I am just a friend, that's all I've ever been...

Thanks to Ryan, I caught this horrible meme thing that has been going around. It is only fair, I got him a few months ago.

The idea is to write 5 things most people don't know about you. This is hard, because I am fairly private and I feel like I have kept a good lock and key on most of the things I don't want people to know about me; my desire and plans to kill Tommy come to mind. The problem with this list is that it tends towards the shameful or the crazy. This is mainly a function of the fact that no one would hide their best attributes. Like, I secretly give lots of money to charity and I love puppies and sunshine.

1) I don't have a very good ear. You would think that becase I am a musician I would have a good ear, with the ability to pick out lots of intervals and chords easily and the like, but in truth I don't. This is something that I have worked hard on, and gotten a lot better at, but it still doesn't come very easy. Playing the piano has helped a lot. Almost everything that I write comes from a lot of experimentation and study.

2) I instinctively divide numbers that I see into their prime multiples. For example, right now it is 1:11, which I turn into 111 and divide into 3 x 37. Now it is 1:12 which I have turned into 7 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2. This is also how I remember things like license plates and telephone numbers. As a side note, I really like multiples of 7.

3) I use to be mean. I was a horrible child. Along the lines of the DCeiver, I will explain with a story that makes me ashamed to this day. There was a kid in the 7th grade who wore a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt to school one day, and because 7th graders are obnoxious and want to think that they are becoming adults, he was mad fun of. A few days later, I found a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles doll and decided to write his name on it and hide it in our science class. A few days later, the teacher found it and asked it if it was his in front of the whole class. This of course only brought out more laughter at the expense of this poor kid. He is just one of many people from my childhood that probably has my name, deservedly, at the top of a hit list. My big problem is that one of them actually went and joined the Army...I am so screwed.

4) My sister is the only person who can really make me mad. While I do get upset with people from time to time, my sister is the only person who can anger me to the point of tears. I am not quite sure how she does it, but wow.

5) I have a weird vague feeling that I am going to die in a car crash. I just don't know where this feeling came from. Interestingly enough, I hate flying and prefer driving most places.

So that is it. I refuse to subject anyone to this horrible thing, also every one I know has already gotten it.


The Death of a Dream...

This post at DCist reminded me of the time that I had my guitars stolen in New York City.

It all started, like so many bad things, in New Jersey. While my band was touring we played a concert on the Jersey Shore. Unfortunately we couldn't find the right mix of a hotel that:

  1. we could afford
  2. wasn't all booked up
  3. and up to health code.
So we decided to drive up to New York City, where we were playing the next night, and stay with my Bassist's brother in Chelsea.

We got up to New York, parked my 15 passenger Ford Econoline van and settled in for the night. The next night we pulled up in front of the club and went to unload our equipment only to find that all of the guitars and basses were gone. My first instinct was that we had left them in Jersey. Then my Bassist pointed out that the lock on the back door had been broken, and that our instruments had been stolen.

One of the things that was shocking about this theft was that our equipment was guarded by Animal. I figured that he would repel any would be assailants, but no; although none of the drums were taken. I took this as confirmation that drums are big and heavy and a pain in the ass to move.

So, we called the police and filled out the appropriate paperwork, mostly for insurance reasons. The cop told us to call up the local pawn shops, but that there was little chance of us getting our instruments back. He also suggested that we drive out to some park where drug users hang out, but was nice enough to add that we should call the police if we see our gear and not try to get it back on our own.

One of the bands was nice enough to lend up their instruments and we played the concert, although I was so angry that I don't remember any of it. After we finished up, we tried to decide what to do next. Two of my band members, who were being jerks, wanted to stay in New York and meet up with friends. These two also believed that we couldn't leave our equipment in the van with a broken lock. My Singer's parents were in town and he suggested that we store our remaining equipment at their hotel. What he didn't mention was that their hotel was right off Times Square. So the singer and myself drive to Times Square in my huge 15 passenger van at about midnight on a Friday night. It took us about 30 minutes to go two blocks, and there was no place to park, or just stop to that would allow us to unload our equipment.

At about 1:30 and I declare that I want nothing more than to get the hell out of New York City. So we meet up with the rest of the band and decide to drive to my Bassist's parent's house in Connecticut. Most of my friends have never seen me really angry, but when it happens I stop talking completely, lock my jaw, and just get an intense stare on my face. I also lose the ability to put up with anything. While we were leaving the city, I went through a police checkpoint. The officer had me roll down my window, and the first thing he said was "Are you Okay?" I grunted that I was fine. He took another look at me, and just waved me through. Clearly, an extremely angry person driving a huge van with out of state plates is nothing to be concerned with.

As we are leaving the van is completely silent, no one is talking and the radio is off. I haven't said a word in about an hour. At some point, a driver cut me off and I became the Mount Vesuvius of obscenity. My Drummer later told me that he was terrified to be in the van with me.

We got to Connecticut at around 3:00 or so, had a few drinks, and went to bed. The next day we borrowed more equipment for a horrible concert at a prep-school in Massachusetts. It turned out that the organizers having not planned where to put us, or how to amplify the concert so that people could hear us, or any of the other mundane things that go into a concert actually happening. So we had to scramble around to find a venue and figure out how to work the sound system. Also, a student at the school like our band and wanted to open for us, which we thought was nice and agreed to. It turned out that most of the crowd showed up for the sole purpose of heckling this kid. We had to pull him off the stage after about 15 minutes because it was just to tough to take, and that last thing this kid needed was to wind up crying on stage. We then played another concert that I was too angry to remember. That night ended with me and my Bassist yelling at each other for two hours.
Image taken by Darren Higgins

I am recounting this whole long story because this weekend pretty much killed my band. Before this weekend, everything was going well. We were developing fans and having a great time playing. After this weekend, my Singer ended up having vocal chord surgery, we spent a lot of money making an album that almost no one bought, and played shitty concert after shitty concert. Before this weekend, be use to look at concerts as competitions. We wanted everyone in the venue to know that we were the best band that night. After that weekend we started to see only the bad things that were happening to us, and that just took its toll. Arrogance is a necessary component to musical success, and after this weekend we started to lose our arrogance.

About six months later we were mostly broke in Chicago and decided to take a break and regroup. Mostly we were just tired, and after 3+ years we could no longer picture our Rolling Stone cover. We played our last concert in Alexandria, which curiously enough was the only concert we ever played that got written up in the Washington Post.

I should say that his weekend is not the reason why I hate New York City, but it is a reason why "(I Don't Want to Go To) Chelsea" is one of my favorite songs.



I was reading the comments to this post by Matt about covers and I had a few comments. First, a distaste for covers is mostly a rock music thing. The jazz greats all performed other people's songs, in fact rarely writing their own. Country music also has a clear line between songwriters in Nashville and singers. And classical musicians are almost always performing pieces written by someone else. It is really only a rock problem, and I think it stems from problems within the Rockist school of thought. The fact that rock music is the only discipline that has a problem with covering songs is particularly amusing given that just about all of the great rock stars started out playing covers. Check out the track listings on the first two Beatles albums for example. Both are about half covers.

But the real reason that I wanted to mention Yglesias's post is because someone brought up Rush in the comment sections, and nothing irritates me more than anything vaguely complementary about Rush. I really, really hate Rush. The problem with Rush is that anytime anyone praises them it always starts with the fact that they are very talented musicians. This is undeniably true, the guys can play. I remember looking at sheet music for "Limelight" and being impressed with the complexity. I remember thinking "This would take a while to learn." The problem with Rush is that my next thought was "Why would I was so much time to learn such a crappy irritating song?"

With Rush, the song takes a backseat to the virtuosity and that is why I really hate cannot stand the band. Just take a look at the picture of Neil Peart's drum set for example*. I am sorry, but no one needs that many drums. Each Rush song is an exercise in showing off how talented the musicians are rather than writing a good song. Also, Geddy Lee's voice makes me want to stab flaming q-tips in my ear.

The thing is that I love really talented musicians. Unlike some early punks, I think virtuosity is something that every musician should strive for, as long as the skill is secondary to the song. To show you what I mean I am including a YouTube video of Victor Wooten playing "Norwegian Wood" by the Beatles, a cover mind you. Victor just might be the most talented electric bass player of all time. I think of him as the Jimi Hendrix of the bass. Saw Victor play before I had ever even heard of him, and I spent the duration of the concert completely blown away. The man is jaw droppingly brilliant. But if you notice, his talent is there to serve the song, not outshine it.

If you need more proof, or just want to waste the day on YouTube, also check out his version of "Amazing Grace" here.

*For some reason the whole image is not showing up, but I think you get the idea from what is there. The man has drums completely surrounding him. The fact that he learned how to play drums behind him perfectly explains everything that is wrong with Rush.


I am not sure what happened, but it feels like working too damn much has finally caught up with me. When I was at the restaurant on Monday, I just hit a wall and I have been out of it since. Also, still no Wii and I am not very happy about that. But Thanksgiving is coming and I won't be working at the restaurant for at least a week so everything is fine. Also, The Hold Steady this weekend and I am looking forward to that.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, mainly because it involves sitting around drinking and seeing my family without the pressure of having to buy them anything.

The real reason for this post is that I wanted to pass along this video of Earl Scruggs and Friends performing "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" on the David Letterman Show. It is a pretty amazing collection of talent on that stage.

I hope you all have a good Thanksgiving.


A Suspicous Mind...

I just became eligible for my company's 401k plan. Part of the paperwork involves designating a beneficiary for my meager savings. As I am unmarried, this creates something of a dilemma. An obvious choice right now is to name one of my parents as my beneficiary, but that only creates more problems. Which of my parents is less likely to kill me for the contents of my IRA plan? My father just got a new 50 inch HDTV, so I think he is probably the safer bet. I could name my sister, but then I would need to hire a food taster with every new fashion season. Tommy is clearly out, he probably already has a list of computer crap that he needs right now and also has the most opportunity. Hell, I am ready to designate the first person who can put a Nintendo Wii in my hands either tonight or tomorrow.



I am a big food network fan. Not for recipes, but mainly for discussing the personal lives of the chefs on the network. Take Ina Garten for example; she is clearly trapped in a loveless marriage and is trying to use food to win her husband back.

I have developed pretty strong opinion on most of the hosts. Most of them center around (see Sandra Lee who drives me completely insane) hate. I also cannot stand Rachel Ray. I am convinced that she spends all of her time off camera crying. Something has to balance out all the happiness and perkiness, because no one is that happy. That is why it made me smile when I read this today. When Anthony Bourdain was asked about the pros and cons of the food network he cited Rachel's show as a con and added:

“What's it, $30 a Day?” Bourdain asked. When reminded that Ray's program is titled $40 a Day, the celebrity chef shot back:

“$40 a day? Try tipping, bitch.”
This is all to say that Anthony Bourdain is awesome. According to Wikipedia, playing Billy Joel in his kitchen was grounds for firing. His show "No Reservations" is pretty great as well, and he has done a lot of drugs! Also, Les Halles has the best french fries in the District.


I thought that I would pass this video along. It is a video of an exhibition fight that took place at my boxing gym a few weeks ago. The two guys having been training at the gym for a while, and the ref owns and runs the place. A quick note to my mother, I have not done this and you don't need to worry.


The Four Elephants...

Because I regularly attend church and all of my friends are godless heathens who revel in sin and depravity, it is my job to sneak them into heaven. I like to them as my +s on the evite to Heaven, they won't know anyone there and don't belong but they will drink all of the booze anyway. Anyway, I don't know if you guys have looked outside recently, but it is kind of a theme party so you all better but your best "I love Jesus" outfits on.

Thanks to Tommy for the photo, and Kriston for being himself.


These Are Your Rights...

I have to admit that I like Anthony Williams. Despite his various failings, he will leave the District better off than when he took over and I think that he should be applauded for that. That said, I also agree with Mark Plotkin. When asked in his chat yesterday what Mayor Williams's biggest failure was he answered:
"Never challenged our colonial status. We still don't have a vote in the House or Senate. All our laws can be overturned by Congress. We don't pick our own judges or prosecuting attorney. More than anything, the Mayor sitting in the box at the State of the Union year after year, he reminded me of a potted plant."
That is why it is nice to see Fenty write this in today's Post. Fenty also refuses to sit in the box at the State of the Union until the District gets voting rights. Sure that is mainly symbolic and will probably go unnoticed, but it is better than Williams ever did.

Also, I wanted to highlight this brilliant exchange from President Bush's November 8 press conference, the Post's Michael Fletcher is asking the questions:
Q Thank you, sir. There's a bill that could come before the lame-duck session of Congress, that would extend voting rights to the District of Columbia, in Congress, and also give an extra seat to Utah. You've been passionate about democracy in Iraq. Why not here in D.C., and would you support this bill?

THE PRESIDENT: I haven't -- it's the first I've heard of it. I didn't know that's going to come up from the lame duck.

Q -- Congressman Davis's bill.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, well, it may or may not come up. I'm trying to get the Indian deal done, the Vietnam deal done, and the budgets done. But I'll take a look at it. It's the first I've heard of it. Thanks.
Others have noted that Bush was lying about this answer and has heard of the bill before. Mark Plotkin claims that Bush has been briefed on the bill by Congressman Davis himself.

It is really shameful that residents of the District do not have representation in Congress. If you have a representative, please call them and urge them to support Congressman Davis's bill. You can go to DCVote for more information.


A Thought After Veterans Day...

Don't you think that members of 'THE GREATEST GENERATION" should tip more than 10% or else be forced to lose their title?

Fight for Old D.C.!

It is important to remember when watching the Redskins this year that the whole NFL is out to get us. Not just the teams, but the officials and the league office all the way up to Roger Goodell are trying to take the Redskins down. It is also important to remember that I am a sore loser.

One of my favorite theories was put forth on the radio by Sam Huff. The Arizona Cardinals were once members of the NFC East with the Redskins. Then in 2002 the league moved them to NFC West. As everyone knows, the Cardinals are not the best team in the league. One may think that the move had to do with "geography" when in reality is was an elaborate plot to take away 2 wins from the Redskins each year.

This year, the league got really sneaky and screwed the Redskins using the black art of scheduling. Jason La Canfora outlines the dastardly plot here, but the gist is that the Redskins are one of only 4 teams to play a team after its bye week 3 times. What is worse, the Redskins are callously forced to play all of these teams away, and two of those teams are division rivals! I ask you, what chance do the forces of good and truth have when faced with such unconscionable evil?

Also, and I might not be remembering this correctly, but I am pretty sure that Paul Tagliabue put a gun to Joe Gibbs head and made him sign and play Mark Brunell.


At least this keeps him off of the field...

Like many, I am excited about the Democratic victory yesterday. But I must admit that my excitement is tempered by the fact that Heath Shuler is returning to Washington. While Ezra makes some good points, the young and Californian Mr. Klein completely overlooks the fact that Mr. Shuler went 4-15 in games that he played for the Redskins. Frankly, I think that we have already reached our limit of sub-standard quarterbacks in this city. Stop Shuler has a good rundown here, but my favorite quote is:

"After going back and forth with Gus Frerotte in 1994 & 1995, he lost the job permanently in 1996 season, and took only one snap that year. The result of that play? A fumble."
Keep in mind that Shuler lost his job to a guy that went on to knock himself out of a game by head butting a stadium wall*. The upside is that Shuler's victory game Keith Olberman the line of the night.
Chris Matthews: ...and in North Carolina, challenger Heath Schuler completes his upset of incumbent Charles Taylor.

Keith Olberman: At least he completed something.
*It is a crime that Frerotte's head butt is not on YouTube. I am far enough removed from the event to be able to laugh about it now.


Do They Know It's Halloween?

While I don't like dressing up, I have decided to be a waiter this Halloween. To show my commitment to the costume I am going to spend the whole weekend in a restaurant! Beat that. I am certain that some people will have Zombie related costumes, but are you going to start eating brains? I bet not. I imagine that by Halloween proper I will have altered my costume into a tired waiter who should have paid more attention in college. In slightly related news, I hate the Marine Corps Marathon.

The video is for Tommy.



The internets are going nuts this morning. Ryan and Lisa are coming back and Spencer is leaving TNR. I don't know what happened with Ryan and Lisa, but I suspect that Spencer was seduced by the useless layabout lifestyle of his roommates.

I was wiping down a table at the restaurant the other night, and managed to find a way to have the tine of a fork jut into the part of my finger between the tip of my finger and my fingernail. I was both amazed by the fact that this was possible, and by how much it hurt. I currently have a little red line the width of the tine of a fork running about halfway up my fingernail. I can't decide if I should be worried about losing the nail.

I think that I am ready to sell all of my possessions and follow whoever created this. Things are slow around the office, so I just might spend the rest of the day playing it.

This post's YouTube video is Psapp's "Tricycle" off of their newest album.

I like to think that I am doing my part to drive down productivity this dreary Friday.


Somewhere My Love Lies Sleeping (with a male chorus)

I am not sure if it is because I am a musician, or because I am crazy, but I constantly have music running through my head. The problem is that sometimes I start singing, and I am not really aware of it. For example, a few days ago I found myself walking around the office quietly singing:

"We hear he is a Whiz of a Wiz
If ever a Wiz there was
If ever, oh ever, a Wiz there was
The Wizard of Oz is one because
Because, because, because, because, because
Because of the wonderful things he does"
I am not sure how this entered my mind, but I am pretty sure that it isn't normal.

And because all of my posts now are just excuses to search YouTube, and am including a scene from the Marx Brothers' movie "Animal Crackers." I am including this because:
  1. I love the Marx Brothers, and I feel that they are a big reason why I am so crazy. I watched a lot of Marx Brothers movies when I was 10. This love, and craziness, runs in the family by the way. I am pretty sure, although it hasn't been confirmed, that one of my cousins is named after Groucho's "Lydia the Tattooed Lady."
  2. I won't consider myself a proper pianist until I can play like Chico does in this clip. You really have to wait until the close up of his hands. It is pretty impressive.
  3. It's my blog and I will do what I want.
So enjoy.

Music Miscellany

I think that 2006 has been a pretty good year musically. There hasn't been much that has really blown me away, except for The Hold Steady, but there have been a lot of really strong albums released this year. Psapp, Howe Gelb, and I'm From Barcelona are just a few examples. Another really good album is El Perro del Mar's release. I saw the video to "God Knows (You Gotta Give to Get)" on Pitchfork today, and I love posting YouTube videos, so I thought I would pass it along.

In other news, I just realized that Love is All, one of my favorite releases of either late last year or early this year depending on which country you are it, is playing the Black Cat on Wednesday. Does anyone want to go? Except for Catherine, she is busy.


My Plan for World Peace

My father's company, and another group, are hosting a conference this week, and last night they had a reception at the Air and Space Museum. They "rented" the whole museum, and it was pretty amazing. There was an open bar and good food, including a mashed potato bar with 4 different types of mashed potatoes and plenty of toppings that you ate out of a martini glass.

In addition to having the ability to drink your way through the exhibits, they also had the flight simulators open. I hadn't been to the museum in years, and I didn't know that they had flight simulators, but they were pretty impressive. You get into a cockpit, and the machine lifts up and executes barrel rolls and flips and the like. You have the option of controlling the flight yourself, or going running a simulation. After a few cocktails, I decided for the simulation, lest I end up drunk, upside down and unable to right myself.

As if drinking and flight simulators were not enough, the museum also had an IMAX showing of "Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon," which is in 3D! This was the first movie that I have seen in 3D, and it was spectacular. At times the surface of the moon extended right up to your face and moon dust would be flying right at you. It was really, really amazing.

This all brings me to my plan for world peace. The conference has attendees from 80 different nations. People from all over the world, were gathered in the Air and Space Museum and having a great time. I realized that the problem with the United Nations is that they never have any fun.

You may be thinking, "The U.N. has serious business and no time for fun." But they problem with not having fun is that you can't threaten to take away fun. People argue that sanctions for example only hurt the poor in the country they are imposed on, and not the people making the decisions. Well, what if there was a rule that if you invaded another country you lost all of you open bar privileges? Or take North Korea, their delegation can't go to the IMAX movie. Sorry, but that's the rule. Imagine the jealousy when they hear the South Korean ambassador talking about how the flying dust looked so real that he ducked. That will teach them to test nuclear weapons.

I am convinced that under this plan we will have peace across the world in 3 weeks.


Ladies and Gentlemen...

The Hold Steady.

These guys are so good that I feel a little guilty that I haven't given them any money.



The Wire has me thinking a lot about education these days, particularly the ways to fix our schools. The post had a good article on the problem this weekend. Personally, I think the problem is that we don't make learning exciting enough. In that vein, let me suggest that this is a step in the right direction:

You can also go here and see how exciting educational films can be.


Wire Prediction

In a prediction that is so obvious that I am surprised that no one has made it, I am going to predict that Randy ends up working with Bubbles by the end of the season and is shooting heroin by the end of season 5.

I think that one of the things that the David Simon wants to show this season is how the characters we know ended up where they are. In this vein it is clear that Randy is a young Bubbles. They both are entrepreneurs, Bubbles selling to people on the street, and Randy to his classmates and people on the street. Episode 4 also featured Randy snitching on a classmate, a skill that Bubbles has often used. We know that Bubbles isn't to happy with the kid, whose name I have forgotten, he currently has working for him, and Randy would be a superior partner. Bubbles is also around the school more, trying to get his partner to learn the skills that Randy already has. I expect that Bubble will run into Randy selling out of his bag and recruit him. I think that Randy will be hesitant at first, but then run away from his strict foster mother.

If this were any other show, I would predict that being around Randy would force Bubbles into a come to Jesus moment where he cleans up for good. This is The Wire though, and that is why I see Randy turning into an addict instead.


You've Gotta Nerve...

An update on the protests. They now have a large, about 12 foot tall, inflatable rat in front of our building. I am not sure who the rat is exactly, but I like it. At one point, someone was pulling on the rat's ropes to make it lurch back and forth menacingly.


It's Going Around...

I caught the Book Meme from Sommer. So here we go.

1) One book that changed your life?

The Bible, if it weren't for that damned book I would have more Sundays free. I can't remember the name of the collection, but I a collection of T.S. Eliot's poetry was pretty influential. I had a great English teacher in college who opened my eyes to poetry through The Waste Land. I probably reread The Waste Land and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock at least once a month, and frequently have passages floating through my head. The line "measured out my life in coffee spoons" comes to mind frequently. Here is a link to T.S. Eliot reading The Waste Land. It is pretty fantastic.

2) One book that you have read more than once?

Like most people who do this I have read many books numerous times, which allows me to cherry pick something in order to look good. So how about, Anna Karenina by Tolstoy? It really is just a wonderful book. I went through a phase were I only read Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, listened to Tom Waits, and drank a lot of whiskey. In many ways, it is a wonder that I am still alive.

3) One book that you would want on a desert island?

No one likes this question. I have a large book that features the complete works of Shakespeare, including the sonnets. The problem is that I am going to have to plan on being trapped on this island, because the thing is to damn big to actually take. But, it has a lot to read, and material that benefits from frequent readings. Also, when I started going crazy I could act out the plays with whatever people I had created in my head ala Gollum.

4) One book that made you cry?

Recently, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn made me cry when Johnny died. I know that he was a drunk and worthless, but it still got to me.

5) One book that made you laugh?

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris had me in tears. I remember reading it on a plane to Nebraska when my Grandmother died, and laughing so loud that I had to be disturbing my fellow passengers. The section where envisions inanimate objects getting married in order to remember the genders of their french names is particularly great.

6) One book that you wish had been written?

I wish the rest of Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky had been written. It was suppose to be a five part book about the German occupation of France in WWII, but Ms. Nemirovsky only finished two parts before being arrested by the Nazis and executed at Auschwitz. I just finished the two parts and they really are wonderful.

7) One book that you wish had never been written?

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. Not only because I hate economics, but because it is a horrible read. Just look at the title. If the title of a book is that tedious, just imagine what the rest of it is like. Seriously, I don't know how people can be forced to read this before Bush's horrible law goes into effect. Also, the whole part about one savage hunting beavers and another hunting deer and them trading might be the stupidest construction in any respected book. In fact, I kinda hate all of the social contract theorists mainly because their books suck.

8) One book that you are currently reading?

I just started Saturday by Ian McEwan. I really enjoyed Atonement, but this one hasn't grabbed me yet. It is still early in the book, so we will see.

9) One book that you have been meaning to read?

Ulysses is really the only book that comes to mind. I start it at least once a year. I get about 150 pages in and realize that it has taken me like 2 months to read those pages. I then weep for the books that I haven't read in that time and abandon the project. In fact, I just added read Ulysses to my online To Do list. But don't get too excited, this list also features such items as, "catch a foul ball" and "break 200 in a game of bowling," so there is no rush on any of these.

10) Pass it on

I think most of all of my friends have already gotten this, so I don't know where to send it. How about Ryan?

We'll March Day and Night...

For about two weeks now, my building has been protested. I am not entirely sure what they are protesting, mainly because they always protest while I answer the telephones, so all I hear is shouting and general noise. I think it has something to do with the building company using non-union workers, or something. Mostly they just yell for about an hour and a half, and boo anyone who enters the building.

Today, for about the last 15 minutes, one of the protesters has been using a horn think that sounds like a kazoo. This seems like cheating to me. Have the courage of your convictions and irritate me without mechanical assistance. I feel like this is an unfortunate aftermath of the baseball steroids scandals, everyone is looking for the easy way. Sad. Also, we suspect that they are employing homeless people to bulk up their numbers.


I'm a Wuss...So Let's Box!

I had a blood test taken a month or so ago, and apparently I have high cholesterol. If my parents' "spend our last dollar on our deathbed" plan works, then this and my name stand to be the only things that I inherit from my father.

Given my various other vices, it would be right to wonder why I am so concerned about this. The problem is that because I have high cholesterol I have to get my blood tested again in 3 months. It turns out that I am really bad at having blood taken. Really bad. I was fine with the needle, but when I looked over and saw the little vial filling with my blood I just about lost it. I got sweaty, lightheaded, and a little nauseous. While sitting in that padded chair with the bar across you, I kept looking for the phone to the Governor's office. As soon as the whole order deal was over, I immediately tried to get up and far away from the "chair of death." The nurse kept me seated for a few minutes because she, justifiably, thought that I was going to pass out. After it was all over, I placated myself by thinking that I wouldn't have to go through that for another year.

Instead, I have to go back in 3 months, and if I still have high cholesterol presumably I have to go back again creating an unending circle of torture. I was discussing this with my father, and he told me that he gets his blood taken so often that it doesn't even bother him anymore. This is not a prospect that am looking forward to.

So in an effort to lower my cholesterol I have joined a boxing gym. I have been to two classes so far, and I have to say that it is a lot of fun. Mostly, I work on my jab and footwork. The guy who runs it seems mostly concerned with me not getting hit, and that is something that I can appreciate.


Yes, I would like some cheese with this.

I have realized that I don't see my friends all that much. The fact that I have two jobs plays a large part in my absence, but last night I realized another reason. All of my friends are working in the industries that they want to. They might not be in the exact job that they want, but they are at least in the right field.

I became aware of the problem last night when my friends went out to happy hours, and I went home to practice the piano. Because I don't work in a field that I have even a slight interest in, I have to work on what I want to when I have free time. Unfortunately, free time also happens to coincide with drinking time.

This might not be a problem, except that I happen to like my friends. Well, a few of them at least.



It looks like HBO has wised up and started listening to me. Catherine has alerted me that HBO will be renewing "The Wire" for a fifth season. So you really should start watching it, if only because you can look forward to another year of my talking about it all the time. And, if my opinion isn't enough for you, take a look at metacritic's page for season 4.


Seriously, The Bathroom?

I had, quite possibly, the worst table that my restaurant has served on Saturday. It is really the first time that I have questioned the sanity of people that I have served.

My restaurant hosts a universities local alumni chapter during football season to watch their team. It is quite a spectacle to watch. We have about 100-50 people all dressed in the same colors, and they shout, and sing, and chant as if they were really at the football game. As you can imagine they create quite a mess.

So the game is over and the alumni are filing out. Everyone on the staff is working to reclaim the restaurant as quickly as possible. It is during this chaos of pom-pom streamers, empty can of Natural Light, and cleaning spray that 6 people walk into the restaurant and ask for a table for 8. I tell them that we just finished a football game, and it will take a few minutes for me to clear off and set a table.

I then go inform my manager that 8 people will be here for dinner. Now, I am suppose to leave after the football game. She asks me to get the table started and then she will take it over. I clear off and set the table and seat the party. Then, I ask for their drink orders. Two of the men ask what bourbons we have. We carry a lot of bourbons in our restaurants, most of which I rarely serve, so I ask them for a minute and go check to see what is behind the bar. I return, list of bourbons in hand, and ask again for their drink orders. One of the guys is disappointed that we don't carry Wild Turkey 101, apparently regular old 80 proof Wild Turkey doesn't pack quite the same punch. The other bourbon drinker convinces Mr. Wild Turkey to order a different high end bourbon, which they both get with Coke. I emphasize this because good bourbon really isn't meant to be drunk with Coke, and while I don't care how people get drunk, the addition of Coke surprises me a little. I just didn't expect people who get so demanding on their bourbon of choice to then mix it with Coke.

After cajoling drink orders out of the rest of the table, I put their orders in, and check to see how the rest of the cleaning process is going. I pick up their orders and return to their table. They then order their dinners, two people get the surf and turf and Mr. Wild Turkey gets the prime rib.

After I put in their dinner orders, I see that more people are at the front waiting to be seated. Usually, our dinner shift after a football game is pretty light. Particularly when the game goes until 7:30 or so, because the restaurant is filled during the prime dining time and people go elsewhere. This is why my manager felt that she could handle the dinner shift and send me home after the football game. The problem is that people are streaming in to watch the Texas game, creating another rush too big for my manager to handle by herself. I tell her that I will stay and start picking up new tables.

I go back to the kitchen and they tell me that we are out of prime rib. So I go back to my table and tell them that we are out of prime rib and ask if they would like anything else, note prime rib is also part of the surf and turf. The surf and turf people are upset but quickly agree to substitute the New York Strip. Mr. Wild Turkey is very upset and asks if we have rib eye. I say that the New York Strip is the only cut of steak that we have. He remains upset, but agrees to the New York Strip. I go tell the kitchen about the substitutions and tend to my other tables.

After a while I return to the table to check on their drinks. The bourbon drinkers would like another round. While I am there, Mr. Wild Turkey is still upset about the lack of prime rib and begins to tell me that New York Strip is no substitution for prime rib. Mind you, he isn't being charged for the prime rib, but I apologize and go get their drinks.

I return and tell them that we are now out of the bourbon they selected and ask if they would a different bourbon. This sends Mr. Wild Turkey into a tizzy. And after apologizing again, I get them their drinks with the new bourbon.

Now at this point I can understand their frustration. They have asked for a few things that we have run out of. This happens in restaurants, and they aren't being charged for anything they are not getting, but I can see why they are upset.

Eventually their food comes up and I serve them and refresh their drinks. When I return five minutes later to ask how the food is, they say fine but are still clearly upset. The restaurant is pretty busy now, and we are short staffed, so I don't have a lot of time to worry about them.

As I am tending to my other tables, one of the guys signals that he would like another bourbon. I get his drink and tell them that this is the last of this bottle of bourbon. Now, in defense of my restaurant. They were drinking high end bourbons that we don't sell a lot of, so my manager doesn't keep extra bottles of these around. This usually isn't a problem because we have other high end bourbons to select from. Of course, the table is appalled. As a waiter, you develop of sense of when you have lost a table and any chance I had for a good tip with this table is gone. I assumed this was the point at which I lost the table. I don't particularly blame them, sometimes things just happen and there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes the dealer is showing 6 but has a 5 hidden underneath. You are just screwed.

They finish dinner, and I clear the plates and ask if they would like anything else. To my surprise they order more drinks and proceed to stay in the restaurant. They stay for a while and continue drinking, but a cold war has set in. They start talking down to me and clearly don't like me, and I am doing my best to hide that I don't like them.

At one point, Mr. Wild Turkey pulls me aside to tell me how disappointed he is. According to him, they dine out a lot in the neighborhood and they spend a lot of money, and I should have done more to make them happy, like give them discounts or something for free. This is when things start to make sense. The problem is that I didn't worship their credit cards enough. They buy expensive things and deserve preferential treatment as a result. Again, they have not been charged for anything that they didn't receive, but because they won the lottery by picking items the restaurant was out of, they deserve something for free. I officially hate the people. After Mr. Wild Turkey is done lecturing me I say apologize and walk away. If he expected something for free after his speech then he should have had a different waiter.

And yet they continue to stay.

After they have been in the restaurant for about 3 hours, and I have been working for about 9, they ask for their checks, separate checks. I give them their checks, and two of the people have decided that I didn't deserve any tip. Mr. Wild Turkey leaves me nothing on $48. Another guy leaves me nothing on $100, but manages to write "This is the worst restaurant ever."

And yet they continue to stay, watching me. We had balloons up for the football game, and one of the guys asks me if he can have some. I say fine, and he proceeds to grab two balloons, puts a hole in one them so that he can sound like a munchkin. The guy has to be at least 35. He tires of this, and just pops the second balloon. And still they remain.

After they have been paid for about 20 minutes, and I have picked up the checks and thus know that I haven't been tipped, Mr. Wild Turkey then asks me for another drink! Really, the guy after complaining about the restaurant, lecturing me, and giving me no tip, asks for another drink. I was flabbergasted. I answered that the restaurant was closing because the Texas game was over, and I walked away.

I then leave the restaurant and sit on the stair in the back. I am so angry that I am not sure that I can contain myself, and I just want for them to leave. All of my other tables are gone, so I sit out back for about 10 minutes. I walk back into the restaurant and they are still there. I couldn't believe it.

Eventually my manager goes over, when they are one of the last two tables in the restaurant, and tells them that we have closed. They finally get up and go. All in all, they probably stayed about 45 minutes to and hour after they had paid.

After I have finished cleaning and resetting the restaurant, I clock out and sit at the bar to enjoy a post-long ass-shift drink. While I am sitting, my manager says "Charles you have to see this." So I get up and walk into the men's bathroom to find that the soap dispenser has been ripped off of the wall, the cover of the smoke alarm has been removed, and an air-freshener has been torn off of the wall and destroyed. All petty vandalism, but the real imagination was when they took a vinyl poster off of the wall and stuffed it into the top of the toilette so that the water would continually run. That took creativity.

We are sure that it was my table that was responsible for the destruction. My manager and the bartender didn't have any problems, or weirdness, with any of their customers, and Mr. Wild Turkey's friends were my only problem. The vandalism has to have occurred late or else someone would have told us, and they were the second to last table to leave. I had been in there about 1:30 before the discovery and nothing was wrong.

It was when I discovered the vandalism that their actions after they paid made sense. They were waiting to see what I would do. Mr. Wild Turkey asked for another drink to see how I would respond. They waited to see if I would see the bathroom. I think they were trying to start a fight, like an actual fight!

When I discovered that vandalism, I was probably the maddest I have been in a while. My manager saw how mad I was and reassured me that I didn't do anything wrong. I was so mad that I couldn't talk. I was so mad that I couldn't get to sleep that night, and I didn't get home until 2 after working for about 10 hours. I still am pretty mad. My blood is boiling while I write this two days later.

As a waiter you take a fair amount of abuse from time to time. Not a lot, and I can mostly deal with it. But the owner of my restaurant works harder than any person should, and I won't stand for people disrespecting her. That is what put me over the edge.

So I guess they won. They got to me. Congratulations.

Sorry for the length of this post, but I have been thinking about this for two days. I just kinda needed to write this so I can be done with the whole thing. That is why I didn't edit or proof this post in any way.


New Design!

Well I have upgraded to BloggerBeta, which is very exciting. I now can label my posts, and I have more control over the template. There are some more things I plan on changing, like figuring out how to get rid of that stupid navbar, but overall I am happy. Let me know if there are any problems with rss feeds, commenting, or anything.

UPDATE: I just learned that because BloggerBeta is Gmail related, comments a post are mailed to me as a single conversation. That is a feature I really like a lot.


On TV...

In the interest of reminding all of you rss readers that I still exist, I thought I would post some thoughts on Television shows. Please note that this post reflects the new and improved Charles, no longer just a hate-filled bastard! I should say that I have more substantive posts coming soon, but I don't think I believe in substantive posts anymore. My goal is to entertain you for about 2 minutes. I am a humble man.

1) I can't wait for The Wire to start. It is pretty much all I think about at this point. In fact, I have decided on a new superficial way to judge people. I can't be your friend if you don't like The Wire. You don't have to think it is the greatest show of all time, just one of the greatest shows of all time. Don't get me wrong, not liking The Wire doesn't make you a bad person (I guess it is possible that you help starving children or curing diseases, or something), it just means that we can't get along in any meaningful way. Sorry.

2) I recently finished the first season of Battlestar Galactica, and that is also a great show. In fact, just playing the percentages here, you probably don't watch Battlestar Galactica, The Wire, and Veronica Mars, and shame on you for that. In fact I am instituting a new arbitrary rule, no one is allowed to complain about TV in any manner if they haven't seen The Wire, Battlestar Galactica, and Veronica Mars. I won't stand for it.

3) I also really like The Contender. I think it has to be the best reality show of all time. It has: people living in a group house and making alliances, family drama, people trying to turn their life around and taking one last shot at their dream, pretty much all of the typical reality show stuff. The difference is that people are eliminated after competing in 5 rounds of boxing. This it totally better than being kicked off a show because you burned a risotto, or because you failed a glorified ropes course. I have yet to see any complaining by an eliminated contestant yet.

4) Seated next to my family at my Father's birthday dinner on Friday was none other that Senator Fred Thompson from Law and Order. My mother is a huge Law and Order fan, and could barely contain herself. We convinced her to wait until he was leaving to get his autograph. When my mom saw that Senator Thompson was leaving, she went up to him and said, "Senator Thompson, can I get your autograph? I am a big fan." She then paused briefly and followed, "More of Law and Order, not of your politics." To which Senator Thompson replied, "I will take what I can get." He then sign the back of the restaurant's business card and left. It was pretty great. Also, if you are at the Colvin Run Tavern, get the carving cart.



I know everyone has seen this video, but that doesn't make any less great. Also, I want to test this whole YouTube embedding thing.


I Am a Big Ball of Rage


"WASHINGTON, in many ways, is an unsurprising place to visit -— an expanse of monuments, symbols and sites familiar to any American who watches the evening news (or, at least, "West Wing"”). Which is not to say that Washington can'’t be, with a little effort, a city of surprises and unfamiliar delights. So, yes, any 36 hours in Washington should include trips to all those famous buildings and memorials, but it should also include excursions to places that perhaps if less famous, are all the more interesting." (emphasis mine)
This paragraph opens the New York Times recommendations of things to do while visiting the District. I wonder though, if New York is so great why would one bother leaving in the first place? And where would you go?
"Go to Penn Quarter, a vibrant Washington neighborhood, for Zaytinya (701 Ninth Street NW, 202-638-0800) a Mediterranean tapas restaurant, that serves fresh Middle Eastern plates in a bustling setting of candles and soaring ceilings. '“It feels like New York,'” a friend said at dinner one recent night. Precisely." (again emphasis mine)
Well thank God that we have a place that is reminiscent of New York. I guess that is how the unfortunates stuck down here survive. I would write more, but, to quote Moe, "I am choking on my own rage here."


Linda Cropp Thinks That I Am Gay

Tim, Emily and myself went to Dakota Cowgirl last night after too many $1.00 beers at Fast Eddies. For those who don't know, Dakota Cowgirl is a gay bar. What I mean is that there are gay men there and it is obviously gay friendly, but it isn't over the top gay so as to make a straight man uncomfortable. We went because I wanted to play Keno, Emily had never been, and Tim got dragged along.

So there we were critiquing the music videos on the flat screen TVs and losing in Keno, when a man comes up to our table and asks if we are registered DC voters and if we would like to meet Linda Cropp. We answer that yes we would love to meet the candidate. So Mrs. Cropp comes up, introduces herself, shakes our hands and asks for our support on September 12th. She then moves on and introduces herself to the other tables. She is in the bar for about 10 minutes before leaving to go to her next stop.

I think that this is all pretty great. Her supporters have rainbow stickers on that say Linda Cropp, but the best part was their campaign flyer. Here is the front:
Sorry for the poor scan, but you have to admit that it is fantastic. Although, I imagine that in Mrs. Cropp's conception the GLBT community is the vermouth, they add a lovely accent in small doses but ruin the Gin if they are around too much. I am not quite sure who the olive is.

But the back of the flyer is even better.
Last night I thought the line "Its time to put this Diva in charge!" was the best part, but sobriety has forced me to reconsider. I really like the idea of drinking "responsively" even if I don't know what it means.

So unless someone else makes a strong push, it looks like I have met the future mayor of the District of Columbia. I guess this means that I will have to pick a candidate based on their policies rather than a selfish desire to say that I have met the mayor. Crap.

UPDATE: It turns out that I wasn't the only one to witness this spectacle. I imagine that that dog wasn't too happy when they removed that sticker.


Corona in a Can?

As I was leaving work on Saturday I got a call from Tommy asking me if it was okay if people came over to our apartment. I said that company was welcome, mainly because I didn't anticipate that there would be attempts to add extra carbonation to a can of beer. My boss was in the car, and wanted to know if I wanted some free beer for our impromptu party. I love free beer, so we went back to the restaurant and filled up. And while my boss is very nice and generous, it wasn't generosity that was guiding her, she just couldn't sell this beer. The beer in question was Corona in a can.

It appears that people just won't buy Corona out of a can. She tried offering all sorts of deals but just couldn't get rid of it. I guess that what people want out of Corona is the commercial. They want to be sitting on the beach with that clear glass bottle. The company sponsors Jimmy Buffett concerts for God's sake. It got me wondering, has anyone ever seen Corona on draft? Does such a thing exist? I am pretty sure that I have seen every other major beer company on draft, except for Corona.


The first of what is sure to be many Wire related posts...

Has anyone read any of George Pelecanos's novels? And do they have any suggestions regarding which are better than others?

I ask because I have decided that George Pelecanos is awesome. Let me enumerate why:

  1. He grew up in the District.
  2. He writes books about DC that don't involve politicians.
  3. He is a writer for The Wire.
  4. In the Tour Music section of his website he admits to liking Q and not U, The Replacements, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Bruce Springsteen.
Really, the whole list could be that he writes for the Wire, the rest is just gravy. I ask for suggestions because it is time to stock up on more books, and I don't want to ruin my estimation of the man by reading a lesser work first.

In related news, I am overwhelmed with anticipation for the new season of The Wire. I have to agree with Yglesias and declare it to be the best show on television. If you haven't seen it, you are really missing out. I use to work as a criminal defense investigator, and I can say that the show is surprisingly accurate. Particularly regarding the street level aspect of the drug trade. Unless they have moved since I left the criminal world (a strong possibility), I can take people to places that look exactly like the courtyard D'Angelo worked in during the first season. As you can imagine, my mother was heartbroken when I left that job.

And finally, because I think spell checkers are hilarious, I just realized that Blogger's spell checker really wants to turn "Yglesias" into "eyeglasses."


More Music Mania

Do we think that this is the ultimate Republican make-out music? Stolen from Bill Simmons, who you really should be reading if you are not already. I recommend his stories about Vegas trips in particular. Also, I use to wonder what people did at work before computers and the internet, now I wonder about life without YouTube. It is a frightening thought.

I need some advise from a Sociologist. I am wondering how 200 people can simultaneously forget about the song "Beth." This should really be studied. Do yourself a favor and check out the video I linked to. It is Kiss! With an orchestra!! And the orchestra is wearing Kiss makeup!!! And they are performing Beth!!!! You can leave your thank you notes in the comment section.


It's Official...

I am old. When the music that I listened to in high school is being packaged together as "Buzz Ballads" and sold as exclusive offers on TV then it is time to pack it in and start worrying about school districts. While I don't particularly love any of the bands on the Cds, the principle still stands.

In other news, my mother is taking credit for this. My parents just got back from San Francisco where my dad's company has their summer meetings. Comcast had a reception at the meetings, and my mother apparently took a Comcast executive to task over the television situation. I know what my mom is like when she gets in those moods, so it is no surprise that the situation was resolved.


At Least Someone is Thinking About the Children

It is no secret that I love baseball. Well, before the Nationals arrived I would try to make out to see the Prince William, then Potomac, Cannons a few times a season. The Cannons, now Nationals, are a single A baseball team. For those who don't know, Major League Baseball has an extensive farm system ranging from Rookie leagues to Triple A. Single A is essentially the lowest level of professional baseball one can play.

If you have never been to a minor league game, you really owe it to yourself, particularly a Single A game. One of the exciting things is that the players are good enough to be paid to play baseball while bad enough to still be in Single A. This means that on any given play you could see a thing of beauty, like a diving catch or a well turned double play, or overgrown Little leaguers throwing the ball over each others heads. You just don't know what will happen. Also, the crowds are usually small enough that a good heckler can really have an impact on the players.

The other great thing about Minor League baseball is that they have fantastic promotions. The Cannons use to have a deal where if you brought a Twizzlers wrapper you go two tickets for the price of one. They also do great things between innings, like tether 7 year olds together and tell them to run away from each other.

The Newark Bears have a great promotion going on. Tonight is "Britney Spears Baby Safety Night" at the ballpark. There are many reasons to go see a minor league game, but tonight you can experience them all for free and all you have to do is dress like a baby!

The reason for this promotion is:

"The Newark Bears know that the Pop Diva's public mishaps are far from intentional. It is her celebrity that has brought attention to the fact that not all new mothers in New Jersey are "not that innocent" when it comes to caring for their bouncing bundle of joy."
See, they are not just making fun of Britney, they have a message and social conscience. They will be educating new mothers. You could win a child car seat! I really hope the title of the pamphlet that they are handing out is "Don't Be A Britney."

Their commitment to baby safety is further evidenced by the 2,000 free NJ Lotto scratch off cards they are giving away, and the post-game firework show. 'Cause nothing says safety like gambling and explosions!


Monday Music Miscellany

I saw the new Pussycat Dolls video on MTV this morning and noted that "Big Snoop Dogg" made a guest appearance on the track. I feel like their should be some Hip Hop authority that you have to apply to in order to get a name change. It would provide a central listing in order to know who is currently named what, and serve to avoid problems like the horrible Dr. Dre debacle of the late 80s and early 90s.

In other news, I have become fairly addicted to The Pipettes album. It sounds like what would happen if Phil Spector went crazy for the New Pornographers rather than shooting people. They also happen to have one of the best names around right now.

Also, in local music news, Chris Richards of Q and not U and Ris Paul Ric fame will be running the Post's weekly music chat on Wednesday.

And finally, the new Spin magazine recommends that you go see The Apes at the Warehouse Nextdoor tomorrow. It is a remarkably good suggestion from a remarkably bad magazine, so I suggest you take them up on it, but bring earplugs.



After my last post, I was looking through the Homestead's website and dreaming of being rich and decadent. Listed under their outdoor activities is, and I really have to quote it, is:

"Falconry (Seasonal)
Known as the "sport of kings," falconry is one of the oldest of the field sports with a history that stretches back nearly 4000 years. Learn about this unique form of hunting with trained birds of prey, including falcons, hawks and owls, at The Homestead's Mews. Beginner and intermediate lessons are available. At the conclusion of the lesson, the guest is given the opportunity to be photographed with the bird."
I think that it might be the greatest place on earth, although I think I now have to delete all of the Clash songs from my Ipod.

Where I Am Going?

In the past few days I have had a few people at work ask me if I had any vacation plans. When I responded that I didn't, they all suggested that I take some time off. And while this may be a veiled suggestion that I look haggard and need to go to bed earlier, I think that it is a good idea. I guess it is possible that everyone I work with is just sick of me.

The problem is that I don't have any idea where to go. Thus I am engaging in my first bleg. I must say that I have avoided these for so long because I find the word "bleg" repugnant. So a couple of stipulations:

  1. I am planning for either late September or early October.
  2. I am thinking about taking a week off.
  3. I won't fly. I hate flying. I can't believe people volunteer, much less pay, for the experience.
  4. I like driving. A driving tour, say down to Nashville and Memphis is an idea I have thought about.
That is pretty much it. So let me know what you all think. Also, does anyone want to accompany me? I do have friends, right?

Also, as a confession that is sure to shock everyone, given my druthers I would hole up here and drink myself stupid for a week. You may think that the Homestead is a very waspy, and it is. You may also think that it looks like the locale for "Dirty Dancing," and it does. But it was here that I learned that the best way to get over a hangover, and a pretty healthy whiskey hangover at that, is to have an hour long full body massage and a good steam. In case you were curious, yes I do disgust myself sometimes.


I Got Teddy in the Fourth...

One of the worst things about RFK prior to the grand re-opening was the Presidents race. The team had an animated video of Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Jefferson racing around a DC. The announcer claimed that each President represented a section, and if you clapped hard enough tinkerbell would come back to life the President for your section would win. I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but they only had about 4 different animations and your clapping did as much for the Presidents as Terrell Owens is going to do for the Cowboys this year.

Probably the greatest thing about RKF's re-opening is that the team now has four people wear 10 foot tall costumes of these Presidents and race from right field to about home plate. It is pretty great. If you go to a game, the race happens in the middle of the fourth inning.

The problem is that the race is still scripted, but I wonder who would win in a race between the Presidents on Mount Rushmore. I think all of the presidents have pretty good upsides, except for one. I think we can all agree that Jefferson would lose every time. I think Washington would be in the best shape, Lincoln has the most heart, and Teddy has that competitiveness that drives him to win at any cost. In fact, Teddy has already attempted to use a golf cart only to be disqualified. I just can't come up with any good reasons why Jefferson would win. In my mind I picture Jefferson as kind of a dandy.


The Art of Score

I realized today that I have not yet extolled the glories of keeping score at a baseball game. It is really one of the best things in sports.

For those of you who don't know, scorekeeping is a way for baseball fans to keep track of what has happened in a baseball game using a series of symbols. Wikipedia has a pretty good explanation here, with pictures! Tommy has observed that keeping score jives well with my obsessive nature, and he right. But keeping score can be fun even if you don't feel the need to straighten up everywhere you go.

When you keep score you know what has happened in the game up to that point, but you are also able to pick up on game trends quicker. You can see that a certain player is pulling the ball, or that the pitcher is inducing a lot of ground ball outs. You might even notice that a certain All-Star is flying out a lot and decide to hold it against him for the rest of his career. When you keep score you get a sense of the story of the game.

Keeping score also helps pass the time a baseball game. I know that some people are prone to complain that baseball games are too long, and nothing happens. When you are keeping score you have plenty of things to keep track of: the last play, inning totals, substitutions, some people track every pitch. It can be overwhelming. I promise that the game will just fly by.

The most important about scorekeeping is that when you are doing it everyone in your section knows that you are better than them. They look over, see you with your book, and know that you are a bigger and better baseball fan than them. It is the sports equivalent of wearing the perfect ironic t-shirt at the Black Cat.

So let me encourage you to take up scorekeeping as a hobby. Here is a link to some free scorecards that you can print out on your company's dime. You will learn a lot about baseball, and before you know it you will be wasting time at work reading up on statistics rather than the dating lives of various Washingtonians!

I stole the picture from Tommy, here is the original.


Who is their PR guy?

There is a church in Arlington that has one of those signs outside that is usually used to give the title of the upcoming sermon. Recently they have decided to take advantage of the recent weather.

A couple of weeks ago, during the deluge that had us all appreciating a good sturdy bucket, they had, and I am paraphrasing, "That Noah story seems more real, doesn't it?" I just couldn't figure out what the church was hoping to achieve with this statement. Are they hoping non-believers will think "well there was a flood in the Bible and now there is a flood in the 12th Street Tunnel, so the Bible must be true! I better get me some churchin'."

I think that the message is even worse to believers. I read it as: "Remember when God flooded the world to kill all of the sinners? Well, if you put a little more effort into those rice crispy treat men (poorly tied licorice bows) you made for the bake sale then maybe you would still have carpet in your basement."

This was all well and good, but when I drove by yesterday they had "Hell seems more real now, doesn't it?" This is absolutely the worst message for a church to send. Sure a Washington heat wave is uncomfortable, but not so bad that I am going to get up early on a Sunday.

I think the main problem is that they are reacting to the weather. They should be tailoring the sign future weather events. Like say, if the forecast calls for the sky to rain blood, that is the time to jump and try to get the butts in the pews.



I while ago I wondered if there was any truth to a rumor involving Eagles fans throwing a Redskins fan of the upper deck of Veterans Stadium. Well, thanks to Metroblogging DC I think I have found the truth. According to the New York Times, the heroic Redskins Fan only had parts of his costume thrown off of the stadium. The Eagles fans were nice enough to break that brave soul's legs in the parking lot, where presumably it would be easier to get to the hospital. So, in the interest of fairness let me apologize to Eagles fans everywhere. You are an inspiration to us all!


It has begun...

I just learned that the copiers in my office order their own replacement supplies. Humanity is screwed.

It's All In The Family

I spent this weekend in Central New York at a family reunion. It gave me a good chance to see family that I hadn't in a while, and visit the old alma mater. It is reassuring to know that my family remains as crazy as ever. And while I won't blather about most of what happened, it is probably standard family reunion craziness, I did learn some interesting things this weekend.

First, when my Great Great Great Grandfather was shopping for a cane he saw fit to purchase the model with a sword hidden in the handle. No one is really sure why he felt that he needed a sword on him at all time, or why the sword needed to be hidden. I choose to believe that he was a crime fighter of some kind, but maybe I am reading too many comic books. This cane was passed on to my father this weekend. Given the current "CRIME EMERGENCY" that we are experiencing in the city, I think it might be a good idea for me to start carrying it around. I would be unstoppable.

Second, my 6 year old cousin knows all of the words to "My Humps" and has even created a dance to accompany her acappela rendition. I guess the question is what would you choose between Barney and The Black Eyed Peas?

Finally, I have joked (well half-joked) in the past about how my wife will not have a say when it comes to first name of our first son. He is going to be named Charles, and there isn't much that she can do about it. The first born male in my family has been named Charles for 5 generations. If she has a problem with this, then maybe we shouldn't have gotten married in the first place. I know this is sexist, and patriarchical, but she can pick the middle name. I think of it as equality, I pick one name and she picks the other, as long as it is not something stupid like James or Allen.

What is weird is that I spent this weekend with a lot of people who really believe in keeping this tradition alive. I mean aside from canes with swords, this is all we really have to pass on. We have factions in my family that haven't talked in over 20 years due to an incident with a cheeseball that went uneaten and, according to the aggrieved party, under-appreciated. If they can be this spiteful over a ball of cheese, literally by the way, I don't know what these people would do to me if I broke the naming tradition. Ordinarily I wouldn't be too concerned, but I also learned that I have a relative who lives in the Adirondack Mountains and makes a living as a trapper. So he has experience tracking and killing things, although on the plus side he claims to have a good recipe for beaver burgers.

I have known this for a while, but I learned this weekend that I am in fact the only Gr/ay male in my generation, including second cousins. So in addition to keeping the naming tradition alive, I actually have to keep the family alive. I actually heard the phrase "it is up to Charles." I already suck enough at meeting people. I really don't need the fate of my family resting on my ability to talk to strangers, much less be charming. I imagine this is how Henry VIII felt, except of course that I don't have Estates, or Titles, or the Crown of England to worry about. There is a Gr/ay New York, but the only thing I know about it is that is has a cemetery.

This is of course, mostly insane. But sanity usually not the first adjective used to describe my family. We even have the medical records and court documents to prove it. On the other hand, I do love my family a lot and I am proud to be counted among them. I know it seems like a very old fashioned idea, maybe you have to be raised in my family to understand it, and I clearly can't really explain it. I just think it would be sad if the Gr/ay family died out.


When Stars Get Hurt

A long time ago, Tommy had a website that featured among other things the video of Pacey from Dawson's Creek getting a basketball thrown in his face. We would just watch the clip over and over again. What was mildly amusing once became brilliant when seen about 10 times straight. I am pretty sure that that one moment was the highlight of Dawson's Creek.

In a similar vein, let me link to a video of Jared Leto's band performing at the 9:30 club. If you fast forward to around 3:20 you will witness Jared falling, and not gracefully mind you, on his head. It is pretty great, but I really need to find some way to edit it so I can watch the relevant section over and over again. I should mention that I don't have speaks attached to this computer, so I have no idea what any of it sounds like. I have a feeling that that may be the preferred method.

I was originally not going to post it, but in the comment section for the video people were complaining that the video was being used to make fun of Jared Leto. I remembered that I am not a good person and felt compelled to link to it. In case and 30 Seconds to Mars fans come over, let me say that I have nothing against Jared Leto or 30STM, I just think it is funny when famous people hurt themselves. Really funny. Is that so wrong?


Merriweather: The Gift That Keeps On Giving...

So I accompanied some friends to the Ted Leo, Broken Social Scene, Belle and Sebastian show at Merriweather Post on Saturday. While I looked forward to the concert, I did dread going to Merriweather. In the past, I have had problems getting the venue in time for concerts, or finding that I couldn't see the stage from the lawn and that the screens are broken. I actually hate the venue.

The people that I went with hadn't been to Merriweather before, and had only my complaining to guide them. Well, we got there in plenty of time and found seats, proving that every complaint that I had was unfounded and that I was a liar. Great.

So we settle in and enjoy a nice, albeit abbreviated set by Ted Leo. Then Kriston and I got up to walk around and see what we could see. We walked over to where they were selling T-Shirts, because you need a T-Shirt to prove that you were there and other people were not. As we are perusing the merchandise a bee just flies up and stings me near my eye. Without provocation! At first, I am not sure that I got that I got stung, it just kinda feels like something flew into my eye. Then Kriston confirms that my eye is in fact starting to swell, confirming that I did in fact get stung.

The people at Merriweather were nice enough to give me a bag filled with ice, and I spent most of the rest of the concert sitting on the lawn holding a bag of ice to my face. For the rest of the night my eye just kinda hurt, but nothing too bad.

When I woke up on Sunday, my eye had started to swell. It looked like had been in a fight. Which was nice, I may have gotten a swollen eye but the assailant ended up broken with his guts all over the pavement. How often can you say that?

When I woke up this morning, my left eye had pretty much swollen shut. This completely freaked me out. I almost woke up Tommy to have him drive me the Emergency Room. I ended up getting in touch with my parents and my aunt who is a nurse. It turns out that this swelling is completely normal, and could continue for a few more days. It was comforting to hear that a life threatening allergic reaction would have already occurred. I took some over the counter medication and the swelling has gone down considerably. I am back to being a bad Thom Yorke impersonator.

The moral of this story is that Merriweather Post Pavilion is the worst music venue in the country and if you go there you will get stung by a bee. In addition to never going back to Merriweather, I have decided to carry a spray bottle of bee killer on me at all times and wear it on my belt like a wild west gunslinger. And not any nice "environmentally-safe" bee killer, but industrial leave a trail of bodies and anything else that gets in the way serious as shit bee killer. I am considering having my chemical-engineering friend Jeff concoct something so potent and deadly that it can't be sold commercially. So bees, you are on notice!


I Am a Hate-Filled Bastard

Last night at the DCist Happy Hour I realized what an awful person I am. While I am not the most gregarious person, I found myself opining at length on various topics. It was later when I took stock what those topics were that I realized the monster that I have become.

Apparently the only things that feel passionately about, and am willing to discuss at length are: atrocities committed by Philadelphia sports fans, and my general hatred of Mormons and Utah. I don't know exactly how this happened. I am not quite sure when I went from passive dislike to intense hatred. I assume it was a smooth transition.

The problem is that my hatred has created a singular focus. Rather than be content to just be irritated when I run across say an Eagles fan, I go out in search for examples in an act of self flagellation. Sure it hurts as swells of blinding anger rush over me, but it also feels so good to be right.

I think the problem is that I find myself only speaking really passionately when I am acting like a hate-filled little bastard. And there is more to me than just hate, or at least I hope there is.

In other news, this might be the single most offensive movie to hit theaters. It is one thing to glorify drug dealers and murders, but the sadistic fans of a franchise that hasn't actually ever won anything? I mean at least a drug dealer provides jobs for the community, what has an Eagles fan ever done?

Also, fans of Big Love might find this Salon article interesting. And yes I realize that the people in question are not recognized by the official Mormon church.


Does That Make Him Crazy?

One of the books that I am reading now is "The Vintage Guide to Classical Music" by Jan Swafford. It is a series of essays about the life and work of the great composers.

What I love about that book is that all of the great composers are crazy. We like to envision our classical composers as respectable staid individuals. I am almost through the romantic period, and I have met a good number of alcoholics, beggars, and a surprising number of artists driven insane by syphilis. A lot of these guys could give Keith Richards some competition in the decadent, self destructive race. It is really quite fantastic.

I just finished a section on Tchaikovsky, and there is a passage that is to fantastic and must be shared with everyone.

"Though during an early attempt at conduction he [Tchaikovsky] had developed the hallucination that his head was falling off (through the piece he held on to it with one hand)." Page 321


Weekend Roundup

So, what a weekend. Warning, this is a rambling whiny post whose purpose is to serve my mental health.

I worked Friday night as my restaurant hosted a local chapter of the Hash House Harriers. For those who don't know, "Hashers" are runners who drink, run to drink more, then finish the evening with more drinking. According to Wikipedia, the tradition has British origins, which makes sense because the people in this group tipped about as well as British people. One guy actually managed to tip my 73 cents on one checked then opened another and tipped me 10 cents. As a word of warning, the next time I know that the group is running I am calling the police and informing them that people are drinking in public.

The other thing they did, and this is actually very bad, was bring the remainders of their running beers into the restaurant and finishing them. This behavior could get my restaurant in a lot of trouble.

I worked a fairly unremarkable shift on Saturday. We had a group of 14 come in, and when my bartender asked if they were celebrating anything, the woman on the phone answered that they had just buried her mother. This knowledge really prevented me from being my normal charming self. For example, questions like "How are you all doing this evening?" were just out of the question.

I played two very emotional church services on Sunday. My church said goodbye to a beloved pastor who had been at our church for 14 years. She had a hand in every part of my church that I love. She was forced out of the church in some very ugly backroom dealings. A tip for my friends who will eventually get married and decide that their kids need to go to church, avoid the politics at all cost. The combination of faith, friends, money, and political views makes for some very ugly dealings. Add people acting nice to each other, because it is a church, and things get very cold and vindictive and decidedly un-Christian. But she will be missed by a good many people in our church, including myself.

So I finally get home around 9:30 on Sunday hoping to watch Deadwood and Entourage, then go to bed and put the miserable weekend behind me. Well all of the rain has blocked our satellite signal, so no HBO. Then around 11:00 my mom calls me. She is home alone and the basement of my house is flooded. So I head out to Arlington, negotiate numerous street closings, get to my house and find my mother in the basement with a bucket and about 6 inches of water. There are coolers and litterboxes and lord knows what floating around. The only thing to do is grab a bucket and start bailing. We finished around 1:30, but at least I got a great lat work out.

I didn't go to work today so I could hopefully finish the process of registering my car. In a bit of good news, my car passed inspection! Yeah! So I go to the DMV triumphantly, knowing that I am finally going to be done with this whole car thing only to find that the DMV is closed on Monday. I guess this is my fault, I didn't look to see if the DMV would be open on Monday, but in my defense I just can't fathom how a DMV can be closed on a Monday, much less every Monday.

So I returned home dejected and beaten and now I am drinking Scotch. My current problem is that I finished the last of my Scotch and worry about my Scotch supplies for the rest of the night. So how was your weekend?


Soccer Sucks!

Now that the US is out of the world cup I think it is time to engage in one of my favorite pastimes, being a sore loser.

Soccer is a stupid sport. America lost because we don't care about this stupid sport, and if we did we would win every time.

Before Darren starts yelling at me, let me say that I actually do like watching soccer, and that in reality it is a fine sport. But I have been thinking about something Marc Fisher wrote in one of his recent chats:

"Marc Fisher: Don't worry--soon after they arrive, they will discover the complexities and rituals of other sports and free themselves from the chains of the single-sport obsessions of their homelands."
I think this is true. It is no wonder that Soccer is the most popular sport in the world because the rest of the sports that the world plays suck more.

Lets us take England as an example. England is a wealthy, highly educated country with amazingly crappy sports. Lets say you are a kid growing up in Leeds. What are you going to get excited about? Polo? It is like hockey, but with animals shitting all over the place. Rugby? It is like football, but manages to be both violent and boring.

And then there is Cricket. Cricket which might be the single stupidest game ever invented. From the Wikipedia entry:
"Generally, the batsman attempts to strike the ball with the bat, and run to the other end, exchanging places with his partner, scoring a run. However, he can attempt to run without hitting the ball, and vice versa. While the batting team scores as many runs as it can, the bowling team returns the ball back to either wicket. If the ball strikes a wicket before the batsman nearer to that wicket has reached safety then the batsman is out, or "dismissed". The batsman can also be out by failing to stop the bowled ball from hitting the wicket, or if a fielder catches the ball before it touches the ground. Once the batsmen are not attempting to score any more runs, the ball is "dead" and is bowled again."
I highlighted my favorite line. Idiots stand on a field and just randomly try to run back and forth between two sticks. If you can't make it, don't bother running. And what is worse, this altar to absurdity lasts for 3-5 days. Some of you are probably want to make comparisons to Baseball, which is fine as long as you accept that Baseball makes sense and Cricket does not.

So kick away citizens of the world, what other options do you have?