Friday, May 09, 2003 at 14:45:07 (EDT)

Because they were squirrels ... and there were thousands of them
This is the squirrel that lives in my back yard. Unbeknownst to me, I have apparently been taming it for weeks. I used to have a bird feeder outside that he would lord over, but some rambunctious pigeons destroyed it a while ago and I haven't gotten around to getting a new one. Enter the Squirrel. He keeps hanging around, getting closer and closer. Unlike squirrels that live in the park, he's a bit uneasy around humans, but he seems to be rapidly getting over this. Soon he will be a member of the family.

His presence has got me thinking about squirrels a lot. Why are they so loved and rats so reviled? Sure, they're kinda cute with their big eyes and fluffy tail. And they don't usually come into your home to rifle through your garbage or bite your children. But they're obviously not particularly smart. When you see a rat in your cupboard, hastily making off with your Cup-A-Soup, you can tell how intelligent they are. They look at you and know that you know how smart they are. And this gives us the willies.

The other thing about squirrels is how much they are loved by the indie rock scene. Have you ever noticed this? Lotsa squirrels out there. Angry guys Shellac have a song devoted to them ("The Squirrel Song"), the hop-headed Happy Mondays named their debut album with them (" Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out)"), bi-bassed meticu-rockers Dianogah have a song as well ("They Have Monkeys Like We Have Squirrels"). And how can we forget The Squirrel Nut Zippers (okay, I know this was some kind of old candy), and Squirrel Bait. There was even a band in my college town known as Rare White Squirrel. What is the connection between the record store clerk types and these fuzzy little vermin?

Meanwhile rats aren't getting nearly the same level of attention. What is named for this most industrious, intelligent creature? Ratt, a band whose none-too-clever misspelling of the word betrays their overall lack of thought in their choice. It's too bad that rats get a bad rap in both real life and the musical world. I suppose it might be because rats are pretty deliberate animals; rats do not know how to be coy. Squirrels, on the other hand, appear to regard everything with the same tenuous perspective. Nobody knows what a squirrel is thinking. If you watch a squirrel do something you can be sure it won't just go and do it. No, it's gotta hem and haw for an hour, running up and down the tree, pausing to stand up and look into space (Eddie Izzard claims at this point the squirrel is thinking, "Have I let the gas on? [pause] No, I'm a fucking squirrel.")

So maybe that's the fascination with squirrels. I will probably spend more time seeing what I can get this one to do than I would if he was a big fat subway rat. But like a lot of indie rock of late, I must wonder if below the surface of odd logic and noncommital antics if there's much goin' on there at all.

Posted By Jimmy Legs

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Friday, May 09, 2003 at 01:02:17 (EDT)

The Long and Winding Blogs
I have been wanting to leave comments on every blog I visit lately. This is not natural for me, and as the lady who does the Anti-Hipster blog noted, the vast majority of blog readers don't comment. Commenting is the blog equivalent to people who actually call into the Howard Stern Show; sure, some of us may listen, but who among us would actually put themselves on the air with those lunatics?

I have just realized that my desire to post on every blog I see is symptomatic of the shite state of affairs at my job lately. The work never ends and even tho I am at least a full day's behind in my work, I can't help but look for distraction. I must needs find something, anything that says to me, "I am not your job." While that notion is cool, the fact that the idea of commenting on blogs is the best that I can do speaks volumes about the depths to which I have sunk. Many people wouldn't settle for that, they'd probably do something that got them away from the computer. I have seen them do it. I need to study this behavior further, and perhaps learn how I might adapt.

Then again when you know you're trapped in front of a computer there are worse things you could do. And no desk jockey has ever had to cut his own friggin' arm off, either. Not 9-5 anyway.

Posted By Jimmy Legs

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Thursday, May 08, 2003 at 20:08:39 (EDT)

It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent fritters
Folks, if you want an interesting read, check out the Health Department's site on Restaurant Inspection. I tell ya, it's fascinating. I looked up a bunch of restaurants and bars in the neighborhood, with expectations of either clean bills of health or really horrifying violations. But in almost every case, the skeeziest, diviest, greasy-spooniest joints ended up having the best records. It's those fancy-schmancy places that have been infiltrating the area in the past few years that ya gotta watch out for.

Having said that, you must take these violation listings with a grain of salt. If you freak out when you see the all-too common " Vermin or other live animal present in food storage, preparation or service area" violation, envisioning huge Stephen King-style rats a-feastin' on your bagel dough, note that the violation covers everything from the tiniest insect to, I dunno, moose in the soup. I'd bet most of those violations are for finding earwigs in the bathroom or something. It might be disgusting to some, but really, how clean and insect-free is the space where you prepare your food?

I'm happiest to report that my favorite (and pretty much only) dive bar in my neighborhood, The Alibi Club, passed with flying colors. The way I see it, if the inspectors (who are genetically engineered to be hard-asses) can walk into a place like that and not find anything amiss, then these other joints probably deserve a couple of warnings. Of course, the Alibi doesn't serve food which clears it from the lion's share of violatable areas, but if you have ever been in the men's room you'd know what an accomplishment this is.

Posted By Jimmy Legs

Food cartoons from The New Yorker
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Thursday, May 08, 2003 at 16:05:40 (EDT)

Aw, crap
Like a dope I updated the site without copying the live site first. Thus, I just lost a couple of brilliant, brilliant posts. I tell you, they were beautiful, awe-inspiring posts that, had you the chance to read them, would have very likely changed your life. Oh yes. And now they're gone. I feel bad for me, but more than that, I feel bad for my readers, who only wanted one more pearl of wisdom regarding insomnia and cat fighting to spruce up their mirthless days. Alas. I hope the folks at Google aren't too shattered that they didn't send a bot to cache my site today before I messed it up.

So let me recap: I got up at 5 in the morning and I made a comic strip about my day at work. And ... hm. Well, I guess that's it. Try to go on, as though life is still worth living.

Posted By Jimmy Legs

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Thursday, May 08, 2003 at 15:53:43 (EDT)

Okay, so who we rollin' with?
I handed in my homemade blog links for the high-tech world of Blogrolling. I've been meaning to do this for a while for a couple reasons. One: it's way easier to edit and update the links with, two, it's supposed to order the links by which ones are most recently updated. This aids me in my obsessive blog-checking. The down side is I have no idea if this will work. Bloggers using Moveable Type should get proper representation, since I think it's a standard feature to ping when the site gets updated. Blogrolling is supposed to access Blogger's database as well, but I don't know how well it works. I'd like if my own site could participate, but I'm stuck with manual pings until I can devise something automatic. This site is such a mishmash of code already I don't think it's gonna work. I should probably suck it up and start using a real blog system, since it doesn't look like I'll have any time soon to learn PHP so well I can build my own blog script. So for now I'm keepin' it rizzy with the CGIzzy.

Posted By Jimmy Legs
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Wednesday, May 07, 2003 at 15:17:01 (EDT)

Please don't bother trying to find [my boss], he's not there
The whole reason I came in the office today was a meeting from 3-5 PM. 3 rolls around and my boss still has not shown up. I don't have a phone so I call him from his phone. No answer, I leave a panicky message that we're missing the meeting because nobody told me where it was.

I call one of the guys we're supposed to be meeting. He says, "Oh [The Boss] emailed me to say he was sick; he wanted to blow off the meeting." But my boss did not bother to let his trusty sidekick (moi) know that it wasn't happening. I hung up the phone in disgust. I came all the way into the office for a 20 minute meeting that could have been handled better via email.

On my boss' chair is a flyer for an upcoming seminar which I feel he really ought to consider: "The Personal Accountability Workshop."

Posted By Jimmy Legs

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Wednesday, May 07, 2003 at 14:59:58 (EDT)

Eat, drink, be merry; for tomorrow we go to the office
Here I am, in the office again. My ID card almost worked. It turns out they have me in the computer twice and they gave the proper access rights to a me that does not exist. This is doing wonders for my self-esteem. Anyway, I made it up here, and I just had one of two meetings. They scheduled an hour and a half for it but the meeting only took 20 minutes. What were they thinking?

Plus I fear my company-issued laptop may be dying. And my workload is immense. I must be paying for the fun I had last night. My dad was in town again, so I took the opportunity to go to Thalia, where Alex has been working lately. Alex is part of the Rated Rookie Think Tank. Anyhow, the place was way bigger and pricier than I imagined, but not too alien to enjoy. I got some kind of ravioli made with lobster and corn. Doesn't sound so hot, but it was really good. We downed a bottle of Chianti and I got a cappuccino that was served with a swizzle stick! I haven't seen one of those since I was a kid. I don't normally take sugar with my coffee but the sight of rock candy on a stick made me regressively need it.

After dinner, I meet up with M over at Luna Lounge to see Electric Turn to Me, featuring the drummer from Laddio Bolocko, Blake Fleming. When we get there another band is still playing. I say to M, "Why is it bass players all look alike? That bass player looks just like the guy from The DuValby Brothers." Then the lead singer dedicates their next song, "to all the Clevelanders out there."

I'll be damned. It is the same guy.

The bass player, Matt, played in two of the best bands to come out Cleveland during my tenure in Ohio, The Revellers and the DuValby Bros. My old band played with the DuValbies several times. What a great band. I can't really describe their sound, they always remind me of the last few anthemic notes of a heavy metal band's power ballad. But like, they played whole songs consisting of that slowed-down, "we're wrapping things up" intonation. The Revellers were also bitchin'. They were one of the few 'garage' bands that didn't do that whole bowl-haircut-and-sunglasses thing. So Matt's current band is Viva Caramel. I don't get that name at all, but the music was cool, reminiscent of hard rock right before grunge showed up.

My question now is, what will my next Six Degrees of Jimmy Legs occur? In the past few days I've run into people with whom I share common backgrounds or neighborhoods or previous bands. Where will it end? I think secretly I've always wanted to live in a world like the Manhattan of Seinfeld: a huge, densely populated space, yet these people constantly run into people they know out on the street. I dig that.

Electric Turn to Me finally performs. What is up with this outfit? Fleming still drums up a storm, but now he's not in a bizarre punk band (Dazzling Killmen), or a bizarre avant-jazz power trio (Laddio). There's keyboards, two guitars, and a woman lead singer who looks and sounds like a cross between Siouxsie Sioux and Patti Smith. Sometimes it sounds retro, sometimes it's driving rock, sometimes it's total goth. What the hell is going on?

I'll say this, I haven't really heard anything like it, but I'm sure if that's gonna make me wanna listen to 'em. I love the drums so much I can almost shut out the stuff I can't deal with, but that seems like an odd way to enjoy music. But maybe they'll get better. First thing they should do is shut off the stupid effects on the vocals. I hate that. Just sing, dammit! When you put that much Chorus on vocals it sounds like you're hiding something. And I think they are. But I think I might be sold after all, in the end, because sometimes the lead singer sounds like a female Ian Curtis, and I'll always be a sucker for that.

After the set, M and I retire to the street for a smoke. We think of going to Max Fisch but it's too crowded. So we go to the Pink Pony, which is pleasantly deserted. Somebody has drawn a no-smoking symbol on their window. But the sidewalk is mere feet away. I love the mirror in their bathroom, it's built in a box in such a way that it reflects your face the other people see it (a non-mirror image). I don't know which is weirder, the fact that the mirror works, or looking at your face in a way you never see outside of photographs.

All in all, a lovely evening, the kind that fills me with uncharacteristic good feelings about my fellow humans. And then I woke up late to find all this work shit piling up, not to mention these dumbass meetings I have to attend. Ah, Bartelby! Ah, humanity!

Posted By Jimmy Legs

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Tuesday, May 06, 2003 at 16:18:09 (EDT)

Someone left a play out in the rain
An interesting experience last night. See, at the party on Saturday I met Elena, who once lived in the small town where I went to college. Her father is a professor there in the Philosophy department. Elena tells me she's helping out on this little theater piece being performed/workshopped in my neighborhood (which she erroneously calls "Clinton" like it's Hell's Kitchen II). It's only 5 blocks north of my pad, so I say I'll go. Monday rolls around and all is drab, cold and rainy. I have had another evil day of nausea-inducing tedium. I don't wanna do anything. But my guilty conscience gets the better of me and I walk stiffly through the rain, my Italian hat my only protection (my last umbrella was left at a bar in Dumbo, if anybody wants to go get it for me). I make it to the space, a loft in the old-skool sense of the word. It's almost under the BQE on a block that looks like it was last used as a set for the finale of The French Connection.

The door is open so I ascend and am greeted by a bunch of theater folk, all milling around in a tiny kitchen-like space. People are smoking and this relieves me for some reason. I can tell the space is huge but we all stay in this little kitchen. I silently drip dry. More people show up, and they all know each other. Elena is nowhere to be found, but I really only spoke to her for a moment anyway. It's not like we're pals. Another woman shows up with the same uncomfortable air, so I ask her if she knows what the play is about.

"The guy who wrote it attended a sort of clown college in Paris—"

Orange-level alert lights flash on and off in my brain. I am picturing a sort of Marcel Marceau-meets-Ronald McDonald act. But she tells me it was part of a thesis show, and that now he's converted it to a piece with two actors. I figure there must be something to it or he wouldn't have put in all the effort. The show starts late, which makes for plenty of opportunity to make halting chitchat in a claustrophobic space (it was like the Jimmy Legs version of Josh's Make-Out Party). Finally the show was on, so we walked into the space itself.

I gotta hand it to them, they built their own black box theater in their loft. And they devoted way more space to it than they needed to. It was a lot bigger than some of the spaces I performed in during my heady-but-ill-informed days as a theater minor. The show itself is hard to describe, it's got this little person (kinda unisexy) who wears a labcoat totally covered in little scraps of paper. She would constantly measure her little room and write things down on the papers, or tear them off her back and examine them, muttering about 'change' or 'no change'. Then the walls start closing in. Literally. I realized that what my acquaintance was doing for the production was to intermittently push the walls of the set closer together, until the little person is all cramped up under a table with no place to go.

A spooky little piece, but really funny as well. At one point a character dressed as a rabbit materializes and hounds the main character. It was a little rough but it was cool to see what theater folks do when they don't think any civilians are around. If this guy takes the play somewhere I hope I hear about it. So if anybody out there hears about a 40-minute play called "In the Box" or something like that, lemme know.

After the show I headed home. The woman I spoke with previously, Hillary, was also leaving with her coworker Alyssa, so we walked together for a while. They were discussing politics the whole way, saying things like "I don't care if he was at the Great Leap Forward; has he been back there since? Does he know what happened in China?" and "Everybody at the office is just so dogmatic." The only thing I ever discuss with my coworkers is when we're gonna get better computer equipment. Finally I asked, "So where is it you guys work?" Turns out they do not work for a company per se, but for a Statement.

It's the Not in Our Name Statement of Conscience. Not to be confused with Not in Our Name, their group had drafted a statement, a sort of mini-manifesto voicing dissent from the US government's recent activities of bossing around the planet. They get regular folks and high-profile celebrities to sign the document, in the hopes of creating a viable force to oppose things done under the auspices of the USA. It's pretty cool, but I can't quite figure where they're heading with this. It put a lot of their conversation in context. They had been at a meeting and people were apparently trying to legitimately discuss whether violent revolution was the answer. Whoa. Still it must be quite a charge to work for something you actually believe in. I don't do that much myself.

Anyhow, we got to the station, as I was led to believe both Hillary and Alyssa needed the train to get home. As it happened, only Alyssa needed the train, so Hillary and I kept walking. This is the sort of thing that makes me nervous, because I sometimes feel people think I might be a serial killer. Now, I have no evidence to this end, it's just something that I feel when I'm nervous. So when Alyssa said her good-byes, I tried to give her a look that said, Don't worry, your friend is safe, I'm not a serial killer, which in retrospect was probably not the best approach.

Anyhow, Hillary lives one block away from me. She even knew my funny blue house, as her sister's friend may be taking a room here. So many strange connections out there recently! If I had stayed at that party longer, who knows who else I might dig up. But now I'm more concerned with whether Hillary made it home all right. I mean, if she was nabbed by a real serial killer, I could be in for some real Shawshank Redemption-style trouble.

Posted By Jimmy Legs

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Tuesday, May 06, 2003 at 12:00:50 (EDT)

Mike's weird kid in my freezer, and other disturbing things

Note the Omaha Steaks my mother sent me without provocation whatsoever. I keep forgetting about the Jagermeister in there, but this probably has something to do with my not having any hangovers recently.

This is the accursed tree that is about to drop millions of tiny gross mulberries on my head. Should I buy a canopy to protect us during the onslaught or should I take it like a man? Who am I kidding?

This doesn't disturb me so much, but this is what happens when you take a picture of a cat shaking its head.

Posted By Jimmy Legs
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Monday, May 05, 2003 at 11:17:01 (EDT)

I Like Short Songs (and long blogs)
It has been a hard weekend of partying and napping. I was firmly convinced no one was gonna show up to our party, but the promise of free food proved to be a bigger lure than imagined. B was nuts with the food, she made guacamole, that yogurt salad stuff, and twice-baked potatoes. I bought a buncha crap to burn on the grill. I overestimated the desire for burgers, so now we're stuck with an unopened box with the picture of the freaky kid on it. I hate looking into the freezer because of it.

The Rated Rookie crew showed up way earlier than I anticipated. Nothing says "I care" like showing up reasonably early to a party with several tons of turkey burgers in tow. From there things went swimmingly. We managed to miss the rain (well, I didn't miss it, I was coming home from Pathmark with a bag of Match-Light when it dumped on me), so we could hang outside while I grilled the night away. I hadn't really planned on running the meat-charring, but nobody else wanted to do it and it kept me from drinking too much too soon, usually my Achilles Heel at parties. More people showed up (including some who never made it outside, so I never met ya, sorry), and my CD player even stopped doing that thing where it cuts out for a few seconds in the middle of a song.

Some things I learned during the party:

  • BAM is a horrifying behemoth of gentrification and overdevelopment gone wild and it must be stopped; or not
  • Some Brits have a high tolerance for me working out the finer points of my Fake English Accent
  • Astoria is reportedly a Utopian paradise (so sayeth José)
  • Mark Twain is still a kick-ass bourbon (okay I knew this, but some other folk needed education on the matter)
  • Ben once worked with the guy who, as it turned out, signed Elivs Costello in 1977
  • If B drinks enough, she will wander around the house with a silent grin, not unlike Otis from Mayberry
  • Cleaning your house before the party is a real waste of time; next time, only clean afterwards

Saturday involved a lotta cleaning up, and I finally reseeded the yard. And then I passed out for several hours. I needed the rest anyway, since we had to go to B's friend Emily's birthday party that night. Which would also mean going far up into Manhattan. How exotic.

For those of y'all who don't know, Saturday was the Kentucky Derby. I was one who did not know this. But all the Mark Twain had given me the Second Sight when it comes to bourbon-based cocktails. Not only was it Derby Day, but the horse that won was bred right here in New York. So it seemed especially imperative that I make mint juleps at the party. I assure you there is a pure and rigid logic to absolutely everything I do.

I really should have brought ice. I managed the juleps okay, but they needed major cooling and watering-down properties. The first batch I made were fairly lethal (Emily later reported I should have served them with a crash helmet), but by the third batch I had my technique down. B pointed out that the Kentucky Derby might garner the largest hoopla-to-action ratio of any sporting event, since the race itself hardly lasts any time at all. But people spend all weekend indulging in every vice imaginable, all rationalized by some horsies running around in a circle. It's the sporting equivalent of a drinking game; it's a handy excuse, but couldn't we have gotten wasted just as well without it?

I had a couple of unlikely encounters that night. One was a woman who not only grew up for a while in Athens, Ohio (mi alma mater), but is helping produce some theater thing literally up the street from my house in Clinton Hill tonight. We'll see if I follow through of my assertions that I would attend. The other one was meeting the drummer from Oneida. He also lives in my neighborhood, at Chez Madorangefools. I vaguely knew that Emily knew somebody in Oneida (this Middlebury thing), but I never put it together beyond that. For some reason we talked way too long about the World of Blogs, but eventually I got him to talk about his band. At least I think I did. Actually, my memories of the exchange now are primarily of me telling him how hard it was to make a band get anywhere, the trouble with soundproofing, and how I wish I could play the drums better. Ugh. It's finally happened. Instead of this blog providing an outlet for material I don't wanna bore people with, it's taking over my public life. And I need that!

Anyway, hopefully that guy didn't notice my tendency to verblog. B was still exhausted and we went home before the mint juleps really took effect. Maybe that's just as well. So Oneida is playing this Saturday at the Knitting Factory with I Am Spoonbender, a group that may or may not contain Uri Geller. I said I'd go, even though we're supposed to go to a party at J&M's place that night. B also remembered that Saturday is the Les Savy Fav show at Irving Plaza. So now I'm debating whether to see Les Savy Fav or go to the Knitting Factory. It appears that Oneida is about to go to Italy for the rest of the month, but they do live in Brooklyn after all and will have to come back at some point. I can't figure out where Les Savy Fav lives these days. They formed in Rhode Island, but I just can't see anybody wanting to stay there. Update: Okay, B says they too are from Brooklyn. Hey, what am I, a mind reader? So now I dunno. Which band should I see? Or should I just go to the party and say to hell with all this non-smoking, no-reentry club crap?

Posted By Jimmy Legs

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Week of May 4-10, 2003

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