amyscoop.com

AUGUST 2001

Thursday, August 30, 2001
My brothers came into town for the night, so I took them out for dinner and a walking tour of downtown Kalamazoo (which lasted about ten minutes). On the way back to the car, I stopped to make a call at a pay phone. There were two phones next to each other, and neither one would take my quarter. "Oh, great," one of my brothers said, "we're in one of those towns where nothing works."

Wednesday, August 29, 2001
Another reason why I need to carry a camera at all times: Had dinner with a few friends in a small town about 25 miles away. We passed mostly farms between Kalamazoo and there. On the way back, we passed one particular field with a barn in the center of it, and right in front of the barn there was a Pepsi machine. Not an old, rusty, glass bottle-dispensing one that might fit in with the whole farm atmosphere, but a Pepsi machine like you'd find on a college campus with 20 ounce plastic bottles that cost a dollar. And the backlight was on, which made it the brightest spot in the area. Of course, it looked totally out of place, and I mentioned that to the three other people in the car with me. Then one of my friends reminded me that cows might want something other than water and grass. Anyway, the image was just really striking, and I wish I could have taken a snap.

In a week from Friday, my band will be opening for Maceo Parker! I'm both excited and terrified.

Tuesday, August 28, 2001
It's amazing how quickly time passes when you're installing software. My new job has me in charge of 20 rocknroll G4s with cinema displays, as well as all kinds of other fun toys. Unfortunately, school started today, and they told me yesterday that I need to reformat everything. So I put in a 12 hour day, and it looks like tomorrow will be the same. I'm actually sick of looking at a computer screen. Whoa.

(Heh -- I mistyped it "compuer" before I went back and corrected it. It's funny because I'm tired to the point where that's how I'd probably pronounce it -- compuer, all slurred.)

Monday, August 27, 2001
My neighbors are really starting to piss me off. For the past five or six weekdays, someone in on my block has not been around when their alarm clock goes off -- at like 5 or 6 in the morning! And it's summer, and these old houses don't have AC, so every window in town is open, and you can hear the alarm honking for an hour or two. What a way to wake up! I don't know exactly which house the alarm is coming from, but when I find out...well, I probably won't do anything. But at least I'll know.

Sunday, August 26, 2001
I went to the grocery store earlier and I had a few six packs' worth of bottles to return. I got to the return area and there was about a five minute wait. No big deal. A guy follows me in with a cart full of empty beer bottles, looks at the line, visibly gets in a huff, looks at me, says, "I don't have the time to stand here," and offers me his bottles. Bottle deposits in Michigan are 10¢ each, so he basically gave me ten bucks for three minutes of work. Woo!

At 1:30 am, just as I was falling asleep, someone in my neighborhood started blasting music. And it wasn't rap or metal -- it sounded like snake charmer music. I got out of bed and went outside to find out who was playing it and ask them to turn it the fuck off because it's the middle of the night and we don't live in goddamn Egypt, but of course, by the time I got outside, I heard them turn it down. Snake charmer music!

Saturday, August 25, 2001
A thoroughly kickass day of shopping. Woohoo!

Watched You Can Count on Me last night, one of last year's sleepers, which was also thoroughly kickass. Very intelligent, nothing stupid, Laura Linney is great, and Mark Ruffalo really grows on you after a few scenes; I liked his bed-head all through the movie. What I especially liked about it, though, was that there was nothing unnecessary in the entire film. Conversations that didn't need to take place didn't take place, and there wasn't any fluff or filler or gratuitous anything, which is rare in major releases.

Thursday, August 23, 2001
Never mind the power of cheese, here's the power of NPR, National Public Radio: After a 7:40 am Morning Edition story on little-known band Mofro, their CD Blackwater is now number 13 on the Amazon.com list of bestselling CDs. Hello, impulse buys. Well, actually, I liked the clips I heard this morning, so I might buy it too. But not impulsively. I'm thinking about it.

Speaking of CDs, some things should just not be allowed, and this is one of them. It's funny, but still wrong.

Wednesday, August 22, 2001
After reading a few gushing articles about Sigur Ros, I bought Agaetis Byrjun , and it's stunning. I think it's all in Icelandic, although some of the lyrics definitely sound like they could be in English. Either way, the music is as good as the lavish praise: very enveloping and melodic. The whole album is in the same vein as Radiohead's "How to Disappear Completely," one of my favorite tracks from Kid A. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 21, 2001
Interesting short piece in this past Sunday's New York Times magazine on artist Benjamin Edwards and the shape of the suburbs, or more specifically, on the images behind the big chains. From the article: "I was looking for the essence of the species McDonald's. Because these corporations do have, I'm sure, this bible of what the ideal McDonald's looks like. Or maybe not the ideal, but the code for it. And I've been trying to arrive at that code from the opposite direction. So it kind of has that mock-scientific quality." Definitely click on the large photo of "Convergence 2001," an image of what looks to be a mega mall broken down into simple shapes and pressed into two dimensions. Neat.

Changed my mind about PDAs, I think. As soon as I get my refund check, or maybe sooner, I will most likely get the bad-ass Palm m500. It's just so...so...sleek. And badass. Definitely badass.

Monday, August 20, 2001
So I'm watching the Teen Choice Awards -- or is it the Teen, like, Choice Awards, y'know? It's a decent way for me to procrastinate on the article I'm supposed to write (as far as procrastination time-fillers go), but I do have a few questions. For one thing, who came up with these awards like Choice Male Hottie? And for another, what "extraordinary achievement" is Sara Michelle Geller being honored for? And why the hell does Jennifer Love Hewitt look so strung out?

I think if the teens get their own awards show, then my age group should have one: the Just-Don't-Call-Us-Generation-X Awards. Yeah, yeah, Dave Eggers can host, Phillip Seymour Hoffman will win best actor, we can all sit around and look ambivalent when bands like Wilco play, and then get all excited when Johnny Cash wins a lifetime greatness award and pretend that we've all listened to his music for a long time when, in fact, we just bought a greatest hits compilation six months ago because "Ring of Fire" came on the radio one day and we remembered that it's actually a pretty cool song. Or something like that.

Sunday, August 19, 2001
I came dangerously close to buying a Handspring Visor today. I think I still might get one soon. I've been looking at these over Palms because they're a whole lot less money and because they seem more expandable. If anyone has a preference, or knows a reason why I should buy one over the other, please drop me a line.

I'm tearing apart my desk trying to find a friend's phone number, but I'm not having any luck. Hey Pow Wow, if you're reading this, give me a call, will you?

Saturday, August 18, 2001
Have you seen this X Games sport called the street luge? Jesusmaryandjoseph, I think I just found my calling. You get to lie down on what is basically a longer, sturdier skateboard and fly down curvy asphalt hills with five other racers wearing a kickass helmet that looks NASA-issued. I saw street luge on an X Games show on ABC this afternoon while flipping around, and I'm pretty sure this is what I was put on earth to do. I think I have all the skills needed to excel at this sport: I can lie down on a relatively narrow surface and I don't mind helmets. I know that with the proper training, a good diet, the right equipment in the right colors, and the support of my family, I can be a gold medal street luger one day. Look for me at next year's X Games! Woohoo!

Friday, August 17, 2001
Oh, this is just gross: peanut butter slices. Like American cheese slices pre-wrapped in celophane, except it's peanut butter. A quote from the press release: "Most dogs seem to like peanut butter, and my dog loves P.B. Slices, so there is a potential for a pet snack food, perhaps Rusty's P.B. Smackers, named after my dog." Great. It's a sandwich filling and a puppy snack. I think I'll stick to Jif, thanks.

Wednesday, August 15, 2001
Today was just plain bad. First I spent over four hours trying to get something done at a local printer and got infuriated because the asshole couldn't make a simple color separation. Couldn't make a color separation! And he's a printer! And it was only two colors! I firmly believe that if you cannot make a simple two-color separation, the printing business is not for you. The guy didn't even have the most recent version of PageMaker. I wasted my entire afternoon.

Later on, around the time The Simpsons comes on in syndication, I chopped up a hot banana pepper, rinsed off my hands, and watched some tv. About ten minutes later, my eyes started itching (high pollen count today), but when I rubbed them, I must have had some of the hot pepper juice still on my fingers, because my eyes started burning like crazy. It's a good thing Mike's out of town this week, because I think I would have scared him away with all the loud obscenities coming out of me. Hurt like hell.

Tuesday, August 14, 2001
Finally got The Invisible Band by Travis. Musically, it sounds similar to their previous CD, The Man Who, and after only a few listens, I'm pretty sure I like it. My only quibble is that I think Fran Healy was a better songwriter when he was bitter and depressed. All the songs on this new album are about being in love, and how great it is, blah blah blah, which I guess is okay, but not nearly as strong as the self-deprecating stuff he wrote a few years ago, like "Why Does it Always Rain on Me?" Something else I noticed about the album: in the liner notes, they thank Oasis, but on The Man Who, the first song contains the line, "The radio keeps playing all the usual / And what's a Wonderwall anyway?" Curious.

I have to say that I'm still enjoying Big Brother. I've actually only been able to watch three or four episodes all summer, but the website does a decent job of keeping me up to date on who is betraying whom. And even though he's evil, my chase vote still goes to Will.

Monday, August 13, 2001
Monday the 13th: sounds like a bad horror movie. Yeah, they're all kind of bad, but Monday the 13th would be really bad. Like Saturday the 14th.

I'm trying to find a link to this article that was in Newsweek a few weeks ago, but I'm not having any luck. I liked it because it was written by a Jewish woman who is constantly asked what her ethnicity is. Apparently, guys ask her this a lot because they think she looks "exotic," but are ultimately disappointed when she tells them that no, she's not Latina or Phillipina or anything interesting like that, she's just a dark-featured Jew. Let's just say I could relate.

Sunday, August 12, 2001
Lesson learned today: dark brown sugar is not the same as light brown sugar. Luckily, I realized this before I added too many ingredients to my zucchini bread batter -- it just looked kind of funny. Unfortunately, I tried to start baking as soon as I woke up and had to go to the store unshowered and looking all ratty to buy light brown sugar. I now have four different kinds of sugar in my house. Woo.

Saturday, August 11, 2001
I was a little disappointed with Paul Auster's Timbuktu, especially since I liked Leviathan so much. The book's narrator is a dog, so right away I was a little skeptical. Sure, it's kind of clever, but it just seemed like it would be hard to do well. It had some good points, and it does shed a little light on the cruelty-toward-animals issue, but overall, I get the feeling that this isn't one of his stronger books.

Had some decent pizza last night over by the lakeshore, but it was cut into squares, rather than the more traditional pie cut. This kind of annoys me. Does anyone actually enjoy eating their pizza in floppy little bits like this? There are like three or four pieces of middle, which invariably gets soggy and hard to pick up. Then there are a few decent pieces with some crust and a lot of sauce and cheese. Then, a few lucky punters gets stuck with a big chunk of crust and nothing else. Why not just cut it into wedges? That way, you get maximum cheese and a crust handle. Makes a lot more sense to me than chopping it up into three-inch squares.

Friday, August 10, 2001
From MSN, an article on the heft of America that sparked a lot of not-so-happy comments on Metafilter last week. My only comment is that a softball-sized muffin has made a lovely breakfast for me on more than one occasion.

Wednesday, August 8, 2001
The other day, my boss was telling me how surprised she always is when she cooks breakfast for her son-in-law, who is Jewish, and he eats more bacon than anyone else at the table. This does not surprise me at all because Jews who do not keep kosher love bacon. In fact, it's the one constant in the world. The tides could stop altogether, salmon could swim downstream, and Big Macs could cure cancer, but if a guy with a big nose walks into a Denny's and asks for the pancakes, you can bet everything you hold dear that he'll order a side of bacon with it.

Tonight, on the way back from an impromptu beat-the-heat trip to Lake Michigan, we stopped off at the Steak and Shake for the greasiest meal I've had in a really long time. (Mmmmm...greasy.) We don't go there often, but every time we do, the food is good and the people who work there seem genuinely happy. And for such a lowbrow joint, it's amazingly clean. Overall, a good place with kickass milkshakes. If the stock market weren't so shaky right now, I'd invest in the place.

Tuesday, August 7, 2001
I went to Disney World in May and had mixed feelings about the whole place. It's a Faux World After All, from McSweeney's, is another interesting take on the Disney "experience."

I didn't listen to Dressed up Like Nebraska by Josh Rouse when I first bought it a few months ago, but I've been really enjoying it lately. Good pop songs, good melodies, and lyrics that won't make you cringe (and parent-friendly, I think).

Monday, August 6, 2001
We went out for some great Chinese food last night. It was at a normal, sit-down place rather than a buffet, which I typically avoid, since the food is usually lousy and fatty. The way I see it, I'd rather have one or two dishes prepared well and to order rather than six different sauces over the same fried chicken pulled from a chaffing dish. It then got me thinking that most people really like the Chinese buffets because it seems like a good deal for the money, and that they probably don't realize that the food is almost always better at a non-buffet Chinese restaurant. So, I thought I'd put it into verse, albeit borrowed verse, and with many many many apologies to Dylan Thomas, who, I'm sure, would polish off his bottle of Jameson's, smash it over the nearest table, and jab the business end in my ear if he were here to read the following rewrite/abomination.

Ahem.

Do not go hungry into that Chinese buffet,
Old General Tso's will burn the stomach at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the sit-down Chinese restaurant.
Though wise men at their meal know all-you-can-eat is tempting,
Though their mouths had tasted no crispy duck they
Do not go hungry into that Chinese buffet.
Good diners, the last noodle by, crying how tasty
Their won ton soup might have been in a green bowl,
Rage, rage against the dying of the sit-down Chinese restaurant.
Wild men who scooped up and ate the sweet and sour chicken on their plate,
And learned, too late, that heartburn would soon follow,
Do not go hungry into that Chinese buffet.
Starving men, near death, who eat with awful gusto
Hungry mouths could chew like shredders and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the sit-down Chinese restaurant.
And you, my hungry friend, there opening the door to the Hunan all-you-can-eat,
Curse, bless me now with your confused appetite, I pray.
Do not go hungry into that Chinese buffet.
Rage, rage against the dying of the sit-down Chinese restaurant.

P.S. I'm really sorry. That was awful. For a page containing the real poem: Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.

Sunday, August 5, 2001
Today's New York Times magazine contains an interview with David Wain and Michael Showalter, creators of the limited-release Wet Hot American Summer and former cast members of the now-defunct "The State" on MTV. Here is the opening of the write-up:

q: What was your personal relationship to summer camp?
SHOWALTER: David and I both had very formative summer-camp experiences. I went to Camp Mohawk in the Berkshires, and David went to Camp Modin in Maine. And both of our camps were very "Meatballs"-esque camps, where you did nothing but play softball and...
WAIN: ...try to make out. And maybe by the end of the summer you did get to make out.
SHOWALTER: I made out for the first time at camp. Amy Levine. She was way more physically mature than I was. She was like twice my height.

Oh, believe me, I was stunned to read this. Let me be the first to assure you that the Amy Levine to whom Mr. Showalter refers is not me. I never did the sleep-away-camp-in-the-mountains thing, I will never be accused of being twice anyone's height (any adult, anyway), and I don't think I've even been to the Berkshires. Holy crap, I sure as hell hope my grandma didn't read this and think it was me. (Mike is highly amused by all of this.)

Saturday, August 4, 2001
I've mentioned this before, but I'm generally not a big fan of the For Dummies or Complete Idiot's Guide series. Sure, I may know nothing about tiling my kitchen or using a sail boat, but that doesn't make me a dummy or an idiot. It just means I don't know anything about those things.

It's not the information conveyed in the books that I have a problem with. Sure, books on how to start investing, or things to know before you buy a home, or how to use Windows NT are helpful. It's just that when you put the words "dummy" or "idiot" on the titles, you're trying to make people feel stupid. Strangely, this has been a successful way for them to sell books. Still, some of the titles are just plain awful. Check it:

  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Being Psychic: There's nothing like going to a psychic who uses a reference book. Besides, if you were psychic, why would you need to buy this? Wouldn't you already know what's inside? I'll bet Miss Cleo doesn't use a book.

  • Diabetes For Dummies: There have got to be better books on this subject. And since when did we start making fun of people who want to know about diseases?

  • The GRE For Dummies: If you're a dummy and you're taking the GRE, maybe you should reconsider your decision to go to grad school.

  • Complete Idiot's Guide to Homeschooling: I done read this here book, and mister, I'm-a-gonna learn my young'uns right a-here in this house. Ain't no need for them to go to no big fancy school when I can learn 'um all they needs to know.

  • Accounting for Dummies: I'll tell you what, if I ever hire my own accountant, and I go into his or her office, and this book is on the bookshelf, they are so fired.

  • Judaism for Dummies: Oy! (Or for the non-Jews in the house, Jesus fucking Christ!)

  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex: Hi...umm...baby. Yeah...so...umm...will you have sex with me? I uhh...have this book...

Friday, August 3, 2001
Every Friday this summer, Oprah is showing "vintage" episodes. This, I think, is a fabulous way for Ms. Winfrey to tell her viewers (and I'm hoping you read this as if Oprah were saying it), "Listen, y'all, I like summer Fridays off just as much as you do. So, while I'm at home drinkin' mint juleps, re-reading Beloved, and coming up with more self-betterment projects, y'all can check me out on my way up and make fun of all those horrendous hairstyles I used to have and all those silly clothes I used to wear back when big shoulder pads were cool. Honey, Oprah needs a few days off too!"

It's not a rerun. It's vintage!

Thursday, August 2, 2001
I'm sorry -- I really hate to be redundant, but this heat is sucking all of my energy and creativity. I know that it'll be snowing in like two months and I'll be bitching about the weather then too (because, let's face it, people bitch about the weather no matter how nice or shitty it is outside), but right now I can't concentrate on anything. So, while today's post is crap -- and I do apologize -- tomorrow's should be at least slightly interesting; the heat is supposed to break overnight.

Wednesday, August 1, 2001
It seems as if my zucchini plants are kind of going out of control. So are my tomato plants, but I don't have to deal with that until next week. Anyway, I have all this zucchini and no good zucchini bread recipe. So, if you have one you would like to share, please please please send it to me.

It's hot. How hot is it? Hot enough to kill a 335-pound NFL tackle.

Seriously, it's so hot that the local CBS affiliate put up a "Misery Index" during the weather segment of the 5:00 news. Apparently, the misery index for west Michigan is 91%. That is pretty damn miserable.

The organization I start to work for at the end of the month has a room in the building called "The Think Tank." Eesh. This puts a warped Hopper-esque image in my head.


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