Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Tomorrow I take off for New York for the big big Coney Island Film Fest this weekend. My documentary will be there, as will a significant part of my extended family, my mom's brunch posse ("The Om-lettes"), some college pals, and whoever else goes to this thing. We're eatin' cheese fries at Nathan's, ridin' the Cyclone, and watchin' films. Oh, and Andrea, who has been going to fancy-schmancy cooking school (and writing about her adventures), is bringing homemade doughnuts! Does it get any better? We'll see. Back in a few.

Monday, September 27, 2004
Very Scottish, not crap. Last night was the Trashcan Sinatras show, and while ten years of anticipation is hard to live up to, they were excellent. I finally got to hear some of my favorite songs played live, and musically they were even better than I thought they'd be. There were maybe 100 people at the Magic Stick in Detroit, almost all of whom knew every word and all of whom were just so happy to finally see the band live. Sure, we all knew when Frank flubbed a few lines, or mixed up verses, or dropped a line or two altogether, and we all smiled, but really, no one cared. And yeah, they were so tight that they sounded almost exactly like the recordings (with the exception of the string section in a few songs and the piano in a few others), but I'll take that over sloppy playing any day.

The weirdest and coolest part of the show came toward the end, when they invited two people on stage to play their songs. One was a singer/guitar player whose voice was mediocre at best, and even though he butchered most of the notes in "Drunken Chorus," everyone sang along with him as he played the song by himself. And then they invited some drunk guy to sing "Obscurity Knocks" while the band played along, kind of like a really good live karaoke (for him, anyway). And while it would have been much better with Frank singing, the drunk guy did a pretty good job, even if he didn't know the "a foul-mouthed rogue" line (I think he said "around my nose").

So now I can cross "See Trashcan Sinatras play live" off of my list of things to do. And I'd definitely see them again, even in Detroit, which is a dysfunctional, bombed-out clusterfuck of a city. Maybe more on that tomorrow. In the meantime, see if TCS are playing in a city near you and pay the $15 to go check 'em out.

Friday, September 24, 2004
At some point in the fall of 1994, my friend Rob left his copy of The Trashcan Sinatras I've Seen Everything in my dorm room. He had brought it over because some of us were sitting around drinking and listening to music, and he had said something about really liking the CD. Having respect for Rob's taste in music, I listened to it the next day and loved it. I proceed to listen to it every subsequent day for about the next five years. (After a week or two, I had to give his back and get my own.) Then I bought Cake and loved it too. This was back when the internet was young and listservs were still cool, so I got on The Trashcan Sinatras listserv with about 150 other fans, and we all talked about how much we loved the band, and when the new album would be out, and dammit, why don't other people realize how good they are? When the band pressed only 150 copies of the Five Hungry Joes EP, I got one mailed to my house, which made me feel special indeed. And when A Happy Pocket was released in 1996, I got my copy the day it came out. I think there was a two-year period in my life where I listened to their music for at least an hour a day, every day.

Since then, the band hasn't done much in the way of albums, or touring, or really anything. Yeah, a few shows here and there in and around Glasgow, but nothing even close to the US. And they did release an overpriced CD single for their song Snow, and the more rabid members of the old listserv gang created and sold CD compilations of live shows and b-sides, all of which I bought and memorized. But they weren't coming out with any new stuff, and even though I still listened to their music at least once a week, I eventually found other music to listen to. Still, to this day, if someone asks me what my favorite CD is, I've Seen Everything is what comes out of my mouth.

This past summer, things really started to hit high gear at the Trashcan Sinatras camp: both a tour and a new album! I got my tickets for the Detroit show the instant I heard about it; my ticket numbers are 003 and 004, which tells me that there's at least one other person (and his or her possibly unfortunate guest) who's as excited about this as I am. And I got a copy of Weightlifting, which doesn't quite measure up to I've Seen Everything, but is still very very good and welcome after all this time.

The show is on Sunday night. Detroit is two hours away, and I have to be at work at 7:30 Monday morning, but I didn't even think twice about going. I know it can never meet my expectations, and I know I would have loved seeing the band much more in 1995, but still, I feel like I've been waiting ten years -- ten years! -- for this show, and I know Frank and the gents won't let me down.

(With thanks to Rob for being forgetful after a few Rolling Rocks.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004
After hearing about it for three years from one of my coworkers, I finally watched La Jetee this morning. I'm sorry I didn't watch it sooner, because it really is captivating, especially when you consider that the entire movie, all 30 minutes of it, is made up of all static shots except for five or six brief seconds. It's a 1960s post-World War III time-bender, but what it mostly made me think of was when I was four or five and my grandfather would take me to LaGuardia Airport to watch the planes take off and land. I really liked doing that, which is strange to me now, because I'm such an awful flier and avoid airports and pretty much anything to do with planes whenever possible. I think my liking it had something to do with the ice cream cone I always seemed to get. Anyway, the movie reminded me of that and how you really can't go to airports and watch planes take off and land anymore. You can barely get into the parking ramp of most airports without passing through at least two security checks, and just try getting to a gate without a ticket. I'm getting off topic. Good movie around, and it's also available on this weird Shorts compilation along with "Depth Solitude" (so unbelievably cool and breathtaking) and a dozen or so other strange/annoying short films. Oh, and La Jetee was the inspiration for 12 Monkeys (which I've actually never seen). So. Watch.

Monday, September 20, 2004
Maybe it's a result of going in too many different directions lately, or maybe it's from being around lots of high school kids who touch everything with their unclean hands, or maybe it's what I deserve for jumping into fifty-degree lake water yesterday, or maybe I've been healthy for too long and it's just time, but whatever the reason, I'm a little sick. I've felt worse (hello salmonella), but I have this head cold right now and I'm really woozy and a little off-balance. It kind of feels like my head is too big and heavy for my body, like that Behind the Music episode of the Simpsons when it shows them getting back together for a reunion show, and they all come out on stage wearing enormous heads, and the heads are all wobbling because they're just too big for their bodies. Yeah. I kind of feel like that.

Thursday, September 16, 2004
This week's obsessions:

  • Cinnnamon Raisin Bread. Last winter, I was obsessed with English Muffins. This season, it's cinnamon raisin bread. I make toast with it every morning at like 6:30. I didn't think anything could get me off of those English Muffins.
  • "Hold Me Now" by The Polyphonic Spree. Ever since their bizarre performance on the VMAs a few weeks ago, I can't get enough of this song. And it sounds like Jellyfish. Remember Jellyfish? So I've been revisiting Bellybutton and Spilt Milk, too, and remembering how stupid I was in college. And just as an aside, it's not a cover of "Hold Me Now" by the Thompson Twins, although I kind of like that song too. (Please don't tell anyone.)
  • That Sarah chick from the new season of The Real World. How can anyone be so painfully insecure and fabulously entertaining at the same time? But honestly, I think MTV would have done her more of a service by signing her up for a 12-step program, or maybe even one of those halfway house recovery deals. Though I guess you could say that about everyone from any season of The Real World, with the possible exception of Judd from the San Francisco show, who was just an overly neurotic Jewish guy from Long Island. And really, is there any other kind? Jewish guy from Long Island, I mean. Rubin, back me up on this.
  • Buying new clothes. Since last April, I've dropped a few pounds, and now all of my fall work clothes are a little drapey on me. I need pants that fit. And everything I've been trying on does fit! So that's cool.
  • Fresh basil. I used to want to put cilantro on everything, but this week it's basil. I am thinking about trying it on my cinnamon raisin toast in the morning. How bad could it be?
  • How unbelievably cheesy that Jamie Cullum dude is. How can someone so silly take himself so seriously? Give me Robbie Williams and a Casio SK-1 any day.
  • Weightlifting by The Trashcan Sinatras. The new CD and first in eight years from what is quite possibly my favorite band in the world. No, it's not new age crap. No, I don't expect you to understand.
  • Mangoes! (Okay, maybe this is getting old.)
  • Sleep. Probably because I'm not getting enough of it.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
In my head, I'm good at sports, but in reality, I'm not especially athletic, and sometimes I hurt myself. Today I managed to pull two (two!) muscles, one during a softball game, and one, I think, stepping down wrong in heels. See, that second one had nothing to do with sports -- I can't even walk right! Anyway, my right quad muscle hurts like hell, and so does the top of my left foot. I feel like I'm hobbling around my house because I can't put all of my weight on either leg because they both hurt. Maybe sitting is the best option. I am so stupid.

Sunday, September 12, 2004
Crikey, where the hell did the week go? Between having to actually work (for a change), freelance projects, and wanting to be outside during the summery weather (finally!), I kind of forgot about the six days that slipped by.

Not that anything of consequence has happened, with the major exception that I got to hug Muhammad Ali the other night. He was just out at a restaurant by the lake! To eat! I don't know why that's so strange to me -- everyone has to eat, even the former heavyweight champ. Actually, he probably has to eat a little more than the rest of us. Anyway, he was out for dinner, and I was there, and after cursing myself for not having a camera on me, I figured I should do something, otherwise I'd regret it for the rest of my life. How do you tell people that you were ten feet away from The Champ and didn't at least shake his hand? You don't. So I went up and asked him for a hug, and he hugged me. He was kind of shaky, and didn't feel strong at all, but I guess Parkinson's will do that to you. There were a lot of people around him asking for autographs, which he signed very slowly, and offering to buy him drinks, which his caretaker/assistant politely declined, and after he ate he did some magic tricks for kids.

Other than that, six days went by.

Monday, September 6, 2004
Tonight I went to the grocery store to buy some things for the week. Among them was a container of dried fruit. It cost $6.99, which yeah, is a lot, but it's healthier than Cool Ranch Doritos. After I paid for everything, I was putting my receipt in my pocket when the line for the dried fruit caught my eye and I saw that I was charged $7.99 for it. Normally I would have just walked out, but the store was relatively empty, it being Labor Day and all, and the customer service desk wasn't busy. So I walked over, sheepishly pointed out the discrepancy, and asked if I could have my dollar back. I sort of felt stupid: Why the hell was I going out of my way for a dollar? But then, a dollar's a dollar, and if it was mine, I figured I should have it.

The lady behind the customer service desk started writing a bunch of stuff down and scanned the dried fruit again. She then opened up a drawer and gave me six bucks. I shook my head and told her I was only overcharged a buck, but apparently there's some state anti-scam (or was it scan? I'm not sure) law where if you're charged more than an item's marked price, you get the difference back plus five bucks! I had no idea! I'm going to start looking over my receipts more often! My goal from now on is to get five bucks back on every shopping trip.

Friday, September 3, 2004
I hate it when I have a day off and come up with all this stuff I can catch up on around the house, and then MTV goes and shows every last episode of The Real World Las Vegas, one after another and I somehow get very little done. Holy fuck, these people are messed up. (Including you, Frank.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2004
I think I forgot to mention this, but I am thoroughly enjoying Hot Fuss by The Killers. Yeah, yeah, I know: they're the band of the moment, or the new "it" band, or the new black, or whatever, and everyone including your mom and Laura Bush and Diddy is listening to them, but they're kinda good. Really good, actually. Lyrically they're not all that profound, but they totally rock, and not in a cheesy way either. In a way that if this were ten years ago, you would put "Smile Like You Mean It" or "On Top" or "All These Things That I've Done" on the mix tapes you made for people you wanted to impress. (But who else did you make mix tapes for? Really now.) I have been mostly listening to it in my car, driving down the highway with my wimpy stereo's bass up as high as it will go, bless its weak rumbling heart, and singing, "I got soul but I'm not a soldier" way way way off key and as loud as I can. Seriously, it's fun. You should try it.

Oh, and some bang-up news: my documentary will be showing at the Coney Island Film Festival at the end of the month. I can think of at least a few of you who should be there. I mean, who I'm sure will want to hang out, and ride the Cyclone, and maybe get a kraut dog and cheese fries at Nathan's, and oooh, some of that orange and vanilla swirly frozen custard, and also check out my movie at some point.

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