JULY 2004
Friday, July 23, 2004
When people in Michigan go on vacation, more often than not, they go "up north." I guess it's nice up there. I've lived in Michigan for five years now (Christ on a bike, has it been that long?), but I have yet to go "up north" for any extended period of time. So, tomorrow, I'm heading "up north" for a week. Yeah yeah, I know: my whole summer has been slacking and vacations. So what? Anyway, back next week with a more proper description of "up north." Updates until then are possible but doubtful.

Other random notions from this week:

  • This week, I decided I like mangoes! I never used to like them, and I even remember the first time I tried one with my grandma and grandpa, and we all decided it was yucky, and my grandpa even said it tasted fishy. But this week, I decided that they're really really good!
  • Even though my iPod can hold over 2,000 songs, it is currently My Expensive Toy That Plays Nothing But "Country House" by Blur. What a great song! Why did I always pass Blur off as a bunch of English wussies? Probably because they are. And as you may already know, I have my doubts about wussies having the ability to properly rock. But these wussies do. Maybe it's because they're British?
  • On principle, I am opposed to the Olive Garden. Many New Yorkers are, and if you meet a New Yorker who claims to like the Olive Garden, they are not to be trusted. However, Andrea has me thinking that a trip to the Olive Garden may not be such a bad idea, just to play Cheese Chicken. Hospitaliano, playa.
  • Mangoes! It's like I'm making up for lost time here.
  • I've changed my mind about the roofers next door. I no longer like them. They've taken over my entire driveway! I have to park in the street! They blocked my driveway all day, left all kinds of shingle dust, and parked their bil-jax scaffolding right in front of my garage! And they were blasting Spinal Tap this morning! They now suck. Look at how many exclamation points they've made me use!
Until next week, then. I'm on vacation!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004
So there are these roofer/painter guys next door working on the house. They're nice enough, and they play their classic rock at a not-too-loud level, and even though they park in my driveway half the time, they seem to be okay people. Yesterday, one of them knocked on my door and asked if I had a hose because a not-yet-adult bird had just flown into his bucket of primer, and he wanted to wash it off before the primer dried and the bird couldn't fly anymore. I didn't, but I filled a watering can with water, and he held the bird as I rinsed it off. The bird was shaking and really looked scared (as it turns out, you can't pacify a small bird with soothing words), but it let the guy wash him off. After most of the primer was off, the bird hopped out of the guy's hands and over to a small hole in the ground in the shade, where it sat and looked at me. I felt really bad for it; it was all wet and was probably too scared to fly, so it just sat there. I didn't know what else to do, and the guys were already back to painting the house, so I took my watering can and went back inside. A few hours later I went to check to see if the bird was still there, and it wasn't. I hope it flew away on its own, and that one of the neighborhood cats didn't get it.

Monday, July 19, 2004
Game on. I've lived in Michigan for about five years, so I figured it was time to head on over to Detroit to see the Tigers play. We went to see the Tigers play the Yankees yesterday at Comerica Park. It's a fairly new stadium (four years), but it still has character. All of the history of the team is still evident, you can walk all the way around the park, and there really isn't a bad seat in the house. I know this because we were in the absolute last row, and we could still see everything happening on the field and almost everything happening in the stands.

However, Comerica gets a big thumbs down on ballpark food. Perhaps going to PNC Park in Pittsburgh last summer spoiled me -- they have those big sloppy Primanti Brothers sandwiches in the park, and just about all the food I saw looked surprisingly good -- but unless you want a $4 hot dog or some stale Cracker Jacks, there's very little in the way of good food at Comerica. Yeah, there's a mall-ish food court, and we got a gyro, and it wasn't bad, but it was no Primanti Brothers, I'll tell you that. Comerica also loses points for having a carousel in the park. Yeah, it had tigers instead of horses, but come on! It's a baseball stadium, not friggin' Six Flags. I say, teach kids to watch baseball. They won't learn anything going around in circles.

Oh, and the Yankees lost, which was the important part. I wasn't really rooting for the Tigers, but it's like those t-shirts that lots of kids used to have when I was younger: "I root for two teams: the Mets and whoever plays the Yankees."

Thursday, July 15, 2004
We're about halfway through the summer here, and so far I haven't done much in the way of work. That's fine with me -- the plan from the beginning was to take the summer off and not do a whole lot. At first I was a little embarrassed about it; I mean, I have several college degrees and a pretty good range of marketable skills, so maybe it's a little inappropriate for me to be sitting on my ass all summer reading and sleeping in and watching Tyler Florence cook with giggly ladies all over the country. But you know what? I don't feel bad about it at all. In fact, I'm somewhat proud of it. Yeah, I tell people, that's right: I'm doing nothing this summer. Jealous? And they always say something indicating that maybe they hate me, but it's always in a joking voice, and deep down, yeah, I think they're all jealous. My advice to them? Look into a career in academia! Summers off, baby.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
From the desk of Amy
To: readers of French descent
From: Amy
Re: Bastille Day

All of us here at wish to extend a merry, happy, prosperous, and all around fabulous Bastille Day to all of our French friends. We would like you to know that despite the current American sentiment toward your people and your country and your culture, we here at like the French. We like your style. We like your accents. We like your intangible, unreproducable, irreverent je ne sais quois. We like your crusty bread and your fruit tarts and that buttery chicken we've never actually tasted but have heard so much about. We like your books. (Thank you, or rather, merci Mr. Sartre, for teaching us about being alone.) We like the idea of falling in love in Paris, or perhaps buying a charming little chateau where we can spend winters thinking and writing and drinking wine with names we can't pronounce. To be frank, we can do without all the smoking, and we're not especially crazy about impressionism, but we like what it all stands for. In short, we like what you're all about. We hope to visit soon. Until then, happy Bastille Day. We'd say it in French, but we never learned how.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
A letter to the people at VH1:
Dear VH1 people,

I know that back in October, after complaining about spending ten hours watching I Love the 80s Strikes Back, I asked when I Love the 90s would be ready. But you had to know I was kidding. Wasn't it just the 90s, like, a few years ago? Come on! VH1, you have to give people time to forget about stupid trends and bad music and such. I'd say you need to give them at least 20 years. Why? Because when you remind people about how stupid they were 20 years ago, they think, well, that was 20 years ago and I'm much smarter now. But when you remind people about how stupid they were five years ago, they still get embarrassed!

I am embarrassed, VH1! You are reminding me that I used to listen to grunge music, even though I only pretended to like it because I thought it was cool. You are reminding me that I had some concern over the whole Y2K thing, and even though everyone else was worried and most people were way more worried than I was, it all seems so dumb now! You are reminding me of all the stupid things I did and liked and wore just a few years ago, and it's just too soon.

Look: I knew it was coming. I know I said I was kidding when I asked about the 90s series, but really, I knew your people were doing their research (if you can call it that) even as I typed the words. And yes, I could have written a letter in protest before you were even finished, not that I think it would have done any good. The truth, VH1, is that I will watch every last minute of I Love the 90s -- probably twice. The truth is that I am a sucker for instant nostalgia, and I kind of had a good time in the 90s, and between you and me, that Hal Sparks is a babe on wheels. But deep down, VH1, I am embarrassed. I implore you, VH1: wait until at least (at least) 2019 before airing I Love the 00s. Please. For all of us. Go back to making more episodes of Behind the Music. I like to hear about how things were falling apart backstage. It never gets old.

Thank you for your time


Friday, July 9, 2004
Cabbie with Seoul. One of the highlights of the four days I spent in Vegas was a cab ride with this man here. It was one of three or four cab rides we took, and while all of our cab drivers were pleasant enough, and a few were even chatty, Dae Kang of Seoul, South Korea is, I would have to imagine, the best cabbie in Vegas. I will explain.

He picked us up on the strip, which apparently isn't so legal in Vegas, as drivers are only allowed to pick up passengers at taxi stands, which are almost all located at hotels. As soon as we got in, he turned up a Dean Martin CD to full volume, started singing "That's Amore" in a reasonably good voice, and encouraged us to sing along! Then "Volare" came on, and he really encouraged us to sing! And then he asked us what other songs we liked, and as we start to tell him, he pulls out a microphone (a microphone!), turns a few knobs on the cab stereo, pushes a few buttons on the microphone, and all of a sudden a karaoke version of "I Will Survive" starts playing through the cab speakers, and he's singing, and you can hear his voice through the speakers too! He called it "cabbie-oke." My mom and I were laughing hysterically as he tore through "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You" (the man could really sing like Elvis!) and then got my dad, who couldn't carry a tune in a padded case, to butcher "Yesterday" so badly that John and George certainly spun a little. By the time we got to where we were going, we were exhausted from laughing so hard. How come cab drivers in New York don't carry karaoke mics?

The other thing I did in Vegas that was awesome was cruise on and off the strip on a kicky yellow Dazon Diamondback scooter that I rented from Sin City Scooters (business motto: "Scooters, Baby!"). Even though I've wanted a Vespa for a long long long time, I had never ridden a scooter before. But, they gave me a quick ten-minute lesson and a cool Italian-style helmet, and I was off. And it rocked! Now I am seriously considering buying one of these Dazons for myself. I know I can only ride it a few months out of the year, as Michigan's climate isn't really ideal for scooter riding, but they're so much fun! And at 122 miles per gallon, it's like four times as efficient and infinitely cooler than my little Civic. So I'm looking into it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2004
Fabulousness is a matter of taste. Vegas was...not my bag. I don't really get a rise out of gambling, and I'm not big on...umm...gentlemen's entertainment, but even aside from all of that, I was kind of put off by the extreme over-the-top-ness of it all. Vegas is capitalism at its very most brutal: everything on the Vegas strip is there to take your money. The casinos are the obvious example, of course, and I kept thinking of the line in Casino where Deniro says, "The more they play, the more they lose. In the end, we get it all." But all of the elaborate hotel lobbies, and the neo-neo-neo architecture, and the creepy people in costume pretending to be statues, and the near impossibility of getting out of any indoor place without winding through at least a dozen rows of dollar slot machines - all of it's there to destroy your orientation and better judgment. And, when you're disoriented and of questionable ability to decipher good from bad, you're more likely to take out your wallet to spend twenty bucks on a ten minute ride on a fake gondola driven by a C-average music major from Nebraska through a mall-ish reproduction of a Venice canal. Truthfully, I think our man Mr. Kunstler has the right idea when it comes to Vegas.

But yes, there were good things about Vegas. For one, I walked quite a distance one night (like three miles, I think) to get a picture of the famous "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign here. And there was other stuff too. What other stuff? Check back tomorrow to find out.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004
Yes, it's real. After 11 days in Arizona and Vegas, I am finally back! It was fun, but I'm kind of glad to be home now. Anyway, one of the highlights of the trip was seeing the Grand Canyon. It was just huge and unreal looking, and I took about 100 pictures, and now when I look at them, it looks like I took pictures of a painted backdrop. I want to go back, only next time I want to head down to the bottom, either on foot or on mule. Yeah, you read that right: mule!

Significantly less cool was Las Vegas. More on that tomorrow.

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