Friday, January 16, 2004 at 13:02:34 (EST)

His cup runneth over
On the one hand, a budget surplus for the city is good in that a surplus of anything except American Idol wannabes is good. But I can't see it as anything but a byproduct of mismanagement, however far it falls on the happy side of error. Bloomberg raised taxes, cut a bunch of city services, so what a surprise! A budget surplus! Now he's taking the magnanimous-Bush route and offering $400 rebates to property owners. No word yet if he'll yank it back next year like Bush did with his refund.

Everyone likes getting a big refund on their tax return, yet we are all vaguely aware that it would be better financially is we had been able to keep the money in the first place, instead of allowing the government to hold it all year. It's natural the surplus will be seen as a good thing, and it is. I would be really pissed if after all this we ended up further in the whole, but it would probably have been better if Bloomberg had aimed closer to the mark on his budget projections.

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Friday, January 16, 2004 at 10:37:27 (EST)

I love livin' in the City
I wake at sunrise (which is the only time of day I get anything like direct light in my room)*. My house is on a piece of property with as large an acreage of anybody I know in these parts. It's far enough from Manhattan that it is often dead silent at night; you can see the stars. There's a chill in the air (because the landlady keeps scrimping on the heat), so I put on three layers of clothes, gloves and a hat. Once I'm dressed, it's time to feed the livestock (several very insistent cats). Then I make grits. Last night I baked cornbread. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to keep the Man from the Bank at bay for another day.

So how did I go from Brooklyn to living like a farmer? Except for, you know, all the manual labor.

And oh yeah, the hot water pipe in my sink doesn't work, as it does every winter. I guess the well done froze over.

*I should point out that I don't actually get out of bed, but the sunlight does momentarily wake me up.

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Friday, January 16, 2004 at 01:44:18 (EST)

To survive the tide love divides
Over Christmas, I was catching up on my popular culture by watching a lot of TV. At some glorious moment, some channel (it couldn't have been MTV since they don't seem to show videos anymore) played "Separate Ways" by Journey. Such a snapshot of the 80s! If you recall the video, the band is hanging around a warehouse on the docks. Part of the time they're playing their instruments, part they're playing 'air' instruments. And the drummer occasionally plays a set of oil drums. Brilliant. All the while the band members are looking earnestly into the camera, lip-synching as though any of them besides Steve Perry was singing.

Meanwhile, a woman in full 80s regalia keeps walking past the camera, the apparent subject of the song's lyrics. Hey guys, do you know what kind of women hang around down on the docks? You might wanna rethink your undying love there, Steve.

Anyway, to honor this great moment in American Pop History, I re-recorded one of my recent songs but stuck in the lyrics to "Separate Ways." And I got Nick Cave to do the vocals! No, really. You may be surprised at what a good fit it is.

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Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 16:04:41 (EST)


I was a snowball in hell
This is ridculous. Here it is the 21st century, and we still have things like weather. Wasn't global warming supposed to stop all this? No, no. Global warming is bad, mmmkay? But this cold has got to go! I want to frolic in the streets, but I can't. Instead I wrote another song. This one is pretty straight-forward, like the last couple have been, but I do mess around with some effects in the middle. 'Sfun.

UPDATE: I've re-done Forget-Me-Do and added some nifty effects to make it appeal to the American Idol generation.

Check the music blog for more songs.

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Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 11:27:13 (EST)

When the walls came down
Sometime within the hour, Brian Lehrer is gonna talk about the arena issue. His guests include the guy from the NY Sun who wrote the editorial that uses the specious logic that if the neighborhood doesn't want the arena, we won't ever want to build anything here. Supporting the protesters is that guy who used to be a major league baseball player (Jim Bouton), the one who spent a lot of time trying to save stadiums from destruction. I suppose it's somehow fitting that the contrary voice is somebody who has tried to protect worthwhile stadiums in the past. Of course, his viewpoint seems to revolve around the idea that the Frank Gehry-designed arena will seem dated in a few years and people will want to tear it down. I'm still hoping a person with an urban planning background will step forward and denounce it in terms of its effect on the neighborhood. Or better yet, I wish there was one (1) super-rich person in the world who would step up and attempt to buy the LIRR trainyards out from under Ratner's nose and then do something that was neighborhood-positive. But it's a pipe dream. There aren't any goodhearted rich folks anymore. Where are the Beverly Hillbillies when you need them?!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2004 at 10:54:54 (EST)

What's that floating in the water
You'd think there were no animals in Manhattan besides miniature dogs. An opossum drew a lot of attention yesterday in Murray Hill, where, as I understand it, nobody has anything better to do than stand around and gawk at marsupials. People thought it was a rat, a cat, or, most perplexingly, a hedgehog. Apparently there are lots of opossums in the city, but being nocturnal, we don't normally see them during the day. When you do see a nocturnal animal roaming around in broad daylight, it can be a sign the animal is rabid. Somehow, nobody even thought to ask that in the article. Didn't even cross their minds. I guess opossums in Murray Hill simply do not have rabies.

Previous urban animals:



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Wednesday, January 14, 2004 at 10:16:03 (EST)

Beyond the rim of the starlight
Fellow Internet enthusiasts, we have received validation: Internet 'Geek' Image Shattered by New Study. The main revelations counter the antiquated image of the websurfer as antisocial and Star Trek-obessessed,

Instead, the typical Internet user is an avid reader of books and spends more time engaged in social activities than the nonuser, it says. And, television viewing is down among some Internet users by as much as five hours per week compared with Net abstainers, the study added.

Then again, last night the band had a spirited discussion of the superiority of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. But dammit, it's just a fine movie and no amount of fresh air and exercise will change my opinion of that.

Apparently, people are generally believing what they're reading the web, too. This seems like a bad idea, but will keep the Urban Legends Debunkers in business. Swedes, according to the study, are most skeptical of info available on the web.

This brings me to my other point: I have been getting huge amounts of traffic to this site from IP addresses that originate in Sweden. I'm getting a bunch of referrals from a site called www.playahead.com, which is some kind of online chat community for Swedish kids. So are these guys passing the link to my site around, telling their friends how great it is, how they check it every day, and someday dream of journeying to America to shake my hand? No, I'm pretty sure they're all linking to a song I posted, the Wild Bunch's "Gay Bar." Recall that this song is the original version, before the band changed its name to The Electric Six and re-recorded it. I was thinking of taking it down, but I figure as long as I stay within the bandwidth restrictions of my host, it's no big deal. Plus I still think that version is superior to the remake. And I'd prefer a cup of coffee to either of them right now.

Khannnnnnn!!!!
It's not reaaaaal!!


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Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 16:06:21 (EST)

We love our audience
I resisted South Park for many years. I first saw it years ago when the infamous "Jesus vs. Santa" short was making the rounds on 10th-generation VHS tapes (yes, it was a long time ago). When I heard they were making it into a TV show, I couldn't imagine it would be any good. Over the years, I've caught episodes here and there, but I still didn't get it.

Recently I finally started watching some episodes and I finally realize the genius of it. I suppose I unfairly lumped it in with that "Beavis & Butthead" kind of humor, which it does demonstrate. But there's also a lot more going on. My all-time favorite character is Jimmy. I know, he's not one of the originals, and didn't show up until something like the 5th season. But I can't get enough of him. As you can see his legs are nonfunctional and he gets around on some reinforced crutches. In the episode in which he and Timmy try to join "The Crips" gang (thinking it's a club for crippled children), a gang member names him "4Leggz." So he's Jimmy 4Leggz, so call me "Jimmy 2Leggz."

Jimmy is a standup comic, despite a bit of a stutter and a dubious sense of humor. Below are some samples of his act:

You may have to take my word for it that this is really funny stuff. The weird thing is, despite his infirmities the writers never mock his "handicapable" status. They might mock the word "handicapable" but not the person. Anyway, I bring this up because I keep talking about Jimmy, but only James knew who he was (must be some weird connection the J name). What happened to all the slackers I used to know?

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Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 11:07:49 (EST)

Can't build a house on a weak foundation
Spalding Gray has been reported missing as of Saturday night. If he hadn't been acting so nuts for the past year, this might be cause for amusement. But considering the guy keeps attempting suicide and disappeared without his meds, I'm not sure we'll have an amusing punchline ending to this one. Though I do gotta say, when I hear about people disappearing, I always think of the Dada artist whose final art piece was claiming he would circumnavigate the globe in a one-man rowboat. He was last seen rowing off towards the horizon and was never heard from again. I hope that's how I go, too.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 03:25:10 (EST)

My days are all so groggy when there's nothing more at stake
Jesus, I need to get some sleep. I hate sleep. I wish I didn't have to fall under its slothful spell. Oh well, the real victims are the proud men and women of my company who may have to wait for me to catch up tomorrow. I mean, today.

I just posted some new songs on the music site. These are bona-fide Jimmy Legs tracks, recorded the old fashioned way using the condenser mic built in to my laptop. Sometimes it's just not worth going down to the basement to record. This is one of those times. None of the songs are particularly compelling, but we can't all be Randy Newman.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 00:24:15 (EST)

All I want is beer for breakfast
What makes spilling beer on yourself at the bar worthwhile? Spilling a little of it on some shmoe's jacket who feels the need to make a big spectacle of trying to wipe the offending liquid of his precious coat like it was sulfuric acid and his coat was made from angels' wings.

Then we had to deal with Random Bar Guy who insinuated himself into our conversation about a Wallace Shawn play with such pearls as "I hate live theater. I graduated from the film school at NYU ..." I will never understand this. I always like to meet new people and hear what they have to say. But how can you lurch into a conversation and declare your hatred for theater while simultaneously pressing your dubious scholastic achievement? What if we turned out to be actors who went to City College? Maybe that's why nobody wants to talk to you, pal.

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Monday, January 12, 2004 at 01:26:03 (EST)

Shut up! Drink up!
Z attempts to reach the Mars probe

According to my calculations, we spent in excess of 13 hours this weekend practicing and recording stuff for the band. I'm sure my new upstairs neighbor just loves us to death. As soon as we finish the rest of the overdubs, I'll probably post mp3s of the new material. If all goes according to plan, this stuff will become our 'demo' EP, to be distributed to people who can get us gigs. If you are a person with such industry ties, please allow us to kiss your butt.

MRK sings his little heart out

Little else to report due to the incredibly awful weather this weekend. I checked it out: it was fully 20 degrees warmer in Fargo friggin' North Dakota on Saturday. That pisses me off for some reason. I did make it out to see Les Triplettes de Belleville, a nicely insane animated film. Is it me or does a lot of animation that comes out of Canada tend towards the grotesque? I mean, more so than popular animation from other countries. I feel like I've seen a lot of really screwed up stuff that boasts the National Film Board of Canada logo. Of course, Canada gave us Julie Doucet (I'd sure like to see Dirty Plotte done as a film!)

I don't really play drums, but they're cooler than the guitar

After the movie we went to Freddy's, which is always a good time. In fact, I'm nominating it for consideration as an Endangered Natural Resource, due to its fun-producing agents. If approved, then no rich jerk will be able to bulldoze it for a dumbass arena. Some guy puked while we were there; if that isn't a sign of fun-times-had-by-all, I don't know what is.

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