wanna be hero

Another year down, another year gone.
Another day closer to Christmas. Worked a half day yesterday because things are so slow at work. Will probably do the same today. Hardly got a single e-mail all day, was kinda nice. We’ve still got a lot to do before we leave: pack, clean, do our Christmas Eve present thing since we’ll be in FL for the actual holiday. I’m getting excited about going back to Florida, which I still kind of consider as “home” since I did most of my growing up there. I always get a little homesick when we get out at the Orlando airport. For all the reasons I profess to not like Florida, it’s actually a great state – and I have a lot of good memories of my days there.

Yesterday my mom called me at work from her cell phone, asking if I’d felt the earthquake. I hadn’t, since it was centered too far south of here – but they did feel it there. It was kinda cool knowing a piece of big news before the news services started picking up on it. CNN and the other outlets were only about 20min behind real-time with their stories, which is pretty impressive. The US Geological pages that register seismic activity had it up instantly, which I also thought was cool. I’ve been through one or two slow rollers when we lived in Lompoc, but that’s about it. Nothing as hard hitting as a 6.4, which I’m sure is a little more scary than the lightweights I’ve weathered.

Bob asked me the other day if I was concerned traveling with the terror alert at Orange now. I guess it does make me a little more “aware” than usual, but not really nervous. That terror threat color chart seems awfully arbitrary to me, but I hope that it’s working. I guess the only real way it affects me is to just pile on imagination-fodder in my brain. See, I often have these little movies running in my head, that are sparked from what’s really going on in front of me. I run through these imagined scenarios, kind of like a “choose your own adventure” in my head.

As an example: I’ll be walking along somewhere and a surly looking dude passes by me; we both continue along our ways. In my head: All of the sudden the dude pulls out a ninja sword and rushes at me, screaming about something. What do I do? Then I’ll run though all these scenarios in my head, deciding on the best course of action. Kind of like thinking of a good comeback to an insult long after it’s been said, I’ll arrive at the coolest or most heroic chain of events, and then review them like a short action flick. I do it all the time: What if a plane hit my work building? What if a bomb went off at the airport while I am walking through? What if the supermarket got robbed right now? You guys don’t even know how many times I’ve saved the day in my head, I’m like a superhero in my own mind.

With all the year-end hoopla in the media, I felt it was time for me to put my personal spin on the “best of” game. I’ve chosen the following 10 albums as my choices for best albums of 2003. The criteria I used to judge is really twofold: How much did I listen to the album (frequency and longevity), and how much do I enjoy the music (savory-ness and emotion). Without further ado, my picks for the best of 2003 (in no particular order):

  • Radiohead – Hail to the Thief
  • Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism
  • Broken Social Scene – You Forgot it in People
  • Decemberists – Her Majesty the Decemberists
  • Shins – Chutes to Narrow
  • Hot Hot Heat – Make Up for the Breakdown / Knock Knock Knock EP
  • The Thrills – So Much for the City
  • Decemberists – Castaways and Cutouts
  • Postal Service – Give Up
  • Iron and Wine – Iron and Wine

There it is, with Nada Surf’s Let Go, The Unicorns’ Who Will Cut Our Hair…, and Snow Patrol’s Final Straw barely sitting outside the list. And I know I kinda cheated on the Hot Hot Heat double-pick, but I always listen to the two together – so it’s like a single album to me.

If you like good music, check some of that stuff out – it’s all tasty. 2003 was actually a really good year for music, I don’t know if it’s just that I get so much that some of it is bound to be awesome, but for whatever reasons it seemed there was a lot of excellent stuff out. Also nice, we got to see a lot of it live – as 2003 was also a great year for live shows. This year I took in: Radiohead, Modest Mouse, The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, Nada Surf, Pedro the Lion, Explosions in the Sky, Broken Social Scene, The Stars, Beulah, John Vanderslice, Built to Spill, Hot Hot Heat, The Walkmen, Bright Eyes, The Strokes, and probably more I’m not thinking of.

Well, what started out as a blank slate ended up with some pretty decent blog content. I’m proud. Although I’m not going to all the trouble to go back and hyperlink everything, because I’m just not in the mood. As I mentioned, I’ll be trying to write every day over vacation, but it may not work out that way.

Merry Christmas all! Dave out!

christmas and weddings

Huh what?
This weekend was cool. Saturday we went to see Return of the King, which I thought was absolutely incredible. The scenery was breathtaking, the characters were perfect, and the story was well told. I enjoyed it so much, and I can’t wait to hand over my hard-earned cash for the super-deluxe fifteen-disc collectors edition. After that we went to Ben’s crib. It was there that I discovered Vice City. Oh man, my Xbox has been in the closet for almost seven months – but after playing that game for 5 hours Saturday night, I pulled it down from it’s retirement and kicked off a BitTorrent download of Vice City. The game is sooo fun. After all the negative press, I was sure I’d be disgusted by it – but it’s just too rad to deny.

My brother gets married in less than a week, I’m actually really excited about going to the ceremony. I can’t believe both us kids are hitched. It really has been a long time since the days of Saturday Morning Cartoons.

I honestly have nothing to write. Christmas is almost here and we’ll be jetting of to Florida on the 24th to arrive on Christmas morning. I’ll be taking the laptop in hopes of blogging while there, but I’m not sure if I’ll write or not. I’ll at least try to write once during the week, but who knows. Sharaun and I are doing our Christmas on Christmas Eve morning, since we don’t want to haul all our gifts to Florida. I’m actually quite proud of the gifts I got for her this year, more thought and went into it than previous years, and I think she’ll be happy with most of it.

Dave out.

burn down the barn

Social... anxiety... setting in... must run and hide...
Damn, I really am pretty touchy when it comes to some things. I never expect certain things to affect me so much, but things often creep up on me. When I least expect it, I can be struck by a total feeling of dumbassness. Sometimes I anticipate it, and I’m ready because I know I’m up against a potentially embarrassing situation. Other times, it sneaks up on me and I leave a situation or exchange with a feeling humiliation and self-doubt. If I could, I would escape from all situations that could be potentially pride-damaging. I know what I’m writing doesn’t make much sense, I’m just lamenting another situation I found myself in. Let’s move to other topics shall we? Good.

On the real tip, I’ve decided that I don’t really care for “going out.” I mean, I’m a totally social person, and I love hanging out and partying with friends. It’s strange, certain forms of “going out” are completely acceptable, and even desirable, to me. Things like going to a movie, going out to a restaurant, or hitting a brewpub. I don’t, however, enjoy going to dance clubs, discotheques, high-falootin’ or swanky bars, or seedy bars with crappy bands playing. Mostly I like little pub-like places were you can sit and eat/drink/talk with friends. If I had my choice, I’d hang out exclusively at either those kind of places – or ever better someone’s house. The idea of “going out” does nothing to add extra excitement to activities for me, I just don’t get a charge from it. In fact, in most cases it detracts from the potential excitement. I know, it’s anti-social, and hermity, and stubborn.

If I think about it though, I’ve never been a fan of going out on the town and getting blasted, and I loathe dancing. I’m not in the market for a significant other, and $6 beers don’t taste any better to me than $6 six-packs. I guess when most people get pumped for a night on the town, they get excited inside at the prospects of “going out” and what the evening may hold. I just don’t get that for some reason, at least in relation to going out. I mostly think about what time we’ll be getting home and if there’ll still be time to read some on my book or relax. Jeez, reading that last sentence I might as well have said something about wanting to get home and watch Star Trek or work with my chemistry set. Bottom line is that I’m a huge tool.

At frist I wanted to write about it and rationalize it by saying I did most of my “crazy fun” stuff a lot earlier than some people. Thinking that by college, I was already pretty much retired from going out and getting crazy. I’d had my fill. But then I realized that’s kinda stupid reasoning, because you can’t really “use up” all the party in you, and there will always be times that I’ll get the itch. So it’s harder to explain I guess.

All that said, I do tend to blow in the wind a bit – and occasionally the very things I just said I hate sound oddly OK to me. I’ll find myself agreeing to go out thinking, “hey, this sounds kinda fun.” When the evening’s events end up being “going out,” more often than not I go so not to appear as a total grump and wallflower. I never have a completely suicide-inducing time, but I rarely burn down the barn. So maybe I’m not completely geriatric inside, but I’m close. I suppose I’m what’s called a “homebody,” and I’m cool with that.

Haha, I don’t even know what “burn down the barn” even means in that last paragraph. I totally wrote and I had no idea. Like a spirit took over my fingers and typed it. An Amish sprit maybe. I guess I was thinking of the term “barnburner” or something.

Dave out. Well, not “out” like “going out,” or “coming out.” Just out.

not-so-better

Yum they make you sick!
If Wednesday’s blog was one of the better ones, this is gonna be one of the not-so-better ones. I just wasn’t in a writing mood tonight, and there wasn’t much going on. I thought about writing about how much I suck at wrapping gifts, but then the inspiration left me. So here ya go, a couple straight up cut-n-pastes from the stale section of the “blog_ideas.txt” file. Woot.

Oh man, I rediscovered the greatness that is eBaum’s World last night. I’ve been to this site before, but man it’s got some hilarious stuff on there. I was laughing at the GI Joe parodies, particularly this one and this one. Stupid QuickTime movies, I hate QuickTime. Always stealin’ my file associations. If you don’t do QuickTime, you can use this awesome QT alternative (also grab the nearly all-inclusive Windows codec pack while you’re there, and never have broken vids again). What more could you want from a site? I mean, they got dudes with elephantitis of the balls, and crazy rednecks trying to drive trucks with their feet. My kinda website, you could easily kill an evening at this place.

… too bad your ass got saaaacked.

Public Service Announcement to People I Know:
People, for real now, c’mon, let’s think here for a sec. If you see a mail about some crazy teddy bear virus on everyone’s PC, check it out before you blindly forward it. That one where the stupid bunny always knows my card?, save that crap, I’ve seen it. Oh, and the ones where Bill Gates or Coke or someone is gonna give me money if I keep forwarding your idiocy onward through the internet?, you can keep that crap too. It’s fake. Yeah, that’s right. Sorry to crush your belief that some tourist’s picture was taken right before the planes hit, or that that scuba dude barely missed getting eaten by a shark. It’s all 100% fake man, every piece of internet lore you’re hemorrhaging from your inbox is pure shite. Ahh… much better.

Nice collection of moldy and musty bits I’ve been meaning to post. Hope you enjoyed them. Did I mention I suck at wrapping gifts? I did? Oh, OK.

Dave out.

rememberies

Ali says,
Long blog. Yesterday we had stories of personal tragedy that are funny when I look back on them. Today I have a couple stories of personal tragedy that haven’t quite turned into funny memories yet. Well.. the getting beaten up one… kinda…

We got robbed when I was in the 5th grade. My mom picked my brother and I up as usual from the house where we’d spend a couple hours after school every day. As we pulled into the driveway, dad’s car was there already. I remember a soon as mom pulled into the driveway he came out and told mom he needed to talk to her, and asked my brother and I to stay in the car. I saw my mom start crying, and then they went into the house. I don’t think I waited, I just got out of the car and followed them in. What a mess.

Someone had broken in and absolutely trashed the place. They had taken everything out the fridge and spread it all around the house. Books were taken of bookshelves, laid open on the coffee table, and had milk poured all over them. Squeeze bottle ketchup covered the walls and ceiling, and clung to every picture and painting. My dad’s bark paintings he bought in Brazil were ruined. Powdered laundry detergent stuck to the floor where something else had been spilled. Dark lines of soy sauce stained the carpet up and down the hallway, and added a sickly sweet smell to the whole mess. To this day, the small of soy sauce still reminds me of that day.

They took my mom’s jewelry, a handgun of my dad’s, and other things. From my room they stole the few dollars I had laying on my desk, and I think a couple Nintendo games. They didn’t even touch my brother’s room, although there was a $20 bill in plain sight on his dresser. Later on we discovered they also took a spare set of keys to the house, we had to have the locks changed.

I got so upset that I had to leave the house. My folks were calling, or had already called, the police. I took off on my bike and headed up the street, I just wanted to go away from there. The smell and sight of the whole thing was just too much. I ended up riding across the road to my school. It was there that I saw Mrs. Forinash, my 4th grade teacher from the year before. She must’ve seen me crying, because she came out of the classroom and started talking with me. I’ll never forget how good she made me feel. She told me that as long as no one was hurt, we were lucky. I left there feeling a lot better.

The house was such a mess that we had to have it professionally cleaned. Insurance put us up in the Embassy Suites while the various cleaning companies took a week to undo the vandalism. When we got back, there was a little piece of carpet they missed in the hall that was still crunchy with old soy sauce. I remember that. The cops never did find anything on the kids who did it. To this day my mom thinks it was some kids who had some kinda beef with me. The most certainly had to be kids, not only would a real thief not stay long enough to trash the place, but they came in through the doggy door – so they were small. Anyway, I don’t know what kind of enemies I could’ve made, being only in the 5th grade, but stranger things have happened I suppose.

It sucks to get robbed.

Shane and I went down to the dirt tracks to go ride on Hell Hill, I think we were in 5th grade. It was this huge dirt ditch that had a track running into, and out of, it. You had to ride down one side and make it back up the other. It was very steep, and very deep, at least to a couple of 5th grade boys.. You got going really fast on the down side, and then had to peddle like crap to make it up the other side to the top. If you made it, there was another little trail that went through the woods and ended up in a field (everything there seemed to end up in a field somehow).

Anyway, that day Shane and I both made it. The patch of woods that the little trail afterward went through was sunken in the ground – the tops of the trees were at ground level ? like a little sunken copse of trees. At the beginning, you had a tiny steep hill that dropped you to the bottom of the sunken place, about 20ft or so. So, when you went down that little hill after just coming off Hell Hill, you always let out a little sarcastic yelp, like you’re supposed to be scared of this little hill when you just conquered Hell Hill! At least that’s what we did. Anyway, I led the way, and I went down the hill and yelled something, probably “Whoa” or something like that. Shane followed close behind and I heard him yell too.

The trail was skinny and twisty, and you really couldn’t ride all that fast. I came around a turn and there was another kid riding towards me, I’ll never forget that kid’s face. A short blonde kid, older than me. I put on the brakes and stopped, so did he. He asked me, “Did you call me an asshole?” I was like, “No.” Then, Shane comes tearing around the corner and has to slam on his brakes too. We’re both sitting there, and this kid is blocking our way. He asks Shane, “Why did you call me an asshole!?” I don’t remember what Shane did, but I said, “We didn’t,” or something like that. Then this kid got off his bike, and punched me in the mouth.

I’d never, ever, been hit in the face before, let alone with a closed fist. It was shock more than pain, and I just looked at him and said, “What did you do that for?” he hit me two mores times, and then got on his bike and rode away in the direction we had just come from. So, we got on our bikes and continued riding. About 40 seconds later, I came out of shock and began crying. Riding and crying, we both wanted to go home. And my face hurt.

When we got to the end of the trail, there were like 10 kids there. One of them was the kid who had already hit me. I just remember thinking how big they all were, there was a black kid there who was so tall an skinny. Anyway, the blonde kid and what looked to be his older brother approached us and started with the, “Why’d you call us assholes” thing again. We were blocked off, and we just straddled our bikes and denied saying anything.

They began hitting me, hard this time. In the face. The older stocky blonde kid was hitting me a lot, and they were just talking to Shane. Other kids started hitting me too, in the stomach and face. I was crying and asking them to stop. The whole time they’re asking why I called them assholes, I kept saying I didn’t. The big black kid hit me, and it hurt the worst.

I remember telling them, in response to the, “Why’d you..” question, “Why don’t you ask him,” pointing at Shane. I didn’t want to get Shane beat up, but I was getting pummeled. They then took up on Shane, hitting him a lot harder and a lot more than they hit me. They were still hitting me, but it wasn’t as much. They were really laying into Shane, we were both crying. I heard the big blonde kid talk about stabbing us, and he had a knife out.

Then, the black kid said to stop hitting us. The other kids ignored him, but he said, “Hit them again and I’ll hit you.” I guess they all knew how hard he could hit, because they quit. After they stopped, they just got on their bikes and rode away. The stocky kid had a red jacket on, and it had a name on the back, “Travis “Something, I couldn’t make out the last name because it was in cursive. But I remembered the first name.

When we rode out finally, there were some Mexicans working in the field, but they didn’t speak English when we asked for a phone. So, we had to ride al the way home to my house. It was a long ride. I remember my head hurting so bad, and Shane’s too, we were riding slow and we both felt dizzy and sick. I thought of riding to Jason’s house, his mom used to babysit my brother and I, and it was a lot closer than my house. We called my mom from there. I said, “Mom, can you come pick me up, we just got beat up.” Of course I was crying. Shane called his dad too. His dad was extra pissed.

I remember driving all around town with Shane’s dad in the van, just looking at every kid we saw an him asking us if that was them. We went back to the dirt tracks, we went down to the riverbed, we went everywhere that teenage kids might hang out. We finally stopped over by the park, and I saw a friend of ours outside. I asked him if he knew any kids with a red jacket that said “Travis” and he said yes, and that they lived in the apartments on the other side of the park. We drove in the direction he pointed us in, and sure enough all the kids were outside on their bikes. It must have been a couple hours since they had beat us up, but when they saw who we were – they scattered. The two brothers ran towards the apartment complex, and Shane’s dad ran right after them. When they ran into an apartment and shut the door, he ran right in after them. The kids’ dad was watching TV when Shane’s dad busted in, and they almost went at it. Shane’s dad called the cops from the kids’ own apartment.

Eventually the cops rounded up all the other kids. They questioned Shane and I about the incident, and we said all of the kids had hit us – but that the tall one had stopped them. It turned out that some of them were on probation already, and might have been be going to jail. Shane had to go to the hospital, and I went home with a sore head and neck, and a cut up mouth from getting my cheeks pounded into my teeth.

Bad day.

Funny how things stay with you when you’re a kid. For years I had a fear of being in relatively remote wooded areas. When we’d be hanging out in the woods, I’d jump at other kids coming. I also had a great fear of getting beat up, although I suppose that’s a pretty normal thing. I’ve always been over-worried about getting robbed too, but hopefully that childhood incident will satisfy the statistics and I won’t have to deal with it again.

In closing, I’d like to thank those of you who told me that yesterday’s blog was some of the finest blogging ever. Even though you broke the cardinal rule of not talking about the blog in person, I appreciate the praise. Pat’s comment was the clincher, helped push a kinda funny entry over the edge.

Dave out.

a rock in my ear

The master and I were at a similar ear-disadvantage.
In 1st grade, we were all sitting indian style on the rug while Mrs. Swanson played the piano. She was pretty good at the piano and we would have “music class” where we sat and listened to her play. I had picked up a small rock from the floor, the kind that sometimes comes loose from asphalt, and was playing around with it. I was putting the rock in my ear, and then letting it fall out into my hand. It was fun for some reason, pretending that a rock was coming out of my ear. I remember sitting there putting it in and taking it out, over and over. Then one time, it didn’t come out. I tried to dig for it, but it was gone. I started crying and told Mrs. Swanson what had happened. She sent me to the nurse, where I again explained that I had got a rock stuck in my ear. The nurse used one of those lighted scopes to take a peek, and then announced that there was no rock in my ear. I faintly remember her sentiment being that I was lying, either to get attention or get out of class. I’m almost certain I remember them either calling my mom and informing her, or giving me a note to take to her explaining why I was at the nurse’s office. Either way, I’m sure my mom knew about it – even if she thought I made the whole thing up.

Come 5th grade my family followed the Space Shuttle to FL, and I left CA behind. Sometime in the 6th grade, I went to the doctor to have my ears cleaned out. If you’ve never had your ears cleaned out before, it’s not the most fun thing ever. They ask you to hold a little tray under your ear while they squirt warm soapy water into it at high pressure. I don’t really remember why I was having it done, but I was. All of the sudden, the doctor stopped and exclaimed: “I think this is a rock!” I knew immediately where that rock had come from. No one in the room, my mom, the doctor, or the nurse could believe a rock had just come out of my ear. When the doctor asked how it had got there, I lied and said that it must’ve happened while playing with my brother in the driveway or something. Secretly, I knew that rock had been in my ear for five years – ever since the day I put it there in 1st grade.

When we got home I told my mom the real reason there was a rock in my ear, and that it had been there since 1st grade. She swore then, and still swears to this day, that she never knew of the incident in 1st grade. Never knew I had put a rock in my ear and gone to the nurse, who brushed me aside as a liar. I knew that rock was there all along, but no one would believe me. When I think of my head growing around a rock for five years, it kinda freaks me out. But it never caused me any discomfort or hearing problems, so I guess I got lucky. And as for mom’s denial, I think she does remember – but she’s so embarrassed that she let her son live with a rock in his ear for five years, she has gone into denial. That’s OK mom, I know it’s easier to believe the lie if you tell it to yourself too – I forgive you.

All throughout gradeschool, I had an awesome tactic to make people think I was smart. I somehow got it in my head that I would look like I was doing something important if, during storytime (or any other social on-the-floor time), I sat there and very obviously counted to myself. I don’t know where I came up with the idea, but I figured that if I made a show of using my fingers like I was counting, with a fixed look of concentration on my face – the other kids would think I was important. I would even count for a while, all serious looking, and then pretend to mess up: shake my head, maybe mutter a bit, but then return to counting with my fingers while my eyes looked left or right as I did some obviously complex mental calculations. I always thought that people might think I was “planning” something, figuring something out in my head. For whatever reason, I thought counting would give that impression. I was a loon.

I think it was 5th grade. In the bathroom at the house we had these in-wall heaters, for cold mornings. The heater was just a bunch of coils built into the wall and covered with a metal grate. You would flip it on before you got in the shower and when you got out the room would be nice and warm, the metal coils glowing orange and radiating heat through the grate. One morning I got out of the shower, bent over to dry my legs and feet, and stuck my butt right on the grate. It was the worst pain ever. The heater grate instantly branding a “waffle” pattern onto my tender 5th grade butt. I was so embarrassed, but it hurt so bad I had to run out of the bathroom naked and cry to mom. I remember the humiliation of lying on my stomach on the couch while my mom put ice on my butt… ugh. For a few years after that my folks would jokingly call me “waffle butt” due to the nice scars I had. Thankfully, the scars either went away – or became totally obscured by a thick forest of ass hair. Either way, I can no longer rightfully be called “waffle butt.” “The incredible bearded butt,” maybe… but not waffle butt, that’s for sure.

Mmmm… stories. ‘Nother day, ‘nother blog. Dave out.

nobody’s home (as far as you know)

Treehouse.  Hideout.
Why do shirt manufacturers think that as one goes from L to XL or even XXL, the only dimension that needs to change is the length? XL doesn’t mean I’m an 8ft tall giant, it means I’m hugified. Now I have a t-shirt that’s still “queer eye” tight up top, but hangs down to my knees. I’m supposed to wear this? Scale the entire shirt in proportion you idiots! America is overweight, not overtall. Sheesh.

Sometimes there’s nothing more liberating than not answering the phone. I’m not talking about not answering the phone because I’m busy or asleep… I’m talking about not answering the phone for no reason at all. It’s not that I don’t want to talk, it’s not that I don’t like the person calling me, it’s just that I don’t want to answer it. I get this little feeling of victory when I ignore the phone, and it feels even better when the caller ID shows it’s someone who I wouldn’t mind talking to. I just like the idea of not being available at anyone’s beck and call, not having to respond to anything. It feels so good to just sit on the couch and let that thing ring its little heart out. If they’re serious, about ten seconds later I’ll have to ignore the cell phone too. Phones are great, but they’re also a great nuisance sometimes. When I’m in my house doing nothing, I really want to do nothing. Meaning, I want to sit around and do whatever it is that I want to do – without being interrupted. Back in college I used to not only ignore the phone, but ignore the door too. Sometimes it’s fun to just hole up and and be a hermit for a while.

The new Lord of the Rings comes out this week, and I couldn’t be more excited. Ever since I read those books back in high school (and three times over again through college), I’ve considered them the best works of fantasy ever. Jackson has done such a good job capturing the imagery of the books, and thank the lord for the digital recording techniques that make everything look so crisp and clear – New Zealand looks like an awesome place. I can’t wait to drop fistfuls of cash on the super-deluxe full-film edition dvd set, whenever it comes out.

I’ve decided to go into business doing what I love, on the side of course. It’s crazy the way things happen, but my best bud from 5th grade has a business opportunity and we gonna go partners on it. We’re gonna start a webstore (like millions before us). I’m going to handle the technical and webpage part, and he’s the salesman and goods appropriator. It’ll be my pet project until it’s up and running well, and we can actually launch it and see if it floats. I’m excited because I think there may actually be some money to be made with it, but who knows. At least I’m finally doing something with the internet that has some possibility of return.

That’s it. No links in this blog at all, strangely. Dave out.