Wednesday, April 29, 2009

No Reason for it

Tuesdays really are quite tight. But the main reason I never seem to have anything to blog about Tuesday is because all I do from the moment I get up until the moment I get into bed is work in Quark. And there's just nothing interesting about that.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Beadboard Updates

These next few Ramblers are all going to be about the same thing, I suspect: knocking shit up and tearing shit down here at Beadboard Manor. In a push to finally get the basement in some kind of order - largely motivated, I'll admit, by the pressing need to get the renters down there. A useful deadline has presented itself in the person of my friend Kate, who is doing a little labor exchange program for the work I've done on her website (and in advance for working on her husband's site). Thanks to her teaching position in the art department at Weslyan, she's come by leftover insulation material and wallboard* that is mine to have for free, provided I come and get it.

Today, as both a prologue to that activity and an epilogue to a Rambler so old that it's from the previous incarnation of the Rambler, I finally got around to removing the pipe that went to the old and long-gone water softener. And I quote:

"What’s really going on is the sudden parallel attack of all our utility possessions. Everything we own that’s designed to cook, drain, flush, cool or transport has just gone bang-klunk in the last few weeks. It’s as if all of our appliances and cars have signed a murder/suicide pact.

It started with the upstairs fan. The blare of the smoke-alarm, a cloud of blue smoke, and it was time for a new fan. Fine, window fans are affordable things – although they’re trying to make them less affordable. The first fan we found came equipped with dual-blades, a digital readout and a remote control (!), and retailed for $60. We ended up with the classic $14 from Sears.

Then, the basement toilet didn’t flush one morning. I plunged away, and succeeded only in sending the water down the line, into the tub. Turns out the sump pump wasn’t working, and the sump pump wasn’t working because the circuit breaker on it’s outlet had broken. It wasn’t a problem, because it could temporarily plug the pump into another outlet, but it turns out the water softener on the same circuit got brain-fried, and needs to be replaced. That will be $400-$500, when we do replace it. For now, our water remains diamond-like in it’s hardness." - 7/8/05

Bear in mind that this was two years before the flood that really decided the fate of the basement. Yesenia and I opted not to replace the softener - turns out, we like not feeling like we're being coated in softener every time we shower - and it sat down there until the flood. After the flood, during one of the marathon demolition days with Jim, Karl and Sean, the softener went out. And I quote, again:

"So - the water softener sat down there like Lot's Wife in a plastic tube. Full up with salt, totally immobile. Even with four men, we couldn't get it up the stairs. So, Karl cut it apart with his sawsall, and all the salt got dumped into a waiting bin. Now, the hacked-apart softener sits in the driveway awaiting removal, and the salt-bin fills the house with the aroma of cured ham." - 5/1/07

The end to all of this is that a few weeks ago, I noticed a not-insubstantial amount of water on the floor in the 'junk room' (the area of the old basement where the basementy machines do their thing). It turned out to be from the heater, which had overflowed its ballast tank and dumped its excess water all over, and had been leaking out of the (cracked, it turns out) garbage pail placed there for just such a contingency. So I replaced the pail and checked the pressure on the heater in my best Jack Torrance fashion, and that worked out. But the moisture in the corner just wasn't going away, which was odd, especially considering that the heater hadn't even been running for the last three weeks or so.

A very short hunt discovered that the leftover bypass valve for the softener was the culprit, dripping away at a steady pace. So, right: that had to go. And the trick was just to cut out the entire junction and hook the feed line and the line to the hot water heater up directly. Against my father's advice, who raised the specter of caution (or cautioned about a specter - something or other) I might add. Caution about the soldering. I said (in response), 'oh, I'll just get one of those compression-ring things.' He said they didn't make them for this. Oh, well, soldering it is.

Today, after work, I told the ladies of the house that the water would be off for a couple of hours, so whatever it was that needed washing or flushing, the time was then. Then I gathered my tools - including my freshly purchased new torch - headed down and turned off the water. So far, so good. In fact, all of the steps up until actually putting on the new elbow went seamlessly. Draining the line, fine. Cutting the bypass out at both ends, check. Cleaning the ends and applying the flux, check. Then applying the solder...

...applying the solder...

...Jesus Christ, I can't solder to save my life. Seriously, I couldn't even get one bead to stick. I'm like a marmoset with an iPhone. No thumbs, fur flying everywhere, big, moist, mournful eyes staring wildly in pitiful confusion. Just sad, sad to see, and I'm glad nobody did. But at least I didn't have me one of my 'the work's not going well!' tantrums, which is a first. Instead, I got Bubba on the phone, and he said that not only do they make compression rings for this purpose, but a newer and even more fantastical solution existed - a new type of solder free join from a company named Watts that you can just snap into place and then it tightens and you're done.

And Lowe's had it. And it worked just as advertised.

Sure, it was $8.50, but when you consider that I paid $25 for the torch (with propane), $1 for the original copper elbow, another $11 for flux and solder... well, the $8.50 was a fucking bargain, especially when you consider that it took me two tries of about 15 minutes each to try and fail to solder the elbow on (knocking it off with a mallet both times to start again) and about 30 seconds with the Watts. Well.

Anyhow, that's 'done' (crossing fingers and all that). Next up: general clean up and some trips to the dump. Probably Thursday. Whee!


*I think it's wallboard. My understanding is that some students... um... constructed some walls in a tunnel? It's an art school thing, I guess. But, hey: free wallboard!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

At Least the Lawn Got Mowed, 2009

Despite all my efforts to get as many seed pods as I could off the lawn back in the Fall/Winter raking season, there were more little saplings than ever this year. It's not an exaggeration to say that I pulled up hundreds of the fucking things. Two solid hours of scan, bend, pluck. I found myself wishing for that yard-searching sling that Rick Moranis set up for himself in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. And I'm positive that I may have only gotten about 70% of them, if I'm lucky. Seriously, do you know how hard it is to find little green things in the middle of an unbroken plot of nothing but other green things?

My favorite finds were the pods that had tried vigilantly to sprout and plant, but hadn't quite gotten there. One was just a desiccated husk with the sprout sadly hanging out the cracked end. Oh, sorry fella.

By the end of it, I was sure I didn't want to mow the lawn after having uprooted an entire forest. But somehow, I did. And I guess that this day will be an annual event for as long as I own the house, seeing as how the other alternative is to walk around in January and pick up seed pods for hours in the freezing cold - presuming it hasn't snowed. At least in the Spring, when only a percentage of the pods that remain have actually sprouted, it's warm and there are fewer items to worry about. And I won't deny that it's kind of satisfying to tug those little bastards and have the root yank out of the soil.

It's just that it's far less satisfying the 223rd time in a row.


Epsom Salts

You're soaking in it! Well, I am, at any rate. The big toe on my right foot is roughly twice the size of the left, leaving it looking like an organic clown shoe. And now the cat is trying to drink from my toe bath.


Friday, April 24, 2009

A little more off the top

Man, my Rambler titles must be prophetic. This morning, after securing a last-minute appointment with a podiatrist in the center of town, I had Yesenia drop me off. Then the doctor bloodily fixed my ingrown toenail - blah. Then, on my limp back home, I stopped at the local hairdresser and got the other end of my body chopped. Tomorrow? A re-bris, I'm guessing.


Monday, April 20, 2009

A Little Off the Top

Wow. I'm totally burned. So that's how I'm going to commemorate the 600th Rambler - with more of the same. For the 1000th, just expect a few commas and a vague bad feeling.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Getting to 599

Lord knows how I've managed it, but the next Rambler will be the 600th. Even taking out all the half-assed, one paragraph entries that basically amount to, 'sorry, no Rambler,' there's still an impressive chunk of writing in there. As a measure of quantity, that is. Quality has never been our concern here.

How shall I celebrate this trivial milestone? We'll see if something comes to me tomorrow.

In the meantime, I wanted to give a heads-out/shout-up to the new-ish reprint collection of Scott McCloud's Zot, a comic that I can only describe as 'quiet fun.' The series, which originally ran in the late 80's from long-expired Eclipse Comics, was one of the first to seriously bring the storytelling techniques and themes of Manga into American comics. The influence of some Manga had been felt earlier, most notably with Frank Miller (who it ultimately kind of ruined, I think, but that's a post for another day). Thankfully, the kind of stuff McCloud liked was the contemplative, introspective sort, and it made Zot into something unique. A nice blend of utopian techno-fantasy, superhero, high school drama and philosophical treatise, I can think of few new comics that do what McCould (admittedly, only sporadically) manages to pull off, here.

Twenty-five dollars for almost 600 pages of black & white comics, reduced to near-digest size to no doubt appeal to the current teen manga market (which really does make the art sing in some places, particularly in the brushwork). McCloud has a handle on both a sense of wonder and a desire to explore the mystery behind, which makes Zot probably the best young-adult comic of all time. Bear in mind, I haven't yet read Craig Thompson's Blankets, which has been praised as such a thing, but McCloud's almost anthropological approach to his 90% teenage cast is praiseworthy, both for the attempt to do something different and the surprisingly high success rate he has with the approach.

McCloud will probably always be best remembered long after he's gone as a more of a comics theorist than creator, and rightly so, but I'm really pleased with just how entertaining and enriching the whole enterprise is, and I really want to read more. American comics has too few personal visions of this sort, that are ambitious and deeply satisfying. (Finder comes close, though). Too many artists have gone to the unfiltered autobiographical well for their stories, and too many more have favored the disconnected short story approach over the novel.

If nothing else, the fact that each chapter is followed by an essay discussing his themes and methods (and also giving historical context), so seeing the person who has probably thought more about what makes comics work talk in-depth about making his own comic is a really nice bonus.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Deaf Leading the Deaf

On the Walrus Comix message board, someone was solicitng questions about music theory and made the mistake of asking me directly for advice. I perhaps should have made the caveat that I have a BFA in Illustration, but I sallied forth bloviatingly nonetheless. I'm reposting my response here, as they reveal a lot about my entire history of songwriting without explicitly saying much of the kind.

Drew asked, "Gives me [a headache] ... but I gotta try - I'm hearing things in my head that I can't find on the fret board or keys.

Why the fuck is a Major Sixth 9 half steps? Why not call it a Major 9th?

Don't get me started on the order of sharps and flats..."

Someone mentioned the circle of fifths, which I thought was a bit misleading for what he was asking.

And I said: The circle of fifths is a major pain - as far as I can tell, the only instrument you need it on is an accordion (the pegboard is arranged in rising fifths, just to really fuck with your head).

A sixth isn't the sixth half-tone up, it.s the sixth note from the root pitch in a seven note scale (with the eighth note being the root an ocatve up - hence 'octave'). Since it's a major sixth, let's say you're in the key of C. The root note - 1 - is 'C', and then the individual pitches are 2 (D), 3 (E), 4 (F), 5 (G), 6 (A), 7 (B). That's a C major scale. If you played Bb instead of B natural, it'd be a dominant seventh scale. Minor scales, you flat the third and the seventh. Etc. Knowing the names of scales isn't so much use, I think. On the other hand, I'm terrible with scales, so maybe knowing the names is a good idea.

It's really knowing how things relate to each other, and what I like about the minimal music theory I've learned is that it gives me a nice organizational principle. It's breaking one large blob down into a series of smaller, more easily digested fragments.

To clarify: a C major 6th chord is so called because it has the 6th note OF THE SCALE added. In this case, an 'A.' A major chord is the first, third and fifth pitch of the major scale - in C, again, that's C, E, and G. So when you add the 6th/A, it's C, E, G, A.

I find it useful not to think in whole and half steps, but in modes/scales, which is why I rambled a bit in the previous post. Beyond my normal predilection for rambling, that is. Obviously, each scale has its own pattern of whole and half-steps that define which mode it is - a major scale, for example, is whole (D), whole (E), half (F), whole (G), whole (A), whole (B), half (C, again). Those intervals remain unchanged no matter what key you're in, which is why knowing the sixth of a scale is ultimately much more important than knowing the pattern of whole and half intervals. Those are easy to commit to memory and will quickly become rote for you, but finding the special coloration you're looking for in your writing is more related to knowing what makes a C into a C maj 7, or a C dominant 7, for that matter.

To be either extra confusing or extra useful (depending on your POV), you'll find that identical chords will repeat themselves in different scales under different names. An A minor scale is (almost) the same as a C major scale, since the minor scale pattern of whole and half steps gives you whole (B/2), half (C/3), whole (D/4), whole (E/5), whole (F#/6), half (G/7), whole (A/8).* Note that all the pitches from the C major 6th chord are there - C, E, G, A. Only when you play it in the key of A minor, they call it an A minor 7th chord, since the 7th pitch (G) is added relative to the root (A) of the triad (A, C, E) that forms an A minor chord.

Myself, I found that working out that these chords repeat themselves removed about 70% of worrying about theory. There are reasons WHY you call one C major 6th and one A minor 7th, but they're completely esoteric for the purposes of general songwriting or jamming or whatever. In other words, just pick one name for a chord and always use that name. I ALWAYS call the damn thing an Am7, regardless of mode. It's 'wrong,' (or at least bad form) but I'm not writing in a conservatory - I'm fucking around on an acoustic in my kitchen.

If you really want it to be a C6th, tell the bass player to play a C. The bass note quite often is the deciding vote for what chord it's supposed to be. Note the music of Hall and Oates, Joni Mitchell and Billy Joel, all of whom loved throwing a different bass note than the root of the chord to create unique voicings that sound 'jazzier' to our ears. On piano, play a C major chord with your right hand and a D bass note with your left. You've just written your first Joni Mitchell song. Note also that if you use too many of these damn chords, you start writing ersatz Steely Dan songs and maybe need to rethink the whole 'complex chords are better, the 70's RULED!' thing.

There are also reasons why sometimes you call a pitch Bb and other times A#, despite the fact that it's the same damn pitch - but the real reason is that music theory is several thousand years old, and like every other system of human thought, it's just got its barnacles and idiosyncrasies, and you should approach it by taking away what you need (more interesting chords) and ignoring the bits that have no use for you (mnemonic math games like the circle of fifths).

Really, I'm sure that 50% of the above is wrong. Again, I think it has more value as an approach to songwriting than any kind of text on music theory.


*Obviously, this is just one kind of minor scale - I'm guessing the dominant?

Friday, April 17, 2009

It Came From Garageband

At the tail end of practice the other night, while Edz and Christine hightailed it for the long slog back to Manhattan/Queens (respectively), Karl, Shaun and I took a few minutes to try to nail down a new arrangement for a song that's been formalizing itself for the last few weeks. In P.C.M.A., the full democracy rule is in effect, so no song is really done until everyone has signed off on it. In the case of this new song, there was a pre-chorus riff that Shaun hadn't liked (it went to D, even though that wasn't in the key), and the instrumental bridge that was initially added at Christine's request wasn't quite where anyone was 100% happy with it.*

It always seems to be in the tiny details that these songs take the longest to be settled - generally, every song on the record was borne from a very quick jam, a lot of very good ideas thrown out all at once that just seem to work. But invariably, every song that we've considered worthwhile for completion has had one small thing that we can't quite solve - a riff, chord change, etc. Usually we all agree (or a majority agrees) that the part isn't working, so everyone sits back and coughs up a new change that we try and discard. It's a testament to the democratic nature of the band that even if only one member feels that a certain part isn't working, we take the time to try to solve it to that member's satisfaction. Admittedly, sometimes in a begrudging fashion, but it's a band, and when one idea is questioned, it's usually a case of one person's contribution getting exchanged for another's.

Anyway, we finally got a nice new pre-chorus for (and from) Shaun and worked out an instrumental break that we all felt good about. I say 'finally,' because it probably took the better part of an hour - again, it's in these little details that we get the most bogged-down. The entire band is like a musical representation of Zeno's Paradox.

A small problem of these changes is that there are sometimes three to four fairly different versions of one song with multiple combinations floating around, so getting our small battalion of memory-deficient players properly chugging along in unison is no mean feat. Often, Karl will play the first end of the bridge, I can't get away from the pre-chorus riff that we'd disposed of and end up playing a just exactly wrong combination of the old riff and new one, Shaun will leave out the bit that we all liked and Edz will finally remember to play the thing from four arrangements ago that we couldn't seem to get him to play when we wanted, but is no longer in the new arrangement, etc. And, of course, the big problem is getting everyone to remember the final arrangement the next time we get together to play and record, when it suddenly reverts back to an earlier, precambrian version of the song.

To avoid that problem this time around (and getting back to the first paragraph of this Rambler), Karl, Shaun and I were working on the new little bits. And just to prove my point that we're a band that can generate a million neat little raw ideas from nowhere but have an almost unimaginably hard time writing one specific one for a song that's almost done, Shaun started playing one of his irresistible Shaun-y riffs (the man doesn't write chord changes but riffs that sketch out a number of possible harmonies), and Karl and I laid down the usual instantly appropriate counterriff accompaniment. Sort of an after-dinner mint, except on two guitars and bass. Gossamer in the best way.

No wonder I think that this band could play live tomorrow with no pre-set material whatsoever and still give an amazing show. It's just our actual set that we'd have a hard time remembering.


P.S.: I say, PCMA Gods be damned! I will hereafter blog about PCMA!

*It should be noted that the song in question is really a perfect illustration of the strength of our writing method. Based on a chorus idea of mine - a melody and two chords, E and Amaj7 - and a vague idea that the verse should start in F#m - that I'd fucked with and hacked away at for about six weeks on my own trying to find the song that I knew for sure was hiding in there.

Finally, I threw my hands up and brought what little I had in about a month ago, after calling Edz and asking him to work out some kind of hooky beat without having heard the music. Once Edz played the beat (I refused to play the chord change for him in advance), Karl and I were able to lay down the chord change for the rest of the song depressingly quickly, with Christine conducting the flow. Christine later went home and worked out the rest of the melody and all of the lyrics, her first complete with the band.

Shaun was absent for the initial session, which meant that it was harder for him to get his feel in there (a good 70% of our material starts as a Shaun idea, and his harmonic and rhythmic feel is fundamental to our sound), but thankfully was able to transform the little lame bits into bits that worked, so it now feels 'right,' as all our material finally does. Like something we found, rather than wrote.

Will the after-dinner mint eventually be another song like that? You never know.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Apparently...'s time for bed. I'll see you tomorrow.


Just Another Easter Sunday

Went to the parents' house and had shepherd's pie, chicken, green bean casserole, etc. It was very good, and I had fun hanging out with my family, which makes two-for-two family holiday meals just this week that I was kind of unenthusiastic about based on previous years that turned out to be really enjoyable. Go figure. I blame myself.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Never, Ever to Be Resolved

One of the only three network shows I currently watch (online, of course, meaning I'm part of the low-ratings problem) is The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I like it muchly. And it just ended on a big, crazy cliffhanger with little or no chance of being renewed by Fox. I mean, all it was missing was a cameo by Kyle Maclachlan intoning 'How's Annie?' to really drive home the point that I'm never, ever going to find out how this fucking thing turns out. And in another parallel to Twin Peaks, the upcoming Terminator movie will do nothing to address any outstanding plot points from the series. In fact, it will pretty much pretend that the series didn't exist, much like the majority of the TV-viewing public.

Looking back on it, the producers of the television show should have found a way to turn the 'Christian Bale Loses his Shit' meme from a few weeks back into promotional gold. Like, 'hey, OUR John Connor's not a power-tripping method actor having a vanity meltdown. And out Terminator is way hotter (see pic, above).'

Bah. The geek is sad, now. Mope, geek, mope.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

To Goodly Bowl

I find myself really wanting to bowl, all of a sudden. Almost as if it were some heretofore unknown biological imperative that just kicked in.


Friday, April 10, 2009


There's something about watching the first season of Quantum Leap (on Hulu, of course) that's eerily like entering the show - it really is like jumping back two decades. The spookiest thing so far is seeing Teri Hatcher (guest in episode 3) when she was actually, genuinely hot. She's been a grimacing skeleton for so long, I'd forgotten that she used to be nicely rounded (facially, that is).

Yesenia tells me that Scott Bakula only got hotter as he aged, meaning that Capt. Archer outranks Sam Beckett in sci-fi hunk. Sorry, ladies.


Monday, April 6, 2009

The French/Czech Mindfuck

With imagery that's clearly meant to invoke Bosch visions of Hell, spastic pacing, a soundtrack that sounds like circa 1968 Floyd moonlighting at a burlesque show, I now have yet another entry in the list of films only Dave will like (curious, how many on that list are animated). The 1972 French/Czech co-production of Fantastic Planet.

I'll give it this: it's the first and only French science-fiction film that doesn't feel like a winking pastiche of the American pulp stories of the 1930s. For a film that was made at the height of the Metal Hurlant days, that's pretty impressive. But I'm guessing it was the Czechs who gave it that genuinely disturbing otherworldly vibe. I can't deny that France has an impressive history of animation, but they have clearly been part of the Western (Disney) Canon. But anyone who has ever seen any animation from behind the iron curtain knows that there was something in the water there.

Now you, too, can have a drink. Will you like it? Probably not. But you'll definitely come away thinking that you saw something entirely different from anything else, and that's worth something.


Note: Oddly enough, the "Fantastic Planet" of the title is not the planet that the film takes place on.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ghost in the Machine

Well, there it is: sometime in the last few weeks, when my back was turned, Beadboard Manor finally made an appearance on Google Street View. Thank God I wasn't masturbating in the front yard at the time.

Weird thing is, I can actually get pretty close to pinpointing the day the shot was taken - if you look closely, there's a hose lying in the driveway, which means that it's (most likely) the second Saturday of August, 2008. Because that's when I was prepping my driveway to reseal it, a project that was postponed for two weeks by a sudden bout of lousy weather. But as you can see, that day was a lovely one.

I experienced all of the thoughts and emotions that most people probably do upon seeing their residence online; 1) wow, neat, 2) is that exactly legal?, 3) I feel mildly violated, etc. But this particular image really makes me wish it were summer, again.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Coding for Hollers

All right. The friend's site that I've been working on in bits and pieces for the last five months or so is now done - or at least as done as my current Flash skill-set will take it. There are a few tweaks I'm likely to make in a few months, after I've shored up the miniscule (read: zero) amount of Action Script I know. For now, it works, and it looks pretty good to me.

I invite you to take a look - not for my work, but for the work of the artist whose site it is - Kate Ten Eyck. I've always been a little in awe of her work, as one of the few artists I know who manages to find that sweet spot between soul and technique.

Thanks especially go out to Greg Gritmon, who did his level best to give me all the tech help he could. I learned more from him about Flash in a few brief phone calls and emails than I did in the last three years of working on it. Well, the phone calls and emails were brief to me. I'm sure he found them interminable, but what're you gonna do?

Note: if you do happen to stumble across something that doesn't look quite right, please let me know - don't forget computer/platform/browser info. I don't expect this thing will work on a Pentium 386 running AOL on Windows 98. Nor (being Flash) will it work on your iPhone. But the rest of the world should see nice things.


Thursday, April 2, 2009


Karl mentioned that the recent string of Ramblers since the reboot have been somehow comment proof. I'll allow him to explain that, but my take on it is that I have been (to a degree) kind of forcing some of these as I work through my bad patch. Apologies if some of these have been a little artificial.

There is an odd thing that happened with the Rambler since its inception back in 2007. Initially, I wrote it with no audience in mind. By that, I don't mean that I wasn't trying to play to the audience I had, I mean I literally thought no-one would read it, so it didn't matter what I wrote. Then I noticed that there actually were people reading it - most of whom are my friends, so there's nothing that ends up on here that would really be revelatory to any regular readers.

But the changeover was that I initially wrote the Rambler because I had the need for a regular creative outlet, and I did it just for myself. Now, when it's kind of a struggle to sometimes give enough of a shit to write anything, I think that I'm (in some small way) letting my friends down. And that gives me the energy to sit down and write my way through this nightly ritual. So, thank you - I do regard the Rambler as important in some way to my mental health, and I can't deny that I've cheered a little since I started back up again, and I wouldn't have done so if I didn't feel vaguely guilty for breaking some implied promise to you.

BTW: I keep forgetting to mention that the issue of Signal to Noise that features my Greenberger comic is out now. It looks like there are a few places to buy it in NYC, and if you're a real Dave completist, you could order it directly from their site. Buy a dozen - they make great party favors...


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Softened Brains

Had dinner with Yesenia and her mother at the Westchester Marriott tonight, at a place called 'Ruth's Chris Steak House,' a restaurant I challenge you to say out loud correctly. 'Ruth's Chris' is just not a phoneme grouping that exists in English. Want proof? Walk up to the next person you see, say 'Ruth's Chris,' and ask them to spell out what you just said.


Food was good, though. I had a pygmy chicken breast stuffed with herb cheese, served on a 500º plate. This is not me exaggerating for effect; this is the actual temperature of the plates that they served the entrees on. I know this because the waiter delivered that info as part of the 'in case you've never been here before, here's how we do things here' schpiel that certain types of restaurants feel adds an air of class.

"Let us explain this thing you're holding in your hands. We call that a menu. It's a real innovation: we've decided to codify the food our chef prepares in a printed list, which we then present to each diner, so that they can read what we offer and actually choose for themselves what they want to eat in advance. This is, of course, different from any restaurant experience you've ever had before, where neither you nor the wait staff knows what the food will be in advance of its arrival at the table. Indeed, sometimes there's a chance it might not even be food, because the chef, he has moods."

Guess what? The 500º plate did the fucking job. I can honestly say I've never had an entree stay piping hot the way this chicken did throughout the meal, which was both impressive and kind of sad. Impressive that it worked, sad that every other meal I've ever eaten in my life reached room temperature before I was even halfway through. From now on, I regard it as my divine right as an American to have all of my food served on 500º plates. Even my salads.


All About Ass

Ass. My entire day has revolved around hauling, busting or just plain sitting on it. Did some agency work from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM. Then did the newspaper tango from 11:30 AM to 8 PM. Then came home and did some more agency work, then came upstairs to put the finishing touches on my friend's site. And now it is 1:30 AM.

Note that all of this exhausting work was done entirely with my left hand. The ass itself was not actually involved in any real labor, unless you consider the act of slowly expanding 'labor.'