Year2003

Whoomp Whoomp

     This is an update.

     It was just pointed out to me that by clicking this link and turning up the volume on your speakers, you can hear Andy Sturmer of Jellyfish fame singing the theme song to a show called ‘Marcel’s Animal Friends’ on the Disney channel. Or you can just download an MP3 of it here. BWANG!

     Also: last time I saw Spoon at the Magic Stick – 20 to 30 people TOPS. Last night: a KADJILLION of them. Four dudes next to me: VIOLENTLY MOSHING to ‘PAPER TIGER.’ Performance: good. Crowd: MOSHING.

     Additionally: It appears that the ‘Acme Novelty Sketchbook’ and the ‘Acme Novelty Date Book’ mentioned below are one and the same. The book appears to be the collected sketchbook entries of Chris Ware during the time he was working on his ‘Jimmy Corrigan’ project. The best part, it’s in COLOR. Five sample pages have been posted by Drawn & Quarterly (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Pages 2, 4, and 5 are the best.

     Finally, a really interesting Interview with an on-strike symphony orchestra tuba player is here.

Big fucking essay about book / band no one gives a damn about

     The best book I’ve read in a long time is Banvard’s Folly: Thirteen Tales of People Who Didn’t Change the World by Paul Collins. Sure, two of the 13 chapters have previously been published in McSweeney’s (one each in issues three and four), but all thirteen chapters are engrossing historical non-fiction. The whole thing is meticulously researched and filled with bizarre true stories of scientists, tinkerers, and authors; and Collins spends the extra time to contextualize everything with concurrent issues of the day. I can’t recommend this book enough — You can get remaindered copies of the (out of print) hardcover here (~ $4 – $6), or the newer paperback edition here (New, $11.20) or here (Used, ~ $3 – $18[?]). And no, I’m not getting any kind of kickback from Amazon on any of this — primarily because I’m too lazy to set that up right now — I just think it’s a great book.

     One of the chapters focuses on the accomplishments of Alfred Beach – the editor of Scientific American magazine. Beach’s (forgotten) claim to fame is that he built a pneumatic subway that ran under city hall in Manhattan, long before work on the subway system as it now exists was begun. The most interesting part of this story — to me at least — is that he SECRETLY accomplished all this work (he knew the rail companies would want to stop him from pioneering pneumatic travel and beating them to NYC mass transit contracts) – so he bought a storefront nearby, swore his crew to secrecy, and began digging from the basement, removing the dirt under cover of night. The existence of Beach’s tunnel was only made known to the public once it was completed and operational. Despite a gala opening and rave reviews in the press it was eventually sealed off and forgotten (Due in large part to the financial concerns of a crooked mayor and a subsequent market crash). It had remained sealed for half a century when workers digging the tunnels for the beginnings of the current subway system re-discovered it. Looking for pictures of Beach’s lost tunnel?

     “Finally, there is one very simple way to see what Beach’s railway looked like, and blown up far larger than any plate in this book could manage. Go to a Subway shop–
the fast food chain, you know, where you can buy a six-inch Cold Cut Trio?–and lo! Pasted upon the walls are pictures of Beach’s invention. Whoever was designing the chain wide decor for Subway simply clipped out a bunch of old public-domain illustrations of subways, including three that originally ran in Scientific American
in the 1870’s. Look for pictures that depict an almost perfectly round (Save for a slight groove in the bottom) brick-lined subway tunnel, and a rounded subway car interior. These are Beach’s own handpicked illustrations for what was to be an ultra-million-dollar venture.
     Graze pensively on your Baked Lay’s Sour Cream and Onion chips. Ponder the vagaries of ambition.”

     I’m really not doing the story much justice by summarizing here, so do yourself a favor and buy the book.

     I first heard of this whole ordeal in a song by a Canadian band called Klaatu — whom I am absolutely obsessed with (The casual reader beware – this book recommendation was merely an excuse to segue into an entirely ridiculous discussion of Klaatu). The song — ‘Sub Rosa Subway’ from their debut album (Titled “3:47 EST,” though this title appears nowhere on the sleeve) discusses the situation in detail, and apparently even alludes to it in Morse code. You can download an MP3 of ‘Sub Rosa Subway’ here.

The Lyrics to Sub-Rosa Subway:

“Back in 1870 just beneath the Great White Way / Alfred Beach worked secretly / Risking all to ride a dream / His wind-machine

New York City and the morning sun / Were awoken by the strangest sound / Reportedly as far as Washington / The tremors shook the earth as Alfie / Blew underground

All aboard sub-rosa subway / Had you wondered who’s been digging under Broadway? / It’s Alfred / It’s Alfred / It’s Alfred / Poor Al, woh no Al

As for America’s first subway / The public scoffed, “It’s far too rude” / One station filled with Victoria’s age / From frescoed walls and goldfish fountains…. / To Brahmsian tunes

     The goldfish fountains and Brahmsian tunes referenced in the final chorus actually existed – Beach had lavishly furnished the terminal of his subway, even including a player piano. The song also includes a ridiculously intricate message in Morse code over the last chorus, as described in this quotation from Klaatu.org:

     “At this point there is some Morse Code in the recording which several interviews over the years have not been able to uncover the meaning of. I have also heard of people who have tried to decipher it themselves without any luck.

     Well, you are in luck! Steve Radley has pointed out that one of the editions of their fan club newsletter, The Morning Sun, gave the answer to this great question! Here’s what it says the Morse Code translates into:

‘From Alfred, heed thy sharpened ear, A message we do bring, Starship appears upon our sphere, Through London’s sky come spring.’

The mystery is solved….. or is it?”

     This Morse Code message seems to be a reference to both beach and ‘Calling Occupants’ – a sprawling call to the ‘Occupants of interplanetary craft,’ assuring them of our friendliness – from the same album. ‘Calling Occupants mentions ‘World Contact Day,’ which occurred on March 15th, 1953 – perhaps the ‘Early spring’ of the morse code message.

     Are there any other obscure and slightly interesting facts about this Klaatu band? Glad you asked!

  • People were once convinced that they were the Beatles reformed. The most complete source for all the particulars and the “proof” that was cited can be found here. A more concise newsgroup post on the matter is reproduced here.

  • The Carpenters had a Billboard hit with the Klaatu-penned “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft.” The Langley schools project LP’s that everyone was shitting theselves over last year also feature a cover of the same song. Chalk it up to Canadian loyalty.
  • Any band worth their salt should have a webpage wholly devoted to interpreting their lyrics as played backwards on a turntable. Klaatu’s are here and here.
  • 3:47 EST is the time that the character ‘Klaatu’ arrives on Earth in “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”
  • At one time an animation company was busily working on a half-hour long animated Klaatu special, entitled “Happy New Year Planet Earth.” This project was apparently never completed, though an extremely grainy excerpt of the roughs for the song ‘Routine Day’ from their third album, “Sir Army Suit,” is available for download here.
  • The song “Calling Occupants” references a ‘World Contact Day,’ which did in fact exist. It occurred on March 15, 1953
    and you can find a history here. Pretty insane in that “Men in Black before Will Smith Hi-jacked the term” sort of way. The gist of it was that everyone should attempt to telepathically contact ‘Saucermen’ with a pre-memorized message on March 15th. The first line of the message? “Calling occupants of interplanetary craft!”

  • From their FAQ: The overall style of Klaatu’s 4th album, “Endangered Species” is decidedly different from the others. Why is that? Klaatu had virtually no artistic control over this album. It was more a project of Capitol Records. An outside producer was brought in, most of the instruments were played by Los Angeles based session musicians, and the band members were asked to add their voices and (usually) one lead instrument per song. The band was sent home before the album was even mixed.
  • The only Klaatu Album I have been unable to locate an original vinyl copy of is “Magentalane.” If you can help me out with that, I’d owe ya.

     If all the preceding ridiculousness hasn’t weirded you out yet, here are my ‘Essential Klaatu’ recommendations:

3:47 EST

     This is the album to get – not only because it was the cause of the Beatles rumors – but also because it’s probably their ‘best (completely subjective)’ work. I’ll do a little description of all the songs so you can get an idea of just how ridiculous and schizophrenic this album was (Be warned that it’s well-produced ‘California-sounding’ 70’s rock. Just so you know).

Calling Ocupants Of Interplanetary Craft

     The big single – a slow orchestral pop song alternating between the perspective of a wise human alerting the listener of their telepathic abilities, and encouraging them to use these abilities to contact extraterrestrials and establish peaceful relations; and the (collective?) perspective of the Occupants of Interplanetary Craft. How could it NOT be a hit?

California Jam

     Pretty mindless pop song about surf, sun, sand, etc. with a female vocal on the bridge. Accessibility of the song as a whole and Cringe-worthiness of the lyrics on par with each other. The McCartney vocal comparisons are most audible to me on this song.

Anus Of Uranus

     Bizarre song about being abducted by the Anus of Uranus. No, I’m not kidding. This whole song has a pretty ‘gated’ sound and employs the timeless “Sound and vocal effects echo the descriptive lyrics” technique. The REALLY interesting aspect of this song is that they flipped the verse around backwards and used the unchanged result as the CHORUS of a song roughly four years later (Silly Boys).

Sub Rosa Speedway

     Already discussed above. Most tasteful use of handclaps in a drumroll ever.

True Life Hero

     Just pretend this song isn’t on the album… Just bad in every sense.

Doctor Marvello

     Weird pop song with a first half that sort of predicts the reverb and phrasing that Death Cab for Cutie was going for in a weird sort of way (Maybe it’s just me?). They pull the “Voice of a new character” trick again about half-way through, this time it’s a wavery, off-putting whine.

Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III

     Almost showtune-ish dirge about the title character – the only man to go to Hell and come back alive. I suspect some sort of vocal pitch shifting to achive the voice of Rugglesby.

Little Neutrino

     Bizzarely prog-rockian song, heavy on the instrumental interludes, xylophone and talkbox effects. Really ‘big’ sounding chorus, and EXTREMELY protracted endtro, including several “Explosions.” Lasts 8.5 minutes and fills up the end of the record. Of all the songs and sounds and weirdness on this particular album, THIS is the song that is most predictive of their next album:

Hope

A quotation from Yesterdayland:

     “In the middle of this [Beatles] brouhaha, Klaatu released a new album, Hope. Although it contained catchy, concise pop songs like “We’re Off You Know,” it also contained complex, orchestrated songs like “Long Live Politzania” and “The Loneliest Of Creatures.” Hope also took their already-ambitious sound to a new level by linking the songs on the second side into one symphonic suite and using the London Symphony Orchestra to flesh out the sound.

     Yeah: The second side. INSANE. The whole Beatles rumor thing hit while they were in the middle of recording “Hope.” Their increased profile (and sales) enabled them to talk the label into extending their studio time and getting the London Symphony Orchestra involved.

     Anyway, the second side is comprised of four songs. It begins with “The Loneliest of Creatures.” One voice reflects on loneliness. This voice is soon interrupted by a Bohemian Rhapsod-ian chorus of “OH NO! You’re not the loneliest of all creatures in the YOUUUUU-niverse!” Great harmonies etc. Ends in a round, which segues into “Prelude” which is an instrumental consisting of some ridiculously complicated orchestration.

     This segues into “So Said the Lighthouse Keeper,” a song explaining that the ACTUAL loneliest creature in the universe is a GALACTIC lighthouse keeper, who keeps a silent vigil over his home planet, whose race consumed themselves. This lighthouse keeper resolves to compose a prayer for the entire universe. Again – I AM NOT MAKING ANY OF THIS UP. You can actually buy 3:47 EST and Hope on one CD, here. Moving on, in the lyric sheet to this song, a narrator explains the fate of the lighthouse keeper:

“When to his end the old man came / Death told him “You’ll not die in vain” / And on his lips the fatal kiss was placed / But from within his falling chest / The old man uttered one last breath / And had we heard his parting word / We’d know that he’d said….”

     At first I thought this was a LYRICAL CLIFFHANGER, which would have been very, very great. Unfortunately those words are not sung on the actual album. The second side concludes with the title track – A decidedly less orchestrated and more straight ahead pop song (Watch for the reverby overdubbed 2nd drum kit in the chorus). This of course is to be assumed by the listener to be the result of the lighthouse keeper’s thinking and writing.

     Summarrizing: Yes, this is insane. The music is actually very well done and the scope is obviously fairly ambitious. As my enthusiasm for things is often directly related to their ambitiousness, you should see why I felt it necessary to write WAY too much about Klaatu. A few other Klaatu songs worth tracking down, for a variety of reasons:

Blue smoke

     A bizarre environmentalist-propaganda song that shifts style and instrumentation pretty frequently. You can skip the intro verse, just skip to about 47 seconds in. Like a green-party science lesson delivered by smug studio musicians. Contains the immortal line: “Weeping like an alligator, and leaping like a hot potater.”

December dream

     Written about the death of John Lennon, to whom they obviously owe quite a bit. A pretty nice piano-driven 70’s ballad, similar in sentiment to The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize?.”

I Don’t Wanna Go Home

     Pretty catchy (and sappy), distinctly 70’s pop song. All of these ‘Worth tracking down’ songs are from Magentalane – Which is a pretty good recovery from the disaster that was “Endangered Species.”

     Update: I added a not very high quality MP3 of Klaatu’s ‘Sub Rosa Subway’ here. Good times.

A pair of pairs of things about candy and financial statements (That means
there are four things.)

Candy:

1.) In the past three weeks, I’ve attempted to buy a Twix from three seperate
vending machines. Each of these three times, the
Twix has become stuck in the twirly ring mechanism (Part # TWRLYRNG14-A). This always occurred when I was out of money, so I couldn’t just buy another one. Perhaps Twix is boycotting me.

2.) About five years ago (Holy fuck, that’s scary), I compiled an audio tape of rarities performed by the Canadian pop group Sloan, and offered it up on sloannet – their mailing list. The deal was that the Tape wanter would mail me a Blank tape, Stamps or cash for return postage, and the most obscure candy they could find.

     This arrangement worked out quite nicely, and I ended up receiving between 20 and 25 weird Candy items all told, including some great lego-like hard candy made from the same substance as candy necklaces (And not those new bullshit coated candy necklaces – I’m talkin’ the powdery stuff).

     Getting to the point – the BEST candy I recieved was a candy bar called Zero. It wasn’t the domestically available Zero – which if I’m not mistaken doesn’t even have chocolate in it – but rather some sort of import. Two people, both from Canada, sent me Zero bars, so they MAY be of Canadian origin – though I’ve never seen one in my fairly frequent endeavers to Canada. As I recall, (Again – I’m thinking back five years to the experience of eating a single candy bar) they were divided into four sections and
basically consisted of a rich fudgish innard, coated in chocolate. If you have any information on this particular Candy bar, please contact me, because I wanna EAT ‘EM UP.

Financial Statements:

1.) When I pay my car payment, the only way I can tell that they got my check is to check that it clears. They’ve never sent out statements. The other day, I recieved an envelope from the company that handles my car payment, which never happens, so I’m thinking they fucked up and are accusing me of being delinquent in my payments or something. So I have to open it. Oh – also – (I forgot to mention) the envelope is covered in dried human blood and sealed inside a protective postal service plastic bag noting that it was ‘damaged’ in transit. So I put on some latex gloves (My mom is a nurse, you see) and opened it, and it turns out they decided to start sending out statements, and this was the very first one. I wonder if they’ll ALL come with free blood?

2.) Several months ago I noticed some weird bank-initiated charges in my checking account to the tune of twenty bucks a month, which to me is not an insignificant amount of money. So I go in to the bank and ask what the charges are for. The teller and I have approximately the following exchange:

Me: … so I was wondering what these charges are for?

Her: Oh, we changed it two months ago, so there are charges for your kind of account now.

Me: Ooooo-kay…

Her: Do you not want the charges on your account?

Me: … Sure?

Her: Clickity clackity Click. Ok, you’re all set. I’ve retroactively removed one of the charges, but I can’t do the other one because it’s been two months.

Me: Thanks?

     So basically they just started charging everyone twenty bucks a month, and if you go in and tell them that you do not, in fact, want to be charged twenty bucks a month, they will stop.

ENTITLED!

     An isolated highlight from my new job – working at Wayne State University. Guy comes in wanting to enroll in classes. He’s not a student. We explain that you have to be a student to enroll in classes. Guy becomes FURIOUS that he should have to be enrolled in college to take the classes. Yells at us, leaves. Ahhhhh, AMERICA.

Spike Lee’s 25th Hour:

     Philip Seymour Hoffman. Edward Norton. Such high hopes. DASHED.

Philip Seymour Hoffman: Hi Spike.

Spike Lee: Ok, remember how you played two characters whose entire performances led up to one awkward and ill-fated kiss? I want you to do it again EXACTLY THE SAME WAY.

Philip Seymour Hoffman: Er. Can I…

Spike Lee: BREAK NO NEW GROUND. You’re Scotty from Boogie Nights in a different outfit. And also straight.

Philip Seymour Hoffman: Um, wait. Spike…

Edward Norton: Hey Guys.

Spike Lee: Edward! My man! Okay – we’re gonna do the Fight Club thing again – BUT HERE’S THE TWIST – save it for the END!

Edward Norton: I’m not sure I’m comfortable being the guy who always invites people to savagely beat him.

Spike Lee: Fuck you, you were in Death to Smoochy and if that’s not inviting a beating I don’t know what is. Besides – this is a Spike Lee Joint. Now — Edward — Phil — GENTLEMEN. Your repetitive performances, coupled with my absolute inability to shoot or edit to continuity and two completely inexplicable montages at key junctures in the film will clinch this motherfucker.

Anna Paquin: HEY GUYS!

All: (Walk away pretending not to have heard her).

     Additional disillusion regarding 25th hour that I couldn’t work into my dramatic reconstruction of the pre-read-through conversation above:

  • “Hi we’re the champagne glasses in the ‘going away party’ scene. We might be magical because we keep emptying and refilling ourselves.”

  • “Hi I’m the ‘Fuck You’ montage. I don’t advance the film at all, and the quality of the voice-over recording is all over the map. I’m big, ugly, and don’t belong in this movie.”
  • “Hi, I’m the ending sequence. I come 20 minutes too late and am RIDICULOUS.”

Mya is in it

     I saw “Chicago” a few days ago. It’s weird to me that the last two movie musicals I’ve seen (Dancer In the Dark and Chicago) have both been about women on death row for murder with the musical action all taking place in their imaginations (There ya go, write a paper).

     At any rate – I actually really liked Chicago, and I didn’t think I was going to. John C. Reilly did a great job with his small singing (!) role – so if Paul Thomas Anderson ever decides to go through with the musical he’s been threatening to make, I trust that Mr. Reilly will be put to good use.

     Also – someone needs to make a musical without the excuse of it all occurring in the imagination. I want INEXPLICABLE SINGING AND DANCING and I want it NOW.

     The only thing that bugged me about “Chicago” is in the scene right before the ‘uh uh’ woman is executed – there’s a guy in the radio news crew wearing what appear to be black plastic SONY headphones. WHOOPS.

Rolling Stones

     I watched that Rolling Stones HBO concert (Well, some of it). They opened with ‘Street Fightin’ Man,’ and boy, was that ending ALL OVER THE PLACE. Seriously — sloppiest rock n’ roll ending ever. It was as though each player willfully chose a stopping point in time wholly separate from the point chosen by the other musicians.

     Beyond that, it was kind of fun to watch the guitars change in and out, sort of like an expensive guitar show with three minute observation periods.

Two more gripes:

  • Did we really need some idiot to grab a still of the last frame of each song and run it through a Photoshop filter to protect the audience from seeing the stones swap out guitars and get ready for the next song? Christ. Just the fact that someone A.) got paid to push a capture and filter button once every three minutes and B.) got to do it while watching a Rolling Stones concert is ludicrous.

  • (Opening notes of ‘Honky-Tonk Woman’) Please welcome to the stage — Sheryl Crow! CLICK. And really, why IS Sheryl Crow the go-to girl for rock vocal duets? Can’t anybody tell that she’s ORANGE?

Talking about the Lilys

     I’ve been obsessed with the Lilys’ ‘3 Way’ ever since my friend Trevor introduced me to it — it’s slowly becoming my idea of perfect production. Because of this, seeing them live would inevitably be a letdown. When I had the opportunity to do just that, they had just finished recording an album and Kurt Heasley’s voice was shot. This coupled with the fact that he is INSANE made it an eventful show. I’m undecided on whether this insanity is cultivated or not – but if it is he’s doing a good job. The insanity included, but was not limited to:

  • Staring at fixed points slightly above and behind the crowd or directly above the stage for the entire set.
  • Truly bizarre between song ‘banter’ – not in content but in delivery and emphasis. Examples:
    • “(After breaking a string during the previous song and holding the offending guitar disinterestedly at arm’s length until the sound man could work another one through the crowd, deadpan, eyes bulging, staring straight ahead — without a hint of humor) EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED. (Beat.) EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED. (Song begins)”

    • “(Protracted and often unintelligibly mumbled tangent about the price of vegetables in foreign countries)”
  • General weirdness. You could just tell.

A few more things about the Lilys:

  • To be a Lily, you must be at LEAST 6’5″. 6’7″ is preferred.
  • Sarah, girlfriend extraordinaire observes: A youthful Kevin Spacey is their tambourinist / backup singer.

Filling up a lot of space by posting all the email that my last post generated.

     …but before we get into that, a quick guide to e-mail relations with me.

  1. You send me an e-mail

  2. I get it, read it, and place it in an outlook folder called update.
  3. It sits there for anywhere from 1 to 6 months.
  4. You decide I’m a fucking asshole (true) and move on.
  5. You forget you ever even emailed me, but maintain a lingering hatred.
  6. I open up your original e-mail and copy and paste it into notepad.
  7. I consider emailing you back.
  8. I (correctly) assume that by now you hate me.
  9. I post update.

Pizza Nazis

     Demian writes in regarding the sign outside a Canadian pizza place that I posted about in January:

     “Someone has probably translated this for you already, but here you go: I was forced to learn Korean in the army 10 years ago, and can read it, but can’t understand it, if that makes sense. (But I still know how to say “Take me to the American embassy.”) The pizza characters read: Han Sem. Han essentially means Korean. (For example, Korean Language is: Han Guk Mal. Korean cuisine: Han Sik.) I am working on what “Sem” means and will let you know. Later,
Demian”

It’s the Cows

     There is a farm (Kemps farm) whose website just happens to be kemps.com (Slogan: “It’s the cows”). Noting the proximity of the ‘a’ and ‘s’ keys on your keyboard, you will probably not be surprised to learn that I receive internal farm mail at least once a month. Many are of the bland interoffice mechanics variety:

“Stacy,
     I received an addition for the above listed group for Jerry Perkins. The
right side of his app was cut off. This means the birthday is missing. Can
you please fax the application again to my attention.
Thank You,
Stephanie”

     Occasionally, however, I’ll get a really technical (and probably important) one like this:

     “Today I put additional XY12 sticker label on drum tops (8 total) of XY12 chlorine drumed off from bulk tanks last fall. There are only 8 full drums left from the bulk tanks. I placed return / pickup order#8427903 with CS to have Roseville pic-up the 8 labeled XY12 drums and deliver them to Farmington plant. Anita was also contacted regarding the transfer of bulk $ for the XY12 product from Mpls plant to Farmington plant. There was one OLD drum of XY12 not apart of the bulk drum-off. Lets keep it for usage in lab per Lance and/or drain sanitizing ect… as it may be weak depending on how old it is?? its label is barely legible.

     I also placed pic-up order of the other un-opened products not in use
anymore for return to Ecolab warehouse and credit to Mpls plant location. 4-drums of Brite Case, 1-drum Paradigm 2010 and 1-drum Paradigm 2030. The partial drums of both products will have to used up at the Mpls. plant.

     Discussed with Steve D. moving the HC10 boxes and EcoCare boxes from truck wash area into the plant asap as the boxes are getting wet and will soon fall apart.

     Discussed with Dave K. the leak at hose junction to spray device for truck
wash. Safety concern + pressure and flow are effected to point that trucks may not be getting adequatly rinsed & washed & sanitized!! Lance and I are planning on observing H90 cleanup this coming monday night.
regards,
jim paul”

I REALLY need reds!

An anonymous tip regarding my never-ending bottlecap quest:

     “I used to work at a bar and all we did was catch the bottlecaps into tins (under the bottle opener) and then throw them into the garbage, and into the dumpster behind the place. If I ever see a guy hanging out in a bar’s dumpster rumaging through the garbage I’ll know it’s you, right? Or a bum I guess.”

MD up to the PACU

     Some medical advice received care of Mary Caldwell:

     “Adam, I stumbled on to your site and read your medical entries and just wanted to say 2 things. I should first mention I am a nurse with 27 years of emergency room and surgery experience however not an expert on all things. But that said I think while what happened after your migraine is a side effect you should make sure you have some type of brain scan ie CT or mri done with your follow up neuro eval.

     Next: I am surprised your food impaction problem took so long to resolve. I assist with this procedure at least once a week. At my hospital it plays out like this. Pt presents to ew with food impaction consult with gastro MD up to the PACU {or endoscopy dept depends on the time} we start IV give some sedatives {demerol and versed} numb the back of your throat with a gargle spray pass the scope and push the offending bolus into your tummy. over in about 15 minutes from start to finish. You might have a stricture in your esophagus which could cause this to happen again so some form of gi followup is a good idea. I hope you don’t think I am some nosy busy body I felt so bad for you when I read your stories!!!”

     I got me an MRI the other day. If you’ve never had an MRI, imagine those big tubes like in movies but when your head gets all the way in it becomes a TINY tube, so you go insane and freak out and close your eyes and pretend you’re playing very intricate songs on an imaginary, invisible bass guitar, but without moving your arms (One of which has a tube sticking out of it leading to some substance called contrast); all to take your mind off the fact that your head is in a tiny humming bucket for a half hour. GOOD TIMES. Also I didn’t follow up on that whole bolus incident because I am a big wimp and I ain’t havin’ any probes down my throat.

Longest E-mail ever

     An epic email from Amanda McClintock, dealing with much of what was discussed in my last update:

     “Pertinent background information: My name is Amanda McClintock. I am 24 years old, and sister to Scott McClintock who is the bassist A2 based band The Original Brothers and Sisters of Love (TOBASOL). I grew up in Brighton Michigan, where I went to high school, and went to Michigan State. In Okemos I worked for B&N for approximately 1 year (with previous bookselling experience at Little Professor on the Mill Pond in Brighton) Now I live in Japan (Shizuoka-ken which is in the smack dab middle of the main island) and teach English. Life is good, but there are times I miss home, especially the humor from home and reading your web site made my day.

     First I wanted to share with you a short but perfectly insane B&N tale of my own – okay well maybe just two, there are too many to report in a single email – as your web page suggests. One favorite being the time me and one other petite female bookseller had to help a 300 pound woman out of one of the “too comfy for anyone’s good” chairs. Why was it that the two smallest booksellers who, when combined, still weighed only half of what this woman did were the ones to pry her loose of the chair? Well this woman was two embarrassed to have any of the men help her. Why having it take OVER 15 minutes to get her out, while she is crying saying how embarrassed and of course the fine B&N clientele just standing and staring at what is happening – no one even attempting to lend a hand!

     The second involves NPR. And although I haven’t gone through your entire site to see back logs of all the B&N stories I am SURE you must have stories involving NPR. I have nothing against NPR, I am just not a religious listener of it, and I was unaware that to be a bookseller at the B&N in Okemos it is a requirement that you listen at all times.

ME: (I am standing at the information booth at the front of the store.) Hi can I help you?

Customer: Yes I need to find a book that was on NPR last night.

ME: Okay, do you know the title or author?

Customer: (Very matter-of-factly) No, it was on NPR.

awkward silence

ME: Okay, do you have any other information about the book.

Customer: Yes, I think the cover is blue, or the main color on the cover is blue.

ME: (blink blink)

Customer: Don’t you listen to NPR? They were talking about the book last night at about 7:15pm.

ME: Do you remember what the book was about, or if it is a new book?

Customer: So you didn’t listen to NPR last night?

ME: No, I like listening to music on my radio.

(MISTAKE)

Customer: (With one eye shut and head slightly shaking – looking much like that guy in scanners before his head explodes) Well find me someone who is cultured enough to listen to NPR to help me find this book.

I proceeded to go to the on-duty manager (he was a slight gay man of asian decent). After watching their interaction from the registers I soon saw the man storming out of the store. When I asked the manager what happened he said, “I just told him that we can’t help him without more information. And suggested that he pay more attention to the title and author of the books he is interested in o NPR instead of the color of the cover.” At this point I hugged my manager.

     Next, I want the Danny Elfman tape. You could mail it to my house in Brighton and then when my mom sends me my next care box she can throw it in there. Now as far as what Elfman means to me…

     My fondest memories of Elfman was the theme music for Pee Wee’s Playhouse that would echo through my family room every Saturday. It was one of the last bits of programming before it turned into a Saturday of WWF, Gladiators, and bad horror movies. It was the one program that upon hearing the opening theme would make my Dad leave the kitchen table sighing, “You’ll waste your day away in front of that thing!” as he stomped off to clean his already spotless garage, thus sparring my and my brothers from his relentless complaining of how we weren’t dressed and ready for our day for at least an hour. There is also the brilliance of every soundtrack that Elfman has laid his hand to, none more amazing to me than The Nightmare Before Christmas. So in conclusion the tape would make me happy, and I would play it during lunch at my high school here in Japan and make all 900 Japanese high school kids listen to it! And I think that is something no one else can promise you.

     On the subject of Kit-Kat: Here in Japan there is Kit-Kat which in itself is not right. There is something different in the making of it and it tastes wrong on so many levels. BUT the wrongest of them is the banana flavored Kit-Kat. Need I say more. I mean orange is not right, but there are times at which orange and chocolate marry nicely. But Bananas and chocolate only work when it is an actual banana dipped in chocolate. This tasted more like banana runts in the form of a wafer covered in a not right chocolate. VERY VERY WRONG. But there are some great snacks here in Japan that rival anything we have in the states. One thing you would like would be the Men’s Poky which is a cracker-stick covered in bittersweet chocolate, and being that it is not as sweet as regular chocolate Men are more likely to like it thus the name. There is new Poky G which I guess is seriously crispy. The guy who eats it in the commercial takes like 10 seconds to bite into it – and then shards of poky fly all across the screen. Of course there are the potato chips with flavors like kimchee and mayonnaise, and don’t gag those babies are good!

     If you haven’t already been there, go to www.engrish.com and experience the joy I live everyday. Of course there are times when crying in the grocery store from laughing – while I am shopping alone – must disturb many of the Japanese around me, but I can’t help it.

     Finally, Ernest Masks. My older brother used to work at Brighton Cinemas and before he quit he stole a giant box of those Ernest masks. I believe we still have several hundred in the basement of my family home, but several hundred were used throughout my years in High School. One of the more famous uses was when I broke into the school early with a few of my friends and we plastered every senior locker, the bathrooms, doors, any and every possibly odd place we could think of. If wasn’t really for the vandalism of it, but the confusion. I mean Ernest looking at you is very unnerving. He’s not frightening, not funny, more like just wrong. We enjoyed the unsettling it caused throughout the school that day and for weeks to come. ALSO the mask is a great way to shut up noisy neighbors.

     There were a couple who lived next to me in an apartment in Lansing who had unreasonably loud sex OFTEN. I understand the moment can take you at times. But I swear it was like these people would mic themselves for every session. BUT being the closet bitch that I am I couldn’t bring myself to ask them in the hall ask them to tone it down a notch, or to pound on the wall (which I actually did do, but the force at which I would have needed to do it in order for it to be heard over their activity would have put a hole in the wall). SO I decided to enlist Ernest into the fight. Over his mouth I would post-it a note reading one of the following, “Try Fucking her gently” “S&M gagging is worth a try!” “Sound proofing. It’s a good thing.” etc. I would leave these on their door, mail box, car, and even got some up onto their balcony after attaching them to rocks. After about two weeks of doing this every time they got it on, the volume was cut in half. This means it was possible for them to fuck and for me to watch a movie at slightly above normal volume to drown out any moans

     Today is hair spray painting day at my school. I am not joking. There is some assembly this afternoon so after lunch I and all the other teachers go into the old gym with black hair paint and large pieces of cardboard with holes cut into the top. I am usually a cardboard holder, so I help the student who has dyed their hair against school rules hold the card over their uniform and another teacher does the spraying. The first few times I did it I found it surreal, now it’s just part of my day. Hope your day involves less hair paint!”

Limitless Potential

     Kevin Mauro writes in with his entry into the Danny Elfman fray:

     “I know we haven’t spoken in some time. This is your fault. Entirely. Anyway, I like to have parties, put on porno videos/dvds, turn off the sound and play various Danny Elfman songs through the Stereo. The PeeWee Big Adventure theme seems to work best. If you gave me that tape, there’s no limit as to what I could do. Everyone seems to enjoy it.”

     So I decided since they are the only two people to enter, they both win (Surprisingly, more people were willing to go to the trouble of mailing stamps to a P.O. box for an anti-me pin then were willing to send an email for a danny elfman tape. Wait maybe that’s not so surprising). I will send BOTH copies of the danny elfman tape I acquired at a garage sale out as prizes. Seriously — the selflessness never ceases.

AIM-POSSIBLE!

     Someone registered the AIM name adamkempa. I’ve never seen it show up online, and I’m fairly certain it wasn’t me. Um, let me know if you spot it – I’m curious to know if this is in fact another Adam Kempa, or just an AIM-POSTER.

Absentee B&N anecdote, courtesy of Jenny:

     “I had something happen at work the other day that you might appreciate: this guy wanted to fill out a readers advantage application, so he did. And I’m like, ringing up his stuff and bagging it and not paying close attention to him but i see him writing an “after-thought” in the form of a small paragraph at the top of the application. So he hands me the application and starts telling me how he’s sick of corporations lying to him and how every application for anything he’s ever signed up for has sold his name to another business and how he gets all this junk mail. So to “combat” this he started putting fake names down on applications to see what corporations are legit. And he’s like ” I’ll be watching Barnes and Noble.” So I look in his bag to double check what he bought, and naturally it’s all gun magazines and political books, particularly that one horrible book by Michael Savage, I think it’s called the Savage Nation, its like the most racist, sexist, misguided political book ever written. ANYWAY…so after he’s gone I read what he wrote on the application and it read “do not sell my name, phone number or address to anyone. If you do I will hunt you down and shoot you.” I was like ‘uh, who exactly is this statement directed at?’ so naturally, I copied down his name and address and will be sending him random things in the mail and signing him up for subscriptions to magazines and political mailing lists and such. He was paranoid and crazy.”

Say tuna fish

     A friend of mine went away to France for a semester. On her going away card, I wrote something to the effect of:

Remember: ‘It is a poster’ in French (Cette une affiche) sounds like ‘Say tuna fish’ in English. Useful!

A few weeks after she arrived there, we had this conversation:

Her: Hey adam just a little story… for my workstudy the other day we had to hang posters for an event coming up at the abbey, so your tip came in handy, I went around saying “un affiche?” to the shopkeepers.

Me: ha! best thing ever

Me: useful!

Her: it really was, so thanks for increasing my vocab, since my french is extremely limited — the other girl and I started to hand the poster blankly to the shopkeepers when I rememberered I knew the word for poster!

That rules.

Additional suckage

     “Something I just found out: jon brion and roger manning are on the okgo album, listed as “additional musicians.” too bad that band sucks.” – Dave L.

Moustache Mugs

     I found this mug at a resale shop for fifty cents. I’ve since seen another one so they might be pretty common for all I know – but I was pretty enamored with it. It protects your moustache from liquid when you drink, just in case you couldn’t figure it out.



The text reads:

“DYKES’ BEARD ELIXER did it, and will do it on the smoothest face. More than 20,000 young men ALREADY WEAR HEAVY MOUSTACHE AND BEARD, having used from 1 to 3 pack’gs. Noinjury. Easilyapplied. Certain in effect. Package with directions post-paid 25cts. 3 for 50cts. L. L. SMITH & CO. Sole AG’ts, palatine, Ill. The public will use due caution and Address as above.”

Mail from Aaron Brown:

Re: Double Contractions:

     “…it looks like you unintentionally doubled the “have.” You could have written four examples, with the middle two being alternative middle steps between the first and last:

“You have not”
“You haven’t”
“You’ve not”
“You’ven’t”

     I would never use “you’ven’t” except in jest, but I use “couldn’t’ve” quite often — not just in speech, but also in writing.

In case nobody’s claimed the Danny Elfman tape yet:

     Mi ne havas iun ajn registrajxon de Danny Elfman, sed mi sxatas lian muzikon kiam ajn mi auxdas gxin en kinofilmo. Kiel vi scias, mi estas fojfoja komponisto, kaj antaux preskaux jardeko mi komencis ankoraux nefinitan muzikajxon pri kiu mia frato Mason (kiu ankaux
estas muzikisto) diris, ke gxi sonas kiel la muziko en “The Nightmare before Christmas”.

     I used to work with Aaron at B&N, so I’m fairly certain his Danny Elfman entry is written in Esperonto. This is a language I don’t know, but his entry arrived roughly two months after I already decided to give both copies away to other people, anyway. I reproduce it here for posterity only.

Hey Hey Hey!

     For several years now, I’ve been ‘Tivo-ing’ a Japanese show called ‘Hey! Hey! Hey!’ When I first started watching it, it was a live performance vehicle for the top Japanese bands of the day. It was often quite hilarious, as EVERY act would infallibly include a chorus or bridge in near-English. Recently, the program has become some weird sort of game show.

     This past week’s episode appears to have been taped around Christmas time, and features the show’s two hosts going up against what looks to be the Japanese equivalent of the Rockettes in a game of “Feel around in a box with your feet and guess what / who it is you’re feeling.” Photographs appear below. They must have told the contestants that the thing in the box was alive or something because for the first five minutes or so, all they did was tentatively poke their feet in and then scream and recoil in horror at the slightest contact with anything.


Photos from a Transformers Convention

     In the summer of 2000, a friend of mine who has an unhealthy obsession with Transformers asked If I would accompany him and one other friend to a Transformers convention. Naturally I said yes. I had some really great stories about how bizarre the whole experience was but then three years passed and I forgot most of them. What I do remember is:

  • Everyone there was INSANE.
  • If you bought a pre-convention ticket, you also got tickets to a black tie dinner at the hotel, which was served on a commemorative transformers plate. This dinner was followed by a screening of the Transformers movie. We didn’t have this kind of ticket.

  • There were many, many panel discussions. This is where I found myself during most of the convention proper – taking it all in. The composer of the score for the transformers movie set up, explained the inspiration for many of the pieces in the film, and then played them. The voice talent for several of the transformers television series spoke about their experiences and took questions. Many requests to have obscure sentences spoken in a ‘Transformer voice’ were filled. An auction was held and people paid absolutely OBSCENE amounts of money for toys that they all new would be released in the U.S. a month later. A bespectacled young man with an impressive pony tail hosted a screening of extremely rare transformers footage, before which he was very careful to ensure that no recording devices of any kind could possibly diminish the scarcity of his finds.
  • The previously mentioned voice talent sat at card tables for HOURS signing the packaging of toy robots with sharpies, and posing for pictures with grown men.

Here are some choice photos from that trip that I recently unearthed (mouse over for description):

The sales tables were loaded with still-boxed circa 1985 transformers, going for the paltry sum of about $300 each.
The fan art section featured the finest oil paintings of transformers sitting in landscapes that one could possibly ask for.
Glenn Danzig was there and he brought his home-made cardboard transformer costume.

Another photo I recently found

     My chin and Elvis Costello outside the State Theatre in Detroit, 2000ish:

And I TOUCHED him too!

Returned to dance, that laughter!!!!!!!!!!!!

     This is an E-mail sent to esteban@kempa.com, despite the fact that the intended recipient’s name is Esteban Campo:

Hola guapo!!!

     Siento que al final todo haya acabado así. Cada vez estoy más convencida que esto es una mafia y quien gana quien gana. Todo aquel que tiene opiniones distintas a ellos molesta. Yo cuando no estaba de acuerdo con las decisiones de la junta, pues lo mejor que me fuera y ahora más de lo mismo. Lo que sí tengo claro es que nadie va a hacer que cambie unas convicciones que tengo. Al final es lo único que tenemos y eso si que no nos lo pueden quitar. El domingo Ernesto tuvo una reunión con el grupo y dijo que estaba harto de que cada año tuvieramos una crisis y que esto no podia ser. Al final Manolo Botana vuelve a dar clases, estaba más que cantado y yo me he quedado fuera. Molestaba y lo ha conseguido. Le dijo a la Mar que me dijera que volviera a bailar, que risa!!!!!!!!!!!!! Después de todo lo que ha pasado!!! Ya he tomado una decisión y no voy a dar marcha atrás, por mucho que me duela dejarlo así además sabiendo lo q
ue me gusta. Bueno, cambiemos de tema. El sábado estaba hecha polvo, estuve estudiando todo el dia porque el miércoles tengo un examen y a Manolo le dolía mucho la cabeza. Quisimos despedirnos pero en un momento te rodearon y no hubo forma. Le dije a tu hermana que te dijera adiós. Hacia tiempo que no os escuchaba en directo y me gustasteis mucho, como siempre, vaya!!! Haber si teneis suerte y lo ganeis todo, os lo mereceis!! Manolo va iendo, la verdad es que tiene algun que otro bajoncillo pero lo lleva bastante bien. Él es fuerte y además tiene que estar bien porque su familia lo necesita bien. Bueno guapo nos vemos el domingo. Por cierto que le compramos a tu hermana????? Si se te ocurre algo dimelo, vale??? Un besazo. PILI

A (Very) loose translation can be found below. Can anyone who speaks spanish even tell if it’s worth trying to understand?

Hello handsome!

     I feel that in the end everything has finished thus. Every time more I am convinced than this is a Mafia and that wins who wins. All that that has opinions different from them bothers. I when it was not in agreement with the decisions of the meeting, because the best thing than was to me and now more of the same. What yes I know clearly is that nobody is going to cause that changes convictions that I have. In the end he is the unique thing that we have and that if that us cannot clear. Ernesto Sunday had a meeting with the tuvieramos group and said that it was very that every year a crisis and that this podia not to be. In the end Manolo Cocktail snack returns to give classes, was more than sung and I have remained outside. He bothered and he has obtained it. He said to him to the Sea that said to me that it returned to dance, that laughter!!!!!!!!!!!!! After all what he has happened! I have already made a decision and I am not
going to give reverse gear, no matter how much it hurts to me to leave it thus in addition knowing what I like. Good, we change of subject. Saturday was made dust, I was studying all the day because Wednesday I have an examination and to Manolo the head hurt much to him. We wanted to take leave but in a while they surrounded to you and there was no form. I said to him to your sister who said good bye to you. Towards time that did not listen to you in direct and I liked much, like always, it goes! To have if teneis luck and ganeis everything, you mereceis! Manolo is iendo, the truth is that it has algun that another one bajoncillo but takes enough good to it. It is strong and in addition he must be or because her family needs it or. Good lady’s man we see Sunday. By the way that to him we bought to your sister????? If something is happened to you dimelo, is worth? Besazo. PILI

Get a room.

     A few weekends ago, I went to our local library’s book sale. There, amongst the gently used hardcovers, I spotted the spine of a book bearing some hand-lettering that looked very similar to the hand-lettering that cartoonist extraordinaire Chris Ware did on the spine of The Comics Journal #200 (I swear to god I am not making that part up – that’s actually how I found it). A comparison:

     I picked it up, and the cover had all sorts of little Ware-ian illustrations and trademark techniques. So I open the back cover and the jacket design is credited to George Wilson! A Mystery! Photos of the jacket artwork are here, here and here. The book is a first edition hardcover copy of ‘Anything Considered’ by Peter Mayle, and my best googling has turned up no reference to this particular mystery on the Internet. I did turn up a George Wilson who appears to be employed in the publishing industry, but anyone who is even mildly familiar with Ware can just TELL it’s his work. If you know Chris Ware, you should tell him that the jig is up: his cover’s blown and I therefore deserve the original artwork for the cover.

  • This site features photographs of original Chris Ware artwork, along with the published results. Apparently this person acquired all these pieces directly from Mr. Ware in the early 90’s, and is now asking a LOT of money for the ones he’s willing to part with (I asked).
  • Another virtual exhibition of Chris Ware art is here.
  • You can still access an insanely detailed flash-based edition of his Jimmy Corrigan Project here – it was released to coincide with the publication of the hardcover Jimmy Corrigan book a few years back. I had never seen it before.
  • Also, an image of a book display Mr. Ware designed for the book. Like most of his work, i
    t looks to be very specific to the task at hand (Selling books), and I’ve never seen one for sale on eBay, so I’ll probably never know what all that text says. TORTURE.
  • There’s a good interview with Chris Ware (Conducted by Chipp Kidd) here. A great quote:

“During a recent 27-minute phone conversation with Chris Ware, I was exposed five times to the phrase “don’t hate me” (probably his second favorite expression), and eight times to “I’m sorry” (his first). This would be maddening, even under the best of circumstances, except for two things. First, he’s quite sincere. In fact, if he’s reading this right now, he’s mortified. I don’t care. Second, and by far most important, is that in my opinion Chris Ware is one of the best artists (fine, graphic, commercial, comic strip — all apply) working today. Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus author and illustrator Art Spiegelman agrees with me: “It’s uncanny that someone so young (Ware is, what, 29?) would have such an apparent recollection of the history of comics, and the talent to expand upon it.”

Flyer I found on Campus

“Ain’t no Party Like A Holy Ghost Party, Cause A Holy Ghost Party don’t stop!

Theme: Holy Ghost Party

On January 31st, 2003, at 7:00pm. Macedonia C.O.G.I.C. cordially invites you to our first annual Holy Ghost Party. It will consist of singing, dancing, and simply praising the Lord. Remember David, and how he dance with all his might for the Lord. We ask that you attend, and be prepared to magnify the lord.”

Text is EXACTLY as it appears on the flyer.

Movie Recommendation

     Rajo Zakic suggested I see a movie called ‘Russian Ark,’ so I watched the trailer online. There’s little to no dialogue in the trailer, just sweeping scenes set to music, punctuated by statistics about the movie. It’s a period piece, which is something I’m not usually terribly fond of (unless the period in question is 30’s-50’s America, in which case I’m GUNG HO) so at first I was skeptical. A brief reenactment:

Trailer: 300 Years of Russian History…

My Brain: Ehhhhhhh…..

Trailer: 2000 Actors

My Brain: Mmmmmmm……

Trailer: 33 Rooms of the Hermitage Museum

My Brain: Errrrrr…….

Trailer: 3 live orchestras

My Brain: hm!

Trailer: One continuous shot.

My Brain: HOLY FUCKING SHIT BEST THING EVER.

Several Photos from Coney Island in 2002 that I never got around to using for anything

  • The Liars were (are) HIDEOUSLY bad. Naturally everyone loves them.

  • Les Savy Fav were entertaining if also fairly gimmicky.
  • The Mooney Suzuki were photogenic.
  • The Shins were low-key (i.e. they and every other band playing were on opposite sides of the ‘Members inexplicably thrashing about’ spectrum).

Menagerie Mix

     I’m making a mix CD featuring bands with animal names. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • The Turtles
  • The Byrds
  • The Monkees
  • The Beatles
  • The Eagles
  • The Eels
  • The Frogs
  • The Crickets
  • The Jellyfish
  • The Iguanas
  • The Wrens
  • The Cranes
  • The Swans
  • The Owls

Got any more?

Another obsessive tangent about an author / subject you won’t care about

     Lately I’ve been obsessed with Nicholson Baker. I should clarify that – primarily his articles for the New Yorker magazine, which are non-fiction. Beyond the Mezzanine, which I loved, none of his other novels have held my interest. There are three articles I whole-heartedly recommend that you read – Baker finds a way to make both the complicated and trivial ridiculously interesting and entertaining. You’ll actually have to go to a library to get copies of these – they’re not online – but I reiterate: They are worth it. Here is a list of the three articles, along with where you can find them and what they’re about.

‘Discards’

The New Yorker, April 4, 1994, 64-70

Also Reprinted in The Size of Thoughts

     Details the vast inefficiency of computer cataloguing vs. card cataloguing – and the great loss of information that comes from eliminating a card catalog (Nearly all conversions are handled by a single company in Ohio that charges by the card. Only the most basic information is transferred, any notes, dates, cross references, etc. are lost. Baker makes several great points about the value of the catalogs not only as informational resources but as sociological artifacts, and interviews several people who are attempting to save the card catalogs of major institutions ‘Until they come to their senses.’) Sounds dry but it’s actually really great.

‘Deadline: A desperate plea to stop the trashing of America’s historic newspapers’

The New Yorker, July 24, 2000, 42-61

Reprinted in part in Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper

     Details the INFURIATING (to me, at least) practice of ALL libraries destroying original paper copies of all historical newspapers, and relying on often illegible black and white negatives of runs that are considered ‘complete’ unless they are missing more than 100 editions from any particular year. Also details the refusal of many libraries to donate these volumes to non-profit organizations who wish to preserve them, but rather sell them off to warehouses who sell individual ‘Birthday’ issues to morons from catalogs.

‘The Projector’

The New Yorker, March 21, 1994, 148-153.

Also Reprinted in The Size of Thoughts

     Really interesting article about the evolution of the movie projector in the multiplex. Includes some really great historical details pertaining to Edison’s outright theft of some of his ‘inventions,’ and an explanation of the herky-jerky feel of many silent movies (They were meant to be ‘played’ at variable speeds by the projectionist as the on-screen mood dictated – as we see them today they are played at a constant frame rate from start to finish).

Random links with just enough description to get by dept.

  • A more comprehensive site covering the random and infuriating disposal practices of arcade owners can be found
    here. This one’s not limited exclusively to arcade games – old jukeboxes can also be seen rotting in the middle of random fields. Don’t miss the section devoted entirely to photographs of people burning arcade games, either — it’s HOTT.

  • Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey are an incredibly great art duo who shine light through a stencil onto grass seed in soil, and ‘grow’ their works. The differing exposure to light causes the grass to grow in at varying shades of green, thereby producing the image. The best examples of this are probably Photosynthesis and Mother & Child.
  • Marcel Bétrisey makes insane mechanical clocks. The highlight of his site is the video section, where you can watch some mind-blowing clips of his creations in action. I recommend this one and this one if you’re pressed for time.
  • Web site documenting one man’s quest to alter a bicycle to appear as though the rider is actually riding an animated neon horse (But only at night). Insanely good, with video.

  • Vincent Gallo of Buffalo ’66 fame put out an album on Warp records last year. While the album is fairly unremarkable as far as I’m concerned, the studio he built to record it in is ridiculous. Crammed from floor to ceiling with vintage gear.
  • This guy solves Rubik’s Cubes to the patterns he needs to compose big multi-cube mosaics. Awesome.
  • I had never heard about Van Morrison’s contract-breaking sessions before – but apparently he owed Bang records one more release and honored his obligation with a collection of 36 nonsensical songs. You can download an MP3 of three of them here – courtesy of the best site on the internet, the 365 Project. If you are further intrigued, you can order a CD of the complete session here and burn me a copy.
  • The Onion had a really great interview with the correspondents of the Daily show a few weeks back. Read it here. I watch on and off, and I’d heard rumblings that Steve Carrell had returned for a bit, but where did he go in the first place?
  • The best image ever: here.
  • Steve Keene, the guy who painted the cover of Pavement’s Wowee Zowie has a website where you can very cheaply (~ $12) buy some random original artwork.

  • In case you’re one of those freaks who plans your Christmas list WAY in advance and sends total strangers gifts, I will definitely want this. For the click-shy among you – it’s a book called ‘Recording the Beatles’ – chock full of HOTT mic placement trivia and LURID compression / gating details!

     Finally, I’m looking for someone who gets the game show network to tape their first original documentary, “Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal” for me. If someone could do that, it would be just swell.

Quarterly Check In Q1 2003

Pertinent Mail:

From: Valentine Hellman
Subject: Website

Will it ever be updated again?

     Valentine – have no fear – this site will indeed continue to be updated at astoundingly irregular intervals. I’ve had every intention of posting an update for oh, the last 6 months or so, but stuff just kept piling up and the prospect of organizing it all into an update proper never seemed all that appealing.

     What you see before you is a collection of everything that was ‘done enough to be posted’ – the compiled fruits of many halfhearted attempts to get an update up over the last six months. There’s a lot of it, and it’s all pretty boring (Click on the little down arrow to navigate – don’t bother trying to use the scroll bar), but in theory it will be the ‘step in the right direction’ that will get me posting regularly again. I’ll be posting all the rest of the unfinished crap shortly.

     In light of this unprecedented six-month lapse, I’ve designed a hott fashion accessory that you may use to express your disgust with the inexcusable gaps that permeate my website updating consistency:

A Christmas story (With bonus choking and vomiting).

     So – you wanna know how I spent my Christmas Eve? Hospitalized! Alright! Woo!

     How did I manage to do this, you ask? Well the short answer is that I didn’t chew my food well enough. The long answer is that I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and when I sat down to dinner at my girlfriend’s grandparent’s house I was STARVING. After taking roughly two bites – the roast beef that I THOUGHT I was swallowing decided to lodge somewhere in my esophagus(?). As a result of this roast beef blockage, I sat in the bathroom coughing up bile for an hour or so. Way to impress the family! Long story short – I ended up being unable to swallow ANYTHING – solid or liquid – without some violent heaving in the general area of my chest where I was still feeling pressure.

     So during the first few hours of Christmas Day, 2002, I ended up being admitted to the urgent care ward and getting an I.V. of some sort of concoction designed to dilate my esophagus. When that didn’t work, they took a bunch of X-rays, and as a last resort before sending me to the main hospital (To have a telescoping metal instrument shoved down my very-unwilling throat) they gave me what was called a ‘G.I. (Gastro-Intestinal?) cocktail,’ assuring me that it would soothe my throat and stomach.

     This, of course, caused me to begin vomiting VIOLENTLY. I take pride in the fact that despite the violence of my body’s reaction, my aim was true, I had soon coughed up the little bit of G.I Cocktail I had attempted to swallow, and a big damn hunk of beef. The size of this hunk of beef is greatly contested, but we’ll all agree that it was big. One of the nurses on duty, however, said “We’ve had bigger.” And so – at approximately 3:30 AM on Christmas Day, I was discharged from the hospital, and we got to drive home at 20 MPH on hellaciously iced-over freeways, as the road crews were not called out to deal with the storm on account of it being Christmas.

Interesting footnotes to this story:

  • A wad of food trapped in yer pipes is called a ‘bolus.’

  • They had called the Gastro-Intestinal Specialist right before I vomited up my bolus. For some reason the fact that some doctor got a call at 3 AM on Christmas to come to the hospital and probe my bolus – only to be called back 10 minutes later and told it was a false alarm – makes me smile.

  • Chew yer food.
  • What did I have for Christmas Dinner? Roast Beef!

Bonus Medical Drama!

     So a couple days ago I woke up, and I couldn’t read. Yep. Couldn’t read. Pretty fucked up? Yes. I got out of bed, sat down at the computer and was trying to read Boing Boing, and my brain simply could not resolve the text. I would sit and stare at a word like ‘working,’ ABSOLUTELY convinced it said something COMPLETELY different, like ‘Telephone.’ I would then stare at the word, and begin to sound it out:

“Tuh – Tel – TuhWUH – Wuh – Working. “

Multiply this times several paragraphs.

     This all stands in stark contrast to the fact that I’m usually a very fast reader, so I was TERRIFIED. I walked around the house, picking up junk mail and attempting to read it out loud, and my mouth was making the same mistakes as my brain. Gradually, over the course of about an hour, it came back to me.

     So I was scared shitless, and made an appointment with my doctor. There, I was referred to a headache specialist who ran me through a battery of tests and explained that it was probably a side effect of a migraine headache (I had had a splitting headache all day). Later I found out something very similar had happened to a friend once:

Him: It happened to me once about four years ago. My doctor said it was some sort of migraine.

Me: dude!

Me: yes

Me: thats what the neurologist i went to said!

Him: I think that was the most frightening moment of my life. I had instant visions of becoming a permanent idiot while it was happening.

Me: me too

Me: i was petrified

Him: ha!

Me: and it came back VERY gradually

Him: yeah!

Me: i was reading shampoo bottles in the shower (slowly)

Him: Finally, someone fucking understands. Everyone I’ve told this to thinks I’m retarded.

Me: seriously most fucked up thing ever

Me: did it ever happen again?

Him: no

Me: good

Me: and the insane part was:

Me: i could write

Me: i wrote an email

Me: and then tried to read it and stumbled my way through it

Him: Yeah!

Him: When mine happened I did the same thing. I was aware something was wrong so I went into self-test mode or something. I tried writing and i could. i couldn’t read it back though. Once the whole thing ended I discovered that what I’d wrote was correct.

Him: weird

So yes: I woke up and couldn’t read and that was FUCKED UP. I have a follow-up appointment with a neurologist. FUN.

An electronic device to remove cussing from films

     Either customers at Barnes & Noble are getting less frequently weird, or I’m growing immune to their weirdness. I think it’s the former, and that’s truly scary. Anyway, here’s a big damn mess of Barnes & Noble anecdotes, beginning with this one about an elderly man!

An elderly man calls the store and I answer.

Me: Hello, Barnes & Noble, this is Adam Speaking, Can I help you?

Him: Yeah, I’m looking for an electronic device to remove cussing from films.

Me: …Uh I’m afraid we don’t carry anything like that…

Him: (Not believing me) Are you sure? I was TOLD that you carried it.

Me: No, I’m quite sure we don’t carry anything like that.

Him: (In an ‘I know you’re wrong but don’t want to deal with you sing-song’) Oh-KAY. Bye.

An hour later:

Me: Hello, Barnes & Noble, this is Adam Speaking, Can I help you?

Him: (Realizing it’s me again) …I’m looking for an electronic device to remove cussing from films.

Me: …right. We don’t carry anything like that here.

Him: I just checked again and the person who told me this is a very reliable source.

Me: I’m sorry sir, but we really don’t carry anything like that at all, we’re primarily a bookstore, we only have a small DVD section.

Him: Oh-KAY. Bye.

     The only thing I could come up with was maybe he had just heard about that v-chip thing that people were all aflutter about four years or so ago. Update! Well I’ll be damned. Chris Young pointed out TVforFamilies.com. Their tagline: The Cuss buster for TV and movie rentals. Based on the (limited) time I spent examining the website, it looks like the device scans the closed caption text for curse words and mutes the sound. It doesn’t seem to me that this would be terribly accurate, but clicking on their ‘Accuracy’ page shows that it scores at least 80% accuracy on each and every one of the 9 movies it’s been tested on. Something tells me these 9 films were the ‘ringers,’ where the sound and captioning synced up really nicely, and there are a whole lot of movies with not so good accuracy scores that we’re not being told about. Chris also said:

     “There’s a company that is currently being sued by the big movie studios, i believe, because they buy tapes, remove the cussing, then resell them. i know i’ve read references to it on some of the hot blogs, but i can’t find any of the references at the moment, of course.

ps – i don’t really condone the removal of cussing from movies, i’m just the messenger. but i can report that about 10 years ago, when i would have
to go stay at my grandparents for like 10 days at christmas with my parents, i would be sent to the video store to rent movies for the whole crew
(grandparents, parents, me and my sis) to watch. because i’m a moron, i would end up renting movies that i had already seen, that i thought everyone
would like. but i didn’t really put much thought into my choices. so everyone would be enjoying the cop-buddy movie or whatever, and then some
hot sex scene would come on, and the room would just go deadly silent, and maybe my dad would eventually fast forward through it. christ – what hell. and for some reason, it just kept happening. i didn’t learn, with my rental choices. well, i sort of did – i would rent movies from the 50s a lot, but
then i would see some recent flick on the shelf and forget that it had a hot sex scene, and there ya go.”

Fast talker and “Different.”

     Another guy calls looking for several books. He’s one of those fast-information-givers. An example of a call with a fast-information-giver goes something like this:

You: What’s the book you’re looking for?

Them: (Note the lack of commas or any other source of halting punctuation) I’m looking for “Obscure tome that no retail store would ever waste the space to keep on hand” by Adrianiskachev Exasperotomous published by Transylvania University Specialty Press ISBN number 1746309658.

     So yes, no human could possibly process and type the information that one of these people provides NEARLY as quickly as they deliver it. This happens a lot, and you end up asking them to repeat things.

     Anyway, this guy was a fast information giver, and he was also weird anti-repetition-quirk haver. If you would repeat something back to him and were even slightly off, he would simply state, very firmly: “Different.” The fucked up thing is that he would not offer any correction – he would just say “Different,” and then: total silence. You would either have to GUESS the correction or prompt him for it, at which point he would become very annoyed and repeat the information you desired. Also: If you got something wrong in the middle of some long piece of information like a title, he wouldn’t waste the time letting you finish. He would just cut you off with a “Different.” Example:

You: Ok, “Obscure book…”

Him: Different.

You: …

Him: (Silence)

You: “Obscure tome that no retail store would ever waste the space to keep on hand”… by Adrianiskachev Exasper…?

Him: (Silence)

You: Exasperotomy?

Him: Different.

You: …

Him (Silence)

You: What was the correct name?

Him: SIGH. Adrianiskachev Exasperotomous.

You: T – I – M – O – U – S ?

Him: Different.

You: …

Him: (Silence)

You: What was the correct spelling?

Him: SIGH. T – O – M – O – U – S.

etc.

Repeat x four books. Maybe he was a Borg.

Marginally B&N related mail:

“I was seriously searching “Google” in an attempt to find out where I could buy one of those chairs like they have in Barnes and Noble and ran into your site. I read the WHOLE thing. :-) Hilarious! Truth is always funnier than fiction, it does appear. As a customer, I’m keeping my mouth shut from here out.

But before I do, do you happen to know how I could find a
purchase source for one of those comfy chairs that requires help getting out
of?”

Sorry! My research efforts have been fruitless.

Dictionaries and motor oil fetishists

     The other day, some random dude came up to the information desk with one of those $275 dollar Oxford English Dictionaries asking how much it was. I always dread moments like these because customers who don’t already have a dictionary usually tend to get carried away and select the biggest and heaviest damn dictionary they ever did see. Then you tell them how much it is and they FREAK OUT.

     But not this dude. Upon my informing him that the list price was $275, he was all like “Yeah, yeah that’s about right. Did you know you need to use a MAGNIFYING GLASS to read the type? It’s because there are so many words in this one they have to make the print super small… blah blah blah (Flipping box over) Awwww! (Pointing) Here’s a picture of the magnifying glass… And this is the ABRIDGED edition!…” Now, the first thing that makes this story funny is that this guy was not a ‘dictionary lover’-looking dude, in fact, he was a DUDE looking dude. He was all Frosting McSpikes and trackpants.

     Secondly, HE WOULD NOT SHUT UP ABOUT THE DICTIONARY. When he started rattling on about how it was abridged I mentioned that we actually had an entire set of the UNABRIDGED volumes in stock, to which he responded: (Taken aback, awed) “No! You do? Nooooo! Really? Can I SEE them?”

     And so on. Totally enamored with dictionaries. I wanted to grab current copies of Maxim and Max Speed and force them into his hands, saving him from the ridicule of his non-dictionary-loving peers (Max Speed, incidentally, is a magazine that recently featured a cover depicting a really fast-looking car and two bikini-clad women pouring MOTOR OIL on each other. Am I erotically impaired or does pouring MOTOR OIL all over oneself just seem STUPID? Any other oil, sure, knock yourselves out, but MOTOR OIL just strikes me as… I don’t know, a STUPID thing to pour on your girlfriend, who is wearing a bikini).

The Bowers

     An older woman came in saying she needed a copy of a book called ‘The Bowers.’ I proceed to not be able to find anything about a book called ‘The Bowers.’ What’s it about? It’s about a little family. Is it ‘The Borrowers?’ No, DEFINATELY not. She emphatically assured me it was NOT the Borrowers she was looking for. Continue not finding a book called ‘The Bowers.’ Ask for more details. Woman describes ‘The Borrowers’ to a ‘T.’ Are you sure it’s not ‘The Borrowers?’ Yes, ABSOLUTELY sure. Pretend to look for ‘The Bowers’ in the computer for a few more minutes, then, take her to the children’s section and hand her a copy of ‘The Borrowers.’ Is that it? Woman holds out book, examines title, and smiles. “Yes! This is the one, the Bowers!”

     This was not a case of an accent or otherwise affected speech, English was very obviously her first (And probably only) language, and she spoke very clearly and even spelled (Albeit very slowly, and shakily) “Bowers” to me. Nearest I can figure… (That’s such a farmer gossiping at the fence thing to say, isn’t it? “Nearest I can figure Bessie got spooked by a coyote and got tangled in that thar wire.” Or something. ANYWAY.) …nearest I can figure, it was one of those situations where you’ll be reading, say, a Star Wars novel and you’ll encounter a weird word like kashyyyk or C’baothan (These are bad examples, I’m sure there are much more difficult Star Wars terms, but you’ll have to be satisfied with those, as they are the two most difficult AUTHENTIC Star Wars terms I can come up with off the top of my head), and be too lazy to sound it out on the fly and just make up a pronunciation that you use in your brain while reading because the chance of ever needing to say THOSE words out loud is pretty slim, and that brain pronunciation turns out to be wrong.

     In this case, however, perhaps the woman did something similar, but instead of with a Star Wars term, with a common word (“borrow”) that she probably first encountered in her youth, and NEVER LEARNED THAT HER BRAIN PRONUNCIATION WAS WRONG. Oh wait, maybe I’m the only person who does insane things like this.

Mail / Guest B&N Stories from Erin in MA:

Dear Adam,
     A link to your site has been passed around amongst some B&N employees and they are so-o-o-o appreciated. They just confirm my suspicions that things are pretty much the same wherever you go. I have a few of stories that may amuse and even frighten you. I was a bookseller at a Massachusetts store for about a year, then I transferred to a Los Angeles area store, where I’ve been working for almost a year as well.

     At the Massachusetts store there was a male customer who was in the store often. He took a fancy to a young female bookseller and tried to engage her in frequent conversations. She usually politely discouraged this by uttering, “uh-huh,” and running in the opposite direction. Then he started giving her gifts – an old watch, articles about militia groups clipped from the newspaper(?!), that sort of thing. Then he started waiting for her by the exit at the end of her shift. The poor girl was afraid to leave the store. Other booksellers had to walk her to her car. At this point, she told the store manager. The next time this man came in, the store manager gave him the watch back and told him that she would be GLAD to help him with anything he needed, but he was NOT to talk to the young bookseller anymore. The store manager later found her car tires slashed. A restraining order was quickly slapped on the guy.

     At the LA store: In the area there was a police pursuit of a man in a stolen vehicle. The car thief pulled into the Barnes & Noble parking lot and parked in the handicapped space right by the store entrance. The cop got out of his car and approached the stolen car. He knocked on the window and ordered the guy to get out of the car. The cop saw the guy reaching for something, and shot him twice, killing him instantly. The booksellers inside had to move the customers to the back of the store, then evacuate them out through the receiving room.
My coworker relayed this conversation she had repeatedly with customers AFTER the occurrence of GUNSHOTS and police cars and other activity right outside the front door (and many police officers present IN the store):

Bookseller(politely): Ma’am, we need to have everyone move to the back of the store.

Customer flipping through magazine(irritably): I’m LOOKING at this!

Bookseller (unblinkingly): You NEED to MOVE to the back of the store.

Customer (sighing huffily): Fine!

     The next morning when I showed up for my early morning shift, the cops were still there and the entrance area was still a taped-off crime scene with the stolen car and dead guy still present.

     On a lighter note: A customer entered our LA area store one evening and no one really questioned the fact that he was carrying a large cardboard box. No one really noticed when he set the box down beside one of the information stations in the rear of the store. Not one bookseller or customer blinked an eye while he proceeded to unhook the computer and put it into his empty cardboard box. According to my co-workers who were there that evening, he even bumped into a bookseller on his way out of the store with his large cardboard box which now contained a computer. He was probably halfway home before any employee noticed that a computer had just vanished.

     Yeah, we’ve got some real winners who come into our store. I hope you enjoyed the stories.
-Erin

A little Help?

     Pulling into the parking lot of Barnes & Noble one day, I turned down one of the rows just as one of those jacked-up pick-up trucks rolled backwards and pinned a guy against a car in the row behind the truck. It was one of those perfectly timed moments – like I was the nameless extra in the disaster movie who drives up and mugs for the big from-the-car reaction shot. So anyway, I pull to a stop get out, and yell “Are you O.K.?”

     It’s at this point I realize a few things. First of all, this is a really, really shitty truck, and there is no one in it. Second, the guy is not pinned, he’s trying to push the truck around, failing, and getting smashed back into the cars of other customers. Third, he has a WICKED beard.

He yells back: “A little help!”

     So I go over to him. Before I have a chance to talk he says: “Grab the wheel!” So I open the driver’s side door, and grab the steering wheel. I look back at him and try to gauge where exactly he is trying to have his truck end up and begin attempting to steer it there.

“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!?”

     Despite the fact that I had been given no instruction, the grizzled man whom I was attempting to assist began SCREAMING at me for incorrectly steering it to its mysterious destination. It turned out he was trying to get the truck (Which did not run, had a stereo held in by Bic pens, and was rolling downhill) UPhill. This made no sense to me, but I helped him push it uphill a ways, and then another stranger arrived, at which point it was decided that we would guide it downhill, to a parking block where it could be braced. Upon achieving this goal, the owner of the truck stormed off, apparently FURIOUS with us.

     I looked back at the other cars, and it was fairly obvious that the truck had rolled back into them a number of times without him in between.

Quittin’ Time

     By the way – I no longer regularly work at Barnes & Noble. In celebration, here are several things that customers do that BUG THE SHIT OUT OF ME.

1.) America: Math? What’s that?

     Barnes & Noble has started offering one of those discount clubs. Yes, these are incredibly annoying, but they are also sometimes useful.

     The gist of the BN one is that if you spend $250 or more a year on books, you save money ($25 membership fee gets you 10% off, therefore, if you spend $250 you save $25. Anything beyond that is all savings.)

     I’ve had NUMEROUS people rack up bills OVER $300, and refuse to get the discount card. Getting the discount card would SAVE THEM MONEY ON THE SPOT, and anything they bought in the next 365 days would be discounted. Even when the math is explained, people frequently refuse.

2.) America: Reading What’s that?

     By far the most popular reason people gave me for not joining the discount program was a knowing “I don’t read!” I do not exaggerate. Why are people proud of this? These are the people who come in and buy a ginormous brownie mocha and then buy a big fucking pile of greeting cards or some shiny paper (You big pile of greeting cards people? Cut it out please. They’re a pain in the ass to scan because the barcode is too small and NO ONE enjoys greeting cards. Thanks).

     I’ve also witnessed many parents who YELL at their kids for reading too much, and parents who lay SUPER guilt trips on LITTLE kids for their books being expensive. I always want to SCREAM at the parent:

  • (In the case of young kids) “Take the kid to the LIBRARY if their reading habit is too expensive! Don’t DISCOURAGE them from reading!”
  • (In the case of High School SciFi Kids) “At least it’s not heroin! He’ll probably land a sweet tech support job just by talking about Xanth in an interview!”

3.) America? Reading again? What’s that again?

     Indulge me here. Flip over your credit / debit card. Read the fine print under the signature strip. NOT VALID UNLESS SIGNED. Now consider the fact that 50% of the population of Northville Michigan doesn’t sign their cards because they think they’re being clever and ‘beating’ the ‘thieves.’ This coupled with the Northville motto (“I am not wrong, ever.”) makes for some very fun conversations at the cash register.

     In my last few weeks at B&N, I adopted this as my personal crusade – making it a point to alert every single customer who didn’t sign their card to the fact that it was not valid. The most fun were those ones where you mail in a copy of your signature and they screen-print it on the front of the card. They would get so mad when the fact that they were supposed to sign the back was pointed out to them, that I could BARELY contain my joy.

     See how retail work warps your brain? I’m like that x-mas shopping credit card commercial where the clerk is super enamored with her customers BUT OPPOSITE.

Letter attached to application to B&N – 8 / 2002

Fifth of August 2002

Dear Barnes and Noble:

     As there was no place on the application to explain why I want work in a bookstore (and perhaps there should be!), I just wanted to jot you a quick word on why I do. The main thing you must understand i sthat I am a lover of books. I love to read them, to look at them, to feel their power in my hands, to have them on my shelves, you know, just in case I need to read one… The other thing is that I like your stores. Although they can’t rival the magic of the used bookstore, I still feel a certain peace when I enter. All the books, the pictures on the wall, even the Cafe help me to feel they are a vestige of literature and a preserver of something sacred. I would like to help that cause and to join your team. What do you say?
Sincerely Yours,
(Name Withheld)

     Hate to break it to ya pal but we aren’t preserving shit. We do make fucking shitloads of money for B&N inc, though! Wanna help with that?

Christmas lists found in B&N (With critique) – 12 / 2002

Casey

Wanted level:

* really want
** really really want
*** really really really want

  • Small TV or CD Player for room *
  • I Quest (Study thing, Mrs. Shony recommended it)
  • Tekken 4
  • Lord of the Rings 2
  • Foosball Table
  • Pool Table
  • 007 Nightfire *
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Nice pens (Office Max) **
  • Organizer for school
  • Some nice cloths from AE, shirts, pants, etc… ***
  • A new desk set for room (Like Seans) **
  • Grand Theft AUto 3 for PS2 **
  • CD’s or DVD’s (Scary Movies) *
  • Basketball Stuff, posters 4 bedroom
  • MSU hoody ***
  • Gift Certificates **
  • Fubu Harlem Globetrotters warm-ups ***
  • Shoes – new t-macs or Jordans (I can show you) ***
  • NIKE LEATHER FOOTball **

Thank you –
Love, Casey

     Ok Casey. First of all, your parents must be loaded if you’re expecting a Foosball AND a pool table. Also you screwed up and asked for school supplies for Christmas – that stuff’s supposed to be gratis. Hope you got those Fubu Harlem Globetrotters warm-ups, though, ’cause it looks like you really really really wanted ‘em!

Connor

  • Spiderman dual action web-blaster ages 4-up $15.99
  • Lord of Ring “2” All
  • DVD Like Mike
  • dog all [It either says all or 911. Not sure which.]
  • snowboard
  • vice city
  • Hot Wheels robo wheels crash master track set
  • clothes
  • snowskate
  • giftcard top media play

     Connor – Vice City? Come on. You can barely write. Casey put you up to this didn’t he? Nice touch with the price on the Spiderman web-blaster though. It shows them you’re conscious of the fact that money doesn’t grow on trees in this tight economic climate, and that you’ve done your research. Finally: don’t name your dog ‘911.’ It’ll cause all sorts of confusion when asking people to call him / her.

Sean

Books:

  • Small Crimes by Barry McGee
  • Bruised Fruit by David Choe
  • Anything on Impressionist Painters

Disregard whatever Brendan wrote concerning videos; between the both of us, we would like:

  • Life Plus 3 DVD (Roller Warehouse) $20
  • Sell Your Soul to Roll DVD $19.
  • VG21 DVD $16

Clothing:

  • [A bunch of lame rollerblading clothes]

Music:

  • Remix Soundtrack (Order from Roller Warehouse)

  • Tom Petty Greatest Hits
  • Steve Miller Band Greatest Hits

Books of photography, art, grafitti, and works by Hemmingway, Longfellow, F. Scott Fitzgerals, and Jack Kerouac are cool. So are prints.

     Sean. The VERY first thing on your list should have been BETTER PENMANSHIP. You’re the older brother here, what kind of example are you setting for Connor when Casey’s handwriting is neater than yours? Also, rollerblading is LAME. P.S. Who the fuck is Brendan, and why didn’t I get his list too?

Tool dream I had, by Adam Kempa

     I had a really vivid dream that I was the new guitar player in tool. It was my first show with the band and during the first song I had to play guitar for the first half, then walk across the back of the stage and switch to bass.

     Also I very vividly remember that for some reason, before we played the first song, another member of the band was to trigger an animatronic skeleton in a top hat that would pop out and say “It’s Totally Crazy!” This was honest to god a part of my dream. To give an idea of just how vivid this dream was, we’d been having trouble with the animatronic skeleton all day, and right before the show we still couldn’t get him to pronounce the first ‘T’ in “It’s Totally Crazy!”, so when we finally started the show he said “It’s Oatally Crazy!”

     Also, for some reason there were members of the audience in front of the stage and behind the stage. So we start the first song and it gets relatively near the part where I have to switch to Bass, so I’m moving towards the back of the stage. And in the front row of the back-of-stage audience is this little demonic looking twelve year old and a friend. He looked evil, but i don’t remember anything about the friend, just his presence. And he’s holding a little baby girl. And he THROWS the baby on stage – like LAUNCHES her, and she hits the stage. And I got SO MAD. So I threw down my guitar and was approaching Maynard to grab his mic and yell “DON’T THROW BABIES” really sternly, but that’s when I woke up whimpering. So I guess that proves I’m nuts.

Wait. What now?

     Scene: walking on campus at the beginning of summer semester. A guy to my left whom I’m just about to walk by says: “Now YOU look like you haven’t got laid in awhile,” which doesn’t seem like something you would say to a stranger on the street, but he was very obviously and emphatically saying it TO me. So I stop walking, completely flabbergasted that some fuckwit has just said this to me, and in the few seconds I stop he begins to move a clipboard with signatures on it towards me. At this point I shoot a very angry look at the clipboard and walk away without having said a word. In retrospect, I wish I had stayed and found out what the hell he was trying to get people to sign with that opening line. Seriously, I can’t think of anything.

Fuck. You.

     Scene: I’m walking out of the engineering building at Wayne State. There are two doors. Generally, I like to adhere to the social mores of the good ol’ U.S. of A and use the right door when faced with such a choice. So anyway, there’s a guy on the other side of the doors, and he decides he wants to come in through the door on (his) left.

     So if you’re following the story CLOSELY (Really now, I must insist on rapt attention, skimming is discouraged. While reading kempa.com please be sure to read for COMPREHENSION), you’ll realize that the door I’m trying to exit out of is the same door he’s trying to enter through. We proceed to do the little dance people do when they simultaneously try to get out of the way of one another, and end up repeatedly getting back in each other’s way. (I think there was a sitcom or article [or other such thing that quietly lurks in the back of my brain long after my first having encountered it] that attempted to give this phenomenon a name. For our purposes we will refer to it as ‘that little dance people do when they both simultaneously try to get out of the way of one another and end up repeatedly getting back in each other’s way’.) The difference in this case was that we were doing the dance through the glass of the doors.

     As the dance resolved itself, and we were both in the intermediary stages of our respective exiting and entering actions, I chuckled and turned to say ‘Sorry,’ in a jovial ‘ho ho what larks in the engineering building, eh?’ sort of way. It was at this moment that the other guy turned to me, and through a pained-looking sneer quietly hissed “Fuck. You.” …and then turned to walk off. This of course, made my chuckle turn into an incredulous and unreserved laugh. He didn’t turn back.

     The only way I can make any sense of his response in my brain involves him thinking I was basketball-style defensively ‘covering’ him through the glass of the doors, and that’s just ridiculous because I’ve only basketball-style defensively ‘covered’ someone through glass doors, like twice. MAYBE thrice. Come on.

Mail about Jeff Kempa

     Jeff Kempa is the Sebadoh video guy from the last update, which occurred in June. Three people emailed me telling me they knew Jeff Kempa in some capacity. Two of the emails are reproduced here, I lost the other one, but as I recall, it was from girl named Gretchen, and was about getting in touch with her ex-boyfriend who was somehow related to Jeff Kempa. So anyway – Jeff, just forwarding your messages. First up, Todd Stryker:

“Adam,
     Just had to relate the crazy stuff that happens on the “net”. I was searchin’ along for my best buddies home phone number. His name is Josh Kempa and he just happened to move from Portland, OR to Vancouver, WA and I lost him. So some how I end up at your site and start reading about Sebadoh. Then it turns out you are interviewing this dude Jeff Kempa from Hobokin (spelling is wrong but I have never been there) Well anyhow this fool Jeff Kempa happens to owe me and Josh Kempa (the guy I am looking for) a case of beer!!! You see ol’ Jeff Kempa is Josh Kempa’s older brother and in high school we had just happened to russle up a case when we had to stop and check in with Jeff and Josh’s parents. They are generally cool but we still thought it a good idea to leave the beer in the car. Well anyhow the next day the car is gone and the beer never appears. That bastard owes me and I know he can afford it. So you let him know he owes me some beer. Thanks for letting me vent.
Todd Stryker

P.S. And have him send me his brother’s home number too, I have his work number.”

     Hey Todd, you forgot to include your email address in the form so I have no way of getting in touch with you. Let me just take this opportunity to say that if you use the form, please include your email because no one EVER does. EVER. The only way I am able to identify these people is if they sign their email. Moving on – this one’s from Eve:

     “I swear I am psychic – Have I ever asked you before if you know Jeff Kempa?? You see, I met Jeff Kempa on IRC (I think?) sometime around 1993-1994. He made me a realllllly great mixed tape. I’ve lost touch with him but have always wondered if you know him or ever heard from him. I was thinking about this YESTERDAY MORNING and then yer update email came!! How weird?!?! I remember Jeff mentioned he was moving to the NY area for a job…so it’s the same Jeff. I don’t have his email address… but if you find it or hear from him again, ask him if he remembers Eve from NY and the tape and all that. Such a small world…”

Garbage – b = Garage

     This is the part of the update where, for no particular reason, I plan on discussing things that I’ve either found in bulk, found for a sale at a garage sale, or found for sale in bulk at a garage sale. We’ll cover the “in bulk” category first.

     The first find requires a bit of explanation: During the summer, a house in my neighborhood threw away a vintage tube guitar amp, which (after resoldering a few wires) works perfectly. So, I started driving by that house on garbage day on the off chance they decided to throw away some other treasure. In doing so, I stumbled upon a house that, for a stretch of about two and a half months, threw away roughly three crates of LP’s each week. Needless to say, I felt it necessary to grab these, sort through them and keep what I wanted. I ended up pulling two hefty stacks of stuff from those crates, one stack of very playable Rolling Stones albums, and one stack which is still sitting in my basement waiting for me to ascertain the relative condition of the records within. Among those I kept, is this album, with its ‘Not quite the same image as the cover of an old Beck album but it faked me right out, and I hear that the actual image comes from an old album cover anyway’ cover art.

     In addition to all this I found approximately 30 copies of a David Bowie / Moby remix 12″ Single, for the song ‘Dead Man Walking.’ I have almost no interest in this song, but for some reason, I was compelled to hold on to these, so if you think of any appropriate use for them, let me know. A few weeks before discovering those singles, I found a box of 25 promotional Depeche Mode 7″ singles in a thrift store. Again, for some reason I was compelled to rescue them. Does any of this mean anything? Is there some weird bulk fixation disease? I do not know.

     Continuing on in the ‘bulk audio’ vein, in the summertime at a garage sale I bought two copies of the same Danny Elfman album for a quarter each.

     Eventually I started trying to give away the extra copy. But NO ONE WILL TAKE IT. Come on people! Danny Elfman’s not so bad! He did the Edward Scissorhands soundtrack and that rules! So here’s the deal, the person to email me the most convincing description of what Danny Elfman means to them wins the tape. You can interpret that however you want – you could prattle on about your deep appreciation of the man’s work – or, alternately, you could free associate and explain the association. Or something. If it turns out that it’s not worth the effort for people to do that, I’ll tape over it or something.

     A few weeks later at another Garage sale, I bought a pile of 30-some Ernest P. Worrell masks for the paltry sum of $2. Now, it should go without saying that this is among the greatest garage sale finds EVER. Below, I’ve treated you to two portrayals of several of the masks, lovingly arranged on my bedroom floor:


     It became quite obvious to me that these masks needed to start making random appearances in public, and so they have. A few highlights from the ‘Ernest Gallery’ I hope to slowly amass:

     Eventually, my goal is to get pictures of a mass of dancing people, all wearing Ernest masks. I’ll keep you posted on my progress in that respect.

     Now, the absolute BEST thing I found at a garage sale all summer is featured below. It’s a radio right?

     NO! IT’S NOT A RADIO! It’s a FLASK! The antenna screws off, revealing the top of a well-concealed bottle!


     BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! In the “Battery compartment,” one finds that two shot glasses and a tiny funnel have been hidden away!


     My very favorite part about this acquisition is the fact that immediately after entering this particular garage sale, the elderly lady whose junk we were about to examine took one look at me, and immediately offered to sell me her radio/flask. I eagerly paid the hefty sum of one American dream dollar for this handsome item. Also, I found mention of my newfound treasure on this antique radio collector’s page.

     Now, knowing (as you do) that I am insane, it should come as no surprise to you that I decided to look into this business of hidden flasks. Unfortunately, all I was able to turn up was this:

Walking sticks with hidden flask 25.00 ea.

     …and it should be plainly obvious that radios are a better cover than walking sticks (I never bring MY walking stick anywhere that I would want to drink liquor – mostly just on voyages over hills and such), so it appears my garage sale find is the PINNACLE OF CONCEALED LIQUOR TECHNOLOGY!

Update! An anonymous tipster pointed out the following concealed flasks: binoculars, cell phone, and cigar holder.

Perpetuating my obsession with The Panic Room

     I recently found this little passage in an article about this past summer’s crop of movie offerings. We’ll call it Panic Room Theroy #2 (Or: Thing That is not interesting to anyone).

“The politics of frustration in Post-Clinton America.”

     “..[Panic Room], just beneath its slick-thriller surface, contains a little-noticed political parable that set a forcefully dominant theme for the summer. In this highly subliminal story, representatives of the classic liberal interest groups – a single mother, an at-risk child, and a disadvantaged black man – discover their interdependence while struggling against violence unleashed by the greed and lust of powerful white males. But there are two tales being told. On the thriller level, of course, Jodie Foster and Forest Whitaker prevail by slaying the most egregarious of the intruders. At the political level, however, both are thwarted. Whitaker is arrested, as millions of dollars in bearer bonds swirl uselessly in the wind. Foster and daughter, meanwhile, trade down to a cheaper home, settling for less, while the corporate-chief spouse, who set this mess in motion with his philandering, presumably returns to his wealth and his bimbo. The status quo, however corrupt and stultifying, is thus maintained – setting the pace for an unusually dark summer whose primary message appears to be that the system is broken and can’t be fixed. Personal conciliation, or even redemption, is possible. But systematic change, rarely, if ever, occurs in a cycle of films that were shot, for the most part, shortly after the dysfunctional presidential election of 2000.” From Premiere (August 2002).

Called out on Nokia snake

     Last update I put up a picture of a game of Nokia snake where I appeared to be doing very, very well. Dave Prouty wrote in with the following:

     “I don’t know how you thought you’d get away with putting up that picture without telling us:

1) What level were you playing on (either count how many filled bars – from left to right.. or how many empty bars from right to left – and for God’s sake tell me which option you chose).

2) What was the score?

I’m an obsessive Nokia Snake fan and my high score is twelvehundredsomething (I guess I’m not THAT obsessive if I can’t even remember the high score) – but I know my screen looked NOTHING like that.

Thanks!

Dave”

…and here is my dutiful response.

Hey Dave -

     It was on the second to easiest, and the score wasn’t very high on that one – the game takes into account your difficulty setting when scoring so it was in the low hundreds. I usually play on a higher level but that day I decided to try and fill the whole screen over the course of the three hour lecture. I got bored with it roughly 1.75 hours in and accidentally hit the top wall, so the photo I took is the ‘Last view’ thingy.

Cheers!

ak

Reader mail about resizing:

“very entertaining this time. i laughed outloud several times. good show. i still don’t understand why you have the window shrink though.. it’s annoying. just fyi.”

     Just to address this: By FAR the most common reason someone I don’t know in real life e-mails me is to try to convince me to buy something or look at porn, but the SECOND MOST COMMON reason someone I don’t know in real life e-mails me is to tell me they HATE how kempa.com resizes their internet explorer window. To this I say: Too bad. I don’t like how the design sits in a full window, so there. Maybe if I ever redesign this site (ha.) I’ll fix it, but until then, a resized browser window is the penance you pay for not sending me all your money.

Pizza sign translation

     So there’s this pizza place in Windsor, a stone’s throw from the U.S. / Canadian border, and the clerks there are super American-haters. So anyways, they have a sign out front, and I was curious if anyone could translate it for me from whatever language it is, because I’m all but positive it says something like ‘Stupid Americans’ or ‘Spit Pizza.’ Something. Last time I was there I used a paper and pencil to approximate the characters and then made the paintbrush rendition seen below:

I know it doesn’t say ‘Dirty American Devil’ because that’s here.

Fun with food items

     Are you aware that for a brief time, Kit Kat has been offering dark chocolate, white chocolate, and ORANGE versions of its standard wafers? This is INSANE. I took it upon myself to taste them all.

Dark Chocolate: FIRST PLACE! …but probably only because I like dark chocolate to begin with. I ate these right up! I should mention that these first two are being offered as LIMITED EDITION candy bars, which is stupid to begin with, but this one could probably actually be marketed somewhat successfully.


White Chocolate: SECOND PLACE! I’m not a big fan of white chocolate. I ate about three of the four strips over the course of a week and the last one sat in my freezer for about four months, untouched. I don’t really think the marriage of white chocolate and wafers is complete yet, and the use of the phrase ‘White chocolate’ on the packaging is misleading AT BEST, as it actually appears to be some sort of vaguely nauseatingly yellow color.


Orange Chocolate: LAST PLACE! Disgusting! And I don’t even think it has anything to do with the fact that this is Canadian chocolate (I found the white / dark ones in Michigan and the orange one in Toronto)! Imagine those gross Christmas chocolate oranges that nobody likes, but WAY stronger on the citrus. I only ate the part that’s missing in the picture.


     …and SPEAKING of Kit Kats, am I the only one who’s pissed off that the old ‘foil wrapped in orange paper’ wrapper is only used on the halloween version nowadays? The regular ones are all new wave packaging and I don’t like it. Just so we’re clear on that.

     Moving on, I also thought that – if you weren’t already aware – you’d like to know that Burger King is selling TACOS. WHAT? WHY? I do not know. But I bought two of their tacos, drove right over to Taco Bell, bought two of theirs, and resolved to eat all four of the fuckers. Here’s what I found.

     Why BK thought the public needed the option of eating Tacos and onion rings together is beyond me, but it is indeed now possible. Assuming that everyone is fairly familiar with the generic Taco Bell Taco, I’ll focus on the differences between the two taco designs – specifically those traits that set the BK taco apart.

     First and foremost, you NEED to know that Burger King Uses AMERICAN CHEESE on their tacos! WHAT?! Yes. After Discovering this (I had already eaten one of the BK tacos) I immediately lost all interest in consuming the other. Here’s your photographic evidence:

     Um.. That’s about all I have to say. The BK tacos are cheaper (By roughly thirty cents or so), but they use SLICES of AMERICAN CHEESE. The BK tacos are also a little bit spicier, but again – AMERICAN CHEESE. My money goes to taco bell.

     Finally, Pez Juice Pouches. They’re basically Capri suns with Enlarged versions of actual Pez Dispenser Heads stuck on them. The heads aren’t even part of the dispensing of the juice, you remove the head, THEN a top, then you drink the juice, so I can’t say I see the connection. But yes, they exist!


Lackluster desk project results

     So it seems that I overestimated the proliferance of digital cameras / relative lethargy of the people who read this website when I solicited submissions for that desk project thingy. I did get five entries, which I’ve presented here to satiate your curiosity.

Alice:

“Hey Adam,
     You’re not going to psychoanalyze me by the arrangement/contents of my desk,
are you?

     If you are…you can now add paranoid to the prognosis.”

Trevor:

“Hey Adam,

     I happened to be reading your page as one of my co-workers walked by, ironically–with a digital camera in his hand. So I had him take a picture of my desk here at Doner. Dig the mousepad—right now, a pad of paper. Also, I look to the Wafflehouse menu for inspiration on my bad days.

     The picture of George Harrison (on the far right) has a note next to it, which is cut off in the crop, that states: “If you do not know who this is, get out of our office!” The note was written by my office-mate, the Senior Writer. You’d be suprised how few people actually know who the pictured individual is, thus prompting said Senior Writer to curse them (most of them being girls in their 20s) out of the room. “

Beth:

“Adam-
     Allow me to introduce you to my desk. It’s pretty messy at the moment, but
I’ve been quite lazy lately and haven’t gotten around to organizing. You
probably can’t notice in the picture, but its a weird fake wood top sitting
on two small brown file cabinets. Its really ugly, but it was there when I
needed a desk. Oh, and thats the oh-so-cute Beck on my computer screen.
Thats about it. Enjoy.
-Beth”

Eve:


“Adam,
     The little figurines on top of the oldskool box are HOMIES™. I’m obsessed with them! You can find them in .25 cent machines at supermarkets. They’re little Latino characters. The creator is from LA and he bases the characters on people he knows in real life. He also makes MIJOS™ which are the children of HOMIES™. I have some Mijos as well.

     On my wall~ There’s a pic of a sunset I took on Long Beach, NY. A picture of my friend George (the Red Devil) and Rene (the Fairy thing) a few Halloweens ago. A Modest Mouse SadSappySucker sticker which came as a freebie when I ordered the CD from K. A Cafe Napoli flier. Cafe Napoli is this great Italian Dessert cafe near my house. They have live entertainment every night. It’s usually a man singing behind a piano thing that plays the music of popular oldies tunes.

     Then there’s a Quadrophenia postcard and a ticket stub from when I saw Amelie in the theatre. Next is a picture of my garden last year. There’s an Almost Famous promo card from my old job, a VW Postcard, a “Marijuana! Hey, At Least It’s Not Crack!” postcard, and a Radiohead flier from the August 17th 2001 show. The flier has directions regarding the Ferry we had to take from the World Trade Center to the show at Liberty State Park. It was a magical night. The World Trade Center was attacked less than a month later.

     Then there’s a BS 2000 (Ad Rock’s side band) sticker. Last but not least, a picture of Derek Jeter (NY Yankees) and a pic of Goran Ivanisevic, my all time favorite tennis player. The picture shows him with his hands in the air, minus shirt, after winning one of the rounds that took him to the Championships at Wimbledon last year (which, btw, he won).

     Mushroom Lamp ~That wacky orange mushroom thing is an amazing plastic lamp my boyfriend’s Aunt JoAnn gave me. It’s very cool, I think.

     The pic is the Radiohead boat we took to the Radiohead Show, from the WTC to Liberty State Park. You can see the WTC in the background. It’s a great shot… thought you’d like to see it. I need to scan it. Anyways, yeah :) Here it is.
Eve”

Sarah:

“Adam,

     My “desk” is an old table my dad let me take when I moved out of my
parents’ house. I’ve got the obvious computer monitor, with various
pictures stuck to it. Most of the pictures are of Eric, my friend who
was killed in a car accident. There’s also a little izone picture of
Krysta dancing happily at her Christmas party a few years ago. On top
of the monitor I’ve got my Ed Debevics’ cow (when you pull his tail, he
shakes), a Krishna finger puppet, a few little guys I’ve collected, and
a rubber duckie that my roommate gave me this past Christmas. My
mousepad is a C-Pop mousepad, given to me free at one of those Whitney
garden parties when I bought a visor.

     Besides the obvious computer related items, you’ll notice the Yellow
Submarine lamp that I received as a gift, a Mars Attacks! alien who
says “We come in peace!”, Alexander (From Alexander and the Terrible,
Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, a favorite childrens’ book of mine),
Charlie Brown, a ceramic box my high school boyfriend made me, some
raisins, and a picture of my boyfriend and his dog (you might recognize
them). Finally, there is a picture of my niece, Madeline, who also
happens to be the cutest, most wonderful child EVER.

Sarah

Mail:

“hey chump,
     what is that site where it says what sort of setup each guitarist has and it shows the diagram of amps, preamps, and pedals? i know you had a link to it at one point in time, but your site is a disaster.
thanks.
signed,
secret admirer x”

     I know what you’re talking about, but I forget…anyone remember? Update! It’s called Guitar Geek! Thanks Jason!

Mail, received by me, not intended for me:

     “Good morning: I was telling Chrisy what we had in mind for mom and she told Pastor Trout about it. Perhaps you have touched base with him since Chrisy’s conversation with him. But if not, she gave mehis home office number–717-741-6741. I called Greenmount Cem. and it is o.k. for November. Of course, they tried to sell me the bronze thing, but we would not have it intime for Nov. anyway! Talk to you later. I thought I’d try this e-mail –see if you answer. Love, AB”

Email from a guy who thinks I was sending him spam:

“Subject: listen little ‘webwebmaster wannabe’

     Listen little ‘webwebmaster wannabe’, your doing it WRONG!!!!
You have absolutely no permission to email me anything. EVER! I signed up
for nothing using this email address, I have NEVER had an ad in this email
and your spamming tactics will not change that. This is your only warning
before I report you as SPAM to the 3 major ISP’s i use and then guess
what…completely blocked from those ISP’s for good.

Never send me anything again!

Adam D Hess”

     I’m not sure how all the latest spam technology works but apparently the email he received made it look like I sent it. He then visited kempa.com, and despite the fact that it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with weight loss, printer cartridges or Farm sex, was enraged enough to fire this almost comically threatening email.

     Also: he seems to actually believe that opting out from spammers actually works. During spring break last year, every time I got an unsolicited message (OFTEN) I took the time to go through the company’s (frequently excruciatingly involved) opt-out procedure. I ended up fulfilling the requirements of ~200 messages that week, and the next week I got even more spam, much of it from the same companies. Anyways, there used to be a GREAT picture of this dude immersed in all sorts of NASCAR crap on his website, but he’s since taken it down.

Obligatory part of the update dealing with stuff loosely related to vintage arcade / video games:

     One of the most interesting things I learned when I first got into screwing around with old arcade games was that many of the arcades that were so successful in the 80’s eventually shut down, and the owners invariably moved all their games to a warehouse or barn, where SOMETHING eventually destroys them. There have been tons of cases like this documented on the web, but the only ones I can currently turn up are here, here, and here. Those sites should at least start to explain why these things are starting to become collectibles. A few more loosely related links:

  • Error Wear is a clothing company that reproduces error messages from old electronics and such. Here’s what I had to say on another part of this site about their Pac-man error shirt, which I bought. “The image on this shirt is what you see if you eat every possible dot, ghost and bonus and beat the 255th level on a classic pacman machine. The board can’t handle a higher score and freaks out. People who comment on this shirt so far have thought it was some artsy fartsy bastardization of pacman, but then I made a point of explaining to them what it was and then they ALL THOUGHT I WAS REALLY COOL. It’s a seven color screen-print, which only means something to you if you’re into design and crap like that.”

  • remix.overclocked.org is a site dedicated to crazy techno remixes of videogame music. The music from TONS of obscure titles is remixed. I only downloaded the megaman 2 stuff, but you can go nuts I guess.
  • This guy opened a still new-in-box Ms. Pacman machine (relatively) recently. So yeah… Read all about it.

  • Did you know there was an arcade game licensed from Happy Days? It was called simply The Fonz, and you guided Fonzie on his motorcycle. The game looks to have been spectacularly boring, and supposedly the machines were produced in ridiculously low numbers, but the cabinet artwork looks pretty hot.

  • If you, like me, are among those who have swallowed your pride and actually attempted to play one of those Dance Dance Revolution machines, but are still scratching your head as to why it’s so damn popular, you can try Flash Flash Revolution. You only have to use your fingers (Thanks Joe).

  • Back in the heyday of the Nintendo, there was a CD compilation released called “White Knuckle Scorin'” featuring an original song by Jellyfish called “Ignorance is Bliss.” Now, the reason I mention it here is because it’s written from the perspective of Bowser Koopa, to Princess Toadstool. Needless to say, none of the band members had much to say about this one in the liner notes to the recent jellyfish box set. You can read the lyrics and download a short sample here. A Modern Drummer interview with Andy Sturmer of Jellyfish, where he talks about his unique stand-up drum kit and his simultaneous singing action, can be found here, and an interview with Roger Manning (Also of Jellyfish and of Beck-backing fame) here. Two ridiculous quotes:
    • Andy Sturmer: “The hardest part (about stand-up drumming) is the balancing. All of my weight is on one foot because I’ve got to play the kick drum. I’m playing a closed hi-hat, and I can vary that by playing with the butt end of the stick. But all of my weight is on my left leg for an hour to an hour and a half, so it’s become stronger than my right leg.”

    • Roger Manning: “We do a lot of stacking,” Manning points out. “One of the most educational records I’ve listened to over the past two years has been the Beach Boys’ ‘Stacks and Tracks,’ because it lets you hear all of Brian Wilson’s amazing arrangements minus the thick vocals, which masked a lot of the instrumental parts. Not only do you get to hear false entrances and instruments that were completely out of tune; you also get to see how he stacked things. We’ve all listened to ‘California Girls’ since we were children, but until ‘Stacks and Tracks’ I never heard the way he stacked the vibraphone and various instruments to create the ‘chug-chug’ effect of the rhythm track.”

Found blowing around the streets of Ann Arbor, MI

     I found this on the sidewalk in the summertime on a Sunday. It looks to me like some moron was trying to make it LOOK like a 5 year old (named ‘Lynnn’) drew it, but no 5 year old I’ve ever heard of drew pictures of tanks shooting a crucified Jesus or wrote ‘Aids Jokes are Funny.’

     The explanation I’ve come up with is that Found Magazine is based in AA, and some fuckwit was trying to ‘trick’ them into printing his poorly executed farce. Which is exactly what I did, I guess. CURSES!

Pictures of me in Detroit Newspapers – 2002.

     Somehow I managed to get unflattering photos of myself in both major Detroit Newspapers this year – on May 10th in the Detroit News and on October 18th in the Detroit Free Press. The Detroit News photo was for a piece on one of the bands I am currently a member of – the Pop Project. The other was a photo on a piece about the opening of the Detroit Barnes & Noble. I was just walking by the window and looked over to see the photographer guy taking the camera down from his eye. It was SUPER weird because we looked at each other, and I then KNEW that that would be the photo he used. I had just come from visiting the person at Wayne State whose job is to reinstate scholarships they’ve accidentally taken away. This was third time they’ve done this to me. The fact that her position even EXISTS is RIDICULOUS. So anyway, that’s why I look vaguely pissed off.

Interview with Matt Lurie – Thrill Jockey Intern

I conducted this very brief interview with Matt over email back in the summertime. Matt used to live in the 9 person house that the Pop Project used to practice in.

How did you get hooked up w/ thrill jockey?

I’ve had this internship with the Tribune Rock (popular music) critic, for a few summers now and this year I asked him if he thought I could possibly check out the business side of things somewhere. He was like, “Where would you want to work?” So I said my dream list, which was Thrill Jockey and Bloodshot Records. Then a few weeks later he told me that he’d talked to people at TJ and that they had an opening for an intern and I should contact them. I did and the rest is post-rock history. I’m still not quite sure whether or not I needed his referral but there’s no doubt it made things flow easy.

What have your duties consisted of thus far?

My duties are definitely of the mundane order. Which is kind of the point of an unpaid internship. I’ve done a lot of sorting through CDs that have been returned by stores because of their cracked cases and then re-shrinkwrapping them. Also, cutting out clippings from publications about TJ bands. Then there’s putting together press mailings to send to lucky record stores and/or critics (hopefully me someday). And then whatever else one of the staff (about 5 people) need for me to do that day.

How many famous rock stars have you met?

Actually, in my other “internship,” I’ve met several big honchos at this point but I’m assuming you’re asking about indie-rock people. So Sam Prekop has been in the office several times – I’ve introduced myself to him, gushingly, and he seems pretty shy. I also see him at a lot of shows…Bobby Conn was in the other day with his wife, who is his violin player, and their new baby. I met Doug McCombs before Eleventh Dream Day played two nights ago. Richard Buckner, whose record “The Hill” was just put out by the great Howard who also works at TJ, I also met before the EDD show. Some guy from Warp Records was in a few weeks ago but I didn’t know who he was…The funny thing is with all these people – because I’ve lived in Ann Arbor for the past few years as I’ve really gotten into TJ artists, you get the impression (at least I did) that these people would be so impossibly cool that you would never be able to talk to them. But the fact is that instead of being…Well, I guess I don’t know what somebody supercool looks like – I probably just made it up in my head. Anyway, they’re all really nice and, especially with several, quite shy.

Any insane stories, both bad or good?

I know they’re there but honestly, I haven’t been able to think of any since I got your email. Sorry! The most shocking thing about all them, like I was saying, truly, is how normal they all are. Nobody looks like anybody you wouldn’t run into on the street. Alright. I’ll let you know if I remember something but know that I have a horrible memory.

Several Random Statements, Requests, Questions, etc:

  • I was working on my final program for my C++ class the other day, and making absolutely no progress. My brain then decided that this was because I was wearing jeans, and EVERYONE knows that you can’t program in jeans. So I changed into some corduroys.
  • I decided that if Anakin Skywalker ages as much between Episode II and Episode III as he did between Episode I and Episode II, we’d better be seeing some baby Han Solo and baby Lando Calrissian action in two summers’ time.
  • Is there such a thing as a double contraction? Like “You have not” = “You’ve haven’t” = “You’ven’t”? Because there should be.
  • Elvis Pretzly – A snack-bar made of pretzel that somehow incorporates Elvis into its marketing scheme (In ways BESIDES the brilliant name, I mean). Perhaps a really thick pretzel stick shaped like Elvis. Also: a nacho cheese-filled version. I’m open to input here, folks. We can get rich TOGETHER.
  • My Mom always likes the unpopped kernels in any batch of popcorn and always jokes that they should be marketed. Well someone marketed them, and I bought 4 different flavors of ‘NOT POPS’ at a truck stop somewhere en route to New York this summer. I then proceeded to leave them in the borrowed van we made the voyage in, and I can’t find anything about them on the internet, so no pictures. But if you happen to know of a source for these ‘NOT POPS’ please, get in touch.
  • Did you know that that weird faux-goth M2 band Deadsy (You know: ‘The KEEEY to GraHmmerCY PAAAHHHK!’) did a cover of a Sebadoh song on their debut album?! Brand New Love! How fucked up is that? How did I miss that?

  • In other covers news – I read in The Big Takeover that on their most recent tour Belle & Sebastian were playing geographically or otherwise appropriate covers, which is the coolest idea ever. When I saw them in Detroit they played ‘Baby Love,’ (Motown) in celebration of the birth of their Road Manager’s child, and also ‘Time of the Season’ by the Zombies. According to the Big Takeover, they played ‘Staying Alive’ (9/11 nod) and a Blondie song in New York, The Rocky Theme in Philadelphia, and Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. songs in Boston. The Pixies cover is floating around on soulseek, and it’s not so hot – nothing like their note perfect covers of ‘Here Comes the Sun’ and ‘Time of the Season.’ At any rate – if you saw them in other cities and remember a cover they did, let me know! Update! Tim Thompson says: “In Austin, they did Texarkana Baby by Bob Wills.

  • After walking to my car, which I had driven to school with the ‘Low Fuel’ light on, I look to the passenger seat, where I thought I had left a few CD’s, but I don’t see them. I turn on my car, and the low fuel light isn’t on. For a brief moment, as I’m backing out of my parking spot, my brain considers the possibility that a thief might have stolen my CD’s but felt guilty and left a little gas behind. Then my low fuel light goes on and the CD’s slide out from under my passenger seat.
  • You know those touch-screen bar top video games that are in basically every bar in the U.S.? There’s a game on them called boxxi. It is extremely addicting. If you happen to be really good at it, tell me what your strategy is, because my scores are respectable, but nowhere near the top ten usually. Is it just the luck of the layout you get in the beginning? There’s a fairly lame attempt at cloning it online here.

  • Looking for the name of this R&B style song – High-voiced male sings an unprecedented number of auto-based euphemisms for sex. Examples (From the song, to the best of my recollection): ‘Girl, You ever driven a stick?’ and ‘It’s like Woo Woo Woo, pull over, let me put this love in your trunk.’ As far as I know it’s a current single as I heard it on the local JAMMZ-type station a few hours ago. Update! Mustafa says: “That r&b song you’re looking for is called ‘ignition’ by R. Kelly. It’s pretty great. He’s got all these clever girl-as-car metaphors: ‘let me stick my key in your ignition’, etc… my manager at dearborn music is obsessed with R. Kelly, that’s how I know. But yeah. Download it. It’s delicious. So is another one of his songs called ‘Heaven I Need a Hug’ which is in response to all his child molestation charges and whatnot. enjoy!”

  • You can download a Christmas song I recorded by myself in my basement here, newer Recital song that I played bass on here, and a (Live) Pop Project song that I played drums on here (Recorded at the Blind Pig by Ted & the Pedestrians), as well as a song from the forthcoming Pop Project album here.

Random links that I just threw into a list to be done with it already:

  • This guy built his kids an absolutely Insane mechwarrior-themed tree house. I bet the neighbors are thrilled.
  • Here’s a really dorky and great wooden periodic table that’s actually a table in the furniture sense as well, with each element’s box containing pure samples of the actual element (wherever possible) with relatively extensive stories behind them.

  • Yoshi’s Box is a PC case containing pretty much every single gaming system ever. The link is a walkthrough of the planning and construction.
    You’ll note that part of the URL is ‘supergeek’ – it’s there for a reason.

  • If you’re one of those weird people like me who loves you some footnotes in your fiction, here’s a pretty good (though relatively out of date) list of stuff to check out.

  • Dustin Diamond (Yes, Screech) teaches Chess. There’s a surreal camcorder / bad improv feel throughout the video clips (They’re not working right now for some reason, but if they ever go back up, I defy you to watch it and NOT want to kill him).

  • Zach pointed me to this absolutely INSANE chronology of Rivers Cuomo’s ENTIRE LIFE, supposedly put together by Cuomo himself. It’s so ridiculously detailed I don’t see how it couldn’t have been. In other weezer weirdness, you can hear and see the metal band (Avant Garde) that brought Rivers out to California, and check up on Matt Sharp (He’s about to release a solo album).
  • Plenty of Spoon-related audio and video for your downloading pleasure.
  • True Life Porn Clerk Tales. If you haven’t seen this yet, you probably haven’t been near a computer in the last couple months, but JUST IN CASE, here it is. Classic.
  • Listen to tons of MP3’s of 78’s from the 20’s-40’s here. Slow but worthwhile!
  • Henry Lim built a functional Lego harpsichord. Functional in this case means “hitting a key produces a sound, not necessarily an in tune sound.” Listen to it here.

  • Dark Passage is a good Urban Exploration site, with an extensive collection of features on abandoned hospitals of all sorts.

  • In corresponding with a fellow fan of the instrumental stylings of Canada’s Huevos Rancheros, I was informed that Reid Diamond of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet had died of cancer a few years earlier. How I missed this, I have no idea, but it makes me sad. You can check out a very comprehensive and good Shadowy Men site here.

  • A resource for college classes about comic books.

Plea for bottle caps and artsy fartsy mosaic links

     Hey do you drink alcoholic beverages? You do? Great! I need lots and lots of beer bottle caps. Save ‘em and send ‘em. I’ll pay postage if you require. Please! Last time I posted this plea several people responded and I even got some in the mail (Thanks, Eve and John!), but I realized that I didn’t really explain why I wanted them and that maybe it just looked like I was completely nuts because of that.

     So here is the reason I need your beer caps: I am making a really fucking big mosaic out of them. I started saving beer caps in late 2000 and have done so religiously since, but so far I am only one-third of the way done with the mosaic. As of right now, there are approximately 2,400 caps glued down.

     I ESPECIALLY need black, red, and white / silver caps so if your brand of choice caps their bottles with any of those colors, I would love you forever if you save your caps. Also: If you work at a bar and know what they do with their caps, let me know. I’m curious. I considered bidding on auctions like this one, but decided it would be cheating.

     A helpful guide to the ‘best’ representation of red, black and white, though substitutions and alternate suggestions are gratefully accepted:

  • Red: Smirnoff Ice
  • Black: Mike’s beverages
  • White: Becks, Guinness

     I did some research trying to find other beer cap art / mosaics, but I’ve been fairly unsuccessful. I did find that there’s a whole subculture of people who collect these caps (Besides Bert, I mean) and I also found a whole slew of other really cool mosaics:

  • The new hot mosaic medium seems to be pieces of bread toasted different shades of brown, as I’ve found one group making a really big and well-executed one here, and another guy making tons of toast mosaics, of slightly lesser quality, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. It could be argued that the toast mosaics I deemed ‘of slightly lesser quality’ are actually more ‘pure,’ as the entire slice of bread is toasted one consistent shade, while in the previous example, some inconsistent toasting is used to vary the relative darkness over the surface of each individual slice of bread. I digress, however, as this is an argument that no one but me gives a good goddamn about.

  • One of the most intricate Lego mosaics ever can be found here, made using some weird sort of discontinued learning pieces. The resultant effect is that of ASCII art using small plastic characters. This was done by Eric Harshbarger, who does all sorts of insane stuff with Legos. Also: That’s his JOB. His other ridiculous mosaic examples can be found here, here, and here he documents the construction of a mosaic. Basically his whole site is incredibly good. Here he discusses his need for assistants, etc.
  • The Photoshop mosaic filter as fine art: From far away these paintings seem to depict nude folks in engaging in varying degrees of intimate contact. Up close, it’s just a bunch of colored squares.
  • Some pretty nice domino mosaic portraits are here.

  • Glass mosaics of Hitchcock films in London: here and here.

  • Two absolutely INSANE images (You need to see them both to ‘Get it’) that I grabbed off of an eBay auction that was linked somewhere several months ago. Image one: The big picture. Image Two: The lurking message.