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    Friday, October 31, 2003

    My Dirty Hometown

    Holy crap, you guys. Look what's going on in my town now.

    'Naked Karaoke' strikes a sour note with neighbors

    BERLIN, Conn. (AP) -- You'll need to strip yourself of more than your inhibition and bare more than your soul if you want to take part in karaoke at the Berlin Station Cafe.

    Cafe owner Marty St. Pierre says he was just kidding around when he advertised "Naked Karaoke" in front of his bar. Then he got volunteers. Lots of them.

    "It honestly started out as a joke," he said. "But there were people signing up, so I just let it run."

    But not everyone warmed up to the idea.

    The cafe's neighbors called Town Hall to complain, and town authorities went to warn St. Pierre he could face fines or arrest if he operated the naked musical performance without a permit required under a town ordinance.

    David E. Koskoff, co-owner of the building since the 1980s and a lawyer, is suing the town.

    Koskoff also contends the business isn't "dirty." "You're not talking about the Bada Bing!" he said, referring to the strip joint in the television series "The Sopranos." "Nobody who knows our operation would think that suggestion is anything but funny."

    posted at 12:43 PM

    Wednesday, October 29, 2003

    Some Good Things Now

    A few nights ago, Rachel stumbled upon a Craigslist listing for a whole shitload of furniture we needed Ė a coffee table, two end tables and two lamps Ė all for $60. We drove down to Marina Del Rey, picked them up, and hauled them back. Itís amazing how much a few little tables can make a room look significantly less like a barebones apartment occupied by destitute college graduates and more like an actual home.

    Things are good right now. Surprisingly good all around. With the exception of the relentless L.A. grievances like smog, traffic, and the occasional insane people, everything is pretty damn awesome. Iím really finding my niche at work and meeting lots of great people, Iíve got my Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and roommates and friends that I truly look forward to coming home to every day. I finally figured out the recipe for Vinny Testaís now defunct dish Penne San Sereno, and I found a kick-ass, very affordable wine to go with it. The web-experiment Joey and I are collaborating on is very close to being ready to launch, and Ö did I mention I found a really good cheap wine?

    Two weeks ago, I would have ditched L.A. for New England in a second. Now, even though Iíve bought my plane ticket home and will be spending almost all of December there, I know there are going to be a few things Iíll miss out here. Which is good, because Iím going to have to come back in January, after all.

    Thereís a very high probability that G4 will at least keep me on an extra week or two, which would be great because then I could finance my trip up north to visit my aunt, uncle and Goddaughter for Thanksgiving Ö hopefully with a little layover in Oakland to see Laurel for a bit. Of course, all thatís up in the air, but weíll see what happens.

    Thereís a lot up in the air, actually. A lot of it is ash and soot. Everyone around here is coughing and sneezing all the time, now. In addition to my allergies going nuts, Iím feeling really lethargic all the time, too. And you could probably blame that on general laziness, but with the amount of coffee Iím drinking, for me not be constantly vibrating with activity signals some serious side-effects of these fires.

    Like now. Iím tired. Iím done. But first, big ups to Rachel, who just got a job as an agentís assistant at CAA. Now weíre all on our way out here.

    posted at 7:26 PM

    Monday, October 27, 2003

    I'm not even exaggerating about those fires, people. I'm right near that big middle plume ... and the orchards we went to a little while ago were really close to some of the places now totally engulfed in flames.
    posted at 2:21 PM

    Saturday, October 25, 2003

    Los Angeles Is Burning

    Friday morning at work, I took initiative and pulled some game footage and interview tapes the editor would need later in the day. When I went into the editing suite to drop off all the goodies, I happened to walk in when he was working on the credits. Specifically, the Production Assistant Credit. Even more specifically, when he was typing my name into the credits.

    I have to admit, that was pretty fucking awesome.

    Later on in the day, we went to the set of "Enterprise." I managed to keep most of my nerd tendencies in check, but it was very, very cool to be on a Star Trek set. What surprised me the most was that it's not small sections of ship hallways and rooms, like I expected, but there's actually a very large section of the ship completely built. And it's pretty solid, too. We walked around the sick bay, the mess hall, a bunch of hallways and turbolifts, and the bridge. And yes, I sat in the captain's chair. Exciting, but not as exciting as Picard's chair would have been. Mmm-hey.

    In case you haven't heard, there's an enormous fire burning a little ways east of Los Angeles. As a result, the normally "poor" air quality here has now gone to "piss poor." There's ash floating in the air everywhere, everyone's allergies are completely insane, and there's some crazy-ass cloud formations going on. As a chipper news anchorwoman said recently, "And remember, it's Fire Season, so let's be careful."

    FIRE SEASON?!? Oh, shit.
    posted at 11:31 PM

    Friday, October 24, 2003

    Another Link Post

    "Final Notice and Disclaimer: I know nothing about these stuffed Beanie Babies. I offer no proof of anything. It is a stuffed animal, get over it! I don't think my ex-wife was in the Black Market Beanie Trade..but then again, I didn't know she was having an affair either! "

    You know you want to read more.
    posted at 11:23 AM

    Thursday, October 23, 2003

    This Post Written During Caffeine Withdrawl

    Fun Fact! In the amount of time it takes me to drive 7.9 miles from the Miracle Mile District to Santa Monica in the morning, I could easily drive across the entire state of Connecticut! Fun!

    So, things have been pretty low-key around here. At least, as much as I can remember. I'm kind of in my own little daze, lately. One of the Park La Brea townhomes could launch into space when I walked by it, and I don't know if I'd notice.

    My latest impulse purchase, and my last for a long time, was a classy Onyx Game Boy Advance SP. This was partially inspired by seeing Lee play one at her birthday, partially by not wanting to completely take over the apartment's lone TV with my Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and partially by my love of gadgetry. Mostly, though, it was inspired by being surrounded by video games all day at work, and reading all the reviews of how awesome it was.

    I came home from work the other day, thinking about whether or not I should buy one. Rachel, my constant enabler, spurred me on while I was eating dinner, and we immediately hopped in my car and drove to the nearest Best Buy (my dinner still in hand). In a weird coincidence, the new Atmosphere CD was playing on one of the booming stereo systems in the store when I picked up the SP. Oh, and by the way, Game Boy SPs are amazing little pieces of technology. Not only are they smaller than a wallet when you close them up, but they also come with a built in rechargable battery that lasts ALMOST 20 HOURS on a single charge! Damn.

    Lately, I've been checking out the economic feasibility of taking some trips. I'm definitely coming home for the holidays, but I'm probably going to be staying there for about a month, because it saves me over $100 on airfare. On top of that, I'd like to make it to Boston for the SlowKids show on the 6th, also like to swing by Boston when the Captain and Melissa holiday there for Christmas, maybe visit Shayna and Hemlock and Brooke in upstate New York and Quinne, Dov, J-Hal, Joey, et. al. in NYC. I also really want to drive to Northern California to see my Aunt, maybe stopping in Oakland to swing by Laurel on the way. We'll see how many of these actually happen, but I'm really going to try to push for all of them. I'm gonna be busy. I'm also going to be spending money without having a secure job in January when I come back.

    Literally everyone else who has a blog has already eulogized Elliott Smith, so I won't be redundant.

    Have you guys heard about the $246 million lawsuit filed against Sony, RockStar Games and Wal-Mart over yet another claimed video-game inspired shooting? Seriously, when are people going to stop blaming video games for all of society's ills? Not only do these lawsuits never work, but there have been studies upon studies showing that people who play video games ALL realize that the world of the game ends when the power is turned off on the console. If, after playing Super Smash Brothers, you want to hit someone with a hammer, it's not because of the video game, it's because you're just a fucked up individual. Man, that really boils my teakettle.

    I just made up that phrase. I don't think it will catch on at all.

    I think that's about it. Tomorrow, I'm going to a shoot to interview a bunch of cast members from "Enterprise," which should start the ol' salivary glands going on all you Trekkies out there. Weird thing -- "Enterprise" is shot on the Paramount Lot ... right next to Dr. Phil.

    Dun dun DUUUUNNNNHHHHH!!!!!!!

    posted at 2:10 PM

    Sunday, October 19, 2003

    "What Can We Do To Make This Ugly?"

    On Saturday, the apple orchard trip finally happened. Aimee and I drove a hundred miles away from the city to Oak Glen, which is a small, partially tourist-y area of orchards, farms and little shops, perched a mile up in the mountains past San Bernardino. Now, I know I complain a lot about Los Angeles. This is because there is simply a lot to complain about in Los Angeles Ė the sprawl, the traffic, the smog, the people. You get the point. But man, once you get on the freeway and crawl out of the valleys, California is pretty damn beautiful. At least where Los Angeles hasnít fucked it up. For all you who read this at work, check out the California Coastal Records Project for some gorgeous pictures and sublime time-wasting.

    The first orchard we went to was a huge, family-owned, operated, and lived-upon farm that was billed as the closest thing to a New England orchard in Southern California. It was pretty close, a little different, but good in its own way. There were real trees (not the bullshit palm trees we have around here), grass that wasnít sod, and clear skies. It was a little warmer than I would have normally associated with fall, but it was pretty nice weather, and the views of the mountains were incredible. Also incredible were the cider, apple pie and homemade whole wheat bread. One little piece kept me filled up all day. The only thing I wasnít able to get were cider donuts, which I was really looking forward to. Anyone know where I can pick some up out here? Or am I just going to have to fly out to Lymanís in Middlefield?

    I havenít made any decisions yet, but I might be coming home for most, if not all of the month of December. My G4 job ends around the end of November, when I may or may not take a 14 hour trip to see my aunt for Thanksgiving in the wilds of northern California. Since every show goes on hiatus in early to mid December, and nobodyís gonna hire me then, anyway, my theory is to go home, where at least I wonít be paying for gas. Then I get to come back here in early January, for a repeat of the horrible, horrible task of calling TV shows and production companies to beg for jobs.

    Of course, Iím hoping that either this G4 gig or the Comedy Central pilot will help me get a job with at least the illusion of stability. Dr. Phil donít pay the bills, and I donít know if I can put myself through another 4 month job search. My Plan B involves a faked death, a life insurance collection, and a new life in a monastery in Big Sur.

    But if anyone from the IRS asks you, you ainít heard nothing.

    posted at 11:08 PM

    Thursday, October 16, 2003

    Age Awareness

    This will make you feel so old.
    posted at 3:31 PM

    Wednesday, October 15, 2003


    Last Minute Shoppers
    Almost exclusively male. These shoppers are harried and often confused and consequently will be more susceptible to Secular programming. The pressure to consume will have them at a breaking point. Use a very hard sell, appealing to their desire for release from the slavery of Consumerism, and they can be easily snapped. The closer to December 25, the more likely they will be to completely abandon their Secular Consumer lifestyle on the spot. If you are targeting these lost souls, be sure to bring a van so that you can take them back to your Church for counseling and emergency baptisms.

    Interested? Read more. It's frighteningly ridiculous. Thanks, Lee.
    posted at 4:50 PM

    Tuesday, October 14, 2003

    Secondhand Stories and Strikes

    So, I just finished watching the pilot of "Secondhand Stories" on PBS, and now I'm watching a documentary on Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, which features music by Os Mutantes and Belle and Sebastian. God, PBS, why did I drift away from you this summer? I'm back, baby, and I'll never leave again.

    Seriously, you should check your listings to see when "Secondhand Stories" is going to be rerunning. It's a beautiful idea, wonderfully executed. It's also interesting and funny and has a kick-ass soundtrack. If you're too lazy to click on the link from the previous entry, it's basically these two guys who examine Americana through what people buy and sell at secondhand stores. They do this by driving across country in a 1977 ambulance they bought on eBay, and they buy stuff from garage and yard sales and thrift stores and sell them to other people when they need money. Seriously, watch it. It's great. It's the best thing since Manor House.

    In non-TV news, the entire city of Los Angeles is on strike. Today, the entire Los Angeles mass transit system went on strike. It affected no one. Ha, ha.

    Actually, it affected me, because traffic was really awful today. What also affected me these past couple of days was the strike of all the grocery store workers in Los Angeles. Every single grocery store is surrounded by angry picketers, on strike because Ralphs, Vons, and whoever else is drastically reducing their benefits. Now, I guess you can still go into the stores and buy things from a largely incompetent staff of scab workers, but, being as I, myself was a minimum wage worker with no benefits, I can sympathize, so I don't want to cross their picket lines. Apparently, a lot of other people in the city are doing this, too, which is great, but makes it near-impossible to find a loaf of bread. I had to drive around for 90 minutes today to find a store that wasn't completely empty. Granted, that's about an eighth of a mile actual distance, but you get the picture. And I got a delicious loaf of homemade rye.
    posted at 10:43 PM

    Monday, October 13, 2003

    Leave It To PBS

    Does this not sound like the greatest show ever? Or, barring that, doesn't it sound like an awesome thing to do on a summer?
    posted at 8:59 PM

    Sunday, October 12, 2003

    So... Many... Video Games...

    Well, Iíd have to say that my new job is just about the damn coolest thing Iíve ever done. Itís 24-hour video game madness. Not only do I work fewer hours than Dr. Phil, but those hours are during the day, include an hour lunch break, and pay much, much more than Dr. Phil, even with overtime. The only bad things I can see right now are the commute (7.9 miles takes me 45 minutes to an hour, but hey, thatís L.A.) and the fact that their kitchen doesnít have as much free food as Dr. Phil. That becomes less of a problem when youíre working in an awesome office with awesome people, and youíre surrounded by video games.

    On an extra weekend shoot this Saturday, I went to Tony Hawkís Boom Boom Huck Jam, where, despite some logistical problems, we played the not-yet-released Tony Hawk Underground with several pro skaters, etc., including Tony Hawk himself and Bob Burnquist, who, for some reason, I recognized. Everyone was really nice and easy-going, and I made $110 for just about 4 hours of work. Score!

    The normal hours have also allowed me to see more of my friends more often, which is quite the welcome change. I spent Friday night in beautiful downtown Burbank with Lee and Company for her 21st birthday. A great, relaxed night of drinking and catching-up was made even cooler by the inclusion of Jordan, who flew in from Milwaukee for the celebration and a tour of Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Although Iíd really only met him once or twice before, I forgot how damn cool he is, for recognizing the inherent awesomeness of both SlowKids and video games. Thatís all I need in friends, really.

    And of course, all this talk of video games ignited an orgiastic frenzy of purchases today, as I picked up a shiny new Game Boy Player for the recently-arrived GameCube, and a few choice used Game Boy titles from EB (along with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, of course). My mission is to have Aimee and Rachel fully converted into gamers before the new Mario Kart comes out in November.

    Wish me luck.

    posted at 8:12 PM

    Monday, October 06, 2003

    I'd Have To Say It Was A Good Day

    After an unbelievably long time of waiting, it pleases me to no end to announce my very first semi-permanent television production job.

    When I didn't get a call back from G4 on Friday afternoon, I called them, expecting the worst. When I got in touch with the woman I interviewed with, she said they were still deciding, they would call back on Monday, and she thanked me for calling to follow up. "That's it," I thought. "It's over. Back to Dr. Phil." My head hung low. It hung lower when I got to Dr. Phil, and found out that between now and January, there would be 7 weeks I would not be able to work even 40 hours, due to dark weeks and hiatus periods. That would mean that I would most likely not be able to survive on that salary, which is pretty unsurprising because I can barely survive on it as is.

    The weekend was pretty lame. Although I did take Rachel to see "School of Rock" for free at the Paramount Studios theatre. The verdict? Very funny. Very good. Probably the perfect vehicle for Jack Black. You should go see it as soon as you can. It'll make you feel bad for never being in a band like you always wanted to be.

    Then today, I got a call back in the morning from the G4 people. They said they were impressed with my enthusiasm, that they were impressed by my resume and, unlike any other place I've interviewed at so far, they wanted to hire me. And thus, on Wednesday, I will start my Production Assistant position at the G4 Network.

    I'm happy for several reasons. First, it's a real job, with real, normal hours, which means I'll get my nights and weekends back after being held hostage for three months by Dr. Phil and Facter Direct. Second, I'll be getting tangible, hands-on experience in the TV industry again, this time included not only creative input, but also actual camerawork, which will be awesome. Third, I'm going to be working somewhere that's devoted entirely to video games. And if that's not amazing, then I don't know what is.


    Then, I got phone calls from two other places that wanted to hire me -- Bunim/Murray, who I honestly would have worked for had they called me back earlier -- like two months ago when I first interviewed with them -- and some fundraising place, who I probably wouldn't have worked for, no matter what. I left it very nice with Bunim/Murray, and told them I would get in touch with them after my 6 week employment period was over. I'm also quitting Dr. Phil tomorrow. Hopefully, one of those places will take me back. If not, I'll probably just collect unemployment for a few weeks while I go home for the holidays. We'll see what happens.

    I'll have to say quickly that I really missed Boston last night, what with the Sox winning and reports of riots of joy in the Back Bay. Reading all the Bostonian away messages in my buddy list, it certainly looked like a lot of fun was going on. Brought back memories of the Patriots' Super Bowl win and the cheering throngs on Beacon Street and Kenmore Square afterward. Good times, but I miss that compact, mass-transit equipped city.

    But for now, I have a job, and I'm going to see the Decembersists for free on Thursday. Life is finally good again.
    posted at 10:41 PM

    Wednesday, October 01, 2003

    A Possible Escape and Three Things That Made My Day

    So I might have a new 'business opportunity.' TV work, where I'd get more hands-on experience with a new network, with a new show, with some pretty cool people. It'd only be for 6 weeks, but I just figured out that during that six week period, I would make as much money as I would working full time at Dr. Phil until December 19th ... and I would get the benefits of having weekends and evenings back to myself again.

    I won't know about this until Friday, but I'm really hoping it pulls through. One of my interviewers was from West Hartford, a town that I worked in for two years, and he even knew the general area I worked in. He seemed very excited to meet another Nutmegger. I have a very good feeling about this interview, but I'm trying to keep my expectations low. I've lost track of how many interviews I've been on where all signs falsely pointed to me getting a job.

    I dunno, though. This might be it. It seems like doors are opening up for Hemlock (I got my fingers crossed, dude), and even Rachel's been firing up her networking skills recently. I'm hoping good things come in three.

    But yeah, I gotta get out of here. There's a lot of very nice people I've met here, but it's a dead end job with miserable hours and a laughable wage. Not only am I not learning any marketable skill for future jobs, but I'm also not meeting anyone of importance anymore, because I'm working at 4 in the morning. Also, they just hired these two really weird guys to work grave shift, and I have to spend 2 or more hours pretty much alone with them when I work late. Them, and people like this girl, who should be ON "Dr. Phil," not working for it. As Sara can attest, Night Shift people are the modern workplace pariahs.

    I don't want to be up in that shit.

    At work, where I am now, I was reading through the web version of my old stomping grounds, the Daily Free Press, when I happened upon some hate mail dedicated to Arfat Kazi, who, as you'll remember, wrote an insane diatribe against me one of the semesters I wrote for the Freep.

    At that time, I took Sara's sagely advice and decided not to retaliate or acknowledge the attack in any way. It was satisfying for most of my brain, but extremely unsatisfying for the part of me that wanted roll his fat ass down several flights of stairs. Today, that was done for me ... not once, not twice, but thrice!

    That's right. 3 people wrote into the Freep to complain eloquently about Kazi's mind-numbingly awful new column ... and these are adults! Two of them never even went to BU! Oh, the satisfaction. It's wonderful.

    Included here are the full texts of the three letters. If you enjoy them only half as much as I did, then you will still be an incredibly happy person. I put my favorite one last.

    Kazi column insults nationality
    My name is Sabah Rabbi and I am a Bangladeshi studying at the college level in North America in the town of Hamilton, N.Y. I am an Economics major and although I have come here the United States to study, I am still tightly bound to the roots of my culture. I love my adopted land, but my Motherland is Bangladesh.

    Recently, I ran a websearch on Bangladeshi articles in college newspapers. I wanted to make friends with fellow Bangladeshis who came to North America and the United States to pursue their collegiate studies. I found, through the wonders of Google, the column in The Daily Free Press called "300 Lbs. and Rising," written by one Arafat Kazi.

    I read the latest iteration of his column ("Don't be hating the fat kids," Sept. 29, pg. 3) and I must say, I am shocked to the core of my conservative Bengali being. He is an insult to our culture that is thousands of years old. He talks about Bangladesh's economic poverty, while ignoring the finer sides of Bangladeshi art and other aesthetic achievements. He chose to stress the polygamy and starvation, instead of dwelling on the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore, winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature, or Kazi Nazrul Islam, the rebel poet. He did not talk about the glorious war of 1971, through which we achieved our innate right Ė to speak in Bengali.

    Being of the upper classes and overweight myself, I also find it highly offensive that he should portray fat people in such a negative light. He seems to have serious problems with his self-image. He also seems to be insecure, choosing to hide his un-Islamic obesity in a mere illusion of confidence. I personally feel he is a disgrace to our nation and your university. You should ban his column from ever appearing again, since he only tarnishes the international repute of Boston University. This is not what we came to America for.

    Sabah Rabbi
    Hamilton, N.Y.

    Columnistís jokes in poor taste
    I am a Boston University alumnus who has only recently just begun to engage the new digital frontiers of the internet. One of the first things I did when my wife and I bought this computer was check how my old alma mater was doing. Can you imagine how surprised I was to see the extent of Boston Universityís internet presence? Well, anyway, let me tell you, I was quite pleased to discover that I might ďkeep in touchĒ with BU through the web, and was especially pleased to see that the BU student journalists were going strong. I had hoped that the paper would provide a counterpoint to the official party line of Silber and company. (He was just as bad then as he is now, except now heís not running for governor).

    Overall I have found The Daily Free Press to be an essentially rewarding experience and one which I do not shy from reading in its near daily output. However, as of late, I have felt as though something has been going horribly wrong with this ďlifeline to my past.Ē

    I speak of the new column ď300 Pounds and Rising,Ē which, first of all, has the sort of name that has absolutely no place within an academic forum, and secondly, while starting out in reasonably bad taste, has slipped with its most recent article ďDonít be hating the fat kidsĒ into the worst sort of filth (Sept. 29, pg. 3).

    Have the new editors at the Free Press gone mad? As a person with a mild weight problem, I can not stress the utter insensitivity this sort of thing represents. I come to the Free Press with an expectation that I might engage with my old school and instead am subjected to the sort of vicious taunts that characterize so much of our national discourse.

    In particular, I find the title of this article, ďDonít be hating the fat kids,Ē to be a joke in poor taste, as this article is about nothing but hating fat people, and is perhaps the single most insensitive taunt in the whole thing. If this type of article is the sort of material published by a ďfree press,Ē I sincerely urge the editors of this publication to reconsider their mission and investigate the true meaning of the press within any context: university, social or economic.

    I intend to no longer support Boston University with my charitable donations until I see some form of improvement in the editorial standards of the Free Press. Thank you.

    Robert Broker
    CAS Ď87

    ĎFatí column thin on substance
    I donít deserve this, you know. Iím a fairly decent human being. I donít kick puppies, berate the elderly or cheat on my taxes. I should be able to sit down at my computer with a cup of tea and and the latest edition of The Daily Free Press without being treated to this confused, torturous excuse for a featured article.

    Perhaps instead of eschewing celery, Mr. Kazi should heed the words of Mark Twain, (who enumerated James Fenimore Cooperís literary sins much more ably than I will be able to enumerate Mr. Kaziís) and eschew surplusage. This is certainly the most self-indulgent thing that I have read in many moons, and I work for lawyers. So, Mr. Kazi says he is fat. In point of fact, he says it over and over and over again, in what would probably be amusing ways if he had even the slightest grasp of the concept of humor. As it is, though, one slogs through this excessive verbiage with no interest in Mr. Kaziís poundage, or his supposed popularity in cyberspace. Indeed, if his blog or site or what-have-you is crafted with the level of ďskillĒ displayed here, I can only imagine that his retinue (if it indeed exists) is peopled exclusively by the extraordinarily stupid, Republicans and rabid, poo-flinging apes.

    So, what I am saying is this: say something. Be witty, or persuasive, or tell me something (interesting) about your life. I need another liberal arts major who enjoys public literary masturbation like I need a marmoset in my breakfast cereal.

    Chandra Green
    Norwood, Mass.

    posted at 7:01 PM