Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Klosterman unimpressed with "Chinese Democracy"

Chuck Klosterman's review of the new Guns N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy" is up on Spin Magazine's web site and in the latest issue. He thinks it would have been a better album had it come out a few years earlier and with less "maniacal perfectionism" on the part of Axl Rose. I especially like this quote:

"The Blues" might be Rose's crowning career achievement: It's an epic combination of mid-period Stevie Wonder, early Elton John, and side two of In Through the Out Door. This is the kind of gutter-glam boogie ballad that makes "November Rain" seem like a bucket of burro vomit warming in the afternoon sun.
and this informative one:

Several songs make thinly veiled references to the architect who designed Rose's backyard topiary garden, a move that may confuse casual listeners.

Don't miss the "Fast Facts" section at the end of the review, for more insight on the lengthy production time for this long-awaited album. I'm not sure I'll buy it, unless I receive an unexpected gift of Monopoly money.

Gene Weingarten breaks down Bob Dylan

A few weeks back in his Washington Post chat, Gene Weingarten polled the readers about Billy Joel's "Piano Man." He asked his readers to rate the best and worst lines in the song, among other questions about its merits. In Tuesday's chat, Gene tried the same trick with Bob Dylan's "Ballad of a Thin Man," from Highway 61 Revisited. Gene's analysis is about halfway down the transcript -- search for the phrase "Okay, the poll". I'd never really thought about the meaning behind this song, and I'm not saying Gene's got it right, but when I listened to it on the way home today and thought about what he wrote, he's got a pretty good sense of the song. The discussion of the song, and by extension Bob Dylan's talent, reminded me that Highway 61 Revisited is quite possibly one of the best albums ever recorded, and certainly one of my favorites. Has any artist ever had as productive a stretch as Dylan had in the mid-1960s, when he released Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde back-to-back-to-back? I don't know if there's a bad song on any of those three albums.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Cranky old guy hates Starbucks

I meant to post this last week, when it first appeared on Gawker. There's a guy who has a website called "The Kid From Brooklyn" and Gawker linked to this video clip of him ranting about the price of Starbucks coffee, the accompanying snacks one might consume at a Starbucks, and the general ambience of the world's favorite coffee conglomerate.

I love cranky old men. I look forward to being one someday. Well, the old part at least. I'm already cranky enough.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bill Paxton's Naked Hour

It seems Jess and I aren't the only ones who think HBO's new show "Big Love" exists purely as an excuse for Bill Paxton to show his bare ass to millions of TV viewers (fourth item). And in the pilot, we got a quick glimpse of "Little Bill," just so you know.

Coconuts Wednesday

I can't believe that I have to miss this event today while I'm at work. It's like Tuba Christmas, only completely different. Although I didn't like Spamalot as much as I would have hoped, I'd still love to go to this party.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

a different kind of busy this week

The massive rollout we've been prepping for is finally getting under way this week at work. Early versions of the work schedule had us working six days a week, 15 hours a day, in shifts. Now the schedule is down to five days a week and only 12 hours, still in shifts. Since I didn't know just how bad things might get this week, I held off making any plans for my evenings. And my forethought has been rewarded, as I got tapped to be the evening support this week until 9 PM. It's not that bad a deal: I get a free dinner, a cab ride home, and I can sleep in a little bit in the mornings and come in later. However, the times do remind me of the ugly e-mail upgrade I ran six years ago at another job, which had a similar schedule and drove me to look for work elsewhere. I'm not in charge of this rollout, though; I just have to hang out and answer the phone if they need me. So I'm not afraid of this rollout forcing me to start a job search. And it's only for this week -- next week someone else will get the late shift.

With my new marching orders, Monday night was the only night this week that I got to cook dinner for myself. I wanted some comfort food, but not any of my usual easy dishes. A few weeks ago we were supposed to have a tater tot casserole for the Oscar party, but since the people who were going to bring that didn't come to the party, I missed out. But the idea stuck in my head, so tonight I threw together some ground beef, mushroom soup, green beans, tater tots and cheese and baked it. When I took a bite, I thought, "mmm...tastes like middle America." It was good, in a red-state sort of way. Hey, I don't have to be a gourmet every damn night. And there's enough left over for two lunches this week.

I'm more than a little excited that Georgetown is in the Sweet 16 for the first time in 10 years. I should get out of work on Friday just in time to see their next game, vs. Florida. My official bracket is a mess, but I did have Georgetown getting this far and facing Florida. That and $1.50 gets me a cup of coffee.

Friday, March 17, 2006

I love a slow Friday

There's not much to do this afternoon, so I guess it's cool that I got to watch the Georgetown-Northern Iowa game at my desk. (Hoyas win, 54-49!) I walked past my boss's desk, and he was reading a magazine. Now I'm just counting the minutes until I can get out of here for the weekend. Next week we've got a major project getting under way. While I'm told that we won't have to work late hours, I'm preparing myself for the worst.

It's also St. Patrick's Day. My neighborhood wasn't busy when I left, but there were signs it will be a madhouse when I get home. Aside from the usual holiday revelers, there's a movie filming on my block today. I'm going to do my best to avoid all of that mishegoss, and go to establishments that have no connection to the Irish, the holiday, or the Catholic church. Hopefully I won't have to step over any drunks to get to my apartment.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

strange late-night thoughts

I'm sitting here re-reading some journals I wrote many years ago. Maybe it's because of the lateness of the hour, or the state of affairs in my own head, but I just realized that my entire career in information technology hinged on the interview I had twelve years ago for a student technical assistant job in Georgetown's IT department. I had been hung over for two days after an ill-fated attempt to mix cheap vodka and Sprite, hadn't shaved in at least that time, and I showed up for the interview in a t-shirt and jeans. (I was a student at the time, but still.) I have no idea how I was coherent enough to convince them I was right for the job, but they gave it to me anyway. Had I not been offered that job, I would have been forced to take a administrative assistant position instead that wouldn't have offered me the opportunity to work on the university computer systems. I might have ended up a lawyer after all.

not so busy this week

It's NCAA Tournament week. Georgetown is back in the tournament for the first time in five years, though I'd hoped they'd do better than a 7 seed. I haven't finished filling out my bracket yet, and since I left my copy at work, I guess that will be my Wednesday evening activity. The tournament doesn't really get started until Thursday (I don't count Tuesday night's "opening round"/play-in game).

Things have been a little slow around here, or at least the things I'm willing to write about publicly. Hence the lack of posts. But I am still alive. I'd better be, or else my cats wouldn't have anyone to be crazy around.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Natalie Portman will f**k you up

For the first time in months, I skipped SNL this weekend. I didn't watch a minute of it, didn't record it, barely gave it a thought. Thankfully, the Internet provides what I missed. This is freakin' awesome.

Friday, March 03, 2006

a busy week

While I don't mind spending my evenings at home watching TV and relaxing, sometimes it's fun to go out and do something different on a weeknight. I didn't plan to spend every night this week out on the town, but that's the way things have gone. The only ones who seem to mind are my cats, as you'll see.

On Tuesday, a friend e-mailed me asking if I wanted to see George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars at B.B. King's that night. I love the funk, and I try not to miss the Mothership when it lands, so I readily accepted. She and I met at the club around 6:30, so we had time to get a table, eat dinner, talk for a while, and then had seats for the show. The band was excellent as always, and at this point, seeing them for the fifth time, I was able to sing along with most of the songs. We sat a few tables away from Ed Bradley, who looked like he was having a good time. I sent a tip to Gawker, and made this week's "Gawker Stalker" column (see the next-to-last entry). George must be getting old, because the show started around 8:30 and ended about 11:30. One time I saw him at B.B. King's and the show went over four hours. No "Maggot Brain" this time around, but they made up for it by playing "One Nation," "Flashlight," and "Atomic Dog" among many other songs.

On Wednesday night, I went to see Brokeback Mountain with another friend. I thought the movie was worthy of the praise and recognition it's received, though it was a bit long. And no one ate pudding. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal were both fantastic, especially Ledger. I think Phillip Seymour Hoffman's going to win the Best Actor Oscar on Sunday night, but Ledger has a good shot at the award too.

Last night was my second trip out to Queens for karaoke. While I'm much more comfortable singing in a chorus than by myself, I thought I'd give this a shot and see if I really liked it. The only previous time I'd sung karaoke was in Jamaica, on vacation and in front of a room full of drunken strangers, and I loved it. This bar in Queens has its share of drinkers, but I've got a few new friends who love to sing and have a really good time with it. I'm a little surprised at how much fun I'm having as well. My biggest problem is finding songs that are in my range. I'm a bass or a baritone, and most pop songs are sung by tenors or baritones with high upper registers. I feel most comfortable with Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, and everyone's favorite crooner, Englebert Humperdinck. If "After The Lovin'" doesn't make the ladies swoon, nothing will. The only problem is that the bar is far enough out in Queens that it takes me about 45 minutes to get home. So when I left last night, it was close to 2 AM, and I got home around 2:45 to two cats who were annoyed that they hadn't seen me all day. This morning I spent a few minutes of quality time with Vladi to make up for my absence.

Tonight I'm going to see Capote, which will complete my Best Picture Oscar roundup. Then I'm going home to crash until the ceremony on Sunday night.