Monday, September 30, 2002
Ate at The Olive Garden tonight. It was somewhat against my will, but my friend really wanted to go there, and I felt kind of ambivalent as far as dinner went, so I didn't argue. I've always maintained that OG is bad Eye-talian food for the midwestern masses, but I have to say that the food wasn't all that horrible. In fact, for Kalamazoo, it was actually decent Italian (well...yeah, still Eye-talian). But it still astounds me that the giant Olive Garden in Times Square is packed with tourists all day. When I'm in New York, you couldn't pay me to eat there. I (and my brother) would insist on going to Marino's on the upper east side. The food is authentic, the prices are great, the owner is a riot, and it almost feels that a young Michael Corleone could walk into the place at any minute and sit down at a table with an Irish cop and a foe wiseguy. Anyway, I suppose I'll have to stop making fun of the food at OG. I do, however, reserve the right to continue to make fun of the Olive Garden commercials. Oh, and I will still make fun of Fazoli's and their starchy Eye-talian happy meals. Nasty stuff.

Death to Smoochy was bad. Real bad. Oooof. Bad. Watch something else. Anything else. Please. Although Edward Norton was kind of cute in it...but no, no, it was a bad movie. Bad.

Sunday, September 29, 2002
I hadn't heard too many good things about the movie adaptation of The Shipping News, so I never bothered to see it. But the other day, a friend of mine loaned me his copy of it and told me it was really good. So I watched it, and I have to say that I agree. I never read the book, and the making-of short on the DVD indicated that there were some liberties taken and condensing done with the text, so I can't compare and contrast. But on its own as a movie, I think it holds up very well. Kevin Spacey is terrific, and very un-Kevin Spacey. His character isn't clever or funny or conniving -- it's just the opposite. I'd say check it out.

Also watched Zelig. Also good, but in a different way. I actually thought a lot about Forrest Gump when I watched it, not because I loved Forrest Gump so much, but because when it came out, people made such a big deal about how the filmmakers were able to work Tom Hanks into historic footage. Meanwhile, Zelig did this 20 years ago. Sure, some of it looks patched, but overall it's very believable. The antique-ing and slight flicker of the film stock was also cool. As a mockumentary, it was somewhat unconventional in that it wasn't funny, or at least not in the same way as This is Spinal Tap or Best in Show. Rather, it was a fairly serious documentary-style treatment of a fictional character. It's also interesting to watch Woody Allen and Mia Farrow together on screen, given their current status and everything that went down and all. I'd also say check this one out.

Thursday, September 26, 2002
The recipients of the MacArthur Genius Grants, or the "MacArthur Fellows," were announced the other day. Did you get one? Nah, me neither. I do like the range of fields in which the recipients work, although the nod to the artist who works with glass beads surprises me a little. Perhaps the MacArthur Foundation defines "genius" a little differently than I do. In any case, I guess you know you're above average at whatever you do when a foundation just gives you half a million dollars, no strings attached, and tells you to keep up the good work.

What I like about the MacArthur nomination system: It's all done in secret, so no one can apply. One of the problems I have with grantwriting is that money often goes to the best written grants, rather than the most worthwhile projects. In the MacArthur Foundation's process, people get nominated without knowing that they are nominated, and without knowing that the person nominating them is a MacArthur nominator. When they win, it's a big happy surprise.

What I don't like about the MacArthur nomination system: I stand very little chance of ever getting nominated, but I'm actually pretty good at writing grants.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Elegant, simple, fast-loading, addictive Flash-based games at Orisinal. My favorite so far is The Truth is Up There, where you videotape UFOs and then sell the footage for cash. I also like V-Force -- it's like Galaxian!

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
I work with high school students. Specifically, I run a Mac lab for a county-wide high school arts education program. So I have anywhere from 40 to 80 high school students in my lab on a given day. For the most part, they're good kids, but I'm astonished to discover just how filthy the hands of teenage boys can be. We have the nice optical mice on all the stations, and I swear I clean them once a week with rubbing alcohol, and within a day or two, the ones at the stations that are mostly used by boys are disgusting. Really really really disgusting. Like crusty, slimy, nasty, I-just-ate-a-leaky-burrito-and-didn't-wash-my-hands disgusting. It almost makes me feel good about my lack of a social life when I was that age. Ick.

Monday, September 23, 2002
Went looking for a dining room table at this antique place with a friend of mine earlier. A lot of the stuff there was really nice and way out of my range (like more than $300), but I did find this great maple table and chairs that was practically flawless for less than $200. I was ready to pay the price on it, but my friend wanted to bargain. She offered the old guy who owns the place ten bucks less than the price on the tag, and he made some comment about don't Jew me. I wanted to kick his teeth in, or maybe just tell him to fuck off and walk out. My friend even told him he was being rude, and he didn't much seem to care. So I took the table, gave him a few dirty looks, and left.

So now I have a cool new table and am a little pissed off.

Sunday, September 22, 2002
Was just sitting around on my porch earlier, staring at the street and not doing much of anything, when I decided that I needed to watch all of Woody Allen's films. I went next door to check out my neighbors' extensive DVD collection, and they have just about all of them. So I watched Manhattan. It was very good and about what I expected: lots of weird neurotic comments on relationships, lots of beautiful wide-angle shots of the city (it almost looks better in black and white), and Woody Allen getting laid by multiple women. I guess when you're writing and directing and starring in your own movie, you can put yourself in bed with Diane Keaton and Mariel Hemingway.

So now I'm in the mood for more and took Zelig from their shelf.

My parents are buying a new computer, and in a sure attempt to betray me and everything I stand for, they have decided not to purchase an iMac. Dude, they're getting a Dell. How ever so very disappointing.

Thursday, September 19, 2002
Just got my copy of Leo Laporte's 2003 Technology Almanac. Laporte is one of the hosts of The Screen Savers on Tech TV, and it seems like most of the Tech TV staff and half of the silicon valley contributed an article or tip. While I haven't had the chance to read all the way through it, I spent an hour flipping around, and it looks great. It's set up as a calendar, with a page for every day of the year and a ton of tips, how-tos, downloads, and websites to look at on every page. So far I've learned how to artificially antique a photo in Photoshop, how to fake a wifi between two Airport-equipped Macs without using a base station, and when the first virus was created (November 3, 1983). All useful information! At $25 (and even less on that big internet shopping site named after a long river in South America), it is, in my opinion, a good investment. I may even tell all my students to ask for it for Christmas (or Chanukah, in my case, though I already have a copy, mom).

Wednesday, September 18, 2002
So there's been an actual study done on what Americans call carbonated beverages. I always called it soda, but when I went to Buffalo for college, everyone there called it pop. There were a lot of non-Buffalonians at the school, so it was always an ongoing debate, and every semester there would be a dumb article in the school paper talking about oh gee, people from Buffalo call it pop and people from near New York City call it soda. Yeah, we'd all make fun of each other for ten seconds and then move on to more important topics, like where we were going for lunch.

When I moved to Maryland, I learned about the Southern inclination to call all carbonated beverages Coke, my favorite usage of which is the question, "What kind of Coke do you want?" In Michigan, pop is favored, but I stick to soda. Though I drink mostly water. But you know.

My last check of the quick poll on the site showed soda a good dozen percentage points ahead of second-place pop.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002
Some domain names I wanted when I was first registering a url that were unavailable to me and what they contain:

  • I just thought it was a cool phrase from the cold war era. The site is an online portfolio for a NJ-based graphic desiner. There's nothing even remotely cold-war about it. No cool stock photos -- nothing. I remember being really disappointed, as this was the domain I really wanted. Oh well.
  • Clave means key in Spanish. It also refers to the 2-3 beat that drives most Afro-Cuban music. I even had a logo designed for this that was key-like and contained the rhythm pattern, but alas, the url was taken by a squatter. Pop-ups galore, even on my Mac. Macs were the last pop-up-free space on the internet, but now I get them all the time. Blech.
  • Duh -- my name. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Amy Levines out there, and this one beat me to it. Also unfortunately, the site hasn't changed in like three or four years. This chick has been touting the "new and exciting projects I have been developing over the past year or two" for waaaaaaay too long.
  • Just thought it would be a cool domain name. It's a division of some internet company, and the site is empty. Bor-ring.
Monday, September 16, 2002
Okay, that's it. I give up. It's been like eight months, and for the life of me, I just can't get through Anna Karenina. I know, I know: it's a masterpiece, I'm missing out, how did I ever get a Master's degree if I can't read a book from beginning to end, etc. etc. etc. Sorry. I'm just not interested, and I don't see myself becoming interested. Maybe I'm just not interested in the lives of all these Russian people. I like Dostoyevsky well enough, but I haven't read any of his stuff in a while, so maybe I don't like it anymore. Or maybe the pace is too slow for me. Or maybe I just don't like any of the characters. Whatever the reason, I can't do it. So it's going back on the shelf. Maybe I'll pick it up again in about ten years, but all it's doing for me now is putting me to sleep. I hate to do it, since I feel like I've failed, or that I shouldn't give up, or whatever, but it's done. I'm pulling the bookmark There. Done.

For those who want to see the Olympics in New York: NYC2012.COM. Annoying scratchy film effects on the site, but whatever. My vote for mascot is an egg cream with legs. Or maybe a dancing bagel. Or how about a smiling black and white cookie? Or if it's not food-related, what about a jolly parking ticket? A happy bus spewing exhaust? many good ideas. I can't decide on just one.

Sunday, September 15, 2002
Nice piece on Jerry Seinfeld in today's New York Times. The writer follows him around for a day, watching him work up new bits for his act. While it's almost always interesting to witness the genesis of something, Seinfeld's routine being no exception, it's a little disheartening to realize just how bad some of Seinfeld's initial observations/lines can be. The good news is that, in the article at least, he recognizes which ones just don't work. I'm looking forward to Comedian, the quasi-documentary on his return to stand up. It opens soon in New York and Los Angeles. Perhaps it will hit Kalamazoo around Memorial Day.

I was a total self-destructive klutz this weekend. Scraped up my arm in a really uncomfortable spot while shaving, damn near sliced my hand open trying to cut a bagel with a dull knife, and banged my leg like you wouldn't believe getting into my car. One more contusion and I might need to start wearing a helmet all day.

New Ryan Adams CD next week yeah baby yeah baby yeah.

Thursday, September 12, 2002
Yesterday, between working long hours and watching the events of a year ago over and over and broadcast television, I gave myself a crippling migraine. The lesson learned from all this? Time to get cable, I'd say.

In response to my paragraph on backless shoes, my brother's girlfriend emailed that she wears them with short pants like capris and clamdiggers. See, this is another problem I have: pants like those make me look like I should be on the raft and floating down the river with Huck Finn. Other women look good in these pants; I do not. Actually, I am noticing a trend in that I do not like any apparel that is missing an important element, such as the back in the case of shoes, or the bottom in the case of pants. (Though I do find that three-quarter sleeve shirts are flattering on me.)

But my new favorite apparel? The t-shirts on

Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Apple finally released iCal today. It's a free calendar app that lets you publish your schedule to the web or sync it with your iPod. I've been using it a little, and it's intuitive and useful enough, but syncing with my iPod is clunkier than it should be. But it works, and it's free, so that's good.

I keep seeing women wearing these cool retro-looking black sneaker-type shoes, and I like the shoes a lot and want a pair for myself until they turn around and I realize that they're slip-ons with no backs. It's not like you can really wear them in the summer, either, because they'd look stupid with shorts or a skirt. They're not boots, per se, but they're definitely not summer shoes. I would like to know who started this trend, and why this person thinks that women want winter-y looking shoes that leave their heels and socks exposed. I am thinking about starting a consumer interest group -- something along the lines of Women for the Manufacturing of Whole Winter Shoes. I say, put the backs on the shoes and leave the sandals for the summer.

Monday, September 9, 2002
This morning, at around 6:30, I walked into the kitchen to grab a bite before work and realized something was wrong. There was this smell, and it was astoundingly awful. Like, really really really terrible. First I covered my mouth and threw the door open. Then I checked the usual suspect areas, but they were all okay: nothing rotting in the trash, fridge smelled okay, no dirty dishes gathering mold. Then I looked at the tomatoes on the counter.

I keep the tomatoes from my garden lined up on the counter, but as of late, I haven't really been eating them. I guess I got tomatoed-out. As I stepped closer, I saw that underneath one particularly ripe tomato was a puddle of what looked like pus and what smelled like something had crawled up in between the seeds, died, and was now in the final stages of decomposition. It was so bad that I literally started retching. And, as you might imagine, over-reacting. I threw out most of the ripe tomatoes, went through half my paper towels trying to wipe the slime off of my counter, doused the whole area in Clorox Clean-Up, and coated my hands in this nice smelling anti-bacterial liquid soap, but I was still retching.

So now I think I have an aversion to raw tomatoes, plus I had no appetite for a few hours. I couldn't eat breakfast, and I kind of cringed when I saw that the soup I picked up for lunch had some tomatoes in it. It was one of those smells that, if you think about it, you can bring back to your olfactory nerves just how bad it was. I would rather smell a men's locker room after a double-session practice during foot fungus season and with the toilets backed up than smell that oozing tomato smell again. Unbelievably bad bad bad.

Thursday, September 5, 2002
Bored. Tired. Uninspired. Check back in a day or so.

Tuesday, September 3, 2002
Today? Not really my day. Did errands through a construction zone, had to work late, and my neighbor's seven-year-old spilled an entire cup of cran grape down my back. Ick.

Watched the first hour of My Big Fat Greek Wedding last night. I'm going to watch the rest of it tonight, but I'm pretty sure I know what will happen. It's just so...light. Sure, I understand the whole idea of lowest common denominator, and I can see how it appeals to a lot of people, but it's not the bold daring independent film some critics are making it out to be. Instead, it's kind of...I don't know...look! We're ethnic! Isn't that funny? Basically, all you'd have to do is replace "Greek" with "Jewish," replace the weird Greek-isms with Yiddish, and replace the restaurant with an accounting business, and you'd have my family. Or just about any Jewish family. Though I have to admit, the Windex thing was funny.

Monday, September 2, 2002
I'm realizing that I've been somewhat scarce around these parts in the past few weeks. I think this is because all of my site files are on my iMac, and I've been spending most of my time with my laptop. (You would too. I know you would.) So on the top of my to-do list for this week is getting all my site files over on my laptop so I can update the site from the couch. See, now all my computing needs are prioritized based on whether or not I can do them while sitting somewhere other than my desk and usually closer to the refrigerator. I am getting so goddamned lazy.

So the unofficial end of summer is upon us. I guess this means I can't wear white shoes again until Memorial Day. I don't own white shoes and don't really like them, but if I did, fashion dictates that it would be wrong to wear them now. Not that I ever put away my black clothes for summer or anything.

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