill Elementary, our music teacher used to have these construction paper cutouts on the wall every October, with an old church and a creepy tree and graveyard next to it under a full construction paper moon, and there'd be a tiny representation of Death as a skeleton in a black shroud next to one of the gravestones, and he'd slowly be joined by more skeletons next to their own tombstones, one more skeleton a an eerie Xmas advent calendar.

And on Halloween day we'd come into class and this fully-formed scene was on the wall, with Death orchestrating all of these skeletons with a teensy construction paper fiddle in his hand, and we'd each get to dip our fingers into a paste jar and add more skeletons and ghosts and witches to the scene.

We'd all sit down and she'd turn off the lights and freak us out, and we loved it. And she'd turn on a filmstrip and play Danse Macabre.

The filmstrip told the classic story of Halloween night at the graveyard. The churchbell strikes midnight and Death slowly creeps out of the shadows and plays his fiddle, bringing all of the skeletons, ghosts, and witches out for Halloween.

They come out one by one and dance around, and the ghosts howl and moan and the witches swoop in on their brooms and the skeletons shuffle around, their bones clacking, going absolutely crazy on the one night they're allowed to, until the rooster crows at dawn and they're all scared shitless and creep back into wherever they came from. Then Death plays a short, sad number on his fiddle and pops back into the shadows.

You can listen to it here. Saint-Saens wrote it in 1875 and it's like watching TV without actually watching TV - the imagery is fantastic. As long as you know the story, you can hear everything these characters are doing.

So anyway, that's my tradition.

Monday, October 29, 2007


After 176 games and 528 hours, including 9504 outs, 50160 pitches, 750 pitching changes, countless injuries, leads, comebacks, stresses, and euphoric spills of beer, wine, and whiskey, the Red Sox have won the 2007 World Series.

Now I sleep.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The iPod Shuffle Game

The shuffle continues...

Marco came up with this, and everyone else has done it, so here we go:

Shuffle game rules:
1. Put your music player on shuffle.
2. Press forward for each question.
3. Use the song title as the answer to each question.
4. Cheating optional (although I swear I didn’t cheat on any of these)

1.) Describe your first date.

Shuffle says: “Glosoli” by Sigur Ros

“Glosoli” must be Icelandic for “f-ing disastrous.”

2.) What is your personal religion?

Shuffle Says: “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” by Grateful Dead

I swear I didn’t cheat on this one.

3.) What do you think of your current hometown?

Shuffle says: “69 Année Erotique” by Serge Gainsbourg

It is a sexy little town.

4.) What do you feel guilty about?

Shuffle says: “Electricity (Drugs)” by Talking Heads

I do wonder what my dearly departed brain cells would do for me these days if I’d given them a chance.

5.) What embarrasses you?

Shuffle says: “Dream Thrum” by James

The fact that I have this song on my iPod.

6.) What kind of restaurant would you open?

Shuffle says: “You Take the Gold” by Beachwood Sparks

Obviously an Olympic-themed pancake house!

7.) How do you feel about fall?

Shuffle says: “What Comes Next” by Yo La Tengo

I actually like fall, Yo La Tengo. Don’t be so blasé about it.

8.) What's your greatest fear?

Shuffle says: “Once Upon a Daydream” by The Police

I do fear that life will pass me by while I spend my time daydreaming. It’s always been a problem, if you believe my 2nd and 3rd grade report cards.

9.) What's your biggest weakness?

Shuffle says: “Get Up Jake” by The Band

No idea where iPod is coming from with this one. Is “Jake” another word for scotch?

10.) What was the last lie you told?

Shuffle says: “Ledi Ndieme M'bodj” by Orchestra Baobab

When I said before that I didn't cheat on any of these, that's not exactly true. I'm actually lying about this one. iPod came up with something else, and I didn't want to expose that particular lie.

11.) What's the biggest thing you learned in school?

Shuffle says: “Verses from the Abstract” by Tribe Called Quest

Shuffle game, you brilliant son of a bitch!

12.) What did you dream your life would be like as a child?

Shuffle says: “La La Love You” by the Pixies

I was a very friendly kid.

13.) What was your first serious girlfriend/boyfriend like?

Shuffle says: “Looking at the Sun” by Matthew Sweet

Like everyone else’s first girlfriend/boyfriend experience, I was completely blind to everything else around me. She was pretty awesome. Wonder where she is...

14.) What were you doing 10 years ago?

Shuffle says: “Move On” by the Rentals

Ha. That’s about all I was doing.

15.) What will you be doing in 10 years?

Shuffle says: “The King of Time” by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

I knew it! I’m going to be a soccer mom.

16.) What does a cry for help from you sound like?

Shuffle says: “KC Accidental” by Broken Social Scene

I like to be abstract when I’m in serious emotional danger. “KC” stands for “I got kicked in the crotch by a bull and I need you to call 911 immediately.”

17.) What do you buy at Wal-Mart?

Shuffle says: “Act of Quiet Desperation” by Walt Mink

That’s the only way I’m buying anything at Wal-Mart.

18.) Describe your personal political philosophy.

Shuffle says: “Svefn-g-englar” by Sigur Ros

Wow, shuffle game. “Svefn-g-englar” clearly translates into “voting.”

19.) Do you like to travel?

Shuffle says: “A Century of Fakers” by Belle and Sebastian

Unlike most people this past century who travel strictly to improve their social, political, and personal standing, I travel joyfully and honestly.

20.) How do you feel about your coworkers?

Shuffle says: “Folk Fun” by Dizzy Monk

Dizzy Monk happens to be the nom de plume of Mr. Bobby Maville, tap-dancing hip-hop folk singer nonpareil. We used to work together at Classic Video and it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. He eventually got fired, though I can't remember why. I think it was after that time a customer called him a “cock” and Bobby chased him out of the store and spat on his windshield as he was driving away.

I hope it was as much fun for you as it was for me!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Manny being stupid.

Boy, do I loathe Manny Ramirez.

Barry Bonds is a grandstanding cheat, both on and off the field. A-Rod is obnoxious on the field, a cheating narcissist off it. But Manny is just a fool. An idiot savant.

This is a man who has so much natural hitting talent, he assumes it's okay to be a lazy, careless, cocky embarrassment to his teammates, the Red Sox, the fans, the AL East, and baseball in general.

He pimps meaningless home runs, he doesn’t run out infield hits, and last night he hit the longest single since Robin Ventura's infamous "grand slam single" in 1999 – 375 feet - because he thought it looked like a home run and decided to jog out of the box. He asks to be traded nearly every July when the team is losing. He refuses to pinch hit. He calls in sick and is seen in his hotel bar drinking with a Yankee. He shows up late to Spring Training. He pisses in the Green Monster during pitching changes. Worst of all – and this is unforgivable - he loves reggaeton.

And after naming one of his sons Manny Ramirez, Jr., he had another one and named him...Manny Ramirez, Jr. No kidding.

But good Lord, can he hit. He can hang on an 0-2 count and force a walk. He can lay off a hanging curve and drive the ball anywhere he wants, whenever he feels like it. He hits for average, he hits for power, he hits in the clutch, and he wins games. But I can’t come to terms with Manny Ramirez being on my team anymore.

Part of me wants to see him fail, but a bigger part of me wants to see him hit the ball because it’s such a glorious thing to see. Does this make me as bad as a Yankee fan rooting for Reggie Jackson or Gary Sheffield? Or a Giants fan pulling for that artificial 756th? Pete Rose was a brawler and a gambler, but the man had personality. Reggie Jackson had boatloads of it, and Manny, sad to say, is all beatific innocence, personality coming out of his ears.

The worst part is, he’s idolized by droves of little kids all over New England who will someday have to come to terms with the fact that they can’t act the way he does and get away with it unless they hit over .300 ten years in a row.

There are other guys on the 2007 Red Sox who work hard everyday, 162 games plus, running out infield singles and groundouts, bouncing back from injuries quickly, giving interviews and autographs, visiting kids at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and generally being upstanding role models. Youkilis, Varitek, Wakefield, and Manny’s future replacement, Jacoby Ellsbury, come to mind. I love these guys. These guys are why I root for the always-unpredictable Sox. How utterly enjoyable it was in September, when Manny was out with a strained oblique and Jacoby was a vacuum out in left field, running his rookie ass off, hitting the crap out of everything he saw.

But now we’re in the postseason, and Manny’s back, and he’s hitting something like .442 with a 15-game postseason hitting streak, and I want to shower him with love and punches to the head.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Apple picking with the rest of New York City

Went apple picking this past Sunday. When I mentioned this to the two knuckleheads I work with, they said I was gay. It had never dawned on me that it was the slightest bit super for a straight man to pay outlandish prices to throw on a scarf and go pick fruit in the country.

I might think twice next time, but not because of that.

We drove about an hour out of the city and took an exit off the Saw Mill Parkway that was immediately choked with cars all exiting for the apple farm. Following the slow parade of optimistic New York plates in self-imposed exile snaking along the country roads, we arrived at the farm to find a huge, packed parking lot, people lined up everywhere. There was a farmstand selling homemade donuts, cider, hotdogs and popcorn with a line shooting 50 feet out of the door, a 20 minute wait. There was an even longer line to a setup of cash registers selling bags, buckets, and pickers for the apples.

The trees were picked over, the apples were tiny, and I ate so many of them that I was violently ill right off the bat. Hitting the line for the Port-a-John was out of the question because there was no toilet paper, so I hunkered down and felt my midsection slowly turn into a cider factory.

Most of the bigger apples had fallen and were rotting on the ground. This is what it looked like, except for the pristine condition of the specimens seen here:

Doug and I gave up picking and threw the rotten ones at fence poles to watch them explode. I was slowly getting sicker. We headed back to the checkout counter.

To really drive the point home, our half-bushel bag of crabapples cost $25 and their credit card machine was backed up, making me wait in line for an extra five minutes, doubled over, while my stomach was about to shit the bed.

A few lessons can be learned here. A.) You can never get far enough away from the city. B.) Country folk are savvy to the prices New Yorkers are willing to pay to get out of the city. C.) No more than 2 apples at a time, no matter their size, even when in Rome.

As much as I love NYC, this experience has made me realize how much of a number I am here. Consumer #7,128,839.

Maybe I'll be picking apples in the New England countryside next year.

The meth addicts upstairs

How else can you explain why they pace back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, all day and well into the night? Going to bed after 1 and waking up before 7. Moving furniture constantly. Sitting at the table and scraping their chairs in and out, getting up and sitting down over and over again. Letting their mail pile up for days while they're coming in and out of their apartment every day. Stomping up and down the stairwell, slamming their door every time, stomping back and forth, back and forth.

Many sleepless nights, me pounding on the ceiling at 3:45 am, earplugs, notes written and left on their door.

Do tweekers listen to talk radio at 7 am? These ones do. Is it loud, the bass rattling our sleep-deprived skulls? Um, yes.

We never hear them talk to each other, though. We can hear each footstep like a Randy Savage piledriver, but not a peep of conversation from what must be their dry, pipe-scorched lips. We hear them having extremely loud sex, and we hear her on the phone with the shrillest, most irritating voice imaginable, but not a word between them. They have a bond that's so tight, so disturbed, that they need not speak. They are peas in a pod, compadres, lovers, fiends, slinkers, creatures of the night, one and the same. They have their heavy boots, their furniture for moving, their beloved crystal meth, and each other, and that is all they need.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I'm going to try to post at least one thing per day

and we'll see how it goes. The whole impetus behind this blog was to post daily, and we've seen how that's turned out. But really, it shouldn't be that hard. Brevity might be the key. I'll keep it short and direct you to this.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Rings & Wrongs

So it's only been a few weeks, but being married isn't much different than living together. I go to sleep with J next to me, I wake up, she's still there. We still keep each other company, drink together, eat together, have ridiculous fun together, be antisocial together, vacation together, and bicker together. It's great, but it's been great for a long time. That's why we got married.

The biggest change is the ring. It's alien - I play with it constantly. Since I never know what to do with my hands, I love being able to fidget with something that's right there on my finger all the time. Seems to me that if the ring is the weirdest part, we're doing okay.

In other news:

--The Red Sox are the AL East Champions. Postseason starts today. Meaning if you want to talk to me and feel like you're getting more than 3% of my full attention, wait until November.

--My iPod disappeared at the wedding, so I finally got an iPhone. Meaning you will still not get more than 3% of my full attention in November.

I'll be following this post up with a breakdown of the recent iPhone Firmware 1.1.1 controversy. Gist: I miss my 3rd party apps, but people who unlock their iPhones for use on other networks, disregard the warnings in boldface when needlessly updating to new firmware, and threaten to sue Apple when their phones don't work anymore are F-ING NINCOMPOOPS.

--Kevin pulled the "Pen15 Club" trick on me the other day. When someone tells you to join the Pen15 Club, don't do it.

--I discovered recently that my mom hates Halloween. How do you go 30+ years not knowing that your mom hates Halloween? Maybe the same way you go 30+ without knowing that the word "tour" is pronounced "tore" and not "tooer" as I've been saying it my entire life.

--Iron & Wine's new album is spectacular. Anyone reading this, please let me know what you're listening to right now. Put it right in the comments. It's also a great way for me to know people still have faith that I'm updating this thing.