JULY 2001

Tuesday, July 31, 2001
If you have a bad boss, The Business Research Lab might pay you ten bucks for your story. Man! If I had ten bucks for every lousy boss I've had...well, actually, I'd only have ten bucks. Good for me, bad for my wallet.

It is ungodly hot out today -- too hot to eat, move, or type.

Monday, July 30, 2001
Bad luck at the TravelLodge: I don't mean to imply that the TravelLodge is a bad hotel, because the one we stayed at in Buffalo was actually okay. It's just that we got woken up way too early. We asked for a wake-up call at 8:30 this morning. We got one at 6:30 and then nothing at 8:30. On Sunday morning we also got one at 6:30 when we had not asked for one. When I was checking out this morning, I told the woman that I was a little miffed about the early wake-ups. She, of course, blamed "the computer." I, of course, blame her.

Other than the hotel issue, the trip was great. Got to see my old pals and ate a lot of good food, including raw clams, fish tacos, and fried cactus strips, which were very good and very deep fried. I also went to a pig roast and, between the next-day indigestion and the mere sight of watching this thing as it cooked, have come to the decision that maybe eating pork isn't for me. You'd think a Jewish upbringing would have convinced me of that years ago, but apparently it took me seeing a hog on a spit to arrive at this realization.

Friday, July 27, 2001
This week has been a blur. Back in town for a day and a half, then off on another trip. This one was planned, though. I'm in Buffalo for a few days. Back Monday.

Thursday, July 26, 2001
Whew. After four plane rides, hours and hours in hospital waiting rooms, not nearly enough sleep, several drinks, a hundred games of backgammon, way too much diner food, and watching the Neil Diamond Behind the Music three times, things are finally back to normal, with the possible exception of my newfound desires to watch The Jazz Singer and own a sparkly shirt.

A great line from Timbuktu by Paul Auster: I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Interior monologue of a top exec at Ford: You know, our Explorer is unsafe, and it does have poorly-made tires, but I think we would really get great publicity if we made it bigger and uglier.

Friday, July 20, 2001
Family things. Going home for a bit. Back Thursday.

Thursday, July 19, 2001
The IRS has posted a helpful schedule to tell you when you will get your tax refund check. It goes according to the last two digits of your social security number. People whose last two numbers are 00-09 will get theirs next week. My last two numbers are 92, which means I will get mine next February. Okay, not really; the schedule says I should have an extra $300 by the end of September, but dammit, why am I always last?

Wednesday, July 18, 2001
Helping to save your government money through early death: The people of Philip Morris. How long before gun makers and the NRA use this same argument? According to a statement by Philip Morris International, the company "deeply regrets any impression from this study that the premature death of smokers represents a benefit to society." what impression were they trying to give? This whole story is just so wormy.

Just finished reading She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb. I don't get what all the fuss over this book is about. I didn't think it was particularly good. And, of course, my cynic light starts flashing when I have to paw through pages of praise before the title sheet. I guess people feel empowered when they read of someone getting over crises and getting on with life -- I have from time to time -- but I just couldn't give a damn what happened to Lamb's protagonist. I even found myself hoping she'd do another downward spiral, which isn't really the response a writer looks for. I hear his next book is better. It's also like 900 pages. Maybe I'll get to it one of these days.

Tuesday, July 17, 2001
Long day. No caffeine. Short attention span.

Monday, July 16, 2001
Cool idea: The American Solar Challenge, a race along historic Route 66 (that's Chicago to Santa Monica -- quite a distance) in solar-powered cars to raise awareness of alternate forms of energy for transportation. No big prize, either. The winner gets bragging rights and maybe a picture in the paper.

A good day today. After a spur-of-the-moment beach trip and subsequent aloe slathering on my red shoulders, I went to check out my garden plot and discovered that I had a fully-grown zucchini. This is very exciting because I've never been able to successfully grow anything but mold. And a little basil. But mostly mold. Anyway, I got all giddy and then cut it off and took it home. It looks like I'll have dozens more, plus a whole bucket of tomatoes, so I'm feeling that maybe I can quit working real jobs and just be a farmer and sell my vegetables at the market on Saturdays. I know it's not likely, but I'm entertaining myself with it presently. I can grow stuff!

Saturday, July 14, 2001
Last night I was talking with a friend about recurring dreams. I have two. The most frequent is one where I'm out in public and I've somehow forgotten to put my contacts in. I don't have my glasses on me either, so everything is extremely blurry -- more blurry than it usually is when I don't have my contacts or glasses. I can't even see what's going on in the dream, and all I get are these dark fuzzy splotches in front of my eyes. I'm also supposed to do something important, like run a necessary errand or do something for someone, and I either can't do it or try and get confused because I can't see anything.

My other one is less frequent, and only happens when I really have to pee but haven't woken up yet. In this one, I dream that I'm like eight months pregnant, and I'm horrified because I can't remember the earlier stages of the pregnancy and I don't want to be pregnant in the first place. I usually wake up more anxious after this one, but it fades quickly when I realize what's going on and stumble to the bathroom.

The link above provides some interesting explanation for common recurring dreams (being naked in public, showing up unprepared for an exam, etc.), but there's nothing on bad vision or unexplained pregnancy. Too bad.

Friday, July 13, 2001
Went to night one of the Kalamazoo Valley Blues Association Blues Festival last night and caught a set by the Tarbox Ramblers, an immensely fabulous bluesy/rockabilly band. The bass player was super cool, the drummer had a painted kick drum with a retro-ish band logo, and the fiddle player did a three-minute plucking solo that silenced the entire crowd -- they just all shut up and listened. Oh, and I think they travel from gig to gig in one of those kickass silver bullet Airstream trailers. These guys are my new heroes.

Today was rather uneventful. So much for Friday the 13th excitement.

Thursday, July 12, 2001
Just finished reading Leviathan by Paul Auster. I had read of people being obsessed with his books and going on pilgrimage-type trips to Brooklyn in the hopes of finding him. Now that I've read one of his novels, I want to do just that. I also want to read everything else he's ever written. Just really good storytelling and clean writing. Anyway, highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 11, 2001
What's more midwestern that casseroles? Okay, maybe bratwurst and ketchup on white bread buns, but casseroles are definitely up there. Links to recipes from, along with my (arguably) clever commentary:

  • Apple Tuna Pasta Casserole: This sounds like the most god-awful macaroni and cheese ever, although if you're into the Kraft-Dinner-with-ketchup thing, it might be okay with a little Heinz on top. The recipe actually calls for processed American cheese!
  • Chinese Chicken Casserole: I'm sure the Chinese are so proud that some American yahoo borrowed their millennia-old cooking style for a casserole. Actually, from looking at the ingredients, the only thing that really makes it Chinese is the soy sauce. No need to put ketchup on this one: it's already inside! Unless you like lots of ketchup. On Chinese food.
  • Clam and Potato Casserole: "You know, honey, I'd love some clam chowder, but I don't know if it'll really fill me up, and we're nowhere near Massachusetts." "That's okay, hon! I'm making clam and potato casserole!" "Sounds great! Do we have any ketchup?"
  • Corn Casserole Supreme: I fail to see how this qualifies as supreme. It's a bunch of vegetables, a can of corn, and some crumbled crackers with cheese on top. There's not even any ketchup in it!
  • Ham and Vegetable Stew: Ahem. I believe we were talking about casseroles, people. And what on god's rotting earth is a buttercup squash?
  • All in One Casserole: It's got beef, onion, celery, cabbage, tomatoes, and breadcrumbs. That's six ingredients. In my house, if you're going to call something "All in One Casserole," you had better be putting more than six ingredients in it.
  • Bacon and Egg Casserole: Casserole for dinner! Casserole for lunch! And yes -- yes! -- casserole for breakfast! G'morning, ev'rybody! Please pass the ketchup?

Tuesday, July 10, 2001
I've been doing some yardwork for a woman a few blocks over. She has a strip of grass on one of her properties that she wants dug up so she can plant groundcover that she doesn't have to mow. I've been working on it for a few days, as it's a lot of grass and I get bored with it easily, usually after a few hours. So this morning at around 8 I went over to finish the job. The grass, or what was left of it, is right next to a community garden in which I have a plot. It's also right next to a house belonging to a woman who works in my favorite local bar. I see her occasionally, either at the bar or at the garden, and we always say hello.

As I was digging, one of the other guys who has a plot in the garden came by to pull some weeds and get some lettuce that was ready for picking. This guy, I've learned, is highly particular about his plants. There are soaker hoses that run through all of the plots, and in the past he's asked me not to water his vegetables because he didn't want them to flower early, or whatever his reason was. He said that if I wanted to turn the hoses on, to flip the switch going to his plot so the water wouldn't run there. I said I wouldn't get his plants wet. Now, I don't even turn on the soaker hoses; I just water my own stuff and figure everyone else will take care of their own. But someone's been turning the hoses on, which is fine with me, because I usually forget to water my stuff. The only reason my plants are looking good (and boy, they really do look good, I have to say) is because someone's turning on those hoses.

So this morning, as the anal guy is poking around in his garden, the woman in the house comes out and heads to her car to go to work. I say hi to her, and then the anal guy turns around and asks us if we know who's been turning on the soaker hoses. I tell him I haven't been, but the woman says she turns them on for a little while every night just to help us out. At hearing this, the anal guy goes into this whole tirade about how they're his plants, and he thought that he would be able to grow his crops (he actually said crops! he's got a three-by-fifteen plot of dirt, and he's growing crops! crops!) the way he wanted, and he doesn't want people interfering, because now his cucumbers are flowering and it's too early, and there's not enough communication about who's turning on the hoses and when, and he just doesn't want anyone watering his plants.

The whole time this is going on, probably two or three minutes but it seemed like forever, I just kept my mouth shut, but the woman was looking at me like she was going to start laughing in this guy's face (which -- come on, now -- he deserved). All she said, very politely, was that she wasn't going to turn them on again and that she didn't mean to water his plants if he didn't want them watered. Then she got in her car and went to work.

Like I said, I kept my mouth shut, but the whole time this twerp was spouting off, I just wanted to say, Dude, shut the fuck up! It's fucking plants!

Now: I am a pretty anal person. I wouldn't say I'm a maniacal a-place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place kind of person, but I am fairly particular. But this guy -- this fucking guy! I wanted to kick him. This was over a few plants! (Sorry: crops.) Because they were flowering earlier than he would have liked. This is Michigan. It snows in August. (Okay, maybe September, but my point is that the summer is way too short.) It was 42 degrees here just last week. The way I see it, your plants (crops) should be flowering now so that you can get your vegetables before it fucking frosts and they fucking die. I swear, I really want to go over there right now and turn the hoses on for a good hour or two, just to piss this asshole off. Ooooh, ooooh, don't water my crops! Shut your goddamn mouth.

The rest of my day has been, so far, uneventful.

Monday, July 9, 2001
Tonight on FOX: a re-run of a crossover episode of Boston Public featuring characters from The Practice. I'm not particularly interested in either show, or hour-long television dramas in general (too much, commitment, too much "neurotica"), but I like the concept. We haven't seen much of the crossover genre since The Jetsons met The Flintstones.

I want to make an additional comment on what I wrote yesterday. I don't mean to insinuate that stories like who won Wimbledon, or a political demonstration, or the whole Chandra Levy thing are unimportant. People want to know these things, and CNN provides the information. It just seems like it's a slow news month, and everything CNN is telling is kind of...I don't know...uninteresting. It's probably not their fault. What I do have a problem with is CNN, and all news media in general, really, hyping up stories that really have no business being hyped, or wouldn't be hyped had something really important happened. Ooooh, mothers don't like Eminem. Well, no shit. Why make it a headline? That's what I was talking about.

Sunday, July 8, 2001
Is really necessary? Sure, watching the Gulf War live on tv was cool, but now with the internet and without a major international conflict of some sort, filling up a cable station and a website 24 hours a day with news can be difficult. And recently, all they've put up on their page are "duh" stories, so named (by yours ever so very truly) because they're expected. Something happens, CNN reports it, and viewers react with something like, "Duh, I saw that coming." But judge for yourself. Some of today's stories from the front page:

Condit admits to affair with intern. Not surprised.

Venus Williams takes Wimbledon. Nope, not surprised.

Six gored at the Running of the Bulls. Oh oh oh...not surprised.

Jesse Jackson is planning a protest. I think the bombing in Vieques is awful, but Jesse Jackson organizing a demonstration? Ermmm...not surprised.

Eminem gets a bad rap in Australia. Bad pun. Still not surprised.

Jenna Bush fined $600 and gets her license suspended. That's what happens when you get caught with a fake ID, babydoll. Not surprised yet.

Friday, July 6, 2001
I don't think I've mentioned that I actually watched most of last season's Big Brother. I caught last night's premiere of the new season, and I'm not so sure about this summer's group. CBS just seems to be trying too hard to be creative with them. Take the whole groceries-in-the-car contest, for instance. Fit twelve people into an SUV? That's easy. I was once one of twelve in an '89 Camry. Granted, that was freshman year in college, I had had a lot to drink, and was generally dumber then, but nonetheless. This is a Buick -- a goddamn Buick! You can fit twelve manatees into one of those things. With groceries.

It also looks like CBS will be charging for the live web feed after July 8. I thought they were trying to get people (besides myself) to be interested in these people? Asking for money usually doesn't increase popularity. I was practically addicted to the live webcam last summer, but I'm sure as hell not paying for it now.

And I'm not sure why all the females in the house are getting all stupid over that Hardy guy. He looks like a soap opera reject. Clearly, if one is chasing, Will is the one to chase. And on a related topic, there was an awful lot of skin in last night's episode. I appreciate that CBS wants ratings, but it would be nice if they could be a little more subtle about it.

Thursday, July 5, 2001
Between setting up the giant mixer, speakers, monitors, mics, and powerstrips, doing soundcheck, and playing, yesterday just kind of evaporated. All I know is that I left the house at around two and didn't return until twelve hours later, exhausted and dizzy. It didn't help things that I watched Requiem for a Dream as soon as I got up. That has got to be one of the most difficult-to-watch movies I've ever seen; it kind of glazed me over for the rest of the afternoon. Great flick, incredibly edited, effective treatment of an overdone subject matter, and I never want to see it again. Oooof.

So today I woke up feeling hung over, even though I wasn't, since I don't drink when I have to play. Instead of hanging around the house and taking it easy, I went to the lake and sat out in the sun for three hours, which always takes my energy away. Came home, split a Digiorno pizza with Mike, and fell asleep on the couch. Boy, do I know how to party.

And now I have an article to write. It's due tomorrow. I've known about it for three weeks, and I have yet to write a single word. Hello, high school flashbacks.

It's a good thing I didn't have to go to work today. Everything seems to be moving at half speed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2001
I am a bad, bad person. Very very very bad bad bad. How bad? Well, a few months ago, one of the high school students I used to see at my old job was selling small tubs of frozen cookie dough for one of those fundraiser things. I can't remember what the money was for, but I bought one, know...cookie dough. So now the tub is just about empty. Which is fine...except I never actually made any cookies. Oooooooooohh. That's bad.

On a completely unrelated topic, if you're in or near or willing to be in or near the Southwest Michigan area tomorrow and you're looking for something to do, may I suggest coming on over to Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo to see my band play. The whole evening starts at like 7ish; we go on at around 10. Come on, it'll be fun! I'll buy you a beer! Fireworks, shmireworks. Come party with us!

Monday, July 2, 2001
Good flick: State and Main. A smart movie by David Mamet about making a movie. The dialogue is excellent (which you'd expect, Mamet being a playwright and all) and laugh-out-loud at several points, William H. Macy is always hysterical, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. Mamet, you'll remember, also did The Spanish Prisoner, another one of my favorites. Rebecca Pidgeon seems to be in all his movies (I think she's married to Mamet), and I find her pretty irritating to watch, but otherwise, I think this is one of the better rental choices. Look for a quick walk-on by Jonathan Katz of "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist" fame!

Bad flick: Dude, Where's My Car? The ads made it look silly in a good way, but it turned out to be silly in the most annoying way possible. I'm glad I made myself wait until I could rent it, because I would have been pissed if I'd spent $7.50 to see it. All the funny parts were in the trailers; the rest is just boring, pointless, and unfunny. There was a whole sequence to Young MC's Bust a Move that I didn't even understand why it was in the movie at all. Very very stupid. I guess I should have known.

Sunday, July 1, 2001
A haiku for today, Sunday, the first day of July in the year 2001, by Scoop.


Been busy today.
Drove to Lansing and back, then
Band practice, then...ahhh.

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