Thursday, May 31, 2007

Blog entry

I've complained about 2005 before on this blog. But one of the good things to come out of that annoyingly transitional year was my love for walking around the streets of downtown Los Angeles on my lunch hour. I wrote about these walks and the food found therein very often back in that first full year of blogging.

When I ended up working at a university that is not exactly located in downtown, I said goodbye my lunch-hour walks and said hello to campus strolls, build-your-own-stir-fry cafeteria lunches, noontime cardio, and olympic-pool swims. Then, last week, as I found myself taking public transportation (long story) for the first time in my L.A. life, it occurred to me that downtown is just a short bus ride away from my office. Not only that but the DASH bus only costs a quarter one way and it will drop me off 4 blocks from Skews (I would put a link here but they're the only business left in America without a website.)

So, on Tuesday and again today, I enjoyed lunch (today it was a Baja bowl with tofu) amidst the skyscrapers and well-maintained sprinklers of the city, as opposed to the college students and speeding golf carts of the university. It could become my new routine. Or I could grow tired of the bus rides and the sometimes odd people who occupy the other seats on these journeys. But I think I'll do it at least once a week - walk the steep streets of Bunker Hill, overhear people's Phil Spector conversations (just blocks from the courthouse), and stand on Flower Street, wait ing patiently for the F bus, fingering my quarter gingerly.

Jason - Happy Birthday!

Some other things:

The Sopranos final episodes are amazing. The scene with these two characters is one of my favorites ever.

Kobe's right. He's always right.

Last Night is a great movie. I saw it... last night.

And watch this space for a very important announcement concerning Seymour's web presence.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Top 10 Songs of the Last 4 Months

These aren't songs that were released during the last four months... just songs that I've especially enjoyed listening to since January 30.

10. A Line You Can Cross - Lansing-Dreiden
9. I Wish - Skee Lo
8. You're The Storm - Cardigans
7. Zooropa - U2
6. Thunder Island - Jay Ferguson
5. Method Of Modern Love - Hall & Oates
4. Perfect Skin - Lloyd Cole and the Commotions
3. Appetite - Prefab Sprout
2. California - Semisonic
1. Skateaway - Dire Straits

Friday, May 25, 2007

Everything Everywhere

I'll be in that elevator at least one more time.

Twice, because I'll have to go down too.

And there will be more industrial steel-walled elevators in my future. Can't put everything everywhere. Need to make room for the clean lines.

Speaking of the future, I'm going to that restaurant tomorrow night, the one with the pizza and the long lines and the wood-burning oven. I can't wait.

And then, we're seeing this. Here.

Look for a list from me, later today. I thought about a Memorial Day Weekend list. I've always had this belief that Memorial Day has been particularly memorable for me. But I'm having a memory block - the only ones I remember are:

1. Bloomington, MN, in the rain, 1987
2. Chicago, in the stifling humid heat, 2006

Two entries does not equal a list. (Technically, yes it does. But the Blue doesn't run on technically.)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Unethical (a short story)

(I didn't have a blog in 1999, so the story you see below never got the audience it deserved before today. I was told by someone close to me that the story is "kind of creepy." You be the judge.)


This isn’t ethical. We are swimming in someone else’s pool and it is three in the morning and we don’t even live in this town. This isn’t ethical. This is criminal, Marnie, this is criminal. We are naked in someone else’s pool and it’s three AM and we are frolicking and the people who live in the house are sleeping and they’re thinking that everything is okay outside, that everything is alright with their yard and their gate and their pool and ooh that feels good, Marnie, that feels good.

But like I was saying, this isn’t ethical. This is juvenile and we are adults. If you combine our ages, we are all of fifty and we have too many years on this earth to be behaving in such an odd and reckless manner. We have mothers and fathers and our mothers and fathers have houses like this one, just like this one with a yard and a pool and a gate and we wouldn’t want them to be violated like this, to be vituperated upon with such a sense of youthful entitlement and we aren’t even all that youthful, you and I. We are almost our parents’ age when they had babies like us. We have to be responsible, Marnie. We have to be good.

Like I was saying when we drove here, over the mountain pass with the stereo playing the music of our teenage years, we should only do something like this only if we know that the people aren’t home, like if it was clear that they were on vacation or at work or something. As it is, if one of them – and all it takes is one – wakes up from a bad dream or has to go the bathroom in the middle of the night – just like you have to do Marnie, every night at about 3:30 – then we’re in trouble. The lights back here are bright and that’s their bedroom window up there and all they have to do is have a reason to look outside and think to themselves the sleepy thought that something is different and they will see us, strangers, naked strangers at that, out here flouncing and prancing around like children. They’ll know that we bypassed their gate and ran through their yard, stepping on their flowers, like you (accidentally I know) did and they may have guns. This is the suburbs, Marnie. They may have guns

And I just don’t feel right. I have a respect for property not to mention a respect for property owners with guns who have been stirred awake by the youth of a generation that they are not a part of, I mean you can just tell these people are older than us, our parents’ age, you can tell it by the curtains and the garden and the cars out front. Remember the cars out front? In the driveway? There were two of them and it was a two-car garage, so even if they store things in there, even if we allow for storage space, there’s got to be one car in the garage. That’s how people live out here. So figure they have three cars. That means at least three people of driving age in the house, in addition to any people who are not of driving age. But there’s at least one older child – a teenager I’d guess, or maybe someone close to our age. That’s at least three people we have to be concerned about waking up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.!At least three people who could all be having bad dreams right now – entwined bad dreams – that they will wake up from, screaming, waking not only the dreamer but the rest of the household as well. Did you think of that, Marnie? And come to think of it, that other window, that’s got to be a separate bedroom. Too much space between that pair of windows compared to the other pair of windows. That’s got to be the kid’s room. It’s a blue curtain. Probably a boy, a teenage boy. And having been a teenage boy I can tell you with confidence Marnie that he doesn’t sleep all the way through the night. Especially if he’s just hit puberty, which is possible. If his parents waited before they had kids, you know broke with tradition and waited until they were in their thirties. And that breaking with tradition, that’s to be expected here. Even if it’s the suburbs. I mean, this is California and I know you’re not from here like me, but they do things like that. Have kids late. And if he is going through puberty, he has to wake up a couple of times in the night and masturbate. That’s just the way it is, Marnie, that’s how thirteen year old boys are. And yeah I guess a masturbating suburban teenager wouldn’t be too upset if he saw your pretty body glistening naked in his pool. Unless he’s gay. In which case, he wouldn’t mind seeing my pretty body glistening naked in his pool. But that’s not the point. The point, Marnie, is that this is very much not ethical. Guns. The suburbs.

So let’s go, oh no don’t do that, let’s just go. Aren’t you getting cold? Sleepy? I am. Cold and sleepy, cold and sleepy. What’s that noise? Just a bird, probably. But that bird or any other bird – and birds are essentially infinite on this earth, at least for our purposes – that bird could make enough noise to wake the whole family up, all three or more of them, even the masturbating teenager. Birds can break through sexual fantasies, if they’re loud enough. So that’s another variable. And what if they have a cat? I mean, I know they don’t have a dog. I grew up with a dog yard and this isn’t a dog yard. But a cat? They could easily have a cat. And it’s May, the traditional mating season for cats here in California. The cat could be sitting at an open window right now, just lingering on the sill, waiting for a cat of the opposite sex to appear on the outside, through the screen that separates their love and then the howling will wake up the whole neighborhood, not just Mom and Dad and the kid, but the neighbors, one of whom could easily be a cop. Cops live out here, in the suburbs. They like the contrast between places like this and the cities they tend to work in, the cops. I don’t think this is a cop’s house though. I grew up near cop houses and they don’t have gardens like this one. They have pools, yes, but not gardens like this one. Cop wives, they tend not to be the gardening types. They like to live on the edge and drink a lot, to compete with their husbands. They don’t want to feel all safe at home, so if they do have a garden, it’ll be a more functional one, with vegetables one would eat. Like tomatoes. And cop yards tend to be more cluttered, not like this one. Cop yards have Big Wheels and softballs and unclean barbecues. This barbecue, it’s immaculate.

But I can tell you this, Marnie: If this was a cop house, you know he’d have a gun. But cop or not, gun or not, this just isn’t ethical. Yes, it’s fun and yes we’re not that old and maybe we should have some reckless fun like this before it all changes, before we have kids and a house like this one. Not too much like this one. Okay, nothing like this one. I don’t need a pool. Apartment living is fine too. But what if they were to wake up? One of them, all of them, it doesn’t matter. All their windows face out here. What’s that screaming? Someone’s up. Never mind. Yes, of course I still love you, why would that change?

Monday, May 21, 2007

6 x 3

3 brilliant moments in the film Miracle Mile:

When Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham walk out of the department store into the light of Wilshire Blvd.

When Edwards pushes Winningham on the shopping cart through the LACMA plaza

The ending, in the ooze, at the La Brea Tar Pits

3 underrated places to go to on a Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles:

101 Coffee Shop

Melrose Ave., east of La Brea and west of Fairfax

Discount Tire (the one across the street from the Palladium which, according to its marquee, "will rock again")

3 secrets to winning poker tournaments at birthday parties



Pull the 3 on the river for the lucky inside straight... you know - get that one card that keeps you in the tournament

3 facts about my 1.6 mile walk from my apartment to the bagel store on Saturday morning:

I got there in 26 minutes

I got back in 29 minutes

There's a store on Melrose that sells giant Greek and Roman-style marble columns

3 alternate names for my blog, each of which start with "Blue" and have nine letters in the first word and four in the second word, just like Blueprint Blue:

Blueblood Brew

Bluegrass Blur

Blueberry Buzz

3 videos of 80's songs you've forgotten about and should remember:

Method of Modern Love (Oates' performance from 0:46 to 1:01 is poetic and eternal... and then it's all Hall - clumsy dancing and perfect singing. And you'd figure Oates would be upset - he hardly gets any screen time. UNTIL... the 4:47 mark and you see him smile like a child because they let him fly through the clouds. The smoking saxophone is pretty cool too.)

Perfect Skin (black shirt + white pants = the desire not to smile)

My Ever Changing Moods (yes, those are bicycles and that's a countryside)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Method of Modern Links

(As I've done before, I want to apologize in advance to everyone whose money I will vanquish tomorrow night in a poker tournament in the 626. I need the money more than you anyway. I'm saving up for a steel bed and a Prius.)

You have to see 100 numbered movie quotes, 100 - 1. Features the only YouTube-able snippet (#18) of Terry Chen's groundbreaking performance as Ben Fong-Torres. I remember that scene as if it were yesterday... and not the fall of 2000 at the Hopkins Cinema 6.

You KNOW you want to know more about the making of Steely Dan's Peg (caught up in ....)

You should also read all parts (7 so far) of the Neal Pollack-Paul Shirley discussion of the NBA Playoffs on Slate.

I Wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat.... the 110 to the 105.

And here's some Flight of the Conchords.

I'll miss this show during the summer.

Anyone want to buy some plant stands?

The Beatles are way ahead of Led Zepellin in the Band Madness final. David Bowie and Pink Floyd were the others in a boomer-centric Final 4. My wished-for Final 4 of Liz Phair, Mark Eitzel, Bruce Springsteen, and Prefab Sprout didn't materialize.

Don DeLillo can still write.

Lily Allen, Alfie.

Freedarko with some perspective on hating the Spurs.

Name change.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I still owe you for the hole in the floor

(This is a long post, one that I have tried to visually "break up" with the strategic placement of obtuse visuals. Assuming I'm not the recipient of multiple pleas to take this self-indulgent post down, it will remain here forever, affording you the chance to read it in pieces.)

I know I'm not the only one. The only one who changes. The only one who wonders, who half-regrets, who grasps, who clutches, who takes on too much, who succeeds and fails, trips and gets up. I know there are others. Like you and you and you. In other words, I'm not the only human being figuring it out, splitting towns and staying put.

Those purple flowers, the ones that grow on trees in May - they're growing on the tree outside my window. At the office. They're growing at home too. I keep forgetting the name of that flower.

Right now Bruce Springsteen is singing about "fire on the fingertips" and "feathers made of moonbeams." It's kind of poetic - he knows he doesn't know what the hell he's singing about. But he knows - beyond any doubt - that it means something to get the words out that way.

I'm nothing if not a problem solver. I make problems too. I'm both inventive and stubborn. I like tables and chairs, blankets, and clean spaces to sleepwalk through.

I woke up in a small panic two nights ago. That hasn't happened for months. Or, alternatively, it happens all the time inside my head - deeper, unnoticeable, subconscious - and I sleep/dream through it. But again - I know I'm not the only one. Happens to a lot of you.

Now Bruce is singing about "scatterbrain" and "bustin' off the altar" (the song is called Bishop Danced). He's totally going for broke in a crazed late-song early 70s rap. He still didn't have a record contract so you could hear the hunger if you listen close enough.

I've been listening a lot lately. To people. I hear the hope, the sadness, the joy and regret. I have empathy. I need empathy.

Each of you wonder about decisions you've made. It's not just one of you - two, three, four, five of you. I hear it all.

Someone wonders if it was a fair trade. And in the night haze, the lights look good in the hills. But things feel different on the inside.

Someone wonders if someone had just made an effort, a giant gesture, then it wouldn't have happened - the 3 verbs that start with vowels.

Someone else looks at you with those big eyes and implies that yes - the job will get done.

Someone else looks at area codes on incoming phone calls and hopes the news is bad this time.

It's strange. I listened to 4 songs from the Go-Go's 1984 post-career-peak album Talk Show recently. I hadn't heard those songs since 1989 and I knew every word, every non-word. They weren't a particularly great band. I didn't relate to them exactly. But I loved that album. And 3 of those 4 songs were brilliant, criminally underheard. And I ask myself - why do I remember those songs at the expense of others? Is it because I have a cherished memory of driving to the Jersey Shore (near where Springsteen grew up) to see the Go Go's play an outdoor show in the summer of '84, with INXS opening for them? Or is it because I bought the cassette of that album on the day my mother went to the hospital for treatment of cancer? And yes I buried that latter memory for 20+ years and stuck it inside the memory of an album that no one else really cares about. That was also the year the family left Pennsylvania. That was also the year - with my mother's health still in doubt - that my sister got engaged too young. That was also the year my sister broke off the engagement. It was the year we moved to Minnesota and I made 40% of the friends I have now.

I understand it. The need not to drive on that street, that far north into Chicago. Don't pass this line. Don't look that way. I'm like that. There are places I don't want to go. Places I do go to and want to leave and suddenly I'm in the Minneapolis airport drinking something strong, hoping to fall asleep later without snoring in the middle seat.

I understand it. The need to not make contact, not look eye to eye, to decline the reaching-out offers for lunch, to hold on to the bet, wait out the storm, the investment, the trade. I know it's hard.

I used to gamble too much. This was not too long ago (November 2003 - December 2006). I don't know why exactly it started. I'm not sure exactly why it ended. It's almost as if it didn't have to start, didn't have to end. But it did and it did.

The chemotherapy worked. My dad took that job in Minnesota and the hospital on the hill in Pennsylvania where two lives in my family were legendarily saved was nothing but a memory. My sister eventually moved to California two years later and, another year later, married the man she's still married to. I guess there's something to be said for getting hitched too young.

The gambling story probably started many years before that, I know. It always starts earlier than you think.

It's a gamble, I know. It's a choice, sure. A reasoned choice or an impatient one. Choices and decisions and gambles - they have a way of shaking out. And you find yourself in Hyde Park with 3 cats, or in Melrose Hill with 2. Or in Glendale with no cats or in Miracle Mile with wicker. Or in South Pasadena with 3 and a baby. Or in Williamsburg - or whatever Brooklyn neighborhood you live in now John - with a laptop. Or in south Minneapolis with modular cubes. Or in Venice with a half-decade-long art project or in an Eichler tract with the planning of the baby coming in 6 months. Or in dirty Brea with a turntable and a shopping cart and that fucking chair from Pier 1.

The gambling urge just took over. You see, I did it - on iTunes, I selected Big Friday by Bonnie Prince Billy. It's the song I heard 6 times in a row driving through an Orange, California neighborhood... killing time before my first date with Alex. I wanted to be three minutes late, rather than 12 minutes early. The song was like a lullaby. It relaxed me. It inspired me. It circled me and, when it had me in its sights, it ended. Because it's only 2 minutes and 43 seconds long. It lulled me. It focused me. It made me feel like a writer.

What's it doing to me now? It's filling me with indefinable joy.

The other day, on my way to Mount Prospect through Des Plaines from Chicago on the interstate, I passed the same highway oasis I passed in July of '84, when my family left the east coast for the midwest. On Friday, I passed it in the daytime. In '84, I passed it at night. We were on our final push, all the way to Eden Prairie, MN. Why didn't we stop in another hotel room? Why did we drive another 8 hours into the sunrise? Why did I have to get there at 6:00am instead of 3:00pm? Do I remember it correctly? Did we stop at a motel? Did we pull over, the 4 of us in our 3 cars?

The other day on the Illinois interstate, I wasn't going too far. I took the next exit, after Des Plaines. I didn't even remember 1984 until today when I was forcing myself to. I found a Starbucks. They didn't have Starbucks in '84. It was inside a grocery store. The latte woke me up good.

I just played Big Friday again. I like the way it ends... "to have such a woman... with me." He never really defines who "such a woman" is. He just sings it.

I'm taking another chance. I'm playing Table For One by Liz Phair, one of the saddest songs ever written. She mostly writes sad songs and sang them happy to even things out. Or unsexy songs that she dirties up for poetry. You see, this is sad:

"I want to die alone
with my sympathy beside me
I want to bring down all those demons
That drank with me
Feasting gleefully
On my desperation"

Wow. How do you even react to that?

"I promise I'll make some changes"

But then the guitar is so lamenting that she or whomever she's singing as might never change.

The next verse that starts out with "I want to..." is even sadder. I won't post it here because I can't figure it all out right now.

This is a long entry. Rambling, yes.

And then the Liz Phair song ends with devastation. A new one - Why I Lie - starts and maybe explains what came before it. Or maybe not. She could have just been playing tricks with that sequence. She's a genius.

I know other geniuses - ones I actually talk to and fly to and walk with in the aisles of Trader Joe's. I love them, those geniuses.

What's this all about? The end of something? The methodical fading out of songs? The silence in between the old and new? The year of brilliant mistakes? The months with a sense of purpose? Is it about yesterday, with 2 colleges and a free smoothie? Or about this weekend, when the truck is rented and I gamble again (with friends, for fun, at a party)? Are all of them really friends? Is it really all that fun? Well, if they play those cool songs again, yeah.

Yes, I dodged my own question.

On Saturday night, my cousin and I were sitting at a window seat at a bar on the south side of Chicago. Lake Michigan was a short windy walk away to the east, his apartment a shorter walk to the west. We talked, like we do twice a year, about our family. The stories we've been told and the stories we've lived. The holiday gatherings we've been invited to and the ones we weren't. The gatherings that don't exist anymore. And yes there was sadness. And pride in not giving in. And joy at getting it - that the stories we were told were sometimes not true, that fear is a motivator and love is difficult, that we tell our own stories and our narratives can get even stickier because we're pulling out what we think is the truth. I believe there is a truth, that truth isn't subjective. I may be in the minority on that one.

Some of these stories are hilarious. That's why our screenplay or teleplay promises to be a comedy.

Should I tell one of these stories here, today?

Or should I tell a newer one, one from last year? The story about me being slightly hit by a car. Did I exaggerate some elements? Did I move the scene of the incident to another location for no acceptable reason? Was I shellshocked because it was still soon? Did I hallucinate what happened later that night? Did I later walk into the door at the office and bloody myself because I was tired from sleeplessness? Did I get better? If I ever tell you the story, you'll know.

Now I'm listening to Sea Legs by The Shins. It has a perfect title. It feels like the sea. And legs. And when I hear these words...

"Of all the intersecting lines in the sand
I routed a labyrinth to your lap"

...I see lines. I see them in a grid. I don't see the actual shape of the labyrinth as clearly but I'm smart enough to know it's there, if not genius enough to picture it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

9 Questions

This is my 333rd post. Wow.

3 + 3 + 3 = 9

Lately, some questions have been asked of me. Some of these questions were offered by you, the readers. Others have been dreamt or otherwise presupposed.

Where exactly was your new blog photo taken?
In the elevator of a Public Storage facility on Glendale Blvd. in Silverlake (Los Angeles).

What do you think you'll be doing in 5 years?
I have 5 answers to this question:
Writing the last 100 (of 1,000) pages of a memoir or novel.
Being an actual father.
Writing this blog.
Working somewhere (maybe here), with an additional hyphenated pair of words added to my title.
Eating more oatmeal.

Why have you been eating so much mashed sweet potato lately?
Because it was there.

Why have your cats been throwing up so much lately?
I don't know. Maybe it's seasonal? A reaction to change? The new bag of food? The old bag of food? It'll pass, probably.

What's your favorite episode of The Office?
Benihana Christmas, for its many payoffs.

What's your favorite line from that episode?
"Why don't you just buy the whole song?"

What's with your family's fascination with Japanese steakhouses, a fascination that has persisted from childhood... a fascination that has taken you to some of the finest gimmicky Japanese steakhouses in Bala Cynwyd, PA, Eden Prairie, MN, and La Verne, CA, among many other places?
I have several theories. For me, it's the bean sprouts. For my Dad, it was the knives and the trickery. For my Mom, it's the proximity to the people serving her. For my other relatives... well, they had no choice really.

How was Chicago?
It was good. But I only want aisle seats on planes, from this point forward. Ever.

Honestly, how many of these questions were actually asked of you?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

On Everett Avenue

It's nice out in Chicago tonight.

Why am I in Chicago?

Where I work, it's "summer." So I'm taking a short vacation...visiting my cousin. Just for the weekend.

Earlier tonight I ate here. It was good.

But I miss Los Angeles. I always miss it more than I anticipate.

I've only been gone 11 hours. Four of them were spent on a plane, on which I read magazines and newspapers, filling my head with facts. I read a long New Yorker article about this guy. I read some reviews of the new Don Delillo book. I think I'll read it. He wrote Underworld so he gets the benefit of the doubt.

I want to personally thank United Airlines for airing the "Dwight Works at Staples" episode of The Office. That one never gets old.

I just realized I was in Chicago exactly one-year-minus-two-days ago. That visit set in motion a crazy May and June. Good crazy, some bad crazy (there was Memorial Day, you see...) I have a feeling that this May and June (and July and August and so on) are more subdued, only a little crazy, inspiring, amazing, and a lot of fun.

I need to write fiction again. I've been in a non-blog-writing slump for 13 months or so. It'll pass. It always does.

Does everyone know that I wrote a late-90s-style rap about myself? It's called (My Name) Is (Ali).

I miss Seymour and Lily. I hope they keep cool.

Back to last year in Chicago, when I was here for the conference. I stayed downtown then, in a giant hotel, overlooking a majestic river, close to other massive buildings and streets. The whole trip was "big." Tonight, I'm on the south side. The windows are open, the ceiling fan is on, I'm getting sleepy, and things seem smaller. And better.

I remember one night in particular during last year's visit. It was my first night here. I had had a full day - flying, dinner, bookstores, reunions. It was 3:00am here. I couldn't sleep. I went down to the hotel lobby, with a book and some magazines. I wanted to relax. I wanted to slow down my racing mind by sitting down in one of those overstuffed lobby love seats by myself.

I remember reading an article about the literary life of Phillip Roth and falling asleep, only to wake up when the sun came up along the Chicago River, the sun shining through the massive majestic windows of the hotel, the hotel my employer was paying $150+ a night to put me up in, only to have me sleep in the lobby.

I slept better the next 3 nights.

I went home missing Los Angeles. Like I do tonight.

But I'm in Chicago. I'm going to sleep in Chicago. In a medium-sized room, with a small weight on my shoulder. It's okay. I'm good. The weight will go away in the night. I'll have a good Friday. I'll be one day closer to flying home.

I blog better in the daytime, don't I?

I miss the new desk in the corner. I miss the chair by the desk.

I miss this.

I have a big story in mind for my next fiction piece. It's almost too big, as if it's a novel.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


The view of Griffith park from my window last night was pretty amazing - the Observatory, shrouded by smoke, with growing flames nearby. I remember waking up at 2:00am and going to the window to see a too-dark hillside dominated by fiery flames. After going back to sleep, I woke up at 6:30 to see the flames gone, the Observatory intact, and lots and lots of smoke.

This blog would be the perfect place for me to post my own photos of the fire but there are three problems:

1. My camera is somewhere in Glendale.
2. My camera's lithium batteries are somewhere in Silverlake.
3. My other camera (the one on the cell phone) isn't of the highest quality.

(In a few weeks, this won't be as much of an issue because there will more cameras in the apartment. Can't wait.)

So the photo here is from the L.A. Times.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Linkery: The Long Take

I'll put the best link first (via Alex).

If you're into weighty well-written academic-type pieces, read The Situationist.

If you need advice, ask Jason.

I wish it would rain.

A new song by a Norwegian. An old one by Shriekback.

Raynar Banham loves Los Angeles here (via)

There's good basketball on tonight (don't click if you get queasy). There's better basketball on tomorrow night.

Christine Daniels has a blog. And good musical taste.

My favorite Seinfeld episode ("I got the first name"... "she's into it")

My favorite Seinfeld moment ("Aunt Baby")

I'm all for unconventional plot structures but will anything happen in this book? (To be fair, I've only read 198 of the 240 pages.)

I don't mean to show off but the May 6 puzzle took me only 12 seconds to solve.

Speaking of Will Shortz, I can't make it to this but if you're near UCLA tomorrow night and you have $20-$35 to spare, I'm sure it'll be fun.

Monday, May 07, 2007


It's way too hot today. And apparently the air quality in Los Angeles is still not that good. And I'm sick... in the midst of a bad cold.

So why am I happy?

I just am.

Here's some video of Berlin (the city not the band)... filmed from someone's car... set to one of my favorite American Music Club songs.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Top 33 Years, 1975-2007

I know I've done this before (ranking the years of my life) but it's time for another edition. I've decided to rank the years 1975 through 2007 (partial as it is). Yes, I was alive for several years prior to 1975 but it's all a blur... wouldn't be fair to rank those years.

In ascending order (with special lowercase-only 1-to-3-word descriptors):

1. 2007* alarm eyelash fixate
2. 1986 smithereens
3. 1997 green T-shirt
4. 1977 steely knives
5. 2000 lakes
6. 1989 brea nights
7. 1984 breakdancing, caravans
8. 1981 customer parking only
9. 1979 radio
10. 1999 kinko's boxes
11. 1988 desert rain
12. 1983 glass menagerie
13. 1998 surviving desire
14. 2003 the writer
15. 1985 wind chill
16. 1994 good songs
17. 2001 good start
18. 1996 mall of america
19. 1987 wheels, things
20. 2002 not again
21. 1975 rust-colored house
22. 1990 across the universe
23. 2004 unemployment
24. 2005 whatevs
25. 1992 better in retrospect
(tie) 26. 1978 edge of town
(tie) 26. 1995 in my car
28. 1982 drive-thru
29. 1991 should have stayed
30. 1980 slipping, sliding
31. 2006 perspective?
32. 1976 pizza depot
33. 1993 wtf

*so far so good

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

4 More

So... a commenter on yesterday's post mentioned that items #2 through #6 all concern the same thing (namely, my history of car accidents). Counting these five entries as one, I have only written 37 things about myself and not 41. To address this well-reasoned (but persnickety) complaint, here are 4 more things about me that you may or may not have known.

1. I saw Soul Coughing in concert in 1997, 1997 (again), and 1998.

2. One of my favorite all-time meals (and the one and only thing I miss about not working in downtown Los Angeles and yes I know it's only a DASH ride away) is the Baja Bowl from Skew's on Grand, over by the tall buildings on the hilly streets. I like to substitute the chicken with tofu and I normally eschew the pico de gallo in favor of the tomatillo salsa. Sure it's a lot of carbs - tofu, black beans, rice, and a few tortilla chips - but it makes me happy.

3. I am the proud owner (father?) of two cats. You knew that, of course. I discuss them incessantly. But did you know that Seymour has a circumference of 25" and a length (not including tail) of 21" and Lily has a circumference of 16" and a length (not including tail) of 18". Thus, Seymour is rounder than he is long. Lily is longer than she round. (Note: I measure circumference based on the most ample portion of the belly.)

(Aside: yes, I really saw Soul Coughing three times in 17 months. They're very underappreciated. And they rock in a live venue, such as Minneapolis's First Avenue. Circles and True Dreams of Wichita are amazing songs)

4. My papa was an engineer. My mama was (is?) a mama.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

41 Things You May Not Have Known About Me

1. I saw School of Fish at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano in 1991.
2. I've been in two traffic accidents (as a driver) in 24 years of driving.
3. I've been in one accident (as a passenger).
4. It happened here.
5. The driver got in the accident because she was fast-forwarding the cassette of this album.
6. It was late 1986. Or early 1987.
7. I never bought anything from The Gap until 1999.
8. I'm half Swedish.
9. Other than airports, I've never been to Texas.
10. I've been to 39 states (again, not counting airports).
11. The 11 I haven't been to? Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kansas, and West Virginia.
12. No, Alex, I've never been to Kansas. Some day.
13. If you do count airports (and why wouldn't you?), you can add Texas and Tennessee to my list and make it 41.
14. I never drank coffee until I was 30.
15. I've never voted Republican.
16. I voted for Nader in 2000.
17. I think The Flintstones are better than The Simpsons. And I like The Simpsons.
18. I like smooth jazz. Sometimes.
19. I think season two of Twin Peaks was better than season one.
20. I like beets.
21. I saw R.E.M. in concert in 1985, 1986, and 1987.
22. I saw The Jacksons in concert during their Victory Tour in 1984. Not my idea.
23. I should have majored in English.
24. I have some problems with the film Fight Club.
25. The reason, Jason, I spoke ill of House of Pies is that my last visit there was a comical tragedy of rude service, crazed (not in a good way) customers reading aloud from science textbooks, more rude service, and - yes - weak pie. But this may have been an anomaly.
26. I regularly leave my desk to go to the library (for work reasons).
27. I still don't brush Seymour as much as I should.
28. I've never been to Ashland, Wisconsin. And I never want to go there. Never.
29. I saw Public Enemy in concert in 1990, 1991, and 1992.
30. I didn't realize that The West Wing wasn't a comedy until the show had been on for several years.
31. I've never watched The West Wing.
32. I hated Chicago (the city) from 1997 to 2006. Now I kind of like it.
33. I liked Chicago (the band) from 1973 to 1982. Now I don't care.
34. One of my favorite song of the 2000's actually includes the lyrics "You lose your way/You've got to land/You've got to make another plan."
35. My favorite sports (to watch and play), in order, are basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and tennis.
36. I am an excellent card player (when gambling is not involved).
37. I secretly like the song Pepper by Butthole Surfers.
38. I didn't like Sling Blade.
39. I liked Minority Report.
40. I'm half Egyptian.
41. I'm driving to Orange tonight.