Saturday, May 31, 2003

I set a PR today, running in the Rock the Bay 5K (a tagalong to tomorrow's Suzuki Rock & Roll Marathon. My time of 21:35 shed seven seconds off my previous 5K record, this spring's Torrey Pines 5K, which was a much more difficult course, I thought. But my time today was hindered by the narrow bike lane we were running on, and a crowded start. I still am hoping to break 20:00, but after my disasterous performance in Carlsbad last month, am very happy with my time. I also just got a copy of Marathoning for Mortals in the mail. I haven't decided exactly what my plans are, but I hope to, at the latest, run the Rock & Roll Marathon next year (I'd like to run a marathon around November/December of this year, but I'm not sure if there's any scheduled around here).
I just received word that Randy Newman has extended an invitation to me and some other members of his "inner circle" to attend a scoring session for the film Seabiscuit this week. I had the unbelievable good fortune to see Randy at work scoring Monsters, Inc. and am very excited that, despite some difficulty making the arrangements that time, he has again extended an invitation to some of his fans. And its a film I'd be excited to see even if Randy was not associated with it, so that's just the icing on the cake. I'll find out tomorrow that I can get the day off work, and hopefully I'll be Hollywood-bound (and then the next night I'm Beverly Hills-bound, as I am wined and dined by my Vegas benefactors...quite a week).

I was discussing my screenplay idea with a girl at work this week. I'd rather not post it here, since it's just that good, and you WILL steal it, because it will revolutionize entertainment as we know it. I know what you're thinking, its a sitcom about a back-sassing robot, but you are wrong...though that would be sweet. I've actually been joking about this screenplay for a long time, and it just this week occured to me, I really should write it. It's absurd enough that I should really be able to let myself loose and have a lot of fun with it. So I've decided, this Summer, I'm writing my screenplay. Mostly as an writing exercise for myself--when I write, I seem to manage to strip the joy and humor out of about any topic--though if Roger Corman should someday choose to direct it, that would be fine, too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

I'm watching the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel. I don't believe I've posted about it before, but I have enjoyed watching it so far. Last week's in Paris was probably a highlight. This week, at the Commerce Casino, could've been exciting, but Bob Stupek is about to be sent packing, I think. Pair of 5s against a pair of jacks. And yes, he caught an inside straight draw, but didn't make it.

Some might say that the World Poker Tour is an overly-produced, ultra-slick commercialization of ESPN's poker coverage. And they would be right. But at least unlike ESPN's World Series of Poker coverage, it doesn't bore me to death. Though from what I've heard about this year's World Series, it should be fun to watch.

I see the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players will be in L.A. in July. I'm going to try to make it to the show at the Derby, seems a fitting place to see them.
I used to think it was cute when Tanner would wrinkle his brow and cock his head, giving me his "what the hell are you doing?" look. Now I'm beginning to think its a sad thing, that even my dog doesn't understand me.

Tanner is enjoying the aviary adventures in his back yard, though. It seems like our back yard is a beacon to sick or injured birds. Today it was a crow with a bad leg. Fortunately I had stopped to watch Tanner stalk it, or Tanner would have probably caught it, but I stopped him. Eventually, the crow got airborne fairly well (I don't understand why a bum leg would interfere with flight), and flew away, though he didn't gain enough altitute to clear my neighbor's satellite dish. We've found two dead birds in the last two months, and we also rescued a little brown bird, literally in Tanner's maw, and let him recuperate before placing him in a pet-less neighbor's yard. Tanner enjoyed that bird's company, he didn't try to hurt it, just enjoyed hauling him around.

Got my econ midterm back. 75 (out of 100), which is a B+ (which speaks volumes for how the class as a whole scored). The professor seemed displeased. I actually got virtually 100% on the short answer section, which shocked the hell out of me. If I had the proper CD-ROM and had studied the practice multiple-choice questions, I probably would now be coasting to an easy A.

I have just about finished reading the first issue of The Believer. Haven't had a whole lot of time to read it, so of course now, with a presentation to give on Monday and finals right after that, I figured now was a good time to get caught up on my non-academic reading. (I almost spent the day re-reading Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss, but decided better of it--better to wait until school was out and I could take my time revisiting it in the light of recent events). It is an interesting publication, nothing too gripping in the first issue so far, but I did just read a conversation between Terry Gilliam and Salman Rushdie, and enjoyed it immensely. Gilliam speaks a bit about the fight over Brazil, and in talking about his aborted version of Don Quixote has some interesting points about the novel. And in another article I learned that Daniel Handler is still working on the Lemony Sickett books, I had thought the series was completed. I'm looking forward to finishing the issue tomorrow at work; the interview with The Royal Tenenbaum's Kumar Pallana should make the long, agonizing days go faster.

Work is fine, I've just been there a lot. Actually only worked one extra shift, but when you only get one free day between work and school, one extra work day can be draining.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

I see Bush and Co. are ready to move in earnest against Iran. Ever since the whole "axis of evil" speech, I've been very confused. Of course, one issue is, is it such a good idea to label a country "evil" and expect it to continue to honor peace treaties with you? Even my sister, pro-Iraq war (and who believes the faking of the Gulf of Tonkin incident was a brilliant tactical move) views that speech as misguided. But what I really don't get is, what ever happened to progress in Iran? I was under the impression that Iran was taking baby steps toward a secular government. I thought the current leadership was drifting slowly in a moderate direction, being of course careful not to anger the radical Islamic leaders (who I imagine will only gain in influence during the "people's uprising" the U.S. government is hoping to incite). I'm no expert in Iran, by any means, but I just don't understand if there was a shift back to extremeism in Iran, or if the change is only in the West's perceptions after September 11th.

Monday, May 26, 2003

I saw Fishbone last evening, and enjoyed myself very much. They weren't the headliner, apparently; Kings X was. But it worked out good, as I was tired and had to work this morning, so I was able to leave after Fishbone and get home at a decent hour. Fishbone still had a lot of energy in their performance, and of course any band with a theremin is instantly cool. Opened with "Party at Ground Zero," and peaked with a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead." I'm not really familiar enough with their work to identify much else that they played, but it was a fun show. Before "Ma and Pa," Angelo Moore remarked something about how it looked like a lot of mas and pas got a babysitter that evening; the crowd definately skewed older than I expected. But Fishbone was sounding as fresh as ever.

I did get home in time to see some of Adult Swim, new episodes of Home Movies and Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law. Neither was particularly exciting, though Home Movies had its moments. I taped the rest, so I'll have to watch Sealab: 2021 and Aqua Teen Hunger Force tonight.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

My favorite...Tom the Dancing Bug's Super Fun Pak Comix. I believe a membership is required, or you can view some ads for a one-day pass...I'd have to say Tom the Dancing Bug and the K Chronicles are the whole reason I subscribe.
More trouble at the Times.
In reading the latest issue of "Pants," a newsletter dedicated to Randy Newman, I learned that the re-issue of Randy Newman's Faust, which includes an excellent demo album, has sold a whopping 486 copies in its first two months of release. I blame the marketing of it, and an indifferent press; I consider myself a rather rabid fan, and was unaware of its existence until a week or two after it was released. I highly recommend it; if you had an opportunity to see the musical performed, the demo disc will take you back; if not, you can imagine what it would have been like (since its unlikely you'll ever have a chance to see it live). I'm not a huge fan of demos (if I had it to do over, I probably wouldn't have bought Good Old Boys again), but in this situation, the demos add a lot to one's appreciation of the work.
The Onion weighs in on Jayson Blair.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Went to Viejas with my mother after school today. Took a beating, at both poker and blackjack. So it goes.

I had my last mid-term in econ today. I tried to study for it using the study guide CD-ROM last night, but it turns out the bookstore gave me the wrong disc with my book, I got the macroeconomics disc, but its the microeconomics textbook. Sad thing is, I used the CD-ROM to study for the first mid-term, and didn't notice the problem. Anyway, don't think I did particularly well, but sure I did well enough to squeak by.

I finished reading Wigfield, and must say I was disappointed. As much as I love both Amy Sedaris and Stephen Colbert, the book was rather boring. It keeps beating the same points over and over, and it never amounts to much. Basically, its the story of a collection of squatters, trying to create a town so they can get relocation funds when the dam which towers over them is destroyed. Or more accurately, its the story of a literary fraud, trying to document the plight of these shit-kickers in order to produce the opus on the death of small-town America he promised his editor. The town, with its wide array of strip clubs and random murders, seems to have been derived from a Daily Show sketch regarding a tax-shelter of a town, whose very existence was threatened by a mayor who wished to dissolve it. It's hard for this work of fiction to live up to the reality of that town, though.

The book is largely made up of profiles of the town's residents, telling their story in their own words. Some of these are hilarious (Burchal Sawyer, one of the three men who claims to be mayor, is a personal favorite of mine), but they all seem to fall into one of two or three types, and they get repetitive. The photos that accompany these testimonials, however, help give the characters some gravity, a white-trash charisma that is compelling; Todd Oldham's photography (with the three authors posing as all the characters) is the one aspect of the book I can recommend whole-heartedly. I think the main problem is, the book doesn't work as a book. As the photographs imply, the characters might be more compelling if the brilliant Sedaris, Colbert, and Paul Dinello were bringing them to life. In fact, their wonderful web site has sound clips of their characters, and lists a schedule for a stage version of the book, which I can only imagine will be much better than the book itself. The book has some great moments, but I can't really recommend it.

Did you see Conan yesterday? Jim Carrey and Stephen Hawking doing an act together, a sight to behold.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

I'm linking to this biography of Takeshi Kitano, so I can find it tomorrow at work to read. Beats studying for Friday's econ mid-term.

I see the ads for new episodes of my favorite Adult Swim programs this Sunday. Should be exciting. Haven't seen Home Movies in awhile. I'll have to tape it, though, since I won't be home.

Here is the New York Observer's interview with Jayson Blair, as well as one with his agent.
Working at the aquarium, as opposed to the movie theatre, I've gotten the feeling that I've moved a bit further away from a customer service-oriented profession, just a bit. It's still an issue, but not as much as it was before. Then I answered the phone yesterday. Crazy, annoying woman who wanted me to tell her how we could train her to save the ocean without her going to school. She didn't like school, because she's half-Hungarian and her professors were racist, and why should you have to go to school to save the oceans? So she called a college to help her with this. And she ranted on and on. Which wouldn't have been too bad, had she not begun the conversation by informing me that she was a volunteer, did not get paid, which made her time more valuable than mine, some jackass who is paid to answer the phone. I had been in the building about thirty seconds at this point, so I just shook it off, didn't want to start my day off by chewing someone out and hanging up on them. But what the hell is wrong with people that they think saying some shit like that will make anyone want to help them? I expect that attitude from the rich La Jollans I served at the movie theatre, but why would an unemployed, uneducated person think such claims are going to be received as anything other than evidence that this person is a complete waste of space? Anyway, it really pissed me off, to an extent I don't think anyone really had at the aquarium before.

I won tickets to see Fishbone Sunday. I didn't even know Fishbone still was around. Should be interesting. They're apparently playing with some metal groups, which seems somewhat an odd combination.

I missed the final episode of Dawson's Creek. Jen dies, apparently. I would have liked to see that.

Jason Blair speaks out. The article this refers to is on the New York Observer's web site, but I couldn't get through to it. I'm also glad to hear he's pursuing book deals, it sounds like he can tell his story with a lot more spine than Stephen Glass.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

The Prelinger Archives feature some interesting "ephemeral" films, like the Coronet educational videos. Fun stuff.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

A rather odd exercise in karaoke.
I appologize for my silence over the week, had trouble motivating myself to do much of anything. I missed work on Thursday and school Friday, a bit under the weather. I did manage to get out and do stuff on Saturday, went kayaking in the bay. I'm feeling a bit more energetic today, hopefully I'll get a nice run in after work, and be my old energetic self for the rest of the school year.

I got invited to Spago's of Beverly Hills by a Vegas casino. I'm a little unclear what it is, a cocktail party, apparently. But I don't understand if I'll just be mingling, or if there is some sort of presentation, or what. It'll be interesting to see, though, and it'll be a blast to go to Spago's and feel like an A-list person. I think I'm going alone, a few people have expressed interest in being my guest, but I figure it'll be easier to pretend I belong their alone, than with some low-class friend of mine. Of course, a designated driver would be nice. But I'm more interested in the food than the drinks, anyway. And building up a relationship with my casino host...I'd rather not divulge the casino sponsoring the event, but it is a very, very nice casino I have stayed at twice, really enjoying my stay both times. I'll be sure to recommend it here on another occasion.

I purchased my tickets to see Weird Al Yankovich at the Fair. I went ahead and got the dinner package, since once you pay for parking and fair admission, its not that much more to get a nice meal and the best seats (second row, slightly off-center). I don't know how excited I should really be to see Weird Al, but I've heard from many people he puts on quite a show. And being friends with an ex-girlfriend of the man (as featured on VH-1's "Driven"), I would feel wrong not catching the kick-off show of his new tour (and seeing him perform the Eminem song he has been prohibited from making a video for).

I enjoyed Neal Pollack's take on the New York Times scandal. Funny, though a bit disturbing in its accuracy.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

An amusing (if somewhat patronizing in tone) article regarding the lost art of (bad) liner notes.
So, my official time for the Dr. Seuss Race for Literacy was 36:11 (I saw 36:10 when I crossed the finish line). Works out to a 7:17 pace for the 8K course. After being unsatisfied with my performance at Carlsbad, I was happy with my performance. Not so much my time, which was decent, but with how I felt on the course, held a steady pace, and actually managed to run a negative split, which I don't think I've done in a race before. I just wanted to beat an 8-minute pace, which I did easily from the get-go. First mile in 8 minutes, which is very good considering this is a very popular event and the start was rather slow (they put up huge pace signs so the faster runners will be ahead of the walkers, and there's a huge banner in the back announcing where the walkers should be, and still there are idiots in front of me woman was walking backwards, no doubt looking for her friends who knew how to read...I mean, its the race for literacy, what sort of example are you setting? but I digress...). I was probably about a 7:40 pace most of the way, and once I got off the 163 into downtown and knew I was near the end, I kicked it up a notch, running the last mile at about 6:00 pace. There were bands playing along the route in downtown, which helped. The bluegrass group, in particular, gave me some nice motivation. Wish I knew their name. Anyway, if I had any disappointment, its that I felt good enough at the end that I know I could've shaved at least a minute off that time, easily. But I'm happy with how it went, and now I'm ready to prepare for a strong showing at my next 5K, at the end of the month. And I'm happy that I helped the Council on Literacy. I picked up info while there on volunteering, I've been thinking about doing that for some time; perhaps this Summer I'll make some time. Dyslexia runs in the family (it practically gaollps), so it would be a nice gesture in return for my fortune in being relatively unscathed by it.

I watched the first two episodes of The Singing Detective on Saturday. I'll comment more on it once I've watched the whole thing, but I must say I was blown away. Not what I was expecting, I thought the writer in the hospital was more a sub-plot to the film-noir murder mystery, but in fact the film, or at least the first part, is much more a psychological profile of the writer, struggling with a debilitating and humiliating skin disease, with the mystery story and Tin Pan Alley songs being utilized bizzarly but effectively. A scene in the first episode, when Marlowe opens up to his doctors in a profoundly moving act of honesty and vulnerability, to be met with a rendition of "Dem Bones," is powerfully stunning. I don't know when I'll be able to make enough time to see it all (let alone listen to the audio commentary and watch the accompanying documentary), but I'll post more comments once I have. Suffice it to say, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Forgive my neglect of this forum; I'll try to post more frequently in the future. Not a whole lot to share, though. I've been listening to the soundtrack album for A Mighty Wind. It's good, but some of the songs, especially those of the New Main Street Singers, are a bit painful. It is interesting, though, that many of the songs on the CD are much more blatantly humorous than those included in the film. I think Christopher Guest et al should be commended for selecting the more subtle songs they included in the movie, and again going against the notion that they need to constantly remind the audience of the joke. The CD isn't perfect, but to finally have a copy of "Blood on the Coal" to call my own is a small dream come true.

In other CD comments, I'm currently listening to Ry Cooder's Paradise and Lunch, and would recommend it highly. In preperation for Lyle Lovett's upcoming show, The Road to Ensenada has been getting a lot of play in my car's stereo. When I first heard it, I thought Ensenada was a sub-par album, I thought it was too full of throw-away novelty songs, but there is a lot more depth to it than I first acknowledged.

Of course, now that I got my tickets to Randy Newman, I should finally listen to the bonus disc in the re-release of Randy Newman's Faust. I'm going up to my sister's in San Jose, and seeing him while I'm there. I'm planning on making a week of it, but I haven't decided what I'll be doing after the concert. Yosemite was my first thought, but in August, it might be a bit too crowded. I was thinking of going to San Francisco or Santa Cruz, where I know people, but I wanted to do something outdoorsy, camping and hiking. Whatever I come up with, though, it should be fun; it will be nice to have a non-Vegas vacation.

School is going well. Got 100% on my econ mid-term. I think my lit midterm went well; maybe I'll find out Monday. Work is uneventful. They hired a parking attendant, which should make parking more bearable for us as a business. I'm concerned my days of free parking may be numbered, if they change the way they deal with member permits. But that's okay. I'm beginning to get back into the swing of things with my running; tomorrow is the Dr. Seuss Race for Literacy, it should be a good indication of how I'm doing. As long as I can complete the 8K course, I'll be happy. I figure my goal is simply to beat my 45 minute time from my last 10K, that should be eminently doable.

I'm thinking back on the last week, and there really wasn't much worth mentioning here. I'll try to post more regularly, before I forget what I've been up to. Tonight, I'm just staying in, taking it easy before tomorrow's race. My plan is to either read, or watch The Singing Detective, which I recently received after pre-ordering months ago.