Tuesday, November 25, 2003

In Mass now, Worcester, for Thanksgiving. Typing on a Mac so that sucks although I convinced the goddamn machine to give me back my cd (not to actually PLAY it, mind you). But happy to have computer access and dsl at that.
We ate toasted ham and cheese on pumpernickel and watched OLD SCHOOL which I hadn't seen and totally enjoyed. Debbie and Andrew went to bed and I came in here.
About being here and being named Andrew. Debbie's longtime boyfriend and recent husband is Andrew but there is also a stop on the train line (the Alewife to Braintree line, and aren't those cool names?) called Andrew.

"Now entering Andrew!" says the intercom recording as you roll to a stop inside the station. Yes, lets!

Made brandied fruit last night. This is for my office's totemic presents. Last year I made chocolate ricotta and cherry-vanilla ricotta breads for those. And this year I'm making brandied fruit. This is trashy but oh so good. They made it at the restaurant I worked at in Nashville and sold it at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Equal parts of brandy and sugar with canned pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges and frozen, pitted cherries, in the fridge, 3 weeks or so. The fruit starts to ferment and the sugar completely dissolves in the brandy making a syrup. Like jello shooters but with fruit cup instead of gelatin. Good over ice cream or pound cake or just in a bowl (high octane, though). So that will go over well at work and that's one less thing to sweat.

Clearly I am sleepy as I have devoted a lot of real estate to my brandied fruit plans. Who says blogging is self-indulgent? Anyway Happy Thanksgiving Week.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

From my friend Lisa, regarding Michael Jackson:

Let’s set aside for the moment the question of who on earth would let their 12-year-old son stay with Michael Jackson. Let’s focus instead on why any 12-year-old would want to stay with Michael Jackson. Has he had a hit record at any time during this child’s consciousness? In fact, has he done anything this kid would be aware of except get progressively creepier?
It's early in the morning and after dreaming about cats committing suicide I'm seeing the morning papers online as I drink my coffee. The flu...so 1)it's spreading fast this year (per the CDC the flu has hit a wider percentage of people than in 1976!!!) and 2)The vaccine this year is kind of wrong.

If you've ever gotten a flu shot then you've read the explanation sheet...the flu changes a little bit all the time and the flu that one gets in September is different than the flu one would get the following May. That's why vaccines are encouraged for EVERY year, unlike, say, smallpox which is stable ("drift" is what the flu is doing). Not sure how they go about guessing what the flu will be like in the fall when they begin manufacturing the vaccine but apparently they guessed wrong; the flu that's doing its thing is different from the vaccine.

Cheery statistic-around 35,000 Americans die of the flu every year.

On another note, apparently a journalist went undercover and got a job as a servant in Buckingham Palace. Undercover reporting is pretty much dead in the US, killed by lawsuits. Interesting that it's okay to go undercover as a journalist in the UK but not talk about what Prince Charles was *allegedly* doing with that servant. If only THAT servant had been an undercover journalist...

And, as always, I'm fascinated by Michael Jackson (and how ironic that the name of the album he released is "One More Chance") We, as a society, disagree on all sorts of things but can't we agree that it is not okay for adults to share their beds with adolescents?

And here's a cool thing from the BBC about Bush's kick-ass limo

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Irv Kupcinet was buried yesterday and the Chicago papers are full of it.

He wrote a column in the Sun-Times called "Kup's Column" that ran for 60 years and he had a tv talk show for a bazillion years as well. He's kind of like an older, cooler version of Larry King as far as I can tell...here's Kup with Malcolm X, here's Kup with Lauren Bacall, etc.

I have two, very tenuous connections to the late Kup. One is that, in the building where I work there is a physician who has some sort of Geriatric Medicine specialty...there are always some extremely old people on the elevators trying to find the button for the 10th floor. And Kupcinet was one of the patients so he was often being wheeled in and out which was pretty exciting to my colleagues who remembered his glory days.

The second is that I worked with a guy named David at Second City who had just moved to Chicago from LA. He and I smoked weed in his car once. "It's not really my car," he explained of the mammoth sedan, "it's my grandfather's" Well, now from the footage on the news I see that David was Kup's grandson. I got high in Kup's car.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

This morning I have some spam offering me "Brain Damaged Hoes".

Friday, November 07, 2003

I'm all about this new National Geographic "100 Best photographs we never published" (that's not the official title but you get the gist)
The pictures, of course, are so, so beautiful. A cluster of Santas heading down into a Manhattan subway. A polar bear shaking off the water after a swim. A romantic couple at an Ole Miss fraternity party. All evocative, all complete and beautiful and all struck from their respective stories. They "just didn't work"

This week there is also an interview with Ira Glass in The Onion who, in spite of being called "Glasshole" by his colleagues at the local NPR affiliate (representative quote which perhaps explains this response-he starts out by saying that everyone who works for WBEZ is varied and competent and then notes:

But the thing that characterizes them all is that there's a kind of understated, "I might have been a person pledging, but I took an extra step, and now I work here" quality to the whole thing.

I was romantically involved with a gentleman once who worked for this radio station, and I had met Ira a few times as a fan and he was utterly gracious. But when my then-beau introduced me to Ira, at a party, adding that I was friends with Ira's Administrative Assistant, Ira looked at me as if I had handed him a turd in a frilly paper cup.

But be that as it may...Ira (we're on a first name basis, I fantasize, me and Ira) describes the process of developing a show and one thing that he describes is that they try lots of stuff, decide that, for whatever reason, it doesn't work, and keep going.

I worked at Second City for a couple of years and during that time I saw so many brilliant scenes, characters, ideas that didn't just work. I saw other ideas that worked but only when split into thirds, when combined with other ideas, when set to music.

Making stuff up is hard. Being creative is no joke. This is the other side of "everyone is creative". It's true, everyone is creative. But everything doesn't get kept. Everything doesn't earn an accolade, even the really good things, the things that might be wonderful units unto themselves, yet don't serve the whole. Sometimes those get scrapped as well.

I'm turning to these thoughts right now as I am home now after taking my second Hip Hop class. Here is the thing...even if I become incredibly proficient at this dancing, I'm still gonna be a 34-year-old white guy who is not too shabby at getting down to The Neptunes. So there's really no winning if "winning" means becoming proficient as you go. Nope, it's not like that. Here is too much information to assimilate at once...a series of moves, some are low and bouncy, some are crisp and syncopated, one involves doing a goddamn hand stand, just go, just go, just go.

"You don't get a raise for doing it right," our instructor, who goes by the name of Boogie said last week, "And they aren't gonna raise your taxes if you do it wrong." You are better off doing it wrong, but looking happy than "right" and pinched.

But it is so hard not to be pinched. What do you do in an environment where you aren't permitted to gain mastery before moving ahead? do you throw up your hands? or do your best and fucking smile.

I've been smiling.

Now here is the honest truth...I wish the class was easier. I'm not a bad dancer and I want the class to be very modest and play to my skills. I want to go and be a miracle every friday night. But instead I'm having to feel like a beginner, one who needs to smile.

After class I got on the train and went straight to the pool so I could swim some laps. I wanted to feel proficient and had planned ahead, bringing my swim gear. Here is the thing...funny that I use swimming as a way of feeling proficient. In January of 2001 I signed up for swim lessons, only able to tread water. Now I swim laps. 2001...that's about 1,000 days.

I've rejected all sorts of things in those 1,000 days. But some stuff I've kept and some of that stuff, in turn, is awfully cool. Today, I go swimming. And one of these days I'll be standing on my hands when Pharrell sings "Beautiful..."

It just takes a lot of fucking work to have anything left over that's worth hanging on to, that's worth showing to somebody and saying "hey! I did that!"
Okay, I'm not really doing any work today.

So I came across some stuff about paid vs. free content (the topic was about paying for newspapers online). Several different essays make reference to Stewart Brand, he of the "information wants to be free" idea.

Turns out the real quote is more complicated than that. Here's the whole passage:

Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine -- too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, "intellectual property," the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new (technological) devices makes the tension worse, not better.

I'm listening to The BBC World Service at work and they keep discussing the mysterious-thing-Prince-Charles-allegedly-did-and-he's-denying-everything...nobody can actually say WHAT did or did not happen that he was or was not a part of and I went online to see what I could find.

No luck so far although I do like this guy, a Prince Charles impersonator who does actually look like the Prince of Wales. A link at the bottom of the page lets you know that this is part of the Professional Impersonator's Web Ring.

You can hire look-alikes for Prince, several Sean Connerys, the usual Elvi and Marilyns and a site that promotes the idea that the key to successful celebrity impersonation is in duplicating the eyebrows (they sell stencils).

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Okay, I'm done with midterms next week so not much blogging until then. I keep reading all these articles about how something like 25% of blogs are never updated after their 1st entry and some other whopping percentage are updated like 1x every two months.

Don't want to be one of those.

Slate has a big piece about the re-design of The New York Times and the piece mentions that the newspaper is a hot topic on typography web sites like this one.

Gotta love the web.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Okay, it sucks having bed bugs. But it would be much, much worse to be overrun with monkeys.