MARCH 2005
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
A rhyming poem about the weather, by Scoop:


It's been a cold winter. The sky's been too gray.
But the mercury rose up past 60 today!
Finally -- spring! This totally rocks.
And check out my feet! I'm not wearing socks!
And jacket? What jacket? Are you wearing one?
Hell no. It's warm out, warmer still in the sun.
And just as I'm under this spring fever spell,
Friday's forcast is snowy! Dude, what the hell?

Sunday, March 27, 2005
Oh my god. OH MY GOD. You know, $11,000 would be really useful to me right now, so maybe I'll just get a teddy bear, make up a story about how it's possessed by the devil, and sell it on eBay. Won't work? It worked for this guy. $11,000! For a stuffed animal! Are people this stupid?

Oh, and to all of our friends of the Christian persuasion, Happy Easter. We hope you get lots of candy, eggs, and straw hats.

Friday, March 25, 2005
So I was at this bar for happy hour, right? Actually, it's more of a restaurant and lounge, but the point is they serve booze, and this really skinny girl comes up to me, and she's wearing this tank top with only one shoulder strap, and on her shirt it says "Lever," only she tells me it's pronounced luh-VARE, real fancy-like. And she's carrying this tray, and there are colorful drinks on it, and they're in martini glasses, and she asks if I'd like one for free. For free! And I'm like, duh, of course I'd like one. And she says they're made with new Lever (luh-VARE) vodka, and I'm like, that's cool, I dig vodka. She says it's top shelf vodka, and I'm like, even better, because I don't drink cheap vodka. (Sidebar: Do you drink cheap booze? Please don't. It tastes like rotting vegetables and makes you feel like someone is drilling into your skull with a dull bit.) And you know what? This fancy Lever vodka is pretty tasty and has lots of alcohol in it, even if it is pronounced in a really stupid and pretentious way. Normally if someone tried to tell me that Lever is pronounced luh-VARE, I'd tell them to go home, but they were handing out free drinks, so I kept my mouth shut and took one. Oh, and I got a free t-shirt too. So what's the point? Sometimes when you go out for happy hour, you get a free drink, and it's really strong, and you might get a free shirt, and you get to be drunk too. And sometimes it even happens in a medium-sized Midwestern town. Who knew?

Oh, and in case you're interested, my free shirt has both sleeves. Those one-sleeved shirts are weird.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Hey, it's our good friend Walnuts' birthday! Due to life's funny turns and the proverbial but all too real bad-things-happening-to-good-people, she's maybe not having the best birthday in the world. But I'll bet if we all wish her a happy birthday, she'll bake us all cookies! And these will be, like, the best cookies ever, because she's in fancy cooking school and can really throw down in the kitchen. She's never actually cooked for me, but once she brought me some doughnuts that she made the day before, and they were pretty good, so I sort of know what I'm talking about here.

Okay, so maybe she won't bake us cookies. She probably doesn't even know you, and you probably don't live nearby anyway. In fact, she'll probably wonder why the hell I'm offering her baking services to people who aren't going to pay for them, and pay handsomely, because after all, she's in fancy cooking school. Maybe this is just my way of making her laugh on her birthday. And if we should happen to get cookies out of all this, bonus!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
I liked The Incredibles more than I thought I would, and for me, the best part was the Carrie Donovan-esque character Edna Mode. The scenes that she was in were by far my favorite, and I think they nailed the ar-teest/designer/socialite attitude. And the glasses -- Edna wears big glasses. I think I have a thing for old ladies in big, round glasses with thick black frames. There's a lady in town who wears big, round glasses with thick black frames, and I don't even know her, but I see her around at nice restaurants and events aimed at the more artsy crowd (don't be fooled -- I go mostly 'cause there's free food and booze), and I just want to go up to her and ask if I can buy her lunch somewhere fabulous. Old women who wear glasses like that are bound have great stories to tell. Glasses like that just scream "fuck you" to 20/20 vision, LASIK, and supposedly stylish wire frames. "Fuck you!" they say. "I can't fucking see, okay? I wear big glasses! Fuck you!" When I am 65 and, in all likelihood, a few prescriptions beyond legally blind and hopelessly too myopic for any advanced laser surgical procedure, I will get the big, round glasses with the thick black frames and sound my proverbial "fuck you" to the sighted world. Nicely, of course.

Where was I? Oh right. The Incredibles. Rent it, if only for the scenes with Edna.

Monday, March 21, 2005
There is nothing happening today.

Thursday, March 17, 2005
Whoa, it's St. Patrick's Day. If it weren't for Google's themed banner, I would have gone through most of the day without realizing it. Maybe it's because I'm not Irish and don't really get worked up over green beer/bagels/carnations.

And in very un-green news, gas is up to $2.25 a gallon! I am so ready for warmer weather for many reasons, but one reason is so that I can get my 80 mpg scooter out of the shed and drive that instead of my car, which is efficient, but not quite 80 mpg efficient.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005
A FedEx update! When last I wrote, I was in a very anti-FedEx mood and waiting for them to call me. I figured I would have to call them and get all huffy about the situation and how their customer service blows. But, midway through yesterday, I got a call from the local distribution center telling me I could come and pick up my package. I even got the person on the phone to give me directions, which turned out to be fairly good. Then a few hours later, someone from FedEx left a message on my voicemail just making sure that the local distribution center called to verify a pick-up. Whoa! That's some good customer service! So maybe I was wrong.

Today I went to get my package, and after first going into the wrong building, I found where I was supposed to go and tried to open the door. It was locked. The door was locked! At 2:30 in the afternoon! What self-respecting American business is locked at 2:30 on a Wednesday afternoon in March? This isn't Europe in August, you know. I looked in and saw no one. I walked around the building a little and saw no people, no trucks in the loading docks - nothing that would indicate that this might be a functioning business. So I tried the door again and knocked. After a few seconds, I turned to go back to my car to get my cell phone and give the clowns at 1-800-GO-FEDEX a not-so-friendly piece of my mind, right after I cursed out their automated voice answering system again, when a guy finally opened the door and apologized for making me wait. I told him I was there to get a package and gave him my name. He went down a hall and returned with my box. He asked me if I lived at the address on the label, and I said yes. He offered to carry it out to my car, but I said I'd take it. So I took it and left. Finally I had my package, but he never asked to see my ID or anything! I could have been anyone picking up that box. He never even asked me my address -- he just asked if I lived at the number and street on the box. How is that secure?

So: here is what I have learned. Perhaps you have learned the same thing. I have learned that FedEx can be a real pain in the ass. Other delivery companies will let you pick up your package without a lot of hassle. In fact, it's probably preferable to them, since they don't have to load your stuff on a truck and bring it to you, and you don't pay any less. But FedEx made me jump through way too many hoops to get a box that I wanted last week. I have also learned that security is probably pretty important. Anyone could have gone in, said they were me, and picked up my stuff. Other delivery services make you show ID when you pick up your package, and while I like being trusted, I don't think FedEx should trust that anyone is who they say they are. And finally, I have learned that any company associated with Kinkos is to be avoided whenever possible. Their suckiness is contagious.

Monday, March 14, 2005
A few years ago on this site, I bitched a lot about Kinkos. Kinkos, I believe, sucks ass. They charge a lot for their services, their employees are beyond incompetent, and the simple tasks that you pay them to do seem to take at least twice as long to get done as they should. So now I avoid Kinkos as much as possible, and my life is much better. Occasionally I have to get a Kinkos-type service done, and I do my best to go to local printers.

Within the last year, Kinkos merged with FedEx, and the stores are now called FedEx-Kinkos. I had some hope for this merger: maybe the good qualities of FedEx would rub off on Kinkos. I haven't been into a FedEx-Kinkos since the merger, but I am sorry to say that I think the bad qualities of Kinkos have indeed rubbed off on FedEx, reducing them to the same time-sucking incompetence. In my experience, anyway. Let me explain.

I recently bought something online, and the cheapest shipping method was FedEx ground. So I took it; I didn't need my purchase immediately. I had it shipped to my house, thinking that if I missed the delivery, I could just go to their local distribution center and pick it up. UPS lets me do this. DHL lets me do this. Airborne Express lets me do this. Even the US Postal Service lets me do this. But I missed the delivery guy, and for some reason, FedEx wouldn't let me do this. Why not, I asked when I called them up and finally got to a customer service person after cursing out the FedEx voice-recognition menu system. Because we can't, they said.

And I missed the delivery guy the next day too, and again they said I couldn't pick it up. Let's change the delivery location to my office, I suggested. Oh no, we can't do that, they said. Why not, I asked. Because we can't, they said.

So I called the online retailer and told them that FedEx won't let me pick up my package. Yes they will, they said, but we have to authorize it. So authorize it, I said. They said they would. Finally I was getting somewhere!

So then I called FedEx back and said I wanted to pick it up, and they acted like I asked them to ship a llama to Morocco. Maybe I could and maybe I couldn't, and they're off from work today, so they'll have to call me back and let me know. I couldn't get anything out of this woman: why or why not, if or if not, and where the hell is the damn local FedEx place where I can get it. They'll have to call you back, she said.

I'm waiting for a phone call from FedEx now. I'm not holding my breath. FedEx sucks. Stupid Kinkos.

Thursday, March 10, 2005
I've been thinking about this: Yesterday I read a column in my local paper about Passover. Only, it wasn't written by a Jewish person; it was written by a Christian person whose church does a Passover Seder every spring. It's an education thing, I guess, and I'm all for that. The more people who understand how literally gut-renching it can be to eat nothing but matzo and eggs for eight days in a row, the better I'll feel. Granted, we might eat a few other things besides matzo and eggs (chicken and carrots and the ever-so-strange Passover candy fruit slices made from potato starch), and granted, they're only doing it for a night and not eight days, but nonetheless, I'm all for education. Let's all learn, I say. I'll eat perch on Fridays, you give up bread for a night. See how nice?

But then the author of the column started writing about how Passover always reminded him of his friend from grade school -- his Jewish friend. And while he gave the person's name (I can't remember what it was, but it was definitely Jewish), he referred to his friend as "my Jewish friend" at least half a dozen times. And I wondered how, with all of the political correctness that we're smacked with on a nonstop basis, that got by the editor. If he were talking about, say, Black History Month, and kept referring to his friend as "my black friend," it never would have gotten printed. I wasn't offended by it, but it seemed awfully un-PC, and I wondered where we draw the line.

And, on a completely different topic, this is the best photo on flickr ever. It's like Sleeper!

Tuesday, March 8, 2005
Two things that have been annoying me lately, in no particular order:

  1. My white, preppy, Midwestern suburban high school students talking crunk. One day last week, I rolled my eyes so hard that I got a headache. I don't know if I have it down quite yet, but from what I understand, it's a lot of southern drawl, replacing every letter Y with "ah" (as in "mah" for "my"), and saying "yeah!" at random intervals. I know these things pass on, and this one, along with that Li'l Jon clown, can't pass on soon enough. Does this mean I'm getting old? Fearfully, I think the answer might be yes. Or yeah, rather.
  2. The barrage of television commercials advertising bad ringtones. It's gone beyond bad MIDI versions of songs to even worse spoken word. One I saw advertised on tv yesterday was something like, "Yo, pick up the phone, it's your homie." How is that cool? I think my feelings on custom ringtones are about the same as my feelings on custom checks. Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but I don't need my phone playing a badly truncated rendition of my favorite song of the moment every time someone calls, just to let people know who I really am. I have three rings: one for regular calls with ID, one for calls from an unknown ID (I don't answer those), and one for a friend of mine because she likes it. Every month I get a text message from my service provider telling me that I have a monthly credit to download ringtones, but I'm not interested. They can keep their crappy rendition of "Drop it Like it's Hot."
Sunday, March 6, 2005
A lovely day indeed. Is it time for flip-flops yet?

Saturday, March 5, 2005
Crikey, how did it get to be Saturday already? Truly, it has been an exhausting week, but after sleeping not quite until noon today, I feel refreshed and ready to take on anything.

My friend Jonathan wrote to me, "For some reason I was thinking about the Beastie Boys song with the 'I hope no bad people show up' line in it, so I googled that line, and your site was the sixth link. What's going on?" Perhaps Jonathan has a little too much free time these days, but I checked it and it's true! If you Google "I hope no bad people show up, the November 2001 page of this site will be your sixth hit. And you thought the only thing the Beastie Boys and I had in common was our Jewish-ness, our New York-ness, and our funky fresh flava. See how wrong you were?

Tuesday, March 1, 2005
After waiting about eight years, I finally got to see Wilco live this past Saturday night. I really like their music because they never seem to be playing for anyone other than themselves. While punk bands play to the punk kids, and preppy-scruffy twentysomething guys with guitars play to the wannabe hipster crowd, and boybands play to the teen girl gangs, and just about every rock band in the world tries so hard to play to anyone who will listen, but especially people who can get them signed, Wilco just plays music they want to play for themselves. Somehow, this yields an honest, clean sound, and it is very refreshing to me. Am I making sense?

Contrary to all of this, though, I haven't been crazy about their new CD A Ghost is Born. Yeah, I know critics loved it. I wanted to love it. I love the idea of it: pop songs that don't hang on pop hooks, but say something interesting and feature solid musicianship. Who wouldn't love that? But it's not as satisfying to listen to as, say, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which I really do love, or Summerteeth, and it doesn't have the earnestness of "Pick Up the Change" off of A.M. Not to me, anyway.

But back to the show. This is about the show. The show was very good! They write good songs and they play them well, and while they don't have the most incredible stage presence in the world, Jeff Tweedy's humility makes it okay. (This is what a Southern friend of mine refers to as the Midwestern male "aw shucks" attitude. I guess it's the feeling you get when you can just tell someone is a nice person. I think Jeff Tweedy is nice.) And Wilco's stage presence was about a million times better than Son Volt's stage presence, which is about the worst I've ever seen. The band includes a piano and a pedal steel, both of which sound so good. And for visuals, a screen behind the band showed projected images that sort of went with the music, but not in an obvious, obnoxious way. Remember the original version of the U2 video for "One" with the animals running across the plains, and it was all in soft focus? It was on that same level.

Sadly for me, they didn't play a whole lot of the older stuff. I was really hoping to hear "Casino Queen" and "Box Full of Letters," and maybe even "Monday" and "Forget the Flowers," but they didn't play much from the first two albums. And they didn't play "Pot Kettle Black" from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which is one of my favorite tracks, or any of the stronger ones from Summerteeth like "She's A Jar" or "When You Wake Up Feeling Old." But they did get to "Jesus Etc.," which is probably my all-time favorite Wilco song, and "Ashes of American Flags" sounded good, as did "Should've Been in Love," and I even reconsidered my feelings for A Ghost is Born and have been listening to it these past few days.

One of the other good things about the show had nothing to do with Wilco at all, but with the opening band The Detholz. They just had a great rock sound, almost like Queen at times, and while I couldn't tell if they were advocating Christianity or making fun of it (sometimes it's hard to tell the difference), I liked their music and their sense of humor all the same. And the lead singer had these great herky-jerky David Byrne moves.

I would tell you to go check out the Wilco show, but sadly, the show in town was the last on the tour. But if there is any justice in the world, and I like to think there just might be a shred or two, then Wilco will play more shows soon.

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