where to?

sham cam

Portrait of the artist as an old dork.

23 june 03

The Pro's and Cons of Anonymous Internet Communities

One of the reasons I haven't posted anything in three weeks is that I've been spending way too much time on craigslist, an online community that started in Frisco, but is now worldwide (to varying degrees). I wile away the hours in the musician's forum, looking for cheap gear, selling my extra gear, looking for musical collaborators, and generally marvelling at the level of stupidity exhibited by my fellow musicians. (The best of craiglist is also good for hours and hours of fun and laffs.)

So anyway, on Friday afternoon, I'm busily not working and surfing CL instead. I come across this ad:

Fun partying Female musician wanted
Reply to: anon-12665983@craigslist.org

Hi looking for a fun female musician that wants to party and lay down some tracks on my home studio .

We can just jam around or work towards getting your track done .

Fucking creepy, right?? So I email the guy. Our exchange went as follows.

Subject: your CL post 
From: "Ian Miller" 
To: anon-12665983@craigslist.org
think yr in the wrong forum. try casual encounters instead.

Subject: Re: your CL post 
From: Anon A. Mouse (anon5150@yahoo.com)
To: ian@blawg.com 
for which post?

Subject: Re: your CL post
From: "Ian Miller"
To: Anon A. Mouse (anon5150@yahoo.com)
that one. get real.

Subject: Re: your CL post 
From: Anon A. Mouse (anon5150@yahoo.com)
To: ian@blawg.com 
Get real? STFU that stays in musician ,  I want to jam with a female musican and lay tracks .   Its no diff from people wanting to jam with 420 friendly musicians .  Now go back and do your homework mr CL hall monitor christ you need a life .

Subject: Re: your CL post 
From: "Ian Miller"
To: Anon A. Mouse (anon5150@yahoo.com)
look, if i was a pussy CL hall monitor, i would've just called you out on the board (like other people undoubtedly will). look at the text of your ad: "fun female musician" who "wants to party." it's pretty clear you're not out to make great music, dude. you may as well have posted "creepy old guy wants to drug and date-rape naive female musician."
bitch, please.

Subject: Re: your CL post 
From: Anon A. Mouse (anon5150@yahoo.com)
To: ian@blawg.com 
oh I see , it should read I want to keep talking to a wierd dumbass on yahoo about things I could give a shit about .  
Ian blow goats go away .

I think it's significant that he didn't deny he was a creepy old guy who wants to drug and date-rape naive female musicians, don't you? ßßß

2 june 03

Worst. Audition. Ever. Redux.

So Tracy reminded me that, in fact, the audition I wrote about below was not the worst one ever. There was once a worser one, if you can believe that.

It was several years ago, so details are hazy, but it did involve a Led Zeppelin cover band. Now before you start laughing so hard at that bit of information that you can't continue reading, let me remind you that, before they became a symbol of everything that was wrong with '70s rock n' roll, Led Zeppelin were one of the greatest rock n' roll bands of all time, and featured one of the greatest rock bassists of all time, one John Paul Jones.

I'd spoken to the guitarist-slash-bandleader on the phone a couple of times, and he'd sounded incredibly knowledgeable. Plus, I learned to play bass by throwing on Led Zeppelin records and trying to cop JPJ's oh-so-tasty basslines, so the prospect of playing them in front of people (and maybe even for a little money) was enticing. So it was with some, but not much, trepidation that I drove out to the now-defunct Downtown Rehearsals.

When I got to the rehearsal room, though, it was clear that I'd made a horrible mistake. Everything about the scene was wrong. Bandleader man was at least 1,000 years old, and looked every day of it. He had a Jimmy Page Les Paul and duplicates of Jimmy's pedals and backline, but he was playing with fingerpicks. Fingerpicks, people. Like a blugrass flatpicker or a banjo player. Just like there's no crying in baseball, there are no fingerpicks in rock. I mean, even Lindasay Buckingham doesn't use fingerpicks, fercrissakes. Anyway, when the old guy tried to play the songs, it sounded like someone was falling down the stairs while a Led Zeppelin record was on in the background. Like he was approximating playing the song, but there was so much godawful click-clackety racket from the fingerpicks that it was practically unrecognizable.

The rest of the band was not much better. There was an overweight goofy drummer (i think "overweight" and "goofy" are more or less redundant when talking about drummers, but I thought I'd mention it all the same) who played some Neil Peartesque kit with way too many drums, but was at least competent, and a singer who was like a bizarro Robert Plant, i.e., Mr. Plant's polar opposite: short, portly, and untalented.

So I knew within 30 seconds that this was a huge no bro, but this was before I knew the beauty of the honest response. They were completely into me (I knew the songs already and had for years), had "pro gear" (all musicians wanted ads require pro gear, whatever that is), and felt constrained by social convention and common decency not to tell them what I actually thought: that I'd rather be eaten by a bear than join their embarrassingly inept Zeppelin cover band.

So I did the only thing I knew how to do at the time: sneak off to the bathroom and call Tracy on the cell. Unfortunately I can't remember the conversation, but I imagine it went something like this.

Me: Hey, it's me.
Tracy: Hi, honey! How's the audition going?
Me: This may go down in history as the worst audition ever.
Tracy: Oh no! That's terrible! What's wrong?
Me: Well, the guy's playing with fingerpicks, for one thing. And he's like a million years old.
Tracy: Oh, poor baby. Are you gonna tell them that you're not into it?
Me: Ha! How could I possibly do that? I mean, I'd rather be eaten by bears than actually join this band, but I can't actually tell them the truth, can I??
Tracy: Well, you could. ...
Me: (dreamily) Maybe someday ...

Actually, that's probably not at all how that conversation went, but you get the idea. The audition was so bad that my only recourse was to escape to the bathroom and covertly call Tracy and whine to her. That's pretty goddamned bad. ßßß

28 may 03

Worst. Audition. Ever.

This past Sunday I had an audition. It wasn't me auditioning for a band, per se, but me going and meeting up with a guy to see if we liked each other's stuffs. We met via craigslist, of course, where talented but incredibly flaky musicians are outnumbered only by idiotic, talentless, flaky musicians.

It began auspiciously enough. I answered his ad looking for a bassist, and the influences he listed were consistent with my own: Britpop, some darker, heavier stuff, and some lighter, fluffier, poppier stuff. We exchanged emails, and set up a time to meet at his studio in S.F. He said he'd call the day before to confirm. He didn't.

Typical flaky musician, I'm thinking. I call him the morning of the audition.

"Oh, hey," he says. "I was gonna call you yesterday."
"Yeah, you were."
"So ... are we still on?" I ask.
"I guess so, yeah," he says.

Oh, Jesus, I think. This is going pear-shaped already.

He says we're still on for noon. I ask him for directions, which surprises him. He thought he'd already given me directions. He hadn't. I am to call him when I arrive, and he'll let me in.

I get to the rehearsal space a couple of minutes after the appointed hour. I'm obsessively punctual, but after dealing with musicians for this long, I'm finally starting to learn my lesson. Time is relative to them. So I get there and call his cell. He says he'll be out in a minute to let me in. I wait five. My cell phone rings.

"Hey, I'm out here and I don't see you," he says. "Where are you?"

I'm standing directly below the giant sign featuring the street address. I describe it to him.

"Oh, you went over there? The entrance is around back."

"And how the fuck was I to know that?" I wonder. "You gave me directions to this exact street address!" I barely restrain myself from saying. I'm a damn good bass player, but I'm not a fucking psychic. I pack my shit back in the car and drive around back.

He's waiting for me at the entrance. No "sorry, dude, my bad" or anything for not giving me the proper coordinates. This isn't a dealbreaker, but the sum total of his stupidity (or lack of consideration or common sense or whatever you wanna call it) is reaching a critical mass.

We get inside, and I plug in my bass and effects pedals. He makes a snide remark about my awesome battery of effects. This loses him even more points. I tune up. He doesn't. More points lost.

He starts playing me his "songs," which are less songs and more just random chord progressions played louder and softer in lieu of actual changes or parts or structure. He's a mediocre guitarist at best, and an even less gifted songwriter. He's well into negative pointland now.

After he regales me with a few of his songs, he asks me what I think. And that's when something odd happens: I tell him the truth.

See, normally I would say, "Oh yeah, this is cool, sure, fine," knowing full well that this bears no resemblance to a band I'd want to be a part of. I'd lie (because it would be easier, in the moment, than telling the truth) and then never, ever call the guy again. Typical guy, right? We never call.

But I didn't lie. In fact, I was brutally honest. I told the kid I wasn't feeling it, that the songs were rudimentary, didn't have enough melody or enough dynamics for me, and that I wasn't the guy for this project. He seemed surprisingly unfazed by this. I packed up my stuff, said goodbye, and got the hell out. The whole thing cost me a couple of hours of my life, but I learned something. Honesty actually is the best policy. Who knew? ßßß

20 may 03

Done, and Done

Here's a news flash: I have nothing to say.

I think all my words are spent. I think perhaps I have a quota of words over which I cannot type, and, sadly, I have spent them all already, either on my work writing or my play writing or my rampant instant messaging or email writing in response to ads on
craigslist for bands or gear I don't need. And so I am bereft of words.

I do have a sort of audition tonight, a "jam session" as the kids call it. I'll be renewing my acquaintance with one Ryan Henry of the Hills Have Eyes and his roots-rocky singer-songwritery material. Very much looking forward to that. I have no expectations of what will happen, which means I can't get disappointed.

And on that note, I believe today's verbal allotment is truly up. ßßß

13 may 03

You Can't All Be Great Lays!

I'm finally emerging from the freelance ditch I dug for myself. Right now I'm working on some stuff for a former employer, namely some choice Best of the Bay entries. It's pretty sweet, cuz it's hella fun (unlike my usual freelance assignments, which are anything but fun) and cuz people will actually be read it (unlike this site, which is fun to write for but read by precious few). And cuz I'm getting paid. Which is nice.

Writing is a weird activity. I always assumed that it was something everyone could do, like breathing or walking; I mean, I sat in school and watched them do it. They put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and words appeared. Which is what I did. I had no clue at all that it was a skill. It was just something I did. Like breathing or walking.

As it happens, not everyone can do it. Pick a weblog at random, or read an email from a coworker, and that fact will become painfully obvious. But everyone thinks they can do it. Why else would there be half a million weblogs out there? And as soon as you tell someone you're a writer, they're compelled to tell you about the great book idea they have. That doesn't happen when I tell someone I'm a musician. I almost never hear "Oh, really? Hey, well check out this great refrain I came up with the other day," or "Oh yeah, I've got this great idea for a song cycle. I'll play it for you sometime." Maybe it's something in the nature of writing; maybe its very solitariness makes it easy to claim you do it without actually doing it. That and the fact that most people can, in fact, put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and form words. It's just that most people don't form words worth reading.

It's a lot like another theory of mine. The theory that nearly everyone thinks they're a good driver. Now you and I have been out on the highways and byways, and we know this is not the case. The roads are rife with horrible, horrible, drivers. Hell, I may even be one of 'em. But ask anyone if they're a good driver, and I guarantee that nine out of ten people will, à la Rain Man, tell you that yes, they are an excellent driver. But we know that this cannot be the case. Experience tells us that nine out of ten (other) drivers are godawful. So go figure.

Oh, I almost forgot the corollaries to this theory:

1. Everyone thinks they have a great sense of humor. We know this cannot be the case. Look no further than your primetime TV listings for refutation: "According to Jim"? "Most Outrageous Game Show Moments"? I don't fucking think so.

B. This is just a guess, but I'd wager that most people think they're really good in bed. In my (albeit limited) experience, I'm guessing that at least some of you are wrong there, too. Sorry. ßßß

08 may 03

If I Record It, Will You Come?

If you are a fan of the immediate gratification, as I am, for the love of God, do NOT embark on a career — or even a hobby — in recording. Oy, it's killing me. Ferreal.

Recording is almost the polar opposite of creating music. The writing, when it's going well, can seem effortless. Inspiration can strike anytime; in fact, I do my best lyric-writing when I first wake up in the morning, before my brain remembers to switch on its evil editing function that tells me everything I do sucks. When I'm on, random chord configurations become songs, and lovely vocal melodies insinuate themselves in my brain. It's an amazing feeling.

Recording, on the other hand, is grueling, stupefyingly tedious hard work. And it doesn't help when your stupid studio computer, which is still running Windows 98 (I know, I know, I've been meaning to upgrade, but ...), crashes every few minutes. But I've been working on some of these songs for going on three months now, and I still don't have anything to show for them. It's kinda like cooking for one: you can prepare the most elaborate, spectacular meal, but without anyone to share it with (and compliment you and tell you how fantastic you are), it's profoundly unsatisfying. OK, so maybe it's more like a tree falling silently in the forest. Pick your metaphor, whatever, I don't care. Bottom line? Recording is slow and stupid and frustrating. But it seems it's the only way to get from Point A (songs in head) to Point B (songs on radio).

So until they develop a way to surgically implant an
S/PDIF IO in my neck so I can download the songs directly from my brain to the Internet, I guess I'm stuck with it. ßßß

07 may 03

Damn Your Eyes, Man!

I told you I'd keep you posted on the minutiae of my hypothyroidism, and I am making good on that promise. Got some lab results back yesterday, and my endocrinologist bumped up my Synthroid dosage by more than 25 percent. This is a little daunting for me, considering that I was once ridiculously hyperthyroid. Being wired all the time, 24 hours a day, was not at all fun, and it's sure as hell not anything I'm looking to repeat. So while I trust that raising the dosage is the right thing to do (and may even help me shed a couple of especially stubborn pounds), it is not without trepidation that I increase my intake.

I'm feeling a little more wired today than usual, but I'm so suggestible that it could be entirely psychosomatic. I won't really start worrying until I end up with thyroid ophthalmopathy. There are limits to what I'm willing to put up with, y'know? And looking like Marty Feldman is where I draw the line. ßßß

06 may 03

Bandless in the East Bay

Well, it seems we could stave it off no longer: the Scheme, the band that was meant to make me a Rock God and my name a household word, is no more.

I bailed out last week, and was followed shortly thereafter by a colleague. It was clear that it would not become the rock n' roll juggernaut we had hoped. Nope. After the debacle at South by Southwest, it continued to go south, even as we drove north and west. The label we were showcasing for passed on us (and, considering how we played, I can't say as I blame 'em), and we never really recovered from that. We continued to second-guess ourselves and each other until we pulled the plug.

It's pretty bizarre turning my back on something I invested so much time and energy in. Three nights a week, four hours each time, for the better part of two years. What's to show for it? A handful of sparsely attended gigs and some random demo's and rehearsal tapes. The world will never know our formidable rock prowess. It's a damn shame, too. We were a fucking great band.

Being in a band is a whole lot like being in a gang. There's the trench bonding (not to mention the trench foot, or the crotch rot, or the wet brain) that comes not only from a band's singleness of purpose, but also from synchronizing one's efforts, onstage and off. It's like sharing a brain. (And, if you've spent any amount of time at all around musicians, you may have wondered whether they were all sharing one brain anyway. But I digress.)

It's also a whole lot like being married, only to four other guys. It's a relationship that needs to be maintained and fostered and all that shit. If you don't work at it, it will inevitably careen off the rails. Much like this one did.

So now I'm on my own again, spending way too much time in my home studio trying to learn how to work Sound Forge and Acid, considering going back to school to learn "recording arts" (what a fucking joke that term is), and recording my self-indulgent solo jammies. So if you know anyone who needs a bassist/singer/keyboard player/thereminist, tell 'em to look me upßßß

30 april 03

Say Anything

A week between entries. Jesus, that's lame. Fact is, though, that there's really not that much to report. Nothing exciting, anyway.

There was some dumb thing on blogging on the
News Hour with Jim Lehrer the other day. I get all conflicted when I hear or read or see reports on weblogging. The stats they throw out boggle the mind — someone starts a new blog every 40 seconds, and there are at least half a million blogs out there, read by more than 10 million people a day. So there's one part of me — the part of me that wants no part of a club that would have me as a member — that wants to mothball this site when I realize that exactly how un-unique I am and how non-novel I am.

But then the needy, egomaniacal side pipes up, reminding me that I've been at this for more than two years now, and goddammit, where's my piece of the pie? How come I have not been recognized for the genius that I am? Why is no one interviewing me for one of these tawdry and stupid stories? And why have I not been plucked from the ranks of the amateurs by Esquire or the Atlantic or the National Enquirer, for fuck's sake? Why will no one pay me to dispense the pearls of wisdom I cast before you swine?

Apparently I have some issues to work through. ßßß

23 april 03

Abandoned to my own meager devices.

I'm roughly 5/8 of the way done with this mammoth freelance writing assignment, which, when completed, will leave me much more time to write about baseball and seeing bands you've never heard of. I'm feeling relieved already. Sort of.

Freelance work is a very particular variety of torture for me. It taps in to all my various (and myriad) neuroses: perfectionism, procrastination, fear of failure, fear of success, and I could continue, but I won't. Freelance work leaves me to my own devices, and my devices are profoundly flawed. (Actually, my devices are dismantled, and their component part are sitting in a jumbled pile on the dirty floor of my id.)

It's like being in school all over again, which is NOT a good thing. For me. As early as grammar school I'd stay up all night in bed, wallowing in my own flop sweat, a tiny eight-year-old bundle of nerves, fretting over a spelling test I would take (and invariably ace) the next day. In high school, from the moment an assignment was given until the night before it was due, I would be unhealthily, unreasonably fixated on it, stressed out beyond all reason. But I'd always wait until the very last minute to begin the assignment, as if I received some strange satisfaction from driving myself beyond the brink of sanity over a goddamn term paper. And who knows? Maybe I did. And yet it never occurred to me to begin the assignment earlier or change my behavior in any way. It was just who I was and what I did.

I like to think I've learned a little in the intervening years, but maybe it's just that the pendulum has swung back the other way. Now I'm a little wacky in the other direction, being slightly too conscientious, turning things in early and often. But my editors don't seem to mind.

Maybe I am getting better. But I doubt it. 

21 april 03

They don't love you like I love you.

Went to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Bottom of the Hill last night. Made sure to stay home and watch the Simpsons (repeat), Malcolm in the Middle (stupid clip show), and Six Feet Under (excellent, I don't care what anyone says) before we left in order to miss Pleasure Forever, which we did. Luckily. Hard to believe some of those dudes were once in the almighty Angel Hair. Cuz they're boring as fuck.

We caught about half of Icarus Line's set. They seem to have discovered heroin since last time I saw them, cuz while they were as manic and intense as ever, it was like I was listening to them at half-speed. I don't necessarily like listening them, but singer Joe does an amazing Iggy Pop impersonation, and it's always fun to watch guitarist Aaron throw himself around the stage with abandon.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs seem to be practicing their rock-star chops, from the bus out front (thank you, Interscope!) to the unreasonably long wait for them to take the stage. When they finally did get out there, though, they didn't disappoint. The sound was shitty, which is weird for BOTH — band wasn't loud enough, and the drums sounded like they were in a can. But Karen O., the band's certifiably insane singer/frontwoman/performance artist, didn't allow you much time to nitpick; she just commands your attention in the way that only an ugly/sexy/insane/ridiculously talented singer can. At times invoking the spirits of Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde (both of whom are still alive, of course, although you wouldn't know it from listening to any recent output of theirs), Karen paced the stage, doused herself with beer, exposed her tits, and performed vocal gymnastics that should not only be impossible but, if possible, should at least be illegal.

Gonna see 'em again tonight, this time at everyone's favorite former brothel, the Great American Music Hall. Apparently the Pattern is supposed to play, but I've been hearing rumors of defections from within their ranks, so we'll see. More information as this story develops. Until then, maintain radio silence, soldier. Over and out. ßßß

18 april 03

What's so good about it?

Nothing, that's what. And why is the day that the (certainly not my) Lord and Savior was nailed up known as "Good Friday"? What's so good about that? Seems that something may have been lost in the translation.

In other musical news, it seems that The Hills Have Eyes may be rising from the ashes. Not so much like a phoenix, but more like a Will Ferrell's Mustafa in Austin Powers. Yes. Charred and scarred and badly burned, just like that. Good times.

Anyhoo, Ryan and I hooked up this past week and made some overtures in the rock direction. We'll see how things turn out, and I will alert your presence to appropriate links to audio files as they appear. Whenever that might be.

Other than that, I got not much of anything. This morning a personal trainer friend of mine showed me some new ass-kicking (literally) deadlifts, and my ass is sore. "So so' you couldn't touch it with a powda puff," as my lovely Southern-born wife might say. Arrrrrghhh. He'p me, Lord, he'p me, Jesus.

Start with Jesus and end with Jesus, I always say. No Jesus, know peace. Know Jesus, no peace.

That's right, right? Right. ßßß

15 april 03

Objects in motion stay in motion. Those that ain't don't.

One more reason not to write: Joust. Nothing like a good ol' game of Joust to remind me of being 14 and spending endless drunken Saturday nights at the arcade. Oh, good times, people. Good times.

Of course, for every inaction, there is equal and opposite action. So I am presented with one more reason to write, namely that my San Francisco Giants are 12-1 and currently own the best record in the majors. Oh hell yeah.

Me and the missus went to the game on Friday night to see them trounce the hated Dodgers, and we'll be going tonight to (we hope) run their record to 13-1. And better even than that is the fact that we'll be making a pilgrimage to Wrigley Field to see our Giants take on the Cubs at the friendly confines in July. I could not possibly be more stoked.

The Scheme rocked Bottom of the Hill this past Sunday with Thrice. Riley and co. are just about the nicest bunch of O.C. bro's — I mean, boys — you'd ever wanna meet. So if they come to your town, make sure to come out and represent and give them all your money. Tell 'em I sent you. And that the Angels suck.

ian ßßß

11 april 03

Nothing More Than Feelings

I have had no coffee today. That might explain why I feel like crawling out of my fucking skin right now. If it wasn't for ye olde iPod, I'd probably be going completely postal.

As it stands, though, I'm just profoundly uncomfortable. And maybe it's not the coffee (or lack of same). I used to think that emotional pain or discomfort or angst or however the hell you want to refer to it meant that I was doing something wrong. Like if I felt like shit, then I wasn't working hard enough at something or that a vengeful God was punishing me or I was just a failure. This is, of course, perfectly understandable for a recovering chemically dependent person: feelings are an enemy to be avoided at all costs. Feel anxious? Scared? Happy? Angry? Depth-charge it with booze or cough syrup or percodan or model glue or a ball-peen hammer. Problem solved.

But it's only recently that I've figured out that feelings can actually be helpful. There's, like, information in there if you look. Put your hand on a hot stove and it will hurt like hell. Makes most people remove their hands from the stove before any serious and lasting damage is done. Same with emotional pain, I guess. Get in a situation that really sucks and keeps you awake at night and makes you curl up in the fetal position? Hey, buddy, that might be a sign that the situation might be less than optimal. But when one is in the habit of avoiding one's feelings (Habit? I turned it into a fucking art form, motherfucker), one does not have the benefit of this info.

Maybe I'm an idiot for not having figured this all out sooner. Maybe normal people are born with this knowledge. But I've never been accused of being normal. 

9 april 03

Maintain Radio Silence

Work. War. Baseball. All these things are keeping me from updating this freeaing site on a semiregular basis. Bah, I say. Bah.

We went to see
Sigur Ros last night. Jesus, was that underwhelming. And to think we coulda been watching The Soundtrack of Our Lives instead. What a drag.

Tonight, however, will be a different story altogether. We're going to laugh our sizable asses to Patton Oswalt, close personal friend Greg Behrendt, and other funnymen at Cobb's. I can't fucking wait.

Remember: When you laugh, the world laughs with you. When you cry, people think you're being a pussy. ßßß

3 april 03

War All the Time

War all the time. Work in between. Baseball and war after work. And music when there's no war or work or baseball. Giants are undefeated, 3-0, as of this writing. This may be my last opportunity to say that truthfully this season. But they are scheduled for a three-game set against the Brewers, so who knows? They could finish up week 1 6-0. One never knows.

Me and Tracy made up some live jams in the backyard studio last night. We're called Plath, and we sound like the bastard offspring of the White Stripes, Chicks on Speed, Mates of State, and Add N to (X). No actual audio files to debut just yet, but soon. Maybe.

This has probably already landed in your in-box, but if not, check it. It's funny. Not "ha ha" funny. More like, "Oh, fuck, we're doomed" funny. ßßß

31 march 03

Play Ball!

Just in time for mass distraction, it's baseball season!

And not a minute too soon. At least now I can obsessively pore over the latest baseball news and stats and innuendo instead of the latest war news and stats and innuendo. Call me a coward, but my fragile psyche can't take the constant (nonliteral) bombardment. My heart goes out to those people who are suffering actual bombardment. I can't even imagine what that must be like.

On another subject, I'm sick of people (I'm looking at you, Fox News) trying to frame the antiwar movement as an antitroop movement. Is this some misguided post-Vietnam War guilt, or what? I oppose this war for more reasons than I can possibly enumerate, NONE of which have to do with a lack of regard for servicemen or servicewomen of any nationality. In fact, one of the fundamental reasons I oppose this war is that I don't want anybody to die. Come home today. Or the day before that.

So all you pro-war protesters (Can you really be pro-war? Do you want to rethink that at all??) out there: I respect your right to support this war, and I'll defend to the death your right to share your misguided and inconceivably naive opinion, but please stop pretending that your support for "our president" and "our troops" makes a whit of difference. The day you stop questioning what your government does is the day democracy stops working. And as far as my opposition to this war offering support or solace to the enemy, that's just preposterous. Do you even know who the real enemy is?

I'll give you a hint: it isn't the megalomaniac in Baghdad. ßßß

26 march 03

All the World Is Coming Down Around Me

It's difficult to be my usual flip and cavalier and smart-assed self when people are killing and dying and suffering elsewhere. Not that someone's not always killing or dying or suffering or anything (counting my negatives to make sure they all even out into a positive ... check), but you know, war and shit. And you don't come here for your war news. (That doesn't mean that I will spare you my occasional insights or unsolicited opinions on said war, however.) So what does that leave us? The minutiae of my everyday life? Hardly seems worth the effort, sadly.

But apparently there are still some people who read this site, like, every day. So for them, I will deign to write something.

Last week I went to consult with an endocrinologist about my
hypothyroidism. Most doctors, in my limited experience, are arrogant bastards, so I generally dread going to the doctor. They usually treat me like a child, are dismissive of my concerns, and seem to want nothing more than to write a prescription for something — anything — and get the hell out of the room. So meeting my endocrinologist's physician assistant was a bona fide treat.

She was young, for starters, probably younger than me. And she looked like a normal person. No lab coat, no stethoscope, no obvious accoutrements of the medical clergy to distinguish her from the rank or the file. But her medical knowledge was extensive, and she had thoughtful answers to all my (myriad) questions except one, which she deferred to her boss, the actual M.D. guy. He was OK too, but when I was asked whether I wanted to see the P.A. or the M.D. for my follow-up visit, I picked the P.A. Judging by the surprised look on the receptionist's face, I may have been a little too enthusiastic about my selection.

Upon hearing my litany of hypothyroid-type symptoms — cold extremities, weight gain, listlessness, et al. — and hearing what my current dose was, Meghan the P.A. increased my dosage of thyroid medication by about 18 percent. That was a week ago, and I'm already feeling markedly better. I'll be even happier when (OK, if) this spare tire retires from around my gut, but I'm trying not to be greedy. I'm just happy that I can feel my fingers and toes, fercrissakes.

Bloodwork and follow-up in four more weeks. I'll keep you posted.

If you have a sense of humor and a wicked-fast 'Net connection, I suggest you click here right now and check out Greg Behrendt's latest star turn in the semi-eponymous "Greg Behrendt Does Not Rock." It also stars Tom Morello and Rhett Miller for you starfuckers out there. Dig it. It's good times. Word. ßßß

24 march 03

Necessary Goods

Dack's new site, the Rational Enquirer, kicks much ass. Oh, and Salam Pax is famous.

I wish we didn't need a Rational Enquirer or a Where Is Raed, but we do, so I'm damn glad they're there. ßßß

20 march 03

Worst Overheard Conversation of the Day #2

Who: "President" Bush.

My fellow citizens, the dangers to our country and the world will be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the work of peace. We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others and we will prevail.

Orwellian doublespeak in full effect. War is peace. Wrong is right. Freedom is slavery.

Worst Overheard Conversation of the Day #1

Who: Me and a stupid yuppie girl.
Where: At the gym. I'm on an exercise bike, and she walks up, preparing to stairmaster.
What: The big-screen TV's tuned to CNN. I'm intently watching the crawl and reading the closed captioning. (This is the news TV, by the way. There's another TV adjacent to this one tuned to ESPN for people who can't stomach real life.)

Stupid Yuppie Girl: Do you mind if I change the channel?
Me: (incredulous) Huh?
SYG: Can I change it to, like, the Today Show or something?
Me: Ummm ... No?
SYG: (perturbed) Even though they're all covering the same stuff?
Me: Yeah, I do mind. CNN has the latest news and the crawl. Sorry.
SYG: ...

I'm sorry you won't get to watch Matt Lauer and that pumpkin-headed plastic-surgery disaster cohost of his this morning, stupid yuppie girl, but we're at war. We've all got to make sacrifices. ßßß

19 march 03

Reprinted Without Permission from the Guardian Unlimited

Weapons inspector: 'US gave us wrong data'
A UN weapons inspector who returned from Iraq yesterday said today that the US had given them wrong and misleading information about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Jorn Siljeholm, 48, a Norwegian scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, spent 100 days in Iraq as part of the UN inspections team.

He told the Associated Press that assertions by US officials, including the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, about Iraq's arsenal and its attempts to hide it, did not tally with his own findings. "None of their hot tips were ever confirmed," he said, adding: "I don't know about a single decontamination truck that didn't turn out to be a fire engine or a water truck."

Put It in Perspective

Came across this weblog on memepool today (be patient; I'm sure blogger's servers are getting killed thanks to the memepool link), and it made the thought of posting a long, clever, self-congratulatory entry seem even less savory and less worthwhile than normal. And that's saying something.

If you're one of the handful of people who enjoy reading about the vagaries and minutiae of my life, please take whatever time you'd spend reading this site reading Salam's site. Thanks. ßßß

18 march 03

On like Aust-on

So, I'm back from South by Southwest. Austin was unbelievable, and we ended up having an awesome time in spite of the fact that we didn't see a single fucking show. Of course all the good shows were sold out, and we didn't have fancy badges or lanyards or laminates or wristbands or anything, so we were screwed. I could list off all the amazing bands we coulda/shoulda/woulda seen, but I'd just end up making myself sick. We did see famed toboggan-head Mary Lou Lord doing her thing out in the street, and we drove by Neko Case and Wayne Hancock, and I'm sure we drove by innumerable other indie-rock superstars without recognizing them. It was good times. But next year? I'm buying a goddamn badge.

Our show was unremarkable. We played, people clapped, no one offered us a lucrative contract.

Austin, though, rules my world. It's hard to imagine what it's like not during SXSW, when just about every hipster in the U.S. and most of Europe descends upon it, but what I saw I liked. People are just so laid back (but not in a gross hippie way). Even the people at the Diesel store — those people at the top of the retail clothing hierarchy — were super sweet to us. It was weird. And wonderful.

I forget what it's like in the South. People actually look at you, they make eye contact. Strangers nod and smile and wave. I'm not saying it's utopia or anything (it is still the South, after all), but that's a major cultural difference.

This was the first time I've ever left the Bay Area and not sighed a huge sigh of relief upon my return. Usually I'm so desperately glad to be back in San Francisco or Oakland or Berkeley and around normal (read: abnormal) people that I can barely contain my glee. But going to Austin, at least during the fest, was like being surrounded by thousands of like-minded souls. (Is that some kind of a contradiction in terms? A like-minded soul? It looks to be a mixed metaphor at the very least.) So while coming back home was nice, I definitely coulda kicked it in Austin for a few more days. Or maybe longer.

One never knows. ßßß

12 march 03

Everything Subject to Change

The bulk of the band left for South by Southwest last night, which means they're currently in a van somewhere between Oakland and Austin. Poor saps. Since I'm the only gainfully employed member of the band, I opted to travel by aereoplane in order to miss less work (and to avoid being cooped up in a van with four smelly boys for 30 hours each way). Apart from blowing the doors off the place and getting signed to an obscenely huge major-label contract, my goals are to go to as many shows as possible (hopefully including Supergrass) and see Melvin Goes to Dinner, the new film by comedy mastermind Bob Odenkirk. Good times, people.

The listings for each SXSW event carry the following disclaimer: "Everything subject to change." I think I'll adopt that as my own personal mantra.

See you clowns next week. ßßß

10 march 03


So here we are, lurching toward war in Iraq, and all I care about is the fact that I've managed to max out my 20-gig iPod. 4,162 songs. Woo fucking hoo.

Not much seems to make sense on the eve of war. I mean, how stoked can I get about writing and editing health plan member communications when we're poised to decimate and entire country? And how can I possibly get excited about the decidedly rosy prospects of this band of mine when people will soon be dying a few thousand miles away?

Not much seems to make sense on the eve of war, least of all this war itself. Even George W. Bush's own father, the first President Bush, is
telling his son to calm the fuck down. Now that's surreal.

It's at times like this that weblog seems especially pointless, but here I am, typing away. Hell, I don't know what else to do. I've already read the Onion, and my iPod's all full up. Wake me up when this is all over, would ya? ßßß

07 march 03

Workin' for the Weekend

So I'm an editor by trade, and I've recently been deluged with freelance writing gigs, so the prospect of writing a weblog has just felt too much like work lately. Plus I've had neither the time nor the inclination to write, nor anything even remotely interesting to write about, hence the blawg silence. That's the gospel truth.

band is going to Austin next week for South by Southwest, which should be fun, or at least interesting. So don't expect a whole lotta anything to happen here next week either. I'm sure I'll have lotsa fun stories of debauchery and music-industry shenanigans upon my return, though.

I will be making every effort to see this this weekend, and so should you. I'm told it's the feelgood movie of the year. Not really. ßßß

04 march 03

You Gonna Eat That?

I'm so hungry right now that my brain cannot even form coherent thoughts or make the simplest decisions. This is crazy. I need to eat, people.

(That was funny, because I read the above sentence quickly and noticed that, if the comma were removed, it would change the meaning drastically, to wit: "I need to eat poeple." Which I don't. Need to eat people, I mean. ALthough I don't know that I necessarily have a problem with eating people, even though I'm a vegan. It's complicated, and I'm far too famished right now to explain my ill-conceived position on cannibalism, so you can ask me later, preferably after lunch.)

I've eaten now. And I'm ready for a nap, but not ready to discuss cannibalism at length with you or anyone else.

Why is it that people who should know better forsake all their good sense and book-learnin' when it comes to the topic of astrology? Seriously.

Do you honestly expect me to believe that I share traits with one-twelfth of the world's population just because of when I was born? That something about the position of celestial bodies at or around when I was born somehow predetermines major aspects of my personality? Not really, right? I mean, that's crazy talk. Superstition. Witchcraft. Nonsense.

So stop it. It doesn't become you. 

03 march 03

Please, God. Not another entry about politics.

I wish I had something funny to write about, but not much is funny in these parts of late. No one's told me I remind them of Britney Spears. Playa hataz.

I had lunch with my Buddhism-practicing Dad today. I was telling him how uncertain everything in my life felt. He said Buddhists had a name for this phenomenon, but I'll be damned if I can remember what it was. Anyhoo, times like these, apparently, are the most fruitful for one's Buddhist practice, because they kick your ass and make you work.

Well, I'm tired of working. I'm tired of processing, and goddammit, I'm tired of "feeling my feelings." I want to not feel my feelings. Hell, I'd even settle for feeling someone else's feelings. I just want to check out for a while. Nothing drastic and nothing permanent, mind. Just a temporary hiatus from daily life and its attendant responsibilities.

It's times like these when I really wish I could be a social narcotics user. I loved me some narcotics. That warm, buoyant feeling, accompanied by the absolute certainty that everything was going to be OK. If there's a heaven, that has to be what it's like.

I could use a little slice of heaven right now. ßßß

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