Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hot Enough For You?: Recently back from an East Coast swing. A brief stay in Baltimore followed by a slightly longer, but not long enough, stay in The Apple. This trip included lots of city explorations, a trip to MoMA, and the Tony-nominated musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels -- all will be discussed thoroughly in the fullness of time.

Also, I'm close to finishing a fairly long essay on the state of HBO Original Programming. I had hoped to have it done before I left but, as usual, my eyes were bigger than my schedule.

I still have no A/C. It's going to be a bigger project than originally expected, and I had to get the condo folks involved because it looks like we may have to commit the heinous sin of violating a common area. I managed to survive the first heat wave, but this current one is wearing on me. I really have no problem with the heat if I'm just hanging around, but it dogs me stagnant if I have work to do -- like writing, for example. Into the 90s tomorrow, but at least the weekend is supposed to be cooler. I hope to get a lot of silly nonsense done while everyone is away on holiday.

Anyway, let me gather up my life and get things ordered, then I'll square away some fresh material.
Out On The Links: Just the usual internet chum...
  • I do not have a very strong opinon on Mitch Albom, but this guy thinks he is a terrible writer. You can tell because his site is titled Mitch Albom is a Terrible Writer. OK, it’s a guilty pleasure.

  • I have seen these Demotivators before but they never fail to make me chuckle. Get to Work: You aren't being paid to believe in the power of your dreams. Heh.

  • In my travel writings, I have made fun of roadside motels on more than one occasion. Well, if these groovy motels are successful, that’ll be one less source of material.

  • Speaking of travel, it appears I am starting to make some headway in my eternal battle against the hotel mini-bar. The Chicago Tribune is on my side.

  • In the another-reason-to-live category we have the upcoming Family Guy movie, Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story. You amuse me. When the world is mine your death shall be quick and painless.
Fightin' Round the World: Now I have yet more evidence to suggest the world only exists to keep me entertained. Russell Crowe was in New York to promote Cinderella Man -- "When America was on its knees, he brought us to our feet." – and he couldn’t get the phone in his room to make an international call. So, like any reasonable traveler, he took it up with the Front Desk. Hijinks ensue:

Crowe appeared in the lobby with his room phone in hand asking for Josh [Estrada, the desk clerk], as the two other clerks looked on aghast.

Estrada identified himself and Crowe, grasping the phone over his head with two hands, hurled it at him as if he were making an inbounds pass in a soccer game.

The clerk was knocked to the floor by the blow. Crowe then picked up the ceramic bowl and threw it, turned around, bowed and assumed the karate stance, according to witness accounts.

Meanwhile, Estrada scurried out a nearby door and dialed 911. Police arrived shortly after and arrested Crowe, who spent the rest of the night behind bars.

He “assumed a karate stance.” How absolutely hilarious is that picture? Maybe he’s rehearsing for the lead in the next Brock Landers film.

But this is better:

Much of Crowe's lobby act was captured by a hidden security videotape camera, the sources said.

That tape is now in the possession of the Manhattan district attorney's office...

The tape MUST come out. It has to. We need to initiate legislation in congress or something. I mean, there have to be a dozen tabloids that would pay eight figures for that tape. If I worked in the Manhattan DA’s office, I would make a copy for the highest bidder and be wandering around the Caribbean in full Tommy Bahama regalia before they had a chance to file charges against me. (That’s a hint, for you folks in the DA's office.)

It’s perfect. Just perfect.

Cinderella Man -- "When the desk clerk was on his knees, he whipped a ceramic bowl at him."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Not Dead Yet: Not even coughing up blood last night. Not sick at all as a matter of fact, just have an enormous number of concerns in the tactile world that need my attention. Give me a week to ten days.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

How Hot Is It?: It's so hot I actually made an appointment to get my A/C fixed. Of course, that won't be until next week, by which time things will probably have cooled down a bit. After three summers without A/C, you would think I could continue to do without, and although my rationale for doing this is that I'm going to have to get it fixed anyway if I ever sell the place, the truth is, it has been just to uncomfortable to get any writing done until things cooled down around 10PM.

Anyway, I did finally make it through The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson. My review was not particularly positive. Anyway, I have moved on to reading the next book in Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey-Marturin series, which I became addicted to after seeing Master and Commander. After that, I'm open to suggestions.

I haven't written anything about HBO dramas, even though Deadwood ended a couple weeks back and Six Feet Under has just started. Maybe that is next.

More stuff below. For now, you'll have to excuse me. I need to take a break to do some serious sweating...
The New Will Rogers: That would be Mike Tyson -- he of the endless insights into the modern era. He never fails to say something quotable, something memorable. In preparation for his upcoming fight, we have this interview where he gifts us with such gems as these.

"I want to be a missionary. I think I could do that while keeping my dignity without letting people know they chased me out of the country." (Who knew that after everything, Mike still has dignity?)

"If you saw a (police) lineup and saw Tyson and Dahmer and they asked, 'Who killed and ate those people?' you would pick me and not Jeffrey." (That's true; people tend to forget that Evander Holyfield is still alive, only somewhat gnawed upon.)

"You have to understand. It is a pervasive (belief) that I'm an animal - undomesticated as well. But regardless of the bizarre (stuff) I've done, I'm a very rational individual. But everybody still thinks I'm crazy and stupid because that's what they want to believe."

"My biggest fear now is to go to a New York state penitentiary - then I'll see all my demons," he says. "My family, people I know, put me in that den of iniquity. I could easily be right there with them because, really, I am one of them." (What could be more rational?)

"Nobody's going to change me. I'm going to fight that. You can't change me; you can't tame me. When you say that, I'm going to bite you even harder. I'm more ferocious, more complicated. I'm not going to let anybody win a popularity contest off my conduct."

In the face of all that, Mike keeps his eyes on the prize. In his weigh-in with upcoming opponent Kevin McBride, he offers this clever quip.

"I'm gonna gut him like a fish."

Mike Tyson just keeps on giving. He is the Mark Twain of the criminally insane; the Oscar Wilde of the violently deranged. He is truly the Will Rogers for the new century. He never met a man he wouldn't bite.
Link Dump: For when you know you should be working...
  • PJ O'Rourke on celebrity: "America's media and entertainment industry has a gross (as it were) revenue of $316.8 billion a year. If we subtract the income derived from worthy journalism and the publishing of serious books, that leaves $316.8 billion."

  • Gamblers betray Harry Potter. British bookies notice a distinct increase in bets on certain character's death coming from the town where the book was printed. A leak? If you don't want to know who they are betting on, don't click through.

  • Speaking of disturbed athletes, it looks like Ricky Williams may actually return to the 'phins after all. Aaron Schatz, of Football Outsiders doesn't care. Schatz is right, of course, but I wouldn't be quite as quick to write off Ricky because I am a great believer that a year off can help heal all sorts of little injuries. Although it also means you're a bit out of shape. Ricky could come back strong in the following year. And let's suppose after the defensive build up of this off season, Saban uses next off-season to build the o-line. Then the 2006-7 'phins could have something. And Maria Sharapova could return my phone calls.

  • Speaking of weed breathers, two of them got hold of Jimmy Buffett's cell phone. Turns out he had some pretty eminent phone numbers in there, including Bill Clinton and George Clooney. Get this: "We were sitting around smoking weed and strolling down the list on Jimmy's phone, going 'Wow!' " [Jason] Martin [the busboy who stole the phone] told Page Two. He said he didn't call anyone on the list. But according to the police report, Martin said some of his friends may have crank-called former President Clinton...Martin, 22, said he found the $500 phone at 4 a.m. May 29 outside the Cuban joint Brisa Atlantica. Buffett was spotted going wild on the dance floor earlier that morning. No one seemed to miss the phone until May 30, when a Buffett minion dialed the cellphone's number, and Martin answered..."He said I was a thief and a liar," Martin said. "Then I called Jane's [Buffett's wife] number, and she was nasty to me. So I told them I wouldn't give it back." Ah, the mind of a reefer addict. So instead of collecting reward, he got fired and the Secret Service was on his ass over the Clinton call. But frankly I'm more disturbed that Jimmy, who must be pushing 60, was "going wild on the dance floor." Could not have been pretty.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Hot, Hot, Hot: So today was the first HOT day. The temp gauge in my car was well into the upper eighties. It is now officially summer. Hoo-yah! That means no more lines or waits anywhere in Ann Arbor. It has also served as a reminder to me that I need to get my A/C fixed. I have done without it for about three years now, mostly because I have come to appreciate the heat, but given my long term plan to sell this place, I should probably have it fixed straight away. Of course, that means dealing with the pain-in-the-arse repair shops and that means I will be taking a day off for no good reason other than to sit around waiting for them to show up.

Feh! It's summer, and there's no going about on a whinge during the summer.

I spent a couple of quick days in DC last week on work although I did get to see Kate and Miss Anna. Wasn't a bad trip; I stayed right downtown in the city instead of out in Virginia and got a chance to see some areas of the city I hadn't seen in years, like Chinatown, the Dupont Circle area and Georgetown. I must admit that I found the city is not quite as dirty and nasty as I remember. Still glad I don't live there, though.

I can make a couple of restaurant recommendations. First, for a tasty wood-fired pizza you should try Matchbox which is on the edge of Chinatown. Great beer selection. For a snack, you can get a nice appetizer of three slider sized burgers with a pile of these delicious, delicately wispy onion rings, which are the antithesis of an Outback Blooming Onion.

Second, Cafe Milano in Georgetown is where all the cool kids are going. Exceptional pasta and fish dishes along with a healthy wine list. Bustling but not too loud, it's perfect for a social evening with a pack of friends. The bar was full of stylish, well-heeled, inside-the-beltway types in their dress-to-impress wear.

Speaking of travel, I know I've been promising you an essay on Canada, but you're not going to get it. Instead I offer you the extended post below on road trips, which in conjunction with my last two hotel reviews, and considering you've been through the spa stuff before, pretty much covers the more interesting aspects of the trip.
Road Trip: In retrospect, I must say my road trip through Canada and on to Lenox MA was quite a surprise. First off, I encountered virtually no traffic problems whatsoever. No construction delays, no accidents, no rush hours. Not even coming into Toronto at about 5PM on a Friday night. Even the wait times crossing the border were relatively short. (Perhaps not surprisingly, the cross into Canada is a virtual wave-through -- "Do you have any firearms?" "No." "Your final destination in Canada?" "Toronto." "Have a nice day." -- but the cross back into the U.S. is a bit of a event, including the showing of ID and border guards well over to the suspicious side of the scale. They all seem comport themselves as if you owe them money.)

I had harbored a secret dread of this road trip, stemming quite probably from my memories of family vacations as a child -- multi-day ventures that quickly turned into extended exercises in hostile frugality and discomfort on principle. Going deep into the night to save $5 on a motel; suffering without bathroom stops in the interest of being taught a lesson; endless griping and smoldering antipathy towards everything and each other. Some people learn to look back sort of thing romantically. Not me. I'd just as soon forget.

Even as a poor, young adult, road trips involved driving my old Toyota Celica -- no air conditioning, no cruise control, and with only an AM/FM radio that, on a good day, would emit sounds other than static as long as the radio station was less than five miles away. I would drive the length of I-75 from Michigan to Florida, allowing myself the indulgence of a single night's stop in the toothless Mecca of the Georgia/Tennessee border where I could get a bug-infested room for $17.95 -- remember to ask for towels when you check in.

It's really no wonder I developed such a fear and loathing of protracted auto travel.

But this time, facing a mere 12-hour trip to the Berkshires in Massachusetts, I made arrangements for an extended weekends -- outbound Niagara Falls and inbound in Toronto -- to break the trip into manageable chunks.

Prior to leaving, I took the opportunity to get my butter-smooth Camry (with A/C, cruise, PS, PB, sunroof, etc.) detailed just to make for a more pleasant environment. And then there's Sirius, which serenaded me with anything I desired from jazz standards to techno at the flick of a button.

In Niagara I stayed at the Hilton in a Jacuzzi Suite. In Toronto I got a massive room at Cambridge Suites. In Lenox, I was at Canyon Ranch. It's good to be king.

There is something to be said for surviving to middle age. Demons exorcised.