Friday, January 09, 2004 at 16:45:45 (EST)

Rockin' Pneumonia
We're finally having band practice after a long hiatus due to illness and the holidays, which will hopefully lower my blood-rock levels, which have been building up like cholesterol in my system. Tonight I'd really dig seeing a loud rock band, but I can't seem to find any shows that'd be a good bet. No matter, I'm sure I'll get it out of my system, so that by midnight I'll be ready for The Moonlighters show at Tonic. The band features former members of Helmet and the Pain Teens, but the music is described as "Hawaiian swing." This can only mean one thing: ukuleles! That is so punk rock.

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Thursday, January 08, 2004 at 23:28:58 (EST)

About a child who now has gone
Yay! Phoebe Gloeckner started a blog. If ya don't know, she's a medical illustrator and comic artist who grew up in San Francisco and now lives on Long Island, I think. She has authored some of the more consistently disquieting work I have ever had the pleasure to wallow through. Untitled by Phoebe GloecknerCheck out her collections, if you are so inclined. Of course, her most famous illustration, from an edition of Atrocity Exhibition, depicts fellatio as though it was the subject of a medical textbook. Creepy.

Not only that, she's a sucker for a stray cat, just like somebody else I know. Instead of her stray having kittens, it got attacked by one of her other cats and had to have its leg amputated. But he seems to be dealing with it well. At least I know somebody who'll have at least as much trouble unloading a cat as me.

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Thursday, January 08, 2004 at 14:30:09 (EST)

I want to be a rhinoceros, but I can't
Things I need to do, like now:

  • Go to post office and mail package that has been sitting around since before Christmas
  • Get a haircut
  • Do the rest of the laundry that has been haunting my closet for weeks
  • Write lyrics to new song in some fashion that doesn't make me sound like Morrissey
  • Discover magic cure for sick roommate so we can pratice tonight
  • Work up energy to see usaisamonster at Lit tonight (who's booking there? I don't really like the space, but the shows are right up my alley)
  • Shave cat
  • Buy house

Things you need to do:



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Wednesday, January 07, 2004 at 23:53:45 (EST)

The story of the Hairy Call
Just saw the reading at Happy Ending. I should have promoted this here on the site, but it was already too crowded anyway. I got there early and barely got a seat (right between Jonathan Ames and Stephen Glass' table). For the overflow they herded people into the basement lounge, where they could "hear everything but not see anything," thanks to a PA hookup. I got a front-and-center seat which was great to watch the readers. It's not always necessary (or advisable) to see the people who are reading. I just had a conversation about live readings, remembering all the great authors I've seen who are horrifying readers of their own work. Some people just can't do it. I've never been great at it. The best complement I ever got after a reading was "That was succinct."

But tonight all the authors were very good readers. Girlbomb read a great story about wayward teenage girls living in Covenant House; Whitney Pastorek played a bunch of 80's tunes to the guilty pleasure of the audience (I resisted her set until she busted out "Dead or Alive," don't ask me why). The "notorious" Stephen Glass (yeah, that guy) read a story about Hebrew School that dredged up frightening repressed memories of my own painful experiences in shul. It was surreal to actually see him (let alone have him trip over me as he went to the mic). This guy, so shamed, so maligned, but he's just a nebbish. He can cause so much trouble?

But it was Jonathan Ames who stole the show. That's who I came to see, and from the audience's reaction (a larger than average crowd according to Amanda Stern, the organizer), I suspect most people were there to see him. Maybe I'm wrong, but he gave an amazing reading. He didn't so much read as tell a story, one that I had read before. As is the case with oral recitation though, he added some things that weren't in the previous version to great effect. For those who know his work, it was the Christmas story (told, he said, because "Christmas is coming up") in which he visits a tranny bar and smokes crack in a transient hotel with an attractive she-male. It was both a laff-riot and melancholy, one of my favorite tonal combinations. He ended with his "Hairy Call," his childhood vocal distress signal, which he uttered thrice. This was a nice bit of public self-flagellation that seems to be sorely missing from most literary spectacles in this city these days. I need to see more bizarre vocal tricks and fewer 80's songs.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2004 at 14:28:33 (EST)

It's a long way back to Germany
As you have seen with the resumption of pointless cat photos, my camera is back from its trip to Germany. Along with it returned MRK who is currentlly trying to handle being back at work already. He took 4 billion pictures, so once they've been sorted, I'll post some more up here.

And yes, in Berlin, people wear small hats all the time. It's not just a seasonal thing.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2004 at 12:08:48 (EST)

You might sleep but you will never dream
I need to work on my sleeping. I'm just no good at it anymore. I've done it nearly every day since I was born but recently I seem to have forgotten some basic tenets in the skill of falling and staying asleep for a period of time. My problem seems to be my internal clock is set for night-owl behavior; I seem to be the most awake after midnight, and I can't seem to fall asleep before 2:30. I actually don't mind this in of itself. The only downside is when morning comes, I have quite a bit of trouble waking up at any reasonable time. Telecommuting means I can get away with this indefinitely, which is exactly what my brain tells me every morning:

"Sure," my brain says, "You could get up now. But why should you? You don't need to start working until 9. At least. And then even after 9, who will notice you're not working until, say, 10? Look, go back to sleep now and I'll let you have that dream about the hot lady DJ again. You know what I'm talking about ..."

And I invariably reply, "Oh goody! Sleep is never sweeter than on a bed of rationale."

I guess that's not such a problem; the worst thing that's happened is oversleeping past a conference call. And even then it didn't really matter. Nothing does with this job. But that's why I love it.

So keeping with my trend of looking up health-related tips, I read up on sleeping problems. Here's a short list of what not to do:

  • Alcohol and caffeine in the evening hours disturb normal sleep patterns
  • Spend a specified time daily to deal with unresolved issues, new problems/conflicts, and to plan your next day's activities. Leaving these thoughts for bedtime will only create "mind racing",decreasing your ability to fall asleep and experience quality sleep
  • Utilize your bedroom for sleeping and sexual activities only. By using it for exercising, studying, watching TV, etc., you are giving your brain the message that the room is a place for wakeful activity, even stress
  • Tobacco will interfere with sleep so it is advised to reduce its usage and/or develop a plan to quit

So I'm basically boned on this one. But I am not alone. In fact, I'm not sure I know anybody who sleeps like a baby every night. Of course, you don't usually hear about it when people are sleeping well; that might foment contempt in less-successful sleepers.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2004 at 13:33:15 (EST)

All I've got is a photograph
You may have noticed a dearth of pictures on this site in the past week. This is due to the fact that I lent my clunky old digital camera to MRK while he is in Berlin, as he would be ensconced in exotic locales and I would just be taking pictures of the cats. But he gets back tonight, and there will no doubt be many photos to post to make us feel bad we didn't get to do anything so fabulous as travel to Europe for the holidays. To tide you over, Sean sends us this action shot of me plying my trade on Coventry in Cleveland. Yes, I look this pretentious all the time.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2004 at 12:56:56 (EST)

Who told you you're allowed to rain on my parade?
So far this year I have learned

This is shaping up to be a good year! Now if I can just find a study that says smoking keeps you fit as a fiddle and whiskey improves your vocabulary, I'll be all set. Of course, this is unlikely, but I do like reading quitting-smoking factoids like this (counting from last cigarette smoked):

  • 20 minutes: Blood pressure and pulse return to normal
  • 8 hours: Nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the blood are halved, oxygen levels in the blood return to normal
  • 24 hours: Carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body and lungs start to clear out debris
  • 48 hours: There is no nicotine left in the body, taste and smell are greatly improved
  • 72 hours: Breathing becomes easier, bronchial tubes begin to relax, energy levels increase
  • 2 - 12 weeks: Circulation improves, making walking and running a lot easier
  • 3 - 9 months: Coughs, wheezing and breathing problems improve as lung function is increased by up to 10%

Also I'm looking for a study that links longevity with sheer number of cats owned. I may be immortal.

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Monday, January 05, 2004 at 13:21:28 (EST)

Things that go Hump in the Night
After my abortive furniture search on Saturday, I took in a show at Sin-é on the recommendation of Juli. Her friends from Pittsburgh, The Johnsons Big Band, were in town, along with their neighbors Grand Buffet. John Lach, the antifolk guy, also performed, tho his set was sorely out of place that night. Rounding out the bill was Gil Mantera's Party Dream, hailing from Columbus, completing my weekend of seeing Ohio bands. The JBB is indeed a big band, with a horn section, organist, and some weird guy playing kettle drums (it's gotta be a pain to lug those things around). People probably think they're a sort of ska band, since that's pretty much the only horn-inclusive bands one expects to see in a rock venue these days. And while some of their songs do have a reggae groove, I think of them more of as a soul band. We can definitely use some more soul bands these days, since nobody seems to want to do that anymore. Of course, even that is a little reductive in terms of their sound, but that's as much as I'll try. The drummer and lead singer are the same guys from the Dirty Faces, and their rock influence is very apparent and complementary. Every time I see the lead singer he reminds me of a Steeltown Shane MacGowan. I might be way off on that, but that's what occurs to me. So they've got a lotta stuff going on, and it all works. Plus they came with a bunch of films made by colleagues in the Three-Rivers area, not to mention the huge number of Pittsburgh folks who drove all the way up just to see them. It was like an entire piece of that city was uprooted and dropped on the Lower East Side. That's a good thing.

Grand Buffet: one big guy, one little guy, a minidisc full of phat beats and one Toffifay = Hip Hop Hooray! I had been thinking that the nerdcore scene was just a little too stilted and silly to work in any meaningful way, but these guys just might make me change my mind. Sure, they were hilarious, but they actually can put together a decent rhyme. Of course, I'm a sucker for old-school rap, which is what their songs approximate. I'm still not sure if I'd want to sit around listening to their records, but you can't ask for much more in a live show.

Gil Mantera's Party Dream had been getting hyped all night long, even the guy from Grand Buffet said they were his favorite live act. I might have liked them better if they had gone on before GB, since they too are a bit of a novelty act. But they literally had a tough act to follow. Now, I dunno if I'm just getting too old or if they were off their game, but they just didn't do it for me. Their whole shtick is that they pretend they're cheesy Eurotrash types and they play godawful music while trying to drink as much PBR as possible. I'm all for satire and obnoxious fun, but the whole thing was so forced it wasn't much fun at all. I guess I've never been much for those bands that bill themselves with "You never know what's going to happen at ______'s show!" Unless it's GG Allin. Of course, by the end, everybody knew exactly what was gonna happen at a GG show, you just never knew who he was gonna throw poop on first. Part of the Party Dream's act is they constantly fight with each other during the set (at least I think it was part of the act). They did have one good moment when Donny (the guitarist), resplendent in his incredibly ugly puffy jacket and huge sunglasses, yelled at Gil, "Don't even embarrass me here!"

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Monday, January 05, 2004 at 11:06:09 (EST)

Fiddler on the chair
Okay, where does one find furniture in this city? This may sound like a dumb question, but I have no experience whatsoever in the realm of retail furniture. All the stuff I have ever owned has been hand-me-downs, most from the Salvation Army. But as I have been slowly stocking my bedroom with new stuff (so far: new desk, new bed, new stereo), I wanted to splurge and buy a new armchair. Such a comfy chair will go in the corner of my room, next to the bookshelf, under the ancient lamp. I think I'll get a small rug to cordon off the 'reading' area as well. So where does one go to buy a chair?

I wandered around Manhattan this weekend, hoping to stumble across a shop that sold not just chairs, but chairs designed to fit through my decidedly narrow apartment doors. I've only got 30" to work with here. But of course, I didn't find any such place. The closest I got was the godforsaken Crate & Barrel, which had several chairs that would have fit the bill. Only problem was they were all well over $1000 apiece. Is that how much nice chairs cost? Maybe I should just say the hell with it and get a La-Z-Boy.

Say, do any cat owners out there own leather furniture? I am thinking of buying a leather reading chair, but I have heard conflicting accounts about what a cat might do to it. Owning cats is probably the main reason I've never had nice furniture; the two may be inextricably linked.

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