Procrastination Nation

Things that Robert is thinking about that keep him from accomplishing anything.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Counter by Digits.Com

Thursday, October 30, 2003
Rock 'N' Roll God
My friend Bill's computer looked it had caught some virus last night, and I went over to his house to nurse it back to health. In the meantime, he gave me a quick guitar lesson. I know about 3 chords, and he taught me how to cheat my way through 5 more. The bad news is that I am not a prodigy, so I have to practice to be able to play them so that they make the intended sounds. But, it was fun.

The fun part though came when his computer came back on (without major problems). He has a bunch of recording equipment linked into his computer, plus a record player! I had been talking to him about the Velvet Underground because I had only recently realized that the three songs from R.E.M.'s Dead Letter Office I keep playing over and over again are originally Velvet tunes. He went to his album archives and pulled up Lou Reed Rock 'N' Roll Animal, Live Cream, and Little Feat Feats Don't Fail Me Now. Holy Shit!

Bill is my music spirit guide. Probably my favorite thing to do in Nashville is go to the San Antonio Taco Co., eat chicken wings, and have him explain why the album rock gods playing on the stereo system are rock gods. It's like my own private Inside the Actor's Studio. I liked the Lou Reed and Little Feat, but hearing Clapton play guitar on that first tune, I came to understand why he's so revered. What's amazing to me about his solo is how many different movements there are. It's not like an Eddie Van Halen speed riff, though there's some speed in there. It's like he took the scenic route around the melody, stopping here and there to investigate the range of sounds. My shaman picked up his guitar to play along with the solos and revealed their magic. It's shocking that they're replicable, but what's impressive is that it was the result of specific choices made by the artist while playing rather than following a recipe. Improv at its essence, and not the Who's Line variety either.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Say Wha'?
This is impressive spin (see 4th paragraph). The more successful we are in our efforts to restore law and order in Iraq, the more unsuccessful we will be in stopping terrorist bombings against US/Iraqi/International targets. I'll let you let that sink in for a second.

I would like to see the Democrats use variations of this rhetoric against Bush on other policies. I'm sure Tom Tomorrow will have a version in cartoon form soon:
  • We have put more people in jail and executed more killers; as a result, we have more people committing capital offenses. That is how we know we are successful.
  • We have reduced taxes more than at any other time in the past two decades; as a result, we have a steadily rising unemployment rate and flatline economic growth. That is how we know we are successful.
  • We have relaxed the burdensome standards of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts; as a result, our nation's factories are releasing more pollutants into the air and water than at any time in the past 15 years. That is how we know we are successful.

I may fill in more examples over time.

Thursday, October 23, 2003
In the News
I love to see Wal-Mart get busted. I got in a fight with an ex-girlfriend over immigration issues, which tells you something about what an odd relationship it was. We were both very Anglo, but she was from Arizona, and I wasn't, so obviously she knew better than me. I kind of pissed her off by saying that if having too many immigrants was a problem for state resources, then perhaps a federal solution would be to offer financial incentives to move them into the rest of the country. Send them to North Dakota or Kansas or Vermont or whatever. Spread the burden to the other states and avoid the problems of excessive crowding into border towns/states. I think I made it a little more Draconian than that just to piss her off. It was just that kind of relationship.

But, I also had suggested to her that the real problem was that corporations and the well-to-do were responsible for the problem because they were profiting from paying below market rates to people not eligible to work in the country legally. Some people object to immigrants because they take jobs away from Anglos. I object to the exploitation of labor and paying below market rates.

Actually, I have been meaning to write for a while about Wal-Mart's media campaign to taint future jury pools in sex discrimination cases against the firm. I've noticed a lot of radio ads featuring women in management positions speaking directly about how they had such great opportunities for advancement and how it's such a great place to work. Of course, this goes directly to the substance of pending litigation brought by female employees that women systematically were denied access to information about available managment positions, passed over for promotions, and often had to attend official store meetings at Hooters. I'm not sure how this is legal. Maybe Tennessee is not one of the states covered by the suit, but I think they're national spots.

Monday, October 20, 2003
Go Zealot on the Mountain
It's bad enough Gen. Boykin is such an incompetent boob as to liken the war on terrorism to the Crusades--he's actually relatively, even refreshingly, accurate in stating the administration's position, it's just a completely moronic position--it turns out he's completely incapable of delivering an inoffensive apology.

Of course, what's stupid is that the lesson the administration will take from this is that it needs to police what their generals say and/or find new generals who will say the right things rather than purge the zealots and apply some good old-fashioned secular reasoning.

Young Manhattanite on the Loose
Good news from our man in NYC. Definitely more fun than baseball. Here's your guide to acronyms: RISD=Rhode Island School of Design; MICA=Maryland Institute College of Art.

Sunday, October 19, 2003
Random Baseball Coverage Notes
  • Where is Al Leiter?: The broadcast is really suffering without him. He needs to get some polish to his voice, but his insights were great in the Cubs-Marlins series.
  • Buck-McCarver: I used to kind of like Joe Buck, but ever since he got his eyes LASIKed, he's become a good deal more obnoxious as a broadcaster. He's trying too hard to be the next Bob Costas. (Speaking of which, I miss Costas-Kubek doing AL games in the late 80s/early 90s.) McCarver on the other hand is one of those difficult guys to rate. I always enjoyed him growing up when he did the Mets games on WOR. However, I found that he was two different broadcasters: I liked the one who did the local games (Mets), but the one on national games, in his effort to "dumb it down for the casual fan," always came across as patronizing. I'd like to listen to them call a Cards game in the middle of July, but not necessarily the World Series.
  • Kan u reed this?: One of my big broadcasting pet peeves is reading infographics that are on the screen. Do one or the other, but not both. If you must do both, at least be a little more smooth about it or add some additional piece of info. Deaf people will still get to see the graphic on the closed captioning. Also, how many times will I have to read an infographic about Alex Gonzalez being nicknamed Sea Bass?
  • Hubba-hubba Zelasko: Has anybody noticed the transformation of Jeanne Zelasko? Since she's grown her hair out, it looks like Fox has her on a program to physically resemble Jigglin' Jillian Barberie. The only thing missing is skanked up outfits. Right now, she's a little too Laura Bush.
  • Topology & Kennedy: A 1000x relief of Kevin Kennedy's face reveals his skin is more topologically diverse than the Himalayas.
  • It's Enrico Pallazzo: Or, it should be. Even worse than having the hated Yankees in the World Series is having to listen to a 10-minute rendition of "God Bless America." At least it's not that NYPD cop--which was a 2-for-1 ass kiss of patriotism--but this guy is rapidly becoming the male Celine Dion.
  • Now, when do "Skin" and "24" and "That 70's Show" start?: You would think in this age of target marketing that they could distribute different commercials based on your viewing patterns and interests. I mean, isn't there a way that I could sign a pledge that I will watch "24" in order not to see this advertisement again? I'd be more inclined to watch the story of the pornographer's daughter and the DA's son if it were called "Nipple" or "Money Shot." As it is now, it looks like it's geared to its initial 6- or 13-episode target and then I wonder where the hell it can go: you can't see him/her!; we're seeing each other; something stops them from seeing each other shortly; they get back together; repeat. I don't see how this can sustain itself. And if only Ashton Kutcher were as seriously deformed as portrayed on those promos. This is only partly motivated out of Demi Moore-related jealousy.

Thursday, October 16, 2003
8 Simple Rules for Ratings Success
In an apparent attempt to duplicate the ratings bonanza caused by John Ritter's death, the producers of "8 Simple Rules" have invited James Garner, 75, to play the father-in-law of Ritter's deceased character. I'm actually worried that Peter Boyle will die before "Raymond"'s season is over. He looks worse and worse each year.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003
I forgot to comment on the Yankees-Red Sox Game 3 feudin' and a fussin'. Tell me, is Don Zimmer the father of wrestling legend George "The Animal" Steele? You can learn more about The Animal at his website.

As for the Cubs, I point you back to this fake article I posted, predicting the demise of the Cubs and Sox.

The first indication of trouble was Bernie Mac singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Not what he did during the song, but because of who he is. Yes, he's a Chicago native, but he's a White Sox guy! I don't care if his show's on FOX, you can't do that! You're just begging the Fates to slap you down. And then to top it off with "the Champs" instead of "the Cubbies?" They deserve the failure.

I'm not mad at the fan, but I will always have that picture of Moises Alou jumping in the air and grimacing after realizing what had happened. That should be the cover of next week's Sports Illustrated, whatever happens this weekend.

What I can't get over is Baker not being ready. Even if you plan to let Prior pitch the complete game, why not have somebody up? What does it cost anybody?

What really got me though was this feeling that I had to go through the whole next day to get to Game 7 thinking about how close they were and how spectacularly they imploded. Maybe they'll get lucky and have a rainout.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003
How Novel? A Library People Would Go To
Here's an interesting story on a new public library in Salt Lake City. I applaud the idea of rethinking what a library can be. I also like that I don't feel compelled to purchase any of the items, like I would if I stood around Barnes & Noble reading the latest magazines or several chapters of books that I have no intention of buying.

However, I'm not sure I want to see all noise standards disappear. I've been to some newer and, inevitably, more liberal libraries where the floors are all tile (or pseudo-tile) and the acoustics amplify all noise in the building: kids crying, teens chatting, cell phones chiming, metal book carts rolling and hitting every groove in the floor. While most library tasks don't require silence, it would be nice to know there was some place to work quietly. They probably have some rooms off to the side, but of course all the publicly usable items are in the noise-jungle. Is industrial carpet too much to ask? Or inside voices? Maybe I'm just getting old and unfun.

Speaking of which, Wednesday is my birthday. Feel free to email me your birthday wishes.

Monday, October 13, 2003
Paper Available
Insomniac readers, my paper in Psychiatric Services is available for your sleeping pleasure. It's in the October 2003 issue.

Back Again
Greetings! Just got back from another trip to Birmingham. The occassion this time was David Sedaris's appearance Sunday night. He read from a couple of soon to be published essays, plus a previously published essay, did a little Q&A. He was exactly what you'd hope for: the ultimate cocktail party guest. The tickets in Birmingham were considerably more expensive than other venues, but if he's near your town, it's worth seeing.

What was really impressive about him though was how he declined to be drawn into a political discussion during the Q&A. An audience member asked about his opinions on the Democratic candidates. After demuring about how he wouldn't want to receive political advice from somebody as stupid as himeslef, Sedaris politely shamed the questioner for asking it. The gist of his argument was: if you read me, you can probably guess what my opinions are; but, the question is not about eliciting information from me, it's about your wanting me to agree with you or your assuming that I will agree with you and others, even most, of the audience; and while I may agree with you and say something and get applause for it, it's cheap applause and completely unearned, and I won't do it. Pretty impressive.

As fun as his stories were, it was also interesting to hear him talk about living in Paris and the US/French feud over Iraq. What people don't realize, he said, was that people in France are anti-Bush and not anti-America, and that we as Americans are not so good at making the same distinctions. While we cancel trips to France--he told of an American friend who is a tour guide who had dozens of folks cancel, all except one, who demanded an armed bodyguard with him at all times, but when he was told one could not bring weapons into the Louvre, he finally cancelled--they still write stories about where to visit in America and things to do here on their vacations. It's good to hear that relations are not completely doomed.

Thursday, October 09, 2003
Coming to a Store Near You
Check out the latest board game sensation, Ghettopoly. I'm not sure how to react to it. Part of me wonders whether it would be thought so funny (if indeed it actually is funny) if some other ethnic group had been mocked. How would Jewopoly have been received? Somehow it's socially acceptable to mock black people and poor people because (a) we steal all their creations (music, fashion, language) and claim them for our own and (b) it lets us feel better about our own station in life. But, mostly I'm filled with envy at not having created and sold the game myself. Thus the eternal Libran balance is restored: wholesome concern weighted against jealous greed.

Markets, Markets Everywhere
Here is an interesting article from the Washington Post about ticket auctions by concert promoters/ticket vendors in the primary (i.e., non-scalping) market. The thing that surprised me was the statement about how many seats go unsold.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Well, my interview with Tennessee Radio News mercifully is over, and hopefully it will be killed after a single airing at the top of an hour. Or, at the least, they have a good producer who can extract something intelligible.

On the bright side, we have a good political scandal brewing in Philadelphia.

Congratulations California...
On electing the "leader" who brought you such whopping financial successes as Planet Hollywood, The Last Action Hero, and Jingle All the Way.

Even More Me
Here's me in The Tennessean. I'm doing a radio interview today.

Also, there's a new Slant out today. I've got a pretty good pun in "Other News" this week.

Monday, October 06, 2003
More Me
I was all set to recount my lunchtime conversation in which I described how Arnold's imminent victory spells good fortune for the Democrats: a political neophyte with a troublesome past inherits a disastrous economy and budget situation and is forced to right the problems of two generations of atrocious management of 5th largest economy in the world. Unfortunately, those shmucks at the New York Times beat me to it. (You'll need to register with the NYT to read it.)

They add the George Bush angle that I might have eventually gotten to, but they omit the central interesting issue (though it may have been covered earlier): is Arnold this generation's Lurleen Wallace, wife of former Ala. Gov. George Wallace, and consequently also governor of Alabama? Or, in the common idiom: is Arnold Pete Wilson's bitch?

On the bright side, you will soon get a chance to read my awkward academic prose, in addition to my often stultifying pedestrian prose, in the journal Psychiatric Services. I'll post a link to upcoming articles in the press about this work. Here's the Nashville City Paper's article.

Also, I attended Neal Pollack's reading in Nashville. It's good to see the effect of my carefully crafted words on the local public, having inspired some fraction of two dozen people to attend. I suppose this bodes ill for a future in promotional writing.

Oh, I almost forgot: I spent Friday night dealing blackjack to Cracker Barrel restaurant managers and district managers from across the nation. Quite fun. I only got in trouble once for allowing folks to bet over the maximum per hand (they used play money, so what's the bleepin' harm?). I was not penalized for allowing players to earn chips by telling me good jokes. I asked about their worst days working at CB, and they were reluctant to share--probably sensed it would be bad for business--but several volunteered stories about the day somebody was shot. It kind of killed the fun, frolicsome atmosphere, so I just went back to dealing.

Thursday, October 02, 2003
Great Wall of Flab
I've been at Vanderbilt for about 11 years now. I go out to eat most every day for lunch. Burger This, Pizza That. Every now and again in a quest for variety and a hope agasint hope that the food is finally better, I'll peak my head into a Chinese restaurant down the block. Apparently others have shared my opinion because it is always just crowded enough to keep from shuttering the business.

I stopped in today on a lark and saw that they had implemented a buffet style service in place of the traditional menu (though the menu is still available). The place was packed like I've never seen. It's intriguing to me that a place where the food is not good enough to attract customers suddenly becomes popular because you can get all you can eat of it. There's a reason we're the fattest country in the world.

Actually, their food has been improving in the past year under new ownership, but the buffet has attracted enough people who will discover the food is finally a above the culinary Mendoza line.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Hey! My 2000-word profile got spiked elsewhere (still shopping it), but here's my 300-word piece on Neal Pollack's Never Mind the Pollacks. I have a short preview article on his band, The Neal Pollack Invasion, coming out tomorrow, that I will link here.

Update: Here's the concert preview in the Nashville Rage. To quote from "New York City," one of the songs from the album, I'm a "God damn suck up whore pile of shit."