Parkway Rest Stop


Jack Bog
Ultimate Insult
Yakety Yak
How Appealing
Ipse Dixit
Attu Sees All
The Presurfer
Res Ipsa Loquitur
Rachel Lucas (on hiatus)
a small victory
Peppermint Patty
Balloon Juice
Da Goddess
Curmudgeonly & Skeptical
Power Line
Electric Venom
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
Margi Lowry
Sgt. Hook
Gut Rumbles
The Laughing Wolf
Not Quite Tea and Crumpets
On The Third Hand
Right We Are (Closed)
Mudville Gazette
The Country Store
Zogby Blog
Single Southern Guy
Ravenwood's Universe
Resurrection Song
The Spoons Experience
Side Salad
Bloviating Inanities
Serenity's Journal
Babel On!
Jay Solo's Verbosity
Sketches of Strain (Closed)
In Sheeps Clothing
The Accidental Jedi (on hiatus)
Straignt White Guy
The Cheese Stands Alone
Dax Montana
Tasty Manatees
Trying to Grok
Unbillable Hours
~ Friday, January 16, 2004
Parkway Rest Stop has moved to a fancy-schmancy site, which you can find here. The January 16, 2004 post explains how it came to be.

Please adjust your bookmarks and blogrolls accordingly.

Thank you.

P.S. Memo to BlogSnot -- Heaven knows I tried to stick it out. While hoards of others moved out of the neighborhood, I stayed. I suffered the outages, the fragile software, and the lack of a built-in comment feature for more than a year, hoping that the Google folks would fix things. Well, they didn't, so auf wiedersehen, BlogSnot.
~ Thursday, January 15, 2004
Working on Da Move.
Craig at mtpolitics, an exceptionally nice guy, has made an altruistic gesture that he surely will live to regret. He has set up a Movable Type site for me and has offered to be of further assistance, including answering my questions as I stumble around trying to figure out what to do next. I suspect that he will soon learn the consequences of offering to help a computer numbskull like me with computer stuff.

Craig's kindness puts me in mind of the well-meaning lawyer who offers his help, pro bono, to an inmate and who invites him to ask, at any time, all the questions he would like answered. It doesn?t take long for the well-meaning lawyer to realize that an inmate's desire for legal help is insatiable and that he will have more questions than there are stars in the galaxy. After countless telephone calls and meandering letters from a high maintenance inmate, the well-meaning lawyer decides that litigating rear-end hits or repairing furnaces probably would have been a preferable career choice.

I have much to learn, which will require a fair amount of reading, lest I cause Craig to run away and sign up for classes at Augie and Tony's Furnace Fixin' School. Obviously trying to figure out what I'm doing will cut into the time I have to read other people's blogs and write in my own. I'm going to try to figure out how to fit it all in, and we'll see how it goes. I know that right now the bone shattering cold and the hour or so of snow blowing after work has rendered me too tired to even think about reading how to move my BlogSpot posts over to the new site. Tomorrow is another day.

And to Craig, I offer my sincere thanks and my deepest sympathy.
Happy birthday, Cousin Jack.
~ Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Overheard at Nine West.
I just came across a scrap of paper on which I had scribbled a reminder note about something I saw and heard while Christmas shopping.

I was in Nine West to buy a gift certificate. For the uninitiated (and who did not click the Nine West link), Nine West is a trendy shoe store for women's shoes. A customer was trying on these shoes, and had the following conversation with the sales clerk:

Customer: (standing, looking down at shoes, holding her feet at various angles) "I love them. I particularly love the heel and the effect with the chain. Are they wearing open toes in the winter"?

Clerk: "Oh, yes. Open toes are extremely popular now. Everyone is wearing them."

Customer: "They would go great with my black dress."

Clerk: "They would be perfect with a black dress."

Customer: "And, the best thing about them is that they are not terribly uncomfortable."
We're doomed.
No Comments – Update.
Sarah at Trying to Grok and I (and hundreds of other BlogSpeak users) are without comments. It seems that the host for BlogSpeak suspended the BlogSpeak account, for reasons unspecified. We are told that the comments may be back by the weekend, or everything may be transferred over to Haloscan. In the meantime, we were advised to “remove the code,” for the time being, lest we wind up with JavaScript errors.

Yeah, like I would even recognize “the code” in my template, which, to me, resembles a document written in Sanskrit. And, I don’t even know what JavaScript is, so the thought of having errors in something that is unknown to me makes my hair hurt. I think I will wait until the weekend to see if this all fixes itself before trying to figure out how to get Haloscan comments running on this site.

All this has given me the final kick in the arse to begin the process of moving over to a Movable Type site. However, let me say this about that. I recall taking a mandatory calculus course in college and deciding then and there that my brain is simply not wired to do calculus. Unfortunately, most computer stuff is calculus to me, so this could be a daunting experience.

Updates to follow.

Update: I forgot something. See the picture of the graph? Check out the problem and solution that goes with it. Seeing this actually loosened my bowels.
Thanks to Kate for sending many of her readers readers this way. I also want to thank Meryl Yourish for saying things that made my day.

Thank you, ladies. I appreciate it very much.
~ Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Not working again. I'll suffer in silence. It builds character. It also raises the blood pressure.
~ Monday, January 12, 2004
Life in a Small Town.
A while back, Craig at mtpolitics posted a piece called “Life in a Small Town.” It got me to thinking about the cultural differences among us, which, in no small measure, are traceable to the places and circumstances of our upbringing. How each of us ended up being raised in a particular place (or places) is often the result of some sort of cosmic crapshoot that planted our ancestors in a particular place or places during our youth.

It is often said that things like television and the internet have smoothed over many of the cultural differences in the U.S. and have made us a homogenized swill. However, Craig’s questions serve as a stark reminder that there are still big differences in people’s youthful experiences, which, in turn, produce the great cultural mosaic that is the USA, the 7 o’clock news notwithstanding.

I was raised in a town in Northeastern New Jersey (across the “Meadowlands” from New York City). To me, it was a “small town” – at least it was when one compared it to its neighbors, Newark and New York.

So, for the hell of it, I thought I’d respond to the questions in Craig’s post from my perspective of having been raised in a “small town” in Northern Jersey.

Let’s get on with it, shall we.
Here's how to tell if you grew up in a small town:

1. You can name everyone you graduated with.
No way. I graduated with approximately 356 other people, many of whom I didn’t even know where in the senior class until I got my copy of the yearbook.

2. You know what 4-H is
4H? I think I first learned what 4H was from a television program that aired about 4 in the morning called the “Farm Hour” or something like that. I recall being home from school sick as hell and seeing people my age (i.e. high school kids) washing and brushing their prize cows and pigs. Cows? Pigs? It freaked me out.

3. You went to parties at a pasture, barn, gravel pit, or in the middle of a dirt road. On Monday you could always tell who was at the party because of the scratches on their legs from running through the woods when the party was busted, see #6.
My only exposure to a “pasture” was on Sunday drives to the “country” with my parents. I know that for shit sure I never attended a party on one, and I don’t believe that I have ever set foot on one. I think I was in a barn once, when I visited my cousins in South Jersey, and all I remember is that it smelled pretty bad. I cannot imagine having a party in a place that smells like various kinds of shit. I don’t think I know what a gravel pit is, even now. As for dirt roads, where I grew up, the only dirt roads I recall were in the “dumps,” definitely not a place for a shindig. Too many rats, and it smelled bad.

4. You used to "drag" main.
Now you’re cookin’. We used to do that, although there was a better place nearby – a straight, multi lane, not much traveled stretch of highway on Route 21. How I didn’t blow the pistons through the hood of the family car, I’ll never know.

5. You said the "F" word and your parents knew within the hour.
No f*****g way. Parents usually didn’t learn of problems until they got a call from the desk sergeant or the principal.

6. You scheduled parties around the schedule of different police officers, since you know which ones would bust you and which ones wouldn't.
Nope. Our parties were usually in someone’s basement, and the cops would need a warrant to come in.

7. You could never buy cigarettes because all the store clerks knew how old you were (and if you were old enough they'd tell your parents anyhow).
No again. If you had money and you could reach the counter, you could buy smokes in any number of places (“Luckies” were the brand of choice).

8. When you did find somebody old enough and brave enough to buy cigarettes, you still had to go out into the country and drive on back roads to smoke them.
Nope. The playground was where most of the smoking took place. The closest thing to the “country” for smoking purposes would have been a vacant lot.

9. You knew which section of the ditch to find the beer your buyer dropped off.
Ditch? No such thing.

10. It was cool to date somebody from the neighboring town.
Not cool. We always thought people in the neighboring towns were assholes.

11. The whole school went to the same party after graduation
Never would happen. You’d need a house the size of Madison Square Garden. Besides, we thought that many people who graduated with us were assholes.

12. You don't give directions by street name: "Turn by Nelson's house, go 2 blocks east to Anderson's, and it's four houses left of the track field."
Close, but not exactly the same. We gave directions by saloons. “Turn right at McNabb’s. Go two blocks past Kenworthy’s and make a left. The place you are looking for is just across from the “Blue Bar.”

13. The golf course had only 9 holes.
Golf course? No way.

14. You can't help but date a friend's ex-boyfriend/girlfriend.
That happened sometimes, but it often resulted in a fistfight.

15. Your car stays filthy because of the dirt roads and you will never own a dark vehicle for this reason.
There were no dirt roads, and cars were always washed and “Simonized.”

16. The town next to you is considered "trashy" or "snooty", but is actually just like your town.
No, we considered them to be assholes, and they were.

17. You refer anyone with a house newer then 1980 as the "rich people."
We considered anyone whose father wore a suit to work to be one of the “rich people.”

18. The people in the "big city" dress funny then you pick up the trend 2 years later.
We used to call them “Nicky Newarks,” and yes, we often ended up dressing like them. It was similar to the "West Side Story" Jets and Sharks thing.

19. Anyone you want can be found at the local gas station or the town pub.
Nope. There were about a dozen gas stations and more than a couple dozen pubs (although they were not called “pubs”), all of which did a brisk and noisy business.

20. You see at least one friend a week driving a tractor through town or one of your friends drives a grain truck to school occasionally.
Tractor?? No way. If someone were to drive a tractor through town, they definitely would have been arrested. I’ve never driven one. And, to this day I don’t believe I have ever seen a “grain truck.”

21. The gym teacher suggested you haul hay for the summer to get stronger.
“Haul hay?” Does one need a tractor to do that?

22. Directions are given using THE stop light as a reference.
I can’t even begin to relate.

23. You decide to walk somewhere for exercise and 5 people pull over and ask you if you want a ride somewhere.
You could walk until your feet bled and no one (except a friend) would offer you a ride. Girls, however, were asked all the time if they needed a ride, and most of the time, they indicated their preference to continue walking by suggesting that the passing driver and his cronies “fuck off!”

24. Your teachers call you by your older sibling's names.
I have no siblings, but when this happened to friends of mine, the teachers always seemed to ask rhetorically, “How could your sister/brother be so nice and smart and you be such a unruly moron?”

25. Your teachers remember when they taught your parents.
I suppose this could have happened, but not to me, as my parents went to school (through the 10th grade) in Newark. I suspect that, when this did happen, the teachers probably wondered how your parents could have given birth to such a moron.

26. You can charge at the local stores or write checks without any ID.
Nope. Cash on the nail. No credit.

27. The closest McDonalds is 45 miles away (or more).
Hell no. Just about everything worth a damn was within a 15-minute drive, including New York City (with no traffic, of course). The only trip worth a 45-mile drive was a trip “down the shore.”

28. The closest mall is over an hour away.
See number 27. Hell, the state is only a bit more than 200 miles long.

29. It is normal to see an old man riding through town on a riding lawn mower.
That guy definitely would have been arrested. I can hear the cop now: "And just who the hell do you think you are? Mr. Greenjeans?"

30. You've peed in a cornfield.
Cornfield? Did you say “cornfield?”

31. Most people go by a nickname.
Yeah, but they sounded like names from the Sopranos.

So, it would appear that there are small towns, and there are small towns.
~ Sunday, January 11, 2004
Jersey Walking.
As I have mentioned before, I walk a few miles just about every day. It clears out my head and moves the blood around in my otherwise lazy body. The last two days, with their single digit temperatures, have been no exception. In fact, the only weather that will prevent me from walking is heavy, cold rain and ice on the ground that is hidden under snow. Broken bones stink, big time.

For walking in frigid weather, all one needs (in addition to the resolve) is a couple layers of light clothing, a hat, a nylon shell and a pair of gloves. I prefer painter's gloves, as regular gloves are too warm after about ten minutes of walking. In addition, painter's gloves can also serve as a handkerchief for the inevitable runny nose. At the conclusion of the walk, they can be tossed in the laundry with the whites and washed as if they were a handkerchief.

What makes walking here challenging is the drastic swings in temperature that come with the change of seasons. For example, six months ago, I walked the same route as I did today, with only difference being that the temperature then was ninety to ninety-five degrees higher than it was yesterday and today. Frankly, if I had to choose between walking in single digit weather or sweltering heat, with high humidity, I'll take the arctic blast any time. I can always stay warm, but keeping cool in the summer can be a real challenge, which requires carrying water and planning on a route that will permit buying more.

One benefit of walking in the freezing cold (at least around here on the weekend) is that I have the town sidewalks just about to myself. Having anyplace to yourself in Jersey is a treat. In addition, there are few things nicer than coming inside from spending an hour or so walking in the cold weather and hopping into a hot shower, which I just did.

Now, I plan on spending a few hours reading one of the many books that Santa brought me. Later, I'll be heading over to the Post for a couple three vodkas, and I'll see how the Usual Suspects are holding up in this excellent walking weather.

Have a mahvelous day.
~ Saturday, January 10, 2004
A Message to the Folks Back Home.
Remember the group photo of the American POWs in North Vietnam in which, at first blush, they all looked as if they had voluntarily posed for their captors for a nicey-nicey photo? (Sorry, I was unable to find it on the web.) When the photo was published in the USA, the intended American audience could see that virtually every one of prisoners had positioned one of his hands so as to display his middle finger as an act of defiance. Hold that thought.

Remember when Hillary flew off to Iraq to visit the military personnel there and many speculated about the extent to which many of the GI’s were truly happy to see her? Hold that thought.

Now, put those two thoughts together and take a look at this photo that Rodger at Curmudgeonly and Skeptical posted.

I know that the Army cannot give this particular GI a medal for having a strong stomach, but I sure hope he got to go the head of the chow line for a month in return for handling a bad situation so well.
~ Friday, January 09, 2004
Friday Blahs.
It's one of those times. I read a bunch of news. I zipped through the blogroll. I stared at the screen a while, and I now am prepared to concede that I cannot think of an interesting or amusing thing to write that could be done with what little energy I have at the end of a busy week. I?ve decided that what I really want to do is to sit back, fire up a CAO Gold Corona and stare into the tube. Maybe I?ll be inspired later.

So, with that, I leave you with Girls with Hearses. No kidding. Girls with Hearses. I have to believe that the author of the site is a big fan of the Claire Fisher character from HBO's "Six Feet Under."


via Everlasting Blort
~ Thursday, January 08, 2004
At Long Last, a State Fruit!!!
I was reading DynamoBuzz, another Jersey Blog, and I learned that, as of this coming Monday, New Jersey will finally have a state fruit. It is the highbush blueberry. The absence of a state fruit was brought to the attention of the governor by a fourth grade class at Veterans’ Memorial Elementary School.

I had no idea that New Jersey has gone all this time without having a state fruit. That's a damned shame. After all, we have the following other state “stuff”:

State Bird: Eastern Goldfinch

State Mammal: Horse

State Insect: Honey bee (Why this not the mosquito, I have no idea.)

State Shell: Knobbed whelk

State Flower: Purple violet

State Fish: Brook trout

State tree: Northern red oak

State song: “I’m from New Jersey" (clever title, no?)

State dinosaur: Hydrosaurus foulkii

State folk dance: Square dance (huh?)

I would like to make a few proposals for more New Jersey state “stuff”

State monument: The toll booth

State delicacy: Taylor Ham

State deity: Sinatra

State disgrace: Robert Torricelli

State pastime: Sitting in traffic

State motto: “Yo, asshole!”

State fragrance: Exxon

State fictional mobster: Tony Soprano

State real mobster: Impossible to pick just one

Click here and here to learn your state’s stuff. You might be surprised.
~ Wednesday, January 07, 2004
Slivovitz a/k/a plum brandy is most often made in places like Yugoslavia, Poland, Hungary and Israel. I’ve seen it range in colors from crystal clear, to having a slight greenish color, to being almost amber.

While “plum brandy” might sound like something your Great Aunt Tessie might drag out of the closet, dust off, and sip to “break up a chest cold,” I assure that Slivovitz is some serious shit. At 100+proof, the stuff is like rocket fuel. I’ve seen some pretty tough drinkers get flattened by Slivovitz.

In fact, many years ago, I found myself in a toe-to-toe friendly debate with a recently discharged swabbie, who fashioned himself quite the drinker. He said that there was no way that a “military intelligence puke” (that would be me) could keep up with him. Being damned near as young as he was, and being just about as stupid, I accepted his challenge and asked the good brother if he had ever tried Slivovitz, as I just happened to have a new bottle handy.

He responded, “No, but if it’s booze, let’s go.” At that moment, I knew that his fate was sealed.

About 45 minutes (and the better part of the bottle) later, I was bleary-eyed, but Popeye was out in the back yard fertilizing the bushes with the contents of his stomach, just before he passed out on the grass.

The poor bastard had no idea what he was getting into.

Like I said, Slivovitz is some serious shit.
Disco Dipshit.
Dancing Hillary. Funny stuff.

via Cousin Jack

Dead Blogs.
Thanks to Dax Montana, I now know where dead, moribund, resting, and missing blogs can be found. I learn something every day. As Dax would say, “Just Damn!”
~ Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Bill Bradley.
Who cares?
MTpolitics, Down, but Not Out.
MTpolitics, normally found here is having server problems, and the site's proprietor, Craig, will be out of town this week and unable to fix it until his return. Fear not, for, in the interim, he is using a BlogSpot site, which can be found here.
We Should Get Out!
It is time to take a serious look at our involvement there. Every day there are news reports about more deaths. Every night on the TV we see death and destruction. Why are we still there?

The land is too large to secure all of it. The people causing this death, damage, and destruction can roam anywhere, and we can't possibly police the whole place. Why are we still there?

We occupied this land, which we had to take by force, but it causes us nothing but trouble. Why are we still there?

Their government is unstable, and in the process of changing. Why are we still there?

Refugees are fleeing by the thousands, driven from their homes. Why are we still there?

It will cost billions to rebuild, which we can't afford. Why are we still there?

There are more than 1,000 religious sects. We can't secure the borders to protect against waves of insurgents. Why are we still there?

And to repeat: Every day we hear of more Americans killed in this dangerous land.

It is clear. We should get out of California.

Thanks to my friend Brian, an Air Force Vet, and resident of the great state of Kally-foah-nya.
~ Monday, January 05, 2004
The Straight White Guy Meets Tom Waits.
Fortunately for us, .Mrs.. Straight White Guy leaned on Eric (that would be Mr. Straight White Guy) to give Tom Waits a listen, which he dutifully did, and which he shares with us here. Mrs. Straight White Guy knows whereof she speaks, for in order to appreciate Tom Waits (the composer of one of my faves, “Jersey Girl,”) one must listen to him. It is definitely not background music.

Eric points out that the lyrics of the above tune are similar to something that one might expect from LeeAnn, and I don’t disagree. However, the thought of LeeAnn and Tom Waits writing lyrics together boggles the farookin’ mind.

So, go listen, already.
~ Sunday, January 04, 2004
“The Bloods rule the jail.”
This is a quote from one of our stellar citizens who spent a week in the Essex County Jail for auto theft (New Jersey is the auto theft capital of the US). Apparently, even though he cannot keep his hands of other people’s cars, he is quite right about conditions in the Essex County jails. Gang violence is on the rise in Essex County Jails.

Recently, one inmate was beaten almost to death by fellow “Bloods” when he agreed to testify against gang members. Worse yet, another inmate, who had been locked up for petty theft from a convenience store and assaulting the owner (misunderstood fellow, I’m sure), was initially housed in the main jail, but, claiming to be a member of the rival gang, the “Crips,” he expressed fear of the “Bloods” in the main jail. He requested that he be moved to the county’s second jail, which request was granted. Less than an hour after his arrival at the second jail, he was attacked in the shower and killed as a result of what apparently is called an initiation “beatdown.” (He must have been a member of a different “Crips” Chapter/Lodge/Unit/Pack or whatever it is called, and therefore had to be initiated into the jail’s Chapter/Lodge/Unit/Pack.)

There are an estimated 351 gang members (mostly “Bloods”) among the 2,200 inmates in the two Essex County jails. To the extent possible in the county jails, rival gangs are housed separately, although some corrections experts opine that this practice breeds only more gang-related violence. And, the problem is not limited to inter-gang violence. According to a past warden, the frequency of incidents of gang violence perpetrated on non-gang members resulted in inmates coming to him “in droves” frightened of being terrorized by gang members. Some of the inmates actually requested a 23-hour day lockdown to avoid being a victim of gang violence.

County officials claim that the problem of controlling gang violence will be “solved” when the new $416 million hi-tech jail is completed in the next few months. The new jail supposedly will permit increased direct supervision of the inmates by placing one corrections officer in each unit with a second officer observing the unit via a video monitor. Apparently this “greater supervision” can be achieved with fewer guards, as the number of corrections officers (currently 722) will be reduced by 150 once the new jail is opened.

All this makes me sick.

I have serious doubts about whether a new jail, “high-tech” or not, will solve the problem of controlling these wastes of oxygen gang members. If I were King, the prisons would be run exactly like army or marine basic training companies. The prisoners would get three hots and a cot and little else except for 16 hours per day of non-stop, serious, in your face, “attitude adjustment” from real drill sergeants. Can any of you who have gone through military basic training imagine, even for a moment, gang members “controlling” a basic training company?

I have often said that the most comfortable prisoner in the United States should be less comfortable than the most uncomfortable basic trainee (who, after all, did not become a basic trainee by virtue of having done anything wrong).

I wonder what our $416,000,000 will buy us.
~ Saturday, January 03, 2004

Sam Adams Utopias MMII

A Steal at $200.00 per Bottle

Yesterday, I took a ride over to one of my favorite liquor stores, which is a supermarket-sized place that sells nothing but liquor, wine and beer (and also has a fair cigar selection). In short, definitely my kinda place. The vodka selection alone takes up approximately 2/3 of the average sized supermarket aisle! But I digress.

While there, I took a peek at the high-end stuff that is kept refrigerated under lock and key. Predictably the locked cooler contains mostly Champagnes (there is a separate lockup for high-end things that don’t need to be refrigerated, particularly those that apparently are popular with shoplifters). Anyway, I saw the bottle pictured above and marveled at the idea of a bottle of beer costing $200.00.

When I arrived home, I searched for this expensive bottle of suds on the net in order to learn a bit more about it. I found it here, but the price was not $200.00, but rather was $499.00 a bottle!! Holy Budweiser, Batman!! That's almost five hundred bucks for a bottle of beer, albeit very fancy schmancy beer. Here is the seller’s description of what must the nectar of the Beer Gods:

Sam Adams Utopias MMII™ is the only beer (domestic or import) brewed with a fine selection of Noble hops, Hallertau Mittelfrueh, Tettnang Tettnanger, Spalt Spalter and Czech Saaz. The brew is then aged in port, scotch and cognac barrels. The brew uses: 2 Row Harrington, Caramel and Vienna Malts. The aroma offers the distinctive smell of cinnamon and vanilla with subtle hints of floral, citrus and pine. Sam Adams Utopias MMII offers a rich taste that is surprisingly light on the palette, featuring a smooth, lingering finish. Samuel Adams Utopias MMII, the strongest beer in the world to date, has 24 percent alcohol by volume and is 48 proof.

At $200.00 per bottle, I probably should run back to the store and buy a case of the stuff. On second thought, that would be a pretty pricey investment, and an “investment” it would have to be, because, as much as I believe that life is too short to drink cheap whiskey or beer, I think I might choke drinking a case of beer at two hundred (or five hundred!) bucks a bottle (even if it does contain “Hallertau Mittelfrueh, Tettnang Tettnanger, Spalt Spalter and Czech Saaz” hops).

I think what I’ll do is go back to the store, explain to the guy that I am an upscale lush and ask the if I could get a small brown bag with the bottle so that I could drink it in the parking lot.
~ Friday, January 02, 2004
Interesting E-Mails.
I get some interesting e-mails:

Someone named Susan Parra sent me one with the subject being "Re: YTTROGW, and fell alseep."

Then there is the one from a person named Elizabeth Lucero. She wrote me about "Re: off die hilltop me te."

Good ol' Wilbur Pagan must have thought I was dying to read his e-mail about "Re: itself never bodes frk."

On December 23rd, I was really glad to receive the reminder from Rufus Greene that "Christmas is near...ticzbbtxcksutaozrj." Good thing too, because I had thought that Christmas is near..biczbbtxcksutaorzj. Thanks, Rufus.


The Grass is Greener.

Having lived all my life in the most densely populated state in the union (where when you sneeze and guy next door says “God bless you,” or equally as likely, “Keep it down!”), and having spent a fair portion of my life snarled in New Jersey’s world-class traffic jams, I have often thought about how nice it would be to chuck it all and head for the country, preferably near the sea.

I suspect that many people who live in metropolitan areas harbor the same fantasy -- the desire to leave the gut-wrenching rat race and to simplify. However, there are a host of reasons why this remains a fantasy for most of us, not the least of which is the daunting problem of making a living in the boondocks. In my case, for example, if I were to leave New Jersey and wanted to practice law in another state, I would have to sit for that state’s bar examination. Believe me, I would rather lick the men’s room floor in New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal than take another bar exam. Still, some folks (with more courage than I) take the plunge.

I came across a blog by a fellow in Ireland (they have traffic jams there too) who packed it in and headed, with his family, for the county (by the sea). He’s sharing the experience in “Country Living Journal – My Escape to Country Life.” I suspect that James is blessed with the “Luck o’ the Irish” and will therefore succeed, but as one can never have too much good luck, you might want to drop by to wish him well, American style.
2003 Top Ten Lists.
There are more than a few of them around, but I particularly liked Jeff’s (Mr. Side Salad) lists, one of which he was paid to write.

I hope he was well-paid, because it certainly was well written.
Our Army at War – 2003…The Year in Photos.
A slideshow that Sgt. Hook recommended. As usual, he is on the money with his recommendation. Have a look (It also features sound).
~ Thursday, January 01, 2004
Memo to DJs.
I’ve been banging around the music business just about all my adult life. I’ve played with bands in dives, average joints, upscale joints, countless weddings, anniversaries, graduation parties, block parties, Christmas parties, New Year’s Eve parties, and even a handful of (oy!)bowling banquets. I have loved just about every minute of it (except, of course, lugging the equipment). As such, I would like to offer a bit of advice to the folks who play CDs for a living.

1. You are not Cousin Brucie.
You may call yourself a DJ (Disc Jockey), but you are not on the radio. You are selecting and playing CDs for a room full of people. Therefore, please lose the radio announcer rubber voice when speaking to the audience. Hell, real disc jockeys don’t even talk like that anymore.

2. You are not Elvis.
Just because you play CDs does not – I repeat – does not mean that you can sing. Please spare us.

3. Know your audience.
Take a walk out into the audience, and take a look at the people for whom you will be playing CDs. If just about everyone in the room is older than 45, it is probably a pretty good idea to avoid heavy doses of ACDC. Similarly, if you don’t see a good number of Latino people, you might want to consider not playing back to back salsa tunes when the first one resulted in a dance floor that resembled an unpopulated basketball court.

4. Remember WHERE you are working.
Obviously, this is related to the previous point and, in this case, applies to DJs who work in North Jersey. In North Jersey, it’s a pretty good bet that lots of shit-kicking, country music will not work for most folks. I happen to like country music, but trust me, most people in North Jersey don’t even know who Toby Keith is. They never heard of Dwight Yoakam, and they sure as hell don’t want large helpings of John Denver.

Speaking of country music, please, please, at all costs, avoid playing Achy Breaky Heart, even if the two brofus “line-dancing” dolls in the place beg you to play it. I guarantee you that they will do the same “line dance” all night to virtually every tune you play (possibly even including “Misty”), so you should spare everyone else in the room having to listen to Mr. Cyrus’ seriously stupid song.

In North Jersey, Sinatra (no one ever uses his first name) is King. So, the simple rule is, when in doubt, play Sinatra. Although it pains me to say this (as one of the handful of Jersey natives who thinks that Bruce Springsteen is way, way, way overrated), you probably want to toss in a couple of Mr. Springsteen’s tunes, which will of course spawn the inevitable “BRUUUUCE” from his devotees in the audience.

5. Guard the microphone.
Don’t hand the microphone to anyone who wishes to sing along with the CD. Tell these people to sing in the shower or go to a karaoke bar. This may be difficult if the woman asking to sing a Mariah Carey tune has nice torts, but please remember that there are a couple hundred other people in the room who should not be subjected to such an auditory assault. Instead, consider offering the budding Mariah a special audition after the gig.

…and finally,

6. Shut the f**k up.
Talking over, or, worse yet, shouting over the music does not improve the song. It also does not liven up the party. Instead, it just pisses people off and you might wind up in the proctologist’s office to have a microphone-ectomy.

God, how miss music played by real-live people who actually can play and sing real-live music.
BlogSpot Woes.
Since approximately this time yesterday, I have not been able to access my site. I had assumed that no one else could either. However, the Site Meter shows that people are getting to to the site. I have no problem accessing internet sites in general and non-BlogSpot sites, so I assume that the problem lies with the BlogSpot folks.

Color me puzzled (and pissed).

Happy New Year, BlogSpot. You're off to a great start.

Update: It appears to be OK now. It must have been a cyber-version of one of those "24 hour things" that docs resort to explain how in 24 hours one can go from feeling fine to feeling like death is only around the corner, to feeling fine again. Then again, maybe the folks at BlogSpot are all really hung over.

Update to the Update: I spoke too soon. The problem is back. I'm going to get away from this computer for a bit, lest I put Mr. Fist through the screen.

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