Born to Lose

I’m currently listening to what most consider the worst Black Sabbath album, 1987’s The Eternal Idol. Maybe this isn’t the worst of the worst — I haven’t listened to Forbidden or Tyr in a long time, don’t have copies, and they’re probably not streaming anywhere. Not sure why I’m listening to it. It sounds like when older heavy metal bands tried to make pop-rock albums in that era, like the Whitesnake one with Steve Vai on it. Ray Gillen originally sang on this album, but was replaced or fired or quit or whatever the hell, and Tony Martin re-recorded his vocal tracks, meaning Gillen’s Sabbath tenure only involved filling in at the end of the tour before this album, and I guess there are bootlegs of his recording sessions. I can’t write much more about this era of Black Sabbath without a copy of Visio to create the complicated flowchart I’d need to keep track of lineup changes. All I can say is this album probably rhymes “fire” and “desire” on it somewhere.

I need to get ready for Vegas — I leave a week from today — but I’ve been too busy to even think about it. Bill and Marc will be there for Sun-Tue, which will be cool. I can’t remember the last time I was there with them. 2011 I think? I’ve been looking for anything interesting to do, shows or comedy or whatnot, and a whole lot of nothing is going on. I guess I already wrote about this, but I’m getting even more bunchy about it, because aside from one dinner reservation, I’ve made zero plans, and I’m almost sure my next week will be far too busy to even think about it.

I’m still occasionally editing old posts, trying to get them tidied up and remove any obvious problems, etc. I occasionally find bits in there that are wonderful, long essays about New York that are fun, bits of trip reports I’ve forgotten. No, I’m not writing a book about any of this. I already wrote it; it’s here. Go read it. I wish I had a better way to drive traffic into those old entries. Maybe I should start posting the links on Facebook, not that the future of Facebook is that cheery.

Fell down a long k-hole reading about the Russian remake of Married… With Children. I’ll let you do your own homework on that one. There are a few episodes on YouTube, and a wikipedia article. See also my old article here Current Obsession: Pole Chudes on the Russian version of Wheel of Fortune.

Something I have no time to research or write about is that Concord Mall got sold recently. The new ownership group has a few dozen strip malls in the greater Chicagoland area, and some office buildings in Michiana. They’ve said they are looking to get some new tenants, and use some vacant space for offices. I’d imagine the former Carson store is going to get split up, like they did with the old Wards store. Not sure how they’re going to find takers for office space in Elkhart, but we’ll see. I’m probably going to be in Indiana in December, so maybe it will still be standing when I come back.

Had to punch out on this Sabbath album. It was sounding too much like a supergroup with the worst members of Mr. Big and Dokken in it.


Desks, part two

A long time ago, I wrote a post here about my various desks over the years. (It’s at Desks, a viewport into the mind) I was digging around in some scans, and found a few more pictures to babble about. Why? As I said in part one, why not. I have an obsession with the workspaces of other writers, so I’m always taking a snapshot of mine.

Anyway, exhibit one is my desk from 1991-1993, sort of:

This is actually a view of my infamous 414 Mitchell apartment, as it was being torn down on the 4th of July weekend, 1993. So, the computer is gone. It’s hard to see, but to the left is a green card table. That was my computer table from probably when I was a teenager, up until that summer. I used to build model airplanes on it before that, so it was covered in Testor’s paint, in various camo colors. I don’t know what eventually happened to this table; I think it was still at my mom’s house shortly before she sold it.

The whole summer when Summer Rain took place, I had a DOS PC in a generic mid-tower case sitting on that table. Here’s it’s full of books and dishes, although I also see a copy of the Danzig 3 box set with the weird plastic HR Giger cover on there. Also check the genuine IBM PC 83-key keyboard against the wall, which is worth more than a few bucks on eBay these days. (No idea what I did with that – I think it was broken.) And of course, the horrible wood paneling. This apartment was $177 a month in the early 90s, and it shows.

Same year, next exhibit. Here’s the next iteration in 1993:

I worked at Montgomery Ward in the summer of 1993, and wanted to get a “real” computer desk for my next apartment. We sold these Sauder L-shaped desks which I thought were cool as hell at the time. This was before everyone had a PC in their house, so the computer hutch was still a somewhat new phenomenon. And this was before particle-board furniture got value-engineered to hell, so this was a pretty sturdy setup. I think it cost $150, minus my ten-percent employee discount.

This was in my room in my mom’s basement, shortly before returning to college that fall. More nice wood paneling, sporting a Type O Negative poster I got from my zine days. Other things I notice are the twelve-inch paperwhite VGA monitor I had for a few years, my Kenwood stereo and Panasonic speakers that followed me through college, and I see a bottle of Obsession cologne, from back when I actually thought that shit mattered.

This was my first real desk when I started writing later that year. I either sold it or gave it away when I left Bloomington in 1995.

Next up, here’s what Seattle looked like, circa 1998 or so:

The entire time I was in Seattle, I worked on my old kitchen table, which was too small in area and too high off the ground. I’d upgraded to this ViewSonic color monitor, which was far too deep for such a narrow table. (Remember when monitors were more than an inch thick?) Other interesting (or not) things include a self-inking stamp for Air in the Paragraph Line Zine outgoing mail, and I spy a box of Travan backup tapes, when I used to back up my Linux machine to tape for some damn reason. You can also see my emacs setup on the monitor, with eyestrain-relief pink colors. I used the emacs text editor to write everything up until 2011 or so.

Fast-forward a minute (see the older post for other desks in between these) and here’s my work desk in 2001 right before I set it up for the first time:

This was at my office at Bleecker and Broadway. We moved in there in August 2001, and I left in February 2007. I spent a lot of time at this damn desk in the early/mid-00s. The friend who just passed away was two cubes in front of this, so this pic is a little bittersweet. It was also taken a month before 9/11. Ugh.

When I went back to the company in 2010 and visited in December, the desk was vacant, so I got to set up and work there, which was bizarre. That filing cabinet was still there, and was locked. I still had the key. When I opened it, all of my files and printouts from the early 00s were still in there.

And to close, here’s a shot from last year, which is about current:

This is an Anthro cart I bought in 2010 when I started working from home. It’s not bad, although I wish I bought the one twice as wide, and maybe the matching filing cabinet. The only difference between this and 2020 is the Vanatoo speakers I just got. And the bass is usually in a stand. It’s also never this clean. This is both my work and home desk, so I spend far too much time here. It could use a bigger monitor. Maybe I should look into that next.




Wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about this for a few reasons, mostly because I still can’t wrap my head about it. Anyway, an old friend and former boss passed away suddenly on the 4th. We worked together at my old New York gig for years, and then back in 2010, he pulled me back in to work remotely at my current job, and was my boss there for five years. He was a super genius with a PhD in laser physics, an awesome developer, and the best boss imaginable. Coincidentally, we both grew up in Michiana, and had all the various regional eccentricities down pat. He was also a Rush-head, and the last time I talked to him was a brief text exchange right after Neil Peart died. The whole thing was out of nowhere, and he was a somewhat private guy online so I won’t go into any details, but this one really shook me.

This is really off-brand, but I’ve been on a Taco Bell boycott for almost five years. I know I joke about it constantly, but the last time I ate there was when I was at UNLV in the summer of 2015. No real political reason or anything, it’s just I was eating there too much, and it had become A Problem, and I had to force myself to stop. (And I should do this with all fast food, but that’s another topic.) Anyway, one of the thoughts that popped into my head when I heard the news above is about the time me and J. found out there was a Taco Bell at West 4th in Manhattan. There were no others around for miles; I think you had to drive into deep Queens or way the hell out in Jersey to find one. When we found this out, I took orders, hopped the F train, and came back with a big bag of tacos and burritos, and we reminisced about growing up on garbage food in the midwest. Anyway, when I heard the news Wednesday morning, I had to leave work and get my head together, and I ended up at Taco Bell in Walnut Creek, ordering my usual Mexican Pizza and nachos and thinking fondly about that episode probably eighteen years ago. A dumb tribute, I guess, but whatever.

The one good thing that came out of this is I talked to a lot of people in the last week I hadn’t heard from in over a dozen years. The bad news is that I’m still working on a code base that he wrote a huge percentage of, and every time I dig into it, I find some hilarious comment of his buried in the code, or in a JIRA ticket. I’m the last person from the original crew still working on this product, so that makes the whole situation bizarre. Anyway, it was good to talk to old friends and remember dumb stories that happened almost twenty years ago.

Other news – not much. I am taking another trip to Vegas in the first week of March. Once again, I found out I had a window to take a vacation either in a month, or wait for like six months and then watch that window close, so I had to book something right away. I looked at a few options, and thought about going to Phoenix for spring training, but things got stupid expensive fast, so that didn’t happen. Also thought about going to Colorado, but no baseball and it would probably be too cold. Indiana is not an option; it’s always super expensive to fly out there for some dumb reason. It would have been cheaper to fly to Hawaii, and there’s no chance of a freak snowstorm on Maui in March. So, Vegas it is.

I’m staying at Vdara this time, the all-suite tower of the Aria, sort of next to and behind the Bellagio. I booked through Southwest, and things were really cheap that week. I know the resort fee scam, but even with that factored in, it was pretty damn inexpensive to get a room with a kitchen in it. A car was also cheap, so I’ll probably be driving in the desert and posting from half-dead malls that have air conditioning.

Actually, I have no idea what I’m doing, though. It’s an odd time to visit, with a lot of shows dark (no Penn and Teller) and no minor-league baseball that early. There’s hockey, but I don’t understand hockey at all. I went to an AHL game once in Milwaukee and was thoroughly confused and could not keep up. It’s like basketball, but at least I can see an orange ball getting thrown back and forth. Also, it feels like I just was in Vegas, and burned through all the stuff I would want to do. So I need to do some research, but I’ve been too busy to get into it.

I’d post about this on Facebook and ask about what to do, but I’m 100% sure I’d get a bunch of stupid fucking replies. Every time I post anything on Facebook, the reply section turns into a stupid open mic discussion group for people who don’t get the fucking joke in the first place. I’m absolutely certain that when I finally do get cancer and post about it, the post is going to get 137 fucking Family Guy memes posted on it or something. I really need to delete my Facebook account and get it over with, but it’s the only place I sell books. Not that I sell any books at this point.

I still have a book out. Just a reminder.