Monday, November 27, 2006

Take The Long Way Home

That day, when you realize that your parents live in a house in which you used to live, but which is no longer your home or your house, is a strange and stirring reminder that you've reached adulthood and are aware of it.

Thanksgiving was a blast. It didn't snow, but it rained for hours -- the whole day, actually -- and the trip to Jersey was uneventful, even if the rain and the temperature were less-than-inviting. The day and night was great -- nothing but food, football, family and fun. And relaxation. As I pulled up to the house, my sister and my mom were preparing to go out to get some final touches for dinner -- some rolls and some other miscellaneous accoutrement to go with dinner and/or the day itself. So I wound up on turkey duty: I basted, turned, examined, took the temperature of, and basically fawned over the bird in the oven with one eye while another focused on football.

Dinner was amazing. We had some eats throughout the day -- fresh shrimp, a cheese plate, pate, the unusual suspects -- and otherwise enjoyed the collective company and the lack of any schedule or external pressure to be anywhere, do anything or have any requirements whatsoever.

The interesting thing about dinner was the lack of a microwave -- we had all our side dishes prepped and ready to go -- mashers, stuffing, string beans almondine, a mashed mix of squashes (butternut and acorn), honey-glazed cinnamon carrots and roast potatoes (my dad loves 'em) -- and the microwave took the ol' dirt nap. So aside from some fancy stepping -- and arranging both ovens to be filled with the side dishes -- everything came out hot, tasty and at the same time. Aside from Kaia and my grandmother not being with us, it was as perfect as it could be.

Without going into more detail -- and why would I want to make this entry even more boring than it already is -- it was just a nice way to spend the day with family.

That night, by the time I made it to bed, Kaia was still preoccupied, three hours to the left, with her nephews S and C. S had a recent birthday so he was undoubtedly focused on showing off his wares; C, however, took a particular shine to Kaia's cell phone, which, turned on silent, was well-hidden by C and not found until much later in the evening on the other coast. By the time Kaia called me to wish me and the family a final Happy Thanksgiving, I was already well into slumber, and apparently Ozzie, the pooch, didn't enjoy the particular ringtone which I had chosen (the opening to What I Like About You, dontcha know). So apparently, while I shluffed, Ozzie proceeded to wake up the entire house, so Friday morning, when I woke up, my phone had disappeared along with any semblance of my understanding of why it had disappeared. Did the cell-phone gremlin somehow sneak into the house, hide my phone in the couch downstairs, and then sneak off into the night?

It turns out that they grabbed the phone from my nightstand and turned it off to prevent Ozzie (and any future ringing) from keeping the house from getting its tryptofanatic sleep.

The rest of the weekend, despite my parents remaining in New Jersey, was an extension of Thanksgiving. I spent time with friends, celebrated the two extra days off, watched football, met some friends downtown for some pool, and basically got some much-needed private (phone) time with Kaia. Nothing exciting, nothing out of the ordinary, and nothing that required photos, epic anecdotes or anything that resembles any hint of reclamation. It was a great weekend -- everything was perfect, with the aforementioned absences of Kaia and my grandmother aside. I spent time with family, friends, had great food (plus leftovers), football, got in touch with friends with whom I hadn't spoken in awhile, and essentially realized, yet again, that any time I find the time to complain, I really am full of shit. I have it far better than a lot of people I know, even moreso than many people I don't know, and I can't say there's much I would change. At some point, during the festivities, I kicked back on the couch, watched the fire burning and popping, and hoped next year we'd have Kaia and my grandmother nearby on the couch, in the kitchen, or flitting about somewhere in the house. They were not in the house, but they were in our hearts, so I guess next year we'll see if we can make those two little changes.

Other'n that, it was awesome.

Anyone with any great stories to share, feel free. And for anyone out there who had a great Thanksgiving without anything memorable to share herein, glad you and your families enjoyed the holiday as much as we did.

This, incidentally, was the first time since I moved out of my parents' house that staying over felt like home.

I guess I'm an adult now. Or something akin thereto.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

How Time, The Weather, Big Balloons and The Wind Flies

I stopped by the HoB last night and didn't realize it had been nearly a week since my last official visit. There's been lots happening, and despite having every good intention of stopping in and letting loose, somehow I've been remiss in that last part, so this pre-Thanksgiving post should serve as a quasi-catch-up as to where I've been.

First, obviously, tomorrow being Thanksgiving, I've been pondering the ramifications and the factors which, for me, make Thanksgiving such a special holiday. Since 2004, I've had a new take on what the holiday means -- not only because my father is healthy and happy, but because my family, and I, are happy and healthy. posed a question in one of its daily polls regarding why Thanksgiving is so special; the question offered the meal, family and friends, a day of football and a day off from work as its choices. For the first time in awhile, I couldn't honestly answer. It's not that I'm not a Thanksgiving fan -- I am -- it's just that it's not the only day we become full-on gluttons. Sure, having a deluxe roast turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing/stuffing, cranberry mold and cranberry sauce and a variety of sweet, savory and otherwise delectable foodstuffs from which to choose is never a bad thing. It's just that I enjoy the eating part of Thanksgiving but that's not why, for me, it's a celebration. The notion of Thanksgiving being a day of football is true, but it's ancillary. In truth, despite the NFL adding an unprecedented third game tomorrow, the day is about football, but for me, the New York Giants are football, so a day without a Giants game is sort of pissing in the wind. I'll watch if only because the games are televised and I'd prefer watching that than some after-school special about some epileptic break-dancer from Cleveland who is visited by the ghost of Christmas present, played by M.C. Hammer.

The day, I suppose, is about family and friends -- but the problem in that description is that since 2004, when we as a family survived a significant rough period, every day, on some level, is Thanksgiving. We've been through so much as a family since then that it's hard to point to one day to celebrate one another, and I have made -- successfully -- a concerted effort to acknowledge and appreciate my family and the friends that are in my life. Doing so on only one day, in hindsight, seems sort of inadequate, and while I recognize that many people don't have the close relationship with their family which I do, and that many people live far from any semblance of family, it's understandable, for them, to look to tomorrow as a day to celebrate their families and friends. For me, however, it's not simply about that.

For me, tomorrow marks another annual celebration of the passage of time. Some people regard New Year's as a time to check their progress -- their lives, their relationship(s), etc. -- but for me, tomorrow is a time to not only acknowledge my appreciation for my family and our collective health, it is also an acknowledgment, for me as an adult, as to where I am in my life and how my family has and does and continues to shape me as a person. There's a song by James Taylor called "The Secret O' Life" that features some mighty powerful lyrics. Against my better judgement, I've included them at the end of this post for all to peruse. The phrasing that most sums it up for me is "Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill. But since we're on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride."

So in retrospect, I'm looking forward to gorging myself on bitchin' eats, spending time watching football with my dad, laughing and relaxing with my mom and my sister, and enjoying the passage of the day, of time, and the ride.

However, this year's Thanksgiving won't be all warm skies and butterflies. My grandmother -- who is not going to be spending Thanksgiving with us -- has been having a tough time being so far away, and we've been trying to figure out how to a) go visit her on or around the holiday, and b) work out getting her moved closer to us. So as much as Thanksgiving is a celebration of freedom of the catastrophic meltdown of 2004, my family, food and enjoying the passage of time and of life, not having her with us -- and having her feeling badly about that -- weighs on me. In addition, my aunt's father passed away after a long, protracted illness. I was never close with him but he was always a stalwart presence, the kind of guy that enjoyed and embodied life. Hearing news he had died affected me in a strange but subtle way. So forgive me if I sound melodramatic in observing that the weather, having turned cold and rainy, seems, at least in part, to reflect how I'm feeling this year.

The other negative, though it's not quite as extreme, is the fact that Kaia will be in Cali this year. We've both been dealing with a lot of work-related turmoil, and as I've disclosed above, I've got a lot to handle vis-a-vis my grandmother. At one point, I wasn't sure if I could spend the time heading out to San Fran because I was assuming I might head out to see my grandmother, and being that I spend a good deal of my working hours out of the office, downtown and at City agencies, spending so much time out of town would have not been feasible. So in short, not seeing her, or having her near me, over this holiday, is difficult in and of itself; not having her near with so much happening family-wise has been really difficult. There are relationships that can be emotionally draining and toxic; I know because I've survived one. However, despite all she's been through work-wise, all she has done has been to keep me level and keep me grounded. Anytime I've had things weighing on me, whether it's work-related, personal stuff or about the two of us, it only would take a few minutes' time for her to get me back in the right place. So despite her spending Thanksgiving out there, it's still disappointing knowing I won't be able to look over in her direction every so often and be thankful for her being in my life.

I think, on some level, there are people who "survive" life -- they go through the motions, they address their obligations, and they feel, as a result, that they are in control of who they are and their destiny on this planet. I'm not sure if any of us are actually in control of our destinies, but I am happy to say, taking stock of where I am, my family, my other half, and my life in general, there is very little I would change. And that, for me, is really what the essence of Thanksgiving is all about.

I'm sure I'll be back here in a day or two, but in the meantime, I want to wish all of you a happy and healthy and wonderful Thanksgiving.

James Taylor
The Secret O' Life

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
Any fool can do it, there ain't nothing to it.
Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill.
But since we're on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride.

The secret of love is in opening up your heart.
It's okay to feel afraid, but don't let that stand in your way.
Cause anyone knows that love is the only road.
And since we're only here for a while, might as well show some style. Give us a smile.

Isn't it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down,
try not to try too hard, it's just a lovely ride.

Now the thing about time is that time isn't really real.
It's just your point of view, how does it feel for you?
Einstein said he could never understand it all.
Planets spinning through space, the smile upon your face, welcome to the human race.

Some kind of lovely ride. I'll be sliding down, I'll be gliding down.
Try not to try too hard, it's just a lovely ride.
Isn't it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down,
try not to try too hard, it's just a lovely ride.
The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.

Friday, November 17, 2006

This Just In: The Messenger, The Message and Mother Earth

First, thank you to those of you who -- privately and anonymously -- advised me that you believe my distaste for the new Bond missed the mark. To clarify, I don't think Casino Royale will be a bad movie -- I do, however, think it will be a bad Bond movie. The Bond formula -- crass, misogynistic, charming, lucky, always-in-the-right-place-right-time guy named Bond, James Bond, finds the bad guy, lets the bad guy know he's taking him down, gets threatened by the bad guy, scores with the bad guy's wife/girlfriend/significant other, beats bad guy, fixes his slightly-mussed hair, tosses a quip or two at the camera, and then the credits roll. That's it. There's big guns, big cars, big sets, big bodies of water, big stunts, and big lines. And big box-office returns. This Bond, however, isn't about laughs or smiling or coming off as cool and charming; he's about being bad, doing his dirty job -- because someone has to do it -- and going home. It's not what the Bond formula -- at least the film version thereof -- is and has been about.

With respect to more important -- and other current -- incidents, there's the fracas -- a most underutilized and underappreciated member of the English language -- over OJ Simpson's forthcoming book entitled "If I Did It." Apparently, publisher Judith Regan -- for whom I have immense respect -- is getting all sorts of vile, disrespectful feedback over her decision to a) publish OJ's "confession;" and b) interviewing him with respect to what's in the book. Her explanation of why she went through with it isn't entirely convincing, though I think she's fairly up front and honest when it comes to this sort of thing. But more importantly, it sounds like OJ's finally addressing the fact that there are no "real" killer(s) out there hiding on golf courses while he works on his handicap (aka searches for the "real" killer).

In other news, it turns out that Sony's newest game machine, the PS3, was released in limited form around the country today. Of course, that means people actually lined up -- for days -- in front of Best Buys, Circuit Citys and any other place that purported to have some of these newly-released game machines. But since they cost upwards of $300 per, a few innovative individuals opted to make some money on the losers who were lined up ready to plunk down their hard-earned Benjamins with real hardware. Story's here. Since this wasn't one single incident but nearly a half-dozen nationwide, it really makes one wonder what, in a thousand years, our descendants will think of us as a society. Then again, based on this news item, one has to wonder whether humanity -- or this mockery thereof -- has another thousand years left.

Speaking of brainless losers, an Internet argument -- eg mutually-escalated insults hurled between geeks in chat-rooms, bulletin board forums or newsgroups -- got so intense that Moron #1 attacked Moron #2. Once I had digested the combined tale of geekdom and stupidity, it occured to me that this stuff likely happens on a regular basis. Which, perhaps, is the inspiration for the politically incorrect image to the right. There are those among us who might cringe at the awful depiction of a young, presumably disabled athlete with a less-than-flattering label. And there are those of us, myself included, who have more respect for people who are developmentally disabled than those who aren't but behave as if they are.

So the next time you encounter online someone or something eminently stupid, completely devoid of thought and/or extremely irritating -- excluding this site, of course -- don't hesitate to share with the originators of the material your opinion, unless doing so involves you getting in a car or other moving object and hunting the object of your derision down and killing them. That would be wrong.

Merciful, perhaps. But wrong nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Shaken, Not Stirred - A James Bond Eulogy

Back when it was announced there would be a new guy replacing Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, I remember thinking "What the hell are they doing?" The James Bond franchise is more consistent than McDonald's, and far more enjoyable in repeats. I'm sure there were money and/or political issues behind the scenes, so suffice to say that I think they made a huge error canning Pierce Brosnan, especially because I think he was as close to Sean Connery -- and to the actual James Bond character -- as it gets.

Enter Daniel Craig -- the next soon-to-be former James Bond. The last time the owners of the James Bond franchise decided to go in a different direction, they hired Timothy Dalton to star in two post-Roger Moore James Bond films, and both -- while decent -- were not James Bond movies. I remember reading PR on the first of those two films, The Living Daylights, and I to this day recall how the producers opted to go in a more serious, "gritty" direction. Timothy Dalton is an accomplished Shakespearean actor, so it figures that if he could play Othello, Hamlet and MacBeth, he could handle 007.

Uh uh. The pair of movies in which he starred were mediocre, run-of-the-mill films that were a waste of the James Bond theme. And then they got wise and hired the right guy, the guy they should have hired before he became Remington Steele: Pierce Brosnan.

So after they finished the last Pierce Brosnan film, "Die Another Day," they began leaking how that was going to be it for Pierce Brosnan. And every day since then, and up until they release the new film, a remake of Casino Royale, I'll be counting the days until Daniel Craig is a former Bond.

I'm not a Bond maniac -- I haven't spent $300 on the re-reissued Bond DVD's, and I don't even have all the films on DVD -- that, despite the fact I've got about 750 DVD's (and was dumb enough to purchase the original 'XXX' starring Vin Diesel). The bottom line, while I'm not an extremist when it comes to James Bond movies, it irritates me more and more as Sony or whoever plugs the hell out of the newest Bond movie. I don't want to see it and I definitely won't bother thinking much about it when it fades from theaters. But what I don't much understand is why the producers of these films never learn. They hired Paul Haggis ("Crash") -- an excellent screenwriter -- to make the script "grittier." Except the problem is when they tried making the series grittier, they released two Timothy Dalton performances to people who let them know they wanted the "real" James Bond, not some brooding, dark version of him. Oops.

So for this Casino Royale -- the original, incidentally, was a spoof -- neither the gadget-master, Q, nor Miss Moneypenny, the ace-in-the-hole babe-a-licious secretary, are around -- this, despite the fact that the Bond movies work because they include the same elements each time around. Now, Bond's famous martini, "shaken...not stirred," is no longer. Instead, when he's asked how he wants his martini, his response is "Do I look like I give a damn?"

Yep...that'll work.

And once they're finished flushing James Bond down the toilet, perhaps they can revise the Nightmare On Elm Street series by portraying Freddy Kreuger not as a maniacal nightmare-killer but instead as an extremely persistent Amway salesman with really bad skin.

So pardon me, when you ask me whether I've noticed the new James Bond movie's in theaters, if my response is "Do I look like I give a damn?"

I don't.

The Oncoming Oooh's and Aaah's

Amid the busy weekend, I focused on getting shitloads done out and about as well as within these four walls. In the real world, my 19-year-old Mitsubishi bedroom TV sort-of died; it works really well, except when it flushes the picture and depicts white noise for a few minutes at a time. I had my cable company come in to check it out, and the guy told me it was the TV, not the cable. Skeptical, I asked him to replace my box just to be sure, and that night, sho'nuff, the new box's green digits glowing in the night, the TV was fine for a few minutes and then -- BOOM -- right back into white noise. The next day I went to Best Buy and scored a new Sharp AQUOS flat-screen EDTV. EDTV isn't a Matthew McConaughey vehicle; it's a TV format that's somewhere between standard, boring, squarish TV and those newfangled HDTV's. In fact, once I score one of them new HDTV boxes from my cable company, I'll have a picture on the new TV that's a lot closer to HDTV than plain-ol' regular TV. The biggest problem is deciding whether I want to watch TV in bed at a super-high resolution or in the living room on the bigger TV. What was strange -- sort of -- was watching the Cinemax Star Wars Marathon -- each of the six movies, in release order -- on the little screen and then on the bigger screen. The bottom line -- people spend way too much time worrying about resolution, screen size, what the cabinet looks like, and how deep -- two-point-three inches -- the new screen actually is. It's nice having a new TV in the house, but the truth is I wouldn't have bothered -- not really -- if the old one didn't die on me. I'm waiting to procure a Samsung big-screen HDTV for when Kaia and I co-habitate. In the meantime, as long as I can watch the Yankees, the Rangers and the Giants, I'm not worried about how many pixels are pouring out of the screen in order for me to do so.

On top of that, the (positive) post-party fall-out continues. I'm getting lots of positive responses from friends, both new and old, that made it to the Poobah B-Day Fest, and I'm getting all sorts of requests for our next shindig -- dates, locations, suggestions (genres of music, costume themes, etc.) -- which are always (smirk) appreciated. It's interesting, on some level, that almost all of the "constructive suggestions" seem to come from people who haven't made it to one of our parties. Or, as they say in France, those who know, know, and those who don't, should. We're shooting for sometime in early February -- most likely President's Day Weekend, which insures all the teachers that may want to be there are around, and anyone who may need to take an off-day to travel to/from NYC can do so with as little penalty vis-a-vis work as possible. The only problem is that that weekend might be tighter in terms of scheduling at places that might suggest we'll have to guarantee 200 attendees in order to not have to come up with any monies to secure the room. We might return to Iguana, but since the room opened to the public at midnight, we have reached the consensus that if the next party is at Iguana, we'll need until 1:30 or 2AM to insure everyone is drunk, smiling and ready to pass out before the public streams in. Tune in for more info.

Today, work-wise, was a mix of busy, really busy and really, really busy. I finished two mini-projects that needed to be out the door by 11 and another which needed to be finished by EOB (end of business) before I headed downtown around noon to address a variety of other projects. By the time 4PM rolled around I was on my way back to the office after completing most of what I had intended. Hopping off the train, it was raining and extremely windy so I ducked into the Time Warner Center, a short twenty-step walk under covered walkway, to take a quick jaunt through Whole Foods, which is one of the largest markets I have ever visited.

Whole Foods, at least at Columbus Circle, is an experience all its own. Most of the items in the market are natural or organic, so I didn't expect to find any food items that were overly vulgar or chemical in nature. However, I was similarly non-plussed when I saw mounds of granola, wheat germ and other products I wouldn't feed to a horse, let alone a human being. In either case, my main goal was to procure Tazo Passion tea, which is a tea I discovered (thanks to Kaia) at Starbucks. They sell it in both hot and cold forms, and the last time I visited Starbucks -- a rarity, considering I don't drink coffee and dislike tea -- I had a sore throat and opted for hot passion tea, and really liked it. So I decided to go buy a box or two, but since Whole Foods is the only place I can get it in NYC, I figured visiting Whole Foods in person -- only a few blocks from my office -- was a good idea.

I got two boxes of Passion tea, some sliced turkey for tomorrow's lunch, a Japanese pear (awesome), and some other stuff. The biggest surprise for me wasn't the fact that everything in the store seemed exorbitantly priced, but that it took me longer waiting on line to pay than it did to get everything I wanted to buy and get on line. Oh well -- if it wasn't worth waiting for then no one would bother waiting. It's similar to Eli's Vinegar Factory, which is right near my place, so I wasn't as shocked by the prices as much as I was by the fact that people were willing to wait on lines so patiently to pay excessively for organic groceries. Looks like I'll get most of my staples -- chicken, veggies, pasta, and household stuff -- at markets like Gristedes and Associated -- and the high-end stuff like fish and other exotic items at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Eli's. If anyone has any suggestions as to what stuff is really worth waiting for at Whole Foods, lemme know. Otherwise, don't expect to read much more of my experiences waiting on line at Whole Foods because -- if you hadn't guessed -- it won't be happening again anytime soon.

Finally, you may notice slight changes here at the HoB. We've moved to a newly-created server with lots more space and lots of comfy new features. It's still part of Blogspot, and for the time being we'll stay put. But soon the entire blog will be picked up and moved across the internet to its own new home. One of the nicer features is being able to block specific users and/or IP addresses, so I'll start tinkering with that in the next few days. For the most part, I try to welcome all visitors with aplomb and attitude, but there are those who manage to find their way here who should instead be in therapy or rehab or AA -- and some who should be regular visitors in all three -- and for them, I'll investigate how to encourage them to go elsewhere. There are other features which are somewhat complicated and not worth explaining; suffice to say that this space will get a slight makeover before the full-blown revamping I've been contemplating -- and promising -- for some time now. The new layout -- burgundy, charcoal, orange, et al -- is a nice interim change of pace, but I am guessing it will only be temporary and around for a little while longer. Once we make the jump, I'll be sure and leave a trail of bread-crumbs for all who wish to follow us to the new digs. In the meantime, if you're still awake and reading this, my congratulations and thanks -- now please consider cutting caffeine from your daily routine.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

...Into The Upper Deck

And go on it did.

The chronology of the past several days feels like several blurry moments. Last we left, I was prepping for a party of up to 150, making sure every detail was handled on some level, and then the party happened.

Two words: it ROCKED.

In posting the pictures I took from that night, I can only preface my thoughts by admitting the only thing that would have made the night better was if Kaia was there with me. And it would have made it a LOT better. But having said that, I was -- and am -- really pleased with everything related to that night.

In a nutshell, the space was perfect -- our group ended up at about 110 -- and it was just dark enough in the bar for us to have some privacy and/or anonymity for some random groping, gossiping and or itch-scratching ;) But overall everyone seemed pleased; the place, Club Iguana, was the perfect location for the mass of people drinking, eating, dancing and yapping.

On top of that, I got a chance to meet some people that I've known through the online world for years but never had met in person. Friends of friends, "invitee-in-laws" and people with whom I just don't get a chance to spend enough time were (finally) there. That means Roberta, my friend from Fairbanks, Alaska-cum Madison, Wisconsin-cum Shawnee Mission, Kansas, my friend Sandy from the LA area, Sheila from Houston, and a half-dozen other people with whom I've spoken to with regularity but never met face to face. All in all, it was a great -- and unfortunate -- reminder that the Internet is a double-edged sword: it facilitates human contact with people all over the world, but serves to remind that there is no substitute for genuine human contact and simultaneously can prevent that human contact from occurring. As they say in France, it's a mindfuck.

As the night wound down and a bunch -- 25 or 30 -- of us wound up at Ben Ash's Deli at 55th and 7th (around 2:30AM), everyone -- bleary-eyed, weary, tired and semi-drunk and/or fully hung over -- had post-party eats and then we all went our separate ways. I spoke to Kaia throughout the night but she had gone to sleep hours prior to me leaving Ben Ash, so I quietly walked to 6th Avenue once the crowd dispersed -- through streets that were unusually, eerily quiet and uninhabited -- grabbed a cab and went home. Since this area is where I work, I am not used to seeing this neighborhood so devoid of life or light, and it was very unsettling making my way through what is usually a densely-populated slice of my everyday life as the only moving being for what seemed like blocks. So when I finally reached home -- around 5 -- I populated the HoB Flicker site like I promised I would and went to sleep. Prior to crashing, I noticed other people had already posted some pictures from the party, and that made me smile -- people that eager must either have had a great time or had such a shitty time that they were home -- and sober -- early enough to navigate the process of posting pictures. Thankfully, the former, and not the latter, was the case.

All in all, it was a major success -- and I would have posted about it herein much sooner, as was my want -- but I basically spent the last few days fighting a post-party hangover, sleep deprivation, election stuff and yesterday's incredible news that Rumsfeld was, finally, stepping down. I'll touch on Tuesday's explosive, yet predicted, election results (and the aforementioned Rumsfeld fall-out news) later.

I apologize for not visiting here sooner after the party, but hopefully those of you who made it here soon after and/or saw the pics had a general sense of who, what, where, how and why I wasn't here. My friend who survived another birthday ;) had a lot of fun as well, and I think, overall, that the more we throw these parties, the easier -- and more enjoyable -- they become. There was only one or two people giving us advice, nagging us for guest list info, and advising us on how to make the party better (LOL) before the actual event, and one of those people wound up not even showing up.

So again, I am extremely grateful to all of the people who came, from both near and far, who braved airlines, traffic, hotels, tourists, the NYC Marathon and a cavalcade of other obstacles, to be here this past weekend. And of course I also am genuinely thankful for the people that made it here from across town -- LisaB, for coming despite injuring her knee earlier that day, bunches of people who came in from other boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the 6th Borough, New Jersey) and my friends Trip and Dara, who braved babysitters, pre-fab out-of-state visitation and a tacky yet inspiring Zorro costume ;) to be there.

As I said that night -- more times than I can count -- the next one (in February) will be even better...but this one was great :)


Friday, November 03, 2006

The Show Must Go On

Forgive my usurping the title of one of the song titles from Pink Floyd's The Wall for this post; it just seems that tomorrow night's festivities are approaching at lightning speed and no matter how many of these BoogieFests we throw, there always seems to be some hesitation to insure everything is right, every 'i' is dotted, every 't' is crossed, and every random piece fits in somewhere.

Ahead of the party, I made sure all the pics in the camera were moved over to the PC and to the HoB Flicker site. The newest set is comprised of some dreary pics I've taken over the past week or two while out and about downtown, on the West Side as well as a few in Chinatown (I didn't have the heart or the constitution to take pics of the live fish markets or the people with goiters the size of footballs -- not yet, anyway).

On top of that, and to return to the topic of the incoming party, we have a bunch of people who are in the process of coming in by plane, train, bus and/or car. On top of that, there are hotels, arrangements to stay with friends, clothing/cleaning issues, scheduling conflicts, the procuring and payment for the birthday cake for the co-host, my friend Jon (aka The Grand Poobah), and a variety of other miscellaneous items popping up in my collective neurospan. All things considered, this endeavor -- like its predecessors -- always winds up being a huge hit for everyone, including me. It's always fun seeing, hanging and partying with friends -- but just focusing on all the details and making sure everyone and everything is addressed and satisfied and ready to rock never fails to keep me guessing until the (and throughout the entire) event.

This time, I've attempted to Not Worry. For the most part, everything is clicking -- the music's ready to go, the wardrobe is ready to go, the camera's ready to go, the people are ready to go, the cake is prepped and ready for delivery -- nothing is out of place. It's sort of unnerving, really -- things shouldn't be going this smoothly. I guess, if nothing else, Kaia not being here to ground me and to remind me what's really important -- a random kiss in the living room, her holding my hand on the way to or back from Eli's -- are "real." All this other stuff -- the party details, the 125 or so guests, their flight info, the hotels, the taxis, the plans, the miscellaneous bullshit -- that's all secondary.

Of course, none of that is secondary -- and the irony is, of course, that since Kaia's not in for this particular shindig, all of that surrounding her is, this weekend, unfortunately, imaginary. Except that, for me, as much as I am looking forward to hanging with my friends -- both old and new -- I'd trade it all for a weekend with her here.

Oh well...I 'spose if it were perfect I wouldn't know when to appreciate it ;)

Well, as they say in close-quarter combat, I'll be sure and update you all from the front, or at the very least, once the siege is complete.

Keep an eye on the Flicker site for party pics -- I'll announce them here, but in the event that I am not mentally able to put together a coherent semblance of a typical HoB wrap-up/post, they'll appear before I do.

And now, without further ado...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Open Mouth, Insert Foot...

So the guy -- who happens to be the President -- is widely regarded as an uneducated moron who can't pronounce the word nuclear. The other guy, a former Democratic candidate for President, the intelligent, moral former veteran who has a Yale education and who was largely regarded as an improvement over the Republican status quo.

One of them makes a stupid, off-hand, derisive comment to college students while on the campaign trail in California, suggesting that "if you don't pursue your education, you'll wind up stuck in Iraq," suggesting that people in today's military are stupid and uneducated.

In case anyone needs John Kerry to campaign for them ahead of the upcoming elections, he'll be at home, waiting by the phone.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Timing, Location and Eloquency

Some days are relatively easy-going, laid back and smooth. Those are the kind of days that ease you out of bed, keep you moving well past lunch, with everything in its place, and every problem surmountable and solved by the late-afternoon slow-down.

Today was not one of those days.

The day started relatively easily. I had a check-up at my doctor's office, and I wound up getting to his office early, which is a rarity for me. So I was pretty pleased; that is, until I wound up sitting for a half hour, received several voicemails and realized I needed to get out of his office before he saw me.

Luckily he didn't let me run out and did a quick run-through on the basics: weight, blood pressure, breathing, blood, allergies and the miscellaneous other niceties. Everything was good -- ie going in the right direction -- and before I slipped out the door I got my annual flu shot.

Thereafter, I got to the office -- about 45 minutes later than I normally walk through the door -- and jumped right in with both feet, so to speak. First I prepped an Application that needed to be addressed, then got the materials together for a biggie meeting I had downtown with a client at a City Agency.

Anytime a client requests a meeting with a City Agency, that means one of three things: a) he/she is unhappy with the City's progress and wants a first-hand response as to why things are moving so damn slow; b) he/she is unhappy with YOUR progress and wants a first-hand response, with you sitting there, as to why things IN YOUR OFFICE are moving so damn slow; or c) he/she wants to get explicit instructions as to what will be necessary for you -- and he/she -- to obtain, provide and/or furnish to said City Agency to get everything done.

Luckily, today's meeting was not requested by my client at all, but by me. The short version is that I've been working on an Application for awhile now -- far longer than I care to admit -- and because my client hired someone who was paid a lot of money to perform a service but instead wound up taking most of that money and disappearing, which is definitely a criminal act -- it's been left, thus far, to me to clean up the mess. Today was my alert to my client that I've done everything I can without some more assistance from he and his people.

It might not sound like it's significant, but when a $750,000 matter hangs in the balance, managing egos, bullshit, attitude and frustration -- both on the part of my client(s) and the City Agency with whom we met -- is not easy. The meeting, however, went really well, and I breathed a virtual sigh of relief once I managed to head out and back to the train to return to the office.

Before I left, I arranged a meeting for the end of November with another guy in a different department but whose involvement would be equally significant to another matter on which I've been working.

Incidentally, I discuss pretty much everything that happens during working hours with Kaia, and she and I both have noticed that most of my day consists of me balancing, massaging and appeasing -- and of course, solving problems -- for people that seem bent on giving me headaches. Today, however, despite the chance for failure, was a resounding success.

I wrapped my work day and got home; there was a lot to be done once I arrived. First, a friend and I have been planning a party for this weekend in midtown. Since he's been largely out of touch -- his PC is DOA, he is out of touch at work, and his phone isn't functioning -- it's largely fallen on me to juggle the 150 party guests, the venue, the music (more on that later) and the various other vagaries that come with the title of Party Planner. People need info on where the party is, where the nearest trains are, how to get there from the East Side, from the West Side, from downtown, from across town, and from the airport. They need hotel info, good ideas for restaurants nearby, ticketing info, questions regarding people they want to bring, and the ever-popular questions about "what should I wear," "what should I bring," "how much should I bring" and "is Some Random Person going to be there?"

This time, however, the questions have been limited, easily-handled, and each and every time someone hits me with a request -- "Boogie, can you tell me the closest drugstore near the place in case I need to buy more condoms" -- it's not as irritating as it has been in the past. Either I'm getting better at this party-planning thing -- or the crowd we're in the process of assembling is getting better at trusting us with throwin' a bitchin', burn-the-house-down kinda shindig.

Which leads me to my next topic du jour.

Despite the fact part of the venue we've hired includes the services of their in-house DJ, since I don't know him/her and I get tired of the same party/club house music, I opted to throw together a disc or two of my own stuff. I don't particularly dig club tunes, but I figured I would prefer to have a say as to what I was listening -- at high volume -- at my own party. So I sat down with Nero Soundtrax -- an incredibly powerful, incredibly simple music processing/mix application, and got started. Six 80-minute cd's later, I've finally achieved nirvana. I threw together two chock-full discs of loud, party rock -- stuff that makes parents cringe, clergymen cry and young, nubile teens writhe and squeal. On top of that, I tossed up two more full discs of lounge tunes, which are an updated version of 80's-era-Sonny Crocket cool. And finally, two full discs of bouncy, mindless club tunes that blend and bleed into each other and are guaranteed to serve as 160 minutes of virtual, musical sex-olympics -- sort of. Kaia kicked in a lot of assistance from start to finish, and I ran everything I included by her, for the most part, since she's into pop stuff far more than me. I'm really pleased with the outcome, and while the final verdict will be the on-site reaction by the party crowd, I'm anything but concerned that the reception for this stuff will be overwhelmingly positive. Plus, I made sure to include some snide commentary in the form of Pink's "U + Ur Hand" buried somewhere among the tunes :)

So finally, after getting all six discs burned, labeled and sleeved, I called my contact at the club to check in. After all, despite having my name on a signed contract, the party is Saturday and I wanted to insure everything was set to go. It is. I also verified we can bring a sheet-cake in for my co-host's birthday. We can. And finally, I made sure we can bring and have the DJ spin the discs I produced. We can.

All in all, not the smoothest of days, but then again, I'm looking forward to hangin' with friends, meeting new ones, and surviving another maniacal party weekend.

The only negative is that Kaia won't be here -- but that means I'll be able to focus on making sure everyone has a blast without feeling guilty -- or crappy -- if I'm not spending my time strictly with her.

Plus, she'll be here in a week or two, so I'll be able to show her the pictures, regale her with stories of the Latest Party, and we can enjoy the music on our own -- in private (wink wink) :)

I'll make sure I swing by here prior to the gig happening, and for those of you planning on being in attendance, it is indeed BYOC ;)

More later...