amyscoop.com

OCTOBER 2003

Thursday, October 30, 2003
Why I feel like a big nerd right now: I just spent two hours in a bar with a fellow nerdy friend and his even nerdier friend talking about unbelievably nerdy stuff. Actual snippets from our conversation, which was, needless to say, very very nerdy:

  • Word 5.1 for Mac was so awesome, but then they came out with 6.0 and it crashed all the time and also conflicted with After Dark, which meant no flying toasters.
  • Adobe wrote almost all of Final Cut Pro for Apple, but I'm pissed that Adobe won't support OS X anymore.
  • Plasma screens suck because they show the black of the screen instead of the true black of the movie.
  • Have you seen the new MIDI scratcher that will treat a Quicktime like a record player treats vinyl?
  • I never use the 16:9 function in the XL1s because the resolution isn't what it should be.
  • Even if you have an HD tv, most stations don't put out an HD signal, and shows aren't shot in HD anyway.
I think the bartender thought we were really strange.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Here at amyscoop.com, we like Ryan Adams a whole lot. We like his bluesy approach, his lonesome-me lyrics, and his messy hair. We listened to Gold over and over until we knew every word, beat, and guitar strum by heart. So, we are all very excited for his new CD, Rock n Roll. It will be out on Tuesday, along with an EP, Love Is Hell, Part 1 (part 2 will be out next month). We are quite looking forward to having two new Ryan Adams CDs next week. We loved his previous albums, and we are all quite confident that these upcoming releases will be equally excellent.

I love how I can make it sound like there are people behind this site, when in reality it's just me in my pajamas with my laptop.

Monday, October 27, 2003
I work out at the local YMCA, and I like it. Everyone is just very nice and accommodating, and unlike the other gym I used to belong to, there aren't a lot of beefy guys just hanging out and looking at themselves in the mirror. It's comfortable and there are a lot of families there. And, unlike a more traditional gym, people who are actually trying to lose a lot of weight probably feel comfortable at the Y. I'm not saying that everyone who goes there embraces the Christian values upon which the organization was founded (like me, for instance), but the politeness is oddly enjoyable.

But there was a new guy there tonight; he was middle-aged and obviously trying to lose a few pounds (like 50). And that's cool. But what wasn't cool is that while I was doing weights, he all but drooled as he stared at me. He was basically gawking, mouth half-open, and it was way beyond creepy. I put up with it for about three machines. Then I was on the machine that works your waist where you have to twist back and forth, and yeah, so it makes my chest stick out a little bit -- that's what happens to women when we stretch our arms behind your shoulders and move at the waist. Normally people there don't care or have the decency not to stand there and stare with their mouths half open, but he more or less stopped his routine so he could watch me. I was getting really pissed that this creepy guy was just staring at me, so after I finished on that station, I said in a relatively quiet voice but loud enough so he could hear me, "Fuckin' perv." And then the staring stopped. Brilliant!

At first I felt kind of bad for embarrassing him -- thankfully he didn't look at me for the last 15 minutes of my workout, so I knew he heard me -- but then I decided that he deserved it. It's crap like this (and things like overcharges on my credit card and broken equipment) that made me leave my last gym; I didn't think I should have to put up with it at a place with the word "Christian" in its name. (Maybe I should expect it from a place with the word "Christian" it its name, but that's another topic for another time.) But what the hell is wrong with people like this? Do they think women like to be stared at while they're trying to exercise? Do they not care? Or do they not get it? Whatever the reason, if he does it again, I swear I'm going to walk right up to him and give him directions to the strip club in the next neighborhood over and tell him that his gawking will be welcome there. Asshole.

Sunday, October 26, 2003
I bought a pair of flannel-lined wind pants a few weeks ago, mostly to wear around the house because they were soft. But when I got them, they just barely fit. Yesterday I tried them on for the first time, and not only did they fit, but they fit well! And they made me look skinny! And they were so comfortable! And they have this stripe down each leg that make them look like the bottom half of a superhero costume! So I was very excited and wore them all day yesterday, and today I ran out and bought two more pairs.

Speaking of things that rock, I am not a particularly big fan of the band Phish (though I did meet them, which was interesting), but Ben and Jerry's Phish Food frozen yogurt totally kicks ass! It's chocolate frozen yogurt with marshmallow goo (mmm, goo) and caramel and these little chocolate fish and -- and -- it only has five grams of fat! They also have Phish Food ice cream, which I haven't tried yet, but with the frozen yogurt being so good, maybe I don't need to. And every container I buy just gets better and better. It seems like there's more goo and caramel and fish in each progressive pint. Anyway, it's very very good, but based on my limited knowledge of the band and their music, I'm surprised the concoction doesn't have mangoes in it.

Saturday, October 25, 2003
Last night I started having trouble with my kitchen sink. I was washing dishes and all of a sudden the water stopped draining. I let the water that was in the sink drain out and poured a dozen or so pots of boiling water down each side, and that seemed to do the trick. Then today, after I made lunch, I noticed it was getting slow again, but I figured I do the boiling water thing again later. About fifteen minutes after I left the kitchen, I started hearing this nasty gurgling sound. I went to look at the sink and saw that water was coming up through it. And this time it wasn't clear, but rather had all kinds of grime in it.

So, since I was absent the day they taught plumbing, I promptly ran out to the store and got a bottle of Drano Max. It said to pour half the bottle down the drain, but I poured the whole thing because I didn't want this to be an ongoing thing. I set the timer for 20 minutes, since the bottle recommended giving the product 15-30 minutes to work, and went back to the computer to work. Then about 15 minutes later, I heard a louder gurgling sound, and when I went to the kitchen to see what was going on, I saw that water was coming up through the pipe and into the sink at a pretty good speed. Not only was it all grimy, it was really grimy and seemed to look and smell like Drano. So I panicked and moved most of my stuff off the counter because I kind of had a situation on my hands and could see where it was headed. But after the water reached the halfway point in the sink, a huge air bubble burped out of the drain and everything started draining down quickly.

After this, I poured a few more pots of boiling water down to rinse the Drano through. Then I scrubbed all the grime off the sink and put everything back on the counter. Now I'm wondering if maybe there was a mouse or something stuck in one of the pipes, because the drain had never even been slow before, let alone clogged. It seemed to just happen all of a sudden. So now I'm thinking that I chemically dissolved a stuck mouse, and I really hope it was dead before the Drano hit it, because otherwise that would be a really horrible way to die.

Now on this site, I have written about everything and the kitchen sink. (Sorry. You had to know it was coming.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2003
You know what's really good? Warm applesauce with cinnamon and some of those red hots candies on top, and you stir it up, and the candy turns the applesauce red, and then you eat it. Yes.

In other food news, the other night I must have been channeling some old southern lady, because I got an urge for some soul-type food and made a big pot of beans and greens. I even cooked it with ham hocks, and I made a pan of cornbread to go along with it. It came out okay, but maybe I forgot to add something, because it didn't taste quite right. Not bad, but something was definitely missing. Later I thought, maybe that's because Jews from New York aren't supposed to make beans and greens, especially with ham hocks. Legumes and vegetables, sure, we can eat those, but using big honkin' chunks of pork during any part of the cooking process? Not cool. Grandma would be so disappointed. Maybe I should just stick to matzo balls and leave the soul food to big boned sassy girls with twangy accents and names like Lerlene.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Damn you to a towering inferno, VH1, for making ten more episodes of I Love the 80s. No, you couldn't just have the first ten shows and leave well enough alone. Wasn't it enough to make me watch the first ten hours? Oh no. You had to go and make another ten and show them for two hours a night every night this week! Damn you for making me watch! Because of you and your stupid kitchy clips from my childhood, I have been completely worthless between 9 and 11 both last night and tonight. Damn you for reminding me of Colecovision, satin jackets, Kurtis Blow, the part from V where that girl gives birth to the evil alien lizard twins (which I've seen several times since, but damn you still), the anti-drug PSA with the pills singing "We're Not Candy," and Roos with little pockets. How come there are no more sneakers with pockets, VH1? How come? I used to put my lunch money in those pockets. Now I have to use a wallet. Damn you for making me hate my wallet! Instead of doing work, VH1, I am watching that annoying guy from Ed trying to be clever about McNuggets. I hate that guy, VH1. He's such a snippy glib moron. Damn you for including him so much on the I Love the 80s series, and damn you once again for making this series in the first place. And speaking of people you included in the series, what the hell is going on with Boy George's new look? It looks like an oversized tarantula died on his head. VH1, if it weren't for these ten hours of fast cuts from my younger days, I might actually get something done around here. Instead, there's a big dent in my couch because I haven't moved in 90 minutes! Damn you, VH1, to the most towering flaming inferno in hell! (P.S. While we're on the topic, when will the I Love the 90s series be ready?)

Monday, October 20, 2003
I've seen that before. Another snap from my brother Randy's spiffy phonecam. He sends me lots of photos instead of starting his own little phonecam website. This is the sculpture at the ice rink in Rockefeller Center, and every time I see it I think of the Peanuts cartoon where Charlie Brown and Snoopy skate on the rink and there's a cartoon rendition of the sculpture behind them. Unfortunately, the ice on that skating rink sucks. It's soft and full of notches and holy crap is it expensive to skate there! I don't remember how much, but I do remember one year for my birthday my brothers and I waited on line for like two hours to skate there, and I remember thinking what a let down it all was, and how much better the ice was at the rink a mile down from my house. I also remember all the people leaning over to watch all of us skate and feeling ripped off at all the time I leaned over to watch other people skate. Why the hell did anyone want to watch me skate? And why the hell did I previously think I wanted to watch non-rockstar, non-moviestar strangers skate? So now, for me, the only think cool about Rockefeller Center is this statue and the time I saw Al Roker (pre-surgery) getting into a cab out front on the way into studio 8H to catch a taping of After Hours with Carson Daly. Anyway, it is interesting to note that this photo was taken just a few days ago, which means the ice is out and ready to be skated on, in case you don't believe me when I say that the ice there sucks and you want to find out for yourself.

Saturday, October 18, 2003
Lost in Translation was absolutely beautiful; I think I liked it even better than Kill Bill. I guess what I liked so much about it was its subtlety. The plot isn't too involved, but what's there is intense and compelling, and there are lots of cool shots of Tokyo interiors: a goofy hotel lounge, a fondue restaurant, a video arcade with DDR-type games and millions of flashing lights. I think Bill Murray may finally have an Oscar with this one. I want to go see it again, but it's out of the local theatres already. Thankfully, there are other good movies out. I love summer, but I hate all the stupid summer movies. Fall is a good time for cinema.

Last night I saw David Sedaris read. At $30, it wasn't cheap, but he was very funny and had some good new material. I waited on line for an hour afterwards (in boots with high heels, mind you) just to have him sign my book. He drew a jack-o-lantern in it and offered me a piece of candy from a plastic tub labeled "Fuck it bucket" (a detail from his essay "You Can't Kill the Rooster"). I asked him a question relating to the internet, and he told me he'd never used the web. I'm not sure what I think of that, but I think it's impressive that he's such a widely popular author and has no experience with such a mainstream element.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Note to self and anyone else it concerns: Do not buy Freschetta frozen pizza again. It's awful. I bought two a few weeks ago because they were two for ten, and yes, I am one of those suckers who doesn't just buy one for five. The one I tried a week or two ago was some kind of southwestern tasting black bean and salsa pizza. It sounded weird enough to try, but when I made it, it was kind of gritty and watery and not good at all. Then tonight, I put a vegetable primavera pizza in the oven. I cook them on the rack because I like the crust crispy rather than soggy. I went to check on it fifteen minutes later, and it was starting to smell good, but when I opened the oven door, the pizza had sunk down in the open spaces on the oven rack, and the sides were hanging straight down and about to break off. I tried to fix it, and the whole fucking thing broke. I swore a lot and threw it all away and damn near burned my wrist trying to get the cheese-covered rack out of the oven so it wouldn't burn on. Stupid crappy frozen pizza!

Monday, October 13, 2003
I've been seeing all these ads lately for the new twenty dollar bill, and I'm a little confused about it. The way I understand it, you advertise your product if you want people to use it rather than another product. In an effort to get your company's name out there more than your competition's, you advertise your company's products and services. But as far as I can tell, the U.S. Treasury doesn't have any competition. It's not like there's another organization that's printing U.S. currency (legally, anyway). Yet the Treasury is spending $33 million to inform people about the new twenties, which people are going to use regardless of how clever the advertising campaign is, because there's no other money to use. Note to Treasury: It's money, stupid. People tend to pay attention to money, big media splash or no big media splash. And even if people don't particularly like the new twenties and decide that they will only use ones, fives, tens, fiftys, and maybe even big big Benjamins, the Treasury is still doing good business.

I've been thinking about this all day, and I can't rationalize it. But maybe it's me. If anyone has a clear explanation as to why the Treasury is spending so much to advertise a product that no one else is making and that people are going to use anyway, especially given the current state of the economy, I would very much like to hear it.

Sunday, October 12, 2003
Okay, before I say what I want to say, I want to say the following. I think Quentin Tarrantino is a big, egomaniacal, pompous ass. While I concede that the man makes great films and tells a great story, he has got to stop walking around like he's the goddamn son of god or something. I wouldn't want to hang out with him, but if I had to, I would tell him to stop acting like such a pompous ass and just make the stupid movies (which I think are very very good, Mr. Tarrantino). I would also tell him that no one wants to see little traces of his enormous ego in his movies, and that starting a film with "The 4th Film by Quentin Tarrantino" in big big white letters over nothing but black makes you look like a pompous ass, which you should really stop being. Really. It's annoying.

That said, Kill Bill was totally, totally, totally fucking brilliant. I can't even believe how much I liked it. Frankly, given that cheesy, stupid, over-written-as-only-Tarrantino-can silhouetted conversation between Lucy Liu and Uma Thurman where Liu is like, "You didn't think it was going to be that easy, did you" and Thurman goes, "You know, for a minute there, yeah, I kinda did" that was all over the trailer, I'm amazed I liked the movie so much. But holy crap, it was just so fucking good! Yes, it was violent, but it wasn't even violent in a way that was real -- it was so exaggerated and absurd that it was cartoony. Calling it violent is like calling a Tom and Jerry cartoon violent: yeah, Tom gets his tail cut off in every episode, and he sometimes walks around all bloody after being skinned and you can see his skeleton and muscle structure (or am I thinking of Itchy and Scratchy here?), but you know that it's not real. The level of violence in Kill Bill is so high that it's lost all meaning. And Uma Thurman kicks ass! If I were Ethan, I would not have messed around on her, I can tell you that. That woman can do some nasty stuff with a sword. (Yes, I know it's a stunt double. Go with me here.) My biggest gripe about the movie? (Aside from the part about Tarrantino being a pompous ass, I mean.) There's no resolution! It's just part one! So now I (and you) have to wait until fucking February to find out what happens. They should have just let him make the movie four hours long.

Anyway, I can't believe I'm about to write this, but Kill Bill is the most entertaining movie I've seen in years. I just couldn't take my eyes off the screen. The friend I went with was waiting for a good slow point to run out and get a popcorn refill but never actually got the refill because there are no slow points. I wouldn't recommend it for the squeamish, the faint of heart, the elderly, anyone who thought Under the Tuscan Sun was really good, or my mom, but I would recommend it for anyone else. If you're looking for someone to go with, I'll go see it again with you.

Thursday, October 9, 2003
Bright and blurry. A few weeks ago, my brother Randy got a new cellphone that also takes pictures. So I thought it would be cool if he could take pictures around New York (where he lives) and send them to me for inclusion on the site, kind of like a correspondent type of thing, since he's too busy/lazy/indifferent to start his own website. But unfortunately, his cell phone is no digital camera. Well, technically it is a digital camera, but the image quality is awful. I don't know why I'm surprised at this, since it's a phone and the screen is really tiny and...you know...it's a phone. Still, I was a little disappointed. But I thought this shot of Times Square that he took was really cool. The bright, overexposed squares kind of remind me of the David Klein Fly TWA Times Square image from the '60s. I'm not sure that Randy was going for this effect, but it's nice nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 8, 2003
My 23 inch HD Cinema Display is so kickass. Sometimes I put the "Cosmos" screensaver on and just watch it and pretend I have a planetarium in my apartment. I should charge admission.

Also, today Apple announced Panther, the new Mac operating system. For those keeping track, it's version 10.3. Worth &#;129? It's hard to say, but it seems like it's not as major an upgrade as Jaguar, or 10.2, was from 10.1. Luckily, I only have to pay around twenty bucks for it, since they're giving it to all G5 owners at a very reduced price. That's probably a good idea. You know...we just paid around three grand for the world's fastest computer (this week, anyway), so charging us another hundred and thirty to jack up the OS would probably piss us off. For twenty, they know we'll buy it with minimal grumbling -- far be for us Mac fans to not upgrade the OS. They'll have our money, we'll be only mildly annoyed (which is, I would guess, the normal mental state of a G5 owner anyway), and everyone's as close to happy as can reasonably be expected.

Tuesday, October 7, 2003
Geography as Fashion Statement
One of my brothers moved from New York to Chicago a few years ago for school. Soon after he got there, his girlfriend bought him a zipper hoodie sweatshirt (you know the kind) with block letters stitched across the front to spell New York. Maybe it was to remind him of home, but whatever the reason, I thought it was kind of cool and sort of wanted one. But I knew it was really expensive for a sweatshirt, and I couldn't justify spending that much, but I still wanted one and secretly hoped that maybe I'd get one for a gift, but I never did. Then my other brother, who still lives in New York, saw the sweatshirt and started making fun of it, by saying stuff like, "Yo, look, I'm from New York, you can tell cuz it says so on my sweatshirt." I thought that was pretty funny. Then I couldn't decide if I wanted one or not. So I didn't get one.

Yeah, so recently I was in a popular mid-priced chain store that sells lots of clothes with their name on them (you know the one), and I saw a zipper hoodie sweatshirt in there with New York stitched across the front, but this one had New York in script, kind of like the 1988 Mets jerseys, and it was only $15. So I bought it, but I wondered if I would feel weird when I wore it, like maybe people would think I was a loser because I was trying to pretend like I was from New York, even though I am (and my brothers were actually born in Jersey, thank you very much). But I wore it and didn't feel any different. I actually kind of forgot that I had it on. It's really soft and comfy!

This all got me thinking about how no one really pays attention to names of cities or destinations on clothing anymore. I remember when I was younger and my dad used to travel around the country a lot for work, and every time he came back from some place, he'd bring us a tshirt or sweatshirt or hat or something with the name of the place on it. (As I think about it now, he probably picked them up in the airport on the way home and not in a touristy store in the middle of town, but never mind, the important thing is that we got them, overpriced though they may have been.) And we'd wear these things to school or camp or a friend's house, and people would be like, wow, did you get that San Jose Sharks shirt in San Jose, or when did you go to New Orleans and get a hat with The French Quarter written on it? It was a big deal, even though I didn't actually go to those place. The clothing was proof of travel. Now, no one thinks about these things. You can buy clothing with any sports team's logo at the mall or on some website in any city in the world. You see hurricane and earthquake victims wearing brand new NFL shirts because the NFL donated them, not because just before the disaster struck they were on vacation in Phoenix and picked up a new Cardinals tee as a souvenir.

So anyway, I'm glad I got the shirt and glad I don't feel weird, but now I wish it weren't so invisible. (In the deepest darkest Midwest, it's kind of cool to be from New York...though it's not so cool to be from New York and move here to live.) No one asks if I got the shirt in New York, because they know I could have gotten it anywhere -- even here in Kalamazoo. Which I did.

Monday, October 6, 2003
Oh, I saw School of Rock over the weekend. It was good, but I think I've had my fill of Jack Black for a long long time. He's good, but there's only so much of him I can take before I want to kick him. Enough with the attention grabbing already. But yeah, the movie was fun, and the kids in it were surprisingly good, although I don't know why I'm surprised, because their parents have probably been taking them to acting class since they were six months old. Anyway, overall: a very good rental, worth it at matinee price, maybe not worth nine bucks. And, it looks like it might be based on reality.

And a few weeks ago, I broke down and finally bought a crock pot, and I have to say that I am quite pleased with it. I stuck an entire turkey breast and some carrots and stuff in there yesterday morning, and I had a really good turkey soup/stew thing for dinner and even had some turkey to make turkey salad. Now I have to come up with stuff that I can cook in the crock pot while I'm at work, because as I understand it (and I'm not from the Midwest, so maybe I don't understand it, but I'm pretty sure that I do), that's the whole appeal of the crock pot: it cooks while you're not there, but it's not as weird as those insulated pots in the infomercials that supposedly do the same thing.

Sunday, October 5, 2003
My brother came to visit this weekend and got me hooked on Good Eats. Alton Brown has got to be the coolest guy on the Food Network. He's just so smart, and sarcastic, and man oh man is he anal retentive about what he cooks and what he cooks with! (I can relate to the anal retentiveness.) The show reminds me of David Rosengarten's Taste, which was on in the formative years of the Food Network and really explored the history and techniques of all kinds of cuisine, from three-day boullibase to chocolate chip cookies. Good Eats sort of does this, but it seems more brainy and less snobby. And Alton kind of looks like my friend's husband. (Yes, David, I'm talking about you here.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2003
Tonight I learned the literal meaning of the phrase "don't look a gift horse in the mouth." I always thought that you shouldn't look the horse in the mouth because it would bite you, but apparently, looking at a horse's teeth will tell you how old the horse is and how hard it's been ridden. So, you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth because you shouldn't question the true intents or generosity of someone giving you a gift, because even if they're giving you a horse that's kind of old, they're still giving you a horse, and it's a pretty nice gesture to give someone a horse. So instead of checking its age, you should just be appreciative that someone gave you something, especially if they gave you a horse, because that's a pretty nice gift, even if it is an old horse. That's kind of the message that I took from my original interpretation of the phrase, except for some reason I thought that the horse would bite you, and it wouldn't be very cool if you were bitten by a gift, even if the gift did have teeth.

I should also mention that tonight was very weird and involved a cancelled concert that I was supposed to go see, more alcohol than I'm used to, especially on a Wednesday night, and an unusual amount of conversations about animals with people I don't know very well (hence the gift horse phrase).


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