Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
This is clearly the story of the week, if not the year. And everybody and their mother is covering it.
Just a little perspective:
• Lincoln Financial Field completely sells out at 68,532 people.
• Last year, 75,000 people died around the world from natural disasters, including the 40,000 that died in the Bam, Iran earthquake. (Link from Jeff Jarvis' Buzz Machine.)
Compare that with the 1213 dead in the US and Carribbean during Hurricane Season 2004.
I think it was Plato who said, "Ain't Mother Nature a bitch?"
Monday, December 27, 2004
And Then There Were Four . . .
Tom, as I mentioned in my earlier post, was not idling by the phone, waiting until we'd come to our senses. No, he was already getting another band together, but Allan, our namesake and new manager, persuaded him to gives us some time to come to our senses. But, he wouldn't wait forever, so we all gathered at Shawns on the 19th to see if we could make this work.
Sounds good so far doesn't it, but wait there's more.
During the time between our last gig at Matty's, December 11th, and that deadline Sunday, the 19th, our drummer Jeff became completely incommunicado, all email and voicemail went unanswered, and nobody heard from Jeff, until early Sunday morning when Shawn received an email from Jeff, saying that he was quitting the band for a steady, well paying weekend job at an upscale chain of spas.
So, the four of us, Nick, Tom, Shawn and I meet, air out our differences and resolve to make our partnership work. First order of business, replacing Jeff.
So far the quest to replace Jeff is proceding at a much faster pace than the quest to replace Tom ever managed. We put out ads on Craig's List, The City Paper and the Trading Times. As of today, we've got 7 potential drummers to audition and we'll start auditioning next Monday. Wish us luck.
As is the tradition in many Latin American households we spent Christmas Eve with family and at midnight we opened presents. When I was much younger, I remember that Christmas Eve was really a big party with relatives. These days, it's just my immediate family and it's much less subdued by comparison. My Mom cooked dinner, with my sister's help, (Since her tumultuous and tempestuous teenage years, my sister and my Mom have become an inseparable team.) which is a rarity these days. And we sat around the dining room table, ate and entertained ourselves with highly irreverent conversation. My brother and my sister like to bicker, and they do it well, so a lot of the entertainment came from them.
For Donna's benefit, my parents retold the stories of how hard they had work to convince me, as a child, that Santa Claus had delivered toys. And yes, they were glad when I grew out of that stage quickly.
I don't mind spending time with my family at, all really, except maybe when Gus and Ana are bickering in public, especially since Gus has no "inside voice", it's one of the Aviles family traits to be easy to get along with. And when we're all together as a family no topic is really off limits, I mean it, nothing is sacred or profane in my parent's house. If you happen to get uncomfortable, try not to let it show, since that will always mean that we will continue to discuss the topic, until either you leave or we eventually find something else to talk about. ;)
This year we started a new tradition, I think. Which is saying something, as we've been shedding traditions lately, my parents stopped having a Christmas tree about 2 years ago, since that would mean a lot of furniture shuffling and there really wasn't a lot of room for a tree to begin with, as my parents are pack rats. Also, they stopped decorating the house as well, not even a wreath on the door, you'd think we were Jewish or something to look at our house around Christmastime. And the last time any of us when to Church on Christmas, I was in High School.
But, I digress, our new tradition this year, as we tried to kill time between the end of dinner and midnight, when we could open presents, we all took turns taking The Dante's Inferno Test. Because, as the saying goes, the family that goes to Hell together, stays together. ;) And yes, according to this prescient test, we're all going to Hell. Ana, apparently being the only true believer in the family ended up in the 2nd level for the Lustful, Dad, the Atheist, ended up in the 3rd level for the Gluttonous, Donna ended up in Level 5 for the Wrathful and Sullen, Mom and I ended up in Level 6, the City of Dis for the Heretical (which surprised me, frankly, since Mom was the impetus behind our getting religion as kids in the first place.), and my brother ends up in Level 7 for the Violent, which makes more sense for him when you read this passage:
Beyond the wood is scorching sand where those who committed violence against God and nature are showered with flakes of fire that rain down against their naked bodies. Blasphemers and sodomites writhe in pain, their tongues more loosed to lamentation, and out of their eyes gushes forth their woe.
When midnight struck, presents were exchanged, and I think we scored very well this year. My brother got the first season of Smallville from us, my sister and my mom got little pampering gift packs from Bath and BodyWorks whose stuff Donna swears by, and for my Dad, Donna, my brother, my sister, and I all chipped in to get him, and Mom to an extent, an 80 hour TiVo to go with the 32" Sony Trinitron Dad "won" from work as they're replacing their video conference system. That TV replaces the 27" Sony that they bought when I was 16 that finally died it's final death a month ago. (My Dad, in a fit of laziness, did that ghetto/redneck thing of putting a small 13" TV on top of the dead one, so my brother and sister are very glad that will be going away soon.)
The Donna made out like a bandit this year, In addition to a killer, killer PC she had to buy for herself when her old one finally decided it didn't want to work anymore, she got jewelry from my Great Aunt and Grandma, the first two Authority graphic novels from my brother, lots of girly smelling candles and incense, an HP Photosmart 435 Digital Camera from her parents, and, of course, the piece de resistance: the 40GB iPod Photo from me.
Like I said, she made out like a bandit, but as our friend Kelly put it last night when she called us, "Donnas are meant to be spoiled." And that's certainly true of this Donna. ;)
Christmas Day was an entirely new adventure. The family was supposed to eat dinner at Grandma's or as she's called in our family "Abuelita Lila." (For the Spanish challenged it means: Grandma Lila. Abuelita is the affectionate/casual form of Abuela which is grandmother.) And dinner at grandma's means that we start gathering at 2pm for a dinner at 5pm. It must be a grandma thing.
Anyway, we were supposed to be ready to leave at 2pm, but it didn't happen that way. We woke up around noon, because we like to sleep, and as we were starting to get ready, I noticed that the clothes in the dryer weren't dry, so I turned the dryer back on and took a shower. When we were getting dressed, Donna went to the dryer to see if clothes had dried and noticed steam rising from the dryer. Not a good sign. When she opened the dryer door, lots of steam started to pour out, and she noticed little flames at the back of the dryer. Also not a good sign. Clamly, she asked for my assistance, but when I didn't immediately respond she expressed urgency.
There were several possible ways I could have reacted to "The dryer's on fire" and in hindsight I wished I had chosen one of them. As it was I stood for a couple of seconds wondering what I could possibly do in this instance, until Donna implored me to just do something. We started grabbing clothes out of the dryer, and started moving all the stuff that was in our laundry room/storage area out. I couldn't for the life of me remember that there was a fire extinguisher hanging on our neighbor's door across the hall, so I started to fill a vase with water, hoping that would do the trick.
Fortunately for us, the act of clearing out the dryer and then slamming the door shut and turning off the dryer was enough to extinguish whatever circuits or boards that had shorted in the guts of the dryer. We were both still kinda panicky, but had enough wits recovered to realize that it could have been much, much worse. So, began an afternoon of cleaning. Our dryer was pretty old, the power line ran directly into the wall and to what I'm assuming was a direct power line and it's own breaker. Since none of the breakers were labeled, we had to experiment to discover which one it might have been. We managed to find all the breakers for the rest of the apartment and the heat, but I'm still not sure which one of the three that we left off was the dryer.
Eventually, after a casual message to both the Apartment Office and the security guard "Hi, our dryer caught fire, but we're OK now. Do you think you could get around to replacing that at your earliest convenience? That'd be great, thanks" the maintenance guy showed up at our apartment to scope out the damage. He said that he'd be back on Monday to replace it and I'm hoping we have a new dryer when I get home today, since we really need to do laundry.
So we eventually arrived at Abuelita LIla's around 6pm, a bit shaken but none the worst for the wear. We delivered to Abuelita Lila, Tia Nena (my great Aunt) and my Uncle Robert their presents: a purple sweatsuit with a hood for Abuelita Lila, and a Bath and Body works gift pack and a National Geographic Owl calendar for Tia Nena, and a $30 gift card to Suncoast Video for my uncle. The sweatsuit went over well, especially as it was in her favorite color: purple and Tia Nena enjoyed the calendar far more than the gift pack, because she absolutely adores owls. We were going to get my uncle Robert a DVD player, but my brother pointed out that he was holding out for when the component DVD recorders and players started to become more affordable. My uncle is very, very analog, he's really committed to tape, audio and video, since it was pretty easy and affordable to copy to both.
(As a side note. I went shopping for Abuelita Lila with my brother and sister at Strawbridge's and that was certainly an experience. Ana got it into her head that we should all get grandma the J-L/ hiphop style sweat suit with some tagline on the ass of the sweat pants. Something like Rocawear, or Ecko, or even something cheap as long as it said "Princess" on the ass, as is the style these days. It's one thing to imagine a nubile, young lady in a sweatsuit with "Princess" on the ass, and quite another to imagine your 82 year old, 4'8" and shrinking, shriveled and hunched over grandmother wearing one. There are just some images you don't want in your head. But, Ana kept on insisting and insisting, and didn't give up until she called Donna, thinking that Donna might support her, and was told "No way." So we spent the better part of an hour and a half searching through the rubble of Strawbridge's searching for something that would fit her, if we knew what size she was. My brother and I were convinced that she was a "medium" while my sister insisted that she was a "large." Fortunately, my brother and I ended up being right.)
So, while being at my grandmother's wasn't like pulling teeth, it wasn't the relaxed irreverence of my parent's house the prior evening either, but fortunately, my friend Todd was throwing a bash at his place complete with White Elephant or cutthroat style Pollyanna. (Wherein everybody brings a gift, lots are drawn, and every subsequent person has the option of taking the gift that any prior person had chosen or picking something new.) This, by contrast, was a lot of fun, since most of our friends were there, and a lot of them are really extended family anyway. Though there were plenty of people there we didn't know, which was a bit surprising, but goes a long way to explaining why we ended up with more candles and incense, and a box of sampler vodkas and a bag of nuts. (Yes, both of our initial gifts were much cooler.)
And on the seventh day we rested. No, seriously, we did absolutely nothing on Sunday, well, OK, Donna played with all her new toys, but that was about it.
So, Christmas #32 is in the books and now we prepare to say goodbye to an OK 2004 and what looks to be a splendid 2005.
Friday, December 24, 2004
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Monday, December 20, 2004
No, the joy and elation we should have felt at this team notching another historic first in this, it's dream season, a franchise record 13th win, securing home field advantage throughout the playoffs for a 3rd straight year, and rendering these final two games essentially meaningless, has been replaced by a shroud of uncertainity and fear that despite obvious and glaring differences this team will end it's season exactly like the last 3 years: a loss in the NFC conference champsionship game.
But, it's typically Philadelphia that we would think this way. Unlike the 2004 Eagles, we are still not used to winning, and we seek the reaffirmation of our fears and our losing status in the most innocuous news and certainly in this, a worst case scenario.
But, These Eagles are resilient, I don't think the 2001, 2002, or 2003 Eagles would have ever been capable of the 13-1 season to date as these 2004 Eagles. No, those other teams would have lost yesterday, lost last weekend at Washington, lost at Cleveland, and potentially have lost any other really close game this season.
I imagine Coach Reid, now that he knows he'll be without T.O. for a good stretch will and find ways around it in the next two games. And, these Eagles are not going to roll over just because they supposedly have nothing else to play for. No, this team is just so used winning, that I don't think they'll let themselves lose again, if they can help it at all.
It's really an inspiring thing to watch as this team continually and regularly finds a way to win. It's the kind of performance that makes believers out of skeptics and apostles out of believers. And really, I hope it never ends, except with a W.
So, for all my friends who are looking for something to do on New Year's this is it. I've padded my RSVP with at least 8 extra people, not including the Donna and myself, but as standard practice it's always been "the more, the merrier."
If you're thinking about going, give me a call and we can meet up.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
We'll see if the City gets an injunction for Xmas.
Friday, December 17, 2004
(As an interesting side note, my friend Matt, who IM'd me this article originally, notices that reporter Dan Geringer completely casts off all shreds of journalistic objectivity in this piece. Despite all of it's factual information, it's clearly a column masquerading as an article.)
"He came home with the medications, and I don't know if he took them or not," Clark said, refusing to show her face on camera. "I have such remorse for those families, and I am so sorry that they are losing their loved ones."
Aren't parents obligated to look after their kids, even if they are over 18? And especially if they've been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia?
I suppose it's glib of me to say, in hindsight, that a little active parental responsibility might have prevented this, but that doesn't make it any less true. And to add a little schadenfraude to injury, I'm glad her guilty conscience weighs heavily on her.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Just in time for Xmas, surprise one of your lonely, but cutely pathetic
At the very least, it will make you smile.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
They probably don't know it yet, but the NHL and the NHLPA have probably resigned Hockey to second tier sports status forever. The NHL will never again be considered in the same league as the NBA, the NFL, or MLB here in the States, which means that they'll probably never bring in the kind of revenue they were making before the strike and have made this strike completely useless.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Monday, December 13, 2004
Heresy: It's Not Just For Breakfast Anymore.
The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Sixth Level of Hell - The City of Dis!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
|Purgatory (Repenting Believers)||Very Low|
|Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)||Very Low|
|Level 2 (Lustful)||Very High|
|Level 3 (Gluttonous)||Moderate|
|Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)||Very High|
|Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)||Moderate|
|Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)||Extreme|
|Level 7 (Violent)||High|
|Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)||Very High|
|Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)||Moderate|
Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test
Normally, I do these things twice, once truthfully and once to get the worst (or best depending on your point of view) possible result. The result above is answered truthfully. Please adjust your perceptions accordingly, while I make travel arrangements for my eternal stay in the pits of the despair. ;)
Shout out to my own personal Jesus, Mike O'Hara for bringing this to my attention. Oops, there I go, being all Heretical again.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Friday, December 10, 2004
More On The Death Of Dimebag
Condolences and reactions from the industry are starting to come in as well.
But, I'm glad that people are recognizing his importance as a musician, even if he and Pantera were never mainstream. Oh and a correction, yesterday I said that Pantera had won a Grammy, they didn't, they were just nominated. Broken lost out to Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun.
Finally, the eeriest thing about this is that Dec. 8th was the 24th anniversary of John Lennon's murder.
Bettman will respond on Tuesday with a counter-offer and if both sides are serious, they'll start negotiations and maybe we'll get some hockey in February.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
They had broken up last year after 15 years together, weathering the dark years of exile metal got after Nirvana broke onto the scene and Rap/Hip Hop became ascendant on the charts. But, they soldiered on and turned out some of the hardest, rockingest stuff ever. (They even won a Grammy in 1994 for their "single" Broken off of the album Far Beyond Driven
The best way to describe their sound is if you mashed Master of Puppets/...And Justice For All era Metallica and Lynyrd Skynyrd together. Texas was a big part of Pantera, and you could hear it in their music. Phil Anselmo's drawl was just as clear in his shouting/screaming as it was when he actually sang. And Dimebag Darrell's playing definitely had the southern rock feel, especially in his solos. And his was a unique guitar sound, I haven't heard anyone come close to coaxing the kinds of sounds he managed to get out of his guitar, from wall of sound, in your face crunch to wailing banshee and step on your cat highs.
And that's why I'm saddened, because although he was never regarded as revolutionary guitarist, he was certainly an incredible and individual musician.
In tribute I have been playing Pantera's entire catalog in iTunes on my laptop, all 4.5 hours of it. And the title of this post is also the title of the last song on Vulgar Display of Power. Pantera's sophomore effort and probably one of the greatest albums of all time. Definitely on my "Desert Island" Top 10 Selections. Hollow is about the death of a good friend, and has some of the most moving guitar phrases I've ever heard, and one of the best examples of Dimebag Darrell at his best.
He will be missed.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
So if you've been wondering who's been complaining about what you see on TV, the answer is 3 people with a form letter or email. So now you know.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Anyway, I kinda had a feeling last year that Katherine picked me, I don't remember what tipped me off though, but, I was never really quite sure, so I kept it to myself, and didn't really volunteer anything. And, from what I understand Katherine ended up going to Fat Jack's Comic Crypt to pick this up for me. Fat Jack's is THE comic book store in the Philadelphia, (even if they still don't have a website. Come on guys, at least move up to the 90's) and I imagine it's a little intimidating to wander into the store. Especially for someone like Katherine who, as far as I know, doesn't have a geeky bone in her body. I'm not sure, but I think she told me that the staff was very helpful (which was a change from when I was regularly going there back in college. Unless they knew you, they really weren't all that helpful.) Of course, I'm sure being a far, far cry from ugly probably worked dramatically in her favor, as beautiful women don't, in my experience, wander in to comic book stores very often. Though I imagine it was still quite a fish out of water type of experience for her. And though she's often a difficult person to read, I got the sense that she'd probably be content to never have to do that type of thing again.
So to spare any other co-workers from wandering unaware and unguarded into the vast realm of geekdom which occupies significant portions of my life, I've set up an Amazon Wish List. This way they can shop from the safety of their homes and be absolutely certain that I will enjoy their purchase. And since I know that Rachel reads this blog, though never comments, I can be assured that if a desperate co-worker comes to her for advice about what to buy me, she can point them in the right direction.
(There's probably a criticism that can be made for spurning wish lists in favor of surreptitiously teasing it out of me, friends or family members, but frankly, the convenience of technology makes for a compelling argument in favor of wish lists. And the only person who I expect to know instinctively what to buy for me at any point is, of course, The Donna.)
My Wish List currently has 100 items in it, though if I felt like spending more than two hours on it, I'm sure I could make that an obscenely large number. The link above points to a pre-sorted page by priority, meaning the stuff I want the most appears first. I'm not expecting any of my co-workers to shell out $45+ dollars for one of those Origa import CDs that will top the list, though, (even though I really need them, because her voice is proof of the existence of God) mainly because I'll probably end up ordering them from Amazon Japan and probably pay less even with international shipping or I'll pick them up when I'm in Tokyo next year. Conveniently, enough it breaks down so that all the "Priority 1-Must Have" stuff is on the first page, the "Priority 2-Love to Have" on page 2, etc, so I've managed to make it as easy as possible, I think.
Of course, if any of my other loyal, yet anonymous and silent readers feel the need to buy me a gift from my wish list, I highly encourage them to do so. ;)
Saturday, December 04, 2004
< sigh > Good Times
Anyway, Mike's started me thinking about the good old days when we were clearly more goth and hung out and partied way, way more than we do now, and plotted the destruction and ruin of other ficitional characters, while paranoid that your own destruction and ruin was lurking around the corner.
You know, good, harmless fun. ;)
I've kinda gotten away from the whole role-playing thing lately, which is a bit of a surprise, since I was always the one who thought I'd still be sitting at a table, rolling dice well into old age, but it's fallen off the interest meter considerably in the last couple of years, as I've been involved in the band and getting immersed in anime and with Yuricon and the yuri comic I'm working on for the next Yuri Monogatari anthology. (Which will get a more detailed post at some point.)
As life tends to ebb and flow much like a river, this is only natural, and I'm sure at some point later on, I'll pick up gaming again and be into it again. But, I was looking forward to Mike's little shindig for one reason really, the chance to see all these cool people I used to see every month, again.
Alas, it does not like I'll get the chance as we've schedule a rehearsal for Friday night, the 10th and have a gig at Matty's on Saturday, the 11th. Which is bummer for another reason, as there is supposed to be an after party/send off for my friend and the guy who brought us all together in first place David Krieger.
So, I'm going to have to find some way of making it down there at some point to at least say goodbye to Dave, and really, Mike went to trouble of casting me as André de Lorde, and while it's stereotyping, it is appropriate. ;)
Friday, December 03, 2004
A Little Update
Thursday, December 02, 2004
You Got Egg On Your Face
I remember hearing about Saddam abusing this program well over a year ago, but I don't remember where and a Google search doesn't yield anything that far back that I can easily find. I should say I'm surprised that it took this long for everybody to get on this story, but I'm not. We were in the middle of election season and honestly, the MSM just didn't think it was that important.
But now, everybody is reporting on it, 2001 Liberty Medal receipient Kofi Annan is facing a vote of no confidence from the UN. His son looks to have profited immensely from the arrangement. (NYT requires registration). And he'll probaby be forced to resign soon. France and Germany are revealed to have profited from the scenario as well.
Which goes a long way to explain why France, Germany, et al, were so vehemently opposed to the Iraq War, not because of some superior world view or morality, but because money was involved. That doesn't mean that all opposition to the Iraq War is now rendered moot, just those member states positions, and, of course, the belief that France and Germany held the moral high ground on this issue.
So, all in all, the value and the validity of the UN is now up for debate, and I imagine that unless serious reforms are undertaken the UN will quickly slide into irrelevance much like the League of Nations before it. And maybe, in order to get an actually effective world body, we need to let the UN die.
Why Philly Is Cooler Than You Think
Cereal is one of the things I don't eat a lot of anymore, since I rarely have time for breakfast at home anymore. But, I have to admit, I want to check out the cereal bar, since it seems like a cool, if silly, thing. Anyway, here's the link to their website, if you don't feel like reading the article.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
What He Said
Fortunately, for me, my friend Matt has done the work for me, actually within days of the election, and he just never bothered to tell me he updated, since his last post was in June. Anyway, Matt and I think along the same lines a lot and since he is a much clearer and more articulate writer than I am, I'm just going to link to his post about this election past and just say "me too" since he is supposed to be my doppelganger.