Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rest in Peace V600 (2004-2007)

So I had to put down my Motorola V600:

It took me a long time to finally fold to this culture's mobile phone obsession.
I was well past my 25th birthday when the final rationalization (needing it to use a non work phone for job searching) tipped the balance.

I really liked my cell phone. I liked its ultra-non-annoying ring tone and the fact it could fit into the watch pocket of my jeans. This watch-pocket trait was key - it snuffed out any other cell phone thoughts.

Last week I was only able to hear phone calls when it was in speaker mode - a virtual death sentence.

Stupidly long blog story short: I have a new cell phone

Thankfully, it fits in my watch pocket too.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Part 2 of the June 15th post

On June 15 I posted the below clip from The Office on this blog:

Since June 15 I have been up for two promotions at work and had my yearly review. To get myself in a good mindset for these three events, I will admit to listening to choice "pump up" music on my iPod.

I can now report that only one went well. The other two went as about as good as I can expect while the other went worse than I expected.

The songs on the iPod have not changed... but the reason why I listen to them has.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

In response to my cousin's blog (nonsense begets more)

This post will make zero sense... Although reading my cousin's blog may shed some light, the following will continue to make zero sense:

purple monkey dishwasher (yes, that's plagiarism)
back and forth opposites
Mercy Masochism
Mr. Harmony Monologue
Exit to
You Sunk My Scategories
Hidden Nipple Autopsy
The Fat Chicks of Bill's Beard
Loverboy versus Workweek (Stuggle for Paradise)
Napoleon's Visible Thumb
Bonus Right
On the Eve
The Prefix (Etc... Etc... Etc...)
George Mason and the Secret Police of Hidden Torment
Awkward Handshakes (non HJ variety)
Exile of Treasure Island (Win 2 Wynn)
Strawberry Regret Paradise
The holy trinity of JilliA, LiS And VanesS...N.A.A.
Dr. Wow Pilgramage
I know what you said to me
Britney Spears Spin Cycle
Leisurely Making Love with Magic

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Original Short Story (It's fiction, but "untitled")

The Saturday started out for him the way most have in the past eight months... Deciding to not leave his bed, but reach over to the iMac to bump it out of its sleep. Overnight the new political gabfest podcast from slate.com had downloaded, which allowed him to spend his first half hour of consciousness lackadaisically attempting to keep current with the presidential race more than a year in the future. However, this was not a normal Saturday. He could not waste another hour listening to the new This American Life podcast. No, today was a day stuff had to get done - he had a schedule to carry out.

Finding the first pair of pants he found, black nylon Adidas warmups, he set out for the one errand that was necessary in the day's venture: getting cash. Soon after returning, post shower, he'd continue his pre-first date tradition of cutting himself shaving. It's been years since he stopped questioning himself, "Why must I find a way to bleed before every first date?" His life was, by all normal accounts, a good one - definitely not one that would allow such a karma correcting ritual with such cold consistency.

He had plenty of time before the Metra arrived at the Des Plaines station, but he still walked brisk-fully. He walked quick not due to any pre-first date nerves, but more to keep the walk on the beat of the most recently downloaded song on his iPod ("Stronger" by Kanye West). The train arrived about nine minutes after he arrived at the station (the time was approximated due to the next two songs by Daft Punk and Broken Social Scene concluding on his "Misc. Crap" playlist).

"$5 for a weekend Metra pass - best deal in the area." he thought once boarded. "If only dating made as much fiscal sense?" he cynically continued in his inner monologue. As Chicago approached on the horizon, he felt his nerves begin to awaken. For someone who thinks as much as he, such jitters were an certain eventuality. This was not a foreign situation, of course, and the antidote was ready. He found "Star Guitar" by Chemical Brothers and jacked up the volume. Quite possibly the greatest tune to ever provide a soundtrack for a ride on the rail.

They had agreed to meet at Citizen Bar on Erie, just west of Orleans. It was about a ten blocks away from the downtown Metra station, but also close to multiple eL lines to make it easy for her as well. Arriving more than a half hour early, he was able to insure that a nice outdoor table would open up before she arrived.

Nothing can describe when someone only seen in JPEGS and GIFS is first seen in fading sunlight and warming street lights. Somehow 10% of doubt tries to keep a too trusting mind in check. A mind that has already made the rationalization to meet a digital personality met over the Internet. After an awkward handshake, one that all but announces to the entire establishment in total that a FIRST DATE IS IN PROGRESS small talk ensues.

Sadly, he realizes that the first date has morphed into a relationship interview. Although able to field pointed questions with wit and antidotal humor it is clear that the woman on the other side of the table is an end goal dater. He's been in this situation before, actually finds it refreshing. She knows what she wants, and doesn't want to wait until too much time is invested before key concepts are discussed. However, these key concepts are not mutually held as key. He pays for the drinks. He hugs her goodnight. Assembles the remainder of his post first date dignity and heads back to the train station on Madison.

As the Chicago River first comes into his view, the track "Special" by Mew begins. It's a rather soulful song that usually leads to more inner monologue critiques on life when listened. But he is not in a mood to dissect the failed first date. The night is still young. It can still be saved. Besides, as "okay" as the date was - it was without a spark... More importantly, it was without a story. "This night can only be saved by a story." This is what prompts him to start walking east.

It only took him a half block to decide his destination. Has it really been over five years since last eating at the original "Billy Goat Tavern" on lower Wacker Drive? (just below the Wrigley Building) By the time he was walking down the steps, minutes before his Double Cheezeborger is ordered his mood has taken a significant turn for the better. This turn of mood was mainly due to "Young Folks" hitting its peak in his ears. It made him keep one earbud in his ear, allowing the song to continue, as his order was placed.

The Billy Goat was packed that night. He had to go to the bar to find an empty stool. And one that was next to a group of 3 or 5 girls. It was unclear where one group of girlfriends began and the other one ended.

The girl to his immediate left was very attractive. The friend to her immediate left was in the middle of a very large social argument. If he was eavesdropping, he'd know what the fight was about - but the scraps were loud enough to make him turn off his iPod. The argument might provide more entertainment that Peter, Bjorn and John. One particular comment was louder than the others. The comment was about how a certain actor on Grey's Anatomy had many many children with his wife, and this was troublesome to the debater. This comment made him smile, and made the girl to his immediate left turn away from her girlfriends. Her expression was a mix of embarrassment and pride. One of "can't believe they are this passionate about this topic" and "so happy they have opinions and express them."

And this is when he decided to do something he's wanted to do for months. Not being one to use pick-up lines - in fact being one who abhorred them - he was going to use a line on this woman next to him. This was after two things in his mind became clear. One, the ring on her finger had the heart pointed away from her (thus, she was single). And two, if he didn't say something to her right then and there he'd lose his best chance at a night saving story.

He decided to say the first line from the song that was the cause for his current good mood. For those not familiar with the first line from "Young Folks" by Peter, Bjorn & John it goes like this:

"If I told you things I did before, told you how I used to be, would you go along with someone like me?"

Her initial shock scared the shit out of him. He was about to abandoned the double cheezeborger he traversed the hot evening for until she cracked a small smile.

He decided to quickly save face nonetheless, "You see, I just walked away from a first date - and these two minutes sitting next to you and your friends - overhearing your fight - made me wish I was here the entire time... So pardon the pick up line."

The two had a brief post game wrap-up of the failed first date. She concluded that he thinks too much. Places weight on issues of no substance or consequence. Finally, she asks where he found such a person.


Her instant laugh clued into the fact that she knew the punch-line before the setup. Turns out she posted an ad not too long ago. She confessed that her unique hook was to ask for stories from her suitors on how they would first meet.

"Wait, you think I think too much? Isn't that subconsciously planning many dates that will never happen?" he said in his most polite tone. "The whole metaphysics behind it bar it from happening. If you know of something, it ceases to be spontaneous, isn't that what girls like you want anyways?"

"Girls like me?"

He stammers.... Well, that's my problem. I speak before I think. Too much of that honesty mumbo jumbo... "Do you think before you speak?" she questions. "Well, for as much as I think, one would suggest I do - but evidence proves the contrary.... I'm actually more put-together when I write... I enjoy writing... It's my calming hobby."

The two of them continued in discussions about philosophy and modern young adult life. He loved how far it felt from the kind of "relationship interview" he experienced earlier in the night. The talk continued well after his double cheezeborger was eaten. It also lasted longer than the (still not completely understood) debate with her friends had ended and they had noticed their friend had seemingly exited their conversation in favor of one with a stranger sitting with only himself and his iPod.

When the two of them discovered that the girlfriends had begun eavesdropping on the conversation that had now overtaken theirs in noteworthiness, he introduced himself to everyone. Everyone seemed cordial.

"Well, I better start walking back to my train. But I really liked talking with you... It's almost the top of the hour, did you want to continue talking and see the water canon go off by the NBC Tower? Kinda touristy, but still a nice backdrop for a conversation - care to join me?"

Monday, July 16, 2007

A shameful visit to the iTunes Music Store

I think I've been buying music at the Apple iTunes Music Store for close to four years now.

There have been a few regrettable purchases. A few shameful ones too.

I've had a friend look through my iPod and say, "So you bought Rock Your Body by Justin Timberlake?" That is tough to explain - it was used in the background of a Bally's commercial and I found it catchy. Sue me. However, Justin is a legit musical talent with some major muscle (figuratively I'm speaking: The Neptunes) behind his sound.

So what was the most recent shameful purchase?
Ladies and Gentlemen, I have purchased my first song by one Miss Britney Spears.

It was for a mixtape I made for a recent coworker's birthday. But sadly, I admit that I've liked this song for a while - and the mixtape was just the easy excuse to finally click BUY SONG.

Obviously, the music video for this track made it easier to foster an affinity for the tune:

About a year ago a girl I was "courting" asked me one of those great first date questions: "What's the last song you downloaded?" Fearing that I might be asked that soon - I quickly bought the new Kanye West song "Stronger" ("Stronger" also happens to be the name of a Spears song I also like). "Stronger" by Kanye West samples a great song by one of my favorite artists: Daft Punk. I approve.

Here's the Kanye Video... Not as pretty as Britney but a better beat:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Slow Your Roll

Real quick...
I was over at my parents house today. Told my mom that I'm taking the summer off reading... She really didn't register my comment with anything more than a sigh...

Then she slap closes a book.
She says it's the 15th finished book since school got out. I asked her if she read Kite Runner and she said that was "read a while ago, last month I think."

Summer's not two months old yet! Maybe I best get back on my reading horse. Now if I was retired maybe I could read a book every two days like my Mom.

Apple of the day to my Mom.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Isolated Vegas Tale

All-right, so I'm about two hours into a six hour session of $2-$4 Limit Texas Hold'em at Mandalay Bay when Dawn joins the table (sitting to my immediate left). Dawn is a sexy woman from New York. What makes her sexy isn't just her above average attractiveness, but her knowledge of poker. During one of the first hands that we were involved in - she really started giving me a stare down.

"Looking for tells." she says. I couldn't help but smile. I say back, "This has nothing to do with my hand, just appreciate the attention."

After the second time Dawn said, "I'm too old for you." I decided to call her on it. I thought she was bluffing. First off all, let me say that I was in no way "hitting" on lovely Dawn. I was making very small conversation. Secondly, let it be known that one of my associates - the best man of the bachelor party - was laying it on a little thick. Although I'd like to say that she enjoyed talking to me - that she wanted me to get her drink - I was really just a better resort than the drunk guy on her other side who couldn't stop texting a "not my girlfriend."

I told her that I had no clue how old she was, but I have a rule about not dating anybody older than MySister. She asked how old she was - and said that she was older than her. That was shocking. She looked a solid six years younger. She also confided that she couldn't date anybody younger than her younger brother - and when it was known that I was younger than her brother, we had a small bond. Sure she had a boyfriend, and yeah I wasn't going to guide her back up to my room: but our little back and forth created a nice foundation of a conversation that lasted the reminder of our time together at our table. (Bonus note: the Best Man decided to quickly ask if Dawn has had any plastic surgery after her age was disclosed.)

But this tale is not about Dawn, or me, or even the drunken Best Man. This tale is about hearing words from her that I haven't heard spoken to me in over a year. Maybe even over two years - it's been so long (such a wonderful vacation) that I have forgotten the last instance.

Oh, and all this happened when I was IN A HAND and she was NOT!

This is what she says, "You know who you look like?"
I instantly look away and try to hold my laughter. The poker face is gone - so I just start betting strong. I actually won that hand as she replies to my non verbal reaction, "Oh, so you know... what's his name?"

Ladies and Gentleman, let's remind the world that I have a shockingly similar facial feature of F-List Hollywood Celebrity Matthew Lillard.

These people, those that love to mention this out of nowhere. Mention this likeness - never know the actor's name. And they never have a follow up comment. It's a very vanilla comment to hear. Is it a compliment? Do I say thank you? Of course, I just respond with the usual, "You know we have the same birthday?" (which is true)

That usually only freaks them out more - don't ask me why I continue to encourage all this.

So the past one or two years - while Lillard's career has hit the crapper - I've been somewhat free of this comparison. Luckily there isn't another Scream or Scooby Doo movie on the horizon for me to worry about.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Scott Baio is 45... And Single

Just watched a 45 second mini-preview on VH-1 of a new show titled Scott Baio is 45... And Single.

Yeah, I plan on watching this show. What really looks good is that his "life coach" makes him go back to his ex-girlfriends to apologize/find out what he did wrong.

This is why I want to watch the show.

His ex-girlfriends are a who's who of 80s sit com infamy. Not to mention he's got at least two Baywatch alumni under his belt. One former star of (I think Growing Pains) says to him point blank, "You're the reason why I got an AIDS test."

That's good television.
It's also fake television.
Yet, remains watchable television.

So that's my "bad tv" fix for the rest of the summer. It fills the void created when Real World: Las Vegas Reunited ends this week. Don't fret everybody - I'm more than filling my "good tv" gap this summer...

After having The Wire Season One on loan for close to four months - I blew threw the entire five disc series in under 24 hours (would've been quicker if not for the sleep break that was necessary). Soon the same friend will loan me Season Two - but there's no time to wait: Rome Season One is "at home" from Net Flix.

As far as reading is concerned - I'm taking the summer off. The Slate.com podcast book club of The Emperor's Children did not justify its massive read. I guess that pile of upper crust crap is supposed to be a satire? No, let me use the term they used, "A Comedy of Manners." Uh, no people - that's just a pile of horseshit. Mindless and pointless - not thought provoking with a purpose. The really odd thing about the podcast - the panel kept finding gaping holes in the plots and characters! This is after and before proclaiming that this book isn't just good, but great enough to waste an hour of my time on a flight to Las Vegas.

I have three books on loan from the local library - but after investing the last two months of my reading life into an epic disappointment - I just want to take some time off and watch Scott Baio try to find himself.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Last 7 Days in My [Un]eventful Life

NOTE: I've been running around a ton lately - I need to blog better and describe some of the below events in more detail... thanks for your patience.

Wednesday: I met Skip, Tamara, Matt & Rickey in Mundelein to go bowl. Lakeside Lanes is only 25 cents a game (after $6 cover) Wednesday nights. Bowling is one of those leisure activities I enjoy, wish I could get really good at, but don't want to invest the time and money needed. Also, bowling is one of those classically great social activities - if I get super-serious at it I think it would lose most of its appeal.

Thursday: Oh, a story that must be said face-to-face...

Friday: Successfully entered my 5th Poker Circle. This circle is based in Mundelin - Dave's house specifically. Dave is a MASTER golfer and he's got the great competitive spirit to become a good card player. Ultra low stakes, and only five handed, my personal growth in this circle will have to wait until they get up to speed. I should also hesitate to call it a 5th Circle when the 2nd Circle hasn't met in over a year and the 4th circle (although formed) has yet to meet due to the fact that Circle Four's Members have 8 children under the age of five combined.

Saturday: Dave (different one) and Deanna's wedding. The Notre Dame Victory March was the song used for the first dance of Groom and Mother-of-the-Groom. Instead of dancing they just went around High-5ing the entire reception. Although months ago I wasn't exactly looking forward to spending time with mutual friends met in high school - the night was a blast hanging out again with Dave's college friends (who I met at the Milwaukee Summerfest Bachelor Party).

Sunday: Finally turned on the Air Conditioning. Sadly, I considered that a "moment" in my adult life. Treated myself to a Movie Marathon of Harsh Times (bad), Reno 911 Miami (worse) and Bourne Identity (still good).

Monday: GREEN TIE BALL POKER TOURNAMENT ANNOUNCED! I register less than four hours after I get the e-mail. This is the huge event that I took 3rd place in last year. Anything but a final table will be viewed as a disappointment to yours truly. Also, decided to watch The Bourne Supremacy on DVD.

Tuesday: After working late, I treated myself to The Bourne Ultimatum. Although I like going to the theatre alone, cell phones and young groups continually make Net Flix look better. I also bought tickets to go see Bloc Party live. This is the first "actual concert" (no street festivals, no Summerfest, no "cousin's playing") in a looooong time. Really looking forward to it.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Done and Done

Zero pictures were taken in Las Vegas.
I am still exploring methods to "document" the experience.
While the first four Vegas trips were truly episodic with definitive arcs... This one is unique for how it was just one long voyage, but acting in two different dimensions.

There was the "bachelor party" in which I was in the presence of both of the people who made the trip and the "vision quest" which consisted of the significant amount of time spent on my own. There were also times spent with each other person without the other - but in those are experiences that can not be captured effectively through a label (In the same notion that a ghost can not appear on film).

The entire week was a voyage into witnessing excess, enduring preservation and looking for specs of truth in hot sand.

All I know for sure are the following facts:
I landed in Las Vegas at 12:00 AM Tuesday July 3.
The plane departed Las Vegas at 5 PM Thursday July 5.
For the 65 hours total in Las Vegas, I slept for 11 hours.

I did the math...
12-3: Mandalay Bay
3-5: Transformers
5-7: MGM Grand
7-9: Paris
9-11: MGM Grand
11-4: Mandalay Bay
5-7 : SLEEP
7-9: Mandalay Bay
9-3: Caesar's Palace
3-6: Mandalay Bay
6-9: SLEEP
9-2: Treasure Island
2-3: Mandalay Bay
3-5: Treasure Island
5-7: Hofbrauhaus
7-3: Mandalay Bay
3-4: Wynn Las Vegas
4-6: Live Free or Die Hard
6-7: Mandalay Bay
7-11: SLEEP
11-3: Mandalay Bay
3-5: Airport

For the most part, that's accurate...

I plan on giving a more detail than anybody cares about my personal vision quest. The "bachelor party" is currently being adapted into a fictional parable.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Summerfest with a Bachelor [Party]

This is my friend David:

He will be marrying his girlfriend of eight years this August. I met Dave the summer before my freshman year in high school.

For his bachelor party, he wanted to spend the day in one of his favorite cities: Milwaukee. Don't ask my why he holds Milwaukee in such high regard - he went to college in suburban Elmhurst, IL and has no allegiance to any sports team from the town... but he does like Summerfest.

Summerfest is the largest musical festival in the world. Of the nine other people in this bachelor party (bringing it's total up to 11) about half of them asked if this claim was true. Now, I'm not an authority, but for a festival to run two weeks solid with more than 50 bands a day, but I'm confident in supporting Milwaukee's claim.

I had a great time on Saturday with this crew at Summerfest. It had been a solid five years since I was there last. One of the best places to get a cross section of humanity and a surefire surprise musical talent. The best part was that we didn't care who the "headliners" of that day were. The Fray and Goo Goo Dolls were inconsequential to our efforts. Instead we hung out mainly talking to bachelorette parties (we met five) and hanging out on the "lesser" stages.

Find of the night, this band: Filthy Children on MySpace

These guys were a funk band - with three horn players front and center (who all got bonus points for using the underrated COWBELL at different times) - and a groovealicious chick that liked to move.

During one song, that I thought was an instrumental (but just long lead-in) she coyly slipped backstage and reappeared in the crowd dancing with all of us before hopping back up in time for the first verse. Then they brought the house down with a cover of Dee Lite's "Groove is in the Heart" (Complete with slide whistle!)

When you see a band that effectively utilizes the cowbell and slide whistle you know you're in for a good time.

Special thanks to Dave - looking forward to the wedding... And thanks to the Chipotle sponsored "Rhythm Kitchen" at Summerfest 2007.
So now its Sunday night, I'm back in the condo preparing for the next Bachelor Party. But this one won't involve taking an Amtrak to Milwaukee, but a flight to Las Vegas. I'll be back in town late night Thursday, probably use Friday and Saturday to recover - hopefully able to share any postable stories on Sunday.

Have a good week everybody,