If you could bet on predicting when bad restaurants in Astoria closed, I’d be retired

I’ve been editing down this bunch of journals from 1997-1999 to make it into a book, and it’s harder than you’d think. The first thing is that it’s difficult to throw away pieces of it to get the size of the book down. I’m currently at about 140,000 words, and I want it below 100K. The other thing is that it’s so difficult to look back into time and relive that era. Nostalgia is a curse for me, and I always look back instead of forward, so doing a project that explicitly requires me to look back can be a bit pained.

The strangest part is reading about how, back then, I wasn’t interested in my life and I wanted to go back five years and live in Bloomington. Now, five years later, I wish I was in Seattle. And I bitched constantly about never writing, but I produced an incredible amount of stuff in that era. And I wished I archived more stuff, took more pictures in Indiana, so I’d have them for Summer Rain research. Now, I’m digging through photos from Seattle, and I realize I don’t have much useful stuff at all.

I do want to look forward. The more I think about it, the more I look outside of my life for validation on Rumored, the more I realize the next book should be twice as experimental, twice as dense, twice as violent, twice as detailed. I think Rumored was in 100% the right direction. And I don’t think it’s an inferior work. I think it’s a good first step. And I think there should be more.

A lot of stuff fell into place today. The landlord’s son came over and fixed my kitchen light. I have a new fixture and a new switch, and the new switch has a much “softer” feel to it, so it’s easier to flip on when you have both hands full and you jab at it with an elbow. For some reason, my cable TV mysteriously started working again, so I will be able to watch ER again. I got tickets for Quiet Riot, and I got the Pollock soundtrack. That CD is truly incredible, a very motivating 18 tracks of sound. It’s going to be up there with the Naked Lunch soundtrack as far as CDs to listen to while writing. I also got a Motorhead DVD-Audio. It’s interesting, but not entirely worth the $25 (except I will be able to lord it over Ray that I have a Motorhead thing that he doesn’t, and he’ll bitch endlessly.)

The shitty cafe around the corner from me closed. When they were getting ready to open that place, I gave it a year. If you could bet on this like this, I’d be so rich, I’d pay someone to write these entries for me.



It’s a cool Friday night, with a nice temperature that makes it feel like October. It’s even a three-day weekend, and even though I didn’t line up a trip out of town, I feel pretty good about staying here. This is the first time in a long time it’s felt like a Friday night of years ago, back when I lived in Seattle, when Fridays meant fast food, hacking away at the books and listening to music. I didn’t have a TV, and I had high hopes of someday seeing Summer Rain in print. The evenings had a strange feel to them, like the only possible outcome would be pushing an emacs buffer well past midnight, watching the story unfold.

I think I feel very nostalgic about Seattle because I’ve been spending some time editing my old journal entries. I’m going to put out a book of the Seattle entries soon, hopefully by the end of the year. I know it’s close to Rumored, but I don’t care. It’s not like if I wait a year, I’ll sell another 10,000 copies. I’d rather have another book up on the shelf and have nobody buy it. Anyway, I’ve been editing those old journals, reading about Seattle, and I really do miss the place. I’d like to go back at some point – I know I will visit soon, but I wouldn’t mind living there. If I had it to do over, I’d probably get a boat in Lake Union – just a little speedboat I could take out on the weekends – and I might live in Belltown, or Freemont. I’m not sure, but it can get all depressing to think about, so I’ll stick with editing the journals for now.

I watched part of the movie Pollock tonight, and I really loved what Ed Harris did in there. The movie is very inspirational to me, the way he paints and really turns out these genius pieces of work. It’s also a good story between him and Lee, his wife. I wish I could convince someone like her to enter my life despite my delusional tendancies. Maybe I need to get more stuff published.

I got tickets to see Joe Satriani and Dream Theater on the 14th of next month at Jones Beach. I have no idea how to get out there, though. Someone told me it’s a two-hour train, but I should get on the LIRR site and get that shit straight. I also have tickets to see this Zappa tribute band on the 18th, and I’m getting tickets to see Quiet Riot on the 12th, so it’s like live music month in September.

Not much else here. I’m a bit ancy to get back on this journal editing, so I’m going to load up some music in the player and get to it.



It’s pouring, pouring rain outside. All of the streets are turning into rivers, especially in Astoria where all of the guidos throw their trash right into the street, blocking the drainage vents for the storm sewers. I’ve also recently found out, thanks to a public service announcement ad that runs on the subways, that this is the reason there’s so much shit on the beach, like at Coney Island. You throw garbage on the street, it goes to the storm sewers, those lead to the sea, and the sea washes your crappy band fliers and empty cigarette packs up onto the sand. An ecosystem at work.

So about the rain, it’s pouring out there, and like a dumbass, I wore an old pair of shoes, thinking I didn’t want to ruin my new ones. Well, the old pair has a hole in them, so my foot was immersed several times, and my white sock turned a blackish-grey. So I’m sitting around barefoot, the lower half of my jeans completely soaked. I wore an army jacket with a hood and these weird rainshields on the end of each sleeve to cover your hands but still let you hold an M-16, and it kept the top have of my body bone-dry. But the jeans and my bag are fairly wet, and now I’m wondering what I’ll do for lunch. I think I’m putting back on the wet stuff and running to Wendy’s, unfortunately.

The page redesign continues. Please leave a comment or drop me a line if you see something broken or stupid, and let me know if you have any other ideas for me. I spent a long time last night reworking the index pages for the old entries, and I think it all works, but I’m not sure. It needs more attention, and I’ll get to it eventually. It turns out I won’t be going anywhere this weekend – I looked for a good fare, but couldn’t find anything decent. So I’ll try to fix the webpage, and do more crap to the rumored page, and do more crap to the glossary.

OK, I’m getting hungry. Maybe I’ll buy some socks downstairs, so my feet are dry.



So the Fozzy show on Friday night went well. I got to Times Square at about 6:30 and grabbed a hot dog and a Coke before I got in line at the World. There were a fair number of people there, and I was further back than when me and Ray went to a Smackdown broadcast earlier this year, but luckily it wasn’t 34 degrees or whatever this time. The line went in fast, and I had some time to kill before the show, but there wasn’t a mad mob of people. The stage had about three or four people deep, but the rest of the floor was open, and the place has some weird ramps and balconies and stuff that allowed a lot of good vantage points.

I got a place just right of center, about four or five people back. The first band was Sick Speed an Atlanta band formed by Stuck Mojo guitarrist Rich Ward. Fozzy is essentially Stuck Mojo with Chris Jericho as the lead singer, so Ward pulled double-duty that night. I had no idea of any of this until I got to my web browser later that night, so all I knew was that the band’s name was Sick Speed and they were opening. I actully dug these guys a lot; they have a melodic feel like Creed, but with much more of a metal thickness and tone. Ward’s got an incredible stage presence, and really knew how to work the crowd and get things going. They also had incredible sound, excellent tone with everything well-mixed; that’s unusual for an opening band, especially in a small place like the World.

After Sick Shift, there was a big equipment shift, and I thought the roadies were getting some stuff ready for Fozzy. Turns out the “roadies” were actually the next band. They started their set without telling the crowd who they were, and plunked away a very low-energy set. These guys sounded like a bad garage band, like some dudes that listened to the Meat Puppets and maybe some Maiden and decided to get together and jam. The lead singer/guitar player was rumored to be Jericho’s brother, but nobody could confirm it. After the first two songs, people were yelling “WHO ARE YOU?” and I think the singer was going to start crying. I was surprised I was in a club full of wrestling fans who weren’t heckling him worse, so I started the Kurt Angle “YOU SUCK/YOU SUCK” chant, and three seconds later, everyone in the club was chanting “YOU SUCK.” They tried to dig themselves out of that hole by playing a Billy Idol song. To end their set, they played a slightly more metalized verion of “Are You Experienced,” and I have to admit that they did a good job musically with it, but it wasn’t the right thing for this crowd. They managed to escape with their lives, and then we went through another equipment shift while I talked to some other guys about the horror we just witnessed. I mentioned the story about how in 1997, I saw Dream Theater at the Fenix in Seattle, and a fresh-on-tour-and-unknown Creed opened for them, in what was the worst mismatch since Hendrix and The Monkees.

After several minutes of roadies and tests (but not as much as you’d think – turns out Sick Shift and Fozzy shared a lot of gear) the classical music intro from Happenstance started, and the band ran out and started their full-metal cover assault. I forgot that Fozzy has three guitar players now, and it’s amazing there were no collisions on the smallish stage. Jericho ran out – sorry, I think it’s Chris Irving, or whatever fake name he uses for Fozzy – and I was amazed to see him there in the not-larger-than-life size. When you see pro wrestlers on TV, you’re amazed and think they are nine feet tall. But when you see one and they are the same height as you, it’s a bit weird. I mean, he’s a big guy muscle-wise – he could kick my ass – but it’s always weird to see people as people instead of what TV distorts them into.

I don’t remember the entire setlist, but it wasn’t incredibly long, and it also was more covers than I thought. They did do “Crucify Yourself” and the single “To Kill a Stranger” was the encore. But they did a lot of great covers, like Krokus/”Eat the Rich,” Twisted Sister/”Stay Hungry,” Motley Crue/”Live Wire,” and Accept/”Balls to the Wall.” New covers not on either of their albums included AC/DC’s “TNT” (which turned into a big sing-along with all of us chanting “Oy! Oy! Oy!” and a dude getting pulled up on stage by Jericho to sing a verse), ‘Priest’s “Breaking the Law” (how could you not cover that one), and Iron Maiden’s “Wrathchild.” Also a minor contribution to my 15 minutes of fame: Jericho took a big hit from his bottled water and then spit it into the audience, and some of it hit me. So that should make you rasslin’ fans jealous.

The show ended by 11:00, so I caught another hot dog and got home. My knees were killing me from standing on a hardwood floor all night, but overall it was worth it. I also went to the Sick Speed site and PayPal’ed them ten bucks for their self-released CD, so I’m anxious to hear more from them.

Speaking of Fozzy, my review on Amazon for Happenstance is the featured review, which is always cool…

I had a decent day yesterday, too. I went to Times Square and this time found my friend Rob at his job (The Yankees Store). He was going to eat lunch in an hour, so we agreed to meet up and go to Applebee’s where they have this all-you-can-eat riblet special. I killed the hour at Virgin, looking for a bunch of old metal CDs that I suddenly wanted, after talking to people about old-school bands the night before. I picked up two Helloween CDs that I used to have on tape (Keeper of the Seven Keys part 2 and I Want Out) and the Sabbath album Mob Rules) before walking back in the pissing rain to meet up with Rob.

Lunch was cool, and it’s always good to hang out with Rob. He’s also an Indiana expatriate and we met a few years ago at one of the alumni association things. I laid a copy of Rumored on him, and he picked up the check, which was cool. We didn’t get the all-you-can-eat riblets, and I’m glad, because the cut was sort of fucked-up, like Rocky was practicing his boxing on these ribs and there were all of these little pieces bone in there. I predict that Applebee’s will have some kind of major choking lawsuit in their hands within the next year that will make that McDonald’s parking thing look minor. You heard it here first.

Because the conversation somehow got to comics, after I talked to Rob, I went to Midtown Comics. I used to be a big comic collector; more specifically, I loved Spiderman. For some reason, in my second year of college, I went Marvel-crazy and was on this huge quest to get every single comic that had an appearance of the web-slinger. I realize this is nuts, or at least I do now. But back then, I was spending an entire paycheck on a single Amazing Spiderman, and still wanting more. This was back in 1990, 1991, when the self-titled Spiderman was just out, and there was also Web of, Spectacular, Amazing, and all of the other stuff Spiderman appeared in. There was a Fantastic Four crossover going on then, and who knows what else. But I finally wised up, (I think it was when I realized I would be completely undatable if all of my time and money went to comics – this was before they became insanely popular again) and decided I wasn’t buying another comic ever again.

My friend Ray has been nutso about comics for forever – he’s got about 15,000 of them in his house, and he buys maybe $50 a week of stuff he regularly reads. So he’s always bugging me to get whatever neato title he is reading at the time. (Of course, he’s into all kinds of japanese-samurai stuff that I don’t really like, so it’s hard to get him to shut up about it.) Also, I keep seeing various movies that threaten to pull me back into buying comics. But the main reason I’m curious about it is that it’s a subculture that a lot of people subscribe to, and it’s interesting. I mean, most people these days plug into a larger common thing that I find repulsive, be it sports or boy bands or bad TV shows. And I am not currently into anything that is the other side of that. So there’s a strange draw to it for me, similar to the way zines appealed to me years ago, and how heavy metal used to be interesting.

Anyway, I was amazed by this store and the amount of stuff available. I wanted to get something, and I’d heard about a new version of Spiderman called Ultimate Spiderman, but browsing a collection of the comic didn’t really impress me. Something about the artwork was just too weird to me, so I decided to pass on that.

Not much else is up. I went through my CD collection last night, cleaned things up and got my online list in order. You can see a list of everything I own here. 761 CDs, more or less. I haven’t bought a lot in the last year, and I wish I knew what I liked a bit more, so I could start collecting, getting into it a bit more.

Okay, I’ve been typing forever, and I need to get out of the house and get some shit done today.



I think I have figured out a new commenting system for my journal. It was a bit of a stretch to find something that worked with plain-jane HTML, but seems to do the trick. The only problem is it will involve major drudgery to get it to work with past entries. Maybe I can get some kind of script to dredge through the old entries. I’m vaguely thinking of doing something more elaborate with the backend of the journal to allow more flexibility in how things are generated, but it will take some work. I’m almost thinking I need to pay the extra $100 a year to get the advanced-level account at my server company, so I can use SSI and PHP. Something to think about.

Another thing to think about is if I should publish a book of my old journal entries. I’m still amazed and mesmerized when I start reading some of the old entries about Seattle, and how I managed to write so much back then, even when I had Summer Rain and Rumored to Exist to worry about. I would love to see all of this stuff in a paper volume that I could put on the bookshelf next to the other books. There are a few issues involved with it, though. First, even though I want to run out and start editing this tomorrow, I think it would be wise to wait until Rumored has run its course. Maybe next year, or even six months from now might be a better timeframe. Second, I would need a title. And third, there would have to be some theme or packaging other than a bunch of random journal entries. I also thought I could try to pad this out with stuff from paper journals, but then I thought maybe it would be best to make this just stuff from Seattle, and not even use anything past 1999. Anyway, let me know what you think, and if you’d actually be interested in seeing this. And hey, you can use the new comment form.

I’m still sick today, but feeling slightly better. My kitchen light is still messed up; I replaced the bulb, but I think it’s the switch. For one, it looks like it was painted over in like 1947. Also, when you switch the light on and it doesn’t come on (sometimes it does, though), and then you pound on the wall near the switch, it comes on. So now my kitchen light has turned into Fonzie’s jukebox. And I think my landlord is in Italy, and we don’t have a super. You people in the Midwest who have a fusebox in your giant basement and a thousand 30-amp outlets throughout your house and a $277 mortgage, please don’t tell me how horrible your life is.

I’m going to see Fozzy tomorrow at The World. I wasn’t impressed with their life performance on WWE Raw this Monday, but I still love the CD and tickets were only $15 (plus another $10 in Ticketmaster payola) so I figure I should go. The show’s at 7:30, so I have to go straight from work. Hopefully after another two gallons of orange juice and about 10 hours of sleep tonight, I’ll be up for the show.

On that note, I’m going to go back to digging at this short story I’ve been messing with for a while…


Trip report procrastination

I’ve been digging through notes and trying to type up a trip report about my last visit to Vegas in July, but it’s been a total bitch. I didn’t take many notes, and I have an outline, but it’s hard to get worked up about this and type anything that’s worthwhile. I’m tempted to just post the outline and say “you figure it out.” I think part of my total lack of enthusiasm is that I’m sick and nothing beats a hot summer night than a hot summer night with a fever. And one of my fans is crapping out, so it spins and then it stops and then it starts again, and it fucking freaks me out every time it does it and I think maybe it’s going to catch fire when I’m asleep, and/or maybe if I hit it hard enough or change its angle, it will cut the shit and start working again. Also, my kitchen light is burned out, and it’s this stupid circular fluorescent thing that you have to drive to the Westinghouse lab in New Jersey to find a replacement. And there are about 17 much more pressing things that are currently bugging the hell out of me, but I can’t really discuss them publically. When it rains, it pours.

I keep thinking of stuff I need to do to this journal to make it “better”. I haven’t touched the structure in five years, and now with all of this diaryland-livejournal-blogger garbage out there, my pages pale in comparison. The biggest pain is I want to break out the frameset and make it individial pages with the links in a table next to them, but I don’t have PHP or anything like that on my site, so I can’t do any of that. Also, it would be cool to do some other weird stuff in the sidebar, like have a poll or some static links. But without dynamic pages, it’s a huge pain in the ass. Another cool thing would be where you can leave comments, but that requires scripts. Sometime when I’m not sick, I might be able to come up with a better plan for doing this kind of shit. Of course, I don’t even know if anyone reads these pages, so maybe I shouldn’t waste my time.

Incidentally, I hate the term Blog. I also hate any notion that blogs are new, revolutionary, or otherwise creative. Why? Because back in 1992 and 1993 when I first started to mess around with the Web using the NCSA browser for X, I found that everyone’s homepage (then more commonly called a hyplan) was essentially a blog. Every page on the web was a page of links, except for the 23 or so pages with actual content. If you were a college grad student in some compsci department that let you create a hyplan, it would always be a list of links you found. I remember the main reason I started creating my now-defunct Coca-Cola page in 1994 was because I was so fucking sick and tired of nothing but pages of links. It’s like when you try to rent an apartment in New York, and every number you call in The Voice Classifieds isn’t a person who has an apartment, but is rather a realtor who knows a broker who knows a landlord that blah blah blah and THERE ARE NO APARTMENTS. That’s how I feel about blogs. One, they aren’t new. You aren’t trendy if you have one. Two, they suck because they are often just links to other blogs that are links to other blogs that are, at most, links to news articles that require registration and the URLs will be fucked up and rot in a day. And I’m not saying this journal isn’t high art. But I didn’t claim I invented journals yesterday.

Not much else. I’m going to finish this quart of orange juice and lie down with my half-broken fan.


Womb of air conditioning

I managed to settle into my small womb of air-conditioning around midnight last night, after my third cold shower of the day. When the air conditioner shut off at 2:00 because the dehumidifier tank was already full, I felt really sick, even when standing right in front of the freon-cool air. I’d been drinking water all day long, and figured this was some kind of electrolyte fuck-up, so I pulled on some clothes and a pair of shoes and walked to the all-night bodega.

I’m not afraid of walking in my neighborhood at night, although I’m usually on “heightened alert” when it’s 2 AM on a Saturday night. There’s a somewhat shifty Irish bar halfway between me and King’s Deli, and at that hour, there’s usually drunken assholes on the sidewalk, talking loudly and moments away from either fighting or fucking. There’s also a small market in prostitutes on Steinway and 28th if you look carefully, but I wasn’t – I just wanted some Gatorade.

The walk wasn’t bad, actually. Because my apartment is essentially built like a pizza oven, the temperature outside felt about ten degrees cooler. I drank one of the two large bottles of Gatorade on the way home and ate a thing of roasted peanuts, and felt 100% better, but wide awake. So I sat in the living room and watched infomercials and other useless crap for an hour. Did you know that the local CBS affiliate reruns the old episodes of The Real World in the AM hours? That’s pretty weird, but I couldn’t stand that show the first time it was on, let alone ten years later.

Instead, I watched some show on The Food Network where they showcased these ultra-elaborate, high-design kitchens in rich peoples’ houses. The show both intrigued me and pissed me off simultaneously. I mean, these houses were absolutely beautiful, the kind of thing I wish I had, especially since I was sweltering in a giant broiler pan and wondering if I had heatstroke, while they showed stainless-steel refrigerators bigger than my bathroom. The aesthetic side of these kitchens, the way the islands were placed and how the wraparound windows overlooked a big deck with a strategically-placed fountain or whatever, made me think about breaking out a sketch pad and designing the kitchen for the house I want to build in Colorado.

On the other hand, these people PISSED ME OFF! This woman, whose husband was some high-up in the Nevada Gaming Commission, blabbed and blabbed about how they worked with one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s understudies to get the perfect FLW-inspired house. But, she made this big deal about “oh, but we had to fight with them because they wanted the garage and driveway narrower, but I drive a Suburban, and they told me ‘so don’t drive a Suburban,’ but I need a car that’s 27 feet long.” I HATE people who drive big cars like that because they need to look stylish driving to the fucking golf course or whatever, especially people so rich that you know they aren’t hauling around drywall or going deer hunting in the mountains or whatever. And then, after showing this kitchen – which not only had the standard triangle for cooking, but had a SECOND one for baking, along with two ovens and a smaller fridge for baking goods, and a THIRD one for her kids, along with their own fridge and dishwasher, and at least two MORE fridges for vegetables and shit, we find out that THIS WOMAN DOESN’T EVEN COOK! SHE SPENT A MILLION DOLLARS PUTTING SEVEN FRIDGES IN HER KITCHEN AND SHE CAN’T EVEN MAKE A FUCKING GRILLED CHEESE!

Okay, so that really chaps my ass.

During the walk last night, I saw that on Steinway north of 28th, they were having a ghetto street fair, so after I woke up, I got some more Gatorade and went to check out the bamboo plant situation. I’m fucking obsessed with these plants now. I have some demented dream about buying a bunch of bamboo and planting them on my property in Colorado until I have a ton of bamboo I can chop down and use to build a house. I don’t think they would live there unless I had a killer well setup, but it’s a more realistic dream than many of my others. But for some reason, the street fair trailers were still there, but only a handful were open and running. This was at 12:30, so I’d think they would be open 12-5 or something. Maybe if I went there right now, they’d be open, but fuck it. I don’t care now.

I walked around that neighborhood, and it’s a pretty strange area; mostly Egyptians and other Muslims live there, and there’s a Mosque shoved in between the small restaurants and hardware stores. I remember walking in that neighborhood on the day of 9/11 after I made it home (I needed to get some crap to clean my scanner, and some lunch, don’t know why I went there instead of 30th ave or something) but I remember it was just odd to walk around and see everyone in all of their robes and full gear, smoking hookah pipes in cafes. I think most of my fear would be that a Klan rally would show up and start firebombing the whole street. Heightened tension.

Oh, and on the way home, I found a Voice paperbox in front of an Egyptian restaurant in a neighborhood where if anybody reads at all, it’s probably not in English. I grabbed one, and the stack was full. I’m used to going to the machines in SoHo and finding them totally empty about 15 minutes after distribution. So now I have my own secret place to always get an issue.

Another odd thing is that I walked home and some dude across the street from me dumped this pile of maybe 300 books on the sidewalk and had a tiny sign that said “free books.” I thought it would be the usual pile of shit, but I dug through and found about a half-dozen cool titles that weren’t messed up in any way. He must have been moving or something. So, no bamboo, but a pile of reading material.

Today to beat the heat, I went to Astor Place, walked down St. Mark’s and ate at Kiev, then went to Barnes and Noble. I sat on the floor and read two car books from cover to cover, and enjoyed their frigid air conditioning. The two books, one was about building a hot rod frame, and the other was a pictorial history of the Camaro. So it was a lot of pictures and not as much reading, but it wasted some time.

Speaking of wasting time, I’ve been typing this while waiting to pick up my laundry from the cleaner’s, and they should be done. I should walk over there now and get all of that, and then fill the bathtub with ice and do some reading.


Minority Report

It’s day seven of over-90-degree weather in New York City, and my tolerance for this is beyond low. I feel like I’m trying to survive the desert or something. I do have a tiny AC in my room, but it only runs for a few hours before its humidity take fills, so I usually wake up in the middle of the night to an oven-like atmosphere. Also, its a bit disconcerting to sit in my room all weekend, without the TV or my desktop computer or anything else. I’d like to get out of the house, but even the trip from my house to the subway is murderous. So survival has been grueling, to say the least.

I got up early and ran a bunch of errands (bank, post office, laundry) and then went to Times Square, mostly because I wanted the air-conditioned subway ride. Turns out there was a huge street fair on 7th Ave, the main drag through Times Square, and thousands of people were there. I’m not sure I’ve seen this many people in Times Square at once; it wasn’t a crowd as big as New Year’s, but considering the heat, it was still phenomenal. Right off the train, I grabbed a corn dog from a cart, and briefly scanned the vendors. They didn’t have much I couldn’t buy at K-Mart for cheaper, but I have some strange fascination with those potted bamboo and bonzai trees they sell at street fairs, and someday I’ll get the nerve to buy one. (I say this as more than half of my window garden has died from neglect.)

Another alterior motive was to see if my friend Rob was at work (he is the manager at the Yankees store on 42nd street), but since he wasn’t, and since I was drenched in sweat from the 5 blocks of walking, I ducked into the AMC 25 and decided to pony up $10 for whatever was starting within a few minutes and wasn’t Austin Powers or Men in Black or some other movie with an integral fast-food marketing tie-in. So I got a ticket to see Minority Report, which was a coup because it was something I wanted to check out, and also I got two hours and twenty minutes of AC for my money. (As opposed to MIB2, which was about 23 minutes long, from what I hear.)

I don’t think Minority Report got a big pop; the commercials weren’t incredible, and it wasn’t that compelling for most people. Plus it seemed like most reviewers on the “dumb” review shows HATED it. Well, there’s a reason for that – it was an excellent movie! And it made people think, which is a big no-no in Hollywood. If you make people think they are thinking, they will love you. But making them actually think is bad. (I was happy to see that Roger Ebert’s Review was good, though.) Anyway, I don’t want to even give away any of the plot, but I will say a few things about the movie. First, the combination of CGI and excellent design makes the 50-years-from-now world of Washington DC incredibly realistic. It’s orders of magnitude better than movies like Fifth Element or even Blade Runner, but the movie isn’t about the technology. It’s more of a human element, and the action in this movie is very tight, and keeps you going through the entire two and a half hours. (It honestly felt like 90 minutes to me.) The ending is complicated, but it’s very much worth it. The other thing is that this is the first movie that I’ve seen based on a Philip K. Dick book that really SEEMS like his writing. Blade Runner took it in another direction, and Total Recall seemed a lot more like an Arnold vehicle, like Running Man 2. I don’t think people will flock to the home video of this, but I do think it will be a cult classic like Blade Runner.

I stayed up all night last night (well, almost all night) reading the new Cynthia True book about Bill Hicks. It’s incredible, and I want to write more about it, but I also want to take a shower, so I’ll save that for another day.


All-ice asteroid plans

The heat situation here is at a level where I spend large amounts of time wondering how global climates work and if there’s some way we could tow an all-ice asteroid into orbit and use it to cool cities and generate water without pumping more heat into the air. That’s the real rub there; you can put air conditioners on everything, but it’s like an air conditioner releases cold but also releases even more hot and uses up so much energy, that you reach a point of diminishing returns, and the best example of this is Manhattan. There are constant brownouts because all of the offices are mass-ACed to be 40 degrees cooler than the outdoors. Meanwhile, the majority of apartments in the city don’t have central air, and people are in misery. The moral of the story is I played way too much SimCity a ways back, and now I look at all of life as some derivitive of the same thing.

I went to Wendy’s today, even though I vowed to never go there again, mostly to try their new cheddar hamburger. It’s a mess, way too much to eat and the sort of burger that is taller than it is wide and the whole thing goes in your lap the first bite you take. It’s okay, but not great. All of the cheddar cheese makes it taste more like something from Arby’s. As a strange aside, I’ve dated two people who were managers at Arby’s restaurants in Fort Wayne, although these were separated by ten years, and neither of them knew each other, and one was in New York and the other in Bloomington. Still, weird.

Since I’ve been back, my TV has been messed up. It no longer displays the major network channels correctly; they ghost and have a sort of double-image to them. I know this is a bad ground or faulty cable somewhere, but since I don’t pay cable, I have no recourse but to live with it or not watch TV. I thought I’d do the latter, but I find that when I’m eating dinner, I always watch TV. I still get a few other channels, like TNN and UPN, but there’s not a lot on. I should just watch movies, but I can never make up my mind on what to watch.

I just subscribed to the techwr-l list, and it’s interesting to hear from other tech writers. I’m the only writer at my job, so there’s nobody else to talk to about the craft or business of techwriting. I’m not saying that like it’s heart surgery or something, but it is more involved than, say, being an administrative assistant. I never really pay attention to the career side of being a techwriter, because in most jobs there is no career to it – you are either a tech writer, or sometimes you are a senior tech writer, and that’s it. You don’t become the CTO or CEO by working up the ranks as being a writer, but then I’m not sure I would want to be an executive.

When I worked at Juno, all of the project managers were trying to work the ladder, kiss the right ass, make everything look good, so they could get closer to the top. It bothered me a lot, because tech writers should be immune to that kind of political stuff. We deal more with telling people the truth than doing the smoke and mirrors bit. And a lot of tech writers have actual work to do, while project managers just go to meetings, write memos about going to meetings, and draw project plans that say when there will be more meetings. They do report what work is being done, and most of the time they make it seem as if they were responsible. But most of the time, it’s tech writers, trainers, programmers, or other grunts that actually do the work. So basically, being a tech writer is a bad situation, because you’re doing a lot of work you won’t get recognition for, and even if you did, there’s nowhere for you to move in the company.

So why do I do it? It pays a lot more than anything else I could do. And sometimes, it isn’t bad. Even though Juno got fucked up in the end, I had a manager that upped my salary by a third because I worked hard. I had another let me hire someone with virtually no conditionality, as long as I thought they would well with me. And I had a boss give me a $10,000 bonus after I took pretty much no vacation in 2000. And my current job has almost no political situation. I get to hide out and write docs without any distraction.

Speaking of techwriting, I have a brand new copy of FrameMaker 7.0 sitting on my desk. So I need to break the seal, cut off the shrinkwrap, and see how this thing will make my life more complete.


From a Blue Planet

I’m happy today – I got the Chuck Greenberg album From a Blue Planet today. I’ve been searching for this for years, and finally found a used copy on Amazon’s marketplace. Chuck was the main man behind Shadowfax, a former Windham Hill new age/jazz band that I’ve been obsessed with since the late 1980s. I have all of the Shadowfax CDs and I really like listening to them when I’m writing or when I just want to relax. The only problem is that Chuck Greenberg died in 1995, so that was the end of the road for the band. Luckily, I found this 1991 solo album, and it sounds a lot like a lost Shadowfax work. It’s still got Chuck up front, playing winds and the wind-controlled Lyricon synth, but it has a stable of other musicians, including some of Shadowfax and some new players. Chuck wrote all of the songs, and they have the same great energy and feel as any of his other stuff. The stuff sounds great, and I know it will be in my player for decades to come.

Another musical find in recent news is that I picked up the new Fozzy album. This is a sort of project band formed by professional wrestler Chris Jericho and most of the former band Stuck Mojo. It’s old-school heavy metal, with a slightly more modern production and styling. I loved the self-titled Fozzy debut that came out two years ago, because Jericho is a big heavy metal fan like me, and covered a cool set of songs, like old Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Krokus, Twisted Sister, and more. This time, it’s half cover songs and half new stuff, and it’s not a gimmick or joke – Jericho can really sing, and the band sounds incredible. So it’s cool to see a band that isn’t just the same Slipknot/Korn/Limp Biskit sort of dreary grime, but is actually some good guitars and a guy singing lyrics.

Not much else going on. It is hotter than a motherfucker in here, so I might give up on any writing for the evening and retreat to the bathtub for a while.