Friday, August 29, 2003
Family things happening. Back in a few days.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Sissyfight is actually a cool online Shockwave game; it's kind of a mix of chatting and bullying. It takes a little while to get the hang of it, but the rules are more or less the same as on the playground in third grade: everyone gangs up on one poor kid and teases the crap out of them. I'd like it more if everyone didn't gang up on me, though. I guess some things never change!

My kickass new HD display came in today. My computer? Yeah, not for another few weeks. Jerks.

Monday, August 25, 2003
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is the best book I've read in a long time. I had seen it in just about every bookstore, especially in the discount ones (did they print too many hardcovers?), and finally I just decided to read it. Good decision. The writing is just amazing, and although critics generally dislike the so-called hysterical realism genre, I liked the long descriptions of processes in the context of the overall story, which is, basically, a couple of guys who draw comic books in the days before World War II. Even if you're not into comic books (which I am not and never really have been), it's still a good read.

I have to go back to work tomorrow. Bleh.

Saturday, August 23, 2003
Unfortunately, I have to go back to my regular work schedule on Tuesday. So, between now and then, I am systematically trying to do as little as possible. Yesterday I had to go do a bunch of errands, which included, of all things, getting fingerprinted (oh the joys of the academic bureaucracy), but then I sat out in the sun and worked on my tan. Today I read and watched trash tv. I think I'll go to the beach tomorrow. Monday? Who knows, but it won't be much.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Update: The nasty lady next door is still here, still talking very loudly in her gross backyard and buring something on that rusty barbeque. Her friends have been coming by all day carrying all sorts of crap: a bag of sandwiches, a car battery on a dolly, a fucking Chihuahua. I assume the sandwiches were for some lunch-type sort of meal (even though it was three in the afternoon). The battery was, I assume, for the junker Escort wagon that's been dead in the driveway for the past year and a half (I forgot to mention that in yesterday's laundry list of crap in the yard). And the Chihuahua -- who the hell knows. I can tell you this: its name was Taco Bell. I really wish she'd just leave now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003
The nasty lady next door is finally moving out. By nasty, I don't mean that she's not a nice person (although I wouldn't exactly call her pleasant to be around). I mean that she's a pig. She just never looks clean. Her clothes always look kind of muddy and dingy. She's the kind of person who leaves empty frozen pizza boxes scattered on her lawn and has molding upholstered furniture on both of her porches. She has the nastiest charcoal barbeque I've ever seen, and there are damp bags of Match Light around the perimeter of her house, but she still manages to light them and grill. There are stacks of wet newspapers by the side door, and rusting buckets of who-knows-what next to them. There are piles of garbage all around her house, but I'm told that all of this is okay because she's what some people call an "industrial artist." Apparently, an "industrial artist" makes art (or "art") out of trash (not "trash"). So, I guess I am to assume that the trash outside of her house isn't, in fact, trash, but rather raw materials. I have my raw materials picked up every Tuesday morning, but she keeps hers on the property. Everyone's different, I guess. My lawn is grass. Hers is mixed media. Whatever. Clean up your crap.

She talks very in a very loud, whiny voice. When she's on the phone inside her house, I can almost make out her end of the conversation. One time she came home early in the morning and just started swearing. I'm not sure what it was about, and I was still in bed and didn't care enough to find out.

She also doesn't pay rent to live in the house, but rather lives there for free with permission of the owners; she considers herself the caretaker ("caretaker") of the house. I think she and I define "caretaker" differently. I think it means someone who ensures the wellbeing of a person or object. She thinks it means to junk the place. Like I said, everyone's different.

Now, the owners want to sell the house, but she won't leave. I guess I wouldn't either, if I had a rent-free, tax-free situation like that. The owners tried to evict her but -- guess what? -- you can't evict someone who doesn't pay rent! So they took her to court in July and she was allowed to stay six more weeks. Now the six weeks are finally up. I can't say that I'll miss her, but I wish she would leave without screaming and clunking her raw materials around like an idiot. This morning the moving truck came at six fucking forty-five (no, I wasn't awake yet, thanks for asking), and she was yapping at the movers, and it sounded like they were using a hand truck up and down the porch steps and then up the ramp of the truck. This was all going on right outside of my bedroom window before seven, very loudly, and I didn't want to be up yet, because it's the end of my summer vacation and I want to enjoy it, not listen to some deranged "artist." I was laying in bed all pissed off about her lack of any shred of respect for me and everyone else on the street who has to listen to her yammering and look at her crap, and I was thinking that maybe I could go over there and kick her in head, just to shut her up, and I'd kick it so hard that it would fly off like a grape and go sailing over the powerlines down the street, like a field goal at the buzzer or something. But then I'd have to clean up her raw materials.

She leaves for good tomorrow. I hope another artist doesn't move in.

In other news, I am really enjoying VH1's I Love the '70s. I had no idea that Morgan Freeman was on the Electric Company! Actually, now that I think about it, I didn't really like the Electric Company because it scared me when they screamed "Hey you guys!" at the beginning of the show.

Monday, August 18, 2003
In order to get some key shots for his film The Dancer Upstairs, John Malkovich got an entire city to cut its electricity. According to this article, "Malkovich is filming the start of Guzman's revolution as well as a blackout sequence, for which he has persuaded the mayor to let him shut off Oporto's power supply. After a wobble earlier in the day, the mayor confirms their agreement. So it happens that, beginning at 2am, Malkovich four times pitches this European city of a million people into a Peruvian darkness. It is the oddest sensation to look into that darkness. To watch thousands of lights flash out. To follow the fireworks' tingle across the sky. To hear the all-too familiar barking."

This all sounds familiar, and I wonder if, next fall, we can all look forward to Skyline in Black, the riveting new film from acclaimed director (and actor -- don't forget actor) John Malkovich.

Sunday, August 17, 2003
Yesterday I forgot to mention that while I was home, I ate an absurd amount of Italian ices. I think I forgot how much I really like them, probably because you can't get them anywhere outside of New York. Oh sure, you can get something called Italian ice, but it's usually a too-sweet brick in a paper cup, and you have to scrape it with a stupid little wooden paddle of a spoon, which gives you goosebumps when it touches your tongue. Forget that. Real Italian ices have almost the consistency of ice cream, but they're just churned soft ice (which means no fat), and if they're made right, which they usually are, the flavor is accurate without tasting too syrupy. Just about every pizza place I tried had them, and we even hit a Ralph's, which has like fifty flavors, including honeydew (yum). I don't know if the way to make it is a closely-guarded secret, or if non-New Yorkers can't be bothered making them, or if it has something to do with the Midwestern tendency to pronounce Italian like eye-tahl-yin, but I wish someone would start selling them out here. Actually, maybe I should wish for decent pizza first.

Saturday, August 16, 2003
Back, finally! Home was fun, but now I'm sick. Some touristy-looking lady coughed on me while we were on the TKTS line at Times Square (like, my face was a little wet), and I think I caught whatever it was that made her cough. Bitch. But the trip was still good. Highlights include a Marshall Crenshaw show in a converted barn in the mountains, lots of shopping, excellent sushi and other excellent meals, Urinetown, the lady who sat next to me at Urinetown and explained the premise of the story to her confused friend ("Ya know, it's like social commentary, the rich oppressing the poor. It's all like symbolism." Thanks, lady!), and of course seeing my family. Lowlights (the opposite of highlights?) include not having power for seven hours and the gross, bad hair-inducing humidity.

The rides there and back weren't even too bad. Unfortunately, my drive back yesterday was marred by incredible stupidity on my part; I got off the highway in Pennsylvania to gas up and got back on in the wrong direction. It took me 25 miles before I realized my error, and it reminded me of that scene in Dumb and Dumber where one of them was like, we just drove one-sixth of the way across the country in the wrong direction! My error wasn't that bad, but it still pissed me off and ate up 45 minutes.

Tuesday, August 5, 2003
For reasons unknown, I am unbelievably cranky today. Actually, I think I might know why. It might have to do with grading 15 papers, getting ready to drive home, and running around doing a million errands. I think I need 11 hours in a car by myself to decompress. I'd leave right now if I didn't think I'd crash in two hours.

Oh yeah, I'll be home for a week. Postings if I can hook up my laptop via a non-AOL hookup. We'll see.

Sunday, August 3, 2003
So last night I went to this go-kart track about ten miles west of town with a friend of mine. I hadn't gone go-karting in a while, and it sounded like fun. But we didn't count on the local redneck idiots being there to muck everything up. I swear, some men are either really fucking insecure or have incredibly small penises, or probably both, and see the go-kart track as a good place to take out their insecurities and aggressions. I expect bad go-kart driving from the kids there -- they don't drive cars and haven't had lots of time to sharpen their motor skills. Whenever a kid would accidentally knock into me on the track, I just shrugged it off. But when some bucktoothed pencildick jarneck in a trucker hat (a serious nasty trucker hat, not a trendy NY elitist $30 trucker hat) feels the need to intentionally ram his go-kart into me and the next guy and a woman with her three-year-old daughter -- three years old, for fuck's sake! -- with a serious look on his face like it's the Indy Five Fucking Hundred and we had better not get between him and the goddamn checkered flag, I lose interest in go-karts. Does he really think we look at that and think, "Ooh, you big big powerful man, I want to go home with you"? What an ass. I realized that all the insecure assholes who can't afford a yellow 89 Ferrari go go-karting on Saturday nights, which means that I won't go go-karting on a Saturday night ever again.

Saturday, August 2, 2003
I like to think I know a lot about music, and I like to think that a lot of my friends know a lot about music. So how come I never listened to, or no one ever told me to listen to, Marshall Crenshaw? The man writes just really good pop songs, like in the style of Buddy Holly, and for the past few months, his music is more or less all I've been listening to. I like it so much that I'm replacing my downloaded mp3s with actual purchased CDs. (See, RIAA people? Filesharing can lead to sales!) When his new album came out last week, I went right out and bought it. Well, ordered it, since no music store within ten miles of my house had any of his CDs, let alone the new one on a small-ish label. I also picked up his 1982 album, which has since been remastered with extra tracks, and a DVD of a recent live performance at the Stone Pony. And I think I'm going to see his show next Friday in New York's slow northern suburbs. So, I would recommend that if you consider yourself a music fan and you have not yet been converted to a Marshall Crenshaw fan, do yourself a favor and do some listening.

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