Thursday, August 31, 2006


I'm watching Annie Hall while blogging this entry. I've never watched Annie Hall before and I'm kicking myself that it took me 31 years to finally catch it.

Tonight was the night I would usually go on a 10-mile ride (20 round trip) with a friend of mine and his wife along with his friends. He is the manifestation of my shortcomings. His name is Jeff and he is what I would call an almostfriend.

In 2004, I hired him to be a co-writer for the software company I worked at. While other folks submitted instructional manual (I'm in the tech writing field, but I'm trying to get back into journalism) samples, he submitted a poem. The audacity of the act merited a face-to-face interview. And, surprisingly, he did the best in a writer's test. We hired him and I walked the fine line between supervisor and friend. Until Black Tuesday...the day that 30 percent of the staff got cut. He was one of those people.

I managed to remain in contact with him. I wrote him a letter of recommendation and I hope/think that my letter helped him get the job where he's at today - a company that's infinitely hipper than the company I work for. They have routine field trips to video game places, have routine picnics and their coworkers drink freely. My latest job - you can literally hear the pounding of keyboards every day - no chit chat. No camaraderie.

We routinely talk. He got married. He takes his dog to the dog park with me and my sister's dogs. And we email at least three times daily. But there's a distance. He invites me over to his house, but only if there's an Ultimate Fight Night pay-per-view event that requires $5 a head. He won't miss any of his softball games, but when it comes to going to a concert for one of his favorite bands at Sokol (Frank Black), it's like twisting an arm. He committed to help me move one weekend, but backed out when one of his uncle's had a baseball game that he had to attend. And tonight... when his brother-in-law and another friend of his, backed out of our usual Thursday night 20-mile ride, he backed out as well. If one of those guys committed to the bike ride, he would have went with his wife, but since it was just me...

It was in plain view - if it was anyone else but me, he would have went on this 20-mile ride. But if it was me - he backed out.

I hate to sink into self-pity mode, but this is pretty much a great snapshot of a group of friends I call 'almostfriends.' In a red state, it's hard to find folks who share the same music taste (he got me into the Hold Steady, but to my credit, I got him into The New Pornographers, The Arcade Fire, Bloc Party and Luna), political beliefs and have a dry-twisted sense of humor. You want to hold onto these people. But sometimes, these people keep you at a distance. You may break commitments and jump at any request to help build a deck or go out to lunch, but when it comes to you - these people are nowhere to be found. You ask them to help you move, they have obligations. You ask them to go for a beer, they have to sand their floors.

As a journalist at heart, I'm awesome at making first impressions. I can get most people to open up and I have a reasonably good personality when it comes to introducing myself and breaking the ice. But the gulf between that and friendship is amazing. I can probably count on my right hand how many people I can consider 'true' comrades. I'm lucky that I have that many. But it seems that I have the nasty tendency to have many 'almostfriends' in my life. They have their own lives, I don't expect them to drop everything for me, but like everything else in life, it's nice to be wanted, to be a person that you would intentionally break your post-work monotony to grab a beer with.

I guess that's why I've been listening to a lot of Fiona Apple recently. Her music cites the failures of many-a-suitors. But she isn't above turning that mirror on herself and asking herself why she attracts such undesirables. As for me, I'm still trying to figure out that barrier that separates almostfriends and those who you can count on for the long haul in your life.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Detoxed (not really)

Well, emerged from the one-week detox plan.
The good news - I think I'm finally ready to go to one cup of coffee a day. Sorry, I refuse to give up coffee. There are way too many awesome blends to deny yourself (unless you absolutely have to).

Otherwise - after two days - a mix of tomatoes, cilantro, spinach and spinach is really vile. But I honestly feel a lot better and the past week at work, I think my productivity has improved. I've also noticed my journaling was sharper. Of course, a lot of that detox went by the wayside last night when I went on a 20-mile bike ride with a few friends - we made a pit stop at this dive steak house and I had three tacos and three glasses of beer. Needless to say, riding back was fun during 80-percent humidity.

Saturday I'm catching Frank Black play an acoustic show at Sokol. Thank god I checked this out. I was so used to having to go to shows on Sunday, I pretty much was convinced this show was a Sunday show for the past month.

Friday list...
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" - The Beatles **
"Ice Cream" - Raekwon ****
"Strange Religion" - Mark Lanegan **** (so close to *****)
"You're a Big Girl Now" - Bob Dylan ****
"Speak Ya Clout" - Gang Starr (feat. Jeru The Damaja & Lil Dap) ****
"Cautious Man" - Bruce Springsteen ***
"The Mercy Seat" - Bruce Springsteen ***
"Posed to Death" - The Calculators **
"Life During Wartime" - Talking Heads *****
"The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight" - R.E.M. ***
"Sweet Jane (live)" - The Velvet Underground *** (sorry, Velvets, just have heard this song in way too many versions)
"Speaking Confidentially" - Cowboy Junkies ***
"Tony's Theme" - Pixies ****
"99 Problems" - DJ Danger Mouse ****
"Flip Flop Rock" - Outkast (feat. Killer Mike & Jay Z) ***
"Resolution" - Thievery Corporation ***
"Down in a Rabbit Hole" - Bright Eyes ***
"Les Yper-Sound" - Stereolab ***
"Budo" - Miles Davis *****
"I'm Cool (interlude)" - Outkast ** (iPod's been fairly sub-par this afternoon)
"Holy" - Eagle*Seagull ****
Out of Egypt, Into the Great Laugh of Mankind ,And I Shake The Dirt From My Sandals as I Run" *** Sufjan Stevens(I'm docking Sufjan a star just for making me type all of this out)
"Bled White" - Elliott Smith *****
"Pictures of Me" - Elliott Smith *****
"Credit is Due" - Gang Starr ***
"I Won't Let Me" - Descendents ***
"Saint Simon" - The Shins *** (one of their weaker tracks, IMO)
"Ring on the Sill" - Cowboy Junkies

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Silly Rabbit, Tripping is for Teenagers

Nothing like a weekend of baseball (Oakland As vs. the Kansas City Royals), nice weather and the Hold Steady to break a person out of their funk.

Right now, I feel fairly wiped out. Tomorrow I start what I would consider a modified detox diet. I hate to call it a diet, but that's basically what it is. I went on one before and I was feeling the same s**t I am feeling now. It's not necessairly fasting, but it's heavy on raw tomatoes, cilantro, strawberries, blueberries etc. It's amazing after a few days how much you recover your sense of taste. A day after I finished my first detox diet, I ate probably the best sushi lunch I ever tasted. The worst part is giving up the coffee - and the general lack of energy when it comes to motivating yourself to run.

So - having my final vodka tonic and final snack (organic peanut butter and celery) before I dive into this...

Side note -
Saw Little Miss Sunshine - well worth seeing
Snakes on a Plane - Ok, I knew it was going to be crap, but I can't wait to see it sometime with other Samual Jackson geeks at a midnight screening.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Heading out to go to my first Major League Baseball game - Oakland As vs. Kansas City Royals. Should be an amusing time.

I'm broke as hell. Can't afford the trip, but heyah, life's about experiences, right?
Have a good weekend, folks -

iPod shuffle list of the week...
"Stay Where You Are" - Sleater-Kinney ****
"We Live Again" - Beck ***
"Twinkle" - Tori Amos ***
"Talkin' 'Bout Hey Love" - De La Soul ****
"Iron's Theme (Intermission)" - Ghostface Killah **
"Fancy" - Yeah Yeah Yeahs ****
"There There (The Boney King of Nowhere)" - Radiohead ****
"I Can't Get You Off Of My Mind" - Bob Dylan ****
"Books About UFOs" - Husker Du *****
"Living For The City" - Stevie Wonder ***** (classic)
"Heroin" - The Velvet Underground ***** (wow, shuffle's being extra kind today)
"T for Texas (Blue Yodel No. 1)" - Johnny Cash ***
"4000 Days (live)" - Luna ***
"Outdone" - Uncle Tupelo *****
"Could've Been Anyone" - Aimee Mann **** (so many people I could dedicate this to)
"Bowtie (feat. Sleepy Brown & Jazze Pha)" - Big Boi ***
"Folk Lore" - Husker Du ****
"End of a Century" - Blur *****
"Al Sharp"- The Beta Band ***
"Paragraph President" - Blackalicious *****

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Jarvis Cocker's summer anthem

If you haven't heard Jarvis Cocker's (of Pulp fame) gorgeous, bitter new song "Running the World", by all means, check it out on his MySpace web page...

The song can be purchased on iTunes (the UK store, sorry, U.S. residents) or I also found this nice site...

The somber piano chords almost justify the purchase of this song, but the lyrics and Cocker's voice put this ahead of Gnarles Barkley's "Crazy" as "THE" song for the summer. True, I'm more of a partly cloudy person than most, but with all the news that has happened, from Lebanon to Iraq, it just seems an appropriate song.

I went on a 20-mile bike ride and came home late, so I'll be missing the Snakes on a Plane opening tonight. I'm far more excited for Little Miss Sunshine coming to the Dundee theater, but after this week at work, I'm anxious for a little m**herf**kin' escapism provided by the great Samual Jackson.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday iPod list

Not much else to report. This weekend, I'm going to try to finish Everyman by Philip Roth. JPod was o.k. - a few things Coupland had totally dead on...

  • The taint of McDonald's food. When someone at work brings it in - it honestly is like a taint - forcing all nearby co-workers to deal with the odor. And it lingers like a taint.
  • The argument that many programmers have autistic-like behaviors. You would have to put that much detail, time and effort into doing repetative tasks such as coding. In addition, programmers, like writers, seem to be a sensitive bunch, reacting strongly to such minor workplace instances as someone bringing in McDonald's.

Anyway - here's the list...

"The Gentle Rain (RJD2 Remix)" - Astrud Gilberto ***

"As Long As We're Talking Shelf Life (Kennedy)" *****

"Tiger Lily" - Luna *****"

The Morning After" - Faith No More ***

"Kids With Guns" - Gorillaz ****

"Symphony No. 9" - Ludwig van Beethoven ***** (Beethoven, mothe**ucker!)

"Never is a Promise" - Fiona Apple ** (compared to her other stuff)

"Song For My Sugar Spun Sister" - The Stone Roses *****

"Wings For Marie (pt. 1)" - Tool **

"De La Orgee" - De La Soul ***

"Rusty Cage" - Johnny Cash *****

"Train Under Water" - Bright Eyes ****

"Kiko and the Lavender Moon" - Los Lobos ****

"No You Don't" - NIN ***

"Metal Lungies" - Ghostface Killah (feat. Sheek Louch & Styles P.) **

"Monkey Gone to Heaven" - Pixies *****

"Jesus Was an Only Son" - Bruce Springsteen ***

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Appropriate start to a Sunday

About to head out to see The Rollins Band and X. Prepping for the concert by listening to a story on NPR about the making of Revolver.

It looks like Talladega Nights had a big box office weekend - $47 million. USA Today had a cautionary article about whether Will Ferrell's movie made fun of NASCAR fans. I seemed to find similar articles elsewhere on the Web. It seems that the media was worried that a movie would offend a majority of red state-dwelling, god-fearing, down-home sports fans. Not to generalize, but a lot of NASCAR culture (see Blue Collar Comedy) get blank checks for making fun of immigrants, gays and intellects. But the very notion that their culture is subject to the same ridicule as other culture seems alien to some people. These folks are supposed to exemplify toughness. When did these folks (NASCAR fans) grow skins so thin that they can't take a joke?

Saturday sucked for no particular reason. Yes it was hot. Yes it was muggy. Yes I was broke. I had two drinks Saturday night because I knew I had to get up around 7 a.m. and start Bikram yoga. There's a decent studio in Omaha that's doing a promotion - $10 for ten days. They do yoga sessions three times a day. Do the math and you've got a decent deal if you can get up at 4:45 in the morning.

I've done Hatha yoga for two years, but nothing could prepare me for Bikram. I walked into the studio and the heat slapped me awake. For the next 90 minutes, I witnessed the effects of two months of slacking off exercising and being in a funk. There were no 'awakenings' - just a t-shirt that looked like it just came out of a washer. You were forced to look at yourself in the mirror as you worked through the poses. I saw veins literally surface to my temples as I tried to contort into the poses, my leg slipped around my other leg, desperately trying to wrap itself around my left calf, but my legs were too sweat-ridden to get any traction.

It was cleansing. One of those workouts where you literally sweat your ass off. Now to get there by 6 a.m. tomorrow after seeing X and Henry Rollins.

Preemptive strike...
This girl at 13th St. Coffee told me she saw this Fox News segment that had a "doomsday expert." The segment was a popular segment with the media: Are We in the End Times? With talk of World War III and life in a Post-September 11 world, you can see how people may be thinking that this may indeed be...


Fear sells and there's plenty of fear to go around. But after growing up in a decade filled with Red Dawn and The Morning After and other shows that told us that in any moment, Russia would volley all of their nuclear weapons at us because we stood for freedom and they...didn't - you'll excuse me if I don't consult the Left Behind series to find out how I can be "saved." I know we are accustomed to greater affluence than our parents (or at least, accustomed to greater technology - I think that fewer people can afford homes than in decades past due to the ever-increasing income gap between rich and poor), but our grandparents (those who are living) must be laughing their asses off when they see these stories. The Great Depression (with 25 percent unemployment), the dust bowl AND a TRUE World War. Even our parents had OPEC and double-digit inflation - not to mention the Cuban missile Crisis.

I invite any person who is currently sitting in a McMansion and sipping on a Starbucks double mocha who is worried about the 'end of times' to take a mental vacation to what they would even "think" life would be like currently in Darfur. Imagine spending as much as three days there with no access to help. THEN tell me if you think that you are living in the "end times."

Sorry that I'm on my moral high horse. But these segments royally piss me off.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday iPod shuffle mix

"A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off" - The Magnetic Fields ****
"Hot Thing" - Prince *****
"The Painter" - Neil Young ****
"Something Against You (live)" - The Pixies ***
"Love & Communication" - Cat Power ***
"Three Or Four" - The New Pornographers ****
"The Infamous Date Rape" - A Tribe Called Quest *****
"The Observer" - The Flaming Lips ****
"Lay Low" - My Morning Jacket ****
"Ultraviolet Dreams" - Cypress Hill **
"Trigger Cut/Wounded Kite at:17" - Pavement *****
"Manchild" - Neneh Cherry *****
"Faith Collapsing" - Ministry ****
"Astronaut" - Luna ** (never been a favorite)
"One Time For Me" - The Reverend Horton Heat ***
"Black Diamond" - The Replacements *****
"Le Voyage de Penelope" - Air ***
"Black Star" - Christopher O'Riley ***
"Parklife" - Blur *****
"Me & My B**ch" - The Notorious B.I.G. *****
"Once in a Lifetime" - Talking Heads *****
"Shut the Door" - Fugazi ****
"Stay Where You Are" - Sleater-Kinney ****
"Your Children Aren't Special" - Bill Hicks *****
"Road to Joy" - Bright Eyes ***** (I swear the rating is not stuck on 5-star)
"View of a Burning City" - The Appleseed Cast ****
"2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" - 2Pac & Snoop Dogg ***
"Chico's Groove" - The Chemical Brothers *****
"From Black to Blue" - Yo La Tengo *****
"Family Business" - Kayne West *****
"Prophets of Rage" - Public Enemy *****

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Unexpected pics

I was uploading some photos of a few comic books to sell on Ebay when I came across this pic on my digital camera.

Jesus, I miss him. I know he's in a far better place with a loving family and kids to spend time with him. Me, I just got back after working nine hours at one job and two hours at a freelance job.


I went to Lincoln to see a poetry slam this weekend. The woman who was hosting the slam was a woman who I thought was "the one" about ten years ago. Her fiance was there and a few days before I headed down, I received their wedding announcement. The guy is awesome.

Needless to say, this is one of those wedding announcements that affects you more than others. Even down to the person who you're going to take to the wedding. My best friend is almost 3,000 miles away for a job. This one girl I know is taking a trip during the wedding. That leaves a few stray choices. While I was driving to Lincoln, not really paying attention to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," I started to think that maybe those studies were right: we do have fewer and fewer friends than in years past. I don't want to go solo, because I know this woman and I don't want her to worry about trying to pair me up with a few people who I can strike up a conversation with.

The poetry slam was great. One of the readers had a poingant introduction to his poem. He revealed last year that he had three major surgeries and came close to dying. A woman, his soul mate helped him through those months. And in front of a packed house, he proposed to her. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house, and I saw several tattooed bikers.

Sunday, I was reading the New York Times. Noticing how they seem to put all of the "death" stories at the front, and the other 4/5 of the paper they dedicated to lavish wealth (Travel section, real estate listings for condos that would cost a month's salary to rent for two hours, the Business section), youth (see the Style section) and a bit on Sports. In the Book Review section, they reviewed a book by this author who is also gay. The critic (sorry I don't have a name, a small bottle of generic Windex sprung a leak and was absorbed by the newspaper yesterday) was commenting on the main character: a middle-aged man who has to care for his elderly mother. The critic commented about the loneliness of the main character - saying that due to his age and the fact that the gay community is so youth-obsessed, he had little to nothing to offer for a mate once his looks went south.


Gay men face the same challenges of women in this world when it comes to age. You go to the bars and you see that desperate look at around 12:15 from some of the bargoers who have yet to score a hookup. It's the same look that people have on December 23 when they are in Target and 15 minutes before closing and everything has been taken. They have to come back with something...anything. We can still see Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas and Jack Nicholson have plausible relationships with 20-somethings in movies and not much is said. The benefits of having credit in the straight world. When a chases a younger guy, it's usually played to comedic effect. In the movie Something's Gotta Give, more fuss was made over Diane Keaton's relationship with Keanu Reeves than Jack Nicholson's fling with Amanda Peet.