but if that’s what you had in mind, well if that’s what it’s all about

Okay friends and hangers-on, it’s survey time:

Do I need a haircut?
Photo 2

Follow-up question: does this guy need a haircut?

Answer independently or relative to each other as needed.


that ain’t no DJ, that was rock and roll

5:35: I get home from work and bring in the mail. Sitting down on my bed, the day catches up with me and I slowly slump over. Just a minute to rest my head, maybe, before I take on the evening.

6:55: I open my eyes. Crap. I snag a handful of snacks to clear my head and then start writing. Tonight feels really productive, but Word tells me I only added 1860 words to my total. Tuesday I felt like I was struggling but ended 2050 words up. In fairness, though, most of those two thousand and fifty words weren’t that great. A lot of “then”s and “were”s.

8:05: Writing done, I walk to Inman Square to help ImprovBoston move out. We have to empty the entire theater, even if it means carrying trash with us to the new space to dispose of it there. I help brute force IB’s legendary foldout couch from the basement up to the top floor. I also help Bobby’s fiancee Claire dispose of the two absolutely filthy rugs from the basement, which cough up blinding clouds of dust every time they’re folded over, moved, touched or looked at for too long. There’s some minor confusion as to what’s going and what’s being thrown out, and of course because we’re improvisers the typical workload is “move something fifty feet, crack jokes until people pay attention to you, repeat process.” But the last load gets out the door at about quarter after ten, when I take my leave.

10:30: I pass crossing the street from the Asgard. “It’s packed tonight,” he says. “Lots of hipsters. Guys with hats.” I understand exactly what he means once I’m in the door: guys with ill-fitting jackets and fedoras, skinny girls with thick glasses and leggings. Asgard’s become A Scene. Fortunately, they’re all talented singers, so I don’t mind listening to them cover “Patience” or Meredith Brooks or “Sweet Caroline.” I won’t tell you what I sang; let’s just say you couldn’t call it a comeback.

11:50: After chatting up Greg W., Pete F., John S., and , I make my exit. (Note: , , and others were also there; I just didn’t get to talk to them as much. Alas! Alack!).

2:40: My dreams involve keeping a girl who’s on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew hidden from the ambassador to England (who happens to be one of the HR generalists at the Company). We run up and down a lot of stairs; the ambassador delivers a lot of angry voice mails to her case worker. I also find a secret 8th floor in a building on Boston College’s campus which I’d never seen before. This floor had a huge bar and grill with very low prices and a Barnes and Noble.

because I don’t mind if you don’t mind

Dear everyone who matters,

This LJ notwithstanding, I don’t talk a lot about myself and what drives me. I’ve always been the quiet type. And about jiu-jitsu, which I’ve been studying for seven and a half years – longer than I went to any single school or held any one job – I tend to say even less. I think this is the humility that discipline imposes on you. I never tell people, “I know jiu-jitsu” or “I teach jiu-jitsu” – I always say, “I’m studying jiu-jitsu.” And that’s what I consider myself: a perpetual student.

To make up for years of silence, though, some background: the martial arts fascinated me for years, as with most boys who grew up in the 80s. Brief flirtations with the karate club and the fencing club at BC didn’t really engage me. Then I happened to get a flyer from BC’s jiu-jitsu club and decided to get off my ass and do something. I took the shuttlebus from Greycliff to Newton Campus and sat in a quonset hut with about forty other underclassmen. Of those, three are still paying students: myself and two others.

I always had the expectation in my mind that I’d quit when I ran into something too frustrating to learn quickly. But I stuck it out through forward rolls, rear rolls, judo, breakfalls, shiho nage (don’t ask) and other things that, to this day, I still haven’t mastered. I always secretly feared that I’d quit when I first got a severe injury. But I’ve broken my nose and stress-fractured a couple different fingers in class, I end more classes sore than whole, and I still haven’t stopped. And I knew – deep down secretly knew – that I’d stop coming once it grew inconvenient. But there was a stretch of about nine months, my senior year in college – when I was applying for grad schools, writing a thesis and directing a play – that I would walk to class at least once a week, sometimes twice. Three miles when I couldn’t catch a bus. In the snow a couple of times.

I think I keep at it because jiu-jitsu’s the only time that I’m regularly challenged during the week. Think about it: how many times in a month – or in a year – do we deliberately throw ourselves into something that we don’t know we can do? Job interviews, asking strangers out, standing up to the occasional asshole: we’ll take rare trips outside our comfort zone but we don’t regularly live there.

Anyhow, you’ve all been very patient with me. You’ve understood when I have to duck out on Tuesdays and Thursdays for class, or when I limp home bruised and sweaty but still smiling. I think it’s time you got to see what I’ve given seven and a half years of my life to.

On the afternoon of Saturday, March 15th, two other students and I will be promoting to black belt. It would mean a lot to me if you could be there.

if you like making love at midnight

(1) Has January felt like a long month to anyone else? I think back on some of the big things I’ve done recently and they’ve all happened in 2008. Not that I’m complaining; I prefer to stretch each second between here and the grave as long as possible. But it’s hard to believe there’s still 3 days left before February. Who knows what could happen in that time?

(2) Per a website I found the other day, I’m going to start incorporating the phrase “I … drink … your … MILKSHAKE! I DRINK IT UP!” into conversation. It’s really only suitable for the most epic level of owning imaginable – someone walks blindly into a perfect punchline, someone gets completely schooled in Guitar Hero, Eli Manning throws 5 picks and gets sacked twice, etc.

(3) I think I’m at the closest to 2000 calories a day that I’ve ever been. And that’s coming up from below, not dropping down from above. I’ve just never been a big eater. I hate taking time away from whatever I’m doing – reading, talking to people, doing work – to prepare a meal. I prefer to stretch each second between here and the grave as long as possible. This explains why I prefer easy-bake bachelor chow: just stick it in the oven, set the timer and walk away. Considering you can still count my ribs by sight and I posted cholesterol in the double digits – that’s LDL, not HDL – the last time I tested, I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong.

(4) I bought a jumbo bottle of generic Men’s One-a-Day vitamins the last time I visited BJ’s Wholesale Club. The instructions recommend taking them after a meal, something I regularly forget to do. I think my average is about 0.300-A-Day, which would play well in the Major Leagues but doesn’t quite cut it for the home game.

(5) Updated Nerds on Sports with what may be my nerdiest post yet. Comment there, not here.

(6) Postscript media blow: I don’t think I ever reviewed Where the Truth Lies, one of my 50+ books from last year. It’s a murder mystery that stretches between 1950s Florida and 1970s Hollywood, told from the point-of-view of the ambitious young reporter investigating it. The book read all right and moved at a decent clip, but there are a few … weird … points that just didn’t sit with me:

  • The protagonist is writing a biography on one half of Hollywood’s most famous showbiz duos. I finally figured out about one hundred pages in (later than most, I’m sure) that the characters were obvious stand-ins for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. And while I don’t mind the notion that there were dark and twisted secrets to the Martin/Lewis partnership, and while I appreciate the need to use stand-in characters to avoid a libel suit, it’s still weird. Reading about how one of the two is phenomenal in the sack, I mean an absolute knock-out, and then remembering, “oh wait, she means Jerry Lewis” just throws a bucket of cold slime on the back of your neck.
  • The protagonist is a 25-year-old female reporter in the 70s. She’s smart, witty and comfortable talking about sex with strangers. Fair enough; not out of character for the time period. However, I couldn’t help thinking that her tone – her word choice, her tendency toward irony and verbosity – would work better coming from a 25-year-old female blogger in the 21st century. This struck me so many times that I began wondering if the author wasn’t cribbing from Mimi Smartypants or the latest chick-lit offering.
  • The back-cover text notes that this is the author’s first novel. Minor stylistic hiccups aside, I found it pretty impressive. Then I learned that Rupert Holmes, the author, was also Rupert Holmes, writer of “Escape (The Pina Colada Song). That means he was between 50 and 55 years old when he started writing this book. And while there’s nothing wrong with entering the writing field late in life, it makes every time that the protagonist (25 years old, female, sexually liberal) examines her naked body approvingly – in the mirror, in the bathtub, while being nailed by Jerry Lewis – really really creepy.

So … yeah. It’s a murder mystery that goes down like a David Lynch movie. I recommend it … maybe? I don’t know.

I could say it ain’t so, but darling, what’s the use?

Sifting through the frozen tundra, I uncovered this weekend’s media blow:

  • Nine Stories, J.D. Salinger. It’s probably better that I didn’t read this as a teenager, when Salinger’s “you think everything’s normal but it’s not” storylines would have steered my writing style down regrettable paths. However, it’s good that I read it now, having made a serious commitment to writing, because Salinger’s got a unique mastery of the English language that’s worth noting. Or cribbing outright. The back cover calls attention to the two critical darlings in this collection, which actually didn’t do as much for me as “Teddy,” “The Laughing Man” or “De-Daumier Smith’s Blue Period” did. Still, they’re all gems, rightly regarded in the American canon.
  • Hairspray. Infectious, inescapable fun. The most laugh-out-loud entertaining musical I’ve seen in decades. I haven’t seen someone blend catchy pop melodies with subversive lyrics this well since, I dunno, early Elvis Costello. The opening number still gets me a little since, as I’ve said, it’s the only time in memory that I’ve heard someone say something nice about the city of Baltimore. Biggest surprises: James Marsden, who I finally have to admit is better than anyone gave him credit for; Elijah Kelley, as Seaweed (“Run and Tell That” is a real toe-tapper); the song “I Know Where I’ve Been,” which struck me as boringly generic when I heard it on CD but is much more moving when set to film. The only downside: in Christopher Walken’s one dance number, he’s weighed down by John Travolta in a fatsuit. Since Walken can literally fly when given the chance to show off, this is a crime equivalent to Suharto’s.
  • The Towers of the Sunset, L.E. Modesitt. I’m surprised Modesitt doesn’t get more fantasy author accolades, as he writes realer and more complex characters than Robert Jordan or anyone else with the same cover art. The Towers of the Sunset was written after The Magic of Recluce but precedes the first by a few centuries. It weaves political intrigue, social mores, sexual politics and magic as philosophy – not just point a wand and say gibberish words, but a way of looking at the world – into a thick and surprising story. I read the first 440 pages in one snowy Sunday afternoon.

nothing else would fit right, or seem so directly applied

I got this job.

when I want my opinion, I’ll ask for it

I’m tired of having opinions. I’m going to let the Internet make my opinions for me.

Topic: I don’t vote, on the grounds that the statistically miniscule impact my vote would have on an election isn’t worth the effort (there are tens of millions of voters in any national election and close elections are decided by the courts). However, I refuse to fly if other means (e.g., trains) are available, as a protest against demeaning and counterproductive airport security measures. I do this, knowing that my boycott has a statistically miniscule impact on the bottom line of the commercial aviation industry (they have hundreds of millions of customers a year and get Congressional bailouts when things go bad).

The obvious conclusion is, “Well, you’re a hypocrite / naif / doctrinaire market fanatic / lazy slacker.” However, that conclusion is wrong.

What’s the real reason that I make this distinction? Internet, I turn to you!

Special prizes awarded for the answers Most Likely To Be Accurate, Funniest, Most Convoluted and Most Academic-Sounding. Honorable mention to an answer that can be expressed in a cat macro or silly picture.