Monday, December 29, 2003

FBI advises us to be on the look out for almanacs. I sort of assumed that almanacs were extinct, what with Google and all, but what do I know?

Sunday, December 28, 2003

A belated Merry Christmas to you all. We had a rainy Christmas down here, and I was ill to boot, so our plans of visiting Legoland Christmas day fell through, which is unfortunate since I'd already purchased discount tickets at work (they don't expire for another year, however). Had a good Christmas, nonetheless.

Woke up at 6 to open presents, which took two hours or so. I was happy that the presents I purchased went over well. The Mexican wrestling masks I got my brother-in-law were one highlight. I got themed gifts for him; Mexican wrestling masks, Los Straightjackets CDs (I bought him one on-line, decided it wouldn't come in time for Christmas and bought one from a store, and then got the other one in the mail a few days before Christmas), and a Strong Bad CD, he being a fan of Strong Bad. My sister seemed to enjoy the case of Dr. Pepper from the oldest Dr. Pepper factory in operation. After getting it, I realized it would be a problem for her getting it home, but she was able to get some up with her this trip, and can bring more next time she comes down. I also got her a Dr. Pepper shirt and another Lemony Snicket book. My sister got me the Mighty Wind album (I already have it on CD, so I'll save the vinyl one in mint condition) and Simpsons Hit and Run, which is fun (better than Road Rage, I'd have to say). My mom got me several DVDs, including the Alec Guinness Collection and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I also got Simpsons Jeopardy, which is fun, except that no one can touch me on Simpsons trivia, so no one wants to play with me more than one time. And once you assemble the board, it won't fit back in the box, which is a bit of a problem. I got some CDs (Tom Waits, Texas Tornadoes) and books (Bob Zmuda's book on Andy Kaufman, some Johnny Cash biographies), and other stuff. I did not get the Johnny Cash Unearthed box set, which I didn't ask for, since I knew Mom was about done with her shopping before that even came out, but I was still hoping might turn up. I went to Costco on Friday, but they no longer carried it, which is a shame, since I haven't seen it under $50 anywhere else. I also didn't get the rare edition of The Bad Beginning, nor the Series of Unfortunate Events calendar (which I didn't ask for, but considering my sister ended up getting about eight calendars for Christmas, I thought someone might get me one). But overall, if I wasn't completely thrilled by my gifts, it's because I didn't ask for anything too thrilling. And I did like most of what I got, especially the above-mentioned. After we'd opened everything, I asked Mom if she got everything she wanted. She said yes (liar!), at which point I asked Tanner what he got her, and he told me to look in the front room, so we all went out there, where Mom's last gift was, wrapped in paper bags my brother-in-law decorated for me to look like a packing crate marked "fragile." I got her a desk lamp modeled on the "major award" from A Christmas Story. She had mentioned it at least ten times in the week leading up to Christmas, yet claims she never in a million years dreamed she would get it for Christmas. We all gathered in front of the house to gaze on it glowing at dawn, and it was truly a beautiful sight. So I was happy my gifts went over well.

The rest of Christmas was uneventful. We watched some of the DVDs people got for Christmas, The Ladykillers, as hilarious as I remembered it, and Finding Nemo, which I didn't care for, probably because I dislike the color orange. I think I liked Finding Nemo better the first time I saw it, when my screen saver came on at work. The day after Christmas was when my flu peaked, so I didn't do much of anything. But it did get me out of going to the airport to see off Michelle and Eric, though I guess it wasn't too crowded, since most people spent the weekend wherever they went for Christmas.

Things I've read/watched/listened to lately: The Triplets of Belleville, which I enjoyed very much, though the story was a bit weak at times. The grandma is the focus of the story, but they should have developed the grandson a bit, if the story is going to be driven by events around him. But it hardly matters. Great soundtrack, also. And as the father of an overweight dog, it's nice to see the issue handled on film. The short by Disney and Dali they showed beforehand, Destino, was also interesting. I saw both at MoPA, where I hadn't seen a movie in at least a year, so it was nice to go there again. They have a Film Noir series coming up, so I'm sure I'll be back.

I read two children books recently. The New York Review of Books publishing arm recently republished The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily by Dino Buzatti. Wonderful illustrations and a nice story about bears waging war against humans, setting up a enlightened kingdom amonst the humans, and struggling with the corrupting influences of human life. I enjoyed it, but didn't quite touch me as deeply as I thought it might. Some of the verse portions were wonderful, but others were quite awkward, whether from the original source or due to translation I couldn't say. Hyphenating a word to achieve a rhyme seems a bit lazy to me. But it certainly had its charm, and my eyes did well up a bit at the end. Giraffes? Giraffes! on the other hand, was quite a disappointment. The book itself, like pretty much everything McSweeneys puts out, is quite beautiful. The idea, reminiscent of Shel Silverstein's Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book, is clever enough (or perhaps too clever): A fairly insane scientist turning out children's reference books full of outrageous lies. Unfortuately, the sting of random absurdities lacks cohesion, and while occasionally good for a chuckle, overall left me cold. It is obstensibly a children's book, and I think I might have enjoyed it as a child, but speaking for myself, I was disappointed.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Daniel Handler and Jack Black discuss weddings.
Yet again, I find myself behind in posting to the site, about my many adventures. So now I'll give short shrift to things which probably deserve more elaboration, but that's okay.

I saw Paul Anka last weekend, at Harrah's. It was actually a fun show, what I imagine a Wayne Newton show would be like, except Paul Anka is talented. It was very tacky, and whenever he would introduce a song by saying, "I wrote this in the '70s," (as if he had to tell us), look out. But he was an enthusiastic performer, and especially the more upbeat numbers were a lot of fun. And I learned that Paul Anka wrote "For Once in my Life," a favorite song of mine. His "duets" with recordings of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. were a little unsettling, but I suppose he has more right to do it than Natalie Cole did, seeing as he did write the songs. And having to listen to "She's Having My Baby" in its entirety, I understand how it was once voted the worst song ever. But I enjoyed myself, and although we were the youngest people there by at least thirty years, I'm used to that kind of thing.

Of course, I was far more excited about seeing the Folksmen than Paul Anka. They were performing at a Dean fundraiser, along with the Bangles and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. The show was at 7, at the House of Blues in West Hollywood. I left around 3, figuring that should be enough time to eat before the show. And if I was running late, I could just skip the meal. Instead, I find myself outside Los Angeles city limits, my clock reading 7:45 and traffic barely moving. I know driving to L.A. is not fun, but its not supposed to take 5 hours. I didn't see an accident or construction or anything, but I was travelling about 10 MPH from Escondido on, with almost no relief. So I ended up turning around and going home (a return trip of one hour fifteen minutes). So that was a big disappointment. But at least Howard Dean got my money.

School is done; the quarter ended up going better than I anticipated, and I hope that next quarter will be the first unqualified success I've had in awhile. I've fallen out of my running habit a bit. I've been getting shorter runs in, but my long runs in preparation for January's half-marathon have been tough to schedule. I had hoped to get an eight-miler in on Saturday, but I was a bit hung over and I hurt a toe, so I decided to forego running. I'm planning on running the eight-miler tomorrow, and if that goes well, I'm confident I'll be able to complete the half-marathon (13.1 miles) reasonably strong. And if it doesn't go well, then maybe a very painful half-marathon in January will teach me to stick to my training regimine more vigilantly.

Friday was our company Christmas party. It was actually for the whole institution, not just the aquarium, but we aquarium folk sort of stuck to ourselves. It was fun, to an extent, but I wasn't in the spirit of either celebrating or getting drunk (though I got drunk anyway). Found the whole thing rather depressing. It didn't take a great deal of prescience to realize this would be a bleak Christmas for our family, and I can feel it beginning to take hold. Probably going to the cemetery on Wednesday (or was it Friday? I already forget) started it. I like going to the cemetery, but I don't like being there. I just like the idea that I am going there, as something to focus my thoughts on. But this time, Mom just walks in and asks if I'm doing anything, or if we can go to the cemetery right now, which sort of throws off my whole rhythm. But it was nice to go with Mom, because I can never find my Dad's parents' graves on my own.

I was looking for the archives of the Hero Santon cartoon, and found this new cartoon by Don Asmussen. Santon wasn't quite as amusing as I remembered, but still, you got to love a line like, "Mommy, why is Santon using butt plugs with the calm and reassuring Peter Jennings?" I also found this site dedicated to his political cartoons.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Thursday, December 11, 2003

The Onion A.V. Club's much anticipated list of 2003's least essential albums.
Keith Knight's new single-panel cartoon can be accessed here. They've got Boondocks, too.
More catching up:Lyle Lovett interviewed on NPR.
Speaking of Randy Newman, he'll be on Late Night With Conan O'Brien Friday night (Saturday morning). Hopefully it'll be better than when he sat in on Letterman, and they turned his mic off.
I believe this link will take you to an interview/performance by Randy Newman on Morning Becomes Eclectic. The air date was October 30th (I'm a bit behind), and you can also access an interview promoting Bad Love in 1999, and one from '97. Fun times.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

I haven't posted much because I haven't had much to say. It's finals week, so I should spend my time studying. I don't, but the knowledge that I should keeps me from doing anything else productive.

I have been running fairly regularly. I haven't been as vigilant as I should be, with the San Diego Half-Marathon coming up next month, but overall I'm feeling strong going into the final weeks of training. Ran 7 miles on Saturday in 57:48, an 8'15" pace, and felt good. Seeing as this will be my first half-marathon, and my goals are therefore modest, I have high hopes that the race will go swimmingly. Then I can make a decision about a full marathon in June.

Despite the looming finals (I'll be done with everything tomorrow afternoon), I have got to play my new game systems, the GameCube and GameBoy. As frequent readers will no doubt recall, I purchased the GameCube largely due to the Zelda bonus disc. I've sucessfully completed The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. I must say I was a bit underwhelmed, especially with Zelda II. It is fun to revisit them, but in comparison to the recent Final Fantasy: Origins for the Playstation, it's harder to appreciate them now. The original Zelda, however, is still obviously a trend-setter, with its story and its wide-open game play (I believe at least 80% of the world map is accessible from the beginning, even before obtaining the raft and ladder). A sidequest based on three-card monte teaches kids the folly of gambling, and you are allowed to attack (though not kill) kindly old men in caves (only to be attacked by flames when you do so). I assume I must have used a player's guide, an old issue of Nintendo Power, perhaps, to beat this game initially, since it is not at all obvious where exactly one sould head next. But its amazing after 15 years how many secret passageways and shortcuts I could remember, including which exact tree to scorch to find stairs. Overall, I didn't find the nostalgia enough to make it a fun game to play, and both were quite easy to beat in relatively little time (the final boss in the first Zelda was far too easy, though beating the Dark Link in Zelda II, and in fact the entire final temple, was quite difficult, compared to the rest of the game). I have yet to try the two Super-NES Zelda games on the bonus disc, which I've never played before. The demo of the new GameCube Zelda game was impressive, though I get the feeling the game is a bit too complex for me. But the capabilities of the system are shown off quite well, and I am impressed by the power of the machine for the price.

My GameBoy has also gotten some play. Donkey Kong Country is fun, but mostly I've been playing Wario Ware, Inc.: Mega Microgames. It's very addictive, at least at first, though the novelty has worn off. Basically, it consists of a vast collection of games, each of which can be played in five seconds. The game bumps you from one game to the other, usually with one-word instructions ("climb!" "dodge!" "sniff!"). The difficult part isn't so much the games themselves, as figuring out what it is you're trying to do. Which hurts the replay value a bit. Once you figure out that the object of the game is, say, to hit the a-button to make the cartoon woman sniff up the snot bubble, it's not difficult to do. It's still fun, though, and I must say it's a nice way to kill a half-hour or so, which is, I think, the reason an adult would play with a GameBoy.

What else have I been filling my time with when not studying? I watched Miller's Crossing, which I think means I've now seen every Coen Brothers movie. As enjoyable as any of their films. I've been listening a lot to the two Tiger Lillies CDs I purchased after seeing them in Los Angeles, The Gorey End and Shockheaded Peter. I need to pick up some of their non-theatrical recordings, but I hate paying for international shipping, and the only ones I've been able to find from American sources are so expensive. I just got Paris Combo's Living Room, and what I've heard of that is enjoyable. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's album still makes me laugh. On the TV front, I've been enjoying Arrested Development, as well as the new Season Two DVD of Strangers With Candy. I haven't been to the movies lately, since for some reason I feel better about staying home and wasting time than leaving the house to do something enriching rather than studying.

I can't help but think that something exciting happened this week that's at least as worthy of note as what I've been listening to. A friend quit his job as a teacher to deliver pizzas. I won about $200 at Viejas. Nothing else of note to share.

Sen. Paul Simon, dead at 75.
Mark Twain's comments on masturbation.
The story of one John Paget, on trial for teaching a dog French.
A short essay on Richard Marx's "Hazard."
After my sister had a jolly good time seeing the cast of A Mighty Wind in concert, I'm seriously considering seeingThe Folksmen at a fundraiser for Dean. $100 is a bit pricy, but you do get the Bangles and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, so with top-notch entertainment supporting a good cause, how can you go wrong?
The State of the Union Adress Drinking Game. It's not yet updated for the forthcoming 2004 address, but I imagine they will (and I imagine the 2003 rules will work just fine). I'll have to try it, I got drunk the night Arnold became my Governor, and I found it really did help. However, I do have to say, the internet has ruined the drinking game, which is sad because I didn't come of age early enough to appreciate the unadulterated drinking game. How the hell are you supposed to keep all the rules straight? I don't think I could if I was drinking soda. Hi Bob, the Love Boat drinking game, those were clear and straight-forward. "Hi, Bob," is said, you drink. Your chosen character comes on screen, you drink. (the alcoholic is the one who picks the boat, as Margaret Cho observes). But then again, if you're playing a drinking game to the State of the Union address, then I guess you're the sort of policy wonk who enjoys rules.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Monday, December 01, 2003

IRS files $5 million lien against Horseshoe Casino. It looks like Becky Behnen-Binion is about done running the place into the ground, hope she sells soon. I believe Jack Binion has an option to buy, though I know he's had some problems with gaming commissions elsewhere, and I'm not sure if he still has a gaming license in Nevada.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

The Roy Orbison in Clingfilm Webpage. It takes all kinds, I suppose.

Friday, November 28, 2003

So, what have I been up to since last Saturday? Work, school. This upcoming week is the last week of school. I'm done with finals and everything the Wednesday after. I'm basically caught up, except I still need to read about half of the Annie Dillard book for my nature-writing class, and finish a novel we're supposed to debate in class on Monday. This quarter has not gone that great, but I think I'll at least get through it sucessfully, which beats failing miserably. Then I have a few weeks to regroup, and next quarter will be the quarter where I turn everything around! Huzzah!

I bought a Gameboy. I bought it in anticipation of buying a GameCube, which can connect to a Gameboy, and then neat things happen, or so I'm told. I like it. I got it at CostCo bundled with Donkey Kong Country, which it turns out is a pretty fun game. I just like the idea of playing old-school Nintendo video games like Super Mario Bros. 3. In fact, one of the neat combos available by owning both a Gameboy and GameCube is, if you finish the GameBoy Metroid game, and hook up to the GameCube Metroid game, you can unlock the original Metroid. So I was playing around with Donkey Kong over Thanksgiving, and today I bought Wario Ware: Mega Microgames, which involves some 200 mini-games which you can play in less than 5 seconds. Weird game, but playing it over my lunch break, it looks addictive.

So, having gotten my Gameboy, it was time to get a GameCube. I was waiting for the Friday after Thanksgiving (today), to see what the deals were. Wal-Mart was $80, Circuit City was $99 with a free memory card, and Best Buy was $99 with a free Nascar video game and free portable CD player. I decided to go with Best Buy. I arrived around 5:40, and the line stretched almost to Parkway Plaza's parking garage (that's a long line). The place was pretty packed by the time I finally got inside, but with much manuvering, I was able to get a GameCube with the Zelda bonus disc (why do they still sell the ones without the Zelda disc, who's going to buy it?). I grabbed the CD player, but couldn't find the game. Eventually, I did confirm that they were sold out of the game, which didn't really make sense, that they would run out of 1/3 of a three-part package. But given the crowd, I was just glad I got a system. I picked up Crazy Taxi for $9.99, and some cheap DVDs. Then I went to get in line, which was no easy feat. Eventually, I'd followed the serpentine line through the entire store to find its end near the entrance. I got in line and settled in for a long wait.

I was somewhat annoyed about not getting the game, wishing I'd gone to Circuit City instead (I don't need a CD player; a memory card I could use), and feeling the pangs of anger one experiences when facing a bait-and-switch (granted, they fully acknowledged that supplies were limited, but it stil struck me odd that they would have portions of the set in stock). But I was understanding, given the magnitute of the crowd, that I wasn't going to get everything I wanted, and was getting a good enough deal on Crazy Taxi and the DVDs to make a two-hour wait reasonable, and I didn't get too worked up by the situation. About thirty minutes later, my mood began to change, when salespeople began wandering the line offering to let people cut ahead if they bought a magazine subscription or Netflix subscription. I thought that was a bit odd, but after another fifteen minutes or so, didn't seem like too bad an idea. So I asked about the Entertainment Weekly subscription, but suddenly, no, you can't cut the line with that offer, you have to sign up for a free trial of MSN. Just cancel when you get home (you always know you're dealing with a top-drawer, fully ethical outfit when they actively encourage you to abuse their promotions). Knowing it was going to be a pain in the ass, I agreed to accept the offer and get out faster. They made a point of calling people's attention to me, the smart guy getting out faster, showing a mastery of timeshare sales techniques (at least if I'd gone to a timeshare presentation, I probably would've gotten a free GameCube). So I got in a line of about five people waiting to sign up for MSN. For ten minutes, the line doesn't move. Then they say the computer is down, but it will only be five minutes or so. Deeply disapproving of their boiler room sales techniques, I got upset about the relatively poor value of the GameCube deal, and also considered whether I really needed the DVDs. Sure, $5 for Young Frankenstein is a great deal, on a movie I'd love to own, but would I really be buying Say Anything and Spaceballs if I wasn't filling my quota for their five for $25 offer? So, long story short, I left my merchendise sitting where I stood, and ended up buying a GameCube, for the full retail price, with no bonuses besides the Zelda disc, at Target. And Best Buy can suck my balls.

Yet again, I find myself deficient in posting to this blog in a timely matter. Of course, with the end of the academic quarter fast approaching, I suppose I have an excuse. Except, of course, that I did not spend the time I wasn't posting on academic matters, so I suppose that's a lame excuse.

I suppose the most notable events of the past week or so revolve around last Saturday. I spent the morning and afternoon in Julian, surveying the fire damage on a class trip. Friends of the professor was kind enough to allow us into their home, and onto their property to witness the effects of the fire. Driving through Cuyamaca, it was shocking, even when you're expecting it, the extent of the damage. There were isolated patches that were spared, but virtually the entire park (at least as visible from the roads) was just black rubble. And of course you pass the empty holes that were once houses, where now only a chimney and a bit of rubble are. It was remarkable that the professor's friends still had a house; two neighbors did not, and trees were burnt less than 50 feet from their house. It was helpful to see the damage, but I could not help feeling like a tresspasser. The people we met were friendly, and unlike the signs I saw on Wildcat Canyon yesterday, no one was pre-emptively asserting the right to shoot looters, I felt that it was not exactly right to go gawk at people's recently incinerated dreams. I'm glad I went, though.

That evening, after driving to Julian and back, I drove to Los Angeles to see Michael Moore. I like his movies unequivicably, and his television shows, especially T.V. Nation, were for the most part spot-on. And I imagine the left needs voices like Moore's. All that said, I must say I had ambivalent feelings about the evening. I should say first that I was over thirty minutes late, having got off the freeway at Wilshire rather than Sunset and getting lost. When I arrived, Moore was just finishing a discussion of Rush Limbaugh's recent problems, which I really wish I had heard. He then tore into Joe Scarburough, essentially claiming that their was substatial evidence he murdered an intern. It seemed like a rather incindiary charge to raise simply to work up a crowd, seeing as a mass rally is not the best place to detail the allegations in detail (perhaps if I'd read his new book already, I'd be more familiar with the matter). Besides, going after someone on MSNBC is like, to quote Triumph, "pooping on poop." He read a chapter from his new book, Dude, Where's My Country, written from the voice of God. Its intent was to lambast the right's claim of divine guidance, yet it came off, if possible, as even more pompous. At least Bush claims his views as those of God; Moore takes personal credit for being right on every issue. And the humor fell flat. I think that's my main complaint; Michael Moore ain't as funny as he used to be. Yes, times are bleak, but that's all the more reason to give the people something to laugh at as you try to mobilize them again the Bush junta.

Other things that bothered me: He should just give up on Clark. Moore sent out an e-mail urging Clark to run, so I think he feels obligated not to immediately abandon him, but let's face it, Clark is a huge disappointment, who has no chance of getting the Democratic nomination unless the party leadership imposes their will on the voters. Also, in discussing Kucinich, Moore mocked him for saying he's in favor of abortion rights yet morally opposed to abortion. He compared that to a candidate who was morally opposed to inter-racial dating. If Moore can't see the difference, he's more out of touch with middle America than most of the politicians and corporate honchos he ridicules.

There were other things that bothered me, but I'm being too negative. I paid almost $30 to see him (the ticket prices were a bone of contention brought up during Q&A; apparently the prices were beyond Moore's control, as it was part of a larger lecture series at UCLA), and so must have been positively inclined towards him. And he did have some good things to say about the war and what needs to be done to mobilize against Bush, and a contest he organized pitting the dumbest Canadian in the audience against the smartest Americans (the Canadian won in a landslide) was funny. But overall, as I said, I think Tucker Carlson actually has a point (God forgive me for saying that) when he says Bush has made the left lose its sense of humor, much like Clinton did to the right. I love Al Franken, but watching him get interviewed makes me squirm sometimes now. I completely understand where he's coming from (except his unconditional love of Clinton), but its frustrating. Laugh! Political satire is supposed to be funny! Bowling for Columbine dealt with horrible facts about our culture, yet didn't lose the comedic elements Moore has always used to help get his message across to mainstream audiences. But I'll shut up now, no need to keep beating up on a good man and a great filmmaker.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Dictionaraoke. Most of the links I tried are broken, but I did enjoy Cameo's "Word Up."'s music library to be destroyed.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Thursday, November 20, 2003

I assume you've all seen the Michael Jackson booking photo. Having spoken to my mother and sister, I've discovered that we all had the spontaneous first reaction to the photo, that it's a picture of Grandma. They both have Bette Davis eyes.
Columbia Journalism Review on the campaign to recall Walter Duranty's pulitzer.
I liked Calvin Trillin's poem in the new issue of The Nation, dated December 1, 2003:

A Silver-Lining View of George Bush's Not Attending Military Funerals, Lest He Become Associated With Bad News

At least there's no Bush eulogy On Why they had to die. It's better that they're laid to rest Without another lie.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Photos of Mission Trails after the fires. I'm going to take Tanner on Friday to explore some of the regions that have re-opened.
Neal Pollack on his band's Eastern tour. It's a shame about his record label going bankrupt. Also a shame the one song I've heard on the CD so far kind of sucks. But hey, give the guy a few bucks, the world needs laughter. I hope his site's hiatus is short (strangely, his post announcing his departure and the follow-up love-fest post, are both missing now).
Speaking of Rhino, I should also mention their new Devo DVD, which also looks sweet.
Rhino has released a new Talking Heads boxed set. Looks pretty sweet.
The FTC is investigating KFC, over their new "Fried Chicken is good for you" ad campaign. To quote Jon Stewart (on another matter), "Do they think we're retarded?
Overshadowed by Michael's latest problems (let's see him buy his way out of trouble this time), Eminem also finds himself in hot water.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Apparently Vegas is where pinball developers go to die...or at least get rich. The video poker machine in question does sound fun (though its not hard to see why the odds suck), and seeing as it's by the developer of the Twilight Zone pinball game, which is one of the best ever, I'm sure it's well-designed.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Ran in the Shelter Island 5K this morning. The weather was nice for it, no rain, the sun was out but it was still cool. I was concerned about my performance, as I had not yet recovered from the layoff due to illness and then the fires. The run felt very hard, but I managed a respectable 21:17 (a personal record or very close, I'll have to check when I get home). Under-seven-minute pace, and placed me right on the midpoint of my age division (this was my first race since entering the 25-29 group). Coming that close, I would have liked to have broken the 21:00 mark, but not being as prepared as I would have liked, I couldn't really push myself as hard as I would have liked, in that second mile. Afterwards, they provided a champagne brunch, which I was really surprised how nice it was. Omelette bar, sushi, and a wide variety of other breakfast foods. I had an omelette, a little sushi, and fruit, and some champagne. I intended to go back for seconds, but the line was horrendous by that point, and in any event I wasn't that hungry. I believe this is the first time they've put this event on, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Shelter Island (I find it hard to believe it's that recent an addition to our coastline), but I hope they hold it again, it was a nice course, and the brunch was excellent, even if champagne isn't really what I'm longing for after a run.

So I'm at work, and it finally occurs to me, for the first time when I had a computer handy, that I should see when my appointment time to schedule classes for next quarter is. It was Monday. No problem, since nothing I wanted to take is impacted or anything. Unfortunately, there is precious little being offered that I want to take. I found one class that meets MWF at 9:00 AM, and another MWF at 3:00 PM. I can't find anything in between those two, so I guess I'll just have a lot of time to kill between classes (maybe I'll make it to the gym occasionally). There is a class TuTh at 6:30, so I could run after work and then go there. Only the 3:00 class (earth science) advances me directly towards graduation, the other two are literature classes, but offered through literature of the world and cultural studies, respectively, so other than elective credit (which I have in spades), they do me little good. But "Words and their Vicissitudes" sounds interesting in a snooty, "A Way With Words" sort of way (do they still make that show? I don't see it on KPBS' web though I should be shocked to learn of one less locally-produced program on KPBS), and surely "Representing the Economy" will be a hoot. I figure I'll enroll in those three, and hopefully I'll find something to replace "Representing the Economy" by the time January rolls around.

Salon has a nice review of Tim Curry's audiobooks for The Series of Unfortunate Events.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Starting Monday, you can buy a Nintendo GameCube for $99, and get a Zelda Collector's disc, with the two NES Zelda games and the N-64 Zelda games. I'd been ever-so-slightly tempted to buy a GameCube when they cut the price, but figured I really didn't need it. But for Zelda, I gotta go for it. After all, Final Fantasy: Origins rocks, so I'm sure playing the old Zeldas will be fun, too.
My presentation for my literature class went well. I did ramble on a tad, I suppose, about twenty-five minutes into my supposed ten-minute presentation, the professor told me to wrap it up. But overall, I thought it went okay. I'm just glad to be done with it. Now I can focus on my end-of-quarter papers.

Last night, I went to a book signing for Don Novello, AKA Father Guido Sarduchi, AKA Lazlo Toth. He has a new Lazlo Letters book out. He spoke about the new book and the origins of Lazlo Toth for about a half-hour. He started writing the letters during Watergate, and took the name Lazlo Toth from the man who attacked the Pieta in the Vatican with a hammer and chisel. One interesting story Novello told, he was scheduled to appear on a morning show, to promote the new book. During the pre-interview, they asked him what he wanted to read from the book, he suggested a letter to Donald Rumsfeld, in which he mentions that there must be 50 ways to leave Afghanistan ("Just take a sled, Achmed," and so on). He was told that they don't joke about such things. Novello suggested he read a letter about soup, instead. The next day he was informed the show decided he was more suited to late-night. Somewhat disturbing the chilling effects of our current political environment on the way even a somewhat insubstantial comedian like Novello is received. When asked what he was working on, he discussed a possible book of photographs, taken of the now-ubiquitous cheap plastic chair, found in such incongruous settings as Kracatowa and the Wailing Wall. Overall, Novello was very funny; a story about being arrested (in full Father Guido garb) in the Vatican was one highlight. I picked up a copy of the book and got it signed. I mentioned one of his letters which appeared in The Believer a few months ago, encouraging the Girl Scouts to sell oysters door-to-door; he said he'd provided the magazine with several letters, so hopefully future issues will feature more Toth.

Then this morning, I went to the post office. Lo and behold, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's new CD, Come Poop With Me, arrived. I haven't listened to the CD, but I watched the included DVD. It's mostly hiliarious. The cavalcade of stars who appear to match wits with Triumph is impressive: The Dell Guy, Jared from Subway, Big Pussy from Sopranos, Conan O'Brien, Kurt Loder. Two really stand out, though: Blackwolf, made famous by Triumph's appearance at the Star Wars premiere, and Horatio Sanz as "Stinky Faye." Blackwolf sings his theme song, to the tune of "The Monster Mash", while Triumph interjects his jabs. Stinky Faye, an ancient comic very much in Triumph's mold, sings about the abomination of modern observational comics, and claims that you have to work blue. This song is funny and crude, but what is most remarkable is that it is truly disturbing, even for this jaded gen-xer. I won't spoil the surprise, but I'll just say his Nixon impression almost made me vomit. Fun times. I haven't even gotten to the CD yet, but just from the DVD I can highly recommend it. And check out his new PETA campaign.

And to switch gears dramatically, I'll remind you the Johnny Cash tribute concert is on CMT tonight.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

An interesting musical illusion.
In a desperate attempt to get a few blogs to link to its obscure site, The Onion presents: Mom finds out about blog.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

More pictures from the Tammy Faye book signing. I think I might have to order wallets of me getting a hug from Tammy Faye.

Sorry I haven't posted, just trying to get caught up in school. Giving a presentation Wednesday on hunting. I'm finishing up reading Eating Apes tonight; disturbing book.

Monday, November 03, 2003

The cast of A Mighty Wind will be playing in Los Angeles Saturday. I won't be attending, sadly, but sounds like it promises to be a delightful evening if you can make it.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

A nice bonus in attending the Tammy Faye book signing, I learned that Don Novello will be in town in two weeks. The bookstore is also screening Night of the Hunter that weekend. I'm not sure how that will work, exactly, the place isn't very big, and I don't know where exactly they would have a screening, but I love that movie, so I'm sure I'll go check it out.
I've uploaded some pictures from the Tammy Faye book signing. Which reminds me, I really need to upload the pictures from my summer vacation. Maybe tonight I'll do that, beats studying.
Today I went running for the first time in over two weeks. Felt good to finally get outside and be able to breathe. I only ran three miles, but it was a challenge. I've definitely lost some aerobic conditioning over the time off. But still, I ran fairly fast, about 7'40" pace, and my leg muscles were as strong as ever. I got a blister on my toe, which was strange for such a short run, when I don't usually have a problem with blisters. I've decided I let my toenails get too long, and cut my toe on one.

I attended the book signing with Tammy Faye Messner at Current Affairs Bookstore. She spoke for a half-hour or so, and then signed books. She is a wee little thing, as you might imagine, but you get a better impression of her size in person. She just finished filming of The Surreal Life 2," along with Ron Jeremy and Vanilla Ice, among others. Tammy Faye answered questions on a variety of topics, including her health, the PTL scandal, her following in the gay community, and The Surreal Life 2 (why hasn't the first version made it to DVD yet?). No matter the topic, she always effused the positivity and joy that has gotten her through so much hardship in the past, and which makes her both so inspirational and so completely vulnerable to mockery. She repeated the parable she tells about how she got over hating Jerry Falwell, explaining that in olden times, if you murdered someone, they strapped the corpse to you, and that corpse, weighing you down and festering on your back, would eventually kill you. She did add that she had it particularly bad, as her corpse was 250 pounds. In a question about The Surreal Life, one person mentioned how M.C. Hammer's role in the first series turned out to be an unusual pulpit which Hammer put to good use. When asked if she had any similar opportunities, she nodded energetically, but wouldn't comment beyond saying, "You'll have to watch."

After she had spoken for a half-hour or so, she took her seat inside, and we lined up to get her autograph. Even though we ended up near the end of the line, it didn't seem like too long a wait. My mom got her copy signed for Michelle, for a Christmas present, and got her photo taken with her. Then it was my turn to get my book signed, give her a hug, and get my picture taken. Meeting her, you realize just what a nice person she is, a little bundle of positivity. You can't help liking her. I, like most people, had written off Tammy Faye as nothing more than a tired punch-line, but after seeing The Eyes of Tammy Faye, one of the best documentaries I've seen in recent years, I realized that it was more complicated than that. Her husband was a crook, I believe, no matter what she says; but you have to appreciate the fact that she herself believes in his innocence with all her heart. And yes, its hard not to make fun of her, but she understands that, and on some level is in on the joke, too. It is odd, though, that I can go to an event like this, as a non-believer looking for a laugh, and get that laugh, and yet find the whole thing inspirational on some level, too.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Another fun Halloween, hiding in the dark so the trick-or-treaters don't come to the house and find out I ate all the Halloween candy weeks ago. Today was my first day back to school. Not too much to make up for the lost time. The air is vastly improved, but after hiking out to class and back to my car, you realize the air is still a little unpleasant. I'm going to try to run tomorrow morning, nonetheless. Gotta get back in training for January's half-marathon.
Tammy Faye will be at Current Affairs Bookstore in North Park tomorrow (Saturday) at 3:00. Should be an exciting time, I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Fox nearly sued itself over 'Simpsons' parody: Matt Groening
A ghost story with a hidden agenda: Room for One More.
I was saddened to learn of the death of Muir College provost Patrick Ledden. He was always accessible for students, and was a real asset to the campus community. I remember having lunch with him and other student who had completed his summer reading assignment, a book on deaf culture, as a fond memory of my first year at this college, many, many years ago. I'm saddened that I will not be taking his senior seminar on Joyce.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Triumph Sniffs a Hit. I meant to link to this excellent article on Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's new album, but forgot until now, and can't find it on their web site anymore. I think the link will take you to the google cache of the article.
Sky is clearer today; the air quality is still horrible, but not as instantly noticable as it had been. Another "snow day," no school.

I went to L.A. last night to see the Kronos Quartet and the Tiger Lillies. It was odd going to Los Angeles for fresh air, but it was nice to be able to breathe freely for awhile. They of course have their own problems at the moment, but the air quality didn't seem to be the issue it is down here. The show was at Royce Hall, which is a neat building, a nice place to see a concert. I had a pretty good seat near the center in the balcony. The first half featured the two acts doing solo sets. The Kronos Quartet were good, the Tiger Lillies were great. After intermission, the two groups took the stage together to perfrom The Gorey End. Based on works by Edward Gorey, I was expecting more of a visual aspect to the performance, drawings by Gorey projected onto a screen or something. I didn't get that (it turns out the writings Gorey had given to Martyn Jacques were not illustrated) , but was not at all disappointed by the evening. Even without many visuals, the story of the various tragedies to befall the Hipdeep family were still made vivid. And the spirit of Gorey was clear in every song. "ABC" followed a similar structure to "The Gashlycrumb Tinies," as did "Histoire de Kay." "Dreadful Domesticity" was perhaps the most bluntly dark song of the evening, as a married couple of a dozen years realizes "They have exhausted all the other/Revenges for existing wrongs," and proceeds to beat each other into a single pile of pulp. I think "Weeping Chandelier" and "Trampled Lilly" were my personal favorites, both especially well-suited by Jacques' distinctive voice. Overall, a great show; I'd highly recommend the album.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Rod Roddy, dead at 66. I find this male breast cancer thing disturbing.

Monday, October 27, 2003

I feel awful; pounding headache, sore throat. The good news is the weather gave us a break, the winds aren't as bad as predicted.
This is the closest to a snow day we get in San Diego. UCSD, like every other school in San Diego, is closed today, as are most businesses. The sky is awful, I went to CostCo to get water, and my throat is burning still. Lots of people with masks on. I had planned to try to run on a treadmill, but I feel awful, and the Kroc Center where I work out has been turned into a evacuation center. Cars covered in ash. From the news coverage, it seems that the fire is worst in the Alpine area. Haven't heard much about the fire in the Mission Gorge and Mission Trails area, which would have the most direct impact on me, so I imagine they haven't advanced much. Winds are supposed to pick up at 2:00.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

It just occured to me my storage facility is VERY close to the flames in Mission Gorge. I think the fires are heading in another direction, but it would be a bit of a bummer to lose all those posessions. Compared to people losing everything, it barely deserves mention, but still...
Watching this fire today has been quite something. The comparison being made is the Laguna fire of 1970, before my time, but it seems to me this may be the worse, which would make it the worst fire in San Diego's modern history. Mission Trails Regional Park, a favorite place of mine, is burning; their brand new, multi-million-dollar visitor's center, it seems from what I've heard on the news, is doomed. They are evacuating houses up to the intersection of Jackson and Navajo, which goes to show you that no house is safe. The ash and smoke in La Jolla was intolerable for much of the day; there was a great deal of ill will generated amongst the employees that we failed to close, and I imagine much will be said in the coming days. At first I thought it would have been overkill, but once Mirimar was on fire, we should've been out of there.

School's have been cancelled in San Diego, and the Mayor is calling on all non-essential employees to stay home, so I assume UCSD will be closed. So I guess tomorrow I can stay planted in front of the TV all day. The weather isn't supposed to give us a break, and after its jumped the I-15 and the 52, who's to say how much this could spread. If an ember were to set off something in Rose Canyon, say, this could get really ugly.

The fire has jumped the I-15. Seven dead, homes lost. The 15, 52, and 163 are closed. Sea World and the Wild Animal Park are closed. We are open. And I don't see why not, even if I'd rather not be here. No imminent threat, and visitors are actually coming. The chunks of ash that are falling are getting bigger, and one burned me when I was shaking out a tarp that was covered in ash. Singed leaves are also falling. Air quality is getting worse. If a spark were to ignite Rose Canyon, we could be in for some rough times here, but for now its more a curiosity than anything. Except for our employees whose neighborhoods are threatened, of course.
One plus of the fires; the smoke allows one to look at the sun, and observe the solar storms that have been in the news. I should mention I'm sure the smoke cover does not protect one from long-term damage from staring at the sun, and I accept no liability if you blind yourself watching the storms, but it is interesting to get a quick glance at it.
I got up this morning around 6:30, so Tanner could go outside. I was surprised that it seemed rather dark, considering the time change; I went to bed assuming the light would wake me up early. When I went into the back yard, it looked like the world was ending; in case you're not from these parts, most of Southern California is on fire. I assumed it was the Camp Pendelton fire, which was surprising that it would send this much smoke that far (I'm probably about 35 miles from that fire), but it turns out that quite a few more have flared up overnight, including Julian, which was where most of the smoke came from. By the time I left for work, winds had blown most of it west, so it was clearing up in La Mesa, but by the time I hit Mission Valley, cars had their headlights on, and it was darker than it was in La Mesa at 6:30. Not night-time dark or anything, but still impressive. La Jolla is fairly clear, but the air quality is abysmal, and the way the Santa Ana winds are blowing, its only a matter of time before the smoke heads our way.

Which stinks, for the people who have lost their homes, of course, but in a more petty (at yet for me more important) way, for me. I've been sick for awhile now. Thursday and Friday were the worst, but I've been sick enough that I haven't been running since the Thursday before last. I can't recall if I mentioned my unpleasant run around Lake Murray and the gastrointestinal distress that accompanied it, but lets just say it wasn't fun. I missed the Chancellor's Challenge 5K, which I've been looking forward to for some time, and which may in fact be the final event in the series, due to the Chancellor's departure. And I feel myself growing sluggish and gaining weight, when I should be beginning serious training for the San Diego Half-Marathon in January. So today, having felt better yesterday, I was to return to running, but the heat and smoke have cancelled that plan. Tomorrow is supposed to be worse heat-wise, which means it will probably still be bad smoke-wise. Perhaps I'll head to the Kroc Center for some treadmill running.

A volunteer just informed me they are evacuating Mira Mesa due to the Ramona fire. I-15 closed, bumper-to-bumper traffic. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised; the wind blowing the smoke should be doing the same for the flames. The Alpine fire two years ago was pretty bad, but I don't remember anything this wide-spread and with such a horrendous effect on the air quality. I also don't remember, in previous fires that have destroyed houses, hearing talk about hundreds of homes lost, as were in the L.A. County fires. And as I was typing this, I hear even more news of the Ramona fire, which I guess I should now call the Scripps Ranch fire, growing even more, and half our fire department is helping in Los Angeles. It's pretty bad.

But I digress. Haven't posted much lately, because not much to share. Been sick, missed a fair amount of school; not my best academic quarter, I think I've admitted as much here before. But I think I'll do respectably well. Saw Comedy of Errors at the La Jolla Playhouse, would have enjoyed it very much, I think, had I been feeling better. My birthday is Tuesday; looking forward to seeing the Kronos Quartet and the Tiger Lilies in Los Angeles that day. I pre-ordered Final Fantasy XI for the PC, as a birthday present for my mother to give me, but then cancelled it, because I'm afraid it might not run on my PC. So I've just been playing Final Fantasy X instead. Not the best in the series, but I enjoy it. Will purchase Final Fantasy X-2, I'm sure, though maybe I'll play through the early games in the series while I wait for the price to fall. Of course, with the amount of time I waste already, should I really be playing video games? I've put off buying the Simpsons Hit-and-Run until the quarter's over, both to avoid the distraction and in the hope that the price might come down by then (though I doubt it will before the holidays).

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Way to go, Wal-Mart. They face a potential $3,000,000 fine, probably a drop in the bucket for them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Fred Berry, dead at 52. Did they really need to compare him to Urkel in his obituary?

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

History's notable television programs reconsidered.
I'm sick. I've been sick for about a week, I think, but it really hit me yesterday. Today I feel better, but I'm still a little queazy. Last Thursday was the last time I've been running, about twenty minutes into it I had to stop due to nausea, and as I began the long walk back around Lake Murray, I started feeling more unpleasant gastro-intestinal distress. A rather unpleasant run, which makes it hard to motivate me to get back on the road when I'm still feeling unpleasant. I guess I'll see how I feel this afternoon and decide if I will run after work. I was hoping to set a new PR in the 5K on Friday, but now I don't know if that is feasible.

Also, my right arm hurts badly. Today not as bad, but yesterday I could barely lift it without a sharp pain in what I think is my tricep. I can feel a sort of knot, which I can't locate on the other side, which is a sure sign it ain't supposed to be there. I don't know what I did; I lifted a box not too long before it started hurting, but it wasn't that heavy. So basically, I'm just falling apart.

As long as I'm posting, I should just comment on a few random things I haven't bothered to post yet. Saw Intolerable Cruelty; not the Coen's best, probably because they didn't write it, but I enjoyed it very much all the same. Great moments, but just lacking a bit in cohesion, so as to not be as strong as the sum of its parts. School ain't going too hot; I've focused all my energies (such as they are) into the one class I care about, and just let the rest fall apart. It's a bit frustrating, since I'm on the one had eager to finally wrap this long educational saga up, yet I barely seem to be advancing at all, and then there's the whole Latin situation, which I won't go into. Cecily's getting married, which is surprising to say the least. The guy looks a bit gumpy from what I've seen on the website, and by my math, I figure they couldn't have been dating more than six months, but who am I to judge? She seems suited for live in Merced. Dad's birthday was 10/8, the Wednesday before last. I went to the cemetary on a whim and hung out at his grave about thirty minutes, and yet didn't realize until far later in the day that it was his birthday, felt a bit unobservant, seeing as the date was written right on the marker and all. 10/11 was the anniversary of him first getting sick, out in Boston. 10/28 is my birthday, I'm going to see the Kronos Quartet and the Tiger Lillies in a performance based on some unpublished work by Edward Gorey. Also on my birthday, Final Fantasy XI comes out for the PC. The Playstation version won't be out until about February, because that's when the required hardware to make it compatible for the Playstation comes out. I broke down and pre-ordered the PC version, my mom is making it a birthday present for me. I hate the idea of paying $50 (actually, $40 with a rebate) for a game that requires a subscription fee, but considering I purchased a Playstation and later a Playstation 2 solely to play Final Fantasy, why pass up a shot to try the first massively multi-player version? I'm eager to go to Vegas again, even though I'd have to say I only had a mildly good time last trip, and I'm not sure how I can really get away in November, but I think if I leave on a Wednesday after class, I could stay for the weekend and just miss class on Friday. I haven't decided if its really a good idea or not, though. Free room offer from Green Valley Ranch, my favorite Las Vegas (actually, Henderson) hotel, with a $50 dining credit, which should go a long way in their new Sushi restaurant, if I'm dining alone. Stay their Wednesday/Thursday, then move to the strip or downtown for the weekend. Go alone, or see if Chad can skip out on work. I believe he's going Thanksgiving weekend, but I'd feel bad leaving Mom that weekend. Mom's wrist still bothering her, rather ridiculous she hasn't been to a doctor about it.

Biblical plagues snowdomes. At a mere $10 with shipping, I'm really wondering if I need one.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Friday, October 17, 2003

Thursday, October 16, 2003

I've been negligent in posting, because I've had a lot to say, but not the time nor the energy to type it up. Perhaps this weekend I'll comment on a few of the more choice events, but I imagine I'll let most of it slip by unmentioned. A quick summary: I'm depressed, feeling lethargic, school sucks, Cecily's getting married.
The Friar's Club roasted the Smothers Brothers this year. I would have liked to see it, but I can understand why perhaps the Friar's Club would rather not have it broadcast (I'm surprised to read it was Comedy Central that pulled the plug).

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Sunday, October 12, 2003

I think I need this. I can't find a price, though, and if they won't tell you, that tells you something.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Software company no longer threatening to sue over shift-key vulnerability. Quite magnanimous of them not to hold the kid responsible for the worthlessness of their software.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

An interview with the creators of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I enjoyed the discussion of the Mooninites' origins.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

I was listening to KSON and drinking, to take my mind off recent events. I don't listen to local radio very often, seeing as San Diego has born the brunt of Clear Channel even more than other cities, thanks to loopholes regarding Mexican-based radio stations. But it seems like every time I listen to KSON (not Clear Channel, incidentally), I hear this one song, Buddy Jewel's "Help Pour Out the Rain." As I've heard it so often, I have to assume its popular. If you want to elect Arnold, that's fine. But how can you listen to this tripe? If I ever hear my child say, "When I get to heaven/can I taste the milky way?" I will not pull over my car to cry because I am touched by my child's innocent wisdom, I will pull over to cry because my child is retarded.

Aw, who cares. Governor Schwarzenegger? What the hell?

At least Proposition 54 was apparently soundly defeated.
Good God. I can't say I'll cry too many tears for Davis, but really, it's not fair, even for Davis. It could be a good thing for the Democrats; encourage the Democrats to think about something besides fundraising, and confince the Republicans to waste time trying to win with Bush in 2004. And we all see how Jesse Ventura drove the Reform party to new hights. Good luck, need it.
Reasons you're no longer fit to be an architect.
Went and voted this morning. No on recall, No on both propositions, yes for Bustamante. Voting for Bustamante made me feel dirty, but I figured I had to. Sorry, Larry Flynt.

Monday was an odd day. I just felt very out of sorts and disoriented, like I was in some sort of haze. In one class, I managed to knock over my coffee cup three times, and also get caught on my desk, creating quite a bit of disruption. Then in another class, I was asked my opinion of something we'd just read, and found I couldn't remember a word of it. I ended up going to bed early, and getting a good night's sleep, and feel better now. So maybe it was just sleep deprivation.

Have I mentioned that I've enjoyed watching The Joe Schmo Show? God help me...

Sunday, October 05, 2003

This sentence is false.
A story of hope in a Clear Channel world.
I've had a pretty okay weekend thus far. Friday night, after another ho-hum day of school, I was moping around the house, listening to the radio, when I remembered that the red tide was still in bloom, so I decided to go to the beach and see the bioluminescence. It seems to have faded a bit since I last saw it about three weeks ago, but it was still around, and when the larger waves broke, it was still an impressive sight. As the water was cold, and there was no one with me to egg me on, I elected not to pee into the ocean, although I knew from past experience this really makes the algea come alive. Either that, or my urine is itself bioluminescent.

Saturday, I intended to study, but instead ended up playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City all day. It is a guilty pleasure, to be sure; destroying SUVs (well, its set in the '80s, so I guess they aren't really SUVs) and whatnot. I gathered quite an arsenel, beating up cops and taking their weapons right outside my apartment. All you have to do is duck into your apartment and change clothes, and then the cops won't recognize you. So, you see, not only is it fun, but it teaches kids a valuable lesson.

Later in the evening, I went to Madstone Theatres to see Ping-Pong, part of the San Diego Asian Film Festival. Though it was somewhat difficult to take seriously at times, due to a lack of respect for a game I am usually drunk when I play, the film was able to overcome this (without trying), due to its tenderly humorous story. In fact, not only...I'm trying to phrase it differently, because saying the film "overcame" my preconceptions of ping-pong is a bit patronizingly ethnocentric...but not only was I able to get beyond my narrow notions of the game, but I found it one of the best sports movies I've ever seen. Certainly blew Seabiscuit out of the water. I believe it is available on a region-less DVD; I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

A article suggesting (persuasively, I thought) that Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff is the source of the leak.
John Dean comparing the current scandal to Watergate. (registration required)
Randy Newman interview in the Independent.
I was listening to an audio commentary on The Simpsons Season Three DVD, and they were discussing the tendency for kids to beat cartoon-character-costumed actors. It reminded me of my halcyon days of Aquarius Roll-arena, which featured a Panda character as a mascot. I took great pleasure in skating up behind her and bashing her on the head, and quickly skating away. It was especially fun since I was getting away with something, and there was nothing she could do about it. Then one day, as I was leaving the rink, I was grabbed by the panda and dragged into a closet, where a menacing panda informed me that if I ever laid a hand on her again, she would tear me apart. I never did explain to my mom why I didn't want to spend my afternoons at the roller rink any more. Fun, tramatic times.
At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, there are two observations on the minor nuisances of everyday life I would like to present to you.

Point One: I was at the post office the other day, and passing by the pawn shop next door, and there was a sign in the pawn shop firmly requesting that you turn off your cell phone. Cell phones, I grant, are highly annoying; one should definately turn them off in a movie theater or during any presentation, and when dining in a fine restaurant, or in a library, or anytime common sence dictates. But whenever I find myself complaining about cell phones, I do not find myself lamenting how the rise of cell phone has stripped pawn shops of their charm. Are we to whistfully reminisce about a time, long ago, when one could step into their friendly neighborhood pawn shop with a VCR and get $20 to buy smack, and not have this very special moment, one of life's few remaining simple pleasures, spoiled by the piercing ring of a cell phone? I am considerate in my use of my cell phone, but come on, people, do we really need all these rules? Half the people at the pawn shop are probably raising money to pay their cell phone bill, be grateful they exist, pawn shop owner.

Point two: Why are the slowest drivers also the most unsafe? I find myself, more and more, stuck behind people driving less than twenty MPH on city streets, and sometimes I feel guilty getting impatient, since I was speeding before they came along, and so aren't I the menace on the road? Yet I've noticed that it is these slow, apparently concientious drivers who do the truly stupid things. They may be driving slow on the open stretches, but they also go through the intersections at the same speed, stop signs be damned. Today some asshole going about fifteen MPH right in front of me, missed a red light (meaning, of course, that I did too), and preceded to run it, cutting off the person who had the green. I think more people need to get tickets for going too slowly, maybe then a paper trail will emerge to strip a few of the elderly of their licences. I should be fair, it's not just the elderly; the guy who ran the light looked to be about thirty. I used to enjoy driving, but good God it's gotten stressful lately.

I'm watching CMT (which is no longer carrying the Grand Ole Opry--what the fuck?!), and just saw the new June Carter Cash video. Am I a horrible person if I observe she should have stuck to singing backups?

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

I tried a new sushi restaurant tonight, the Sui Shin Teahouse. It's been open about a year, but its new enough to me. Reasonably priced, and quite good. They were out of salmon, which was too bad, as I'd had my heart set on a salmon skin roll. The chef recommended the albacore, and sure enough, it was about the best sushi I've ever had. The unagi (always my favorite) was good, though not exceptional. I also had the mackerel on the chef's recommendation; I'm not usually a fan, but it was just as fresh as the chef promised. As the name promised, they also served a wide variety of teas; I tried the Moroccan Mint green tea, which was excellent. A pot of tea and a decent variety of sushi set me back $25 with tax and tip. A bit extravagant, but except for once when I was visiting Michelle, I hadn't had sushi in some time. In any event, if you find yourself in Hillcrest, give them a try. Great fish, nice low-key ambiance, and great service.

Before dinner, I went running with the group I was training with for last weekend's 10K. I didn't think many of us would still be running with the group now that the race was over, but there were at least ten of us. I've always said I view training as a solitary pursuit, but I must admit one or two group runs a week really helps break up the monotomy and keep you motivated. I've agreed to run with a few of them in the San Diego Half-Marathon in January. My original goal, you might remember, was the Silver Strand Half-Marathon in November. I cancelled that due to my knee problems, which now have gone away completely. I considered calling it back on, but I think the January goal, with the training support of my friends from the group, is probably for the best.

School is off to a good start. Oceanography can be a bit dull, but as science goes, is pretty gripping stuff. Revolutionary-era American Literature is also a tad dull, but doesn't seem particularly challenging. Nature Writing is the only class that really interests me.

Did I ever mention I saw Lost in Translation the other day? I enjoyed it. Bill Murray is a genius.

Monday, September 29, 2003

I ran yesterday in the California Cruisin' 10K. I did pretty good. I should say the official results are inaccurate. My watch showed me coming in at 47:43, and the time clock at the finish line confirmed this to within a second or two. But I digress. First four miles were fantastic, about a 7:15 pace, but then the uphill on the 52 killed me, I had to stop and walk a minute. Any race I have to walk feels like a failure, but seeing as I beat my goal time by close to five minutes, I can't complain.

Getting up early for that and just generally being fatigued, I decided not to drive up to L.A., which is a good thing, because by midnight last night I could barely keep my eyes open. Incidentally, I also never made it to the Adams Avenue Street Fair, which is a shame, since I always enjoy that. Oh, and its only the second day of school and I've already ditched a class, Oceanography. Overslept, though I could have still made it on time. But decided not to bother. Just sat in my car and listened to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band whilst I read the Declaration of Independence for the class I am heading to as soon as I finish this sentence.

The shit may fianlly be hitting the fan over the Bush administration's outing of a CIA covert agent for political gain.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Lemony Snicket's web site has a puzzle to help figure out a clue about the next book. I can't get the last word, but I still get the basic idea.

Actually, I see they have a lot of new games about the new book.

I read The Slippery Slope last night, and must say its one of the better books in the series. Any children's book in which the children quote Nietzsche as a source for moral guidance is a special thing. As the Series of Unfortunate Events begins to near a conclusion, this book draws together a lot of characters and mysteries from various previous books, and also offers a few solutions to some of the mysteries the Baudelaires have faced. But even as mysteries are solved, far more new mysteries emerge, and the despair found in the end of this book is the strongest yet, as we begin to dread the no-doubt-unfortunate conclusion to the series. And there is even a bit of romance. This is the first book in the series I had to wait for (having started reading the books right after book 9 came out), and it was well worth the wait.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Oh, hell...I'm going to that show in L.A. Sunday. If I sleep through class Monday, who cares?
I think my knee problems are subsiding. I ran eight miles yesterday, and yes, my knee hurts a bit today, but not bad. Walking down the snake walk was probably a mistake, but when I stayed on fairly level ground, all was well. The run went great, ran it with an average pace around 8'20". So I think I'm ready for Sunday's 10K.

After the run, I rushed home to change and then was off to the White Stripes concert. I enjoyed it okay, though I was tired, and by the time I got there, late in the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' set, the place was pretty full up. I found a nice place to stand in the back, where I could lean on a rail and keep the weight off my knee. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs didn't do much for me, but the White Stripes put on a good show, played everything you'd expect. Meg White sung "In the Cold, Cold Night," and was a bit too perky, I thought, but was impressed with the strength of her voice more so than on the album. "Joleen" and "The Hardest Button to Button" were probably the highlights of the evening. All in all, a good time was had by all. I also enjoyed the cartoons played between sets, Little Lulu, Betty Boop and whatnot.

Today was the first day of school. Ocean Science seems a bit dull, but hopefully not particularly challenging, if I do the reading. Revolutionary War-Era Literature will be dull as dishwater, no doubt, but at least, due to a change in instructors, the reading burden seems somewhat lighter than the original book list suggested. Nature Writing, the one class I'm taking that will not advance me towards graduation in the slightest, if I remember correctly, looks to be the one bright spot in my schedule. An eclectic reading list, including Edward Abbey, whom I've meant to read for some time.

So anyway, the first day of school wasn't terribly exciting, but it seems like this is a good quarter to really boost that GPA, and work on that concept of eventually graduating. You never know...

Lots of stuff going on this weekend. Adams Avenue Street Fair is this weekend. I hope to make it for a few hours on Saturday. There's a concert in Los Angeles Sunday night at the Bigfoot Lodge, three theremin bands, including Project: Pimento. I don't think I'm going to go, but if I have the energy, I might make the drive. Should be a fun time. But I have a feeling trying to make it will be too stressful for me to be in the mood to enjoy lounge music. But we shall see.

I didn't hear about Robert Palmer/George Plimpton/that kid from Leave it to Beaver dying until I got home this afternoon, but reading the paper over lunch, I was saddened to read about Edward Said's passing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I got a haircut today...probably been about four months or so since my last. Can't say I care for it too much, but that's okay. I've had worse.

Had to take Mom shopping, since she can't lift things or drive. I was going to get myself put on her CostCo card in replacement of Dad, but they had some computer problem so I need to come back another day. I bought A Mighty Wind on DVD, and also The Slippery Slope. I'd pre-ordered it on Amazon, but the other things I pre-ordered don't ship until the 30th, so I was able to buy it at CostCo for $6.99 and cancel my Amazon order. All after I got the PDF file of Chapter One for pre-ordering on Amazon. Really played them for a bunch of rubes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Ran four miles today, my knee hurt a little bit, but its definately improving. My new shoes are pretty nice, but I could use a little more room in front of the toes. Unfortunately, they don't make a size 13 1/2, so if I wanted more room, I'd have to move up to a 14, which is probably too big. I figure I'll try on a size 14 next time I'm at the running store, see how those fit.
I watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory tonight. I can't remember the last time I'd seen it, but I'm sure it's been at least five years. It still holds up, better than most of the movies I grew up on. I don't remember feeling this way as a kid, but I think Violet Beuregard got screwed. All she did was chew a piece of gum. Doesn't seem as bad as stealing that super-fizzy drink, yet Charlie gets a factory. Oh, well.

I was slightly miffed to realize I accidentally bought the pan-and-scan DVD, instead of widescreen. Not the end of the world, but I've always watched the pan-and-scan version as a kid, and I'd like to see the widescreen shots of the factory.

Randy Newman denounced by Iraqi Imam. I suppose, after Bert, it was only a matter of time.

Actually, he wasn't denounced, exactly. The cleric simply portrayed Randy Newman as the voice of his nation. If only his album sales supported such a position...

How not to build a violin.
A review of Paul Fussell's new book. It's called The Boy's Crusade, but it seems that Eat It, Brokaw might be an equally fitting title. Overall, the reviews I've read are rather mixed, the main complaint being that it covers too much too superficially, but it looks interesting to me. Though before I read that, I suppose I should dust off my half-read copy of The Great War and Modern Memory and finally finish that. Not to mention that half-read copy of Parade's End that I was assigned for a class and never finished. I said I would when I had time, that was about four years ago.

Monday, September 22, 2003

I just realized a fault with my plan to move all my CDs into one of those portfolio/folder things: How will I store CDs in my car. The solution, of course, is to buy one of those CD cases intended for cars, or simply carry my entire CD library from my car to my house every time I leave my house or car. Neither seems optimal. I'll probably buy a CD case for my car, since I don't like the idea of losing my entire music library if my car gets broken into. Actually, I think I'll just find more room for my CDs (there not as bulky as DVDs, so maybe some of the room I've opened up from losing them will be my new music library).

My knee is slowly improving. I've cut back on my running, and today I bought new shoes (New Balance 765), so hopefully rest and a better-fitting shoe will solve the problem. Figure I'll try to run four miles tomorrow and see how that goes. Of course, focusing on the knee pain, I've been distracted from the fact that I'm running in a 10K this weekend. Seeing as I'm not really in shape to set a PR, I'm just hoping to hold a nice 8 minute pace, which would give me a time of 49:42, quite a bit off my 45:47 PR, but that's okay. I think I'm more interested in running farther than faster, anyway. Incidentally, due to my knee, I think I'm putting off my first half-marathon; I had hoped to run it in November, now I'm thinking January is more realistic.

Had a few drinks with a friend of mine last night. The bar had Monopoly pinball. I hadn't played Monopoly in awhile (most of my pinball efforts of late have been directed at Simpsons Pinball Party), and wasn't sure how good I'd do. When my first two balls drained in record time, I was really worried. But I came back to win a free game, and ended up beating my friend 4-1, by a margin of about 30,000,000 points. Not bad at all.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Mom is visiting Michelle in San Jose. An hour or so before we were supposed to leave for the airport, Mom fell off a ladder and thought she broke her wrist. It was just a sprain, though. She started talking about not going up there, but I was having none of it. Bought her a wrist splint and sent her on her way.

While I was buying her splint, I bought a thing to put on my knee. Thursday morning, my knee was rather swollen. A combination of ice and pressure seems to have helped, however.

I finally decided to do something about the DVDs threatening to take over my bedroom, and bought a few of those CD/DVD holder portfolio things. I spent an exciting Friday night alphabetizing my DVDs and transferring them into the folders. Now all I need to do is box up the boxes and put them in storage.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I went to dinner with a friend of mine tonight. I drove to Sycuan and back, and had American Recordings playing on the stereo. As I was approaching my friend's house to drop him off, and "Bird on a Wire" was playing, he asked, "Who is this, Lyle Lovett?" I think I managed to hide my shock from him, but really. I am not the most sophisticated musicologist, but how can you not immediately recognize the voice of Johnny Cash? Truly shocking. Incidentally, the buffet at Sycuan sucks. It has prime rib daily, so if you enjoy that sort of thing, you might like it, but by and large it tasted like cafeteria food.

Earlier in the evening, I went running with my running group. I got a decent run in again, though I did have a bit of knee pain. Afterwards, the pain in the knee was more noticable, though not severe. So I guess I'll have to stop running again until this weekend, and then see if I still have pain. I guess a trip to the doctor would be next, so let's hope that's not necessary.

What are they doing with all those corkscrews?
Wesley Clark running for President.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Harry Goz apparently died recently as well. He was the voice of Captain Murphy on Sealab: 2021, among other things. The bodies just keep stacking up.
Leni Riefenstahl dead at 101.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

ATM terminals installed in slot machines at Casino Pauma. It's being tested in California because Nevada regulators won't allow it, yet California regulators will, seeing as California regulators don't exist. Except for self-appointed tribal committees. One good reason not to vote for Bustamante. I think I'm voting for Larry Flynt.

The Lost World is on TV. I've just been watching a little bit, but I totally recognize where they filmed it from my recent trip. Fern Canyon is a great place to film such a movie.

The ad wars of the seventeenth century.
Salon's obituary for Johnny Cash.
Wesley Clark is sounding more and more like a presidential candidate.
The New York Times on how we're a nation of copiers. Some of the examples are a bit labored, but I enjoyed the hypocrisy of an anti-file-sharing organization stealing a research report. And an MTV's executive's well-made point (though I don't know if MTV's really been doing much to expose anything other than Real World cast members' abdominals): "Because of the way they've trained themselves to use media, they never have to be exposed to an idea, an artist, or anything that they did not select for themselves."

Saturday, September 13, 2003

I believe this link will allow you to view the video for "Delia's Gone." A good video, it even got Beavis and Butthead's approval back in the day. "Heh. Heh. He must be one of those...gangsta rappers." Even those two punks knew a real badass when they saw one.
So I've been too busy moping to write about Vegas, so I think I'm just going to drop it. As the ads say, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. I will mention that Johnny Cash was my soundtrack on the drive to Vegas.

I've listened to The Wind a few times and enjoyed it very much. As one review I'm sure I've linked to below said, how can you be objective when he hasn't been dead a week yet? But it really good, and surprising how "small" it can be at times, in a good way. Death, while ever present, isn't some boulder ready to fall and crush the whole thing in any moment. On Monday, I made a point of staying near my hotel room, so I could watch Letterman; he had some nice things to say about Zevon, and they closed the show with Zevon's performance of "Mutineer" from his last appearance on Letterman, his last public performance, I believe.

Now I've been watching CMT's Johnny Cash tribute programming. A nice, short concert he gave in a Nashville prison in the '70s, his "Inside Fame" (their version of Behind the Music), and a tribute program CMT put together. They premiered June Carter Cash's new video, which was nice to see, Johnny and her looking like they were having fun making music together until the end. I suppose neither Zevon's nor Cash's passing can be called a surprise, but I think especially in Cash's case, it really is a surprise. I for one never really appreciated just how huge Johnny Cash was, and just how huge the loss is. We still have his music, and our memories of him, but especially with a man who was as prolific as Cash in his final years, it's very hard to let go.

The Grand Ole Opry is having a tribute to Roy Acuff tonight, which I just stumbled upon watching the Johnny Cash programming. He would have been 100 years old tomorrow. As I type this, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band are taking the stage. So I'm glad I stumbled onto this.

June Carter Cash performing "Ring of Fire."
An interview with Bill Murray. I don't have time to read it right now, I'm just linking to it so I can find it later.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Thursday, September 11, 2003

The Country Western Song Generator. Here's the song it generated for me: I met her in a treehouse dead all over; I can still recall the hearing aid she wore; She was breakin' out with acne in the twilight, and I knew that she was rotten to the core; The painters knew I'd swear off booze forever; She said to me she couldn't stand my tie; But who'd have thought she'd run off at her health club; She fell beneath the wheels and cried goodbye.
Nice piece on Warren Zevon.

I'm back from Vegas. Might post tonight about it. Long story short, I lost.

Monday, September 08, 2003

This last Friday, I remembered that, while I had been in San Jose to see Randy Newman, I had taped a special on VH-1 about Warren Zevon and the making of his final album. I watched it on Friday and found it very moving, and moreover enjoyed the music very much. I ordered his new CD, and thought to myself that I hoped it would arrive before he died. Unfortunately, that's not how things turned out. I'm about to leave for Vegas, and this was a bit of a bummer to stumble upon over my morning coffee (actually, I first learned about his death from the crawler on CNN, a truly horrendous way to learn any unpleasant news). But he lived almost a year longer than his doctors thought he would, long enough to finish an album and see the birth of his first grandchildren. I know how much it meant to my father to live to see my sister's wedding, so I imagine extending his life by such a short period was no cold comfort to Mr. Zevon.

Now I'm depressed. I wish I could watch the VH-1 special again before I leave, but I do have to hit the road. I'm not as excited as I usually am before a Vegas trip. It feels like an obligation, like I know how much I enjoy Vegas, so God damn it, enjoy this trip! I'm bringing less money than I usually do, but it still seems like an obscene amount to gamble away. I think I'm trying to impose some sense of stability in my life, saying some things may change, but I'm a gambler, and always will be. Maybe I'll take Double Down with me, re-reading it in Vegas on my first trip since my father's death seems appropriate.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

A classic George W. Bush picture. Not that I've never dropped a dog before, but not in front of a top-rated little league team.
My HealthyCheck preventitive health examination went well. I weigh 199 pounds by their scale, giving me a body mass index of 25.5 (anything above 25 is considered overweight; anything over 30 is obese). My body fat percentage came in at 23.4, somewhat high, and my waist/hip ratio, .91, is also a sign I should lose a few pounds. Though I just noticed he measured my waist at 37 inches, when I recently purchased pants in a size 32, and before losing a little weight, I've always worn a size 34, so perhaps he exaggerated my waist a bit. My cholesterol numbers and blood pressure were all good, blood pressure 118/70, triglycerides at 84, total cholesterol at 184, glucose at 97, HDL (good cholesterol) at 56, LDL (bad cholesterol) at 111. They checked various things, my body, my blood, my urine, and all looked well, apparently. I did take a flexibility test, however. I made it to the 4 inch mark on the board; I would have had to reach the 9 inch mark to merit a "poor." So I need to work on that a bit. I've been meaning to go to a pilates class at the gym, there's one Monday afternoons that should fit into my schedule. Hopefully going to that and doing some more stretching after running should improve that. But nothing too concerning was unearthed in this inspection. I'll have to watch my diet a bit more, lose a few pounds. I was down to 185 for awhile, it shouldn't be too hard to get back there, especially if I decide to follow through on my goal of running the Silver Strand Half-Marathon.
I'm getting a physical tomorrow morning. Since they are checking my cholesterol, I cannot eat as of 9:45 this evening. I doubt I would have eaten very much since 9:45 on a normal evening, but knowing that I cannot, I'm rather hungry. I suppose anxiety regarding the examination may contribute to hunger as well. I remember in my religious days, I once fasted for 48 hours. Of course, by posting that here, I'm turning myself into one of those hypocrites from the Sermon on the Mount, but I guess that's the least of my soul's worries. I had jaw surgery when I was 17, didn't consume anything I would classify as food for almost two weeks. Once offered my sister $20 to smuggle me a Whopper. Ended up with a pronounced limp for about two months from where my right leg muscles began to atrophy. So I should probably refrain from complaining about a 12-hour fast.

Finished A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I enjoyed it very much. I had a lot of preconceived notions going in, and was surpised by the tender emotion found within the clever self-consciousness and other post-modern artifacts. It really is an amazing accomplishment.

Friday, September 05, 2003

I had dinner yesterday at the Studio Diner, which opened earlier this year next door to Stu Segal Productions' studio lot. It's a bit out of the way for me, but it was a nice place, good food and plenty of it at a very reasonable price. I didn't see any stars, which is apparently the appeal of the place, but it did have a nice atmosphere, not as suffocatingly cloy as, say, the Corvette Diner.

Got some good runs in this week. A nice fast four-miler Wednesday, a slower five-miler on Thursday. A blister, a souvenier from my vacation, began bothering me near the end of that run. I had planned to go to the gym or something today, but its just too hot to do anything. Tomorrow I'm getting a check-up, and I have to fast for 12 hours beforehand. My appointment is in the morning, though, so it's not too bad.

Read the first chapter of The Slippery Slope. Looks good.

Got Al Franken's new book in the mail today. Will have to finish A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius before I start that, though. I'm enjoying Eggar's book.

Efforts to roll back the FCC rule changes seem to be going swimmingly.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Comments on Randy Newman and the new album, from a site hawking tickets for an upcoming show. Very nice piece, I thought. And again, I really like the new promotional photo.