Monday, January 30, 2006

How Bad Can Music Get?

Big music companies are still crying about the fact that digital music is destroying their business. What's actually killing the music business is the music itself. I blame the Black Eyed Peas. It isn't possible to make a song that is worse than "Humps." I love how this tune manages to disgust me with its juvenile lyrics and lack of actually being music. Yet it's played at least 100 times a day on any given radio station. People don't love this song, they just can't avoid it.

When I buy an album, I first hear a great song on the radio and look up the artist on Amazon. After sampling several tracks, I will usully buy it. Recently though, the radio has been so innundated with songs like "Humps" that I can't listen anymore. The reason why I'm not buying CDs anymore is because you're promoting crap and ignoring good musicians. Stop filling the air with garbage Gwen Stefani and start playing songs from musicians who actually play music. "Hollaback Girl" is recycled Disney Channel excrement.

The blame should fall almost entirely on the huge media monstrosities like Clear Channel and Infinity. Local radio stations that still choose their own playlists are a dying breed. You want to know why CD sales continue to fall at a ridiculous pace, look no further than the enormous companies managing the radio stations. People will want to buy songs when you give them a reason to.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Parking in Hartford

As many young people can attest to, parking in downtown Hartford is a disaster. So it was last night when R-dogg and I went to our favorite pizzeria for dinner. There was a Wolfpack game on, and therefore every single bit of free parking was taken. They shouldn't bother wondering why young people don't congregate in Hartford. It's not worth dealing with the ridiculous lack of parking.

So it was with great interest when I read about the Hartford monorail project in the Sunday Courant. For the full effect, you need to see the map on the back of the Northeast. It really is quite a wonder. There are several things that need to happen in order for it to work:

  • The Rentschler Field "Evergreen Walk-esque" project needs to move forward. Make that area a cool place to hang out.
  • The East Hartford riverfront needs to be developed. Build nice, affordable condominiums, cool restaurants and coffee houses that people will want to visit. Sell the condominiums to young professionals rather than older retirees (which is apparently what is happening to the Hartford condos).
  • The Metro-North line between New Haven and Springfield needs to be built. The reason why Hartford fails so gloriously is that it's so hard to get to. Make it easier for people from different counties to visit Hartford.
  • Commuter lots need to be built in East Hartford. Make it easy for people to go to the nice restaurants and bars in Hartford.
  • The actual train and commuter lots need to be well maintained and managed. Otherwise we are going to end up with a broken down embarassment that people will avoid. It will be shunned like CT transit.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hitmen in Movies

There's a long, solid tradition of professional killers being these cool, slick characters in movies. Often you'd want to be a Chili Palmer or Martin Blank beccause they were just so fun. Professional killing must be great fun. Professional criminals are equally awesome.

So it's with great joy that The Matador, the new film featuring Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear, feels gritty and real. In the movie, Brosnan plays a professional killer at the end of his career. He has no friends, family or even place of residence. Instead, Brosnan's character floats from hotel to hotel for his next job. He is a loud, obnoxious drunkard who is desperately lonely and on the verge of an anxiety attack. Insert Greg Kinnear as a sweet, innocent family man who befriends Brosnan, and you have a comedy with some interesting introspective moments.

They've failed to promote The Matador all that well, so I feel like I should do my part. It's a great film in the midst of the crappy studio release dumping ground of January. Go see it.

Underworld: Evolution was also great. I'm not sure what the plot was, or even anything about the characters, but Kate Beckinsale in a tight leather suit (and then in one scene not in that suit) was well worth it. There were also explosions.

Friday, January 27, 2006

For Shame

I was embarassed when I came home yesterday and found that Oprah had royally bitch slapped James Frey. On her show yesterday afternoon, she put him in front of the firing squad. I like Oprah for a lot of reasons, but her actions on this were pathetic. Frey's gone through enough, but you feel that since he somehow wronged you, then need to publicly embarass him further.

Furthermore, you were right the first time, when you said that the book was still inherently true. Stick to that and let's not further the "I was wronged so I need to wrong this person back" philosophy that is so prevalent on our society. Nothing is more pathetic than making yourself feel better at someone else's expense.


It's interesting when you first start a class. In a normal world, the first college class of the semester starts with everyone generally being shy, placing their new books on the desk and pretending to leaf through them. The professor walks in, attempts some sort of clumsy "getting to know you" assignment, hands out the syllabus and makes a quick escape. You breathe a sigh of relief as you realize your 3 hour class ended up taking 15 minutes.

But our class last night had Bill in it. Strange things happen when Bill is around.

So it was that our professor walked into the classroom with Bill giving one of his timely lectures on the dangers of fidelity to a group of people who had never met him. There was, of course, an interesting debate going on in which we were loud and raucous What must that poor man have thought?

But I wouldn't want it any other way. The reason why our class was so exciting last semester was because we had so many electric personalities in it. I can only hope for the same.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I am torn over Fox's current Tuesday night schedule. They took away House for the time being and replaced it with 2 hours of American Idol. That type of offense is nearly inforgivable. House is a fun, intelligent and great comedy. American Idol is stupid and mean, especially when Cowell dispenses one of his trademark insults.

So then why can I not stop watching it?

As much as I hate to admit it, there's a measure of schadenfreunde with American Idol. I love when a person describes themselves as the next "Jay-Z" or "Christina" and then proceeds to be absolutely awful. So I'm waiting patiently for House to return, but in the meantime it's quite a nice, mindless wait.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Has our economy really gotten so bad that we need to outsource torture to other countries? I just feel terrible for all those local torturers who are now out of a job. What are they to tell their families?

Just another sign of the Bushies destroying the working class...

My Body: A Short Story

It happened so fast. Lying in bed, I took a deep breath in, held it for about as long as I could, and rode the wave out of my lungs. I am not sure if I consciously wanted to leave my body, maybe reflecting some sort of inner turmoil. I was just suddenly hovering over it, staring at myself. It was a little weird.So I did what any individual in my situation would do. I took off. My body seemed like it was fine on its own so I flew out of the bedroom and explored. It's amazing how fast you can travel when you don't have to deal with the mass of a body. Time and distance seemed irrelevant as I coasted over the world without my body.I'm a little embarrassed to admit I did what any man would in my situation- I went to see old girlfriends and women I was attracted to. It’s not as great as you think. Once you are detached from the physical body, that need is sucked right out of you. Nothing exciting at all about seeing a random human body unclothed.I visited my parents, my sister and other relatives, who seemed to be doing fine. My sister was up late eating the leftover ice-cream cake from her 32nd birthday party last week. I wanted to tell her that she needed to stop secretly snaking or she'd never lose that extra ten pounds she's always freaking about, but without any vocal cords I could only think it. My parents were sleeping in separate beds, having conceded that their love lives were pretty much over and it was time to get some sleep. They seemed happier for it. Aunt Judy was getting high alone, as is common for her. She has not gone a day without pot since she was 12.After making sure all my relatives were okay, I traveled to foreign lands. I went to Shanghai, Bombay, Curacao, Dubai and several African nations I do not care to spell or even discuss. Living in America, I never understood how beautiful these places were until I'd actually seen them. Of course, I am not sure how I was seeing them, considering my eyes were thousands of miles away from me. I think I still managed to hold onto my poetic soul.I became lonely. Traveling around and seeing new places is fun, but without another person it seemed rather useless.The strange thing is, when I returned to my bed, my body was gone. I looked all around my apartment and found it in the shower, carefully shaving. While I had a good idea of how to get back into my body, I was curious to see it function without me.I followed it around all day, watching it interact with colleagues and friends, providing pleasantries and going through all the motions I would. It did a great job at work getting all my work done in at least half the time. Of course, it didn't seem to get bored or need to leave the cubicle to talk to my friends. It just worked until it had nothing to do and waited for more work.At the end of the day, it went home. I watched in amazement as it viewed the primetime sitcoms, eyes half open and looking dazed. After several hours, my body crawled into bed and went to sleep. That was when I made my decision.So now I am a traveler, leaving my body behind. I was lonely for the first couple of days, figuring that I was alone in my lack of body. It turns out that there are lots of us living like this. Our bodies didn’t need us anyways.

Monday, January 23, 2006


The best snow days are the ones that are completely unexpected. Last night as I was going to bed, I turned on New England Cable News and saw they were expecting a dusting to an inch for us. I figured there was an ofdf chance off a delayed opening. What a nice feeling to wake up, turn the television on, and see another snow day. Exams in late June, here we come!

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Dear Heather Graham,

I am truly sorry for the recent cancellation of your television show. This must be a tough time for you, where you are doubting your own talents and abilities. You are quite a wonderful individual who was stepping into the wrong medium. The movies are really where you belong.

Of course in this time of need, I offer my services to you. If you need a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to for all hours of the night, feel free to send me an email. We can get together for coffee and then afterwards you can feel free to come back to my studio apartment and discuss your further career options. Allow me to help you during this tough time.

Brett Evans

Happy Birthday Gerry

Surprise parties are fun, and even more so when the person is genuinely unaware of the surprise. Case in point, last night's very exciting bash for my friend Gerry's 30th birthday. I was so happy that nobody tipped Gerry off to it, especially considering that I walked around all week filled with the anxiety that I would be the one to blow it for everyone. Whenever saw Gerry at work, I would plunge my eyes to the floor, a casual "hey" extruding from my lips. Desperation, thy name is not telling someone about their surprise party. Oh please don't tell him accidentally slip.

I have a big mouth.

So it was with great joy that Gerry walked into the backroom of the Wood N' Tap last night, almost completely unaware of what was happening. We all had been there for about an hour with an open bar, so some of us ended up shouting "seeerprishhh." Okay, maybe that was just me. Those "girly" French martinis do a number on me.

Happy 30th birthday Gerry. When I turn 30, and I have the amount of friends and family who care about me so much, I'll be very happy. You are a great friend who deserves it all.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Pathetic Appeal

The GOP strategy for the 2006 elections has been outlined and guess what? For the bazillionth time the GOPs will bring terror to the hearts of the American people in order to get into office to continue their downward spiral. My desperate hope is that smarter voters will be numb to this inundation of fear and see through the lies and filth these desperate politicians are spreading. Please Democrats, find your own inner strength and rise up to take down these snake-oil salesman who are driving America into the ground.

What's Really Bothering Me

I stole the title from Bill, but that's because I find it incredibly provocative. Bill, in his posting, actually had a coherent thing that was really bugging him. My answer is that I genuinely don't know what's bothering me. But something is, and I don't like it.

Every morning for the past five or six days I've woken up feeling empty, like there's something missing. It used to be that I would wake up sad because I wanted a girl romantically in my life. I would actively work to find a girl who was willing to be romantic with me. I know that feeling though, and this isn't it.

I'm also not lonely, which happens on occasion. Recently though, I've been lucky in friendship, so I'm hardly ever alone if I don't want to be. Plus, I have my cats, one of which is sitting here watching me blog. One day soon, he'll rise up and start his own blog. It could happen people.

It's not my career, because I have a good job doing something I truly enjoy. Okay, maybe I'd like to make a little more money, but who honestly wouldn't? So I have a good job with decent pay and a roof over my head. I can't complain about that.

I feel better now. I'm still not sure what's bothering me, but taking inventory of what's good in my life has made me feel a lot better. Thanks blogging, you rascally devil. You've done it again.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Orson Scott Card has written a really intelligent and balanced argument about intelligent design. I like the way he compares the Designists to Darwinists, who he claims are both dogmatic at heart. He's right, the Darwinists definitely do seem to have a streak of "fervent belief" in them. Card has once again restored my faith that he is one of the sharpest minds around- Bush supporter or otherwise.

Strange Coffee Conversations

"Dude, that woman is absolutely beautiful."

"Yeah, I know she's stunning."

"I wouldn't mind being her husband, staying at home and taking care of the kids."

"Yeah, what a body on....wait, what?"

"Well look at the type of car she's driving. The lady must have money."

"So your goal in life is to marry a woman with money and be a house husband?"

"Yeah, pretty much."

"Well could we still sit here drinking coffee?"

"I don't see why not."



Lately I have found myself going to Starbucks and sitting around to discuss nothing much with R-dogg. Our conversation is quite interesting most of the time, but this week we've both been incredibly busy with work. So, I tried bringing my laptop to Starbucks in hopes I could use their wireless hotspot. Yes, I wanted to be those pretentious person sipping coffee and banging on a laptop.

Except Starbucks has completely fumbled the ball on hotspots. Rather than make it so people can have a nice amenity when they come in to drink their coffee, Starbucks has decided to profit from this venture and charge people for their wireless internet. When I saw 29.95 a month to use the internet, I almost lost it. What are they seriously thinking?

I barely pay more than 30 to have private internet in my apartment. Being a techie geek, I figured that Starbucks is probably paying close to 100 per store for the wireless hotspots, which means the markup on the wireless is about as much as the markup on their coffee.

If you were smart Starbucks, you would make the wireless free, like several other coffee places including Panera Bread. It's called customer appreciation, which in turn makes us want to buy your ridiculously overpriced coffee and pastries. Don't feel like every little thing in your coffeehouse is an opportunity to make money.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Weight Loss

This time of year, everyone dispenses weight loss advice. Most of it is completely ridiculous and bogus stuff that worked for those extremely high metabolic individuals. Such was the incident this evening...

R-dogg and I are sitting at the counter of our favorite pizza place The Red Plate, sharing a beer and eating pizza. We are in the middle of a conversation about how languages affect culture. I overhear the skinny crack addict sitting next to me dispensing his own weight loss advice to a heavy cook.

"Yeah man, you completely skip breakfast here. You wake up, smoke a few cigarettes..."

"I don't smoke."

"Well smoking helps assist weight loss, so start. Anyways, wake up smoke a few cigarettes and down a few pills of Spirolina. After that, take a shot of espresso and go to work."

"Sounds good so far."

"Okay, so for lunch eat a huge bowl of pasta with parmesan on it. You have to make sure it's parmesan because other cheeses have too much fat in them. Parmesan has no fat. Trust me, the carbohydrates will make you lose weight like crazy."

"So what next?"

"Yeah, so for dinner eat a frozen dinner. Those controlled portion dinners help out a lot. Make sure you eat it right before going to bed so your body will burn calories while you're sleeping. Also cut out all meats in your life. Protein causes you to gain weight, so you'll automatically lose ten pounds by not eating it." I decide to finally chime in.

"Okay, first of all cutting protein out of your diet is the worst possible idea. You will lose weight, but it'll be muscle mass, not fat."

"Yeah, but this guy can stand to lose some muscle."

"You never want to sacrifice weight for muscle. That's going the opposite way. Second of all, skipping breakfast is the worst idea possible. You want a good plan, eat a good multigrain cereal in the morning and drink a couple glasses of water."

"No, spirulina will take care of those cravings."

"Yeah, but you wont get any nutrients out of it. Anyways, eat a lean meat for lunch, like turkey or chicken on good multigrain bread. Drink more water."

"Dude, you need to drink caffeine. It jumpstarts the metabolism."

"Okay, you need to shut up. You're going to wreck this guy's system. Okay dude, you're going to hear a lot of advice about weight loss. The idea is not to do anything crazy like take supplements and not eat. Eat healthy, with good grains and healthy protein. Replace chips and soda wih fruit and water. Exercise. Please don't smoke, no matter what this idiot says."

Greatest Politcal Move Ever

Enough said...

Monday, January 16, 2006

Everyone's Heart is Broken

"The idea is to separate your thoughts and feelings. You can have feelings, just make sure you don't feel them," the instructor said, surveying the room. Most of the students in the classroom nodded, seeming to understand. I was bored, this was the fourth time I had heard this speech. The instructor looked at me, a look of disapproval on her face.

"You're bored again Gene?"

"Is it that bad?"

"Well the thought balloon is not as clear this time, but it still slipped out of you." The thought balloons were my bane, the reason why I had to take this class every week. I hated them.

"We all hate thought balloons Mr. Manning, that's why we are here. You need to figure out how to deal with them. Yes, I know you've heard this all before. Hey, it's not my fault that you're here!" I was once again ballooning without controlling it. Sometimes my feelings got so out of hand that they popped into thoughts. People are usually quite embarrassed by it. A teenager raised her hand and the instructor walked away, giving me a look of disdain.

"Yes Ms. Kratchett?"

"Where do thought balloons come from?"

"Didn't you parents tell you?"

"Well, they gave me this hokey story about how one day God looked down on the world and saw so much lying and hatred and decided to make people's thoughts visible. So now we have thought balloons, that make our thoughts appear."

"That is correct."

"Well, how could we possibly know that?"

"It's the theory of cognitive manufacturing. Science can't explain thought balloons, so they must have been caused by an intelligent being. Since no one has disproved it, it must be true." The teenager had a thought balloon over her head that read "stupid, stupid." I chuckled. An older man from across the room raised his hand.

"Yes Mr. Wilkins?"

"What about the applied theory of particle resonance?"

"Hey, what's that?"I yelled from across the room. I'd genuinely never heard of it.

"Well, the story goes that about a century ago, they were messing with new ways to make energy when they sort of messed up the particles in the air. Since then, everything has been all..."

"Mr. Wilkins," the teacher yelled.


"That theory is a fallacy forwarded by the progressive thought movement. The common theory is that we have been punished by God."

"If we are being punished by God, then why do we work so hard to quelch the thoughts?" I asked. The class began laughing.

"Hey, what's so funny?" The woman next to me pulled out her pocket reflector and pointed it at me. Above my head, a thought balloon said "Why is this so dumb?"

"Mr. Manning, may I see you outside please?" the teacher asked. The class began laughing even further. I looked around and saw several people with thought balloons floating above them. I was too embarassed to read them.

The door slammed shut as the teacher stared me down. She was old, her skin folded upon itself in several places. Her hazel eyes still burned with intensity, showing a deep resolve for her work.

"Yes, I realize how old I am Mr. Manning. No I wasn't born with the dinosaurs. Hey, now that's not funny. Mr. Manning, would you please stop your thoughts for the time being, they are getting in the way of this conversation.

Animated Films

I loved computer animated films. Every time a new one came out, I would go see it, fascinated by the technological innovation behind them. So it was for many years, when computer animation took so long that the writers had time to make the story really good. I was enamored with this innovative new type of filmmaking, with really great stories. Until Shark Tale came out.

Shark Tale was what I always dreaded for computer animated films; pretty crap. I don't mean the movie was pretty crappy, but that it became so easy to make computer animated films, that Dreamworks was now able to pump out really attractive looking weak scripts. Shark Tale was absolute pop culture garbage designed to make a quick buck.

Since then, it's been all downhill. The movie industry, smelling insane profit, has spilled out poor computer animated movies every month. The recent dearth of computer animated films set to come out is set to destroy the glitz of the computer animated industry.

Which is why I had really low hopes for Hoodwinked, which is an independent computer animated film distributed by the new Weinstein Company. It looked like a bad version of Shrek, but then why would the Weinsteins touch it? So I went to see it, thinking it couldn't be so bad and at least entertaining. I was right though, the animation was bad.

But that's where the badness ends. It seems that when you have a tiny budget and poor animation, you really need to make a story worth watching. So the story is very funny, and quite interesting. It is another fractured fairy tale, but it has a lot more twists than Shrek and doesn't rely so heavily on the fairy tale characters. Instead, it mixes in more interesting characters and has a good plot. I was very impressed by Hoodwinked. It brought me back to those older days where Chicken Little and Madagascar didn't exist. Check it out.

By the way, Munich wasn't nearly as funny as I thought it would be.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


In his "The Pop of King" January 20th editorial in Entertainment Weekly, Stephen King writes "Is Sudoku the stupidest game to ever appear in newspapers, or what?" I like Stephen King a lot- almost embarassingly so. He's considered a pop writer, but he really has some genuine literary chops. King is dead wrong on this one though.

Sudoku is a fun and quite intelligent game. The trap Mr. King seems to have fallen into is that it looks deceptively easy. It is quite a challenge at times, providing hours of deep thought.

What's interesting about Sudoku is that it reveals the way people think. For example I like to stay in the boxes and solve the puzzle box to box. My friend R-dogg looks more at the lines and only uses the boxes when he needs to. A-list tends to view the whole puzzle and fills in the boxes erratically, with no pattern I can think of. Such is the way we think.

Steve, you need to give Sudoku a second glance. I often use it to bring my brain out of a haze. It sometimes works better than coffee. And I sure love my coffee.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Dating Wrap Up #82789

On Thursday I was offered a chance to have a Romanian mail-order bride. According to the fine man in the parking lot, she was a "good girl, no sleep with other men." She was actually very beautiful, but then there's the whole "this is my Romanian mail-order bride Vlada" thing to deal with. I just can't keep my place in polite society with that. So I continue to blind date, which is really not helping my ego. In fact, going on dates with ladies I don't know has actually made me feel worse.

The thing is, I keep failing and I don't know why. I am a good looking, funny and intelligent guy. But I keep going out with ladies and not feeling any connection. I know they don't feel any connection either, because they never call me back. I'm always willing to try a second date, even if the first one isn't all that wonderful. Maybe that's just me though. Still, I've begun feeling like a sack of sour tomatoes. That can't be good.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Black and Grey

A couple of days ago, my friend R-dogg said to me if had to choose an ideology, I think I would choose hardcore conservative. I was flabbergasted. I know my friend has very liberal ideas and beliefs, yet here he was saying he wanted to be a conservative. So what was with the change of heart?

It turns out R-dogg was suggesting that the liberal point of view is very complicated with many shades of grey. R-dogg merely is lusting after an ideology that is insanely black and white, so he doesn't have to always be reconsidering his point of view. I know what he means because I am often conflicted about my viewpoints on stem cells and abortion. There's no cut and dry way of thinking in the liberal paradigm.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

On Frey

Previously on this blog I have shouted the praises of James Frey and his memoir A Million Little Pieces. At the time, I was enthralled the book, thinking it was a fantastic read. Now allegations have come against Frey suggesting that parts of the book may be fictionalized. So I should be conflicted and dislike the book, right?


So the nerds at The Smoking Gun took the time to analyze the book to death and found discrepancies. If you put any piece of non-fiction literature up to a heavy microscopic and study it, you will find huge problems. It's the nature of the medium. Truth is not a constant, so it's impossible for a person to always be truthful about themselves. The event did happen, and whether or not Frey embellished it, it did happen to him.

I was killed by Colin in a debate over this. Unfortunately as Colin sometimes does, he nailed me with a point that I couldn't rebut because I didn't have the right information in front of me. He claimed that James Frey has conceded the point to The Smoking Gun. Indeed, Frey has not conceded anything. Frey wrote on his website ""I stand by my book, and my life, and I won't dignify this bullshit with any sort of further response." Doesn't sound like much of a concession to me. You made some really great points, but this one was wrong. Please don't lower my grade Colin.

I also apparently sound crazy on the radio.

Quick Thoughts

As you may know, I enjoy House. In fact I think it's the best show on television. But I'm a little worried about the direction it may be going in. They are dangling the promise of romance between House and Sela Ward's character way too much. They will almost certainly continue with it over the next few weeks. But if the writers continue with it, the show could be headed into the soap opera doctor show that Dr. House loves so dearly. In order for the show to work, House needs to be miserable with momentary flashes of joy. With love in his life, it might be harder to accept his surliness.

Despite all my initial reservations, I'm actually intrigued by the Howard Stern satellite show. Stern's acquisition of George Takei as his announcer was brilliant. Plus, Stern has openly admitted that he will only push the boundaries when they are necessary. He's trying to not blunt his new instrument by constantly swearing and making lesbians have sex. The man is definitely a genius.

My early mandate to stop online dating has become a bust because quite frankly it's hard to meet people in Hartford when you are out of college. So I'm back online, and actually finding the experience interesting. I've realized one major flaw in my earlier online dating experience; I focused too much on one person. I'd meet a woman online, begin emailing them and stop talking to other women. Now when I have a bunch of emails waiting for me to answer, I feel better about my life. I also don't take the one email to a girl as serious.

This comment yesterday regarding my posting on the self-help craze is interesting, and helps prove my point. I disagree on the idea that "one must only ask and answer the questions that he or she alone can ask and answer." I mean, if we only focused on answerable questions, than we wouldn't get very far. It's the unanswered questions that drive us. The most well-known philosophers sought out those questions and gave their lives meaning by attempting to answer them. Even if we fail to answer them, the attempt is noble. But just like I said yesterday, it's all about how often you ask the cosmic questions. Don't drag your life down by always focusing on them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

What's Wrong With Us?

Okay, I promise I'm done with ruminating over this idea, but I just had to drive this idea home. Yesterday I was discussing the idea that many people in the world have the idea that something is wrong with them that needs to be fixed. Then I remembered something Colin said to the blogging class last semester regarding how every culture in the world started off with the premise that something went wrong with humanity at some point. Almost every society in the world includes a story where humans messed up and lost their perfection. The Adam and Eve story is just one variation on that theme. Walking around with this idea banging through my head, I felt it was damaging us as humans. Our obsession to obtain perfection has ignited wars and caused a lot of death, hunger and greed. We strive to make ourselves perfect and in that process often keep others down. So I felt like a society with the premise that you're fine the way you are would be perfect.

But my friends A-List and R-dogg rebutted my arguments. R-dogg elegantly suggested that my society wouldn't feel the need to progress at all if we were always content. If we are fine they way we are, why would we even bother to grow? He also suggested that it's human nature to assume there is something wrong with us given the environment we live in strives to kill us at every step. How else does a beginning culture view a nasty disease, but through the imperfection of humans? So we need that imperfection for social progress.

A-list mentioned The Four Agreements, a book that discusses how we all agree to this ridiculous terms of perfection that no individual can live up to. Of course, The Four Agreements is inherently a self-help book about fixing the problem, so it's only making the issue worse. It's a self-help book that complains you spend too much time trying to make yourself better, all the while trying to make you better. That's silly.

When I worked in a bookstore, I saw a memo discussing sales of self-help books. The author mentioned how almost 90% of people buying the books were likely to return and purchase another one within 4 months. So apparently each book couldn't be the final answer, since clearly that type of person consistently needs to change. People always tell me about the self-help books saying they feel as if the issues discussed connect directly to them. It's the "oh, I do that" syndrome. This style of writing is the cousin of the psychics who perform "cold readings." The reason why you feel like the author is describing you is because the book is written in such a general way that you will always connect to it. This is how publishers sell books. For further reference, read Happiness by Will Ferguson. It's a wonderful satire on the whole self-help book industry.

My final word on this issue goes, as usual, to Asian cultures, which have pegged most things properly. If you push yourself too hard chances are you will burn out or never be able to achieve your own ridiculous goals and be unhappy. Contrary to that is a person who feels they are just fine and becomes lazy and dull. The idea is balance, and the necessity to keep yourself driven while not making yourself anxiety ridden. Strive to better yourself, but don't go crazy. You should be happy with the fact that you are trying to better yourself, but don't be upset if you don't always achieve your goals. Just keep on living.

Monday, January 09, 2006

My Craziness

For the past month or so I've been in this kind of weird, ultra-reflective mode. This mode forces me to consider a lot of things about my life and who I am as a person. Usually the lack of warm sunshine spurs on these wildly contemplative periods. During this time I came up with one solid conclusion. I'm too serious about everything.

Of course, the cliche that comes to mind in this sense is "knowing is half the battle." In our society we hold to the idea that knowing we have a habit or something we want to change is the beginning of that change. We are the facilitators of our personal evolution.

That's all bullshit though. In western culture we are obsessed with the idea that something is wrong with us. No matter how rich or successful or even happy we are, clearly something must be amiss. So we sit around thinking about it and wondering what exactly it is we need to fix. We show up to bookstores in droves to buy snake oil books telling us what the problem is, and how to maybe fix it.

So my revelation that I'm too serious is actually a revelation that I think about what's the matter with me way too often. Indeed knowing that I'm too serious might cause some sort of weird chain reaction in which I create a whole bunch of disingenuous ways to "fix" it. Maybe meditation might help? How about Tai Chi or green tea? Don't I know people who have had a lot of success with hypnosis? Inevitably I will implement the crazy Asian spiritual health regiment for a couple of weeks, but I will just clutter my life up even more and feel worse, as if I've failed.

So what's the answer?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

New York Craziness

I didn't write a blog yesterday because of the craziness surrounding my New York trip with my friend Big D. A blog was all planned on and ready to roll, but then the day got ahead of me. Way ahead of me.

My friend D and I had plans yesterday to see Spamalot on Broadway, which was very well intentioned. D told me that the show was around 7pm, so we planned on leisurely meeting at noon to take the train in and wander around Manhattan for a bit beforehand. So I woke up around 8:30 and watched television. After an hour of some bad Saturday morning cartoons (were they always this bad?) I decided to get out of bed. So I stumbled into the living room and performed an elaborate ritual where I checked my email and phone to see if anyone had tried contacting me while I was sleeping. Unfortunately, I decided to leave my phone on silent and when I picked it up there were three messages from D. Apparently the show was at 2.

I hurriedly called him back and showered as quickly as I could. I thought our train trip could still be salvaged, but D had other ideas. He showed up insisting that we drive into Manhattan. So I hopped into his car and off we drove to Manhattan.

I've never driven into Manhattan myself, but having New York in my blood, somehow I know the way. So D and I had relatively little trouble getting to the theatre. There was plenty of time so instead of taking the highway directly to 44th street, we got off in the Bronx and drove down Broadway to Manhattan. It was a beautiful sunny day and the city was humming. I love New York when it's nice out.

I've always been under the impression that it's woefully expensive to park in New York City, but I was proven wrong when we parked at a nice garage on 43rd street. The price was 25 dollars for 24 hours. That's a great deal, especially considering we were parking a block away from Times Square. I may never take the train again.

D and I stepped out into the tumult of Times Square, which I immediately regretted. Tourists love Times Square because they think it's the epitome of New York City. I think it's exactly what the problem is with New York, and with my lineage being of New York, I don't consider myself a tourist. The streets were crammed with obnoxious people desperately trying to get their pictures taken next to the flashy Nokia sign. D and I slipped into a pub on a side street, hoping to find a quick nosh before the show. We also found a modern day Casanova, who was calling every woman on his cellphone hoping to find a girl to spend time with. At one point he called a woman and said "how are you my little Martin Luther King baby?" It seemed to work because he followed up with "Or are you my little Malcolm X dumpling?" Seriously weird.

So we went to the show. Our seats were almost directly on top of the actors, albeit 100 feet above them. Still, the theatre was small enough that any seat was good. We settled in and were prepared for whatever we were about to see.

Spamalot is a very funny show. It genuinely has moments of Monty Python genius. But I had two minor audience critiques. The first is my fault-I have simply viewed Monty Python so often that many of the reprised skits felt flat to me. While the audience was laughing hysterically, I was thinking that I indeed found that joke funny before. Like I said though, I stepped into the show knowing the material too well.

The second issue with the play was its uncomfortable insistence to tear down the fourth wall. D commented to me that recently, a lot of Broadway shows have felt audience participation was necessary. This is just another example of the themeparkification of New York. Broadway is desperately trying to appeal to the masses by willingly sacrificing some of its integrity. Still, the show still had that Broadway shine to it.

After the show, we decided to bolt from the Times Square area as quickly as possible. We walked through the ginormous 42nd street Port Authority station, where we saw many strange and kind of annoying performers. The funniest part of the excursion through the station wasn't the performers, but a clothing shop that calls itself "R.A.G." Now that's good satire.

I dragged D down to Macdougal Street, which is a strip of hip bars and restaurants in Greenwich Village. We had a few drinks in a couple of interesting taverns, and after that my memory gets a little spotty. The great thing about New York is that most restaurants are great and don't make you wait, so D and had a great meal at a little Italian place with very good prices. We bolted when the flamenco guitarists showed up.

The wide array of bars on Macdougal street allowed us to be eclectic. After eating we went to a cool tea shop, where I energized myself and D bought some delicious tea leaves. We went to a place called "The bourgeois Pig" simply to say we went to a place called The Bourgeois Pig." It was a tiny place with enormous cushy chairs packed together so tightly I had to bend my body in funny directions to squeeze into it. I ordered delicious mulled wine and when I asked D what he ordered he said he didn't know. It was sort of a beer and citrus juice combination that was tasty. After watching an unfortunate man who was clearly messed up on some sort of drug get thrown out, D and I decided to leave ourselves.

The rest of the night was a casual visitation of other bars, including a place where one of the regulars told me that house rules were that if I bought a drink, I had to buy one for him as well. I wasn't feeling generous at that point. We ended up leaving Manhattan around 11:00pm and getting home around 1:30pm. All in all, a great night without many lessons learned.

Friday, January 06, 2006


I'm getting sick of trying to explain to people why Jack Abramoff showed up to court looking like a gangster. Yes, I dislike the guy and I think he's corrupted politics in a major way. But please don't criticize his outfit. There's actually a very serious explanation of it. It's a Jewish thing. Seriously.

For a better rationale, please read this insightful article on Salon.

Working Out

I haven't been to the gym in the past month and the guilt is beginning to rise. It's not my fault though. Usually when I hear that people aren't going to the gym it's because they don't have the time or they just can't drag themselves to it. I want to go, I hunger to go and I need to go.

But I can't and it makes me sad. It hurts too much to lift the weights and I'm actually too skinny to continue doing cardio. So the gym is out, and when I drive by it, I get misty and reminiscent.

My hands are once again cracked, scarred and bruised. I'm at the stage where people visibly notice and cringe when I shake their hands. So I often keep them dug into my pockets, which makes me look like I'm uncomfortable around people. If I've been around you in the past month and you thought I looked uncomfortable, I wasn't. My hands just hurt badly.

I don't want to just deal with my psoriasis any longer. I've been just dealing with it for four years, and I'm sick of it. Why can't someone figure out how the hell to get rid of it?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fox News Hires Loud Idiots

Recently I've been convinced that the only requirement to become a Fox News anchor is to be a loud idiot. I'm nearly positive that an IQ residing somewhere below 90 is also a prerequisite. My rational are two recent clips of well-known Fox News anchors making enormous fools of themselves.

The first clip (sorry, site pass required) is of Fox News' John Gibson preaching about Brokeback Mountain. He hasn't seen the movie, he just feels like he's expert enough to comment on its merits. Gibson's argument's are grossly incompetent. For starters, he says the movie is a "gay agenda" film, but for anyone who has seen the movie, you'll know it makes a gay cowboy lifestyle seem lonely and isolated. Nothing about the film glorifies homosexuality. Gibson also doesn't understand the word satire, as he sites Larry David's article "Cowboy's Are My Weakness" as a defense of his own viewpoint. John, dude, Larry is a comedian and therefore is fooling around with conventions. By suggesting he's on your side, you're actually playing right into his farce. Of course, Gibson also unsuccessfully says Brokeback will be a box office failure. Apparently John is a news anchor who doesn't read the news.

The next clip speaks for itself, although I have a couple of quick additions. Bill, if you leave the comfort of your studio, only to get beaten up by the talk show host David Letterman, you are clearly in the wrong field. I mean Letterman is a great debater, but even he admits he's not smart enough for political debate. Yet he mops the floor with you. Lets get real here, the only way you even have a place in the political debate is because your show is a venue where you are virtually uncontested. You can say any stupid remark you want and not have somebody call you out on it. Your appearance on Letterman should have been a wake-up call.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Rejected by Form Letter

Dear Mr. Evans,
Thank you for your email regarding our "date" last Thursday. I enjoyed your company as well. Unfortunately I have decided to go in another direction. At this time I will not continue dating you. However, I would like to keep your email on file in case there are any openings in the future. Best of luck to you.
[Name deleted for fear of lawsuit]

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Handicapped Movies

Whoever was put in charge of marketing The Ringer should be taken outside and beaten with wet noodles. For as far as I can tell, the movie is completely failing at the box office and rightly so. From what I saw of the movie, I didn't want to see it. But of course, last week I was on vacation and ended up seeing it out of boredom and the fact that I'd seen nearly everything else.

So guess what? It's really good. The plot centers around Johnny Knoxville joining the Special Olympics in order to rig it. Initially the story sounds offensive and demeaning to mentally handicapped people. All the previews suggested that the movie was about making fun of the disabled. But it's actually a heartwarming tale of redemption and treats the mentally handicapped with sincere fondness. In fact, the movie doesn't hire actors to play disable people, but has actors with the disorders. Script approval was even given to the good people at the Special Olympics.

Plus, the movie is side splittingly funny and not at the expense of the handicapped. In fact, as my friend R-dogg noted, one of the best lines is given by a young actor with downs syndrome. The subject matter is treated with great hilarity and delicacy. Go see it and laugh. Ignore the ridiculously poor marketing.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Hartford Suburbs are Failing

Driving down Main Street in Manchester these days is like witnessing a mass grave. There are lots of carcasses stroon about, caskets lying open for all to see. The deaths are not of people though, but rather buildings that are lying dormant, victims of continual suburban sprawl. It's embarassing to see the huge amount of shops that have closed in the last couple of years.

The problem is that the elders of Manchester, lacking any hindsight, chose to continually develop areas while leaving other parts of town to rot. Buckland Hills is an enormous complex that has totally destroyed the rest of town. The once proud stores that stood at the Parkade moved to the mall area and then moved again, now residing at the Evergreen Walk area. Manchester has lost their tax revenue.

The bleeding will continue until Manchester is stuck with massive amounts of empty, overdeveloped land. For a preview of what's to come drive down Broad Street and see the huge stores that callous retailers have left behind to move to fancier plazas. For some reason zoning allowed Stop and Shop to move to a store 5o feet away and leave their old building abandoned. Eventually the population of Manchester will be huge, but the town will completely lack the tax dollars to support civic requirements. They will only have old rotten shells of stores because of a total lack of civic planning.

This is not just a Manchester problem though. Most towns love it when developers want to build new stores. It brings in a quick dollar for the town. In the end though, the town loses its civic charm and succumbs to all the problems of retail sprawl. Already retailers are moving on to South Windsor, seeing fresh new opportunities to pervert a perfectly nice town.

The answer is for Manchester townsfolk to stand up to developers and not allow them to build. If a retail store wishes to come into town, tell them there are plenty of buildings already available. Or better yet, decimate the old retail plazas that are empty and make green space to regain some of the town's charm. That would be an effective use of tax dollars.

Thanks go to R-dogg, who is just as outraged by the decline of Hartford suburbs as I am. Most of these ideas are sprouted from his genius mind.

Clarification for Blogclassers

For those of you unclear on the details of our get together, it's happening this Wednesday, 7:30 at the Arch Street Tavern. No need to worry about the college folk; there will be more hangouts. Come on out and have a drink or appetizer.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Great Blog Pong Game

New Years night there were many shenanigans, most of which I can't remember, but I'm sure my friends will make fun of me for in the next coming weeks. The one thing I do remember is the crazy beer pong game that my friend R-dogg and I played for the respect of our blogs.

The mood was tense as we each were down to our final cup. It had been a pretty standard game, some shots make, some shots going out the window and hitting parked cars. That's the way the beer pong ball bounces. Now it was up to me to win it all.

My friend D$ is across the table taunting me. His elaborate hand gestures and sexual references have shaken me. I'm off my game and I know it. But I'm trying to desperately concentrate and hold out. My partner is counting on me. His girlfriend is already worried that he's gotten too drunk.

D$ shouts out "this is all nonsense anyways." I look up at him and he's stopped his bizarre gestures. He stares at me and says "come on Mr. Blogitty blog blog blog, shoot." I can't believe he's taunting me with my blog, using it against me. Finally he says "you're always just going to be nonsense, so give it up."

Oh no he didn't.

Needless to say, you can taunt me with weird hand gestures and I'll get rattled. You can even show me inappropiate parts of your body and I'll probably miss. But you make fun of my blog, and that's it, no more Mr. Bad Shot.

The sounds of a pong ball completely missing the rim of the cup and diving right into the beer is wonderful. Truly a sound worth preserving. Which is to say, we won the game and I was a blog hero. Or maybe just a hero.

Happy 2006.