and you may tell yourself: this is not my beautiful house!

Dear Yahoo! News,

These were your “top stories” on Tuesday, August 26th.

These were your “top stories” on Wednesday, August 27th.

And these were your “top stories” on Thursday, August 28th.

In that time, Russia has formally recognized the sovereignty of the breakaway Georgian rebels. Major League Baseball has adopted instant replay for close home run calls. A Sudanese plane was hijacked. Dr Dre’s son was found dead in bed (no apparent foul play). A tropical storm passed through the Gulf of Mexico.

You know. Trivial shit like that.

There are not five equally compelling stories to tell about the DNC every day. I would submit there’s not even one compelling story at the DNC – everyone in America has known that Barack Obama will lead the Democratic ticket for months now – but I’m a bit of a cynic. So I allow the need to post an occasional story. But not five “top stories” per day. Every day.

Get your act together, Yahoo, or I’m telling Carl Icahn to fire your CEO. He’ll do it, too. He’s waiting on my call, I promise.

Professor Coldheart


jeux sans frontieres

M: I tend to be confused by double negatives unless they’re in Russian?
Professor: but Russian double-negatives make perfect sense to you
M: Russian grammar demands them
Professor: hehe
M: truly
Professor: that sounds like a line from a Kruschev speech
M: It probably is
Professor: “Russian grammar demands double negatives! Output will be increased five-fold by next year!”
Professor: “We will not leave you unburied!”

# # #

Professor: also: what didn’t you like about The Mote in God’s Eye?
L: um, i read it five years ago, I thought the aliens were stupid and the plot just read like someone writing an after-the-fact choose-your-own adventure book
Professor: ha
Professor: I thought the aliens were the most interesting part of the book by leaps and bounds – far more so than the characters
L: well, I will agree with that
Professor: (who would’ve been okay in 50s sci-fi, passable in 60s, no excuse in 70s)
L: but yeah
L: asimov’s characters are more developed

# # #

J: this is you:
Professor: scooped (kinda)
J: but see
J: I know all those songs
Professor: and you’re white!
Professor: QED
J: but I never know the ones you’re quoting
Professor: 60% of the songs I listed are about, or heavily reference, gang violence
Professor: I am a white person who knows no one in a gang
Professor: (so, I imagine, are you)
Professor: so you know songs that could only be sung ironically by white people

and so you’d better do what you are told; you better listen to the radio

Hey, friends: recommend me some of the following:

  • Podcasts. Anything entertaining or informative.

  • Books. Scope out my progress on my 50 books in a year for an idea of where my tastes lie. But I’ll try a pretty wide range of genres.

  • Television series available on DVD. I don’t need cable now that I have Netflix. On the few nights that I eat dinner at home, a single TV episode on a DVD covers just enough time to entertain me without totally jeopardizing my evening. Past favorites include Deadwood (S1), The Shield (S1-4), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (S1-2), Arrested Development (S1-3), Venture Bros (S1-2), Hustle (S1), House of Cards (S1-3), the greatest show which the medium of television has yet to produce, Veronica Mars (S1) and 30 Rock (S1-2).

  • Musics. I used to go through new artists pretty heavily by burning them to CD and listening while I drove in. Now I take the train and read, more’s the pity. So recommend me some groups to discover. Recent additions that I liked a lot include the Psychedelic Furs, Nas, N.E.R.D., the Allman Brothers, Arcade Fire and Tiesto. Find a common thread in that; Pandora hasn’t.

all I care about is love

I could move to Chicago very easily.

Apparently, Internet Inc. will move experienced people out there with very little argument. I could spend what I pay now for housing and get a spot in a nicer neighborhood. Chicago’s subway looks more extensive than Boston’s; I could get rid of the car. Two of my best friends in the world – Mariateresa and Hawver – already live in the city. I think I’d do all right there.

I’m not bored with Boston yet, though. Not quite. But I can feel it at the edges. Hawver once said that only thirty real people live in Boston; the rest are smoke and mirrors. I think I’ve met twenty-six of them and I keep seeing them at the same bars. It might be time to broaden my horizons.

Nobody panic; I’m not moving yet. Check in with me in nine months, though. Because something’s got to change – either me or the city or the world I live in – or I don’t know what I’ll do.

just how deep do you believe?

Oh, man. This weekend:

  • Had probably the best Sister Mary Ignatius / Actor’s Nightmare show of the run on Friday. RJ, Rachel V. and Jason came to see it. We repaired to Casa de Pedro afterward, which despite unforgivably slow service cooked up a quality meal. Jason talked smack about the Dresden Dolls.

  • Chorizo quesadilla still marching down my gullet, I hit up Jake Ivory’s for Laura D’s birthday. Though Jarret & Co. apparently played none of our songs, we still danced and had a good time. I have started to realize that Boston girls can handle themselves in bars. Just because a guy with spiked tips, a popped collar and the stench of AXE keeps pitching his mediocre line at them, I don’t need to offer to punch him in the throat.

    “No, it’s cool.”

    “You sure? Because I totally will.”

  • After some logistical planning that never would have worked in the age before cell phones and dashboard GPS, a few of us ended up at Lauren K’s house afterward. George G. brought over a bottle of terrible yellow wine which I wisely declined. Then I drove home. Landing time: 4:00 AM.

  • Saturday afternoon, I met Sarah H. at the Wine Gallery in Brookline for a free beer tasting. We sampled a variety of microbrews. One local brewery made a creme brulee stout that tasted sweet but went down a little hard. I definitely could not drink a 22 oz bottle in one sitting, anymore than you could eat 22 ounces of creme brulee in one sitting. However, I would definitely serve it at a party. Bring out a tray full of creme brulee shots for people to nurse while they talked of urbane things.

  • Sarah H. gave me some guff when we ended our walking tour of Brookline with a trip to 7-11 so I could buy another niacin megadose. But that shit works! After the final Sister Mary Ignatius / Actor’s Nightmare show, I slammed a bottle of that and felt fast and loose all night. I hit up coworker Fred’s going away party at Rattlesnake first. In a rare fit of extroversion I bought a round of kamikazes for my manager’s team, which Fred had been on, and we did a shot for our client.

  • At 11:00 or so I sped to Davis Square to catch the latter half of Jason H’s going away party. I spent most of the night playing Rock Band, rotating between vocals, guitar and drums. I not only managed “The Hand That Feeds” on mic for the first time ever, but sang my way through “Gimme Shelter” on Hard, too. The secret: a lot of beer. Jason kicked us out at about 2:00, but not before loading me up with excess beer from his fridge. So: party at my place. Landing Time: 2:30 AM.

  • Sunday I had my first Gorefest rehearsal. Already I can tell this cast will be a joy to work with: everyone has energy and a great sense of humor, the script packs plenty of surprises, and Bobby’s a tremendously creative director. Once we brainstorm some of the technical hurdles (e.g., “should the diarrhea cannon hit both of them, or just Liz?”), this show will fall all the way off the hook.

  • After reading at home and napping, I hit up the Nerds On Sports Pizza Party – for which read “Will, RJ and I” – at Newtowne Grille in Porter. We waited 35 minutes for our pizza, which gave us plenty of time to talk about work. “Google owns me,” I mentioned at one point. “Between GMail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google as a search engine and, of course, Google as part of my job.”

    “Technically, Google’s paying for this pizza,” Will pointed out.

  • Once Marie C. arrived back in Davis from Logan Airport and got settled, I bought her a beer and caught up with her trip home. I also returned two books I’d borrowed from her and lent her Japrisot’s A Very Long Engagement in return. Without the aid of a niacin megadose, I passed out around 11:30 PM.

whoa black betty, bam-a-lam

You know what we haven’t had in a while? An entry in the Worst Writing of the Year competition. Fortunately, here are some terrible metaphors regarding the election, courtesy of the Associated Press:

The secret holding, Barack Obama on Friday readied announcement by text message of his vice presidential running mate from a list suddenly spiced by a dark horse from Texas.

(1) The Secret Holding is actually the fourth novel in Melanie Rawn’s fantasy romance series, after The Empire of Touching, Stroking in the Darkness and Nailed By A Wyrm Knight. Either that, or I have no idea what the hell that means.


CUT TO: Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters. In a dimly lit room, SENATOR OBAMA hunches over a table. We hear paper rustling, but can’t see what’s going on.

Senator Obama’s CAMPAIGN MANAGER enters.

Manager: How’s that list coming, Senator?

Obama turns, strips of paper hanging from his mouth. He finishes chewing before he speaks.

Obama: Pretty good.

Manager: Have you picked a candidate for Vice-President yet?

Obama: Not yet.

Obama scoops up another forkful of paper and crams it into his mouth. The tension drags out while Obama chews, deep in thought. The secret holds.

Obama: You know what would make all this paper go down easier? A little spice.

Manager: Good idea. I’ll send out for some pepper.

Obama: No.

Manager: Old Bay?

Obama: No.
(dramatic pause)
Get me … some horse.

Manager: Senator?

Obama: Nothing spices up a list like some horse. Grind up some horse and sprinkle it on my list. Then maybe I can pick a VP.

Manager: All … right …

Manager exits.

Obama (shouting over his shoulder): And make sure it’s dark!

Journalism, folks.

I’m as ill as the convict that kills for phone time

An update on my various plans for the year:

Fifty Books: I passed the halfway mark on my fifty books in a year schedule in late May. If I keep my current pace I can knock out another 17 by the middle of December, which would make one calendar year.

Investment: I went with Sharebuilder after they got their act together; the low fees turned me on. I now have $x riding on a combination of overseas exchanges, energy industries and inflation-adjusted bonds. My goal now: to ignore anything these ETFs do for the next six months. Being an investor is like being a casino: you make money on the long-run percentages, not on hustling everyone you meet. I avoid the temptation to cut and run by not knowing how my investment is doing.

Writing: Comes and goes. I don’t know much about writing, but I know this for sure: you’re not a writer until you’re writing when it feels bad. If you spend a night, or several nights, in front of a largely blank screen, grimacing at every sentence you type, then you’re a writer. Any jackass can write when they feel creative or clever, just like anyone can work out if they wake up in the morning with a lot of energy.

(I’m not saying that writing is all misery. Misery is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition)

In concrete terms: at about 73,000 words of what will shape up to be a 100,000 word novel. I hit a zone this past Wednesday that should carry me for a while until I need to start making decisions again.

Performing: I like acting more than improv, I’ve realized. People tell me I’m funny and smart and full of good ideas and I say yes, thank you, but none of those traits make you good at improv. Being good at improv – from what little I know on the subject – requires energy and a willingness to throw oneself into the new. I have neither and hate both.

I like having a ‘bit’: a little piece of business or a quirk that I can use to develop a character. I like polishing a scene until I’ve ground it down to a stone. I like practicing different aspects of a character until I find the voice and posture I love. Those are acting skills, not improv skills, and realizing it has made me happier.

Also, improv’s about trust, and my chronic inability to trust anyone I share a stage with doesn’t help.

Cash: Rules everything around me.