the most important time: right now and ever after

Thanks for making the move over from the old digs. I promise to keep providing the same content you’ve come to expect, including (but not limited to):

  • Political rants no one agrees with;
  • Recaps of parties you didn’t attend (no pics, sorry);
  • Sparse reviews of books / movies that everyone got over months ago;
  • Introverted whining;
  • And dozens more!

Posts written here will be duplicated on LJ indefinitely, so you won’t miss a thing.


but I still spit your girlfriend’s favorite verse

# # #

This may shock you: it’s snowing.

# # #

On Monday, I saw Michu () and Vickie () spin at River Gods. I’ve probably passed that bar at least two hundred times in all the years I’ve lived in Boston but never set foot in it before this week. It’s not just Celtic – it’s fucking pagan. And I mean in the “let’s ritually kill our king to ensure a good harvest” sense. The DJ booth is a little alcove above the floor with a tiny church window; it’s quite cozy. Someday I hope to sit there.

# # #

Going to sleep after tying two on always leads to interesting dreams. Last night’s featured a mash-up of, well, MASH, the UFC, McDonald’s, high school debate and jiu-jitsu. Some of you were there. No, I’m not saying who.

# # #

Nobody ever warns you about the logistics involved in preparing for black belt. Tammi, one of the other students promoting with me, has graciously acquired several precut sheets of eastern white pine, which I’ll need to drive my elbow through in just about two weeks’ time. We did the math and figured we’ll need at least 14 boards each (4 to break on the day of, 1+2+3+4 to practice breaking in incremental stages) plus probably another 10 each to practice. Remind me: I owe her a check.

On top of that, we need to pick a place to go drinking afterward. Sensei Nick regularly asks me if we’ve picked a watering hole yet and every time I tell him no (I do have a lot on my mind). It needs to be some place that can accomodate twenty to forty people. Fortunately, there aren’t any major holidays coming up that weekend so I anticipate very little trouble.

# # #

For the past 24 hours, I’ve devoted a significant portion of my day to trying to unscrew the spigot on a bottle of Target brand moisturizer lotion. It’s one of those little push-down spigots that comes snapped into place; you need to twist it a few times in one direction to get it to snap up. I have twisted it infinite times in all directions, to no avail. If you’re in the Watertown area and are smarter than me, please stop by my desk.

# # #

I’m no longer a karaoke regular, to my chagrin as well as yours, but I braved the bluster and snow last night to stop in at Asgard. DJ Paul apparently didn’t know he’d been nominated for Best Karaoke in Boston (vote, you fools!). I chatted BC improv with Serpico () and Devil in the White City with Victoria. After some depressing hipsters failed their way through “Baba O’Riley” and “Because You Loved Me” …

: Oh, I get it! He’s wearing that tie ironically.
: Because it’s not a button-down collar!
: And he’s wearing that hat with the earflaps ironically too.
: Let’s be fair – he could just be cold.
: Or it could be a resonance chamber.

… I felt obligated to do some DJ Kool. So I did. The end.

# # #

Graham Greene: good light reading.

all my dreams, all my dreams fall like rain

I only read a couple of liberal / progressive webjournals, but I’ve already seen plenty of hand-wringing and venom-spitting over the news that Ralph Nader is entering the Presidential race.

From Making Light:

Okay, everyone. Help save America. Work to keep Nader off the ballot in your state.

From Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns and Money:

Reactionary vanity candidate Ralph Nader is apparently pleased enough with record of the man he put in the White House that he’s running again in hopes that we can get four more years of similar policy outcomes.

All I can say to that is thank God. People are now freely admitting that running a candidate who accurately reflects the will of a substantial portion of the American people takes a back seat to getting a Democrat into the White House. It’s not about what citizens or progressives or socialists or liberals want – it’s about shilling for the century-old multi-million dollar corporation we call the Democratic Party. Better that a Democrat get elected than some dirty old Independent. But not a particular Democrat, no: just anyone who happens to have the “D” tag next to their name. Meaning, anyone who has the blessing of the superdelegates, the party machine, and the giant companies that finance this and every other election. Just anyone but him.

Let’s presume, for the sake of argument, an acknowledged fiction: that Ralph Nader will garner enough popular support in this election to seriously threaten $DEM_CANDIDATE’s chances at the Presidency. This won’t happen. But if it did, which would be the more moral choice: for the Democratic candidate to tailor their views leftward to accomodate Nader’s base of support, or to do whatever it took to keep Nader from being heard? To paraphrase: would it be better for the Democratic candidate to acknowledge the will of his constituency or to use the millions of dollars and thousands of bureaucrats at the Party’s disposal to silence the upstart?

I have to be missing something here, because the idea of fighting a Nader candidacy strikes me as not just immoral but so contrary to the supposed spirit of the Democratic Party – they’re the progressives, the populists, the ones sticking up for the little guy – that the idea that anyone could seriously be mad at Nader baffles me. If he’s so unpopular that he won’t make a difference, then what do you care? On the other hand, if he’s popular enough to take votes from your favorite candidate, doesn’t that indicate how weak your candidate was? Or would you rather have an election with as few candidates as possible, just so those gullible idiots in the Midwestern states don’t get confused? Hell, let’s just abolish the opposition party and have single candidate elections from now until the Germanic tribes sack Ravenna.

So please, someone: help me out. If you’re as mad at Nader for the craven audacity to run as Jim MacDonald or Scott Lemieux are, please explain to me what I’m missing. Say “I think it’s less important that people have a chance to vote for a candidate they prefer than to put a Democrat in the White House in 2009 because …” and then go from there. I’ll hear you out.

(And I don’t like Nader at all. The man’s got all the reactionary charm of Pat Buchanan but without the naked aggression. So if you’re opposed to Nader entering the race because you despise his ideas, that’s fine. But that has nothing to do with why every progressive I’ve read since Sunday wants him swept under the rug)

here comes your man

“In point-one miles,” the GPS told me, “turn left.”

I turned left off of Columbia onto Blue Hill Ave. “Fuck,” I swore.

I pulled into the icy strip of road behind Chez Vous, Boston’s only roller rink, just behind Will, Gina and DJ. Teetering across the sidewalk, I paused outside the front door. “I need cash for the cover,” I said.

“I can get you,” Will offered.

“I need cash in general,” I elaborated. “Let me find an ATM.”

“… are you sure?”

After an uneventful run to an ATM and a thorough pat-down in the front door of Chez Vous, I cashed in a ticket for a pair of size 13 roller skates. The gang had filled out in my trip across the street – , , , , , in addition to those already listed. I laced up and teetered over to a coin locker to deposit my shoes. My balance felt all right. It had been more than a decade since last I tried on roller skates, but I felt confident.

I rolled off the carpet and onto the rink and immediately regretted my decision. Hands cartwheeling, I grabbed for the guide rail along the wall. I shuffled my feet back and forth like snowshoes, making the slowest progress possible. I coasted along the farthest perimeter of the rink before reaching the corner where the rail ended and steeling myself for the unaided twelve foot crossing to the next rail. Slowly I scooched, step by step.

I completed two laps in this fashion to everyone else’s six or seven. Melissa and Fraley sat with me – better skaters by far, but a little more tired and hungry than the rest of us. We watched older skaters, veterans of the roller disco era, pirouetting and gliding backward around the rink. An old man stood in the exact center of the rink, bopping and dancing to the tracks on the speakers without moving his feet an inch.

“Did he really need skates for that?” Fraley asked.

“They wouldn’t let him on the rink without them,” I observed.

Christine talked me into trying another lap. We rolled tentatively out to the far side of the rink. She coached me through the first tentative steps. “You’ll probably want to crouch a little,” she said, considering my center of gravity was about nine feet off the floor.

Suddenly, Robert Loggia’s skinnier brother – I have no better way to describe him – skidded to a twirling halt between the two of us. “The first rule of skating,” he said, by way of introduction, “is: if you look down, you fall down. Same as riding a bicycle.”

“… okay,” I said with some confusion, locking eyes with him.

“The second rule of skating,” he continued, “is: if you walk like a person, you look like a duck!” He shifted his feet back and forth in a heel-toe, heel-toe, making zero forward progress and wobbling comically. “But if you walk like a duck, you move like a person. Observe.” He placed his heels together and his toes pointing outward, at maybe 45 degrees from each other, and began to shift his feet. Slowly he started to move. “You see?”

“So.” He positioned himself about ten feet from me. “Walk like a duck! Eyes on me!” I positioned my heels together, looked straight forward in response to his two-fingered point between his eyes and mine, and began to walk forward. Sure enough, I started picking up speed – and at no cost to balance, either. I made it all the way to the end of the rail before stopping.

“Third rule! You see this?” He teetered suddenly, throwing his arms out to cartwheel. “Those are the wobblies. You get two of those, you sit down for fifteen minutes. You get three, you’re done for the night. You don’t just want to stop on the rink, just like you wouldn’t stop on the interstate. You’re working an entirely different set of muscles here.”

He skated off, backwards on one foot. “What’s the first rule?” he called.

“If you look down, you fall down,” I answered.

I made less than another lap on his instructions. Then I realized that throwing my back or knee out while rollerskating wouldn’t be the silliest injury possible prior to a black belt test, but pretty close. So I stopped for the evening. People started getting hungry as well. Fraley and I played Warzaid while waiting for folks to skate themselves out. “The fact that these skeletons can pilot helicopters,” Fraley said, “suggests that we might be able to reason with them.”

“Defeatist,” I said.

Will led us on a roundabout route to the IHOP in Quincy Center. We were the only folks in the restaurant bar some late night teenagers and a guitar-playing hermit. The waitress heckled us good-naturedly, bringing out stacks and stacks of breakfast.

“Does everything here come with pancakes?” Katie asked.

“Actually, the pancakes come with a side of omelets*,” I corrected.

* Side omelets come with a side of pancakes.

I fought the law and the law won

On Friday I braved the wintry mix to see Laugh Track in ImprovBoston’s new space. It’s brighter and more open by leaps and bounds than the old Inman Square black box. The lobby is actually a lobby, not a low-ceilinged deathtrap. The stage in the main theater is huge and sweeping. That being said, I think they need to do something about the seats – for the first time in probably fifteen years, I had trouble seeing over the heads of the people in front of me*. I understand, of course, that construction is still ongoing, so I wouldn’t hold this against the new venue.

The show itself was a blast, with Harry Gordon as special guest Attorney Joey Franks (“… Joey Franks”) stealing the show and running.

Since I didn’t go to the gym on Friday, I went all-out on Saturday, doing my usual odd-day routine (rows, pulldowns, lunges, crunches, punching bag) and topping it off with ten minutes of sauna. Then I watched Mel’s () 7th Sea game in Newton. I honestly don’t know what she was so nervous about – she’s GMing like a pro. She gets deeper into character quicker than I did and she always had something fun to throw at her players. She asked me to sit in as Nicklaus Trague (Eisenfurst of Freiburg and mentor to ‘s character of Logan Sieger), which I did gladly.

I lounged about and watched movies with the rest of my Saturday.

On Sunday I tried Veggie Planet in Harvard Square for the first time. It’s a brunch restaurant in the basement of Club Passim that looks like what you’d expect a Harvard vegetarian restaurant to look like – exposed brick, low ceilings, natty wood tables, lots of men with beards and women with piercings. I had an “open face grilled cheese” – essentially a cheese pizza – which was very tasty.

I had time to kill before Neutrino, so I drank a Guinness and read some Graham Greene in the Burren until Shannon and Jason () showed up. We talked about one of Neutrino’s long-term projects (more on that as the situation develops), drank more beer and had lunch. At Neutrino rehearsal proper, Dave S. divvied us up into teams for impromptu sketch-filming – filming a sketch, not an improvised scene, in 45 minutes. Manny, Jeff P., Pete F. and I did fairly well, coming up with a short subject on office gophers and impossible tasks.

Line of the evening: “Why would I ask you to kill Hernandez? I love Hernandez!”

Sunday evening merits its own post.

* And pity the poor people sitting behind me! Or laugh at them; your call.

and the story it told of the river that flowed made me sad to think it was dead

Bundle up tight, LJers, for your weekend media blow:

American Gods: Neil Gaiman’s entry into the surprisingly crowded mythological-figures-battle-over-the-American-landscape genre. Gaiman’s got that good “sense of story” like Whedon has (hey, I never said I hated the guy) and he uses it to interesting ends. Compare this book to any given novel by Tim Powers (specifically, Last Call or Three Days to Never) and you’ll find that Gaiman tends to veer toward the twee in cases where Powers would veer toward the gritty. That doesn’t mean you’ll wince, however, and Gaiman’s advantage is that you never get confused as to what’s going on, whereas I still don’t understand how Three Days to Never turned out. I furrowed my brow a little at one scene near the end that looked like it was lifted, line for line, from Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light. However, (1) Gaiman has acknowledged his debts to Zelazny multiple times in the past, and (2) oh, wait, it’s a modern retelling of mythology – they’re probably both cribbing from the same source; duh. Very entertaining read.

Good Night and Good Luck: Handles very well for such a talky flick. Characters who’d be unsympathetic in a weaker script – the Air Force colonel who tries to intimidate CBS into silence, Frank Langella as the CBS exec answerable to the station’s sponsors – have depth, integrity and backbone. And of course Strathairn’s delivery as the most well-regarded editorialist of the 20th century is letter perfect. The writing is cool and fairly minimal – to a great extent, Clooney lets the original players speak for themselves: newsreel footage of McCarthy, the actual text of Murrow’s broadcasts, etc. Better than a documentary.

Girl with a Pearl Earring: A very quick read that failed to really move me one way or another. I got hints of what the narrator was experiencing – her frustration at the prospect of a lifetime of drudgery, her secret obsession with Vermeer, her conflicting feelings regarding the young butcher, her mixed curiosity and distrust of differing religions and customs, etc. But we never dwelt on any of those in detail. All I can say with certainty is that it sucked being poor and a woman in the 17th century, though in fairness that was true for every century save this one and the last. The behind the scenes look at how Vermeer created his masterpieces was certainly interesting.

do a little bump just to clean your apartment

You want a weekend? You’ve got it.

On Friday I bought Grace a hot chocolate for her birthday. We made it to Bloc 11 minutes before it closed; the spiky-haired girl behind the counter offered us our choice of pastries that she would otherwise have to throw out. We selected a remarkably bland walnut scone. “Even by the standards of day-old scones,” Grace said, “this is pretty bland.” She talked about seeing flowering cacao trees at the Garfield Park Observatory on her recent trip to Chicago. I ought to get one of those for the front yard.

Afterward I stopped in on an impromptu evening at Rachel’s (). Bob (), Mia, Michu () and a nice gent named Ian were there already. I poured myself a Diet something and something and talked theater with the crowd until fatigue o’ercame us all.

Saturday started with jiu-jitsu. I’ve been scheduling additional workouts to get up to snuff for black belt, taking advantage of Paul’s Natick campus for weekend workouts. Tony, Paul F. and I threw each other around for about an hour and forty-five minutes, pausing only occasionally to critique. After changing back into street clothes, we leafed through the Century Martial Arts supply catalog that Paul keeps on his desk.

“I want to show up on Tuesday with a blue gi and a camouflage belt,” Paul F. said, eyeing one page warily. “Just to see how far Nick smacks me across the room.”

I drove back to Cambridge and went to Franco’s for the quickest haircut I’ve had in twenty-five years: eight minutes from entry to exit. The gentleman took off just enough so that my hair’s no longer feathering out in the back like I’m opening for Quiet Riot. I now have two favorite barbershops in the Boston metro area – Franco’s and State Street – and the former is fifty percent cheaper.

Then I grabbed a leisurely thirty minutes in the community tub at Inman Oasis and two hot dogs from Bukowski. If I did anything else on the day, other than read and watch Gone Baby Gone, I don’t remember it nor do I want to.

On Sunday, Vickie () and I went to see Speed-the-Plow at the Piano Factory. We talked about theater, oddly enough, and opined about the gulf between football and baseball season. We accidentally wandered into an art exhibition at the Gallery at the Piano Factory before finding the theater – around the corner, behind the parking lot, down a steep hill. It’s a neat little black box.

The evening led me to Razzy’s for Trisha and Joanna’s () combined birthday party. They’d rented out the entire top floor, so I binged on $2 Molsons and said hi to everybody. David M. waxed enthusiastic about his upcoming burlesque show. I caught up with Kevin H. and Jake G., whom I don’t see nearly often enough, and got to talk books with Sly () and Katie ().

“I need to take up a new vice for Lent,” I told them. “What do you suggest?”

“Sloth?” Sylvia suggested. “Gluttony? Anger?”

“Nah,” Katie said. “I don’t think he could pull off anger.”

“What?” I raged. “Why, you little …”

Someone had made off with Trisha’s iPod adapter, so the usual post-bar dance party relied on some hasty CD burning. I only stuck around until about 2:30. Photos of me rocking halfway the hell out may have surfaced; these should be discounted as fraudury.

On Monday I went to the gym. Pounding the heavy bag should be a staple of any serious workout. Running may be good for cardio, but nothing turns the adrenaline on and makes you sweat like sixty seconds of punching. Repeat that three times and you’re good. Also of note: I was the only man under Social Security age in the sauna. You figure it out.

It took me forty-five minutes to figure out my lunch, as the line at Panera was too long, Friendly’s was too packed (on a school holiday? what’re the odds?) and CitiGirl Cafe was closed. I finally gave into deliciousness at S&S, by way of steak and eggs. Now that’s a post-workout meal.

Home brought laundry, another 2000 words of fiction and reading until the time came to lay my weary head down.