amyscoop.com

SEPTEMBER 2001

Thursday, September 27, 2001
One of the kids in one of the classes at work burned a copy of the Gorillaz CD for me, and boy is it good! I'll admit that I've been skeptical of some of the genre-blending that goes on in music. Since I play in a fusion jazz/hiphop band, this might make me somewhat of a hypocrite, but sometimes when you blend genres you just get crap. But I like Gorillaz.

Today at work we had to fill out these "describe your daily work activities" forms. They should just give everyone a piece of paper with the words "Justify your Existence" printed on the top. Needless to say, everyone was on edge and kind of unhappy. I don't think I'm in danger of losing my job, but it pisses me off that the organization spends so much money for some consulting firm to come in and have us fill out an essentially useless form that's at least ten years old.

Wednesday, September 26, 2001
Billy Collins is the new poet laureate of the United States. Since I like his work (and since I'm feeling rather uncreative right now and see this not as a problem but rather an opportunity), here's one I like. I'm usually not one for sappy love poetry, but I think this one is quite good.

Desire

It would be easier to compile an encyclopedia
for you than to write these longhand letters
whose ink blackens the night. I write
until dawn saying I think the world of you

but they are always too short
like those two-page schoolboy essays
with The History of Mankind
underlined in the front in crayon.

My encyclopedia will ignore the research
of others and rely on personal experience.

I will walk out the front door now
with my winter hat and coat,
with my spectacles and my knotty cane.
I will describe in a clear, nimble style
Everything in the world beginning with A.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001
The tornado that hit Maryland yesterday touched down just a few blocks from where I used to live. I figured that kind of thing would be more likely here in Michigan. What a weird month this is turning out to be.

I've got plans for tonight, which in a way is too bad, because I'll miss the season premiere of Emeril! Umm...yeah, that was sarcasm. I like watching the guy cook, and I was more than a little annoyed when we couldn't get dinner reservations in his Orlando restaurant because the place was booked solid two months in advance, but I don't think he's sit-com material. Nonetheless, I think people will watch. Emeril's credo is, "Pork fat rules," and hot damn, people sure do love bacon.

Monday, September 24, 2001
Cutting out the riffraff: A fun piece from Ironminds by Rick Chandler on what parts of American popular culture need to be eliminated in light of recent events. I wholeheartedly agree with giving Jimmy Kimmel the boot. That whole Man Show/girls on trampolines bit just pisses me off. In fact, I was recently at a friend's house, and he owns a trampoline, and as much as I wanted to go for a few bounces, I wouldn't because of that Man Show/girls on trampolines thing. Jimmy, get a fucking helmet.

Who wants to be a princess? Are you kidding me? Didn't FOX learn its lesson with that whole Rick Rockwell/Darva Conger fiasco?

Sunday, September 23, 2001
Today's New York Times magazine features short essays on the hijackings and their aftermath by dozens of writers. A good read.

I'm still connecting at speeds that were considered slow in 1995. I'm frustrated. That's enough for today.

Saturday, September 22, 2001
Just watched Blow. I don't get why everyone liked this movie. It was the same as Goodfellas, except there wasn't any coolguy mafia action, Ray Liotta kind of sucked, and there wasn't any impressive sweeping camera work. If you're thinking of renting Blow, do yourself a favor and just watch Goodfellas again. (NB: Oddly enough, if you buy Blow at Amazon, you get a buck off of Goodfellas. Even odder, I learned about this after I wrote the paragraph.)

At a benefit reading we went to last night, a guy who was on the 70th floor of World Trade 2 read his account of September 11. It was pretty harrowing stuff.

My phone line is still all screwy. The phone company keeps telling me it's my cordless phone, but I've had it unplugged for two days and the line's still all static-y. Fucking Ameritech. And, to make things worse, the local dial-up I use (at WMU, since Mike is a student) is connecting me at glacial speeds. This is not a good night for communication.

Thursday, September 20, 2001
I hate spending money on work clothes. It's not that I don't want to look good at work, but I never really feel like the clothes are "me." But when I do have to buy work clothes, I'm realizing that I tend to stick to a few basic rules. I've written them down here, mostly for a goof.

Rule 1
You can never have too many pairs of black pants.

Rule 2
You can never have too many pairs of black shoes.

Rule 3
If it fits, buy it in two colors. If it fits really well, buy it in three.

On a completely different topic, tonight is the last episode of Big Brother 2. My vote, of course, is for Will.

Wednesday, September 19, 2001
Latest annoyance: Those Fazoli's "everyone's Italian" commercials. Talk about making a culture look dumb -- they reduce Italians to lasagna-eating cliche machines. I'm sure there's an Italian-American anti-defamation league of some sort that is more than a little unhappy about them. If everyone's Italian, how come Fazoli's food tastes like such crap? My feelings are the same for the Olive Garden and their corporate, smarmy, touchy-feely, "when you're here, you're family" marketing approach. Not that I'm Italian or anything, but my feelings on these chain "Eye-talian" places is that you should avoid them and spend a few extra bucks at a smaller, locally-owned Italian restaurant where the chef actually knows how to make Italian food and doesn't barrage you with a bunch of stupid expressions and false ethnic camaraderie. But then again, I like mafia movies, so I'm probably being a little hypocritical here. Oh well.

Related side note: the President and CEO of Fazoli's is named Kuni Toyoda. That doesn't really sound Italian to me.

Yet another constant in our windy universe: Whenever the US rallies together against a common enemy, sales of both American flags and that blasted Lee Greenwood song spike. As I write this, the album is number two on Amazon.com. Number two! Apparently, national tragedy zaps Americans' ability to distinguish a good song from one that sucks beyond anything that has ever sucked before -- including the pizza at Fazoli's. (Note to self: good job on making today's post come full circle!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2001
A few days ago, someone asked me if I had gotten harrassed since the hijackings. She asked me this because she thought I was Arabic. I'm not, and no one's said anything rude to me regarding any role I or "my people" (who, of course, are not my people) may have played in the attacks. Then this evening, I found out that my neighbor, who is mostly Italian, got chased out of a convenience store down the street by some redneck calling him a "fucking Palestinian." What the hell is wrong with these people?

Monday, September 17, 2001
I had to write a two-sentence bio for myself; it'll go at the end of a column I got hired to write for a local magazine. I was uncomfortable describing myself that way because one, I think it's hardest to write about oneself, and two, how much can you really say about yourself in such a small space? My solution was to give a few brief facts and my email address. I figure, if people want to know more, they'll ask. Or they'll email me and tell me what a dork I am. Or they'll put me on their "enlarge your penis" spam list.

How much did you lose today?

An interview with Noam Chomsky regarding last Tuesday's atrocities. Interesting stuff.

Sunday, September 16, 2001
Considering this past week's incidents, I'm amazed so many people came out to see my band play on Friday and Saturday nights. My hands are sore from banging on my congas two nights in a row, and I'm a little cloudy from lack of sleep, but otherwise I'm happy with the turn out.

Driving to Ann Arbor last night, I rode under an overpass on the I-94 where a dozen or so people were standing and waving American flags and giving everyone a thumbs up. American flags have been sprouting up like weeds in my neighborhood (and probably in yours). However, I think it's a little strange when the news shows footage of the flags being assembled in the flag factory and all of the factory workers are immigrants. You'd think if people are so proud to fly a flag, they might want to put one together. Or something.

Saw Rockstar today and it pretty much sucked. The only slightly entertaining part was during the end credits: one of the songs played as they rolled was "Good Vibrations" by Mark Wahlberg from way back when he used to be known as Marky-Mark.

Thursday, September 13, 2001
So this morning I pulled into the parking ramp next to my building, held my passcard up to the electronic reader, and the reader beeped and turned green, meaning that I was okay to enter. Except the strip of wood that serves as the entrance gate didn't open all the way; it just kind of lifted up a foot or two, then came back down, like the mechanism controlling it had a dying battery or something. I hit my brakes, but was still going around 5 mph when the gate hit my windshield and snapped off like a twig. It was about the thinnest piece of plywood I've ever seen.

Luckily, there was a really nice lady behind me who saw the whole thing. She gave me her name and work number in case the parking company wanted me to pay for a new gate and I needed a witness who would say that it wasn't my fault because the machine didn't work right. I got into work and called the parking company to tell them what happened. After being put on hold for a while, I was asked about the damage to my car. There wasn't any: I barely hit the thing, and it had a rubber piece around the perimeter, so there wasn't even a scratch on my windshield. "So why are you calling us?" the woman at the parking office wanted to know. I told her I was trying to do the right thing and tell them that their gate broke. Apparently, she hadn't considered honesty an option.

By the time I left work at a quarter to four, there was a new wood gate up, identical to the one that broke on my car. I imagine they have a box of these things in the basement of their building.

This start to my day was an interesting diversion, but didn't do much to ease the heaviness of everyone's mood. I'm a little embarrassed to admit how much tv I've watched in the past few days, and that when I'm at work, I've been looking at Quicktime videos on news websites during my downtime. It's like Mike and I are afraid to turn off the tv because we'll miss something; for the past two nights we've had it on until after two in the morning.

I do want to address one thing that I haven't seen much mention of, maybe because it's too early. It's the labeling, or titling, or even media "branding" of what happened on Tuesday. I think it started with CNN, or so I'm told. Every station is calling the incidents "Attack on America." It has its own logo and, I think, theme music. I don't think I like this -- in fact, no, I don't like it. It's like the TRL-ing of hard news: packaging it into themed bundles with reaction of the crowd on the street, except there are no commercials, Carson Daly and his hair and wardrobe are thankfully absent, and it's the longest episode ever.

I'm also a little relieved that they're not replaying the footage of people jumping from the buildings, although my local paper and occasional employer felt it necessary to make a photograph of a man falling head first down the side of the building the most prominent photo in yesterday's edition. I thought that was gross and unnecessary (hence the absence of a link to it on this site). But that's kind of my feeling about everything that's happened since I got up on Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001
I don't think there's anything I can say regarding yesterday's events that would be new or shed any new light on the situation, so I'll leave it alone. I haven't even reached the angry stage yet. Everyone else seems to have moved on to denial. Me, I'm still in shock mode. That said...

Well, actually, I should make this quick, since my internet connection is highly unstable right now, and my phone line isn't working well either. (In Kalamazoo! What the fuck?) So much for back to normal. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, September 10, 2001
Went out for Chinese food earlier. The fortunes in our cookies had those learn-to-speak-Chinese phrases on the back, and Mike's had a translation for the phrase "I am an American." My guess is that the phrase really translates to something like "I'm a big loser" or "America sucks," and is just a joke being played on us dumb Americans by some pissed off worker in the fortune cookie factory. I know I'd be pissed off if I worked in a fortune cookie factory, even if I were Chinese. Fortune cookies are American.

Bumper sticker I saw today: Jesus is coming. Look busy.

Sunday, September 9, 2001
Another reason to hate Kinko's: The store near me got rid of their Imation drive! How the hell am I supposed to print out any files larger than 1.3 mb if they don't have an Imation drive? After a ten-minute argument with one of their slack-ass employees on how they're alienating some of their customers and how the Imation Superdisks and drives are more versatile than Zips, I left for the store up the road a little ways. They still have their Imation drives, but the guy who rang me out was either very stoned or very dumb (or very both). God damn I hate that place.

My new favorite "clean" expression: mothertrucker. You know what it's clean for.

Saturday, September 8, 2001
Last night, my band opened for Maceo Parker. The only bad part about the evening is that I probably won't have one that good again for a long time.

And it almost didn't happen! It was an outdoor show, and if it rained, there was no rain location scheduled: they would have just cancelled it and refunded people who already had tickets. As we were unloading our stuff around four in the afternoon, it really looked like it was going to pour. There was a storm system south of us, and it was moving north. Plus, weathercasters had been saying for days that we were going to get dumped on Friday night. We could see the storm heading for us, and probably threw half the lawn in the air to figure out which way the wind, and the storm, was blowing. Miraculously, the thing missed us by less than a mile, and an hour before we went on stage, a rainbow formed over us.

We played a decent set, but Maceo was amazing -- just unbelievably energetic. Aside from his horn playing, singing, and boogie-dancing, he's a true showman who can work a crowd better than anyone I've ever seen. He was on stage for close to three hours, and then signed personalized autographs for 45 minutes after he finished. So I now have a poster from the show with "To Amy, Love Ya, Maceo" scrawled on it.

If you're not familiar with Maceo Parker's music, I'd recommend Life on Planet Groove for a good intro.

Thursday, September 6, 2001
Cartoon Network's page of Two Stupid Dogs info, including clips. Apparently, the cartoon aimed for "strong posing, sharp timing, simple backgrounds, and character-driven humor." I really didn't think it was so complicated. It was like two stupid guys. Actually, it was like a lot of people I went to college with.

Weather Planner is no longer available to the public? What the hell is this all about? Not that I had much faith in the site anyway -- forecasting the weather years in advance? -- but now that I can't get in, I really want to. It's not like they can really keep the weather forecast a secret when there are five weather segments in a half-hour news broadcast and people watch the Weather Channel like there might be a combination tornado/blizzard/drought if they turn it off. Yeesh.

Wednesday, September 5, 2001
Woo -- I fixed my Outlook problem. And, as I suspected, the only person who sent me anything was my mom. (Thanks, mom!) The cool thing about this Mac job is that it takes me considerably less time to fix stuff on my own computer.

More on Edy's: My new favorite flavor is the Dexter's Laboratory Limited Edition kind with the chocolate covered marshmallow Dexters and Didis in it. But now I see that they'll be shipping Pumpkin for fall. Mmmm...pumpkin.

Speaking of cartoons, I think the most underrated cartoon ever has got to be Two Stupid Dogs. I don't have cable anymore, but it used to be on the Cartoon Network at like three in the morning, and I'd frequently stay up to watch it. I can't remember any of the specifics about the show (since it was on so late), but I do remember laughing about each episode for weeks. It was to the point where I'd be doing something else, start thinking about it, and begin to giggle out loud. Yeah, so I'd get some weird looks. So what?

Tuesday, September 4, 2001
A question for anyone who has experience with MIDI: can you recommend a decent MIDI interface? I'm using the MIDIMan Sport 1x1 unit at work, and the Mac driver that comes with it is crashing everything because it conflicts with Quicktime (I think). Any and all suggestions will be most appreciated.

So, email me if you have any advice, but my email is all screwed up, so if you actually sent me something in the past few days (not bloody likely, I know) and I haven't emailed back, it's probably because I haven't read it.

Monday, September 3, 2001
John Harrison is the luckiest guy in the world. Why? Because his job is to taste-test Edy's ice cream. Forget last month's aspirations of wanting to be a professional street luger: eating ice cream all day is definitely what I was born to do. From the FAQ: "There are many universities that offer a dairy or food science degree that would provide a path toward becoming an ice cream taster." Well, I guess it's back to school for me.

Sunday, September 2, 2001
Spent yesterday in a Chicago suburb helping my brother move into his new place. We took a drive a few burbs over to IKEA, which is my new favorite store. In fact, I'm ready to move in anytime they'll let me. They have all this cool stuff!

On the way home, I saw two billboards which struck me as funny. The first said, "I scream, you scream, we all scream for pork loin." The second, which was in the middle of a construction zone, was printed in a font that looked like a child's handwriting and read, "Please don't drive fast. My daddy works here. Love, Abbi." I thought the latter sign was cute but, judging by the number of cars flying by me when I was a good ten miles over the speed limit, highly ineffective. I thought the former was just inaccurate. Who screams for pork loin? Granted, no one screams for ice cream either, but at least it rhymes.


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