On the postal tip: Be sure to check all of the "output" trays if you buy postage from one of these machines. There's one that spurts stamps and small postage stickers, and another for the bigger stickers that go on boxes or big envelopes. I also think there's one more, for some other type of postage. I sent a big envelope today, and I thought the machine was busted because the stamps/sticker tray didn't have anything in it. I thought I'd paid $0.83 for nothing. Turns out that I had selected "large envelope" instead of "letter/small package" during the initial interview part of the transaction. The stickers for large envelopes, as I said above, come out of a different mouth-hole. My $0.83 sticker was there, waiting patiently. I promise this is the last post about the postal kiosks. On that note, a haiku:
Scale and screen invite
Wond'rous unnatural acts
On federal land
A taste of Citizen Cope. One thing I didn't have room to mention in the review: I saw him warm up for somebody at the 9:30 last year (My Morning Jacket maybe?), and his set was rather plain and uninvolving. I was also sitting in the top deck, so maybe that took away some intimacy. The songs sound much better on disc.
I mail a lot of stuff, so I'm no stranger to the lines at your average post office. They're not nearly as cranky as those at the DMV, of course, but the vibe is similar (drab gub'ment surroundings) and the service can be just as unpleasant (this is the public face of an entity that has been known to create mass murderers). Thus, I find much pleasure in using the Postal Service's new self-service kiosk (hott pic here), which allows users to weigh packages, sticker 'em up and move 'em along without confronting another human soul. I do like some of the customer-service folks at D.C. post offices. Sometimes they have natty-dred or neo-Motown style. But I think I'll be using the kiosks.
NOTE: I think you get Super Double Nerd Points if you spend any time surfing around that kiosk industry site.
My brand new personal desktop computing machine is sitting in a shipping hub in Subic Bay, the Philippines. Part of me feels compelled to mount a commando "rescue" mission to bring it home much earlier. I guess I could've paid extra for expidited shipping. Or I could stop checking the FedEx site every day and just let life happen.
The excitement is warranted because I've been nursing two circa-1998 beasts for years. The PC a Pentium II that runs Windows 98 probably has some life in it. The Mac a beige G3 that's barely able to run OS X at a tolerable pace is no longer qualified to handle some newer-generation Apple software.
In baseball terms, the PC is like a fortysomething left-handed middle reliever who can still get outs with a crafty array of pitches. The Mac, however, is like a beloved-but-decrepit NL first baseman who is about two weeks away from being marketable only as the DH for a mediocre AL Central team.
Not sure I agree with Stephen Hunter's assessment of John Waters' filmmaking techniques (isn't Waters' "lack of polished smoothness" just as confident, just as studied, as your average Hollywood hack's actual polished smoothness?), but Hunter's review of "A Dirty Shame" was the only thing I read in the paper today, and I felt like I didn't need to read anything else afterward.
If you've seen the "Entourage" episode where the young'ins negotiate with a hip indie director to tackle their "Queens Boulevard" biopic, you probably remember the fuss over the director's "test" for them: He inserts a blowjob by the male lead into the script just to see how they'll react. Sadly, it's been done before, with "Good Will Hunting," but with the joke pointed in the opposite direction. From Peter Biskind's "Down And Dirty Pictures," an excellent account of the rise of Miramax in the 1990s:
Damon and Affleck were getting impatient. The two writers suspected the Castle Rock guys were not even reading what they'd been giving them. In one draft, they put in a scene where the "Harvey Keitel" character, a psychiatrist, gives Damon's character, Will Hunting, a blowjob in his office. Recalls Affleck, "Nobody at Castle Rock ever said anything to us about it, and we were like, 'All right, I guess the blowjob scene works.' It was demoralizing."Damon and Affleck had originally thought Keitel or a star with similar credibility and open-mindedness could take the role that Robin Williams later filled. Damon and Affleck eventually gave the script to Kevin Smith, who got it into Harvey Weinstein's hands.
Says Damon, "True to form, Harvey called up and said every single thing we wanted to hear, which was, 'I don't know who the fuck you guys are, but I love this fuckin' script, Kevin loves it, it's really fuckin' good, but this is too much money these guys at Castle Rock want me to shell out, like, it's Breaking Away? And there's one thing'beat'you can't be giving him a fuckin' blowjob at the office, okay, guys? You think you're funny, you're not that fuckin' funny.'" Adds Affleck, "Immediately we loved him. He pulled the trigger." Within a day of getting the script from Smith, Weinstein offered $1 million for it, with Damon and Affleck attached. He did what he does besthe saw the potential, accepted the risk, met their price, and executed with lightning speed.And we have him to thank for Affleck, I guess, even though Ben had already played a sadist in "Dazed And Confused" and an anal rapist in "Mallrats."
Family Bonds: Surprisingly good. The highlights are the lowlights (e.g. the Romanian woman with no bra). I'm saying this, of course, because the Evangelista family apparently has a wide reach (they had jobs in Reading, Pa., and Virginia in the first episode alone), so if I ever skip bail, I don't want to get an extra little beatdown because I criticized the show. Tha Mrs. who probably will never have to worry about making a decision to skip bail had an excellent insight about the youngest boy of the family: He's like Bobby from "King Of The Hill."
Thanks to Jorge for pointing to me to youhavebadtasteinmusic.com. Yeah, that bullhorn guy is a colossal dick (one could liken him to the protesters who hector the customers of family-planning clinics), but I appreciate the ballsiness (and relative harmlessness) of his escapades. Perhaps it is the purest form of rock criticism. Well, maybe the guy who shouts "you suck" at every opening band in Philly is more pure.
At this point I've had my fill of presidential-election coverage, but the WaPost's story about Bush vis-à-vis religion is a break from the norm. I'm sure it's blogged everywhere today, but I feel obligated to stir it into the Cesspool. Alan Cooperman makes the case, slowly, that Bush isn't a true-blue evangelical. It's a worthwhile point, and it seems to be well supported. But the story doesn't mention anything about the evangelicals that have found a home in the Bush administration. Isn't that really where the movement rears its head? Granted, that truth has been well-documented already, but Cooperman might've done well to point it out. I don't see the name "Ashcroft" in there, anywhere.
Amazon's new A9.com site has potential, if my brief two-minute encounter with it is worth anything. I like how it creates multiple columns according to the types of searches you do. Superficial? Sure. But it's not really cluttered, either. So much supposedly-cool Web stuff ends up being a mess because the designers can't stop adding visual dookie.
Saturday night's show at the 9:30 was fitting. I remember pouring beer on a friend's head and literally giving Black & Tans away to people I didn't know. What am I, 14? And I'm really left with only one thought: Out of all the anthems and bangers that Robert Pollard has written over the years, the song that sounds best in concert the one that was best built to be played onstage has to be "Teenage FBI." Now, I know that there are several megahits that also could fit the bill: "Motor Away" (for the throttle), "Marchers In Orange" (for the stomp), "Glad Girls" (for the hooks), "Echoes Myron" (for the lyrics), "Cut-Out Witch" (for the dynamics), "I Am A Tree" (for the riffs) and "I Am A Scientist" (for the grandeur). But "Teenage FBI" is the one that always makes me think, "crap, this is excellent." Maybe it's an expectations thing the version on "Do The Collapse" is a little too slick but I'd like to think that it's just the way the song sounds when it's roaring out of the stacks. Plus, the bridge and the chorus just keep building. Cheers, Bob, and thanks for the memories. Just be sure to bring these sounds 'round again, no matter what you call yourself.
RETRODATED UPDATE: Awesome interview with Pollard by Richard Harrington of the WaPost.
Many thanks to the Finn for introducing me to the Mooninites. Ignignokt and Err might be the greatest deadpan act since Steven Wright. Declarative sentences have never sounded so perfectly silly, at least in a cartoon. I've seen about a half-dozen episodes of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" since it came out, but missed the green-and-pink duo until now. In a stunning display of irresponsibility, I will blame this on the Cartoon Network, not my own channel-surfing skills.
DCist notes that former Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug is moving out of her apartment in the Meridian at Courthouse Commons, and that her abode was the site of a "Trading Spaces" episode. This bothers me. My logic:
1. Anybody who ever lived in that complex can kiss my ass. The place seems to be nothing but a holding pen for bratty Georgetown undergrads, eurotrash, aging fratboys, the spoiled adult children of diplomats, and pallid wonks who are too afraid to live anywhere else. (Yeah, I'm pretty pale, too, but it's a choice, not a byproduct.) Perhaps Strug is the nicest lady in the world, but her taste in living quarters is unimpressive. Maybe she was in the Phase III section, which seemed to be a little less skeevy, but no more interesting. In any case, cheers to your move, hon.
2. When I lived nearby, my taste in living quarters wasn't merely unimpressive, it was tragically unfortunate. The Courthouse Crossings complex, which is just down the hill from the Meridian, was a drab hellhole with a harmless exterior. I could catalog all of the problems, but I won't. I'll leave it at this: When my wife and I moved out in May, our building was in the midst of a seemingly unstoppable infestation of fruit flies. Everybody had 'em. And it was nasty. (The Meridian and Courthouse Crossings are managed by the same folks.)
3. Because of points 1 and 2, "Trading Spaces" should've come to my place. By all counts, Kerri Strug's economic upside with its Stanford stamp of approval is superior to mine. Why the hell does she need to be coddled by a TV show? TLC should've been kissing my ass and giving me cash. Lots of it. In turn, I would've provided a wealth of mirth, some sardonic insight, and perhaps a bare-ass shot.
In sum: Kiss my ass.
Today was mo'definitely one of those days that required a walk to work rather than some sort of public transportation. Or so I thought. I loaded up my easily-overheatable insides with cool green tea (I was already too jazzed to be guzzling coffee) and strutted into the crisp Shaw air. Usually, leaving for work at 2 in the afternoon is a hazily liberating experience, like, I coulda slept all morning if I wanted to. But walking to the office requires a trek through neighborhoods where people are ALREADY COMING HOME FROM WORK at 2 p.m. on a Friday. They're spending disposable income in cafés, frolicking with canines and toddlers on public lawns, meeting their wonk-ass friends for breezy post-work chatter about regulatory policy, shooting up with designer narcotics, whatever. Especially on a sweetly-betwixt-the-hurricanes day like today. And I'm on my way to work. No amount of iPod goodness can provide the proper distraction: My freedom is limited, theirs is not. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. A real hater hates the sunshine. Happy denizens of the mid-city, I command you to snuggle betwixt deez nutz.
Today, outta nowhere, sandwiched between something teen-pop-ish and something Nickelback-ish, the music system at the gym played "Seattle" by Public Image Limited. I guess it kinda makes sense &151; I once saw PIL warm up for INXS.
UPDATE 2: Mr. Rick has kindly added further illumination below.
Best of luck to John and Laura. I'm still nursing the bourbon hangover. My fake caption for this would be, "The happy couple prepares to toast to the sanctity of the 'Under Smoke' blitz package in Madden football."
Selecting a gift has been difficult. On the way from the reception site to the after-party at a pub in Alexandria, I spotted these. Maybe you, the Cesspool faithful, can help me decide. The lineup also included Colin Powell and Barbra Streisand.
1. The shell macaroni/tuna salad at the Federal Market on 23rd Street
2. "Sleep Over Jack" by Guided By Voices
3. "Blue Cathedral" by Comets on Fire
4. "Penance Soiree" by The Icarus Line
5. "Leviathan" by Mastodon
6. Kevin Dillon on "Entourage"
In case you haven't noticed, the ubiquitous Mama Q has her own blog now. Go post some shiznit there. And I didn't notice until now that the blogfather Ken Layne has renewed the flow of media tidbits, wit, wisdom and sage paranoia again on his eponymous Web site. I stopped reading regularly after it seemed like that the URL was just gonna become a home for the Bearded One's band. Last time I saw him was at the GOP convention in 2000, over drinks at Dirty Franks. That's too long. He did wish me a happy birthday, though. And even if you don't know Redshifter/Bob K. personally, you might still care that he's playing bass now in a group called Chinese Radio. Also in the world of bass: the inimitable Jorge has buffed up his blog and has been posting a little more regularly.