"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman

:malicious user:

Friday, January 30, 2004

random access radio

i did an experiment this week. each day i randomly selected a couple of songs from my collection. by randomly selected, i mean i let the database choose the song, not me. then i burned them all to disc, in the order they originally came up. the idea was to see just what a random cross section of my collection would sound like. and here it is.

acoustic alchemy - rive gauche
acoustic, tasteful jazz. a safe start. nothing dramatic.
cream - politician
classic rock, but not the track you'll hear every day on every clear channel (tm) (totalitarian monopoly) classic rock station
maurice ravel - rapsodie espagnole. 2. malaguena
i expected some classical, and i got it. this is the track where you get to go to the fridge for a drink.
kate bush - oh england my lionheart
remember how good she could be? one of her ballads that contains no vocal acrobatics, just sweet singing.
dave douglas - vanitatus vanitatum
an uncharacteristically tom waitesian track from the incredibly talented trumpeter. a lot of fun, and a good segue out of kate bush
pat metheny - turnaround
another good segue, this time into some "serious" contemporary jazz from an all-star lineup including metheny, jack dejohnette, and charlie hayden
dave matthews band - all along the watchtower
dmb has released this song four times. this is the second best version - the best is on the central park concert disc
deep purple - knocking at your back door
just revel in it
badly drawn boy - blistered heart
chick corea - the dragon
this is where you go the bathroom
badi assad - jorge da fusa
warren zevon - hasten down the wind
the live solo version from 'learning to flinch'. what talent. what a loss.
gomez - emergency surgery
not gomez's most accessible song, but sure contains some interesting percussion
glenn miller - bugle call rag
a brief blast of big band
chris botti - when i see you
i loathe 'smooth jazz,' but botti is really really good. this song is no exception.
willie nelson - texas flood
... and ending with the outlaw on a classic blues track.

so overall, not a bad disc. i will most likely rerecord it to normalize the volume and do some cross-fading. if you'd like the original disc, let me know. first come, first serve.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

ohnomoment

i am wearing my prescription glasses today. not because of any lack of vanity on my part. not because i am too lazy to put in my contacts. not because the glasses give you a great prop to remove just before saying something profound. no, i am wearing my glasses today because i (still) have a cold. it has nothing to do with watering eyes. it has to do with the ohnomoment i experienced some winters back, when i also had a cold.

as you know, when you sneeze, the body does this great abandon-ship pressure-drop-kick and air exits your body through your nose, your mouth, and any other orifice it can find. the body seems to become less finicky about just which orifices it uses as it gets older. (something for you young 'uns to look forward to - this is why blowing your nose while seated on the throne is an exercise in efficiency.)

as you also know, it is physically impossible to sneeze without closing one's eyes.

i had a cold. i was wearing contacts. i sneezed. in the nanoseconds in which my eyelids slid down to prevent my eyeballs from shooting across the room, both contacts simultaneously blew off their perches at a velocity of 90mph. immediately they impacted upon the insides of my eyelids. sneeze over, i involuntarily opened my eyes.

like synchronized garage doors on some suburbanites two-car garage, my lids began retracting up, and at the lizard-brain level, i knew what had just happened.

and what was about to happen.

the ohnomoment.

i'm sure it's really amusing to watch a man with - not one, but two - contact lenses stuck up inside his orbital sockets doing the apoplexy mambo blindly about the room, yelping, sniffling, and acting like lon chaney with a face full of acid. i wouldn't know. i couldn't see a damn thing.

but i remember very clearly.

so today i am wearing my glasses.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2004

behold, the power of cheesiness

i still have hell's own head-cold. my jaw aches from coughing, my lips are chapped, and my stomach is permanently nauseous from the post-nasel drip.

and yet, listening to david johansen belt out 'funky funky but chic' still makes me smile.
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envelope please
background music:
chick corea - light years
caitlin cary - i'm staying out
utopia - another live
csny - deja vu
aqualung - still life
david johansen - live it up
__________

the award for dumbest thing said that i passed up the opportunity to answer with a sarcastic comment goes to:

i get a voicemail yesterday from a mr. collins, a recruiter who would like my recommendation on a client who once worked for me. would i call him back to discuss ms. t?

so i dial up mr. collins.

"hello, mr. collins speaking."

"hello mr. collins. this is bob ***. i'm returning your call regarding ms. t."

"oh yes, thank you calling back. is this a good time for you?"

i paused. i measured my options. i replied, "yes, it's a good time."

my place in heaven is assured.
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Saturday, January 24, 2004

god shuffled his feet and smirked.

soundtrack:
the sound of my own sneezing, wheezing, and nose blowing
___________

i am sick.

sick like a dog.

death warmed over.

there will be no blogworthy blogging this evening.

except to say that i got the boxspring back.

the damned thing doesn't fit up the stairs.
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Friday, January 23, 2004

trax d'jour:
cul de sac - ecim
carl palmer - working live
jade warrior - jade warrior
larry coryell - barefoot boy
__________

one of my favorite tenets of product development is that there is, for any given project, a constant k, such that

k(deadline, quality, functionality, resources)

or, as i like to say,

deadline, quality, functionality: pick two.

since lord knows we never get more resources. so why is it, if this is a building block of project management, that managers never remember it? i think it's because the peter principle is stronger than the k factor. the peter principle states that in any organization an individual rises to his or level of incompetence. thereafter the person can no longer deliver at a level worthy of promotion, so he or she flounders away the rest of his or her career in a miasma of poor performance.

those project managers that are strong enough to defend the k factor throughout a product's development, by fighting for extended deadlines (or realistic ones to start with), a realistic level of quality, a deliverable set of functions, or - wonder of wonders - more resources, inevitably get promoted to bigger and better things. their shoes get filled by peters. who stay there, filling the years with deathmarch projects.

one of the best bosses i ever had admitted he was a lousy manager. "i don't manage," he said, "but i do lead." and he did. he never gave deadlines, only asked us for our own. what he did give was inspiration, direction and purpose. i learned a lot of positive examples from that man. i only wish i was organized enough to put them all into play at the same time.

at the other end of the spectrum . . .

at the other end . . .

there was . . .

bruce.

bruce was my manager for the brief time that i worked at an OTC drug and cosmetic company. we started working at that company on the same day. in the nine months i endured the asylumlike conditions there, i witnessed bruce (1) stride through the lab trailing toilet paper from his waistline, (2) almost poison an entire department by leaving a gallon of ether uncapped in the middle of the lab, and (3) have a full-blown panic attack upon hearing that the FDA had arrived to perform an inspection.

i had a minor role in bruce's crowning moment, for which i still carry nary a twinge of guilt. my job involved hand-filling various cosmetic packages - jars, tubes, bottles - with the intended products. the tubes (think toothpast tubes) are filled from the bottom and then heat sealed with a hand crimper.

sometimes the crimps aren't very secure.

the products i filled were, as i stated, cosmetic in nature. body wash. shampoo. conditioner.

depilatory cream.

on the day that the company president visited our site, bruce was standing by my workbench area when mr. big walked through the lab. as the bumper sticker says, jesus is coming: look busy. so bruce quickly grabbed a filled tube from the bench.

mr. big walked right past bruce. i guess bruce got nervous.

he squeezed.

pop.

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Thursday, January 22, 2004

background music:
jack dejohnette - tin pan alley
in the nursery - l'esprit
jack johnson - on and on
j. geils band - full house
catrin finch - from coast to coast

watching my kids get older, it's deeply rewarding and immensely pleasureable to see them developing into their own selves. their dad is a sarcastic misanthrope, so it's a relief that they're evolving into polite, interesting, charasmatic human beings. it interests me to see how the different facets of their personality tendencies mature. my daughter is shy around adults but popular with her peers, and physically fearless. i also live vicariously through her budding musicianship. i am convinced my death will be heart failure instigated by watching her do free-style rock climbing and hearing her call down to me, telling me she's given up the violin.

my son reminds me so much of myself sometimes that it is freakish. he spontaneously creates songs and stories. he has a photographic ear - he can hear a song once and be singing it the rest of the day perfectly. the boy is all ego and energy and clown tricks. he makes his big sister laugh uncontrollably, in a way that assures me they will have a relationship that will weather much over their lifetimes. what he lacks in courage he makes up for in bravado.

they both have a great sense of humor, for which i am greatful. thinking about my kids, and reading over the posts of some of the stunningly talented writers over there on the right, i found myself thinking about humor, and trying to arrive at an understanding of just what humor is - of why we laugh. after a bit, i came to this definition:

humor is that quality that allows us to defuse the anxiety brought upon by situations that we perceive as either threatening or absurd.

and i figured i'd stick it here and see what, if anything, anyone had to say on the matter. then, as a precaution of sorts, i figured i'd see what m-w.com had to say on the matter.

merriam-webster defines humor as a : that quality which appeals to a sense of the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous b : the mental faculty of discovering, expressing, or appreciating the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous.

i wasn't that far off then, was i?

the portion of my theory of humor as a reaction to threat hinges on the "there but for the grace of god" priniciple. that is, we witness others' pain and at some primordial level we're glad it's them and not us. it's the close-call anxiety in this case. there is a boundary at which the other party's pain ceases to be funny. this boundary depends upon how much we empathize with the other. this boundary is the point between laughing at somebody and laughing with somebody.

humor as perception of the absurd is easy to understand, and interesting to recognize. it's the reason a person doesn't get the joke: they don't see the absurdity of the situation. my six year old son understands - at some level - the absurdity of malapropisms, and laughs when i tease him about going to "funky donuts" for munchkins. he is even more aware of the ludicrousness of a six-foot elf, so that movie was quite enjoyable for him. but he doesn't understand the humor of his dad being beaten up in a christian-science reading room by two quakers and a jehovah's witness.

that's about all i have to say. no big conclusion. this isn't an essay, it's just a post.

you can have the soap box back now.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2004

earcandy:
grandpaboy - dead man shake
in the nursery - anatomy of a poet
grant lee phillips - virginia creeper
joe henry - trampoline

matress update: landlord from hell called. his buddies have liberated my boxspring. i'm supposed to call him saturday morning to arrange a time to go pick it up, and to "get the money squared away."

i smell a dispute brewing. even with the headcold, i smell a dispute.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2004

surreallife

soundtrack by:
growing - the sky's run into the sea
catrin finch - crossing the stone
joe henry - fuse
cabaret voltaire - original sound of sheffield

i hab a freebin heb code, an iz not fubby amme morg.

so last night i wake up coughing, like i have been for three nights now. i make my way to the bathroom, and knowing that it's gotta be around 1 am, take a douse of nyquil. make my way back to the bedroom, and notice the clock. 5:50 am.

my alarm will be going off in ten minutes. i have to get ready for work. i have a gazillion test scripts to review. i have creaking legacy applications to maintain. i have work work work.

i have just taken sleeping medicine.

i am not going to have a good day.

___

luckily for me, four cups of coffee beats two tablespoons of nyquil, so i manage to hackcoughwheeze my whiny red-eyed dribbling sniffling cottonheaded way through the day. angel and i have just shared a dinner of my very best cold-beating chicken soup, and are already in bed. the good thing about winter is that it gets dark early and you don't have to feel guilty about going to bed before the game shows are over.

___

wish me luck. tomorrow i go back to school.

again.

i have attended five colleges/universities so far. i have two undergraduate degrees to show for it. this time i'm going for the masters. the difference being that this time i have chosen the degree based on my job, as opposed to trying to find a job based on the degree i've earned.

who knew they offered curriculae in coffee swigging and photocopying body parts?

oh yeah. landlord from hell still has my boxspring. he's been too sick to arrange for anyone to move it out of our old apartment. angel and i are starting each morning looking more and more like something off a sidewalk vending cart served with mustard.

and that's all she wrote.
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Saturday, January 10, 2004

The quality of the imagination is to flow and not to freeze.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

in 1981 i heard somewhere of an album called big science by someone called laurie anderson. in particular, i heard praise for a song called 'o superman'. being a consumer whore, i scrounged together the savings from my paper routes and job at the sandwich shop and bought the album. my best friend drew was with me when i bought it. the cover featured a blind-looking, shock-haired woman dressed in a white suit. not too unusual for the time. i placed the vinyl on my brother's turntable, side 2 facing up, and let the needle drop.

'o superman' started.

drew and i exchanged glances. nervous glances.

'is it suppposed to sound like that?' he asked.

'i dunno'

'maybe you should turn it off.'

'uh-huh.' but i didn't move. 'maybe you should,' i said to drew.

truth to tell, we were too afraid to approach the stereo.

so for eight and a half minutes we listened to processed vocals layered one over the next. then we decided to go out and play frisbee, and let the album play out to an empty room.

close call, we thought. weirdsville.

a few nights later, i braved the entire album. it was the most bizarre record i'd ever encountered. but little by little, i began to understand, if not the musical approach, the tone and mood of the lyrics. the social commentary.

more importantly, i began to understand that there was more to music than guitars, bass, and drums. my appetite for unexplored musical vistas began with 'big science'. in the twenty-odd years since, it has continued to spiral out. there are few things that excite me more than discovering new music. (one thing that excites me equally is witnessing other people discover new music.)

around the same time - the early 80's - WLIR FM in Garden City began playing new wave music in the morning. The Allman Brothers and Hot Tuna and Led Zep still ruled the afternoon and evening, but the Buggles and Ultravox and Our Daughter's Wedding defined John DiBella's morning show. This too was new music - synthesizer-heavy, beat-driven, goofy music. As disposable as much of these bands would be (Spandau Ballet anyone?), they provided the soundtrack to my high-school days and nights. WLIR was cutting edge. The station dared to defy the top-40 mentallity. WLIR would hit the rocks over the next decade, because synthpop is not built to stand the test of time, but the station never faltered in its mission to push the envelope of popular music.

Yesterday, at noon, WLIR went off the air for good.

It was a business decision, as the station owners freely admit, designed to help the family-owned corporation concentrate on their other outlets. Still, it seems a blow for the forces of nonconformity, and a victory for the Clear Channels of the cultural world. It marks a sad day in the annals of radio history.

Because now there is one less voice out there asking you not to be a cultural sheep.

So I'm asking you instead. Don't do it to be fashionably cutting edge, or hip, or in. expand your horizons because it's good for you as a person. we are dumbing down as a planet, and as a nation. expand your horizons in a small way. just a toe in the water, as it were.

Go buy a copy of Uncut magazine, or visit pitchformmedia.com. legally download something you've never heard before. explore something different. you may be surprised to learn how many of today's young artists take their cue's from american folk music. or how many young european jazz artists are reviving the excitement and improvisation that once defined the american jazz heritage.

go find a song by tom ovans, who shows that guitar and drums and no money can still create honest rock and roll.

go listen to josh ritter, who shows that singer/songwriters can still make beautiful pop songs that don't need a pepsi commercial behind them.

track down rickie lee jones' latest album, proof that talent is not a fashion trend. (mind you, i'm not a big rickie fan, but her new album has made me respect her talents as a vocalist and a songwriter.)

if you are really adventurous, go find Festival in the Desert, and see how the rest of the world defines music.

hell, go get laurie anderson's big science.

if you're not a music person, then go visit a museum you've never been to before. read a newspaper that you usually ignore.

take a different route to the store.

it's your life.

don't let yourself stagnate. that bleating sound you hear may be you.
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Friday, January 09, 2004

Bob Mould - Live Dog 98
Grant Lee Buffalo - Copperopolis
Heiner Goebbels - Surrogate Cities
Heino Eller - Neenia

My lawyer has an evil sense of humor. Yesterday she pondered whether she could resolve next week's conference without the need for myself and the would-be-ex to come to court. Then she nixed the idea just so Ex will have to drive 50 miles in rush-hour traffic to get there.

***

the word of the day is rintintinitis - a constant woofing in the ear.

***

thanks to bush's proposed immigration plan and the brain-trust spawned economic shot in the foot that is NAFTA, we'll soon see a pingpong effect. As illegal aliens sneak into the states to get jobs for 50 times the salary they'd make in their own country, those jobs are being shipped out of the states. eventually there will be organized unions full of undocumented unemployed workers.
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Thursday, January 08, 2004

surrealife
opening credits. today's soundtrack brought to you by the following.

Arcangelo Corelli - Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord
Rickie Lee Jones - The Evening of My Best Day
David Grisman & Jerry Garcia - Grateful Dawg
Corry Harris - Downhome Sophisticate
Nanci Griffith - Little Love Affairs

intro. thoughtcollage.

The war between the software developers and the software users wages on. Today I was reminded of the man who went to his doctor and said, "It hurts when I do this." His doctor replied "Then don't do that."

It's one thing to admit that your project is not optimal, but can be used with a minor workaround (a button click); it's another to tell the user that the fault lies with him, not with the product. As Bob Geldoff said on the day Band Aid recorded "Do They Know It's Christmas," check your ego at the door.

Speaking of war, it's back to court next week. I have now been trying to get divorced for a period of time equal to 75% of the time I was actually married. I<3NY!

The new house is so cool - literally. The old cast iron radiators make for a sauna on the second floor, but the first floor maintains a constant nip. Thank goodness for cuddling. And furry pets. (Fish and birds are beautiful pets, but useless in winter.)

So the house, incidentally, is haunted. Things move, voices whisper, boards creak. I take it as a good sign, however, that when we first moved in I discovered a young woman's charm pendant wrapped around the dining room chandelier. The charm reads, "friend". That can't be a bad omen, can it?

fadeout. or click stations.
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Wednesday, January 07, 2004

landlord from hell
so the landlord from hell calls me at work to tell me that he has nothing new to tell me. he hasn't moved my box spring out. he hasn't had the apartment cleaned. he's got nothin'.

there went 60 seconds of my life i'll never get back.
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i used to be disgusted. now i try to be amused.
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