Monday, February 26, 2007


Five words: Scorsese wins for Best Director.

Not much needs to be said beyond that. I'm still shocked that his first Oscar was for The Departed and not Goodfellas, but, I suppose, better late than never. Congrats to him and the entire cast.

The best actor and actress awards didn't shock me; Helen Mirren, who looked incredible for a woman of 62 (although Diane Keaton, at 61, also looked phenomenal), supposedly turned in one of the best performances ever committed to screen. And I give kudos to Forest Whitaker, who is always dead-on perfect. I didn't see The Last King of Scotland, but I remember three of his many performances -- The Crying Game, The Color of Money and Fast Times At Ridgemont High -- as proof that no matter what type of film or what role he fills, he hits it out of the park.

I feel badly for Eddie Murphy; I think Alan Arkin is great so it's not a disappointment that he won (Glengarry Glen Ross and Grosse Point Blank are two of my Arkin favorites). Either way, I hope Eddie Murphy has more Dreamgirls-esque opportunities and no more Pluto Nash, Best Defense or Holy Man movies in his future. I'm glad Jennifer Hudson won; just watching her reaction and seeing how moved she was was a wonderful experience.

Overall, I enjoyed the show; Ellen DeGeneres was entertaining without being preachy, and the show seemed to move along, despite running 45 minutes over, in a fairly quick-paced manner. Having not bothered to see four of the five nominated films -- The Departed was the only one I did see -- I was really shocked that Scorsese and this film won. My only other disappointment other than Eddie Murphy not going home a winner was that Clint Eastwood didn't win anything for Flags Of Our Fathers or Letters From Iwo Jima.

But on this night, I'm just glad I saw -- and enjoyed -- the movie that won Best Director and Best Film. I'm a bit shocked -- and frankly, I'm not even sure I would have given The Departed Best Film -- but overall I'm just happy for Martin Scorsese. After failing to win a Best Director Oscar for Goodfellas, I'm sure he believed he'd die without winning an Oscar. I suppose better late than never.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Oscars and The Day The Music Died

The last time I got pulled over for exceeding the speed limit, a friend and I were going about 63 and on our way down to Maryland to see Billy Joel with another friend. Being that Maryland has state troopers who are only slightly more personable than most Colombian rebel death squads, I wasn't as surprised as I probably should have been. When I explained to Joey Bag O'Donuts that I was simply moving along with the rest of traffic, his emotionless response -- "License and registration, please" -- was the end of the discussion.

Today, I rarely find myself behind the wheel of a car; mostly, I find myself behind a bus driver or a cab driver. In lieu thereof, then, the "Everyone is doing it, I was just keeping up" excuse is perhaps a viable excuse for online file-sharing, but if at all, that viability is disappearing by the day.

I came across a recent article on CNN that highlighted this very fact. File-sharing has increasingly become part of our modern technological model; once the next high-speed advances vis-a-vis internet access become the norm -- perhaps not farther off than another few years -- we'll be able to download full-length, high-quality DVD's. For the time being, however, the majority of us -- those who download stuff online -- will be relegated to downloading a track or an entire CD's worth of music. There are several issues with legit music downloads, of course; downloading stuff from Apple's iTunes is simple, but the quality of those downloads is only mediocre, and more importantly, they only play through iTunes and/or the iPod. There are other avenues for legal downloads, but those are suspect, quirky, and are billed in bunches (either as a ten-pack or more of tracks or as a monthly download/membership fee). In short, the options for legal music downloads are underwhelming at best.

It's no shock that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has gone bananas over the lost revenue that illegal downloading has cost its industry; with the recent bankruptcy and disappearance of an institution, Tower Records, it's increasingly clear that people don't need the actual CD in their hands in order to enjoy music. Further, the RIAA sees that people would prefer to download a so-so quality version of a single than pay $18 for the CD with that track and 11 others. So their response to file-sharing has been predatory and vicious, and understandably so. People have found a way to circumvent the institutions which previously decried we pay $15 or more for a disc filled mostly with stuff with which we were disenchanted. Gone are the days people will buy an entire disc for that one elusive track; and while that, on some level, could eradicate or at least question the validity or usefulness of albums/discs as a whole, the real concern should be with the RIAA and their future.

While the RIAA has predicted the dangers of file-sharing by quoting stats showing record sales are down in a mjor way (with the fall of Tower Records, how could anyone argue?), I wonder whether this phenomenon -- file-sharing -- is the cause of the RIAA's problems, or a result thereof. To wit, if cd's were filled with good stuff -- on the level of the last several releases by Foo Fighters, Audioslave, Tom Petty, Pete Yorn, et al -- I don't imagine I'd consider skipping the store experience, online or otherwise. My personal distaste with the music industry these days isn't the exorbitant prices of CD's but instead the quality -- or lack thereof -- of most of what's on store shelves. Going after the nation's university students, of course, is one way to attack this problem, as indicated above; however, the arbitrary persecution of a few students at each of 250 universities across the country isn't going to stop the phenomenon. It certainly won't endear anyone to the RIAA any more than they already are; and judging by the mentality of modern youth, I imagine rather than extinguishing that fire, it will only make it burn hotter and bigger.

At some point, someone -- an individual, an entity, or an entire generation -- will finally challenge the RIAA and hopefully inspire both them and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) to revisit the issue of copyrights and file-sharing. Despite the lack of high-high-speed internet, a casual search for the five nominees for Best Picture yielded about 500 unique, legitimate sources to download same online, illegally. Now that the RIAA has chosen its path -- and, in my opinion, chosen unwisely -- the MPAA, on this Oscar night, may want to pay attention to what is actually happening and react in an effort to cure the problem rather than persecute -- and prosecute -- it.

What I find interesting, of course, is of the five best-picture nominees, I enjoyed The Departed immensely but didn't bother seeing any of the other four, although Little Miss Sunshine is supposed to be great (and Dreamgirls, a non-nominee, was also supposed to be great). So Hollywood, while you lament decreasing profits and empty theater seats, blame Denon, Yamaha, Sony, Panasonic, Phillips and Samsung -- the manufacturers who drive home theater systems' prices into the ground -- and crappy movies and not people who are downloading DVD's. That problem won't be a reality for several more years, whether or not excessive, inhibitory copy-protection measures are implemented (didn't work with macrovision, etc.).

Hopefully, someday -- somehow -- the RIAA, and the MPAA as well, will focus on improving their products rather than prosecuting their duplication and improving the quality of the products themselves in lieu of their copy-protection.

This scenario is about as likely as Charlie Sheen receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award for his role in Navy Seals; but I like to think the glass is half-full even when it's nearly empty.

Nuke some popcorn, dim the lights, and enjoy the show!

Friday, February 23, 2007


Among all the pressure we're facing at work, I have Jury Duty with which to contend. So as of this morning, I'll be sequestered away for long hours, replete with meager, paltry compensation, lousy take-out, stilted, awkward companionship and little or no access to television, newspapers, the Internet and, worse of all, the Weekly World News.

And don't get me started on if they actually pick me for a trial ;)

Whether it's good news or bad, I'll be back tomorrow. Meanwhile, enjoy today's other post as a sign that New York City is still Gotham and not Disney East.

File Under: "Introducing Our New BYOB Policy"

Say it ain't so!

Multiple Choice:
a) Bring Your Own Booze
b) Bobble Yolanda's Outrageous Boobs
c) Buy Your Own Bitch

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Paradise (Not Quite) By The Dashboard Lights

Timing is everything. At least that's what I hear when it comes to Nascar racing, who you ultimately wind up meeting and marrying, and how my weekend eventually transpired.

Sometime after Thursday was in full swing, while I was contemplating my own weirdness and that of others, a friend got in touch with me to see whether I was planning on being around this weekend. He was the second uber-giant (read: over 6/4) friend within the span of a couple days to advise me there was a recently-announced get-together in Chinatown (NYC) and wanted to see if a) I was going; and b) if he could crash at my place.

In the ordinary course, I am usually in the loop when it comes to interstate get-togethers; then again, that's usually because I'm the one (if not one of the two) arranging the get-togethers in the first place. Neither here nor there; I told him I knew about the party but I was planning on washing my hair in its stead. In either case, I haven't (yet, perhaps) made the full-on jump back into weekly hockey, so I didn't have any problem with him crashing at my place, despite wondering whether my friend (6'6) would actually fit in my apartment in horizontal fashion. He's already hung out at my place (he's from California, so him having previously visited my place is not exactly a done deal) so he knew he'd fit on the couch, so I told him as long as he would be okay, his hanging at my place was no problem.

So he arranged to get to my place sometime Saturday morningish, which was fine with me; I had some things to handle but he's low-maintenance. I had a bottle of Diet Coke in the fridge and a high-speed net connection and that was all he really needed. That night was the party, so I did my errands out and about in NYC, he did his thing, we both got ready for our respective plans, he went to the party, I went out and did my thing, and by 4:30 Sunday morning we were both back at my place, weary but the wiser therefore.

He spent late morning Sunday at a prearranged brunch at Dock's on the east side (the site of one of Kaia's and my early dates, and, incidentally, highly recommended although a bit pricey) and I did some work before heading out to do a few more errands and to see a friend who I'd promised some face time.

By the time he got back to my place, it was late Sunday and he was due to leave on Monday afternoon, so we opted to chill a bit Monday morning before a) he got his stuff packed and himself ready to roll; and b) I got myself showered and to the office for a late but relatively reasonable President's Day workday. So we wound up chilling out and I hit the office in the early afternoon; meanwhile, he prepped himself and discovered the airline swapped out one of his flights (most likely a Jet Blue-related snafu) so he wound up staying at my place until late/early Monday night/Tuesday morning.

I had an early-ish morning appointment to address so I knew I'd be a bit late getting into the office, but while I normally prefer getting in before 9, this was the first time since November I'd gone two days in a row without being in the office before 10. It's a relative conundrum; the City agency at which I spend nearly all my out-of-office time was relocating within their building, so while there was plenty to do on my end, it was sort of like treading water waiting for a race to start. There was, is and always will be pressure on me time-wise, but the urgency wasn't quite there because there was nowhere for me to submit papers, call for verification or status of my matters, or even e-mail or fax to follow up on matters that I'd been balls-to-the-wall busy with as recently as a week ago.

On the other side of the coin, the rest of the office is in full-court press mode; we received the newest annual figures recently, and since then we as a unit have been going 110% since. Papers being printed, papers being received, papers being copied, boxes of papers to be separated, ordered, listed and organized are piling up and, for the most part, there's another month of this frenetic pressure until the middle of March. So while my immediate situation is a bit calm -- oddly so, something I'm far from used to -- everything seems to be moving full-speed ahead.

The weirdest part in all of this, especially spending as much time with my friend as I did, was that I spent very little phone time with Kaia. This morning, as I finished my appointment and headed to the office, I gave her a buzz -- despite it being a bit early for her -- just so I could hear her voice. I'm sure some scientific study could explain to me why the busy pace, the pressure and the chaos seemingly, like magic, disappears when I speak to her for the first time in awhile, but all I know is hearing her voice leveled my artificial horizon and set me back to normal, whatever that is.

The epilogue to this, of course, is my friend got back to Cali, I got to my office, and Kaia got woken up a bit earlier than she expected. But she didn't seem much to mind.

Another happy ending, at least for today.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Weirdness Must End

Alas, in a genuine tribute to Madame Trouble, I've been racking my brain to come up with a five-spot of what makes me weirder than most people actually reading this post. Judging by the scattered smattering of readership the HoB has amassed, I'd say that's a pretty tall order; and yet, by all accounts, I'm sure if I dig deep enough I can come up with nary a half-dozen. So I'm going to try -- and I'm also going to point out what I find weird about other people. So pfffffffffffft.

First, I've officially switched teams. No, I'm not gay -- I mean that when I was a wee lad, I loved playing baseball and tennis; and I derived endless distraction while being solely focused on football and hockey on TV. Now that I've gotten my pubes, I'd have to say that I almost always watch baseball and tennis when it's on TV, but my preference is to play football and hockey. As for basketball, I used to love it (both playing and watching) as a kid, and now I can't be bothered to do either. might be a weird thing.

Second, I've got enough music occupying my apartment -- on CD, LP, hard drive, mp3, iPod, and now in FLAC -- to listen to songs for the next twelve years without repeating the same song twice. So why is it that, more and more, the only time I spend actually listening to music per se is when I'm commuting (via iPod) or in a lounge and just kicking back? I've gotten my PC setup so organized that it downloads stuff while I'm not around -- thank you, BitTorrent -- and yet I spend more time downloading and fussing over music than actually listening to it. The one caveat, of course, is that I spend more time these days with a guitar in my lap, a pick in my mouth and a blinking cursor at the ready in case I want to jot down some chord progressions, lyrics and/or a list of stuff I need to buy at Duane Reade tomorrow.

Third, based on my typical commute a decade ago, I would spend approximately three hours in a moving vehicle heading into or out of Manhattan en route to my apartment. Now, I spend about forty-five minutes -- albeit in a bus -- en route to the office or my apartment. I stopped racing when I got rid of my Audi, so I essentially went from spending my entire commute and a good chunk of my weekends driving to not driving at all. Ever. This is the longest stretch of being a non-driver (ie an owner/operator of my own car/Jeep) that I've ever endured. And while I love driving -- racing, especially (although the way I do the former it's pretty much the latter anyway) -- I don't really miss not having to bother with a car in NYC.

Weird. Sort of.

Fourth, I put garlic in my eggs.

Before anyone gags and subsequently damages his/her LCD display, I've known people to put some repulsive things in/on other foods. There are shitloads of people who flavor their cooked scrambled eggs/omelettes with ketchup; almost all of Europe eats french fries with mayonnaise. And the Irish regularly consume something called black and white pudding, which, in actuality, is code for "herb-tinged asshole." If you've ever tasted black and white pudding -- especially anywhere in the United Kingdom -- you will no doubt be in an excellent position to confirm this.

So me lopping a sliced-up clove of garlic amongst a three-some of Grade A Jumbo's right before they are crepe-i-fied and subsequently omelette-o-fied isn't as bad as it sounds. In fact, I think people who just douse their omelettes with a dab of cheese -- American, cheddar and Swiss for the librarians and the agoraphobes in the house -- are missing the point. Eggs are the unifier of all types of different cuisines, even if you have no idea you're consuming eggs. The fact is lots of savory items go really well with eggs: herbs like thyme, rosemary, garlic and chives; country sausage; sweet/roasted peppers; curry and/or tabasco (just a dash of either); salmon (with a hint of dill); and the ever-popular onion.

I apologize if I've inspired hunger in anyone visiting here; it's just that I've never encountered anyone who consciously admitted to using garlic when preparing eggs for breakfast, and I've always wondered why. If that makes me weird, well by gum, than I'm weird, loud and proud.

Finally, in the five-hole, I survived a plane hijacking.

Yep, you read right.

'Twas a flight from the Virgin Islands -- a two-part connector, the first in the late afternoon and the second in the early evening on a New Years Eve back in the 1980's -- when my family and I boarded a flight back to NYC. After about four or so hours in the air, about an hour out of New York, the captain announced that a gentleman -- a Mr. Ali -- wished to go to Havana, Cuba, and the plane was now en route thereto.

I was still in high school at the time -- in fact, my sister and I were both high school students at the time -- and we were sitting next to one another in the front bulkhead while my parents were across the aisle to our immediate right. Once this announcement hit the speakers, and the entire plane realized this was not a joke, most everyone dispensed -- quickly -- of all their jewelry, especially anything that identified them as jewish. This was right after a TWA jet had been hijacked by some Muslim extremists (as if a nice elderly presbyterian couple would hijack a jet to Chaos Central) and stayed on the ground for around 50 days in Beirut, and when we heard we were going to Cuba, we were sort of puzzled. Apparently, Mr. Ali, the lone hijacker, hadn't heard -- while he was in prison -- that Carter signed an extradition treaty with The Land of Fidel that no longer granted hijackers asylum if they landed a hijacked plane in Cuba. So after a relatively bizarre hour and change in the air -- during which we were first advised to keep our hands in the air, then on the seats in front of us (for us bulkhead passengers, this was a conundrum) and then in our laps -- we began our approach to Cuba.

...On fumes, the pilot observed over the complimentary headphones -- as Mr. Ali, a skinny asswipe who remarkably resembled the late Gregory Hines shimmied from the rear of the plane toward the cockpit with a stewardess in front of him and a .38 special service revolvers in each of his hands -- and when we landed (roughly, and quite certainly the least hospitable landing I've ever experienced as a passenger), we were ringed on the runway, on each side of the plane, with as many emergency vehicles -- lights, sirens, strobes, etc. -- that were viably mobile in the state of Cuba. The plane ground to a halt, and after about ten minutes, Cuban MP's (they were wearing armbands, Smartypants) with Uzis boarded the plane and asked us "Que Pasa?" Rather than rack our brains ("How the fuck do you say cockpit in Spanish?"), we pointed in the direction of the cockpit, so they went and removed from the plane their newest temporary citizen, and that was it. We were escorted off the plane -- reluctantly, we agreed to temporarily leave so they could check for explosives and refuel us -- and since I was still a yoot, I opted to partake of cheeseburgers and ice cream rather than the rapacious cleavage and the promise of free cigars, both of which were ample for us gringos.

Ahh, to be young and stupid.

In either case, the weirdness wasn't being a passenger in a hijacking. What's weird about the story is that I asked permission -- which was granted by Mr. Ali -- to take a leak mid-hijacking. I'm proud to say that everything came out okay that day.

Maybe it's weird that I'll never return to the Virgin Islands ever again. But I think the real weirdness was my unwillingness to hold it in until we were there. Perhaps if I had continually pestered Mr. Ali with a whiny, nasal "Are we there yet?" every thirty seconds, things might have turned out differently -- for better or worse. Or maybe it's just weird that I have a quasi-flashback every time I hit the airplane bathroom.

Is that weird? ;)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Warm & Fuzzy Amid The Winter Gloom

Despite the warnings that winter, in the form of a Nor'easter, was to yet again rear its ugly head today, the only thing that reminded us winter is here today was the windy chill sweeping through midtown.

So tonight, despite the warnings that the storm was incoming, and confirmation from a friend stuck in a storm in DC (presumably the same one that is visiting NYC sometime soon), I was busy cleaning dishes in the kitchen when I looked up and was surprised to see the snow.

Almost hypnotic in its semi-random, semi-patterned drift, I popped the back window to take an unfettered peek at the flakes as they made crunching sounds as they landed. Within minutes my back windows went from ventilation to a gateway to my back courtyard, which, when it snows, embodies a private winter wonderland, replete with foliage, sodium gas streetlights and little else.

Once my hypnotized gaze had its fill, I answered a ringing phone -- Kaia on the other line, on her way from work to a meeting. I told her what was happening and she & I quickly reminisced about New Year's Eve 2005 (not this past, but the one before) in which we woke up to a surprise snowfall. Between that and tomorrow being Valentine's Day, we dispensed with the normally-expressed mutual sentiments about how shitty it is we won't be seeing each other until mid-March and continued on with our conversation.

I also let her know -- after a bit of prodding from her -- that I came home to a large box from her, and apologized for not getting her anything this year. Of course, tomorrow, when 1-800-Flowers arrives with goodies (and flowers -- duh!) for her, she'll knowingly laugh. She knows me too well to think -- even for a second -- that I would gloss over a chance for me to tell her how much I love her. As much as she loves getting flowers -- and I enjoy getting them for her -- I think we'd both prefer to spend the holiday together. But while our feelings for each other have only deepened with time, I think we both know that until she's here full-time, calendar holidays are secondary for the most part. For us, holidays are days which allow us to wake up late together, order in or prep breakfast together, spend time with each other, and then going out in the afternoon or evening just because.

In other words, Valentine's Day -- at least over the last several years -- has been a bit difficult. After spending a few miserable Valentine's Day holidays with The Freak, I've actually found myself in a place where every day with Kaia is good, even after all this time (like 27 months is so long). The irony is somewhat jarring -- after having spent Valentine's Day with The Freak, so fucked up that she pouted when the lavender roses I got her were the wrong color, I figured I would always have some deep-seated repulsion to this holiday. And yet, despite my other half being on the opposite coast, I'm still looking forward to tomorrow, as much -- if not moreso -- than I looked forward to yesterday or today. It's just that I'm looking forward to her making her way back to New York, or me heading out to San Fran -- more than the day the calendar dictates we celebrate our feelings for each other. So until she's a permanent fixture in NYC, we'll just reschedule it -- so in theory I shouldn't be looking forward to the day at all.

I guess that it's the promise -- of seeing her soon, of knowing where we are and where we're going, and where we've both been -- that sometime soon, everything will be back to normal and we'll go forward. And before that, knowing she's out there and we found each other and that next year I'll be able to wake her up on Valentine's Day by rubbing her shoulders rather than dialing her number.

I like Valentine's Day, no matter where it happens to fall on the calendar.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Grammy Over/Under

The Short/Long:

The High Point: Hearing Sting shout "We're The Police and we're back!"

The Low Point: Watching Al (aka Husband of Tipper/PMRC) Gore, co-present with Queen Latifah, the Grammy for Best Rock Album (The Red Hot Chili Peppers/Stadium Arcadium).

The Medium Version: I would have preferred to see The Police perform for the next three hours than pretty much anything that followed their performance of "Roxanne."

The Long Version: Who caught the irony of Al Gore co-presenting an award commemorating a rock album to a band that early in their career frequently took the stage (and album covers) naked? Perhaps if Mr. Tipper had a clue, he might have opted out, but what's more important -- his message and his public persona, or the principles and the stick-up-his-ass stiffness that truly personifies him?

I'm not questioning Al Gore as a guy; I think, like John Kerry and even His Royal Stupidness, George W. Bush, Gore is a good man. However, the irony -- to me, at least -- was not only palpable, but almost comical.

What would have been even more delicious, at least for me, was if Ludicris received an award presented by Gore and his response to Mr. Tipper was "Thanks, motherfucker, you the tits."

Oh well...there's always next year.

The Outro:

Sign The Apocalypse is Upon Us: Scarlett Johansson is recording an album.
Sign The Apocalypse Might Not Be So Close: Rick Rubin is finally getting his well-overdue props. Rick, despite the fact you helped birth the Dixie Chicks' most recently-released Grammy fest, I'll forgive you. Seriously, bro...aside from the facial appearance, you're the tits. Keep up the good work. And shave, babe.

A Headline Says It All

This, without question, is one of the top-ten headlines I've come across this calendar year.

Remember, boys and girls...just say no.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

File Under: Holy Shit, I Didn't See That Coming

RIP Anna Nicole Smith...

Guess this really screws up TrimSpa's future as a successful product (like it had a chance in the first place).


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Names Change But The Asshole Is Still The Same

The Asshole Du Jour is New York State Sen. Carl Kruger, who actually admitted -- officially -- that today he will propose legislation banning people in New York City proper (that is, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island) from crossing the street while using an iPod.

Yes, you read right. This moron feels that there have been enough young people killed because they were distracted by iPods, Blackberry devices, PSPs or other portable entertainment devices, cellphones, etc., to warrant a ban against what he feels is rapidly becoming a "major public safety crisis."

It wasn't enough that the State (actually, the Federal Government) advised us that we had to wear seatbelts or we'd be fined. Then they told us we couldn't drive and talk on our cell phones, although plenty of people are so oblivious to the laws that they still do -- and they are awful drivers whether or not they're yapping away about last night's bar activities.

Then they banned trans fat, so even if I want to slowly kill myself by gorging on 21 pounds of KFC a day, I'll need to drive to another state to do so.

And to top it off, I now have to stop at the sidewalk, turn off my iPod and remove my earphones before crossing the street?

When did the state -- or the Federal Government -- become my parent? When did Chuck Schumer, Hilary Clinton or this other shitbird, Kruger, decide to step in and waste his time and mine by sounding off on something so stupid and so ridiculous that if I was his fellow state senator I'd propose we all get in line and give this imbecile each ten kicks in the ass or the head (as if there's a difference). Why do these morons think they can legislate our safety with these silly, convoluted ideas? Ban can openers because a lot of people slip while they're opening their stewed prunes and cut themselves. Or ban the stewed prunes themselves, they cause air pollution. Or ban the factories that make the stewed prunes.

When did Darwin's Theory of Evolution get tossed aside? How is it that a bunch of -- presumably, according to this nimrod Kruger's plan -- dumb people get ahold of iPods and get killed or injured while crossing the street? If you are in possession of an iPod -- whether you got it as a gift, you stole it or you borrowed your Uncle Ned's iPod -- and you could master the click-wheel but couldn't master the art of being careful while crossing the street, you don't need the intervention or the supervision of a state senator; you need a parent, and your parent needs a leash. The Senate -- state or otherwise -- is not a parent, is not a group of parents, and should go back to doing non-parental things, like regulating laws, tax rates, and insuring criminals are behind bars; fining dimwits who can't navigate the street and an iPod simultaneously should not be on the docket.

How about we ban overzealous dingleberry senators who obviously have nothing better to do than waste our time?

Someone get Carl Kruger directions to A Place Called Reality, because he's clearly lost and seems to be having a hard time finding it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Like A Feather In The Wind

Despite the title of today's post being a direct rip-off of lyrics from Led Zeppelin's "All My Love," today's post has nothing to do with romance. Instead, it owes its inspiration to the fact that some people are just way, way out there.

Our story focuses on U.S. Navy Capt. Lisa Nowak, 43, a married mother of three who was chosen by NASA to be shot into space this past July to the international space station. Ms. Nowak, apparently, however, was seeing stars when she met Discovery astronaut Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein. She and Oefelein had some sort of relationship -- to what degree is somewhat unclear -- but apparently, Oefelein, who has two children but remains unmarried, was, according to Nowak, also seeing another woman named Colleen Shipman. So Ms. Nowak decided to track down Ms. Shipman and "defend her turf."

So, like any other strong, confident female astronaut, Ms. Nowak got into her car in Houston, equipped with the following items: a wig, a BB gun, a steel mallet, a 4-inch folding knife, rubber tubing, $600 and garbage bags. After searching her vehicle, police found a pepper spray package, an unused BB-gun cartridge, latex gloves and e-mails between Shipman and Oefelein. They also found a letter “that indicated how much Mrs. Nowak loved Mr. Oefelein,” an opened package for a buck knife, Shipman’s home address and hand written directions to the address, the arrest affidavit said.

Apparently, it turns out, Ms. Nowak decided to drive -- really, really fast -- from Houston to Orlando to intercept Ms. Shipman, who was due to fly from Houston to Orlando -- to make this confrontation happen. She was in such a hurry that she purchased and wore diapers in order to avoid having to stop to go to the bathroom (nice touch -- I never thought of trying that).

Essentially, police say that Ms. Nowak intended to intimidate or kidnap Ms. Shipman to prevent her from maintaining a relationship with Oefelein. Hence the Buck knife, the pepper spray, the tubing, the garbage bags and, of course, the diapers, which astronauts wear during takeoffs and landings. Personally, I think the diapers are a poignant tribute to Mr. Oefelein; how many women would don a pair of Pampers and drive a thousand miles just to confront the one you love? Ms. Nowak must be very special indeed.

Either that, or she's really, really out there.

Incidentally, what first attracted me to this story of an out-of-this-world love triangle gone bad was not the driving-in-diapers angle, although that would be sufficient under normal circumstances. It was a news report on NYC's ABC affiliate's reporting on this particular story. They indicated that NASA would probably never allow Ms. Nowak to go into space again because she was apparently so mentally unhinged. Moreover, authorities, once they had captured Ms. Nowak, were holding Ms. Nowak without bond.

Apparently, it's because she's a flight risk.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Not Quite Super

Super Bowl Sunday can usually be regarded as a holiday for sports fans, but the truth is, unless you are a football fan and have no regard for any one particular team, Super Bowl Sunday is a bit of a high/low conundrum. Sure, it's exciting watching a Final -- no matter the sport -- so whether it's a Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the World Series or the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Game 7 -- the last game -- is always exciting because it's a last chance to win it all or lose it all.

But in football, it's Game 7 without games one through six. Fail in the Super Bowl and you're everafter tagged as a choker, a loser or merely regarded as a footnote in an otherwise stellar history of football's biggest game.

My problem with the Super Bowl, of course, is not that this pressure seems artificial, stilted or tense; Game 7's, and Super Bowls, can be among the most exciting games in all of sports. They should be. My problem is that when/if my team isn't participating -- whether the Yankees, the Rangers, the Knicks (or the Giants in the Super Bowl) -- it makes it sort of non-interesting. Granted, I'd rather watch two teams -- like this year's, the Colts and the Bears -- compete in the Super Bowl than a spring training game featuring the Yankees and the Twins. However, I enjoy the sport -- whichever sport that may be -- because I enjoy watching my team compete. So a Colts/Bears Super Bowl is exciting, but I think that more people watch despite the football than they do because of the football. All the other crap -- the ads, the half-time show, the music, the pomp, the circumstance -- it's exciting, but it gets in the way of a game that I, in theory, really want to watch, or really don't care about one way or the other.

Like I said, it's a conundrum.

As a sidebar, something I find very interesting is that the majority of the non-football action -- everything, actually, aside from the ads -- is geared to reach the "pop" audience. So seeing Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, what have you -- is beyond insignificant to me. I would change the channel if I saw any of these particular performers hit the screen, so having to watch the Super Bowl and awaiting the start of the second half, or of some really clever, memorable ads, is akin to masturbating with a cheese grater -- it gets worse by the minute, if not sooner.

Seeing Paul McCartney perform was great -- knowing that he in his latter years can still entertain a crowd made me smile. What bothered me was that the majority of the crowd appeared to be 12-year-old kids who probably have no concept of who McCartney is and why his place in the history of music is so significant. And why they were jumping up and down is a mystery to me; either a) they were picked from a group that has exceedingly problematic genital infections that itch considerably, or b) they were advised by the Super Bowl Halftime Show staff to jump up and down and pretend they were having fun. My guess is it's the latter, although these days, one never knows.

The other thing that has stuck with me with respect to recent Super Bowl history was the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction. And that reeked of anything but spontaneity -- it clearly was planned. Nothing wrong with that, of course -- but the whole point of the Super Bowl is the excitement of knowing that anything can happen -- not that MTV specifically okayed Janet Jackson to flash America her right pancake during an extended yawnfest. For that to be one of the most memorable -- or infamous -- memories associated with the Super Bowl, at least that in recent memory -- says plenty about what happens between the lines -- and what doesn't.

One day, I hope the game returns to its roots -- a celebration of football, the best two teams from the NFL, and the spirit of competition. I'd like to see them remove "media day," the two-week hype leading up to the game, and all the related bullshit that pervades what should, essentially, be, sixty minutes of quality football.

Oh, and if at all possible, I'd like to see the Giants represent the NFC more often.

Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday, enjoy the party, and enjoy the ads. And while you're at it, enjoy the game itself.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I Got Yer Refill Right Here

Fresh off a bit of snowfall, a lot of work and some really cold winter weather, I've been going through the motions a bit; between getting everything addressed workwise, gearing up for the party in March, planning a mini Superbowl gathering of friends and attending a birthday dinner last night, it's been a crazy week.

Most of the workload is busy-season stuff; my busy season starts on January 1 and ends on December 31, but for the other half of the office, now is the time to gear up for the push that ends in March. So between now and March, it's full-speed, balls-to-the-wall, now-or-never (add your own cliche here) excitement. Most of it doesn't directly affect me, but since there's a greater load to shoulder and the tension is amped up, and since the flow of work and monies increases ten- or twenty-fold, it obviously has its affect on me and what I need to accomplish on a daily basis. For the most part, essentially, we're getting a lot of paper in, getting a lot of paper out, and getting everything organized -- in fact, organized chaos is pretty much how I'd describe it. My dad and my sister are humming along at three-quarters speed; the big push will come in the next couple or so weeks. Meantime, I'm just trying not to get in the way while I do what I need to do in and out of the office.

Since we filed a bunch of applications, they've all been through the preliminary processing phase and now they're all hitting the desks of inspectors, which means I need to be on call for on-site building inspections all over -- mostly in Manhattan, but some in Queens, Brooklyn and maybe one or two in the Bronx. The inspectors all know me -- in a good way -- so they give me first crack at their first appointments, meaning I can work with them to schedule inspections at times that don't completely fuck up my day. So instead of having an 11AM visit downtown, I can schedule it first thing or at the absolute end of the day, thus not screwing up the rest of it -- it might not seem like much, but Monday I've got a first-thing inspection in the 30's on Park then a meeting with a contractor thereafter, and every time my Monday starts with me running around first thing, it pretty much dictates what kind of week I'm in for -- so I guess it will be yet another busy, run-around, pressure-packed week. It could be worse -- there could be little or no work to be had -- but every so often a quiet period is nice to experience. If and when I see one I'll let you know...

Meanwhile, last night a group of about a dozen of us celebrated LisaB's birthday at Zoe. It was nice for many of the obvious reasons: Zoe is a great restaurant (which I think I originally suggested to Lisa as a good spot in Soho for tasty eats), it was restaurant week so it wasn't mongo-pricey, and despite the weather I had a half-block walk from the R train to the restaurant. Oh yeah...the company wasn't bad either :) Actually, of the attendees, I knew half of the people and met the other half -- including Julie, proprietor of Rabid Rabbits & Psycho Squirrels, so between hanging with people I knew and meeting the ones I didn't, it was great -- and I'd traded e-mails with Julie for awhile so meeting her in person was great. Overall, it was a very nice night. We started at 7:30 and went 'til about 10:30ish. Most of us bitched (or gloated about having Tivo/DVR) in connection with missing the Top Chef finale on Bravo -- no, I won't reveal who won -- but despite missing the show, it was nice that just about all of us were pushing for Ilan, the New York line cook, instead of Marcel, who Anthony Bourdain described as an amalgam of Julia Child and Charles Manson. Basically, despite the fact I missed the finale, the celebration was lots of fun, and the cab-ride home was as well. Between Lisa, Shari (another attendee) and I, we were going through our collective memory banks to figure out which of the restaurants we'd been to were worthwhile and which were dreck, and for the most part, most of our collective experience was positive, as was the fact that three of us, with our winter coats, our bags and Lisa's packages strewn about the backseat (thanks to a driver who hit every hemorrhoid-inspiring pothole -- thankyouverymuch) had a fun cab ride home. I dropped the ladies off on their mutual street -- they live two buildings from each other -- and managed to walk into my place at around 10:58 and was thus able to see who won the Top Chef finale. Watching the last minute or so felt like I'd skipped the bulk of War & Peace and went right for the last page, but it felt good knowing I wouldn't have to stay up until 2AM to find out who won during the rebroadcast.

I managed to grab a few shots of the entire group, but since I was ordered to keep 'em private, I'll have them up on The House of Boogie Flickr Site in the next day or so -- password protected with only the attendees given the option of visitation. Overall, it was a lot of fun; the only disappointment, as per usual, was that Kaia wasn't there. Such is life (for the time being).

In either case, to the attendees: Lisa, hope you had a lot of fun and a happy birthday; Linny, glad you made it on time-ish; Julie, nice to meet you; Shari, I'll e-mail you those exploratory photos we discussed in the cab; and to Alex and Doggy, we'll see you in March. To the rest of the group, 'twas great meeting you all and we should definitely do it again soon, only in warmer clime or season, and on a weekend (or at least not on a school night).

Cheers for now!

PS If any reader is asking him- or herself who Anthony Bourdain is, shame on you. And yes, I know when I use that expression I sound like my grandmother. Shame on you again.