Saturday, September 04, 2004 at 11:13:30 (EDT)

He's not good at anything in particular
Hey folks, the spelling bee story is up on the Next Big Thing's website, so if you can't wait for it on the radio you can hear it here. NPR Dave did a great job of putting it together, and many of you will recognize several of the voices (it's pretty blogger heavy). I myself show up a couple of times, I sound like an ineffectual yet angry drunk. My parents will be so proud.

But it's that old dude who gets some of the best lines, mostly because he makes them sound spontaneous, even though it's pretty clear he's spent the last 60 years amassing his one-liners. He's the Henny Youngman of Spelling Bees!

P.S. I was totally right about Einstein being a bad speller. Score!

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Friday, September 03, 2004 at 13:36:56 (EDT)

Pretty close to the edge

Ah, what a good show last night at The Knitting Factory. It was Oneida's long-awaited (by me and at least one other person) return to New York, and for once they weren't the headliners. This was a little weird as I'm so used to just going home when Oneida finishes their set. But this night they were opening for Trans Am, who have been around forever, though this was my first time seeing them.

The first band, Good Morning, had a lot of really interesting stuff going on in their music, which was all instrumental. It's a benchmark for me when seeing bands if I feel a spike of jealousy, in that "Damn, why didn't I think of that?" way, and I was feeling it with these guys. But halfway through the set I realized that the band was actually more of a jazz fusion outfit, and then images of Spyro Gyra filled my head and I couldn't concentrate the rest of the set. I found out later that guitarist Eric Emm (far left in photo) was one of the many bass players in the original Don Caballero!

Then Oneida whipped us up into a frenzy (well, as much frenzy as I can whip up anyway). They played at trying to resist speaking about the hoo-haa going on over at MSG last night, but did pull out a lovely version "Snow Machine" as commentary on Bush's acceptance speech. Then Bobby went back to shouting, "No child left behind! Yep, the kids are all comin' with us!" It was interesting hear how some of their standard tunes had changed since the tour, most notably my fave rave "Up with People" which always seems to have something new in it every time they play it. For god's sake, put it out on a single already!

Hey, since when does the Knitting Factory put that screen down in front of the stage between bands? I haven't been there since my band played there (and we sure didn't get no screen separation!), at any rate I've never seen them use it. Before Trans Am they were showing a Devo video, which was actually a pretty good appetizer. I was prepared not to totally dig Trans Am, as I feel more and more like I'm getting tired of synths in rock bands these days (note: I say 'synths' and not 'organs' or 'pianos' or 'harpsichords'). I know, it's my problem, I'll deal with it. I just don't always understand the need for them. But Trans Am used them very well, so I couldn't complain.

They're such a strange band, much of their material is sort of ironic commentary about certain genres, like 70s guitar rock and such. But they play that stuff so well it's hard to remember they're sort of making fun of it. These guys have been around forever so it's no surprise that they perform flawlessly with each other. I loved everything they played until they got to this one song in the middle of the set. It was like a radio-friendly nu-grunge song, beginning with a quiet guitar line that builds to this mid-tempo chordy thing. It was instrumental, had there been lyrics its intent might have been clearer to me. But for a minute I suddenly thought I had been dropped into some K-Rock cheesefest. It was harrowing. But now I'm starting to think that song too is a kind of joke on that sort of watered-down grungepop. . I'll say this for them, they know how to use only a couple of chord changes to elicit the exact sound of a prefab radio band, and for that I'm impressed. It makes me feel better about "Home of the Buzzard," Motico's instrumental tribute/parody to Cleveland, another song I'm never sure if people take the right way. It's supposed to be funny, people!

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Thursday, September 02, 2004 at 11:53:15 (EDT)

Misery loves company, that's why everybody loves me
Let's take a cat break. So Toby's apparent brother keeps hanging out in the next yard over. Recently he has taken on a protégé, in the form of a small kitten. I've never seen this sort of thing before, a male cat adopting (or at least tolerating) a kitten (whose sex I can't determine) out in the wild, where food comes at a premium. I can understand such cats bonding inside a home where both want for nothing, but out on the street I'd think it would be a different story.

Here you can see them napping together in a crate. I tried to get their attention but that just sent the kitten running to a nearby brick.

These pictures are kind of blurry as I had to shoot through the screen window to get them. The cats are really skittish, bolting at the sight of humans. Which is weird since Toby always came right up to us, while his brother usually makes a break for it (or keeps his distance).

The little kitten is painfully cute. I'm a little freaked out by the fact that it highly resembles Pinky from last summer, except this cat has blue eyes.



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Thursday, September 02, 2004 at 11:26:57 (EDT)

Fake contest
This article in the Times is pretty depressing, saying that for all the hubbub with protesters this week, little of the dissent has interrupted the momentum of the convention. Worse, it discusses the "pre-emptive" tactics police have been employing to stop demonstrations before they become disruptive. It's a totally bogus way of dealing with the protests, baldly kowtowing to the RNC while massively inconveniencing citizens of this city. Governmental oversight led to New York getting attacked; why are we still being punished?

Brian Lehrer is discussing how Cheney mocked Kerry in last night's speech by making fun of his declaration of being more "sensitive" in the War on Terror. People are calling in with previous quotes from Cheney and Bush in which they have said exactly the same thing, right down to liberal use of the word "sensitive." But again, it obviously doesn't matter what they actually say (I mean, Gov. Arnold got huge applause for saying how much he was inspired by President Nixon), the agenda is clear, keep the People quiet and go right ahead with business as usual.

It's not just this week here in New York. The Bush administration has been altering our entire culture over the past few years to suit its needs. Have you noticed how people who take exception to the status quo are met with such disdain in many parts of the country? It's a major red flag to me that the lessons we've learned since September 11th are "Be afraid, be very afraid" and "Just live your life as you normally would ... but if you could buy some more stuff too, that'd help." No wonder Bush is as popular as he is, he's giving Americans an excuse to do nothing differently and yet somehow feel they're helping to protect us and improve our global standing. That's fine for him, he doesn't want average citizens questioning anything, he just needs us to keep silent while he continues to cram corporation-pleasing capitalism down everybody's throats.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2004 at 11:28:24 (EDT)

Was that your celebrated summer?
Some days are just full of suck. So I drag Toby over to this vet who participates in the low-cost neutering program only to find that he's running a pretty high fever. Forget the fact that he has absolutely no symptoms, that he's eating like a horse, that he's almost totally healed up from his earlier injuries. The vet noted that he had not been tested for all the big bad cat diseases, nor had he been vaccinated for every one of them. And he reminded me that diseases like Feline Leukemia can take several weeks to show up on a test, so he could be harboring any number of potentially fatal diseases. Great. And he's been living in close proximity to all my other cats all this time. Oh goody.

So they charged me for a visit and prescribed some other kind of antibiotic to give him for a week. Then we'll try again. But now I'm all paranoid he's gonna infect the other cats with whatever's wrong with him, or maybe he already has. Bollocks. I mean, it'll all probably turn out to be nothing, but now my head is full of worst-case scenarios and whatnot.


Public Enemy #1?

Then, while waiting for another expensive car service to take us home, I run into Dana who is on her way to Central Booking to retrieve Michael, one of hundreds of people who were dragged to jail yesterday. Cops had a field day with A31 (which was probably their own fault for publicizing it so much but whatever). Like many people arrested in the past several days, Michael was innocently and legally filming some of the demonstrations when he found himself penned in by the police. With this brilliant tactics, the cops can fence in hundreds of people and then shout, "You're ALL under arrest!" So masked anarchists throwing rocks at delegates are arrested along with some schmoe who was just trying to cross the damn street. It's all just so fucked up how the city is falling over itself to make the RNC feel like it has the right to feel comfortable here. They wanted to have this stupid circus here, they should be prepared for the reaction it would provoke. That's another thing that pisses me off about all this, the way the Republicans have a way of foisting the burden of proof on those protesting. Like it's the protesters who decided to make up all these things to be mad about. Everybody's just getting more and more polarized, nobody's coming together. The RNC rolls on, with speech after stultifying speech, full of hypocritical messages about "compassion" and "unity." And how do they get away with it? If asked, they would just say, "Be glad we're at least giving lip service to nice ideas about freedom and patriotism. It really doesn't matter what we say since we're running the show anyway."

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Tuesday, August 31, 2004 at 16:17:32 (EDT)

Cut off in his prime


This picture isn't the only thing to be cut off around here ...

Buzz and Sylvia are off to Cleveland, so I'm alone with several hundred cats. But tomorrow the stray cat Toby will be taking a little field trip down the street to have a very special procedure performed. That's right, he'll soon be a gelding like all the other felines around here. I hope this will mean an end to the several unpleasant aspects of having an unaltered male cat in the household. It smells kinda funny around here, and Decatur has been AWOL for weeks due to the unwanted attentions of a randy cat. So I'll be glad to put all that to rest. At any rate, all of this is still easier than raising kittens.

And cheaper! If only I'd known about the Muffins' Pet Connection Certificate Program last year. They sell vouchers that are honored by a number of vets around the city (but alas, not my overpriced local vet) for spaying and neutering. For male, the cost is only $28, all inclusive. I don't even wanna think how much I paid my regular vet to spay Pinky last year. If you've got a cat that needs the Big Operation, I highly suggest looking into this. In fact, it's so cheap I'm thinking about just grabbing cats off the street and getting them the operation, whether they need it or not!

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Tuesday, August 31, 2004 at 09:59:49 (EDT)

Others conquered love but I ran
From an article entitled, Republicans Show Compassionate Side in New York:

Republicans hope to show voters a softer side on the second day of their convention on Tuesday, with first lady Laura Bush and movie star turned California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger taking center stage.

I can't wait to see Governor Schwarzenegger's softer side. Perhaps he's a closet poet?

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Monday, August 30, 2004 at 11:16:01 (EDT)

Voting with their feet
The GOP Protest March was a pretty good time, considering the occasion and the oppressive heat. Still I guess I prefer that to the last big protest I went to a couple years ago before the war started, where it was freezing and the cops wouldn't let us move at all. This was much better organized. I met up with Dana, Michael and Julie and proceeded to mosey a long course around the city. I realize now that one of the reasons I like participating in these things is the feeling one gets from being surrounded by so many thousands of other people who all agree about a basic premise: something's really wrong with the way the country is being run, and we need things to change pronto. Despite the possible divisiveness of the myriad groups present (most bizarre example: a sign declaring, "Think you can be a meat-eating environmentalist? THINK AGAIN!" Uh, what's the Bush connection again?), overall people were all there to support this very simple idea that things ain't right.

By the same token, while marching around with all these like-minded individuals, it kept reminding me how unlikely this was to Play in Peoria. Living in New York I often mistake our popular attitudes for what the rest of the country thinks. Most of the time there's quite a rift between our views and much of the rest of the US. It's just too bad we can't find a better way to make them understand. Because hey, we're right after all.

During the march I ran into Sam, who I almost didn't recognize without the Korean BBQ cart I have come to associate with him. After the march I found Kristy in Union Square Park, dazed from all the sun exposure, so we went to a subterranean bar to regain our bearings with some apolitical beer.


That's a big inflatable pig: "Piggy Piggy GOP"


Communists for Kerry appear to have the support of Fidel Castro


There were a few suits at MSG, but who knows if they were Republicans


Pro-Bush anti-protesters. Brilliant slogans like "Right is Right, Left is Wrong," "Kerry Approves of Baby Killing," "Islam supports John Kerry"


Billionaires for Bush seemed to be having the most fun, they even had a marching band



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