smoke ’em if ya got ’em

The dirty South.
When I was in Florida for Christmas this past year, I had a lot of good food. I don’t know what it is, but something about home-cooked Southern food is totally awesome. It’s not just the taste of the food, it’s the whole “ambiance” that goes along with it. A real Southern meal implies things more than just good eats to me. For one meal, I was invited over to Bob in Florida’s house. His wife had prepared a honest-to-God Southern meal, and it was totally awesome. It was a fine meal, fine to the point of inspiring me to write about it in detail.

On the menu was a roast, a tossed salad, some red potatoes, and some green beans Of course, also present were the requisite “greens.” I don’t know about you, but being a Florida transplant from the west originally – I hadn’t ever heard the term “greens.” If you’ve never heard it, greens are the leafy parts of all sorts of stuff, and Southern people love ’em. They cook up greens with all sorts of interesting flavors, and then put hot pepper sauce on ’em before eating. Kinda like a warm leaf stew, or something. Thing is, I’ve never liked greens before. They tend to be bitter and kinda slimy – and I always passed on them. But man, we’re these greens awesome. I even used the hot pepper sauce like a true Southerner. I had like three helpings.

Anyway, we sat and ate and talked. Long leisurely meals are appealing to me, as long as the company and conversation is good. My family always used to talk at dinner, it’s where we’d catch up on everyone’s day. We always sat down and ate together, every night. I actually remember looking forward to dinner time when I was a kid. My mom would plan out the week’s meals in advance, so she could do the appropriate shopping. She’d also “post” the week’s meal itinerary on the fridge each week – I guess her way of keeping us informed about what we were having. Probably it was more of a reminder to her in case there was prep-work she’d have to do or something, but I always thought it was so neat to be able to “look forward” to a meal later on in the week. Thanks mom.

Here’s a long-winded story that eventually ties into the above rambling. I was a junior in college and my friend Kyle was in the Air Force stationed in Abilene, Texas. One winter, we cooked up a scheme where I would come out to visit him. However, being a broke college student, I opted to take a Greyhound bus from. Yeah, a Greyhound bus halfway across the country – 36hrs. I was never what I consider to be a “real” smoker, but throughout college I would occasionally indulge with my smoker roommate. I enjoyed a social cigarette with him quite often as a way to wind down in the evening, or to compliment a few beers and an evening out. The only time I ever bought cigarettes though, was on this particular Greyhound trip.

I mean, I was on a bus guys, for 36 hours. The only time the bus stopped was for a few minutes every few hours, for… you guessed it – a smoke break. At the first stop, I just got off the bus and mingled with the smokers. By the second stop, I was so compelled to get off that bus for some reason, I actually bought a pack of cigarettes and started having one each time we stopped. Normally, I hate smoking. I’ll have a cigarette and halfway through wonder: “Why am I doing this?” I hate the smell, they give me headaches, and they are just nasty all over. But for all their bad points, they can be extremely “rewarding” in their own way. They do promote a feeling of “ahhh,” and relaxation in some cases.

Anyway, back to the story. I arrived in Texas and met up with Kyle, who had been a smoker for a few years. For the entire week, we smoked like smokers. We took full advantage of the smoking sections in restaurants, sitting down for long meals while tugging on smokes and laughing. We smoked in the car, we smoked at the barracks, we smoked after meals and before meals. And for one week in my life – smoking ceased to disgust me. In fact, it became something supremely enjoyable. I remember fearing that I was liking it a little too much, but upon getting back to Florida – it once again became the occasional vice. Something about kicking back at a table, having just enjoyed a fine omelet, and breathing deep from a lit cigarette while discussing random events… I guess it only makes sense in Abilene after two days in a bus.

That bus trip was fun though. Sleeping on my suitcases in Dallas overnight so no one would steal them, playing poker with four old black guys on the floor of a bus stop in Louisiana. My bus leaving Dallas for Tallahassee was so late that, out of frustration, I ended up sneaking onto a bus for Atlanta and pretending to be asleep with they came by and asked for tickets. I figured, at least it’s closer to Florida than Dallas. It all worked out, but man oh man was that an experience.


no diving

Here’s the deal y’all. It’s Wednesday night, but I wish it was still Tuesday because I have so much to get done this week. Work is really kicking my butt lately, it’s almost like they expect me to actually exert effort before they’ll write me a check. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’ve got my best people looking into it.

Nearly 100 people have looked at my latest auction on Ebay, still no bids. I did get a couple questions from people who were curious about how I actually did the mod, but that’s about it. Looks like there’s a lot of interest in the auction, so hopefully it’s buyer interest and not just looker interest. I’m imagining a last-minute bidding frenzy where the price soars into the tens of thousands of dollars. Yup, that’s what I imagine.

This weekend is Ben’s birthday. For the occasion we’re going to see a show in the city, this time it’s the Stars and Dears. The Stars were great last time we saw them with Broken Social Scene, and the Dears’ record is amazing – so I’m anticipating a decent show. The morning of the show, Anthony and I are serving as judges for an Odyssey of the Mind competition. If you’ve never heard of OM, it’s like a fun organization for brainy kids. They have competitions where kids come and compete, kind of like a big “gifted” class or something. The do thing like build cars out of macaroni and make matchstick rockets and try to safely drop eggs from heights. Anyway, we’re the “weigh-in” judges for the “Balancing Act” problem. “Balancing Act” is the OM version of the balsa-wood bridge problem that most kids do in high-school physics. I’ve even seen them do this on ESPN before.. I think. Using only balsa wood and glue the kids must create a structure that can support as much weight as possible. There are restrictions on the structure’s weight, and what types of glues can be used, etc. Should be fun, and I’m hoping for some good stories to come from it.

It was my first year at community college, so I was probably 19. We were organizing a familiar camping trip at a natural springs about an hour from where we lived. I can’t believe my memory is already this bad, but I think I went with Jeremy and maybe Joey. Whoever it was, there was three of us.

The springs had a few “primitive camping” areas that we’d been to before. For the non-campers out there, primitive camping is defined as camping with no necessities – no water, no fire ring, no RV pad or outhouse. Usually just a clearing that’s marked and some spots to setup a tent. We really enjoyed going to the springs to camp, since the campsites were so isolated from everything. You could only get to them by a 40min hike along a foot trail through the marshy forest. Once you arrived at the clearing, you were truly removed from everything. Not only that, we would usually organize trips during the week – so we’d be sure to be the only ones out there. It was a perfect camping spot, relaxed and private and in a great natural setting.

Our trips would normally last three days and two nights. Since the actual freshwater spring was only a 40min walk from the campsite, we’d trek into the actual park each morning after breakfast for a dip in the water. We’d usually hang out at the springs all day swimming and barbecuing, and then head back to camp in the early evening. Sometimes we’d stay at the campsite all day, but the springs served as our daily “showers” so we tried to make it up there in the mornings at least.

It was the last day of one of our three day trips. For some reason, we had elected to stay at the campground the whole time – and we hadn’t showered in two nights of primitive camping. I think we stayed at the campsite because we had brought along a respectable amount of alcohol, which we often did when camping. The booze tended to keep us near the tents, fire, and poker game. Anyway, we woke up on that last morning and broke camp to hike back to the car. We stowed all our gear in the car, but before leaving decided to “rinse off” in the springs. (Two nights of drinking and firewood-foraging and pooping in hand-dug holes can make a guy feel kinda ratty).

When we got to the springs it was already mid-morning and several people were swimming and sunbathing around the area. The park service had made some changes to the area around natural spring itself to make it more conducive to swimming. It had a concrete sides to the swimming area on one side, and there were places were you could easily climb in and out. They’d basically turned it into a freshwater springs swimming pool.

Even though the spring was deep in the middle, it could get rather shallow on the edges since it was basically a natural lake and could fluctuate. To warn people of this, the park had “NO DIVING” signs stenciled on the concrete wall and posted on signposts around the water. The signs even showed a crude stick-man foolishly diving head-first into the water (represented by the universal water symbol of peaked wavy lines) and hitting his head on the bottom. Lines clearly meant to indicate “pain” were shown escaping from the stick man’s head at the point of impact. I got it, diving = bad.

So maybe you can guess where I’m going here, but I’ll go ahead and fill in the blanks anyway. I’d like to preface the story by stating the fact that none of us had had anything to smoke or drink that day, and were stone-cold sober. We walked down to the water’s edge, where we all stood on the concrete wall ready to get in the water. If you believe my friends, I was actually standing on the stenciled words “NO DIVING” when I dove… but I think that part of the story was invented later for the sake of comedic irony. Either way, you already know what happens… I walked right up to the edge and dove head-first into the water.

I think I got about… uhh… up to my chest before my head hit the rock. I do know that most of my body wasn’t even underwater yet when it happened. Apparently the scene from above was pretty funny, they said I walked right down to the concrete wall, dove in, got into about my chest, and then all they saw was a cloud of dust rise from the bottom of the water as the rest of my body crumpled into the springs. What I remember goes something like this: dive off the ledge, head hits the water, head hits rock really hard and I do a little summersault underwater and bring my feet back underneath me so I’m standing. Now I’m standing in what is clearly only waist-deep water, holding my head.

At this point all I know is that I hit my head, but when I come up I realize I’m having a hard time staying on my feet. My friends are standing above me, looking down on me from the ledge, doubled over laughing. They’re laughing so hard, in fact, that they don’t hear me dizzily say “Guys, I think I’m fucked up.” When I repeat myself and this time hold out my hand to be helped back on the ledge, they grab me and hoist me up.

Suddenly everything is red. I look down at my chest and I am absolutely covered in blood. It’s in my eyes so bad I can’t see. I think as they hoisted me up, my friends realized I was indeed “fucked up.” Now I’m starting to freak out, usually the sight of my own blood makes me pass out. I know, I’m a puss – but if I could help it I would. It’s some kind of involuntary reaction that I don’t have control over. Other people’s blood, no problem. My blood? You better go fetch the smelling salts ’cause I’ll be out like a light in no time. This time though, I didn’t pass out.

I remember taking my t-shirt and pressing it to my head to try and stop the blood. Then some nice lady who noticed this dumbass kid just split his head open diving off the “no diving” sign rushed down to the water’s edge from where she and her family were having lunch. She brought some ice wrapped in one of those mini-Lays chip bags that you used to get when mom packed your lunch. What a smart idea. I remained pretty calm, and remember thinking that I just had to find somewhere to sew me up. Once we had the blood pretty much stopped, through ice and pressure, we walked to the car and headed out of the park.

We stopped at the ranger station on the way out to ask for directions to the emergency room, since we were in a town about an hour away from our home – and had no idea where anything was. He gave us some directions to the hospital, which was a 30min drive according to him, and we set off. Around the 40min mark it became apparent we’d missed whatever hospital this guy had directed us too. We pulled off the freeway and stopped at, of all places, a karate dojo to ask directions. Funny enough, they said there wasn’t a hospital on this side of town and suggested we try one of those walk-in clinic places. Whatever, it had been almost an hour since I split my head and I wanted it closed up.

We followed the sensei’s directions to the first clinic. We could see the sign from the road: “24 Hour Emergency Clinic.” Sounded perfect! Of course, they were closed. The sign on the door said, and I’m not joking, “Closed Due to Terminal Illness.” Now, what that means I have no idea. We stopped in at a gas station across the street to try and find another destination. Finally, we pulled up at another clinic – this one being open.

When I walked in, the place was absolutely packed. However, I think the fact that I was wearing a t-shirt which was completely red with blood and holding a chip bag to my busted head helped catapult me to the front of the waiting room. I was in the back in no time, where a “doctor” looked at my head. By now I had all but stopped bleeding, so he just had to clean some dirt and water-muck away before he could fix me up. I assumed I’d get some stitches and be on my way. I was wrong.

The doctor told me that my wound was a good candidate for “staples” instead of stitches. Sounded strange to me, but he assured me they worked like stitches and would be easier to apply. So, I agreed (not that I think my consent would’ve really mattered had I not). He brought over a shot with some anesthetic and what looked like an honest-to-God Office Depot-bought Swingline stapler. No joke. I expected some fancy stainless “medical” stapler, but this thing looked totally consumer-grade to me. It obviously wasn’t, but man did it look it. He told me I would feel a “pinch” when he injected my scalp. I did feel a pinch. I felt a pinch and then watched him immediately put down the syringe, pick up the stapler, and proceed to shoot several staples right into my wound. Nevermind that the anesthetic wouldn’t start to take effect for another couple of minutes, I was healed.

So, that’s how I ended up with eight staples in my head. When I went to my normal doctor several weeks later to have them removed, he said I was lucky that I didn’t break my neck and die or get paralyzed. Yeah, I guess I am lucky.

Stick around, I’ve got plenty of emergency-room stories. Like when I filleted my thumb on a genuine samurai sword or my last time ice-skating when I had to get stitches to put my bottom lip back together. w00t.

scoietal dregs need to drive too

It's a place you can go.
What a weekend. I don’t really feel like writing about all the shows, but I’ll just say that the Decemberists were the feather in the cap of a great musical weekend. They are so good live. I missed writing yesterday, things were just too busy and I wasn’t in the mood.

Yesterday I put my Pioneer CD burner on Ebay, starting it out at $200. I’m hoping that the little hack I did to the machine makes it more desirable, instead of less. So far there have been a lot of lookers, so that bodes well. I’m not worried about lack of bids at this point, things usually take of near the end. Hopefully I can make a buck or two on it, since it’ll be all profit to me. Actually, that thing has brought me plenty of money in the past. I sold Beatles bootlegs all through college for extra cash, brining in about $900 in a good month.

Today I had to go to the DMV to get new license plates (I lost one of them). Why is it that the DMV is so busy? I mean, surely there are other places that see as many people per day and aren’t so chronically backed up. There were nearly 100 people in there waiting for their numbers to be called. It was the same thing when Sharaun and I went to the Social Security office to get her new card after we were married. Not only do these offices for some reason move in slow motion, they always attract a very interesting crowd. I mean, “normal” people have to go to the DMV and Social Security right? When do they go? I’m just saying, it seems like the place is always chock full of… umm… people “from the other side of the tracks?” Oh whatever, you know what I mean. The DMV is full of single moms with kids running loose, barefoot rednecks, ex-cons, and every other societal dreg you can think of. Why is this? I did see a handful of regular-looking Joe’s… so maybe this is just my racism and stereotyping showing through.

I’ve half-decided that I’m going to start taking lunch at home whenever I can. Since it’s so close, and I have an hour to myself – I’m going to use that time to get things done around the house. As the weather improves and summer gets here, I can get a lot done in the 40min that I’m not eating or driving back/forth between work. I can even get the lawn mowed if I take an extra 15min or so. Not only is it a potential time to get some work done around the house – it saves me money in the long run by not dropping $8 every day on food. I can make a week’s worth of sandwiches at home for the same amount of money I spend daily on lunch now. Today was my first go at this new plan, but the fix-it man was there to do some house-warranty stuff, so I didn’t get a chance to get anything done. Hopefully I can stick to the plan.

Since I’ve been making some money of late by selling things on Ebay, it’s made me want to work harder to get this t-shirt site live. I’ve been working on creating a functional web storefront where Shaine and I plan to hawk our t-shirt wares. The development is going a little slower than I’d like, but I think we’re pretty close to having a working website. From then on it’s all about marketing. If people start buying, that’s great. One thing that gives me some hope is the reaction I get to the Kiss shirt I wear to concerts. It’s one of the shirts we’re going to sell on the webpage, and I like to wear it to our shows (for some reason, Kiss has lots of indie-cred). I must get about ten compliments on the shirt for every show I go to. Right now I just say “thanks” when someone pays me a compliment on it, but I’d love to be able to say, “Yeah, I got it at, you should check it out.” Yeah, the website is called – it’s not live yet, so there’s nothing there… the development is going on at an unmapped domain. I’ve got my fingers crossed that we can turn at least a small profit with this thing – I definitely think there’s potential for it.

Today NASA was supposed to make a huge announcement about “significant findings” on Mars. There was a lot of speculation that they might announce they had found evidence of life, either by way of fossils or current biology. That got me really interested actually, and I was hoping that’s what they were going to say. I thought that maybe this Rotini-looking shape was a Mars-worm fossil or something. Turns out they just wanted to tell us that the place used to be “soaked” in water, which is something that most people already believed to be true. So it was kinda disappointing to me. I was really looking forward to hearing the fundies‘ reaction to an announcement of life on another planet. I don’t want to get into where I stand on religion, but I am always interested in religion’s reaction to new science. I would think the affirmation on life other than Earth might cause some interesting waves in the religious community, and with fundies in particular. Owell, the rovers are still there – so there’s still hope.

That’s it for today. I’m gonna cut out a little early and vote, since I’ve been more and more interested in how my opinion can matter lately. Dave out.

belgian benefactor

Stop!  It's the International Police.
S’appenin’ y’all? Me, nothing much. Just sitting here watching the OC on a Thursday night. That’s right, the OC on a Thursday. Yes, I have magic powers.

Tomorrow (tonight when you read this) we strike out on the Noise Pop warpath. Three concerts in two days, a music bender if you will. We tackle Vanderslice and Pedro first, then move along our battlefield to confront the Wrens and Earlimart, and wrap up with a pirate battle asea versus the Decemberists. We’re doing an overnighter in the city at a hotel in the Union Square district, which means we can hoof it to the Friday night show. It also means we have a morning to kill on Saturday. Should be a fun weekend.

My calculator totally sold for $90. That makes me happy. I think I’m getting a little addicted to selling stuff on Ebay, I keep trying to think of other things around the house that I can sell. I was thinking I could sell my hacked Pioneer PDR-05 pro cd burner. That thing was ~$5k new. I modified it to be able to accept the PC-type blanks, since it can normally only support the “pro” type (audio only). Maybe that mod would make it more desirable? I don’t know.

What’s that? You’re curious as to why in the world I bought a five-thousand dollar cd burner? Ahhh? now that’s an interesting story. Bottom line is, I didn’t. A guy I’ve never met, who lives in Belgium, bought it for me. I’m gonna tell you the story that I used to refer to as my “benefactor in Belgium” story.

Back in the time before PC shipped standard with PC burners, i.e. my junior year of college, I was an avid music fan and collector. Sometime late in high school I had created a webpage dedicated to the band Question Mark & the Mysterians. I had made the site mostly out of frustration that there wasn’t one out there already. Long story short, that site still exists today – and is now the #1 return on most search engines for Mysterians-related queries (although as webpages go, it’s a terrible, shaming example of what I can do? hey, I wrote it in high school).

I used to, and still do, get lots of questions on the Mysterians site. The major reason I made the site is because the band’s recordings aren’t commercially available, despite being very popular. So most of the questions I get are from people looking to obtain the music. One day I got an e-mail from a guy named Raymond. Raymond was in Belgium and was compiling a digital library of all his favorite American oldies. He needed the Mysterians song “96 Tears” as part of that collection, and he contacted me to get it.

Raymond asked me if I could get him a copy of the cd. At the time, I had no idea how to get another copy. I searched high and low to get the one copy I had, and I wasn’t about to part with it. When I politely told him I didn’t think I could find another copy, he asked me if I had a cd recorder – which I didn’t. Now, here’s where it gets strange. Over the course of maybe two more e-mails, Raymond explained to me that he was looking for some rare American recordings like “96 Tears” which were only available on vinyl or hard-to-find cds. Out of the blue, he offered to buy me a cd burner. Yeah, he offered to buy me a whole cd recorder just to get a copy of one song.

Honestly, I thought the guy was kidding. However, I figured “what the hell,” and one-upped him. I said something like “why not buy me a professional burner and then I can find some of the vinyl your after and transfer that to cd as well?” Unbelievably, he agreed. He said that because he was after mostly older American recordings, he was stuck placing large orders from the US – and that the import tax he paid on those items was an exorbitant 20%. He proposed an agreement whereby I would buy all the cds and vinyl he was after, have them shipped to me, open them all, and re-ship them to him declaring them as “used.” Seems that the import tax on new foreign goods is huge, but used foreign “gifts” are hardly taxed at all. He sent me an e-mail telling me to find the recorder I wanted, and let him know how much it was.

Still half-thinking the whole thing had to be a joke, I purposely searched for the most expensive and high-end burner I could find. At the time, professional burners weren’t that common, and were still very expensive. I found what I wanted in the Pioneer PDR-05, which retailed for ~$5k. As a complete joke, and without the slightest idea that he might actually follow through, I sent Raymond an e-mail saying the Pioneer PDR-05 would be the perfect burner. He didn’t even blink. The next afternoon I was picking up $7000 from a Western Union inside the Winn Dixie across from my apartment. Raymond had sent an extra $2k as “starter” money for the upcoming import-tax-evasion scheme we’d be working.

Now, here I am, a college kid who just got $7000 from a stranger he’s never met who lives in Europe. I bought my new Pioneer burner, and sent my first package to Belgium – two copied Question Mark & the Mysterians cds. After that Raymond would send me lists of cds, hundreds at a time, and I would order them. When they got to my house, I’d open each and every one, throw away the piles of cellophane, rebox the discs, and ship them to him declared as “gift: used music cds.” I also ordered vinyl, which I transferred to cd using the new burner and sent. He paid for all the shipping, the cost of materials, and frequently told me to use the money to pay for my gas and other expenses. Each week I would send him an accounting of his funds, a balance sheet showing all my expenses and what was left. I did this mainly because I wanted to assure him I was honest.

By this time I had developed quite a friendly relationship with this man. I learned that he was single, was in his fifties, and had been stationed at a US Army base in Germany during the 50’s and 60’s – which is where he developed his love of American music. I learned that he was retired, but was working as a “promoter” or something for a French modeling agency. I also learned that he was loaded, and very liberal with his money. He would often send packages for Sharaun. Perfume from Paris, chocolate from Germany, etc. Each week when I would send my homemade accounting sheet, he would tell me to take $200 or so and take my girlfriend out for dinner – which I gladly did. After a time, we began talking on the phone. He had a very thick accent, but I had no problem understanding him.

You’d think it couldn’t get any stranger, but it did. A few months into our buyer/seller relationship, Raymond e-mailed me asking for what he called “a favor.” Hang on, it’s gonna get strange here for a lil’ bit. In whatever year this was, I can’t remember, Pfizer had just come with Viagra – and the FDA’s approval of the drug was making big news around the world. Europe’s drug agency had yet to approve the drug, and it probably wouldn’t be available there for another year. What’s this have to do with Raymond, you ask? Well, as I mentioned before – Raymond was a man in his fifties, who worked with models. All the international news about Viagra must’ve gotten to him. He e-mailed me and asked me if I knew any US doctors who could get him some Viagra. He asked this completely out of the blue. Of course, I wasn’t really tied into any crooked prescription-writing doctors – so I wrote back apologetically saying I couldn’t help.

A day or so later, Raymond e-mailed me saying he’d found a way to get the Viagra in the US, but he needed my help to get it to him. He said he’d given my address to a doctor who would be sending me the pills, he ended up paying $80 per pill. A week later, I got a package in the mail with the Viagra. It came from New York City and was prescribed by, and to, a doctor there. Raymond had instructed me to get a large bottle of vitamins from a nutritional store, and make sure the bottle wasn’t clear. I found some Shark Fin pills, and after wrapping the Viagra in a small bag I hid them in the vitamins. I then re-sealed the foil on the pills and mailed them off to Brussels. At the time I really didn’t think much of it, but I think that might be in violation of at least some kind of federal laws. Strange indeed.

Over the next few months, business with Raymond continued as usual. Until one day when I took a phone call from him, and he told me he wanted to start a corporation in the US. In order to avoid some heavy taxation, and to get the corporation to be legally “based” in the States, he needed a US citizen as a founder. He asked if I would be willing to be a partner in this S-Corp that he was starting in New Jersey, so they could legally claim US status (for whatever reason). It was when he approached me with this that I started getting a little leery. I did a couple conference calls with Raymond, his sister in Milan, and some dudes from New Jersey, but I eventually ended up stalling and they were tied up with paperwork.

After that, Raymond just disappeared. As quickly as we started working together, we stopped. I got no more e-mails, no more phone calls, nothing. The whole thing went on for the better part of a year. After it was all over, Raymond had wired a twenty year old kid more than ten grand. My parents and friends suggested that I was being used to launder money, was being groomed for a young gay lover, was messing with the international mob, and would sure surely end up being taken away in handcuffs. After it all, I made out with an awesome cd burner, some pretty rare vinyl records, and a pretty good story.

To this day I haven’t heard from Raymond. I don’t know if he died, got arrested, was murdered, I know nothing. I do know that I have him to thank for enabling me to start trading cds as a hobby, and teaching me about Joey Dee and the Starliters‘ “Peppermint Twist” (his favorite song). Thanks Ray!

Wow, that turned out to be longer than I thought. But owell, at least it’s a good story. Last night I had asparagus with dinner. I don’t know what chemical it is in asparagus that makes your pee stink, but it sure acts fast. I peed within what must have been ten minutes after eating it, and it was already nice and stinky. I love asparagus, but I hate asparagus-pee.

Dude, my fingers are burning. Dave out.

teetering on the edge of collapse

In the USA they lock you up for that kinda shit, brother!
My gawd y’allz. As crazy shows go, last night was one of the craziest I’ve seen. The Unicorns are three fresh-out-of-high-school young guys who do whatever the hell they want on stage. After watching nearly the whole show with my mouth open and a “what the hell” expression on my face, I thought I’d write about it a bit. For me, the show was confusing, funny, unbelievable, and entertaining as anything. Musically, it often seemed like the songs were teetering on the edge of collapse, but I think maybe that’s just how these guys play. Let me do my best play-by-play to try and get across what I mean.

We went to the show to see the Unicorns. There were three opening acts, so we knew we were getting ourselves into a late night. Two of the three openers were “meh,” while one – Irving – showed a lot of potential. When the last opening act left the stage, it was about a quarter to eleven. The Unicorns took their sweet time getting on, not taking the stage until somewhere around 11:30pm. That’s when three guys took the stage. One guy, will call him the long-haired one, was decked out with a pink matador’s cape, pink pants, and pink suspenders. The other guy, we’ll call him the curly-haired one, had on a pink tie and pink Boy Scout style belt over grey slacks, no shirt. The drummer, we’ll call him the drummer, had a white dress shirt and pink pants. All three were barefoot.

The opened the show with “The Clap,” which set the tone for the “we’re either gonna fall apart or get through these songs” vibe that stuck around for most of the show. The two “front-men,” long-haired and curly, switched between guitar, bass, and keyboard – each having playing all by the end of the show. The drummer worked with a regular drum kit, a drum-pad, and an AKAI MPC2000 sampler. As for the band’s on-stage histrionics, where do I begin?

They came out, did a brief unintelligible banter with the crowd, and then launched into song one. Apparently there was some guy heckling from near the front of the crowd, and he and the band exchanged some good-natured barbs at each other. Throughout the next couple songs, I guess this guy was still ribbing them – and I could hear him comment after each song. By the third song, the band was telling him to “eff off you eff-hole” (and yeah, that’s what they said). Before the fourth song, they told they guy (or everyone, who knows) that if he didn’t shut up – this would be their last song. Sure enough, as the song ended, the club turned on the vamp and the band walked offstage while shooting each other confused looks. To me, it looked like they didn’t want to leave – but the club started vamping like the show was over and they just did. About a minute later they came back onstage. The long-haired dude took the mic and addressed the heckler (or whatever he was), saying: “Hey, we just talked to the boss of this place… and apparently you don’t even work here. You work for me now, I own you, you’re fired.” I had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that, if I waited 45min for these guys to take the stage – they had better at least play that long in return.

Anyway, the rest of the show was just as strange. In summary: In the middle of songs they broke into Kylie Minogue and 50 Cent covers. At one point the long-haired one accepted a joint from a front-row fan and proceeded to smoke marijuana throughout an entire song, on stage. After which he started clutching his chest and conferring with the other band members – who announced to the crowd: “Our friend here is having an ‘uncertain’ reaction to the marijuana… we’re gonna give him a few seconds for it to wear off.” Then he ambled up to the mic and asked the crowd for some “nachos or chips.” Someone was kind enough to throw a box of fig newtons onstage. Long-haired stoned dude snatched them up and ate one, showing poor manners by telling the crowd, while eating, that: “Fig newtons are chewy.” There was bass guitar humping, go-go dancing on speaker stacks, a bottle of vodka, and even a show’s-over crowd surf by the long-haired dude. Certainly an entertaining show, if somewhat insane.

That’s all I have the heart to write today, any more and I’d be forcing it. Bye.

angry at the urinal

I spit on your urinal!
What’s up with people spitting in the urinal before they take a leak? Is this some manly pre-pee ritual that I never learned about? Is it just a convenient place for chronic-spitters to fix without offending others by keeping a spit-cup at their desk? I’m lost. I only mention it because I actually find it pretty gross. Yeah, it’s a bathroom and all – so it’s probably the best place to do it, but some guys seem to do it with such contempt. I mean, they just spit to be spitting, almost like they’re angry at the urinal or something. Strange.

You wanna know what’s crazy, I thought I was the only person in the world who had ever noticed, let alone, thought about this. However, an on-a-whim Google for “spit in the urinal” came up with a whole mess of hits. Almost all the other links are from fellow bloggers. This tells me that either: bloggers like to examine the bathroom habits of others, or the spit-before-pee thing is really not that uncommon. This, this, this (may be NSFW), this, and this link prove I’m not insane.

Remember the pizza-neck-bomb thing from Pennsylvania? A pizza delivery man was called to deliver a pie to an abandoned building. Next they hear from him, he’s outside a bank he just robbed with a homemade cane-gun and wearing a homemade bomb-collar which is counting down to detonation. He tells the cops he’s been forced to rob the bank and has to follow an elaborate series of instructions to get the collar off before the time runs out and his head blows up. Bomb squad arrives a little late, man blows up and dies, and the FBI has no idea if he was part of some crazy scheme or just a pawn in one. Anyway, that story intrigued me so much – mostly because of the elaborate plan and orchestration, and because of the pictures of the collar and gun the FBI released. Every once in a while I do a Google news search for any updates on it. Turns out the FBI’s leads are running cold – so they released part of the nine pages of letters the guy was carrying. So odd, can’t wait to hear the ending to this one.

Tonight is the Unicorns show at the GAMH, I’ve been listening to “Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone” all this morning to get pumped. What a great album, and surprisingly enough – it’s good “doin’ schematics” background music. I’m really looking forward to this show, not only because I think they’ll be great live – but because it’s a return to the initial hard-core concert crew of just Benz and I. While that may sound gay, well, Ben is totally gay. Yeah… should be fun.

Dave is outta here.

this bitchin’ secret cave

I pledge alligiance, to whatever I like.
This morning I woke up thinking it was Wednesday. I even checked my calendar to see what I had going on. I don’t know why, I guess I’m just thinking ahead or something. Looking forward to the weekend perhaps. I kinda wish it was Wednesday.

Man, last night was a crazy dream night. I woke up with so many dreams still lingering in my head. The main one I can remember involves being naked in public places. I found that strange. I mean, I’ve heard of the classic “at school naked” dreams, but I’ve never actually had one. I this dream, I was about to take a shower – so I stripped off my boxers and started walking to the shower. Only thing was, I was at work. To make matters worse, the bathroom at work with the shower was on a different floor than I was, and I hadn’t realized it. Funny since there are no showers at work. In my dream I realized about halfway to where the shower-equipped bathroom should be that I was on the wrong floor. At that point I was stuck. At first I started looking for another bathroom to duck into, but there were none on whatever floor I was on. So I had to walk back to wherever I had come from, stark naked. I remember trying to act like it was all normal as hell, ignoring the stares from strangers. At one point I think the scene changed from work to a shopping mall – just for added humiliation I think. You know how dreams are. Anyway, I remember being all self-conscious and terrified. Strange dream.

The other dream I remember is, I think, somewhat of a revisit to a dream that’s slowly becoming a recurring one. In the only other two recurring dreams I have, the scenery is what makes them “recurring.” However, in this dream – it’s the events that happen the same, not necessarily the surroundings. I think I wrote about it before, but it involves swimming or diving underwater and discovering a hidden cave. Often I’m trying to escape from someone, or hiding from something underwater. Then I always find this bitchin’ secret cave, which in my head is kinda similar to One-Eyed Willie’s pirate ship cave from the Goonies. One element of the story that never fails – there’s always a ladder leading down a small rock-chimney into the cave proper. I think the ladder and underwater/secret cave must signify something, but I dunno what.

There was even another dream, where I was living or at least staying in a trailer park. I was the friend of a woman who was in the middle of a failing marriage. I recall lying down in the room where I was staying, hearing them fight, and feeling sad. I remember seeing her in her all-black underwear, crying on a bed in the room across the hall after the fight was over. I think that’s when I left to take a shower… and it turned into the naked-at-work thing from above. Such crazy dreams, I never remember them like that. Wonder if the dream-gods are trying to communicate with me or something.

Well, off dreams and onto reality. I saw the governor on TV this morning before work, talking about the two propositions he’s got on the March ballot. Since I have no idea what either is, I wanted to check it out. On the commercial, if I understood the Austrian accent right, Arnold describes the two propositions as: One to balance the budget and stop the overspending, and one to “tear up the credit card for good.” I liked the credit card analogy at least. Anyway, from what he said in the thirty-second spot, both items sounded reasonable to me. However, being a child of the ever-mistrusting Gen X, I wanted to do a bit o’ research for myself. I found this site which summarizes the current propositions, as well as this one. I found this “yes” site for 56, as well as this “no” site. I found this “yes” site for 57 and 58, and couldn’t seem to find a “no” site. So, I started reading.

After some research, I think I figured out the following: Prop 56 eases the quorum by which a budget is passed – requiring only a 55% vote versus the current 2/3. It also sets aside money for “certain circumstances.” I’m assuming that is the equivalent of me putting extra dough into savings for “what if’s.” Also, and I like this part, if the budget isn’t balanced, the governor and legislature don’t get paid. The opposition to this one say that it also makes it too easy for the legislature to approve tax hikes without enough constituent representation. Prop 57 is getting us some near-term savings by getting what’s essentially a debt refi bond, giving us lower payments over more time (the whole time-vs.-money thing again). Prop 58 makes a balanced state budget a constitutional requirement, and limits the taking out of new bonds to solve the problem (this must be “tearing up the credit card for good”). To me, 56 and 58 sound logical, while Prop 57 sounds kinda iffy. Then again, 56 could be dangerous in that a slim majority (55%) could potentially pass bad stuff. Seems like 57 and 58 enjoy some bipartisan support (1st Google link), which is interesting.

Well, there’s an ignorant voter’s take on what these things mean. At least I feel better for looking into it, now I can vote with some knowledge. I still don’t know if I trust the websites I read… it’s times like these when I need my politico friend Kristi to walk me through the stuff, so I can get a better handle on it. Owell.

Wanna see what Anthony’s gay ass did? He made a color-coded spreadsheet to figure out who owes who what for our recent concertgoing. You can tell he made it, because I ended up owing everyone everything. Peace out y’allz. On the real.