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.