Thursday, June 30, 2005

For the Admitted Co-Dependent: The Boyfriend Pillow

Translated: "Available in Hold Me Blue, Dry My Tears Pink, and
I Can't Live Without You Green. Collect all 3 to suit your mood or dosage."
Coming Soon: "The Boyfriend Pillow 2: With programmable "sweet nothings" and cup-holder!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

If You're An Actor, Act; Play a Mime and STFU!

Over the past six or so weeks, I've quietly observed the highly public "romance" between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. I've read how he's 42 and she's 26 (age, not IQ), watched the two of them cavort publicly in ways that are largely baffling. They're both attractive people, although, from what I've heard, Tom's got a bit of a natural odor thing happening, and Katie has a permanent look on her face like a deer caught in the headlights. She seems out of place and completely uncomfortable each time she's promoting a movie or photographed outside a movie/TV show set. An ex of mine was like that: completely and thoroughly uncomfortable in her own skin.

So why is any of this relevant? Well, since Mr. Cruise and Ms. Holmes opted to publicize their "romance," the backlash from the public has been unanimous; many believe the two are merely pretending to be seeing one another to enhance the publicity for each of their respective summer films (he of "War of The Worlds" and she of "Batman Begins"). In response to the complete disbelief of the American public, Mr. Cruise opted to visit Oprah and proclaim his true, genuine love for Ms. Holmes. Not only did he do that, he did so by jumping around on a couch, dropping to one knee and, generally speaking, making a complete asshole of himself. All, he claimed, in the name of true love.


Problem is, this only further engorged the nation's disinterest in this farce. And the more irritated the two became, and the more Mr. Cruise pointed a finger at the public for ridiculing his and Ms. Holmes' love as the farce that it seemingly is, the more the public responded with disinterest, apathy and ridicule.

So Mr. Cruise, not content to be pushed to the back-burner of the American Celebrity Lexicon, publicly criticized Brooke Sheilds for her decision to take anti-depressants after she gave birth to a child earlier this year. Simultaneously, Mr. Cruise also began fielding questions and defending his choice to practice Scientology, a religion created by L. Ron Hubbard, the guy who also created a 400-page sci-fi tome called Dianetics. In discussing both topics with Matt Lauer of the "Today" morning show on NBC last week, Mr. Cruise was accusatory and went so far as to refer to Psychiatry as a 'pseudo-science' and argue with Mr. Lauer by saying "You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do."

Subsequently, in the midst of all this activity, Mr. Cruise opted to answer questions for a French red carpet interviewer last week en route to the War of the Worlds premiere; during said interview, the man conducting the interview apparently had been using a gag microphone and squirted water into Mr. Cruise's face. Rather than laughing and accepting the joke, he called the guy a jerk and had him (and his associate) arrested for assault.

And today Mr. Cruise's film was finally released. Not to be outdone, Mr. Cruise recently in a German magazine claimed that there are likely aliens out there.

I don't know what the fuck is wrong with him, but it seems that Mr. Cruise is on the same collision course with Total Asshole Status that Mel Gibson achieved over the last year or two during the making /release of The Passion of the Christ. With all due respect to Mr. Gibson, however, it took him awhile to reach this plateau, whereas Mr. Cruise has managed to rebrand himself a complete asshole in less than two months. That's talent!

Both Mr. Cruise and Mr. Gibson are talented actors, and they have made films I have and continue to enjoy. But what they have in common -- in my opinion, anyway -- is that they'd be better keeping their opinions out of the public eye. If Mel Gibson hadn't spouted off like an authority on Catholicism last year, most people would never have learned he and his family are anti-semitic, closed-minded people. We would have never learned both he and his father deny the Holocaust took place, and we would have continued to support and respect someone who is, ostensibly, a piece of shit.

Mr. Cruise isn't hateful, but he's arrogant, judgemental and -- these days -- a bit loopy. I always had a respect for Mr. Cruise; even if I didn't enjoy all of his films, I always respected his work and never really had a problem with him per se. And then the last six weeks, and his personality, came out of the closet. After all this, not only do I not want to see "War of the Worlds" (a movie I wanted to see before he began his PR tour for same), I hope it ends quickly so I don't need to see or hear about Mr. Cruise, Ms. Holmes or Scientology for another decade.

Now that's unlikely, because I hear the movie is actually good, if not downright solid. But from this point forward, my opinion of Mr. Cruise -- much like my opinion of Mr. Gibson -- has changed dramatically (and permanently) since he decided play himself in public.

When are actors going to realize the reason why they are successful is because we, as the public, would prefer them to be/portray someone else and not themselves? I don't want to hear Barbra Streisand's opinion on how to defeat Al Qaeda, I don't care what Alec Baldwin thinks of Proposition 162 in Albany, and I could care less what John Travolta thinks is the source of happiness in the universe. Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, I am sure, are good people, but I could care less what their thoughts are on the economy or prisoners at Gitmo.

These people are not famous for their thoughts, they are famous for portraying and reciting the thoughts of others: so stick to the script and keep your mouth shut when there's no pre-printed words on the page.


That's a wrap.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Baseball, Hockey, 3,000 Hits and The Truth

When it rains, it pours.

First of all, today was a rainy, crappy day in NYC, so that started things out in a good way. Why good? Because instead of the humidity breaking down the spirit of the entire city population, it was replaced with cooling rain; at times the rain teemed, but the temps dropped as a result and it's actually somewhat comfortable to breathe. So every little bit helps.

Second, the Yankees have re-emerged. They managed to win two consecutive games, neither of which many of their faithful fans, myself included, expected they would win. Yesterday they beat the Mets to salvage one measly victory of an otherwise embarassing three-game set at the Stadium -- and if they had lost last night's game, I fully expected today would have brought a tirade from King George. Instead, he had his spokesman issue a press release suggesting that Mr. Steinbrenner's patience regarding the Yankees' miserable play was wearing thin. About fucking time. I am amazed George has been as patient as he has been; but now things might change. The rest of us have watched the Yankees win a half-dozen in a row and then give away a series of games to lousy, crappy teams (Tampa, Kansas City, et al). So now that George is out of the closet, and the Yankees beat the Mets last night and the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles this evening, things might very well start looking up.

Then again, I wouldn't bet my shorts they'll win another game this week. Sorry, it's just reality governing my otherwise Yankee-blue-blood.

It gets better, however. The NHL is on its way back to the back burner of American sports. It's been widely (and quietly) speculated that, with the NBA's quick cure of their labor dispute, the NHL was able to work with the NHLPA (NHL Players Association) and, finally, hammer out the essentials in a new collective bargaining agreement. So now that professional hockey's imminent return is a likelihood rather than a long-shot, it was with some glee I watched Jeremy Roenick, a top-tier player for the Philadelphia Flyers, conduct a press conference in which he shared some of his thoughts on the entire labor-dispute process. Much of what he revealed was that the players suffered greatly throughout this process, but part of his shpiel included the fact that the players aren't spoiled. I beg to differ. He then went on to criticize fans for criticizing players for pointing the finger at the players.

Now, as many of the HoB faithful know, I respect others' opinions, despite the fact that, if theirs differs from mine, they are clearly wrong :-) A hint for Mr. Roenick: after pissing away an entire season of a sport for -- essentially -- no good reason, pointing a finger at the fans is far from the smartest move a player can make. In fact, if the baseball labor issues taught us anything, it's that fans are fickle, are increasingly unwilling to cater and cow to prima donna athletes making in one game what many the normal working-class guy makes in a year, and that every action has a definite reaction. So if any of you reading this want to check out the FOXSports video of Mr. Roenick's comments, you can do so here; in either case, it amazes me that he is so foolish as to actually criticize fans after he and his brethren did all they could to destroy a sport that needs all the help it can get, and do so all -- and merely -- for money.

Oh, and one final note: today the HoB reached 3,000 hits since November. It's been a long, hard road, and this Blog has allowed me to chronicle, showcase and to cordone the many highs and lows I've experienced since opening these doors. Since the HoB became reality, I've reclaimed my sanity, nearly lost my father, watched my father and his health return to (almost) normal, and I've made a lot of friends, and found someone with whom I can't live without. It's really amazing how far I've come since the inception of this place; to imply the 180-degree turnaround seems far too cliched and minimizing the reality of what I've experienced. Instead I will say this: as my other half's mom, with whom I talked for a half-hour tonight, said, things like what I've experienced since mid-August make one realize how precious and short life is, and allow each of us to cherish the time and the people with whom we are linked. And while that is most unequivocally true, I not only appreciate who I've got in my life, I am equally appreciative of who I do not. So I again express my gratitude to all those who have contributed to this place and to my survival over the past ten months; I could not -- and did not -- do any of this without your help. And to those people who come here for their own sick, twisted reasons, I pity you for having so little positivity in your lives that you need to come here to somehow realize what it is you're missing therein. For those disturbed, pathetic individuals, several verses from the former band Soundgarden to usher you to the red door and out onto the street:
The day I tried to live
I wallowed in the blood and mud with
All the other pigs
I woke the same as any other day you know
I should have stayed in bed

The day I tried to win
I wallowed in the blood and mud with
All the other pigs
And I learned that I was a liar
Just like you.

For the rest of you, c'mon in and pull up a seat. We're just getting started.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Out and About

I meant to swing back here sooner, but the last few days have been fraught with too much work and not enough play. So prior digging into the rationale behind today's textual missive, I offer my apologies to those who have come here in search of whatever it is they intend to find.

So where to begin? Friday seems a logical choice. It was a day filled with projects and errands; I wound up heading downtown, where the temperature was approaching 90 except by the South Street Seaport, which has the double-edged sword of decreased temperatures (as it's by the water -- hence the 'Seaport' tag) but also with it carries the sharp, acrid scent of fish. I love almost all types of seafood, but the smell of fish in the 2PM sun on a hot summer NYC day doesn't whet my appetite. And since I am within three blocks of the Seaport with nearly every visit downtown, I get the mixed blessing of cool fish-scent. Pros and cons.

We left the office a bit early on Friday -- around 4ish -- and headed back uptown. I brought work with me to get done at home, which I do with regularity these days. I got an invite to meet friends in Connecticut at the Mohegan Sun Casino, which I visited awhile back. I'd also taken a trip to Foxwoods, which is near the Mystic Seaport (both also in Connecticut) so I knew the drill and would have liked to go. But work was beckoning, and the plan -- finish my work Friday (and, if necessary, Saturday AM) and then head up. But it didn't quite work out that way; Friday night I crashed early with my other half -- she informed me that we both fell asleep on the phone -- and Saturday AM, despite getting up early and getting shitloads accomplished, became mid-Saturday afternoon before I finally put to bed the big project on which I'd been focusing. So I was/am stuck in NYC. There are worse things in life, but I still would have liked to go to Mohegan Sun and the nearby attractions. I told my friends that the next visit would include my other half, who also would like to hit the Casino. She's not yet been to Mystic, but it's really a nice, quaint town -- very New England with a touch of Vail or Aspen -- so sometime over this summer (perhaps in the few weeks she's here) we'll hit it, and if not this summer, then next. For the first time in a long time, it feels like we've got all the time in the world.

Speaking of my other half...I sent her a package of some goodies, some for her and some for her family. Since she's going to be here for awhile, I wanted to lessen her load coming home, plus I wanted to get some of the assortment out of my place...thus far she's planning on spending about three weeks here, which will be a test-run for the two of us in a manner of sorts. Thus far she's been here for six-day jaunts, and each time it feels that she's packing to leave only hours after she's arrived, so we're looking forward to actually having some real time together.

In other HoB news, today's my mother's -- and Derek Jeter's -- birthday. We're actually postponing celebrating her birthday so my other half will be able to join us. Not sure what we'll do...we may do a backyard BBQ with family et al...but either way we are looking forward to doing something special. As much as it always is nice for us to get together and celebrate, it's even nicer that we're all together and happy. I feel badly for people who are geographically or socially separated from their families -- especially for people who know what they're missing.

I just got interrupted by a phone call from my other half, so now, a half-hour later, I'm going to cut this post short and go skating by the water. But as we plan and conspire over the next few weeks, I recalled a joke a female friend of mine recently told me. "How are oxygen and sex similar?"

The answer, of course, is: neither is important until you're deprived thereof.

And with that, I'll leave you to ponder the significance of that fact :)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Boom, Like That (a/k/a Sieze This!)

Today's HoB entry was supposed to be a celebration of the newest release (and some recent prior releases) by Mark Knopfler, the former front-man for Dire Straits. However, that will have to be shelved in favor of a discussion of today's issuance by the Supreme Court of their opinion in KELO ET AL. v. CITY OF NEW LONDON ET AL. The case involves some homeowners in a working-class neighborhood who were resisting attempts by the city of New London, CT, in its desire to sieze their houses for private use. While all cases heard by the Supreme Court are of significance (hence their being heard by the most sovereign court in the US), today's decision has -- unfortunately -- serious, far-reaching consequences.

Essentially, the opinion permits local towns and municipalities, in the name of community enhancement, to appropriate (read: sieze) houses and other forms of property in order to facilitate expansion and community renewal for not only public use but for private and/or corporate expansion. What this means -- to the layperson -- is that if you own a house that is in the way of a town's or city's geographic building plans -- not merely for a new highway or electric plant, but for that of a new corporate structure/office building, the town has the legal right, thanks to today's decision, to sieze your property (reimbursing you for the value of said property) and bulldoze your house to make way for construction, even if said construction is for private, non-public use.

If that doesn't frighten you or at least make you wonder if the nine members of the Supreme Court have lost their collective minds, then I suspect you're either naive or not quite processing the danger inherent as a result of today's decision.

In its most basic form, today's decision strengthens and legitimizes the power of the state over the individual, and means that your most valued property -- your house -- is no longer quite your own. In years past, and in movies (from "The Grapes of Wrath" to Jean-Claude Van Damme's "Nowhere to Run"), the notion of the government bullying a property owner into relinquishing ownership of their house has been played and re-played to death. But in years past, much of that expansion has involved public construction: roads/highways, infrastructure, power generators, nuclear plants, and even public parks. Today's decision, however, turns the notion of the siezure of personal property for public use on its ear by further allowing the state (or the town) to delete a house or other edifice merely to pave the way for more commerce (ie an office/corporate structure) which in turn allows the state/town to improve itself from the inside out -- or from the ground up. The problem here -- and thanks to conspiracy theorists and movies produced since the Watergate scandal of the 1970's -- is that the decision hands control and discretion to towns and states by suggesting that local officials are entitled (and qualified) to make improvements to their town (even if said improvements do not eliminate eyesores, ie a tiny shack in the middle of a luxurious, wealthy neighborhood) with little or no resistance.

This, in layman's terms, is disturbing. The Fifth Amendment, which largely has served as the main deterrent to states and towns controlling its residents and their property, basically just got shredded.

The language of the Fifth Amendment, for those who don't have a handy copy of the Constitution, is as follows:

Article [V.]No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise
infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in
cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual
service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the
same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled
in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be
taken for public use, without just compensation.

The Fifth Amendment, as part of The Bill of Rights, was ratified between 1789 and 1791 (it was ratified on a state-by-state basis). So a 200-plus-year-old protection of property was just wadded up and discarded like a piece of junk mail.

The notion of the siezure of property which blights the community isn't new; this type of siezure has been present communities since the 1950's. Even New York City is not immune from this treatment; in the name of expansion, the City has steamrolled hundreds of lots in the name of public-minded construction. The example, and the theory behind this concept, is that a tiny two-room shack in the middle of Times Square could (and should) be better utilized and, therefore, is siezed, leveled and deleted to make way for an office building or hotel which fosters thousands of jobs, commerce, revenue for the City, and therefore serves a public need. Hence the legitimacy when litmus-tested against the confines of the Fifth Amendment.

However, the very nature of "public use" was today redefined. According to the Supreme Court, even if the siezed land is not opened up for de-facto public use, a city/town/state can, via a duly-filed economic development plan, demonstrate that a private entity planning a private-use structure still can qualify as having public benefit.

In plain english, today's decision marks a significant eroding of personal freedom, and while I am not a card-carrying, liberal-minded trumpeter of the ACLU, today's decision will -- without question -- have disturbing, far-reaching implications for years to come.

Next thing you know, the Supreme Court will tell us we don't really own the music contained on the CD's we have purchased, and transferring same to computers, portable digital music players, and even listening to them in public places is no longer legal.

As Mark Knopfler sings on his new release: "Boom, like that."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Daily Line of Sight

The news isn't all depressing. After all, Charles H. Ramsey, Washington, D.C.'s police chief, had his unmarked police-issue car stolen over the weekend.

If that's not enough, it was recently indicated that in a soon-to-be released GQ article, Saddam Hussein is an OCD clean freak who loves Cheetos but loves Doritos even more.

Michael Schiavo and his former in-laws, Bob & Mary Schindler, have not finished their long-standing feud. And it doesn't appear that said feud will abate anytime soon. Yesterday, in a brief (and nearly unannounced) ceremony in Clearwater, Florida, Ms. Schiavo's cremated remains were buried. With that, her parents complained that they were not given prior notice that the ceremony was to take place. In addition, the headstone carried the words "I Kept My Promise" and the dates February 25, 1990 as the day she "departed this earth" and March 25, 2005, the day she was finally "at peace." The Schindlers' attorney described those two dates as a shot at "the grieving parents;" frankly, the fact that her parents and their lawyer are still carrying on this crusade to destroy their daughter's legacy, and went on the offensive on the very day which their daughter's remains were finally committed to the ground -- says a lot about them. What it says is they talk about right and wrong and obeying god's word; it also says they have no clue about karma. Grieving parents do just that; they grieve. They don't issue press releases and use the media as some sort of weapon to continue a vendetta against their daughter's husband. I can't even imagine -- well, actually, based on several years of personal history, I can -- how awful these parents were to their daughter while she was alive. It saddens me to learn that parents won't stop their relentless, overbearing, maniacal destruction of any- and everyone connected to their daughter, including her legacy. Message to the Schindlers: parents who are grieving their daughter's death don't have some shyster mouthpiece taking shots at their daughter's husband via the media. The three of them are imbeciles...pure and simple, total, utter, complete imbeciles.

On top of that, the Yankees -- after a six-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium -- managed to tank yet another game against the Tampa Bay Devil-Rays. That's not especially good news, of course; but it is interesting, considering Tampa Bay is one of the worst teams in baseball (the other being the Kansas City Royals) and Tampa has managed to beat the Yankees in each game they've played save for twice. Oh, and the other team that's among the Major League Baseball bottom-dwellers -- the Kansas City Royals -- swept the Yankees.

That's not particularly good news, so we'll leave the Yankees out of the equation.

A very brief wrap-up, however, vis-a-vis Father's Day...there is no better news for my family and I than watching my father quietly and contentedly opening cards and gifts knowing Sunday was a day in the making for the better part of nine months, a third of which time he spent in the ICU. He opened at least a half-dozen cards from the three of us, and I am sure each carried with it a message of appreciation and relief and happiness that we could celebrate with him, and he with us, this day. I think, overall, that there are things in life which leave their mark on us forever. Some are awful; some are simply memorable for their significance to us; and some are awful in their scope, their significance and their ability to change our perspective (not always in a good or bad way). This past summer's events did so for us all, and this past Father's Day went a long way in not so much erasing the difficulty of those days or the gut-wrenching hours we spent watching and waiting; what it did was remind us why we were so scared, who our true friends are, and why we can smile so deeply today.

And for me, there's no better news than that.


Saturday, June 18, 2005

A Day of Non-Reckoning

Put into context, Father's Day is, for the most part, an opportunity for people to celebrate, or at the very least, acknowledge their fathers, fathers-in-law, grandfathers, and, in general, their families.

In the context of the past year of my life, however, this particular Father's Day represents a different, and far more valuable, scope of significance. This might have been the Father's Day that never was.

Without delving into too much history (not for brevity but in an interest to save bandwidth) I was in a far different place in my life a year ago than I find myself now. I was in an ill-advised relationship in which I was engaged to a woman and her parents, who, with her permission, were emotionally stifling her, and our, lives. Her parents involved themselves in her daily life without impunity or hesitation, so as the summer wore on, they did so with mine as well. Out of nowhere, or at least so I thought, her father stepped over the line and in a brief instant the engagement, and the relationship, ended. In the process, my father became ill and had a severe heart attack. Two surgeries later, he wound up in the ICU and spent three months recuperating there. Finally, in November, he was discharged, and as of this writing, he is increasingly more like himself. In the interest of our desire to put all of that -- the relationship, the dysfunction and his medical problems -- behind us, we don't often discuss it anymore. We spent the better part of August through November doing so, and now that he has returned to form we hope we never experience anything more repulsive, sickening or awful than we did during those three months. Personally, I know the unfortunate lessons I learned over those three months (and the couple years prior thereto) will help me see things -- and people -- with far more focused clarity.

So tomorrow's festivities -- whatever we opt to do -- will likely be relatively restrained and subdued. But the fact that we are celebrating -- together, as a family -- is and has been something I've celebrated since November and before. And as much as I have been amazed by and been aghast at the lamentable, pathetic dysfunction which defines others' lives, I realized then, and continue to realize, how lucky I am to have my family, my other half and the friends I have amassed, not merely over the past year but throughout the course of my life.

Given that context, and my relationship with my other half (and her father, who has restored my faith in people less than a year after it was, rightfully, questioned), things are good. A friend of mine and I were recently talking about the past, present and future, and as we discussed how I've been e-mailing back and forth with Kaia's dad -- who is such a great, menschy guy -- and we both marveled at the disparity -- like night and day -- of the difference of only one year. So between my Dad, who manages to make me smile on a daily basis, and her father, who never fails to remind me how lucky I am his "predecessor" had such serious problems, regularly leaves me shaking my head in relief.

His being a maniacal Yankee fan like my father and I doesn't hurt either :-)

And as if on cue, Derek Jeter hit his first career grand slam. As they say: timing is everything.

Tomorrow, thankfully, is not a day of reckoning, but one of reflection, relief and renewal. I am, admittedly, very fortunate to have learned by experience the value of acknowledging these days, and the people that matter most, before being forced to forfeit the opportunity to do so. And that in and of itself is worthy of, and a call for, celebration.

Happy Father's Day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Terri Schiavo: Back From The Dead (Briefly)

The remnants of the national right-to-die debate spurred on by the Terri Schiavo case came to a close today. The autopsy was released by Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin, and there were few surprises. These included:
  • there was no conclusive proof Ms. Shiavo had a heart attack in 1990 (which was what was suspected as causing her massive brain damage in the first place);
  • there was no proof that she had an eating disorder;
  • there was no evidence of any trauma, including strangulation or abuse, that led to her condition (as suggested by her parents vis-a-vis Michael Schiavo);
  • she was blind (the "vision centers of her brain were dead").
Of the non-surprises, Mr. Thogmartin concluded the following: "Her brain weighed 615 grams, roughly half of the expected weight of a human brain," he said. "This damage was irreversible, and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons." So no amount of bluster, pleading or smokescreen would have changed her fate, despite the attempt at swaying those among us who were skeptical of what today's findings demonstrate with cold, scientific fact.

Anyone who scolded his or her friend, neighbor or stranger against allowing this woman -- with half a brain, no real human function, no ability to think or to reason, living in literal and figurative darkness -- to die ought to be ashamed of him- or herself. This case was a sad example of several things. It highlighted our penchant for mercy and for compassion, on both sides of the issue. Even the misguided, uninformed among us, led by Ms. Schiavo's parents, Bob & Mary Schindler, only wanted to do -- in theory -- the right thing vis-a-vis Ms. Schiavo. However, it seems implausible that intelligent, educated people, with scientific data and fact behind them, would continually try to keep a woman who had no cognitive brain function and no vision a prisoner on this planet in her own immobile, prone body.

It seems to me, along with many others, that this chasm was already open and exposed; it was merely magnified on an international scale by this matter. And the battle line, if you will, was drawn on faith vs. science. Without diving back into the murky pool of the debate, I am still a bit shocked that people in the modern world -- replete with blood transfusions, transplants, artificial hearts and robotic limbs -- would be so willing to accept modern medical intervention to save a life but so quick to thump a bible against showing mercy in ending another. It appears that those people who worship the document (whether the bible, or the Constitution, or Tom Cruise's copy of L. Ron Hubbard's most recent summary of Scientology) need to take a step back and begin using their minds to think rather than their hearts. The brain, as is noted (in scientific journals, textbooks and other legitimately-accepted bastions of fact) features two hemispheres; a creative side and a rational side. Assuming each of these is functioning properly (not necessarily efficiently or effectively), it's up to each human being to weigh these types of matters and discern which option is the better choice. It's very easy to paint a wide brushstroke and suggest that allowing another human being to die is never the right choice. However, I know several people who suffered greatly with diseases who would have preferred to end their lives prematurely. Taking the life of a criminal who arbitrarily murders, rapes and mistreats his fellow human beings (if he can even be regarded as human) is not unjust; and neither is ending the suffering of someone whose existence is so empty, vapid, bleak and meaningless that he or she cannot even ponder the question of life and death.

Anyone who felt it their duty to chastise others in their desire to allow this woman mercy when her parents were unwilling to do so has some soul-searching to do. Although the sad irony of this entire debate, and today's expected conclusion thereto, is that most of the people who pushed to keep Ms. Schiavo's body "alive" will regard today's news, scientific or otherwise, as meaningless, and instead spend another hour in a church, temple or mosque; and more importantly, they will demonstrate by their unwillingness to see the whole picture that they will spend the remainder of their lives in their own world.

And if the above was unclear, then hopefully this will suffice: if you were among the people who pleaded and prayed to save Ms. Schiavo's life, foisted your opinion on those of us who thought Ms. Shiavo should be allowed to retain her dignity and be allowed to die, and decried politicians who obeyed the Constitution instead of your outmoded, anqituated beliefs in the Bible, then perhaps I can be the first one to tell you: shut the fuck up, mind your own god-damned business, and perpetuate the hypocrisy you call a life in the Bible Belt -- quietly. Lest ye be smote -- toot sweet.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Today's Rechristening of the HoB

Today the HoB shall be known as The House of Common Sense until tomorrow. See the conclusion of this entry for a more thorough explanation.

The first pillar of this house shall be located here:

If you are a member of a legislative branch of government, whether it be state or federal, don't experiment and agree to write laws that don't do anything but create small pockets of commerce in China, Pakistan, India and Japan -- eg hotbeds of factories that pump out ineffective, easily-broken hands-free earpieces that don't work.

The short and long of it -- since both state and federal lawmakers apparently don't pay attention -- people who are thinking about things other than driving, which is what they do when they are driving and conversing on cell-phones, aren't focusing their entire attention on the road. Some are thinking about what they did last night, some are thinking about who they did last night, and some are thinking about what (and who) they're doing tonight. Some are hoping they don't get pulled over for being drunk, some are calling Moviefone to see what time the Sharkboy and Assgirl, Part III movie is showing at the Megaplex, and some are calling their grandmother to see if her arthritis is improving. The common-sense moral of the story is don't write a law until you understand and can solve the problem which the law you're writing, in theory, is attempting to solve.

The second pillar, while located far away in the rolling expanse of Germany, is located

If there's some assclown on a bike who is exceeding 150 mph, rather than capture him on video, here's a hint: pass a fucking law requiring motorcycles to sport a front plate of some sort so when this shitbird passes Dusseldorf on an autobahn near you, he will be identified. It's either that or start equipping the German anti-terror squads with Porsches and rocket launchers. Next time he's whipping by a motorcade at 150+, see how accurate your gunners can fire from the passenger seat. That ought to solve your mystery motorcycle rider problem in a jiffy.

The third pillar of the house is Dennis Miller's recent commentary on the Mid-East crisis involving Israel and the Palestinians, and the following comes courtesy of my other half, care of the home office in Marin County, California.

A brief overview of the situation is always valuable, so as a service to all Americans who still don't get it, I now offer you the story of theMiddle East in just a few paragraphs, which is all you really need.

Here we go:

The Palestinians want their own country. There's just one thing about that: There are no Palestinians. It's a made up word. Israel was calledPalestine for two thousand years. Like "Wiccan," "Palestinian" sounds ancient but is really a modern invention. Before the Israelis won the land in the 1967 war, Gaza was owned by Egypt, the West Bank was owned by Jordan, and there were no "Palestinians."

As soon as the Jews took over and started growing oranges as big asbasketballs, what do you know, say hello to the "Palestinians," weeping fortheir deep bond with their lost "land" and "nation."

So for the sake of honesty, let's not use the word "Palestinian" anymore to describe these delightful folks, who dance for joy at our deathsuntil someone points out they're being taped. Instead, let's call them whatthey are:"Other Arabs Who Can't Accomplish Anything In Life And Would Rather Wrap Themselves In The Seductive Melodrama Of Eternal Struggle And Death."

I know that's a bit unwieldy to expect to see on CNN. How about this, then: "Adjacent Jew-Haters." Okay, so the Adjacent Jew-Haters want their own country. Oops, just one more thing. No, they don't. They could've had their own country any time in the last thirty years, especially two years ago at Camp David. But if you have your own country, you have to have traffic lights and garbage trucks and Chambers of Commerce, and, worse, you actually have to figure out some way to make a living.

That's no fun. No, they want what all the other Jew-Haters in the regionwant: Israel. They also want a big pile of dead Jews, of course--that's where the real fun is -- but mostly they want Israel.

Why? For one thing, trying to destroy Israel - or "The Zionist Entity"as their textbooks call it -- for the last fifty years has allowed the rulers of Arab countries to divert the attention of their own people away from the fact that they're the blue-ribbon most illiterate, poorest, and tribally backward on God's Earth, and if you've ever been around God's Earth, you know that's really saying something.

It makes me roll my eyes every time one of our pundits waxes poetic about the great history and culture of the Muslim Mid east. Unless I'mmissing something, the Arabs haven't given anything to the world since Algebra, and, by the way, thanks a hell of a lot for that one.

Chew this around and spit it out: Five hundred million Arabs; fiveMillion Jews. Think of all the Arab countries as a football field, andIsrael as a pack of matches sitting in the middle of it. And now these same folks swear that if Israel gives them half of that pack of matches, everyone will be pals.

Really? Wow, what neat news. Hey, but what about the string of wars to obliterate the tiny country and the constant din of rabid blood oaths to drive every Jew into the sea? Oh, that? We were just kidding.

My friend Kevin Rooney made a gorgeous point the other day: just reverse the Numbers. Imagine five hundred million Jews and five million Arabs. I was stunned at the simple brilliance of it. Can anyone picture the Jews strapping belts of razor blades and dynamite to themselves? Of course not.

Or marshaling every fiber and force at their disposal for generations to drive a tiny Arab State into the sea?Nonsense. Or dancing for joy at themurder of innocents? Impossible. Or spreading and believing horriblelies about the Arabs baking their bread with the blood of children?


No, as you know, left to themselves in a world of peace, the worst Jews would ever do to people is debate them to death.

Mr. Bush, God bless him, is walking a tightrope. I understand that withvital operations in Iraq and others, it's in our interest, as Americans, to try to stabilize our Arab allies as much as possible, and, after all, that can't be much harder than stabilizing a roomful of super models who've just had their drugs taken away.

However, in any big-picture strategy, there's always a danger of losing moral weight. We've already lost some. After September 11th our president told us and the world he was going to root out all terrorists and the countries that supported them. Beautiful. Then the Israelis, after months and months of having the equivalent of an Oklahoma City every week (and then every day) start to do the same thing we did, and we tell them to show restraint.

If America were being attacked with an Oklahoma City every day, we would all very shortly be screaming for the administration to just be done with it and kill everything south of the Mediterranean and east of the Jordan.

The final pillar of this new house, of course, is my own vision regarding what all this -- America, Jerry Springer, the pro/anti-choice forces, those people praying to save the life of Terri Schiavo who are now back to hiding beneath the floorboards -- means. Yesterday our nation experienced another public spectacle, The Verdict. And we all watched, we all formulated opinions, and we all have something to say. But since this is -- for the most part -- a monologue, and it's irrelevant what any of us have to say about any of this, it seems to me that this new house should, at the very least, inspire its visitors to think rather than react, consider rather than eliminate, and, whenever possible, rise above rather than sink within.

And finally, this new house is the same as the old house; it features identical insight, analysis, opinion and thought. The only difference is today's version features an open house sign with the words "Common Sense" blinking day and night in neon-lit colors. It's up to each and every visitor to process the material herein, agree or disagree, and then, rather than dwell, instead move on.

There's the door. Don't let it hit your ass on the way out.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Blogging To The Beat of an iPod and An Acquittal

Last night I began a project -- setting up an iPod connection kit with my home theater system. It's not complicated, and I've actually had a few people ask me how to go about doing it, so I've walked at least three people through the entire process, which -- in theory -- should take about 20 minutes. The biggest obstacle I faced was a tight enclosure; my receiver's an 18-inch deep monster and very wide, so it would be hard to wiggle it out with a dozen or so connections (all told, about 30 wires) piping in and out the back of the unit. Yet I embarked on the project nonethemore.

That was last night...I got sidetracked (and tired) so I finished half-way and vowed to wrap it up tonight. But today was a busy day, and then The Verdict came down...guess I would need something with which to occupy my PC time tonight. So I endeavored to finish what I started last night and -- with relatively few problems -- I did.

"In the evening, when the day is done...I'm looking for a woman, but the girl don't come. So don't let her play you for a fool... She don't show no pity baby, she don't make no rules..."

Nothing quite like listening to the dramatic stylings of an iPod playing back through a home theater system replete with a subwoofer and 400 watts of power spread across two channels.

"I hear you crying in the darkness, don't ask nobody's help...ain't no pockets full of mercy baby, cause you can only blame yourself..."

The iPod sounds tight, loud and omnipresent. The stereo separation is dramatic, and the highs are high and the lows are loooooooow. And overall the nicest part is I have a NaviPod which allows me to navigate the iPod's 14-day library fed via my universal remote. So I can be incredibly lazy, sit around and do nothing, watch TV, listen to music and order take-out for about two weeks before things start getting old.

Today's Day 1.

In the meantime, around 5:15EST this afternoon, the Michael Jackson case concluded with The Verdict, a complete acquittal of Nambla's poster child. I was not completely surprised; the biggest mistake people make is assuming that an acquittal means the person is actually innocent of the crimes of which they have been accused. In this case, whether or not that is true, it seems to me that Mr. Jackson did have sexual contact with children under the age of 18. I think he was "guilty" of many, if not all, of the crimes of which he was accused. However, the key to him being found guilty thereof is not whether he actually did those things but whether the prosecutors were able to convince the jury, through evidence and testimony, that he did indeed commit these acts. Obviously, the jury was not convinced. It might have been an issue of doubt -- was it beyond reasonable doubt that he actually did some or all of these things -- or was it just not backed up by evidentiary support and witness testimonials? Whatever the rationale, Mr. Jackson, tonight, is a free man. But that doesn't mean that he is innocent of those now irrelevant charges.

Personally, I am somewhat impressed that this jury acquitted him. This is a guy who willingly admitted -- in an international documentary -- that as a 35-plus-year-old man, he regularly shared his bed with young boys. The fact that he does this is sickening; the fact that he admitted same is beyond baffling. Obviously he's got problems with right and wrong.

And I'll bet my last pair of clean shorts that despite his acquittal, none of the jurors would willingly allow their child -- boy or girl -- to spend the night at Neverland.

The cynical among us will point to this case, as well as those against OJ Simpson and Robert Blake, and decry the American judicial system. "Money buys justice," they'll say. And on some level I suppose they're right. However, OJ Simpson is a pariah where he was once a B-List celebrity. He has completely lost his ability to use his celebrity as a means for income, and everywhere he goes -- and ever will go -- people will whisper, stare and keep their distance. Robert Blake's sordid, disturbing post-Beretta life was laid out on a courtroom table for our perusal, and what we saw repulsed us. His future is avoiding the spotlight and keeping as low a profile as possible. And Mr. Jackson is a suspected, if not convicted, pedophile and deviant who has no contact with reality. His ability to market "family"-oriented albums evaporated as the testimony unrolled, and if his career wasn't mired in a spiraling, sinking ditch of quicksand before, he is most certainly in the past tense as a viable recording artist. So his $100,000-a-week spending habit will now return to Earth even if his mind and his personality will never follow. He'll sell his ownership of The Beatles' catalog, his kid-friendly ranch, Neverland, and will become a recluse, either here in America or elsewhere. Good riddance, either way...

In other words, if you think he walked out of that courtroom today a free man, think again. He's a prisoner of his own design, of the media, and his own pathological, disturbed sexual desires. And whether or not another child ever spends a night at that ranch ever again, any parent who permits same should be flogged with a barbed-wire whip...during a live broadcast of Wheel of Fortune.

It occurs to me that the most effective way to injure a celebrity is not to lock him or her away in a prison (a la Martha Stewart) but to force him/her to endure a lifetime of ridicule, suspicion and distrust. Take away their money, either by legal bills or by castigating them publicly and peeling back the layers of facade to allow the rest of us to peek in at the disturbed, angry, confused, pathological, unhappy, insecure, pathetic individual which said celebrity, deep down, really is.

That's the true guilty verdict.

Although, then again, it would have been nice to hear that Rocco and Guido went looking for Mr. Jackson's other glove -- in his tuchas.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

And On The Seventh Day, He Worked His Ass Off

The good news is my other half's surgery could not have gone better; she's doing well, she experienced very little swelling, even less pain, and aside from a semi-volatile reaction from Vicodin, she's improving steadily. She'll wind up back in her own apartment later tonight, and work from home tomorrow. By Tuesday she'll be back among the world of California drivers; all in all, not a bad experience at all.

I spoke to her briefly Friday night; I was waiting by the phone and the computer before going out, awaiting for word from either her or one or both of her parents; around 10 I got an e-mail from her dad which let me know she was doing fine and that all of the Yankee goodies, some of which I picked out and/or had gotten for him before she arrived or while she was here, were great. In fact, while he was -- of course -- relieved she was doing well, he was really jazzed over two of the Yankee things we'd picked up for him. Less than 20 minutes after receiving that e-mail, a friend of mine and I were on the phone, planning on heading out to a local bar, when I got a call from my other half herself. She essentially confirmed the details of her father's e-mail and let me know she was out of it but otherwise feeling okay. She started to fade so we said good night and I headed out to meet my friend.

The next morning I woke semi-earlyish with her on my mind; I got some things done quickly then went back to bed for a little while. Knowing I couldn't (and shouldn't) call her, I made plans with another friend to hit a pair of street fairs happening nearby. The first street fair was more of a one-block fair which was happening between First and York Avenues on 87th Street. I arranged with my friend to meet me at First and 87th but by the time I'd walked the entire block to First, it was clear the block fair was a tremendous waste of time. So we opted to meet at 79th and First, which was the beginning of the big fair, the "First Avenue Fair."

We walked the fair and fought the heat, and I bought a few semi-disposable items and a pair of Japanese sushi plates to match one I already had. My cell-phone, which I had tried keeping handy expecting a call from my other half, was experiencing a dying battery so when the call came through, I didn't hear it, and we wound up playing phone-tag for a bit before I finally got her on the phone. She got the bouquet of flowers, the get well balloons and the teddy bear I had delivered and was very happy; on top of that, she was feeling decently, thanks to the vicodin and a lot of sleep, and was comfortable. We talked briefly before she went back to bed to continue resting.

So my friend and I continued on through the fair; she wound up buying a dresser from a well-known furniture store that had recently lost its lease and was in the process of relocating, so she got a very nice, shaker-style dresser for a lot less money than it would normally have cost. They arranged for delivery an hour later, so we wound down at the fiar and headed over to her place and waited for the delivery guys to arrive. Once we had cooled down and were relaxed, they showed up on cue, and then we took her pooch for a quick walk before I split to avoid the rain. It turned out my sister was in the vicinity, also at the Fair, so I met her and a couple of her friends and we grabbed some mexican food right on First Avenue. We sat outside for a little while before the lightning and thunder started, and within 20 minutes, it began pouring. So we made a run for York Avenue, piled into a cab, and we went our separate ways. I came home, chilled out some more, relaxed and watched a movie -- Collateral -- and spoke to my other half via Instant Messenger. Normally the IM thing isn't exactly newsworthy; this time, however, was a bit different because her parents didn't understand the concept of IM'ing, so they watched a bit as we typed back and forth. Luckily she told me they were semi-present so I didn't type anything inappropriate, like "hey, you should wear the black dominatrix outfit with the pink riding crop for the first night you're back in NYC." I doubt her parents would have been receptive to any apology I would offer after something like that, so I'm glad nothing of that ilk came about.

Other than that, I spent a good part of today working; I have a Wed. deadline looming and a variety of ancillary stuff to handle this week, and knowing she'll be here in just a couple weeks (and staying for a couple weeks) already has me thinking long-term, both as far as schedule and she and I. I'm not sure if we'll be making much in the way of plans for heading out of town, but we both would like to head down to Maryland to visit friends, both hers and mine, and we could always head to New Hope, PA, to walk around for the day. But largely speaking, I'm just focusing on her getting better, feeling good and not being in pain.

Last night, a little while before she wound up getting back to bed and going to sleep, we were IM'ing while I watched part of the third Harry Potter movie on HBO, and she wound up having a pretty bad reaction to the vicodin. Since she hadn't been eating much, the vicodin obviously upset her stomach and she wound up nauseous. Luckily it passed, as did the pain from the surgery, so that -- hopefully -- will be the last vicodin she takes. And long after the surgery has faded into the past, along with her discomfort therefrom, hopefully her memories therefrom will be confined to the flowers, the balloons, the teddy bear and our talks between her naps. I still feel badly I wasn't there with her, but she knows I was there for her, and while I might have been 3,000 miles away, I was -- at least in spirit -- right there with her the whole time.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Gearing Up For The Big One

So the heat is about all that everyone south of 96th and north of Texas seems to be discussing these days...

"Hey buddy, hot enough for ya?"
"No, I prefer it when people are spontaneously catching fire on the sidewalk...this is actually a pleasant 94 in the shade..."

Meanwhile, my other half is having all four wisdom teeth extracted today...she's actually on her way to the dentist right now, so she'll be medicated and ready by 4:30ish (California time). I feel terrible not being there with her, but for a variety of reasons we decided I wouldn't come out there for the surgery. It's a bit unnerving not being on site, and more importantly, I asked her dad -- via one of our regular, daily e-mails -- to get in touch with me and let me know once she's out of surgery and doing well. Her mom is going to pick her up and drive her back to their house, so she'll be under their care for the next few days. So me flitting about, never having met them, would make our first meeting, and her recovery, a bit more awkward than it would ordinarily be. Or at least that's her rationale; I offered to go but she turned me down, so I can't do much from here other than keep her in my thoughts and check in later...I'll leave her a voicemail letting her know I'm thinking of her and then touch base tomorrow.

Otherwise, the only real news of the day is the depth of work I'm handling; I've got about seven different matters circulating on my desk, plus the ancillary advisory calls I field every now and then (read: every 45 to 90 minutes). I've been handling different types of matters, so when I get a call from client X about matter Y with whom I haven't spoken for a week, he/she delves right into what we were last discussing, but I need to check notes and figure out where we were. It's a decent system, except there are the random occasions when I completely forget what it was we were discussing. How many years, how much money, when do we need to file which papers,'s a lot to keep between my ears, so I don't feel badly using a PDA; the bitch is keeping it up to date and organized. Speaking of which, I actually managed to get an episode of Chappelle's Show on my Palm (the LifeDrive). It's pretty funny watching the "I'm Rick James, Bitch!" skit while riding the bus, and since it has a headphone jack, I can watch/listen while commuting without worrying about corrupting the yoots near and far. I haven't tried cramming music onto it, but I'm thinking of doing a few tunes here and there. The nice thing about this device is that it's got a 4GB hard drive onboard, so I can actually download a tune here and there without meddling with the iPod. Then again, I've got about 14 days of music in the iPod, so odds are good that I can wait until I'm home to listen to the new stuff while the old music suffices.

In the meantime, I've got a CD with a bunch of photographs I took yesterday afternoon at a building inspection on the East Side that I need to take down with me on Monday afternoon to a City inspector. The problem, of course, is that his PC doesn't have a CD-Rom drive built in, so we're going to somehow have to get it onto the City's network and then funnel it into his computer. He asked me to e-mail me the pictures, but these are five megapixel images, which, at their largest, can be printed onto 16x20 sheets (double the size of an 8x10). And since detail -- brickwork, masonry, windows, etc. -- are crucial to his review of the pictures, reducing them in size won't work. Problem is, unfortunately, each picture is about 5.5MB, which is larger than his inbox allotment, so everything bounced when I sent them out. Leave it to the City of New York to make things difficult (even when people try to make things easier).

The biggie question that everyone asks when they hear -- from me, from the inspector, or from third parties (the architect handling the project, etc.) -- that the guy doesn't have a CD drive in his machine, is, simply, why. They don't understand why the City didn't stick one in his machine as a matter of course. And the answer is actually pretty obvious: they don't want employees bringing in their own CD's -- music, games, virii -- and corrupting or abusing the City computers. It makes sense, but it's pretty short-sighted, because by eliminating this guy's ability to accept material on CD-Rom, it pretty much makes pictures null and void. I'm actually contemplating heading downtown on Monday with a USB cable and piping in the pictures that way; it's sort of not the easiest or most conventional way of doing things, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And the truth is, the matter is over $2,000,000, so I could easily spring for a $30 cable and leave it there and not feel too badly about it; the best part, of course, is that I've already got the cable and it would take me less than five minutes to set it up. He's just a bit of a wet blanket, however, and would probably shun the idea. Oh well...I'll keep thinking about it so by the time Monday comes I'll have come up with a good idea, as per usual.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the A/C, the fans, the new Coldplay disc, and the Mako Shark I bought and received last night from FreshDirect. Also, if I didn't mention earlier, I got lemons, limes, fresh cilantro and a few plum tomatoes -- those in tandem with a five-pack of rockin' avacadoes (from Costco) means some good guacamole. A little salt, some fresh-cracked black pepper, a bit o' garlic, and perhaps a touch of jalapeno or chipotle means good eatin'...and that goes well with the planned pepper jack cabot quesadillas I am going to make this weekend as well. I am sauteeing some shark tonight with either a citrus marinade or a soy/ginger/garlic glaze...tomorrow I cook the rest of it up with the aforementioned marinades/glazes.

The only other item on the docket is the Fair happening in NYC tomorrow a couple blocks from my building. It's supposed to be ultra-hot -- duh -- but I'm planning on walking around a bit and them coming back to my place and getting into a cool shower and relaxing. Some friends of mine are hitting the Mohegan Sun Casino in a couple weeks, and if I can swing it (money, workload, preparation for my other half in NYC) I am going to go. I dunno if I want to be out of town without her, but I've been to both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, and both are decent casinos; so I figure if we all have a blast she and I can always trek out to Connecticut another weekend when she gets here (either as a visitor or a resident). I'd prefer the latter, but that's a bit farther down the line. One way or the other, there's -- as per usual -- lots going on, lots to contemplate, and lots to get done. I'm just going to let it slide a bit and enjoy the rest of the Coldplay disc and try and keep cool in this heatwave.

If my PC doesn't melt, I'll be checking in soon.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A New Kind of Heat

What can one say when the temperature goes from a mild, comfy 67 to, only one week later, a balmy, humid, your-thighs-are-burning 89 in the shade? I'm referring to the temperature, of course, in midtown Manhattan, not in the seventh circle of Hell...although some might argue there's little, if any difference between the two.

And no, my thighs aren't burning...they're merely toasty and warm.


Another cable in the office failed yesterday afternoon connecting my PC to the server -- I think it's a product, incidentally, of the heat as well as the disparity between 69-71 in the office during the day to the high 70's/low 80's it reaches sometime around 9pm after the cheap bastages who run my building have shut down the A/C. Things pop, skip and jump, and unless gremlins are coming in for the night shift, we're going to have to deal with it until September.

So I headed over to CompUSA a few blocks away looking to get a cable or a card-hub to solve the problem. I caught the sight (and, more importantly, the whiff) of a couple of homeless fellows jaunting about town. One was sporting a Hefty-Hefty garbage sack and a pair of blackish Nike hi-tops, the other was simply dashing in a pair of shorts (cullottes, cut-offs, or something akin thereto) and one shoe and not much else. Both were eminently fragrant, and it made my day (or at least my afternoon) when hi-tops turned to cullottes and told him he reeked (he actually said something more akin to "damn you stink like a mofucka"). Takes very little to keep me in laughter.

On top of that, there's little else happening...the new Coldplay disc is out, and I'll actually wind up doing the brick-and-mortar thing and buy it like the rest of the civilians, although it's appeared in a variety of downloadable locations now for about six weeks. I haven't really had a chance to download it, and I have enough respect for them as a band to actually drop the $15 or whatever it costs. I liked "A Rush of Blood To The Head" a lot ("Warning Sign" is, for me, an all-time keeper), and for me to willingly listen to new music takes a lot. So I'll give them a thumbs-up in advance. My other half says the album's getting praise, but she is a big John Denver fan, so what the hell does she know (just kidding...I just like to see if she's really reading; in fact, she hates John Denver with such intensity I think I am going to return the gift I planned on giving her for her birthday, the John Denver Christmas Anthology: Volume III on DVD).

In other news, work is -- as usual -- a juggle-fest and increasingly keeping me on my toes. I'm straddling the busy season of my stuff and that of our other matters and also trying to keep my eyes on the next few months, especially July, when I head out to the other half's place for a week or so. Lots to handle, lots to think about, lots of items on the list, and lots more on the way. But as much as having too much is a pain in the ass, it's great because having so much there means everything is interesting and there's no dull periods. And even better, since the other half is coming to NYC in early July, we're going to enjoy the hell out of the rest of the summer, look for an apartment, spend some time at the beach, maybe hit Maryland for a long weekend, and in general try and get prepared for September, October and November. And thereafter.

We actually talked about heading to Buffalo to visit my grandmother on a road trip, and while it would be fun, I'm not sure if it's going to be feasible. It's actually fun heading up to Buffalo, but there's not much to do beyond a five-mile radius of Buffalo itself. We could go to Rochester, but most of the people we know from Rochester have the personalities (and intelligence) of pet rocks. And we're not going to Syracuse, Ithaca or any of the other "Drink 'Til You Puke" college towns. We've had enough drinking as a hobby, thanQ VeryMooch. Next.

One final (and serious) note: one of my neighbors, a guy who's worked for the City of New York for a number of years, retired a few years ago; he actually never needed to work, but took a City job because he wanted to "give something back." He finally decided to stop working when he turned 50, and his wife, who has MS, has been steadily becoming more affected by the disease. I'm not sure if he stopped working because her condition has worsened or if his reatirement coincided with her decline, but in either case, he mentioned to me the other day that they are setting up an MS-specific charity so I'm going to get the info from him and post it here. I'm not necessarily asking, nor am I suggesting, you contribute; however, it would be great if you just considered contributing. I don't like to push or stump for charities, because people do and contribute in their own way at their own pace, and anything which interrupts or encroaches on that pace can make people uncomfortable. However, his wife happens to be a lovely lady, and he's one of the menschiest, nicest people I know. I saw the sign-up sheet for my building alone -- which has 300 families -- and it was a filled three-pages. I'm not sure if my (or anyone else's) involvement will make a difference, but it certainly can't hurt. So keep that somewhere on the back burner....thanks...


Monday, June 06, 2005

Hot And Cold

The outlook is bleak and the forecast is not much better.

The summer, sought by many residents of this city, has arrived with a vengeance. The winter, a cold, harsh, biting cavalcade of snow and frozen wind, has given way to a hot, sticky June. Today was warm, muggy and overcast -- that is, until the clouds overtook the sky and the rain poured for awhile. The weather subsided a bit -- the rain came and went relatively quickly -- but despite the cool-down it brought, it was still in the 80's and nearly oppressive.

On top of the lousy forecast, the Yankees -- expected before the season to contend, if not outright win -- the World Series, have demonstrated a free-fall that is not only frustrating, but it's picked up speed. Not only did I lose the bet with my other half's dad -- I wagered (incorrectly) that the Yankees would be within five games of first place as of June 4th -- but the Yankees are so awful that it's expected they'll lose night to night. They put together a nice stretch of 10 consecutive wins, during which they were playing smart, conservative baseball, but since that time, when they were walloped at home by the (blech) Red Sox 17-1, have sunk faster than anyone would or could have suspected. At this point, watching them lose night after night is not only depressing, it's only June. It's extremely likely that they will fail to make the playoffs and a series of significant changes will happen over the off-season. But game after game, in which they basically give up five or six runs and accomplish nothing on offense, is beginning to show signs of wear.

Randy Johnson, the big-game pitcher George Steinbrenner chased and caught over the off-season, has been sub-par at best. He was signed to a big contract to be the Yankee ace, the top pitcher on a starting staff that makes more combined than a half dozen major league teams. The problem is the Yankee pitching has been awful from their first starter, the aforementioned Randy Johnson, on down. The only bright spot is a Chinese pitcher that joined them early on in the season named Chen Mein Wang; he's a 25-year-old phenom and he's been one of very few positive aspects to the season.

The one good thing about the awful Yankee play this season is that I don't feel badly about not having gone to a game (yet). Eventually I might get over to a game, either with my dad or with my other half. But while my dad is recuperating very nicely and getting better every day, I'm not too inclined to take him to a game unless there's a chance the Yankees will acquit themselves well; I'm not demanding a win, but at the very least I'd hope they play decently. That hope is not, as of this writing, rooted in reality. And of course Kaia and I would like to eventually get over to the Stadium, but I don't want her first game to be as awful and pathetic as the Yankees have proven to be this season. It's a conundrum; I guess we'll have to accept going to concerts, restaurants, movies and shows and skip visiting the Bronx until further notice.

At this point, I'm just glad I've got effective A/C and a bunch of movies to watch if (or rather, when) the Yankees begin proving their ineffectiveness again tonight.

Better luck next year.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Welcome to Costco...Allez Cuisine!

The weekend brings with it the kind of requirements that are at once difficult to achieve and yet promising. I mean, of course, the combinations of relaxation and accomplishment.

Since my work week rarely, if ever, lets up for anything or anyone, and I often bring work home with me during the week, I generally regard the weekend as a time for a mental recharging of my batteries. I actually planned on going into the office and/or doing work over the weekend, and I intend to occupy Sunday doing so.

So, knowing I had limited resources (ie time) to get everything done that doesn't get addressed during the week, I had a short but full list of other stuff to juggle: I was going with a friend back to Costco to get a few more things; I needed to head over to BestBuy and get a new case for the Palm; I had cleaning and laundry to take in/do, since I was barely able to crack the mountain thereof during the week; and I had some organizing to do to prep for the rapid, impending onset of summer. On top of that, I heard there was going to be a street fair on Saturday stretching across Second Avenue from 86th Street down to 70th. So there was not a lot of time -- Saturday, basically -- to get a lot done.

And all of this is occurring as I spend time with my other half -- raspy, scratchy voice, sniffles, coughs, etc. -- on the phone.

Someone who's never been in a long-distance relationship has no idea of the real inner workings of the dynamic thereof. There are a number of things which are atypical of a normal relationship, many of which are obvious but some which are all but easily-guessed. The number one item on the list of things which are different for geographically-challenged relationships is when one of you is sick. Normally I'd have gone and gotten my other half soup and cold meds while she convalesced in my bed, told her jokes until she started laughing and coughing and begged me to stop; and put on movies and/or music until she fell asleep and then left her alone to get better. So having her across the country and not being able to see her or put my arms around her really left me feeling helpless and detached. And on top of that, the conflict within was should I spend time with her on the phone, or should we confine our interaction to e-mail and instant messaging so she can rest her voice? I'm still torn, because all I want to do is spend time with her -- especially after she was here less than a week ago -- but I know she's got to rest her voice and herself in general.

In either case, last night as we talked I went online and ordered her a multicolored bouquet of roses for delivery today (Saturday) as a get well pick-me-up. It was about all I could do, short of boarding the next flight out of JFK to San Fran, and with all that's on my plate, there was no way I could get out there anytime in the next ten days. So I wanted to make her smile a little in between naps. She fell asleep last night, not knowing the bounty to arrive at her door the day following.

In the meantime, a friend and I planned on hitting Costco early-ish Saturday to avoid the freaks we encountered on our last visit. Also, while the warehouse itself is relatively cool temperature-wise, with the summer heat coming on, the later in the day we went, the more likely it would be that we'd encounter something or someone whose odor would be indescribable but memorable.

So we headed out earlyish and got to Costco. As per usual, I scored good stuff in far too large quantities. Cabot Pepper Jack cheese (enough to keep a Vietnamese village for a week), two cases of 20-oz Diet Coke bottles (one for my sister), a 15-pack of paper towels which I split with my friend, the new David McCullough book for my father (Father's Day is up-and-coming), a huge bag of almonds (again, for my sister), a package of boneless pork chops (two on the grill with veggies rocks), and some other miscellaneous stuff (a multi-pack of Carr's Table Crackers, Gulden's Mustard, a mongo biggie package of Bounce dryer sheets, and more avocado for guacamole). This time the line was palatable and moved pretty quickly, and we escaped within an hour.

While on Roosevelt Island, we headed over to hang out with a friend who'd just gotten back from her cruise: she visited Turkey and Italy and was still tan and high from post-vacation euphoria. We hung out at her place for an hour or so while the cable guy tinkered with her PC and the modem, as she couldn't get online. But since we had perishable stuff in the car we only stayed for about 45 minutes or an hour, and then hopped back into Manhattan, unloaded and she split and I dumped my stuff. We were planning on hitting the Second Avenue Fair, but I wound up chilling out on my couch and watching some TV before I nodded off. Woken up by a ringing phone, I got a quickie invite to swing over to the Fair by my sister to check something out, so I hopped out, met her, her boyfriend and a friend, and then I wound up coming back home. The City was hot -- the first warm summer weekend since August, most likely -- so I wasn't complaining when I came into a relatively cool apartment.

A few hours later, after a Costco organization/put-away fest and another mini-nap, I had some dinner -- briefly -- despite a few offers to go do stuff from a variety of friends. Dinner, movies, pool downtown, a party on the West Side -- all of it sounded appetizing but I was way too tired to deal. I spoke with my other half a bit here n' there before she wound up getting another call, and we played a little phone tag before I nodded off again, this time around 10-ish, and I didn't wake up until late, but when I did, I was sorry...and clutching the cordless phone with a 1-liter bottle of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda digging into my butt.


The first thing I heard upon waking -- at least I think I heard it -- was about a food competition sanctioned by the Interational Federation of Competitive Eating. That was scary enough. On top of that, Iron Chef appeared through my hazy eyes, featuring a new "participant," Dr. Hattori, the Iran Sheik to Iron Chef Michiba's Sergeant Slaughter. It's really too surreal and too scary to discuss, so if you want to know more, go to the Food Network online or just watch it sometime. It's sort of like a typical cooking show -- albeit on acid.

So I was awake, feeling hung over and very much out of it, clutching a warm bottle of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda and the cordless phone. Once I ascertained the time -- about 3:45 -- I quickly decided not to call my other half as it was too late. So I watched a little Iron Chef before it concluded at 4, when "Pre-Paid Programming" hijacked the channel and, nearly, my head.

Soon I was watching Roger Daltrey of The Who hawking a Time/Life collection known as Legends of Rock. The snippets of old, well-known favorite tunes of mine (in the vein of pure 70's Classic Rock) began pumping out as Mr. Daltrey -- nearly 60 and looking his age -- introduced the collection of something like 20 CD's filled with stuff you hear at 4:37 during a heat-laden commute on a bumper-to-bumper highway. The Doobie Brothers, Guess Who, Billy Joel and Led Zeppelin, like a knife, cut through the dark serenity of early Sunday morning in my apartment as Mr. Daltrey awkwardly interacted with some female "TV personality" that looked a lot like she could have been his daughter. I thought back to Led Zeppelin selling out by giving "Rock and Roll" to Cadillac and recalled with disdain hearing The Who's "I'm Free" and parts of "Pinball Wizard" in the commercials for the new Saab SUV. At first I wondered to myself if Roger Daltrey was so destitute that he needed cash and was willing to be a part of this ridiculous infomercial, and I equated his participating in this pathetic sham to Cher's infomercial while she and some "friends" -- like Cher actually has friends, natch -- talk about some great new skin-care system.

I wondered if I was in the Twilight Zone. And then I turned over.

And smelled my other half's perfume.

Soon I dialed, we whispered at each other, I apologized for waking her but told her I wanted to say goodnight, then we talked briefly -- her sleep-stained voice cracking -- we said goodnight and she went back to sleep. I stopped in at the HoB in case I forgot most of it and opted to follow her to bed.

Now that I'm done here, I'm heading back to bed. I know she's not there, but, as George Wendt -- or perhaps George Costanza -- said, the mind can delay for only so long what the heart craves. And even at 4AM, my mind is in delay mode.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Another Tricky Day...

Where to begin?

Having had my first night sleep without my other half in a week, I awoke this AM to a steady diet of to-do items speeding through the synapses. I must confess the first conscious thought I had before the fog lifted was turning over to kiss her good morning, but by the time I actually turned in her direction, I realized she was 3,000 miles away and not in my bed. Not a very pleasant way to wake up, unfortunately.

The day was filled with busy-ness. On a work level, I had one thing to handle after another; in fact, I didn't even end up going into the office directly. I started my day on a subway downtown and spent a few hours running around between three different City offices, a rat in a maze chasing a rapidly-molding nub of cheese. By the time I finished my out-of-office errands, I returned to another half-dozen matters of varying priority, but each needed to be addressed in some way, shape or form this afternoon, so I went down the list one by one and wrapped them up as best as I could. Some are still unfinished as I'm still waiting for papers, information, material or items not in my possession. Tomorrow's another day.

On top of that, I had bank business to attend to, plans to shuffle and/or set up, and in addition, my other half had an awful cold that made her sound somewhere south of a full-on soul brotha. Raspy, scratchy and breathy, talking to her was bittersweet: not only did I find myself missing her being here and in my presence, I felt badly even keeping her on the phone for a minute, between the coughs, sniffles and the throat-clearing. So that was a conundrum -- talk to her on the phone or allow her to rest her voice and to recuperate -- that plagued me for much of the day. Since she's unwell she was forced to postpone her surgery to next Friday, and I felt badly because I know her trip to NYC -- and not her sharing kisses with her nephews -- was the cause. Everything perhaps for a reason, but next time I know to make sure she's drinking tea (Tazo) and stocked with cough drops (Ricola) and feeling good during and after her all-too-brief days and nights in NYC.

After work I went to my sister's to meet up with her boyfriend to work on his ailing PC. He wasn't exactly sure what the problem was, but he was sure the PC was FUBAR and nowhere near working. After a couple hours, I got it in working shape and he'll be able to limp onto the Internet with it, but it's on its last legs and needs replacing. The trick will be to get the hard drive from the existing soon-to-be doorstop into the new machine, make sure it's virus-free, copy everything over to the new machine, then remove the old drive and throw it as hard as possible up against a wall.

While (or soon after) we were wrapping up the convalescence of the bad PC, we scored some rockin' pizza (sausage, peppers and mushrooms) and watched the Yankees tank the game (and the series) against the Kansas City Royals, by far the worst team in baseball. The real kick in the happies, of course, is that yesterday -- June 1st -- the Yankees were 4.5 games out of first place. Thanks to their ineptitude against KC, they're going to be 5 or 6 games out by June 4th, the day my bet with my other half's dad comes to fruition. That means, thanks to a three-game shit-fest against an awful team, I'm out a Jackson and most of my patience. Watching them lose four straight to the (blech) Red Sox last year was bad; watching this, day after day, is atrocious. I'm wondering when Mount Steinbrenner explodes -- I'm guessing, if the Yankees lose another 8 of 10 over the next three (out-of-town) series, it will happen upon their return to the Bronx. Odds are Joe Torre and a few of the higher-priced, glaring mistakes (read: Giambi, Bernie) will be treated by King George much as a diaper is treated by a baby.

Tomorrow's another day, and I'm a bit tired so I'm looking forward to a relatively mellow weekend. I'm not too anxious to spend it without my other half, especially knowing she's sick and therefore not able to see anyone. I'll soon be sleeping with her on my mind and hoping she's feeling better and counting down the days until she again is gracing my life from arm's length.

Thanks to my other half, I surfed to a combo store (both click-and-order and brick-and-mortar) called Charles Tyrwhitt which I've added to the BoogieLinks section. Kaia sent me an e-mail detailing their Spring sale (on top of their 50% First Purchase Offer), and since I've been wanting to get a few new dress shirts (some were downright inexpensive), I stopped by and took the plunge. The brick-and-mortar store, funny enough, is located in NYC at 50th and Madison, less than two blocks from the W New York where we were a week ago tonight. It's a menswear shop in the vein of Pink, though less known, and more specialized and less conservative than Paul Stuart. They also sell stuff for women and children, but buying anything but men's stuff from them is sort of like bringing a bowling ball on a fishing trip. The bottom line: if you've got a guy in your life for whom you need/want to shop, be advised -- their stuff is wonderful but pricey. So click at your own risk.

That's about it for now...I'm way too tired to be coherent, and I've got a weekend of relaxation (and a visit to Costco) to contemplate. Between that and my sick honey, I've got plenty on tap to keep my head busy for awhile. I'll be back later, if not sooner.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

As The Sun Sets...

This morning the sun rose; about an hour later, so did we. Today was a difficult day: lots of work for each of us, lots to address, and lots to wrap up before my other half hit the Triboro to go back to Kennedy and, temporarily, to San Francisco. Since there's a gap of about three full days, I'm going back in time, recapping the last few days, and enjoying some very pleasant recent memories...

Sunday night was dinner with friends to celebrate a birthday at Cipriani downtown. We arrived a little after 8 and wound up snaking our way through the maze of outside tables and made our way to the back of the restaurant. We brought a Vuitton keycase for the guest of honor, as they recently moved into a new apartment and we figured something to hold keys was the way to go. Cipriani was, as usual, really wonderful, although none of us were starving in particular. Dinner was great but part of the fun was the red Ferrari Modena cabrio parked out front and the two or three model-like creatures propped up against it like it was a park bench. Cipriani is good, but as a scene its nearly unrivaled.

After dinner we made our way back to our friends' new apartment, which is really nice. It's as close to living in a "house" in the City as you can get without forking over $5 mill for a townhouse. They snagged a two-bedroom two-bath duplex with a huge roof deck -- perfect for summer BBQ, July 4th Fireworks and sunbathing. They travel a lot, however, so I'll be more than happy to house-sit for fact I plan on offering my services -- soon ;-)

We got in late Sunday night and crashed nearly instantaneously, so Monday we just rolled out of bed and hit downtown to shop Soho and a few other stops along the way. By the time we got in we were so drenched in commerce, sun and fatigue we wound up ordering in Mexican and relaxing on the couch.

Tuesday -- back to work -- wound up being a really productive day. I had quite a few things to do -- and since my dad was flying back to NJ that afternoon, I had a limited window of time in which to consult him so everything needed to be resolved, addressed and/or handled before he got on the plane. Once I finished up in the office, my other half swung by the office and we returned to the scene of the crime -- downtown -- and poked around a little more before coming back uptown for a few quiet hours before we showered, headed back downtown to Balthazar and spent our last night in what I can honestly describe, without being asked to return my He-Man's Woman-Haters Club Membership Card, as magical.

This morning I headed into the office and had a lot of running around to do, as my other half stayed behind to handle a bunch of workstuff she had to resolve before boarding her flight. She finished up and met me downtown, where I wound up for a good part of the day, so we shared a quick lunch and a kiss and a few tears before she was in a cab on her way home. It took me a minute or two to get back to work mode, and while she and I spoke a few times here and there before her flight took off at 6, we both tried avoiding the fact that each time we go our separate ways it gets harder and harder to accept.

At some point over the weekend -- I think Saturday, but don't quote me -- we went looking at apartments. It wasn't a great experience for either of us because we were not too thrilled at how extortionate their leases were priced, but we had a lot of fun moseying through a semi-completed building. More importantly, we realized that we each had the same taste, the same sense of layout and design, and staying power through the little, aggravating bullshit (like the difficulty of finding a suitable, affordable apartment).

I think the most smiles came from her checking in with her parents every couple days; hearing the conversations -- even only her end thereof -- put me at ease on a number of levels. But mostly it reminded me that we're really lucky to be where we are, together, even if we're 3,000 miles apart as we each head to sleep tonight.

Until she returns to NYC, or I hit San Fran, her perfume lingers on my sheets, her smile is on my mind, and I can almost feel her leaning up against me as I sit at the PC writing this out. It's not the same as her being here, of course, but rather than explore how sad I am she's there and I'm here tonight, I'm actually choosing to focus on what we have, where we are and where we are going. And despite any sadness cascading through my mind and my heart, it makes me happy to know that one day I'll look back on these days and nights and do nothing but smile.