Saturday, April 30, 2005

Keeping Busy...Sort Of

My preoccupation with work-related endeavors -- the end of a busy quarter yesterday coupled with the commencement of a new one (actually, filing period) next week, as well as a series of things needing my attention -- left my apartment in a state of quasi-disarray, although, thanks to my other half, it's still far better than it was three weeks ago. But now that I had some down time, I did some work this AM and delved right into organizing, cleaning and getting food prepped for the coming week.

Before some wise-ass out there dubs me Mr. Mom, keep in mind that it's rainy and bleak here in NYC, my other half is on her way to do a mass baby-visit with her sister and mom at a family friend's house, and there's been nothing good on TV for the past several hours. I need to do a couple other things, like refill the water in the humidors and restring my guitars, but this AM I was kinda hungry so cooking seemed a logical response. The cleaning part just sort of happened naturally, unfortunately or otherwise.

In the meantime, watching CNN, I read about the freaky tale of Jennifer Wilbanks, the 32-year-old Atlanta woman who was due to be married today but instead skipped town after telling her fiance she was going jogging. So instead of preparing for her wedding, she called her family from New Mexico with a new haircut and a story about how she was kidnapped. Never mind the fact that the entire country chose her plight as the "cause du jour," or that hundreds of volunteers, police and friends and family searched for a period of days for her, or that her family and her fiance's family assumed she was dead, or that her fiance was, post-Scott Peterson, on the hook for her suspected murder. While the "official" story is that she experienced cold feet and rode a bus to New Mexico, it seems to me that anyone who would do something like this -- especially so soon after the whole Laci Peterson tragedy -- has some serious issues. I feel badly for her family and her fiance's family, and feel even worse for her fiance. Although, as the saying goes, if she was so out there that this seemed like a logical move for her, he's much better off. In either case, nothing like these weird stories to occupy one's time.

In other news, the fiasco that is, thus far, the Yankees' 2005 season continues. Last night's game might be one of the final nails in the coffin of Joe Torre's tenure as Yankee manager, so each game from here on out might very well have major significance. Incidentally, the Yankees are starting a 25-year-old pitcher from Taiwan, Chien-Ming Wang. Through the first half-inning he didn't allow any runs, and in the bottom of the first, the Yankees have scored already and look to be doing more damage. But if he bites the big one and loses today, he'll forever be known as Chow Mein Wang.

Tomorrow we're heading out to Jersey to spend some time with my grandmother, who heads back to Snowdownia on Tuesday. Nothing more exciting, or important, than just spending time with family, kicking back, recharging and relaxing. And, hopefully, watching the Yankees win a game or two.

Could be worse ;-)

Friday, April 29, 2005

Quick Update

Today's the last day of the current quarter and next week (therefore) is the start of the new quarter, so I've been running around like a nut trying to handle everything work-wise and get set for next week as well. Aside from the fact it's been beautiful in NYC for the most part, I've been so preoccupied with getting things wrapped up with the City that I've been just going through the motions. However, little things are keeping me sane, or have me, as per usual, questioning others' sanity. For example:

This morning's "QuickVote" at CNN asked: "Do you think arrests or convictions should rule out contestants on American Idol?" Considering CNN is supposed to be (or at least presents itself as) a serious news network, what the hell were they thinking actually asking about something as insignificant and moronic as American Idol? Sorry -- I know some people that enjoy it, and I'm all atitter for them and their enjoyment thereof; I just have no interest in an updated version of The Gong Show, especially in that it a) features Paula Abdul, period; b) features Simon Whatever-His-Name-Is; and c) has sufficient "controversy" to allow its comings and goings to be discussed on CNN. WTF?

I've been continually e-mailing back and forth with my other half's Dad, who is funny, cool and almost as big a Yankee fan as I am. I've already invited him to a game along with my father and I, but since we're lamenting how awful the Yankees look this year -- replete with their first losing record in April, or any month, since 2003 -- none of us are in any hurry to head back to Yankee Stadium just yet. As I told him, once my father's back to 100% then we'll all go watch a game; hopefully that event will coincide with or follow the (ahem) Yankees' 2005 resurgence. What's worse is that Kaia's sister also lives in Marin County and is married to a die-hard (baseball) Giants fan, so I can envision lots of "discussion" about the current state of baseball. They'll suggest the Yankees buy pennants, and I'll suggest that if everyone on the Giants' roster went to Barry Bonds personal steroid supplier, the Giants as a team could, combined, hit 12,000 home runs a season, although no one would know what to call the Giants' stadium because it would continue being renamed on a per-game basis. I'm getting more and more excited about heading out there, especially with a Yankee hat, Yankee DVDs for her Dad and her nephew, and the pamphlet entitled "The History of the San Francisco Giants."

In other news...I've been googling around for a few upcoming concerts in NYC, what with Robert Plant, Audioslave and some other worthwhile artists hitting the City sometime over the next few months, and since we're trying to coordinate my time in SF and Kaia coming here, I'm trying to work it out so I'm in town for concerts I'm considering attending, as is she (assuming she wants to come with) and that I'm out there for some shows as well. I saw something about Cake playing shows somewhat near San Fran (I map-quested it) but I'm not sure if it's actually going to happen because some of their shows haven't yet been announced. So neither of us is really too worried about the timing, and we're just tossing around dates and trying to free up/align our schedules to maximize the summer and our time together. And the Yankees are in Cali. in mid-May, when I'm planning on being out there...coincidence? ;-)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The First Amendment, Part 9.11

Peruse the Internet and you're bound to encounter any and all variety of unique, repulsive, weird, freaky tibits of humanity. And that's just at

On a more serious note, there are a variety of disturbing trends born from Internet life, including, but not limited to: fake nudes, beastiality and kiddie porn, other bizarre sexual practices, lists of the most inconsequential bullshit ever assembled (try searching for how many women Captain Kirk nailed on Star Trek or The Ladder Theory or caffeinated snack beverages manufactured in Wyoming). In short, we have invited the Internet into our lives and have therefore begrudgingly accepted the benefits along with the many negatives a blank slate of human perversity offers.

My rationale for invoking the ills/benefits of the Internet as part of our daily lives is a result of my personal attempt to exercise my freedom of thought and speech, not merely in these pages but in noting the presence of a news article at CNN involving a cleric who, less than a week after 9/11, was arrested for inciting and encouraging young muslim men to travel to Afghanistan to fight the US and its interests. My reaction was that this news was not very newsworthy on its surface; the twist is that this particular muslim is a prominent cleric in the state of Washington. The article, located here, gives some details as to how many of his "followers" sought training on foreign soil, how they fared in obtaining said training, and some mumbo-jumbo from attorneys on both sides.

Why would someone so decidedly anti-US be living here? Aside from terrorists belonging to sleeper cells, why would a foreigner come to the US to plot against said nation?

My initial reaction was that Ali al-Timimi, the cleric in question, wanted to recruit US-based muslims knowing the converts could eventually return to the US in order to (eventually) do damage to the US from the inside. In other words, putting myself in Mr. al-Timimi’s position, if the US’s immigration policies were either so poorly erected or so poorly enforced that virulent, anti-US foreigners like al-Timimi were welcomed to these shores with open arms, then why not go right to the source – the people (ie muslims) of the US and spread the gospel, so to speak.

The other, more significant question that needs to be asked is: how much protection does the First Amendment provide to those who use its Constitutional protection in order to destroy the nation and everything that the Constitution represents? And more importantly, why should a foreigner advocating the overthrow and/or destruction of the US be permitted to remain in this nation?

Before I even attempt an answer to any of these questions, the crux of the article was that Mr. al-Timimi was arrested for attempting to recruit his followers to perpetrate anti-US activities, ie receive terrorist training in Afghanistan and in neighboring countries. To me, this seems a bit of a gray area; eg the Federal Government could arrest someone who tries to assemble a group of federal employees to work together to get better wages and benefits from the government. While it doesn’t equate to terrorism, it’s a group of people working together against the government, albeit to a much less dangerous extent.

And where’s the limit? al-Timimi was calling for anti-US Jihad, but if I stand in a local park, or even on a public street in Manhattan, and tell people that George Bush is insane and should be ridiculed publicly anytime he appears anywhere, would or could – or should – I be arrested for encouraging others to act in a way that is not in the government’s interests?

Personally, I think this case highlights the fact that we need to address our immigration policies immediately; for this to be occurring on US soil shows that someone’s asleep at the wheel. And we also need to revisit how the First Amendment protects those intent on destroying it. I can’t envision the forefathers, in literal or interpretative view, acceding to this cleric’s corruption of America’s freedoms to perpetrate anti-American activities, whether here or elsewhere.

Obviously, however, with the 9/11 hijackers and presumably a small collection of existing “sleeper cells” located within the US as of this writing, because we’ve allowed these people to enter into and take refuge within the US, we as a nation offer protection to those who want to destroy this nation. Paradoxical at best, disturbing and distressing at the very worst.

And if this man’s belief-based hatred of the country he calls home is illegal, what would happen if another person aimed a 9mm pistol at al-Timimi’s hate-filled head and emptied it? Would the US then take action against a US citizen for murdering a person actively engaged in what would be considered treason if Mr. al-Timimi was a citizen?

Obviously these questions need to be addressed and resolved quickly. And knowing the speed at which the government operates, “quickly” is both a subjective and humorous euphemism. It’s obviously an unfortunate occurrence when the laws and freedoms are in place but the protection of the system and its borders are not.

And while I fully support the first amendment in all its guises, I would not shed a tear if Mr. al-Timimi’s rights were violated with his death, deportation, or life imprisonment. It just seems fairly obvious to me that anyone perpetrating anti-US recruitment on US soil forfeits the rights and protections granted by living in this country. And frankly, I would be disappointed if Mr. al-Timimi was merely deported or imprisoned. But it suggests to me that in the coming years, we as a nation need to deal with our enemies, both domestic and foreign, not with Minutemen volunteers bearing t-shirts and digital cameras, not with rhetoric and careful consideration of the rights of those who violate the Constitution of the United States, but with lead, steel and fire, the same tools with which they intend to deal with us. As Sean Connery’s character, Jimmy Malone, quipped in The Untouchables, “He pulls a knife, you pull a gun.” Answering evil, destruction and bile with rhetoric, law and procedure is showing weakness, and – in my opinion – this nation is too great and has stood by for too long to be showing weakness.

Further, if the enemies of America want to turn US soil into a battleground, then it seems to me it is about time we, as a nation, accepted the challenge and let them know we intend to meet their actions with some of our own. Action, not inaction, bring forth resolution; inaction brings forth more incidents like 9/11.

And I think one 9/11 is one more than we need endure.

The Sun Also Rises: I'm Living Proof

As my other half and I conspired and planned our next venture, measuring location, schedule and duration and the ancillary details (when her parents will be around, away and/or otherwise indisposed) we were poring over possible dates, weekends, work schedules and planned appointments with real estate brokers so she could take a peek at some apartments around the City.

While that was a-happnin', her dad sent me an e-mail as a thank-you for a DVD I'd gotten for he and his wife, a DVD she said they would love. So as we were going back and forth talking Yankees baseball (oy), Christopher Walken, Broadway and the state of the City, I am almost giddy looking forward to meeting her parents. Not sure if it will be mid-May, the end of May (Memorial Day) or sometime over the summer, but it's coming up on the horizon. Adding to that, my other half called me early this AM because she was having trouble sleeping. Hearing my cell phone blaring away in the distance -- "What I Like About You" being the ringtone indicating she was calling me from home -- I grabbed the cell, surprised, excited and a little worried. Everything was fine, she said; she just couldn't sleep and wanted to hear my voice. Figuring I was asleep (it was a little before 6AM here), she was as surprised as I when I picked up.

She called the cell, she explained, because my home line was busy. Apparently I forgot to hang up the phone when I dozed off whilst on the phone with her last night, so I called her back from my home phone and we talked for a half hour or so until we both got sleepy and we said our goodnights again.

As forced and unfair and detached it sometimes feels, spending so much time with someone so far away, it was nice; it felt like we were whispering under the same covers, in the same dark room, sharing warmth and her perfume still lingering on my sheets. So I kept my eyes closed and it felt almost like she was there with me; I knew, rationally, that she wasn't right next to me in bed, but having the memory of her being her so fresh in my mind and my heart helped quiet my mind telling me she was at the other end of 3,000 miles of fiber-optic cable.

If there ever is a nice way to start your day by waking up alone, especially when you're in love, it's being woken by the voice of someone you can't live without. On top of that, a friend who'd gone through some very difficult times of his own, very similar to those I personally endured this past year, got some very good news, and it reminded me that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

In contrast, I remembered I had wanted to call a friend of mine who'd gotten some bad news from a doctor last week, and I felt badly because I fell asleep before I had a chance to place the call last night. But as I explained to said friend yesterday when we were first discussing the situation, everything does work out for the best, even when the news seems as dark and awful as it can get. It's sometimes hard to put things in proper perspective and see the big picture, especially when the details are far from positive and optimistic and when one is in the moment, but sometimes seeing the big picture and knowing the sun also rises not only helps one face the dark days, but enables us to live through the experience(s) and come out better, stronger and wiser. And any time anyone relates bad news, the one thing that comforts me -- and should comfort anyone reading this -- is that things do have a way of working out much better than one could ever have imagined while enduring the darkness.

Like the t-shirt says: I'm living proof.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Outside Looking In

First off, for those of you celebrating Passover, please accept a happy fargin' Passover to you and your family. To those of you who stopped by expecting some sort of Passover shout-out prior to tonight, my apologies...I wound up heading to Jersey to celebrate with the family on a swapped schedule and didn't get a chance to stop by until now, and since I just came in from being away for the majority of the weekend, quit yer bitchin' and have some damn matzah.

Second, it was bad timing for the other half and I to get together the week prior to Passover, knowing she'd eventually be going back to San Fran so we'd be in different time zones when the matzah hit the table. While I enjoyed celebrating with my family, including my father and my grandmother, not having her there was difficult and I really felt her absence. We enjoyed both seders, and I know she enjoyed spending the holiday with her family, both immediate and extended, but I think it's fairly safe to suggest we both sensed something missing, and no matter how great everything was, at least on my end, her not being with me was definitely a situation which I expect to remedy well before next year's matzah-fest.

In the mean time, a word to the wise for those of you who don't celebrate Passover: it's a fun holiday in that part of the pre-dinner ceremony involves four cups of wine, so by dessert, pretty much everyone in the house is shitfaced. A few years ago my grandmother was pretty well-oiled, and while she hasn't hit the sauce (aka Manischevitz) with as much gusto as of late, it's wild seeing a whole table-full of hebes coming off as a bunch of rejects of an alcoholics anonymous group. Combine some gefilte fish and some matzah and some brisket and you're one frame short of a Coen Brothers movie.

In the meantime, the weekend went well, as I did enjoy spending some downtime with the family. Each time we all get together to celebrate a holiday it reminds us that being together -- ie having my father with us to celebrate -- that alone is something worthy of celebration. Inasmuch as he's still not 100%, it's a somewhat painful, bittersweet reminder that these special days are meant to be cherished, and it's a lesson I am glad I learned and, simultaneously, one I wished I never had to learn. In essence, every time I think there's something about which I need to worry or complain, I remember there are things for which I am thankful and I'm instantly given perspective on most situations. Jarring, significant and quite humbling.

In other news, a friend called to wish the family a happy passover from Bangkok, so while I won't be calling him back until he's stateside, this marks several straight holidays in which someone from another continent has called to check in. One of these days the other half and I are going to head out to another world, be it Bangkok, Costa Rica, Honduras or Atlantic City, but until we do, it's nice to know people out there are thinking good things no matter the geographic distance.

On the other hand, I think every box of matzah should come with a coupon for a 12-tablet package of Immodium.

Just a thought.

Oh, and if I didn't mention beforehand, Stevie Wonder was at our first seder. He sat next to me, and when I passed him a piece of matzah, he rubbed his hand all over it and leaned over to me and said "That was the worst letter I ever read."

Happy fargin' Passover.

Friday, April 22, 2005

A Weird Ride on "Mulholland Drive"

With our schedules somewhat out-of-sync, being that Friday was, in part, a running around day for me, and a non-office work day for Kaia, I settled in to watch the remainder of David Lynch's 2001 film "Mulholland Drive" while Kaia napped. While I preferred the situation involving my private viewing of the film -- ie, a week ago with Kaia in bed -- I opted to watch it despite knowing I'd be left scratching my head and wondering if the experience was worth the time.

In answering that head-scratching question regarding whether the film was a waste of my time, I can emphatically state it wasn't. It was actually pretty solid. But it's not a one-time through empty-headed exercise in disturbing imagery, gore and/or violence. It's more like a novel or a similar work of art that requires investment, repeated viewings and a willingness to explore the myriad symbols, twists, images and auditory environment put forth by one of the most talented, enigmatic and weird filmmakers of the modern era.

Incidentally, I plan on doing some brief but revealing exposition herein, so if you haven't seen the film and plan on (or might consider) doing so, skip the remainder of this entry. But keep it bookmarked, as it's pretty likely you'll want a good explanation for what this film's anachronistic double entendres, twists and contradictions actually mean in the real world. that we've gotten that out of the way...the film, essentially, begins both setting-wise and metaphorically with Mulholland Drive, which -- for those of us not from California and not in the movie business -- is an ideal example of the duality of Hollywood. Mulholland Drive, by day, offers pretty, scenic views, fun and engaging curves, and its landmark status is well-known outside the state in which it exists. By night, however, Mulholland Drive is treacherous beauty, in that it's dangerous to navigate, but offers spectacular views of Los Angeles below. It's glitz and glamour and shine and beauty, but it offers treachery, danger, mystery and a foreboding warning to those who overlook its penchant for evil and only admire its beauty.

If that cavalcade of metaphors, cliches and contrasts didn't throw you, then continue on -- but be warned, by the end of this post you might wish you had been equipped with a barf-bag.

In short, as with all other David Lynch films, "Mulholland Drive" offers up a variety of out-of-sequence plot twists, symbolism both subtle and overt, cinematography that is sweeping and memorable, and characters and dialogue that too is memorable. Essentially, this film, on its surface, is a noir murder mystery of sorts, although the mystery commences during the first frames of the film, well before any murder actually takes place.

Keep in mind, incidentally, that the cast of this film involves a variety of high-profile (and all very talented) actors, yet I have specifically omitted their names from this post thus far. That says a lot about the film's core, which is its story. But in case the participants in this exercise in confusion and statement are significant, there's a veritable who's who: Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, Robert Forster, Dan Hedaya, Justin Theroux, a cameo from Billy Ray Cyrus, and a solid supporting grouping which includes old-time actress Ann Miller and some other "hidden" gems. But as we are advised later in the film, everything is an illusion and nothing is what it seems. So true.

At this point, a brief run-down of the plot should suffice: Naomi Watts plays Betty, an optimistic, fresh-faced Canadian who comes to LA while her aunt is away in Canada filming a picture. She's going to audition and she's incredibly happy, naive and excited. She arrives at LAX and bids goodbye to an older couple who one could easily mistake for her grandparents, and from that moment forth, her curiosity, innocence and honesty pervade every scene she's in. There begins a trio of sub-plots, one of which involves a studio (and, purportedly, the mafia) leaning on an up-and-coming director to cast an actress named Camilla in his next picture, the existence of a hitman, and, most notably, the sudden appearance of a beautiful brunette who has survived an attempt on her life in the back of a limo by an equally near-fatal car accident. The hit attempt, as well as the car accident, occur on -- you guessed it -- Mulholland Drive. And she dizzily walks to the nearby apartment complex in which Betty is staying while her aunt is away on location. The hit/accident survivor discovers she has amnesia. Later in the film, she and Betty become lovers in several highly-charged, near-erotic interludes that are tasteful but extremely powerful.

And that's about the first thirty minutes of this 150-minute movie.

Essentially, the film is not so much a series of scenes derived and designed to reveal and move the plot, but rather a series of scenes which include symbolism, notable nuances, and a selection of carefully-placed, -worded and -scripted interactions which are of significance later in the film. This is a multiple-view film in that there's no way to absorb, understand or process what transpires over the course of a single viewing of the film. Much of Lynch's work predicates itself on shock value, and this film offers up a large dose thereof, not only visually, but in its soundtrack and its sound effects as well.

My take on the film, for the most part, is this: Lynch's point in telling the story is to show Hollywood's dual nature. It's beauty, glamour and shiny "tinsel" at odds with the nefarious, dark, macabre underbelly that supports or belies it. With the red carpet and the gowns and the jewelry come evil, inhumanity, cattiness, disingenuous personalities and plastic characters. As Betty, the young ingenue, Naomi Watts is incredible -- she pulls off her role as a naive, fresh-off-the-boat young woman with ultra-believable aplomb. And as Diane, in the dual (or secondary -- or primary) role, she is frighteningly believable as a jaded, washed-up, desperate, pathetic shell of Betty's alter-ego. Every actor in this film pulls of his or her character(s) perfectly; there's no real weak link in that the majority of the performances are of a calibre worthy of the Coen Brothers, Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson. The main issue that keeps one from being comfortable with the film is the story itself.

Lynch tells the story out-of-sync, much like Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and Christopher Nolan's Memento, which, once that is made clear, allows the viewer to somewhat latch onto the stilted, disjointed and downright weird imagery presented herein. The film's tagline is "A Love Story In The City Of Dreams" -- and the noir description almost misses because the film is directed as a noir, but its true patina is one of a young ingenue who comes to Hollywood optimistic, fresh and eager to be a "star, or known as a great actor, or both" but who ultimately is washed up, passed over, chewed up, eschewed by her lover (another woman) and who winds up having her former girlfriend killed before killing herself. In other words, as Lynch is wont to do, the film heaps multi-layer upon multi-layer, and by the time the credits are rolling it's hard to tell which layer preceded the prior one.

All in all, armed with a sensibility and some foreknowledge, this is a wonderful movie. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's almost a dreamlike experience -- hence why I fell asleep both times I began watching it -- but aside from a few lulls, it heats up from the very start and gets hotter and hotter and never looks back.

The DVD, incidentally, is clean, offers a stunning 5.1 mix, and should be purchased rather than rented simply to facilitate a few viewings. The auditory mood is unsettling, the thrills and the tension are palpable, and the plot -- or the corkscrewed smattering of scenes that substitute for same herein -- are worth the time and investment one needs to make in something that will likely be a keeper.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

To The Colors

Despite still feeling a bit detached without my other half around, I wound down tonight with a little walk to a nearby market, then a little cleaning up, some cooking and -- last but not least -- watching the Yankees. Since the HoB's inception coincided with the end of last season (we won't regurgitate the details of the 2004 postseason) and my father's hospital stay, I was very preoccupied with things other than baseball. And based on what seemed to be a relatively mediocre off-season for the Yankees, I hadn't really been jazzed about the looming baseball season.

Now that it's here, I'll admit I've been watching games with a bit less commitment than years prior. First, because my dad's not able to attend games at this point, I haven't had a "first game" to anticipate as I have in past seasons. We'll go back to the Stadium one of these days -- fairly soon, I'm guessing -- but until it's on the calendar and a reality, the Yankees might as well be playing in Witchita. Granted, I remember how green the field is, how electric being in Yankee Stadium feels, and how much fun I've had there, especially with my dad. We were there that night in 1996 when Jeffrey Mayer, a young fan, caught an otherwise routine fly ball to right field and turned a possible Yankee playoff loss to Baltimore into a win and the start of a dynasty. And the wave of fans pulsing and chanting as we were swept along with the throngs exiting the stadium that night is a memory I won't ever forget.

So back to my semi-apathy with regard to the Yankees thus far, it's mostly a result of knowing we're not heading to the Stadium any time soon. Also, since there was no hockey to follow, I got used to focusing on work and my other half rather than baseball (or any other sport) on television, which is completely cool with me.

The one thing I've noticed about the Yankees in the post Bob Watson era (or during the Brian Cashman era -- your choice) is that they're "recycled." By that I mean that 75% of the team is on its way down and a good third of the Yankees are former Yankees as well; Tino Martinez, Rey Sanchez, Mike Stanton...these are guys who have very little left in the tank. A bunch of others -- Tony Womack, Bubba Crosby and a half-assed assortment of mediocre plug-ins aren't going to get it done. The team is aging -- their pitching staff includes two 40+ pitchers, Randy Johnson and Kevin Brown, and an assortment of barely-competent arms. Basically, it's really not looking too good. By 1996, the Yankees had an assortment of youth, veterans, desire and work ethic; now the only guys who really embody those qualities are Derek Jeter and A-Rod, and baseball players -- like most athletes -- do not age well. So here's hoping Brian Cashman goes elsewhere and someone who has the onions to handle George Steinbrenner on a daily basis comes in, rebuilds the Yankees' depleted farm system, makes some intelligent trades, and stops plugging in has-beens, never weres and wishes they coulds. 'Nuff said.

Finally, there was an item in the NY Post a few days ago where Pamela Anderson, a card-carrying member of PETA, was criticizing Jennifer Lopez for wearing fur. Essentially, "Pammy" decided to give J-Lo some shit because people who wear fur are not "sophisticated" and are really "immature." This, coming from someone who wears platform heels to the pool, made money from a homemade porn video with her then-husband, Tommy Lee, changes her breast implants like most people change their sheets (weekly) and owes her celebrity to what's located below her shoulders and above her ankles. This is the female who made Kid Rock, Baywatch, Barb Wire and VIP national punchlines. While Jennifer Lopez is yet another walking cartoon character, like Pammy, at least she's made an effort to not come off as an inflatable doll. I just wish -- once -- that one's ability to express one's opinion was contingent on that person's ability to come off as something less than a total idiot.

Yes, that includes George W. Bush. Although I bet his approval rating would go up if he was married to Pammy. Just imagine the offspring...wind-up, single-digit IQs, huge boobs, and no redeeming societal value whatsoever.

I think I'd prefer to watch an hour's worth of music videos from Jenny "The Wedding Machine" From-The-Block.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Your Place and/or Mine

Monday and Tuesday of this week was a relatively new experience; both Kaia & I worked out of our respective offices in NYC. Normally that's not news-worthy information, mind you, except that we hadn't attempted to work while we were both in the same city. During her prior visits, I made sure that my workload, which is usually pretty much full-on, full-time, all the time, was conducive to a half-day or a full day off, and since she's able to work wherever, however and whenever, thanks to a wi-fi enabled notebook, we always had some time together even during our otherwise real-life respective lives. This time, we wanted to test our mutual ability to meld each of our personal and work lives with the other's.

It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to know that if this was a test, we passed -- together -- with flying colors.

Monday was a relatively low-key, easy-going day; we didn't see much of eachother until I got back to my apartment. Opening the front door I barely recognized my cluttered "bachelor pad." Everything was organized, put away, neat and clean. At first I thought I had entered the wrong apartment. But as I walked in my other half was waiting for me at the door, smiling, searching my face for a reaction, and I was floored. I asked her "what'd you do?" I should have asked her "How'd you manage this?" It was awesome. She walked me over to the couch and showed me how everything was put away, waiting for me to be upset she'd screwed up the theme of my apartment, ie organized chaos. But I was so blown away -- she didn't nag, complain, whine or harass me, she just did it -- so all I did was thank her, give her a kiss and let her know I was amazed and very appreciative of her making my apartment safe for civilization once again :-)

We hung out a bit, did some online apartment-searching of a development we'd seen in Soho the night before, relaxed, lounged and [censored by Pope Benedictus XVI] and then (eventually) walked the block to one of our favorite local neighborhood restaurants. They had the front windows open so we got some air and enjoyed the weather and each other. By the time we got out of there, we were one of only three couples left, and one of the others looked like brother and sister (no offense to either of them, but -- and I'm being kind here -- they were both equally ugly) and the other couple looked like a wrestling promoter and a high-class prostitute -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- and they looked like they needed a room toot sweet. So we hightailed it out of there and walked back to my apartment and opted to enjoy the rest of the night -- Kaia's last for this trip -- quietly and with few distractions. While we were in bed she told me she was going to try and stay another day, so we went to sleep hopeful we'd have more time together.

Tuesday was a bit disjointed, as I had a few morning mini-meetings and a half-dozen projects to address before my other half came by so all four of us -- she and I, my sister and my father, who comes in a couple times a week -- could go downstairs for lunch. We all enjoyed a quickie lunch (about 45 minutes) before she and I ran next door to a store I needed to visit for something and then she and I went back upstairs; before I knew it, she grabbed her notebook, kissed me goodbye and was on her way back to her office. It was hard to re-focus back on work with her perfume and her goodbye kiss lingering in my mind, but I am confident, with practice, it is a skill I could get used to, and eventually, master ;-)

By the time six rolled around, she came back to my office and all four of us went in the new vehicle over to pick up my mom, which, on days my father works, we always do. I was glad she had a chance to see my mom in person, although I would have preferred all of us going to dinner. I think my parents were a bit tired and wanted to go home -- understandably -- plus, since this was our last night together, I wanted us to have some alone time. By the time we were nearing both my sister's and my apartments, though, we mentioned to my sister that we were planning on going out and if she and her boyfriend wanted to come they were more than welcomed to come with us. By the time we hopped out and my parents were on their way, we decided we'd visit Rosa Mexicano on the East Side, a great Mexican place that has killer sangria and even better guacamole. My sister ended up being too tired, so Kaia and I wound up in the back room and had a great dinner and tried to avoid the topic of her impending departure.

We got home and were both a bit wistful knowing this was our last night together, so we had a very nice, sweet rest-of-the-evening and conspired over our next meeting, our plans and our future. With both of us trying not to focus on the fact she'd be leaving the next day, we fell asleep smiling and happy.

Today went too fast. I had a bunch of downtown errands to handle and she did some shopping downtown so we got next-to-no time to hang out, but on her way back up from Soho, I had her meet me near where I was so we could -- properly or otherwise -- say goodbye. We lingered a bit, both of us having schedules and demands and timing and requirements pulling us in all directions -- and we tried to avoid the sadness of knowing we wouldn't be seeing each other for at least a few weeks. With a long kiss that was far too short, a hug and a squeeze, we said goodbye. Watching her cab pull away, my hand instinctively reached for my cellphone to call her and have her to turn around and stay longer, but reality -- for now -- requires her to remain a California resident. Each of us knowing the future -- both short- and long-term -- doesn't change the fact that it always makes us sad to say goodbye, even if it's for a few weeks.

I wound up finishing up my errands downtown as she returned to my apartment and hurried to get her bags re-packed, and she called me on her way to the airport and again a few minutes before her flight finally took off. She's due to land in three hours so, despite a friend asking me if I wanted to go out for dinner, I'm alone, in my apartment, in the dark and the semi-oppressive NYC temp. And while I had the lights on earlier and it's a stifling 76 degrees herein, I can't help but notice that without her around me, smiling, touching my cheek or just moving about in my apartment, it's a lot colder and darker in here than it's been since she arrived on Thursday. And it occurred to me that -- if I'm lucky -- there will come a day when her warmth, her smile and her infectious laugh will be things I won't ever be without.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

All That and a Bag o' Chips

Has it really only been a few days since I last visited the friendly confines of the HoB? Hard to believe. It's also hard to believe that 72 hours can go by so slowly at certain times (say, when you're behind enemy lines with alligator clips attached to, respectively, a Sears-brand car battery and your genitalia) or so quickly (when you're running through a wonderful few days with your other half.

Saturday was our day to run around Soho, just for walking in and down and up and through a variety of stores, stalls, vendors and shops. We made a reservation for Mercer Kitchen for brunch, and as per usual, we wound up spending some face time at the bar downstairs, each of us nursing cocktails (she had some red wine, I had a pomegranate mojito) before we were beckoned upwards to our table to a sense of deja vu -- we each had the same entrees -- and were holding back laughs as we kept sharing an inside joke. The celeb sighting of the day -- although there were many -- was seeing Robin Williams, replete with beret, black microfiber pull-over and sneakers -- slide in and downstairs.

Once we finished our lunch/brunch, we tooled around Soho for awhile; though we enjoyed checking out the variety of artists and their handiwork, we also managed trips to a few stores, including Vuitton, Banana Republic, Pottery Barn and Bloomingdales. It was a nice, non-agenda afternoon/evening. Since we were totally relaxed and meandering, we eventually opted to return to the hotel and just chill for awhile.

Night came fast and we were enjoying the weather and each other. Just lounging around, watching (or trying to watch) Mullholland Drive (the living room DVD was nish good), and getting hungry, we decided to order in rather than dress to go out. About seven restaurant choices later (everything else was either closed or too far away) we opted to do take-out from Smith & Wollensky around the block. I went down and scored din-din and some sodas (after much searching) and finally returned. We sat down on the couch and enjoyed a cozy candlelit dinner (and some SNL, MTV and god knows what else) before we adjourned to the bedroom to watch the DVD and fall asleep.

Once we woke up, we decided we'd go to brunch with my sister and her boyfriend before heading downtown, so we wound up at the Panorama Cafe on the East Side, sat outdoors and soaked in some sun, the air and some more relaxation. By the time we finished and had enough motivation to leave, we nixed going downtown in favor of hitting a pet store near my place, where we four spent an hour or so playing with lhasa apsos, chihuahuas, shitzus and I tried fitting my other half (unsuccessfully) with a muzzle ;-) We discussed possible names for a girl cat and a boy dog -- Elvis -- and opted to keep looking for an eventual pair. Eventually we split with the goal of heading to my apartment and then downtown, but we decided instead to rest and spend some downtime at my place.

Sunday night was Balthazar. Same menu, same choices, different wine (Chateauneuf du Pape 2001 -- rockin') and same result...we had a wonderful dinner, smiled all the way home, fell asleep too quickly and woke up happy and together.


There's more on the way, so I'll be back soon...first I need to unplug these alligator clips and the battery...


Saturday, April 16, 2005

...and a Snickers bar...

If it's true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, then I have a feeling that my other half and I have been absent for quite awhile. I managed my way over to the W on Thursday night and, within minutes, we picked up right where we left off. For the most part, I can't see how we've gone for so long and not been sleeping in the same bed every night; when we finally do see each other, the urgency, the fire and the chemistry just comes back and boils up over and over again, leaving us each breathless and muttering "God damn, it just can't get any better."

And yet it does. Each day and each night continue to remind me, with an assorted assortment of gestures, looks, touches, fingers and kisses, that like a fine wine, this "thing" just gets better and better.

We finally fell asleep Thursday night sometime around 1AM EST, and the next morning was, simply, smile-inducing. Every time I wake up with my other half, I find myself captivated by the fact that I am not dreaming and all this is really happening. I'm sure that once she's living in NYC full-time, I might not be amazed on an every-morning basis, but over these five-day lifetimes, whether it's a work day or a play day, I just can't believe how quick -- or how often -- I smile. It's really something to behold; waking up happy and spending your day, your night, your week or your life with someone you love being with makes a lot of difference.

As for the particulars, we did room service Thursday night as neither of us wanted to get dressed again to go out, so we wound up relaxing and enjoying a long, quiet conversation without phones. Friday morning went by quickly; I found my way over to my office and she headed to hers. By the mid-afternoon, we had been in and out of contact; I had gone downtown to pick up some paperwork that was seriously overdue and done some other groundwork, while she was addressing her dead wifi card with an IT dude in her office. She headed out mid-afternoon to meet a friend of hers for a drink, and I continued to plug away at the office. By the time I'd realized it, it was late afternoon so I headed out and over to Bar 41 to hang with the other half and her friend Jim, who, as I expected, was a great, down-to-earth guy. We ended up knocking back two bottles of champagne and a bunch of bar goodies, and sadly, before we knew it it was dusk, Jim had to head home and we to the hotel to prep for that evening's festivities. I gave Jim some info that he needed in connection with a personal situation so I am sure we'll run into each other shortly, either online or in person or both, but it makes me happy to know that all her friends love and think as highly of her as I do. Not a shock, of course, that her friends are fun, funny, intelligent and "good people;" just "previewing" how and where she and I will be in six months from now makes me smile.

But I digress.

We both needed some down time so we headed back to Base Camp W and relaxed for awhile. Our plan to nap before a late dinner didn't quite come off as planned, but at the very least, we made sure we didn't waste any quiet, alone time. And we both lamented the "rug burn" from the W bed's sheets. Weird...the bed is very comfortable but not always conducive to things other than sleeping. Like watching TV and reading (perv). ;-)

Anyhoo, friends of ours had gone to see the revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire" featuring Natasha Richardson & John C. Reilly, both of whom are really high-quality actors. I'd been walking a week or two ago on 54th Street and seen the theater so I was actually considering getting tickets, but then I figured I could always do the last-minute pick-up if we opted to go...and our friends really loved the play, so weather-depending we might wind up seeing it tomorrow (day or night). In either case, we met our post-Streetcar friends at Cafe Luxembourg at 70th and Amsterdam, which is around the corner from a client of mine, and I remembered coming to this restaurant years ago. Happily, I was pleased to discover it's still very much a great place for late-night dinner. We got there a bit before 11 and the place was full -- almost claustrophobically so, incidentally -- but the food was rockin'. Baby artichokes with garlic, oil, flash-fried and served with an olive tapenade; calamari sauteed with panko; free-range chicken, salmon and lamb chops; and for dessert, a french boston cream pie souffle. Worked for me :-) The best part was as I was sharing a joke with my dinner companions about the recent spate of sexual abuse allegations, a guy sitting next to us added to the joke (below, in bold). So by the time we were done, it went like this:

A few boys at a catholic school were waiting in line for confession. Jimmy says "I'm in trouble. I had impure thoughts, swore twice and talked back to my mom." Frank says "That's 46 hail marys." Jimmy says, "Yeah, I know." So Michael says "Well I'm in trouble too. What does the priest give for cheating on a test?" Frank says "25 hail marys, and you need to tell the teacher you cheated." Michael says "Uh oh." So another boy in line says "Well what does Father Flanagan give for oral sex?" Frank turns to him and says "A fiver...and a snickers bar."

All in all, a fun, relaxing, entertaining evening. And by the time we got home, we were almost ready for bed, and wound up passing out soon after from sheer exhaustion and contentment.

Today we're heading downtown to Soho and Mercer Kitchen, then we'll tool around and pop into a few stores: Aldo, Pottery Barn, Banana Republic and Vuitton, and mebbe Mont Blanc and The Broadway Panhandler if we have time. Then tonight we're doing sushi and a movie, either out and about or in the room. I bought Mullholland Drive, a David Lynch film, and since neither of us has seen it in its entirety, we might wind up staying in; otherwise we'll catch a movie downtown and go for drinks afterward.

As per usual, being with her feels like a vacation, whether it's a work day, a play day or a quickie lunch between errands. I don't know if that's a good thing, but when I'm done smiling and feeling this way I'll be sure and let you know.

Be back later.


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Plan of Action

Where to begin...

The other half will be boarding an American Airlines flight that leaves at 10:45 EST, so as she was so rudely awakened by yours truly (at 8:45AM EST), it's a pretty safe bet she won't see this post until she is ensconced on her terrace at the W. The last 18 hours have been a blur, but in a great way, and until I manage to get over to her place tonight my head will be swimming in a sea of excitement, happiness, details and the like.

First off, a heads up to John Lalley: I started the caesar dressing last night. I got a salad and some stuff to go in it: a cucumber, some parmiagiano reggiano (which was already in the fridge), a yellow tomato and some yellow and orange peppers. Anyhoo, I made a dinner out of it -- and the dressing was rockin' -- so now I figure I need to have another 63 dinner salads and I'll finish off the container. If you need some caesar in the meantime, lemme know :-)

Second, I did a mild run-through of the apartment to get it somewhat tolerable for our eventual return. Since we'll be spending a few days at the W but a few days at my place as well, I wanted to make sure La Casa De Boogie wasn't too uninhabitable. Basically, I got the sheets and towels ready to go, cleaned the bathroom pretty thoroughly, and did a run-through of everything to make sure it wasn't too awful. It's actually funny -- I think I'm more stressed about the state of my abode than she is, which is nice. A friend of mine jokingly suggested that when we cohabitate she'll turn into a neurotic, maniacal clean-freak, and while I laughed, I explained to him that she couldn't be neurotic about anything if she tried. Amazingly, thus far I've been unable to get her pissed or seriously riled about anything I've done. She's just super-cool on a lot of levels. Oh motto is: "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." :-)

Third, while I was doing a mild cleaning/spruce-up, I tried to put a wrap on that DVD movie conversion I've been doing. To catch you all up, I don't normally bother trying to re-invent the wheel; I would have written this movie off long ago, but since it's only available as a UK DVD, there's no way I'll ever be able to get it to legitimately play on my home theater system (with region protection and the PAL/NTSC problem), and while I normally would just say the hell with it, I similarly never caved when the Powers That Be released Goodfellas as a two-sided disc (meaning you had to get up mid-movie and flip it over). I waited until six or so months ago when they released it properly. And it was worth it.

Anyhoo...I think I solved the mystery of the whole process. As we speak it's "transcoding" on my home PC and should be burned and complete by the time I reach the Casa later this evening. I've watched snippets of it now over a four- or five-day period, so I've pretty much seen the entire movie; however, seeing it "live" on the TV with the soundtrack booming from my HK will light me up. And instead of us watching "Fall" on DVD tonight or over the weekend, methinks we'll be watching at least some of "Who Dares Wins" over the next 120 or so hours. We've also got "Napoleon Dynamite" on tap -- it's a great movie, btw -- and we're definitely going to try and squeeze in "Sideways" as well. If it's really a great weekend we'll be shooting for the theater, but if it's rainy and/or cold we might wind up going to see "Sin City." While "Sin City" is supposedly a great movie to see in the theater (the visuals are supposed to be incredible), I dunno if my other half is too into seeing it, only because it's basically a Maxim Magazine-type film; lots o' hotties wearing next-to-nothing, a lot of strippers/hookers/scummy women and a few abusive, bad-guy types (plus Bruce Willis). If anyone reading this has seen it, gimme a holler and lemme know if it's worthwhile.

What else...oh...I also did some packing and some organization, so I am basically ready to go home, get showered and cleaned up, dressed and head down to the hotel. She's due in around four, but odds are she'll need a quickie nap and I'll not see her until about 7. In either case, I'm counting the hours and, as per usual, she has a permanent space in my head and my heart that I can't ignore, so I'm just going to try to get through the day with as little turbulence as I can; in the meantime, I'll try and keep updating this space with posts (both written and photos) when/if I get the chance.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Last Minute Details & The House of the Rising Blogger

It would have been a bit easier and a lot less harried if I had some time off prior to my other half's visit to NYC; instead, I've been juggling a lot of little stuff and simultaneously keeping my fingers in the holes in the dyke (what imagery that invokes) while everything else keeps rolling right along.

And then, as if by magic, I went to submit a new post to the HoB and, sho'nuff, Blogspot was down, which meant, instead of addressing the other items on my ever-expanding to-do list, I wound up skinning the cat (my apologies to feral cat lovers, as well as to those of you who love feral cats). In essence, trying to use brute force to get a post through and up idn't the way to go. As Dicky V (or was it Magellan?) once said, it's all about finesse, baby. Come to think of it, it was actually Brian Boitano. Nevermind.

So in the meantime, I've been trying to address everything: my apartment, some personal work, the last of the tax stuff, a few call-backs that never happened, some info for a friend who is in and out of Bangkok, an hour or two of update work for a client in my building, the sign-up sheet for a "pick-up" hockey league starting in late May that keeps calling to me; and the best part, getting everything packed and ready to swing by the W tomorrow evening/night to, finally, spend some time with my other half.

Unfortunately, my to-do list started expanding faster than Dom DeLuise's waistline at an all-you-can-eat buffet, and things -- like my laundry -- started piling up. On top of that, my grandmother has a procedure on Friday and my mom is heading out to the Land of Snow to be with her throughout the day or two she'll be "recovering." As I indicated in a prior post herein, she shares the same birthday as the recently-deceased Pope. She's also sweet like the Pope, but that's about the only similarity, however, as she rarely wears funny hats and she doesn't speak Italian unless she's ordering.

Also, sometime this weekend I need to swing by a site called Tubesville; the proprietor of the site, Blackie Pagano, is the tech wizard behind Tigerman Amps, and a friend of mine, knowing I've been using -- what else -- MesaBoogie amps, stacks and heads for a number of years, told me to check it out and maybe swing by his place near Katz's Deli this weekend. I'm not sure if we're going to have time (or the inclination) to swing by this weekend, and I highly doubt Katz's will be on our culinary "must-see" list, but I'm looking forward to seeing Blackie's stuff, both online and in person. If you have a tube amp and you need to replace, repair or augment it, Blackie is the guy to see. Odds are I'll either bring my Strat or a friend's Les Paul to his shop and give his stuff a whirl; but not only does he do guitar/bass amps, he does standard receivers and other tech work for (custom) home systems, both multi-channel and singles as well. And lately he's been doing a lot of custom iPod-related stuff; home docking and networking, multi-room Podcasts, speaker cabinets, docks, and I've heard rumors -- mebbe nothing more, perhaps nothing less than rumors -- that he's working on an in-wall dock that allows you to slide an iPod into the wall-dock and it instantly fires up your system, sets proper volume, and broadcasts a pre-determined playlist throughout the house.

Bitchin'. No other word but bitchin'.

Oh, finally, on a more unique note, I downloaded (what I thought was) Led Zeppelin's performance at Atlantic Records' 40th Anniversary Celebration ('twas in April about six or seven years ago) from a file-sharing network. So I was all excited to see, upon my return home last night, that the download had completed. Unfortunately, I was less-than-thrilled to discover that instead of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham, what actually came through was some kind of porno, except it was completely backward. Not sure how or why someone went to the trouble of reversing it, but it was very short so by the time I realized it wasn't a five-tune Zeppelin reunion, it was over. And I must admit, it was kinda neat.

Boogie's 30-Second Review:
It's a guy and a girl...she looks really, really happy, he looks constipated, then she spits some stuff at him, it hits him in his weenie, he gets dressed, and treats her really nicely. And then the credits roll.

Art imitating life? Or the other way around?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

To A Crawl...

Less than a week ago, I opined that using P2P (aka file-sharing) clients would eventually slow our collective systems down so thoroughly that the advantages, ie being able to download any song, video/movie or file/application at a moment's notice was not worth the benefit. In case you don't happen to see a link to the left of this post for "We're Living In A Virtual World And I Am A Virtual Girl," click here.

So in my quest to get a DVD -- a UK pressing of the film "Who Dares Wins" -- compressed, converted (from PAL to NTSC) and stuffed into a recordable format, I downloaded a program called TMPGEnc, which is a -- temporarily -- freeware program which would allow the user to pipe two files -- a video file and an audio file -- into a format which could subsequently be burned onto a blank DVD.

I'd be remiss if I failed to mention that the majority of people trying to convert a variety of VOB (DVD format) files into burnable packages are doing so in connection with pornographic movies. Doesn't matter if it's "Saving Ryan's Privates," "Midget Bondage In Heat" or "The Rabbi's in Love," the short n' long of it is that this realm is dominated by porn. In fact, if you visit any site that's of indeterminable legitimacy -- that is to say, a site which offers up high-end programs (Adobe, Microsoft, etc.) there's a large likelihood that you'll see all sorts of porn-related pop-ups, banners and a lot of other unsavory advertising. Hence why Microsoft integrated a pop-up blocker into its second service pack for Windows XP; many of the sites that feature freebie software is run, and many times overpopulated, with people who (are able to) hack into Internet Explorer and other Microsoft offerings and exploit all sorts of holes that Microsoft didn't bother to plug prior to releasing its software.

What's more worrisome than the ads, the pop-ups and the barrage of porn that these sites ante up is the things that aren't seen; when you browse to a questionable site as described above, the site, as many legitimate sites do, passes to your computer "cookies" -- little documents which let the site know who you are and your site-related info, like your login name and other specific info. For example, when you return to hotmail, gmail or yahoo mail, it "knows" your e-mail address and requires you only type in your password. It knows these things because it stores a bunch of data on your PC in the form of a cookie. Essentially, cookies are what make know who you are when you return to the site.

However, the cookies that come from the non-legit sites aren't merely collections of site-specific data; sometimes they are designed to track and report back to the site where you're going. Other times they're outright malicious, hijacking your browser and filling your favorites list with porn and other garbage that simply appears, as if by magic. However, just like the magician doing half-hour shows at the local Howard Johnson "sawing" a lady in half, things aren't nearly as simple as they appear.

With all this in mind, I downloaded a program by Pegasys Software called TMPG Encoder, which is designed, essentially, to take the by-product of a DVD (the video and audio tracks, respectively) and combine them into a "usable" file. Being that it's a long, convoluted process (much like reading the HoB), the abbreviated, need-to-know summary is that it's a long, arduous process but the final product looks a lot like a film on DVD.

Except when I downloaded the program from a DVD Burning Guide Site, I hit the install button and, within thirty seconds, I experienced total system meltdown. The other system processes halted like a nun seeing Jesus at the 7-11. My browser crapped out, my e-mail program got trounced, and before I knew it, the system was hanging out to dry, with me powerless and observing the virtual carnage.

Keep in mind, by the way, that all of this happened because I wanted to watch a DVD that I OWN on my OWN DAMN TV. WTF...

Now, the fact that "I'm" still here gives away the happy ending to this traumatic episode; and despite the possibility that I ran right out to an Internet Cafe or CompUSA, Best Buy or Radio Shack and quickly purchased a new machine, I did no such thing. Essentially, I rebooted into Safe Mode (I'll 'splain in a sec), ran an anti-spyware program, cleaned out my computer, then did a System Restore. Good as new. Sort of.


The geek portion of this post is brought to you, incidentally, by Quaker Oats and Hallmark's new Martha Stewart Greeting Cards Collection, for when you care enough to send the very best, but can't get the very best past those damn guards.

Anytime your machine is going south, quickly, it's best to first stop the bleeding and then repair the wound(s). Had my machine not been totally beyond my control I wouldn't have rebooted, but neither here nor there. I'll say this: anyone who goes online with any regularity needs to get a copy of Ad-Aware by Lavasoft (Lavasoft). It's free, it's easily updated and it roots out the accumulation of crap you acquire by surfing even a half hour a day as efficiently as an angioplasty cleans out cholesterol and plaque. You fire it up, check for updates and then let it scan your entire machine; pretty soon it gives you a list of the bad stuff on your machine and with two clicks it can be easily and permanently removed.

Another program you're going to need in your online travels is a reputable, self-updating anti-virus program. I use Symantec, but offerings by McAfee are as good. Reputable implies a program that will be able to check e-mail as well as incoming cookies on the fly, not merely during your monthly system virus check-up. You need to have the PC self-diagnose every night or every morning, preferably when you're not busy online and/or working. A good time to scan is 3 or 4 in the morning, as most people -- aside from morgue employees -- are sleeping. "Self-updating," incidentally, means the program -- at a time and frequency you dictate -- goes to a specific site and downloads the list of newly-created virii and integrates them into the program, along with all the old ones. That means if some kid in Russia is writing a program which could take down NATO's Cray Supercomputers, so be it; but you'll still be able to go online and play backgammon with LadyVixen337 from Wappinger Falls at 10 tonight.

The final thing with which you need to equip your machine is a good amount of common sense. Too often I've been faced with something while online that just doesn't seem to be right. If it doesn't seem like it makes sense, odds are something bad is happening. Keeping your eyes open and being aware of what's happening is paramount to avoiding stepping in virtual doggie souvenirs on the oft-traveled information superhighway. And it's really not any harder to accomplish than just staying out of harm's way, not downloading any too-good-to-be-true programs, and not signing up for every mailing list relating to your lovely Coca-Cola bottle collection.


So why the excessive mini-treatise pertaining to PC security? Well, for one thing, since I handle my company's IT stuff (networks, upgrades, hardware, software and e-mail), I get a lot of calls from friends and neighbors needing help with their PC's, and 99% of the time it's through no fault of their own that the machine stops working as designed. Boogie's Third Law of Computers: any time you make a simple change to a computer's settings, it's almost always guaranteed to come back to bite you in the ass. It doesn't matter if you're changing the resolution, installing a new program or opting to replace something major, like a hard drive, a video card or the PC itself. Something always goes wrong, it's never like it is on TV, and no one ever -- EVER -- lives happily after; they just go to sleep and assume it'll fix itself. Incidentally, Ad-Aware is one of the exceptions to this rule; otherwise, I wouldn't 'zactly tell you to go download it, if only because I don't want to deal with the e-mails, calls and fruit baskets I'll receive once it's clear that the flyer for your "An Evening of Chess and Dancing" for your local chess club is infected with the virtual equivalent of the ebola virus, and something is now eating away (literally) at your keyboard, your mouse and your genitalia.

All in all, instead of observing my own rules and finishing up some basic work I needed to complete tonight, I spent an hour sifting through the wreckage, cleaning it out, and restoring the PC to its former glory that I could have saved had I just been a little slower in downloading one lil' program. It's common sense, and we all (fail to) do it, but if I fuck up, I have the wherewithall (and the lack of sleep) to make sure the problem is solved ASAP. If you've fucked up, you'd better pray that my girlfriend and I aren't somewhere downtown behaving in a lewd manner in the "P" aisle at Tower Records.

But if all these things do come to pass, and you need to get in touch, remember Boogie's final rule: a friend calling with bail money is a better friend than one without.

Monday, April 11, 2005

I Must Have ESP(N)

A couple days ago I was archiving a bunch of crap off my hard drive and simultaneously doing some clean-up on some family videos we had transferred onto videotape/DVD. Essentially, I was dressing them up, improving the lighting/effects, and combining them from 8 DVD's into about two. As I was doing this, I remembered a DVD I'd bought about five years ago from Amazon.UK, "Who Dares Wins."

The sub-story goes as follows: the aforementioned film is English, but the producers of said film released it over here and re-badged it "The Final Option." In both guises, it's a thriller about the SAS, the elite anti-terrorist TAC squad that is an autonomous sub-unit of the British Special Forces, and it stands for "Special Air Service" (although members thereof use this acronym to embody speed, agression and surprise). The American equivalent is Seal Team Six, which, for the most part, is modeled after the modern SAS, and needless to say, both units are extremely efficient, effective rescue-and-destroy squads. The film's English title is the SAS motto, whereas the American title describes the situation in which the SAS's services are requested. Anyhoo...the dual-titled film has quite a respectable cast, including Lewis Collins, Judy Davis, Edward Woodward and Richard Widmark, to name a few. Casting aside, the action sequences are about as incredible to watch as anything committed to film before or after.

As I mentioned earlier, I'd purchased the film on DVD from the UK and was hoping it would play on my home DVD player; it wouldn't. For those of you not in the know, DVD's are "locked" by region, so any DVD you purchase here will only work in players made for North America; same goes with other nations -- buy a DVD in England and try to play it here and you're SOL. Worse still, which I'll briefly cover later, is that England's televisions are encoded to PAL, whereas American televisions, until very recently, were strictly NTSC (and now are increasingly becoming HD/High Definition). This meant I was able to enjoy it from -- and only from -- the comfort of my desk chair on my PC and not my home shake-the-couch theater. La-dee-frickin'-da. So I spent the better part of a few years watching the film, if at all, on my PC, hoping that one day, with the advent of recordable DVD's, I'd get the opportunity to stuff that sucker into my home DVD player and rouse the neighbors with the sounds of helicopters, SAS personnel crashing through embassy windows, flash-bang grenades, and some bitchin' theme music.

No dice.

So this past weekend, whilst archiving stuff off the PC onto DVD's, I was putzing around the house and cleaning up in preparation for my girlfriend's arrival; as such I came across the copy of Who Dares Wins and the idea hit me that since I was in prep DVD mode I ought to try to get it from a locked UK disc to an unlocked BoogieDisc.

So as I'm ripping, burning and stuffing (damn, why does GeekSpeak always sound like a hemorrhoidal condition?) the disc, I was having no luck. First, it was too large; second, I needed to find a way to get it from PAL to NTSC, which I was desperately (and unsuccessfully) trying to accomplish. Third, I was so busy with everything else it kept being relegated to the bottom of the pile, so to speak. And fourth, everytime I screwed up I wound up watching a few snippets of it, if at least to enjoy the soundtrack ;-) And not to be forgotten, I was on-and-off talking to my girlfriend, happily distracted by her melodious tones while she pursued a commercial venture somewhere across the Golden Gate Bridge...

Forgive the convoluted, regurgitated send-up; the main reason why I mention the film, and why I'm up at this ungodly hour, is because I shared the movie (on videotape, back when such things existed) with a friend of mine while we were at school, and despite the fact we were forced to watch an embassy siege on a 13" television (the speakers were bigger than the TV), we still got off watching it at least once a month. That friend, Ron, and I hadn't spoken for awhile so, as I was trying to get the film onto disc, I was thinking how I'd send him a copy in Hong Kong once I managed to complete the quest.

...Fast-forward to this morning, around 5:15. My phone rings -- and while I am usually in a sleep so deep at that hour that a sumo wrestler could use my head as an ass-pillow and I'd never know it -- I wake up and groggily answer the phone, assuming it was my other half. She's never called me that late/early, and she has rarely woken me up that late/early even when we're sharing the same bed, but I figured she couldn't sleep and wanted to hear my voice. So when I heard Ron's voice on the other end I was a bit puzzled, a bit pissed off and a bit bewildered.

Once I finally got my eyes to focus, we talked a bit -- of course, I thanked him profusely and very enthusiastically for waking me up before sunrise and let him know I would soon return the favor (more on that later). So in the meantime, he let me know his wife was having some health issues and he was a bit drained, so in lieu of speaking to any of his acquaintences in the land of the rising sun (he's a New Yorker but works for a financial organization in Japan), he figured he could (and would) call me.

So needless to say, once I was awake we talked, and it sounds like everything will be okay, but when a loved one's health is up in the air, the worry is palpable, scary and all-encompassing -- unfortunately, I know that all too well. He was privy to the entire debacle of the couple years that culminated in August of this past summer (if you need to know the back story, check the archives or e-mail me a request and I'll re-post it or send you a copy). In short, I told him how well my dad's been doing and how far back he's come since the summer, and I let him know that his other half would be fine as well. After that, we did a bit of catch-up; I told him about how the crazy ex situation was, thankfully, completely in the past tense, how far I'd come vis-a-vis my girlfriend and how happy I was (and how amazed I was that I was in the place I was in); he told me about playing hockey in Japan (most Japanese hockey players are about 5'6; he's 6'2, 260), how he was doing with work and gave me an in-depth description of having "woman sushi." That's a story for another time and place.

By the time I realized it was really fargin' early, we agreed that upon his next visit to NYC, we'd go find a pick-up hockey game and spend some time hangin'.

After a phone call like that, I found it near impossible to get back to bed, so I opted instead to commit the whole experience to blogspeak and jump in the shower. In any case, before I hit the bafroom, it occurred to me that I might have ESP. If not, at the very least, I am glad I have good friends that turn to me, and me to them, when the shit hits the fan.

Or, at the very least, when you're trying to watch a movie showing what happens when, and after, the shit hits the fan.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Carpe Diem, Carpe Pellegrino

Other than the rockin' weather here in NYC, there are few other developments on which I need to expound. However, that doesn't mean that a) the weather doesn't merit some acknowledgement, b) that nothing's been going on, or c) that I would fail to do my job in telling you what has been happening in the land of Boogie.

So, without further ado (although there really wasn't prior ado, so I'm not really sure if any ado is worth a to-do)...

As indicated above (and at any weather site in which New York City weather is described in any particular level of detail), this weekend, thus far, has been wonderful weather-wise. It's the kind of weekend you go take a walk and light up a cigar and enjoy not having to do anything but exist under the sun. I am heading out in a few minutes thusly, as I did some errands and some work this AM (more on this later). It's nice because I live close enough to the water to go hang out nearby and absorb the wind, the serenity and the sunshine without too much effort. The one negative, of course, is the post-winter spandex -- I've said it before and I'll say it again: there should be a law (yeah, I know -- sort of hypocritical on my part) that one needs to qualify to wear spandex in public. This not only applies to women, by the way -- the few guys that think I want an up-close-and-personal view of the outline of their sacks are way, way off. I don't. I don't need to know what your religious proclivities are, so keep the jewels off the boardwalk and we'll all be better off. And women who wear spandex should be required to apply for a license to do so; part of the licensing application process should include having a photograph of said applicant's ass, in said applicant's choice of spandex, shared among her friends. If any of them remark in this vein -- "Jesus, whoever that is has a huge ass, what're they doing in spandex?" -- said license will be denied. Sorry for the specific, harsh outset (especially on such a lovely day); it's just that if you are going to use spandex to show off not-so-goodies and ruin my day in the process, expect repercussions.

In returning back to non-spandex matters, I spent this AM doing some around-the-house work cleaning, organizing and walking around semi-nude, unshowered and unkempt. Then I high-tailed it into the shower and then got ready for a shitload of work. By 12:30 everything was wrapped up and I got out of the house soon after, met a friend and she and I headed to Costco on Roosevelt Island. I haven't been to a Costco -- ever -- though I have gone to a few other warehouse clubs in Northern NJ. Aside from the variety of people filtering through a huge warehouse space filled with anything that can be legally marketed in this country, I was amazed. I bought a variety of stuff: a 4-liter bottle of A-1 Steak Sauce; a 75-pack of Charmin (wink wink) that virtually assures me I'll need a new toilet before I need more toilet paper; a case each of Pellegrino and Diet Coke; a two-pack of Ceasar Dressing (in a convenient, 1/4-gallon jug size); a block (actually, a half-pound) of parmiagiano reggiano cheese; a bottle of garlic pesto sauce; a bottle of Advil; a 4-pack of Ziploc freezer bags; some socks -- for dress emergencies, o' course -- and a combo-package of two fans (one large/floor model and one small one). I also picked up a copy of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, and was going to buy mah woman a combo of Duran Duran's Greatest Hits on CD and DVD, but the package I had picked up, I noticed later, had a large crack down the middle, and I was concerned that one of or both discs might be damaged as well, so that went back on the shelf. I picked her up a few goodies elsewhere anyway, so she'll have to wait another day for the cracked Duran Duran combo ;-)

My friend purchased less chazerai than I did; she ended up getting the same fan combo pack, and bought water and some other stuff. All told we barely managed to fit everything into her car, but once we did we absconded ASAP from the Costco parking lot (which was as hazardous to navigate as the inside of the store itself).

I actually was pretty impressed with the variety and the sheer volume of stuff they sell in that place. I was also impressed with the quality of some of their food products; they had some good stuff floating around their meat case, and the prices are a lot better than those I've seen in NYC markets. And aside from Eli's, which is right near me, I think the quality of their stuff is as good if not better than what I've seen here (except for Eli's, which, I believe, has the best meat, fish and produce of any market in the City, Dean & Deluca/Gourmet Garage/Zabar's/Citarella be damned).

The only negative, of course, is that you have to buy in bulk, so unless you have the space to store a jug of salsa and will consume the perishable food items (in these huge quantities), you'll wind up tossing some of the goodies in the trash (which sort of defeats the purpose of saving money in the first place). But I liked the fact that they have everything and anything -- rubber gloves (a 24-pack), 1000-count packages of Dixie Cold Cups, and Pink Floyd CD's -- all under one roof.

Oh, the other negative, incidentally, is that the people in that place seem to be devoid of anything remotely resembling common sense when it comes to navigating with a shopping cart. I actually bumped into three or four peoples' carts because they were off drooling over the 96-pack of adult diapers or the Dr. Scholl's Gift Set section. But overall, it was a mesmerizing experience, one which I will repeat again the next time I have the urge to fill my hot tub with mango-corn chutney :-) In all seriousness, I might just have to rent another apartment to make sure I have room to store all my purchases, and get friends to come over and imbibe, ingest and enjoy the splendors of shopping for 40 :-)

The major development on the horizon, if the above was not sufficient, is the looming visit of my other half to NYC this coming weekend. She and I have have been working so hard that neither of us has had time to kick back and spend time with the other, so now that we've both got a quasi-respite in our schedules, we'll finally be able to spend four or five days of what will amount to be a vacation. Each time we're together, no matter where or when or what we're doing, I just find my life to be just right, and she manages to recharge, inspire and invigorate me in ways I never imagined possible. It doesn't have the potency of, say, a drum of Costco Anti-Freeze, mind you...but whatever she's got is still very powerful stuff :-)

So knowing she'll be here soon, the sun shining and the breeze cutting through my hair reminds me I have no right to complain -- ever.

And the fact that I haven't mentioned how incredibly well my father is doing here -- or even thought to worry or felt those pangs of concern about his well-being in a long, long while -- just ices a cake that I don't ever want to finish.

I'm going to go enjoy some fresh air...or, in its absence, go take a walk around my 'hood and enjoy myself, see the sights, hear the sounds, and take it all in. If there's anything to report (and when isn't there?) I'll let you know.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Issues Far and Wide, Plus The Minutemen

Well, despite a juicy, all-encompassing post that defined the meaning of life, the joy of seeing a piece of shit named Matthew Hale receive a 40-year sentence resulting from trademark arrogance, and the wind-down for the Pope's send-off, Blogspot wasn't having any of it.

So instead of these pearls of wisdom, coupled with my trademark irreverance, sarcasm and the occasional shout-out to my partner in crime (Kaia, you know who you are), Blogger was a little backed up and, apparently, wouldn't accept my post. Some fargin' nerve...and while it was out of my control and most assuredly the Big Man's way of telling me something (no, not Marlon Brando), I do apologize.

So rest assured, ye HoB faithful...this space will continue to be updated for as long as Blogspot is free and up and running. Once they start charging, I'll still be here -- I'll just start selling off my personal collection of used, unwashed boxer shorts. Incidentally, I'm not sure why when some 18-year-old twinkie from Sweden offers to sell her used panties they call it "sexy" and when I do the same they label it "laziness."

In any case, if you were wondering, I wasn't preoccupied with laundry, some 18-year-old twinkie's panties, or even Matthew Hale. But I was laughing a bit about the US Border Patrol's decision to empower civilians to keep watch over our borders. The "Minutemen" have been effective, but at what cost to us today and to us down the line? To wit, yesterday, Bryan Barton, one of those whose charge it is to protect our borders from illegal immigrants, was on patrol with two other Minutemen when they happened upon an illegal, and instead of simply detaining him or returning him to his country, they instead gave him food and water and took the photograph shown below.

The shirt's caption, for those who cannot make it out: "Bryan Barton caught me crossing the border and all I got was this lousy t-shirt."

There are myriad questions and problems with the "Minutemen" as a solution to our problems. On the surface, it's sad and pathetic that we've outsourced the protection of our borders to civilians (whether or not you think the above photograph is a good example of a sense of humor or simply one human being degrading another is irrelevant). The notion of vigilante justice -- despite what Charles Bronson did to improve its cache while he was alive -- is not something to which we should aspire but something we need to avoid. In addition, the gentleman pictured above accused Mr. Barton and his colleagues of improperly detaining him.

The police in question reviewed the incident and it was determined that Mr. Barton and his colleagues did nothing wrong.

However, this raises another interesting question: when will the first incident occur in which policemen side with immigrants -- illegal immigrants -- against citizens of this nation? Legality aside, what happens when one or more of the "Minutemen" decide that an illegal immigrant (eg a female) is their "property" and commit one or more crimes against her or her companions? Crimes committed on US soil are crimes, regardless of the nationality or the citizenship of the victim(s). However, in these sue, finger-point and settle-out-of-court times, this is a can of worms that will only get worse, not better. This "Minutemen" idea doesn't even sound good on paper.

The overall concern is that it invites trouble not simply legally but morally as well. In addition, despite the notion that we as citizens have a right and a responsibility to protect our nation, it is pathetic that we as a nation must enlist the help of civilians to prevent our borders from being violated. The answer: hire more police and border guards who are trained professionals, not a bunch of assholes with t-shirts, video cameras and paintball combat awards. It's silly, it's ridiculous and it needs to stop, before something really bad happens. This idea, especially considering today's litigious society, is like a festering hemorrhoid oozing the collective stupidity that is government-sponsored vigilantism. All it will take is one "shoot first, ask questions later" episode to remind us that, given the opportunity, humans will degrade and defile their fellow man, whether they are in Japanese internment camps, the sights of a 30-06 hunting rifle near a US border, or in concentration camps, the ghosts of which litter Eastern Europe. We should know better. By now, we should know better.

Of course, by "we" I mean people who aren't members of our government.

Image Courtesy MSNBC

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

We're Living In A Virtual World And I Am A Virtual Girl

Nothing is quite like the first really nice day after a dreary onslaught of winter weather. Today in midtown NYC was no exception. Aside from the fact that it hit 76 this afternoon, it was sunnyish and people were walking around in shorts, short sleeves, and the requisite spray-on spandex, jiggly thighs be damned.

But since I spent most of my day inside looking at the world through my PC monitor, I didn't have much time to enjoy anything but finishing up a shitload of work. So aside from enjoying the weather and today's efficiency, there were a few other observations which sparked neurons in the gray matter between my ears (I never said there was none, just not very much).

I've been using a P2P client called Ares at home. Ares is a file-sharing service, much like Napster was and Limewire and Kazaa are; whereas Napster was strictly a music-sharing concern, Ares, like Limewire and Kazaa, are programs which seek out other PC's running the same software and connect. Once connected, one user in New York can search for a file -- say, "Dancing Queen" by Abba or "Welcome to Planet Motherfucker" by White Zombie -- and a list of appropriate titles will pop up. The user then points his or her mouse at what he/she wants and clicks download -- and that's basically it.

"It," as indicated above, means you'll be waiting for a week to download a three-minute song unless said song is really popular, like "Lose Yourself" by Enimem, Gwen Stefani's "Gangsta Love," the Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" (Kaia's favorite) or anything off U2's newest album, "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb."

Even if your Internet connection is blazingly fast, like mine is, any P2P client (the acronym for peer-to-peer) will slow you down. It will do so on a number of levels, but, mainly, it sucks out bandwidth in connecting to whoever has the stuff you're downloading, as well as the stuff that other people are downloading from you. Sharing means you not only get goodies from other people but they can get your goodies too. For the most part, it's "illegal" and I don't advocate it -- except for the simple fact that I only listen and/or view the booty before I either decide to buy legit copies thereof or delete it from my system. What's most interesting is that stuff that you can't go out and buy -- like recordings of Dave Matthews at Madison Square Garden on 12/17/03 doing Led Zeppelin's Fool In The Rain -- are ripe for plucking. So for all the hype and the paranoia surrounding the MPAA/RIAA going after illegal downloaders, the stuff that makes the entire practice worthwhile is the stuff over which they have no control, jurisdiction or legal rights.

My CD collection these days is roughly, give or take, at 8,000 and counting, but a lot of those have been ripped, boxed up and stored virtually on a hard drive or an iPod and literally in a box somewhere. I'm a music person (duh) and I have a varied, eclectic collection, and as my girlfriend has pointed out, how can a person listen to that much music? I think that, for the most part, I've pretty much nixed watching TV aside from a select few shows and lots of Yankee, NY Giants and NY Ranger telecasts (when they're actually playing). So what becomes of all those little silver discs once their treasures have been ripped (digitally copied onto a hard drive) and stored for playback elsewhere? They either get sold, old, or packed away.

So where does that leave me, and why the hell did I take you here? Well...if PC's are increasingly our link to the outside world, then anything that grinds their speed to a halt is clearly a problem. And based on what I've been seeing and hearing from other users of P2P clients (not just Ares), this phenomenon is increasing rapidly. Despite the threats of lawsuits and technology and copyright infringement, people are sharing all kinds of stuff. I downloaded a clip of Cameron Diaz on SNL in the "Ladies Man" skit (nothing wrong with a little Courvosier -- ask my woman if you need verification). However, when I returned to find the clip had been fully downloaded, it turned out to be a couple of Asian people doing things that were at best entertaining and at worst illegal. I won't go into more specifics, but I'll never look at oak trees, salad tongs or a alligator clips in quite the same way.

Where's my point in all this? I think, for the most part, that when the entire world -- virtually speaking -- is available at the click of a mouse, the price -- essentially the slowing down of your virtual existence -- isn't worth it. Granted, I'd really love to be able to get an advance release copy of Robert Plant's new album, "Mighty Rearranger" -- it's not due out until mid-May but I can go get a copy of it and will have the entire thing on my drive in about a half hour -- but by doing so, I'll be forgoing any other function my PC could serve, including letting me complete a spreadsheet I started this afternoon for a new Application, doing some advance research at the Department of Buildings, and, most importantly, sending my other half some pictures I took. Yeah, I know...most of these issues are relegated to a little memory upgrade; but if God really wanted us to be able to download stuff, he wouldn't let people badge tree-porn with the names of legitimate stuff.

What I've found is that more and more of life is being lived via little devices -- cell-phones, iPods, Palms, pagers, PSP's, etc. -- and it's interesting how the generation after mine -- which grew up under the umbrella of the established Internet -- will react as virtual life evolves, devolves and corrupts itself as the framework on which its built can't keep up.

Meanwhile, right this second, I'm relieved knowing there's some guy sitting on his porch, smoking a pipe and drinking some cheap bourbon, admiring a sunset, talking with his wife...

On a cellphone. ;-)

Monday, April 04, 2005

Off-Day, Back On The Clock

I could have started off by saying I took yesterday off to mourn the passing of the Pope, but that wouldn't be quite true -- by any stretch. I could have said that seeing the Pope in all his Popeness, lying on that table, freaked me out a bit -- or even more than just a bit -- but that's not true either. In actuality, a friend of mine was in from (way) out of town -- Honduras, to be specific -- and he had an 18-hour layover in NYC so we wound up hangin' until he had to head back to the airport. Since we don't get to hang out much (he spends a load of time traveling all over the place) it worked out well. So last night we made our way over to Monster Sushi on 23rd -- a double-platter of eel, yellowtail, tuna, spicy California rolls, a Christmas roll (huge -- three bites each) and a Dragon roll, not to mention, of course, the requisite chilled sake and some tempura.

The first time the two of us went for sushi was a place in Georgetown (DC) -- we wound up each doing an oil can of Sapporo Dry, had some sushi, each having another oil can of Sapporo Dry, and then we went to see (in the theaters, to give you a sense of timing) Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall. Despite our complete, total and utter inebbriation, we completely understood and figured out the entire movie.

Needless to say, we've each seen said movie several times since (though in far more sober states of mind, respectively). Without speaking for him, I can't figure that damn movie out at all.

So, boys and girls, moral of the story: life is better when you're drunk on beer (no, I didn't get paid by Anheiser-Busch to write that -- but the check is in the mail, if ya know what I mean).

Anyway, back to the present tense -- he's on his way out of town in a few hours so I am going to get a few things squared away downtown for business, then we're going to get some food, he'll head to the airport, and I'm back on the road to the office.

One final note to keep in mind: we watched The Girl Next Door with 'the' Elisha Cuthbert, about a porn star who gives up that world in exchange for being a normal, everyday person. She temporarily moves into the house next door to a college senior recently-accepted to Georgetown University, but he's a total dweeb. She likes him, he likes her, and the only thing standing between them is her former producer, a freak named Kelly. Question is: is the guy who played Kelly the same guy from the HBO series Deadwood? I'm thinkin' yes. Either way, for another typical teen-angst-dork-finds-coolness-and-love-with-a-pornstar, it was entertaining. It didn't hurt that Elisha Cuthbert is so easy on the eyes, but as I told my other half several times, the one negative, for me, about the film was I kept being reminded how far away she lives now and focusing on how great it will be when she's living next door (or, at the very least, nearby).

So for the time being, fiction will have to supplant reality.

Of course, Kaia, my other half, was never a pornstar (at least I haven't been able to verify it was her), so that's always, um, a plus... ;-)

Yet another dose of reality: it's been nearly eight months since she and I have been in eachother's lives and we're still laughing, smiling and each wondering how we got so lucky. So I guess I shouldn't lament the negative but focus on the positive...

Thank you, The Elisha Cuthbert! ;-)

(Yes, I know I'm gonna pay for that)...


Saturday, April 02, 2005

RIP Pope John Paul II, A Man For All Seasons

I feel a bit awkward writing this second of three obituaries I've written this week, especially this following my April Fool's story. As much as I've dedicated this space to humor, logic and intellectual pursuits, it's also a place for sharing emotion and introspection, so I hope that the prior entry doesn't negate or in any way diminish from the message contained herein.


I recently discovered that Pope John Paul II was born on the same day as my grandmother. And watching the Pope's health decline so publicly, so rapidly and so markedly, touched me on several levels.

Being Jewish, I never held the Pope as a personal religious inspiration. However, over the last 25 years, and observing his accomplishments -- not only as a clergyman to the world but as a world leader -- especially in his reaching out and conciliation to other world religions, his involvement in the decimation of Communism in the Eastern Bloc, and his peaceful, calming influence on an otherwise violent, chaotic world, is stirring and impressive. He was the first Pope to enter a synagogue as well as the only Pope to enter a mosque. And he was the first non-Catholic to become Pope in 450 years. In short, he was a man of many achievements who did a lot of good -- as much as he could -- in any and all situations, and did so with a message and in the spirit of peace, no matter what he addressed or how violent, turbulent or difficult the issue.

The sound in the background as I'm writing this of the bells of the Vatican announcing the death of a Pope is coupled with a heavy rain here in NYC. I wonder if it's a coincidence, and I wonder where else -- and how heavily -- it's raining right now all over the world.

Editor's Note: One of the HoB faithful alerted me to a mistake I made in describing the Pope as the first non-Catholic to assume that position in 450 years; it should have read "the first non-Italian to become Pope in 450 years." Thanks to P.O. and my apologies. -B-

Friday, April 01, 2005

Link, The Peanut Butter, and The Plunger

So I had an interesting day.

After receiving a half-dozen death threats for my "Kill Terri Schiavo" doormat (one of which, written on toilet paper, was attached to my door -- with a hunting knife), I left my apartment this morning with a 40 oz of my favorite, Price Chopper Malt Liquor. But by the time I reached the bus line I was feeling a little woozy from the warm brew, so I cut in front of an old lady in the bus line and pushed a kid aside so I could sit in the last remaining handicapped seat. Then, mebbe it was the 40 oz I was knocking back, but all of a sudden I started belching -- and couldn't stop. The bus driver even turned around to ask me if I was okay. I almost threw up, and actually had to hand him the 40 while I leaned forward to prevent the dry-heave from becoming actual heave.

So finally I was able to suppress the natural urge to puke, but then I see the bus driver's parked my 40 in his cupholder or whatever. When I reach forward to grab it and he pushes me, and in my drunken haze, I fall back and down, taking with me a lady in her 60's or so wearing a fur thing around her shoulders. Only a) being drunk I actually thought it was something alive but that died when I landed on it, so b) I start freaking out; then when I realize she's all upset because I landed on her fur thing, I start stomping it like it's not quite dead yet, and as I do I'm yelling "Rat! Giant rat on the bus!" She swats at my face and nearly hits me, but I lean back, bumping into the bus driver, which sends the front end of the bus into a parked police car. As I'm trying to keep my balance, I grab at the fur-lady, but instead manage to tear at her blouse, or at least the part that was (mercifully) covering what was left of her breasts, which were pointed at the floor, if ya know what I mean.

So the bus driver jumps up at grabs me and tries throwing a punch at me but between being drunk (and rapidly sobering up) and half-ready to throw up from seeing the fur-lady's fun-bags alone, I fall down again -- just as the bus driver connects with a fat uppercut to fur-lady's schnoz. She drops like a brick, her blueish hair flying, her breast-like things flapping, and her dead fur thing swirling down the aisle of the bus.

So as I survey what's going on, the bus driver screams "Get up you asshole!" in my direction, and since I don't take kindly to being condescended to by bus drivers who steal my brew, I spin around and kick him square in the balls. He sank like the fur-lady's boobs and was squeaking something at me in Spanish as he grabbed the family jewels. Then I turned back and looked out the windshield of the bus to see two police officers with their guns pointed at the bus, so I figured I'd better blend in and looked over at the seat I'd been sitting in, but some little blind kid had grabbed it while I was on the floor, so I took the only other seat available -- the driver's seat -- and re-started the bus, stomped on the gas and got it moving. By the time the bus was back on the route, we'd only been hit by two of the cop's bullets.

Next thing I know, people are screaming for me to stop the bus, so I slam on the brakes, which causes everyone to shoot forward in a pile. People are yelling, cursing me and being impolite, so I figure I'd better get off the bus toot sweet, especially before the bus driver gets up and his jewels feel better, so I hit the open door button and bound down the stairs faster than a priest renews his subscription to "Boys Life." Suddenly I hear sirens and see flashing lights and I figure an ambulance is a-comin', so I run towards the lights, figuring I'll tell them some bullshit story and hightail it outta there -- but it's the cops, including one of the ones who shot at me.

Next thing I know, I'm spread eagled across the hood of Joey Bag O'Donut's patrol car, ass akimbo, and they're telling me that they would shoot me if there weren't so many witnesses. I make a mental note that I plan on suing the City for the poor attitudes of law enforcement. So anyway, next thing I know, one of the officers limps over and starts pointing a finger in my face and telling me they're going to lock me up for a long time. And he uses foul language. So I turn and give him a kick to his knee, which drops him like a sack o' potatoes, only with foul language. And the other guy yanks on my arm and asks me if I like that. I say "Not really, Pig, that actually hurts -- a lot."

Finally, a couple hours later, I wind up in a police precinct -- they still haven't told me which one -- and I was sharing a holding cell with Link, a performance artist who happens to specialize in using peanut butter in creative ways. He gave me a publicity picture which I've linked to below. Anyway, Link spent most of our time together on the toilet, and I don't think he was actually using the toilet, but common decency prohibits me from going into more detail. Suffice to say that he was making some weird noises, mostly the kinds of noises squirrels make right before they find their soulmates for the winter.

Link's Publicity Pic

Anyway, by the time I was released on my own recognizance, it was about 4:30 in the afternoon and I hadn't eaten and had to piss like a racehorse, so I walked a bit until I came upon a Starbucks. Knowing they sometimes sell food and snacks and have bathrooms, I stepped in and ordered a peanut butter brittle swizzle brownie, in honor of my newest friend Link. Then I went into the john and peed for what felt like a half hour. I come out and walk over to the fixin's counter, just like at Wendy's, only there's no ketchup.

As I am reaching to grab a napkin and some stirrers (they're great for entertaining blind kids), I accidentally knock over a cup of coffee that was on the counter, and -- what a coincidence -- who was standing there with coffee all over her but the fur-lady with the magically droopy boobs. I say "Howdy!" I was glad to see a familiar face, but she turned all red (except for her hair, which was still blue). So as I begin to help dry her with the napkins, I start patting her chest area dry as she starts yelling at me. So I say "Hey, I'm just trying to be helpful, no need to be so nasty, saggy!" And she responds with this horrific gasp, and then called me a hooligan, which really irritated me, because I hate soccer. So I say "Oh yeah, I saw your saggy boobs, blue-hair, they're saggy, saggy, saggy, saggy, saggy saggy!" To make sure she got my point I started skipping around the fixin's area of the Starbucks yelling "Saggy!" and all the customers are paying attention and laughing, so I hop on over to fur-lady and reach out to grab on of the fun-bags when I feel a bump on my head and I awake back in the same holding cell with Link, who was kneeling over me sporting a peanut-butter mustache and a q-tip sticking out of his ear.

The last thing I remember is hearing "Hey, Boogie, you need mouth-to-mouth?" before the cops came and processed me again. So they let me out, again, on my own recognizance, and as I was walking to the exit some big hairy cop says to me "Don't come back again, idiot" and I said "Have no fear, Dickweed, it smells like your shorts in here anyway." Apparently that was the wrong answer, because he swung something that looked like a billy-club (or a plunger) in my direction and that was all she wrote. I remember being dragged and then I passed out again.

So here I am, back, cellin' with Link, a tub of peanut butter and -- somehow -- a fur wrap that seems to be glued to my ass. I'm going to have some prison-made whiskey a little later and have Link rip the fur-thing off. He says peanut butter will soothe the area once he does it, so he told me to bend over the bunk once I'm good and drunk.

Somehow I have a feeling it's going to be a long night.

If you have $2,500 for bail and a place for me to crash, find me at holding cell #14, prisoner #154788. I'll be the one with a tail, peanut butter on my ass and reading a dog-eared copy of Big Juggs.

Oh, by the way, Happy April Fool's Day!

Image Courtesy